« ПретходнаНастави »
continuation, the particulars of the siege, and ducing the world with her cup of idolatry, under surprise of the idolatrous city:
They became as women:
They have burned her dwelling places;
Her bars are broken.
One post shall run to meet another,
And one messenger to meet another,
To show the king of Babylon [Nabonadius]
That his city is taken at one end, t
And that the passages [from the river] are stopped, And the reeds [or, thatch of the houses] they have burned with fire,
And the men of war are affrighted.
For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; The daughter of Babylon is like a threshing floor, It is time to thresh her:
Yet a little while, and the time of her harvest shall come."-Jer. li. 30-33.
"And I will dry up her sea, and make her springs dry. And Babylon shall become heaps,
A dwelling place for dragons,
An astonishment, and an hissing,
Without an inhabitant."-Jer. li. 36, 37.
"In their heat I will make their feasts,
And I will make them drunken, that they may rejoice,
"How is Sheshach [the drunkard city] taken!
And how is the praise of the whole earth surprised! How is Babylon become an astonishment among the nations!"-Jer. li. 41.
"Thus saith the Lord of hosts;
The broad walls of Babylon shall be utterly broken,
And the folk in the fire, and they shall be weary."
The prophet Habakkuk represents the retaliation of Divine vengeance on Babylon, for se
• The river Euphrates, and the neighbouring lakes and marshes, with the numerous canals, both of communication and irrigation, give a striking propriety to the phrase, "many waters."
The prediction means that couriers should run from different parts, and so fall in with one another, all of them bringing intelligence to the ruler that the city was taken at the point from whence they started.
the same allegory :
"Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink,
That puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also,
That thou mayest look on their nakedness!
Drink thou also, and let thy foreskin be uncovered: The cup of the Lord's right hand shall be turned unto thee,
And shameful spewing shall be on thy glory."
Hab. ii. 15, 16.
At an earlier period, the prophet Isaiah still more awfully and sublimely predicts the desolations of Babylon.
Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them,
And as for gold, they shall not delight in it.
Their bows also shall dash the young men to pieces;
And they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; Their eye shall not spare children.
And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms,
The beauty of the Chaldees' excellency,
Shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.
It shall never be inhabited,
Neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to genera
Neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there;
Neither shall the shepherds make their fold there.
But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there;
And their houses shall be full of doleful creatures;
And owls shall dwell there,
And satyrs shall dance there.
And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their
And dragons in their pleasant palaces:
And her time is near to come,
And her days shall not be prolonged."-Isa. xiii. 17-22.
The prophet Isaiah describes the destroyer of Babylon by name, and that two hundred years before he was born.
"Thus saith the Lord to his anointed,||
To Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, To subdue nations before him;
And I will loose the loins of kings,
To open before him the two-leaved gates; And the gates shall not be shut;
I will go before thee,
And make the crooked places straight:
I will break in pieces the gates of brass,
And cut in sunder the bars of iron :
And I will give thee the treasures of darkness,
And hidden riches of secret places,
That thou mayest know that I, the Lord,
Am the God of Israel.
For Jacob my servant's sake,
And Israel mine elect,
I have even called thee by thy name:
I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me."
"All ye, assemble yourselves, and hear;
Isa. xlv. 1-4.
Which among thein hath declared these things?
And his arm shall be on the Chaldeans.
I, even I, have spoken; yea, I have called him :
I have brought him, and he shall make his way prosperous."-Isa. xlviii. 14, 15.
Xenophon represents Cyrus as praising the Medes and his army for their disregard of riches. Addressing them before their departure for Babylon, he says: "Ye Medes, and all here present, I well know that ye accompany me on this expedition, not coveting wealth."
The bows of the Persians were three cubits long, and were used as clubs in warfare.
Cyrus, says Dr. Henderson, is called the "anointed of the Lord," because he had, in his providence, appointed him to the rule under which the Jews were to be restored. The allusion is to the ancient rite of anointing with oil those who were invested with regal dignity.
By the same prophet, the Almighty gives the signal to the commanders and to the troops to march against Babylon.
66 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.
I have commanded my sanctified ones,
I have also called my mighty ones for mine anger,
Even them that rejoice in my highness.
The noise of a multitude in the mountains, like as of a great people;
A tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together:
The Lord of hosts mustereth the host of the battle.
From the end of heaven,
Even the Lord, and the weapons of his indignation,
In the same chapter, a description of the dismay, consternation, and perplexity into which the inhabitants of Babylon should be thrown on the capture of the city, is given under a metaphor taken from the physical effects produced upon the human system by fear, alarm, or pain.
"Howl ye; for the day of the Lord is at hand;
And every man's heart shall melt:
And they shall be afraid :
Pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them;
In a succeeding verse, the prophet describes the panic with which the troops should be seized, comparing them to a chased roe, or sheep.
"And it shall be as the chased roe,t
And as a sheep that no man taketh up."-Isa. xiii. 14. The same verse, in the latter clause, exhibits these troops, the greatest part of whom were mercenaries, as returning into the provinces from whence they came, without being pursued by the conqueror.
"They shall every man turn to his own people,
The grand causes of the destruction of Babylon were her pride and cruelty. These are aptly described by the prophet.
"I was wroth with my people, [the Jews,]
I have polluted mine inheritance,
And given them into thine hand:
Thou didst show them no mercy;
Upon the ancient hast thou very heavily laid thy yoke.
So that thou didst not lay these things to thy heart,
Therefore shall evil come upon thee;
Thou shalt not know from whence it riseth:
And mischief shall fall upon thee;
Thou shalt not be able to put it off:
And desolation shall come upon thee suddenly, which thou shalt not know."-Isa. xlvii. 6-11.
Having thus pointed out the principal predictions of Holy Writ relative to the destruction of Babylon by Cyrus, we proceed to narrate their accomplishment from information derived from the pages of ancient authors.
When Cyrus saw that the circumvallation, which his army had long worked upon, was completed, he began to reflect upon the execution of his vast design, which as yet was known only to himself. Providence soon directed him in his course. He was informed, that in the city a great festivalf was to be celebrated; and that the Babylonians were accustomed to pass the night of this festival in dancing and merriment. cordingly, when the citizens of Babylon were thus employed, Cyrus posted a part of his troops on that side where the river entered the city, and another part on that side where it went out, commanding them to enter the city by marching along the channel of the river, as soon as they found it fordable. Having given his orders, and exhorted his officers to follow him, by representing to them that he marched under the guidance of the gods, in the evening he caused receptacles he had prepared on both sides of the city to be opened, that the water of the river might flow into them. The Euphrates, by this means, became fordable, and the troops advanced up the channel, and took the city. In the midst of their rioting, the Babylonians were surprised, and caused to sleep a perpetual sleep ;" and their city from that moment began its downward career of desolation. See the article "Babylon," in the History of the Assyrians, etc. This event occurred, B. c. 536.
By a remarkable providence, and contrary to what might have been expected on the part of the besieged, the gates leading to the river had been left open on the night of the attack by Cyrus, in consequence of which his troops found no difficulty in entering the city. Even the gates of the palace were incautiously opened during the tumult occasioned by the invasion. If such had not been the case, says Herodotus, the Per
Therefore hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, sians, who entered by night through the channel,
That dwellest carelessly,
That sayest in thine heart,
I am, and none else beside me;
I shall not sit as a widow,
Neither shall I know the loss of children :
But these two things shall come to thee in a moment in one day,
The mountains to which the prophet refers are doubtless the elevated regions from which the warriors came who served in the Persian army; such as those of Media
Armenia, Koordistan, as well as the mountains of Sanjar, in the immediate vicinity of Babylon.
+ The "roe," or, as Dr. Henderson renders it, "gazelle," is selected on account of its timidity, and the lightness with which it bounds across the plains, to express the haste with which the alarmed foreigners would attempt their escape from the conqueror.
would have been enclosed, and caught as in a net, and destroyed.
Xenophon says, that Cyrus having entered the city, put all to the sword that were found in the streets. He then commanded the citizens to bring him all their arms, and afterwards to shut themselves up in their houses. The next morning, by break of day, the garrison which kept the citadel, being apprised that the city was taken, surrendered themselves to Cyrus. Thus did this prince,
* Babylon was proud not only of her political wisdom, but also of her astrological and mythological science. + This was the drunken festival of the Sakea, mentioned Jer. li. 41.
almost without striking a blow, and without any resistance, find himself in the peaceable possession of the strongest city in the world. Thus were the various prophecies concerning the capture of Babylon fulfilled.
After his victory, the first thing Cyrus did, says Xenophon, was to thank the gods for the success they had given him. Then, having assembled his principal officers, he publicly applauded their courage and prudence, and their zeal and attachment to his person, and distributed rewards to his whole army. After this, he represented to them that the only means of preserving their conquests was to persevere in their ancient virtue; that the proper end of victory was not to give themselves up to idleness and pleasure; that, after having conquered their enemies by force of arms, it would be shameful to suffer themselves to be overcome by the allurements of pleasure; that in order to maintain their ancient glory, it behoved them to keep up amongst the Persians at Babylon the same discipline they had observed in their own country.
Cyrus, finding himself master of all the east by the capture of Babylon, did not imitate the example of most other conquerors, of whom history records that their victories were sullied by a voluptuous and effeminate conduct: he thought it incumbent upon him to maintain his reputation by the same methods he had acquired it; namely, by a laborious and active life, and a constant application to the duties of his high station.
How skilful Cyrus was in the art of government, is recorded in the pages of ancient authors. Xenophon says, that he committed the various parts and offices of his government to different persons, according to their various talents and qualifications; but the care of forming and appointing general officers, governors of provinces, ministers, and ambassadors, he reserved to himself, looking upon that as the proper duty and employment of a king; and upon which depended his glory, the success of his affairs, and the happiness and tranquillity of his empire. His great talent was, to study the particular character of men, in order to give them authority in proportion to their merit, to make their private advancement concur with the public good; that every part should have a dependance upon, and mutually contribute to support each other; and that the strength of one should not exert itself but for the benefit and advantages of the rest. Each person had his district, and his particular sphere of action, of which he gave an account to another above him, and he again to a third, till, by these different degrees and regular subordination, the cognizance of affairs came to the king himself, who was, as it were, the soul to the body of the state, which by this means he governed with as much ease as a parent governs his household.
When Cyrus afterwards sent governors, called satrapæ, into the provinces under his subjection, he would not suffer the particular governors of places, nor the commanding officers of the troops maintained for the security of the country, to be dependent upon those provincial governors, or to be subject to any one but himself; in order that if any of these satrapa, elate with his station,
made an ill use of his authority, there might be found witnesses and censors of his maladministration within his own government. He carefully avoided the trusting of any one man with absolute power, knowing that a prince would have reason to repent of having exalted one man, if by him the community are oppressed.
Thus Cyrus established a wonderful order with respect to his military affairs, his treasury, and civil government. In all the provinces he had persons of approved integrity, who gave him an account of every thing that passed. He made it his principal care to honour and reward all those that distinguished themselves by their merit. It was this wise concentration of his resources that enabled him to carry on his conquests.
It is not with reference to the destruction of Babylon alone that Cyrus is celebrated in the pages of Holy Writ. Therein he is pointedly referred to as the instrument of restoring the Jewish polity.
"I have raised him up in righteousness,
He shall build my city, and he shall let go my captives,
Saith the Lord of hosts."-Isa. xlv. 13.
Accordingly, in the year of the capture of Babylon, and first of his sole sovereignty, Cyrus issued his famous decree for putting an end to the captivity of the Jews, and for rebuilding the temple of Jerusalem. The decree reads thus :"Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem. And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem," Ezra i. 1-4.
The response to this celebrated decree by the Hebrews was immediate by the chief portion of the exiles. "Then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised, to go up to build the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem. And all they that were about them strengthened their hands with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, and with beasts, and with precious things, beside all that was willingly offered. Also Cyrus the king brought forth the vessels of the house of the Lord, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought forth out of Jerusalem, and had put them in the house of his gods; even those did Cyrus king of Persia bring forth by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, and numbered them unto Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah. And this is the number of them: thirty chargers of gold, a thousand chargers of silver,
nine and twenty knives, thirty basins of gold, silver basins of a second sort four hundred and ten, and other vessels a thousand. All the vessels of gold and of silver were five thousand and four hundred. All these did Sheshbazzar bring up with them of the captivity that were brought up from Babylon unto Jerusalem," Ezra i. 5-11. Thus were the Jews" redeemed without money," according to Isaiah's prophecy, Isa. lii. 3.
In the book of Daniel it is recorded that this holy man "prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian," chap. vi. 28. His last vision is dated in the third year of Cyrus, probably not long before his death, chap. x. 1; and the author of the apocryphal history of Bel and the Dragon says, that Cyrus conversed much with him, and honoured him above all his friends. We may conclude that it was by the wise counsel of Daniel that the spirit of Cyrus was " stirred up" to fulfil the prophecy of Jeremiah, Jer. xxv. 11, this being the year of the expiration of the captivity which Daniel had computed, Dan. ix. 2; and to fulfil the prophecy respecting the rebuilding of the temple, Jer. xxix. 10, to which Cyrus alludes in his decree. See also Isa. xliv. 28.
The holy work, however, did not proceed without opposition. After the death of their patron Daniel, probably in the third year of Cyrus, those adversaries of the Jews, the Samaritan colonists, who had been planted in the room of the ten tribes by Esarhaddon, and had offered to join in the erection of the temple, but were refused by the Jewish government, obstructed the building. By their interest at the Persian court, they obtained an order to stop the work, which was discontinued during the ensuing reigns of Cambyses, Smerdis Magus, Xerxes, and till the second year of the reign of Darius Hystaspes, Ezra iv. 1-5. 24.
Xenophon closes the military exploits of Cyrus with the conquest of Egypt, and says, that the last seven years of his full sovereignty he spent in peace and tranquillity at home, revered and beloved by his subjects of all classes. This testimony is confirmed by the Persian historians. These relate, that after a long and bloody war, Khosru subdued the empire of Turan, now Turkistan, and made the city of Balk, in Chorassan, a royal residence, to keep in order his new subjects; that he repaid every family in Persia the amount of their war taxes, out of the spoils gained by his conquests; that he endeavoured to promote peace and harmony between the Turanians and Iranians; that he regulated the pay of his soldiery; reformed civil and religious abuses throughout the provinces; and, at length, after a long and glorious reign, resigned the crown to his son, Loharasp, and retired to solitude, saying, that "he had lived long enough for his own glory, and it was now time for him to devote the remainder of his days to God."
There is some doubt about the manner of the death of Cyrus. Xenophon declares that he died in his bed. Herodotus, on the other hand, asserts, that he perished, with a great part of his army, in a war against the Scythians; that, having invaded their country, he incautiously advanced into the deserts, where he was surrounded, attacked at a disadvantage, and slain. Ferdusi and Mirkhoud say, that he proceeded
to some spot which he had selected for retirement, where he suddenly disappeared, and his train, among whom were some of the most renowned warriors of Persia, perished in a dreadful tempest. This would seem to confirm the account of Herodotus; for oriental writers frequently use storms to typify any great or wide-spreading calamity, such as an invasion of barbarians, or the destruction of an army; but the end of Cyrus, as related by Xenophon, is more consistent with his character in his latter days.
Cyrus was buried at Pasagardæ, in Persia. Pliny notices his tomb, and Arrian and Strabo describe it. Curtius represents Alexander the Great as offering funeral honours to his shade; and he states that he opened the tomb in hopes of finding treasures there, in which he was disappointed-a rotten shield, two Scythian bows, and a Persian scymitar, being all that it contained. In his Life of Alexander, Plutarch records that the following inscription was found thereon:
"O MAN, WHOEVER THOU ART, AND WHENEVER THOU COMEST, (FOR COME I KNOW THOU WILT,) I AM CYRUS, THE FOUNDER OF THE PERSIAN EMPIRE. ENVY ME NOT, THEN, THE
LITTLE EARTH WHICH COVERS MY REMAINS.
Curtius states, that Alexander was much affected at this inscription, which set before him, in so striking a light, the uncertainty and vicissitude of worldly things; and that he placed the crown of gold which he wore, upon the tomb in which the body lay, wondering that a prince so renowned, and possessed of so much treasures, had not been buried more sumptuously than if he had been a private person.
Cyrus, however, seems to have formed a more correct notion of worldly honour and riches than the ambitious Alexander. Xenophon says, that in his last instructions to his children, he desired that his body, when he died, might not be deposited in gold or silver, nor in any other sumptuous monument, but committed, as soon as possible, to the ground. He probably had learned from the prophet Daniel, that out of the dust he was taken, and that unto dust he must return.
From the peculiar manner in which Cyrus is mentioned in Scripture, named and addressed ages before his birth; called by Jehovah his shepherd," and his "anointed," and promised his high protection and assistance, there has been much learned investigation concerning the character of this great king. Some think that these terms apply to his character as an appointed agent in fulfilling the will of the Almighty, altogether distinct from any considerations connected with his personal or religious character. Others, however, suppose that he was a religious character, which, in connexion with his appointment to perform the Divine will among the nations, gives a peculiar force and propriety to the terms applied to him by the prophet. Dr. Hales, after reviewing his character and history, concludes that he lived the life, and died the death of the righteous. Xenophon, who was a polytheist, represents Cyrus praying to the gods, in the plural number; but that he prayed to one only, the patriarchal god, worshipped by his ancestors,
their own, and went over to Cyrus's opinion, and chose rather to rule, though inhabiting a rough country, than cultivating a champaign, to serve others.
The sage inscription which, according to Saadi, Cyrus caused to be engraved on his tiara, deserves to be inscribed upon the crowns of monarchs in all ages, and in all countries of the world. It read thus: "What avails a long life spent in the enjoyment of worldly grandeur, since others, mortal like ourselves, will one day trample under foot our pride! This crown, handed down to me from my predecessors, must soon pass in succession upon the heads of many others!"
the Pischdadians, may appear from the watch word which he gave to his soldiers before the battle in which Evil Merodach was slain. This watchword was, "Jove, our Saviour, and our Leader." A late writer seems to set the religious character of Cyrus in its true light. He says: "It is repeatedly recorded (Isa. xlv.) of Cyrus, 'Thou hast not known me;' and then coupled with that convincing evidence which the precise predictions offer, we see the unity of God strongly and impressively asserted, together with some distinct allusion to those very errors which were entertained by the people to whom Cyrus belonged. Now, in that remarkable passage, Ezra i. 1, 2, Cyrus says, 'Jehovah, the Lord God of heaven, hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem.' Here he intimates his acquaintance with this very prophecy, for where else is he charged to build the Lord a house at Jerusalem? and he distinctly acknowledges that the God who so charged him was the God of heaven; and that he it was, who, as he also had promised, had given him all the kingdoms of the earth.' It would, therefore, seem, that in arriving at the conviction, that in his great and successful undertakings, he had been but performing the duty to which he was by name appointed and ordain-chief end I aim at is, to have it in my power to ed, he was enabled also to perceive and acknowledge the truth of that sublime declaration which is addressed to himself:
'I am the Lord, and there is none else,
I girded thee, though thou hast not known me!'
"In estimating the effect which this prophecy, regarded as a whole, was calculated to produce upon a mind which appears to have been eminently candid and open to conviction, we must recollect that Daniel, who probably directed his attention to this grand prediction, would not fail to enforce and explain those declarations concerning God which it contains."
Cyrus may justly be considered as the wisest conqueror, and the most accomplished prince mentioned in profane history. Of his wisdom there are many examples given; none of which, perhaps, shine more conspicuously than the following. Herodotus says, that when he succeeded to the Median crown, he was thus addressed by a deputation of the Persians:
"Since God has given dominion to the Persians, and the sovereignty of brave men to you, permit us to remove from our scanty and rugged country of Persia, and to occupy a better. There are many such in our vicinity, and many further off. If we occupy one of these, we shall be more highly respected by the world; and it is but reasonable that rulers should act in this manner. And when, indeed, will a fairer opportunity offer that we rule many nations, and all
The disregard for riches which Cyrus showed on all occasions, is a noble feature in his character. Brerewood estimates the value of the gold and silver which he received in Asia at 126,224,000l. sterling, all of which he distributed among his friends. "I have prodigious riches," said he to his courtiers, "I own, and I am glad the world knows it; but you may assure yourselves they are as much yours as mine. For to what end should I heap up wealth? For my own use? and to consume it myself? That would be impossible, even if I desired it. No; the
reward those who serve the public faithfully, and to succour and relieve those that will acquaint me with their wants and necessities."
Croesus represented to him, that by continual largesses, he would at length make himself poor, whereas he might have amassed infinite treasures, and have been the richest prince in the world." And to what sum,” replied Cyrus, "do you think those treasures might have amounted ?" Croesus named a sum; upon, which Cyrus caused it to be signified to the lords of his court that he was in want of money, and a larger sum was brought than Croesus mentioned. 'Look," said Cyrus, "here are my treasures; the chests I keep my riches in are the hearts and affections of my subjects."
The care of Cyrus over his people was very remarkable. "A prince," said he to his courtiers, "ought to consider himself as a shepherd, and to have the same vigilance, care, and goodness. It is his duty to watch, that his people may live in safety and quiet; to burden himself with anxieties and cares, that they may be exempt from them; to choose whatever is salutary for them, and remove what is hurtful and prejudicial; to place his delight in seeing them increase and multiply; and valiantly expose his own person in their defence and protection. This," he adds, "is the natural idea, and the just image of a good king. It is reasonable, at the same time, that his subjects should render him all the service he stands in need of; but it is still more reasonable, that he should labour to make them happy; because it is for that very end that he is their king, as much as it is to the end and office of a shepherd to take care of his flock."
Asia ?" Cyrus, having heard their speech, though he approved not of it, desired them to do so: but he warned them, at the same time, to prepare themselves no longer to rule, but to be ruled; for It may be observed, that it is somewhat rethat fertile countries naturally produced effemi-markable, that Xenophon represents Cyrus as nate men; that it was not usual for the same soil comparing kings, and himself in particular, to to bear both admirable fruit and warlike men. shepherds, seeing that it is the very character The Persians, therefore, acquiescing, quitted which Scripture gives to this prince.