This sketch is from a relief
depicting ancient Assyrians counting the number of heads of the enemy slain
in battle. Heads of the slain enemies of Assyria are collected and brought
to the king, or to the officer appointed to take account of their
number. Beheading was common among Assyrian captives.
Assyrians Counting Heads
Beheading an Enemy
Beheading an enemy was a
very ancient custom. The Bible mentions that David cut off the head
of Goliath and carried it to Saul. It also mentions that the
Philistines cut off the head of Saul. Austin Layard found at the
ruins of Nineveh representations that confirmed events like this.
similar events in Persian ruins, one expert notes "prisoners have
been known to be put to death in cold blood in order to increase the
number of heads of the slain which are deposited in heaps at the
palace gate. Many such heaps of heads are piled up in Persia."
Others saw the remains
of some of these heaps on which the skulls seemed to be stuck
together in a mass of clay or mortar.
"And they took two princes
of the Midianites, Oreb and Zeeb; and they slew Oreb upon the rock Oreb,
and Zeeb they slew at the winepress of Zeeb, and pursued Midian, and
brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon on the other side Jordan."
- Judges 7:25
BEHEADING in the Bible Encyclopedia
PUNISHMENTS in the Bible Encyclopedia
BEHEADING in Naves Topical Bible
There are many examples
revealing Assyrian severity. A captured king was taken to the
capital and compelled to pull the royal chariot of triumph. Rings
were put through their lips or noses and sometimes hands, feet,
noses and ears were cut off, they were blinded and their tongues
were torn from their mouths. Prisoners were skinned alive and set on
fire. Their skins were also hung near enemy city gates in order to
collect tribute. The Lord allowed the ruthless Assyrians to capture
the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 BC because of Israel's
rebellion against Him. They were never seen again.
Map of Ancient Assyria
List of Assyrian Kings
The Bible Mentions People
Revelation 20:4 - And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them,
and judgment was given unto them: and [I saw] the souls of them that
were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the
word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his
image, neither had received [his] mark upon their foreheads, or in
their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand
Deuteronomy 21:6 - And all the elders of that city, [that
are] next unto the slain [man], shall wash their hands over the
heifer that is beheaded in the valley:
4:7 - For when they came into the house, he lay on his bed
in his bedchamber, and they smote him, and slew him, and
beheaded him, and took his head, and gat them away through
the plain all night.
- And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his
head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in
- But when Herod heard [thereof], he said, It is John, whom I
beheaded: he is risen from the dead.
- And Herod said, John have I beheaded: but who is
this, of whom I hear such things? And he desired to see him.
14:10 - And he sent, and beheaded John in the
7:25 - And they took two princes of the Midianites, Oreb and
Zeeb; and they slew Oreb upon the rock Oreb, and Zeeb they slew at
the winepress of Zeeb, and pursued Midian, and brought the
heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon on the other side Jordan.
29:4 - And the princes of the Philistines were wroth with
him; and the princes of the Philistines said unto him, Make this
fellow return, that he may go again to his place which thou hast
appointed him, and let him not go down with us to battle, lest in
the battle he be an adversary to us: for wherewith should he
reconcile himself unto his master? [should it] not [be] with the
heads of these men?
10:6 - Then he wrote a letter the second time to them,
saying, If ye [be] mine, and [if] ye will hearken unto my voice,
take ye the heads of the men your master's sons, and
come to me to Jezreel by to morrow this time. Now the king's sons,
[being] seventy persons, [were] with the great men of the city,
which brought them up.
25:4 - And the LORD said unto Moses, Take all the
heads of the people, and hang them up before the LORD
against the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may be turned
away from Israel.
The Bible Mentions the
Jeremiah 2:18 - And now what hast thou to do in the way of
Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? or what hast thou to do in the
way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the river?
16:10 - And king Ahaz went to Damascus to meet
Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, and saw an altar that
[was] at Damascus: and king Ahaz sent to Urijah the priest the
fashion of the altar, and the pattern of it, according to all the
19:4 - It may be the LORD thy God will hear all the words of
Rabshakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master hath
sent to reproach the living God; and will reprove the words which
the LORD thy God hath heard: wherefore lift up [thy] prayer for the
remnant that are left.
- It may be the LORD thy God will hear the words of Rabshakeh, whom
the king of Assyria his master hath sent to reproach
the living God, and will reprove the words which the LORD thy God
hath heard: wherefore lift up [thy] prayer for the remnant that is
2:36 - Why gaddest thou about so much to change thy way?
thou also shalt be ashamed of Egypt, as thou wast ashamed of
Chronicles 32:9 - After this did Sennacherib king of
Assyria send his servants to Jerusalem, (but he [himself
laid siege] against Lachish, and all his power with him,) unto
Hezekiah king of Judah, and unto all Judah that [were] at Jerusalem,
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, Ye children of
Israel, turn again unto the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel,
and he will return to the remnant of you, that are escaped out of
the hand of the kings of Assyria.
16:7 - So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglathpileser king of
Assyria, saying, I [am] thy servant and thy 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, which rise up against me.
18:9 - And it came to pass 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.
18:17 - And the king of Assyria sent Tartan
and Rabsaris and Rabshakeh from Lachish to king Hezekiah with a
great host against Jerusalem. And they went up and came to
Jerusalem. And 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
17:26 - Wherefore they spake to the king of Assyria,
saying, The nations which thou hast removed, and placed in the
cities of Samaria, know not the manner of the God of the land:
therefore he hath sent lions among them, and, behold, they slay
them, because they know not the manner of the God of the land.
17:24 - And the king of Assyria brought [men]
from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and
from Sepharvaim, and placed [them] in the cities of Samaria instead
of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in
the cities thereof.
20:6 - And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I
will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of
Assyria; and I will defend this city for mine own sake,
and for my servant David's sake.
Chronicles 28:21 - For Ahaz took away a portion [out] of the
house of the LORD, and [out] of the house of the king, and of the
princes, and gave [it] unto the king of Assyria: but
he helped him not.
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 [place]
shall not be found for them.
50:17 - Israel [is] a scattered sheep; the lions have driven
[him] away: first the king of Assyria hath devoured
him; and last this Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon hath broken his
18:16 - At that time did Hezekiah cut off [the gold from]
the doors of the temple of the LORD, and [from] the pillars which
Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid, and gave it to the king of
- Now therefore give pledges, I pray thee, to my master the king of
Assyria, and I will give thee two thousand horses, if
thou be able on thy part to set riders upon them.
9:32 - Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and
the terrible God, who keepest covenant and mercy, let not all the
trouble seem little before thee, that hath come upon us, on our
kings, on our princes, and on our priests, and on our prophets, and
on our fathers, and on all thy people, since the time of the kings
of Assyria unto this day.
- And they shall waste the land of Assyria with the
sword, and the land of Nimrod in the entrances thereof: thus shall
he deliver [us] from the Assyrian, when he cometh into
our land, and when he treadeth within our borders.
23:29 - In his days Pharaohnechoh king of Egypt went up
against the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates:
and king Josiah went against him; and he slew him at Megiddo, when
he had seen him.
27:13 - And it shall come to pass in that day, [that] the
great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready
to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in
the land of Egypt, and shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at
- And the king of Assyria sent Rabshakeh from Lachish
to Jerusalem unto king Hezekiah with a great army. And he stood by
the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller's field.
18:23 - Now therefore, I pray thee, give pledges to my lord
the king of Assyria, and I will deliver thee two
thousand horses, if thou be able on thy part to set riders upon
18:28 - Then Rabshakeh stood and cried with a loud voice in
the Jews' language, and spake, saying, Hear the word of the great
king, the king of Assyria:
19:10 - Thus shall ye speak to Hezekiah king of Judah,
saying, Let not thy God in whom thou trustest deceive thee, saying,
Jerusalem shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of
36:13 - Then Rabshakeh stood, and cried with a loud voice in
the Jews' language, and said, Hear ye the words of the great king,
the king of Assyria.
15:19 - [And] Pul the king of Assyria came
against the land: and Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver,
that his hand might be with him to confirm the kingdom in his hand.
16:8 - And Ahaz took the silver and gold that was found in
the house of the LORD, and in the treasures of the king's house, and
sent [it for] a present to the king of Assyria.
18:30 - Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD,
saying, The LORD will surely deliver us, and this city shall not be
delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria.