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the consideration that this had from of old been the usual sacred language for prophetic subjects!.'
§ 2. History embraced by the Book of Daniel.
The Book of Daniel covers a wide period of history; and a survey of it, with more particular reference to such portions of it as bear especially upon the book, will probably be of service to
The Book opens in the third year of king Jehoiakim (B.C. 605), in which, it is said, Daniel and his companions were carried captive by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon. The bulk of the nation went into exile subsequently, in two detachments, in 597 and 586 respectively. Upon the condition of the Jews generally during the years of exile, it is not necessary for our present purpose to dwell: for the only Jews who figure in the book are Daniel and his three companions; their compatriots being, for all practical purposes, non-existent. Something must, however, be said on the history of Babylon itself, and on the kings who successively occupied its throne. Babylon was at this time under the rule of a dynasty of Chaldaean kings. Originally (see p. 12) resident in the S.E. of Babylonia, near the seacoast, the Chaldaeans had gradually advanced inland until, under Nabopolassar (B.C. 625-605), they became the ruling caste in Babylon itself. Nabopolassar was at first, it seems, the viceroy in Babylon of the last king of Assyria, Sin-shar-ishkun (Saracus): but, as soon as circumstances appeared favourable, he declared his independence; and the Medes, invading Assyria soon afterwards, at his invitation, razed Nineveh to the ground (B.C. 607)2. Pharaoh Necho, taking advantage of this disaster to Assyria, proceeded to lay hands on Western Asia as far as the Euphrates (2 Ki. xxiii. 29; cf. vv. 33-35, xxiv. 7 end); and it was as Nabopolassar's general, sent on behalf of his
1 Comp. Kamphausen in the Encyclopaedia Biblica, col. 1005.
2 See further particulars in Maspero, The Passing of the Nations (1900), p. 483 ff.; and cf. Davidson's Nahum (in the Cambridge Bible), p. 137 f.
infirm and aged father, to oppose his further advance, that Nebuchadnezzar in 605 gained his victory at Carchemish (Jer. xlvi. 2; cf. on i. 1). Shortly afterwards Nabopolassar died; and Nebuchadnezzar hastened home (see Berosus, as quoted in the note on i. 1) to receive the crown.
Nebuchadnezzar reigned for 43 years (B.C. 604-561). So far as our information goes, he had no pleasure in warlike expeditions; his campaign against Pharaoh Necho, his two expeditions against Jehoiachin and Zedekiah, his siege of Tyre (Ezek. xxix. 17, 18)', which lasted, according to Josephus (c. Ap. i. 21), for 13 years (B.C. 585-572), and an invasion of Egypt in his 37th year (B.C. 568)2, being all that we hear of. Nebuchadnezzar was emphatically a builder; and 'nearly every cuneiform document now extant dating from his reign treats, not of conquest and warfare, like those of his Assyrian predecessors, but of the building and restoration of the walls, temples, and palaces of his beloved city of Babylon' (Prince, p. 31)3. The celebrated 'India House Inscription 4,' now preserved in the India Office, gives an eloquent and detailed description of his principal architectural and defensive works. In this inscription, after an exordium, in which he pays homage to Marduk (the supreme God of Babylon), who had 'created' him, and entrusted him with the sovereignty over a great empire, Nebuchadnezzar describes first how he renovated, on a sumptuous scale, the two ancient and famous temples of Marduk in Babylon, called E-sagil, and of Nebo in Borsippa (the suburb of Babylon on the S.W.), called E-zida, panelling their roofs with cedar brought from Lebanon, and decorating their walls, till they 'glistened like suns,' with gold and precious stones; then, how he restored fifteen other temples in Babylon; after this, how he completed the two great walls of Babylon, which, with a broad moat between them, had been begun by his father,
1 Cf. Maspero, op. cit. pp. 543 (the Wady Brissa Inscriptions), 549. 2 Schrader, KAT.2 p. 364.
3 See the inscriptions translated in KB. iii.. 2, pp. 1--71.
4 RP.2 iii. 104-123; KB. iii. 2, pp. 11-31: cf. Tiele, Bab.-Ass. Gesch. (1886), ii. 4+1 ff., Maspero, op. cit. pp. 561–6.
Nabopolassar, adding, at the same time, at some distance from the city on the E., a new and enormous rampart, 'mountainhigh,' together with another protecting moat; and lastly, how he not only rebuilt the palace of Nabopolassar, but also constructed in fifteen days1 a yet more magnificent palace, surrounding it with lofty walls, and so making it into a kind of fortress. 'That house, for admiration I made it, for the beholding of the hosts of men I filled it with magnificence. Aweinspiring glory, and dread of the splendour of my sovereignty, encompass it round about; the evil, unrighteous man cometh not within it. I kept far from the wall of Babylon the hostile approach of the foe; the city of Babylon I made strong as the wooded hills' (ix. 29–44). And he ends with a prayer to Marduk, his 'lord,' beseeching him, as he loves and has adorned his abode, to grant him long and prosperous life in the palace which he has built, and to permit his descendants to rule in it for ever (ix. 45-x. 18).
In addition to the works here described, Nebuchadnezzar also constructed many others: for instance, a huge wall, with outside moats, called the 'Median wall,' for protection against invaders from the north, and quays, dykes, and canals for the commerce or irrigation of the country.
Secondly, Nebuchadnezzar, judged by the standard of his age and country, was pre-eminently a religious king. It is true, his treatment of Zedekiah was cruel; but it must be remembered that Zedekiah, even in the judgement of Ezekiel (xvii. 18, 19), had broken faith with him, and acts which would not be tolerated among civilized belligerents now, were not proscribed then by the manners of the age. As Prof. Hommel' says, 'In his inscriptions we see on the one hand the fatherly care of a prince zealously considerate for the welfare of his land, on the other a genuine and heart-felt piety, which does not at all
1 So also Berosus, ap. Jos. c. Ap. i. 19. The famous 'hanging garden' (κpeμaσтòs тapádeiσos, ibid.), or park with trees arranged on rising terraces (not mentioned in the Inscription), was connected with this palace. See Maspero, op. cit. p. 782.
2 Gesch. Bab. und Ass. (1885), p. 764.
produce the impression of consisting simply of empty phrases.' His longer inscriptions invariably begin with an acknowledgement of what he owes to Marduk and Nebo, and end with a prayer for further blessings. In the introduction of the India House Inscription, Nebuchadnezzar quotes a prayer which he had addressed to Marduk, perhaps at the time of his accession, for help and guidance in his rule :—
O Eternal Ruler! Lord of all that is!
Grant that the name of the king whom thou lovest,
Whose name thou hast mentioned (i.e. whom thou hast called to the throne), may flourish as seems good to thee.
Guide him on the right path.
I am the ruler who obeys thee, the creation of thy hand.
It is thou who hast created me,
And thou hast entrusted to me sovereignty over mankind.
Implant the fear of thy divinity in my heart.
Grant to me whatsoever may seem good before thee,
Since it is thou that dost control my life1.
And here is a prayer addressed by him to Shamash, the sungod (whom the Assyrians called 'the judge of heaven and earth'), upon occasion of his restoring his temple in Sippar
Shamash, great lord, look graciously with gladness upon my deeds; Length of days, enjoyment of life, security of throne, and permanence of rule, grant me as thy gift ;
Accept favourably in thy faithfulness the lifting up of my hands2.
Elsewhere also Nebuchadnezzar describes himself as one into whose hands Nebo, 'overseer of the hosts of heaven and earth, has committed a righteous sceptre for the government of men,' and as 'the king of righteousness, the humble, the submissive, who loves justice and righteousness,' and who 'places in the mouth of men the fear of the great gods3.'
1 Jastrow, Religion of Bab. and Ass. (1898), p. 296; KB. iii. 2, P. 13.
2 KB. iii. 2, pp. 61, 63. 3 Ib. pp. 13, 63.
Nebuchadnezzar was succeeded by his son Amêl-Marduk ('man of Marduk'), the Ĕvil-Merodach of 2 Ki. xxv. 27 ff. (B.C. 561-559). The only inscriptions of this reign, which we at present possess, are contract-tablets. Amêl-Marduk, after a 'lawless and dissolute' reign of two years1, was assassinated by his brother-in-law, Nergal-shar-uzur (Neriglissar), who then seized the throne. Nergal-shar-uzur, like Nebuchadnezzar, was a devoted worshipper of Marduk, and restored temples and other buildings. After reigning for four years (B.C. 559-555) he was succeeded by his youthful son Lâbashi-marduk, who, on account of the evil qualities which he displayed (dià tò ñoììà ἐμφαίνειν κακοήθη), was after nine months beaten to death (åπEтνμπavíσðŋ) by his friends3. The conspirators then placed one of their own number, Nabonnēdus (Nabu-na'id), on the throne: in the king's own words, which here supplement the brief narrative of Berosus by some graphic details1—
They all conducted me to the palace, cast themselves at my feet, and did homage to my royalty. At the command of Marduk, my lord, I was exalted to the sovereignty of the land, while they cried out, 'Father of the country! there is none his equal!'
Nabu-na'id, as Abydenus says, was 'no relation' to his predecessor: he was not, like Nebuchadnezzar, a Chaldaean, but a native Babylonian, the son of one Nabu-balāṭsu-iķbi, as the inscription on a brick from Babylon testifies ———
Nabu-na'id, king of Babylon, the chosen of Nebo and Marduk, the son of Nabu-balātsu-ikbi, the wise prince, am I.
Nabu-na'id was the last native king of Babylon: he was still on the throne when the city was taken by Cyrus, B.C. 538. As
1 Berosus, in an extract ap. Joseph. c. Ap. i. 20.
2 KB. iii. 2, pp. 71-79.
Berosus, .c. His successor speaks of him as one who 'knew not how to rule, and placed himself on the throne against the will of the gods' (Messerschmidt, Die Inschr. der Stele Nabuna'ids, 1896, p. 29). Messerschmidt, p. 29 (col. V. 11. 1—13).
Ap. Euseb. Praep. Εv. ix. 41, 3 (προσήκοντά οἱ οὐδέν).