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cited, by the seven and twentieth year of Jeroboam we should perhaps understand the seven and twentieth year of his life; or else, (because the like words are no-where else interpreted in the like sense,) that Azariah was eleven years under age, that is, five years old, when his father died, and so his sixteenth year might concur with the seven and twentieth of Jeroboam ; or, that the text itself may have suffered some wrong, by miswriting twenty-seven for seventeen years, and so, by making the seventeenth year of Jeroboam to be newly begun, all may be salved. These are the conjectures of that worthy man Ge. rard Mercator ; concerning the first of which it may suffice, that the author himself doth easily let it pass as improbable; the last is followed by none that I know, neither is it fit that, upon every doubt, we should call the text in question, which could not be satisfied in all copies, if perhaps it were in one: as for the second, it may be held, with some qualification, that Azariah began his reign, being five years old; but then must we add those eleven years which passed in his minority, to the fifty-two that followed his sixteenth year, which is all one, in a manner, with allowing an interregnum.
But why should we be so careful to avoid an ina terregnum in Judah, seeing that the like necessity hath enforced all good writers to acknowledge the like vacancy twice happening within few years, in the kingdom of Israel ? The space of time between Jeroboam's death, and the beginning of Zachariah's reign, and such another gap found between the death of Pekah, and the beginning of Hosea, have made it easily to be admitted into Samaria, which the consi. deration of things as they stood in Judah, when Ama. ziah was slain, doth make more probable to have hapa pened there, yea, although the necessity of computa. tation were not so apparent.
For the public fury, having so far extended itself, as unto the destruction of the king's own person,
was not like to be appeased without order taken for obtaining some redress of those matters, which had caused it at the first to break forth into such extremity. We need not therefore wonder how it came to pass, that they, which had already thrown them. selves into such an horrible treason, should afterwards dare to withhold the crown from a prince of that age, which being invested in all ornaments of regality, is nevertheless exposed to many injuries, proceeding from headstrong and forgetful subjects.
As for their conjecture who make Azariah to have been king but forty-one years, after he came out of his nonage, I dare not allow it, because it agrees too harshly with the text. The best opinion were that which gives unto Jeroboam eleven years of reign with his father, before he began to reign single in the fifteenth of Amaziah; did it not swallow up al. most the whole reign of Joash, and extending the years of those which reigned in Israel, (by making such of them complete as were only current,) and take at the shortest the reigns of princes ruling in other nations. But I will not stand to dispute further of this; every man may follow his own opinion, and see mine more plainly in the chronological table drawn for these purposes.
SECT. XII. Of Princes contemporary with Amaziah, and more par.
ticularly of Sardanapalus. THE princes living with Amaziah, and in the ele. ven years that followed his death, were Joash and Jeroboam, in Israel ; Cephrenus and Mycerinus, in Egypt; Sylvius Alladius, and Sylvius Aventinus, in Alba; Agamemnon in Corinth; Diognetus Phe. redus, and Ariphron in Athens; in Lacedæmon, Thelectus, in whose time the Spartans won from the Achaians, Gerauthæ, Amyclæ, and some other towns.
But more notable than all these, was Assyrian Sar
danapalus, who, in the one and twentieth year of A. maziah, succeeded his father Ocrazapes, or Anacyndaraxes, reigned twenty years, and was slain the last of the eleven void years which forewent the reign of Azariah. In him ended, as most agree, the line of Ninus, which had held that empire one thousand two hundred and forty years. A most luxurious and effeminate palliard he was, passing away his time among strumpets, whom he imitated, both in apparel and behaviour.
In these voluptuous courses he lived an unhappy life, knowing himself to be so vile, that he durst not let any man have a sight of him ; yet seen he was at length, and the sight of him was so odious, that it procured his ruin. For Arbaces, who governed Media under him, finding means to behold the person of his king, was so incensed with that beastly spectacle, of a man disguised in woman's attire, and striving to counterfeit a harlot, that he thought it great shame to live under the command of so unworthy a creature. Purposing, therefore, to free himself and others from so base subjection, he was much encouraged by the prediction of Belesis or Belosus, a Chaldean, who told him plainly, that the kingdom of Sardanapalus should fall into his hands. Arbaces, well pleased with this prophecy, did promise unto Belosus himself the government of Babylon; and so concluding how to. handle the business, one of them stirred up the Medes, and allured the Persians into the quarrel, the other persuaded the Babylonians and Arabians to venture themselves in the same cause. These four nations armed forty thousand men against Sardanapalus, who in this danger was not wanting to himself, but gathering such forces as he could, out of other nations, encountered the rebels, as one that would by deeds refute the tales that they had told of him. Neither did his carriage, in the beginning of that war, answer to the name of his retiredness; for in three battles he carried away the better, driving
Arbaces and his followers into such fearful terms, that had not Belosus promised them constantly some unexpected succours, they would forthwith have broken up their camp. About the same time, an army out of Bactria was coming to assist the king; but Arbaces encountering it upon the way, persuaded so strongly by promise of liberty, that those forces joined themselves with his. The sudden departure of the enemy seeming to be a flight, caused Sardanapalus to feast his army, triumphing before victory. But the rebels being strengthened with this new supply, came upon him by night, and forced his camp, which thro' over-great security, was unprepared for resistance. . This overthrow did so weaken the king's heart, that leaving his wife's brother Salamenus to keep the field, he withdrew himself into the city of Nineveh; which, till new aids that he sent for should come, he thought easily to defend; it having been prophesied, that Nineveh should never be taken till the river were enemy to the town. Of the greatness and strength of Nineveh, enough hath been spoken in our discourse of Ninus. It was so well victualled, that Arbaces, (having in two battles overthrown the king's army, and slain Salamenus,) was fain to lie two whole years before it, in hope to win it by famine; whereof yet he saw no appearance. It seems that he wanted engines and skill to force those walls, which were a hundred foot high, and thick enough for three chariots in front to pass upon the rampart. But that which he could not do in two years, the river of Tigris did in the third ; for being high swoln with rains, it not only drowned a part of the city through which it ran, but threw downtwenty furlongs of the wall, and made a fair breach for Arbaces to enter.
Sardanapalus, either terrified with the accomplishment of the old oracle, or seeing no means of resistance left, shutting up himself into his palace, with his wives, eunuchs, and all his treasures, did set the house on fire, wherewith he and they were together
consumed. Strabo' speaks of a monument of his, that was in Anchiale, a city of Cilicia, whereon was found an inscription, shewing that he built that city and Tharsus upon one day : but the addition hereto, bidding men eat and drink and make merry, encouraging others, with verses well known, to a voluptuous life, by his own example, testified that his nature was more prone to sensuality; than to any virtue beseeming a prince.
There are some that faintly report otherwise of his end; saying that Arbaces, when he first found hiin among his concubines, was so enraged, that suddenly he slew him with a dagger. But the more general consent of writers agrees with this relation of Diodo. rus Siculus? who citeth Ctesias, a Greek writer, that lived in the court of Persia, where the truth might best be known.
Concerning the princes which reigned in Assyria, from the time of Semiramis, unto Sardanapalus, though I believe that they were sometimes, (yet not, as Orosius hath it, incessantly,) busied in offensive or else defensive arms; yet, for the most part of them, I do better trust Diodorus Siculus 3 who saith, that their names were overpassed by Ctesias, because they did nothing worthy of memory. Whatsoever they did, that which Theophilus Antiochenus hath said of them is very true :- Silence and oblivion hath oppressed them.