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prey, and to tread them down like the mire in the streets, Isaiah x. 6. But it was far from any intent of the Assyrians to execute the Divine will, or to chastise the vices of mankind; they only meant to extend their conquests, and establish their own dominion upon the ruins of others: Houbeit he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so, but it is in his heart to destroy, and cut off nations not a few, ver. 7. Wherefore when they shall have served the purposes of Divine Providence, they shall be severely punished for their pride and ambition, their tyranny and cruelty to their neighbors: Wherefore it shall come to pass, that when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon mount Zion, and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks, ver. 12.
There was no prospect of such an event as this, while the Assyrians were in the midst of their successes and triumphs; but still the word of the prophet prevailed; and it was not long after the calamities they brought upon the Jews, when the Assyrian empire (properly so called) was overthrown, and Nineveh destroyed.
The city of Nineveh was one of the largest and most ancient cities in the world. According to the best chron. ologers it was built not long after the Flood, and very soon after the tower of Babel, by Nimrod; but being afterwards greatly enlarged by Ninus, from him it received its name. It was situated on the banks of the Tigris, and (according to the description given of it by Diodorus Siculus) was, in length, an hundred and fifty stadia; in breadth fourscore and ten; and in circumference, four hundred and seventy; which, being reduced to our measure, make it about twenty-one miles long, nine broad, and fifty-four round. How great the number of its inhabitants was, we may learn from the six score thousand children who could not discern between their right hands and their left, Jonah iv. 11. And, according to a proportionate computation, there must have been in the whole not less than six hundred thousand persons.
The inhabitants of Nineveh, like those of other great cities, abounding in wealth and luxury, became very corrapt in their morals. In consequence of this, God was. pleased to commission the prophet Jonah to preach unto them the necessity of repentance, as the only means of averting their impending destruction : and such was the success of his preaching, that both the king and people repented and turned from their evil ways, and thereby, for a time, escaped the execution of the Divine judgments.
But this repentance of the Ninevites, we may reasonably presume, was of no long continuance; for not many years after we find the prophet Nahum foretelling the total and entire destruction of the city. Indeed, the whole of his prophecy relates to this single event; and the city was accordingly destroyed by the Medes and Babyloni. ans, who, uniting together, subverted the whole Assyrian empire.
It is remarkable that the prophet Nahum not only foretold the destruction of Nineveh, but likewise the manner in which it was to be effected. He foretold that the Assyrians should be taken while they were drunken. For while they be folden together as thorns, and while they are drunken as drunkards, they shall be devoured as stubble full dry, Nabum i. 10. And Diodorus Siculus says, “ it was while all the Assyrian army were feasting 6 for their former victories that those about Arbaces (the 66 general of the Median forces) being informed by some 6 deserters of the negligence and drunkenness in the “ camp of the enemy, assaulted them unexpected by 66 night, and falling on them while they were in the ut6 most disorder, and unprepared, became masters of the 66 camp, slew many of the soldiers, and drove the rest “ into the city.”
The prophet Nahum foretels, that the gates of the rivers shall be opened, and the palace shall be dissolved, Nahum ü. 6. And Diodorus tells us, “ there was an old
prophecy, that Nineveh should not be taken till the “ river became an enemy to the city; and in the third “ year of the siege, the river being swoln with continued 6 rains, overflowed part of the city, and broke down the 66 wall for twenty furlongs; that the king, thinking the
oracle was fullilled, and the river become an enemy to “ the city, built a large funeral pile in the palace, and col. á lecting together all his wealth, and his concubines and
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66 eunuchs, burnt himself and them in the palace; and the 66 enemy entered the breach that the waters had made, 66 and took the city."
Thus we find that what the prophet had predicted was literally fulfilled, With an overflowing flood he will make an utter end of the place thereof, Nahum i. 8. He likewise promises the enemy much spoil of gold and silver, Talce ye the spoil of silver, take the spoil of gold ; for there is no end of the store, and glory out of all the pleasant furniture, Nahum ii. 9. And we read in Diodo. rus Siculus, that Arbaces carried many talents of gold and silver to Ecbatane, the royal city belonging to the Medes.
According to the prophecy of Nahum the city was to be destroyed partly by water and partly by fire, Behold, the gates of thy land shall be set wide open unto thine enemies: the fire shall devour thy bars, Nahum iii. 13. And we find by Diodorus that this literally took place, for after the Medes and Babylonians bad possessed themselves of the city, they set fire to it, and reduced the greater part to ashes.
The prophet Nahum was the principal person who foretold the total and entire destruction of the ancient city of Nineveh. The Lord (saith he) with an over-running flood will make an utter end of the place thereof; he will make an utter end; affliction shall not rise up the second time, chap. i. 8, 9. Again, IVhere is the dwelling of the lions ? (meaning Nineveh, whose princes ravaged like lions :) behold, I am against thee, saith the Lordof Hosts, and I will cut off thy prey from the earth, and the voice of thy messengers shall no more be heard, chap. ii. 11, 13. And again, Thy crowned are as the locusts, and thy captains as the great grasshoppers, which camp in the hedges in the cold day; but when the sun ariseth, they flee away, and their place is not known. Thy shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria ; thy nobles shall dwell in the dust; thy people is scattered upon the mountains, and no man gathereth them: there is no healing of thy bruise ; thy wound is grievous ; all that hear the bruit of thee shall clap the hands over thee; for upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually? chap. iii. 17, 18, 19.
The prophet Zedekiah likewise, in the days of Josiah king of Judah, foretold the same melancholy event. The Lord will stretch out his hand against the north, and destroy Assyria, and will make Nineveh a desolation, and dry like a wilderness: and flocks shall lie down in the midst of her, all the beasts of the nations ; both the cormorant and the bittern shall lodge in the upper lintels of it ; their voice shall sing in the windows; desolation shall be in the thresholds; for he shall uncover the cedar work: this is the rejoicing city that dwelt carelessly, that said in her heart, I am, and there is none beside me; how is she become a desolation, a place for beasts to lie down in ! every one that passeth by her shall hiss and wag his hand. Zeph. ii, 13, &c.
It is not to be wondered at that when those prophecies were at first delivered, the people should think it very unlikely they would ever be fulfilled. What probability, indeed, was there to think that so great a city, and wbich contained so many thousand inbabitants, should ever be totally destroyed? And yet, so totally was it destroyed, that even the place where it stood is now scarcely known.
It has been already observed that Nineveh was taken and destroyed by the Medes and Babylonians; and what we may reasonably suppose contributed to complete its ruin and devastation was, Nebuchadnezzar's soon afterwards enlarging and beautifying of Babylon. From that time no mention is made of Nineveh by any of the sacred writers; and the most ancient of the profane authors, who have occasion to say any thing about it, speak of it as a city that once was great and flourishing, but now destroyed and desolate.
Tho same accounts are given of it by all our modern travellers, and particularly by Thevenot, on whose authority Dean Prideaux relates, that, “ Mosul is situated 66 on the west side of the river Tigris, where was ancient6 ly only a suburb of the Old Nineveh, for the city itself 6 stood on the east side of the river, where are to be seen s some of its rubbish of great extent even to this day.”
Another modern traveller says, “ In this country the “ famous city of Nineveh once stood, on the eastern bank. “ of the river Tigris, opposite to the place where Mosul " now stands. There is nothing now to be seen but heaps
66 of rubbish, almost a league along the river Tigris, opCó posite to Mosul, which people imagine to be the re6 mains of this vast city."
Such hath been the fate of the once great city of Nineveh ; in the destruction of which is most amply manifested the great truths of the Divine predictions!
The Prophecies concerning the City of BABYLON.
AFTER the destruction of Nineveh, the city of Babylon became not only the greatest and most magnificent metropolis in the east, but in the whole world. It is said by some to have been first built by Semiramis queen
the successor of Nimrod. But whoever was the first founder, we may reasonably suppose that it received very great improvements afterwards, and Nebuchadnezzar, in particular, enlarged and beautified it to such a degree, that he may in a manner (as himself boasts) be said to have built it. Is not this (says he great Babylon that I have built for the house of the kingdom, by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty ? Dan. iv. 30. By one means or other Babylon became so great and famous a city as to give name to a very large empire. It is called in scripture, great Babylon; the glory of kingdoms; the beauty of the Chaldees excellency; the praise of the whole earth, &c. And its beauty, strength and grandeur, its walls, temples and palaces, are described with such pomp and magnificence by profane authors, that it must deservedly have been reputed one of the wonders of the world. : It might naturally have been imagined that such a city as this was in no danger of ever being abandoned, and much more of its coming to destruction. Such a city as this might surely, with less vanity than any other, boast