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king of Babylon. The latter however, soon chastised him for his breach of faith. He invaded Judea with a great army, took most of the cities, and besieged Jerusalem, 2 Kings xxiv. 20; xxv. 1; Jer. xxxix. 1; Ezek. xxiv. 1, 2,
This was in the latter end of the year B. c. 588. Early the next year however, the Egyptians having made a show of coming to Zedekiah's relief the Chaldeans broke up the siege of Jerusalem, and advanced to give them battle. But the Egyptians retired, and left the Jews to their fate, as Jeremiah forewarned the messengers of Zedekiah, whom he sent to inquire of the Lord, Jer. xxxvii. 2-10. On the return of the Chaldeans to the siege, they pursued it vigorously, until after a siege of eighteen months from the beginning, they stormed the city about midnight, and put the inhabitants to the sword, 2 Kings xxv. 2-4; 2 Chron. xxxvi. 17-19; Jer. xxxix. 1, 2. Zedekiah, his sons, and officers, and the remnant of his army, were captured in the plains of Jericho, from whence they were conducted to the king of Babylon at Riblah, in Colo-Syria. Nebuchadnezzar upbraided him for his ingratitude and breach of faith; then caused his sons to be slain before his eyes, and his eyes to be put out; after which, he commanded his officers to carry him in fetters of brass to Babylon, where he died, 2 Kings xxv. 6, 7; Jer. xxxix. 4-7: fulfilling the prophecies of the prophets Jeremiah, chap. xxxii. 4, 5; xxxiv. 3—5; and Ezekiel, chap.
After this, Nebuchadnezzar left Gedaliah governor of Judea, who was treacherously slain by Ishmael, and a party of ten men, who slew also the Jews and the Chaldeans that were with him at Mizpeh, his residence, and then escaped to the Ammonites, Jer. xli. 1-15.
The year after the conquest of Judea, B. c. 585, Nebuchadnezzar resolved to revenge himself upon all the surrounding nations, who had solicited the Jews to a confederacy against him, or encouraged them to rebel. Among these may be enumerated the Ammonites, Moabites, Edomites, Arabians, Sidonians, Tyrians, Philistines, Egyptians, Abyssinians, etc., Jer. xxvii. 3; Ezek. xxv. 1-3; xxvi. 1, 2; Jer. xxxvii. 7; The subjugation and desolation of these countries by this servant of the Lord, and rod of God's anger, as he is termed in Scripture, was foretold in general terms, Jer. xxv. 11; xxix. 10; xxvii. 7; Isa. xxiii. 15; and the punishments of each was particularly foretold by the prophets as follows:The Ammonites, Amos i. 13-15: Ezek. xxv. 1-10; etc.
The Moabites, Ezek. xxv. 8-11; Jer. xxv. 21; xlviii. 40 -47; etc. The Edomites, Amos i. 13-15; Obadiah 1016; Jer. xlix. 17; etc. The Arabians, Jer. xxv. 24; etc. The Sidonians, Jer. xxv. 22; xlvii. 4; Ezek. xxviii. 21—23; etc. The Tyrians, Isa. xxiii. 1-15; Jer. xxv. 22; Ezek. xxvi. 7—14; xxvii. 2-36; etc. The Philistines, Jer. xxv. 20; Ezek. xxv. 16; Zeph. ii. 5. The Egyptians, Isa. xix. 4-23; Jer. xlvi. 13-26; Ezek. xxix. 2-12; xxx. 20— 26; xxxii. 2-16; Joel iii. 19. The Ethiopians or Abyssinians, Isa. xviii.; Ezek. xxx. 4—11.
After having subdued the eastern and western states in the first campaign, Nebuchadnezzar commenced the siege of Old Tyre, in the second year after the destruction of Jerusalem, or B. c. 584.
It was not till after an interval of thirteen years, according to the Tyrian annals, recorded by Josephus, that the Babylonian monarch reduced this celebrated city. And during this time, his troops suffered incredible hardships. According to the prophetic declaration, indeed, in achieving this mighty enterprise, "every head was made bald, and every shoulder was peeled," by the labours they had to undergo. Before the city was reduced to the last extremity, its inhabitants retired, with the greatest part of their effects, into a neighbouring isle, a mile from the shore, where they built a new city, the name and glory whereof extinguished the remembrance of the ancient city, which became a mere village. At the present moment, it is
"A rock, and waters, and a waste
Nebuchadnezzar, during the siege of Tyre, sent Nabuzaradan with an army into Judea, to revenge the death of Gedaliah. The country, however, was so thin of inhabitants, in consequence of a recent secession to Egypt, for fear of the Chaldeans, that he carried away captive only 745 persons. This may be dated B. c. 582.
About the same time, the king of Babylon invaded Elam, or Elymais, and took Shushan, or Susa, its capital from the Medes, according to prophecy. See Jer. xxv. 25, 26; xlix. 34-38; and Ezek. xxxii. 11-24.*
As a recompence for the service which Nebuchadnezzar and his army had served against Tyre, the prophet Ezekiel
* For more extended remarks on this subject, the reader is referred to "The Captivity of the Jews," published by the Religious Tract Society.
promised them the plunder of the land of Egypt, her multitude, her spoil, and her prey, Ezek. xxix. 18-20. Accordingly, B. c. 570, after the Tyrian war was finished, Nebuchadnezzar invaded Egypt, and quickly overran the whole extent of the country, from Migdol, its northern extremity, near the Red Sea, to Syene, the southern, bordering on Ethiopia, or Abyssinia, which he also reduced, according to prophecy, Ezek. xxx. 1-12. Pharaoah-hophra, or Apries, became his vassal, and soon after was slain by the Egyptians, fulfilling the prophecies of Jeremiah, chap. xlvi. 25, 26; xliv. 30; and Ezek. xxxii. 32.
When Nebuchadnezzar had finished all his wars, he employed himself in embellishing Babylon, the greatness of which has been before described.
In the first year of peace according to Dr. Hales, that is, B. c. 569, Nebuchadnezzar had the celebrated dream, recorded Dan. ii., and which is so clear, as explained by Daniel, and with the illustration derived from his own future visions, that it has been explained, with little difference of opinion in essential points, except as to that portion which yet remains to be accomplished.
Daniel declares the head of gold to represent the Babylonian empire; and the other parts downward, the great empires which should follow in succession. The breast and arms of silver must, therefore, denote the empire of the Persians; the belly and thighs of brass, the empire of Alexander and his successors; the kingdom of iron, which broke in pieces and subdued all things, must mean that of the Romans; and the toes partly iron, and partly clay, the various kingdoms, some strong, and some weak, which arose upon the ruins of the Roman empire.
The last empire, which is typified by the stone cut out without hands from the mountain, and breaking in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold, subduing all kingdoms, and enduring for ever, is by the Jews referred to the kingdom of their still expected Messiah. Christians also apply it to the kingdom of Christ, under various modifications of explanation and hypothesis; and there can be little doubt that it has reference to our Saviour's dominion upon earth. In what way this dominion shall be established, whether by the soft influences of his grace, ruling in the hearts of all men or, as some conclude, by his personal reign upon earth, futurity will develope; but of this we are assured, that
"The seas shall waste, the skies in smoke decay,
After Daniel had explained this dream, the king of Babylon prostrated himself before him, and offered him incense, according to the usual mode of adoration to kings and superiors in the east, and confessed that the God of Daniel was "a God of gods, and a Lord of kings;" and he appointed him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and also chief governor over his "wise men." These were the highest civil and eccle
siastical employments in the state. At his request, also, he promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who were three friends of Daniel, "over the affairs of the province of Babylon," while he acted himself as privy-counsellor to the king, to advise him in the administration of justice.
But Nebuchadnezzar's adoration of the one true God was transient. Not more than a year after, elated with pride, he erected a golden statue in the plain of Dura.* Dr. Hales, indeed, suggests, and with great plausibility, that this ima age of gold may have been made and erected by the haughty and arrogant conqueror, in opposition to his dream, and the foregoing interpretation thereof. He says: "The whole image, and not the head only, was made of gold, to denote the continuance of his empire; and it was consecrated to his tutelary god, Bel, or Belus, Dan. iii. 14; iv. 8; whose power he now considered as superior to that of the God of the Jews, revoking his former confession." Some think, however, that the image was intended as a statue of Nabopolassar, whom he proposed to rank among the gods; and others imagine that the image represented Nebuchadnezzar himself, who intended to be adored under this form. Be this as it may, he was brought again to the acknowledgment of the greatness of Jehovah. When he had set up his image, he commanded all his subjects to worship it, threatening to cast those that should refuse into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. Three Hebrew youths, those whom he had exalted with Daniel, faithful to their religion and their God-oh, what a noble example of piety is here displayed!-refused to obey the royal mandate, and they were cast into a furnace, seven times hot
*Herodotus seems to allude to this image, when he says, formerly in this temple (that of Jupiter Belus) a statue of solid gold, twelve cubits high; this, however, I mention from the information of the Chaldeans, and not from my own knowledge."
ter than it was wont to be made, to appease the fury of the haughty monarch.
When found in the path of duty, the Christian may expect, according to promise, the guidance and protection of his God. Thus it was with these Hebrew youths. In refusing to bow down in worship to the idol, and expecting the fulfilment of Nebuchadnezzar's threat, they expressed themselves thus piously: "O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king." Their expectations were not ill-founded. Although the fire slew the men who executed the monarch's evil command, they walked in the midst of the fire, unharmed. "Did not we," said the trembling and astonished monarch, "cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God."
The haughty monarch, now humbled, called the youthful martyrs forth; and he was again compelled to confess, that the God of the Jews was superior to any other, "because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort," Dan. iii. He showed his conviction to be, at the moment, sincere, by promoting those whose destruction he had sought, in the province of Babylon, as he had done before.
Pride has a very strong foundation in the human mind. It springs from self-love, which is the most deeply rooted part of our nature, and therefore most difficult to be eradicated. In the case of the king of Babylon, it showed itself proof against miracles. But, as Solomon was inspired to write, "Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall," Prov. xvi. 18. While Nebuchadnezzar exalted himself against Heaven, he was visited by a most remarkable dream. He saw a tree in the midst of the earth, whose height was great. This tree grew, and was strong; the height of it reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of the earth. The leaves were fair, and the fruit abundant: it was meat for all. The beasts of the field took refuge under it, and the fowls of heaven nestled in its branches, and all flesh was fed of it. Then a watcher, and a holy one came down from heaven, and cried; "Hew down the tree, and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit: let the beasts get away from under it, and the fowls from his branches: