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Marduk Vs Adad

Publishing Date : 20 August, 2019

Benson C Sail
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER


Babylon rebounds after 325 years of Assyria overrule

With the return of planet Nibiru into visibility near-at-hand, the context of every war waged by a worthwhile power (under the banner of their respective gods) in the Middle East was Nibiru.   Every war was about who would control the space-related sites of Baalbek in Lebanon and Mission Control Centre in Jerusalem in the main as Anu, “Our Father Who Art In Heaven”, was expected to land at the Nazca spaceport in South America; be flown to Baalbek; and finally ferried to Jerusalem, which he would officially declare the Navel of the Earth, that is, the geopolitical hub of the planet, since Sumeria’s Nippur.


The main contenders for the space-related sites were Egypt, Babylon, and Assyria, with Assyria exhibiting the greatest resolve in line with the ultra-ambitious bent of their patron god Ishkur-Adad. In their conquer-and-tame campaign, the Assyrians first targeted Harran in today’s southern Turkey, which was at once a trade and religious centre and whose patron god was Nannar-Sin, Enlil-Jehovah’s second-born son.  Thereafter, they set their sights on La-Ba-An, today’s Lebanon.


The object of their acquisitive thrust here was Baalbek. The Assyrian King Shalmaneser III, who reigned from 859–824 BC, was later to erect a commemorative stela on Baalbek to broadcast to the world at large that it belonged to Assyria. He called it Bit Adini, meaning “Place where Eden is Located”. Mankind regarded Baalbek as a gateway to Paradise and when the King of Tyre was given the nod to visit there and “move within its fiery stones” (ride in a rocket), he upon his return set about boasting to his subjects and fellow kings   that he had become a “god” (Anunnaki), which earned him a scathing rebuke from the prophet Ezekiel.  


The Assyrians had also captured the Phoenician coastal cities of Tyre, Sidon, and Byblos under Shalmaneser III’s predecessor Ashurnasirpal II, who ruled from 883-859 BC.  It seems in the quest to secure hegemony over the Middle East, Ishkur-Adad had the upper hand. His client nation, the Assyrians, now laid claim to Baalbek, Phoenicia, and Harran, and his other client nation, the Israelites, controlled Jerusalem. Sin and Utu-Shamash, who was the patron god of Lebanon, were trailing by far in the space-related site stakes.

ASSYRIA BLINDFOLDS BABYLON

With Baalbek in the bag, the Assyrians now had their eyes trained on the ultimate prize – Jerusalem. In the push to acquire Jerusalem, Assyria’s main rival was Babylon.  Assyria wanted Jerusalem wholly to itself and so Babylon had to be kept well at bay. This required tact. Exactly how? The trick the Assyrians came up with was to join forces with Babylon in the short-term. THEY WOULD PRETEND TO HAVE COMMON CAUSE WITH BABYLON AND WHEN TIME WAS RIPE OVERRUN BABYLON ALTOGETHER: that way, they would be the only power standing in the Middle East. 


Apparently, the first to make such an overture to Babylon was Shalmaneser III. In the ensuing pact, the kings of Babylon and Assyria not only were regarded as allies but as equal partners. What that meant was that if, for instance, Shalmaneser went off at a tangent in his imperialistic forays, the Babylonian king would leave him to his own devices and not interfere.   On the other hand, if the one was wracked with internal turmoil, the other would  rush over to help defuse the crisis by hook or crook.


That was the loophole the Assyrians used to basically colonise Babylon. In 851 BC, for instance, Shalmaneser descended on Babylon when the incumbent king faced ouster by his younger brother. The rebel brother was captured and put to the sword by Shalmaneser. In due course, Shalmaneser bullied his way into the Canaanite area unilaterally and captured all the Phoenician cities that lined the Mediterranean coast. He then proceeded to bully his way into the Kingdom of Israel. However, he did not annex Israel but turned it into a vassal state. In his annals, he boasts of receiving tribute from King Jehu of Israel.


The credit for the last and greatest phase of Assyrian expansion, however, belongs to Tiglath-Pileser III, who ruled from 745-727 BC. In 733 BC, Pileser invaded the Kingdom of Israel and captured the province of Galilee. The population of Galilee was rounded up and deported to Assyria. This was the tribe of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh.  Meanwhile, Israel’s King was deposed, killed, and replaced by a puppet King called Hoshea. The Kingdom of Judah, which was ruled by King Ahaz, a vassal of Assyria, was spared.


Even then, the Assyrians were simply biding their time, poised to strike at a most opportune time given the centrality of the Judean-based Jerusalem in the context of the returning Nibiru. Pileser also seized and subjected Syria to his rule. In 729 BC, Pileser, like Shalmaneser before him, was called upon to intervene in Babylon when its king was deposed by a Chaldean chieftain – a foreigner. 


Pileser marched into Babylon and unseated the usurper. But he did not annex Babylonian territories and turn them into provinces under the control of his governors, by then the established Assyrian practice. Instead, in keeping with earlier practice, he assumed the throne of Babylon directly and claimed the title of "King of Sumer and Akkad". Pileser’s acceptance by the Babylonians was mixed but the priests of Marduk duly recognised him as Babylon’s King. He thus became the first Assyrian king to “take the hand of Marduk” and partake of the god’s sacramental meal.

SARGON II SENDS THE TEN TRIBES OF ISRAEL INTO OBLIVION

Upon his demise in 727 BC, Tiglath-Pileser III was succeeded by his son Shalmaneser V as King of both Babylon and Assyria. Like all his predecessors, Shalmaneser’s principal focus was Palestine. Both Palestine and the surrounding countries had to be firmly under the control of Assyria by the time King Anu touched down on planet Earth. Although Jerusalem in Judah was the ultimate quest, it was vitally important to rule over the neighbouring states as well lest they become a menace in the foreseeable future as Nibiru neared. The overrule could be direct (taking over completely, with an Assyrian governor in place) or indirect (installing a client King with unquestioning allegiance to the Assyrian crown).


In Pileser’s time, Hoshea, the King of Israel, dutifully paid tribute to Assyria. But when Shalmaneser ascended to the throne, Hoshea reneged on his obligations by allying himself with Pharaoh Osorkon IV of Egypt. Like Assyria, Egypt had imperial designs over Palestine. Shalmaneser’s retributive response was immediate and drastic.


He directed his forces at Israel with a view to rendering it desolate. The forces, however, were met with fierce resistance. As such, it took three years for Israel to fall. But no sooner had Shalmaneser had Israel routed than he was deposed by his own younger brother, who took the throne as Sargon II. This was in 722 BC.


Although Shalmaneser V tried hard to hold his father’s empire together and expand on it, which he succeeded in to a degree, his military exploits were not carried out with the speed and efficiency that had marked his father’s reign and his taxation and labour policies were unpopular with the people,  who he subjected to grueling, unrewarded toil. Sargon II abolished the taxation and labour policies, and ended the sieges his brother’s administration had prolonged. With these charitable measures, Sargon II was endorsed by the Babylonian priesthood as in 705 BC, he too was granted the privilege of taking the hand of the god Marduk.


Like Shalmaneser, Sargon II was determined to deal with Israel once and for all.  Laying siege to the country, he emptied it of all its inhabitants and deported them to the provinces of Assyria. Altogether, this was about 30,000 Jewish exiles.  The emptied former Kingdom of Israel was resettled with people from Babylon and four regions of Assyria. They were to become known as Samaritans.


The deported Israelites became known as the “Lost Ten Tribes of Israel” (that is, all the Jewish tribes except the tribe of Judah and Benjamin) in that they diffused into other nations, over time venturing as far afield as Europe and the Caucasus, losing their Jewish identity and culture in the process.  Their whereabouts remain a mystery to date. The dissolution of the Kingdom of Israel by Sargon II meant that Hoshea was the last Jewish King of Israel. The Kingdom of Judah, on the other hand, continued to flourish and proved a loyal ally of Assyria till the death of Sargon II in 705 BC.

SENNACHERIB DESTROYS BABYLON

Sargon II was succeeded by his son Sennacherib. Sennacherib’s first major headache took the form of Babylonia and Judah. The Babylonian problem was Merodach, a Babylonian patriot who in 721 BC seized power not long after Sargon II had deposed Shalmaneser V. For the next 10 years, Babylonia was thus independent of Assyrian rule. Sargon II was in the meantime busy trying to neutralise the Elamites, a power in the ascendant who were by and large Merodach’s bulwark. 


In 710 BC, Sargon finally vanquished the Elamites, after which he marched on Babylon. Without the Elamite prop, Merodach was a sitting duck and so he fled for dear life. Babylonia once again had been caught back in the powerful orbit of Assyria.  However, following the death of Sargon, Merodach re-emerged. He coaxed King Hezekiah of Judah, the most important state between Assyria and Egypt, into fomenting unrest against Sennacherib, to which Hezekiah paid due heed. 


The Judean revolt had a contagion effect on Babylon and once again, Merodach seized the throne in 703 BC. But he was in power for only 9 months, whereupon Sennacherib drove him away from the country. Sennacherib was measured in his ravaging of Babylon: although he sacked it, he did not destroy it. Meanwhile, Hezekiah had cultivated new alliances, one of whom was Egypt. Buoyed by this association with a great power, he took a stand against Sennacherib and stopped paying tribute.


In 701 BC, Sennacherib’s troops descended on Judah. The Assyrian army laid waste to Judah’s 46 cities and had Hezekiah “trapped like a caged bird” in Jerusalem but still they were unable to capture the city. Hezekiah was therefore not dethroned; instead, he resumed his status as Assyria’s vassal king. Now, unlike his predecessors who tried their utmost to ingratiate themselves with the Babylonians, the Assyrian subjects, Sennacherib didn’t care an iota about what the Babylonians thought about him and was never in awe of its religious institutions.


For instance, when he became king in 705 BC, he disdained the prestigious ceremony whereby he was supposed to take the hand of Marduk both as a sign of respect for the god and as a confirmation of his legitimacy as overarching King of Babylonia. All he did was send word that he now called the shots in Babylonia without even bothering to visit its capital, the city of Babylon.  He never took part in key ceremonies where the King was supposed to preside, such as the New Year ritual.


After he had expelled Merodach from Babylon in 702 BC, he installed an Assyrian puppet king but later replaced him with his favourite son and chosen heir Ashur. He just didn’t want to take a direct part in the affairs of Babylon at all. In 698 BC, Ashur was abducted by the Elamites, who now declared Babylonia as their colony. This precipitated a four-year-war between Assyria on the one hand and Elam and Babylonia on the other. Assyria lost the war and Ashur was presumed dead.


Then in 689 BC, the Elamite king died, at which point Sennacherib decided to pounce on Babylon.  The city fell, and he sent the pretender to the throne back to Nineveh in chains. He had spent more time during his reign dealing with Babylon and the Elamites, and had expended more men and resources on dealing with the city, than on any other campaign. His patience had run out, and so he ordered the city to be razed to the ground. Sennacherib went on to commit acts of sacrilege. He plundered and destroyed all the temples and carried the statue of Marduk back to Nineveh, his Assyrian capital, as a war trophy. 
 
ESARHADDON REBUILDS BABYLON


In 681 BC, Sennacherib was assassinated by two of his sons who were loath to the fact that he had anointed his youngest son, Esarhaddon, as his heir at their expense. But in the ensuing six-week civil war, Esarhaddon emerged victorious and was crowned King. Cognizant of the fact that his father had lost much of his popularity both in Babylon and Assyria because of what he did to Babylon, Esarhaddon’s first priority and preoccupation was to rebuild Babylon and revitalise its religious institutions.


He straightaway set course for Babylon, took the hand of Marduk, and declared his allegiance to both Marduk and Ishkur-Adad, who was known as Ashur to the Assyrians. In fact, more often than not, he would swear by Marduk and his son Nabu rather than by Adad. In his endeavour to restore Babylon to its past glory, the first thing Esarhaddon did was to rebuild the Esagil, Marduk’s iconic temple. Meanwhile, he was not oblivious to the matter of the Return (of planet Nibiru).


Under the tutelage of the gods Adad and Utu-Shamash, so he documents in his annals, he set up an astronomical observatory in Ashur, Assyria’s cult centre, specifically geared to the Nibiru watch.  On an array of monuments, he had depicted all planets of the solar system, including Nibiru, to underscore Assyria’s Return expectations. A new monumental gate reminiscent of King Anu’s palatial gateway on Nibiru was erected at Esarhaddon’s sacred precincts.   


In 675, Egypt, which was vying with Assyria for supremacy over the Middle East, more so over Jerusalem, stirred the Phoenician city of Tyre to revolt against Assyria.  Esarhaddon responded by declaring war on Egypt forthwith. The campaign already had the blessings of Marduk and Adad but Esarhaddon wanted a full complement of blessings. So   on his way to Egypt, he detoured to Harran, the cult city of the god Nannar-Sin. He found the god with his chief messenger Nusku reclining on a couch in his temple. The god gave the campaign his nod too.


It took four years, however, for Esarhaddon to conquer a plucky Egypt. In fact, little more than a year later, the deposed Egyptian Pharaoh Taharqa staged a renewed putsch in 669 BC and Esarhaddon was on his way to crack down on the rebellion when he fell ill and passed away. He was succeeded by his son Ashurbanipal. Meanwhile, Esarhaddon had the all-important Kingdom of Judah firmly under his thumb. When its king, Manasseh, at one time tried to misbehave, Esarhaddon had him apprehended and kept prisoner for some time in Babylon.

NABUPOLASSAR RESTORES BABYLON TO GREATNESS
   
Ashurbanipal was the last powerful defender and expander of the  Assyrian empire. He reigned from 668-627 BC, with his younger brother Shamash-Shum-Ukin given charge of Babylon but subordinate to him. The Assyrian empire was at its strongest during the rule of Ashurbanipal but it grew too large for its own good, comprising of today’s Iraq, Syria, Israel, Turkey, Egypt, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iran, Kuwait, Lebanon, Cyprus, and Palestine.


Vast but finite resources were expended just to maintain it and there weren’t enough troops to garrison the empire. In the event, some parts of the empire decided to exploit this weakness by declaring independence. Egypt was one of the nations that did so in 652 BC, although it  continued to maintain friendly relations with Assyria. In that same year,  Shamash-Shum-Ukin also rose against his brother in a bid to make Babylon independent of Assyria. The resulting civil war went on for years, when Shamash-Shum-Ukin was cornered by the forces of his brother and committed suicide. There were further pockets of rebellion in the empire but Ashurbanipal was able to contain them for as long as he lived.


Then following his death in 627 BC, the empire began to unravel. Three kings ruled after him in close succession following coups and counter-coups. In 625 BC, a Babylonian general going by the name Nabupolassar, rebelled and prised Babylonia away from Assyria. A Babylonian tablet says thus of his coronation: “The princes of the land were assembled; they blessed Nabupolassar; opening their fists, they declared him sovereign; Marduk in the assembly of the gods gave the Standard of Power to Nabupolassar.”


In 616 BC, Nabupolassar allied with the Persians, who resented the Assyrian yoke like the plague, and together they attacked Assyria and Sinsharishkun, the Assyrian king, was killed.  Taking advantage of the power vacuum, his general took the throne under the name Ashur-uballit II.  Ashur-uballit II cultivated an alliance with the Egyptians and with their help he held on until 609 BC, when the Babylonians-Persian alliance defeated the former. 


Ashur-uballit II fled to Harran, where he now deferred to a relation of  Sinsharishkun who had sought citadel there after the latter was ousted.  Ashur-uballit II and remnants of the Assyrian army declared the relation King of Assyria in  exile but to no avail. Ashur-uballit II had hoped to secure the blessings of the god Sin in this regard but the god snubbed him.  That same year, a combined Babylonian and Persian forces led siege to and captured Harran.


It was all over: the Neo-Assyrian Empire, which had been existence  for 325 years and grew to become the largest empire ever hitherto, was no more.  Babylon was the new superpower of the globe thanks to the exploits of Nabupolassar and the Neo-Babylonian Empire had begun. Marduk had triumphed over Adad.

 NEXT WEEK:   THE END OF ANCIENT ISRAEL

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