). Among the most perplexing questions of Eastern history, is the comparative state of the Assyrian and the Babylonian or Chaldean empire, and the succession of their kings.
There seems to be little doubt, however, that the Babylonian kingdom did not extend its conquests till the reign of Nebuchadnezzar B. C. 604. Till this time the kings of Babylon were often dependent on the kings of Assyria, and acted as their viceroys, in the same manner as Cyrus the younger was dependent on his brother. From this general fact, as well as from an inference to be stated immediately, Rosenmiiller is of opinion that Nabonassar, the king of Babylon B. C. 747, was. without doubt, a vassal of Assyria. We find in sacred history (2 Kings, 17.24) that the kingof Assyria, while colonising Samaria, " brought men from Babylon." Rosenmüller assumes that this king was Shalmaneser, or Salmanasar, and argues that we must hence conclude that Babylon was at that time -- a period subsequent to Nabonassar's reign -- and consequently before, tributary to Assyria. Paulus, in his Key to Isaiah
(quoted by Rosenmüller), is of a different opinion, and is corroborated by Clinton.
This latter writer infers from Ezra (4.2), that the colonisation of Samaria took place under Esarhaddon, the Assyrian monarch, who undoubtedly effected a change in the Babylonian monarchy, and placed his son there as viceroy.
In the absence of all positive authority, therefore, we can draw no inference from the event referred to by Rosenmiüller. Clinton concludes, on the authority of Polyhistor and the astronomical canon, that Babylon had always kings of her own from the earliest times, and conjectures that Nabonassar and his successors were independent till the reign of Esarhaddon.
This conclusion is strengthened by the existence of the celebrated Era of Nabonassar.
We may fairly infer, from this monarch's reign having been fixed upon by the Babylonian astronomers as the era from which they began their calculations, that there was some distinguished event -- probably the temporary establishment of Babylon as an independent kingdom -- which led to their choice.
In the absence of any thing like certainty to guide us, we may, notwithstanding, pronounce the opinion which Scaliger once held, but afterwards retracted, that Nabonassar and Baladon are identical, to be untenable.
The Era of Nabonassar.
This era serves, in astronomical, the same purpose as the Olympiads in civil history.
It was the starting point of the Babylonian chronology, and was adopted by the Greeks of Alexandria, by Hipparchus, Berosus, and Ptolemy. Its date is ascertained from the eclipses recorded by Ptolemy, and the celestial phenomena with which he marks the day of Nabonassar's accession to the throne.
It is fixed as the 26th of February, B. C. 747. Scaliger De Emend. Temp.
(p. 392) notices the coincidence between the years of this era and the sabbatical year of the Samaritans. Thus, to take the year of Christ, 1584: 1584 + 747 =2331 of the era of Nabonassar, which is both divisible by 7 and a sabbatical year. (Rosenmüller, Biblic. Geogr. of Central Asia,
vol. ii. p. 41, &c., Edinburgh; Clinton, F. H.
vol. i. p. 278; Scaliger. De Emend. Temp.
p. 352, &c.)