The Mighty Assyrian Empire Emerges From the Dust -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 15:3 (Summer 2002)
Article: The Mighty Assyrian Empire Emerges From the Dust
Author: Anonymous


The Mighty Assyrian Empire Emerges From the Dust

Perhaps archaeology’s most dramatic find among the treasure troves of the past was the remains of the ancient Assyrian Empire.

Assyria first appears as an empire early in the second millennium BC. The remains of a ziggurat, or temple tower, from that era still stand near the site of its ancient capital.

In the ninth century BC, Assyria developed into an aggressive and powerful empire. By this time, about 40 years after the reign of Solomon, Israel had split into two distinct kingdoms—Israel and Judah (1 Kgs 12:16–24). Led by able and ruthless monarchs, the Assyrians began to menace and eventually conquer their neighbors. They eventually subjugated the whole of the Fertile Crescent from Mesopotamia to Egypt. According to the Bible, by the late eighth century they crushed the kingdom of Israel and invaded the southern kingdom of Judah, conquering its major cities and besieging its capital, Jerusalem (Is 36:1–2).

Did this really happen, or is it a fable? Remember, many scoffers at one time disputed even the existence of the Assyrian Empire. But it was no myth. As the debris of centuries was removed from Nineveh, the capital, dramatic proof of the Assyrian invasion was laid bare.

Assyrian records of these events quote King Sennacherib of Assyria boasting of his devastating invasion of Judah: “Forty-six of [Hezekiah’s] strong walled towns and innumerable smaller villages... [I] besieged and conquered ... As for Hezekiah, the awful splendor of my lordship overwhelmed him” (Bleibtreu 1991:60).

“In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah’s reign, Sennacherib king of Assyria attacked all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them” reads 2 Kings 18:13. This relief from Sennacherib’s palace at Nineveh shows the Assyrians’ furious assault on the Jewish stronghold of Lachish.

By the time of Jesus Christ and the apostles, no physical evidence of Nineveh could be seen. Lucian of Samosata (AD 120–180), a Greek writer, lamented: “Nineveh has perished. No trace of it remains. No one can say where once it existed” (Magnusson 1977:175). Such a lack of visible remains led some scholars of the 19th century to express skepticism that Nineveh or any part of the Assyrian Empire even existed, much less dominated a significant part of the world.

Indeed the only historical source in those days that verified the existence of the empire was the Bible. The Old Testament histories and prophecies spoke about Assyria. Jesus proclaimed the existence of Nineveh as a historical fact (

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