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Rimmon means to exalt, to be able to break forth with power, on being exalted. Psalm lxvi. 17. The sacred writers used the word to signify the exaltation, and breaking forth of divine light, the elevation or breaking forth of infinite wisdom. This idol was a serpent idol, for as the serpent was originally considered as an emblem of infinite wisdom, as well as the wisdom, or subtilty of the sensual principle in man; so also the word was used to signify the elevation and springing forth of wisdom in
The Syrians had also other idols, such as their deified kings and great heroes, the adoration of which appears to have commenced, when they ceased to worship the serpent ; and thus fell into a gross state of idolatry. Rimmon was altogether neglected, when a new sect sprung up, and Benhadad the king received divine honors, as his name signifies, vix. the son of shouting, a custom among them when they met their enemies in the field of battle, by which they were intimidated, and twhich frequently caused them to gain the victory.
THE WORSHIP OF THE ANCIENT ASSYRIANS OR BABYLONIANS
Followed that of the Syrians. It has been said to be involved in much obscurity, but the scriptures will help us so as to determine the worship of this very ancient nation.
Nimrod appears to have been the founder of the Babylonian empire, for in the 10th chapter of Genesis, ver. 10. it is said, “and the beginning of his kingdom was Babel.” Some writers have given priority to Nineveh ; they were both royal cities, but Babel appears by
the scripture, which is the best authority, to have been the beginning of the empire of Babylon. It is said, that Ashur went forth and built Nineveh, but the true reading is as follows, “ from that land, he (Nimrod) went forth to Assyria, and built Nineveh.” So that there does not appear to have been any considerable time between the building of Babel, and the building of Nineveh.
Nisroch appears to have been the most favourite idol of the Assyrians, 2 Kings, xix. 37. and Isaiah xxxvii. 38. Nisroch means the great one, the chief, above all others, and was originally intended to personify the Majesty of heaven. They had also a number of idols of lesser note, for when the king of Assyria took the Israelites away captive to Babylon, he brought people from Cuthah, Aya, Hamath, and Sepharvaim. And these people, who were all idolaters, but of different sects, brought with them the idols of their particular worship. Thus we read that those, who came from Babylon, made Succoth-benoth. Lexicographers have supposed, that these words, Succoth-benoth, meant temples dedicated to the daughters of the heathen, where they were to prostitute themselves once in their lives to strangers, who were on that account to make a gift to the goddess. But notwithstanding all that has been said concerning such an abomination, there has not been any thing advanced that can be depended on, to prove that this was permitted to be done. It is not possible to suppose that parents would countenance the ruin of their children, which must have been inevitably the case, had this been true. The bad policy of such a proceeding, is too evident to obtain credit, as it would have added to the family, which would have given birth to much distress among the poor, and it would also have vitiated the minds of all the women in the nation. We cannot suppose that the wise men of that day, would meet in their temples to worship young women, who themselves also went to worship.
Succoth-benoth is only a different name for Ashtaroth i karnaim, or the Moon and Venus ; for as Ashtaroth karnaim, means the horned circuit-making goddesses,' so Succoth means to hide or overshadow,' and benoth, “ daughters ;' alluding to those planets, when they assume the crescent form, as then the other parts of their bodies are hidden or overshadowed. As Ashtaroth karnaim and Succoth-benoth are feminine nouns in Hebrew, it shows us that the Moon and Venus being considered feminine in the European languages, is agreeable to the custom of those ancient people.
The sacred history proceeds. And the men of Cuth made Nergal, i. e. the rolling light, and the men of Hamath made Ashma, the mediator ; and the Avites made Nebhaz, the examiner ; and Tartak, the binder in chains, or the temple of judgment; and the Serpharvites made Adramelek, the glorious king ; Anamelek, the humble king.
Babylon was in its origin a colony of Egypt, and therefore the idolatry of Egypt passed into that country. But we find that this empire became exceedingly great, and far outshone the mother country, both as to extent and population. As there must, therefore, have been a cause for this great prosperity, either in the religious or civil order of things, we must draw our information respecting this matter from the scriptures.
At the commencement of the colony of Babylon, the worship of the serpent, which was the primary idol of the Egyptians, was also the idol of Babel. But in order to make this country vie with Egypt, they adopted the sound policy of permitting the settlers from the different idolatrous nations, to build temples to their idols they had been accustomed to worship.
Thus were the people of many nations permitted to settle in the province of Babylon, till at length, by the great increase of population, it laid the foundation of that power which subjugated all the nations of the east. They were all idolaters, but of different sects, a mixture from all the idolatrous kingdoms, and the empire was called on that account Babel, which means to mix or mingle; for so they permitted the people to mix with all professions. This was the one great cause of the prosperity of that nation, which prepared the way for the establishment of one of the greatest empires in the world; the greatest as to extent of population, and more lasting than any that succeeded it.
But as I have before observed, we are not to suppose that these ancient people, the most refined and learned of all the nations at that period, were so stupid in the beginning, as to worship idols of gold, silver, brass, wood, and stone, as such only. They first looked on things in outward nature, as representatives of the different passions and propensities in man; as we find in the prophet, where he is shown in the chamber of imagery, clean and unclean beasts, the first signifying the good, and the latter the evil affections; by representing the abomination of evil, and the beauty of holiness, which, however, in after-time were not attended to. On this account, the ignorant part of the community began to worship them, and at length the prevalence of example rendered this gross idolatry universal.
This was the state of the religion of the ancient Babylonians, when the empire was in the zenith of its prosperity. Their power became so great, that they conquered all the eastern nations, and so formed a vast and universal empire. In this state it appears to have been, at the time of Nebuchadnezzer, when the unbounded ambition of that monarch introduced a new state of things in their religion, or rather an addition to the established worship of the land, by the deification of himself. The Babylonian kings had many names.
The name of Nebuchadnezzar appears to agree with the memorable dream in Daniel, concerning the tree which was to be cut down, but the stump was to remain in the ground; signifying that the kingdom was not to be taken from him, after he was sensible that the heavens did rule the kingdoms of this world. Nebuchadnezzar is a compound word. Nebu means to bud, or germinate ; chad, 10 shoot forth; and nezzar, a scion or shoot, which, though it be cut down, will flourish.
THE WORSHIP OF THE TROJANS.
It appears consistent with the order of history, that the worship of the ancient Trojans should follow that of the Babylonians. The intercourse between these two ancient nations, on account of their proximity, must have been frequent, and their customs and habits must also have been similar, both as to their religious and civil policy.
It is evident from the writings of Homer, that the founders of the Trojan monarchy must have had just ideas concerning God and his superintending Providence. Although they admitted, in their list of Deities, something like polytheism, which was nothing more in its origin than a personification of the virtues and vices, yet they acknowledged one supreme being only. These gods are described in the lliad at one time as asleep on their couches,