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Babylon: The Kingdom that Replaced Assyria
626 – 539 BCE
Nimrod, living in the latter part of the third millennium B.C.E., established Babylon as the capital of the first human empire. Babylonia is a plain, which is made up of the alluvial deposits of the mountainous regions in the North, where the Tigris and Euphrates have their source. The land is bounded on the North by Assyria and Mesopotamia; on the East by Elam, separated by the mountains of Elam; on the South by the sea marshes, and the country Kaldu (Chaldaea); and on the West by the Syrian desert. Some of the cities of the lower country were seaport towns in the early period, but now are far inland. This land-making process continues even at the present time at the rate of about 70 ft. a year.
This plain, in the days when Babylonia flourished, sustained a dense population. It was covered with a network of canals, skillfully planned and regulated, which brought prosperity to the land, because of the wonderful fertility of the soil. The neglect of these canals and doubtless, also, the change of climate, have resulted in altered conditions in the country. It has become a cheerless waste. During some months of the year, when the inundations take place, large portions of the land are partially covered with swamps and marshes. At other times it looks like a desolate plain.
Throughout the land there are seen, at the present time, ruin-hills or mounds of accumulation of debris, which mark the site of ancient cities. Some of these cities were destroyed in a very early era, and were never rebuilt. Others were occupied for millenniums, and their history extends far into the Christian era. The antiquities generally found in the upper stratum of the mounds which were occupied up to so late a period, show that they were generally inhabited by the Jews, who lived there after the Babylonians had disappeared.
The excavations conducted at various sites have resulted in the discovery, besides antiquities of almost every character, of hundreds of thousands of inscriptions on clay and stone, but principally on the former material. At Tello more than 60,000 tablets were found, belonging largely to the administrative archives of the temple of the third millennium BC. At Nippur about 50,000 inscriptions were found, many of these also belonging to temple archives. But about 20,000 tablets and fragments found in that city came from the library of the school of the priests, which had been written in the third millennium BC. At Sippar, fully 30,000 tablets were found, many being of the same general character, also representing a library. At Delehem and Djokha, temple archives of the same period as those found at Tello have come to light in great numbers, through the illicit diggings of Arabs. Babylon, Borsippa, Kish, Erech and many other cities have yielded to the explorer and the Arab diggers inscribed documents of every period of Babylonian history, and embracing almost every kind of literature, so that the museums and libraries of America and Europe have stored up unread inscriptions numbering hundreds of thousands. Many also are in the possession of private individuals. After the work of excavating Babylonia has been completed and the inscriptions deciphered, many of the pro-Christian centuries in Babylonian history will be better known than some of those of our Christian era. The help of these original sources will reconstruct the ancient history of the Babylonians. Lengthy family genealogies will be known, as indeed in some instances is now the case, as well as the Babylonian contemporaries of Ezekiel, Abraham and all the other Biblical characters.
The Greek name of Babylonia which is in use at the present time is derived from the name of the city of Babylon, the capital and chief city of the land from the time of the First Dynasty of Babylon, about 2000 BC. The name of the land in the very earliest period, which is represented by antiquities, and even inscribed objects, is not known. However, in a comparatively early age the northern part is called Uri, and the southern part, Engi or En-gira. The second part of the latter name is perhaps the same as in Su-gir, which is thought to be the origin of the Old Testament Shinar. Su-gir and Su-mer are names of the same country. And inasmuch as Mer and Gir were names of the same west Semitic deity, who played an important role in the early history of Babylonia, it is not improbable that the element Su is also to be identified with the ancient name of Mesopotamia. Su is also in Su-bartu, the name of the country to the North. This name is also written Su-Gir.
THE BIBLE AS HISTORY: Assyria the Second World Power
After 2000 BC the ideograms read in Sumerian, Uri and Engi, were pronounced in SemBab, Accad and Sumer. The former received its name from the capital of the kingdom Accad, one of the cities mentioned in Gen. 10:10. The title, “king of Accad and Sumer” was used by rulers as late as the 1st millennium BC.
The name by which the land is known in the second millennium BC is Kar-Duniash, the exact derivation of which is in doubt. Kar means “garden, land” in Semitic and Sumerian; and Duniash being preceded by the determinative for deity, has been regarded as a name of a Cassite god. A more recently advanced explanation is that Duniash is equivalent to Bel-malati, which means “lord of lands.” The meaning of the name, as stated, must be regarded as undetermined.
In the time of the late Assyrian empire a nation in the extreme southern part of the land, called by the Greeks Chaldea, which is derived from the name Kaldu, came into existence. In the Assyrian historical inscriptions the land is usually called Bit-Yakin. This people seems to have issued from Aramaic Under Biblical. Merodach-baladan they ruled Babylonia for a time. The Neo-Bab Dynasty, founded by Nabopolassar, is supposed to be Chaldean in origin, in consequence of which the whole land in the Greek period was called Chaldea.
Two distinct races are found occupying the land when we obtain the first glimpses of its history. The northern part is occupied by the Semites, who are closely allied to the Amorites, Arameans and Arabs; and the southern part by a non-Sem people called Sumerians. Their cultures had been originally distinct, but when they first become known to us there has taken place such an amalgamation that it is only by the knowledge of other Semitic cultures that it is possible to make even a partial differentiation of what was Sem-Bab and what was Sumerian. The Semites, it would almost seem, entered the land after the Sumerians had established themselves, but this can only be regarded as a conjecture.
Although the earliest Sumerian settlement belongs to a remote period, few traces of the pre-historic Sumerian have been found. The archaeological remains indicate that this non-Sem race is not indigenous to the land, and that when they came into the country they had already attained to a fair degree of culture. But there is no evidence, as yet, in what part of the ancient world the elements of their culture were evolved, although various attempts have been made by scholars to locate their original home.
BIBLE HISTORY: Cyrus the Great, the Founder of the Persian Empire and the Conqueror of Babylon
Home of the Semites
The home of the Semites has been placed in different parts of the ancient world. A number of scholars look to Arabia and others to Africa for their original habitation, although their theories generally are not based upon much archaeological evidence. Unquestionably, the previous, if not the original home of the Semitic Babylonians, is to be found in the land of the Amorites, that is in Syria. In the earliest known period of Babylonian history, which apparently belongs to the age not very far removed from the time when the Semites entered Babylonia, Amurru was an important factor in the affairs of the nations, and it was a land which the world conquerors of Babylonia, both Sumerian and Semitic, endeavored to subjugate. This points to the fact that the culture of Amurru was then already old. Egyptian inscriptions fully substantiate this. We look to the land of the Arnorites as the home of the Semitic Babylonians, because of the important part played by the chief god of that land Amurru or Uru, in the Babylonian religion and nomenclature. In fact nearly all of the original names of the Semitic Babylonian sun-deities are derived from the names and epithets of the great Sun-god of the Amorites and Arameans. These and many other considerations point to Amurru, or the land of the Amorites, as the previous home of the Semites who migrated into Babylonia and who eventually became masters of the land.
The original settlements in Babylonia, as stated above, belong to a prehistoric time, but throughout the history of the land fresh Semitic migrations have been recognized. In the Isin and First Dynasty of Babylonia, Amorites or Canaanites seem to flood the country. In the second millennium a foreign people known as Cassites ruled Babylonia for nearly six centuries. The nomenclature of the period shows that many Hittites and Mittanaeans as well as Cassites lived in Babylonia. In the first millennium the thousands of names that appear in the contract literature indicate a veritable Babel of races: Egyptians, Elamites, Persians, Medes, Tabalites, Hittites, Cassites, Ammorites, Edomites, notably Hebrews, are among the peoples that occupied the land. The deportation of the Israelites by the Assyrian kings and of the Jews by the Babylonian kings, find confirmation besides the historical inscriptions in the names of Hebrews living in Babylonia in the corresponding periods.
The languages of Babylonia are Semitic and Sumerian. The latter is an agglutinative tongue like the Turkish, and belongs to that great unclassifiable group of languages, called for the sake of convenience, Turanian. It has not been shown, as yet, to be allied to any other known language. The Semitic language known as the Babylonian, with which the Assyrian is practically identical, is of the common Semitic stock. After the Semites entered the land, their language was greatly influenced by the Sumerian tongue. The Semites being originally dependent upon the Sumerian scribes, with whom the script had originated, considered in connection with the fact that the highly developed culture of the Sumerians greatly influenced that of the Semites, brought about the peculiar amalgamation known as Babylonian. The language is, however, distinctively Semitic, but it has a very large percentage of Sumerian loan-words. Not knowing the cognate tongues of the Sumerian, and having a poor understanding of the pronunciation of that language, it is impossible to ascertain, on the other hand, how much the Sumerian language was influenced by the Semites.
In the late period, another Semitic tongue was used extensively in the land. It was not because of the position occupied by the Arameans in the political history of Western Asia, that their language became the lingua franca of the first millennium BC. It must have been on account of the widespread migrations of the people. In the time of Sennacherib it seems to have been used as the diplomatic language in Assyria as well as among the Hebrews, as the episode in 2Ki 18:26 would show. Then we recall the story of Belshazzar, and the edicts of the late period referred to in the Old Testament, which were in Aramaic (Ezr 4:7, etc.). In Assyria and Babylonia, many contract tablets have been found with Aramaic reference notes written upon them, showing that this was the language of those who held the documents. The Hebrews after the exile used Aramaic. This would seem to point to Babylonia as the place where they learned the language. The Babylonian language and the cuneiform script continued to be used until the 3rd or 2nd century BC, and perhaps even later, but it seems that the Aramaic had generally supplanted it, except as the literary and legal language. In short the tongue of the common people or the spoken language in all probability in the late period was Aramaic.
The cuneiform writing upon clay was used both by the Sumerians and the Semites. Whether this script had its origin in the land, or in the earlier home of the Sumerians, remains a question. It is now known that the Elamites had their own system of writing as early as that of the earliest found in Babylonia; and perhaps it will be found that other ancient peoples, who are at the present unknown to us, also used the cuneiform script. A writing similar to the Babylonian was in use at an early time in Cappadocia. The Hittites and other peoples of that region also employed it. The origin of the use of clay as a writing material, therefore, is shrouded in mystery, but as stated above, the system used by the Semites in Babylonian was developed from the Sumerian.
The script is not alphabetic, but ideographic and phonetic, in that respect similar to the Chinese. There are over 500 characters, each one of which has from one to many values. The combination of two or more characters also has many values. The compilation of the values of the different signs used in various periods by both the Sumerians and Assyrians numbers at the present about 25,000, and the number will probably reach 30,000.
The architecture of Babylonia is influenced by the fact that the building material, in this alluvial plain, had to be of brick, which was largely sun-dried, although in certain prosperous eras there is much evidence of kiln-dried bricks having been used. The baked brick used in the earliest period was the smallest ever employed, being about the size of the ordinary brick used at the present time. The size of the bricks in the era prior to the third millennium varied from this to about 6 x 10 x 3 inches at Nippur, Sargon and his son Naram-Sin used a brick, the largest found, about 20 inches square, and about 4 inches in thickness. Following the operations of these kings at Nippur is the work of Ur-Engur, who used a brick about 14 inches square and nearly 4 inches in thickness. This size had been used at Tello prior to Sargon’s time, and was thereafter generally employed. It re mained the standard size of brick throughout the succeeding centuries of Babylonian history. Adobes, of which the greater portion of the buildings were constructed, were usually double the thickness of kiln-dried bricks. The pillar made of bricks, as well as the pilaster constructed of the same material, seems to have come into use at a very early age, as is shown by the excavations at Tello.
A large number of Babylonian builders had the brick makers employ brick stamps which gave their names and frequently their titles, besides the name of the temple for which the bricks were intended. These enable the excavator to determine who the builders or restorers were of the buildings uncovered. Naturally, in a building like the temple of Enlil at Nippur, inscribed bricks of many builders covering a period of over 2,000 years were found. These by the help of building inscriptions, which have been found, enable scholars to rewrite considerable of the history of certain Babylonian temples. The walls of the city were also built of clay bricks, principally adobes. The walls usually were of very great thickness.
Clay was also employed extensively in the manufacture of images, weights, drains, playthings, such as animals, baby rattles, etc., and of inscriptions of every kind. Pottery, with the exception of the blue glaze employed in the late period, was usually plain, although some traces of painted pottery have been found. Although every particle of stone found in Babylonia was carried into the country, either by man or by inundations, still in certain periods it was used freely for statues, steles, votive objects, and in all periods for door sockets, weights and seal cylinders. Building operations in stone are scarcely known in Babylonia until perhaps the time of the greatest of all ancient builders, Nebuchadrezzar II, who laid a pavement in the causeway of Babylon, Aa-ibur-sabu, with blocks of stone from a mountain quarry.
The sculpture of the Sumerians, although in most instances the hardest of materials was used, is one of the great achievements of their civilization. Enough examples have been found to trace the development of their art from comparatively rude reliefs of the archaic period to the finished sculpture of Gudea’s time, third millennium BC, when it reached a high degree of excellence. The work of the sculpture of this age shows spirit and originality, in many respects unique. In the earliest period the Babylonians attempted the round, giving frequently the main figures in full face. The perfection of detail, in their efforts to render true to life, makes their modeling very superior in the history of article The Sumerian seems to have been able to overcome difficulties of technique which later sculptors systematically avoided.
Practically, every Babylonian had his own personal seal. He used it as the signature is used at the present time or rather as the little stamp upon which is engraved the name of the individual at the present time, in the Orient, to make an impression upon the letter which was written for him by a public scribe. Thousands of these ancient seals have been found. They were cut out of all kinds of stone and metal. The style in the early period was usually cylindrical, with a hole passing lengthwise through them. In the late period the signet was commonly used. Many of these gems were exquisitely cut by lapidists of rare ability. Some of the very best work of this art belongs to the third millennium BC. The boldness in outline, and the action displayed are often remarkable. The most delicate saws, drills and other tools must have been employed by the early lapidist. Some of his early work is scarcely surpassed in the present age.
The gold and silver smiths of the early age have left us some beautiful examples of their art and skill. A notable one is the silver vase of Entemena of Lagash, mounted on a bronze pedestal, which stands on four feet. There is a votive inscription engraved about its neck. The bowl is divided into two compartments. On the upper are engraved seven heifers, and on the lower four eagles with extended wings, in some respects related to the totem or the coat of arms of Lagash. While the attention to detail is too pronounced, yet the whole is well rendered and indicates remarkable skill, no less striking than the well-known work of their Egyptian contemporaries. Bronze was also used extensively for works of art and utensils. Some remarkable specimens of this craft have been found at Tello.
In studying the magnificent remains of their art, one is thoroughly impressed with the skill displayed, and with the fact that there must have been a long period of development before the age to which these works belong, before such creations could have been possible. Although much of the craftsman’s work is crude, there is considerable in the sculpture and engraving that is well worthy of study. And in studying these remains one is also impressed with the fact that they were produced in an alluvial plain.
The literature in a narrow sense is almost entirely confined to the epics, which are of a religious character, and the psalms, hymns, incantations, omens, etc. These are the chief remains of their culture.
In a general sense, almost every kind of literature is found among the hundreds of thousands of clay tablets unearthed in Babylonia. The inscribed votive objects are of all kinds and descriptions. The stone vase taken in booty was dedicated to the deity of the conqueror. The beautiful piece of lapis lazuli, agate, cornelian, etc., obtained, was inscribed and devoted in the same way. Slabs, tablets and cones of all shapes and sizes, were inscribed with the king’s name and titles, giving the different cities over which he ruled and referring especially to the work that he had accomplished for his deity. From the decipherment of these votive objects, much valuable data are gathered for the reconstruction of the ancient history of the land.
The same is true of what are known as building inscriptions, in which accounts of the operations of the kings in restoring and enlarging temples, shrines, walls and other city works are given. Canal digging and dredging, and such works by which the people benefited, are frequently mentioned in these inscriptions.
Epistolary literature, for example, the royal letters of Hammurabi, the diplomatic correspondence found in Egypt or the royal letters from the Library of Ashurbanipal, as well as the private correspondence of the people, furnishes valuable historical and philological data.
The thousands of tablets found in the school libraries of Sippar and Nippur, as well as of the library of Ashurbanipal, among which are all kinds of inscriptions used in the schools of the priests and scribes, have furnished a great deal of material for the Assyrian dictionary, and have thrown much light upon the grammar of the language. The legal literature is of the greatest importance for an understanding of the social conditions of the people. It is also valuable for comparative purposes in studying the codes of other peoples.
The commercial or legal transactions, dated in all periods, from the earliest times until the latest, also throw important light upon the social conditions of the people. Many thousands of these documents have been found, by the help of which the very life that pulsated in the streets of Babylonian cities is restored.
The administrative documents from the temple archives also have their value, in that they furnish important data as regards the maintenance of the temples and other institutions; and incidentally much light on the nationality and religion of the people, whose names appear in great numbers upon them. The records are receipts of taxes or rents from districts close by the temples, and of commercial transactions conducted with this revenue. A large portion of these archives consists of the salary payments of storehouse officials and priests. There seems to have been a host of tradesmen and functionaries in connection with the temple. Besides the priest, elder, seer, seeress, sorcerer, sorceress, singer, etc., there were the farmer, weaver, miller, carpenter, smith, butcher, baker, porter, overseer, scribe, measurer, watchman, etc. These documents give us an insight into the Babylonian system of bookkeeping, and show how carefully the administrative affairs of the temple were conducted. In fact, the temple was provided for and maintained along lines quite similar to many of our modern institutions.
The discovery of the Library of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh speaks volumes for the culture of Assyria, but that culture was largely borrowed from the Babylonians. Much that this library contained had been secured from Babylonian libraries by the scribes employed by Ashurbanipal. In every important center there doubtless existed schools and libraries in connection with the temples. At Nippur, in 1890, Dr. J.P. Peters found such a library, but unfortunately, although he termed it such, his Assyriologists did not recognize that one of the greatest discoveries of antiquity had been made. It remained for Dr. J. H. Haynes, a decade later, to discover another portion of this library, which he regarded as such, because of the large number of tablets which he uncovered. Pere Scheil, before Dr. Haynes’ discovery, had the good fortune while at Sippar to discover a part of the school and library of that important center. Since Professor Scheil’s excavations, Arabs have unearthed many inscriptions of this library, which have found their way to museums and into the hands of private individuals.
The plan of the Nippur Library, unearthed by Dr. Haynes, has been published by Mr. C. Fisher, the architect of the Nippur expedition (see Clay, Light on the Old Testament from Babel, 183). Professor Scheil, in publishing his results, has also given a plan of the school he discovered, and a full description of its arrangements, as well as the pedagogical methods that had been employed in that institution of learning. This has also been attempted by others, but in a less scientific manner. One of the striking features of these libraries is the use of the large reference cylinders, quadrangular, pentagonal and hexagonal in shape. There was a hole cut lengthwise through them for the purpose of mounting them like revolving stands. These libraries, doubtless, contained all the works the Babylonians possessed on law, science, literature and religion. There are lexical lists, paradigm tablets, lists of names, of places, countries, temples, rivers, officers, stones, gods, etc. Sufficient tablets have been deciphered to determine their general character. Also hundreds of exercise tablets have been found, showing the progress made by pupils in writing, in mathematics, in grammar, and in other branches of learning. Some tablets appear to have been written after dictation. Doubtless, the excavators found the waste heaps of the school, where these tablets had been thrown for the purpose of working them over again as raw material, for new exercises. The school libraries must have been large. Considering for instance that the ideographic and phonetic values of the cuneiform signs in use numbered perhaps 30,000, even the syllabaries which were required to contain these different values must have been many in number, and especially as tablets, unlike books made of paper, have only two sides to them. And when we take into consideration all the different kinds of literature which have been found, we must realize that these libraries were immense, and numbered many thousands of tablets.
In modern times, the meaning of names given to children is rarely considered; in fact, in many instances the name has suffered so much through changes that it is difficult to ascertain its original meaning. Then also, at present, in order to avoid confusion the child is given two or more names. It was not so with the ancient Babylonian. Originally, the giving of a name was connected with some special circumstance, and though this was not always the case throughout the history of Babylonia, the correct form of the name was always preserved.
The name may have been an expression of their religious faith. It may have told of the joy experienced at the birth of an heir. It may even betray the suffering that was involved at the birth of the child, or the life that the parents had lived. In short, the names afford us an intimate glimpse into the everyday life of the people.
The average Babylonian name is theophorous, and indicates one of the deities worshipped by the family, and often the city. For example, it is suggestive that persons with names compounded with Enlil and Ninib hailed from Nippur. Knowing the deities of the surrounding people we have also important evidence in determining the origin of peoples in Babylonia having foreign names. For example, if a name is composed of the Hittite deity Teshup, or the Amorite deity Amurru, or the Aramean god Dagan, or the Egyptian god Esi (Isis), foreign influence is naturally looked for from the countries represented. Quite frequently the names of foreign deities are compounded with Babylonian elements, often resulting from mixed marriages.
Theophorous names are composed of two, three, four and even five elements. Those having two or three elements predominate. Two-element names have a diety plus a verbal form or a subst.; or vice versa: for example, Nabu-na’id (Nabonidus), “Nebo is exalted,” or Shulman-asharedu (Shaimaneser), “Shalman is foremost.” Many different combinations are found in three-element names which are composed of the name of the deity, a subst., a verbal form, a pronominal suffix, or some other form of speech, in any of the three positions. Explanations of a few of the familiar Biblical. names follow: Sin-akhe-erba (Sennacherib), “Sin has increased the brothers”; Marduk-apal-iddin (Mero-dach-baladan), “Marduk has given a son”; Ashurakh-iddin (Esarhaddon), “Ashur has given a brother”; Ashur-bani-apal, “Ashur is creating a son”; Nabu-kudurri-usur (Nebuchadrezzar), “O Nebo, protect the boundary”; Amel-Marduk (Evil Merodach), “Man of Marrink”; Bel-shar-usur (Belshazzar), “O Bel, protect the king.” Some Babylonian names mentioned in the Bible are really of foreign origin, for example, Amraphel and Sargon. Amraphel originally is west Semitic and is written Hammurabi (pronounced Chammu-rabi, the first letter being the Semitic cheth). Sargon was perhaps originally Aramean, and is composed of the elements shar and the god Gan. When written in cuneiform it was written Shargani, and later Sharrukin, being translated “the true king.” Many names in use were not theophorous; for example, such personal names as Ululd, “the month Ulul”; names of animals, as Kalba, “dog,” gentilic names, as Akkadai, “the Akkadian,” names of crafts, as Pacharu, “potter,” etc.
The literature abounds in hypochoristica. One element of a name was used for the sake of shortness, to which usually a hypochoristica suffix was added, like Marduka (Mordecai). That is, the ending a or ai was added to one of the elements of a longer name.
History of Kingdoms
The written history of Babylonia at the present begins from about 4200 BC. But instead of finding things crude and aboriginal in this, the earliest period, the remains discovered show that the people had attained to a high level of culture. Back of that which is known there must lie a long period of development. This is attested in many ways; for instance, the earliest writing found is so far removed from the original hieroglyphs that it is only possible to ascertain what the original pictures were by knowing the values which the signs possessed. The same conclusion is ascertained by a study of the art and literature. Naturally, as mentioned above, it is not impossible that this development took place in a previous home of the inhabitants.
The history of early Babylonia is at present a conflict of the kings and patesis (priest-kings) of the different city-kingdoms, for supremacy over each other, as well as over the surrounding peoples. The principal states that figure in the early history are: Kish, Lagash, Nippur, Akkad, Umma, Erech, Ur and Opis. Currently, more is known of Lagash, because the excavations conducted at that site were more extensive than at others. This makes much of our knowledge of the history of the land center about that city. And yet it should be stated that the hegemony of Lagash lasted for a long period, and the kingdom will ultimately occupy a prominent position when the final history of the land is written. Nippur, where considerable work was also done, was not the seat of rulers, but the sacred city of the god Enlil, to whom the kings of other cities generally did obeisance. Following is a list of known rulers of the different city-kingdoms.
El-Ohemir, identified as the ancient city of Kish, not far from Babylon, is one of the oldest Semitic centers of the land. No systematic excavations have been conducted at this site, but besides the inscriptions which the Arabs have unearthed, several of the rulers are known to us through votive inscriptions discovered at Nippur and elsewhere. The rulers of Kish are: Utug p. (patesi), circa 4200 BC; Mesilim k. (king), circa 4000 BC; Lugal-tarsi k.; Enbi-Ishtar k.; Manishtusu k., circa 2650 BC; Urnmush k., circa 2600; Manana k.; Sumu-ditana k. and Tanium k.
The excavations by the French under De Sarsez and Cross at Tello, the ancient city Lagash, have yielded more inscriptions of ancient Babylonian rulers than those at any other site. Lagash was destroyed about 2000 BC, and only partially rebuilt in the post-Bab period. The known rulers are: Lugal-shag-Engur patesi, circa 4000 BC, contemporary with Mesilim k. of Kish; @@Badu k.; @@En-khegal k.; Ur-Nina k.; Akurgal p.; Eannatum p. and k.; Enannatum I p.; Entemena I)-; Enannatum IIp.; Enetarzi p.; Enlitarzi p.; Lugal-anda p.; Uru-kagina k., contemporary with Lugal-zaggisi, k. of Uruk; Engilsa p., contemporary with Manishtusu k. of Kish; Lugul-ushumgal p., contemporary with Sargon of Accad; Ur-Babbar p., contemporary with Naram-Sin of Accad; Ur-E p.; Lugal-bur p.; Basha-Kama p.; Ur-Mama p.; Ug-me p.; Ur-Bau p.; Gudea p.; Nammakhini p.; Ur-gar p.; Ka-azag p.; Galu-Bau p.; Galu-Gula p.; Ur-Ninsun p.: Ur-Ningirsu p.; contemporary with Ur-Engur k. of Ur-abba p.; @@Galu-ka zal p.; @@Galuandul p.; @@Ut-Lama I p.; @@Alla, @@Ur-Lama II p.; contemporary with Dungi k. of Ur; Arad-Nannar p. Unfortunately, with the exception of about onethird of these rulers, the exact order is yet to be ascertained. (Note: Asterisk denotes unidentified forms.)
The mounds of Bismaya which have been identified as Adab were partially excavated by Dr. Edgar J. Banks, for the University of Chicago. Its remains indicate that it is one of the oldest cities discovered. A ruler named Esar, circa 4200 BC, is known from a number of inscriptions, as well as a magnificent statue of the king, discovered by Dr. Banks.
The large group of mounds covering an area, the circumference of which is three miles, called in ancient times Nippur, but now Noufar, was excavated as mentioned above by Dr. Peters and Dr. Haynes for the University of Pennsylvania. While a great number of Babylonian kings and patesis are represented by inscriptions discovered at Nippur, practically all had their seats of government at other places, it being the sacred city.
The mounds at the present called Warka, but representing ancient Erech (Ge 10:10), covering an area whose circumference is 6 miles, have been tentatively examined by Loftus and other explorers. Many inscriptions have also been unearthed by the Arabs at this site. The rulers of this city known to us are: Ilu-(m)a-ilu, Lugal-zaggisi k., contemporary with Uru-kagina of Lagash; Lugal-kigubnidudu k.; Lugal-kisalsi k.; Sin-gashid k., about 2200 BC, and Sin-gamil k.
Senkereh known in the Old Testament as Ellasar (Ge 14:1), and in the inscriptions as Larsa, has been explored by Loftus and others. The known rulers of the city are: Gungunu k., contemporary of Ur-Ninib k. of Isin; Sumu-ilu; Nur-Adad; Sin-iddinam; Eri-Aku (the Biblical “Arioch”) circa 2000 BC, son of Kudur-Mabug k. of Elam, and Rim-Sin (or Rim-Aku), his brother.
The present Fara, which in ancient times was called Shuruppak, was partially excavated by the Germans under Koldewey, Andraea, and Noeldeke. It is also a very ancient city. It yielded little to the spade of the excavator. It is close by Abu-Hatab, and known as the place where the scenes of the Babylonian Deluge story occurred. Two rulers known from the inscriptions found there are Dada and ladda, belonging to a comparatively early period.
The site now known as Abu-Hatab is the ancient Kisurra. It was partially excavated by the Germans. It flourished as a city in the third millennium BC. The two rulers of this city that are known are Idinilu p., and Itur-Shamash p. (?).
The site now called Jokha lying to the Northwest of Lagash is an ancient Sumerian city known as Umma. The site has been explored by Dr. Peters and others, but more recently surveyed by Andraea and Noeldeke. It proved to be a city destroyed in the early period. Arabs have lately found thousands of documents belonging to the ancient archives of the city. Some of the rulers known are: Ush p., Enakalli and Urlumma p., contemporaries of Enannatum I of Lagash; Ill p., appointed by Entemena p., of Lagash; Kur-Shesh p., time of Manishtusu; @@Galu-Babbar p.; Ur-nesu p., contemporary of Dungi k., of Ur.
The city mentioned in Gen 10:10 as Accad, one of Nimrod’s cities, has not been explored, but is well known by the inscriptions of Sargon and his son Naram-Sin as well as omen-texts of later eras. Sargon was a usurper. He was born in concealment, and sent adrift in an ark of bulrushes like Moses. He was rescued and brought up by Akki, a farmer. He assumed the title “king of the city” (Shar-ali), or “king of Uri” (Shat Uri). Later he conquered the entire country, and became the “king of Accad and Sumer.” In his latter years he extended his conquests to Elam, Amurru and Subartu, and earned for himself the title “king of the Four Quarters,” which his son Naram-Sin inherited. The latter followed up the successes of his father and marched into Magan, in the Sinaitic peninsula. Naram-Sin, as well as his father, was a great builder. Evidences of their operations are seen in many cities. Naram-Sin was succeeded by Bingani, who apparently lost the title “king of the Four Quarters,” being only called “king of the City, or Uri.”
The exact site of the city of Opis is still in doubt, but the city is represented by the ruler Zuzu k., who was defeated by Eannatum p., of Lagash.
The city Basime also remains unidentified, but is represented by Ibalum p., a contemporary of Manishtusu k., of Kish, and son of Ilsurabi, apparently another patesi of that city.
A site not far from Nippur, called Dolehem or Drehem, which was explored by Dr. Peters, has recently yielded thousands of tablets from the Temple archives dated in the reigns of kings in the Ur Dynasty.
The extensive group of mounds lying on the west side of the Euphrates, called Mugayyar, and generally known as Ur of the Chaldees, is the ancient Urumma. It was explored by Taylor and others, and proved to have been an important capital from the middle of the third millennium BC. The dynasty which had made the city its capital is known through inscriptions discovered there and at Tello, Nippur, Drehem and Djokha. Thousands of inscriptions dated in what is commonly called the Ur Dynasty have been published. The dynasty was founded by Ur-Engur, who is conspicuous for his building operations at Nippur and other cities. A dynastic tablet of a much later period, the provenience of which is in doubt, gives the rulers of this dynasty founded about 2400 BC, and the number of years that they reigned.
- Ur-Engur, 18 years
- Dungi (son), 58 years
- Bur-Sin (son), 9 years
- Gimil-Sin (son), 7 years
- Ibi-Sin (son), 25 years
- Five kings, 117 years
The same tablet gives also the following list of the rulers of Isin. Ishbi-Urra, the founder, lived about 2283 BC.
- Ishbi-Urra, 32 years
- Gimil-ilishu (son), 10 years
- Idin-Dagan (son), 21 years
- Ishme-Dagan (son), 20 years
- Libit-Ishtar (son), 11 years
- Ur-Ninib, 28 years
- Bur-Sin II (son), 28 years
- Iter-iqisha (son), 5 years
- Urra-imitti (brother), 7 years
- Sin-iqisha, 6 months
- Enlil-bani, 24 years
- Zambia, 3 years
- ———-, 5 years
- Ea————-, 4 years
- Sin-magir, 11 years
- Damiq-ilishu (son), 23 years
- Sixteen kings, 225 years and 6 months
First Dynasty of Babylon
About the time the Nisin Dynasty came to a close, and while the Larsa Dynasty was ruling, the First Dynasty of Babylon was established. Following is a list of 11 rulers of this dynasty who ruled 300 years:
FIRST DYNASTY OF BABYLON
- Sumu-abum, 14 years
- Sumu-la-el, 36 years
- Sabium (son), 14 years
- Abil-Sin (son), 18 years
- Sin-muballit (son), 20 years
- Hammu-rabi (son), 43 years
- Samsu-iluna (son), 38 years
- Abi-eshuh (son), 28 years
- Ammi-Ditana (son), 37 years
- Ammi-Zaduga (son), 21 years
- Samsu-Ditana (son), 32 years
The First Dynasty of Babylon came into prominence in the reign of Sin-muballit who captured Nisin. Eri-Aku of the Larsa Dynasty shortly afterward took the city. When Hammurabi came to the throne, he was subject to Eri-Aku (Bib. Arioch) of Larsa, the son of the Elamitc king, Kudur-Mabug. The latter informs us that he was suzerain of Amurru (Palestine and Syria), which makes intelligible the statement in Ge 14:1-24, that the kings of Canaan were subject to the king of Elam, whose name was Chedorlaomer (Kudur-Lagam ar). In his 31st year, Hammurabi, who is the Amraphel of Gen 14:1, succeeded in throwing off the Elamite yoke, and not only established his independence but also became the complete master of Babylonia by driving out the Elamites.
In the region of the Persian Gulf, south of Babylonia, ruled a dynasty partly contemporaneously with the First Dynasty, extending over the reigns of about five of the last kings, and over several of the Cassite Dynasty, known as the Sealand Dynasty. The historian records for the latter the following list of 11 kings who ruled 368 years:
- Ilima-ilu, 60 years
- Itti-ili-nibi, 55 years
- Damqi-ilishu, 36 years
- Ishkibal, 15 years
- Shushshi (brother), 27 years
- Gulkishar, 55 years
- Pesh-gal-daramash (son), 50 years
- Adara-kalama (son), 28 years
- Ekur-ul-anna, 26 years
- Melamma-kurkura, 7 years
- Ea-gamil, 9 years
The First Dynasty of Babylon came to an end through an invasion of the Hittites. They plundered Babylon and perhaps ruled that city for a number of years. A new dynasty was then established about 1750 BC by a foreign people known as Cassites. There were 36 kings in this dynasty, ruling 576 years and 9 months. Unfortunately, the tablet containing the list is fragmentary.
- Gandash, 16 years
- Agum I (s), 22 years
- Kashtiliash I, usurper, 22 years; born of Ulamburiash
- and son of Burna-buriash
- Du(?) shi (s), 8 years
- Abirattash (b ?)
- Tazzigurmash (s)
- Agum II (s)
- ——–;———-Long gap
The region from which these Cassites came has not yet been determined, although it seems to be the district Northeast of Assyria. Gandash, the first king, seems to have enjoyed the all-embracing title, “King of the Four Quarters of the World.” Little is known of the other rulers until Agum II, who claims the rule of the Cassites, Accad, Babel, Padan, Alman and Guti. In his inscriptions he records the conquest of Khani in Asia Minor, and the fact that he brought back to Babylon the statues of Marduk and Zarpanit, which had been carried off by the Hittites. The Cassite rule, while extending over many centuries, was not very prosperous. At Nippur the excavations showed active operations on the part of a few kings in restoring the temple and doing ob eisance to Enlil. The rulers seemed to have conformed to the religion of the land, for few foreign elements have been recognized as having been introduced into it during this era. The many Cassite names found in the inscriptions would indicate an influx from a Cassite quarter of no small proportion. And yet it should be noted that, in the same era, Hittite and Mittanean influence, as is shown by the nomenclature, is as great as the Cassite. It was during this period that Assyria rose to power and influence, and was soon to become the master of the Mesopotamian region.
- IV. ISIN OR PASHE DYNASTY
- 11 Kings; began to rule about 1172 BC
- Marduk, 17 years
- Wanting, 6 years
- Nebuchadrezzar I, contemporary of Ashur-resh-ishi,
- K. of Assyria
- Marduk-nadin-akhi, contemporary of Tiglath-pileser I,
- K. of Assyria
- Marduk-shapik-zer-mati, contemporary of Ashur-bel-kala,
- K. of Assyria
- Adad-apal-iddin, 22 years
- Marduk-akh-erba, 1 1/2
- Marduk-zer, 12 years
- Nabu-shum-libur, 8(?) years
The most famous king of this dynasty, in fact of this era, was Nebuchadrezzar I, who re-established firmly the rule of Babylon. He carried on a successful expedition into Elam as well as into Amurru where he fought against the Hittite. He also conquered the Lulubites. But in contest for supremacy with Assyria Ashur-reshishi triumphed, and he was forced to retreat ingloriously to Babylon. His successors failed to withstand the Assyrians, especially under Tiglath-pileser I, and were allowed to rule only by sufferance. The Babylonians had lost their prestige; the Assyrians had become the dominant people of the land. Few rulers of the dynasty which followed are known except by name. The dynasties with one exception were of short duration.
- Sealand Dynasty:
V. SEALAND DYNASTY
Simrnash-Shipak, 18 years; about 1042 BC
Ea-mukin-shum, 6 months
Kashshu-nadin-akhi, 3 years
- Bit-Bazi Dynasty:
VI. BIT-BAZI DYNASTY
Eulmash-shakin-shum, 17 years; about 1020 BC
Ninib-kudur-usur, 3 years
Shilaniln-Shuqamuna, 3 months
- Other Rulers:
VII. An Elamitic King, whose name is not known
VIII. 13(?) kings who ruled 36 years
IX. A dynasty of 5(?) kings
X BABYLONIAN DYNASTY
Following is a partial list of the 22 kings who ruled until the destruction of Babylon by Sennacherib, when the Assyrian kings assumed direct control. Ashurbanipal, however, introduced a new policy and viceroys were appointed.
- Nabu-shar-ishkun I
- Nabu-shum-ishkun II
- Nabu-nadin-zer; 747-734 BC
- Nabu-shum-ishkun III; 733-732 BC
- Nabu-mukin-zer; 731-729 BC
- Pul (Tiglath-pilcser III); 729-727 BC
- Ulula (Shalmancsar v); 727-722 BC
- Merodach-baladan I; 722-710 BC.
- Sargon; 710-705 BC
- Sennacherib; 704-702 BC
- Marduk-zakir-shum (1 month)
- Merodach-baladan II (9 months)
- Bel-ibni; 702-700 BC
- Ashur-nadin-shum; 700-694 BC
- Nergal-ushezib; 694-693 BC
- Mushczib-Marduk; 692-689 BC
- Sennacherib; 689-681 BC
- Esarhaddon; 681-668 BC
- Ashurbanipal; 668-626 BC
- Shamash-shum-ukin; 668-648 BC
- Kandalanu; 648-626 BC
- Ashur-etil-ilani-ukin; 626-
- Nabopolassar; 626-
During the time of Sennacherib, Merodach-baladan the Chaldean became a great obstacle to Assyria’s maintaining its supremacy over Babylonia. Three times he gained possession of Babylon, and twice had himself proclaimed king. For thirty years he plotted against Assyria. What is learned from the inscriptions concerning him furnishes an interesting commentary on the sending of the embassy, in 704 BC, to Hezekiah (2Ki 20:12; Isa 39:1) in order to induce him to revolt against Assyria, which he knew would help his own cause. Finally Sennacherib, in 690, after he had experienced much trouble by the repeated uprisings of the Babylonians, and the aspirations of Merodach-baladan, endeavored to obliterate Babylon from the map. His son and successor Esarhaddon, however, tried to make Babylon again happy and prosperous. One of his first acts was to send back to Babylon the statue of Bel-Merodach. He rebuilt the city, and also restored other Babylonian temples, for instance, that of Enlil at Nippur. The Babylonians solemnly declared him king. Ashurbanipal, his son and successor, followed his policy. The evidence of his operations at Nippur is everywhere seen in the shape of stamped, kiln-dried bricks.
Before Esarhaddon died, he had planned that Babylonia should become independent and be ruled by his son, Shamash-shum-ukin, while Assyria he handed down to Ashurbanipal. But when the latter came to the throne, Assyria permitted the former only to be appointed viceroy of Babylon. It seems also that even some portions of Babylonia were ruled directly by Ashurbanipal.
After fifteen years Shamash-shum-ukin rebelled and attempted to establish his independence, but Sennacherib besieged Babylon and took it, when Shamash-shum-ukin destroyed himself. Kadalanu was then appointed viceroy, and ruled over part of the country. Nabopolassar was the last viceroy appointed by Assyria. At last the time had arrived for the Babylonians to come again unto their own. Nabopolassar who perhaps was a Chaldean by origin, made an alliance with the Urnman Manda. This he strengthened by the marriage of his son Nebuchadrezzar to the daughter of Astyages, the king. Nineveh finally fell before the Umman Manda hordes, and was razed to the ground. This people took possession of Northern Assyria. The Armenian vassal states, and Southern Assyria, as well as the title to Palestine,Syria and Egypt, fell to Babylonia.
RULERS OF NEO-BABYLONIAN EMPIRE
- Nabopolassar; 625-604 BC
- Nebuchadrezzar II (s); 604-568 BC
- Evil-Merodach (s); 561-560 BC
- Neriglissar (brother-in-law); 559-556 BC
- Labosoarchad (s); 556 BC
- Nabonidus; 555-539 BC
- Cyrus conquered Babylonia in 539 BC
Nabopolassar having established himself king of Babylon became the founder of the neo-Babylonian empire. He was succeeded by his son, Nebuchadrezzar II, who like Hammurabi and Sargon is among the greatest known characters in Babylonian history. He is the Biblical Nebuchadrezzar who carried the Jews into captivity. There are a number of lengthy records of Nebuchadrezzar concerning the buildings he erected, as well as of other public acts, but unfortunately only a fragment of a historical inscription referring to him has been found. The building inscriptions portray him as the great builder he is represented to be in the Old Testament. He transformed Babylon into the mistress of the civilized world.
Evil-Merodach, his son and successor, is also mentioned in the Old Testament. Two short reigns followed when the ruling dynasty was overthrown and Nabonidus was placed upon the throne. The king, who delighted in exploring and restoring ancient temples, placed his son at the head of the army. Nabonidus desiring to centralize the religion of Babylonia, brought to Babylon many of the images of deities from other cities. This greatly displeased the people, and excited a strong feeling against him. The priesthood was alienated, and the military party was displeased with him, for in his antiquarian pursuits he left the defense of the empire to others. So when Cyrus, king of Anshan and ruler of Persia, entered the country, he had little difficulty in defeating the Babylonians in a battle at Opis. Sippar immediately surrendered to the invader, and the gates of Babylon were thrown open to his army under Gobryas, his general. Nabonidus was imprisoned. Three months later Cyrus entered Babylon; Belshazzar, who doubtless had set up his throne after his father had been deposed, was slain a week later on the night of the eleventh of Marchesvan. This scene may have occurred in the palace built by Nebuchadrezzar. This event, told by the chronicler, is a remarkable verification of the interesting story related of Belshazzar in Dnl. The title used by the kings who follow the Babylonian Dynasty is “King of Babylon and King of Countries.”
Persian Rulers of Babylonia
PERSIAN RULERS OF BABYLONIA
- Cyrus; 538-529 BC
- Cambyses; 529-522 BC
- Nebuchadrezzar III
- Darius I; 521-485 BC
- Xerxes; 485-464 BC
- Artaxerxes I; 464-424 BC
- Xerxes II; 424-423 BC
- Darius II; 423-404 BC
- Artaxerxes II; 405-358 BC
- Artaxerxes III (Ochos); 358-338 BC
- Arses; 338-335 BC
- Darius III; 335-331 BC
- Alexander the Great conquered Babylonia 331 BC.
Several of the Persian rulers figured prominently in the Old Testament narratives. Cyrus in a cylinder inscription, which is preserved in a fragmentary form, endeavors to justify himself in the eyes of the people. He claims that the god Marduk raised him up to take the place of Nabonidus, and to defend the religion of the people. He tries to show how considerate he was by returning to their respective cities the gods that had been removed from their shrines; and especially by liberating foreign peoples held in bondage. While he does not mention what exiles were allowed to return to their native homes, the Old Testament informs us that the Jews were among those delivered. And the returning of the images to their respective places is also an interesting commentary on Ezr 1:7, in which we are told that the Jews were allowed to take with them their sacred vessels. The spirit manifested in the proclamation for the rebuilding of the temple (Ezr 1:1, 4) seems also to have been in accordance with his policy on ascending the Babylonian throne. A year before his death he associated with himself Cambyses his son, another character mentioned in the Old Testament. He gave him the title “King of Babylon,” but retained for himself “King of Countries.” A usurper Smerdis, the Magian, called Barzia in the inscriptions, assumed the throne of Babylonia, but Darius Hystaspes, who was an Aryan and Zoroastrian in religion, finally killed Smerdis and made himself king of Babylon. But before he was acknowledged king he had to reconquer the Babylonians. By so doing the ancient tradition that Bel of Babylon conferred the legitimate right to rule that part of the world ceased to be acknowledged. Under Nidinta-Bel, who assumed the name Nebuchadrezzar III, the Babylonians regained their independence, but it was of short duration, lasting less than a year.
By A. T. Clay
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