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    August 13, 1885

    “The Assyrian Empire. (Concluded.)” The Signs of the Times 11, 31, pp. 484, 485.

    IN the years 731 B.C., Tiglath-Pileser again overran Babylonia, and in 729 B.C. offered sacrifices to the Babylonian gods in Babylon and all the principal cities. He was succeeded B.C. 727 by Shalmaneser IV., having re-established the power of Assyria throughout Syria, Palestine, and Phœnicia, to the borders of Egypt.SITI August 13, 1885, page 484.1

    Shalmaneser reigned six years. his most important act was his invasion of Israel and siege of Samaria. 2 Kings 17:3-6; 18:9-12. He was succeeded by 722 B.C., by Sargon.SITI August 13, 1885, page 484.2

    Sargon warred successively in Susiana (Elam), in Syria, in Armenia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kurdistan, Media, and Babylonia. About 711 B.C., he took Ashdod (Isaiah 20; 1), and went on from there and invaded Egypt and subdued Ethiopia. Isaiah 20:3-5. Having completely reduced Syria, humiliated Egypt, and struck terror into the tribes of the north and east, he determined on a great expedition against Babylon. About the same year that Sargon took his seat on the Assyrian throne, Merodach-Baladan took possession of Babylon and established his authority there as king. While Sargon was engaged in his Syrian and Egyptian wars, Merodach-Baladan held undisputed sway in Babylon, but in his twelfth year, which was Sargon’s twelfth year also, Sargon, as stated above, made his great expedition into that country. Merodach-Baladan, however, did not even await the invader, but left Babylon and fled to his own former city, Beth-Yakin, on the coast of the Persian Gulf, near the mouth of the Euphrates. There Sargon attacked him, defeated his army, and drove the troops into their own dyke, in which many of them were drowned. Merodach-Baladan took refuge within the walls of the city, which Sargon besieged, took, plundered, and burnt, and took Merodach-Baladan prisoner, and carried him captive into Assyria.SITI August 13, 1885, page 484.3

    “The power of Babylon was broken. Henceforth the Assyrian rule is maintained over the whole of Chaldea and Babylonia, with few and brief interruptions, to the close of the [Assyrian] empire. The reluctant victim struggles in his captor’s grasp, and now and then for a short space shakes it off, but it is only to be seized again with the firmer gripe, until at length his struggles cease, and he resigns himself to a fate which he has come to regard as inevitable.”—Seven Great Monarchies, Second Monarchy, chap. 9, par. 149.SITI August 13, 1885, page 484.4

    “Indeed, it may be said that from the invasion of Tiglath-Pileser to the revolt of Nabopolassar, Babylonia ceased to have any separate existence. It was governed by Assyrian kings, or the viceroys they appointed, and the only attempts to recover independence were made under the leadership of the Chaldean chiefs. It becomes nothing more than an important province of Assyria.”—Encyc. Brit., art. Babylonia and Assyria, par. 9.SITI August 13, 1885, page 484.5

    In B.C. 705, Sargon was succeeded by his son Sennacherib, “the greatest of all the Assyrian monarchs.” This was the Sennacherib of whom so much is said in the Bible. He reigned twenty-four years. About the time of his accession, Merodach-Baladan escaped from his Assyrian prison, and fled to Babylon, and again assumed the ttitle of king, but Sennacherib soon followed, and overran the country, and Merodach-Baladan escaped into Susiana. About B.C. 700 Merodach-Baladan returned to Babylon, and, in conjunction with a certain Susub, again organized a revolt. Sennacherib again proceeded to Babylon, and again Merodach-Baladan fled, this time to an island in the Persian Gulf, and abandoned to Sennacherib’s mercy his brothers and all of his partisans. After this he is never heard of more. Babylon was captured, burnt, and ruined by Sennacherib, and its inhabitants sold into slavery.SITI August 13, 1885, page 484.6

    Sennacherib was succeeded in B.C. 681 to 680, by his son Esar-haddon (Isaiah 37:38). To prevent the revolts that were so frequent in Babylonia, Esar-haddon determined to rebuild Babylon and make it the second capital of his empire. Accordingly he restored many of the people who had been carried away, brought back the captured gods, rebuilt the walls and temples, built a house for his son, and a palace for himself. And this is why it was that when the “captains of the host of the king of Assyria” had taken Manasseh of Judah captive, they “carried him to Babylon.” The king of Assyria was at Babylon, and the “captains of the host must carry that captive king to the king of Assyria, who was at Babylon, and Esar-haddon was this “king of Assyria” to whom Manasseh was carried (2 Chronicles 32:11). In the reign of no other king of Assyria, except perhaps Esar-haddon’s son, would a captive have been carried to Babylon.SITI August 13, 1885, page 484.7

    Esar-haddon was succeeded by his son Asshur-bani-pal, in the year 668 B.C. Asshur-bani-pal was the “grand monarch” of the grand empire of Assyria. “In his reign and Assyrian dominions reached their greatest extent,” and Assyrian art reached its highest development. Then it was that the Assyrian stood in the grandeur and glory, afterward described by the prophet of God:—SITI August 13, 1885, page 484.8

    “Behold, the Assyrian was a cedar in Lebanon with fair branches, and with a shadowing shroud, and of an high stature; and his top was among the thick boughs. The waters made him great, the deep set him up on high with her rivers running round about his plants, and sent out her little rivers unto all the trees of the field. Therefore his height was exalted above all the trees of the field, and his boughs were multiplied, and his branches became long because of the multitude of waters, when he shot forth. All the fowls of heaven made their nests in his boughs, and under his branches did all the beasts of the field bring forth their young, and under his shadow dwelt all great nations. Thus was he fair in his greatness, in the length of his branches; for his root was by great waters. The cedars in the garden of God could not hide him; the fir trees were not like his boughs, and the chestnut trees were not like his branches; nor any tree in the garden of God was like unto him in his beauty. I have made him fair by the multitude of his branches: so that all the trees of Eden, that were in the garden of God, envied him.” Ezekiel 31:3-9.SITI August 13, 1885, page 484.9

    “In the middle part of this prince’s reign, Assyria was paramount over the portion of western Asia included between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Halys on the one hand, and the Caspian Sea and the great Persian Desert on the other. Southwards the boundary was formed by Arabia and the Persian Gulf; northwards ... it did not extend so far as the northern frontier of Armenia. Besides her Asiatic dominions, Assyria possessed also at this time a portion of Africa, her authority being acknowledged as far as the latitude of Thebes. The countries included within the limits thus indicated, and subject, during the period in question, to Assyrian influence, were chiefly the following, Susiana, Chaldea, Babylonia, Media, Matiene or the Zagros Range, Mesopotamia; parts of Armenia, Cappadocia, and Cilicia; Syria, Phenicia, Palestine, Idumea, a portion of Arabia, and almost the whole of Egypt.”—Seven Great Monarchies, Second Monarchy, chap. 9, par. 252, (ninth from the end). See also Labberton’s Historical Atlas, Map 3.SITI August 13, 1885, page 484.10

    Asshur-bani-pal reigned forty-two years, till about 636 B.C. He was succeeded by his son Bel-zakir-iskun, who soon found his empire threatened on three sides—Media, Babylonia, and Egypt. Media was now organized into a powerful monarchy under Phraortes, and advanced upon Assyria from the east; Babylonia threw off the Assyrian yoke; and Psammeticus of Egypt invaded the Assyrian dominions on the west and laid siege to Ashdod. This danger to his empire was promptly met by Bel-zakir-iskun. He immediately raised two armies, one of which he placed under the command of Nabopolassar (Nabu-pal-usur), and sent it to subdue the revolted Babylonia; the other he, in person, led to meet the coming forces of Media. Nabopolassar so effectually performed his appointed service as to merit and receive from his sovereign the honorable title of “King of Babylon.” Bel-zakir-iskun met the Medes, ... them back, and pursued them into their own country, where he finally brought them to bay in the plain of Rhages, and inflicted upon them a curshing defeat, in which the Median king was slain.SITI August 13, 1885, page 484.11

    Phraortes, however, was immediately succeeded by his son Cyaxeres, who continued the war and finally succeeded in driving the king of Assyria our of Media, and in his turn invaded Assyria, and threatened a siege of Nineveh, but was just then recalled to his own country by the ravages of barbarians from the north. As the barbarians of Germany afterward poured down upon the Roman Empire, so now the barbarous Scythian hordes poured into Media. “On they came ... like a flight of locusts, countless, irresistible—swarming into Iberia and Upper Media—finding before them a garden, and leaving it behind them a howling wilderness.” Cyaxeres met them, was defeated, and was compelled to make terms with the invaders, and to pay an annual tribute.SITI August 13, 1885, page 484.12

    But the Scythians did not confine themselves to Media. They swept down through the passes of the Zagros Mountains into Assyria. “The tide swept on. Wandering from district to district, plundering everywhere, settling nowhere, the clouds of horse passed over Mesopotamia, the force of the invasion becoming weaker as it spread itself, until in Syria it reached its term through the policy of the Egyptian king, Psammeticus.” “Psammeticus went out and met those barbarians, and by rich presents tempted them to turn aside and not invade Egypt.” The power of the Scythians continued about fourteen years, when finally Cyaxeres invited all the chiefs to a banquet, got them all drunk, put them all to death, and then succeeded in driving their hordes back into Scythia.SITI August 13, 1885, page 484.13

    During these years Bel-zakir-iskun died, and was succeeded by Asshur-emid-ilin, the Saracus of the Greek writers. Assyria had been greatly weakened by the invasion of the Scyths; more so, indeed, than had Media; and immediately enemies rose up on all sides. Nabopolassar, who had now for about fifteen years been consolidating and strengthening his power at Babylon, determined to possess that province, in his own right. To make success certain, he entered into an alliance with Necho, king of Egypt, who in 612 B.C. had succeeded Psammeticus, then, by virtue of this alliance, sent an embassy to Cyaxeres of Media, asking him to join in a triple alliance, and all together attack the Assyrian Empire.SITI August 13, 1885, page 484.14

    The king of Media was only too glad of such a golden opportunity to complete the enterprise from which he had been turned by the Schthic invasion, and, without a moment’s delay, accepted the proposition. And to more closely bind the alliance, the king of Media gave, in marriage, his daughter Amyitis to Nebbuchadnezzar the son of Nabopolassar. In the year 610 B.C., these united powers invaded Assyria. Necho came out of Egypt, hurrying on to join the other powers (2 Kings 23:29; 2 Chronicles 35:20, 21), when Josiah king of Judah went out to stop him. Josiah was slain, his army defeated, and Necho pushed on to the Euphrates, laid siege to Carchemish (2 Chronicles 35:20), an Assyrian fortress, the center of a province, and the link that connected Assyria and Syria. He captured Carchemish, and occupied it with his army, thus at one stroke severing all the Assyrian territory west of the Euphrates. Necho fixed his headquarters “at Ribinh in the land of Hamath,” and exercised his power as suzerain eveer the kingdom of Judah and the provinces round about. 2 Kings 23:33-35.SITI August 13, 1885, page 484.15

    Nabopolassar and Cyaxeres both went up against the king of Assyria himself, and besieged Nineveh. Saracus, after exhausting every means of resistance, burned himself in his palace, and Nineveh was destroyed.SITI August 13, 1885, page 485.1

    Thus perished forever, the Assyrian Empire, after an independency of more than a thousand years, and an ascendancy of about six hundred and ninety years.SITI August 13, 1885, page 485.2

    There followed a division of the territories that had formed the Assyrian Empire. West of the Euphrates fell to Necho; the northern mountainous region was annexed to Media; and all the reset was held by Nabopolasar as king of Babylon. And so arose the kingdom of Babylon of the Bible.SITI August 13, 1885, page 485.3

    A. T. J.

    NOTE.—The authority which we have mainly followed in this sketch of the Assyrian Empire, is, “The Seven Monarchies of the Ancient Eastern World,” by Canon Rawlinson. In connection with this, we have consulted the “Encyclopedia Britannica,” ninth edition; “The Ancient Empires of the East,” by Prof. A. H. Sayce; “Ancient History of the East,” by Lenormant and Chevallier; and “Ancient History from the Monuments, Assyria,” by Mr. George Smith, of the British Museum; especially have we followed Mr. Smith in the order of events from the death of Asshur-bani-pal to the division of the empire among the allied conquerors.SITI August 13, 1885, page 485.4

    “Notes on the International Lesson. 1 Kings 18:30-46. ‘The Lord, He Is the God’” The Signs of the Times 11, 31, pp. 486, 487.

    AUGUST 16—1 Kings 18:30-46

    IT will be remembered that the lesson for last week was upon the scene of Elijah’s calling all Israel to the point of decision between the Lord and Baal; how that all Israel, and the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, came to him at Mount Carmel, and there the test was to be made, by which the people should decide as to whom they would follow. The prophets of Baal prophesied from morning till noon, “But there was no voice nor any that answered.” Then they cried louder and “cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets till the blood gushed out upon them” till the time of the evening sacrifice (about three o’clock), but still “there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.”SITI August 13, 1885, page 486.1

    THEN “Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near.” Then he repaired the altar of the Lord, that had been broken down, and took “twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob;” with these he built the altar of the Lord; then prepared his sacrifice and commanded water to be brought and poured upon the sacrifice and the altar until it ran over and down and round about the altar and filled the trench that he had caused to be digged.SITI August 13, 1885, page 486.2

    “AND it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again. Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God.”SITI August 13, 1885, page 486.3

    IN last week’s lesson we also showed that just before the Lord comes the people will be brought to just such a test upon their obedience to the Lord, in keeping the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, against the decree of Church and State in favor of Sunday, as was Israel against the decree of the ancient Jezebel in favor of Baal; that every man must decide whether he will “worship the beast and his image,” or whether he will “worship him that made heaven and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” We called attention to the fact that there is now a party working for a union of Church and State, for the express purpose of compelling the people to keep Sunday; and that against this the Lord sends a message of warning, and also calls upon all men to keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.SITI August 13, 1885, page 486.4

    WHEN the people all gathered before Elijah, they seemed to be wavering. It seems that they could not make up their minds what they should do. Although the narrative is very brief, it is plain that the attention of all the people had been called to the conflict that was going on between Jezebel and the prophets of the Lord, between Baal and Jehovah.SITI August 13, 1885, page 486.5

    For (1) Jezebel had cut off all the prophets of the Lord that she could find, and those who escaped were obliged to take refuge in caves, and there were 7,000 persons scattered throughout Israel who had not worshiped Baal. It is impossible that all this could have been carried on without the attention of all Israel being called to this great subject.SITI August 13, 1885, page 486.6

    (2) Ahab had made such a diligent search for Elijah that it was impossible that the subject of controversy could have been hidden, for when Obadiah finally met Elijah, he said: “There is no nation or kingdom, whither my lord [Ahab] hath not sent to seek thee; and when they said, He is not here; he took an oath of the kingdom and nation, that they found thee not.” 1 Kings 18:10.SITI August 13, 1885, page 487.1

    (3) The prophets of Baal were working in the interest of Baal, throughout the nation of Israel; for when Elijah did show himself to Ahab and gave the challenge and told him to gather Israel and the prophets together, we read: “So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto Mount Carmel.” Of these there were four hundred and fifty, and of the prophets of Ashera, the female companion of Baal, there were four hundred. From all these things it is plain that this thing “was not done in a corner;” and we may safely conclude that the subject had been thoroughly discussed by all Israel.SITI August 13, 1885, page 487.2

    This is further shown by the very first words that Elijah spake to the people, when they had assembled. Said he, “How long halt ye between two opinions!” It is plain therefore that the people were acquainted with the two views of the subject, although there was hesitancy in decidedly adopting either.SITI August 13, 1885, page 487.3

    ON the one side was Jehovah, who had brought their fathers out of Egypt; who had planted them in Canaan, who had been with Samuel, and Gideon, and Barak, and Jephtha; who had led the host of Israel round Jericho, and had thrown down its walls; who had caused the waters of Jordan to stand still while Israel passed over; who had led them through the wilderness, and had fed them with bread from heaven, even with angels’ food (Psalm 78:25); the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel; the Creator of heaven and earth; the lover of a world of sinners. On the other side was Baal, the embodiment of shame, with the wicked, licentious, cruel, shameful Jezebel as his grand patron, and the promoter of his worship.SITI August 13, 1885, page 487.4

    OH! how were it possible for there to be “two opinions”? How could it be that they would not only recognize “two opinions,” but actually “halt”—hesitate—between them? Was it because they were worse than any other people that have ever been? Not at all. It was simply because they were human. Let us see for a moment what there was to draw them toward Baal.SITI August 13, 1885, page 487.5

    FIRST of all. Baal worship was fashionable, it was popular. Remember that Baal-worship was sun-worship. It was just as fashionable, just as popular, then to worship Baal as it now is to keep Sunday. The king, the queen, the court, the rich, the powerful, the mighty, all worshiped Baal; and after these all the middle classes, and all the common people, all, all were for Baal—except only seven thousand out of all the multitudes of Israel. There were a few scattered here and there throughout the nation who refused to accept anything as worthy of an opinion but that the Lord was God, and that his commandments were yea and amen and must be obeyed, and these were held as fanatics.SITI August 13, 1885, page 487.6

    THEN, too, a person could not prosper at all, unless he worshiped Baal. All the patronage and all the power of the kingdom with the queen at the head, was exerted in favor of Baal. So much so indeed was this, that it was even dangerous not to follow the way of Jezebel and Baal. It was at the risk of life itself that the faithful seven thousand and served the Lord. More than this, when by all these considerations they were induced to forsake their duty to God and their respect for is commandments, the restraints of conscience and the law of God were loosed, for Baal demanded nothing of this kind. No self-denial was ever asked of the worshipers of Baal; no pleasure, be it what it would, was ever denied to the followers of Baal.SITI August 13, 1885, page 487.7

    THEN, it was just as fashionable to go to a feast in the house of Baal, as it now is to go to a festival in the house of the Lord. Then it was just as honorable to bow the knee to Baal in the house of Baal, as it now is to gamble in the house of the Lord. Then it was just as entirely proper to offer the young women to the highest bidder, in the temple of Baal, as it now is to put them up and sell them at auction, or sell their kisses, to the highest bidder, in the house of the Lord. And then, for the servant of the Lord to reprove those, was to make himself as unpopular, and as much of a troubler of Israel, as it now is to reprove these. Then, it was counted just as stubborn fanaticism to acknowledge Jehovah in the first commandment, as it now is to acknowledge Jehovah in the fourth commandment.SITI August 13, 1885, page 487.8

    AND this fashionableness, and popularity, and worldly honor, and worldly advantage, and abundance of pleasures, were what caused the people then to halt between two opinions as to whether they would follow the Lord or follow Baal, just as it now causes people to halt between two opinions as to whether they will keep the Sabbath of the Lord, or keep the Sunday of the papal church.SITI August 13, 1885, page 487.9

    “HOW LONG halt ye between two opinions?” If the Bible says that “the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord,” keep it, but if the Bible says that the first day of is the Sabbath of the Lord, then keep that. What matters it though four hundred and fifty prophets, with the second Jezebel (Revelation 2:20) at their head, all say that Sunday—the first day—is the Sabbath; until they point to a verse in the word of God that says plainly, The first day is the Sabbath of the Lord—until then their word on that subject is no more to be taken as the truth than was the word of the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal that Baal was God.SITI August 13, 1885, page 487.10

    THERE is no disguising the fact that this Sabbath question is fast gaining the lead of all public questions. The great multitude, as governments, and as nations, are rapidly wheeling into line in support of the claim that Sunday is the Sabbath and must be so kept under penalty of law. There are a few, a little company, who, in opposition to this, maintain that the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord, and must be so observed. And this question, as to which day is the Sabbath, is not left for our decision, any more than the question as to who was the true God was left to theirs in the day of Elijah. The Lord himself has decided this question as well as that. And after the manner of Elijah we say to all. Write these two questions, 1. Is the seventh day the Sabbath? 2. Is the first day the Sabbath? Then which ever one that the word of God in the Bible says is the Sabbath, let that day be the Sabbath. And that holy word answers, with no uncertain sound, to every man in the wide world, “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work.”SITI August 13, 1885, page 487.11

    “If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable; and shalt honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words; then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” Isaiah 58:13, 14.SITI August 13, 1885, page 487.12

    A. T. J.

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