« 上一頁繼續 »
geography of Bible lands. Solomon was a commercial monarch. One of his great aims was to make Palestine the centre of commercial enterprise. To secure a safe and easy route for the caravans that imported the treasures of India, Persia, and Mesopotamia, was of the first importance. Tadmor lies half way
between the Euphrates and the borders of Syria. It contains the only copious fountain in that arid desert. Some halting-place was necessary; water was absolutely necessary: consequently, Palmyra was founded as a caravan station.
For a thousand years we hear no more of it. Then Pliny describes it as a large and powerful independent city. In the second century of our era it fell under the dominion of Rome, and to that age may be attributed most of its splendid monuments. When the Emperor Valerian was conquered and captured by the Persians, his unworthy son left him in the hands of the conquerors; but Odeinathus, a citizen of Palmyra, marched against them, defeated them, and took the whole province of Mesopotamia. The services thus rendered to Rome were considered so great that Odeinathus was associated in the empire with Gallienus. This brave man was poisoned at Emesa; but he bequeathed his power to a worthy successor—ZENOBIA, his widow. The names of Palmyra and Zenobia can never be dissociated. Unfortunately, ambition prompted her to usurp the high-sounding title, “Queen of the East.” But Rome could brook no rival. Her army was defeated, her desert city laid in ashes, and she herself led in fetters to grace the victor's triumph. Poor Zenobia ! she deserved a better fate. If common humanity could not prevent Roman citizens from thus exulting over a fallen foe, the memory of her husband's services might have saved her from the indignity of appearing before a mob in chains.
The period of Palmyra's glory was now past, and we have scarcely a notice in history of its decline and fall. At the present moment about fifty wretched hovels, built within the court of the Temple of the Sun, form the only representatives of the great city of Zenobia, and of “Tadmor in the wilderness.”
J. L. PORTER.
TWENTY years ago, the name of Nineveh would have called up only the remembrance of an ancient city, great and princely in its time, but which had long since passed away. Our own times have seen its resurrection, after five and twenty centuries had heaped their dust over its grave; and its relics bear witness to the truth of that Word which liveth and endureth for ever.
Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian empire, stood on the river Tigris, opposite the modern town of Mosul. Its foundation dates not long after the flood. Asshur, son of Shem, went forth from the land of Shinar, where Nimrod ruled at Babel, and built a rival city, the beginning of the kingdom called from him Assyria, After this, for 1500 years its name is not mentioned in Scripture. But all this time the city on the Tigris was slowly growing up into wealth, and power, and luxury. It reappears in the time of the second Jeroboam, B.C. 825. During the reign of this prince the prophet Jonah was sent to Nineveh, “that great city,” on a ministry of judgment and repentance. At this time it was “an exceeding great city of three days' journey;" which would make it sixty miles in circuit, covering nearly twice as much ground as London. The number of inhabitants may be gathered from the statement that in it there were more than 120,000 persons that could not discern between their right hand and their left.” With this number of young children, the city must have contained 600,000 people. It may seem strange, that while Nineveh was about twice as large as London, the English capital should have nearly four times the number of inhabitants. There must have been large spaces of unoccupied ground within the walls, royal gardens and hunting-grounds, besides arable land and wide pastures, where “much cattle” were reared, to supply the population with food in case of siege. Very bright and joyous must the city have been in its days of glory. Its white buildings, and lofty towers, and terraced gardens were mirrored far along the Tigris. Its brazen galleys rode proudly on the waters. Along its spacious streets, through lines of temples and palaces, its chariots rolled, and its armies marched from battle with long files of captives and heaps of glittering spoil.
The men of Nineveh “repented at the preaching of Jonas.” The impending judgment was averted. But another king arose who knew not Jonas. Thirteen years after Jeroboam's death, Pul, or Phulukh, invaded Israel, and Menahem, its king, was obliged to buy him off. After this, the way from Nineveh to Samaria and Jerusalem was as straight as the path of the vulture to his prey. Ahaz rifled the Temple to bribe another of these grasping princes. When Hoshea, king of Israel, at last rebelled, Shalmaneser took Samaria, and carried the ten tribes into captivity. Nor did Judah long escape. In the fourteenth year of Hezekiah, Sennacherib marched into the land. The pious king was obliged to strip off the golden plates from the doors and pillars of the Temple, to pay a heavy tribute. Assyria was now a lion with eagle's wings.' But at this very time the prophet Nahum spoke “ the burden of Nineveh :"
“Woe to the city of blood !
She is all full of falsehood and violence;
Sennacherib a second time invaded Judah. His armies encamped round Jerusalem, in sight of the Temple. Hezekiah had no resource but prayer. In a single night the hosts of Assyria were withered like the leaves of autumn, by the angel of the Lord. Their humbled king fled to Nineveh, to that palace at Kouyunjik opened within these few years to the light of day. Thither he had brought the spoils of the Temple; and on its walls we still see the eagle-headed Nisroch, the idol he was worshipping when slain by his own sons.
After these events, the name of Nineveh appears chiefly in the predictions which herald its fall. Its doom was fast approaching. We learn from Greek writers that the Medes and Persians besieged the city for two years.
It held out till an inundation of the
Tigris made an immense breach in the wall. The king, in his despair, perished in the flames of a funeral-pile, which he had reared in the court of his palace. Each of these disasters had been exactly foretold. The traces of a vast conflagration are visible
among the ruins. Its princely structures fell into crumbling heaps.
These huge shapeless mounds stood for centuries on the banks of the Tigris, but no one thought of the buried magnificence beneath them. By the labours, first of M. Botta, French consul at Mosul, and then of Mr. Layard, they have been partially excavated, and the results are well known. Nineveh has become the Pompeii of the East. We have proofs of the luxury of her princes, and the skill of her craftsmen, in the ornaments of bronze and ivory, the gems and vases, which are now in the British Museum. But more interesting still are the sculptures, which form her proudest monuments. Her annals were not written on parchment, but graven with an iron pen in the rock for ever. slabs of alabaster were the tablets on which her chronicles were inscribed. There we view the battles, and sieges, and banquets of her kings,—we follow them to the chase, and enter the temples of their gods, and walk with them through their chambers of imagery. The arrow-head inscriptions which cover them have yielded up their secrets to the keen eye of our men of science. Colonel (now Sir Henry) Rawlinson, who has deciphered the account of Sennacherib's first campaign in Judea, says, “ The agreement between the record of the sacred historian and the chronicle which I have copied, extends even to the number of the talents of gold and silver which were given as tribute.”
The sculptures present many illustrations of Scripture. One is curious. A king drags captives after him, who appear to be Jews. They have rings in their lips, to which cords are attached, and are thus drawn onward by the conqueror. Now, Isaiah says to Sennacherib, in the name of God, “I will put my hook in thy
my bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by which thou camest.” On another we see a city besieged. It stands on a lofty hill, with tombs at the foot of it. Near it is a mountain planted with olive trees, and a stream flows through the valley between the hills. Such was the Assyrian picture of the siege of Jerusalem. Thus would the people of Nineveh gaze on the Jewish capital with the same interest with which we behold views of Sebastopol and the blood-washed Malakhoff and Redan.
We have in Nineveh a witness to the truth of prophecy risen from the dead. Who can doubt that God's own hand buried these speaking tablets in the earth, and kept them secure, till they were needed, in an age of doubt, to attest and seal the truth of His holy word ? Nahum cried, “Woe to the bloody city!” and more than two millenniums later, “ The stone from the wall crieth out, and the beam from the timber answereth it." J. D. BURNS.
THE DESTRUCTION OF SENNACHERIB'S ARMY.
THE Assyrian came down like the wolf on And there lay the steed with his nostrils all the fold,
wide, And his cohorts were gleaming with purple But through them there rolled not the - and gold,
breath of his pride; And the sheen of their spears was like stars And the foam of his gasping lay white on on the sea,
the turf, When the blue wave rolls nightly.on deep And cold as the spray of the rock-beating Galilee.
Like the leaves of the forest when summer And there lay the rider, distorted and is green,
pale, That host with their banners at sunset With the dew on his brow, and the rust on were seen;
his mail; Like the leaves of the forest when autumn | And the tents were all silent, the banners hath blown,
alone, That host on the morrow lay withered and The lances unlifted, the trumpet unstrown.
For the Angel of Death spread his wings And the widows of Ashur are loud in their
on the blast, And breathed in the face of the foe as he and the idols are broke in the temple of passed;
Baal; And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by and chill,
the sword, And their hearts but once heaved, and for Hath melted like snow in the glance of the ever were still.