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XERXES.

Yea, the wall of Babylon shall fall.
Therefore, behold, the days come,

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That I will do judgment upon the graven images of
Babylon:

And her whole land shall be confounded,

And all her slain shall fall in the midst of her.

Wherefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, That I will do judgment upon her graven images: And through all her land the wounded shall groan.

Xerxes might be influenced by adherence to Magian principles; but he also, doubtless, was instigated by the desire to supply his exhausted treasury from the riches stored up in these temples, principally vested in the images of gold and silver, whose value brought on their destruction. Here it may be well to notice the vast abundance of the precious metals in those days. It is true, that the space upon the globe wherein these metals were deemed valuable, then was much smaller than in our days. Also, the broad line of distinction between the rulers and commonalty, then existing, confined the gold and silver to fewer hands; but the mines which indisputably were then worked, must have produced vast supplies, much of which has disappeared by the waste of years, and the violent convulsions of the Roman empire when invaded by the Northern Barbarians. These mines being exhausted, no further stores could be drawn from them. The scarcity of the precious metals, during the middle ages, is apparent from history. The produce of the American mines has, in part, supplied this deficiency; yet it may safely be assumed, that in proportion to the extent of the civilized world at the present day, there is a smaller mass of gold and silver among the nations, than at the period under our notice.

Here we may leave the history of Xerxes, only remarking, that it is connected with the wondrous course of events foretold in prophecy, and gradually unfolded

to us.

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DECLINE OF BABYLON-ITS RUINS,

CHAPTER XVII.

THE DECLINE OF BABYLON, AND THE PRESENT
STATE OF ITS RUINS.

(See the Plan, page 142.)

THE prominent position which Babylon occupies in the history of the Jews, with the remarkable fulfilment of prophecy, which its own history presents, requires that some notices should be given of the decline and fall of this splendid city, once the mistress of the known world, now a heap of rubbish, a den of wild beasts and noxious reptiles.

We have seen that Babylon suffered much when taken by Cyrus, and when plundered by Xerxes. It was no longer the metropolis of the East, the seat of government being transferred to Susa, Ecbatana, and Persepolis. Alexander, after his return from India, fixed his residence at Babylon, determined to restore its former greatness. He employed many thousand men in clearing the course of the river, and in removing away the rubbish that encumbered the temple of Belus. But the word of God had declared that such designs should not come to pass; these plans were stopped in a few months, by the death of Alexander, B.C. 323. The city was thus left to become more and more desolate, its palaces were crumbling to ruin, its temples demolished, its walls broken down, and the river, no longer confined by its banks, spread over a large extent of fertile country, rendering it a pestilential marsh, thus hastening the depopulation of the province.

Seleucus, the successor to Alexander in the eastern part of the empire, further hastened the decay of Babylon, by building the city of Seleucia, about forty miles distant, on the river Tigris. The next step to

AS DESCRIBED BY TRAVELLERS.

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ruin, was from the invasion of the Parthians, about B.C. 130, when many of the remaining buildings were demolished, and the inhabitants carried into slavery. Diodorus Siculus, about B.c. 45, stated that the public buildings were fallen into decay; only a small part within the walls was inhabited, large portions of the remaining ground being tilled. Strabo, about A.d. 25, relates that the city was nearly deserted. Pliny, about A.D. 80, writes that Babylon was then decayed, unpeopled, and lying waste.

Babylon now presents only ruins of ruins. Pausanias, about the second century, speaks of it as having nothing remaining but the walls. Lucian, about the same time, says it would soon so disappear, that, like Nineveh, it would be sought and not be found. Jerome, in the fourth century, stated, from a monk who had visited the site, that the walls served as an inclosure for wild beasts, within which the kings of Persia hunted. Benjamin of Tudela is the next writer who mentions Babylon. He was there in the twelfth century. He saw what he considered to be some ruins of the palace, but the people were afraid to enter them on account of the scorpions and wild beasts. Rauwolf, in 1574, described the country as dry and barren, and saw a pile of ruins, which he thought was the remains of the tower of Babel, full of venomous creatures lodged in holes among the rubbish. Petro della Valla, in 1616, saw a heap of ruined buildings like a large mountain, the materials of which were all confounded together.

The remains of these ruins have been visited and accurately described by several modern travellers. Rich considers that the Khan or Caravanserai of Mohawil, and the modern town of Hillah, mark the site of Babylon; between which places, for an extent of many miles, is a dreary waste, covered with vestiges of buildings. He says, "The ruins of Babylon may be said almost to commence from Mohawil, the whole country between it and Hillah, (a distance of nine miles,) exhibiting at intervals, traces of buildings, in which are discoverable

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burnt and unburnt bricks and bitumen." In some parts remains of walls may be traced; but, in general, only mounds of rubbish, destitute of verdure. Those most considerable are on the eastern side of the Euphrates, and not far from the river, called the Mujelibé, the Amram, and the Kasr. The walls of the latter are firmly built. It is considered to be the remains of a part of the palace, and contains vast quantities of burned bricks, laid in lime mortar; the removal of large portions of them has rendered this mound a confused mass, in which are found many remains of earthen and other vessels, and some sepulchral urns, considered to be of Grecian origin. In one place, by digging into the mass, a colossal statue of a lion, of rude workmanship, was brought to view. The Kasr is an irregular square, about seven hundred yards on each side, and about seventy feet high. Its appearance is much altered, even within the last few years, since it was seen by Rich, a quantity of bricks having been removed from it. Most of these bricks have unknown characters on their faces, which are invariably placed downwards. Sir R. K. Porter considers the Kasr contains the remains of the hanging gardens. The Amram is a mound about half a mile to the south of the Kasr, rather larger than that pile. It is an irregular heap of earth, with fragments of bricks and pottery. Porter considers that the foundations of the great palace are under this mass; and that a mound which connects it with the Kasr, originally once formed a terraced avenue between these structures. The Mujelibé is an oblong square, about five hundred and fifty feet one way, and two hundred and thirty the other, and one hundred and forty feet in height. It is formed of sun-dried bricks, cemented by bitumen, with layers of reeds; regular lines of brickwork being visible on each face of the pile. Remains of buildings may be traced on the top. It seems to have been a lofty platform, with passages and chambers, once crowned with various structures, a usual form of the most considerable

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