- Included in Eastons: Yes
- Included in Hitchcocks: Yes
- Included in Naves: No
- Included in Smiths: No
- Included in Websters: No
- Included in Strongs: Yes
- Included in Thayers: No
- Included in BDB: Yes
The name derived from the city Asshur on the Tigris, the original capital of the country, was originally a colony from Babylonia, and was ruled by viceroys from that kingdom. It was a mountainous region lying to the north of Babylonia, extending along the Tigris as far as to the high mountain range of Armenia, the Gordiaean or Carduchian mountains. It was founded in B.C. 1700 under Bel-kap-kapu, and became an independent and a conquering power, and shook off the yoke of its Babylonian masters. It subdued the whole of Northern Asia. The Assyrians were Semites (Genesis 10:22), but in process of time non-Semite tribes mingled with the inhabitants. They were a military people, the "Romans of the East."
Of the early history of the kingdom of Assyria little is positively known. In B.C. 1120 Tiglath-pileser I., the greatest of the Assyrian kings, "crossed the Euphrates, defeated the kings of the Hittites, captured the city of Carchemish, and advanced as far as the shores of the Mediterranean." He may be regarded as the founder of the first Assyrian empire. After this the Assyrians gradually extended their power, subjugating the states of Northern Syria. In the reign of Ahab, king of Israel, Shalmaneser II. marched an army against the Syrian states, whose allied army he encountered and vanquished at Karkar. This led to Ahab's casting off the yoke of Damascus and allying himself with Judah. Some years after this the Assyrian king marched an army against Hazael, king of Damascus. He besieged and took that city. He also brought under tribute Jehu, and the cities of Tyre and Sidon.
About a hundred years after this (B.C. 745) the crown was seized by a military adventurer called Pul, who assumed the name of Tiglath-pileser III. He directed his armies into Syria, which had by this time regained its independence, and took (B.C. 740) Arpad, near Aleppo, after a siege of three years, and reduced Hamath. Azariah (Uzziah) was an ally of the king of Hamath, and thus was compelled by Tiglath-pileser to do him homage and pay a yearly tribute.
In B.C. 738, in the reign of Menahem, king of Israel, Pul invaded Israel, and imposed on it a heavy tribute (2 Kings 15:19). Ahaz, the king of Judah, when engaged in a war against Israel and Syria, appealed for help to this Assyrian king by means of a present of gold and silver (2 Kings 16:8); who accordingly "marched against Damascus, defeated and put Rezin to death, and besieged the city itself." Leaving a portion of his army to continue the siege, "he advanced through the province east of Jordan, spreading fire and sword," and became master of Philistia, and took Samaria and Damascus. He died B.C. 727, and was succeeded by Shalmanezer IV., who ruled till B.C. 722. He also invaded Syria (2 Kings 17:5), but was deposed in favour of Sargon (q.v.) the Tartan, or commander-in-chief of the army, who took Samaria (q.v.) after a siege of three years, and so put an end to the kingdom of Israel, carrying the people away into captivity, B.C. 722 (2 Kings 17:1-6, 24; 18:7, 9). He also overran the land of Judah, and took the city of Jerusalem (Isaiah 10:6, 12, 22, 24, 34). Mention is next made of Sennacherib (B.C. 705), the son and successor of Sargon (2 Kings 18:13; 19:37; Isaiah 7:17, 18); and then of Esar-haddon, his son and successor, who took Manasseh, king of Judah, captive, and kept him for some time a prisoner at Babylon, which he alone of all the Assyrian kings made the seat of his government (2 Kings 19:37; Isaiah 37:38).
Assur-bani-pal, the son of Esarhaddon, became king, and in Ezra 4:10 is referred to as Asnapper. From an early period Assyria had entered on a conquering career, and having absorbed Babylon, the kingdoms of Hamath, Damascus, and Samaria, it conquered Phoenicia, and made Judea feudatory, and subjected Philistia and Idumea. At length, however, its power declined. In B.C. 727 the Babylonians threw off the rule of the Assyrians, under the leadership of the powerful Chaldean prince Merodach-baladan (2 Kings 20:12), who, after twelve years, was subdued by Sargon, who now reunited the kingdom, and ruled over a vast empire. But on his death the smouldering flames of rebellion again burst forth, and the Babylonians and Medes successfully asserted their independence (B.C. 625), and Assyria fell according to the prophecies of Isaiah (10:5-19), Nahum (3:19), and Zephaniah (3:13), and the many separate kingdoms of which it was composed ceased to recognize the "great king" (2 Kings 18:19; Isaiah 36:4). Ezekiel (31) attests (about B.C. 586) how completely Assyria was overthrown. It ceases to be a nation. (See NINEVEH; BABYLON.)
country of Assur or Ashur
An empire founded by Nimrod
It extended possibly to Egypt
Its armies invade the land of Israel under:
Destroyed by the angel of the Lord
Alliances with, sought by Judah and Israel
Israelites subject to
Israelites carried captive into
2 Kings 17:3-23
Invaded by Pharaoh Nechoh
2 Kings 23:29
Isaiah 7:17-25; Isaiah 8:4-10; Isaiah 10:5-34; Isaiah 14:24-28; Isaiah 19:23-25; Isaiah 20:1-6; Isaiah 30:27-33; Isaiah 31:8-9; Isaiah 37:21-35; Jeremiah 1:15; Jeremiah 26:31; Jonah 3:1-4; Jonah 34:1; Zephaniah 2:13-15; Zech 10:11
was a great and powerful country lying on the Tigris, (Genesis 2:14) the capital of which was Nineveh. (Genesis 10:11) etc. It derived its name apparently from Asshur, the son of Shem, (Genesis 10:22) who in later times was worshipped by the Assyrians as their chief god.
The boundaries of Assyria differed greatly at different periods, Probably in the earliest times it was confined to a small tract of low country lying chiefly on the left bank of the Tigris. Gradually its limits were extended, until it came to be regarded as comprising the whole region between the Armenian mountains (lat. 37 30') upon the north, and upon the south the country about Baghdad (lat. 33 30'). Eastward its boundary was the high range of Zagros, or mountains of Kurdistan; westward it was, according to the views of some, bounded by the Mesopotamian desert, while according to others it reached the Euphrates.
- General character of the country.
On the north and east the high mountain-chains of Armenia and Kurdistan are succeeded by low ranges of limestone hills of a somewhat arid aspect. To these ridges there succeeds at first an undulating zone of country, well watered and fairly productive, which extends in length for 250 miles, and is interrupted only by a single limestone range. Above and below this barrier is an immense level tract, now for the most part a wilderness, which bears marks of having been in early times well cultivated and thickly peopled throughout.
- Original peopling.
Scripture informs us that Assyria was peopled from Babylon, (Genesis 10:11) and both classical tradition and the monuments of the country agree in this representation.
- Date of the foundation of the kingdom.
The Mesopotamian researches have rendered it apparent that the original seat of government was not at Nineveh, but at Kileh-Sherghat, on the right bank of the Tigris. The most remarkable monarch of the earlier kings was called Tiglath-pileser. He appears to have been king towards the close of the twelfth century, and thus to have been contemporary with Samuel. Afterwards followed Pul, who invaded Isr'l in the reign of Menahem (2 Kings 15:29) about B.C. 770, and Shalmaneser who besieged Samaria three years, and destroyed the kingdom of Isr'l B.C. 721, himself or by his successor Sargon, who usurped the throne at that time. Under Sargon the empire was as great as at any former era, and Nineveh became a most beautiful city. Sargon's son Sennacherib became the most famous of the Assyrian kings. He began to reign 704 B.C. He invaded the kingdom of Judea in the reign of Hezekiah. He was followed by Esarhaddon, and he by a noted warrior and builder, Sardanapalus. In Scripture it is remarkable that we hear nothing of Assyria after the reign of Esarhaddon, and profane history is equally silent until the attacks began which brought about her downfall. The fall of Assyria, long previously prophesied by Isaiah, (Isaiah 10:5-19) was effected by the growing strength and boldness of the Medes, about 625 B.C. The prophecies of Nahum and Zephaniah (Zephaniah 2:13-15) against Assyria were probably delivered shortly before the catastrophe.
- General character of the empire.
The Assyrian monarchs bore sway over a number of petty kings through the entire extent of their dominions. These native princes were feudatories of the great monarch, of whom they held their crown by the double tenure of homage and tribute. It is not quite certain how far Assyria required a religious conformity from the subject people. Her religion was a gross and complex polytheism, comprising the worship of thirteen principal and numerous minor divinities, at the head of all of whom stood the chief god, Asshur, who seems to be the deified patriarch of the nation. (Genesis 10:22)
- Civilization of the Assyrians.
The civilization of the Assyrians was derived originally from the Babylonians. They were a Shemitic race originally resident in Babylonia (which at that time was Cushite) and thus acquainted with the Babylonian inventions and discoveries, who ascended the valley of the Tigris and established in the tract immediately below the Armenian mountains a separate and distinct nationality. Still, as their civilization developed it became in many respects peculiar. Their art is of home growth. But they were still in the most important points barbarians. Their government was rude and inartificial, their religion coarse and sensual, and their conduct of war cruel.
- Modern discoveries in Assyria.
(Much interest has been excited in reference to Assyria by the discoveries lately made there, which confirm and illustrate the Bible. The most important of them is the finding of the stone tablets or books which formed the great library at Nineveh, founded by Shalmaneser B.C. 860, but embodying tablets written 2000 years B.C. This library was more than doubled by Sardanapalus. These tablets were broken into fragments, but many of them have been put together and deciphered by the late Mr. George Smith, of the British Museum. All these discoveries of things hidden for ages, but now come to light, confirm the Bible.