The Chaldean oracles of the Genesis - George Smith - E-Book

The Chaldean oracles of the Genesis E-Book

George Smith

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I believe that time will show the Babylonian traditions of Genesis to be invaluable for the light they will throw on the Pentateuch, but at present there are so many blanks in the evidence that positive conclusions on several points are impossible. I may add in conclusion that my present work is intended as a popular account, and I have introduced only so much explanation as seems necessary for the proper understanding of the subject. I have added translations of some parts of the legends which I avoided in my last work, desiring here to satisfy the wish to see them as perfect as possible; there still remain however some passages which I have omitted, but these are of small extent and obscure.

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The Chaldean oracles of the Genesis

The Chaldean oracles of the GenesisINTRODUCTION.CHAPTER I. THE DISCOVERY OF THE GENESIS LEGENDS.CHAPTER II. BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN LITERATURE.CHAPTER III. CHALDEAN LEGENDS TRANSMITTED THROUGH BEROSUS AND OTHER ANCIENT AUTHORS.CHAPTER IV. BABYLONIAN MYTHOLOGY.CHAPTER V. BABYLONIAN LEGEND OF THE CREATION.CHAPTER VI. OTHER BABYLONIAN ACCOUNTS OF THE CREATION.CHAPTER VII. THE SIN OF THE GOD ZU.CHAPTER VIII. THE EXPLOITS OF LUBARA.CHAPTER IX. BABYLONIAN FABLES.CHAPTER X. FRAGMENTS OF MISCELLANEOUS TEXTS.CHAPTER XI. THE IZDUBAR LEGENDS.CHAPTER XII. MEETING OF HEABANI AND IZDUBAR.CHAPTER XIII. DESTRUCTION OF THE TYRANT HUMBABA.CHAPTER XIV. THE ADVENTURES OF ISHTAR.CHAPTER XV. ILLNESS AND WANDERINGS OF IZDUBAR.CHAPTER XVI. THE STORY OF THE FLOOD AND CONCLUSION.CHAPTER XVII. CONCLUSION.Copyright

The Chaldean oracles of the Genesis

George Smith

INTRODUCTION.

SOME explanation is necessary in introducing my present work. Little time has elapsed since I discovered the most important of these inscriptions, and in the intervening period I have had, amidst other work, to collect the various fragments of the legends, copy, compare, and translate, altering my matter from time to time, as new fragments turned up. Even now I have gone to press with one of the fragments of the last tablet of the Izdubar series omitted. The present condition of the legends and their recent discovery alike forbid me to call this anything more than a provisional work; but there was so general a desire to see the translations that I have published them, hoping my readers will take them with the same reserve with which I have given them. I have avoided some of the most important comparisons and conclusions with respect to Genesis, as my desire was first to obtain the recognition of the evidence without prejudice. The chronological notes in the book are one of its weak points, but I may safely say that I have placed the various dates as low as I fairly could, considering the evidence, and I have aimed to do this rather than to establish any system of chronology. I believe that time will show the Babylonian traditions of Genesis to be invaluable for the light they will throw on the Pentateuch, but at present there are so many blanks in the evidence that positive conclusions on several points are impossible. I may add in conclusion that my present work is intended as a popular account, and I have introduced only so much explanation as seems necessary for the proper understanding of the subject. I have added translations of some parts of the legends which I avoided in my last work, desiring here to satisfy the wish to see them as perfect as possible; there still remain however some passages which I have omitted, but these are of small extent and obscure.

CHAPTER I. THE DISCOVERY OF THE GENESIS LEGENDS.

THE fragments of the Chaldean historian, Berosus, preserved in the works of various later writers, have shown that the Babylonians were acquainted with traditions referring to the Creation, the period before the Flood, the Deluge, and other matters forming parts of Genesis. Berosus, however, who recorded these events, lived in the time of Alexander the Great and his successors, somewhere about B.C. 330 to 260; and, as this was three hundred years after the Jews were carried captive to Babylon, his works did not prove that these traditions were in Babylonia before the Jewish captivity, and could not afford testimony in favour of the great antiquity of these legends. On the discovery and decipherment of the cuneiform inscriptions, Oriental scholars hoped that copies of the Babylonian histories and traditions would one day be discovered, and we should thus gain earlier and more satisfactory evidence as to these primitive histories. In the mound of Kouyunjik, opposite the town of Mosul, Mr. Layard discovered part of the Royal Assyrian library, and further collections, also forming parts of this library, have been subsequently found by Mr. H. Rassam, Mr. Loftus, and myself. Sir Henry Rawlinson, who made the preliminary examination of Mr. Layard's treasures, and who was the first to recognize their value, estimated the number of these fragments of inscriptions at over twenty thousand. The attention of decipherers was in the first instance drawn to the later historical inscriptions, particularly to those of the Assyrian kings contemporary with the Hebrew monarchy; and in this section of inscriptions a very large number of texts of great importance rewarded the toil of Assyrian scholars. Inscriptions of Tiglath Pileser, Shalmaneser, Sargon, Sennacherib, Esarhaddon, Nebuchadnezzar, Nabonidus, and numerous other ancient sovereigns, bearing directly on the Bible, and giving new light upon parts of ancient history before obscure, for a long time occupied almost exclusively the attention of students, and overshadowed any work in other divisions of Assyrian literature. Although it was known that Assyria borrowed its civilization and written characters from Babylonia, yet, as the Assyrian nation was mostly hostile to the southern and older kingdom, it could not be guessed beforehand that the peculiar national traditions of Babylonia would be transported to Assyria. Under these circumstances, for some years after the cuneiform inscriptions were first deciphered, nothing was looked for or discovered bearing upon the events of Genesis; but, as new texts were brought into notice, it became evident that the Assyrians copied their literature largely from Babylonian sources, and it appeared likely that search among the fragments of Assyrian inscriptions would yield traces at least of some of these ancient Babylonian legends. Attention was early drawn to these points by Sir Henry Rawlinson, who pointed out several coincidences between the geography of Babylonia and the account of Eden in Genesis, arid suggested the great probability that the accounts in Genesis had a Babylonian origin. When at work preparing the fourth volume of Cuneiform Inscriptions, I noticed references to the Creation in a tablet numbered K 63 in the Museum collection, and allusions in other tablets to similar legends; I therefore set about searching through the collection, which I had previously selected under the head of "Mythological tablets," to find, if possible, some of these legends. This mythological collection was one of six divisions into which I had parted the Museum collection of cuneiform inscriptions for convenience of working. By placing all the tablets and fragments of the same class together, I had been able to complete several texts, to easily find any subject required, and at any time to get a general idea of the contents of the collection. The mythological division contained all tablets relating to the mythology, and all the legends in which the gods took a leading part, together with prayers and similar subjects. Commencing a steady search among these fragments, I soon found half of a curious tablet which had evidently contained originally six columns of text; two of these (the third and fourth) were still nearly perfect; two others (the second and fifth) were imperfect, about half remaining, while the remaining columns (the first and sixth) were entirely lost. On looking down the third column, my eye caught the statement that the ship rested on the mountains of Nizir, followed by the account of the sending forth of the dove, and its finding no resting-place and returning. I saw at once that I had here discovered a portion at least of the Chaldean account of the Deluge. I then proceeded to read through the document, and found it was in the form of a speech from the hero of the Deluge to a person whose name appeared to be Izdubar. I recollected a legend belonging to the same hero Izdubar K. 231, which, on comparison, proved to belong to the same series, and then I commenced a search for any missing portions of the tablets. This search was a long and heavy work, for there were thousands of fragments to go over, and, while on the one side I had gained as yet only two fragments of the Izdubar legends to judge from, on the other hand, the unsorted fragments were so small, and contained so little of the subject, that it was extremely difficult to ascertain their meaning. My search, however, proved successful. I found a fragment of another copy of the Deluge, containing again the sending forth of the birds, and gradually collected several other portions of this tablet, fitting them in one after another until I had completed the greater part of the second column. Portions of a third copy next turned up, which, when joined together, completed a considerable part of the first and sixth columns. I now had the account of the Deluge in the state in which I published it at the meeting of the Society of Biblical Archaeology, December 3rd, 1872. I had discovered that the Izdubar series contained at least twelve tablets, and I afterwards found this to be their exact number. Of this series the tablet describing the Deluge was the eleventh and K 231, the sixth. Numerous other fragments turned up at the same time; but these, while they increased my knowledge of the legends, could not be arranged in order from want of indication of the particular tablets to which they belonged. Some other fragmentary legends, including the war of the gods and three fables, I also found at the same time, but these were in such mutilated condition that I could not make a connected translation of them. In my lecture on the Deluge tablets, I gave a sketch of the Izdubar legends, and expressed my belief that the Chaldean inscriptions contained various other similar stories bearing upon the Book of Genesis, which would prove of the highest interest. Just at this time happened the intervention of the proprietors of the "Daily Telegraph" newspaper. Mr. E. Arnold, who is on the direction of that paper, had already sent to me expressing his interest in these discoveries, and immediately after my lecture he came armed with a proposition from the proprietors of the "Daily Telegraph" to re-open, at their cost, the excavations in Assyria, and gain some new information on the subject of these legends. This proposition was submitted to the trustees of the British Museum, and they directed me to go to Assyria and make a short excavation, leave of absence for six months being granted to me for this purpose. I have related, in my work, "Assyrian discoveries," the history of this expedition, which brought me the next fragments of these legends. Soon after I commenced excavating at Kouyunjik, on the site of the palace of Assurbanipal, I found a new fragment of the Chaldean account of the Deluge belonging to the first column of the tablet, relating the command to build and fill the ark, and nearly filling up the most considerable blank in the story. Some other fragments, which I found afterwards, still further completed this tablet, which was already the most perfect one in the Izdubar series. The trench in which I found the fragment in question must have passed very near the place where the Assyrians kept a series of inscriptions belonging to the early history of the world. Soon after I discovered the fragment of the Deluge tablet, I came upon a fragment of the sixth tablet of the same series in this trench, and not far from the place of the Deluge fragment. This fragment described the destruction of the bull of Ishtar by Izdubar and Heabani, an incident often depicted on early Babylonian gems. My next discovery here was a fragment evidently belonging to the creation of the world; this was the upper corner of a tablet, and gave a fragmentary account of the creation of animals. Further on in this trench I discovered two other portions of this legend, one giving the Creation and fall of man; the other having part of the war between the gods and evil spirits. At that time I did not recognize the importance of these fragments, excepting the one with the account of the creation of animals, and, as I had immediately afterwards to return to England, I made no further discoveries in this direction. On my return from the east, I published some of the discoveries I had made, and I now found, on joining the fragments of the Deluge or Izdubar series, that they formed exactly twelve tablets. The fact that these legends covered twelve tablets led to the impression that they were a form of the solar myth, that is, that they symbolized the passage of the sun through the heavens, each tablet representing a separate sign of the zodiac. This opinion, first started by Sir Henry Rawlinson, was at once accepted by M. Lenormant, Rev. A. H. Sayce, and other scholars; but I think myself it rests on too insecure a basis to be true. In a subsequent chapter I will give as nearly as I can the contents of the Izdubar legends, which I think do not warrant this view. Some months further passed, during which I was engaged in my second journey to Assyria, and in realizing the results of that expedition. I again brought from Assyria several fragments of the Genesis legends which helped to complete these curious stories, and in January, 1875, I commenced once more a regular search for these fragments. Very soon afterwards I succeeded in discovering a notice of the building of the tower of Babel, which at once attracted attention, and a notice of it, which appeared in the "Athenæum," No. 2468, was copied into several of the papers. I was, however, at that time hardly prepared to publish these legends, as I had not ascertained how far they could be completed from our present collections. Subsequent search did not show that any further fragments of the Babel tablet were in the British Museum, but I soon added several fresh portions to the fragmentary history of the Creation and Fall. The greatest difficulty with which I had to contend in all these researches was the extremely mutilated and deficient condition in which the tablets were found. There can be no doubt that, if the inscriptions were perfect, they would present very little difficulty to the translator. The reason why these legends are in so many fragments, and the different parts so scattered, may be explained from the nature of the material of which the tablets are composed, and the changes undergone by them since they were written. These tablets were composed of fine clay and were inscribed with cuneiform characters while in a soft state; they were then baked in a furnace until hard, and afterwards transferred to the library. These texts appear to have been broken up when Nineveh was destroyed, and many of them were cracked and scorched by the heat at the burning of the palace. Subsequently the ruins were turned over in search of treasure, and the tablets still further broken; and then, to complete their ruin, the rain, every spring soaking through the ground, saturates them with water containing chemicals, and these chemicals form crystals in every available crack. The growth of the crystals further splits the tablets, some of them being literally shivered. Some idea of the mutilated condition of the Assyrian tablets, and of the work of restoring a single text, will be gained from the engraving below, which exhibits the present appearance of one of the Deluge tablets. In this tablet there are sixteen fragments. REVERSE OF INSCRIBED TERRA COTTA TABLET CONTAINING THE ACCOUNT OF THE DELUGE, SHOWING THE VARIOUS FRAGMENTS OF WHICH IT IS COMPOSED. Click to enlarge REVERSE OF INSCRIBED TERRA COTTA TABLET CONTAINING THE ACCOUNT OF THE DELUGE, SHOWING THE VARIOUS FRAGMENTS OF WHICH IT IS COMPOSED. The clay records of the Assyrians are by these means so broken up, that they are in some cases divided into over one hundred fragments; and it is only by collecting and joining together the various fragments that these ancient texts can be restored. Many of the old fragmentary tablets which have been twenty years in the British Museum have been added to considerably by fragments which I found during my two journeys, and yet there remain at least 20,000 fragments buried in the ruins without the recovery of which it is impossible to complete these valuable Assyrian inscriptions. Being now urged by many friends who were interested in the subject, I sent the following account to the editor of the "Daily Telegraph," which was printed in that paper on the 4th of March, 1875:— "Having recently made a series of important discoveries relating to the Book of Genesis, among some remarkable texts, which form part of the collection presented to the British Museum by the proprietors of 'The Daily Telegraph,' I venture once more to bring Assyrian subjects before your readers. "In my lecture on the Chaldean Account of the Deluge, which I delivered on Dec. 3, 1872, I stated my conviction that all the earlier narratives of Genesis would receive new light from the inscriptions so long buried in the Chaldean and Assyrian mounds; but I little thought at that time that I was so near to finding most of them. "My lecture, as your readers know, was soon followed by the proposal of your proprietors and the organizing of 'The Daily Telegraph' expedition to Assyria. When excavating at Kouyunjik during that expedition, I discovered the missing portion of the first column of the Deluge tablet, an account of which I sent home; and in the same trench I subsequently found the fragment which I afterwards recognized as part of the Chaldean story of the Creation, which relic I have noticed already in your columns. I excavated later on, while still working under your auspices, another portion belonging to this story, far more precious—in fact, I think, to the general public, the most interesting and remarkable cuneiform tablet yet discovered. This turns out to contain the story of man's original innocence, of the temptation, and of the fall. I was, when I found it, on the eve of departing, and had not time to properly examine my great prize. I only copied the two or three first lines, which (as I had then no idea of the general subject of the tablet) did not appear very valuable, and I forthwith packed it in the box for transport to England, where it arrived safely, and was presented by the proprietors of 'The Daily Telegraph,' with the rest of their collection, to the British Museum. On my return to England I made some other discoveries among my store, and in the pursuit of these this fragment was overlooked. I subsequently went a second time to Assyria, and returned to England in June, 1874; but I had no leisure to look again at those particular legends until the end of January in this year. Then, starting with the fragment of the Creation in 'The Daily Telegraph' collection, which I had first noticed, I began to collect other portions of the series, and among these I soon found the overlooked fragment which I had excavated at Kouyunjik, the first lines of which I took down in the note-book of my first expedition. I subsequently found several smaller pieces in the old Museum collection, and all join or form parts of a continuous series of legends, giving the history of the world from the Creation down to some period after the Fall of Man. Linked with these, I found also other series of legends on primitive history, including the story of the building of the Tower of Babel and of the Confusion of Tongues. "The first series, which I may call 'The Story of the Creation and Fall,' when complete must have consisted of nine or ten tablets at least, and the history upon it is much longer and fuller than the corresponding account in the Book of Genesis. With respect to these Genesis narratives a furious strife has existed for many years; every word has been scanned by eager scholars, and every possible meaning which the various passages could bear has been suggested; while the age and authenticity of the narratives have been discussed on all sides. In particular, it may be said that the account of the fall of man, the heritage of all Christian countries, has been the centre of this controversy, for it is one of the pivots on which the Christian religion turns. The world-wide importance of these subjects will therefore give the newly discovered inscriptions, and especially the one relating to the Fall, an unparalleled value, and I am glad, indeed, that such a treasure should have resulted from your expedition. "Whatever the primitive account may have been from which the earlier part of the Book of Genesis was copied, it is evident that the brief narration given in the Pentateuch omits a number of incidents and explanations—for instance, as to the origin of evil, the fall of the angels, the wickedness of the serpent, &c. Such points as these are included in the Cuneiform narrative; but of course I can say little about them until I prepare full translations of the legends. "The narrative on the Assyrian tablets commences with a description of the period before the world was created, when there existed a chaos or confusion. The desolate and empty state of the universe and the generation by chaos of monsters are vividly given. The chaos is presided over by a female power named Tisalat and Tiamat, corresponding to the Thalatth of Berosus; but, as it proceeds, the Assyrian account agrees rather with the Bible than with the short account from Berosus. We are told, in the inscriptions, of the fall of the celestial being who appears to correspond to Satan. In his ambition he raises his hand against the sanctuary of the God of heaven, and the description of him is really magnificent. He is represented riding in a chariot through celestial space, surrounded by the storms, with the lightning playing before him, and wielding a thunderbolt as a weapon. "This rebellion leads to a war in heaven and the conquest of the powers of evil, the gods in due course creating the universe in stages, as in the Mosaic narrative, surveying each step of the work and pronouncing it good. The divine work culminates in the creation of man, who is made upright and free from evil, and endowed by the gods with the noble faculty of speech. "The Deity then delivers a long address to the newly created being, instructing him in all his duties and privileges, and pointing out the glory of his state. But this condition of blessing does not last long before man, yielding to temptation, falls; and the Deity then pronounces upon him a terrible curse, invoking on his head all the evils which have since afflicted humanity. These last details are, as I have before stated, upon the fragment which I excavated during my first journey to Assyria, and the discovery of this single relic in my opinion increases many times over the value of 'The Daily Telegraph' collection. "I have at present recovered no more of the story, and am not yet in a position to give the full translations and details; but I hope during the spring to find time to search over the collection of smaller fragments of tablets, and to light upon any smaller parts of the legends which may have escaped me. There will arise, besides, a number of important questions as to the date and origin of the legends, their comparison with the Biblical narrative, and as to how far they may supplement the Mosaic account." This will serve to exhibit the appearance these legends presented to me soon after I discovered them. On comparing this account with the translations and notes I have given in this book, it will be evident that my first notice was inaccurate in several points, both as to the order and translation of the legends; but I had not expected it to be otherwise, for there had not been time to collect and translate the fragments, and, until that was done, no satisfactory account of them could be given, the inaccuracies in the account being due to the broken state of the tablets and my recent knowledge of them. It is a notable fact that the discovery of these legends was one of the fruits of the expedition organized by the proprietors of the "Daily Telegraph," and these legends and the Deluge fragments form the most valuable results of that expedition. After I had published this notice in the "Daily Telegraph" I set to work to look over the fragments in the collection, in search of other minor fragments, and found several, but these added little to my knowledge, only enabling me to correct my notice. A little later I discovered a new fragment of the tenth tablet of the Deluge series, and last of all a further portion of the sixth tablet of these legends. This closed my discoveries so far as the fragments of the tablets were concerned, and I had then to copy and translate the tablets as far as their mutilated condition would allow. The Genesis legends which I had collected from the various Assyrian fragments included numerous other stories beside those which parallel the account in the Book of Genesis. All these stories are similar in character, and appear to belong to the same early literary age. So far as I have made out they are as follows:— 1. A long account of the origin of the world, the creation of the animals and man, the fall of man from a sinless state, and a conflict between the gods and the powers of evil. 2. A second account of the creation having a closer correspondence with the account of Berosus. 3. A Bilingual legend of the history of the seven evil spirits, apparently part of a third version of the creation. 4. Story of the descent of the goddess Ishtar or Venus into Hades, and her return. 5. Legend of the sin of the God Zu, who insults Elu, the father of the gods. 6. Collection of five tablets giving the exploits of Lubara the god of the pestilence. 7. Legend of the god Sarturda, who turned into a bird. 8. Story of the wise man who put forth a riddle to the gods. 9. Legend of the good man Atarpi, and the wickedness of the world. 10. Legend of the tower of Babel, and dispersion. 11. Story of the Eagle and Etana. 12. Story of the ox and the horse. 13. Story of the fox. 14. Legend of Sinuri. 15. Izdubar legends: twelve tablets, with the history of Izdubar, and an account of the flood. 16. Various fragments of other legends. These show that there was a considerable collection of such primitive stories almost unrepresented in our present collection.

CHAPTER II. BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN LITERATURE.

IN order to understand the position of these legends it is necessary to give some account of the wonderful literature of the Ancient Babylonians and their copyists, the Assyrians. The fragments of terra cotta tablets containing these legends were found in the débris which covers the palaces called the South West Palace and the North Palace at Kouyunjik; the former building being of the age of Sennacherib, the latter belonging to the time of Assurbanipal. The tablets, which are of all sizes, from one inch long to over a foot square, are nearly all in fragments, and in consequence of the changes which have taken place in the ruins the fragments of the same tablet are sometimes scattered widely apart. It appears from a consideration of the present positions of the fragments that they were originally in the upper chambers of the palace, and have fallen on the destruction of the building. In some of the lower chambers they lay covering the whole floor, in other cases they lay in groups or patches on the pavement, and there are occasional clusters of fragments at various heights in the earth which covers the buildings. The other fragments are scattered singly through all the upper earth which covers the floors and walls of the palace. Different fragments of the same tablets and cylinders are found in separate chambers which have no immediate connection with each other, showing that the present distribution of the fragments has nothing to do with the original position of the tablets. A consideration of the inscriptions shows that these tablets have been arranged according to their subjects in various positions in the libraries. Stories or subjects were commenced on tablets and continued on other tablets of the same size and form, in some cases the number of tablets in a series and on a single subject amounting to over one hundred. Each subject or series of tablets had a title, the title being formed by the first phrase or part of phrase in the subject. Thus, the series of Astrological tablets, numbering over seventy tablets, bore the title "When the gods Anu, Elu," this being the commencement of the first tablet. At the end of every tablet in each series was written its number in the work, thus: "the first tablet of "When the gods Anu, Elu," the second tablet of "When the gods Anu, Elu," &c. &c.; and, further to preserve the proper position of each tablet, every one except the last in a series had at the end a catch phrase, consisting of the first line of the following tablet. There were beside, catalogues of these documents written like them on clay tablets, and other small oval tablets with titles upon them, apparently labels for the various series of works. All these arrangements show the care taken with respect to literary matters. There were regular libraries or chambers, probably on the upper floors of the palaces, appointed for the store of the tablets, and custodians or librarians to take charge of them. It is probable that all these regulations were of great antiquity, and were copied like the tablets from the Babylonians. Judging from the fragments discovered, it appears probable that there were in the Royal Library at Nineveh over 10,000 inscribed tablets, including almost every subject in ancient literature. In considering a subject like the present one it is a point of the utmost importance to define as closely as possible the date of our present copies of the legends, and the most probable period at which the original copies may have been inscribed. By far the greatest number of the tablets brought from Nineveh belong to the age of Assurbanipal, who reigned over Assyria B.C. 670, and every copy of the Genesis legends yet found was inscribed during his reign. The statements on the present tablets are conclusive on this point, and have not been called in question, but it is equally stated and acknowledged on all hands that these tablets are not the originals, but are only copies from earlier texts. It is unfortunate that the date of the original copies is never preserved, and thus a wide door is thrown open for difference of opinion on this point. The Assyrians acknowledge themselves that this literature was borrowed from Babylonian sources, and of course it is to Babylonia we have to look to ascertain the approximate dates of the original documents. The difficulty here is increased by the following considerations: it appears that at an early period in Babylonian history a great literary development took place, and numerous works were produced which embodied the prevailing myths, religion, and science of that day. Written many of them in a noble style of poetry, and appealing to the strongest feelings of the people on one side, or registering the highest efforts of their science on the other, these texts became the standards for Babylonian literature, and later generations were content to copy these writings instead of making new works for themselves. Clay, the material on which they were written, was everywhere abundant, copies were multiplied, and by the veneration in which they were held these texts fixed and stereotyped the style of Babylonian literature, and the language in which they were written remained the classical style in the country down to the Persian conquest. Thus it happens that texts of Rim-agu, Sargon, and Hammurabi, who were one thousand years before Nebuchadnezzar and Nabonidus, show the same language as the texts of these later kings, there being no sensible difference in style to match the long interval between them. There is, however, reason to believe that, although the language of devotion and literature remained fixed, the speech of the bulk of the people was gradually modified; and in the time of Assurbanipal, when the Assyrians copied the Genesis legends, the common speech of the day was in very different style. The private letters and despatches of this age which have been discovered differ widely from the language of the contemporary public documents and religious writings, showing the change the language had undergone since the style of these was fixed. We have a slightly similar case in England, where the language of devotion and the style of the Bible differ in several respects from those of the English of to-day. These considerations show the difficulty of fixing the age of a document from its style, and the difficulty is further increased by the uncertainty which hangs over all Babylonian chronology. Chronology is always a thorny subject, and dry and unsatisfactory to most persons beside; some notice must, however, be taken of it here, in order to show the reasons for the dates and epochs fixed upon for the Genesis legends. In this case the later chronology is not in question, and it is best to start with the generally received date of about B.C. 1300 for the conquest of Babylonia by Tugultininip, king of Assyria. Before this date we have a period of about 250 years, during which a foreign race ruled at Babylon. Berosus calls these foreigners Arabs, but nothing is known as to their original home or race. It is supposed that this race came into Babylonia, or obtained dominion there under a king named Hammurabi, whose date is thus fixed about B.C. 1550. Many scholars do not agree to this, and consider Hammurabi much more ancient; no one, however, fixes him later than the sixteenth century B.C., so that the date B.C. 1550 may be accepted as the most moderate one possible for the epoch of Hammurabi. The date of Hammurabi is of consequence in the question, because there is no evidence of these legends being written after his epoch. This circumstance may be accounted for by the fact that during the period following the conquest of Hammurabi the government was in the hands of foreigners, and was much more centralized than it had been before, Babylon being, so far as we know, the sole capital, the great cities which had been centres of literature suffering a decline. Before the time of Hammurabi, there ruled several races of kings, of whom we possess numerous monuments. These monarchs principally reigned at the cities of Ur, Karrak, Larsa, and Akkad. Their inscriptions do not determine the length of their rule, but they probably covered the period from B.C. 2000 to 1550. The name of the monarch in whose time we have the first satisfactory evidence of contemporary monuments is read Urukh, and in the present state of our researches he may be fixed B.C. 2000. It must, however, be remarked that many scholars place him at a much earlier date. From the time of Urukh to that of Hammurabi the title of honour principally taken by the kings is "King of Sumir and Akkad," that is, King of Lower and Upper Babylonia. It appears probable that previous to the reign of Urukh the two divisions of Sumir and Akkad were separate monarchies; and it is therefore likely that any literature written before B.C. 2000 will show evidences of this division. The rough outlines of Babylonian chronology at this period may be arranged as follows, always bearing in mind that the different dates are the lowest we can fairly assume, and that several of them may be much more ancient:— Down to B.C. 2000 epoch of independent kingdoms in Babylonia; the principal centre of activity being Akkad, a region on the Euphrates, somewhere between latitudes 32° and 33°. B.C. 2000. Era of Urukh, king of Ur, rise of Sumir, the southern part of the country, Ur the metropolis. B.C. 1850. Era of Ismi-dagan, king of Karrak, Karrak the metropolis. B.C. 1700. Rise of Larsa as metropolis. B.C. 1600. Era of Sargon, king of Akkad; revival of the power of Akkad. B.C. 1550. Era of Hammurabi, king of Babylon. Babylon the metropolis. Although we cannot fix the dates of any monuments before the time of Urukh, B.C. 2000, it is quite certain that there were buildings and inscriptions before that date; and there are two literary works which I should judge to be certainly older than this epoch, namely, the great Chaldean work on Astrology, and a legend which, for want of a better title, I call the Exploits of Lubara. The Chaldean work, containing the bulk of their astrology, appears to belong to the northern half of the country, that is to Akkad, and always speaks of Akkad as a separate state, and implies it to be the leading state. It mentions besides, the kingdoms of Subartu, Martu, or Syria, Gutim or Goim, and Elam, and some parts, perhaps of later date than the body of the work, give also the kingdoms of Kassi, Kissati, or the peoples, Nituk or Asmun, Sumir, Yamutbal, and Assan. In the body of the work there appear glosses, apparently later additions, mentioning kings of the period B.C. 2000 to 1850. I have not noticed any gloss containing a royal name later than the kings of Ur. The work I have provisionally called "The Exploits of Lubara," and which also bears evidence of great antiquity, is a much shorter one, for while there are over seventy large tablets of the astrology, this, on the other hand, only contained five small tablets. This work notices a large number of peoples or states, the principal being the people of the coast, Subartu, Assyria, Elam, Kassi, Sutu, Goim, Lullubu, Akkad; the uniting of Sumir and Akkad, which was accomplished at least B.C. 2000, is not mentioned, but the notice of the Assyrians is rather an argument for a later date than I have chosen. The Izdubar legends, containing the story of the Flood, and what I believe to be the history of Nimrod, were probably written in the south of the country, and at least as early as B.C. 2000. These legends were, however, traditions before they were committed to writing, and were common in some form to all the country. The story of the Creation and Fall belongs to the upper or Akkad division of the country, and may not have been committed to writing so early as the Izdubar legends; but even this is of great antiquity. About the same time as the account of the Creation, a series of tablets on evil spirits, which contained a totally different tradition of the Creation, was probably written; and there is a third account from the City of Cutha, closely agreeing in some respects with the account handed down by Berosus, which I should provisionally place about the same date. It seems, from the indications in the inscriptions, that there happened in the interval B.C. 2000 to 1850 a general collecting and development of the various traditions of the Creation, Flood, Tower of Babel, and other similar legends. A little later, about B.C. 1600, a new set of astrological tablets was written, together with a long work on terrestrial omens; these appear to belong to the kingdom and period of Sargon, king of Akkad. Some at least, and probably most of the syllabaries, bilingual and explanatory tablets, grammars and vocabularies, belong to this period also; but a few are of later date. In spite of the indications as to peculiarities of worship, names of states and capitals, historical allusions and other evidence, it may seem hazardous to many persons to fix the dates of original documents so high, when our only copies in many cases are Assyrian transcripts made in the reign of Assurbanipal, in the seventh century B.C.; but one or two considerations may show that this is a perfectly reasonable view, and no other likely period can be found for the original composition of the documents unless we ascend to a greater antiquity. In the first place, it must be noticed that the Assyrians themselves state that the documents were copied from ancient Babylonian copies, and in some cases state that the old copies were partly illegible even in their day. Again, in one case there is actual proof of the antiquity of a text, an Assyrian copy of part of which is published in "Cuneiform Inscriptions," vol. ii. plate 54, Nos. 3 & 4. In a collection of tablets discovered by Mr. Loftus at Senkereh, belonging, according to the kings mentioned in it, to about B.C. 1600, is part of an ancient Babylonian copy of this very text, the Babylonian copy being about one thousand years older than the Assyrian one. It is, however, probable that most of the legends treated of in the present volume had existed as traditions in the country long before they were committed to writing, and some of these traditions, as embodied in the various works, exhibit great difference in details, showing that they had passed through many changes. Taking the period of literary development in Babylonia as extending from B.C. 2000 to 1550, we may say, it roughly synchronizes with the period from Abraham to Moses, according to the ordinary chronology of our Bibles, and during this period it appears that traditions of the creation of the universe, and human history down to the time of Nimrod, existed parallel to, and in some points identical with, those given in the Book of Genesis. Many of the documents embodying these traditions have been discovered in sadly mutilated condition, but there can be no doubt that future explorations will reveal more perfect copies, and numerous companion and explanatory texts, which will one day clear up the difficulties which now meet us at every step of their consideration. So far as known contemporary inscriptions are concerned, we cannot consider our present researches and discoveries as anything like sufficient to give a fair view of the literature of Assyria and Babylonia, and, however numerous and important are the Genesis legends, they form but a small portion of the whole literature of the country. It is generally considered that the earliest inscriptions of any importance which we now possess belong to the time of Urukh, king of Ur, whose age may be placed with great probability about two thousand years before the Christian era.