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dence to these books, boasting of so many myriads of years, he must likewise believe many other manifestly incredible things which they contain.”
It is very evident that this account, as it stands, is mythical. It is not history, and can afford us, therefore, no reliable chronology. No advocate of the extreme antiquity of the race, however sanguine, would, on the credit of this statement, pretend to date man's actual creation at 720,000, or 432,000 years B. C. These immense periods must be classed with those that meet us in the earliest Egyptian chronology, which were appropriately remitted to the reigns' of the gods and manes.
But if not historical, have they not historical elements in them? If they are not to be taken literally, do they not at least warrant the general conclusion that man has lived during a very long period; thus, in some sense, justifying such authors as Bunsen, and Rodier, and Lyell, in their assumptions, and countenancing the tendency of the age to set aside the Mosaic narrative of the creation as unsupported and unworthy of acceptance? To answer these inquiries satisfactorily, let us examine, with some care, the statement itself.
Various opinions have been held as to the measures of time named in it. Suidas regards the sarus as equal to 222 lunar months, or nearly 18)
years,* so that the 120 sari, assigned to the antediluvian kings, amount, according to him, to 2222 years. This number he doubtless intended for 2242, the space of time between the creation and flood, as given in the Alexandrian Septuagint, thus making the Chaldean antediluvian period coextensive. with that related by Moses. Latham,f a distinguished chronologer, regards the sarus equal to 4 years and 340 days; Raske, a space of 23 months ; and Ideler,f a lunar period which he can not define. But the most probable opinion is that of Alexander Polyhistor, s that the sarus was a period of ten years, of 360 days each, which was the year of the most ancient times — an opinion held by the two learned monks Anianus and Polydorus (who flourished about A. D. 400); also by Africanus,|| although regarded by many as a mere expedient to get rid of a difficulty. This interpretation is strongly corroborated by the probable etymology of the terms. Saros, or sar, as it is very properly Anglicized, seems to have been allied to the Hebrew word icy, asar, ten, and sossus, from a shesh,* six, so that a sar would be 10 years or 3600 days, a soss a sixth of a year, or 60 days, and a nerus, or ner, of which the etymology is not apparent, a sixth of a sar, or 600 days. This view is further confirmed by the fact that in the Semitic languages the word to designate days was sometimes employed to signify years. Jackson asserts directly that in the Chaldee the word yömim, as in Hebrew the corresponding yāmim, was employed to signify both days and years.f Indeed, the words denoting periods of time, in most ancient languages, etymologically mean a completed course or circuit, such as annus in Latin, štos, žvos, Évia vios, in Greek, 7 in Hebrew, etc., and hence are sometimes applied to any revolution, whether of the sun or moon, so that the same word might denote the solar year, the lunar month, or the solar day. Hence it would be both easy and natural for Berosus, or any one translating ancient records, to make the mistake of calling days years, especially when influenced by the desire, so common among historians, of enhancing, as much as possible, the antiquity of their own nations.
** Sari, a measure and number among the Chaldeans. They make 120 sari equal to 2222 years, since a sarus is 222 lunar months, which amount to eighteen years and six months. Lex. sub voce E1001.
† Latham's Chronographical Essays, pp. 81, 84.
f Ideler on the era of the Chaldeans, in “Recherche Historique sur les Observationes astronomiques des Anciens,” in Hama Almageste, vol. iv. p. 62.
§ Syncellus, p. 32, B.
As a further evidence of the correctness of this interpretation, it should be mentioned that this ancient manner of reckoning was continued after the flood of Xisuthrus through 9 sari, 2 neri, and 8 sossi, when these terms are suddenly dropped, and the reigns given in solar years. It is true that the break is after a succession of 86 kings, but the kingdom continues with a simple change of dynasties; there is no passing from the reign of gods or demigods to that of mortal men, such as would be not only natural, but necessary, in order to account for the immense difference in the duration of the reigns. While the pretended antediluvian reigns varied from 10,000 to 64,800 years in length, and those immediately following averaged full 400 years each, the eight Median kings that succeeded extended only over 224 years, or an average of about 28 years ; after which came other dynasties (Chaldean, Arabian, and Assyrian), all of ordinary historical lengths. These discrepancies can only be explained by the supposition that, in the prehistoric periods, days and months were magnified into years, as we have already seen was the case in the mythologic chronology of Egypt.*
I have dwelt the longer on these measures of time in Chaldea, because the subject has not met with justice from some writers of high standing. For example, Sir George Cornwall Lewis, in his Survey of the Astronomy of the Ancients, in speaking of Chaldean antiquities, gives all the high numbers which he found scattered through ancient authors, as expressing the antiquity of that nation, as 720,000, 432,000, etc., years; but he adds not a word as to the peculiar manner in which time was computed by that people, and which would render an interpretation more nearly consistent with history both plausible and probable. And Philip Smith, in his History of the World, - a very valuable work, — mentions the Chaldean antediluvian period. of 432,000 years, and the postdiluvian period of 34,080 years, as computed by sars, and explains that a sar is 3600 years, without a word to intimate that any other value has ever been given to the term, or is even possible. * He then exhibits a chronological table of Babylonian history, of eight postdi
* Ante, p. 67 seq.
* He adds a note in the following unqualified language: “In the Babylonian system of notation, the numbers 6 and 10 were employed alternately. Time was measured ordinarily, by the soss, the ner, and the sar — the soss being 10 X 6= 60 years, the ner 60 X 10=600 years, and the sar 600 X 6= 3600 years. The next term in this series would evidently be 3600 X 10=36,000 years, and the term following 36,000 X 6= 216,000 years. Berosus' antediluvian cycle consists of 432,000, or two such periods." Vol. i. p. 195.