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January 29    Scripture

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Old Testament: The Assyrian Captivity
Details and Events about the Assyrian Captivity of the Jews in the Bible.

A Brief Overview Of The Assyrians Assyria was a kingdom located between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers that dominated the ancient world from the ninth century to the seventh century B. C. Its capital was Nineveh. In stature the Assyrians were of average modern European height, and were powerfully built. Their complexion was dark, the nose prominent, the hair, eyebrows, and beard thick and bushy. They rarely intermarried with neighboring peoples. The early inhabitants of Assyria were ancient tribesmen (Gen. 10:22) who probably migrated from Babylonia. They grew powerful enough around 1300 B. C. to conquer Babylonia. For the next 700 years they were the leading power in the ancient world, with their leading rival nation, Babylon, constantly challenging them for this position.

Assyria Fell In 607 BC Assyria was a world empire for about 300 years under several warrior kings some of which wielded Assyria into the best fighting machine of the ancient world. Finally the brutal empire fell in 607 B.C. giving way to the Babylonians.

Assyrians Deported Conquered People Assyrian policy was to deport conquered peoples to other lands within the empire, to destroy their sense of nationalism, and break any pride or hope of rebellion and replace them with strangers from far away.

Assyrians Destroyed The Northern Kingdom Of Israel It was the Assyrians that destroyed the northern kingdom Israel under Shalmaneser IV who besieged Samaria and then died during the siege leaving Sargon II to finish the task and drag Israel into captivity. After defeating the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 B. C., the Assyrians carried away thousands of Israelites and resettled them in other parts of the Assyrian Empire. This was a blow from which the nation of Israel never recovered. The ten tribes that were taken to Assyria became the ten lost tribes, for they have never again emerged in world history.

The Assyrians Were Gruesome Warriors Assyrians were great warriors. Most nations at that time period were looters, building their state by robbing other nations. Assyria was the most ferocious of them all. Their very name became a byword for cruelty and atrocity. They skinned their prisoners alive, and cut off various body parts to inspire terror in their enemies. There are records of Assyrian officials pulling out tongues and displaying mounds of human skulls all to bring about stark horror and wealthy tribute from surrounding nations. Nowhere are the pages of history more bloody than in the records of their wars.

The Kings Of Assyria (885-607 BC) Assur-nasipal II (885-860 B.C.) Shalmaneser II (860-825 B.C.) Shansi-adad (825-808 B.C.) Adad-nirari (808-783 B.C.) Shalmaneser III (783-771 B.C.) Assur-dayan (771-753 B.C.) Assur-lush (753-747 B.C.) Tiglath-pileser III (Pul) (747-727 B.C.) Shalmaneser IV (727-722 B.C.) Sargon II (722-705 B.C.) Sennacherib (705-681 B.C.) Esar-haddon (681-668 B.C.) Assur-banipal (668-626 B.C.) Assur-etil-ilani (626-607 B.C.)

The Religion Of The Assyrians The religion of the Assyrians, much like that of the Babylonians, emphasized worship of nature. They believed every object of nature was possessed by a spirit. The chief god was Asshur. All other primary gods whom they worshiped were related to the objects of nature. These included Anu, god of the heavens; Bel, god of the region inhabited by man, beasts, and birds; Ea, god of the waters; Sin, the moon-god; Shamash, the sun-god; and Ramman, god of the storms. These gods were followed by five gods of the planets. In addition to these primary gods, lesser gods also were worshiped. In some cases, various cities had their own patron gods. The pagan worship of the Assyrians was vehemently condemned by several prophets of the Old Testament (Is. 10:5; Ezek. 16:28; Hos. 8.9)

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