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In the royal library of Nineveh there were more than ten thousand volumes or tablets.
The first library of Chaldea, according to Berosus, was established in the antediluvian Pantibiblia, the capital under Amelon, the third fabulous king. Sisuthrus, the Chaldean Noah, by command of Kronos buried his books at Sippara to be recovered after the deluge. The library of Erech, to which belonged the epic of Izdubar and the story of the flood, was the most ancient of which we possess any positive knowledge. The library of Cutha gave a legend of the creation and war of the giants; that of Larsa or Senkereh has yielded a number of mathematical tablets. Sargon I., ("the genuine rightful king,") who bore the title “ king of justice," (cf. Melchizedek,) was a noble patron of learning, 2000 B.C. He conquered the whole of Babylonia, and established his capital at Aganè. Here he founded a great library celebrated for its works on astronomy and astrology, one of which consisted of no less than seventy-two books. Berosus seems to have translated it into Greek. There was another important library at Calah. The royal library at Nineveh, belonging to Assurbanipal, which has yielded most of the rich literary treasures now being de. ciphered in the British Museum, was the most celebrated. Assurbanipal encouraged the study of the dead Accadian language, and caused grammars and dictionaries to be compiled and translations to be made. It has been remarked that the Assyrians anticipated the Hamiltonian method of teaching languages by many centuries. Copies of the works to be found in the library at Aganè were made and distributed among the libraries of Assyria. During the period of great literary activity many new works were also produced.
This royal library was most thoroughly organized, and must have been extensively patronized. We have even recovered some of the rules of the librarian. Chiefly through the labors of Mr. George Smith these tablets were unpacked, examined, ticketed, and pieced together. “ Historical and mythological documents, religious records, legal, geographical, astronomical and astrological treatises ; poetical compositions, grammatical and lexical disquisitions, lists of stones and trees, of birds and beasts, copies of treatises, of commercial transactions, of correspondence, of petitions to the king, and of royal proclama
tions, such were the chief contents of this strange old library. The larger portion of the religious and poetical works were translations from Accadian, the original text being generally given side by side with the Assyrian rendering."
The library at Babylon may have been founded by Khammuragas, the first of the Kossaean kings, who overthrew the Sargon dynasty. Sennacherib carried most of its contents to Assyria when he took the city, 695 B.C. Assyriologists have awaited with great interest literary discoveries in Babylonia, the home of Assyrian art, science, and religion. They have not been disappointed. In his expedition of 1880–81, Mr. Hormuzd Rassam recovered records and copies of religious texts from the ruins of temples and palaces of Babylon, Borsippa, Sippara, and Cutha. The records found in Jumjuma in 1874 prove this mound to be the site of the great commercial exchange of Babylon.
“ These tablets show that for a long period, probably several centuries, the family of the Beni Egibi were the leading commercial firm of Babylon, and to them was confided all the business of the Babylonian Ministry of Finance. The building, whose ruins are marked by the mound of Jumjuma, was the chancellerie of the firm, and from its ruins come the records of every class of monetary transactions. The documents being all most carefully dated and compiled, are of great value to the chronologist and histo rian; while to the student of Babylonian civilization they are of the highest importance. From the tax receipts we learn how the revenue was raised by duties levied on land, on crops of dates and corn, on cattle, by imposts for the use of the irrigation canals and the use of the public roads. The insight into the component elements of social life, ranging from the king and princes, the priests and soldiers, down to the lowest peasant and slave, is such as is hardly afforded by the records of any other nation. By the aid of these records we can almost picture the motley crowds of citizens and countrymen who gathered in the court-yard of the great Babylonian bankers. Then, as now, in the same land, the tax-gatherer was an extor
many a petition was lodged against his claiins.” +
* “ Babylonian Literature," p. 16.
+ The London " Times,” Aug. 27, 1881. Fourth SERIES, VOL. XXXV.-7
“ Egibi, the founder of the firm, probably lived in the latter part of the reign of Sennacherib.” *
A great triumph of Mr. Rassam in his last expedition was the identification of the mounds of Abu Hubba with the antediluvian Sippara, and the proof that the priests of this ancient city were worshipers of the solar disk and solar rays, and had a creed resembling that of the disk-worshipers of the Eighteenth Egyptian dynasty. There was a second city of Sippara, and the two cities may be identified with the cities of Sepharvaim. Cutha, another religious center, was also identified. We await with interest the results of the present season's explorations.
The Assyrian religion, as we have it in the monuments, is the product of the fusion of the two religious systems of the Accadians and Semites. This religious reformation took place in the time of Sargon I. We cannot study these systems separately throughout, but it will serve our present purpose best to give, in the beginning of our discussion, some account of the Accadian system. « There is a complete world of malevolent spirits, the distinguishing characteristics of which are strongly marked, and their attributes determined with precision; while the hierarchy to which they belong is classed in a most learned manner. At the top of the scale are placed two classes of beings, which partake more nearly than the others of the divine nature, and are genii or demi-gods, a sort of inferior deities. The first bear the Accadian name, Mas, soldier, warrior,' which is substituted in the Assyrian by Sed, 'genius ;' the second, the Accadian name of Lamma, 'giant, translated in Assyrian by Lamas. In the religious texts these names often designate propitious and protecting genii, under whose shelter people placed themselves ; but, at other times, wicked and hurtful genii, whose power had to be charmed away." Whether there were good and bad genii at first, or the genii possessed a double character, does not appear. The spirits of inferior orders were demons, and decidedly malevolent. They were “destroyers, warriors, ensnarers. Generally each class was divided into groups of seven.f The rank of each god in the hierarchy was designated
* Boscawen, in " Transactions Society of Biblical Archæology," vol. vi, p. 9.
† Among the Jews there were seven principal angels, one of whom was Raphael. Tobit xii, 15.
by a whole number from one to sixty; the rank of each demon by a fractional number with sixty for the denominator. The Maskim, “ensnarers,” which were cosinical demons, had the power to disturb the order of nature. They dwelt in the abyss. Their antagonist was “the God of Fire.” Their destructive power is thus described : From the four cardinal points the impetuosity of their invasion
burns like fire. They violently attack the dwellings of man, They wither every thing in the town or in the country. They oppose the freeman and the slave. They pour down like a violent tempest in heaven and earth. There were also elementary malevolent spirits, the production of the infernal regions, which were present every-where, and greatly to be feared.
On high they bring trouble, and below they bring confusion.
These Accadian spirits dwelt in the deserts, mountains, marshes, and sea, from which they visited and tormented men.t When they possessed the body of a man they were espelled by exorcisms, and favorable demons were invited by incantations to take their place. All diseases were thought to be the work of different demons, which possessed different parts of the body and were cast out by exorcisms, incantations, philters, and enchanted drinks. A complete knowledge of the system of Chaldean magic belonged only to the few, yet every one must needs know something of the incantations which pertained to the common exigencies of life. There were many purifications, and mysterious rites and magic knots possessed great potency. Still more mighty was the power of numbers. To insure a good harvest the Accadians sung: * "Chaldean Magic,” pp. 23-30. + Cf. Isaiah xxxv, 13, 14.
Cf. Matthew xii, 27 ; Acts xix, 13–16; Tobit vi, 7, 16, 17; Josephus, "Autiq.," viii
, 2, 5; Justin Martyr, Dial. cum Tryph., C. 85.
The corn which stands upright shall come to the end of its pros
perous growth; The number (to produce that) we know it. * Seven was a magic number of great power, perhaps also three and four. But the highest power was possessed by the divine name known only to Hea. Every thing must yield to that name, and it was even made a distinct person. profitably compare the power which the Talmudists and Cabbalists believed was hidden in the name of God. The Chaldeans had great faith in the power of talismans and the efficacy of sacred texts like the Jewish phylacteries. Amulets, with sacred forinulæ chiefly in the Accadian language, were worn about the neck as charms. Talismanic images were supplied with food and drink, and protected their houses. Sometimes a most monstrous image of the demon was made for a talisman. It was believed that the demon would be frightened away by his own hideous likeness. Many gnostic gems also contain such monstrous representations. To cure a man of the plague, let his face be turned toward the setting sun, and apply "to the living flesh of his body" a talismanic image, and the plague demon will flee. To protect against the deadly influence of the south-west wind, its frightful image“the figure of a horrible demon in an upright posture, with the body of a dog, the feet of an eagle, the claws of a lion, the tail of a scorpion, the head of a skeleton but half decayed, and adorned with goats' horns, and the eyes still remaining, and lastly, four great expanded wings”—was placed at the door or window, and it dare not enter. Many such images have been recovered, and are to be found in the museums.f Tihamat, the primordial sea, was thus represented, and the first imperfect beings created were of this monstrous character. The winged lions and bulls so numerous about palaces and temples probably possessed this talismanic character. To secure the constant defeat of evil demons, representations of battles in which the gods were victorious over them were placed upon the walls of the dwelling. Similar representations preserved the inscribed cylinders from diabolical influence. By conjuring, the Chaldeans professed to have supernatural power over
*“Chaldean Magic," p. 42. Cf. Horace, Carmen, xi, 2, 3.