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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 2.djvu/226

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BABYLONIA


186


BABYLONIA


ally pointed out as the Tower of Babel; -nhether riglitly, is impossible to say; Esagila, in Babylon itself, has as good, if not a better, claim. We have no record of the building of the city and tower being interrupted by any such catastrophe as a confusion of languages; but that such an interruption because of diversity of speech of the townspeople took place, is not impossible. In any case it can only have been an interruption, though perhaps of many centuries, for Babylon increased and prospered for many cen- turies after the period referred to in Genesis. The history of the city of Babylon before the Amorite dynasty is an absolute blank, and we have no facts to fill up the fifteen centuries of its existence previous to that date. The etymology given for the name Baljel in Gen., xi, 9, is not the historic meaning of the word, which, as given above is Kadimgir, B&h-Ilu, or "God's Gate". The derivation in Genesis rests upon the similarity of sound with a word formed from the root balal, "to stammer", or "be confused".

(4) Next to be mentioned is the account of the battle of the four kings against five near the Dead Sea (Gen., xiv). Sennaar mentioned in v. 1 is the Sumer of the Babylonian inscriptions, and Amraphel is identified by most scholars with the great Hammu- rabi, the sixth King of Babylon. The initial gutteral of the king's name being a soft one, and the Baby- lonians being given to dropping their H's, the name actually occurs in cuneiform inscriptions as Ammu- rapi. The absence of the final I arises from the fact that the sign pi was misread bil or perhaps ilu, the sign of deification, or complement of the name, being omitted. There is no philological difficulty in this identification, but the chronological difficulty (viz., of Hammurabi being vassal of Chedorlaomer) has led others to identify Amraphel with Hammurabi's father Sin-muballit, whose name is ideographicaUy written Amar-Pal. Arioch, King of Pontus (Pontus is St. Jerome's unfortunate guess to identify Ellazar) is none else but Rim-Sin, King of Larsa (Ellazar of A. v.), whose name was Eri-Aku, and who was defeated and dethroned by the Iving of Babylon, whether Hammurabi or Sin-muballit; and if the former, then this occurred in the thirty-first year of his reign, the year of the land of Emutbalu. Eri-Aku bearing the title of King of Larsa and Father of Emutbalu. The name Chedorlahomer has apparently, though not quite certainly, been found on two tablets together with the names Eriaku and Tudhula, which latter king is evidently "Thadal, king of the Nations". "The Hebrew word goi/im, "nations", is a clerical error for Gulium or Guti, a neighbouring state which plays an important role throughout Babylonian history. Of Kudur-lahgumal, King of the Land of Elam, it is said that he "descended on", and "exercised so\"er- eignty in Babylon the city of Kar-Duniash ". We have documentary e\'idence that Eriaku's father Kudurmabug, King of Elam, and after him Hammu- rabi of Babylon, claimed authority over Palestine the land of Martu. This Biblical passage, therefore, which was once described as bristling with impossi- bilities, has so far only received confirmation from Babylonian documents.

(5) According to Gen., xi, 28 and 31, Abraham was a Babylonian from the city of Ur. It is remarkable that the name Abu ramu (Honoured Father) occurs in the eponym lists for 677 B. c, and Abe ramu, a similar name, on a contract-tablet in the reign of Apil-Sin, thus shomng that Abram was a Babylonian name in use long before and after the date of the Patriarch. His father removed from Ur to Harran, from the old centre of the Moon-cult to the new. Talmudic tradition makes Terah an idolater, and his religion may have had to do with his emigration. No exca\'ations have as yet taken place at Harran, and Abraliam's ancestry remains obscure. Aberamu of Apil S'n's reign had a son Sha-Amurri, which fact


shows the early intercourse between Babylonia and the Amorite land, or Palestine. In Chanaan Abraham remained witliin the sphere of Babylonian language and influence, or perhaps even authority. Several centuries later, when Palestine was no longer part of the Babylonian Empire, Abd-Hiba, the King of Jerusalem, in his intercourse ■nith his over-lord of Egypt, wrote neither his own language nor that of Pharao, but Babylonian, the universal language of the day. Even when passing into Egj-pt, Abraham remained under Semitic rule, for the Hyksos reigned there.

(6) Considering that the progenitor of the Hebrew race was a Babylonian, and that Babylonian culture remained paramount in Western Asia for more than 1000 years, the most astounding feature of the He- brew Scriptures is the almost complete absence of Babylonian religious ideas, the more so as Babylonian religion, though Oriental polytheism, possessed a refinement, a nobility of thought, and a piety, which are often admirable. The Babylonian account of creation, though often compared with the Biblical one, differs from it on main and essential points for (a) it contains no direct statement of the Creation of the world: Tiamtu and Apsu, the watery waste and the abyss wedded together, beget the universe; Mar- duk, the conqueror of chaos, shapes and orders all things; but this is the mythological garb of evolu- tion as opposed to creation, (b) It does not make the Deity the first and only cause of the existence of all things; the gods themselves are but the outcome of pre-existent, apparently eternal, forces; they are not cause, but effect, (c) It makes the present world the outcome of a great war; it is the story of Resistance and Struggle, which is the exact opposite of the Bibli- cal accoimt. (d) It does not arrange the things cre- ated into groups or classes, which is one of the main features of the story in Genesis, (e) The work of creation is not divided into a number of days — the principal literary characteristic of the Biblical ac- coimt. The Babylonian mythology possesses some- thing analogous to the Biblical Garden of Eden. But though they apparently possessed the word Edina, not only as meaning "the Plain", but as a geographi- cal name, their garden of delight is placed in Eridu, where "a dark vine grew; it was made a glorious place, planted beside the abyss. In the glorious house, which is like a forest, its shadow extends; no man enters its midst. In its interior is the Sun-god Tam- muz. Between the mouths of the rivers, which are on both sides". This passage bears a striking analogj' to Gen., ii, S-17. The Babylonians, however, seem to have possessed no account of the Fall. It seems likely that the name of Ea, or Ya, or Aa, the oldest god of the Babylonian Pantheon, is connected with the name Jahve, Jahu, or Ja, of the Old Testament. Professor Delitzsch recently claimed to have found the name Jahve-ilu on a Babylonian tablet, but the reading has been strongly disputed by other scholars. The greatest similarity between Hebrew and Baby- lonian records is in their accounts of the Flood. Pir- napistum, the Babylonian Noe, commanded by Ea, builds a ship and transfers hither his family, the beasts of the field, and the sons of the artificers, and he shuts the door. Six days and nights the wind blew, the flood overwhelmed the land. The seventh day the storm ceased; quieted, the sea slirank back; all manknid had tirrned to corruption. The ship stopped at the land of Nisir. Pir-napistum sends out first a dove, which returns; then a swallow, and it returns; then a raven, and it does not return. He leaves the ship, pours out a libation, makes an offer- ing on the peak of the moimtain. "The gods smelled a savour, the gods smelled a sweet savour, the gods gathered like flies over the sacrificer. " No one read- ing the Babylonian account of the Flood can deny its intimate connexion with the narrative in Genesis, yet