Zechariah 1:1
In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD to Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Zechariah 1:1-2. In the eighth month — This month, according to that reckoning which begins the year with the month Abib, or Nisan, Exodus 12:2, falls in with the latter part of our October, and the beginning of November. Haggai had begun to exhort the Jews to resume the work of building the temple two months before this, and they had actually resumed it on the 24th day of the sixth month, that is, in the beginning of September. In the second year of Darius — That is, Darius the son of Hystaspes, as Dr. Blayney and many other learned men have proved to a demonstration. Came the word of the Lord to Zechariah — Here we see the prophet did not run before he was sent, or undertake a work to which he was not called: as also, that what he communicated to the people, was first communicated to him by the Lord. Saying, The Lord, &c. — Blayney here supplies, Speak unto all the people of the land, saying, &c. He supposes that some words, expressive of that or a similar sense, have been omitted by the carelessness of some transcriber. The Lord hath been sore displeased with your fathers — He was so long and so much provoked, that his displeasure at last broke out into that flame which consumed your city and temple, and even desolated your country, nay, and punished the inhabitants thereof, and their children, with the captivity of seventy years; yet now he declares himself willing to be reconciled to you upon your repentance.1:1-6 God's almighty power and sovereign dominion, should engage and encourage sinners to repent and turn to Him. It is very desirable to have the Lord of hosts for our friend, and very dreadful to have him for our enemy. Review what is past, and observe the message God sent by his servants, the prophets, to your fathers. Turn ye now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings. Be persuaded to leave your sins, as the only way to prevent approaching ruin. What is become of our fathers, and of the prophets that preached to them? They are all dead and gone. Here they were, in the towns and countries where we live, passing and repassing in the same streets, dwelling in the same houses, trading in the same shops and exchanges, worshipping God in the same places. But where are they? When they died, there was not an end of them; they are in eternity, in the world of spirits, the unchangeable world to which we hasten apace. Where are they? Those of them who lived and died in sin, are in torment. Those who lived and died in Christ, are in heaven; and if we live and die as they did, we shall be with them shortly and eternally. If they minded not their own souls, is that a reason why their posterity should ruin theirs also? The prophets are gone. Christ is a Prophet that lives for ever, but all other prophets have a period put to their office. Oh that this consideration had its due weight; that dying ministers are dealing with dying people about their never-dying souls, and an awful eternity, upon the brink of which both are standing! In another world, both we and our prophets shall live for ever: to prepare for that world ought to be our great care in this. The preachers died, and the hearers died, but the word of God died not; not one jot or title of it fell to the ground; for he is righteous.In the eighth month - o. The date joins on Zechariah's prophecy to those of Haggai. Two months before, "in the sixth month" Haggai 1:1, had Haggai, conjointly with Zechariah Ezr 5:1-2, exhorted Zerubbabel and the people to resume the intermitted building of the temple. These had used such diligence, notwithstanding the partial discouragement of the Persian Government, that God gave them "in the seventh month" Ezra 5:3-5, the magnificent promise of the later glory of the temple through the coming of Christ Haggai 2:1-9. Still, as Haggai too warned them, the conversion was not complete. So Zechariah in the eighth, as Haggai in the ninth Haggai 2:10-14 month, urges upon them the necessity of thorough and inward repentance, as the condition of partaking of those promises.

Osorius: "Thrice in the course of one saying, he mentions the most holy name of God; partly to instruct in the knowledge of Three Persons in one Nature, partly to confirm their minds more strongly in the hope of the salvation to come."

THE BOOK OF ZECHARIAH Commentary by A. R. Faussett

INTRODUCTION

The name Zechariah means one whom Jehovah remembers: a common name, four others of the same name occurring in the Old Testament. Like Jeremiah and Ezekiel, he was a priest as well as a prophet, which adapts him for the sacerdotal character of some of his prophecies (Zec 6:13). He is called "the son of Berechiah the son of Iddo" (Zec 1:1); but simply "the son of Iddo" in Ezr 5:1; 6:14. Probably his father died when he was young; and hence, as sometimes occurs in Jewish genealogies, he is called "the son of Iddo," his grandfather. Iddo was one of the priests who returned to Zerubbabel and Joshua from Babylon (Ne 12:4).

Zechariah entered early on his prophetic functions (Zec 2:4); only two months later than Haggai, in the second year of Darius' reign, 520 B.C. The design of both prophets was to encourage the people and their religious and civil leaders, Joshua and Zerubbabel, in their work of rebuilding the temple, after the interruption caused by the Samaritans (see [1173]Introduction to Haggai). Zechariah does so especially by unfolding in detail the glorious future in connection with the present depressed appearance of the theocracy, and its visible symbol, the temple. He must have been very young in leaving Babylonia, where he was born. The Zechariah, son of Barachias, mentioned by our Lord (Mt 23:35) as slain between the porch and the altar, must have been the one called the son of Jehoiada in 2Ch 24:21, who so perished: the same person often had two names; and our Lord, in referring to the Hebrew Bible, of which Second Chronicles is the last book, would naturally mention the last martyr in the Hebrew order of the canon, as He had instanced Abel as the first. Owing to Mt 27:9 quoting Zec 11:12, 13 as the words of Jeremiah, Mede doubts the authenticity of the ninth through the fourteenth chapters, and ascribes them to Jeremiah: he thinks that these chapters were not found till after the return from the captivity, and being approved by Zechariah, were added to his prophecies, as Agur's Proverbs were added to those of Solomon. All the oldest authorities, except two manuscripts of the old Italian or Pre-Vulgate version, read Jeremiah in Mt 27:9. The quotation there is not to the letter copied from Zechariah, Jer 18:1, 2; 32:6-12, may also have been in the mind of Matthew, and perhaps in the mind of Zechariah, whence the former mentions Jeremiah. Hengstenberg similarly thinks that Matthew names Jeremiah, rather than Zechariah, to turn attention to the fact that Zechariah's prophecy is but a reiteration of the fearful oracle in Jer 18:1-19:15, to be fulfilled in the destruction of the Jewish nation. Jeremiah had already, by the image of a potter's vessel, portrayed their ruin in Nebuchadnezzar's invasion; and as Zechariah virtually repeats this threat, to be inflicted again under Messiah for the nation's rejection of Him, Matthew, virtually, by mentioning Jeremiah, implies that the "field of blood" [Mt 27:8, 9], now bought by "the reward of iniquity" [Ac 1:18] in the valley of Hinnom, was long ago a scene of prophetic doom in which awful disaster had been symbolically predicted: that the present purchase of that field with the traitor's price renewed the prophecy and revived the curse—a curse pronounced of old by Jeremiah, and once fulfilled in the Babylonian siege—a curse reiterated by Zechariah, and again to be verified in the Roman desolation. Lightfoot (referring to B. Bathra and Kimchi) less probably thinks the third division of Scripture, the prophets, began with Jeremiah, and that the whole body of prophets is thus quoted by the name "Jeremiah." The mention of "Ephraim" and "Israel" in these chapters as distinct from Judah, does not prove that the prophecy was written while the ten tribes existed as a separate kingdom. It rather implies that hereafter not only Judah, but the ten tribes also, shall be restored, the earnest of which was given in the numbers out of the ten tribes who returned with their brethren the Jews from captivity under Cyrus. There is nothing in these characters to imply that a king reigned in Judah at that time. The editor of the Hebrew canon joined these chapters to Zechariah, not to Jeremiah; the Septuagint, three hundred years B.C., confirms this.

The prophecy consists of four parts: (1) Introductory, Zec 1:1-6. (2) Symbolical, Zec 1:7, to the end of the sixth chapter, containing nine visions; all these were vouchsafed in one night, and are of a symbolical character. (3) Didactic, the seventh and eighth chapters containing an answer to a query of the Beth-elites concerning a certain feast. And (4) Prophetic, the ninth chapter to the end. These six last chapters predict Alexander's expedition along the west coast of Palestine to Egypt; God's protection of the Jews, both at that time and under the Maccabees; the advent, sufferings, and reign of Messiah; the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome, and dissolution of the Jews' polity; their conversion and restoration; the overthrow of the wicked confederacy which assailed them in Canaan; and the Gentiles' joining in their holy worship [Henderson]. The difference in style between the former and the latter chapters is due to the difference of subject; the first six chapters being of a symbolical and peculiar character, while the poetical style of the concluding chapters is adapted admirably to the subjects treated. The titles (Zec 9:1; 12:1) accord with the prophetic matter which follows; nor is it necessary for unity of authorship that the introductory formulas occurring in the first eight chapters should occur in the last six. The non-reference in the last six chapters to the completion of the temple and the Jews' restoration after the captivity is just what we should expect, if, as seems likely, these chapters were written long after the completion of the temple and the restoration of the Jews' polity after the captivity, in circumstances different from those which engaged the prophet when he wrote the earlier chapters.

The style varies with the subject: at one time conversational, at another poetical. His symbols are enigmatical and are therefore accompanied with explanations. His prose is like that of Ezekiel—diffuse, uniform, and repetitious. The rhythm is somewhat unequal, and the parallelisms are not altogether symmetrical. Still, there is found often much of the elevation met with in the earlier prophets, and a general congruity between the style and the subjects. Graphic vividness is his peculiar merit. Chaldæisms occur occasionally. Another special characteristic of Zechariah is his introduction of spiritual beings into his prophetic scenes.

CHAPTER 1

Zec 1:1-17. Introductory Exhortation to Repentance. The Visions. The man among the myrtles: Comforting explanation by the angel, an encouragement to the Jews to build the city and temple: The four horns and four artificers.

1. See [1174]Introduction.Zechariah exhorteth to repentance, Zec 1:1-6. His vision of the horses and their angelic riders, Zec 1:7-11. At the prayer of the angel comfortable promises are made to Jerusalem, Zec 1:12-17. The vision of the four horns, and the four carpenters, Zec 1:18-21.

In the eighth month; called both Marchesvan and Bul by the Hebrews, and answers to part of our October and November. Two months after Haggai began to encourage the Jews to build the temple.

Darius; son of Hystaspes, and the third Persian monarch: see Hag 1:1; and again Zec 1:15, at large.

Came the word of the Lord: here is his warrant and Divine call, the Lord communicated to him what he was to communicate to, others.

Zechariah: his name bespeaks him a remembrancer of God, or it may speak God remembering him, and the rest of this people.

The son; the Jew called the descendants in right line sons, though they were grandsons, or great-grandsons; and in this sense some say Zechariah is the son of Baruch, and the son of Iddo. This Zechariah is not he that is mentioned 2Ch 24:20, this is too early by many years; nor is this Zechariah the father of John Baptist, this is as much too late; but most likely it is that Zechariah whom the Jews slew between the temple and the altar, Mat 23:35.

Berechiah: this name is expressly mentioned Mt 23, and his time exactly suits the time pointed at by the evangelist.

Iddo: one of this name you have 2Ch 9:29, but this is too old to be this in the text, for there will be found (as Wolphius in Ezram notes) four hundred and fifty years' distance between Iddo the seer and this Iddo mentioned in the text.

The prophet; whether Zechariah or Iddo I determine not.

ZECHARIAH

THE ARGUMENT

Zechariah is the second prophet who cometh from God to the returned captives, and his errand to them was both to second Haggai's exhortations, and to reveal more fully than he doth all the future revolutions and events; to the final desolation of Jerusalem and the second temple by the Romans, and the rejection of the Jews for their sins against all the mercies of their God, and for their rejecting and murdering of the Messiah; who, rejected of the Jews, taketh in the Gentiles, and establisheth his church amongst them; which is revealed unto Zechariah, and communicated to the Jews by him; with a declaration of the future ruin of the Persian kingdom by the Grecians, and also of the wars of the Seleucidae and Lagidae, and their overthrow by the Romans; during the series of which times, the Jews shall be grown numerous, wealthy, and powerful, and, so long as they keep their covenant with God, shall do wonderful things, and be eminently owned of God, and be either wonderfully secured amidst these troubles, or more wonderfully victorious over those that trouble them. And indeed what Zechariah foretold, or promised to them, was in its time made good amongst them; his predictions were punctually fulfilled; if the promises were not, it was because the Jews by their sins cut themselves off from the promises, which may be observed in those intervals of times between Zechariah's prophesying and the coming of the Messiah. Now the first interval was above two hundred years, to the death of Alexander the Great; during which time the Jews enjoyed the common peace with the subjects of the Persian empire, and the particular favour of Alexander the conqueror during his life. These years were years of growth to the Jews. The next interval, through the wars of Alexander's divided captains, and between the Seleucidaes and the Lagidae, was an interval of some great trouble, and yet of greater preservation to the Jews. The next interval is that of the Maccabees, during which those victories were gotten which do almost exceed our belief. But whilst thus times were changed, the Jews continued much the same, unthankful to God, cold in religion, and added to their sins daily; till at last God delivered them into the hands of the Romans, whose general, Pompey the Great, deposed Hyrcanus from the throne, and restored the high priesthood to him. From henceforth the Jews' sins and miseries grow together, till that was accomplished, Zec 14:2, the city Jerusalem taken, the houses rifled, &c. Thus by various intermixture of providences, God did try the Jews, whether they would, as became his people, repent of former sins, amend their future doings, believe his promises, and obey his precepts, that he might bless them; so should all the good foretold by this prophet have crowned them. But if they failed (as they did) in those points of duty, then all the evil threatened should (as it did) overtake them, and, as Zechariah foretold, continue on them, as it doth to this day. This prophecy then contains the revolutions of the Jews, and the empires of Persia and Greece, and the Romans; in whose times the Jews, by killing the Lord of life, filled up their measure, and by whose hands God punished them, destroying their polity, razing their city, burning their temple, and captivating the people, which lasteth to this day. The better to represent all these at once to your view, take this following scheme.

Zechariah Doth

1. Exhort to present repentance and reformation, chaps. 1, 2, 7, 8

2. Promise

A. Present blessings, chap, 1, 2, 8:9-15

B. Future Mercy, and that

1. Under Persian government, Zec 8:3-7

2. Alexander and the Grecians, Zec 9:9

3. In the Maccabees' times

3. Encourage

A. Joshua, Zec. iii

B. Zerubbabel, chap iv

4. Threaten

A. The enemies of the Jews, chap i.21; ii:9, ix:1-8, 12:1-4,9

B. The sinful and impenitent Jews, chap iv; xi:1; xiv:1,2

5. Foretell

A. The Jews' rejecting him, Zec. xi:10-12, &c

B. Gods'

1. Avenging the sin on the Jews, chap 14:1,2

2. Calling the Gentiles, Zec. viii:20-23; xii:10, iii:8,9; vi:12,13

3. Continued protection of the church of Christ among the Gentiles,

chap 14:3, to end

All which, either in dark, yet significant, types or emblems or else in plain and easily intelligible words, is represented to us by this prophet.

ZECHARIAH CHAPTER 1

Zechariah exhorteth to repentance, Zec 1:1-6. His vision of the horses and their angelic riders, Zec 1:7-11. At the prayer of the angel comfortable promises are made to Jerusalem, Zec 1:12-17. The vision of the four horns, and the four carpenters, Zec 1:18-21.

In the eighth month; called both Marchesvan and Bul by the Hebrews, and answers to part of our October and November. Two months after Haggai began to encourage the Jews to build the temple.

Darius; son of Hystaspes, and the third Persian monarch: see Hag 1:1; and again Zec 1:15, at large.

Came the word of the Lord: here is his warrant and Divine call, the Lord communicated to him what he was to communicate to, others.

Zechariah: his name bespeaks him a remembrancer of God, or it may speak God remembering him, and the rest of this people.

The son; the Jew called the descendants in right line sons, though they were grandsons, or great-grandsons; and in this sense some say Zechariah is the son of Baruch, and the son of Iddo. This Zechariah is not he that is mentioned 2Ch 24:20, this is too early by many years; nor is this Zechariah the father of John Baptist, this is as much too late; but most likely it is that Zechariah whom the Jews slew between the temple and the altar, Mat 23:35.

Berechiah: this name is expressly mentioned Mt 23, and his time exactly suits the time pointed at by the evangelist.

Iddo: one of this name you have 2Ch 9:29, but this is too old to be this in the text, for there will be found (as Wolphius in Ezram notes) four hundred and fifty years' distance between Iddo the seer and this Iddo mentioned in the text.

The prophet; whether Zechariah or Iddo I determine not.

In the eighth month,.... The month Marchesvan, called the month Bul, in 1 Kings 6:38 which answers to part of our October, and part of November: this was but two months from the first prophecy of Haggai, Haggai 1:1 and but a few days after his second, Haggai 2:1 so near were the prophecies of these two prophets together:

in the second year of Darius: king of Persia; not Darius the Mede, but Darius the son of Hystaspes:

came the word of the Lord unto Zechariah; that is, "the word of prophecy from before the Lord", as the Targum paraphrases it; which came to him, either in a dream, or in a vision, or by an impulse on his mind; who is described by his descent, the son of Barachias; mention is made of this name in Matthew 23:35. It signifies "the blessed of the Lord", and is the same with Eulogius or Benedictus:

the son of Iddo the prophet: the word "prophet", as Kimchi observes, belongs to Zechariah; not but that his grandfather Iddo might be a prophet too; and the same writer takes notice, that in the Midrash mention is made of Iddo the prophet; and so there is an Iddo that is called the seer and the prophet in 2 Chronicles 9:29 but whether the same with this is not certain. The name is by some thought to be the same with Firmicus, Statius, Robertus:

saying; as follows:

In the eighth month, in the second year of {a} Darius, came the word of the LORD unto {b} Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying,

The Argument - Two months after Haggai had begun to prophesy, Zechariah was also sent of the Lord to help him in the labour, and to confirm the same doctrine. First therefore, he puts them in remembrance for what reason God had so severely punished their fathers: and yet comforts them if they will truly repent, and not abuse this great benefit of God in their deliverance which was a figure of that true deliverance, that all the faithful should have from death and sin, by Christ. But because they remained still in their wickedness, and lack of desire to set forth God's glory, and were not yet made better by their long banishment, he rebukes them most sharply: yet for the comfort of the repentant, he ever mixes the promise of grace, that they might by this means be prepared to receive Christ, in whom all should be sanctified to the Lord.

(a) Who was the son of Histaspis.

(b) This was not the Zechariah, of which mention is made in 2Ch 24:20, but he had the same name, and is called the son of Berechiah, as he was, because he came of those progenitors, as of Joiada or Berechiah, and Iddo.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Chap. Zechariah 1:1-6. Introductory call to Repentance

1. The Author and date of his first Prophecy

the eighth month, in the second year of Darius] The Jews after the Captivity substituted for the years of the reigns of their own kings, by which they had been accustomed to date their history, those of the foreign kings to whom they were subject. But they retained their own months, though with altered names. The eighth month had before been called Bul (1 Kings 6:38). No name is given to it in the Bible after the return, but we learn from the Talmud and from Josephus that it was called Marcheshvan. This name has been supposed to be “a purely Hebrew term,” and to signify “wet” or “rainy.” The month coincides with our November and with the rainy season in Palestine. See Dict. of the Bible, Art. Month.

Haggai’s first prophecy had been delivered in the sixth month, and his second prophecy in the seventh month of this same year. (Haggai 1:1; Haggai 2:1.)

the son of Berechiah] called elsewhere, the son of Iddo. Ezra 5:1; Nehemiah 12:16. See Introd. to Zech. Chap. 1. p. 47.

1. The prophet;Verse 1. - § 1. Title of the book, and author. The eighth month. This was called Bul before the Captivity (1 Kings 6:38), and afterwards Marchesvan (Josephus, 'Ant.,' 1:3 3); it answered to parts of October and November, and was a time of rain. Haggai had first prophesied two months earlier. The second year of Darius. Being now under foreign rule, the prophet uses the regnal years of the king to whom his people were subject (see note on Haggai 1:1). Son of Berechiah (see Introduction, § II.). The prophet. This appellation belongs to "Zechariah," as the LXX. and Vulgate take it. A comma should be inserted after "Iddo" here and in ver. 7. Saying. The visions virtually spoke to him, communicated to him the Lord's will; but first he has to deliver the following warning. Such an end will come to the Assyrian kingdom on the overthrow of Nineveh. Nahum 3:18. "The shepherds have fallen asleep, king Asshur: thy glorious ones are lying there: thy people have scattered themselves upon the mountains, and no one gathers them. Nahum 3:19. No alleviation to thy fracture, thy stroke is grievous: all who hear tidings of thee clap the hand over thee: for over whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually?" The king of Asshur addressed in Nahum 3:18 is not the last historical king of that kingdom, but a rhetorical personification of the holder of the imperial power of Assyria. His shepherds and glorious ones ('addı̄rı̄m, as in Nahum 2:6) are the princes and great men, upon whom the government and defence of the kingdom devolved, the royal counsellors, deputies, and generals. Mâmū, from nūm, to slumber, to sleep, is not a figurative expression for carelessness and inactivity here; for the thought that the people would be scattered, and the kingdom perish, through the carelessness of the rulers (Hitzig), neither suits the context, where the destruction of the army and the laying of the capital in ashes are predicted, nor the object of the whole prophecy, which does not threaten the fall of the kingdom through the carelessness of its rulers, but the destruction of the kingdom by a hostile army. Nūm denotes here, as in Psalm 76:6, the sleep of death (cf. Psalm 13:4; Jeremiah 51:39, Jeremiah 51:57 : Theodoret, Hesselb., Str., and others). Shâkhan, a synonym of shâkhabh, to have lain down, to lie quietly (Judges 5:17), used here of the rest of death. As the shepherds have fallen asleep, the flock (i.e., the Assyrian people) is scattered upon the mountains and perishes, because no one gathers it together. Being scattered upon the mountains, is easily explained from the figure of the flock (cf. Numbers 27:17; 1 Kings 22:17; Zechariah 13:7), and implies destruction. The mountains are mentioned with evident reference to the fact that Nineveh is shut in towards the north by impassable mountains. Kēhâh, a noun formed from the adjective, the extinction of the wound (cf. Leviticus 13:6), i.e., the softening or anointing of it. Shebher, the fracture of a limb, is frequently applied to the collapse or destruction of a state or kingdom (e.g., Psalm 60:4; Lamentations 2:11). נחלה מכּתך, i.e., dangerously bad, incurable is the stroke which has fallen upon thee (cf. Jeremiah 10:19; Jeremiah 14:17; Jeremiah 30:12). Over thy destruction will all rejoice who hear thereof. שׁמעך, the tidings of thee, i.e., of that which has befallen thee. Clapping the hands is a gesture expressive of joy (cf. Psalm 47:2; Isaiah 55:12). All: because they all had to suffer from the malice of Asshur. רעה, malice, is the tyranny and cruelty which Assyria displayed towards the subjugated lands and nations.

Thus was Nineveh to perish. If we inquire now how the prophecy was fulfilled, the view already expressed by Josephus (Ant. x. 2), that the fall of the Assyrian empire commenced with the overthrow of Sennacherib in Judah, is not confirmed by the results of the more recent examinations of the Assyrian monuments. For according to the inscriptions, so far as they have been correctly deciphered, Sennacherib carried out several more campaigns in Susiana and Babylonia after that disaster, whilst ancient writers also speak of an expedition of his to Cilicia. His successor, Esarhaddon, also carried on wars against the cities of Phoenicia, against Armenia and Cilicia, attacked the Edomites, and transported some of them to Assyria, and is said to have brought a small and otherwise unknown people, the Bikni, into subjection; whilst we also know from the Old Testament (2 Chronicles 33:11) that his generals led king Manasseh in chains to Babylon. Like many of his predecessors, he built himself a palace at Kalah or Nimrud; but before the internal decorations were completely finished, it was destroyed by so fierce a fire, that the few monuments preserved have suffered very considerably. His successor is the last king of whom we have any inscriptions, with his name still legible upon them (viz., Assur-bani-pal). He carried on wars not only in Susiana, but also in Egypt, viz., against Tirhaka, who had conquered Memphis, Thebes, and other Egyptian cities, during the illness of Esarhaddon; also on the coast of Syria, and in Cilicia and Arabia; and completed different buildings which bear his name, including a palace in Kouyunjik, in which a room has been found with a library in it, consisting of clay tablets. Assur-bani-pal had a son, whose name was written Asur-emid-ilin, and who is regarded as the Sarakos of the ancients, under whom the Assyrian empire perished, with the conquest and destruction of Nineveh (see Spiegel in Herzog's Cycl.). But if, according to these testimonies, the might of the Assyrian empire was not so weakened by Sennacherib's overthrow in Judah, that any hope could be drawn from that, according to human conjecture, of the speedy destruction of that empire; the prophecy of Nahum concerning Nineveh, which was uttered in consequence of that catastrophe, cannot be taken as the production of any human combination: still less can it be taken, as Ewald supposes, as referring to "the first important siege of Nineveh, under the Median king Phraortes (Herod. i. 102)." For Herodotus says nothing about any siege of Nineveh, but simply speaks of a war between Phraortes and the Assyrians, in which the former lost his life. Nineveh was not really besieged till the time of Cyaxares (Uwakhshatra), who carried on the war with an increased army, to avenge the death of his father, and forced his way to Nineveh, to destroy that city, but was compelled, by the invasion of his own land by the Scythians, to relinquish the siege, and hasten to meet that foe (Her. i. 103). On the extension of his sway, the same Cyaxares commenced a war with the Lydian king Alyattes, which was carried on for five years with alternating success and failure on both sides, and was terminated in the sixth year by the fact, that when the two armies were standing opposite to one another, drawn up in battle array, the day suddenly darkened into night, which alarmed the armies, and rendered the kings disposed for peace. This was brought about by the mediation of the Cilician viceroy Syennesis and the Babylonian viceroy Labynetus, and sealed by the establishment of a marriage relationship between the royal families of Lydia and Media (Her. i. 74). And if this Labynetus was the same person as the Babylonian king Nabopolassar, which there is no reason to doubt, it was not till after the conclusion of this peace that Cyaxares formed an alliance with Nabopolassar to make war upon Nineveh; and this alliance was strengthened by his giving his daughter Amuhea in marriage to Nabopolassar's son Nebuchadnezzar (Nabukudrossor). The combined forces of these two kings now advanced to the attack upon Nineveh, and conquered it, after a siege of three years, the Assyrian king Saracus burning himself in his palace as the besiegers were entering the city. This is the historical kernel of the capture and destruction of Nineveh, which may be taken as undoubted fact from the accounts of Herodotus (i. 106) and Diod. Sic. (ii.-24-28), as compared with the extract from Abydenus in Euseb. Chron. Armen. i. p. 54; whereas it is impossible to separate the historical portions from the legendary and in part mythical decorations contained in the elaborate account given by Diodorus (vid., M. v. Niebuhr, Geschichte Assurs, p. 200ff.; Duncker, Geschichte des Alterthums. i. p. 793ff.; and Bumller, Gesch. d. Alterth. i. p. 316ff.).

The year of the conquest and destruction of Nineveh has been greatly disputed, and cannot be exactly determined. As it is certain that Nabopolassar took part in the war against Nineveh, and this is indirectly intimated even by Herodotus, who attributes the conquest of it to Cyaxares and the Medes (vid., i. 106), Nineveh must have fallen between the years 625 and 606 b.c. For according to the canon of Ptolemy, Nabopolassar was king of Babylon from 625 to 606; and this date is astronomically established by an eclipse of the moon, which took place in the fifth year of his reign, and which actually occurred in the year 621 b.c. (vid., Niebuhr, p. 47). Attempts have been made to determine the year of the taking of Nineveh, partly with reference to the termination of the Lydio-Median war, and partly from the account given by Herodotus of the twenty-eight years' duration of the Scythian rule in Asia. Starting from the fact, that the eclipse of the sun, which put an end to the war between Cyaxares and Alyattes, took place, according to the calculation of Altmann, on the 30th September b.c. 610 (see Ideler, Handbuch der Chronologie, i. p. 209ff.), M. v. Niebuhr (pp. 197-8) has assumed that, at the same time as the mediation of peace between the Lydians and Medes, an alliance was formed between Cyaxares and Nabopolassar for the destruction of Nineveh; and as this treaty could not possibly be kept secret, the war against Assyria was commenced at once, according to agreement, with their united forces. But as it was impossible to carry out extensive operations in winter, the siege of Nineveh may not have commenced till the spring of 609; and as it lasted three years according to Ctesias, the capture may not have been effected before the spring of 606 b.c. It is true that this combination is apparently confirmed by the fact, that during that time the Egyptian king Necho forced his way into Palestine and Syria, and after subduing all Syria, advanced to the Euphrates; since this advance of the Egyptian is most easily explained on the supposition that Nabopolassar was so occupied with the war against Nineveh, that he could not offer any resistance to the enterprise of Necho. And the statement in 2 Kings 23:29, that Necho had come up to fight against the king of Asshur on the Euphrates, appears to favour the conclusion, that at that time (i.e., in the year of Josiah's death, 610 b.c.) the Assyrian empire was not yet destroyed. Nevertheless there are serious objections to this combination. In the first place, there is the double difficulty, that Cyaxares would hardly have been in condition to undertake the war against Nineveh in alliance with Nabopolassar, directly after the conclusion of peace with Alyattes, especially after he had carried on a war for five years, without being able to defeat his enemy; and secondly, that even Nabopolassar, after a fierce three years' conflict with Nineveh, the conquest of which was only effected in consequence of the wall of the city having been thrown down for the length of twenty stadia, would hardly possess the power to take the field at once against Pharoah Necho, who had advanced as far as the Euphrates, and not only defeat him at Carchemish, but pursue him to the frontier of Egypt, and wrest from him all the conquests that he had effected, as would necessarily be the case, since the battle at Carchemish was fought in the year 606; and the pursuit of the defeated foe by Nebuchadnezzar, to whom his father had transferred the command of the army because of his own age an infirmity, even to the very border of Egypt, is so distinctly attested by the biblical accounts (2 Kings 24:1 and 2 Kings 24:7; Jeremiah 46:2), and by the testimony of Berosus in Josephus (Ant. x. 11, 1, and c. Ap. i. 19), that these occurrences are placed beyond the reach of doubt (see comm. on 2 Kings 24:1). These difficulties would not indeed be sufficient in themselves to overthrow the combination mentioned, provided that the year 610 could be fixed upon with certainty as the time when the Lydio-Median war was brought to a close. But that is not the case; and this circumstance is decisive. The eclipse of the sun, which alarmed Cyaxares and Alyattes, and made them disposed for peace, must have been total, or nearly total, in Central Asia and Cappadocia, to produce the effect described. But it has been proved by exact astronomical calculations, that on the 30th September 610 b.c., the shadow of the moon did not fall upon those portions of Asia Minor, whereas it did so on the 18th May 622, after eight o'clock in the morning, and on the 28th May 585 (vid., Bumll. p. 315, and M. v. Niebuhr, pp. 48, 49). Of these two dates the latter cannot come into consideration at all, because Cyaxares only reigned till the year 594; and therefore, provided that peace had not been concluded with Alyattes before 595, he would not have been able to carry on the war with Nineveh and conquer that city. On the other hand, there is no valid objection that can be offered to our transferring the conclusion of peace with the Lydian king to the year 622 b.c. Since, for example, Cyaxares became king as early as the year 634, he might commence the war with the Lydians as early as the year 627 or 628; and inasmuch as Nabopolassar was king of Babylon from 625 to 605, he might very well help to bring about the peace between Cyaxares and Alyattes in the year 622. In this way we obtain the whole space between 622 and 605 b.c. for the war with Nineveh; so that the city may have been taken and destroyed as early as the years 615-610.

Even the twenty-eight years' duration of the Scythian supremacy in Asia, which is recorded by Herodotus (i. 104, 106, cf. iv. 1), cannot be adduced as a well-founded objection. For if the Scythians invaded Media in the year 633, so as to compel Cyaxares to relinquish the siege of Nineveh, and if their rule in Upper Asia lasted for twenty-eight years, the expedition against Nineveh, which led to the fall of that city, cannot have taken place after the expulsion of the Scythians in the year 605, because the Assyrian empire had passed into the hands of the Chaldaeans before that time, and Nebuchadnezzar had already defeated Necho on the Euphrates, and was standing at the frontier of Egypt, when he received the intelligence of his father's death, which led him to return with all speed to Babylon. There is no other alternative left, therefore, than either to assume, as M. v. Niebuhr does (pp. 119, 120), that the war of Cyaxares with the Lydians, and also the last war against Nineveh, and probably also the capture of Nineveh, and the greatest portion of the Median conquests between Ararat and Halys, fell within the period of the Scythian sway, so that Cyaxares extended his power as a vassal of the Scythian Great Khan as soon as he had recovered from the first blow received from these wild hordes, inasmuch as that sovereign allowed his dependent to do just as he liked, provided that he paid the tribute, and did not disturb the hordes in their pasture grounds; or else to suppose that Cyaxares drove out the Scythian hordes from Media at a much earlier period, and liberated his own country from their sway; in which case the twenty-eight years of Herodotus would not indicate the period of their sway over Media and Upper Asia, but simply the length of time that they remained in Hither Asia generally, or the period that intervened between their first invasion and the complete disappearance of their hordes. If Cyaxares had driven the Scythians out of his own land at a much earlier period, he might extend his dominion even while they still kept their position in Hither Asia, and might commence the war with the Lydians as early as the year 628 or 627, especially as his wrath is said to have been kindled because Alyattes refused to deliver up to him a Scythian horde, which had first of all submitted to Cyaxares, and then fled into Lydia to Alyattes (Herod. i. 73). Now, whichever of these two combinations be the correct one, they both show that the period of the war commenced by Cyaxares against Nineveh, in alliance with Nabopolassar, cannot be determined by the statement made by Herodotus with regard to the twenty-eight years of the Scythian rule in Asia; and this Scythian rule, generally, does not compel us to place the taking and destruction of Nineveh, and the dissolution of the Assyrian empire, as late as the year 605 b.c., or even later.

At this conquest Nineveh was so utterly destroyed, that, as Strabo (xvi. 1, 3) attests, the city entirely disappeared immediately after the dissolution of the Assyrian kingdom (ἡ μὲν οὖν Νῖνος πόλις ἠφανίσθη παραχρῆμα μετὰ τὴν τῶν Σύρων κατάλυσιν). When Xenophon entered the plain of Nineveh, in the year 401, on the retreat of the ten thousand Greeks, he found the ruins of two large cities, which he calls Larissa and Mespila, and by the side of the first a stone pyramid of 200 feet in height and 100 feet in breadth, upon which many of the inhabitants of the nearest villages had taken refuge, and heard from the inhabitants that it was only by a miracle that it had been possible for the Persians to conquer those cities with their strong walls (Xenoph. Anab. iii. 4, 7ff.). These ruined cities had been portions of the ancient Nineveh: Larissa was Calah; and Mespila, Kouyunjik. Thus Xenophon passed by the walls of Nineveh without even learning its name. Four hundred years after (according to Tacitus, Annal. xii. 13), a small fortress stood on this very spot, to guard the crossing of the Tigris; and the same fortress is mentioned by Abul-Pharaj in the thirteenth century (Hist. Dynast. pp. 266, 289, 353). Opposite to this, on the western side of the Tigris, Mosul had risen into one of the first cities of Asia, and the ruins of Nineveh served as quarries for the building of the new city, so that nothing remained but heaps of rubbish, which even Niebuhr took to be natural heights in the year 1766, when he was told, as he stood by the Tigris bridge, that he was in the neighbourhood of ancient Nineveh. So completely had this mighty city vanished from the face of the earth; until, in the most recent times, viz., from 1842 onwards, Botta the French consul, and the two Englishmen Layard and Rawlinson, instituted excavations in the heaps, and brought to light numerous remains of the palaces and state-buildings of the Assyrian rulers of the world. Compare the general survey of these researches, and their results, in Herm. J. C. Weissenborn's Ninive u. sein Gebiet., Erfurt 1851, and 56, 4.

But if Nahum's prophecy was thus fulfilled in the destruction of Nineveh, even to the disappearance of every trace of its existence, we must not restrict it to this one historical event, but must bear in mind that, as the prophet simply saw in Nineveh the representative for the time of the power of the world in its hostility to God, so the destruction predicted to Nineveh applied to all the kingdoms of the world which have risen up against God since the destruction of Asshur, and which will still continue to do so to the end of the world.

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