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The Assyrians had a beautiful land much like the land of Israel, yet they were too unsettled to stay a peaceful nation. This is because the Lord raised up in them an invincible host who would go forth to plunder, and ultimately conquer Godís people Israel in the north. In their capital city, Samaria, they were swollen with pride and rebellion against the Lord who had given them their land. He chose the cruel Assyrians to destroy them and lead them into captivity.
Assyria was an instrument of the Lord yet they were cruel and wicked, they were completely corrupt. In their records of Essarhaddon (Sennacheribís son) it says:
"Abdi-Milkutti, who fled before my weapons on to the sea, I pulled out of the sea like a fish and I cut off his head." It goes on to say "To give the people an example of the power of Ashur, my lord, I hung the heads of Sanduarri and Abdi-Milkutti round the necks of their most prominent citizens, whom, thus adorned, I made walk in procession along the streets of Nineveh, to the strains of singers accompanying themselves on harps." [Essarhaddon Annals]
In outward appearance Assyria was the most powerful land that the ancient world had ever known, to whom even Babylon and Egypt had bowed down. Yet there was an increasing decay in their way of life, intellectually, morally, and especially spiritually. During their last days the "hermerologies" flourished. These were lengthy lists of their days of good and bad omens, some of which have survived even to this day. For example there was strong superstitious fear that prevented anyone from doing anything important on a Friday, or on the 13th day of the month. This quote is an example:
"On the first day he shall not expose himself to the gale on the field. He must not eat garlic, otherwise a scorpion will sting him. He must not eat while garlic, otherwise he will suffer a heart attack. On the second day he must not climb upon a roof, for Ardat Lili (an evil demon)would find him. He must not eat roast meat, otherwise he will be covered with sores. On the third day he shall have no sexual intercourse with a woman, for the woman will rob him of his virility. He shall not eat fish; it is disrespectful and a crocodile would attack him. He shall not eat dates, for they would give him a stomach illness. He shall not irrigate a sesame field, for the sesame caterpillar would overcome himÖ"
Texts like this reveal an interesting picture of daily life among the ancient Assyrians, they mention names of demons and diseases which are almost impossible to identify. The priest-magician was trained to protect the people from all of the evil spirits through influences and magical acts.
God finally gave Assyria His indictment and finally brought its utter desolation.
Nah 3:18-19 "Your shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria; your nobles rest in the dust. Your people are scattered on the mountains, and no one gathers them. Your injury has no healing, your wound is severe. All who hear news of you will clap their hands over you, for upon whom has not your wickedness passed continually?"
"To give the people an example of the power of Ashur, my lord, I hung the heads of Sanduarri and Abdi-Milkutti round the necks of their most prominent citizens, whom, thus adorned, I made walk in procession along the streets of Nineveh, to the strains of singers accompanying themselves on harps." [King Essarhaddon]
Ancient Assyrian Social Structure
The Story of the Bible
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