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made a dreadful carnage among the people, burned the temple and all the principal edifices, and made slaves of all whom they did not put to the sword. Zedekiah was carried to Babylon, where he died. Thus was dissolved the kingdom of Judah, in the year B. C. 588; and it is from this captivity that the 70 years are to be reckoned to the decree of Darius Hystaspes, king of Persia, to restore the city and temple.
BABYLON.-The era of Nabonassar, who may be considered the first king of Babylon, has been determined to correspond to the year B. C. 747, or three years after the birth of Hezekiah. For some time, the history is obscure, the kings of Assyria and Babylon sometimes seeming to be the same, and sometimes different. The general current of the history seems to have been, that the kings of Babylon were at first governors for the kings of Assyria; but that, after various struggles, they rendered themselves independent. To Nabonassar succeeded several kings, little or nothing of whom is known, and whose names it is not necessary here to record. After the death of Sennacherib, king of Assyria, who invaded Judah in the reign of Hezekiah, Assarharddon succeeded him; and, during the latter part of his reign, had Babylon, as well as Nineveh, under his dominion. He came to the throne during the reign of Hezekiah, and died in that of Manasseh. He was succeeded by
Saosduchinus, of whom nothing is known. It was probably in his reign that Manasseh was restored to his kingdom. To him succeeded
Chyniladan, who is supposed, on good grounds, to have been the Nabuchadonosor of the book of Judith. If so, he occupied Palestine with his army, probably during the reign of Josiah, when that prince was yet too young to resist him. To Chyniladan succeeded
Sarac, or Sardanapalus.-He committed his forces in Chaldea to Nabopolassar, who rebelled against him and, to strengthen his rebellion, invited the Medes, who had always borne the sway of the Assyrian empire with impatience, to unite with him. They did so,
and the two armies besieged Nineveh. Sardanapalus, dreading the calamities that seemed to be coming upon him, retired to his palace with his wives, and, having set it on fire, was there destroyed, with his whole family and property. The allied army of Medes and Babylonians, some time afterwards, took Nineveh, and destroyed it. Nabopolassar associated his son, Nebuchadnezzar, with him on the throne, two years before he died; and, on his death, was succeeded by
Nebuchadnezzar, when Jehoiakim was on the throne of Judah. His treatment of the Jews has already been noticed. Under him the Babylonian empire, or the first of the four great monarchies, described in the prophecies of Daniel, reached its greatest height. Having established his government in the east, he attacked Pharaoh Necho, and drove him within the boundaries of his own kingdom. He then set himself to strengthen and ornament the city of Babylon. He enclosed an immense space of ground within an enormous wall, and erected hanging gardens, or gardens on elevated terraces, which have been the wonder of the world. He seems to have repaired the tower of Babel, and fitted it to be a temple for his god; and there probably he set up that golden image which the three Hebrew captives refused to worship. While these events were passing in Babylon, the nations to the west of the Euphrates were seeking an opportunity to revolt against him. The leading powers in this confederacy seem to have been Tyre and Egypt. Tyre had then become the greatest commercial city in the world, and possessed the greatest maritime power then known. Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Tyre, but met with a most resolute and formidable enemy. For 13 years he carried on his operations against it, till the Tyrians, seeing that they were not likely to be able to hold out much longer, built a city on an island, a little way from the shore. Thither they removed all their wealth, and left to Nebuchadnezzar merely the walls and empty houses of the old city. Having thus done what he could towards chastising Tyre, he turned his army against Egypt, speedily overran it, laid it desolate, and
loaded himself with its booty. He then returned to Babylon, where becoming intoxicated with pride and vanity, he was struck with insanity, and, for a time, set aside from governing the kingdom. He was, however, restored, resumed the reins of government; and then he proclaimed to all his subjects the character of the one living and true God. After his restoration he lived but one year, and concluded an eventful reign of 43 years by dying, B. C. 567.
Evil Merodach succeeded him; a weak prince of profligate habits. He is supposed to have wantonly invaded Media, and laid the foundation of that hostility between the Medes and Babylonians, which proved the destruction of his kingdom. His relatives conspired against him, and put him to death.
After a struggle for the throne, in which two princes became nominally kings, and perished,
Belshazzar succeeded, who is supposed to have been the son of Evil Merodach, and the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar. He also was a weak and profligate prince. In his reign, Cyrus, the Persian commander of the Median and Persian army, took the city of Babylon. Belshazzar had made a feast for his nobles, and brought in the sacred vessels of the temple at Jerusalem, to be used in the entertainment; when, in the midst of his riot, four fingers of a man's hand appeared, writing mysterious characters on the wall opposite to him. The king and his nobles were thrown into the utmost consternation, and sought for some one to interpret the writing, but no one could be found. At length the queen came in to him, and informed him of the prophet Daniel. Daniel was immediately called, and interpreted the writing to signify, that the kingdom was divided and given to the Medes and Persians. On that night the prediction was fulfilled. At the very time these things were proceeding in the palace, Cyrus had entered the city by the bed of the river; and his soldiers, assailing the palace, slew Belshazzar; and Darius, the Median, took possession of the empire.
Thus, the first of the four great monarchies, described by Daniel the prophet, fell, in the year B. C. 538, after
it had existed separate from the Assyrian empire about 88 years.
THE MEDO-PERSIAN EMPIRE.-The Medes and Persians were originally two monarchies, of which the Median first rose to eminence. Previous to the time of Hezekiah, the Medes were subject to the Assyrian monarchy. On the reverse which Sennacherib met with in Judah, during that reign, it is believed that the Medes revolted, and after a time of anarchy, elected Dejoces king. He reigned 53 years, and seems to have devoted himself entirely to the internal regulation and improvement of his kingdom. He was succeeded by his son,
Phraortes, who, being a warlike and ambitious prince, attacked the Assyrian empire, under Chyniladan, or Nabuchodonosor; but was defeated, his capital city taken and destroyed, and afterwards he himself taken and slain. He was succeeded by
Cyaxeres, his son.-Cyaxeres recovered from the Assyrians what his father had lost. Not, however, contented with this, he was eager to revenge the death of his father, and the destruction of Ecbatan by the Assyrians. He accordingly attacked and defeated the Assyrian army, and laid siege to Nineveh ; but was obliged to raise the siege, in consequence of an invasion of the Scythians. Being unable to repel the Scythians by open force, he had recourse to treachery, and succeeded in having the greater part of them massacred in one night. Having freed the country of the Scythians, he resumed the siege of Nineveh, and, to strengthen his hands in this enterprise, he obtained the co-operation of Nabopolassar, king of Babylon. These two confederate kings took that great city, and utterly destroyed it, about 612 years B.C. After this success, the two kings directed their forces against Pharaoh Necho, and defeated him. They then separated, and Nebuchadnezzar advanced upon those western provinces of the Assyrian empire that lay to the southward, as Syria, Edom, and Palestine; while Cyaxares attacked those that lay to the
northward, as Armenia, Pontus, and Cappadocia, which he subdued, with great slaughter of the inhabitants. Cyaxares is also supposed to have added Persia to his empire; although that acquisition is, by some, ascribed to his predecessor. He died in the 40th year of his reign, leaving his throne to
Astyages, his son.-Astyages married a Lydian princess, to cement the peace that had been made between that kingdom and Media; and from that marriage was born Darius, called in scripture Darius the Mede; but called by the Greek writers, Cyaxares. Astyages, during the same year in which Darius was born, gave his daughter Mandane to Cambyses, a Persian nobleman, or, as others say, the Persian king, in marriage, and of that marriage, was born the celebrated Cyrus. Cyrus was therefore the nephew of Darius, and was only about one year younger than he. Astyages reigned 35 years. The only incident mentioned in his history, worthy of record, is, his repelling the unprovoked invasion of the Babylonians under Evil Merodach. In this war, Cyrus, then a young man, greatly distinguished himself. On the death of Astyages, he was succeeded by his son,
Darius, or Cyaxares II; but Cyrus, his nephew, held the command of the army under him, and conducted the military operations of his reign. It was during the reign of Darius that Cyrus took Babylon, as already noticed; after which event Darius came to Babylon, and there, in concert with Cyrus, settled the government of his new empire. They divided it into 120 provinces, over each of which a governor was appointed. Over these governors there were three presidents, and the chief of these presidents, was the prophet Daniel, who might, therefore, be regarded as the prime minister of that vast empire. It was in this reign, when Daniel was about 80 years of age, that he was cast into the den of lions, for persevering in the worship of God, in defiance of a foolish decree which Darius had been persuaded by his courtiers to make. In about two years after the capture of Babylon, Darius died, leaving Cyrus sole monarch of