Assyria

Hebrew: Aram-Naharaim, Aram of the two rivers

A country which occupied the northern and middle part of Mesopotamia, extended as far south as the Persian Gulf, and included Babylonia and Chaldea. The Assyrians were probably of Semitic origin, descendants of Assur, one of the sons of Sem (Genesis 10), and an independent Assyrian kingdom began about the seventeenth century B.C. The sources of Assyrian history are the Old Testament, the Greek, Latin, and Oriental writers, and the records and remains of the Assyrian people. Their religion and civilization were in many respects identical with that of Babylonia, their language belonged to the Semitic family, closely related to the Hebrew, and they had a cuneiform (Latin: cuneus, wedge) system of writing. Their most famous rulers were

  • Theglathphalasar I (1120-1110 B.C.), under whom Assyria rose to the height of military glory
  • Asshur-nasir-pal (885-860 B.C.), in whose reign Assyria first came into touch with Israel
  • Theglathphalasar III (745-727 B.C.), founder of the second Assyrian empire
  • Sargon II (722-705 B.C.), who conquered Samaria and destroyed Israel
  • Sennacherib (705-681 B.C.), who invaded Juda and crushed the rebellion of Ezechias (4 Kings 18)
  • Esarhaddon (681-668 B.C.), a great ruler who conquered Egypt and destroyed Sidon
  • Asshur-bani-pal (668-626 B.C.), greatest of all Assyrian kings, to whom we owe part of our knowledge of Assyro-Babylonian history, as he caused the most important historical texts and inscriptions to be copied and placed in a fine library which he built in his palace; with his death, Assyrian power declined

In 606 B.C. Nineveh was destroyed by the Medes and Babylonians, and Assyria became a province of these countries.