- pages 1-71
Most of the original Greek text of the Chronicle has been lost. This translation is based on a Latin translation of the Armenian translation of the Greek original, in the Schoene-Petermann edition.
The references in red are the page numbers from that edition.
List of contents
[p1] I have searched through the various books of ancient history; [I have read] what the Chaldaeans and Assyrians have recorded, what the Egyptians have written in detail, and what the Greeks have related as accurately as possible. They include the dates of their kings and the Olympiads, which are athletic contests, and they contain the outstanding exploits of both the Greeks and the barbarians, of both the brave and the decadent. They also mention the remarkable victories of these nations, their generals, scholars, heroes, poets, historians and philosophers.
I think it is fitting, or rather a useful and necessary task, to summarise all this, and to write down the ancient history and chronology of the Hebrews, taken from the Holy Scriptures, alongside the things which I have just mentioned. From that we can tell how long Moses, and the prophets who came after him, lived before the appearance on earth of our saviour, about which they prophesied through the holy spirit; and we can easily recognise in which [reigns] of Greek or barbarian [rulers] the famous men of each race were alive; and at what time, from the beginning, the outstanding prophets existed amongst the Hebrews, together with all their rulers, one after another.
I warn and advise everyone from the start, that no-one should ever pretend that he can be completely certain about matters of chronology. It will help if first we remember the advice of our true master, [p3] who told his companions [ Acts, 1'7 ]: "It is not for you to know the hours and seasons which the Father has set under his own authority." He, as our Lord and God, uttered this saying not only about the end of the world, but also, in my opinion, about all dates, to dissuade men from such pointless investigations.
Indeed, my own words here will confirm this saying of our master, [by showing] that it is not possible to gain an accurate knowledge of the whole chronology of the world from the Greeks, or from any others, not even from the Hebrews themselves. But it is possible to hope for this only: that what is said by us in this present treatise will help us to recognise two things. Firstly, no-one, like some have done, should believe that he is calculating dates with full accuracy, and be deceived in that way. But he should realise that this has been brought up for discussion, only so that he can know the means and manner of the proposed investigation, and so that he should not remain in doubt.
There is no reason to be surprised that the Greeks do not appear in the most ancient times. They have fallen into various fatal errors, and for a long time before the generation of Cadmus they were completely ignorant of writing. They say that Cadmus was the first to bring them the alphabet, from the land of the Phoenicians. And so the Egyptian in Plato's book [ Timaeus, 22'B ] rightly despises Solon; "O Solon," he says, "you Greeks are always children. An old Greek man is never to be found, and no-one can learn from you about ancient times." But many improbable stories have been told by the Egyptians and Chaldaeans. For instance, the Chaldaeans calculate that their recorded history has lasted for more than 400,000 years. [p5] The Egyptians make up myths about gods and demi-gods, and also about some shades; and they tell many crazy myths about other mortal kings.
Yet what forces me to examine such matters in detail now, when I value the truth above all else? Even amongst my beloved Hebrews one can find inconsistencies, which I will mention at the appropriate time. But I have said this much in reproach of those chroniclers who are eager for such hollow glory.
In accordance with these objectives, I will scrutinise the books of the ancient writers.
After collecting material from all these sources, I will move on to the chronological canons of time. Resuming from the beginning with those who ruled in each nation, I will divide their dates into separate series; [p7] and next to them I will place in sequence the numbers of their [regnal] years, so that it can easily and quickly be seen, at which time each of them lived. I will briefly mention the outstanding events of each reign, as recorded by every nation, in the context of that reign.
But the second book is a task for the future. Now, in the following section, let us investigate the chronology of the Chaldaeans, and what they have recorded about their ancestors.
[ THE CHALDAEANS ]
How the Chaldaeans record their chronology, from [the writings of] Alexander Polyhistor; about the books of the Chaldaeans, and their first kings
That is what Berossus relates in his first book, and in the second book he lists the kings, one after another. He says that Nabonassar was king at that time. He merely lists the names of the kings, and says very little about their achievements; or perhaps he thinks that they are not worth mentioning, when he has already stated the number of kings. He begins to write as follows: "Apollodorus says that the first king was Alorus, who was a Chaldaean from Babylon, and he reigned for 10 sars." He divides a sar into 3,600 years, and adds two other [measures of time]: a ner and a soss. He says that a ner is 600 years, and a soss is 60 years. He counts the years in this way, following some ancient form of calculation. After saying this, he proceeds to list ten kings of the Assyrians, one after the other in [chronological] order; from Alorus, the first king, until Xisuthrus, in whose reign the first great flood occurred, the flood which Moses mentions.
He says that the total length of the reigns of the [ten] kings was 120 sars, which is the equivalent of 432,000 years. He writes about the individual kings as follows:
The reigns of all these kings, added together, make 120 sars. They are calculated in this way:
In total, 10 kings and 120 sars. [p11] And they say that 120 sars are the equivalent of 432,000 years, because one sar is the equivalent of 3,600 years.
That is what Alexander Polyhistor says in his book. But if anyone thinks that what is contained in that book is a true history, and that [those kings] really ruled for so many myriads of years, then he should also believe in all the other similar things in that book, which are equally incredible. Now I will tell what Berossus wrote in the first book of his history, and first I will add another quotation from the same book of Polyhistor, as follows.
Another unreliable account of Chaldaean history, from the same book of Alexander Polyhistor about the Chaldaeans
Berossus, in the first book of his Babylonian History, says that he lived at the time of Alexander the son of Philippus, and that he transcribed the writings of many authors, which had been carefully preserved at Babylon, containing the records of (?) over 150,000 years. These writings contain the history of heaven and the sea, of creation, and of the kings and their deeds.
Firstly, he says that the land of Babylonia lies between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates. Wild wheat, barley, lentils and sesame grow on the land; and the marshes produce roots, called gonges, which are as nutritious as barley. There are dates, apples, [p13] and other fruits and fish, as well as birds in the woods and marshes. The parts lying towards Arabia are dry and barren, but the parts on the opposite side from Arabia are mountainous and fertile. A large number of foreigners dwell in Chaldaea; they live in Babylon in a disorderly way, like wild animals.
In the first year, a horrible beast appeared out of the Red Sea in the region near Babylonia. Its name was Oannes, according to Apollodorus. It had the complete body of a fish, but underneath its head there grew another head, beneath the fish's head; and in the same way the feet of a man grew of the tail of the fish. It had the voice of a man, and its likeness has been preserved even down to the present day. He says that this beast spent the day with men, taking no food, but instructing them about writing and science and all kinds of crafts. It taught them about founding cities and establishing temples, about introducing laws and about geometry. It showed them how to sow seed and gather fruit; and in general it gave men all the skills they needed for a civilised life. Since that time, nothing additional has been discovered.
But when the sun set, this beast called Oannes went back into the sea, and spent the night in the water, because it was amphibious. Afterwards other similar beasts appeared, which he says he will mention in the list of kings. But he says that Oannes wrote about creation and about the government of states, and he passed on this message on to mankind.
There was once a time, in which everything was darkness and water. [p15] In those times, monstrous beasts were born, with strange appearances. There were men with two wings, and some with four wings and two faces. They had one body, but two heads, of a man and a woman, and two sets of genitals, male and female. Other men had the legs and horns of a goat, or the hooves of a horse, or the rear end of a horse and the front of a man, like centaurs. Other beasts were born, such as bulls with human heads; dogs with four bodies and fish tails protruding from their rear end; horses with dogs' heads; humans and other animals with the head and body of a horse, but the tail of a fish; and other beasts with the form of all kinds of wild animals. As well as these [beasts], there were fish and reptiles and snakes and many other strange creatures, each of which had a different appearance. Representations of them were set up in the temple of Belus. A woman called Omorca ruled over all these [creatures]; she is called Thalatth in the Chaldaean language, which is translated into Greek as thalassa ("the sea").
When everything was joined together in this way, Belus came along and split the woman in half. Half of her he made the heavens, and the other half he made the earth; and he destroyed all the creatures on her. He says that this story is an allegory about nature; for when everything was wet and creatures were born in it, this god cut off his own head. The other gods took the blood that flowed from him and by mixing it with earth they created men. Therefore men are intelligent and have a share of divine reason.
[p17] Belus, which is translated as Zeus in Greek, cut the darkness in half. He separated the earth and the heavens from each other, and he arranged the universe. But because the creatures could not bear the power of the light, they were destroyed. When Belus saw that the land was empty and fertile, he ordered one of the gods to cut off his own head, and by mixing the blood which flowed from him with earth, to create men and wild beasts who could endure the air. Belus created the stars, the sun, the moon and the five planets.
That, according to Alexander Polyhistor, is what Berossus says in his first book. In the second book he lists the kings, one after another, and he says that the time of the ten kings, which we mentioned above, lasted for longer than 400,000 years. Anyone who believes that these writers are telling the truth about such a huge number of years should believe all the other improbable stories that they tell. Such a length of time is clearly supernatural, and is not worthy of belief, even if it is explained in a different way. And even if someone thinks that this number of years is possible, they still should not accept the statement about the dates without some further questions. If the number of rulers was sufficient to explain all these thousands of years, which are produced by their chronology, or if the writers reported the events and actions which would be expected to occur over such a length of time, then one might perhaps agree that there is some likelihood of their account being true. But as they claim that so many myriads of years were taken up by the rule of only ten men, who can doubt that these stories are merely ravings and myths?
Perhaps these so-called sars were originally measured not in years, but in some very small period of time. For instance, the ancient Egyptians talked about lunar years, [p19] that is a month of days or years containing 30 days. Other people consider the seasons to be periods of three months; in other words, they reckon each changing period of three months as a single year, and count the years in that way. Similarly, it is likely that the so-called sar of the Chaldaeans indicated some such [period of time].
So they count only ten generations from Alorus, who was the first to be called king [of the Chaldaeans], up until Xisuthrus, in whose reign the great flood occurred. In the Hebrew scriptures also, Moses declares that there were ten generations before the flood; for the Hebrews mention that number of generations, one by one, from the first man in their account up until the flood. But Hebrew history assigns about 2,000 years to these ten generations. Assyrian [history] lists the same number of generations as the book of Moses, but produces a very different total of years. It says that the ten generations lasted for 120 sars, which is the equivalent of (?) 430,000 years.
The reader who is keen to know the truth can easily understand, from what we have already said, that Xisuthrus is the same as the man who is called Noah by the Hebrews, in whose time the great flood occurred. The book of Polyhistor also mentions him, and writes about him as follows.
From the same book of Alexander Polyhistor, about the flood
When Otiartes died, his son Xisuthrus became king, for 18 sars. In his reign, the great flood occurred. This is how the story is told.
Cronus (whom they call the father of Zeus, while others call him Chronus ["time"]) approached him in his sleep, and said that on the 15th day of the month of Daesius the human race would be destroyed by a flood. [p21] Cronus ordered him to bury the beginnings, the middles and the ends of all writings in Heliopolis, the city of the Sippareni; to build a boat and embark on it with his close friends; to load the boat with food and drink, and to put on board every kind of bird and four-footed creature; and then, when all the preparations were complete, to sail away. When he asked where he should sail, Cronus replied, "To the gods, to pray that good things may happen to men." Xisuthrus did as he had been told. He built a boat which was 15 stades long, and 2 stades wide. After completing everything as instructed, he sent his wife, his children and his close friends onto the boat.
When the flood had come, and soon afterwards stopped, Xisuthrus sent out some of the birds. But they could not find any food or anywhere to rest, and so they returned to the boat. A few days later, Xisuthrus sent out the birds again, and this time they returned to the boat with mud on their feet. The third time that he sent out the birds, they no longer returned to the boat. Xisuthrus realised that some land had appeared. He removed part of the sides of the boat, and saw that it had come to rest on a mountain. He disembarked with his wife and daughter and the helmsman, and kissed the ground. After he had set up an altar and had sacrificed to the gods, he disappeared from sight, along with the others who had left the boat with him. When Xisuthrus and his companions did not return, the remainder of those who were on the boat disembarked and searched for him, calling out his name. They could not see Xisuthrus anywhere, but a voice came out of the sky telling them that they should honour the gods, and that Xisuthrus had gone to live with the gods, because of the honour he showed them; his wife, his daughter and the helmsman had received the same reward. The voice told them to return to Babylon; they were destined to dig up the writings which had been hidden in the city of the Sippareni, [p23] and distribute them amongst men. They were told that they were now in the land of Armenia.
When they heard all of this, they sacrificed to the gods and went by foot to Babylon. A small part of the boat, which came to rest in Armenia, can still be found in the mountains of the Cordyaei in Armenia. Some people scrape off the asphalt, which covers the boat, and use it to ward off diseases, like an amulet. When they arrived back in Babylon, they dug up the writings in the city of the Sippareni. They founded many cities, and re-founded Babylon, constructing many temples.
Afterwards Polyhistor gives an account of the building of the tower, which agrees with the books of Moses, in exactly these words.
[From the writings] of Alexander Polyhistor, about the building of the tower
The Sibyl says: "When men all spoke the same language, they built a very tall tower, so that they could climb up to heaven. However god blew a wind at them and overturned the tower. Then he gave each of them their own language, and so the city was called Babylon. After the flood there came Titan and Prometheus, in whose time Titan made war against Cronus."
That is what Polyhistor says about the building of the tower. He continues with the following details.
From Xisuthrus and the flood until the capture of Babylon by the Medes, [p25] Polyhistor lists 86 kings in all, and names each of them, copying their names from the book of Berossus. These kings reigned in total for 33,091 years. But when the city had become so firmly established, the Medes unexpectedly led their forces against Babylon and captured it. Then they set up their own kings as rulers there.
The Hebrew scriptures say that Sennacherib was king at the time of king Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah. To be exact, Holy Scripture says [ 2 Kings 18'13 ]: "It happened in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah that Sennacherib the king of the Assyrians marched against the fortified cities of Judah, and captured them." And after telling the whole story, it continues [ 2 Kings 19'37 ]: "And his son Esarhaddon reigned in his place." Later on again, it adds [ 2 Kings 20'1 ]: "It happened at that time that Hezekiah fell ill", and [ 2 Kings 20'12 ] " at that time Merodach Baladan sent envoys with letters and gifts to Hezekiah.". That is what the Hebrew scriptures say.
But Sennacherib and his son Esarhaddon [Asordanus] and Merodach Baladan, along with Nebuchadnezzar, are mentioned by the historian of the Chaldaeans, who speaks about them as follows.
[p27] [From the writings] of the same Alexander, about Sennacherib and Nebuchadnezzar, their exploits and their virtues
After the reign of the brother of Sennacherib, when Achises had been king for less than thirty days, he was killed by Merodach Baladan. Merodach Baladan seized the throne, but after ruling for six months he was killed by someone called Elibus, who became king in his place. In the third year of his reign, Sennacherib the king of the Assyrians led an army against the Babylonians and defeated them in battle. He captured Elibus, and ordered him to be taken with his friends to the land of the Assyrians. After bringing the Babylonians under his control, he appointed his son Asordanus to be their king. Then he returned to the land of the Assyrians.
When Sennacherib heard that the Greeks had arrived in Cilicia with the intention of fighting, he set out for Cilicia and met them in battle. Although many men from his own army were killed, he defeated the enemy, and as a monument of his victory he set up a statue of himself in that place. He ordered it to be inscribed with Chaldaean letters, which recorded his bravery and greatness for future generations. And he founded the city of Tarsus, on the same model as Babylon, and gave it the name of Tharsis.
Then, after relating the other achievements of Sennacherib, he adds: "After remaining [in power] for 18 years, he died as a result of a plot which was formed against him by his son Ardumuzan." That is what Polyhistor says [about Sennacherib].
These dates agree with what is said in Holy Scripture. For in the time of Hezekiah, as Polyhistor states:
In total, from Sennacherib until Nebuchadnezzar, there are 88 years.
A careful investigation of the Hebrew scriptures will come to a similar conclusion. [p29] After Hezekiah, the kings who reigned over the remaining Jews were:
In total, from Hezekiah until Nebuchadnezzar, there are 88 years, which is the same number of years as was calculated by Polyhistor in his history of the Chaldaeans.
After this, Polyhistor relates some other deeds and exploits of Sennacherib. He speaks about his son in the same way as the Hebrew scriptures, and gives a detailed account of all that happened. He says that the philosopher Pythagoras lived at the same time as these kings. After Sammuges, Sardanapallus was king of the Chaldaeans for 21 years.
Sardanapallus sent an army to the assistance of Astyages, the satrap of the Medes, and accepted Amyïtis, the daughter of Astyages, as the bride of his son Nebuchadnezzar. Then Nebuchadnezzar became king for 43 years. After gathering an army, he attacked the Jews, Phoenicians and Syrians, whom he took away as captives. I do not need to give a long explanation to prove that Polyhistor agrees with the Hebrew scriptures in this matter also.
After Nebuchadnezzar, his son Amilmarudoch became king for 12 years. He is called Evilmerodach in the Hebrew histories. Polyhistor says that after him, Neglissar ruled the Chaldaeans for 4 years, and then Nabonidus for 17 years. In his reign, Cyrus the son of Cambyses led an army against the land of the Babylonians. Nabonidus met him [in battle], but was defeated and put to flight.
Just as Berossus gives a brief account of each of the Chaldaean kings, so Polyhistor describes them in the same manner. From what he says, it is clear that Nebuchadnezzar led an army against the Jews and conquered them. From Nebuchadnezzar until Cyrus the king of the Persians, there is period of 70 years. [p31] The Hebrew histories agree with this, and state that the Jews were in captivity for 70 years, calculating from the first year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar up until Cyrus the king of the Persians.
Abydenus, whose account is similar to Polyhistor (?) in most respects, writes as follows in his History of the Chaldaeans.
[From the writings] of Abydenus, about the first kings of the Chaldaeans
That is the end [of my remarks] about the wisdom of the Chaldaeans.
After agreeing with Polyhistor in such matters, this historian then writes about the flood in the same way.
[From the writings] of Abydenus, about the flood
After him, there were other kings, including Sisuthrus, to whom Cronus foretold that there would be a great torrent of rain on the fifteenth day of the month of Daesius. Cronus ordered him to conceal all the books which were kept in Heliopolis, the city of the Sippareni. Sisuthrus did as instructed, and then he sailed away to Armenia. Immediately it began to happen as the god had foretold. [p33] On the third day, when the rain eased, Sisuthrus sent out some birds, to test if they could see any land rising up out of the sea. But they found nothing except a gaping wide sea, and, having nowhere to rest, they flew back to Sisuthrus. The same thing happened when [he sent] some other birds. But he achieved success with the third set of birds, who came back with mud splattered on the bottom of their feet, and then the gods removed him from the sight of men. The inhabitants of Armenia made wooden amulets out of his ship, as a protection against poisons.
I think that it will be obvious to everyone that what Abydenus says about the flood is similar to the story of the Hebrews, and uses the same form of words. That these historians, whether they are Greeks or Chaldaeans, give Noah a different name, and call him Sisuthrus, is hardly surprising. Nor is it surprising that, as is their custom, they refer to gods rather than God, and talk about birds in general without mentioning a dove.
That then is what Abydenus says about the flood in this History of the Chaldaeans. He also writes about the building of the tower, in a way which is similar to the account of Moses, as follows.
[From the writings] of Abydenus, about the building of the tower
They say that the first men at that time were puffed up with pride because of their strength and height, and in their arrogance they thought that they were better than the gods. They built a huge tower where Babylon now is, and it was already close up to heaven. But the winds came to the aid of the gods, and threw down the structure around them. The remains of the tower were called Babylon. Up to that time they had shared a common language but then they received a great variety of different speech from the gods. Afterwards a war arose between Cronus and Titan.
[p35] The same author writes about Sennacherib, as follows.
[From the writings] of Abydenus, about Sennacherib
At this time, Sennacherib became the 25th of the [Assyrian] kings. He conquered Babylon and brought it under his control. He defeated a fleet of Greek ships in a naval battle off the coast of Cilicia. He established a temple of the Athenians, and erected bronze columns on which he inscribed in writing his mighty achievements. He built Tarsus with a design which was similar to Babylon, so that the river Cydnus flows through the middle of Tarsus, just as the Euphrates flows through the middle of Babylon.
After him Nergilus became king, but he was killed by his son Adramelus. Then Adramelus was killed by Axerdis, his half-brother (by the same father, but a different mother). Axerdis gathered an army and sent it against the city of Byzantium. He was the first king to seek help from mercenaries, and one of these was Pythagoras, who became a student of Chaldaean wisdom. Axerdis conquered Egypt and parts of lower Syria. Then Sardanapallus was [king].
Then Saracus became king of the Assyrians, [p37] and when he was informed that an army like a swarm of locusts had invaded by sea, he immediately sent his general Nabopolassar [Busalossorus] to Babylon. But this general started to plot rebellion, and betrothed his son Nebuchadnezzar [Nabuchodonosor] to Amytis the daughter of Astyages, the king of the Medes. And then he immediately set off to attack the city of Nineveh. When king Saracus learned of the attack, he burnt down the palace with himself inside it. Nebuchadnezzar took over power as king, and put up a strong wall around Babylon.
After saying this, Abydenus gives an account of Nebuchadnezzar, which agrees with the writings of the Hebrews, as follows.
[From the writings] of Abydenus, about Nebuchadnezzar
When Nebuchadnezzar came to power, he fortified Babylon with a three-fold circuit of walls in about fifteen days. He made a channel for the river Narmalacis, a branch of the Euphrates, [(?) and the Acracanus]. [p39] He dug a reservoir above the city of the Sippareni, which was 40 parasangs in circumference, and 20 fathoms deep; and he constructed gates, which could be opened to irrigate the whole plain. They call these gates ochetognomones. He protected [the shore] against flooding by the Red Sea, and he built the city of Teredon [to guard] against the raids of the Arabs. He adorned the palace with new kinds of plants, and called it "The Hanging Gardens".
Then he gives a detailed description of this Hanging Garden. He says that the Greeks regard it as one of the so-called seven wonders of the world.
And in another place the same author writes as follows: "It is said that in the beginning everything was water, which was called the sea. But Belus restrained [the sea] and assigned a region to each person. He surrounded Babylon with a wall, and at the appointed time he disappeared from sight. Later Nebuchadnezzar gave Babylon new walls, with gates of bronze, which lasted until the time of the Macedonians."
The words of Daniel are in accordance with everything that Abydenus says. In his book [ Dan_4'30 ] he relates how Nebuchadnezzar, becoming arrogant and puffed up with pride, declared; "Is this not the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?"
That Nebuchadnezzar regarded his power as proof of his good fortune, is made clear the words of the prophet Daniel. And Abydenus declares that he was "mightier than Heracles ", when he writes as follows: [p41] "Megasthenes says that Nebuchadnezzar, who was mightier than Heracles, led his armies as far as Libya and Iberia. He conquered these countries, and settled some of their inhabitants on the right-hand shore of the Euxine Sea. But the Chaldaeans say that afterwards, when he went up to the palace, he was possessed by some god, and uttered these words: 'O Babylonians, I Nebuchadnezzar predict that a great disaster will befall you.' "
After adding some more details about this, the historian continues: "When he had (?) uttered this prediction, he immediately vanished from sight, and his son Amilmarudocus became king in his place. But Amilmarudocus was killed by his kinsman Niglisares, leaving a son called Labassoarascus. When he too died a violent death, they proclaimed Nabannidochus as king, although he had no right to assume royal power. When Cyrus captured Babylon, he made Nabannidochus the governor of Carmania; but king Dareius took some of the territory away from him.
All this is in accordance with what is said in the Hebrew scriptures. [p43] The book of Daniel tells how and in what way Nebuchadnezzar was afflicted in his mind. The Greek historians and the Chaldaeans turn his suffering to good account, by calling the madness a god who entered into him, or some demon which came to him. But this is not surprising, because it is their custom to attribute all such occurrences to a god, and to call the demons gods. All this is related by Abydenus.
Flavius Josephus, the Jewish historian, gives a similar account in the first book of his Antiquities [ Ap_1'128-160 ], as follows:
From the first book of the Antiquities of Josephus, about Nebuchadnezzar
I will now relate what has been written about us in the Chaldaean histories, which closely agree with our scriptures on various points. Berossus shall be witness to what I say: he was by birth a Chaldaean, well known by the learned, on account of his publication for Greek readers of books on Chaldaean astronomy and philosophy. This Berossus, therefore, following the most ancient records of that nation, describes in the same way as Moses the flood, and the destruction of mankind which it caused. He also gives us an account of the ark in which Noah, the forefather of our race, was preserved, when it was brought to the highest part of the Armenian mountains. Then he gives us a list of the descendants of Noah, with their dates; and at length comes down to Nabopolassar, who was king of Babylon, and of the Chaldaeans. And in his narrative of the acts of this king, he describes how he sent his son Nebuchadnezzar against Egypt, and against our land, with a great army, when he was informed that they had revolted from him. [p45] After he had subdued them all, and destroyed our temple at Jerusalem by fire, he removed our people entirely out of their own country, and transported them to Babylon. Then our city was deserted for a period of seventy years, until the days of Cyrus king of Persia. He adds that this Babylonian king conquered Egypt, and Syria, and Phoenicia, and Arabia, and exceeded in his exploits all the kings who had reigned before him in Babylon and Chaldaea.
I will set down Berossus' own words, which are as follows: "Nabopolassar, father of Nebuchadnezzar, heard that the governor whom he had set over Egypt, and over the regions of Coele Syria and Phoenicia, had revolted from him. Because he was not able to bear the hardships of a campaign, he committed part of his army to his son Nebuchadnezzar, who was then a young man, and sent him against the rebel. Nebuchadnezzar joined battle with the rebel, and conquered him, and forced the country to submit to him again. Meanwhile it happened that his father Nabopolassar fell ill, and died in the city of Babylon, after he had reigned twenty-one years. When Nebuchadnezzar heard, soon afterwards, that his father Nabopolassar was dead, he set the affairs of Egypt and the other countries in order. He committed the captives he had taken from the Jews, and Phoenicians, and Syrians, and inhabitants of Egypt, [p47] to some of his friends, that they might conduct them with his heavy-armed forces troops, and the rest of his baggage, to Babylonia. He himself went in haste, having only a few companions with him, over the desert to Babylon. When he arrived there, he found that the public affairs were being managed by the Chaldaeans, and that the principal person among them had preserved the kingdom for him. Accordingly, he then took over complete control of his father's dominions.
"He ordered the captives to be placed in colonies in the most suitable places of Babylonia; but as for himself, he adorned the temple of Belus, and the other temples, in a magnificent manner, out of the spoils he had taken in this war. He also rebuilt the old city, and added another to it on the outside. He restored Babylon in such a way, that no-one who should besiege it afterwards might be able to divert the course of river, in order to force an entrance into it. He achieved this by building three walls about the inner city, and three about the outer city. Some of these walls he built of burnt brick and bitumen, and some of brick only. So when he had fortified the city on this grand scale, and had adorned the gates magnificently, he added a new palace to the one which his father had dwelt in. It was close by it, but was superior in its height, and also in its great splendour. It would require too long a narration, to describe it all in detail. However, as prodigiously large and magnificent as the palace was, it was finished in only fifteen days. In this palace he erected very high walks, supported by stone pillars, and by planting what was called a Hanging Garden, and adorning it with all sorts of trees, he gave it the appearance of a mountainous country. This he did to please his queen, because she had been brought up in Media, and was fond of mountainous scenery."
This is what Berossus says about Nebuchadnezzar, and he relates many other things about him in the third book of his Chaldaean History, in which he censures the Greek writers because they suppose, without any foundation, that Babylon was built by Semiramis, queen of Assyria, and they wrongly claim that those wonderful buildings were created by her. [p49] On this subject, the account in the Chaldaean History must surely be accepted. Moreover, we find confirmation of what Berossus says in the archives of the Phoenicians, concerning this king Nebuchadnezzar, that he conquered all of Syria and Phoenicia. Philostratus is in agreement on these matters in his History, where he mentions the siege of Tyre; as is Megasthenes, in the fourth book of his Indian History, in which he tries to prove that this king of the Babylonians was superior to Heracles in strength and the greatness of his exploits; for he says that he conquered most of Libya and Iberia.
I have said before that the temple at Jerusalem was attacked by the Babylonians, and burnt down by them, but it was restored after Cyrus had taken control of Asia. This is proved by what Berossus adds on the subject; for in his third book he says as follows: "Nebuchadnezzar, after he had begun to build the wall which I mentioned, fell sick and died, when he had reigned forty-three years. His son Evilmerodach became king, but he governed public affairs in an illegal and dishonest manner, and after he had reigned for only two years, Neriglissar, his sister's husband, plotted against him and killed him. After his death, Neriglissar, the man who had plotted against him, succeeded him in the kingdom, and reigned for four years; his son Laborosoarchod obtained the kingdom, though he was but a child, and kept it for nine months; but because of the depraved disposition which he showed, a plot was laid against him also, and he was beaten to death by his friends.
After his death, the conspirators met together, and by common consent entrusted the kingdom to Nabonidus [Nabonnedus], a Babylonian who had joined in the plot. In his reign the walls of the city of Babylon were built magnificently with burnt brick and bitumen; but when he had reached the seventeenth year of his reign, Cyrus advanced from Persia with a great army; and having already conquered all the rest of Asia, he marched against Babylonia. [p51] When Nabonidus heard that Cyrus was coming to attack him, he met him with his forces, but was defeated in battle. He fled away with a few of his troops, and was shut up in the city of Borsippa. Cyrus captured Babylon, and gave orders that the outer walls of the city should be demolished, because the city had proved very formidable, and was difficult to capture. He then marched away to Borsippa, to besiege Nabonidus, who immediately surrendered without waiting for a siege. Nabonidus was at first kindly treated by Cyrus, who sent him away from Babylonia and gave him Carmania, as a place to inhabit. Accordingly Nabonidus spent the rest of his time in that country, and there he died."
This account is true, and agrees with our scriptures; for in them it is written that Nebuchadnezzar, in the eighteenth year of his reign, destroyed our temple, and so it lay in ruins for fifty years; but in the second year of the reign of Cyrus its foundations were laid, and it was completed again in the second year of Dareius. I will now add the records of the Phoenicians, because I ought to give the reader abundant proof on this occasion. These records list the lengths of the reigns of their kings as follows:
So the whole period is fifty-four years and three months; for Nebuchadnezzar began to besiege Tyre in the seventh year of his reign , and Cyrus the Persian came to power in the fourteenth year of Hirom. Therefore the records of the Chaldaeans and the Tyrians agree with our writings about this temple.
That is what Josephus says about these matters. Later on, Abydenus includes another account of the kings of the Chaldaeans, which is similar to Polyhistor. Then he lists the kings of the Assyrians in [chronological] order, as follows.
[ THE ASSYRIANS ]
[From the writings] of Abydenus, about the kingdom of the Assyrians
"That is the account which the Chaldaeans give of the kings of their country, but they do not mention Ninus or Semiramis." After saying this, he immediately begins the history [of the Assyrians]: "Ninus was the son of Arbelus, the son of Anebus, the son of Babus, the son of Belus, king of the Assyrians."
Then he lists [the kings of the Assyrians] from Ninus and Semiramis up until Sardanapallus, who was the last of all the kings; and from Sardanapallus until the first Olympiad, there are 67 years. That is the account which Abydenus gives about each of the Assyrian kings. But he is not the only writer [to mention them]: Castor, in the first book of the Summary of his Chronicle, speaks about the kingdom of the Assyrians in the following words.
From the Summary of Castor, about the kingdom of the Assyrians
"Belus was the king of the Assyrians. During his reign, the Cyclopes brought lightning and thunder to assist Zeus during his battle against the Titans. At the same time, the kings of the Titans were in their prime - including king Ogygus." And shortly afterwards he says: "The giants attacked the gods, [p55] and were killed, after Heracles and Dionysus, who were descended from the Titans, came to the aid of the gods. Belus, whom we mentioned before, came to the end of his life, and was regarded as a god. After him, Ninus ruled the Assyrians for 52 years. His wife was Semiramis. After Ninus, Semiramis ruled the Assyrians for 42 years. Then Zames, who was also called Ninyas, [was king]."
Then he lists each of the subsequent kings of the Assyrians in order, up until Sardanapallus. He mentions all of them by name; and we also will write down their names, together with the length of each of their reigns, a little later on.
Castor writes about the Assyrians again in his Canons, in these words: " First we have listed the kings of the Assyrians, starting with Belus; but because the length of his reign is not stated for certain, we have only mentioned his name. We have started the list in this chronicle with Ninus, and ended with another Ninus, who succeeded Sardanapallus as king. In this way, the total duration of the kingdom can be clearly shown, as well as the length of each of the individual reigns. And it shows that the kingdom lasted for 1,280 years."
That is what Castor says. And Diodorus Siculus, who wrote the [Historical] Library, gives a similar account, in the following words.
From the writings of Diodorus, about the kingdom of the Assyrians
"No noteworthy deeds or even names have been recorded of the native kings who ruled in Asia in the most ancient times. Ninus of Assyria is the first king who is recorded in history. His achievements were great, and we will give a detailed account of him." And then a little later he says: "[Ninus] had a son by Semiramis, who was called Ninyas. But when Ninus died, Semiramis became queen, and she buried Ninus in the palace." And again, a little later he says: "[Semiramis] ruled over all of Asia, except for the Indians; [p57] and she died in the manner which we have described, when she had lived for 62 years and had reigned for 42 years." And he states separately that: "After she died, Ninyas the son of Ninus and Semiramis became king, and he remained at peace. He did not attempt to imitate the exploits of his mother, who had been eager for war and struggle."
And again, a little later he says: "And in a similar way the other kings ruled for 35 generations, handing down the kingdom from father to son, until the time of Sardanapallus. When he was king, the empire of the Assyrians was destroyed by the Medes, after lasting for over 1,300 years, as Ctesias of Cnidus says in his second book. There is no need to write down the names of these kings, or the lengths of their reigns, because they achieved nothing worthy of mention. The only event which is recorded is that the Trojans received assistance from the Assyrians, led by Memnon the son of Tithonus. They say that when the Greeks sailed with Agamemnon against Troy, Asia was ruled by Teutamus, who was the twenty-sixth king from Ninyas the son of Semiramis; and the empire of the Assyrians in Asia had already lasted for over a thousand years. Priamus the king of the Trojans, worn out by the pressure of war, submitted to the king of the Assyrians, and sent an embassy to ask the Assyrians to send aid and reinforcements. The king of the Assyrians gave him ten thousand men from the land of the Ethiopians, and a similar number of Susians, with two hundred chariots; and he sent Memnon the son of Tithonus to be their leader." And again he says: "The barbarians say that the splendid achievements of Memnon are reported in the royal books."
"Sardanapallus was the 35th king from Ninus, who established their empire. He was the last king of the Assyrians, and he outstripped all his predecessors in luxury and indolence." And a little later he says: "He was so shameless, that he not only ruined his own life by his perversions, but also destroyed the entire empire of the Assyrians, which had lasted for longer than any other recorded empire. [p59] Arbaces, one of the Medes who was renowned for his bravery and his outstanding spirit, was the leader of the Medes who were sent every year to the city of Ninus [Nineveh]. While leading his army, he became acquainted with the general of the Babylonians, who urged him to overthrow the empire of the Assyrians." This is what Diodorus says in the second book of his Historical Library [chapters 1-24].
Cephalion is another writer who mentions the empire of the Assyrians, and this is what he says.
[From the writings] of the historian Cephalion, about the kingdom of the Assyrians
"I begin my account with what the other writers have mentioned: firstly Hellanicus of Lesbos and Ctesias of Cnidus, and then Herodotus of Halicarnassus. In ancient times, the Assyrians ruled over Asia, and Ninus the son of Belus was their king. In his reign, many great events occurred." Then he writes about the birth of Semiramis, Zoroaster the magus, the war with the king of the Bactrians and the disaster [suffered] by Semiramis; and about the death of Ninus, after a reign of 52 years. After Ninus, Semiramis became queen. She built the walls around Babylon, in the manner which has been described by many writers, such as Ctesias, Zenon [(?) or Dinon ], Herodotus, and later authors. Then he tells of her expedition into the land of the Indians, how she was defeated and fled; and how she killed her own sons, but was herself put to death by Ninyas, another of her sons, when she had reigned for 42 years. After her, Ninyas became king, but Cephalion says that he achieved nothing worthy of mention. [p61] Then he passes over all the other [kings]; "they ruled in total for a thousand years, handing down the kingdom from father to son; and none of them reigned for less than twenty years. Their unwarlike, unadventurous and effeminate character kept them safe. Because they were inactive and remained indoors, no-one had access to them except for their concubines and effeminate men. If anyone wishes to know, I think that Ctesias lists the names of 23 of these kings. But what pleasure or benefit would I provide, if I wrote down the names of barbarian kings, who achieved nothing, but were cowardly, weak and degenerate?"
And again he adds: "After about 640 years had passed, Belimus was king of the Assyrians; and in his reign, Perseus the son of Danaë, who was escaping from Dionysus the son of Semele, arrived in the country with 100 ships." Then, after describing the defeat of Perseus by Dionysus, he adds: "In a later generation, when Pannyas was king of the Assyrians, the expedition of the Argonauts sailed to the river Phasis, and to (?) Medeia of Colchis. They say that Heracles left the ship because of his love for Hylas, and wandered amongst the Cappadocians." And again he says; "A thousand years after Semiramis, when Mitraeus was king [of the Assyrians], Medeia of Colchis left king Aegeus; her son was Medus, [p63] who gave his name to the Medes and the country of Media."
Then he says: "Teutamus became king after Mitraeus, and he too lived according to the customs and laws of the Assyrians. Nothing else happened in his reign, but [at this time] Agamemnon and Menelaus the Mycenaeans sailed with the Argives and other Achaeans against the city of Troy, when Priamus governed Phrygia. [Priamus wrote to Teutamus:] 'The Greeks have invaded your territory and attacked me; we have met them in battle, and sometimes we have been victorious, but sometimes we have been defeated. Now even my son Hector has been killed, along with many others of my brave children. Therefore send a force to come to our relief, and appoint a valiant general to lead them.' " Then [Cephalion] describes in detail, how Teutamus sent assistance to him, and appointed Memnon the son of Tithonus to be the leader of the army; but the Thessalians killed Memnon in an ambush.
Then in another place, he says: "In the 1,013th year, Sardanapallus became king of the Assyrians." Later, he describes the downfall of Sardanapallus. "After the death of Sardanapallus, Arbaces the Mede destroyed the kingdom of the Assyrians and transferred their empire to the Medes." All this is what Cephalion says.
The kings of the Assyrians, as recorded by the most reliable of the writers, are as follows.
The kings of the Assyrians
After destroying the empire of Sardanapallus and the Assyrians, Arbaces appointed Belesius to be governor of Babylon. He transferred the empire of the Assyrians to the Medes, and the duration of their empire was as follows.
The kings of the Medes
The kings of the Lydians
The kings of the Persians
After Alexander, there were Macedonian kings for 295 years, until the death of queen Cleopatra, who reigned in about the 187th Olympiad [32-29 B.C.]. In her time, Augustus was emperor of the Romans, who was called Sebastos in Greek. [p71] [Cleopatra died] in the 15th year of Augustus' reign. From then until the 202nd Olympiad [29-32 A.D.], and the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar, there are 52 years. And from then until the 20th anniversary of Constantinus, there are 300 years.
We will now proceed to the chronology of the Hebrews.
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