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The Two Babylons
The Death of the Child
How Nimrod died, Scripture is entirely silent.
There was an ancient tradition that he came to a violent end. The circumstances of that
end, however, as antiquity represents them, are clouded with fable. It is said that
tempests of wind sent by God against the Tower of Babel overthrew it, and that Nimrod
perished in its ruins. This could not be true, for we have sufficient evidence that the
Tower of Babel stood long after Nimrod's day. Then, in regard to the death of Ninus,
profane history speaks darkly and mysteriously, although one account tells of his having
met with a violent death similar to that of Pentheus, Lycurgus, * and Orpheus, who were
said to have been torn in pieces. **
* Lycurgus, who is commonly made the enemy of
Bacchus, was, by the Thracians and Phrygians, identified with Bacchus, who it is well
known, was torn in pieces.
** LUDOVICUS VIVES, Commentary on Augustine.
Ninus as referred to by Vives is called "King of India." The word
"India" in classical writers, though not always, yet commonly means Ethiopia, or
the land of Cush. Thus the Choaspes in the land of the eastern Cushites is called an
"Indian River" (DIONYSIUS AFER. Periergesis); and the Nile is said by
Virgil to come from the "coloured
Indians" (Georg)--i.e., from the
Cushites, or Ethiopians of Africa. Osiris also is by Diodorus Siculus (Bibliotheca),
called "an Indian by extraction." There can be no doubt, then, that "Ninus,
king of India," is the Cushite or Ethiopian Ninus.
The identity of Nimrod, however, and the Egyptian
Osiris, having been established, we have thereby light as to Nimrod's death. Osiris met
with a violent death, and that violent death of Osiris was the central theme of the whole
idolatry of Egypt. If Osiris was Nimrod, as we have seen, that violent death which the
Egyptians so pathetically deplored in their annual festivals was just the death of Nimrod.
The accounts in regard to the death of the god worshipped in the several mysteries of the
different countries are all to the same effect. A statement of Plato seems to show, that
in his day the Egyptian Osiris was regarded as identical with Tammuz; * and Tammuz is well
known to have been the same as Adonis, the famous HUNTSMAN, for whose death Venus is
fabled to have made such bitter lamentations.
* See WILKINSON'S Egyptians. The statement
of Plato amounts to this, that the famous Thoth was a counsellor of Thamus, king of Egypt.
Now Thoth is universally known as the "counsellor" of Osiris. Hence it may be
concluded that Thamus and Osiris are the same.
As the women of Egypt wept for Osiris, as the
Phoenician and Assyrian women wept for Tammuz, so in Greece and Rome the women wept for
Bacchus, whose name, as we have seen, means "The bewailed," or "Lamented
one." And now, in connection with the Bacchanal lamentations, the importance of the
relation established between Nebros, "The spotted fawn," and Nebrod, "The
mighty hunter," will appear. The Nebros, or "spotted fawn," was the symbol
of Bacchus, as representing Nebrod or Nimrod himself. Now, on certain occasions, in the
mystical celebrations, the Nebros, or "spotted fawn," was torn in pieces,
expressly, as we learn from Photius, as a commemoration of what happened to Bacchus, *
whom that fawn represented.
* Photius, under the head "Nebridzion"
quotes Demosthenes as saying that "spotted fawns (or nebroi) were torn in pieces for
a certain mystic or mysterious reason"; and he himself tells us that "the
tearing in pieces of the nebroi (or spotted fawns) was in imitation of the suffering in
the case of Dionysus" or Bacchus. (PHOTIUS, Lexicon)
The tearing in pieces of Nebros, "the
spotted one," goes to confirm the conclusion, that the death of Bacchus, even as the
death of Osiris, represented the death of Nebrod, whom, under the very name of "The
Spotted one," the Babylonians worshipped. Though we do not find any account of
Mysteries observed in Greece in memory of Orion, the giant and mighty hunter celebrated by
Homer, under that name, yet he was represented symbolically as having died in a similar
way to that in which Osiris died, and as having then been translated to heaven. *
* See OVID'S Fasti. Ovid represents Orion
as so puffed up with pride on account of his great strength, as vain-gloriously to boast
that no creature on earth could cope with him, whereupon a scorpion appeared,
"and," says the poet, "he was added to the stars." The name of a
scorpion in Chaldee is Akrab; but Ak-rab, thus divided, signifies "THE GREAT
OPPRESSOR," and this is the hidden meaning of the Scorpion as represented in the
Zodiac. That sign typifies him who cut off the Babylonian god, and suppressed the
system he set up. It was while the sun was in Scorpio that Osiris in Egypt "disappeared"
(WILKINSON), and great lamentations were made for his disappearance. Another
subject was mixed up with the death of the Egyptian god; but it is specially to be noticed
that, as it was in consequence of a conflict with a scorpion that Orion was
"added to the stars," so it was when the scorpion was in the ascendant
that Osiris "disappeared."
From Persian records we are expressly assured
that it was Nimrod who was deified after his death by the name of Orion, and placed among
the stars. Here, then, we have large and consenting evidence, all leading to one
conclusion, that the death of Nimrod, the child worshipped in the arms of the
goddess-mother of Babylon, was a death of violence.
Now, when this mighty hero, in the midst of his
career of glory, was suddenly cut off by a violent death, great seems to have been the
shock that the catastrophe occasioned. When the news spread abroad, the devotees of
pleasure felt as if the best benefactor of mankind were gone, and the gaiety of nations
eclipsed. Loud was the wail that everywhere ascended to heaven among the apostates from
the primeval faith for so dire a catastrophe. Then began those weepings for Tammuz, in the
guilt of which the daughters of Israel allowed themselves to be implicated, and the
existence of which can be traced not merely in the annals of classical antiquity, but in
the literature of the world from Ultima Thule to Japan.
Of the prevalence of such weepings in China, thus
speaks the Rev. W. Gillespie: "The dragon-boat festival happens in midsummer, and is
a season of great excitement. About 2000 years ago there lived a young Chinese Mandarin,
Wat-yune, highly respected and beloved by the people. To the grief of all, he was suddenly
drowned in the river. Many boats immediately rushed out in search of him, but his body was
never found. Ever since that time, on the same day of the month, the dragon-boats go out
in search of him." "It is something," adds the author, "like the
bewailing of Adonis, or the weeping for Tammuz mentioned in Scripture." As the great
god Buddh is generally represented in China as a Negro, that may serve to identify
the beloved Mandarin whose loss is thus annually bewailed. The religious system of Japan
largely coincides with that of China. In Iceland, and throughout Scandinavia, there were
similar lamentations for the loss of the god Balder. Balder, through the treachery of the
god Loki, the spirit of evil, according as had been written in the book of destiny,
"was slain, although the empire of heaven depended on his life." His father Odin
had "learned the terrible secret from the book of destiny, having conjured one of the
Volar from her infernal abode. All the gods trembled at the knowledge of this event. Then
Frigga [the wife of Odin] called on every object, animate and inanimate, to take an oath
not to destroy or furnish arms against Balder. Fire, water, rocks, and vegetables were
bound by this solemn obligation. One plant only, the mistletoe, was overlooked. Loki
discovered the omission, and made that contemptible shrub the fatal weapon. Among the
warlike pastimes of Valhalla [the assembly of the gods] one was to throw darts at the
invulnerable deity, who felt a pleasure in presenting his charmed breast to their weapons.
At a tournament of this kind, the evil genius putting a sprig of the mistletoe into the
hands of the blind Hoder, and directing his aim, the dreaded prediction was accomplished
by an unintentional fratricide. The spectators were struck with speechless wonder; and
their misfortune was the greater, that no one, out of respect to the sacredness of the
place, dared to avenge it. With tears of lamentation they carried the lifeless body to the
shore, and laid it upon a ship, as a funeral pile, with that of Nanna his lovely bride,
who had died of a broken heart. His horse and arms were burnt at the same time, as was
customary at the obsequies of the ancient heroes of the north." Then Frigga, his
mother, was overwhelmed with distress. "Inconsolable for the loss of her beautiful
son," says Dr. Crichton, "she despatched Hermod (the swift) to the abode of Hela
[the goddess of Hell, or the infernal regions], to offer a ransom for his release. The
gloomy goddess promised that he should be restored, provided everything on earth were
found to weep for him. Then were messengers sent over the whole world, to see that the
order was obeyed, and the effect of the general sorrow was 'as when there is a universal
thaw.'" There are considerable variations from the original story in these two
legends; but at bottom the essence of the stories is the same, indicating that they must
have flowed from one fountain.
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