Friday, February 12, 2021

Amorites Giants Struggle for Ascendancy of Babylon

 Amorites Giants  Struggle for Ascendancy of Babylon

    Sun worship came into prominence in its most fully developed form during the obscure period which followed the decline of the Dynasty of Isin. This was probably due to the changed political conditions which brought about the ascendancy for a time of Larsa, the seat of the Sumerian sun cult, and of Sippar, the seat of the Akkadian sun cult. Larsa was selected as the capital of the Elamite conquerors, while their rivals, the Amorites, appear to have first established their power at Sippar.
Babbar, the sun god of Sippar, whose Semitic name was Shamash, must have been credited with the early successes of the Amorites, who became domiciled under his care, and it was possibly on that account that the ruling family subsequently devoted so much attention to his worship in Merodach's city of Babylon, where a sun temple was erected, and Shamash received devout recognition as an abstract deity of righteousness and law, who reflected the ideals of well organized and firmly governed communities.
      The first Amoritic king was Sumu-abum, but little is known regarding him except that he reigned at Sippar. He was succeeded by Sumu-la-ilu, a deified monarch, who moved from Sippar to Babylon, the great wall of which he either repaired or entirely reconstructed in his fifth year. With these two monarchs began the brilliant Hammurabi, or First Dynasty of Babylonia, which endured for three centuries. Except Sumu-abum, who seems to stand alone, all its kings belonged to the same family, and son succeeded father in unbroken succession.
     Sumu-la-ilu was evidently a great general and conqueror of the type of Thothmes III of Egypt. His empire, it is believed, included the rising city states of Assyria, and extended southward as far as ancient Lagash.
        Of special interest on religious as well as political grounds was his association with Kish. That city had become the stronghold of a rival family of Amoritic kings, some of whom were powerful enough to assert their independence. They formed the Third Dynasty of Kish. The local god was Zamama, the Tammuz-like deity, who, like Nin-Girsu of Lagash, was subsequently identified with Merodach of Babylon. But prominence was also given to the moon god Nannar, to whom a temple had been erected, a fact which suggests that sun worship was not more pronounced among the Semites than the Arabians, and may not, indeed, have been of Semitic origin at all. Perhaps the lunar temple was a relic of the influential Dynasty of Ur.
     Sumu-la-ilu attacked and captured Kish, but did not slay Bunutakhtunila, its king, who became his vassal. Under the overlordship of Sumu-la-ilu, the next ruler of Kish, whose name was Immerum, gave prominence to the public worship of Shamash. Politics and religion went evidently hand in hand.
    Sumu-la-ilu strengthened the defenses of Sippar, restored the wall and temple of Cuthah, and promoted the worship of Merodach and his consort Zerpanitum at Babylon. He was undoubtedly one of the forceful personalities of his dynasty. His son, Zabium, had a short but successful reign and appears to have continued the policy of his father in consolidating the power of Babylon and securing the allegiance of subject cities. He enlarged Merodach's temple, E-sagila, restored the Kish temple of Zamama, and placed a golden image of himself in the temple of the sun god at Sippar. Apil-Sin, his son, surrounded Babylon with a new wall, erected a temple to Ishtar, and presented a throne of gold and silver to Shamash in that city, while he also strengthened Borsippa, renewed Nergal's temple at Cuthah, and dug canals.
     The next monarch was Sin-muballit, son of Apil-Sin and father of Hammurabi. He engaged himself in extending and strengthening the area controlled by Babylon by building city fortifications and improving the irrigation system. It is recorded that he honoured Shamash with the gift of a shrine and a golden altar adorned with jewels. Like Sumu-la-ilu, he was a great battle lord, and was specially concerned in challenging the supremacy of Elam in Sumeria and in the western land of the Amorites.
   For a brief period a great conqueror, named Rim-Anum, had established an empire which extended from Kish to Larsa, but little is known regarding him. Then several kings flourished at Larsa who claimed to have ruled over Ur. The first monarch with an Elamite name who became connected with Larsa was Kudur-Mabug, son of Shimti-Shilkhak, the father of Warad-Sin and Rim-Sin.
It was from one of these Elamite monarchs that Sin-muballit captured Isin, and probably the Elamites were also the leaders of the army of Ur which he had routed before that event took place. He was not successful, however, in driving the Elamites from the land, and possibly he arranged with them a treaty of peace or perhaps of alliance.
     Much controversy has been waged over the historical problems connected with this disturbed age. The records are exceedingly scanty, because the kings were not in the habit of commemorating battles which proved disastrous to them, and their fragmentary references to successes are not sufficient to indicate what permanent results accrued from their various campaigns. All we know for certain is that for a considerable period, extending perhaps over a century, a tremendous and disastrous struggle was waged at intervals, which desolated middle Babylonia. At least five great cities were destroyed by fire, as is testified by the evidence accumulated by excavators. These were Lagash, Umma, Shurruppak, Kisurra, and Adab. The ancient metropolis of Lagash, whose glory had been revived by Gudea and his kinsmen, fell soon after the rise of Larsa, and lay in ruins until the second century B.C., when, during the Seleucid Period, it was again occupied for a time. From its mound at Tello, and the buried ruins of the other cities, most of the relics of ancient Sumerian civilization have been recovered.
      It was probably during one of the intervals of this stormy period that the rival kings in Babylonia joined forces against a common enemy and invaded the Western Land. Probably there was much unrest there. Great ethnic disturbances were in progress which were changing the political complexion of Western Asia. In addition to the outpourings of Arabian peoples into Palestine and Syria, which propelled other tribes to invade Mesopotamia, northern Babylonia, and Assyria, there was also much unrest all over the wide area to north and west of Elam. Indeed, the Elamite migration into southern Babylonia may not have been unconnected with the southward drift of roving bands from Media and the Iranian plateau.
      It is believed that these migrations were primarily due to changing climatic conditions, a prolonged "Dry Cycle" having caused a shortage of herbage, with the result that pastoral peoples were compelled to go farther and farther afield in quest of "fresh woods and pastures new". Innumerable currents and cross currents were set in motion once these race movements swept towards settled districts either to flood them with human waves, or surround them like islands in the midst of tempest-lashed seas, fretting the frontiers with restless fury, and ever groping for an inlet through which to flow with irresistible force.
     Northern Babylonia and Assyria probably attracted the tillers of the soil. But the movements of seafarers must have followed a different route. It is possible that about this time the Phoenicians began to migrate towards the "Upper Sea". According to their own traditions, their racial cradle was on the northern shore of the Persian Gulf. So far as we know, they first made their appearance on the Mediterranean coast about 2000 B.C., where they subsequently entered into the competition as sea traders with the mariners of ancient Crete. Apparently, the pastoral nomads pressed northward through Mesopotamia and towards Canaan. As much is suggested by the Biblical narrative which deals with the wanderings of Terah, Abraham, and Lot. Taking with them their "flocks and herds and tents", and accompanied by wives, and families, and servants, they migrated, it is stated, from the Sumerian city of Ur northwards to Haran "and dwelt there". After Terah's death, the tribe wandered through Canaan and kept moving southward, unable, it would seem, to settle permanently in any particular district. At length "there was a famine in the land"--an interesting reference to the "Dry Cycle"--and the wanderers found it necessary to take refuge for a time in Egypt. There they appear to have prospered. Indeed, so greatly did their flocks and herds increase that when they returned to Canaan they found that "the land was not able to bear them", although the conditions had improved somewhat during the interval. "There was", as a result, "strife between the herdmen of Abram's cattle and the herdmen of Lot's cattle."

The Complete History of the Nephilim Amorite