« AnteriorContinuar »
son of Shem, from his descendants, he built a great city, and called it after his son Ninus, Nineveh ; whence the reason, perhaps, that the father and son are often confounded in profane history.
Diodorus, the Roman, says that Ninus, the most ancient of the Assyrian kings mentioned in history, performed great actions.
With respect to the famous tower, there was, says Herodotus, the celebrated Greek historian, a tower consecrated to Belus; at the foundation of which it was a square of a furlong on each side, or half a mile in the whole compass. Strabo asserts that it was a furlong in height. It consisted of eight towers built one above the other, and because it decreased gra. dually to the top, Strabo calls the whole a pyramid. It is not only asserted, but proved, that this tower much exceeded in height the greatest of the pyramids of Egypt. It is asserted, too, by several profane authors, that this tower was all built of bricks and bitumen, as the scriptures tell us the tower of Babel was.*
That this whole temple stood till the time of Xerxes, and was then plundered and demolished, is alluded to by Herodotus, Strabo, and Arrian.
Another great event, is the residence and administration of Joseph in Egypt.
Trogus Pompeius, an historian of the Augustan age, whose works are epitomized by Justin the Roman, notices great part of Joseph's story, and says, that the famous Hebrew was endowed from heaven
* For these and further particulars on the subject, see Rollin, Assyria, vol. ii.
with the interpretation of dreams, and a knowledge of futurity, being skilled in magical arts, that Joseph, by his uncommon prudence, preserved Egypt from the famine, and was extremely caressed by the king.
The scripture next says, that on the death of that Pharoah, there arose up a new king which knew not Joseph; that he oppressed the Israelites extremely, setting over them task masters to afflict them with their burdens; and they built for (that) Pharoah treasure cities, and the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour, and they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field, &c.
Now Diodorus the historian, speaking of a king of Egypt, about this period, particularly mentions that he employed in his Egyptian works only foreigners.
The next grand event is the passage of the Red Sea related in Scripture.
Diodorus, the heathen, thus too remarks : A tradition has been transmitted through the whole nation from father to son, for many ages, that once an extraordinary ebb dried up the sea, so that its bottom was seen, and that a violent flow immediately after brought back the waters to their former channel,
These are the principal events, of which mankind would have but a vague notion from the heathens, however valuable their testimony may be as corroborating that of the inspired writers. I will now only notice the connexions, which are greater as we advance in the order of time, of one or two prophecies, and their fulfilment, and then detain the reader no
longer from applying these remarks to the design of the whole work.
ENQUIRE I PRAY THEE
OF THE FORMER AGE, AND PREPARE THYSELF TO THE SEARCH OF THEIR FATHERS." o THERE WAS
FOUND A ROLL WHEREIN THESE THINGS WERE RECORDED, 66
IT MAY BE SOUGHT OUT IN THE BOOKS OF THY FATHERS."
THIS I RECALL TO MIND.
HAVING alluded to the divine illumination in which the first Bible historian penned the past, we will consider in a few words those who were inspired to write events to come.
This part of the sacred history forms a principal one in it, from the number of prophets whom the Almighty appointed, and the extent of their predictions. Two of these predictions will be sufficient for our purpose ; and the first is, that which relates to the taking of Babylon.
We must all recollect that, by a variety of circumstances, in which the disobedience, ingratitude, and sinfulness of man were shewn to God, in return for his mercies, miracles and benefits, the Jews had drawn down upon themselves his displeasure; he therefore denounced, among other judgments by the mouths of his prophets, that this rebellious people should cease to be a nation in threescore and five years from the
time of Hezekiah, which was literally accomplished, for the land of Israel was overrun by the kings of Assyria, who severally destroyed numbers of Israel ites, and took multitudes captives away to Babylon, the seat of empire when Nineveh was destroyed. Jerusalem, thus drained of her inhabitants, being peopled by her idolatrous conquerors.
The king of Israel was also transported to Babylon with his subjects. Sometimes he was permitted to return to Jerusalem, which was the case with Manasseh ; but Jehoiakim was detained in captivity thirtyseven years; and after him, his descendant became nominal prince only of the Jews.t
The conquerors, as may well be supposed, possessed themselves of all the riches of the vanquished places; and as the Temple in Jerusalem was filled with costly vessels, and vast riches, the Babylonian king who sacked the city seized on this sacred treasure, and transported the whole to Babylon.
And as the great prophets were often the attendants, and sometimes the relations of the Jewish kings,
* The period for the captivity of the Jews in Babylon was fixed, as the Prophet declared, at seventy years. When the people did return, they were so intermixed with the foreigners who had been established in the cities of Palestine, that the Jews could no longer call themselves a nation. Rollin, vol. ii.
† For, after the loss of the authority, they still kept up the title, and for a great many ages after, in the parts about Babylon, there was always one of the house of David, which by the name of “The Head of the Captivity' was acknowledged and honoured as a prince among that people, and had some sort of jurisdiction, as far as it was consistent with the government they were under, always invested in him. Prideaux, vol. i.
we find a great prophet was of the captive train, and lived attached to his royal master's court, in that part of Babylon assigned to the prisoners of rank. This prophet was Daniel.*
These few particulars recalled to our minds, it is necessary to go back two hundred years, to the time in which Isaiah lived, and to consider the prophecy of the fall of Babylon; of this very place, in which we have just seen a victorious monarch in the midst of grandeur, riches, and triumph, with a captive prince, the prophet of God, and a captive people, whose proud spirit groaned under the yoke of their Pagan tyrants.
And here we must recollect that other prophets, as well as Isaiah, have mentioned the captivity of the Jews, and the destruction of Babylon, along with that of the tyrants who governed it. But Isaiah was enabled by particular illumination from heaven, to relate many circumstances which were in the end most exactly fulfilled.
And these nations, says Jeremiah, shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.
Isaiah says, make bright the arrows; gather the shields. The Lord hath raised up the spirit of the king of the Medes, for his device is against Babylon
* Daniel, the last of the four great Prophets, was of the royal blood of Judah, and was carried away a captive to Babylon at a tender age, 606 before Christ. He was educated in that city, and became one of the favourites of Nebuchadnezzar, and his name was changed to Belteshazzar. So rapid was his progress in the sciences and the language of Chaldea, and so great bis wisdom, that the king entrusted him with the government of Babylon.