Name and Location.
Assyria can be found at the north part of Mesopotamia with two symbolic rivers running through it, the Tigris and the Euphrates along with many tributaries. Its name came from mât Aššur; Asshur is its original capital, it literally means “the country of the god Asshur”. On its west is an alluvial land deposited by the Tigris that requires irrigation for agriculture to be possible while the foothills of Zagros on the east supply ample rainfall.
Birth of Power. The Assyrian Empire is shown on the Biblical Timeline Chart from the mid 23rd century BC to 608 BC. Its capital, Nineveh was situated near the Tigris River. At its peak, its power extended from Nineveh, Ashur, and Kalakh to Egypt up to the Persian Gulf.
Assyrians were known for their great ability in warfare as much as for brutality and inhumane violence. They believed their diving mission was to wipe out nationalism and impose their religion on the people under their domination and make them worship their gods.
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Known for their excellent combat strategies, they were also feared for ripping their prisoners alive and slitting different parts of their body. And while they pioneered in using iron weapons and light horse-drawn chariot, they also ranked high on having the bloodiest warfare method, callously displaying piles of human skulls to promote fear among other nations.
What Part of The Bible Mentions Assyria?
It is not until the later history of the Old Testament that Assyria is mentioned. 2 Kings 15:19 states that, Pul, the King of Assyria was given a thousand talents of silver by the King of Israel, Menahem, to show “that his hand might be with him to confirm the kingdom in his hand.”
Early settlers of Assyria are believed to have come from Babylonia (Genesis 10:22) and descended from Asshur. Out of Noah’s three sons, the Assyrians originated from Shem (Genesis 10:6-8). In 1300 BC, with its great warrior Nimrod “mighty hunter before the Lord” (Genesis 10:9-12), it lead the ancient world and conquered Babylon along with other cities and its future capital, Nineveh.
It’s religion focused on the divinity of nature, worshiping natural objects they believed were possessed by a spirit. They were very superstitious.They would first ask the opinions of their diviners and follow several rituals before proceeding to any military actions. Their pagan belief extended from the chief god, Asshur to others related to nature, the planets, along with the other lesser and patron gods for numerous cities. For this, they were strongly condemned by the prophets and even God (Ezekiel 16:18).
Assyria’s wickedness and paganism were of great concern to God (Jonah 4:10-11 who asked Jonah to preach to the city of Ninevah who at first repented(Jonah 1:1-2). However, years later, the King of Assyria insulted God and told his people neither to listen to nor to trust God’s words (2 Kings 18:29-32) and even challenged God’s power and likened Him to their gods (2 Kings 18:33-35). This angered and dismayed God (2 Kings 19:21-27). Disappointed Him enough to make Him say, “I will make you return by the way you came” (2 Kings 19:28).
True to His word, years later, the Prophet Nahum warned, “the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished” (Nahum 1:3) and further revealed the “end of Nineveh” (Nahum 1:8). And around 609 BC, after dominating for more or less 300 years, the once great empire finally fell when the coalition of the Babylonians and Medes leaded by Nabopolassar, burnt Nineveh to the ground.
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