« AnteriorContinuar »
prophecies fulfilled ! For Zedekiah did see Nebuchadnezzar; and, then, as a punishment for his treachery, his eyes were put out. As for his death, we find it was in peace, ( Jer. lii. 11.); for he was taken to Babylon, and remained in prison till he died in peace, that is, a natural death."
As we have already said, there was a fourth instance of the Jews being taken away; which occurred (B. c. 684.) and which fully compleated the desolation of the land, no more of its former inhabitants being now left therein. But in this last instance few were left to be taken away; so great had been the evils which the Jews suffered under the three former instances, and so accurately were all the predictions of the Prophets accomplished respecting them.
The country, the land of Shinar, to which the Jews were taken captive, is of great note, both in sacred and prophane history; since the tower of Babel was built in it, and consequently the city of Babylon, the metropolis of a vast and powerful empire.
Of the derivation of the word Shinar there are different opinions; as indeed there are about the derivation of almost all proper names of countries and places. Cruden gives three definitions of it: “the watching of him that sleeps; or spoil of the tooth ; or change of the city.” But perhaps the ideal meaning of the word is more accurately conveyed by one of the two opinions which Pole cites in his Synopsis on Gen. x. 10: the first is, that the country was so called, because the bodies of those who died in the deluge were driven towards that place: the second, that it is derived from an Hebrew word which signifies, to shake out; intimating
Watson's apology for the Bible, letter 6.
that by the decision of God, the inhabitants of the earth were driven into different parts of the globe. This latter opinion I should chiefly prefer, because it was from this country that the people were scattered over the face of the earth after the confusion of tongues.
But though the derivation be doubtful, yet there can be no doubt, respecting the situation of the land of Shinar, to any one who consults Wells' sacred Geography, Part 1. C. iv. I shall therefore make an abstract of what he says upon the subject.
"As to the land of Shinar, thereby is meant the valley, along which runs the river Tigris, and that, probably, till it falls into the sea. It is plain from Scripture, that Babel was the same with the city Babylon; and it is not to be doubted but that Erech was the same with the city Arracca, mentioned by Ptolemy and other ancient writers. Now Moses says expressly, that Babel and Erech lay in the land of Shinar, Gen. x. 10. It may, therefore, be very probably inferred, that by the land of Shinar was denoted all the valley, along which the river Tigris runs from the mountains of Armenia northwards, to the Persian gulf.
And as it was into this country that the Jews were taken captive, so the treasures which Nebuchadnezzar took from the temple at Jerusalem were deposited in the treasure house of his God, that is, in the Tower of Babel,' which was the temple of the Assyrian God, Bel. The situation of Babel, and consequently Babylon which derived its name from it, was about 62° É. L. from Ferro, that is, about 440—20 E. L. from London; and about 320_30 n. L.” h
This Tower of Babel, which afterwards became the temple of Bel, had its name from the well known cir
& Pole in loc
h Well's Sacred Geography.
cumstance of the confusion of tongues taking place, while it was building : for the word Babel signifies confusion; “ therefore is the name of it called Babel ; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth. (Gen. xi. 9.)
Of this Tower we know but little from Scripture; excepting that it was intended to be very high, and that it was built of bricks cemented together by a kind of bitumen. We must, therefore, have recourse to the very learned Prideaux, who has collected from different authors perhaps all that can now be known respecting it.
At the foundation it was a square of a furlong on each side : that is, half a mile in the whole compass. Its height was a furlong, and it consisted of eight towers built one above the other: which Towers decreasing in size, gave it the appearance of a Pyramid. The ascent was by stairs on the outside; or, as some think, by a kind of winding staircase made in the side of the outer wall.
The eight Towers were each 75 feet high, and in them were many great rooms supported by pillars. All which were made parts of the temple, after the tower was consecrated to the idolatrous use of worshipping Bel. The highest story was the most sacred, for there the chief rites were performed. On the top of all was an observatory for astronomical purposes; and hence the Babylonians were the most famous of all ancient nations for their skill in the most sublime science of Astronomy.
The temples of the heathens were many of them rich almost beyond our belief, on account of the numerous gifts which were presented to them by the ignorant worshippers of false Gods ; and also because the temples being held sacred, they afforded great securi. ty to the treasures that were deposited in them. Hence we find that Hannibal, when in Crete among the Gortynians, pretended to lodge his treasure in the temple of Diana, in the presence of the Gortynians ; that the sanctity of the place might give security to his wealth. k
| Prid. anno. 570. Rollin's history of the Assyrians.
It is well known what numerous and rich presents were sent to the oracles, either as fees to the Priests, or as presents to be laid up in the temple of the God. And so great was the wealth of the temple of Bel, in the time of Xerxes, consisting of golden images, sacred utensils, and other things of a like nature, that Prideaux reckons it to have been about 42 Millions of our money.
The sacred vessels of the temple at Jerusalem would be deposited by Nebuchadnezzar in this temple, to give honour to his God, as having given him victory over the Jews, and power to despoil their temple : they would also remain as memorials of his triumphs, and as proofs of the great success of his arms. And as he enriched this temple with Jewish spoil, so, there can be no doubt, he would also enrich it with the spoils of other nations which he conquered.
Who or what Bel, the great God of the Babylonians, was, is not agreed upon among the learned; nor indeed is it easy to determine : The two principal opinions are, that he was Nimrod, the founder of the Babylonian empire ; or that Bel, signifies the heavens: that is, the mixture of fire, light, and air throughout the Solar system, by which, as instruments, the great operations of nature are carried on.
* Nepes' life of Hannibal.
In confirmation of the first opinion, we have the authority of Vossius and Prideaux, and other eminent Men: in support of the latter, there is the authority of Parkhurst, Hutchinson, and those of his school.
Prideaux says !, “Bel or Baal, which is the same name, signifieth Lord; and Nimrod a rebel, in the Jewish and Chaldean languages: the former was his (Nimrod's ) Babylonish name by reason of his empire in that place, and the latter his scripture name, by reason of his rebellion in revolting from God to follow his own wicked designs.”
Of this opinion also are others, who say that Bel, or Baal, was the same as the Nimrod of the scriptures; and that he is the ancient Mars of the Heathen. m
In opposition to this, stands the opinion of Hutchinson, who says; “Bel, in the Babylonish language, was the name of their principal idol ; and Baal, in the Hebrew language, the name of theirs; and the same idol, and each in each language, and in several others, is the name of the heavens, or great light.”
Similar to this is the opinion of Junius ; who states, that he chiefly regards the opinion of those, who hold, that Bel among the Assyrians, Persians and Babylonians, was the sun; because that, as Bel, was their chief idol, and that also as the worship of the sun or fire was their chief worship, therefore, Bel was the idol, or representative of the sun, or fire.
As all agree that the great object of adoration among the Babylonians was the sun, or fire; and as the scriptures represent Bel as their great Idol; it seems
! Prid, B. 2. n Essay,
m Lib. 1. C. 16. De Idololatria. P. 88. 2d. Ed.
o Bel. idem. See Banier's Mythol. L. 3, C. 3.