Records of the Past, 2nd Series, Vol. III

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Records of the Past, 2nd Series, Vol. III

By A. H. Sayce

Introduction- The India House Inscription of Nebuchadrezzar the Great

Whether we suppose that this famous relic of the past embodies the ipsissima verba of the great king, in whose name and by whose orders, at all events, it was written and graven in imperishable stone; or that it is the set panegyrical composition of some one of the literary men of his brilliant court; will make little difference to the deep interest which such a monument must always inspire in the minds of thoughtful readers of the prophecies of Jeremiah and the picturesque traditions of the book of Daniel. Here we have an unquestionable relic of the age of the fall of the Jewish monarchy and the brilliant sunset of Hebrew prophecy: an authentic record, preserved almost intact in its original shape, of the very sovereign whom Jeremiah declared to be Jehovah's chosen servant, and whom, consequently, it was Judah's duty as well as highest political wisdom to obey. And not only this. The inscription paints for us in unfading colours a portrait of the man Nebuchadrezzar; it exhibits in the vivid light of actuality his pride of place and power and greatness, his strong conviction of his own divine call to universal empire, his passionate devotion to his gods, his untiring labours for their glory and the aggrandisement of that peerless capital which was their chosen dwelling-place.

The style of the inscription is elevated almost to the level of poetry; and the phraseology often recalls familiar expressions of the Old Testament. If I have not noted all such coincidences as they occurred, it was because I felt that they were too obvious and striking for even a cursory reader to miss.

In correcting my former version (Proc. Soc. Bibl. Arch., Dec. 1887) I have, of course, made use of the other inscriptions of the king. The beautifully written cylinder, numbered 85-4-30. I, Brit. Mus., has supplied several important corrections of the text. (See Proc. Soc. Bibl. Arch., March 1889.)

Some of the Accadian ideograms and words I have succeeded in explaining and illustrating by means of their Chinese representatives, as will be seen from the notes (cp. my papers in Proc. Soc. Bibl. Arch., entitled The New Accadian).



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