Page images
PDF
EPUB

morals. Whereupon it pleased God to commission the prophet Jonah to preach unto them the necessity of repentance, as the only means of averting their impending destruction: and such was the success of his preaching, that both the king and the people repented and turned from their evil ways, and thereby for a time delayed the execution of the divine judgments. Who this king of Assyria was we cannot be certain, we can only make conjectures, his name not being mentioned in the book of Jonah. Archbishop Usher* supposeth him to have been Pul the king of Assyria, who afterwards invaded the kingdom of Israel, in the days of Menahem, 2 Kings xv. 19; it being very agreeable to the methods of providence to make use of an heathen king who was penitent, to punish the impenitency of God's own people Israel. But it should seem more probable, that this prince was one of the kings of Assyria, before any of those who are mentioned in scripture. For Jonah is reckoned the most ancient of all the prophets usually so called. whose writings are preserved in the canon of Scripture. We know that he prophesied of the restoration of the coasts of Israel taken by the king of Syria, which was accomplished by Jeroboam the Second, 2 Kings xiv. 25: and therefore Jonah must have lived before that time; and is with great reason supposed by Bishop Lloyd in his Chronological Tables, to have prophesied at the latter end of Jehu's, or the beginning of the reign of Jehoahaz, when the kingdom of Israel was reduced very low, and greatly oppressed by Hazael, king of Syria, 2 Kings x. 32. If he prophesied at that time, there intervened Jehoahaz's reign of seventeen years, Joash's reign of sixteen years, Jeroboam's of forty and one years, Zachariah's of six months, Shallum's of one month, and Menahem was seated on the throne of Israel, before any mention is made of Pul the king of Assyria: and therefore we may reasonably conclude from the distance of time, which was above seventy years, that Jonah was not sent to Pul the king of Assyria, but to one of his predecessors, though to whom particularly we are unable to discover, for the want before complained of, the want of Assyrian histories, which no doubt would have related so memorable a transaction.

But this repentance of the Ninevites, we may presume, was of no long continuance. For not many years after we find the prophet Nahum foretelling the total and entire destruction of the city;

See Usher's Annals, A. M. 3233. p. 58, and Lowth's Comment.

K

"

though there is no certainty of the time of Nahum s, any more than of Jonah's prophesying. Josephus saith that he flourished in the time of Jotham, king of Judah, and that "all the things which he foretold concerning Nineveh came to pass one hundred and fifteen years afterwards."* St. Jerome placeth him under Hezekiah, king of Judah, and saith that "his name by interpretation is a comforter; for the ten tribes being carried away by the king of Assyria, this vision was to comfort them in their captivity; nor was it a less consolation to the other two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, who remained in the land, and were besieged by the same enemies, to hear that these conquerors would in time be conquered themselves, their city be taken, and their empire overthrown."+ All that is said of him in scripture is Nahum the Elkoshite,'--Nahum i. 1, which title in all probability was given him from the place of his nativity; and St. Jerome supposeth it to have been a village in Galilee, the ruins whereof were shown to him, when he travelled in those parts. Now we learn from the sacred history, 2 Kings xv. 29, that the people of Galilee were taken by Tiglathpileser, king of Assyria, and carried captive into Assyria. It is not improbable therefore, that at that time this prophet, who was a Galilean, might be instructed to foretel the fall of Nineveh and that time coincides with the reign of Jotham, king of Judah, which is the time assigned for Nahum's prophesying by Josephus. But if Josephus was right in this particular, he was wrong in another; for more than one hundred and fifteen years intervened between the

Ην δε τις κατα τυτον τον καιρον προφητης Ναυμος τ' όνομα. Erat autem quidem eo tempore vates, cui nomen Nahumus. [There was at this time a certain prophet, whose name was Nahum oven de παντα τα προειρημένα περι Νινευης μετα ε'τη έκατον και WEYTEXαιdExα.—evenerunt autem omnia quæ de Nineveh prædicta sunt centum et quindecim post annos. [Translated in the text.] Jos. Antiq. lib. 9, cap. 11, sect. 3, p. 422, 423. Edit. Hudson.

† Naum, qui interpretatur, consolator. Jam enim decem tribus ab Assyriis deductæ fuerant in captivitatem sub Ezechia rege Juda, sub quo etiam nunc in consolationem populi transmigrati, adversum Nineven visio cernitur. Nec erat parva consolatio, tam his qui jam Assyriis serviebant, quam reliquis qui sub Ezechia de tribu Juda et Benjamin ab iisdem hostibus obsidebantur; ut audirent Assyrios quoque a Chaldæis esse capiendos, sicut in consequentibus hujus libri demonstrabitur. [Translated in the text.] Hieron. Prol. in Naum, p. 1558, vol. 3, Edit. Benedict.

Elcesi usque hodie in Galilæa viculus, parvus quidem, et vix ruinis veterum ædificiorum indicans vestigia; sed tamen notus Judæis; et mihi quoque a circumducente monstratus. [The little village of Elkosh exists at this day in Galilee, small indeed, and in its ruins scarcely exhibiting a trace of its former edifices. yet it is well known to the Jews, and was pointed out to me by the guide.] Hieron. ibid. p. 1559.

reign of Jotham king of Judah, and the destruction of Nineveh, as it is usually computed by chronologers. There is one thing, which might greatly assist us in fixing the time of Nahum's prophesying ; and that is the destruction of No-Amon or Diospolis in Egypt, which he mentions, chap. iii. 8, &c., as a late transaction, if we could know certainly, when that destruction happened, or by whem it was effected. It is commonly attributed to Nebuchadnezzar; but that time is too late, and the destruction of No-Amon would fall out after the destruction of Nineveh instead of before it. Dr. Prideaux * with more reason believes, that it was effected by Sennacherib, before he marched against Jerusalem; and then Nahum's prophesying would coincide exactly with the reign of Hezekiah, which is the time assigned for it by St. Jerome.

But whenever it was that Nahum prophesied, he plainly and largely foretold the destruction of Nineveh; his whole prophecy relates to this single event: and the city was accordingly destroyed by the Medes and Babylonians. This point I think is generally agreed upon, that Nineveh was taken and destroyed by the Medes and Babylonians; these two rebelling and uniting together, subverted the Assyrian empire: but authors differ much about the time when Nineveh was taken, and about the king of Assyria, in whose reign it was taken, and even about the persons who had the command in this expedition. Herodotus affirms, that it was taken by Cyaxares, king of the Medes ;† St. Jerome, after the Hebrew chronicle, asserts, that it was taken by Nabuchodonosor, king of the Babylonians; but these accounts may be easily reconciled, for Cyaxares and Nabuchodonosor might take it with their joint forces, as they actually did, according to that which is written in the book of Tobit, xiv. 15, if the Assuerus in Tobit, be the same (as there is great reason to think him the same) with the Cyaxares of Herodotus; But before Tobias died, he heard of the destruction of Nineveh, which was taken by Nabuchodonosor and Assuerus: and be

[ocr errors]

Prid. Connect. part 1, b. 1, Anno, 713. Hezek. 15. + Herod. lib. 1, cap. 106, p. 45, Edit. Gale.

Hieron. in Naum II. 12. p. 1574, vol. 5. Edit. Benedict. Seder Olam Rabba soli Nabuchodonosoro rem attribuit, et tempus ponit. Anno primo Nabuchodonosor subegit Nineven, id est, non diu post mortem patris. Ebraicum hoc Chronicor secuti sunt S. Hieronymus, &c. [Seder Olam Rabbi ascribes the taking of Nineveh to Nabuchodonosor alone, and fixes the time. In the first year of his reign, Nebucbodonosor took Nineveh, that is, soon after the death of his father--Jerome and others have followed this Hebrew Chronicle.] Marshami, Chron Sæc. XVIII. P. 559.

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

fore his death he rejoiced over Nineveh.' Josephus, who saith m one place that "the empire of the Assyrians was dissolved by he Medes," saith in another, that "the Medes and Babylonians dissolved the empire of the Assyrians."* Herodotus himself saith, hat the Medes took Nineveh, and subdued the Assyrians, except the Babylonian portion;"† the reason of which was, the Babyonians were their allies and confederates. Ctesias, and after him, Diodorus Siculus,‡ ascribe the taking of Nineveh, and the subversion of the Assyrian empire, to Arbaces the Mede, assisted by Belesis the Babylonian. I know that Eusebius,§ and after him several excellent chronologers, Usher, Prideaux, and others reckon this quite a different action, and fix it at quite a different time; but it is not likely that the same city should be twice destroyed, and the same empire twice overthrown, by the same people twice confederated together. Diodorus, who relates this catastrophe, does not mention the other; but saith expressly, || that Arbaces distributed

Συνεβη την των Ασσυρίων άρχην ὑπὸ Μηδων καταλυθήναι. Assyriorum imperium a Medis eversum iri contigit. [Translated in the text.] Joseph. Antiq. lib. x. cap. 2, sect. 2, p. 435.Μηδες και τις Βαβυλωνίας, οι την Ασσυρίων κατελισὸν ἀρχήν. Medos et Babylonios, qui Assyriorum everterant imperium. [Translated in the text.] Ibid. cap. 5, sect. 1, p. 441. Edit. Hudson.

+ Και την τε Νινον είλον, και τις ’Ασσυριως ὑποχειρίες ἐποιήσαντο, πλην της Βαβυλινης μοιρης. Et Ninum expugnaverunt, Assyriosque, excepta Babylonica portione, subigerunt. [Translated in the text.] Herod. lib. i. cap. 106, p. 45, Edit. Gale.

+ Diod Sic. lib. 2, p 78, Edit. Steph. p. 110, Edit. Rhodomani.

§ Eusebius (more suo) utramque sententiam in Canonem retulit: ad mentem Ctesiæ, Arbaces Medus, ait, Num. 1197, Assyriorum imperio destructo, regnum in Medos transtulit. Dein (post annos 213) ex auctoritate Herodoti, Num. 1410, Cy axares Medus subvertit Ninum. Ista autem àousaтa sunt. [Eusebius (according to his plan) hath received both these opinions into his Canon. For following Ctesias, he saith, Num. 1197, Arbaces, the Mede, having destroyed the empire of the Assyrians, transferred the sovereignty to the Medes. And again, 213 years afterwards, upon the credit of Herodotus, Num. 1400, he saith, Cyaxares, the Mede, destroyed Nineveh. But these assertions are inconsistent.] Marshami Chronicon. Sæc. xviii. p. 556.

[ocr errors]

UNO

Hoc ergo

|| ̔ὁ δ ̓ ἐν Αρβακης τοις κατα την πολιν ἐπιεικως προσενεχθεις, ἀυτες μεν κατα κωμας διωκισε, -την δε πολιν εἰς εὔδαφος κατέσκαψεν· επειτα τον τε άργυρον και χρυσον, πολλων ὄντα ταλαντων, ἀπεκόμισε της Μηδίας εἰς Εκβατανα· ἡ μεν ἐν ἡγεμονια των Ασσυρίων Μηδων κατελύθη τον προειρημένον τδοπον. Simili quoque lenitate erga cives usus, quamvis in pagos eos distraheret, -urbem autem solo æquavit. Tum argentum et aurum -(multa certe talenta erant) in Ecbatana Medorum regiam transtulit. modo Assyriorum imperium ―a Medis eversum est. [But Arbaces acting with similar clemency towards the citizens, dispersed them in the villages.-The city he levelled with the ground. Then he conveyed the gold and silver, of which there were many talents, to Echatana, the metropolis of the Medes. In this manner the empire of the Assyrians was destroyed by the Medes. Diod. Sic. lib. 2, p. 81, Edit. Steph. p. 115, Edit. Rhol.

the citizens of Nineveh into the country villages, levelled the city with the ground, transferred many talents of gold and silver to Ec batana, the royal city of the Medes; and so, saith he, the empire of the Assyrians was subverted. If there is some difficulty in discovering the persons by whom Nineveh was taken, there is more in ascertaining the king of Assyria in whose reign it was taken, and more still in fixing the time when it was taken, scarce any two chronologers agreeing in the same date: but as these things are hardly possible to be known, so neither are they necessary to be known with precision and exactness; and we may safely leave them among the uncertainties of ancient history and chronology.

2

It is sufficient for our purpose, that Nineveh was taken and destroyed, according to the predictions: and Nahum foretold not only the thin, but also the manner of it. Herodotus promised to reate in is Assyrian history how Nineveh was taken'; "the Medes took Nineveh," saith he, "but how they took it, I will show in nother work."* Again: afterwards he mentions his design of writng the Assyrian history. Speaking of the kings of Babylon, he >aith, "of these I shall make mention in the Assyrian history."+ But to our regret this history was never finished, or is lost. More >robably it was never finished, for otherwise some or other of the ncients would have mentioned it. If it had been extant with his >ther works, it would in all probability have been of great service 'n illustrating several passages in Nahum's prophecies. It is however something fortunate, that we can in some measure supply this ioss out of Diodorus Siculus. Nahum prophesies, that the Assyrians should be taken while they where drunken, i. 10,- For while they be folden together as thorns, and while they are drunken as drunkards, they shall be devoured as stubble fully dry:' and Dicdorus relates, "that it was while all the Assyrian army were feasting for their former victories, that those about Arbaces, being informed by some deserters, of the negligence and drunkenness in the camp of the enemies, assaulted them unexpectedly by night, and falling orderly on them disorderly, and prepared on them unprepared, became masters of the camp, and slew many of the sol

* Και την δε Νινον εἷλον (ὡς δε είλον, εν ε' τεροισι λογοισι δηλωσω.) Et Ninum expugnaverunt. (ut autem ceperint, in aliis mox scriptis indicabo.) [Translated in the text.] Herod. b. 1, cap. 106, p. 45, Edit Gale.

† Των εν τοισι Ασσυρίοισι λόγοισι μνήμην ποιησομαι. Quorum in exponendis rebus Assyriis mentionem faciam. [Translated in the text.] Lib. 1, cap. 184, p 76, Edit. Gale. Vossius de Hist. Græc. lib. 1, cap 3 Fabricius Bib. Græc. lib. 2, cap. 20.

« PreviousContinue »