Toward this proud city of Syria, the King of Babylon, in the twenty-first year of his reign, led his conquering legions, with full confidence of a speedy surrender. With a powerful army he encamped before the city, and soon commenced his attack, which was vigorously repelled. It became evident to the Chaldeans that the subduing of Tyre was not the work of a few days, or even a few months. His troops suffered incredible hardships, so that, according to the Prophet’s expression, “every head was made bald, and every shoulder was peeled.” Not until after a protracted siege of thirteen years was the city conquered, and even then Nebuchadnezzar found nothing to recompense him for the suffering of his army and the expense of the campaign.
Soon after the surrender of Tyre, the King of Babylon led his forces into Egypt, where he was much more successful than on the shores of the Mediterranean. A large number of provinces were brought to subjection, and thousands of captives were carried to Chaldea and distributed along the shores of the Euphrates.
The king of Babylon “was at rest in his own house, and flourishing in his own palace.” The thoughts of the past, present, and future deeply occupied his mind. The past of his own history had been crowned with unparalleled success. The present was all that his heart could wish. He found himself surrounded with glory and magnificence that completely eclipsed the splendor of all other nations combined. The future—ah, the future! Who could penetrate its darkness? Could it be possible that the predictions of Belteshazzar, in regard to the future, were true? Was the glory of Chaldea to be trampled in the dust? Was the kingly line of Nebuchadnezzar to be broken? Was not the kingdom at last established on an immovable foundation? But, had he not, at different times, been convinced that Belteshazzar had been instructed by the God of heaven in regard to the future? Tea, truly! But many years had passed since then, and his greatness had been daily increasing. The king would have gladly persuaded himself that all was clear in the future, but it was beyond his power, and under a degree of perplexity he threw himself upon his couch. A few wandering thoughts, and the king was asleep.
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“Another dream of troubles!” cried the king, while his countenance bespoke alarm. “Do the gods, indeed, delight in my misery? Why must I be thus tormented? Aye! a dream big with meaning! A vision surcharged with great events! But who will show me the interpretation thereof? Where is Belteshazzar! But why may not my Chaldean wise men answer the purpose? Yea! Let them have the first trial. Why do I thus tremble? Whom shall I fear? ‘Hew down the tree!’ O, ye gods, how that voice sounded! ’Let his portion be with the beasts, in the grass of the earth!’ What meaneth it? Why do I fear to call Belteshazzar first? Is it not best at once to know the worst? But let my Chaldeans have the first trial;” and the king called a young page into his presence.