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etc., and have been partially excavated, hundreds in Babylonia and thousands in western Asia, with their ruin-hills practically untouched, retain their names as well as their secrets.
Babylonia is covered with mounds of debris, the accumulations of millenniums. Mesopotamia, the ancestral home of the patriarchs, is completely dotted with these tells. And when we read in the historical inscriptions of the hundreds of sites which have not been identified, it is impossible even to surmise what marvelous revelations are in store when those ruinhills are opened by pick and spade.
Not long ago the Hittites were only known to us from the Old Testament. Now we know a mighty nation of Asia Minor sufficiently powerful to invade Babylonia a little later, 2000 B. C., and to be able to force Egypt later on, in the time of Rameses II, to an inglorious treaty with them.
Not long ago Boghaskuel, one of its ancient capitals, with its ancient records written in cuneiform, was discovered (see National Geographic Magazine, Feb., 1910). Other sites are being excavated, and as a result the science of Hittitology is gradually becoming developed.
These Babylonian and Assyrian researches have had important bearings upon the Old Testament. It was largely the desire to secure inscriptions, by the help of which the historical value of the Hebrew Scriptures could be tested, that inspired many in th early years of these researches to support excavations, EXPLORATION AND THE SCRIPTURES Imagine the interest that was aroused when the first Assyrian inscription was deciphered, referring to events recorded in the Old Testament, or when George Smith announced that he had discovered among the tablets of Ashurbanipal a portion of the deluge story which closely resembles the Biblical account.
Several creation stories have been handed down by the Sumerians and Babylonians. The one showing the greatest resemblance to the Biblical references to the creation in Genesis and in the poetical books was found in the library of Ashurbanipal. After depicting the conflict between Marduk, the god of light, and Tiamat, the primeval goddess of chaos, it says the heavens and the earth were created.
The Sumerian cosmology, found at Sippar, symbolizes the establishment of order out of chaos. Still another fragment of a creation story, written in Sumerian and found at Nippur, makes another goddess, Nintu by name, the creator.
ACCOUNTS OF THE FLOOD Besides the eleventh tablet of the Gilgamesh epic found by George Smith, of the British Museum, which contains the deluge story so closely resembling the Biblical account, several others have been discovered. There is a Ninevite recension also in the British Museum and a fragment of an earlier copy.
Another, the oldest dated story of the flood, is in the library of the late J. Pierpont Morgan. It was written in the reign of Ammizaduga, a little later than 2000 B. C. This represents a god calling upon Adad, the weather god, to cause a destructive rainstorm, and Ea interposing in order to save the diluvian hero.
Several years ago a little fragment of another Semitic story was found in the University of Pennsylvania Collection, but more recently a Sumerian version, which makes Zuigidda of Shuruppak the hero of the flood.
It has been suggested that the Zuigidda tablet belongs to a series, fragments of which have been found, and that series contained lists of kings who ruled before and after the deluge to the time that the tablet was written, indicating that perhaps it is a Babylonian history of the world.
Should this fragment prove to belong to such a series, it would be a striking parallel to the brief history of the world as found in the Old Testament. An interesting feature of the tablet containing the reigns of kings is that a period 32,234 years is claimed between the deluge and the last king of Isin, who lived a little before 2000 B. C. Just how many kings ruled in this period is not known. In the previous period, however-that is, between the creation and the deluge Berosus (who lived about 300 B. C.) informs us ten primeval kings ruled for 432,000 years.
BIBLE STORY CORROBORATED
The Babylonian inscriptions have thrown a flood of light upon the patriarchal period. Although many modern critics have until recently declared the entire historical situation different from that found in the Old Testament, they are now forced to acknowledge it to be in strict accord with the many details gathered from the monuments. The actual personal existence of the patriarchs, however, is still held by these scholars to be completely disproved.
Other scholars, however, hold that, notwithstanding the fact that we have peered in vain for references on the monuments to the patriarchs, inasmuch as all such details that we could expect to see corroborated have been in an almost remarkable manner, that there is every reason to believe that the patriarchs themselves were historical.
But not alone the patriarchal period receives new light, but so many archæological sidelights have been thrown upon the Old Testament that there is scarcely a page that has not been illuminated by them. Yes; it can be said that additional chronicles of the kings of Judah and Israel can be gathered from the Assyrian and Babylonian monuments.
These archæological discoveries, moreover, while illustrating and substantiating the historical value of much of the Old Testament records, also give rise at the same time to new historical and literary difficulties. It is found that the traditional view of the Old Testament must be modified considerably—a knowledge of which, however, does not disturb the conception of the Old Testament as a religious book.
A HUNDRED BABYLONIAN RULERS PRIOR TO ABRAHAM
To cite a single instance: the Biblical chronology of the creation, whether we accept the Septuagint figures and make it 5500 B. C. or the Hebrew at 4000 B. C., cannot be harmonized with that which we know at present. The Old Testament gives a genealogy of ten names covering 427 years, according to the Greek version, between the deluge and Abraham.
In order to show that the period was longer, it is only necessary to mention that about one hundred rulers of Babylonia prior to Abraham are now known, and how many more will be restored to history in the near future it is impossible to tell.
The work of uncovering the ruin-hills of Assyria and Babylonia is only in its infancy. The spade and the pick have only begun to dispel the darkness which had shrouded the mounds of these lands. Hundreds of ruins remain unnoticed and unrecorded, because many are low and insignificant, and yet some of them contain right beneath the surface remains of a hoary antiquity. Destroyed in some early epoch, the city was perhaps never rebuilt. Surprise upon surprise awaits the explorer.
2. Student Oral Composition on
I thought I'd talk on “Pushing Back History's Horizon,” which I read in a magazine. It told of a lot of things we have learned about the Babylonians,