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274. THE two peoples, whose union had accomplished the overthrow of Assyria, had no difficulty about the division of the spoils. The Manda (Medes) were a mountain folk, with problems of organization and aspirations to conquest as yet limited to the regions east and north of the Tigris. Their king, whom the Medo-Persian tradition (sect. 267) names Cyaxares, extended his sway southward over Elam and to the north and northwest to the borders of Asia Minor, where he came into conflict with the kingdom of Lydia. A decisive battle for supremacy was averted only by an eclipse (585 B. C.), and subsequent negotiations temporarily fixed the boundary between the two kingdoms at the river Halys. Cyaxares seems to have been at once a successful warrior and a wise administrator, the true founder of a firm nationality among the widespread and restless peoples of this region. During his lifetime peace between him and the rulers of the kingdom on the Euphrates was unbroken, sealed as it had been by the marriage of his daughter to the son of Nabupaluçur.
275. It was natural that the provinces of Assyria to the west and south of the Tigris and the mountain wall as far as the Mediterranean should fall to the king of Babylon. Various districts of Babylonia seem to have been held by the Assyrians for a time before the fall of Nineveh (sect. 265), but thereafter they were united under Babylonian rule with out a struggle. This fact, coupled with the tradition of the army from the sea which he was sent to oppose (sect. 268), but with which, it appears, he made common cause, suggests that Nabupaluçur was a Kaldean, and that with him these tribes, so long struggling with Assyria for the supremacy over Babylon, had at last attained their goal. Such, also, was the Opinion of the Jewish writers, who call the king and his armies "Chaldean." Hence the new empire may be called the Kaldean Empire. Yet during the past centuries of contact, so intermingled in blood and united in common interests had Kaldeans and Babylonians become, that the empire may with equal propriety be called the New Babylonian Empire. For its history the chief sources available are the Greek writers of a later age. Its royal inscriptions, so far as discovered, are occupied more with the buildings restored by the kings than with the wars waged by them; with slight exceptions, they are silent as to relations with the world without. That the Greek historians were not always accurate is convincingly proved in some crucial instances (sect. 312), and hence the modern Student of the period, who is dependent so largely upon them, treads often on uncertain ground. Happily, the contemporaneous accounts of the Hebrew writers, prophets and historians, throw much welcome light on some important details of foreign affairs.
276. Although Nabupaluçur was king twenty-one years (626-605 B. C.), it was not until the later period of his reign that he became active outside the limits of his capital. The alliance with the Manda (Medes) and the beginning of active operations against Nineveh could hardly have been previous to 610 B. C. The few inscriptions that are known to be his, describe his works of peace, the rebuilding of Etemenanki, the temple tower of Babylon, the reopening of the canal at Sippar, and the rearing there of a temple to the Belit, or "mistress of Sippar." One inscription speaks vaguely of the destruction of his enemies, and refers particularly to the overthrow of the Shubari and the turning of "their land into mounds and plough-land." This would indicate a campaign in northern Mesopotamia, and, were it not for the statement of Nabuna'id (Nabonidus) that the Babylonian king had nothing to do with the destruction of the temples of Assyria, might reasonably be regarded as a reference to the final expedition in which Nineveh fell. In fact, however, it suggests that while the siege of Nineveh was going on, the army of Nabupaluçur, under his son Nabukudurriuçur (Nebuchadrezzar), was operating in upper Mesopotamia on the Euphrates. The whole region was in confusion; wandering bands of mountaineers were pillaging the towns; Haran's famous temple of the moon-god was ruined by such a raid. The army of Necho II. of Egypt (sect. 265) was also threatening the fords of the river, and, having already taken possession of Syria, was prepared to demand a still greater share of the spoils of Nineveh. Nebuchadrezzar, after clearing the country east of the river, crossed it and met the Egyptians on Syrian soil at the famous city of Karkhemish in 605 B. C. (Jer. xlvi. 2). Necho was thoroughly beaten and fled hastily southward, followed by the Kaldean army. The vassal kings paid their homage to the new conqueror. Among them was Jehoiakim of Judah (2 Kings xxiv. 1). Nebuchadrezzar, at the border of Egypt, received news of the death of his father. Fearing difficulties regarding his accession, he made a treaty with Necho by which the latter relinquished his claims to Palestine and Syria, and at once marched rapidly across the desert to Babylon. At Babylon he seems to have found all things in quiet, and ascended the throne at the close of 605 B. C. The heritage of Assyria, so far as it fell to the Babylonian heir, had been secured, with the exception of Egypt, and the new king, while ruling over a region far less extensive than that of the great Assyrian monarchs, possessed a territory that in size, position, and resources still deserved to be called an empire.
277. THE exact reason for Nebuchadrezzar's haste in returning to Babylon to secure the throne may not be easy to name, but the fear of trouble which such an action suggests was prophetic. A curious passage from the description of the ceremonial at the rebuilding of the Marduk temple in Babylon, found in an inscription of Nabupaluçur, may throw some light upon the situation:
Unto Marduk, my lord, I bowed my neck; I arrayed myself in my gown, the robe of my royalty. Bricks and mortar I carried on my head, a dupshikku of gold and silver I wore; and Nebuchadrezzar, the first-born, the chief son, beloved of my heart, I caused to carry mortar mixed with wine, oil, and (other) products along with my workmen. Nabu-shum-lisher, his talimu, the offspring of my own flesh, the junior, my darling, I ordered to take a basket and spade (?); a dupshikku of gold and silver I placed (on him). Unto Marduk, my lord, as a gift, I dedicated him (II. 59–III. 18; see ABL, p. 132).
278. The struggle of two brothers for their father's throne has already appeared in Assyrian history. In this case the younger seems, from this passage, to have been intended by his father for a special post in the kingdom; the consecration to Marduk indicated, probably, his elevation to the priesthood and, in connection with the epithet talimu, suggests to Winckler (AOF, II. ii. pp. 193 ff.) an appointment as king of Babylon, while the elder brother was to be ruler of the empire and the suzerain. Thus the old problem of Babylonian prerogative reappeared under the Kaldeans. While the fully developed theory, as held by Winckler (l. c.), of a division between the hierarchy and the Kaldean rulers that runs all through the history of this empire and finally causes its ruin, is improbable, the existence of intrigue and the danger of dynastic troubles are obvious. How to be king of Babylon in all the ancient religious meaning of that term and at the same time to harmonize the demands of this position with the administration of the greater state, remained, to the end, the standing problem of the Mesopotamian dynasties. Nebuchadrezzar, however, by the promptness of his appearance on the scene and through the fidelity of his father's counsellors, overcame whatever opposition may have existed, and in his long reign (605-562 B. C.) maintained his supreme position with power undisturbed by revolt and splendor undimmed by rivalry.
279. If the Kaldean empire was of modest proportions in comparison with that of Assyria, it had the advantage of relief from the wearisome and costly wars with mountain peoples. The absorption of all the northern and eastern Assyrian provinces by the Manda (Medes), and the firm alliance between them and the Kaldean king, left him free to take possession of the more compact and tractable districts which fell to him and to organize their administration. How this was done is not very clear, except as it may be inferred from the details of his relations to the single kingdom of Judah, as preserved in the Old Testament writings. Nebuchadrezzar himself has left no documents of value that bear upon this side of his activity. But the long and instructive biblical story of Judah's fortunes, involved, as they were, with the fate of neighboring peoples, reveals with sufficient fulness the king's modes of procedure and ideals of administration, as well as the problems and difficulties that he was compelled to meet. The study of it is essential to the understanding of Babylonian history. Unfortunately the narratives are not free from confusion and contradictions, the special investigation of which belongs to the student of Jewish rather than of Babylonian history. In general, Egypt was the troublesome factor in this region. The twenty-sixth dynasty had succeeded in reorganizing the Nile principalities into something like unity, and in so adjusting the demands of the various classes as to occupy a firm seat at the head of affairs. Accordingly, it proceeded to reassert its old pre-eminence in western Asia. After Necho's conclusive defeat at Karkhemish, he did not, however, make a new attempt in force upon Palestine (2 Kings xxiv. 7), but preferred to use intrigue to induce the communities there to rebel. Jehoiakim may, in the beginning, have stood by his Egyptian suzerain and suffered punishment from Nebuchadrezzar's army on its first advance (2 Chron. xxxvi. 6 f.); but after his submission he remained faithful to Babylon for three years (2 Kings xxiv. 1), till 601 B. C. At last the situation became intolerable. Palestine was seething with elements of revolution. The Kaldean army had been withdrawn. Bedouin were raiding the border communities, and these, in turn, were harrying the frontiers of Judah (2 Kings xxiv. 2). The Kedarenes were pouring into Syria from the desert at the same time (Jer. xlix. 28), — the whole movement being the result of the removal of Assyrian pressure, which, for the last century, had presented an unyielding barrier to the advance of this last wave of Arabian migration. So Jehoiakim renounced his allegiance. For a year or more he was left undisturbed, until Nebuchadrezzar apparently was forced to send an army to restore his own authority throughout the western border. Jerusalem closed its gates and was besieged. Meanwhile Jehoiakim died, and his son Jehoiachin succeeded to the throne. Nebuchadrezzar had followed his army in order to settle the affairs of the west, and, when he appeared before Jerusalem, Jehoiachin gave himself up to his overlord (597 B. C.). The kingdom was punished by the deportation of the king, his court and from nine to ten thousand of the citizens. Jehoiachin's uncle was appointed king under the name of Zedekiah, and sworn to faithfulness to Babylon. During the same campaign it is probable that the Bedouin were driven back and the other disturbances upon the border quieted. The captured king was imprisoned in Babylon, and his people were settled in central Babylonia near Nippur on the Khebar canal.
280. But quiet had been only temporarily restored. Zedekiah found his people hard to restrain. The states on the east, Ammon, Moab, and Edom, were in ferment, and Judah, if faithful to its suzerain, was in danger of constant inroads from that quarter. Their ambassadors appeared at his court, and at the same time emissaries from Tyre and Sidon were present (Jer. xxvii. 3) to urge common cause against Nebuchadrezzar. Twice, apparently, it was necessary for Zedekiah to explain matters at Babylon, once by sending ambassadors (Jer. xxix. 3), and once by appearing in person before the king (Jer. li. 59). The deported Jews in Babylonia were also intriguing in the interests of rebellion, and even the burning alive of two of the most outspoken of their leaders, by the order of Nebuchadrezzar, could not restrain them. Finally, Pharaoh Hophra, who had succeeded Psamtik II., son of Necho, in 589 B.C. threw himself vigorously into the cause of the conspirators and Zedekiah joined them (588 B. C.). Nebuchadrezzar bestirred himself and advanced in strong force as far as Riblah on the middle Orontes. Thence he sent out a division against Judah, that overran the country and besieged the three strongholds which held out, Azekah, Lachish, and Jerusalem (Jer. xxxiv. 7). The defence of Jerusalem was particularly desperate; only after a siege of one and a half years was it taken (586 B. C.). The usual punishments were inflicted. The king was blinded by Nebuchadrezzar's own hand; his sons and counsellors were slain, the citizens deported, the city was demolished, and the booty carried away. The people remaining in the land were left under the oversight of a Jewish noble, Gedaliah, and, when later he was slain by one of his fellow chieftains, the region was still further desolated and abandoned. Thus the old tragedy was re-enacted, and for the last time. It is true that Hophra had made a demonstration against the Kaldeans during the siege of Jerusalem that had compelled a temporary raising of the siege, but the lack of concerted action on the part of the rebels was followed by the usual disaster. Edom and Moab had already made their peace with their overlord. Ammon and Tyre do not seem to have played any active part in the struggle. Judah stood alone and perished.
281. Nebuchadrezzar seems to have proceeded against Tyre and besieged it. The siege is said to have lasted thirteen years (585-573 B. C.), after which the city came to terms, although it was not entered by the Kaldean king. The death of its king, Itobaal II., coincided with its submission. Egypt was attacked by Nebuchadrezzar in 568 B. C., at a time when Hophra had been followed by Amasis as a result of internal strife. Of the success or extent of the campaign there is no definite knowledge. It was little more than a punitive expedition, from which Egypt speedily recovered.
282. If the knowledge of Nebuchadrezzar's wars and the administration of his empire must be derived largely from others than himself, the case is different with respect to his activity in Babylonia. To this long inscriptions are devoted, and small tablets, stamps, and bricks from many famous sites add their testimony. He describes, particularly, his building operations in the city of Babylon, the fortifications, the palaces, and the temples reared by him. Utility and adornment were his guiding principles, but not without the deeper motives of piety and patriotism. In Babylonia at large, he labored at the restoration of the canal system, so important for agriculture, commerce, and defence. One canal which was restored by him, led from the Euphrates south of Hit directly to the gulf through the centre of Babylonia; another on the west of the Euphrates opened up to irrigation and agriculture the edge of the Arabian desert. The river, as it passed along before Babylon, was lined with bricks laid in bitumen, which at low water are visible to-day. The city-canals were similarly treated. Those connecting the two rivers and extending through the land between them were reopened. A system of basins, dykes, and dams guarded and guided the waters of the rivers, — works so various and colossal as to excite the admiration of the Greeks, who saw or heard of them. A system of defences was planned by the erection of a great wall in north Babylonia, stretching from the Euphrates to the Tigris; it was flanked east and west, by a series of ramparts of earth and moats filled with water, and extended southward as far as Nippur. It was called the Median wall. Restorations of temples were made in Borsippa, Sippar, Ur, Uruk, Larsam, Dilbat, and Baz. More than forty temples and shrines are mentioned in the inscriptions as receiving attention. Bricks bearing the king's name are said to have come from every site in Babylonia, from Bagdad to the mouth of the rivers. He may well stand as the greatest builder of all the kings of the Mesopotamian valley.
283. An estimate of the policy and achievements of Nebuchadrezzar, while limited by the unequal amount of information on the various phases of his activity, and subject to revision in the light of, new material, can be undertaken with a reasonable expectation of general accuracy. Tiele has called him one of the greatest rulers of antiquity (BAG, p. 454), and, when his operations in Babylonia are considered, that statement has weight and significance. A century and a half of war, in which Babylonia had been the field of battle, had reduced its cities to ruins and its fields to waste lands. Its temples had been spoiled or neglected, and its gods, in humiliation or wrath, had abandoned their dwelling-places. Warring factions had divided up the country between them, or vied with one another in handing it over to foreign foes. The first duty of the king, who loved his people and considered the well-being and prosperity of his government, was to restore and unite. Recovery and consolidation, — these were the watchwords of public policy for the time, and these Nebuchadrezzar set himself to realize. It is no chance, then, that his inscriptions deal so uniformly with Babylonian affairs, with matters of building and canalization and religion. It has been pointed out, also, that his far-seeing policy contemplated the danger from the Medes, his present allies, and that his elaborate scheme of defences was intended to make Babylon impregnable in the conflict which he saw impending. All this was sagacious and statesmanlike.
284. In the fulfilment of this policy, the king conceived it indispensable to lay the emphasis on the pre-eminence of his capital, the city of Babylon. Here were his most extensive and costly buildings erected. For its protection the vast system of fortifications was designed. To beautify and adorn its streets and temples was his supremest desire, as the exaltation of its gods was the deepest thought of his heart. He, or his successors, even went so far as to destroy the famous temple of the elder Bel in the immemorially sacred city of Nippur, the sanctuary of the whole land, an act which has its explanation only in this purpose to glorify Marduk of Babylon (Peters, Nippur, II. p. 262). But one title is borne by him in all his inscriptions, and that is "King of Babylon;" and in them he declares, "With the exception of Babylon and Borsippa I did not adorn a single city," and "Because my heart did not love the abode of my royalty in another city, in no (other) human habitation did I build a residence for my lordship. Property, the insignia of royalty, I did not establish anywhere else" (ABL, pp. 140, 141). Reasonable question may be raised as to the wisdom of this procedure. The Assyrian kings, while they glorified Nineveh, or Kalkhi, always proclaimed themselves rulers of the state or the empire, and the title assumed was recognized to entail responsibility. But Nebuchadrezzar chose to follow the less laudable feature of the example of his predecessors, and, when the city concerned was Babylon, with the jealousies and rivalries which had gathered around it, the preference was doubtfully wise. To have developed the religious, economic, and even defensive significance of the other cities, while indicating his preference for Babylon, would have removed difficulties which his successors found insoluble.
285. The most serious modification of one's high estimate of Nebuchadrezzar must be made when his administration of his empire is examined. The fundamental principles of his policy in this field are involved in his preference of Babylonia and its capital. It is true that the following passage in his inscriptions must be given due weight:
Far-off lands, distant mountains, from the Upper Sea to the Lower Sea, steep trails, unopened paths, where motion was impeded, where there was no foothold, difficult roads, journeys without water, I traversed, and the unruly I overthrew; I bound as captives my enemies; the land I set in order and the people I made to prosper; both bad and good among the people I took under my care (?); silver, gold, costly precious stones, bronze, palm-wood, cedar-wood, all kinds of precious things, a rich abundance, the product of the mountains, the wealth of the seas, a heavy gift, a splendid present, to my city Babylon I brought (EIH, II. 13 ff.).
This, however, is the only statement of the kind to be found, and its limitations are obvious. The facts, which his dealing with Judah and the other western states reveals, lower its significance yet more. For a century Assyria had maintained its supremacy there with little or no trouble, with what success can be measured in a single instance. On good grounds it has been held that King Josiah's opposition to Necho of Egypt was inspired by his loyalty to Assyria, though that state was now at its last gasp. Its government had been severe, but it had organized and protected its vassals. But the Jewish rebellion against Nebuchadrezzar is explicable, chiefly from the neglect of the Babylonian king to look .after the subject states in the west. There is no evidence that anything but the most general supervision was exercised. Assyrian methods were servilely imitated. The punishment of Judah is a most instructive example. The Jews were deported, but no peoples were put in their place. The system of dealing with a conquered city, developed by Assyria, was employed (McCurdy, HPM, III. pp. 287 ff.), except that the rehabilitation of the wasted and spoiled district was quite overlooked, and it was practically abandoned. Thus, while Babylonia was enriched by spoils of war and captives, a vassal kingdom, paying tribute and important to the well-being of the west, was annihilated. Nor did the deportation accomplish the results which the Assyrian system contemplated. The Jews, segregated in Babylonia and left practically to themselves, preserved their national spirit and were a constant trouble to their master. On the whole, therefore, it is probable that Nebuchadrezzar was interested in the empire only as it contributed to the enrichment of the capital, and where commercial interests were not at stake, he paid little attention to his possessions outside of Babylonia. The Euphrates and the trade-routes to the sea were kept open, because Babylonian merchants demanded this, and the prosperity of the great emporium at the mouth of the rivers was involved in it. Where subject-states not industrially or commercially of the first importance made trouble, they were demolished.
286. Nebuchadrezzar was, in truth, a son of Babylonia, not of Assyria, a man of peace, not of war, a devotee of religion and culture, not of organization and administration. His strength as a world-ruler lay in his inheritance, — the alliance with the Medes made by his father and the methods of imperial organization which. Assyria had bequeathed to him. His Babylonian policy had its strong and its weak points. For the rest, he manifested the cruelty, the luxury, and the ruthless energy characteristic of the great Semitic monarchs. From this point of view, the picture of him in the Book of Daniel is, in not a few respects, strikingly accurate. His inscriptions reveal a loftiness of religious sentiment, unequalled in the royal literature of the oriental world. As a pious worshipper of Marduk and his son Nabu, he utters prayers which, though they may not be of his own composition, were sanctioned by him and bear witness to the height of religious thought and feeling reached in his day. The following is not the least remarkable of these petitions:
O eternal prince ! Lord of all being!
As for the king whom thou lovest, and
Whose name thou hast proclaimed
As was pleasing to thee,
Do thou lead aright his life,
Guide him in a straight path.
I am the prince, obedient to thee,
The creature of thy hand;
Thou hast created me, and
With dominion over all people
Thou hast intrusted me.
According to thy grace, O Lord,
Which thou dost bestow on All people,
Cause me to love thy supreme dominion,
And create in my heart
The worship of thy god-head,
And grant whatever is pleasing to thee,
Because thou hast fashioned my life.
(EIH, I. 55.)
Similar utterances justify Tiele's statement that an Israelite worshipper, by substituting Jehovah and Jerusalem for Marduk and Babylon, could take them upon his own lips. As coming from the king, they indicate a remarkable conception of sovereignty, its ideals and obligations, as well as its source in the righteous character and beneficent will of God Almighty (Jastrow, RBA, pp. 298 f.).
287. The instability of the dynasty of Nebuchadrezzar, in spite of his own vigorous and successful reign, is painfully manifest in the careers of his successors. He was followed by his son Ame1 Marduk (Evil-merodach), who was slain by his brother-in-law Nergal-shar-uçur (Neriglissar) after a reign of two years (562-560 B. C.). The latter ascended the throne to rule but four years (560-556 B. C.), when he was cut off, apparently, by an untimely yet not violent death. His son, Labashi Marduk (Labosoarchod), followed him as king, but, after ruling nine months (556 B. C.), was made away with by a body of conspirators who chose one of their number, Nabuna'id (Nabonidus), to be king, the last to occupy that seat as ruler of the New Babylonian Empire.
288. Nabuna'id has left an instructive commentary upon the political situation of these years in his stele, recently discovered, describing the events connected with his own accession, the character of his predecessors, and his rule of Babylonia. According to him, Amel Marduk and Labashi Marduk had failed to keep the precepts and fellow the policies of their respective fathers, Nebuchadrezzar and Nergalsharuçur, and hence fate carried them away before their time. The fathers, however, had agreed in their political policy, and this policy Nabuna'id set before himself as ruler. In essential harmony with the testimony of Nabuua'id is that of Berosus (Jos. Cont. Ap., I. 20), who describes Amel Marduk as "lawless and impious" and Labashi Marduk as "not knowing how to rule." Such characterizations of these kings, however, evidently made by their enemies, are so vague as to leave large room for hypothesis as to the particular policy they pursued. Some modern students have regarded them as adherents of the priestly party and, as such, overpowered and removed by the military or official party. For this view support has been sought in the one known specific act of Amel Marduk, the release of Jehoiachin of Judah (sect. 279) from prison and his admission to the royal table (2 Kings xxv. 27 ff.). But the motive for this act is uncertain, and the exactly opposite hypothesis is held by others. All that can be said with certainty is that, beneath the firm rule Of Nebuchadrezzar, intrigues and strifes of parties had been secretly growing the manifestation of which in the following years threw the government into confusion and threatened the collapse of the state. Had Nergalsharuçur lived longer, he might have kept affairs in order and prolonged the life of the empire, for his inscriptions indicate that he was a man Of capacity, active in the restoration of Babylonian cities and temples, quite in the spirit of Nebuchadrezzar. The reign of Nabuna'id introduces new elements into the final scene of Babylon's downfall and deserves, therefore, a separate discussion.
289. THE accession of the Kaldi to supremacy in Babylonia might be expected to result in the communication of new and original impulses to the somewhat stationary civilization of that ancient land. They had proved their right to exist as a people and their power both to endure hardness and to rise superior to disaster, by centuries of conflict with the mightiest organized force that had as yet appeared in the world. They had even outlived Assyria and divided her spoils, and, unhindered by opposition, were now in a position to realize their national ideals in the fairest region of the ancient world.
290. Materials exist in reasonable abundance from which to gain knowledge of the contribution made by this régime to human progress and to estimate its character. It is true that the ruins of Babylon itself have not, as yet, been so carefully investigated as to yield much information concerning the art and architecture of the city in its Kaldean prime, although this lack will, it is hoped, be supplied by the work of the German commission now excavating there (1902). But a thoroughly representative series of royal inscriptions exists, as an evidence of the literature, and vast collections of business documents, extending from the beginning to the end of the period, open up the social life of the people in all its varied aspects. The writings of the Hebrew exiles in the land and the reports of later Greek travellers and historians make additions of no little value.
291. The examination of these sources of information reveals a general result which is at first thought somewhat surprising. It discloses a life and culture which differ in no essential respects from the Babylonian civilization of the past two thousand years. The sketch of the society of 2500 B. C. (Part I. chaps. iii., iv.) stands in the main without need of alteration for the society of 500 B. C. As in the case of the Kassites (sect. 123), so in that of the Kaldi the age-long Babylonian civilization has absorbed the new elements and has moulded them into its immemorial forms. The same occupations are followed; the same institutions are preserved; the same social classes exist; the same principles of legal, political, and moral action prevail; the same forms of intercourse are maintained. There seems to be almost a conscious effort on the part of the Kaldean leaders to return to the ancient customs. So marked is this movement that the period can properly be characterized as the Renaissance of Old Babylonia. Its most picturesque exemplar is king Nabuna'id, whose archæological activities and his deep interest in them have already been referred to and will be described in the following chapter (sect. 308). Not less manifest is the same tendency in the royal literature, in which, as has been noted, not only the literary style but even the forms of the characters are modelled after the inscriptions of the time of Khammurabi. Winckler has said that an inscription of Nebuchadrezzar must have made an impression upon the Babylonians of this period corresponding to what a German of today would feel in seeing a modern work printed in gothic characters and written in middle-high-German (GBA, p. 320). An interesting historical parallel, not without significance also, is found in the Egypt of the same age which, under the Pharaohs of the twenty-sixth dynasty, reveals a return to the past of exactly similar character.
292. It remains for the student of the period to indicate in this sphere of imitation of the past the distinctive features of the new age, since no epoch can precisely reproduce the features of one long gone by. Of the various occupations followed, industry and commerce seem to have developed beyond agriculture. In the centuries of conflict in Babylonia the farmer suffered most severely, and vast areas of country were devastated. The Kaldean kings sought to remedy the difficulty by importing populations like the Jews, who were settled in the country and appear to have been put to agricultural labor. Later, in the Persian period, the fertility of the land was astonishing to the Greek Herodotus, and his testimony illustrates the outcome of the measures instituted by Nebuchadrezzar (sect. 7). But industrial pursuits and their concomitants, commercial activities, the seat of which was in the cities had grown enormously and were zealously fostered by the rulers. Of all the manufactures, the carpets, cottons, and linens of Babylon were still the most famous in the ancient world. A development of trade with the south and southwest is suggested by the building of the city of Teredon at the mouth of the Euphrates, and by the spice and incense traffic carried on through the Arabian city of Gerrha. The undisturbed possession of the Euphrates valley and of the trade-routes to the west gave impulses to larger commercial energy in that direction. It is Nebuchadrezzar who is doubtless referred to by Herodotus under the name of Nitocris, to whom is ascribed the making of the Euphrates to wind about in its course, that thus its force might be diminished and its use by the frail boats and rafts still employed for traffic facilitated. The other improvements in canals and in the Euphrates itself, and the building of the quays, not only at Babylon but also at Bagdad and elsewhere by these kings, point to their recognition of the importance of trade and commerce, which never was so enormous as in this period. Ezekiel declares that his people had been carried away into "a land of traffic" and "set in a city of merchants" (xvii. 4), though he also adds that they were "planted in a fruitful soil" and placed "beside many waters" and "set as a willow tree" (ibid. v. 5).
293. The pre-eminence of industrial life illustrates other changes which had come over Babylonian society in this period. Social life, if it had preserved its ancient distinctions of noble and common man, was permeated by the spirit of business. Even kings and princes appear in documents describing ordinary business transactions. Nergalsharuçur borrows money to buy a house. Belshazzar, son of Nabuna'id, sells wool and takes security for the payment, as any other merchant. Indeed, it has been thought that the old aristocracy had practically disappeared, and that the merchant princes and ecclesiastical lords had taken its place. Certain families, like that of the Egibi at Babylon and the Murashu at Nippur, were prominent financiers and handed down their talents, both material and intellectual, through several generations. Gold and silver were the standards of value, and it has been calculated that the ratio between the two was from eleven, or twelve, to one. Coinage had improved, smaller portions of the precious metals being stamped as five shekel and one shekel pieces. Interest varied from twenty per cent to ten per cent.
294. Accompanying this industrial development was the transference of the bulk of the population to the cities, and chiefly to Babylon. In the capital, doubtless, the refinement and luxury of civilized society in the ancient world reached its highest point. Herodotus has an interesting picture of the Babylonian gentleman of the time:
The dress of the Babylonians is a linen tunic reaching to the feet, and above it another tunic made in wool, besides which they have a short white cloak thrown round them, and shoes of a peculiar fashion, not unlike those worn by the Bœotians. They have long hair, wear turbans on their heads, and anoint their whole body with perfumes. Every one carries a seal, and a walking stick, carved at the top into the form of an apple, a rose, a lily, an eagle, or something similar; for it is not their habit to use a stick without an ornament (Her., I. 195).
To this description may be added that of Ezekiel, who pictured "the Chaldeans portrayed with vermilion, girded with girdles upon their loins, with dyed turbans upon their heads, all of them princes to look upon" (Ezek. xxiii. 14 f.).
295. The family life continued to be the basis of social organization. Few changes are traceable, and these were in the direction of a higher standard of morals. The practice of polygamy or concubinage appears to be much restricted, and the custom of marriage by purchase was practically done away with. The wife still brought her dowry. The position of woman was still as free and as high as before. The strange statement of Herodotus as to the religious prostitution of the Babylonian women is, in itself, incredible, as well as his stories of the marriage-market (I. 196, 199). The contemporaneous documents bear quite the opposite testimony.
296. The history of the Kaldean regime is a sufficient illustration of the character of the state during this period. It differed from the earlier Babylonian organization, chiefly because the Assyrian Empire had done its work. It was more centralized; the king was less of a sacred personage and more of a warrior and administrator. Yet there appears here the return to the old-time conception of the ecclesiastical character of the ruler, inseparable from a king of Babylon, and in harmony with this renaissance spirit. That an imperial administration was possible at all was due to the Assyrian system already in vogue in the provinces, and to an army which was chiefly composed of mercenaries gathered from the ends of the earth. Tradition has preserved the name of a certain Antimenidas, a Greek of Mitylene, who was a prominent figure among the soldiers of Nebuchadrezzar (Strabo, XIII. 2, 3). The character of the soldiery was not high. The impression made upon subject peoples is illustrated by the testimony of the Hebrew prophets. Habakkuk declares, "Their horses also are swifter than leopards, and are more fierce than the evening wolves; and their horsemen spread themselves: yea, their horsemen come from far; they fly as an eagle that hasteth to devour. They come all of them for violence; their faces are set eagerly as the east wind; and they gather captives as the sand" (Hab. i. 8, 9).
297. The glory of Babylonia, however, was in the arts of peace, and this age was not behind in the cultivation of science, æsthetics, and literature. But there is no evidence that, in this direction more than in others, was there any endeavor to outdo the past. The literary art showed, perhaps, greater elaboration of details, but there was no new thought. Its quality and influence are best estimated by the example of the one people of genius that breathed its atmosphere. Hebrew literature, of the exile and after, is in form separated by a great gulf from that of the earlier period. The peculiarities of the style of Ezekiel and of Zechariah — the artificiality of form and the grotesqueness of conception — are Babylonian. But the mechanical correctness of these writers becomes harmony and unity of presentation in such a literary artist as the author of the second part of Isaiah. "His discourse, serene, affluent, and glowing, is an image of a Babylonian landscape. As it unrolls itself, we think of fields and gardens and stately palms and bending willows and gently flowing streams, stretching away over an ample plain, and all standing cut clear in the light of a cloudless sky" (McCurdy, HPM, III. p. 420). For a fuller knowledge of the contribution of the Kaldean period to the artistic development it will be necessary to await further excavation on the site of Babylon; but already it is known that the special type of artistic adornment in the Kaldean palaces was the wall decorated in colors. Bricks enamelled in colors are among the commonest articles picked up on the mounds of Babylon. It is the walls of Nebuchadrezzar's palace to which Diodorus refers in speaking of "every kind of animal imitated according to all the rules of art both as to form and color; the whole represented the chase of various animals, the latter being more than four cubits high — in the middle Semiramis on horseback letting fly an arrow against a panther, and on one side her husband Ninus at close quarters with a lion" (Diod., II. 8, 6). This description is confirmed by the recent discovery of the throne-room of the palace with beautifully colored decorations of this character, which took the place of the bas-reliefs of Ninevite kings.
298. In the sphere of religion the Kaldean period was most active, and yet most characteristically conservative. It was the brief Indian summer of the faith, cherished through so many centuries in the temples by successive generations of zealous priests and devout worshippers. Ancient cults were revived; ruined shrines restored; old endowments renewed. Yet the ideas of the gods and of their place and prerogatives in the pantheon had changed but slightly. Mention has already been made of the preference of the kings for Marduk and Nabu (sect. 284), and of the approach to monotheism and spirituality which appears in the prayers of Nebuchadrezzar. Nabuna'id, it is thought, sought to raise Shamash, the sun-god, to the level of Marduk and Nabu, but the attempt only cost him the enmity of the priests of the capital. Everywhere priestly control made the cult the dominant element in the religion; its materialistic features, its demonology, its incantation ceremonials, and its astrology continued to be the popular elements. The condition of morals was fluctuating, affected, it is true, by noble expressions of faith and devotion such as are found in the hymns and prayers, but elevated and maintained at a worthy standard far more by the secular activities of business. True, it was a commercial and mercantile morality, but a striking testimony is borne to it by a later writer who mentions, among the other virtues of the Babylonians, their imperturbability and their straightforwardness (Nic. of Damascus, Fr. 131), characteristics of which the Stoics were proud. The influence of the religion upon outside peoples was, however, never as potent as in this period. The international life of east and west, now so close and reciprocal, afforded the most favorable opportunity for the extension of the profound cosmological and theological ideas which, in strange and often grotesque forms, had been wrought out on Babylonian soil. The fertile and inquiring Greek mind was now brought within close range, and the reports of eastern travellers stimulated the curiosity and the thoughts of the philosophers. The Jews, too, drank in the teachings. "The finishing touches to the structure of Judaism — given on Babylonian soil — reveal the Babylonian trade-mark. Ezekiel, in many respects the most characteristic Jewish figure of the exile, is steeped in Babylonian theology and mysticism; and the profound influence of Ezekiel is recognized by modern scholarship in the religious spirit that characterizes the Jews upon the reorganization of their commonwealth" (Jastrow, RBA, pp. 696 f.).
299. This splendid renaissance of the past, which is the achievement of the Kaldi for Babylonia, has its shining example and supreme symbol in the city of Babylon. The devotion of the great Nebuchadrezzar to his capital has already been indicated (sect. 284). To present, however imperfectly, a general picture of the city as it came from the hands of its Kaldean rulers is a service due to their memory. At the same time this supreme interest is the best illustration of the limitations as well as the height of their ideals. It is possible at present, with some certainty, to connect at least two of the three great mounds on the site of the ancient city, now called Babel, Kasr, and Amran, with the special structures, palaces, temple, and gardens which are ascribed to Nebuchadrezzar, even if the many other ruin-heaps in the vicinity cannot be identified. The many royal inscriptions of the Kaldi and the descriptions of the Greek writers permit a sketch of the Babylon of that day. The city proper, the nucleus and heart of it, was that which lay along the east bank of the Euphrates and within the inner wall called Imgur Bel, which stretched in a kind of half. circle out from the river. The chief buildings within this wall were the temple and the palace. Around this inner wall there ran a second wall called Nemitti Bel, roughly parallel to it and at a considerable distance from it, constituting the defence of the larger city. Its circumference, including the river front, was about eight miles. Each of these walls had its moat. Though of about the same size as Nineveh (sect. 231), Babylon was much more thickly populated, the houses being three and four stories in height. The streets of the city ran at right angles, and all the spaces about the temple and between the walls were probably occupied with private houses or buildings for business.
300. The temple, the centre of the inner city, consisted of a complex of structures, situated upon its elevated platform and surrounded by its own wall. Most conspicuous was the ziggurat, or temple-tower of seven stages, which the king rebuilt. Of this Herodotus says: "The ascent to the top is on the outside by a path which winds round all the towers (stages). When one is about half-way up, one finds a resting-place and seats where persons are wont to sit some time on their way to the summit. On the topmost tower (stage) there is a spacious temple, and inside the temple stands a couch of unusual size richly adorned with a golden table by its side. There is no statue of any kind set up in the place." Beside the tower was the shrine of the god Marduk, E-kua, a magnificent structure whose walls glistened with gold, precious stones, and alabaster, and whose roof was of fragrant cedar of Lebanon. At the entrance was the shrine of the goddess, his spouse, and elsewhere were the sanctuaries of Nabu and other deities. Of another sacred chamber Nebuchadrezzar records that:
The shrine of the Fates, where, on Zagmuku, the beginning of the year, on the eighth and the eleventh day, the king, the god of heaven and earth, the lord of heaven, takes up his residence, where the gods of heaven and earth reverently pay obedience and stand bowed down before him; a fate of a far-distant day, as the fate of my life, they determine therein: that shrine, the shrine of royalty, the shrine of lordly power, belonging to the leader of the gods, the Prince Marduk, which a former king had constructed with silver, I decorated with shining gold and brilliant ornaments (EIH, II. 54 if).
From the door of the temple a passage led to the sacred street, A-ibur-shabu, along which the sacred ships of the gods were wont to be borne on festal days, while by the temple's side the sacred canal ran from the Euphrates eastward, bringing water for sacred uses.
301. To the north lay the palace between the canal and the inner wall. Built or renewed by Nabupaluçur, it had fallen into decay and had to be repaired by his son. For so great a king, however, it had become too small. Yet it could not be enlarged without encroaching on the sacred domains of the god. Nebuchadrezzar restored it, therefore, exactly after the old dimensions, but across the inner wall, either to the north or east, within the outer wall, he cleared a space, and within fifteen days the turrets of a splendid palace appeared, uniting the two walls and making, with its own intersecting battlements, a citadel which protected alike the outer and the inner city. Upon the furnishing of this palace were lavished all the resources of his empire. Cedar, cypress, palm, and other costly woods, gold, silver, bronze, copper, and precious stones, brick and marble from the distant mountains, were employed in its construction and adornment.
302. This palace, which was also a citadel, was but one of the many defences which were devised for the city's security. The inner and outer walls were raised and strengthened. Most imposing of all was the system of fortifications placed by Nebuchadrezzar quite outside of the walls already described. It consisted of a combination of earthworks and water-ways. A wall was built of colossal dimensions, four thousand cubits (one and one half miles?) east of Nemitti-Bel. The extremities were connected with canals or earthworks which reached to the Euphrates; it was itself protected by a fortified moat. This was the mighty work which astonished Herodotus. He gave its height as somewhat more than three hundred and seventy feet, and its width more than ninety feet. The summit was lined with battlements and guard chambers, between which on either side a space was left sufficient for a four-horse chariot to turn. The wall was pierced by an hundred brazen gates (Her., I. 178 ff.).
303. Adornment and practical utility as well as defence were in the mind of Nebuchadrezzar when he put his hand to the rebuilding of Babylon. He dug again the sacred canal and lined it with brick; he raised the sacred street, carrying it by a bridge over the canal and lifting higher the gates of the two city walls at the point where it passed through them. He built up the bank of the Euphrates with bricks, making splendid quays, which still exist, walled them in and opened gates at the points where the city streets came down to the water's edge. Later historians dwell on his magnificent hanging gardens, which rose somewhere near his palaces; they were built in lofty terraces to solace his Median queen for the absence of her beloved mountains. Across the river, in the twin city of Borsippa, he rebuilt the city wall and restored the temple tower of the god Nabu, son of Marduk. In time the two cities became more and more united. It is this double city which seems to be in the mind of Herodotus when he describes Babylon as a great square about fourteen miles on each side, the walls making a circuit of fifty-six miles and enclosing an area of two hundred square miles. While the Babylon of the Kaldi was much smaller than this, their devotion to it manifested itself in these initial works that in course of time produced the larger and more famous city. Already it contained at least two of the seven wonders of the world, and its beauty and wealth made it for a long time thereafter the chief centre of the east. "From Nebuchadrezzar to the Mongol invasion" it was well-nigh "the greatest commercial city of the world."
304. For Babylon remained, after the wreck of the Semitic domination of the East, as glorious as before and as imperious in the realm of commerce and of culture. She had succeeded to the varying and petty local powers that, in the beginnings of history, struggled with one another for a transient pre-eminence. She had laid, there and then, the foundations of the state which had endured for millenniums. She had outlasted the empire on the Tigris. She had been the despair of the statesmen of Assyria, and a decisive element in the downfall of that monarchy. She had been the pride of the Kaldean monarchs, and was at last the grave of their glory. She had given to the ancient world its laws, its literature, its religion. In the words of Professor Rawlinson: "Hers was apparently the genius which excogitated an alphabet; worked out the simpler problems of arithmetic; invented implements for measuring the lapse of time; conceived the idea of raising enormous structures with the poorest of all materials, clay; discovered the art of polishing, boring, and engraving gems; reproduced with truthfulness the outlines of human and animal forms; attained to high perfection in textile fabrics; studied with success the motions of the heavenly bodies; conceived of grammar as a science; elaborated a system of law; saw the value of an exact chronology; — in almost every branch of science made a beginning, thus rendering it comparatively easy for other nations to proceed with the superstructure. . . . It was from the east, not from Egypt, that Greece derived her architecture, her sculpture, her science, her philosophy, her mathematical knowledge, in a word, her intellectual life. And Babylon was the source to which the entire stream of eastern civilization may be traced. It is scarcely too much to say that, but for Babylon, real civilization might not even yet have dawned upon the earth" (Gt. Mon., III. pp. 75 f.).
305. Upon the people of Israel, too, Babylon left her mark. Though mistress of their state and its destroyer, she could not rule their spirits. Their prophets looked forward to her fall and rejoiced. To them, the image of all material prosperity, she was set over against that higher ideal of victorious suffering, of spiritual achievement, the triumph of which in their vision was sure. Thus pictured by them, Babylon has lived on in the imagination of Christendom as the supreme symbol of the rich, the cruel, the lustful, the enemy of saints, the Antichrist, destined to destruction. Who shall say that, thus seeing, these prophets did not behold clearly the vital weakness of that ancient civilization in her, its embodiment? With all her glory Babylon was of the earth and is fallen; Jerusalem, which is from above, abideth forever.
306. THE conspiracy which placed Nabuna'id upon the throne (555-539 B. C.) seems to have involved a transfer of emphasis in the politics of the state. Nabuna'id was not a Kaldean but a Babylonian noble, son of a prince, Nabu-balatsu-iqbi. In his long stele inscription, to which reference has already been made (sect. 288), he declares his purpose to conduct affairs after the example of Nebuchadrezzar and Nabupaluçur. In fact, his rather numerous inscriptions present him not only as a devout worshipper of the gods and a restorer of temples, but also as a vigorous and zealous defender of the imperial authority. The empire stood intact within its old limits when he came into possession of it, and in the first years of his reign he paid no little attention to the maintenance of his authority in the west. In the badly broken first column of his so-called Annals, references made to Hamath and the mountains of Amanus; in connection with military movements, indicate that he was active in Syria, and fragments of Menander suggest that in his reign dynastic troubles in Tyre led to his setting, first, Merbaal (555-552 B. C.), and then Hirom III. (551-532 B. C.), both hostages at his court, upon the Tyrian throne. The impulse to these western expeditions may have been given by the new relations to the Manda (Medes) which the last years had induced, and which may now be described in some detail.
307. During the lifetime of Nebuchadrezzar the alliance with the Manda (Medes) had remained firm, although to Cyaxares had succeeded (about 584 B. C.) his son Ishtuvegu (Astyages). The rapid changes which followed upon the death of the great Kaldean monarch, and particularly the transference of the succession from the Kaldean to the Babylonian line, in the person of Nabuna'id, seem to have been the occasion of estrangement between the two peoples. Nabuna'id asserts that in the beginning of his reign the Manda had been in possession of northern Mesopotamia and were encamped about Haran. But one Of those sudden reversals of supremacy not uncommon in the beginnings of great empires had taken place in Media. Among the communities that acknowledged the sway of Astyages was the province of Anshan in northern Elam, occupied by the Persians under their hereditary chieftains of the house of Teispes. The king of Anshan during these years, a certain Cyrus, raised a rebellion against his suzerain (about 553 B. C.) which resulted in the downfall of Astyages and the supremacy of Cyrus and the Persians (550 B. C.). During these troubles the movement of Astyages against Babylonia was given up, and Nabuna'id reports that by 553 B. C. there were no Manda about Haran. He also dwells with satisfaction upon the overthrow of Astyages by Cyrus, king of Anshan, as a divine intervention in his own favor. The way was open for him to send an expedition not only to Haran to rebuild the temple there, but to advance farther into the west. He was doubtless gratified that inner troubles were breaking up the Median Empire, as had so often been the case among the loose agglomerations of peoples in the northern mountains, and he felt that henceforth neither their friendship nor their enmity was particularly significant, little dreaming that within two decades the young conqueror would be knocking at his own gates. The career of Cyrus is one of the marvels of antiquity. His victory over his Median suzerain was not merely the substitution of one dynasty for another, nor was it followed by internecine wars in which the fresh and vigorous peoples of the north were crippled. With consummate statesmanship the young king united all elements, inspired them with a common spirit, and out of a kingdom in which tribes and peoples had been joined in loose confederation about a common overlord, he built the solid foundations of the Medo-Persian Empire.
308. The immunity from hostile complications with the Medes, enjoyed by Nabuna'id during the years that followed, he improved by pursuing those works of peace in which his prototype Nebuchadrezzar had gained such renown. With the details of such building operations his inscriptions are filled. The peculiar delight which they represent him as feeling in these works and the unique method which he adopted in the prosecution of them have led scholars to regard him as a political weakling, a cultured dilettante, an archæological virtuoso, to whom the discovery Of an ancient foundation stone was more significant than the conduct of the state or the defence of the empire. Further knowledge has proved the accusation unjust, although the facts on which it was based are evident enough. In his zeal for the reconstruction of temples he was not satisfied with clearing off the superficial rubbish of the mound, but must dig down through the successive layers of ruins, until the original foundation had been reached and the inscription of the first builder had been uncovered. Reference has already been made to the value of the data which he thus published (sect. 40) for the construction of a Babylonian chronology. A passage may be here given from an inscription, illustrative at once of his devout piety and his archæological perseverance and of its scientific value for modern scholars:
For Shamash, the judge of heaven and earth, E-babbara, his temple which is in Sippar, which Nebuchadrezzar, a former king, had rebuilt, after searching for its platform-foundation without finding it — that house he rebuilt, but in forty-five years its walls had fallen in. I became anxious and humble; I was alarmed and much troubled. When I had brought out Shamash from within it and made him take residence in another house, I pulled that house down and made search for its old platform-foundation; and I dug to a depth of eighteen cubits, and Shamash, the great lord of E-babbara, the temple, the dwelling well pleasing to him, permitted me to behold the platform-foundation of Naram Sin, the son of Sargon, which during a period of thirty-two hundred years no king among my predecessors had seen. In the month Tishrit, in a favorable month, on an auspicious day, revealed to me by Shamash and Adad in a vision, with silver, gold, costly and precious stones, products of the forest, sweet-smelling cedars, amid joy and rejoicing, I raised its brick-work — not an inch inward or outward — upon the platform-foundation of Naram Sin, the son of Sargon. I laid in rows five thousand large cedars for its roof; I set up in its doorways high doors of cedar... . I took the hands of Shamash, my lord, and with joy and rejoicing I made him take up a residence therein well pleasing to him. I found the inscription written in the name of Naram Sin, the son of Sargon, and I did not alter it. I anointed it with oil, offered sacrifices, placed it with my inscription, and restored it to its place (Nab. Cyl. II. 47 ff.).
He claims thus to have reconstructed, besides this temple of Shamash in Sippar, that of Anunit, also in Sippar, that of Sin in Haran, the temple E-ul-bar in Agade, the tower and other shrines in Ur and the Shamash temple at Larsam.
309. It was not to be expected that in a hot-bed of intrigue such as Babylon was at this time, the various activities of Nabuna'id were pursued with a successful harmonization of all factions. With Nebuchadrezzar as example, he sought to maintain the empire, while at the same time he honored the gods; but in both respects he appears to have failed. He called himself "patron of Esagila and Ezida," temples of Marduk and Nabu in Babylon and Borsippa; he gave rich gifts to these deities; yet his rearing of temples to other gods, and especially the attention paid to Shamash, the sun-god, are thought to have arrayed against him the priests of Babylon, as though he were planning to put that deity in the place of pre-eminence given by Nebuchadrezzar to Marduk and Nabu. Nor may his hardly concealed satisfaction at the victory of Cyrus over Astyages have pleased those who remembered Nebuchadrezzar's alliance with Media. He certainly left the conqueror unmolested, if indeed, as some think, he did not give him aid in his rebellion, — a policy which, however shrewd, was not acceptable to the Kaldeans. Thus difficulties were inevitable. A hint of the situation is given in the Annals, where, beginning with the seventh year of the king (549 B. C.), it is said that he "was in Tema; the son of the king, the nobles and his soldiers in Akkad. (The king for Nisan) did not come to Babylon. Nabu did not come to Babylon; Bel was not brought forth." In other words, the usual yearly ceremonial, by which a king renewed his royal authority in "taking the hands of Bel" in Babylon, did not take place. The same omission is chronicled in effect for the eighth, ninth, tenth, and eleventh years (548-545 B. C.), and may have continued, though the breaking of the Annals at this point permits no positive statement. It is difficult to understand how he could have maintained himself as king, if this retirement to Tema and the omission Of an indispensable ceremonial had been due to his own carelessness regarding affairs of state and his absorption in his temples and books. The facts are more satisfactorily interpreted by supposing that, with his seventh year, on account of universal dissatisfaction he was forced into retirement, and the conduct of affairs assumed by his son, Bel-shar-uçur (Belshazzar), with whom began more active measures towards protecting the state from its Medo-Persian neighbors.
310. The consequences of this change of attitude towards Cyrus soon became apparent. In the year 547 B. C. he appeared with his army at the Tigris below Arbela, and seems to have taken possession of a border state, so that now the troops garrisoning the frontier cities of the Medo-Persian and Babylonian empires stood face to face. The conflict seemed imminent; but affairs in another quarter of the kingdom demanded the presence and activity of Cyrus, and a few years intervened before the final struggle took place.
311. The extraordinary success of Cyrus alarmed all the older states of the oriental world, and they bestirred themselves to resist his progress. The initiative was taken apparently by Lydia, which, under its king, Croesus, was now the great power of Asia Minor. Both commerce and culture had brought that state into close association with the Greek cities as well as with Egypt and Babylonia. The advent of the new and aggressive Persian power was disturbing to all parties alike. Accordingly, a quadruple alliance was formed by Crœsus of Lydia, Amasis of Egypt, Sparta, as leader of the Greek states, and the war party now in power at Babylon, with the evident purpose of putting a stop to the advance of Cyrus (about 547 B. C.). He accepted the challenge and marched westward against the most formidable and aggressive of his opponents, the king of Lydia, before the troops of the other leaguers could join with him. Crœsus, nothing loath, crossed the Halys in 546 B. C., but was beaten and lost his kingdom the next year (545 B. C.).
312. Babylon's time of trial was now at hand. Unfortunately the beginning of the advance of Cyrus into the Mesopotamian valley and the details of the earlier years of the struggle, as well as the ebb and flow of party strife at Babylon are quite unknown, a gap occurring in the Annals at this point. The inscription becomes again intelligible with the seventeenth and last year of Nabuna'id (739 B. C.). The Babylonian king is now in the capital, and the usual religious ceremonials are performed. Cyrus is on the northeastern frontier. Has Nabuna'id been released from his confinement at Tema in consequence of the breaking down of the plans of his enemies? However that may be, he has gathered into Babylon the images of the gods from the length and breadth of Akkad, excepting those of Borsippa, Kutha, and Sippar, with a view either to their protection or to the aid they may supply to the capital. The action was ill-timed from the point of view of the priests of Marduk, Babylon's city god, whose prerogative and power were thus underestimated or even dishonored. Cyrus's attack upon the great system of defences was made at Upi (Opis), at the junction of the Tigris and the Turnat, where he broke through and stood on Babylonian soil in October, 539 B. C. Belshazzar and his army were beaten back. Nabuna'id sought in vain to organize the people for defence. Sippar was taken early in October, and the king fled to Babylon, closely pursued by a detachment of the Persians under Gubaru (Gobryas). It might well be thought that the broad and lofty walls of the capital would long withstand the assaults of an enemy; the narrative of Herodotus (I. 190, 191) tells how, after a tedious siege, Cyrus, in despair, set about diverting the main channel of the Euphrates and by marching his troops into the city through the river gates, thus laid open, took the defenders by surprise and captured the city. Nothing, however, could be farther from the actual event. Gubaru found friends within the walls who opened the gates soon after his arrival; Babylon fell into the hands of the Persians without a struggle. So deeply had the feuds of parties, ecclesiastical and political, eaten into the body politic that the capital was betrayed by its own citizens. The so-called Cyrus cylinder has perpetuated the memory of this infamy. There, in words written under the hand of Babylonian priests, it is said that Marduk, in wrath at the loss of his prerogative and the complaints of his servants, not only abandoned the city, but —
He searched through all lands; he saw him, and he sought the righteous prince, after his own heart, whom he took by the hand. Cyrus, king of Anshan, he called by name; to sovereignty over the whole world he appointed him. . . . Marduk, the great lord, guardian of his people, looked with joy on his pious works and his upright heart; he commanded him to go to his city Babylon, and he caused him to take the road to Babylon, going by his side as a friend and companion . . . without skirmish or battle he permitted him to enter Babylon. He spared his city Babylon in (its) calamity. Nabonidus, the king, who did not reverence him, he delivered into his hand. All the people of Babylon, all Shumer and Akkad, nobles and governors, prostrated themselves before him, kissed his feet, rejoiced at his sovereignty, showed happiness in their faces (Cyrus Cyl., 11 ff).
313. A few days later, Cyrus himself entered the city. Nabuna'id had already been captured. He was treated kindly and exiled to the east. Belshazzar was shortly afterward slain, while, as it seems, making a last stand with the remnant of his forces. The new lord worshipped at the ancient shrines, glorified the gods that had given him headship over their land and people, and received in his royal city Babylon the kings, from all quarters of the world, who came bringing their heavy taxes and kissed his feet. He called himself by the old familiar titles — "Cyrus, king of the world, the great king, the powerful king, the king of Babylon, the king of Shumer and Akkad, the king of the four quarters of the world, . . . whose reign Bel and Nabu love, whose sovereignty they longed for in the desire of their hearts." But the words are empty echoes of a vanishing past. It was, in fact, a new master of the nations, who Stood upon the ruins of the mighty Semitic communities that for millenniums had ruled the world. A man of another race, to whom the valley of the Tigris and the Euphrates was no longer the centre of human power and human civilization, whose ideals of the divine and the human world were formed under other skies, and whose empire stretched far away beyond the boundaries of Assyria in its fairest splendor, was henceforth to direct the destinies of the peoples, whose leadership of human history has been followed from its dawn to its setting. A new force had come to its own, and another chapter of human progress began.