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Chaser, the Bumades, or Bamelas of Arrian. After the battle, Alexander, in pursuit of Darius, crossed the Greater Zab, and arrived at Arbela; from which circumstance it obtained its celebrity.
Besides the cities enumerated in the preceding pages as existing anciently in Assyria, etc., there were others, as Charracharta, Thebura, Arrapa, Marde, Bessara, Opis, etc.; but nothing is known concerning them beyond their names. later date, when the country was under the dominion of foreign rulers, other cities, also, are mentioned by geographers and historians, as Ctesiphon, Seleucia, etc.; and these, also, for the most part, are passed away.
"So sink the monuments of ancient might,
HISTORY OF THE POLITY OF THE ASSYRIANS.
THE idea given of the government of the kings of Nineveh and Babylon is, that it was haughty and despotic, and the kingdom hereditary. The whole power centered in the king, and life and death were at his command. All decrees issued from the throne, and none might revoke them. Thus, after Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had been delivered from the burning fiery furnace, by the merciful interposition of Divine Providence, Nebuchadnezzar, astonished at the event, exclaimed, "Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort," Dan. iii. 29. And when the same monarch, troubled by a dream, which had escaped his memory, sought of his wise men for a revelation and an interpretation thereof, because they could not resolve it, he showed his absolute power over his subjects, by issuing a decree, that all the wise men of Babylon should be slain: "And the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain," Dan. ii. 13. This despotism was the natural result of impious arrogance. The monarchs of Nineveh and Babylon affected even Divine honours, as will be seen in their history, and set themselves above all the nations and the gods of the nations they vanquished. "Hath any of the gods of the nations," said Sennacherib, by the lips of the vaunting Rabshakeh, delivered at all his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath, and of Arpad? where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivah? have they delivered Samaria out of mine hand? Who are they
among all the gods of the countries, that have delivered their country out of mine hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of mine hand ?" 2 Kings xviii. 33-35. Entertaining such arrogant notions as these, it is no wonder that they lorded it over their own people, and the nations whom they might conquer. Their impious arrogance did not even stop here. Sometimes they required that none under heaven should be worshipped but themselves. Speaking of Holofernes, the writer of the book of Judith says: "Yet he did cast down their frontiers, and cut down their groves: for he had decreed to destroy all the gods of the land, that all nations should worship Nabuchodonosor only, and that all tongues and tribes should call upon him as god," Judith iii. 8.
The monarchs of Nineveh and Babylon sometimes even presumed to pass sentence upon the whole world. Of the same monarch it is said: "So he called unto him all his offi. cers, and all his nobles, and communicated with them his secret counsel, and concluded the afflicting of the whole earth out of his own mouth. Then they decreed to destroy all flesh, that did not obey the commandment of his mouth. And when he had ended his council, Nabuchodonosor king of the Assyrians called Holofernes the chief captain of his army, which was next unto him, and said unto him, Thus saith the great king, the lord of the whole earth, Behold, thou shalt go forth from my presence, and take with thee men that trust in their own strength, of footmen a hundred and twenty thousand; and the number of horses with their riders twelve thousand. And thou shalt go against all the west country, because they disobeyed my commandment. And thou shalt declare unto them, that they prepare for me earth and water:* for I will go forth in my wrath against them, and will cover the whole face of the earth with the feet of mine army, and I will give them for a spoil unto them so that their slain shall fill their valleys and brooks, and their river shall be filled with their dead, till it overflow: and I will lead them captive to the utmost parts of all the earth. Thou therefore shalt go forth, and take beforehand for me all their coasts: and if they will yield themselves unto thee, thou shalt reserve them for me till the day of their punishment. But concerning them that rebel, let not thine eye spare them; but put them to the slaughter, and spoil them wheresoever thou goest. For as I
*This was after the manner of the kings of Persia; to whom, according to Herodotus, earth and water were wont to be given, to acknowledge that they were lords of land and sea.
live, and by the power of my kingdom, whatsoever I have spoken, that will I do by mine hand. And take thou heed that thou transgress none of the commandments of thy lord, but accomplish them fully, as I have commanded thee, and defer not to do them," Judith ii. 2—13.
The happiness or misery of the subjects of these arrogant monarchs wholly depend on their arbitrary will and pleasure. The only doctrine in politics promulgated by them was passive obedience and non-resistance. Their right to rule as they pleased, and as their passions dictated, was constantly inculcated and universally believed. It is no matter of astonishment, therefore, that these monarchs, invested with such extraordinary powers, should require proportionate homage, and assume correspondent titles. No subject could approach their presence but by humble prostrations, and none durst address them, (no, not even their own offspring,) by any other title than that of Lord, great king, and king of kings. Thus, Rabshakeh, in addressing the messengers of Hezekiah, called Sennacherib the "great king, the king of Assyria," Isa. xxxvi. 4. And Daniel, speaking to Nebuchadnezzar, called him, "king of kings," Dan. ii. 37. In later ages the Parthian sovereigns assumed to themselves the same titles. Vologeses, in writing to the emperor Vespasian, used the following_superscription: "Arsaces, king of kings, to the emperor Flavius Vespasian ;" and he was answered in his own style: thus, "Flavius Vespasian to Arsaces, king of kings." Phrahates I., before this, had sent ambassadors to Pompey, to expostulate with him, for omitting in his letter to him the title of "king of kings.' None durst appear in their presence, without prostrating themselves on the ground. Nay, more, they were obliged, at what distance soever the king appeared, to pay him that adoration. And this was not only exacted of their own subjects and vassals, but also of foreign ministers and ambassadors: the captain of the guard being charged to inquire of those who sought admittance to the king, whether they were willing to pay him that homage. If they refused, they were informed, that the king's ears were open only to such as were willing to obey the royal command of rendering this homage. Philostratus says, that in the days of Apollonius, a golden statue of the Parthian king was exposed to all who entered Babylon: and that only such who adored it were admitted within the walls.
The kings of Assyria appear to have administered their government by different kinds of officers, both civil and mili
tary. Strabo divides them into three classes, and says that they were chosen from among the gravest and noblest personages in the empire. The first of these had the charge of virgins, and their disposal in marriage; the second took cognizance of thefts; and the third of all other crimes. From Scripture it may be gathered, that the subordinate powers of the king of Assyria were divided into princes, governors, captains, judges, treasurers, counsellors, sheriffs, and rulers of provinces, Dan. iii. 2, 3. So that it would appear, nothing was wanting to preserve peace and good order in the empire; and that the civil and military economy was under severe regulations.
In their own household, the monarchs of Assyria had officers high in rank. The chief of these officers appears to have been "the captain of the guard," who had the execution of all his master's arbitrary and sanguinary commands. This appears evident from Dan. ii. 14, 15, wherein it is related that Arioch, the captain of the king's guard, was commissioned to slay all the wise men of Babylon. Whenever an officer of this rank, among the Egyptians or Babylonians, is mentioned in Scripture, he is called Sar, or Rabhattubbachim, literally, "chief of the slaughtermen" the same word being applied to the slaughterer of beasts; and, hence, it is equivalent to "chief of the executioners;" the body guard, under the direction of their chief, being, in the east, charged with the execution of capital punishments, and the commander himself often putting the more distinguished offenders to death with his own hand.
The second in authority in the king's palace had charge of the education and subsistence of the youth of the palace: "And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king's seed, and of the princes; children in whom was no blemish, but well-favoured, and skilled in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans. And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king's meat, and of the wine which he drank so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king," Dan. i. 3-5. This has always been the custom in the eastern countries; and, at this day it may receive illustration from the customs in the Ottoman court. Ricaut, in his "State of the. Ottoman Empire," says,