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Neo-Assyrian Empire

[Assyria: Great Power] (879 BC) –This was the height of their success and is listed on the Biblical Timeline during that time.

After the Bronze Age Collapse in 1185 and 1130 BC, as well as a series of natural calamities, invasions, internal strife, and migration, the old Assyrian empire fell into a relatively short and slight decline along with other civilizations in the Near East and Mediterranean region.

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Location of Assyria

By early 900 BC, Ashur-Dan II had instituted reforms within the government, stabilized boundaries, and boosted the agricultural sector to establish Assyria once again as a regional power. Adad-nirari II rose to power soon after Ashur-Dan II. He revived the ancient empire and the Neo-Assyrian Empire was established. Adad-nirari II continued securing Assyria’s borders during his reign. And then conquered the surrounding kingdoms including Persia, Philistia, Chaldea, Arabia, Egypt, Israel, and Judah among others. The expansion of the empire and Assyria’s rule of various nations continued until the reign of its last king, Ashur-ubalit II. During its height, the Neo-Assyrian empire spanned from Egypt in the west to Persia in the east and from Turkey in the north to Arabia in the south.

The Neo-Assyrian Empire had a reputation for military power and extreme ruthlessness to subduing conquered peoples. The Assyrians’ success lies in their efficient use of infantry, iron weaponry, engineering, and military strategies. For most of Israel’s history, Assyrians were mentioned in the Bible either as allies (as in the case of Ahaz and Tiglath-pileser) or as cruel enemies as mentioned by the majority of the prophets. Most of the kings of Judah and Israel after the death of Solomon lived under the constant fear of the sieges of Assyria. The prophets Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Micah, Nahum, Zephaniah, and Zechariah directly mentioned Assyria in their prophecies.

Here is a list of the names and dates of the Old Testament prophets who lived during the Neo-Assyrian period:

Jonah – c. 760 BC
Amos – c. 760-755 BC
Joel – 835-830 BC (?)
Hosea – 715-710 BC
Micah – 740-710 BC
Isaiah – c. 700-680 BC
Nahum – c. 630-620 BC
Zephaniah – c. 630 BC
Habakkuk – c. 606 BC
Jeremiah – c. 585-580 BC

Here is a list of the Neo-Assyrian kings mentioned in the Bible:

Shalmaneser III —858–824 B.C. (2 Kings 17:3)
Tiglath-pileser III—744–727 B.C. (2 Kings 16:7)
Sargon II—721–705 B.C. (2 Kings 18:9)
Sennacherib—704–681 B.C. (2 Kings 18:13, Isaiah 36:1)
Esarhaddon—680–669 B.C. (2 Kings 19:36)

As expected, the Assyrians’ extreme cruelty did not endear them to the conquered people. Constant rebellion plagued the empire and other factors such as a large population due to resettlement, drought, and internal political strife added to the decline of the Neo-Assyrian empire. The final blow came with the sacking and burning of Nineveh in 612 BC by a coalition of Persians, Medes, Babylonians, and Scythians.

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