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In order to mark the place of this last with the greater precision, I took from its centre a set of bearings, by compass, of the principal objects in view.*
There are appearances of mounds and ruins extending for several miles to the southward, and still more distinctly seen to the northward of this, though both are less marked than the mounds of the centre. The space between these is a level plain, over every part of the face of which, broken pottery, and the other usual debris of ruined cities, are seen scattered about.†
If it were true, as asserted by Strabo, and other early writers, that Nineveh was larger than Babylon, it might be considered to have been the largest city that ever existed in the world, and one
apply:-" Semiramis," he says, "buried her husband Ninus in the royal palace at Nineveh, and raised over him a mound of earth of considerable size, being nine stadia in height, and ten in breadth, as Ctesias says, so that the city standing in a plain near to the river, the mount looked at a distance like a stately citadel. it continues to this day, though Nineveh was destroyed by the ruined the Assyrian empire.”—Diodorus Siculus, b. ii. c. i. p. 59. * Southern extreme of Mousul, Northern
And it is said, that
S. S. W. 3 miles. W. S. W. 2 miles.
N. by E. 50 miles.
from N. N. E. to E. by N. 10 miles.
"As it was a very ancient, so was it likewise a very great city. styled 'that great city,' (i. 2. iii. 2.) ' an exceeding great city.' (iii. 3.) it is a city great to God;' in the same manner as Moses is called by St. Stephen, in the Acts of the Apostles, (vii. 10.) ass to e, fair to God, or exceeding fair, as our translators rightly render it; and so the mountains of God, (Psalm xxxvi. 6.) are exceeding high mountains,' and the cedars of God, (Psalm lxxx. 10.) are exceeding tall cedars."-Newton on the Prophecies, pp. 144, 145.
'bby, Deo magna civitas, woλis μeyaλn tw Oeg. Sept.
might even credit the assertion, that "Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey,"* not in circumference, as it has been assumed,† but in length, since Jonah did not begin to proclaim the denunciations of God against it, until he had entered the city a day's journey, which would then have been its further extreme, if three days only had been the extent of its circuit.
But we are furnished with its actual dimensions in stadia, which enables us to compare how far its comparative magnitude was greater than that of Babylon, or not. Herodotus assigns to this last a square of four hundred and eighty stadia, or a circumference of sixty miles, counting fifteen miles for each of its sides, reckoning the stadium at its highest standard of eight to a mile. ‡ Diodorus Siculus gives the dimensions of Nineveh as one hundred and fifty stadia in length, and ninety stadia in breadth, or about nineteen miles in front along the river, and eleven and a quarter in breadth, from the river to the mountains, estimating the stadium at the same standard of value.§
* Jonah, c. iii. v. 3.
+ Kinnier's Geographical Memoir on Persia, p. 259.
S "Ninus having surpassed all his ancestors in the glory and success of his arms, was
resolved to build a city of that state and grandeur, as should not only be the greatest then in the world, but such as none that ever should come after him should be able easily to exceed. Accordingly, having himself got a great number of his forces together, and provided money and treasure, and other things necessary for the purpose, he built a city near the river Euphrates, (Tigris,) very famous for its walls and fortifications, of a long form, for on both sides it ran out in length above an hundred and fifty stadia, (about nineteen miles,) but the two lesser angles were only ninety stadia in each, so that the circumference of the whole was four hundred and eighty stadia, (about sixty miles.) And the founder was not herein deceived, for none ever after built the like, either as to the largeness of its circumference, or the stateliness of its walls. For the wall was an hundred feet in height, and so broad, as that three chariots might be driven together upon it abreast. There were fifteen hundred turrets upon the walls, each of them two hundred feet high. He appointed the city to be inhabited chiefly by the richest Assyrians, and gave liberty to the people of any other nation, (to as many as would,) to dwell there; and allowed to the citizens a large territory next adjoining to them, and called the city after his own name, Ninus."-Diodorus Siculus, b. ii. c. 1. p. 55.
There was, it is true, a greater length in the city of Nineveh; but, from its more confined breadth, the space actually included within the limits given was somewhat less than that of Babylon. It may, however, be admitted to claim for itself a higher antiquity, since the second great capital of the Assyrian empire did not begin to flourish until this, its first metropolis, whose origin mounts up to the period just succeeding the deluge,* was abandoned to decay.
The nature of the ground here determines, with sufficient precision, what must have been the local features of its site, and confirms the accuracy of the historian, who describes it as of an oblong form.
From the extent of the Plain of Babylon, that city might have spread itself out to any given length, its limits being circumscribed only on the west, by the existence of marshes and lakes there. Nineveh too might have stretched a front along the river of any extent, but its breadth was absolutely fixed within ten or twelve miles, that being the whole extent of the plain on the eastern bank of the Tigris, from the river to the range of Jebel Makloube, the mountains which form its eastern boundary.
As far as I could perceive, from our elevated point of view, on the highest summit of Tal Ninoa, there were mounds of ruins similar to those near us, but less distinctly marked, as far as the eye could reach to the northward; and the plain to the eastward of us, or between the river and the mountains, had a mixture of large brown patches, like heaps of rubbish, seen at intervals, scattered over a cultivated soil.
Whatever might have been the exact dimensions of Nineveh, it was unquestionably very large; and, like most other great cities of antiquity, was, in the period of its highest glory, a sink of wickedness and abomination. The disastrous history of Jonah, and his singular habitation during three days and three nights, when on his way
* Genesis, c. x. v. 11.
to prevent the destruction of this city, are familiarly known. There is an expression, however, worth adverting to, more particularly as conveying some idea of the population of Nineveh at the period in question. It is where the Almighty, in reproving Jonah for his anger at a worm, for destroying the gourd by which he was sheltered from the sun, and his pity for the gourd itself, says, "Thou hast had pity on the gourd for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night; And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than six-score thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left, and also much cattle?"* Considering this number of one hundred and twenty thousand to mean the children and infants, who, as well as the cattle with whom they are coupled, might be mentioned as being all in a state of innocence, and therefore not deserving to be made partakers with the guilty in the Divine vengeance, some estimate may be made of the whole population, which would thus, in the ordinary proportions of the several classes, amount to little short of half a million of people.
The denunciations of the prophet Nahum against this devoted city are extremely eloquent, but equally full of the bitterness of wrath with those pronounced by other inspired tongues, against the great empires and kingdoms of the ancient world.†
* Jonah, c. iii. and iv. throughout.
+ "Woe to the bloody city! it is all full of lies and robbery; the prey departeth not; the noise of a whip, and the noise of the rattling of the wheels, and of the prancing horses, and of the jumping chariots. The horseman lifteth up both the bright sword and the glittering spear: and there is a multitude of slain, and a great number of carcases, and there is none end of their corpses: they stumble upon their corpses. Because of the multitude of the whoredoms of the well-favoured harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts, that selleth nations through her whoredoms, and families through her witchcrafts. Behold, I am against thee, saith the Lord of Hosts; and I will discover thy skirts upon thy face, and I will shew the nations thy nakedness, and the kingdoms thy shame. And I will cast abominable filth upon thee, and make thee vile, and will set thee as a gazing-stock. And it shall come to pass, that all they that look upon thee, shall flee from thee, and say, Nineveh is laid waste : who will bemoan her? whence shall I seek comforters for thee ?"-Nahum, c. iii. v. 1-7.
That which follows this denunciation includes, however, an illustration of ancient geography, too curious to be omitted. The question is asked of Nineveh," Art thou better than populous No, that was situate among the rivers, that had the waters round about it, whose rampart was the sea, and her wall was from the sea? Ethiopia and Egypt were her strength, and it was infinite. Put and Lubim were thy helpers. Yet was she carried away, she went into captivity; her young children also were dashed in pieces at the top of all the streets; and they cast lots for her honourable men, and all her great men were bound in chains."*
Bruce, the celebrated Abyssinian traveller, has, I remember, considered this populous "No," to be the Egyptian “Thebes;” and though at the time of my visit to the ruins of that hundred-gated city of the gods, the identity of it with the No of the Scriptures seemed to me objectionable, from the mention of the sea as its rampart; yet here, on the ruined mounds of the fallen Nineveh, while reading from the Prophets all the denunciations of vengeance which had been uttered against it, the propriety of a comparison of its state with that of the Thebes of Egypt struck me very forcibly, and left on my mind the impression that there was no other city of antiquity, excepting this, to which the allusions made by the Prophet when speaking of "No," could at all apply.
From the number of the canals and the serpentine curves of the Nile, even while running through Thebes, it might be said, with great propriety," to be seated among the rivers," and "to have the waters round about it." So, also, as the whole of Egypt is inaccessible but from the sea, that sea might well be called its rampart ;†
*Nahum, c. iii. v. 8-10.
I know of no description, either among the ancients or moderns, which is at once so brief, and yet so happy, 'as that of Josephus, regarding this country. It may be appositely given here, in confirmation of what is asserted above. He says, "Egypt is hard to be entered by land, and hath no good havens by sea. It hath, on the west, the dry deserts of Lybia; and on the south, Syene, that divides it from Ethiopia, as well as the cataracts of the Nile, that cannot be sailed over; and on the east, the Red Sea, extending as far as Coptus; and it is fortified on the north, by the band that reaches to