Assyria and surrounding region
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The name of the third river is Hiddekel: this is the one which flows in front of Assyria. The fourth river is the Euphrates.
Genesis 10:11 Out of that land he went forth into Assyria, and built Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir, Calah,
Genesis 25:18 They lived from Havilah to Shur that is before Egypt, as you go toward Assyria. He lived opposite all his relatives.
2 Kings 15:19 There came against the land Pul the king of Assyria; and Menahem gave Pul one thousand talents of silver, that his hand might be with him to confirm the kingdom in his hand.
2 Kings 15:20 Menahem exacted the money of Israel, even of all the mighty men of wealth, of each man fifty shekels of silver, to give to the king of Assyria. So the king of Assyria turned back, and didn't stay there in the land.
2 Kings 15:29 In the days of Pekah king of Israel came Tiglath Pileser king of Assyria, and took Ijon, and Abel Beth Maacah, and Janoah, and Kedesh, and Hazor, and Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali; and he carried them captive to Assyria.
2 Kings 16:7 So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath Pileser king of Assyria, saying, "I am your servant and your son. Come up, and save me out of the hand of the king of Syria, and out of the hand of the king of Israel, who rise up against me."
2 Kings 16:8 Ahaz took the silver and gold that was found in the house of Yahweh, and in the treasures of the king's house, and sent it for a present to the king of Assyria.
2 Kings 16:9 The king of Assyria listened to him; and the king of Assyria went up against Damascus, and took it, and carried the people of it captive to Kir, and killed Rezin.
2 Kings 16:10 King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath Pileser king of Assyria, and saw the altar that was at Damascus; and king Ahaz sent to Urijah the priest the fashion of the altar, and its pattern, according to all its workmanship.
2 Kings 16:18 The covered way for the Sabbath that they had built in the house, and the king's entry outside, turned he to the house of Yahweh, because of the king of Assyria.
2 Kings 17:3 Against him came up Shalmaneser king of Assyria; and Hoshea became his servant, and brought him tribute.
2 Kings 17:4 The king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea; for he had sent messengers to So king of Egypt, and offered no tribute to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year: therefore the king of Assyria shut him up, and bound him in prison.
2 Kings 17:5 Then the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years.
2 Kings 17:6 In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away to Assyria, and placed them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.
2 Kings 17:7 It was so, because the children of Israel had sinned against Yahweh their God, who brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods,
2 Kings 17:23 until Yahweh removed Israel out of his sight, as he spoke by all his servants the prophets. So Israel was carried away out of their own land to Assyria to this day.
2 Kings 17:24 The king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Avva, and from Hamath and Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel; and they possessed Samaria, and lived in the cities of it.
2 Kings 17:26 Therefore they spoke to the king of Assyria, saying, "The nations which you have carried away, and placed in the cities of Samaria, don't know the law of the god of the land. Therefore he has sent lions among them, and behold, they kill them, because they don't know the law of the god of the land."
2 Kings 17:27 Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, "Carry there one of the priests whom you brought from there; and let them go and dwell there, and let him teach them the law of the god of the land."
2 Kings 18:7 Yahweh was with him; wherever he went forth he prospered: and he rebelled against the king of Assyria, and didn't serve him.
2 Kings 18:9 It happened in the fourth year of king Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria, and besieged it.
2 Kings 18:11 The king of Assyria carried Israel away to Assyria, and put them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes,
2 Kings 18:13 Now in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah did Sennacherib king of Assyria come up against all the fortified cities of Judah, and took them.
2 Kings 18:14 Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria to Lachish, saying, "I have offended; return from me. That which you put on me, I will bear." The king of Assyria appointed to Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold.
2 Kings 18:16 At that time did Hezekiah cut off the gold from the doors of the temple of Yahweh, and from the pillars which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid, and gave it to the king of Assyria.
2 Kings 18:17 The king of Assyria sent Tartan and Rabsaris and Rabshakeh from Lachish to king Hezekiah with a great army to Jerusalem. They went up and came to Jerusalem. When they were come up, they came and stood by the conduit of the upper pool, which is in the highway of the fuller's field.
2 Kings 18:19 Rabshakeh said to them, "Say now to Hezekiah,'Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria, "What confidence is this in which you trust?
2 Kings 18:23 Now therefore, please give pledges to my master the king of Assyria, and I will give you two thousand horses, if you are able on your part to set riders on them.
2 Kings 18:28 Then Rabshakeh stood, and cried with a loud voice in the Jews' language, and spoke, saying, "Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria.
2 Kings 18:30 Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in Yahweh, saying, "Yahweh will surely deliver us, and this city shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria."
2 Kings 18:31 Don't listen to Hezekiah.' For thus says the king of Assyria,'Make your peace with me, and come out to me; and everyone of you eat of his vine, and everyone of his fig tree, and everyone drink the waters of his own cistern;
2 Kings 18:33 Has any of the gods of the nations ever delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria?
2 Kings 19:4 It may be Yahweh your God will hear all the words of Rabshakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master has sent to defy the living God, and will rebuke the words which Yahweh your God has heard. Therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left.'"
2 Kings 19:6 Isaiah said to them, "Thus you shall tell your master,'Thus says Yahweh, "Don't be afraid of the words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me.
2 Kings 19:8 So Rabshakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah; for he had heard that he had departed from Lachish.
2 Kings 19:10 'Thus you shall speak to Hezekiah king of Judah, saying, "Don't let your God in whom you trust deceive you, saying, Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.
2 Kings 19:11 Behold, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, by destroying them utterly. Will you be delivered?
2 Kings 19:17 Truly, Yahweh, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands,
2 Kings 19:20 Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, "Thus says Yahweh, the God of Israel,'Whereas you have prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Assyria, I have heard you.
2 Kings 19:32 "Therefore thus says Yahweh concerning the king of Assyria,'He shall not come to this city, nor shoot an arrow there, neither shall he come before it with shield, nor cast up a mound against it.
2 Kings 19:36 So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and lived at Nineveh.
2 Kings 20:6 I will add to your days fifteen years. I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city for my own sake, and for my servant David's sake.'"
2 Kings 23:29 In his days Pharaoh Necoh king of Egypt went up against the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates: and king Josiah went against him; and Pharaoh Necoh killed him at Megiddo, when he had seen him.
1 Chronicles 5:6 Beerah his son, whom Tilgath Pilneser king of Assyria carried away captive: he was prince of the Reubenites.
1 Chronicles 5:26 The God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, and the spirit of Tilgath Pilneser king of Assyria, and he carried them away, even the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, and brought them to Halah, and Habor, and Hara, and to the river of Gozan, to this day.
2 Chronicles 28:16 At that time did king Ahaz send to the kings of Assyria to help him.
2 Chronicles 28:20 Tilgath Pilneser king of Assyria came to him, and distressed him, but didn't strengthen him.
2 Chronicles 28:21 For Ahaz took away a portion out of the house of Yahweh, and out of the house of the king and of the princes, and gave it to the king of Assyria: but it didn't help him.
2 Chronicles 30:6 So the posts went with the letters from the king and his princes throughout all Israel and Judah, and according to the commandment of the king, saying, You children of Israel, turn again to Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, that he may return to the remnant that have escaped of you out of the hand of the kings of Assyria.
2 Chronicles 32:1 After these things, and this faithfulness, Sennacherib king of Assyria came, and entered into Judah, and encamped against the fortified cities, and thought to win them for himself.
2 Chronicles 32:4 So there was gathered much people together, and they stopped all the springs, and the brook that flowed through the midst of the land, saying, Why should the kings of Assyria come, and find much water?
2 Chronicles 32:7 Be strong and of good courage, don't be afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude who is with him; for there is a greater with us than with him:
2 Chronicles 32:9 After this did Sennacherib king of Assyria send his servants to Jerusalem, (now he was before Lachish, and all his power with him), to Hezekiah king of Judah, and to all Judah who were at Jerusalem, saying,
2 Chronicles 32:10 Thus says Sennacherib king of Assyria, In whom do you trust, that you abide the siege in Jerusalem?
2 Chronicles 32:11 Doesn't Hezekiah persuade you, to give you over to die by famine and by thirst, saying, Yahweh our God will deliver us out of the hand of the king of Assyria?
2 Chronicles 32:21 Yahweh sent an angel, who cut off all the mighty men of valor, and the leaders and captains, in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned with shame of face to his own land. When he was come into the house of his god, those who came forth from his own bowels killed him there with the sword.
2 Chronicles 32:22 Thus Yahweh saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib the king of Assyria, and from the hand of all others, and guided them on every side.
2 Chronicles 33:11 Therefore Yahweh brought on them the captains of the army of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh in chains, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon.
Ezra 4:2 then they drew near to Zerubbabel, and to the heads of fathers' houses, and said to them, Let us build with you; for we seek your God, as you do; and we sacrifice to him since the days of Esar Haddon king of Assyria, who brought us up here.
Ezra 6:22 and kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with joy: for Yahweh had made them joyful, and had turned the heart of the king of Assyria to them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.
Nehemiah 9:32 Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who keep covenant and loving kindness, don't let all the travail seem little before you, that has come on us, on our kings, on our princes, and on our priests, and on our prophets, and on our fathers, and on all your people, since the time of the kings of Assyria to this day.
Isaiah 7:17 Yahweh will bring on you, on your people, and on your father's house, days that have not come, from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah; even the king of Assyria.
Isaiah 7:18 It will happen in that day that Yahweh will whistle for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.
Isaiah 7:20 In that day the Lord will shave with a razor that is hired in the parts beyond the River, even with the king of Assyria, the head and the hair of the feet; and it shall also consume the beard.
Isaiah 8:4 For before the child knows how to say,'My father,' and,'My mother,' the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria will be carried away by the king of Assyria."
Isaiah 8:7 now therefore, behold, the Lord brings upon them the mighty flood waters of the River: the king of Assyria and all his glory. It will come up over all its channels, and go over all its banks.
Isaiah 10:5 Alas Assyrian, the rod of my anger, the staff in whose hand is my indignation!
Isaiah 10:12 Therefore it will happen that, when the Lord has performed his whole work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the willful proud heart of the king of Assyria, and the insolence of his haughty looks.
Isaiah 11:11 It will happen in that day that the Lord will set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant that is left of his people from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Cush, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.
Isaiah 11:16 There will be a highway for the remnant that is left of his people from Assyria, like there was for Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt.
Isaiah 19:23 In that day there will be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria; and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians.
Isaiah 19:24 In that day, Israel will be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth;
Isaiah 19:25 because Yahweh of Armies has blessed them, saying, "Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance."
Isaiah 20:1 In the year that Tartan came to Ashdod, when Sargon the king of Assyria sent him, and he fought against Ashdod and took it;
Isaiah 20:4 so the king of Assyria will lead away the captives of Egypt and the exiles of Ethiopia, young and old, naked and barefoot, and with buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt.
Isaiah 20:6 The inhabitants of this coast land will say in that day,'Behold, this is our expectation, where we fled for help to be delivered from the king of Assyria. And we, how will we escape?'"
Isaiah 23:13 Behold, the land of the Chaldeans. This people was not. The Assyrians founded it for those who dwell in the wilderness. They set up their towers. They overthrew its palaces. They made it a ruin.
Isaiah 27:13 It will happen in that day that a great trumpet will be blown; and those who were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and those who were outcasts in the land of Egypt, shall come; and they will worship Yahweh in the holy mountain at Jerusalem.
Isaiah 36:1 Now it happened in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah, that Sennacherib king of Assyria attacked all of the fortified cities of Judah, and captured them.
Isaiah 36:2 The king of Assyria sent Rabshakeh from Lachish to Jerusalem to king Hezekiah with a large army. He stood by the aqueduct from the upper pool in the fuller's field highway.
Isaiah 36:4 Rabshakeh said to them, "Now tell Hezekiah,'Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria, "What confidence is this in which you trust?
Isaiah 36:8 Now therefore, please make a pledge to my master the king of Assyria, and I will give you two thousand horses, if you are able on your part to set riders on them.
Isaiah 36:13 Then Rabshakeh stood, and called out with a loud voice in the Jews' language, and said, "Hear the words of the great king, the king of Assyria!
Isaiah 36:15 Don't let Hezekiah make you trust in Yahweh, saying, "Yahweh will surely deliver us. This city won't be given into the hand of the king of Assyria."'
Isaiah 36:16 Don't listen to Hezekiah, for thus says the king of Assyria,'Make your peace with me, and come out to me; and each of you eat from his vine, and each one from his fig tree, and each one of you drink the waters of his own cistern;
Isaiah 36:18 Beware lest Hezekiah persuade you, saying, "Yahweh will deliver us." Have any of the gods of the nations delivered their lands from the hand of the king of Assyria?
Isaiah 37:4 It may be Yahweh your God will hear the words of Rabshakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master has sent to defy the living God, and will rebuke the words which Yahweh your God has heard. Therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left.'"
Isaiah 37:6 Isaiah said to them, "Tell your master,'Thus says Yahweh, "Don't be afraid of the words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me.
Isaiah 37:8 So Rabshakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah, for he had heard that he was departed from Lachish.
Isaiah 37:10 "Thus you shall speak to Hezekiah king of Judah, saying,'Don't let your God in whom you trust deceive you, saying, "Jerusalem won't be given into the hand of the king of Assyria."
Isaiah 37:11 Behold, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, by destroying them utterly. Shall you be delivered?
Isaiah 37:18 Truly, Yahweh, the kings of Assyria have destroyed all the countries and their land,
Isaiah 37:21 Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, "Thus says Yahweh, the God of Israel,'Because you have prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Assyria,
Isaiah 37:33 Therefore thus says Yahweh concerning the king of Assyria,'He will not come to this city, nor shoot an arrow there, neither will he come before it with shield, nor cast up a mound against it.
Isaiah 37:37 So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, went away, returned to Nineveh, and stayed there.
Isaiah 38:6 I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and I will defend this city.
Jeremiah 2:18 Now what have you to do in the way to Egypt, to drink the waters of the Shihor? or what have you to do in the way to Assyria, to drink the waters of the River?
Jeremiah 2:36 Why do you go about so much to change your way? You will be ashamed of Egypt also, as you were ashamed of Assyria.
Jeremiah 50:17 Israel is a hunted sheep; the lions have driven him away: first, the king of Assyria devoured him; and now at last Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has broken his bones.
Jeremiah 50:18 Therefore thus says Yahweh of Armies, the God of Israel: Behold, I will punish the king of Babylon and his land, as I have punished the king of Assyria.
Lamentations 5:6 We have given the hand to the Egyptians, To the Assyrians, to be satisfied with bread.
Ezekiel 23:7 She bestowed her prostitution on them, the choicest men of Assyria all of them; and on whoever she doted, with all their idols she defiled herself.
Ezekiel 31:3 Behold, the Assyrian was a cedar in Lebanon with beautiful branches, and with a forest-like shade, and of high stature; and its top was among the thick boughs.
Ezekiel 32:22 Asshur is there and all her company; her graves are all around her; all of them slain, fallen by the sword;
Hosea 5:13 "When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah his wound, Then Ephraim went to Assyria, and sent to king Jareb: but he is not able to heal you, neither will he cure you of your wound.
Hosea 7:11 "Ephraim is like an easily deceived dove, without understanding. They call to Egypt. They go to Assyria.
Hosea 8:9 For they have gone up to Assyria, like a wild donkey wandering alone. Ephraim has hired lovers for himself.
Hosea 9:3 They won't dwell in Yahweh's land; but Ephraim will return to Egypt, and they will eat unclean food in Assyria.
Hosea 10:6 It also will be carried to Assyria for a present to a great king. Ephraim will receive shame, and Israel will be ashamed of his own counsel.
Hosea 11:5 "They won't return into the land of Egypt; but the Assyrian will be their king, because they refused to repent.
Hosea 11:11 They will come trembling like a bird out of Egypt, and like a dove out of the land of Assyria; and I will settle them in their houses," says Yahweh.
Hosea 12:1 Ephraim feeds on wind, and chases the east wind. He continually multiplies lies and desolation. They make a covenant with Assyria, and oil is carried into Egypt.
Hosea 14:3 Assyria can't save us. We won't ride on horses; neither will we say any more to the work of our hands,'Our gods!' for in you the fatherless finds mercy."
Micah 5:6 They will rule the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod in its gates. He will deliver us from the Assyrian, when he invades our land, and when he marches within our border.
Micah 7:12 In that day they will come to you from Assyria and the cities of Egypt, and from Egypt even to the River, and from sea to sea, and mountain to mountain.
Nahum 3:18 Your shepherds slumber, king of Assyria. Your nobles lie down. Your people are scattered on the mountains, and there is no one to gather them.
Zephaniah 2:13 He will stretch out his hand against the north, destroy Assyria, and will make Nineveh a desolation, as dry as the wilderness.
Zechariah 10:10 I will bring them again also out of the land of Egypt, and gather them out of Assyria; and I will bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon; and there won't be room enough for them.
Zechariah 10:11 He will pass through the sea of affliction, and will strike the waves in the sea, and all the depths of the Nile will dry up; and the pride of Assyria will be brought down, and the scepter of Egypt will depart.
II. EARLY HISTORY
III. CLIMATE AND PRODUCTIONS
V. TRADE AND LAW
VIII. FURNITURE, POTTERY AND EMBROIDERY
IX. LANGUAGE, LITERATURE AND SCIENCE
X. GOVERNMENT AND ARMY
1. Early Period
2. The Older Empire
3. The Second Empire
4. Last Period and Fall of Empire
Assyria, a Greek name formed from Asshur ('ashshur; 'Assour; Assyrian Assur): The primitive capital of the country.
The origin of the city (now Kala'at Shergat), which was built on the western bank of the Tigris between the Upper and Lower Zab, went back to pre-Sem times, and the meaning of the name was forgotten (see Genesis 2:14, where the Hiddekel or Tigris is said to flow on the eastern side of Asshur). To the North of the junction of the Tigris and Upper Zab, and opposite the modern Mossul, was a shrine of the goddess Ishtar, around which grew up the town of Nina, Ninua or Nineveh (now Kouyunjik and Nebi Yunus). Another early sanctuary of Ishtar was at Urbillu, Arbailu or Arbela, East of the Upper Zab. North of Nineveh was Dur-Sargina (now Khorsabad) where Sargon built his palace (720 B.C.). All this district was embraced in the kingdom of Assyria which extended from Babylonia northward to the Kurdish mountains and at times included the country westward to the Euphrates and the Khabur.
II. Early History.
The whole region was known to the early Babylonians as Subartu. Its possession was disputed between Semitic Amurru or AMORITES (which see) and a non-Semitic people from the North called Mitannians. The earlier high priests of Assur known to us bear Mitannian names. About 2500 B.C. the country was occupied by Babylonian Semites, who brought with them the religion, law, customs, script and Semitic language of Babylonia (Genesis 10:11, 12, where we should read "He went forth to Asshur"; see Micah 5:6). The foundation of Nineveh, Rehoboth-'Ir (Assyrian Rebit-Ali, "the suburbs of the city"), Calah and Resen (Assyrian Res-eni, "head of the spring") is ascribed to them. The triangle formed by the Tigris and Zab, which enclosed these cities, was in later times included within the fortifications of the "great city" (Genesis 10:12 Jonah 3:3). Assyria is always distinguished from Babylonia in the Old Testament, and not confounded with it as by Herodotus and other classical writers.
III. Climate and Productions.
Assyria, speaking generally, was a limestone plateau with a temperate climate, cold and wet in winter, but warm during the summer months. On the banks of the rivers there was abundant cultivation, besides pasture-land. The apple of the North grew by the side of the palm-tree of the South. Figs, olives, pomegranates, almonds, mulberries and vines were also cultivated as well as all kinds of grain. Cotton is mentioned by Sennacherib (King, PSBA, December, 1909). The forests were tenanted by lions, and the plains by wild bulls (rimi, Hebrew re'emim), wild asses, wild goats and gazelles. Horses were imported from Cappadocia; ducks were kept, and mastiffs were employed in hunting.
The dominant type was Semitic, with full lips, somewhat hooked nose, high forehead, black hair and eyes, fresh complexion and abundance of beard. In character the Assyrians were cruel and ferocious in war, keen traders, stern disciplinarians, and where religion was concerned, intense and intolerant. Like the Ottoman Turks they formed a military state, at the head of which was the king, who was both leader in war and chief priest, and which offered a striking contrast to theocratic state of theBabylonians. It seems probable that every male was liable to conscription, and under the Second Empire, if not earlier, there was a large standing army, part of which consisted of mercenaries and recruits from the subject races. One result of this was the necessity for constant war in order to occupy the soldiery and satisfy their demands with captured booty; and the result, as in the Northern Kingdom of Israel, was military revolution, with the seizure of the throne by the successful general. As might be expected, education was confined to the upper classes, more especially to the priests and scribes.
V. Trade and Law.
As far back as the age of Abraham, when Assyria was still a dependency of Babylonia, trade was carried on with Cappadocia and an Assyrian colony of merchants settled at Kara Eyuk near Kaisariyeh. Down the Euphrates came the silver, copper and bronze of Asia Minor, together with horses. Cedar wood was brought from Mount Amanus, and there was already trade, through Syria, with the Mediterranean. Nineveh itself was probably founded in the interests of the trade with the North. In later days commercial reasons had much to do with the efforts of the Assyrian kings to conquer eastern Asia Minor and the Mediterranean coast of Syria and Pal: under the Second Empire no pains were spared to obtain possession of the Phoenician cities and divert their commerce into Assyrian hands. Hence the importance of the capture of the Hittite stronghold, Carchemish, by Sargon in 717 B.C., as it commanded the road to Syria and the passage across the Euphrates. Nineveh had at that time already become a great resort of merchants, among whom the Semitic Arameans were the most numerous. Aramaic, accordingly, became the language of trade, and then of diplomacy (compare 2 Kings 18:26), and commercial documents written in cuneiform were provided with Aramaic dockets. As in Babylonia, land and houses were leased knd sold, money was lent at interest, and the leading firms employed numerous damgari or commercial agents. Assyrian law was, in general, derived from Babylonia and much of it was connected with trade. The code of Khammu-rabi (Code of Hammurabi) or AMRAPHEL (which see) underlay it, and the same system of judicial procedure, with pleading before judges, the hearing of witnesses, and an appeal to the king, prevailed in both countries.
Unlike Babylonia, Assyria abounded in stone; the brick buildings of Babylonia, accordingly, were replaced by stone, and the painted or tiled walls by sculptured slabs. In the bas-reliefs discovered at Nineveh three periods of artistic progress may be traced. Under Assur-nazir-pal the sculpture is bold and vigorous, but the work is immature and the perspective faulty. From the beginning of the Second Empire to the reign of Esar-haddon the bas-reliefs often remind us of embroidery in stone. Attempts are made to imitate the rich detail and delicate finish of the ivory carvings; the background is filled in with a profusion of subjects, and there is a marked realism in the delineation of them. The third period is that of Assur-bani-pal, when the overcrowding is avoided by once more leaving the background bare, while the animal and vegetable forms are distinguished by a certain softness, if not effeminacy of tone. Sculpture in the round, however, lagged far behind that in relief, and the statuary of Assyria is very inferior to that of Babylonia. It is only the human-headed bulls and winged lions that can be called successful: they were set on either side of a gate to prevent the entrance of evil spirits, and their majestic proportions were calculated to strike the observer with awe (compare the description of the four cherubim in Ezekiel 1).
In bronze work the Assyrians excelled, much of the work being cast. But in general it was hammered, and the scenes hammered in relief on the bronze gates discovered by Mr. Rassam at Balawat near Nineveh are among the best examples of ancient oriental metallurgy at present known. Gold and silver were also worked into artistic forms; iron was reserved for more utilitarian purposes. The beautiful ivory carvings found at Nineveh were probably the work of foreign artificers, but gems and seal cylinders were engraved by native artists in imitation of those of Babylonia, and the Babylonian art of painting and glazing tiles was also practiced. The terra-cotta figures which can be assigned to the Assyrian period are poor. Glass was also manufactured.
The Assyrians were skilled in the transport of large blocks of stone, whether sculptured or otherwise. They understood the use of the lever, the pulley and the roller, and they had invented various engines of war for demolishing or undermining the walls of a city or for protecting the assailants. A crystal lens, turned on the lathe, has been found at Kouyunjik: it must have been useful to the scribes, the cuneiform characters inscribed on the tablets being frequently very minute. Water was raised from the river by means of a shaduf. VIII. Furniture, Pottery and Embroidery.
The furniture even of the palace was scanty, consisting mainly of couches, chairs, stools, tables, rugs and curtains. The chairs and couches were frequently of an artistic shape, and were provided with feet in the form of the legs of an ox. All kinds of vases, bowls and dishes were made of earthenware, but they were rarely decorated. Clothes, curtains and rugs, on the other hand, were richly dyed and embroidered, and were manufactured from wool and flax, and (in the age of the Second Empire) from cotton. The rug, of which the Persian rug is the modern representative, was a Babylonian invention.
IX. Language, Literature and Science.
The Assyrian language was Semitic, and differed only dialectically from Semitic Babylonian. In course of time, however, differences grew up between the spoken language and the language of literature, which had incorporated many Summerian words, and retained grammatical terminations that the vernacular had lost, though these differences were never very great. Assyrian literature, moreover, was mainly derived from Babylonia. Assur-bani-pal employed agents to ransack the libraries of Babylonia and send their contents to Nineveh, where his library was filled with scribes who busied themselves in copying and editing ancient texts. Commentaries were often written upon these, and grammars, vocabularies and interlinear translations were compiled to enable the student to understand the extinct Sumerian, which had long been the Latin of Semitic Babylonia. The writing material was clay, upon which the cuneiform characters were impressed with a stylus while it was still moist: the tablet was afterward baked in the sun or (in Assyria) in a kiln. The contents of the library of Nineveh were very various; religion, mythology, law, history, geography, zoology, philology, mathematics, astronomy, astrology and the pseudo-science of omens were all represented in it, as well as poetry and legendary romance. SeeNINEVEH, LIBRARY OF.
X. Government and Army.
Assyria was a military kingdom which, like the Northern Kingdom of Israel, had established itself by a successful revolt from Babylonia. In contradistinction to Babylonia, which was a theocratic state, the king being subordinate to the priest, the Assyrian king was supreme. Whereas in Babylonia the temple was the chief public building, in Assyria the royal palace dominated everything, the temple being merely a royal chapel attached to the palace. The king, in fact, was the commander of an army, and this army was the Assyrian people. How far the whole male population was liable to conscription is still uncertain; but the fact that the wars of Assur-bani-pal so exhausted the fighting strength of the nation as to render it unable to resist the invaders from the North shows that the majority of the males must have been soldiers. Hence the constant wars partly to occupy the army and prevent revolts, partly for the sake of booty with which to pay it. Hence too, the military revolutions, which, as in the kingdom of Israel, resulted in changes of dynasty and the seizure of the throne by successful generals. The turtannu or commander-in-chief, who took the place of the king when the latter was unable or unwilling to lead his forces, ranked next to the sovereign. From the reign of Tiglath-pileser IV onward, however, the autocracy was tempered by a centralized bureaucracy, and in the provinces a civil governor was appointed by the side of the military commander. Among the high officials at court were the rab-saki or "vizier," and the rab-sa-risi or "controller," the rabhcaric (RAB-SARIS (which see)) of the Old Testament.
The army consisted of cavalry, infantry, bowmen and slingers, as well as of a corps of charioteers. After the rise of the Second Empire the cavalry were increased at the expense of the chariotry, and were provided with saddles and boots, while the unarmed groom who had run by the side of the horse became a mounted archer. Sennacherib further clothed the horseman in a coat of mail. The infantry were about ten times as numerous as the calvary, and under Sargon were divided into bowmen and spearmen, the bowmen again being subdivided into heavy-armed and light-armed, the latter being apparently of foreign origin. Sennacherib introduced a corps of slingers, clad in helmet and cuirass, leather drawers and boots. He also deprived the heavy-armed bowmen of the long robes they used to wear, and established a body of pioneers with double-headed axes, helmets and buskins. Shields were also worn by all classes of soldiers, and the army carried with it standards, tents, battering-rams and baggage-carts. The royal sleeping-tent was accompanied by tents for cooking and dining. No pains, in fact, were spared to make the army both in equipment and discipline an irresistible engine of war. The terror it excited in western Asia is therefore easily intelligible (Isaiah 10:5-14 Nahum 2:11-13; Nahum 3:1-4).
The state religion of Assyria was derived from BABYLONIA (which see) and in its main outlines is Babylonian. But it differed from the religion of Babylonia in two important respects:
(1) the king, and not the high priest, was supreme, and
(2) at the head of it was the national god Asur or Assur, whose high priest and representative was the king. Asur was originally Asir, "the leader" in war, who is accordingly depicted as a warrior-god armed with a bow and who in the age when solar worship became general in Babylonia was identified with the sun-god. But the similarity of the name caused him to be also identified with the city of Asur, where he was worshipped, at a time when the cities of northern Babylonia came to be deified, probably under Hittite influence. Later still, the scribes explained his name as a corruption of that of the primeval cosmogonic deity An-sar, the upper firmament, which in the neo-Babylonian age was pronounced Assor. The combination of the attributes of the warrior-god, who was the peculiar god of the commander of the army, with the deified city to which the army belonged, caused Assur to become the national deity of a military nation in a way of which no Babylonian divinity was capable. The army were "the troops of Assur," the enemies were "the enemies of Assur" who required that they should acknowledge his supremacy or be destroyed. Assur was not only supreme over the other gods, he was also, in fact, unlike them, without father or wife. Originally, it is true, his feminine counterpart, Asirtu, the ASHERAH (which see) of the Old Testament, had stood at his side, and later literary pedants endeavored to find a wife for him in Belit, "the Lady," or Ishtar, or some other Babylonian goddess, but the attempts remained purely literary. When Nineveh took the place of Assur as the capital of the kingdom, Ishtar, around whose sanctuary Nineveh had grown up, began to share with him some of the honor of worship, though her position continued to be secondary to the end. This was also the case with the war-god Nin-ip, called Mas in Assyria, whose cult was specially patronized by the Assyrian kings. SeeBABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA, RELIGION OF.
Rich, who had first visited Mossul in 1811, examined the mounds opposite in 1820 and concluded that they represented the site of Nineveh. The few antiquities he discovered were contained in a single case in the British Museum, but the results of his researches were not published until 1836. In 1843-45 the Frenchman Botta disinterred the palace of Sargon at Khorsabad, 15 miles North of Nineveh, while at Nimrud (Calah) and Kouyunjik (Nineveh) Layard (1845-51) brought to light the ruins of the great Assyrian palaces and the library of Assur-bani-pal. His work was continued by Rassam (1851-54). Nothing more was done until 1873-75 when George Smith resumed excavations on the site of Assur-bani-pal's library; this was followed in 1877-79 by the excavations of Rassam, who discovered among other things the bronze gates of Balawat. At present a German expedition under Andrae is working at Kala'at Shergat (Assur) where the English excavators had already found the cylinder-inscription of Tiglath-pileser I (see SHERGHAT).
The Assyrians reckoned time by means of limmi, certain officials appointed every New Year's day, after whom their year of office was named. The lists of limmi or "Eponyms" which have come down to us form the basis of Assyrian chronology. Portions of a "synchronous" history of Assyria and Babylonia have also been discovered, as well as fragments of two "Babylonian Chronicles" written from a Babylonian point of view. The "Eponym" lists carry back an exact dating of time to the beginning of the 10th century B.C. Before that period Sennacherib states that Tiglath-pileser I reigned 418 years before himself. Tiglath-pileser, moreover, tells us that Samas-Ramman son of Isme-Dagon had built a temple at Assur 641 years earlier, while Shalmaneser I places Samas-Ramman 580 years before his own reign and Erisu 159 years before Samas-Ramman, though Esar-haddon gives the dates differently. Apart from the native documents, the only trustworthy sources for the chronology (as for the history) of Assyria are the Old Testament records. In return the "Eponym" lists have enabled us to correct the chronology of the Books of Kings (see KINGS, BOOKS OF).
1. Early Period:
Assyrian history begins with the high priests (patesis) of Assur. The earliest known to us are Auspia and Kikia, who bear Mitannian names. The early Semitic rulers, however, were subject to Babylonia, and under Khammurabi (AMRAPHEL) Assyria was still a Babylonian province. According to Esar-haddon the kingdom was founded by Bel-bani son of Adasi, who first made himself independent; Hadad-nirari, however, ascribes its foundation to Zulili. Assyrian merchants and soldiers had already made their way as far as Cappadocia, from whence copper and silver were brought to Assyria, and an Assyrian colony was established at Kara Eyuk near Kaisariyeh, where the Assyrian mode of reckoning time by means of limmi was in use. In the age of Tell el-Amarna Letters (1400 B.C.) Assur-uballid was king of Assyria. He corresponded with the Egyptian Pharaoh and married his daughter to the Bah king, thereby providing for himself a pretext for interfering in the affairs of Babylonia. The result was that his son-in-law was murdered, and Assur-uballid sent troops to Babylonia who put the murderers to death and placed the grandson of the Assyrian king on the Babylonian throne.
Babylonia had fallen into decay and been forced to protect herself from the rising power of Assyria by forming an alliance with Mitanni (Mesopotamia) and Egypt, and subsequently, when Mitanni had been absorbed by the Hittites, by practically becoming dependent on the Hittite king. Shalmaneser I (1300 B.C.), accordingly, devoted himself to crippling the Hittite power and cutting it off from communication with Babylonia. Campaign after campaign was undertaken against the Syrian and more eastern provinces of the Hittite empire, Malatiyeh was destroyed, and Carehemish threatened. Shalmaneser's son and successor Tukulti-Mas entered into the fruits of his father's labors. The Hittites had been rendered powerless by an invasion of the northern barbarians, and the Assyrian king was thus left free to crush Babylonia. Babylon was taken by storm, and for seven years Tukulti-Mas was master of all the lands watered by the Tigris and Euphrates. The image of Merodach was carried to Assur as a sign that the scepter had passed from Babylon to the parvenu Assyria. A successful revolt, however, finally drove the Assyrian conqueror back to his own country, and when he was murdered soon afterward by his own son, the Babylonians saw in the deed a punishment inflicted by the god of Babylon.
2. The Older Empire:
A few years later the Assyrian king Bel-kudur-uzur lost his life in battle against the Babylonians, and a new dynasty appears to have mounted the Assyrian throne. About 1120 B.C. the Assyrian king was Tiglath-pileser I, whose successful wars extended the Assyrian empire as far westward as Cappadocia. In one of his campaigns he made his way to the Mediterranean, and received presents from the king of Egypt, which included a crocodile. At Assur he planted a botanical garden stocked with trees from the conquered provinces. After his death the Assyrian power declined; Pitru (Pethor, Numbers 22:5) fell into the hands of the Arameans and the road to the Mediterranean was blocked.
A revival came under Assur-nazir-pal III (884-860 B.C.) who rebuilt CALAH (which see) and established the seat of the government at Nineveh, where he erected a palace. Various campaigns were carried on in the direction of Armenia and Comagene, the brutalities executed upon the enemy being described in detail by their conqueror. He then turned westward, and after receiving homage from the Hittite king of Carchemish, laid the Phoenicians under tribute. The road to the West was thus again secured for the merchants of Assyria. Assur-nazir-pal was succeeded by his son Shalmaneser II (859-825 B.C.), who, instead of contenting himself, like his father, with mere raids for the sake of booty, endeavored to organize and administer the countries which his armies had subdued. The famous bronze gates of Balawat were erected by him in commemoration of his victories.
In his reign the Israelites and Syrians of Damascus first came into direct relation with the Assyrians. In 854 B.C. he attacked Hamath and at Qarqar defeated an army which included 1,200 chariots, 1,200 cavalry and 20,000 infantry from Ben-hadad of Damascus, 2,000 chariots, and 10,000 infantry from. "Ahab of Israel," besides considerable contingents from Ammon, Arvad, Arabia and elsewhere. In 842 B.C. Shalmaneser penetrated to Damascus where Hazael, the successor of Ben-hadad, who had already been defeated in the open field, was closely besieged. The surrounding country was ravaged, and "Jehu son of Omri" hastened to offer tribute to the conqueror. The scene is represented on the Black Obelisk found at Nimrud and now in the British Museum. Shalmaneser's campaigns were not confined to the West. He overran Armenia, where the kingdom of Van had just been established, made his way to Tarsus in Cilicia, took possession of the mines of silver, salt and alabaster in the Taurus mountains among the Tabal or Tubal, and obliged the Babylonian king to acknowledge his supremacy.
In his later days, when too old to take the field himself, his armies were led by the turtannu or commander-in-chief, and a rebellion, headed by his son Assur-danin-pal (Sardanapalus) broke out at home, where Nineveh and Assur were jealous of the preference shown for Calah. Nineveh, however, was captured and the revolt suppressed after two years' duration by another son, Samas-Ramman IV, who shortly afterward, on his father's death, succeeded to the throne (824-812 B.C.). His chief campaigns were directed against Media. His son Hadad-nirari III (811-783 B.C.) was the next king, whose mother was Sammu-ramat (Semiramis). He claims to have reduced to subjection the whole of Syria, including Phoenicia, Edom and Philistia, and to have taken Mari'a, king of Damascus, prisoner in his capital city. After this, however, Assyria once more fell into a state of decay, from which it was delivered by the successful revolt of a military officer Pulu (Pul), who put an end to the old line of kings and took the name of Tiglath-pileser IV (745-727 B.C.).
3. The Second Empire:
Tiglath-pileser founded the second Assyrian empire, and made Assyria the dominant power in western Asia. The army was reorganized and made irresistible, and a new administrative system was introduced, the empire being centralized at Nineveh and governed by a bureaucracy at the head of which was the king. Tiglath-pileser's policy was twofold: to weld western Asia into a single empire, held together by military force and fiscal laws, and to secure the trade of the world for the merchants of Nineveh. These objects were steadily kept in view throughout the reigns of Tiglath-pileser and his successors. For the history of his reign, see TIGLATH-PILESER. In 738 B.C. Tiglath-pileser put an end to the independent existence of the kingdom of Hamath, Menahem of Samaria becoming his tributary, and in 733 B.C. he commenced a campaign against Rezin of Damascus which ended in the fall of Damascus, the city being placed under an Assyrian governor. At the same time the land of Naphtali was annexed to Assyria, and Yahu-khazi (Ahaz) of Judah became an Assyrian vassal, while in 731 B.C., after the murder of Pekah, Hoshea was appointed king of Israel (compare 2 Kings 15-17).
In 728 B.C. Tiglath-pileser was solemnly crowned at Babylon and the following year he died. His successor was another military adventurer, Shalmaneser IV (727-722 B.C.), whose original name was Ulula. While engaged in the siege of Samaria Shalmaneser died or was murdered, and the throne was seized by another general who took the name of Sargon (722-705 B.C.). Sargon, for whose history see SARGON, captured Samaria in 722 B.C., carrying 27,290 of its inhabitants into captivity. A large part of his reign was spent in combating a great confederation of the northern nations (Armenia, Manna, etc.) against Assyria. Carchemish, the Hittite capital, was captured in 717 B.C., a revolt of the states in southern Palestine was suppressed in 711 B.C. and Merodach-Baladan, the Chaldean, who had possessed himself of Babylonia in 722 B.C., was driven back to the marshlands at the head of the Persian Gulf.
In 705 B.C. Sargon was murdered, and succeeded by his son SENNACHERIB (which see). Sennacherib (705-681 B.C.) had neither the military skill nor the administrative abilities of his father. His campaign against Hezekiah of Judah in 701 B.C. was a failure; so, also, was his policy in Babylonia which was in a constant state of revolt against his rule, and which ended in his razing the sacred city of Babylon to the ground in 689 B.C. Nine years previously his troops had been called upon to suppress a revolt in Cilicia, where a battle was fought with the Greeks.
4. Last Period and Fall of the Empire:
His son Esar-haddon, who succeeded him (681-669 B.C.) after his murder by two other sons on the 20th Tebet (compare 2 Kings 19:37), was as distinguished a general and administrator as his father had been the reverse. For his history see ESARHADDON. Under him the Second Empire reached the acme of its power and prosperity. Babylon was rebuilt and made the second capital of the empire, Palestine became an obedient province, and Egypt was conquered (674 and 671 B.C.), while an invasion of the Cimmerians (Gomer) was repelled, and campaigns were made into the heart of both Media and Arabia. Esar-haddon died while on his way to repress a revolt in Egypt, and his son Assur-bani-pal succeeded him in the empire (669-626 B.C.), while another son Samas-sum-ukin was appointed viceroy of Babylonia. Assur-bani-pal was a munificent patron of learning, and the library of Nineveh owed most of its treasures to him, but extravagant luxury had now invaded the court, and the king conducted his wars through his' generals, while he himself remained at home.
The great palace at Kouyunjik (Nineveh) was built by him. Egypt demanded his first attention. Tirhakah the Ethiopian who had headed its revolt was driven back to his own country, and for a time there was peace. Then under Tandamane, Tirhakah's successor, Egypt revolted again. This time the Assyrian punishment was merciless. Thebes-"No-amon" (Nahum 3:8)-was destroyed, its booty carried away and two obelisks transported to Nineveh as trophies of victory. Meanwhile Tyre, which had rebelled, was forced to sue for peace, and ambassadors arrived from Gyges of Lydia asking for help against the Cimmerians. Elam still remained independent and endeavored to stir up disaffection in Babylonia. Against his will, therefore, Assur-bani-pal was obliged to interfere in the internal affairs of that country, with the result that the Elamites were finally overthrown in a battle on the Eulaeus beneath the walls of Susa, and the conquered land divided between two vassal kings.
Then suddenly a revolt broke out throughout the greater part of the Assyrian empire, headed by Assur-bani-pal's brother, the viceroy of Babylonia. For a time the issue was doubtful. Egypt recovered its independence under Psammetichus, the founder of the XXVIth Dynasty (660 B.C.) who had received help from Lydia, but Babylonia was reconquered and Babylon after a long siege was starved out, Samas-sum-ukin burning himself in the ruins of his palace. Elam remained to be dealt with, and an Assyrian army made its way to Susa, which was leveled to the ground, the shrines of its gods profaned and the bones of its ancient kings torn from their graves. Then came the turn of northern Arabia, where the rebel sheikhs were compelled to submit. But the struggle had exhausted Assyria; its exchequer was empty, and its fighting population killed. When the Cimmerians descended upon the empire shortly afterward, it was no longer in a condition to resist them. Under Assur-etil-ilani, the son and successor of Assur-bani-pal, Calah was taken and sacked, and two reigns later, Sin-sar-iskun, the last king of Assyria, fell fighting against the Scythians (606 B.C.). Nineveh was utterly destroyed, never again to be inhabited, and northern Babylonia passed into the hands of Nabopolassar, the viceroy of Babylon, who had joined the northern invaders. Assur, the old capital of the country, was still standing in the age of Cyrus, but it had become a small provincial town; as for Nineveh and Calah, their very sites were forgotten.
SeeG. Rawlinson, Five Great Monarchies of the Eastern World, 1862-67; Perrot and Chipiez, Histoire de l'art dans l'antiquite, II, 1884; Maspero, Struggle of the Nations, and Passing of the Empires, 3 volumes, 1894-1900; Rogers, A History of Babylonia and Assyria, 1900; Johns, Assyrian Deeds and Documents, 1898; Schrader, KAT, English translation by Whitehouse, 1885; Pinches, The Old Testament in the Light of the Historical Records of Assyria and Babylonia, 1902.
A. H. Sayce
ASSYRIA, an empire in Western Asia, founded by Asshur. In the earliest times it included all the region around Nineveh, but it gradually increased in area until parts of Mesopotamia were added. Its chief river was the Tigris. See the map for its surroundings.
ASSH'UR, same as Assyria.
AS'SUR, same as Assyria.
Strong's HebrewH804b: Ashshur
the second son of Shem, also the people of Asshur, also the land of Assyr.