The Expositor's Bible: Part 53

A terra-cotta cylinder of a.s.sUR-BANI-PAL (the Sardanapalus of the Greeks) is now in the British Museum. It is translated by Mr. G.

Smith, _Records of the Past_, i. 55-106, ix. 37-64; Oppert, _Memoire sur les Rapports de l'Egypte et l'a.s.syrie_; and G. Smith, _Annals of a.s.sur-bani-pal_.

Its most interesting parts relate to the campaign of his father Esar-haddon against Egypt, and how Tirhakah, King of Egypt and Ethiopia, reoccupied Memphis. He defeated the army of Tirhakah, who, to save his life, fled from Memphis to Thebes. The a.s.syrians then took Thebes, and restored Necho's father, Psamatik I., to Memphis and Sais, and other Egyptian kings, friends of a.s.syria, who had fled before Tirhakah. The kings, however, proved ungrateful, and made a league against him. He therefore threw them into fetters, and had them brought to Nineveh, but subsequently released Necho with splendid presents. Tirhakah fled to Ethiopia, where he "went to his place of night"--_i.e._, died.


[918] Up to the time of Tiglath-Pileser II., the Eponym Year (which is not here given) marks the second complete year of each king's reign.

[919] This Shalmaneser died about B.C. 825, after a reign of thirty-five years (Sayce in _Records of the Past_, v. 27-42; Oppert, _Hist. des Empires de Chaldee et d'a.s.syrie_; Menant, _Annales des Rois d'a.s.syrie_, 1874).



The inscription of Siloam is the oldest known Hebrew inscription. "It is engraved on the rocky wall of the subterranean channel which conveys the water of the Virgin's Spring at Jerusalem into the Pool of Siloam. In the summer of 1880 one of the native pupils of Dr. Schick, a German architect, was playing with other lads in the Pool, and while wading up the subterranean channel slipped and fell into the water. On rising to the surface he noticed, in spite of the darkness, what looked like letters on the rock which formed the southern wall of the channel. Dr.

Schick visited the spot, and found that an ancient inscription, concealed for the most part by the water, actually existed there." The level of the water was lowered, but the inscription had been partly filled up with a deposit of lime, and the first intelligible copy was made by Professor Sayce in February 1881, and six weeks later by Dr.

Guthe. Professor Sayce had to sit for hours in the mud and water, working under masonry or earth. There can be little doubt that this work is alluded to in 2 Kings xx. 20; 2 Chron. x.x.xii. 30; Isa. viii. 6 ("the waters of Shiloah ["the tunnel"?] which flow softly").

The alphabet is that used by the prophets before the exile, somewhat like that on the Moabite Stone, and on early Israelitish and Jewish seals. The language is pure Hebrew, with only one unknown word--_zadah_, in line three: perhaps "excess" or "obstacle."

Professor Sayce thinks that it proves that "the City of David" (Zion) must have been on the southern hill, the so-called Ophel. If so, the Valley of the Sons of Hinnom must be the rubbish-choked Tyropon, under which must be the tombs of the kings, and the relics of the Temple and Palace destroyed by Nebuchadrezzar.

The inscription is:--

"The excavation! Now this is the history of the excavation. While the excavators were lifting up the pick each towards his neighbour, and while there were yet three cubits [to excavate], there was heard the voice of one man calling to his neighbour, for there was an excess in the rock on the right hand [and on the left?]. And after that on the day of excavating, the excavators had struck pick against pick, one against another, the water flowed from the spring [_motsa_, "exit," 2 Chron. x.x.xii. 30] to the Pool" (that of Siloam, which therefore was the only one which then existed) "for twelve hundred cubits. And [part] of a cubit was the height of the rock over the head of the excavators" (Sayce, _Records of the Past_, i. 169-175).

The letters are on an artificial tablet cut in the wall of rock, nineteen feet from where the subterranean conduit opens on the Pool of Siloam, and on the right-hand side. The conduit is at first sixteen feet high, but lessens in one place to no more than two feet. It is, according to Captain Conder, seventeen hundred and eight yards long, but not in a straight line, as there are two _culs-de-sac_, caused by faulty engineering. The engineers, beginning, as at Mount Cenis, from opposite ends, intended to meet in the middle, but failed. The floor has been rounded to allow the water to flow more easily. It is a splendid piece of engineering for that age.

The Pool of Siloam is at the south-east end of a hill which lies to the south of the Temple hill: the Virgin's Fountain is on the opposite side of the hill, more to the north, and is the only natural spring or "Gihon" near Jerusalem, so that its water was of supreme importance.

Being outside the city wall, a conduit was necessary. Hezekiah "stopped all the fountains" (2 Chron. x.x.xii. 4)--_i.e._, concealed them. By providing a subterranean channel for them, he saved them from the enemy and secured the water-supply of the besieged city.



The question might seem absurd, but for its solution I must refer to my paper on the subject in the _Expositor_ for October 1893.

The _sole_ authorities for a calf at Dan are 1 Kings xii. 28-30; 2 Kings x. 29. If in the former pa.s.sage we alter _one letter_, and read ???? (the "ephod") for ???? (the "one")--as Klostermann suggests--we throw light on an obscure and perhaps corrupt pa.s.sage. The allusion then would be to Micah's old idolatrous image (which _may_ have been a calf) at Dan. The two words "and in Dan" in 2 Kings x. 29 may easily have been (as Klostermann thinks) an exegetical gloss added from the error of one letter in 1 Kings xii. 30.

Dan was a most unlikely place to select: for (1) It was a remote frontier town; and (2) there was no room, and no necessity there, for a new cultus beside the ancient one established some centuries earlier, and still served by priests who were direct lineal descendants of Moses (Judg. xviii. 30, 31).

This would further account for the absolute silence of prophets and historians about any golden calf at Dan; and it adds to the inherent probability, also supported by some evidence, that there were _two_ cherubic calves at Bethel.

For further arguments I must refer to my paper.

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