Who were the Assyrians?
• Northern Iraq, Turkey, Georgia, Armenia
• Birthed from Old Babylonian Empire (near Tigris tributaries-the cities of Ashur, Arbela, Kalakh, and Nineveh)
• The name comes from the god Ashur, and the city which was the seat of the Empire at its beginning. The capital moved to Nineveh.
• Lasted a couple of hundred years in glory
List of Key Kings
Shalmaneser I (1273-1244) 29 yrs
• Brought the city-states in the north under one rule.
Tiglath-Pileser I (1114-1076) 38 yrs
• Conquered 40 nations around him.
• Set the status of Assyria as a nation ‘filled with death and taxes.’
Shalmaneser V (726-722) 4 yrs
• Captures Samaria, deports Israelites
• Last king, Hoshea, conspired with Egypt and withheld the annual tribute from Assyria.
• Three-year siege, which was finished by Sargon II, ended the Israelite kingdom in 722 B.C.
Sennacherib (704-681) 23 yrs
• Campaign Against Judah (701 B.C.) 2 Kings 18 – 19 / 14th year of Hezekiah
• 46 cities taken in Judah
• God’s judgment on Sennacherib during this campaign (2 Kings 19:35-36)
1. Massive Armies (the whole government existed as a military tool) / Government was the nationalization of force. Everything existed for the art of war.
2. Great Siege Machine – Corp of Engineers
3. Psychological Terror
• Corpses impaled on stakes along roads to prevent counter attacks.
• Severed heads stacked in heaps (the soldiers were given a portion of booty contingent upon the number of dead they were responsible for. The heads were like scalps).
• Captives skinned alive, slowly roasted, etc.
• Elamite kings head displayed at a garden party and then put over the gate at Nineveh to rot away.
• Key generals of conquered nations were flayed alive, body dismembered and distributed throughout kingdom as souvenirs.
• Nobles were defaced, hands and feet removed, thrown from high towers, children beheaded.
• Captive cities were razed and site was denuded by killing trees.
The Prophet’s Response:
• Pleading for repentance of Israel (Hosea 6:1 -3)
• Recognition of spiritual causes for punishment (Hosea 9:1 -3, 7-9; 10:1-7)
The End of Assyria:
Ashurbanipal (d. 626 B.C.) – “Great King, the mighty King, the King of the World, the King of Assyria” – Durant, Vol. 1, Page 282 [Yearning of Vanity]
• Addiction to violence
• Best men eventually are killed – weaken the nation
• Spread out
• Aliens brought in to feed / destroying national unity
• Huge mother nation to nurse with all the plunder of war. War was a means to prosperity.
612 B.C. – Nineveh falls to the Babylonian Naboplassar.
Nothing remained but a few tactics in war and provincial administration techniques.
200 years later, Xenophon’s men marched over the site of ancient Nineveh and never suspected they did so.
Naboplasser (626-605 BC)
1. Independence from Assyria
2. Alliance with Medes (614)
3. 612, fall of Nineveh
4. Assyrian state fell (605)
1. Expands to west
2. Builder of “Great Babylon”
• Unrivaled capital of Near East
• 56 mile walled city (200 sq. mi.) broad enough to ride a four-horse chariot.
• Euphrates ran through the city
• Bricked – each with insignia “I am Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon”
• In the city a 7-staged Ziggurat to the height of 650 feet. Crowned with gold table
• 600 yds. North of the Tower was a mound called Kasr – this was the palace of the King.
• The Hanging Gardens were near the palace
1. Built for daughter of Cyaxares, King of the Medes – Nebuchadnezzar’s wife.
2. A circular colonnade
3. Hydraulic engines concealed in columns and manned by slaves to carry water from the Euphrates to the highest tier of the garden – 75 feet up.
3. Conquers Judah – 605 (2 Chron. 36:1-21)
• Jehoiakim (who was set as vassal king by Egypt) and was taken to Babylon – 605 B.C. / 2 Chr. 36:6-7 / Dan 1:1-2 (Deportation of prisoners – Daniel and three boys)
• Jeremiah 25:8-14 (70 Years captivity)
• Nebuchadnezzar sets Zedekiah as ruler of Judah vassal (597)
• Zedekiah maintains alliance with Egypt
4. Wipes Judah out – 586 B.C.
• One and one-half year siege / Jer. 21 :3-7
• Famine forces surrender in 587 BC
• Fall of Jerusalem – 586 BC (2 Chron. 36:13-21)
1. King Zedekiah, blinded and deported
2. City leveled / Temple destroyed
3. “Jew” and “Judaism” are coined from term “Judah”
1. Attacked Egypt
2. Last Babylonian king
3. In Arabia during fall
1. Son of Nabonidus
2. Co-Regent / Temporary ruler while father in Arabia
3. Threw festival
• Handwriting on the wall
• Daniel interprets
4. Medes and Persians take Babylonian empire (2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Dan.5:30-31)
Cyrus the Great – (539-530)
1. Parsua – district north of the Zagros Mountains (Iran) / Persian origin
2. Cyrus the Great took rule over Persian empire
a. King of Persia
b. Rebelled against Medes
1. Median Empire stretch across western Iran
2. Captured their capital, Ecbatana (Hamadan)
3. Controlled whole empire
c. Seized Lydia (547) and moved to Afghanistan
3. Cyrus took Babylonian empire (539)
a. King Nabonidus was in Arabia
b. Belshazzar, son, was temporary ruler
c. Handwriting on wall at feast
1. Daniel interprets
2. Belshazzar lay dead the next morning
d. Persians in power – Darius the Mede (535-525 BC) appointed governor by Cyrus over this region. This was the ‘Lion’s Den’ Darius.
4. Cyrus welcomed in Palestine (Isaiah 45: 1 -2)
a. An amiable conqueror / founded his empire on generosity.
b. His enemies knew he was lenient – they did not fight against him with that desperate courage which men show when their only choice is to kill or die a horrible death along with their wives and children (i.e. Assyria and Babylonia)
c. First principle was to allow free religious worship as long as there was no rebellion.
d. Instead of sacking cities, he allowed temples and even encouraged the building of them.
5. Jerusalem’s Temple rebuilding begun
a. Commissioned return of exiles – Ezra 1
b. Commissioned Sheshbazzar, Prince of Judah
c. Exiles return under Zerubbabel (537 BC)
6. Cyrus’ Tomb (Pasargadae, Iran)
1. Alexander the Great stood before his tomb and read these words. “O man, whosoever thou art and whencesoever thou comest, for I know thou wilt come, I am Cyrus, son of Cambyses, and I won for the Persians their empire. Do not, therefore, begrudge me this little earth that covers my body.” Plutarch
Darius 1 – (521-486)
1. (522) came to power because the throne was vacant due to Cambyses II killing his brother to insure no usurpation.
2. Continued Temple Rebuilding (Ezra 5-6)
3. Haggai and Zechariah begin prophesying
• Conquered Egypt
• Canal between the Nile and the Red Sea
• Introduced coinage to Persian empire
• Pressed kingdom to India border
• Invaded Europe and Greece (513) / Suffered defeat at Marathon (490)
Xerxes – (486-465)
1. Reinvaded Greece / Defeat at Thermoplyae and Salamis (480)
2. King of Esther (479)
3. Silence as to Judah and Temple (Ezra 4:6)
Artaxerxes I – (464-423)
1. Feared Disloyalty and Rebellion
a. Weak King
b. Fears were played on – Ezra 4:7ff
• (464-458) City rebuilding stopped – Ezra 4:7ff
• (458) Issued Ezra’s reforms (Ezra 7)
2. Issued Nehemiah’s Wall building expedition-444/5 BC
400 Years of Silence
1. Egypt broke away from Persia
2. Philip of Macedon unified Greek city-states
3. Alexander the Great conquered Persia (334 B.C.)