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    August 6, 1885

    “The Assyrian Empire” The Signs of the Times 11, 30, pp. 468, 469.

    By its lines of prophecy, the Bible does certainly give a complete system of historical views. And for any one entering upon the study of history, who wishes to obtain a ready grasp of all of its important points, from which any part of the great field can be entered at any time, and in any direction, there is no better way than to take up and follow the course laid down in the prophetic scriptures. We believe this to be the true method of studying the history of the world. In the Bible, God has just as surely opened to us the book of human history, as he has the book of human destiny. And we believe that we may study the one as well as the other, with the sanction of Him who ruleth over all.SITI August 6, 1885, page 468.1

    The great field of prophecy opens with Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon at the close of the seventh century before Christ. But that we may enter this field understandingly it will be necessary to briefly sketch the history that preceded his accession and the establishment of the empire of Babylon.SITI August 6, 1885, page 468.2

    In Genesis 10:8-12 we read:—SITI August 6, 1885, page 468.3

    “And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same is a great city.”SITI August 6, 1885, page 468.4

    Thus we are introduced to the founders, and to the history, of the two, afterward, rival kingdoms of Babylonia and Assyria.SITI August 6, 1885, page 468.5

    With only occasional and slight variations, Babylonia or Chaldea, down to the time of Nebuchadnezzar, was bounded on the south by the Persian Gulf, on the west by the Arabian Desert, on the east by the River Tigris, and reached northward to the thirty-fourth parallel of latitude. It contained about 23,000 square miles of territory, being almost exactly the size of the State of West Virginia, or the present kingdom of Denmark. At the time when we enter upon its history the border of the Persian Gulf was about 120 or 130 miles farther inland than it now is.SITI August 6, 1885, page 468.6

    As we have seen, Asshur went forth from Babylon and founded the Assyrian nation. Being thus a colony of Babylonia, it was governed for some time by Babylonian rulers appointed by the Chaldean king. It was not very long, however, till the Babylonian authority was renounced, and the Assyrians established a separate and independent monarchy in the north, while the Chaldean monarchy still flourished in the souther part of the great Mesopotamian plain. Thus Assyria reached from the thirty-fourth parallel of latitude at the south, to the thirty-eighth parallel at the north, and was bounded on the east by the Zagros Mountains, and by the River Euphrates on the west. Its territory consisted of about 75,000 square miles, being just about the size of the State of Nebraska, and a little smaller than Great Britain.SITI August 6, 1885, page 468.7

    The two kingdoms seem to have passed along very peaceably together, Assyria soon rising to an entire equality with the Babylonian.SITI August 6, 1885, page 468.8

    “Not only does she treat as an equal with the great Southern Empire—not only is her royal house deemed worthy of furnishing wives to its princes—but when dynastic troubles arise there, she exercises a predominant influence over the fortunes of the contending parties, and secures victory to the side whose cause she espouses.”—Seven Great Monarchies, Second Monarchy, chapt. 9, par. 20.SITI August 6, 1885, page 468.9

    These amicable relations continued down to the accession of the Assyrian king, Tiglathi-Nin, B.C.1300, who aspired to transfer to Assyria the supremacy, which had been hitherto at least claimed by Babylonia. Accordingly he made war on the Southern Kingdom, and with such success that he was enable “to inscribe upon his signet-seal the proud title of ‘Conqueror of Babylon.’” He reigned for some time at the southern capital, and, it appears, established an Assyrian dynasty there. But in the course of about a century Babylonia succeeded in throwing off the Assyrian yoke and again establishing her independence.SITI August 6, 1885, page 468.10

    The next Assyrian monarch of more than common important was Tiglath-Pileser I., whose accession dates about 1130 B.C. He tells us:—SITI August 6, 1885, page 468.11

    “There fell into my hands altogether, between the commencement of my reign and my fifth year, forty-two countries with their kings, from the banks of the River Zab to the banks of the River Euphrates, the country of the Khatti, and the upper ocean of the setting sun. I brought them under one government; I took hostages from them, and I imposed on them tribute and offerings.”—Id., par. 41.SITI August 6, 1885, page 468.12

    All this is in first five years. He afterward marched his army into Babylonia, where he remained two years wasting with fire and sword the northern provinces, and, although he actually capture Babylon, he did not hold it long, and, in his retreat, if his Babylonian opponent, Merodach-iddin-akhi, did not actually defeat him, he did succeed in capturing his idols, and carried them back with him to Babylon, where they remained 418 years, that is, until the tenth year of Sennacherib, B.C. 694, when they were recovered by him and carried back to the Assyrian capital.SITI August 6, 1885, page 468.13

    The next of the most notable of the kings of Assyria, was Asshur-izir-pal, who ascended the throne B.C. 883.SITI August 6, 1885, page 468.14

    “During the twenty-five years of his active and laborious reign, Assyria enlarged her bounds and increased her influence in almost every direction, while at the same time she advanced rapidly in wealth and the arts; in the latte respect leaping suddenly to an eminence which, so far as we know, had not previously been reached by human genius. The size and magnificence of Asshur-izir-pal’s buildings, the artistic excellence of their ornamentation, the pomp and splendor which they set before us as familiar to the king who raised them, the skill in various useful arts which they display or imply, have excited the admiration of Europe, which has seen with astonishment that many of its inventions were anticipated, and that its luxury was almost equaled by an Asiatic people nine centuries before the Christian era.”—Id., par. 66.SITI August 6, 1885, page 468.15

    In the first six years of his reign Asshur-izir-pal successfully conducted ten military campaigns, and styles himself “the conqueror from the upper passage of the Tigris to Lebanon and the Great Sea, who has reduced under his authority all countries from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same.”SITI August 6, 1885, page 468.16

    He was succeeded by his son Shalmaneser, the second of that name, who reigned thirty-five years. during the first twenty-seven years, he successfully led, in person, twenty-three military expeditions. Among the countries invaded, Babylonia, Media, Persia, Chaldea on the sea coast which was not independent of Babylon, and Syria (Damascus) are the principal ones. He led two expeditions into Babylonia, in the second of which he defeated and slew the pretender to the Babylonian crown, marched into Babylon itself, and then on to Chaldea on the coast, and so, as he says, the power of his army “struck terror as far as the sea.” Five times he invaded the kingdom of Damascus or Syria—three times against Ben-hadad, and twice against Hazael—and, after finally subduing Hazael and plundering his principal towns, the terror of his arms struck as far as to the Mediterranean Sea; and Tyre, and Sidon, and the kingdom of Israel under Jehu, hastened to make their submission, and to pay tribute, to the mighty Shalmaneser, king of Assyria.SITI August 6, 1885, page 468.17

    Shalmaneser died and was succeeded by his son Shamas-Vul, in the year 823 B.C. Shamas-Vul conducted several military campaigns, the most important of which was the one against Babylon. The Babylonians, alarmed at his approach, occupied a strongly fortified city on his line of march, which he besieged and captured, slew 18,000 men, and took 3,00 prisoners, plundered and burnt the city, and pressed on against the retreating enemy. The Babylonian monarch, Merodach-belatzu-ikbi, gathered together again is own troops, and those of his allies, “a vast host,” and met Shamas-Vul at the River Daban, a branch of the Euphrates. The Babylonians were again defeated, with the loss of 5,000 killed, 2,000 prisoners, 100 chariots, 200 tents, and the royal standard and pavilion, and “Babylonia, which has so long been an independent kingdom is reduced to the condition of a tributary of Assyria.”SITI August 6, 1885, page 468.18

    Shamas-Vul was succeeded by his son Vul-lush III., in 810 B.C. Vul-lush was a warlike as any of his predecessors, and extended the Assyrian dominion to still larger limits. He exercised the power of a sovereign over Babylonia, and speaks of himself as “the king to whose son, Asshur, the chief of the gods, has granted the kingdom of Babylon.” From which it would appear that he made his son viceroy over the country.SITI August 6, 1885, page 468.19

    “It thus appears that by the time of Vul-lush III., or early in the eighth century B.C., Assyria had with one hand grasped Babylonia, while with the other she had laid hold of Philistia and Edom. She thus touched the Persian Gulf on the one side, while on the other she was brought into contact with Egypt. At the same time she had received the submission of at least some portion of the great nation of the Medes... She held Southern Armenia, from Lake Van to the sources of the Tigris; she possessed all Upper Syria, including Commagene and Amanus; she had tributaries even on the further side of that mountain range; she bore sway over the whole Syrian coast from Issus to Gaza; her authority was acknowledged by the Phœnicians, the Hamathites, the Patena, the Hittites, the Syrians of Damascus, the people of Israel, and the Idumeans or people of Edom. On the east she had reduced almost all the valleys of Zagros, and had tributaries in the great upland on the eastern side of the [Zagros] Range.”—Id., par. 112.SITI August 6, 1885, page 468.20

    At the death of Val-lush, there was a pause for a period of thirty-six years (B.C. 781-745) in the “magnificent course of Assyrian conquests” which had hardly known a check for more than a hundred years. The kings that occupied this interval were Shalmaneser III., Asshur-dayan III., Asshur-lush, and Pul (2 Kings 15:19; 1 Chronicles 5:26). And after Pul, in B.C. 745 there arose another mighty conqueror, Tiglath-Pileser II. (2 Kings 15:29; 16:7, 10; 1 Chronicles 5:6, 26; 2 Chronicles 28:20). Such an one was needed if the empire was to be preserved, for in the interval aforementioned, during the reigns of the three ease-loving, effeminate kings who preceded Pul, there was insurrection after insurrection, and revolt after revolt, and there was not enough military spirit in these kings to quell any of them. Pul seems to have had some enterprise, for he invaded Israel and took tribute from Menahem. But when Tirlath-Pileser arose, all the vigor of the old empire is again asserted.SITI August 6, 1885, page 468.21

    During this season of weakness and revolt, the old Babylonian kingdom was all broken up by upstart kings. Nabonassar established himself at the head of affairs in Babylon itself; a certain Yakin, or Baladan, the father of Merodach-Baladan, became master of the tract upon the sea coast; and towards the north various princes, Nadina, Zakiru, and others, at the same time obtained petty governments which they administered in their own names. Nabonassar was the most determined and energetic one among the number, and he took a step by which he expected to be remembered at least—he destroyed all the records that he could get hold of, of kings who had preceded him in Babylon, and began to number the years from the date of his own accession B.C. 747, and thus came the “era of Nabonassar.” He held the throne of Babylon fourteen years. He was succeeded in 733 by Nadius, who reigned two years, to 731, and after him came three weak kings, Chinzinus, Porus, and Eluleus, by name, when Merodach-Baladan, who had succeeded his father as king of the coast territory, extended his authority over the upper country, and became king of Babylon in fact. Isaiah 39:1; 2 Kings 20:12, 13. See Seven Great Monarchies, Fourth Mon., chap. 8, par. 5-9.SITI August 6, 1885, page 468.22

    Tiglath-Pileser was no sooner settled on the Assyrian throne than he set about the restoration of the empire. He says himself that he immediately levied an army and marched against Southern Mesopotamia (Babylonia). He attacked and defeated several of the petty princes above mentioned, taking the towns of Kur-Galzu. Sippara, or Sepharvaim, together with many other places of less consequence in the lower part of the country, and received the submission of Merodach-Baladan, who acknowledged him as suzerain, and consented to pay tribute. But there seems to have been friendly relations between Tiglath-Pileser and Nabonassar, and as Tiglath-Pileser in his third year (743 B.C.) began his Syrian, Palestinian, and Phœnecian wars, which continued with but short intermission down to about 732 or 731 B.C., it thus happened that Nabonassar reigned in peace in Babylon all his days, so far at least as the king of Assyria was concerned.SITI August 6, 1885, page 469.1

    A. T. J.

    (To be concluded next week.)

    “Notes on the International Lesson. 1 Kings 18:19-29. ‘If the Lord Be God, Follow Him; but if Baal, Then Follow Him’” The Signs of the Times 11, 30, pp. 470, 471.

    AUGUST 9—1 Kings 18:19-29

    BAAL was the chief god of the Phenician and Canaanitish nations. He was the sun-god, and in him the people worshiped the sun. His worship to some extent had found a place among the people of God before the time of Samuel (Judges 2:10-13; 10:10) but under the guidance of Samuel his worship was wholly forsaken by Israel, and they followed and “served the Lord only” (1 Samuel 7:3, 4). Two hundred years pass by, to the accession of Ahab, before Israel turns again to the worship of Baal.SITI August 6, 1885, page 470.1

    AHAB is introduced thus: “And in the thirty and eighth year of Asa king of Judah began Ahab the son of Omri to reign over Israel: and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty and two years. And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him. And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshiped him. And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.” 1 Kings 16:29-33.SITI August 6, 1885, page 470.2

    THIS very supremacy of wickedness reached by Ahab was through the alliance formed with Jezebel. Taking her to wife was considered by the Lord as worse than walking in the wicked ways of all before him. As stated above, “as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam ... he took to wife Jezebel.” And when he had taken Jezebel for his wife, his queen, and put himself thus in her power, then he had literally sold himself to work evil. And thus the matter is summed up by the graphic writer of the Kings: “But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.” 1 Kings 21:25.SITI August 6, 1885, page 470.3

    JEZEBEL was the daughter of Ethbaal (Baal with him) priest of Baal and Astarte, and king of Tyre and Zidon. Tyre was the chief seat of the Baal-worship, and there was a magnificent temple devoted to his worship, and when Jezebel became the wife of Ahab she deliberately set herself to establish his licentious worship amongst all Israel. The most of the people were idolaters already; but the calf-worship, established by Jeroboam, was in the name of the Lord. With him the calf-worship was more a political measure than anything else. He set up the calves to keep the people from going to Jerusalem to worship the Lord, through fear that if they should go there to worship, the kingdom would turn again to Rehoboam. So to prevent this apparent danger to his kingdom, he set up the calves, saying, “Behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.” This worship, idolatrous as it was, and bad as it was, had yet this merit, that it was at least in the name of Jehovah, and the people in their worship, mistaken though it was, still at least pretended to worship the Lord.SITI August 6, 1885, page 470.4

    BUT this was not enough for Jezebel. It was not enough that idolatry should abound; Baal must be the idol. Nor was it enough that one god should be worshiped; Baal—the sun—must be that one. It was not enough that some, or even most, of the people should worship the sun; they must all do it. So she set on foot a systematic attempt to absolutely suppress the true worship of the Lord, and by Baal to supplant the true God. Nor was it enough for her that all should, if possible, be persuaded to adopt the service of Jezebel and Baal, they must be compelled, under penalty of death to do it. Accordingly she began to cut off all who clung to the worship of Jehovah. By these energetic measures she brought the condition of affairs to the point where there were only 7,000 out of all Israel that had not bowed the knee to Baal; and these only escaped by taking refuge in dens and caves of the earth, and were so widely scattered that Elijah thought that he was the only one left alive.SITI August 6, 1885, page 470.5

    THUS matters stood when the voice of the Lord came to Elijah saying, “Go show thyself unto Ahab.” Elijah went and said to Ahab, “Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto Mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table.” Ahab did so, “And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” The question was not, whether they should worship God. The question was, Who is the true God? The question was not whether they should worship or not worship; all were ready and willing to worship. But the question was, Whom shall we worship? Would they have another god before Jehovah? or would they have him and him alone, according to his own commandments.SITI August 6, 1885, page 470.6

    THE first commandment was the one that was involved in the controversy in the days of Elijah. Should God be worshiped? or should Baal? In last week’s lesson we learned that that people who shall be alive on the earth, and who when the Lord comes, shall be translated as Elijah was, will be brought to a like test as to whom they will worship. They will have to decide whether they will worship the beast and his image or whether they will worship God. The word of God says, “If any man worship the beast and his image.... the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God.... Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:9-12. And in Revelation 15:2, we learn that those who keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus, get “the victory over the beast and over his image,” and “stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.”SITI August 6, 1885, page 470.7

    ANY one who fairly studies the subject cannot fail to see that the following is the truth. The “beast” is the papal power. The “image to the beast” will be the United States Government when the National Reform party shall have succeeded in forming here the union of Church and State for the purpose of compelling everybody to keep Sunday (the day of the sun) as Jezebel in the days of Elijah compelled the people to worship the image of the sun. And as the Sunday institution was established by the papacy—the beast—and is set forth as the sign of her authority; so when, after the similitude of the papal church, the National Reform party unites, in this country, Church and State, for the express purpose of compelling all the people to keep Sunday—an institution of the beast, the papal church—then to keep that day will be to worship the beast and his image.SITI August 6, 1885, page 471.1

    WE say that then to keep Sunday will be to worship the beast and his image. Because absolutely the only authority for Sunday keeping is the Church of Rome, and when we yield obedience to any power that enforces that authority, we then become servants to that power, for, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey?” Romans 6:16. What then shall we do? The Bible tells. When the beast and his image are enforcing their own worship, the Lord says, “Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”SITI August 6, 1885, page 471.2

    TRUE the National Reform party pretends that it is the ten commandments to which they are going to compel obedience. But not one of the ten commandments says a word about keeping Sunday. Oh, but the fourth commandment says, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy;” and they will have it that Sunday is the Sabbath. But that is not true; that same commandment which says, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy,” says also, “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.” The National Reform party and everybody else knows that Sunday is not the seventh day. Therefore when they seek to compel people to keep Sunday, that is not obedience to the commandment of God. And in opposition to that very thing the Lord sends his own word, “Here are they that keep the commandments of God,” etc.SITI August 6, 1885, page 471.3

    THE time is coming, and now is, when the people shall hear the message of God, “Saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation.... Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” In obedience to that message from God, the test will be as strict as was that in the day of Elijah; and the question for decision will be, “If the Lord be God, follow him;” but if the Church of Rome, then follow her. If the authority of God be binding, obey him; but if the authority of the papal church be binding, then obey her. If the commandment of God should be kept, which says, “The seventh day is the Sabbath,” then keep it; but if the commandment of the Romish Church should be kept, which says we must observe Sunday “instead of the Sabbath,” then keep it. And thus it must be decided whether we will “worship Him that made the Heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters;” or whether we will “worship the beast and his image.”SITI August 6, 1885, page 471.4

    THUS we find another parallel in the experience of Elijah and of those who must be translated as was he. In the next lesson we shall see another.SITI August 6, 1885, page 471.5

    A. T. J.

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