Assur-Nazir-Pal left to his successor an overflowing treasury, a valiant army, a people proud of their progress and fully confident in their own resources, and a kingdom which had recovered, during several years of peace, from the strain of its previous conquests. Shalmaneser III drew largely on the reserves of men and money which his father’s foresight had prepared, and his busy reign of thirty-five years saw thirty-two campaigns, conducted almost without a break, on every side of the empire in succession. A double task awaited him, which he conscientiously and successfully fulfilled.
Assur-Nazir-Pal had thoroughly reorganized the empire and raised it to the rank of a great power; he had confirmed his provinces and vassal states in their allegiance, and had subsequently reduced to subjection, or, at any rate, penetrated at various points, the little buffer principalities between Assyria and the powerful kingdoms of Babylon, Damascus, and Urartu; but he had avoided engaging any one of these three great states in a struggle of which the issue seemed doubtful. Shalmaneser could not maintain this policy of forbearance without loss of prestige in the eyes of the world: conduct which might seem prudent and cautious in a victorious monarch like Assur-Nazir-Pal would in him have argued timidity or weakness, and his rivals would soon have provoked a quarrel if they thought him lacking in the courage or the means to attack them. Immediately after his accession, therefore, he assumed the offensive, and decided to measure his strength first against Urartu, which for some years past had been showing signs of restlessness.
Few countries are more rugged or better adapted for defense than that in which his armies were about to take the field. The volcanoes to which it owed its configuration in geological times, had become extinct long before the appearance of man, but the surface of the ground still bears evidence of their former activity; layers of basaltic rock, beds of scorias and cinders, streams of half-disintegrated mud and lava, and more or less perfect cones, meet the eye at every turn. Subterranean disturbances have not entirely ceased even now, for certain craters—that of Tandurek, for example—sometimes exhale acid fumes; while hot springs exist in the neighborhood, from which steaming waters escape in cascades to the valley, and earthquakes and strange subterranean noises are not unknown. The backbone of these Armenian mountains joins towards the south the line of the Gordyaean range; it runs in a succession of zigzags from south-east to northwest, meeting at length the mountains of Pontus and the last spurs of the Caucasus.
Lofty snow-clad peaks, chiefly of volcanic origin, rise here and there among them, the most important being Akhta-dagh, Tandurek, Ararat, Bingoel, and Palandoeken. The two unequal pyramids which form the summit of Ararat are covered with perpetual snow, the higher of them being 16,916 feet above the sea-level. The spurs which issue from the principal chain cross each other in all directions, and make a network of rocky basins where in former times water collected and formed lakes, nearly all of which are now dry in consequence of the breaking down of one or other of their enclosing sides. Two only of these mountain lakes still remain, entirely devoid of outlet, Lake Van in the south, and Lake Urumiah further to the south-east. The Assyrians called the former the Upper Sea of Nairi, and the latter the Lower Sea, and both constituted a defense for Urartu against their attacks. To reach the centre of the kingdom of Urartu, the Assyrians had either to cross the mountainous strip of land between the two lakes, or by making a detour to the north-west, and descending the difficult slopes of the valley of the Arzania, to approach the mountains of Armenia lying to the north of Lake Van. The march was necessarily a slow and painful one for both horses and men, along narrow winding valleys down which rushed rapid streams, over raging torrents, through tangled forests where the path had to be cut as they advanced, and over barren wind-swept plateaux where rain and mist chilled and demoralized soldiers accustomed to the warm and sunny plains of the Euphrates.
The majority of the armies which invaded this region never reached the goal of the expedition: they retired after a few engagements, and withdrew as quickly as possible to more genial climes. The main part of the Urartu remained almost always unsubdued behind its barrier of woods, rocks, and lakes, which protected it from the attacks leveled against it, and no one can say how far the kingdom extended in the direction of the Caucasus. It certainly included the valley of the Araxes and possibly part of the valley of the Kur, and the steppes sloping towards the Caspian Sea. It was a region full of contrasts, at once favored and ill-treated by nature in its elevation and aspect: rugged peaks, deep gorges, dense thickets, districts sterile from the heat of subterranean fires, and sandy wastes barren for lack of moisture, were interspersed with shady valleys, sunny vine-clad slopes, and wide stretches of fertile land covered with rich layers of deep alluvial soil, where thick-standing corn and meadow-lands, alternating with orchards, repaid the cultivator for the slightest attempt at irrigation.
THE TRIBES AND CIVILIZATION OF URARTU.
History does not record who were the former possessors of this land; but towards the middle of the ninth century it was divided into several principalities, whose position and boundaries cannot be precisely determined. It is thought that Urartu lay on either side of Mount Ararat and on both banks of the Araxes, that Biainas lay around Lake Van, and that the Mannai occupied the country to the north and east of Lake Urumiah (Urmia); the positions of the other tribes on the different tributaries of the Euphrates or the slopes of the Armenian mountains are as yet uncertain.
The country was probably peopled by a very mixed race, for its mountains have always afforded a safe asylum for refugees, and at each migration, which altered the face of Western Asia, some fugitives from neighboring nations drifted to the shelter of its fastnesses.
The principal element, the Khaldi, were akin to that great family of tribes which extended across the range of the Taurus, from the shores of the Mediterranean to the Euxine, and included the Khalybes, the Mushku, the Tabal, and the Khati. The little preserved of their language resembles what we know of the idioms in use among the people of Arzapi and Mitanni, and their religion seems to have been somewhat analogous to the ancient worship of the Hittites. The character of the ancient Armenians, as revealed to us by the monuments, resembles in its main features that of the Armenians of the present time. They appear as tall, strong, muscular, and determined, full of zest for work and fighting, and proud of their independence. Some of them led a pastoral life, wandering about with their flocks during the greater part of the year, obliged to seek pasturage in valley, forest, or mountain height according to the season, while in winter they remained frost-bound in semi-subterranean dwellings similar to those in which descendants immure themselves at the present day. Where the soil lent itself to agriculture, they proved excellent husbandmen, and obtained abundant crops. Their ingenuity in irrigation was remarkable, and enabled them to bring water by a system of trenches from distant springs to supply their fields and gardens; besides which, they knew how to terrace the steep hillsides so as to prevent the rapid draining away of moisture. Industries were but little developed among them, except perhaps the working of metals; for were they not akin to those Chalybes of the Pontus, whose mines and forges already furnished iron to the Grecian world? Fragments have been discovered in the ruined cities of Urartu of statuettes, cups, and votive shields, either embossed or engraved, and decorated with concentric bands of animals or men, treated in the Assyrian manner, but displaying great beauty of style and remarkable finish of execution.
Their towns were generally fortified or perched on heights, rendering them easy of defence, as, for example, Van and Toprah-Kaleh. Even such towns as were royal residences were small, and not to be compared with the cities of Assyria or Aram; their ground-plan generally assumed the form of a rectangular oblong, not always traced with equal exactitude. The walls were built of blocks of roughly hewn stone, laid in regular courses, but without any kind of mortar or cement; they were surmounted by battlements, and flanked at intervals by square towers, at the foot of which were outworks to protect the points most open to attack. The entrance was approached by narrow and dangerous pathways, which sometimes ran on ledges across the precipitous face of the rock. The dwelling-houses were of very simple construction, being merely square cabins of stone or brick, devoid of any external ornament, and pierced by one low doorway, but sometimes surmounted by an open colonnade supported by a row of small pillars; a flat roof with a parapet crowned the whole, though this was often replaced by a gabled top, which was better adapted to withstand the rains and snows of winter. The palaces of the chiefs differed from the private houses in the size of their apartments and the greater care bestowed upon their decoration. Their façades were sometimes adorned with columns, and ornamented with bucklers or carved discs of metal; slabs of stone covered with inscriptions lined the inner halls, but we do not know whether the kings added to their dedications to the gods and the recital of their victories, pictures of the battles they had fought and of the fortresses they had destroyed. The furniture resembled that in the houses of Nineveh, but was of simpler workmanship, and perhaps the most valuable articles were imported from Assyria or were of Aramaean manufacture. The temples seemed to have differed little from the palaces, at least in external appearance. The masonry was more regular and more skillfully laid; the outer court was filled with brazen lavers and statues; the interior was furnished with altars, sacrificial stones, idols in human or animal shape, and bowls identical with those in the sanctuaries on the Euphrates, but the nature and details of the rites in which they were employed are unknown.
One supreme deity, Khaldis, god of the sky, was, as far as we can conjecture, the protector of the whole nation, and their name was derived from his, as that of the Assyrians was from Assur, the Cossaeans from Kashshu, and the Khati from Khatu. This deity was assisted in the government of the universe by Teisbas, god of the air, and Ardinis the sun-god. Groups of secondary deities were ranged around this sovereign triad—Auis, the water; Ayas, the earth; Selardis, the moon; Kharubainis, Irmusinis, Adarutas, and Arzi-melas: one single inscription enumerates forty-six, but some of these were worshipped in special localities only. It would appear as if no goddesses were included in the native Pantheon. Saris, the only goddess known to us at present, is probably merely a variant of the Ishtar of Nineveh or Arbela, borrowed from the Assyrians at a later date.
THE FIRST CAMPAIGN OF SHALMASESER III AGAINST URARTU
Assur, the great lord, king of all the great gods; Anu, king of the Igigi and Anunnaki, the lord of lands; Enlil, the exalted, father of the gods, the creator; Ea, king of the Deep, who determines destiny; Sin, king of the tiara, exalted in splendor; Adad, mighty, pre-eminent, lord of abundance; Shamash, judge of heaven and earth, director of all; Marduk, master of the gods, lord of law; Urta, valiant one of the Igigi and the Anunnaki, the almighty god; Nergal, the ready, king of battle; Nusku, bearer of the shining scepter, the god who renders decisions; Ninlil, spouse of Bel, mother of the great gods; Ishtar, first in heaven and on earth, who fills the measure of bravery; the great gods, who ordain destinies, who have made great my kingdom, I invoke.
Shalmaneser, king of all peoples, lord, priest of Assur, mighty king, king of all the four regions, Sun of all peoples, despot of all lands; son of Assur-Nasir-Pal, the high priest, whose priesthood was acceptable to the gods and who brought in submission at his feet the totality of the countries; glorious offspring of Tukulti-Urta, who slew all of his foes and overwhelmed them like a deluge
The first Assyrian conquerors looked upon these northern regions as an integral part of Nairi, and included them under that name. They knew of no single state in the district whose power might successfully withstand their own, but were merely acquainted with a group of hostile provinces whose internecine conflicts left them ever at the mercy of a foreign foe. Two kingdoms had, however, risen to some importance about the beginning of the ninth century—that of the Mannai in the east, and that of Urartu in the centre of the country. Urartu comprised the district of Ararat proper, the province of Biaina, and the entire basin of the Arzania.
Arzashkun, one of its capitals, situated probably near the sources of this river, was hidden, and protected against attack, by an extent of dense forest almost impassable to a regular army. The power of this kingdom, though as yet unorganized, had already begun to inspire the neighboring states with uneasiness. Assur-Nazir-Pal speaks of it incidentally as lying on the northern frontier of his empire, but the care he took to avoid arousing its hostility shows the respect in which he held it.
He was, indeed, as much afraid of Urartu as of Damascus, and though he approached quite close to its boundary in his second campaign, he preferred to check his triumphant advance rather than risk attacking it. It appears to have been at that time under the undisputed rule of a certain Sharduris, son of Lutipri, and subsequently, about the middle of Assur-Nazir-Pal’s reign, to have passed into the hands of Arame, who styled himself King of Nairi, and whose ambition may have caused those revolts which forced Assur-Nazir-Pal to take up arms in the eighteenth year of his reign. On this occasion the Assyrians again confined themselves to the chastisement of their own vassals, and checked their advance as soon as they approached Urartu. Their success was but temporary; hardly had they withdrawn from the neighborhood, when the disturbances were renewed with even greater violence, very probably at the instigation of Arame.
Shalmaneser III found matters in a very unsatisfactory state both on the west and south of Lake Van: some of the peoples who had been subject to his father—the Khubushkia, the pastoral tribes of the Gordaean mountains, and the Aramaeans of the Euphrates—had transferred their allegiance elsewhere. He immediately took measures to recall them to a sense of their duty, and set out from Calah only a few days after succeeding to the crown. He marched at first in an easterly direction, and, crossing the pass of Simisi, burnt the city of Aridu, thus proving that he was fully prepared to treat rebels after the same fashion as his father. The lesson had immediate effect. All the neighboring tribes, Khargeans, Simiseans, the people of Simira, Sirisha, and Ulmania, hastened to pay him homage even before he had struck his camp near Aridu. Hurrying across country by the shortest route, which entailed the making of roads to enable his chariots and cavalry to follow him, he fell upon Khubushkia, and reduced a hundred towns to ashes, pursuing the king Kakia into the depths of the forest, and forcing him to an unconditional surrender.
Ascending thence to Shugunia, a dependency of Arame’s, he laid the principality waste, in spite of the desperate resistance made on their mountain slopes by the inhabitants; then proceeding to Lake Van, he performed the ceremonial rites incumbent on an Assyrian king whenever he stood for the first time on the shores of a new sea. He washed his weapons in the waters, offered a sacrifice to the gods, casting some portions of the victim into the lake, and before leaving carved his own image on the surface of a commanding rock. On his homeward march he received tribute from Gilzan. This expedition was but the prelude of further successes. After a few weeks’ repose at Nineveh, he again set out to make his authority felt in the western portions of his dominions.
Akhuni, chief of Bit-Adini, whose position was the first to be menaced, had formed a league with the chiefs of all the cities which had formerly bowed before Assur-Nazir-Pal’s victorious arms, Gurgum, Samalla, Kui, the Patina, Carchemish, and the Khati. Shalmaneser seized Lalati and Burmarana, two of Akhuni’s towns, drove him across the Euphrates, and following close on his heels, collected as he passed the tribute of Gurgum, and fell upon Samalla.
Under the walls of Lutibu he overthrew the combined forces of Adini, Samalla, and the Patina, and raised a trophy to commemorate his victory at the sources of the Saluara; then turning sharply to the south, he crossed the Orontes in pursuit of Shapalulme, King of the Patina.
Not far from Alizir he encountered a fresh army raised by Akhuni and the King of Samalla, with contingents from Carchemish, Kui, Cilicia, and Iasbuki: having routed it, he burnt the fortresses of Shapalulme, and after occupying himself by cutting down cedars and cypress trees on the Amanos in the province of Atalur, he left a triumphal stele engraved on the mountain-side.
Next turning eastwards, he received the homage offered with alacrity by the towns of Taia, Khazazu, Nulia, and Butamu, and, with a final tribute from Agusi, he returned in triumph to Nineveh. The motley train which accompanied, him showed by its variety the immense extent of country he had traversed during this first campaign. Among the prisoners were representatives of widely different races;—Khati with long robes and cumbrous head-dresses, following naked mountaineers from Shugunia, who marched with yokes on their necks, and wore those close-fitting helmets with short crests which have such a strangely modern look on the Assyrian bas-reliefs. The actual results of the campaign were, perhaps, hardly commensurate with the energy expended. This expedition from east to west had certainly inflicted considerable losses on the rebels against whom it had been directed; it had cost them dearly in men and cattle, and booty of all kinds, and had extorted from them a considerable amount of tribute, but they remained, notwithstanding, still unsubdued. As soon as the Assyrian troops had quitted their neighborhood, they flattered themselves they were safe from further attack. No doubt they thought that a show of submission would satisfy the new invader, as it had satisfied his father; but Shalmaneser was not disposed to rest content with this nominal dependence. He intended to exercise effective control over all the states won by his sword, and the proof of their subjection was to be the regular payment of tribute and fulfillment of other obligations to their suzerain. Year by year he unfailingly enforced his rights, till the subject states were obliged to acknowledge their master and resign themselves to servitude.
THE CONQUEST OF BIT-ADINI AND OF NAIRI
The narrative of his reiterated efforts is a monotonous one. The king advanced against Adini in the spring of 859 BC, defeated Akhuni near Tul-Barsip, transported his victorious regiments across the Euphrates on rafts of skins, seized Surunu, Paripa, and Dabigu besides six fortresses and two hundred villages, and then advanced into the territory of Carchemish, which he proceeded to treat with such severity that the other Hittite chiefs hastened to avert a similar fate by tendering their submission.
The very enumeration of their offerings proves not only their wealth, but the terror inspired by the advancing Assyrian host: Shapalulme of the Patina, for instance, yielded up three talents of gold, a hundred talents of silver, three hundred talents of copper, and three hundred of iron, and paid in addition to this an annual tribute of one talent of silver, two talents of purple, and two hundred great beams of cedar-wood. Samalla, Agusi, and Kummukh were each laid under tribute in proportion to their resources, but their surrender did not necessarily lead to that of Adini. Akhuni realized that, situated as he was on the very borders of Assyrian territory, there was no longer a chance of his preserving his semi-independence, as was the case with his kinsfolk beyond the Euphrates; proximity to the capital would involve a stricter servitude, which would soon reduce him from the condition of a vassal to that of a subject, and make him merely a governor where he had hitherto reigned as king. Abandoned by the Khati, he sought allies further north, and entered into a league with the tribes of Nairi and Urartu. When, in 858 BC, Shalmaneser III forced an entrance into Tul-Barsip, and drove back what was left of the garrison on the right bank of the Euphrates, a sudden movement of Arame obliged him to let the prey escape from his grasp. Rapidly fortifying Tul-Barsip, Nappigi, Aligu, Pitru, and Mutkinu, and garrisoning them with loyal troops to command the fords of the river, as his ancestor Shalmaneser I had done six centuries before, he then re-entered Nairi by way of Bit-Zamani, devastated Inziti with fire and sword, forced a road through to the banks of the Arzania, pillaged Sukhmi and Dayaini, and appeared under the walls of Arzashkun.
Arame withdrew to Mount Adduri and awaited his attack in an almost impregnable position; he was nevertheless defeated: 3400 of his soldiers fell on the field of battle; his camp, his treasures, his chariots, and all his baggage passed into the hands of the conqueror, and he himself barely escaped with his life. Shalmaneser ravaged the country “as a savage bull ravages and tramples under his feet the fertile fields”; he burnt the villages and the crops, destroyed Arzashkun, and raised before its gates a pyramid of human heads, surrounded by a circle of prisoners impaled on stakes. He climbed the mountain chain of Iritia, and laid waste Aramali and Zanziuna at his leisure, and descending for the second time to the shores of Lake Van, renewed the rites he had performed there in the first year of his reign, and engraved on a neighboring rock an inscription recording his deeds of prowess.
He made his way back to Gilzan, where its king, Shua, brought him a war-horse fully caparisoned, as a token of homage. Shalmaneser graciously deigned to receive it, and further exacted from the king the accustomed contributions of chariot-horses, sheep, and wine, together with seven dromedaries, whose strange forms amused the gaping crowds of Nineveh. After quitting Gilzan, Shalmaneser encountered the people of Khubushkia, who ventured to bar his way; but its king, Kakia, lost his city of Shilaia, and three thousand soldiers, besides bulls, horses, and sheep innumerable. Having enforced submission in Khubushkia, Shalmaneser at length returned to Assur through the defiles of Kirruri, and came to Calah to enjoy a well-earned rest after the fatigues of his campaign.
But Akhuni had not yet lost heart. Though driven back to the right bank of the Euphrates, he had taken advantage of the diversion created by Arame in his favor, to assume a strong position among the hills of Shitamrat with the river in his rear.
Shalmaneser attacked his lines in front, and broke through them after three days’ preliminary skirmishing; then finding the enemy drawn up in battle array before their last stronghold, the king charged without a moment's hesitation, drove them back and forced them to surrender. Akhuni’s life was spared, but he was sent with the remainder of his army to colonize a village in the neighborhood of Assur, and Adini became henceforth an integral part of Assyria.
The war on the western frontier was hardly brought to a close when another broke out in the opposite direction. The king rapidly crossed the pass of Bunagishlu and fell upon Mazamua: the natives, disconcerted by his impetuous onslaught, nevertheless hoped to escape by putting out in their boats on the broad expanse of Lake Urumiah. Shalmaneser, however, constructed rafts of inflated skins, on which his men ventured in pursuit right out into the open. The natives were overpowered; the king “dyed the sea with their blood as if it had been wool”, and did not withdraw until he had forced them to appeal for mercy.
THE FIRST ATTACK ON DAMASCUS. THE BATTLE OF QARQAR.
In five years Shalmaneser had destroyed Adini, laid low Urartu, and confirmed the tributary states of Syria in their allegiance; but Damascus and Babylon were as yet untouched, and the moment was at hand when he would have to choose between an arduous conflict with them, or such a repression of the warlike zeal of his opening years, that, like his father Assur-Nazir-Pal, he would have to repose on his laurels. Shalmaneser was too deeply imbued with the desire for conquest to choose a peaceful policy: he decided at once to assume the offensive against Damascus, being probably influenced by the news of Ahab’s successes, and deeming that if the King of Israel had gained the ascendency unaided, Assur, fully confident of its own superiority, need have no fear as to the result of a conflict. The forces, however, at the disposal of Benhadad II (Adadidri) were sufficient to cause the Assyrians some uneasiness. The King of Damascus was not only lord of Coele-Syria and the Hauran, but he exercised a suzerainty more or less defined over Hamath, Israel, Ammon, the Arabian and Idumean tribes, Arvad and the principalities of Northern Phoenicia, Usanata, Shianu, and Irkanata; in all, twelve peoples or twelve kings owned his sway, and their forces, if united to his, would provide at need an army of nearly 100,000 men: a few years might see these various elements merged in a united empire, capable of withstanding the onset of any foreign foe.
Shalmaneser set out from Nineveh on the 14th day of the month Iyyar, 854 BC, and chastised on his way the Aramaeans of the Balikh, whose sheikh Giammu had shown some inclination to assert his independence. He crossed the Euphrates at Tul-Barsip, and held a species of durbar at Pitru for his Syrian subjects: Sangar of Carchemish, Kundashpi of Kummukh, Arame of Agusi, Lalli of Melitene, Khaiani of Samalla, Garparuda who had succeeded Shapalulme among the Patina, and a second Garparuda of Gurgum, rallied around him with their presents of welcome, and probably also with their troops. This ceremony concluded, he hastened to Khalmaa and reduced it to submission, then plunged into the hill-country between Khalman and the Orontes, and swept over the whole territory of Hamath. A few easy victories at the outset enabled him to exact ransom from, or burn to the ground, the cities of Adinnu, Mashga, Argana, and Qarqar, but just beyond Qarqar he encountered the advance-guard of the Syrian army.
Ben-Hadad had called together, to give him a fitting reception, the whole of the forces at his disposal: 1200 chariots, 1200 horse, 20,000 foot-soldiers from Damascus alone; 700 chariots, 700 horse and 10,000 foot from Hamath; 2000 chariots and 10,000 foot belonging to Ahab, 500 soldiers from Kui, 1000 mountaineers from the Taurus, 10 chariots and 10,000 foot from Irk and 200 from Arvad, 200 from Usanata, 30 chariots and 10,000 foot from Shianu, 1000 camels from Gindibu the Arab, and 1000 Ammonites.
The battle was long and bloody, and the issue uncertain; Shalmaneser drove back one wing of the confederate army to the Orontes, and forcing the other wing and the centre to retire from Qarqar to Kirzau, claimed the victory, though the losses on both sides were equally great. It would seem as if the battle were indecisive—the Assyrians, at any rate, gained nothing by it; they beat a retreat immediately after their pretended victory, and returned to their own land without prisoners and almost without booty. On the whole, this first conflict had not been unfavorable to Damascus: it had demonstrated the power of that state in the eyes of the most incredulous, and proved how easy resistance would be, if only the various princes of Syria would lay aside their differences and all unite under the command of a single chief. The effect of the battle in Northern Syria and among the recently annexed Aiamoan tribes was very great; they began to doubt the omnipotence of Assyria, and their loyalty was shaken. Sangar of Carchemish and the Khati refused to pay their tribute, and the Emirs of Tul-Abni and Mount Kashiari broke out into open revolt. Shalmaneser spent a whole year in suppressing the insurrection; complications, moreover, arose at Babylon which obliged him to concentrate his attention and energy on Chaldean affairs. Nabu-Baliddin had always maintained peaceful and friendly relations with Assyria, but he had been overthrown, or perhaps assassinated, and his son Marduk-Nadin-Shumu had succeeded him on the throne, to the dissatisfaction of a section of his subjects. Another son of Nabu-Baliddin, Marduk-Belusate, claimed the sovereign power, and soon won over so much of the country that Marduk-Nadin-Shumu had fears for the safety of Babylon itself. He then probably remembered the pretensions to Kharduniash, which his Assyrian neighbors had for a long time maintained, and applied to Shalmaneser to support his tottering fortunes. The Assyrian monarch must have been disposed to lend a favorable ear to a request which allowed him to intervene as suzerain in the quarrels of the rival kingdom: he mobilized his forces, offered sacrifices in honour of Bamman at Zaban, and crossed the frontier in 853 BC.
THE WAR AGAINST BABYLON.
The war dragged on during the next two years. The scene of hostilities was at the outset on the left bank of the Tigris, which for ten centuries had served as the battle-field for the warriors of both countries. Shalmaneser, who had invested Me-Turnat at the fords of the Lower Diyalah, at length captured that fortress, and after having thus isolated the rebels of Babylonia proper, turned his steps towards Gananate.
Marduk-Belusate, “a vacillating king, incapable of directing his own affairs”, came out to meet him, but although repulsed and driven within the town, he defended his position with such spirit that Shalmaneser was at length obliged to draw off his troops after having cut down all the young compelled the fruit trees, disorganized the whole system of irrigation,—in short, after having effected all the damage he could. He returned in the following spring by the most direct route; Lakhiru fell into his hands, but Marduk-Belusate, having no heart to contend with him for the possession of a district ravaged by the struggle of the preceding summer, fell back on the mountains of Yasubi and concentrated his forces round Arman.
Shalmaneser, having first wreaked his vengeance upon Gananate, attacked his adversary in his self-chosen position; Annan fell after a desperate defence, and Marduk-belusate either perished or disappeared in a last attempt at retaliation. Marduk-Nadin-Shumu, although rid of his rival, was not yet master of the entire kingdom. The Aramæans of the Marshes, or, as they called themselves, the Kalda, had refused him their allegiance, and were ravaging the regions of the Lower Euphrates by their repeated incursions. They constituted not so much a compact state, as a confederation of little states, alternately involved in petty internecine quarrels, or temporarily reconciled under the precarious authority of a sole monarch. Each separate state bore the name of the head of the family—real or mythical—from whom all its members prided themselves on being descended,—Bit-Dakkuri, Bit-Adini, Bit-Amukkani, Bit-Shalani, Bit-Shalli, and finally Bit-Yakin, which in the end asserted its predominance over all the rest.
In demanding Shalmaneser’s help, Marduk-Nadin-Shumu had virtually thrown on him the responsibility of bringing these turbulent subjects to order, and the Assyrian monarch accepted the duties of his new position without demur. He marched to Babylon, entered the city and went direct to the temple of E-shaggil: the people beheld him approach with reverence their deities Bel and Belit, and visit all the sanctuaries of the local gods, to whom he made endless propitiatory libations and pure offerings. He had worshipped Ninip in Kuta; he was careful not to forget Nabo of Borsippa, while on the other hand he officiated in the temple of Ezida, and consulted its ancient oracle, offering upon its altars the flesh of splendid oxen and fat lambs. The inhabitants had their part in the festival as well as the gods; Shalmaneser summoned them to a public banquet, at which he distributed to them embroidered garments, and plied them with meats and wine; then, after renewing his homage to the gods of Babylon, he recommenced his campaign, and set out in the direction of the sea. Baqani, the first of the Chaldean cities which lay on his route, belonged to Bit-Adini, one of the tribes of Bit-Dakkuri; it appeared disposed to resist him, and was therefore promptly dismantled and burnt—an example which did not fail to cool the warlike inclinations which had begun to manifest themselves in other parts of Bît-Dakkuri.
He next crossed the Euphrates, and pillaged Enzudi, the fate of which caused the remainder of Bit-Adini to lay down arms, and the submission of the latter brought about that of Bit-Yakin and Bit-Amukkani. These were all rich provinces, and they bought off the conqueror liberally: gold, silver, tin, copper, iron, acacia-wood, ivory, elephants' skins, were all showered upon the invader to secure his mercy. It must have been an intense satisfaction to the pride of the Assyrians to be able to boast that their king had deigned to offer sacrifices in the sacred cities of Accad, and that he had been borne by his war-horses to the shores of the Salt Sea; these facts, of little moment to us now, appeared to the people of those days of decisive importance. No king who was not actually master of the country would have been tolerated within the temple of the eponymous god, for the purpose of celebrating the rites which the sovereign alone was empowered to perform. Marduk-Nadin-Shumu, in recognising Shalmaneser’s right to act thus, thereby acknowledged that he himself was not only the king's ally, but his liegeman. This bond of supremacy doubtless did not weigh heavily upon him; as soon as his suzerain had evacuated the country, the two kingdoms remained much on the same footing as had been established by the treaties of the three previous generations. Alliances were made between private families belonging to both, peace existed between the two sovereigns, interchange of commerce and amenities took place between the two peoples, but with one point of difference which had not existed formerly: Assur protected Babel, and, by taking precedence of Marduk, he became the real head of the peoples of the Euphrates valley. Assured of the subordination, or at least of the friendly neutrality of Babylon, Shalma-neser had now a free hand to undertake a campaign in the remoter regions of Syria, without being constantly haunted by the fear that his rival might suddenly swoop down upon him in the rear by the valleys of the Badanu or the Zabs. He now ran no risks in withdrawing his troops from the south-eastern frontier, and in marshalling his forces on the slopes of the Armenian Alps or on the banks of the Orontes, leaving merely a slender contingent in the heart of Assyria proper to act as the necessary guardians of order in the capital.
Since the indecisive battle of Qarqar, the western frontier of the empire had receded as far as the Euphrates, and Shalmaneser had been obliged to forego the collection of the annual Syrian tribute. It would have been an excellent opportunity for the Khati, while they enjoyed this accidental respite, to come to an understanding with Damascus, for the purpose of acting conjointly against a common enemy; but they let the right moment slip, and their isolation made submission inevitable. The effort to subdue them cost Shalmaneser dear, both in time and men; in the spring of each year he appeared at the fords of Tul-barsip and ravaged the environs of Carchemish, then marched upon the Orontes to accomplish the systematic devastation of some fresh district, or to inflict a defeat on such of his adversaries as dared to encounter him in the open field. In 850 BC the first blow was struck at the Khati; Agusi was the next to suffer, and its king, Arame, lost Arnie, his royal city, with some hundred more townships and strongholds.
ALLIANCE BETWEEN ISRAEL AND JUDAH—DEATH OF AHAB.
In 849 BC it was the turn of Damascus. The league of which Ben-Hadad had proclaimed himself the suzerain was still in existence, but it had recently narrowly escaped dissolution, and a revolt had almost deprived it of the adherence of Israel and the house of Omri—after Hamath, the most active of all its members. The losses suffered at Qarqar had doubtless been severe enough to shake Ahab’s faith in the strength of his master and ally. Besides this, it would appear that the latter had not honorably fulfilled all the conditions of the treaty of peace he had signed three years previously; he still held the important fortress of Bamoth-Gilead, and he delayed handing it over to Ahab in spite of his oath to restore it. Finding that he could not regain possession of it by fair means, Ahab resolved to take it by force. A great change in feeling and politics had taken place at Jerusalem. Jehoshaphat, who occupied the throne, was, like his father Asa, a devout worshipper of Jahveh, but his piety did not blind him to the secular needs of the moment. The experience of his predecessors had shown that the union of the twelve tribes under the rule of a scion of Judah was a thing of the past for ever; all attempts to restore it had ended in failure and bloodshed, and the house of David had again only lately been saved from ruin by the dearly bought intervention of Ben-Hadad I and his Syrians. Jehoshaphat from the outset clearly saw the necessity of avoiding these errors of the past; he accepted the situation and sought the friendship of Israel. An alliance between two princes so unequal in power could only result in a disguised suzerainty for one of them and a state of vassalage for the other; what Ben-Hadadis alliance was to Ahab, that of Ahab was to Jehoshaphat, and it served his purpose in spite of the opposition of the prophets. The strained relations between the two countries were relaxed, and the severed tribes on both sides of the frontier set about repairing their losses; while Hiel the Bethelite at length set about rebuilding Jericho on behalf of Samaria, Jehoshaphat was collecting around him a large army, and strengthening himself on the west against the Philistines and on the south against the Bedawin of the desert. The marriage of his eldest son Jehoram with Athaliah subsequently bound the two courts together by still closer ties; mutual-visits were exchanged, and it was on the occasion of a stay made by Jehoshaphat at Jezreel that the expedition against Ramoth was finally resolved on.
It might well have appeared a more than foolhardy enterprise, and it was told in Israel that Micaiah, a prophet, the son of Imlah, had predicted its disastrous ending. “I saw”, exclaimed the prophet, “the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing on His right hand and on His left. And the Lord said, Who shall entice Ahab that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-Gilead? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner. And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the Lord, and said, I will entice him. And the Lord said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And He said, Thou shalt entice him, and shalt prevail also: go forth, and do so. Now therefore, behold, the Lord hafch put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets; and the Lord hath spoken evil concerning thee”.
The two kings thereupon invested Ramoth, and Ben-Hadad hastened to the defense of his fortress. Selecting thirty-two of his bravest charioteers, he commanded them to single out Ahab only for attack, and not fight with others until they had slain him. This injunction happened in some way to come to the king's ears, and he therefore disguised himself as a common soldier, while Jehoshaphat retained his ordinary dress. Attracted by the richness of the latter’s armor, the Syrians fell upon him, but on his raising his war-cry they perceived their mistake, and turning from the King of Judah they renewed their quest of the Israelitish leader. While they were vainly seeking him, an archer drew a bow “at a venture”, and pierced him in the joints of his cuirass. “Wherefore he said to his charioteer, Turn thine hand, and carry me out of the host; for I am sore wounded”. Perceiving, however, that the battle was going against him, he revoked the order, and remained on the field the whole day, supported by his armor-bearers. He expired at sunset, and the news of his death having spread panic through the ranks, a cry arose, “Every man to his city, and every man to his country!” The king's followers bore his body to Samaria, and Israel again relapsed into the position of a vassal, probably under the same conditions as before the revolt.
Ahaziah survived his father two years, and was succeeded by his brother Joram. When Shalmaneser, in 849 BC, reappeared in the valley of the Orontes, Joram sent out against him his prescribed contingent, and the conquered Israelites once more fought for their conqueror.
DAMASCUS SUCCESSFULLY RESISTS THE ATTACKS OF ASSYRIA.
The Assyrians had, as usual, maltreated the Khati. After having pillaged the towns of Carchemish and Agusi, they advanced on the Amanos, held to ransom the territory of the Patina enclosed within the bend of the Orontes, and descending upon Hamath by way of the districts of Iaraku and Ashta-Maku, they came into conflict with the army of the twelve kings, though on this occasion the contest was so bloody that they were forced to withdraw immediately after their success. They had to content themselves with sacking Apparazu, one of the citadels of Arame, and with collecting the tribute of Garparuda of the Patina; which done, they skirted the Amanos and provided themselves with beams from its cedars. The two following years were spent in harrying the people of Paqarakhbuni, on the right bank of the Euphrates, in the dependencies of the ancient kingdom of Adini (848 BC), and in plundering the inhabitants of Ishtarate in the country of Iaiti, near the sources of the Tigris (847 BC), till in 846 they returned to try their fortune again in Syria. They transported 120,000 men across the Euphrates, hoping perhaps, by the mere mass of such a force, to crush their enemy in a single battle; but Ben-Hadad was supported by his vassals, and their combined army must have been as formidable numerically as that of the Assyrians. As usual, after the engagement, Shalmaneser claimed the victory, but he did not succeed in intimidating the allies or in wresting from them a single rood of territory.
Discouraged, doubtless, by so many fruitless attempts, he decided to suspend hostilities, at all events for the present. In 845 BC he visited Nairi, and caused an “image of his royal Majesty” to be carved at the source of the Tigris close to the very spot where the stream first rises. Pushing forward through the defiles of Tunibuni, he next invaded Urartu, and devastated it as far as the sources of the Euphrates; on reaching these he purified his arms in the virgin spring, and offered a sacrifice to the gods. On his return to the frontier, the chief of Dayaini “embraced his feet”, and presented him with some thoroughbred horses. In 844 BC he crossed the Lower Zab and plunged into the heart of Namri; this country had long been under Babylonian influence, and its princes bore Semitic names. Marduk-Mudammiq, who was then its ruler, betook himself to the mountains to preserve his life; but his treasures, idols, and troops were carried off to Assyria, and he was superseded on the throne by Ianzu, the son of Khamban, a noble of Cossaean origin. As might be expected after such severe exertions, Shalmaneser apparently felt that he deserved a time of repose, for his chroniclers merely note the date of 843 BC as that of an inspection, terminating in a felling of cedars in the Amanos. As a fact, there was nothing stirring on the frontier. Chaldaa itself looked upon him as a benefactor, almost as a suzerain, and by its position between Elam and Assyria, protected the latter from any quarrel with Susa. The nations on the east continued to pay their tribute without coercion, and Namri, which alone entertained pretensions to independence, had just received a severe lesson. Urartu had not acknowledged the supremacy of Assur, but it had suffered in the last invasion, and Arame had shown no further sign of hostility. The tribes of the Upper Tigris—Kummukh and Adini—accepted their position as subjects, and any trouble arising in that quarter was treated as merely an ebullition of local dissatisfaction, and was promptly crushed. The Khati were exhausted by the systematic destruction of their towns and their harvests. Lastly, of the principalities of the Amanos, Gurgum, Samalla, and the Patina, if some had occasionally taken part in the struggles for independence, the others had always remained faithful in the performance of their duties as vassals. Damascus alone held out, and the valor with which she had endured all the attacks made on her showed no signs of abatement; unless any internal disturbance arose to diminish her strength, she was likely to be able to resist the growing power of Assyria for a long time to come.
It was at the very time when her supremacy appeared to be thus firmly established that a revolution broke out, the effects of which soon undid the work of the preceding two or three generations. Ben-Hadad, disembarrassed of Shalmaneser, desired to profit by the respite thus gained to make a final reckoning with the Israelites. It would appear that their fortune had been on the wane ever since the heroic death of Ahab.
MOAB DELIVERED FROM ISRAEL—MESHA.
Immediately after the disaster at Ramoth, the Moabites had risen against Ahaziah, and their king, Mesha, son of Kamoshgad, had seized the territory north of the Arnon which belonged to the tribe of Gad; he had either killed or carried away the Jewish population in order to colonize the district with Moabites, and he had then fortified most of the towns, beginning with Dhibon, his capital. Owing to the shortness of his reign, Ahaziah had been unable to take measures to hinder him; but Joram, as soon as he was firmly seated on the throne, made every effort to regain possession of his province, and claimed the help of his ally or vassal Jehoshaphat.
The latter had done his best to repair the losses caused by the war with Syria. Being Lord of Edom, he had been tempted to follow the example of Solomon, and the deputy who commanded in his name had constructed a vessel at Ezion-Geber “to go to Ophir for gold”; but the vessel was wrecked before quitting the port, and the disaster was regarded by the king as a punishment from Jahveh, for when Ahaziah suggested that the enterprise should be renewed at their joint expense, he refused the offer. But the sudden insurrection of Moab threatened him as much as it did Joram, and he gladly acceded to the latter’s appeal for help.
Apparently the simplest way of approaching the enemy would have been from the north, choosing Gilead as a base of operations; but the line of fortresses constructed by Mesha at this vulnerable point of his frontier was so formidable, that the allies resolved to attack from the south after passing the lower extremity of the Dead Sea. They marched for seven days in an arid desert, digging wells as they proceeded for the necessary supply of water. Mesha awaited them with his hastily assembled troops on the confines of the cultivated land; the allies routed him and blockaded him within his city of Kir-Hareseth. Closely beset, and despairing of any help from man, he had recourse to the last resource which religion provided for his salvation; taking his firstborn son, he offered him to Chemosh, and burnt him on the city wall in sight of the besiegers. The Israelites knew what obligations this sacrifice entailed upon the Moabite god, and the succor which he would be constrained to give to his devotees in consequence. They therefore raised the siege and disbanded in all directions. Mesha, delivered at the very moment that his cause seemed hopeless, dedicated a stele in the temple of Dhibon, on which he recorded his victories and related what measures he had taken to protect his people.
He still feared a repetition of the invasion, but this misfortune was spared him; Jehoshaphat was gathered to his fathers, and his Edomite subjects revolted on receiving the news of his death. Jeho—his son and successor, at once took up arms to bring them to a sense of their duty; but they surrounded his camp, and it was with difficulty that he cut his way through their ranks and escaped during the night.
The defection of the old Canaanite city of Libnah followed quickly on this reverse, and Jehoram was powerless to avenge himself on it, the Philistines and the Bedawin having threatened the western part of his territory and raided the country. In the midst of these calamities Judah had no leisure to take further measures against Mesha, and Israel itself had suffered too severe a blow to attempt retaliation. The advanced age of Ben-Hadad, and the unsatisfactory result of the campaigns against Shalmaneser, had furnished Joram with an occasion for a rupture with Damascus. War dragged on for some time apparently, till the tide of fortune turned against Joram, and, like his father Ahab in similar circumstances, he shut himself within Samaria, where the false alarm of an Egyptian or Hittite invasion produced a panic in the Syrian camp, and restored the fortunes of the Israelitish king.
THE DEATH OF HADADEZER AND THE ACCESSION OF HAZAEL.
Ben-Hadad did not long survive the reverse he had experienced; he returned sick and at the point of death to Damascus, where he was assassinated by Hazael, one of his captains. Hebrew tradition points to the influence of the prophets in all these events. The aged Elijah had disappeared, so ran the story, caught up to heaven in a chariot of fire, but his mantle had fallen on Elisha, and his power still survived in his disciple. From far and near Elisha’s counsel was sought, alike by Gentiles as by the followers of the true God; whether the suppliant was the weeping Shunamite mourning for the loss of her only son, or Naaman the captain of the Damascene chariotry, he granted their petitions, and raised the child from its bed, and healed the soldier of his leprosy. During the siege of Samaria, he had several times frustrated the enemy’s designs, and had predicted to Joram not only the fact but the hour of deliverance, and the circumstances which would accompany it. Ben-Hadad had sent Hazael to the prophet to ask him if he should recover, and Elisha had wept on seeing the envoy—“Because I know the evil that thou wilt do unto the children of Israel; their strongholds wilt thou set on fire, and their young men wilt thou slay with the sword, and wilt dash in pieces their little ones, and rip up their women with child. And Hazael said, But what is thy servant which is but a dog, that he should do this great thing? And Elisha answered, The Lord hath showed me that thou shalt be king over Syria”. On returning to Damascus Hazael gave the results of his mission in a reassuring manner to Ben-Hadad, but “on the morrow... he took the coverlet and dipped it in water, and spread it on his face, so that he died”.
The deed which deprived it of its king seriously affected Damascus itself. It was to Ben-Hadad that it owed most of its prosperity; he it was who had humiliated Hamath and the princes of the coast of Arvad, and the nomads of the Arabian desert. He had witnessed the rise of the most energetic of all the Israelite dynasties, and he had curbed its ambition; Omri had been forced to pay him tribute; Ahab, Ahaziah, and Joram had continued it; and Ben-Hadad’s suzerainty, recognized more or less by their vassals, had extended through Moab and Judah as far as the Bed Sea. Not only had he skillfully built up this fabric of vassal states which made him lord of two-thirds of Syria, but he had been able to preserve it unshaken for a quarter of a century, in spite of rebellions in several of his fiefs and reiterated attacks from Assyria; Shalmaneser, indeed, had made an attack on his line, but without breaking through it, and had at length left him master of the field. This superiority, however, which no reverse could shake, lay in himself and in himself alone; no sooner had he passed away than it suddenly ceased, and Hazael found himself restricted from the very outset to the territory of Damascus proper. Hamath, Arvad, and the northern peoples deserted the league, to return to it no more; Joram of Israel called on his nephew Ahaziah, who had just succeeded to Jehoram of Judah, and both together marched to besiege Bamoth.
TEE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF OMRI—JEHU.
The Israelites were not successful in their methods of carrying on sieges; Joram, wounded in a skirmish, retired to his palace at Jezreel, where Ahaziah joined him a few days later, on the pretext of inquiring after his welfare. The prophets of both kingdoms and their followers had never forgiven the family of Ahab their half-foreign extraction, nor their eclecticism in the matter of religion. They had numerous partisans in both armies, and a conspiracy was set on foot against the absent sovereigns; Elisha, judging the occasion to be a propitious one, dispatched one of his disciples to the camp with secret instructions. The generals were all present at a banquet, when the messenger arrived; he took one of them, Jehu, the son of Nimshi, on one side, anointed him, and then escaped. Jehu returned, and seated himself amongst his fellow-officers, who, unsuspicious of what had happened, questioned him as to the errand. “Is all well? Wherefore came this mad fellow to thee? And he said unto them, Ye know the man and what his talk was. And they said, It is false; tell us now. And he said, Thus and thus spake he to me, saying, Thus saith the Lord, I have anointed thee king over Israel. Then they hasted, and took every man his garment and put it under him on the top of the stairs, and blew the trumpet, saying, Jehu is king”. He at once marched on Jezreel, and the two kings, surprised at this movement, went out to meet him with scarcely any escort. The two parties had hardly met when Joram asked, “Is it peace, Jehu?” to which Jehu replied, “What peace, so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?” Whereupon Joram turned rein, crying to his nephew, “There is treachery, O Ahaziah”. But an arrow pierced him through the heart, and he fell forward in his chariot. Ahaziah, wounded near Ibleam, managed, however, to take refuge in Megiddo, where he died, his servants bringing the body back to Jerusalem. When Jezebel heard the news, she guessed the fate which awaited her. She painted her eyes and tired her head, and posted herself in one of the upper windows of the palace. As Jehu entered the gates she reproached him with the words, “Is it peace, thou Zimri—thy master's murderer? And he lifted up his face to the window and said, Who is on my side—who? Two or three eunuchs rose up behind the queen, and he called to them, Throw her down. So they threw her down, and some of her blood was sprinkled on the wall and on the horses; and he trode her under foot. And when he was come in he did eat and drink; and he said, See now to this cursed woman and bury her; for she is a king’s daughter”. But nothing was found of her except her skull, hands, and feet, which they buried as best they could. Seventy princes, the entire family of Ahab, were slain, and their heads piled up on either side of the gate. The priests and worshippers of Baal remained to be dealt with. Jehu summoned them to Samaria on the pretext of a sacrifice, and massacred them before the altars of their god. According to a doubtful tradition, the brothers and relatives of Ahaziah, ignorant of what had happened, came to salute Joram, and perished in the confusion of the slaughter, and the line of David narrowly escaped extinction with the house of Omri.
Athaliah assumed the regency, broke the tie of vassalage which bound Judah to Israel, and by a singular irony of fate, Jerusalem offered an asylum to the last of the children of Ahab. The treachery of Jehu, in addition to his inexpiable cruelty, terrified the faithful, even while it served their ends. Dynastic crimes were common in those days, but the tragedy of Jezreel eclipsed in horror all others that had preceded it; it was at length felt that such avenging of Jahveh was in His eyes too ruthless, and a century later the Prophet Hosea saw in the misery of his people the divine chastisement of the house of Jehu for the bloodshed at his accession.
THE DEFEAT OF HAZAEL AND THE HOMAGE OF JEHU.
The report of these events, reaching Calah, awoke the ambition of Shalmaneser. Would Damascus, mistrusting its usurper, deprived of its northern allies, and ill-treated by the Hebrews, prove itself as invulnerable as in the past? At all events, in 842 BC, Shalmaneser once more crossed the Euphrates, marched along the Orontes, probably receiving the homage of Hamath and Arvad by the way. Restricted solely to the resources of Damascus, Hazael did not venture to advance into Coele-Syria as Ben-Hadad had always done; he barricaded the defiles of Anti-Lebanon, and, entrenched on Mount Shenir with the flower of his troops, prepared to await the attack. It proved the most bloody battle that the Assyrians had up to that period ever fought. Hazael lost 16,000 foot-soldiers, 470 horsemen, 1121 chariots, and yet succeeded in falling back on Damascus in good order. Shalmaneser, finding it impossible to force the city, devastated the surrounding country, burnt numberless villages and farms, and felled all the fruit trees in the Hauran up to the margin of the desert. This district had never, since the foundation of the kingdom by Bezon a century before, suffered at the hands of an enemy's army, and its population, enriched as much by peaceful labor as by the spoil of its successful wars, offered a prize of incalculable value. On his return march Shalmaneser raided the Bekaa, entered Phoenicia, and carved a triumphal stele on one of the rocks of Baalirasi.
The Kings of Tyre and Sidon hastened to offer him numerous gifts, and Jehu, who owed to his presence temporary immunity from a Syrian invasion, sent his envoys to greet him, accompanied by offerings of gold and silver in bars, vessels of gold of various forms, situlae, salvers, cups, drinking-vessels, tin, sceptres, and wands of precious woods. Shalmaneser’s pride was flattered by this homage, and he carved on one of his monuments the representation of this first official connection of Assyria with Israel.
The chief of the embassage is shown prostrating himself and kissing the dust before the king, while the rest advance in single file, some with vessels in their hands, some carrying scepters, or with metal bowls supported on their heads. The prestige of the house of Omri was still a living influence, or else the Ninevite scribes were imperfectly informed of the internal changes which had taken place in Israel, for the inscription accompanying this bas-relief calls Jehu the son of Omri, and grafts the regicide upon the genealogical tree of his victims. Shalmaneser’s victory had been so dearly bought, that the following year the Assyrians merely attempted an expedition for tree-felling in the Amanos (841 BC). Their next move was to push forward into Kui, in the direction of the Pyramos and Saros (840 BC). In the summer of 839 they once more ventured southwards, but this time Hazael changed his tactics: pitched battles and massed movements, in which the fate of a campaign was decided by one cast of the dice, were now avoided, and ambuscades, guerilla warfare, and long and tedious sieges became the order of the day. By the time that four towns had been taken, Shalmaneser’s patience was worn out: he drew off his troops and fell back on Phoenicia, laying Tyre, Sidon, and Byblos under tribute before returning into Mesopotamia. Hazael had shown himself possessed of no less energy than Ben-Hadad; and Damascus, isolated, had proved as formidable a foe as Damascus surrounded by its vassals; Shalmaneser therefore preferred to leave matters as they were, and accept the situation. Indeed the results obtained were of sufficient importance to warrant his feeling some satisfaction. He had ruthlessly dispelled the dream of Syrian hegemony which had buoyed up Ben-Hadad, he had forced Damascus to withdraw the suzerainty it had exercised in the south, and he had conquered Northern Syria and the lower basin of the Orontes. Before running any further risks, he judged it prudent to strengthen his recently acquired authority over these latter countries, and to accustom the inhabitants to their new position as subjects of Nineveh.
WARS IN CILICIA AND NAMRl.
He showed considerable wisdom by choosing the tribes of the Taurus and of the Cappadocian marches as the first objects of attack. In regions so difficult of access, war could only be carried on with considerable hardship and severe loss. The country was seamed by torrents and densely covered with undergrowth, while the towns and villages, which clung to the steep sides of the valleys, had no need of walls to become effective fortresses, for the houses rose abruptly one above another, and formed so many redoubts which the enemy would be forced to attack and take one by one. Few pitched battles could be fought in a district of this description; the Assyrians wore themselves out in incessant skirmishes and endless petty sieges, and were barely compensated by the meager spoil which such warfare yielded.
In 838 BC Shalmaneser swept over the country of Tabal and reduced twenty-four of its princes to a state of subjection; proceeding thence, he visited the mountains of Turat, celebrated from this period downwards for their silver mines and quarries of valuable marbles.
In 837 he seized the stronghold of Uetash in Melitene, and laid Tabal under a fresh contribution; this constituted a sort of advance post for-Assyria in the sight of those warlike and continually fluctuating races situated between the sources of the Halys and the desert border of Asia Minor. Secure on this side, he was about to bring matters to a close in Cilicia, when the defection of Ianzu recalled him to the opposite extremity of the empire. He penetrated into Namri by the defiles of Khashmur, made a hasty march through Sik-hisatakh, Bit-Tamul, Bit-Shakki, and Bit-Shedi, surprised the rebels and drove them into the forests; he then bore down on Parsua and plundered twenty-seven petty kings consecutively.
Skirting Misi, Amadai, Araziash, and Kharkhar, and most of the districts lying on the middle heights of the table-land of Iran, he at length came up with Ianzu, whom he seized and brought back prisoner to Assyria, together with his family and his idols.
It was at this juncture, perhaps, that he received from the people of Muzri the gift of an elephant and some large monkeys, representations of which he has left us on one of his bas-reliefs. Elephants were becoming rare, and it was not now possible to kill them by the hundred, as formerly, in Syria: this particular animal, therefore, excited the wonder of the Ninevites, and the possession of it flattered the vanity of the conqueror. This was, however, an interlude of short duration, and the turbulent tribes of the Taurus recalled him to the west as soon as spring set in.
He laid waste Kui in 836 BC, destroyed Timur, its capital, and on his return march revenged himself on Arame of Agusi, whose spirit was still unbroken by his former misfortunes.
Tanakun and Tarsus fell into his hands 835 BC; Shalmaneser replaced Kati, the King of Kui, by his brother Kirri, and made of his dominions a kind of buffer state between his own territory and that of Pamphylia and Lycaonia. He had now occupied the throne for a quarter of a century, not a year of which had elapsed without seeing the monarch gird on his armor and lead his soldiers in person towards one or other points of the horizon. He was at length weary of such perpetual warfare, and advancing age perchance prevented him from leading his troops with that dash and vigor which are necessary to success; however this might be, on his return from Cilicia he laid aside his armor once for all, and devoted himself to peaceful occupations.
But he did not on that account renounce all attempts at conquest. Conducting his campaigns by proxy delegated the command of his army to his Tartan Dayan-Assur, and the northern tribes were the first on whom this general gave proof of his prowess. Urartu had passed into the hands of another sovereign since its defeat in 845 BC, and a second Sharduris had taken the place of the Arame who had ruled at the beginning of Shalmaneser’s reign.
THE LAST CAMPAIGNS OF SHALMANESER III.
It would appear that the accession of this prince, who was probably young and active, was the signal for a disturbance among the people of the Upper Tigris and the Masios—a race always impatient of the yoke, and ready to make common cause with any fresh enemy of Assyria. An insurrection broke out in Bit-Zamani and the neighbouring districts. Dayan-Assur quelled it offhand; then, quitting the basin of the Tigris by the défiles of Armash, he crossed the Arzania, and entered Urartu. Sharduris came out to meet him, and was defeated, if we may give credence to the official record of the campaign. Even if the account be an authentic one, the victory was of no advantage to the Assyrians, for they were obliged to retreat before they had subjugated the enemy, and an insurrection among the Patina prevented them from returning to the attack in the following year. With obligations to their foreign master on one hand and to their own subjects on the other, the princes of the Syrian states had no easy life. If they failed to fulfill their duties as vassals, then an Assyrian invasion would pour in to their country, and sooner or later their ruin would be assured; they would have before them the prospect of death by impaling or under the knife of the flayer, or, if they escaped this, captivity and exile in a far-off land. Prudence therefore dictated a scrupulous fidelity to their suzerain. On the other hand, if they resigned themselves to their dependent condition, the people of their towns would chafe at the payment of tribute, or some ambitious relative would take advantage of the popular discontent to hatch a plot and foment a revolution, and the prince thus threatened would escape from an Assyrian reprisal only to lose his throne or fall by the blow of an assassin. In circumstances such as these the people of the Patina murdered their king, Lubarna II, and proclaimed in his room a certain Sum, who had no right to the crown, but who doubtless undertook to liberate them from the foreigner. Dayan-Assur defeated the rebels and blockaded the remains of their army in Kinalua. They defended themselves at first energetically, but on the death of Surri from some illness, their courage failed them and they offered to deliver over the sons of their chief if their own lives might be spared. Dayan-Assur had the poor wretches impaled, laid the inhabitants under a heavy contribution, and appointed a certain Sasi, son of Uzza, to be their king. The remainder of Syria gave no further trouble—a fortunate circumstance, for the countries on the Armenian border revolted in 832 BC, and the whole year was occupied in establishing order among the herdsmen of Kirkhi. In 831 BC, Dayan-Assur pushed forward into Khubushkia, and traversed it from end to end without encountering any resistance. He next attacked the Mannai. Their prince, Ualki, quailed before his onslaught; he deserted his royal city Zirtu, and took refuge in the mountains. Dayan-Assur pursued him thither in vain, but he was able to collect considerable booty, and turning in a south-easterly direction, he fought his way along the base of the Gordysean mountains till he reached Parsua, which he laid under tribute. In 830 BC it was the turn of Muzazir, which hitherto had escaped invasion, to receive a visit from the Tartan. Zapparia, the capital, and fifty-six other towns were given over to the flames. From thence, Dayan-Assur passed into Urartu proper; after having plundered it, he fell back on the southern provinces, collecting by the way the tribute of Guzan, of the Mannai, of Andiu, and Parsua; he then pushed on into the heart of Namri, and having razed to the ground two hundred and fifty of its towns, returned with his troops to Assyria by the defiles of Shimishi and through Khalman.
This was perhaps the last foreign campaign of Shalmaneser III’s reign; it is at all events the last of which we possess any history. The record of his exploits ends, as it had begun more than thirty years previously, with a victory in Namri.
The aged king had, indeed, well earned the right to end his allotted days in peace. Devoted to Calah, like his predecessor, he had there accumulated the spoils of his campaigns, and had made it the wealthiest city of his empire. He continued to occupy the palace of Assur-Nazir-Pal, which he had enlarged. Wherever he turned within its walls, his eyes fell upon some trophy of his wars or panegyric of his virtues, whether recorded on mural tiles covered with inscriptions and bas-reliefs, or celebrated by statues, altars, and triumphal stelae. The most curious among all these is a square-based block terminating in three receding stages, one above the other, like the stump of an Egyptian obelisk surmounted by a stepped pyramid. Five rows of bas-reliefs on it represent scenes most flattering to Assyrian pride;—the reception of tribute from Gilzan, Muzri, the Patina, the Israelitish Jehu, and Marduk-Abal-Uzur, King of the land of Sukhi. The latter knew his suzerain's love of the chase, and he provided him with animals for his preserves, including lions, and rare species of deer.
The inscription on the monument briefly relates the events which had occurred between the first and the thirty-first years of Shalmaneser’s reign;—the defeat of Damascus, of Babylon and Urartu, the conquest of Northern Syria, of Cilicia, and of the countries bordering on the Zagros. When the king left Calah for some country residence in its neighborhood, similar records and carvings would meet his eye. At Imgur-Bel, one of the gates of the palace was covered with plates of bronze, on which the skilful artist had embossed and engraved with the chisel episodes from the campaigns on the Euphrates and the Tigris, the crossing of mountains and rivers, the assault and burning of cities, the long lines of captives, the mêlée with the enemy and the pursuit of the chariots. All the cities of Assyria, Nineveh, Arbela, Assur, even to the more distant towns of Harran and Tushkhan,—vied with each other in exhibiting proofs of his zeal for their gods and his affection for their inhabitants; but his predilection for Calah filled them with jealousy, and Assur particularly could ill brook the growing aversion with which the Assyrian kings regarded her. It was of no avail that she continued to be the administrative and religious capital of the empire, the storehouse of the spoil and annual tribute of other nations, and was continually embellishing herself with fresh monuments: a spirit of discontent was daily increasing, and merely awaited some favorable occasion to break out into open revolt. Shalmaneser enjoyed the dignity of limmu for the second time after thirty years, and had celebrated this jubilee of his inauguration by a solemn festival in honor of Assur and Ramman. It is possible that he may have thought this a favorable moment for presenting to the people the son whom he had chosen from among his children to succeed him.
THE REVOLT OF ASSUR-DAIN-PAL.
At any rate, Assur-Dain-Pal, fearing that one of his brothers might be preferred before him, “proclaimed himself king”, and nearly the whole of Assyria gathered around his standard. Assur and twenty-six more of the most important cities revolted in his favor—Nineveh, Imgur-Bel, Sibaniba, Dur-Balat, Arbela, Zaban in the Chaldean marches, Arrapkha in the valley of the Upper Zab, and most of the colonies, both of ancient and recent foundation—Amidi on the Tigris, Khindanu near the mouths of the Khabur and Tul-Abni on the southern slopes of the Masios. The aged king remained in possession only of Calah and its immediate environs—Nisibis, Harran, Tushkhan, and the most recently subdued provinces on the banks of the Euphrates and the Orontes. It is probable, however, that the army remained faithful to him, and the support which these well-tried troops afforded him enabled the king to act with promptitude. The weight of years did not permit him to command in person; he therefore entrusted the conduct of operations to his son Shamshi-Adad, but he did not live to see the end of the struggle. It embittered his last days, and was not terminated till 822 BC, at which date Shalmaneser had been dead two years. This prolonged crisis had shaken the kingdom to its foundations; the Syrians, the Medes, the Babylonians, and the peoples of the Armenian and Aramean marches were rent from it, and though Shamshi-Adad V waged continuous warfare during the twelve years that he governed, he could only partially succeed in regaining the territory which had been thus lost.