Page images
PDF
EPUB

The origin of Rome is as uncertain as that of Greece. No fewer than twenty-five different legends have come down to us out of the mists of antiquity relating to the foundation of that city. They may, however, be reduced to three principal theories : first, that it was founded by Evander in the age preceding the Trojan war; second, by Æneas and his associates shortly after that war; and third, by Romulus and Remus, the twins, in the year B. C. 753. For our present purpose, it matters not which of these is preferred. In point of fact, neither of them is of undoubted authenticity, and most modern historians do not pretend to carry back the beginnings of Roman history more than two or three hundred years before Christ, regarding all before this as fabulous.

Nothing, then, can be derived from either Greek or Roman history invalidating in the slightest degree the sacred chronology as to the age of man on the earth. The beginning of that history is confessedly far within the date of the time of Noah.

CHAPTER IV.

THE ARGUMENT FROM HISTORY (continued).

III. THE CHALDEANS. Extravagant Claims. — Berosus and his Writings. — His Annals

of an Antediluvian Kingdom. — These evidently mythical. — His Measures of Time. - Elements of true History in them. — Negatively, they contain Nothing inconsistent with Bible Chronology. — Positively, they tend to its Confirmation. — Earliest Historic Dynasty, B. C. 2458.

The ancient Chaldeans, according to the usual interpretation of their records, claiined for their nation a higher antiquity than any other people, the Hindus, perhaps, excepted. As usual, however, in statements of this kind, there is great discrepancy in the numbers. I believe the largest number of years claimed by them, antecedent to historic times, is two million one hundred and fifty thousand. Other estimates claim 720,000, 490,000, 473,000, 470,000, 432,000, 270,000, 31,000, * etc. Sometimes these numbers profess to give the duration of Chaldean history previous to the time of Alexander. Thus, according to Porphyry, a writer of the third century, "Callisthenes sent from Babylon to Aristotle a series of astronomical observations, reaching back from the time of Alexander over a space of 31,000 years.”

* Sir G. C. Lewis's Survey of the Astronomy of the Ancients, pp. 263, 286.

The authority most generally quoted in reference to Chaldean antiquities is BEROSUS, a priest of Belus at Babylon, and an historian who lived in the time of Alexander. He wrote the Chaldean history in three books. This work is now lost, except some

few extracts preserved mostly in Josephus, Euse· bius, and Syncellus, which again, especially those

found in the last two authors named, were taken from the original work of Berosus by three heathen writers, - Apollodorus, Abydenus, and Alexander Polyhistor, - all of whom flourished between the time of Alexander the Great and the Christian era. According to them, Berosus " narrates that there were at Babylon the writings of many authors, preserved with the greatest care, which comprised a history through a period of 215 myriads (2,150,000) of years,* in which was an account of the computa

[ocr errors]

tions of time, a history of the heaven, the earth, and the sea, of the birth of mankind, of kings, and of their memorable deeds."

The portion of these extracts which relates particularly to our present object, is that which professes to give the annals of an antediluvian Chaldean kingdom, of the flood, and of a long succession of the kings following through a period amounting in aggregate to 462,080 years. After this are enumerated five or six dynasties of Median, Chaldean, Assyrian, and Arabian monarchs, through a period of

1550 years, to Pul, the Assyrian king mentioned in . 2 Kings xv. 19, 1 Chron. v. 26, B. C. 770. It

devolves upon us, then, to inquire what historical value is to be attached to these supposed records.

The antediluvian kingdom of ten reigns is said to have extended through a duration of 120 sari. " The first king," says Eusebius, quoting Berosus, * " was Alorus, a Chaldean from Babylon. He reigned ten sari. Now, a sarus is 3600 years; he adds, " I know not how many neri and sossi.A nerus, he says, is 600 years, and a sossus 60 years.fi Thus he reckons years in connection with the affairs of the ancients.

* Chron. Armen. I. chap. i.

† Syncellus says (p. 17), “ Berosus wrote in sari, neri, and sossi, of which a sarus is 3600 years, a nerus is 600, and a sossus 60 years.”

" Having said these things, he goes on and enumerates the Assyrian kings, giving their names in order. There were ten kings from Alorus, the first, to Xisuthrus, in whose time happened that first great flood of which Moses speaks. Now, the sum of the years which these kings reigned is 120 sari, that is, forty-three myriads, and two thousand (432,000) years. He then writes in these express words. He says, ' Alorus being dead, his son Alaparus reigned three sari ; after Alaparus, Almelon, from the city of Pantibiblis, a Chaldean, thirteen sari; Ammenon, also from Pantibiblis, a Chaldean, succeeded Almenon, thirteen sari ; then Amegala-, rus, of Pantibiblis, reigned eighteen sari ; then Daonus, a Shepherd, from Pantibiblis, reigned ten sari; afterwards Edoranchus, a Pantibiblian, reigned eighteen sari ; then Amempsimus, from Lancharis, a Chaldean, reigned ten sari; then Otiartes, from Lancharis, a Chaldean, took the kingdom, eight sari; Otiartes being dead, Xisuthrus ruled the kingdom eighteen sari. In his time happened the great flood. The sum is ten kings, and one hundred and twenty sari.' Now, they say that these one hundred and twenty sari amount to forty-three myriads and two thousand years (432,000), since a sarus is 3600 years. These things Alexander Polyhistor narrates in his books. Now, if any one yields confi

« PreviousContinue »