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undarions of the Euphrates, two artificial canals were cut at some distance above the city, bv which the course of the waters was directed into the Tigris; and prodigious banks were formed on each side the river, to keep the waters in their channel. To facilitate the execution of these great works, it is said that a very large artificial lake was dug, of forty miles square, and thirtyfive feet deep, into which the waters of the river were turned, by means of a canal, until the whole enterprise was finished.
At each end of the bridge was a magnificent palace, the one of which had a communication with the other, by means of a vault that wa£ made under the channel of the river. The palace, on the east, is said to have been three miles and three quarters in compass; and that on the west, seven miles and a half: and both were surrounded with three walls, at considerable
distances. There were also in this city hanging
gardens, containing a square, measuring four hundred feet on each side. They were made in form of terraces, carried up as high as the walls of the city, by means of arches built on the top of arches, and encompassed by a wall of twenty-two feet in thickness. On the top of the arches were laid large stones: these were covered with reeds, mixed with bitumen, upon which were laid bricks cemented with plaster; and above all these, thick meets of lead, on which was laid the mould of the gardens, so deep that the largest trees might grow there. In the upper terrace was a pump, by which water was drawn up from the river, to moisten the soil of the gardens. In the arches were magnificent apanments, from which were seen the most beautiful prospects.
The magnificent temple, which was built in the form of a pyramid, stood near the palace; and, at ihie foundation, measured half a mile in compass. The tower, on the top of it, was said to be a furlong in height; on which was raised an observatory, the ^scent to which was by stairs on the outside, turned, in the manner of a spiral line. In this temple was performed the worship of the god Belus or Baal, and other deities. The riches it contained in statues, tables, &c. were immense, reckoned by some to have amounted to twenty-one millions Sterling. Such were ;he wonderful structures for which this great city was renowned, and by which it was richly ornamented.
Babylon was no less remarkable for antiquity than grandeur. The foundations of the city were laid by Nimrod, the great grandson of Noah, about a hundred years after the deluge. In after times, Semiramis, that she might surpass all who had preceded her in enterprise and magnificence, and immortalize her name, employed two millions of men in building and decorating this royal emporium of the Babylonish empires which increased through various periods, until it attained the summit of its power and splendor in the days of Nebuchadnezzar. This is great Babylon, of which Isaiah treats in the prophecy before us.
The burden. The root from which the word here translated burden is derived, signifies to lift up or to bear; and, by an easy transition, it is used to denote the awful doom pronounced upon a person or people. The prophecies containing denunciations of divine judgments, which were to be inflicted upon various nations as the just punishment of their wickedness, are called burdens in this and the following chapters. Such was to be the intolerable weight of the predicted calamities, that they were greatly to distress and crush those on whom they were laid. So heavy and unsup-< portable are the effects of the divine displeasure, that they are a burden by far too much for men to bear. This truth was acknowledged by David, the servant of the Lord, in these words: 'Mine iniquities are 'gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are ♦ too heavy for me *.' So great was the load of guilt
* £sal. xxxviii. 4.
which he had contracted, and so dreadful the wrath of God he deserved, that he apprehended it altogether intolerable. If the hand of God is thus heavy on his people, when he chastens them for their profit, how dreadful must be those terrible calamities whereby he punishes and consumes the wicked! None knoweth the power of God's anger, the awful effects of which crush into ruin the strongest nations of the earth, and prove a burden too heavy for them to sustain. So frequently was this expression used by the prophets of the Lord, that there were some scoffers who, on that account, derided them with contempt, with whom God was highly displeased, and whom he threatened, by the prophet Jeremiah, severely to punish, in these words: 'And when this people, or 'the prophet, or a priest, shall ask thee, saying, 'What is the burden of the Lord? thou shalt then * fay unto them, What burden? I will even forsake
'you, faith the Lord*.' This burden Isaiah, tha
son of Amoz, did sec. The calamities which he foretold were to be inflicted on Babylon were very clearly revealed to him, probably by means of a vision, wherein he had a distinct representation of the approaching divine judgments that should spread desolation over that great city. This vision which he beheld, either with his bodily sight, or with the eyes of his mind, was attended with such satisfying evidence, and convincing power, that he could not entettain a doubt concerning the truth of what he relates.
2 Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them, shake the hand, that they may go into the gates of the nobles.
The prophecy begins with the command of God, to collect together the forces which he had appointed
* Jer. xxiii. 33. rtseq.
to to execute righteous judgments upon Babylon. To the Lord of hosts it belongeth to muster the armies of battle, and to give out his orders to his servants, that they may fulfil the purposes which he hath formed. The armies whom the Almighty was to employ, as the instruments of his vengeance against1 Babylon, were to be composed of Medes and Persians; and to them the orders, here delivered, may be considered as particularly addressed, though it is unnecessary anxiously to inquire, who were the persons by whom the command was given ? f In explaining prophetic visions, it is of much more importance to attend to the leading truths which were thereby illustrated, and the principal designs for which they are recorded, than to minute circumstances, which may be mentioned only to connect their several parts together.— The orders are thus expressed, Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain. Three different signs have been used to collect troops together with expedition, for hostile purposes, all of which are required to be made on this occasion. Well known conspicuous signals, such as lifting up a banner or standard on a high hill, are first mentioned. Loud calls were to be given to the soldiers, by such voices, and great sounds, as might be heard at a considerable distance. Besides, some significant gestures were to be likewise employed, such as shaking the hand, in order to convene military people from all quarters, and to hasten their march to the arduous service of attacking Babylon.— The design of all these signals was, That they may go into the gates of the nobles. That they might enter into those strongly fortified gates, which seemed for ever to exclude the approach of an enemy: that they might enter those splendid doors, by whicli the princes and nobles of Babylon went into their stately palaces. The words plainly intimate, that all the. creatures are under the direction of divine Providence, who disposes of them as he' pleases, and assigns them the various services which they are to perform.
They They strongly express the success with which the martial achievements of the forces, collected by the above signals, * should be attended, through the remarkable interposition of divine Providence, removing every impediment that might retard their progress.
3 I have commanded my sanctified ones, I have also called my mighty ones for mine anger, even them that rejoice in my highness.
These words describe the character of the people whom the Almighty was to employ, in executing his purposes with respect to Babylon. / have commanded my sanclificd ones. The persons here intended, were not really and internally sanctified, and made holy; but they were chosen and set apart by the Lord of hosts, to perform the arduous service to which they were called. In the style of scripture, people are sometimes said to be sanctified, who are separated, by the providence of God, to any important work, by which the divine glory is illustriously displayed. Thus, in the Prophecies of Zephaniah, chap. i. 7. it is said, 'The Lord hath sanctified, or * prepared his guests.' In this fense the expression must be understood in the words before us. The people are farther described in the following clause of this verse: / have also called my mighty ones for mine anger. The troops of Media and Persia, who are here intended, were renowned for their valour and strength; and, on these accounts, are celebrated by those who have delineated their character. God calls them his mighty ones, in as much as from him they derived all their military skill and prowess, and to him they were indebted for the wonderful success which accompanied their enterprises, particularly against Babylon. If they vanquished all opposition, if they proved invincible in war, if their attempts were crowned with victory, all this proceeded from
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