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Nineveh
        First mentioned in Gen. 10:11, which is rendered in the Revised
        Version, "He [i.e., Nimrod] went forth into Assyria and builded
        Nineveh." It is not again noticed till the days of Jonah, when
        it is described (Jonah 3:3; 4:11) as a great and populous city,
        the flourishing capital of the Assyrian empire (2 Kings 19:36;
        Isa. 37:37). The book of the prophet Nahum is almost exclusively
        taken up with prophetic denunciations against this city. Its
        ruin and utter desolation are foretold (Nah.1:14; 3:19, etc.).
        Zephaniah also (2:13-15) predicts its destruction along with the
        fall of the empire of which it was the capital. From this time
        there is no mention of it in Scripture till it is named in
        gospel history (Matt. 12:41; Luke 11:32).
        This "exceeding great city" lay on the eastern or left bank of
        the river Tigris, along which it stretched for some 30 miles,
        having an average breadth of 10 miles or more from the river
        back toward the eastern hills. This whole extensive space is now
        one immense area of ruins. Occupying a central position on the
        great highway between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean,
        thus uniting the East and the West, wealth flowed into it from
        many sources, so that it became the greatest of all ancient
        cities.
        About B.C. 633 the Assyrian empire began to show signs of
        weakness, and Nineveh was attacked by the Medes, who
        subsequently, about B.C. 625, being joined by the Babylonians
        and Susianians, again attacked it, when it fell, and was razed
        to the ground. The Assyrian empire then came to an end, the
        Medes and Babylonians dividing its provinces between them.
        "After having ruled for more than six hundred years with hideous
        tyranny and violence, from the Caucasus and the Caspian to the
        Persian Gulf, and from beyond the Tigris to Asia Minor and
        Egypt, it vanished like a dream" (Nah. 2:6-11). Its end was
        strange, sudden, tragic. It was God's doing, his judgement on
        Assyria's pride (Isa. 10:5-19).
        Forty years ago our knowledge of the great Assyrian empire and
        of its magnificent capital was almost wholly a blank. Vague
        memories had indeed survived of its power and greatness, but
        very little was definitely known about it. Other cities which
        had perished, as Palmyra, Persepolis, and Thebes, had left ruins
        to mark their sites and tell of their former greatness; but of
        this city, imperial Nineveh, not a single vestige seemed to
        remain, and the very place on which it had stood was only matter
        of conjecture. In fulfilment of prophecy, God made "an utter end
        of the place." It became a "desolation."
        In the days of the Greek historian Herodotus, B.C. 400, it had
        become a thing of the past; and when Xenophon the historian
        passed the place in the "Retreat of the Ten Thousand," the very
        memory of its name had been lost. It was buried out of sight,
        and no one knew its grave. It is never again to rise from its
        ruins.
        At length, after being lost for more than two thousand years,
        the city was disentombed. A little more than forty years ago the
        French consul at Mosul began to search the vast mounds that lay
        along the opposite bank of the river. The Arabs whom he employed
        in these excavations, to their great surprise, came upon the
        ruins of a building at the mound of Khorsabad, which, on further
        exploration, turned out to be the royal palace of Sargon, one of
        the Assyrian kings. They found their way into its extensive
        courts and chambers, and brought forth form its hidded depths
        many wonderful sculptures and other relics of those ancient
        times.
        The work of exploration has been carried on almost
        continuously by M. Botta, Sir Henry Layard, George Smith, and
        others, in the mounds of Nebi-Yunus, Nimrud, Koyunjik, and
        Khorsabad, and a vast treasury of specimens of old Assyrian art
        has been exhumed. Palace after palace has been discovered, with
        their decorations and their sculptured slabs, revealing the life
        and manners of this ancient people, their arts of war and peace,
        the forms of their religion, the style of their architecture,
        and the magnificence of their monarchs. The streets of the city
        have been explored, the inscriptions on the bricks and tablets
        and sculptured figures have been read, and now the secrets of
        their history have been brought to light.
        One of the most remarkable of recent discoveries is that of
        the library of King Assur-bani-pal, or, as the Greek historians
        call him, Sardanapalos, the grandson of Sennacherib (q.v.). (See
        ASNAPPER T0000347.) This library consists of about ten thousand
        flat bricks or tablets, all written over with Assyrian
        characters. They contain a record of the history, the laws, and
        the religion of Assyria, of the greatest value. These strange
        clay leaves found in the royal library form the most valuable of
        all the treasuries of the literature of the old world. The
        library contains also old Accadian documents, which are the
        oldest extant documents in the world, dating as far back as
        probably about the time of Abraham. (See SARGON T0003227.)
        "The Assyrian royalty is, perhaps, the most luxurious of our
        century [reign of Assur-bani-pal...Its victories and conquests,
        uninterrupted for one hundred years, have enriched it with the
        spoil of twenty peoples. Sargon has taken what remained to the
        Hittites; Sennacherib overcame Chaldea, and the treasures of
        Babylon were transferred to his coffers; Esarhaddon and
        Assur-bani-pal himself have pillaged Egypt and her great cities,
        Sais, Memphis, and Thebes of the hundred gates...Now foreign
        merchants flock into Nineveh, bringing with them the most
        valuable productions from all countries, gold and perfume from
        South Arabia and the Chaldean Sea, Egyptian linen and
        glass-work, carved enamels, goldsmiths' work, tin, silver,
        Phoenician purple; cedar wood from Lebanon, unassailable by
        worms; furs and iron from Asia Minor and Armenia" (Ancient Egypt
        and Assyria, by G. Maspero, page 271).
        The bas-reliefs, alabaster slabs, and sculptured monuments
        found in these recovered palaces serve in a remarkable manner to
        confirm the Old Testament history of the kings of Israel. The
        appearance of the ruins shows that the destruction of the city
        was due not only to the assailing foe but also to the flood and
        the fire, thus confirming the ancient prophecies concerning it.
        "The recent excavations," says Rawlinson, "have shown that fire
        was a great instrument in the destruction of the Nineveh
        palaces. Calcined alabaster, charred wood, and charcoal,
        colossal statues split through with heat, are met with in parts
        of the Nineveh mounds, and attest the veracity of prophecy."
        Nineveh in its glory was (Jonah 3:4) an "exceeding great city
        of three days' journey", i.e., probably in circuit. This would
        give a circumference of about 60 miles. At the four corners of
        an irregular quadrangle are the ruins of Kouyunjik, Nimrud,
        Karamless and Khorsabad. These four great masses of ruins, with
        the whole area included within the parallelogram they form by
        lines drawn from the one to the other, are generally regarded as
        composing the whole ruins of Nineveh.
Bibliography Information
Easton, Matthew George. M.A., D.D., "Biblical Meaning for 'Nineveh' Eastons Bible Dictionary".
bible-history.com - Eastons; 1897.

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