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that she should continue for ever, which, indeed, was the case. I shall be a lady for ever; I am, and none else besides me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children, Isaiah xlvii. 7,8. But this was a presumptive construction, for great as it then was, the time did come when all its splendor was laid aside, and the wbole became one continued scene of ruins.
The inhabitants of Babylon were no less enemies to the Jews than those of Nineveh. The one subverted the kingdom of Israel, and the other the kingdom of Judah; It is therefore not to be wondered at that there should be several prophecies relative to these two cities, and that the fate of Babylon should be foretold as well as that of Nineveh. Israel is a scattered sheep, the lions have driven him away; first the king of Assyria hath devoured him, and last this Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon hath broken his bones; Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts the God of Israel, Behold, I will punish the king of Babylon and his land, as I have punished the king of Assyria. Lament. 1. 17, 18.
The prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah very plainly, and in a particular manner, foretold the destruction of this great city. They both lived during the declension of the kingdom of Judah. As they predicted the captivity of the Jews, so they likewise foretold the downfal of their enemies; and they speak with such assurance of the event, that they describe a thing future as if it were already past. Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground, Isaiah xxi. 9. Babylon is suddenly fallen and destroyed ; howl for her, take balm for her pain, if so be she may be healed, Jeremiah li. 8.
Cyrus, who was the conqueror of Babylon, and trans. ferred the empire from the Babylonians to the Medes and Persians, was particularly foretold by name many years before he was born, Isaiah xliv. 28. xlv. 1. He is honored with the appellation of the Lord's anointed, and the Lord is said to have holden his right hand, and to have girded him. He was certainly a person of very extraordinary abilities, and was raised up to be the instrument of Providence in executing great and wise purposes.
It was foretold that Cyrus should be a great conqueror, that he should subdue nations before him: and, I will loose the loins of kings to open before him the two-leaved gates, and the gates shall not be shut, Isaiah xlv. 1. This was strictly fulfilled, for Cyrus subdued several kings, and took several cities, particularly Sardes and Babylon, and extended his conquests over all Asia, from the river Indus to the Ægean Sea.
It was likewise foretold that Cyrus should find great spoil and treasure among the nations he should
hidden riches of secret places. Isaiah xlv. 3. And the riches which Cyrus found in his conquests were of prodigious value, as appears from the accounts given us by Pliny. Nor can we wonder at it, when we consider that those parts of Asia, at that time, abounded in wealth and luxury. Babylon had been heaping up treasures for many years; and the riches of Croesus king of Lydia, whom Cyrus conquered and took prisoner, are, in a manner, become proverbial. .
The prophet Jeremiah not only foretels the destruction of the great city of Babylon, but likewise points out the time when it is to be effected. These nations (says he, speaking of the Jews) shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years: and it shall come to pass when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, saith the Lord, Jer. xxv. 11, 12. This prophecy was delivered, as appears from the first verse of the chapter, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; from which time there were seventy years to the taking of Babylon, and the iestoration of the Jews from captivity. Nebuchadnezzar, after taking Jerusalem, transplanted the Jews to Babylon in order to strengthen the place: their removal from thence must, therefore, have greatly weakened it; after which it became more and more distressed, till at length it was finally destroyed.
It was foretold that various nations should unite against Babylon. The noise of a multitude in the mountains, like as of a great people; a tumultuous noise of the king. him. had
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doms of nations gathered together; the Lord of hosts mustereth the host of the battle, Isaiah xiii. 4. And particularly it was foretold, that the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni, and Ashchenaz (that is, the Armenians, Phrygians and other nations) should compose part of his army. Set ye up a standard in the land, blow the trumpet among the nations, prepare the nations against her, call together against her the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni and Ashchenaz, Jer. li. 27. And accordingly Cyrus's army consisted of various nations; and among them were those very people whom he had conquered before, and now obliged to attend him in this expedition.*
It was foretold that the Babylonians should be terrified, and hide themselves within their walls. The mighty men of Babylon have forborne to fight, they have remained in their holds, their might hath failed, they became as women, Jer. li. 30. And accordingly we find that, after a battle or two, the Babylonians never recovered their courage to face the enemy in the field again: they retired within their walls, and the first time that Cyrus came with his army before the place, he could not provoke them to venture forth and try the fortune of arms, even though he sent a challenge to the king to fight with him in single combat; and the last time that he went, he consulted with his officers about the best method of carrying on the siege," since, saith he, they do not come forth and fight."
It was likewise foretold that the river should be dried up, before the city should be taken. This appeared very extraordinary indeed, the river being more than two furlongs broad, and deeper than the height of two men standing one upon another; so that the city was thought
"P, beras like, saith out the ze that
* Among those who voluntarily assisted Cyrus in this undertaking were the people of Elam, who, though subject to Babylon, rose up against it; and the reason of their so doing is thus accounter for by Xenophon. Abradates was viceroy or governor of Susa, or Shushan, and Shushan was the capital of the province of Elam, Dar. viii. 2. His wife Panthea, a lady of the most exquisite beauty, happened to be taken prisoner by the Persians. Cyrus treated her with such generosity, and preserved her with such strict honor safe and inviolate for her husband, as won the heart of the prince, so that he and his people revolted to Cyrus, and fought against the Babylonians.
to be stronger and better fortified by the river than by the walls. But notwithstanding this, the prophets predicted that the waters should be dried up, (see Isaiah xliv. 27. Jer. 1. 38. li. 36.) And accordingly Cyrus turned the course of the river Euphrates which ran through the midst of Babylon, and, by means of deep trenches and the canals, so drained the waters that the river became easily fordable for his soldiers to enter the city; and by those means Babylon (which was otherwise impregnable) was taken.
It was foretold that the city should be taken by surprize during the time of a feast. I have laid a snare for thee, and thou art also taken, O Babylon, and thou wast not aware, thou art found and also caught, Jer. 1. 24. In their heat I will make their feasts, and I will make them drunken, that they may rejoice, and sleep a perpetual sleep, and not wake, saith the Lord, Jer. li. 57. And accordingly the city was taken in the night of a great annual feast, while the inhabitants were dancing, drinking, and revelling, and not having the least suspicion that any immediate danger was at hand. .
Such were the very extraordinary circumstances that attended the reduction of Babylon; and how could any man foresee or foretel such singular events, such remarkable circumstances, without revelation and inspiration from God!
If we examine still farther into these mysterious affairs, we shall see how these and other prophecies bave, by degrees, been fulfilled, for in the very nature of the thing, they could not be fulfilled all at once. As the prophets often speak of things to be in future as if they were al. ready effected, so they speak often of things to be brought about in process of time as if they were to succeed immediately. The past, present, and to come, are all alike known to infinite wisdom; but it is probable that the intermediate time was not revealed to the minds of the prophets.
The prophet Isaiah addresseth Babylon by the name of a virgin, as having never before been taken by an enemy. Come down and sit in the dust, О virgin daughter of Babylon, sit on the ground, Isaiah xlvii. 1. And Herodotus saith expressly, that this was the first time Baby
lon was taken. After this it never more recovered its ancient splendor: from an imperial, it became a tributary city; from being governed by its own kings, and governing strangers, it came itself to be governed by strangers; and the seat of empire being transplanted to Shushan, it decayed by degrees, till it was at length reduced to utter desolation.
We are told by Berosus, that when Cyrus had taken Babylon, he ordered the outer walls to be pulled down, because the city appeared to him very difficult to be taken on that account. And Xenophon informs us, that Cyrus obliged the Babylonians to deliver up all their arms upon pain of death, distributed their best houses among his of. ficers, imposed a tribute upon them, appointed a strong garrison, and compelled the Babylonians to defray the charge, being desirous to keep them poor as the best means of keeping them obedient.
But notwithstanding these precautions, they rebelled against Darius, and, in order to hold out to the last extremity, they took all their women, and each man choosing one of them out of his own family, whom he liked best, they strangled the rest, that unnecessary mouths might not consume their provisions. “ And hereby (saith Dean Prideaux) was very signally fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah against them, in which he foretold, That two things should come to them in a moment, in one day, the loss of children and widow-hood, and that these shall come upon them in their perfection, for the multitude of their sorceries, and the great abundance of their enchantments, Isaiah xlvii. 9. And in what greater perfection could these calamities come upon them, than when they themselves thus upon themselves became the executioners of them?” They sustained the siege and all the efforts of Darius for twenty months, and at length the city was taken by stratagem. As soon as Darius had made himself master of the place, he ordered three thousand of the principal men to be crucified, and thereby fulfilled the prophecies of the cruelty which the Medes and Persians should use towards the Babylonians, Isaiah xii. 17, 18. Jer. 1. 42. He likewise demolished the wall and burnt the gates, by which was remarkably fulfilled the prophecy
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