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of Jeremiah, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the broad walls of Babylon shall be utterly broken, and her high gates shall be burnt with fire, Jer. li. 58.
When Xerxes returned from his unfortunate expedition into Greece, partly out of religious zeal (being a professed enemy to image worship) and partly to reimburse himself after his immense expenses, he seized upon the treasures, and plundered or destroyed the temples and idols in Babylon, thereby accomplishing the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah: Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground: Bel boweth doun, Nebo stoopeth, Isaiah xxi. 9. lxvi. 1. Babylon is taken, Bel is confounded, Merodach is broken in pieces, her idols are confounded, her images are broken in pieces. And I will punish Bel in Babylon, and I will bring forth out of his mouth that which he hath swallowed up, Jer. 1. 2. li. 44, &c. This part of the prophecy was most literally-fulfilled, when the vessels of the House of God which Nebuchadnezzar had brought from Jerusalem, and placed in the temple of Bel, were restored by order of Cyrus, and carried back to Jerusalem.
After the destruction of Babylon by the Persians, Alexander intended to have made it the seat of his empire, and actually set men at work to rebuild the temple of Belus, to repair the banks of the river, and to bring back the waters into their own channel. But if these designs had taken effect, how could the prophecies have been ful. filled? And what providence therefore was it, that his designs did not take effect, and that the breaches were never repaired? He met with some difficulties in the work, and death soon after put an end to this and all his other projects; and none of his successors ever attempted it. Seleucia being built a few years after in the neighborhood, Babylon, in a little time, became wholly desolate, Seleucia not only robbing it of its inhabitants, but (according to Pliny) even of its name. . That the prophecies relative to the fate of this ancient and once magnificent city have, in the most strict manner, been fulfilled, appears from accounts given of it by a variety of authors both ancient and modern. Among the former, Diodorus Siculus describes the buildings as ruin
ed or decayed in his time, and says that only a small part of the city was then inhabited, the greatest part within the walls being tilled. Strabo, (who wrote not long after Diodorus) says, that one part of the city was demolished by the Persians, and the other by time and the neglect of the Macedonians, and especially after Seleucus Nicator had built Seleucia on the Tigris in the neighborhood of Babylon, and he and his successors removed their court thither: and now (saith he) Seleucia is greater than Babylon, and Babylon is much deserted, so that one may apply to this what the poet said of Magalopolis in Arcadia, the great city is now become a great desert. Pliny, in like manner, affirms, that it was reduced to solitude, being exhausted by the neighborhood of Seleucia, built for that purpose by Seleucus Nicator. Maximus Tyrius mentions it as lying neglected and forsaken; and Lucian intimates, that in a little time
Jerome (who lived in the fourth century after Christ) it was converted into a chace to keep wild beasts within the compass of its walls, for the hunting of the later kings of Persia. “ We have learned (saith he) from a certain “ Elamite brother, who, coming out of those parts, now “ liveth as a monk at Jerusalem, that the royal huntings 6 are in Babylon, and wild beasts of every kind are con66 fined within the circuit of the walls. And a little after " he saith, that excepting the brick walls, which, after 6 many years, have been repaired for the inclosing of 56 wild beasts, all the space within is entire desolation."
Of later authors the first who mentions any thing concerning Babylon is Benjamin of Tudela, a Jew who lived in the twelfth century. In his Itinerary, he says, 66 ancient Babylon is now laid waste, but some ruins are 56 still to be seen of Nebuchadnezzar's palace, and men « fear to enter them on account of the serpents and 66 scorpions which are in the midst of it.” And Taxeira, a Portuguese, in the description of his travels from India to Italy, says, “ of this great famous city there is nothing 6 but only a few vestiges remaining, nor in the whole “ region is any place less frequented.”
Such are the accounts given us of the state of Babylon by ancient authors; and let us see what relation is given of it by the writers and travellers of modern date. The first we shall quote of these is one Rauwolf, a German traveller, who passed that way in the year 1574, and whose account of these ruins of this once famous city is as follows: “ The village (says he) of Elugo now lieth on “ the place where formerly old Babylon, the metropolis 66 of Chaldea, was situated. The harbor is a quarter of 6 a league's distance from it, where people go ashore in 66 order to proceed by land to the celebrated city of “ Bagdat, which is a day and a half's journey from thence “ eastward on the Tigris. This country is so dry and « barren, that it cannot be tilled, and so bare that I could “ never have believed that this powerful city, once the “ most stately and renowned in all the world, and sit6 uated in the pleasant and fruitful country of Shinar, 66 could have ever stood there, if I had not known it by $ its situation, and many antiquities of great beauty, which 56 are still standing hereabout in great desolation. First “ by the old bridge which was laid over the Euphrates, (6 whereof there are some pieces and arches still remaining “ built of burnt brick, and so strong that it is admirable.“ Just before the village of Elugo is the hill whereon the $ castle stood, and the ruins of its fortification are still “ visible, though demolished and uninhabited. Behind “ it, and pretty near to it, did stand the tower of Baby“ lon... It is still to be seen, and is half a league in só diameter, but so ruinous, so low, and so full of venom“ous creatures, which lodge in holes made by them in “ the rubbish, that no one durst approach nearer to it " than within half a league, except during two months in " the winter, when these animals never stir out of their “ holes. There is one sort particularly, which the in“ habitants in the language of the country (which is Per
66 they are larger than our lizard.”
Petrus Vallensis (a noble Roman) who was at Bagdat in the year 1616, and went to see the ruins (as they are thought to be) of ancient Babylon, informs us that, “ in 66 the middle of a vast and level plain, about a quarter of "a league from the Euphrates, which in that place runs “ westward, appears an heap of ruined buildings, like a 66 huge mountain, the materials of which are so confounded “ together, that one knows not what to make of it. Its 6 situation and form correspond with that pyramid which 66 Strabo calls the tower of Belus; and is in all likelihood 66 the tower of Nimrod in Babylon, or Babel, as that 66 place is still called.—There appear no marks of ruins, 66 without the compass of that huge mass, to convince one 6 so great a city as Babylon had ever stood there: all “ one discovers within fifty or sixty paces of it, being có only the remains here and there of some foundations 66 of buildings; and the country round about it so flat and 6 level, that one can hardly believe it should be chosen “ for the situation of so great and noble a city as Baby“ lon, or that there were ever any remarkable buildings “ on it; but for my part I am astonished there appears so “ much as there does, considering it is at least four thou" sand years since that city was built, and that Diodorus “ Siculus tells us that it was reduced almost to nothing 6 in his time.”
Monsieur Tavernier, a very celebrated traveller, tells us that, “ at the parting of the Tigris, which is but a lit6 tle way from Bagdat, there is the foundation of a city, 66 which may seem to have been a large league in com66 pass. There are some of the walls yet standing, upon 66 which six coaches may go abreast: they are made of 66 burnt brick, ten feet square, and three' thick. The 6 chronicles of the country say, here stood the ancient 66 Babylon.” Tavernier, however, did not think the ruins he saw to be those of Nebuchadnezzar's palace or of the tower of Babel, as some have supposed they were. He adopts the opinion of the Arabs, and supposes them rather to be the remains of some tower built by one of their princes for a beacon to assemble his subjects in time of war; which, in all probability, was the real state of the case.
The observations made by Mr Salmon (in his Modern History) relative to Babylon, are certainly very just and pertinent. 6 What (says he) is as strange as any thing " that is related of Babylon is, that we cannot learn with
ces it in these the siege of"Bwbo, previous te
66 certainty, either from ancient writers, or modern travel66 lers, where this famous city stood, only in general, that 6 it was situated in the province of Chaldea, upon the 6 river Euphrates, considerably above the place where it có is united with the Tigris. Travellers have guessed 66 from the great ruins they have discovered in several 66 parts of this country, that in this or that place Babylon 66 once stood; but when we come to examine nicely the “ places they mention, we only learn that they are cer“ tainly in the wrong, and have taken the ruins of Se. 65 leucia, or some other great town, for those of Babylon."
The last traveller we shall mention that takes notice of the ruins of Babylon is Mr Hanway, wbo, previous to his giving an account of the siege of Bagdat by Nadir Shah, prefaces it in these words: “ Before we enter upon 66 any circumstance relating to the siege of Bagdat, it “ may afford some light to the subject, to give a short 66 account of this famous city, in the neighborhood of 66 which formerly stood the metropolis of one of the most 6 ancient and most potent monarchies in the world. The 6 place is generally called Bagiat or Bagdad, though 6 some writers preserve the ancient name of Babylon. 6. The reason of thus confounding these two cities is, that 6 the Tigris and Euphrates, forming one common stream 66 before they disembogue into the Persian gulf, are not “ unfrequently mentioned as one and the same river. It “ is certain that the present Bagdat is situated on the 6 Tigris, but the ancient Babylon, according to all bisto« rians, both sacred and profane, was on the Euphrates. “ The ruins of the latter, which geographical writers “ place about fifteen leagues to the south of Bagdat, “ are now so much effaced, that there are hardly any 66 vestiges of them to point out the situation. In the time 66 of the emperor Theodosius there was only a great park “ remaining, in which the kings of Persia bred wild “ beasts for the amusement of hunting.”
How evidently does it appear, from all these accounts, with what great punctuality time hath fulfilled the predictions of the prophets concerning Babylon! When it was converted into a chase for wild beasts to feed and breed there, then were exactly accomplished the words