Open main menu

Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 2.djvu/222

This page needs to be proofread.

amongst several rival cities, but the sixth king, Ham- murabi, who succeeded in beating down all opposition, obtained absolute rule of Northern and Southern Babylonia and dro'e out the Elamite invaders. Baby- lonia henceforward formed but one state and was welded into one empire. They were apparently stormy days before the final triumph of Hammurabi. The second ruler strengthened his capital with large fortifications; the third ruler was apparently in dan- ger of a native pretender or foreign rival called Im- meru; only the fourth ruler was definitely styled king; while Hammurabi himself in the beginning of his reign acknowledged the suzerainty of Elam. This Hammurabi is one of the most gigantic figures of the world's history, to be named with Alexander, Caesar, or Napoleon, but best compared to a Charlemagne, a conqueror and a lawgiver, whose powerful genius formed a lasting empire out of chaos, and whose benef- icent influence continued for ages throughout an area almost as large as Europe. Doubtless a dozen cen- turies later Assyrian kings were to make greater conquests than he, but whereas they were giant de- stroyers he was a giant builder. His large public and private correspondence gives us an insight into his multitudinous cares, his minute attention to details, his constitutional methods. (See "The Letters and Inscriptions of Hammurabi ", by L. W. King; London, 1898, 3 vols.) His famous code of civil and criminal law throws light on his genius as legislator and judge. The stele on which these laws are inscribed was fovmd at Susa by ^L de ilorgan and the Dominican friar Scheil, and first published and translated by the latter in 1902. This astounding find, giving us, in 3638 short lines, 282 laws and regulations affecting the whole range of public and private life, is im- equalled even in the marvellous history of Baby- lonian research. From no other document can a more swift and accurate estimate of Babylonian civilization be formed than from this code. (For a complete English translation see T. G. Pinches, op. cit. infra, pp. 487-519.)

Whereas the Assyrian kings loved to fill the boast- ful records of their reigns with ghastly descriptions of battle and war, so that we possess the minutest details of their military campaigns, the genius of Babylon, on the contrary, was one of peace, and culture, and progress. The building of temples, the adorning of cities, the digging of canals, the making of roads, the framing of laws was their pride; their records breathe, or affect to breathe, all serene tran- quillity; warlike exploits are but mentioned by the way, hence we have, even in the case of the two greatest Babylonian conquerors, Hammurabi and Nabuchodonosor II, but scanty information of their deeds of arms. "I dug the canal Hammurabi, the blessing of men, which bringeth the water of the over- flow unto the land of Sumer and Akkad. Its banks on both sides I made arable land; much seed I scat- tered upon it. Lasting water I pro-ided for the land of Sumer and Akkad. The land of Sumer and Akkad , its separated peoples I united, with blessings and abundance I endowed them, in peaceful dwellings I made them to live" — such is the style of Hammu- rabi. In what seems an ode on the king, engraved on his statue we find the words: "Hammurabi, the strong warrior, the destroyer of his foes, he is the hurricane of battle, sweeping the land of his foes, he brings opposition to naught, he puts an end to in- surrection, he breaks the warrior as an image of clay." But chronological details are still in con- fusion. In a very fragmentary list of dates the 31st year of his reign is gi-en as that of the land Emut- balu, which is usually taken as that of his victory over western Elam, and considered by many as that of his conquest of Larsa and its king, Rim-Sin, or Eri-Aku. If the Biblical Amraphel be Hammurabi we have in Gen., xiv, the record of an expedition of his to the Westland previous to the 31st year of his reign. Of Hammurabi's immediate successors we know nothing except that they reigned in peaceful prosperity. That trade prospered, and temples were built, is all we can say.

The Amorite dynasty was succeeded by a series of eleven kings which may well be designated as the Unknown Dyniasty, which has received a number of names: Ura-Azag, Uru-ku, Shish-ku. Whether it was Semite or not is not certain; the years of reign are given in the " Iving-List " , but thev are surpris- ingly long (60-56-55-50-28, etc.), so that not only great doubt is cast on the correctness of these dates, but the very existence of this dynasty is doubted or rejected by some scholars (as Hommel). It is indeed remarkable that the kings should be eleven in number, like those of the Amorite dynasty, and that we should nowhere find a distinct evidence of their existence; yet these premises hardly suffice to prove that so early a document as the "King-List" made the unpardonable mistake of ascribing nearly four centuries of rule to a dynasty which in reality was contemporaneous, nay identical, with the Amorite monarchs. Their names are certainly very puz- zling, but it has been suggested that these were not personal names, but names of the city-quarters from which they originated. Should this dynasty have a separate existence, it is safe to say that they were native rulers, and succeeded the Amorites without any break of national and political life. Owing to the questionable reality of this djTiasty, the chro- nology of the previous one varies greatly; hence it arises, for instance, that Hammurabi's date is given as 1772-17 in Hastings' "Dictionary of the Bible", while the majority of scholars would place him about 2100 n. c, or a little earlier; nor are indications wanting to show that, whether the "Unknown Dy- nasty" be fictitious or not, the latter date is approx- imately right.

In the third place comes the Kassite dynasty, thirty-six kings, for 576 years. The tablet with this list is unfortunately mutilated, but almost all the nineteen missing names can with some exactness be supplied from other sources, such as the AssjTian sjti- chronistic history and the correspondence with Egj-pt. This dynasty was a foreign one, but its place of origin is not easy to ascertain. In their own official designation they style themselves kings of Kardun- yash and the Iving of Egypt addresses Kadashman Bel as King of Kardunyash. This Kardunyash has been tentatively identified with South Elam. In- formation about the Kassite period is obtained but sparsely. We possess an Assyrian copy of an inscrip- tion of Agum-Kakrime, perhaps the seenth King of this djTiasty: lie styles himself: " King of Kasshu and Akkad, Kmg of the broad land of Babylon, who- caused much people to settle in the land of Ashmu- mak. King of Padan and Alvan, King of the land of Guti, wide extended peoples, a king who rules the four quarters of the world". The extent of territory thus under dominion of the Babylonian monarch is wider than even that under the Amorite dynastj'; but in the roj-al title, which is altogether unusual in its form, Babylon takes but the third place; only a few generations later, however, the old style and title is resumed, and Babjdon again stands first; the for- eign conquerors were evidently conquered by the peaceful conqiest of superior Babylonian civilization. This Agum-Kakrime with all his wide dominions had yet to send an embassy to the land of Khani to ol)- tain the gods Marduk and Zarpanit, the most sacred national idols, which had e'idently been captured by the enemy. The next king of whom we have any knowledge is Karaindash (1450 B. c.') who settled the boundary lines of his kingdom with his contemporary Asshur-bel-nisheshu of AssjTia. From the Tell-el-et- marna tablets we conclude that in 1400 B. c, Babylon