Nahum 3 – The Sure Destruction & Assyria through the Middle Assyrian Period

Finger Pointing UpI believe that if you give some people too much power it’s too much for them to handle and they become corrupt, such as most, not all, but most of the United States presidents.

For example, I think Nixon was a great president, but he couldn’t handle that amount of power, especially being narcissistic.

I don’t believe Reagan was corrupt, at least no more than he was forced to be.

Therefore, money and power doesn’t corrupt everyone.  I’ve never had that amount of power or money so I don’t know if I would become corrupt or not, but I love you so much I don’t think it could happen, but it might. 1 Be more concered

“Be not deceived: God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Gal 6:7-8).

I can say this though, I wouldn’t want to be the president of the United States anyway because then I would have to live in Washington D.C. and hang out with  politicians.  I think I would be happier flipping burgers at McDonald’s’.

Then again, there are those that or just evil, horrid people from the get go.

For example, the Assyrians were horrible way before Nineveh, they were probably born horrible.  I wonder if the Bush’s, Clinton’s and Obama’s genealogies goes back to the Assyrians cause they are evil people?

This is the last chapter of Nahum, so tomorrow we’ll start with…

Nahum 3
The Sure Destruction

2 Shalmaneser I
Shalmaneser I was a king of Assyria during the Middle Assyrian Empire. Son of Adad-nirari I, he succeeded his father as king in 1265 B.C.

1 Woe to the bloody city! it is all full of lies and robbery; the prey departeth not;

“Bloody city!” – Nineveh’s bloody massacres of her conquered rivals were well known.

“Prey departeth not” – he Assyrians were noted for their ruthlessness, brutality and terrible atrocities.  Many of their victims were beheaded, impaled, burned or skinned alive.

2 The noise of a whip, and the noise of the rattling of the wheels, and of the prancing horses, and of the jumping chariots.

3 The horseman lifteth up both the bright sword and the glittering spear: and there is a multitude of slain, and a great number of carcasses; and there is none end of their corpses; they stumble upon their corpses:

“Great number of carcasses” – the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III boasted of erecting a pyramid of chopped-off heads in front of an enemy’s city.  Other Assyrian kings stacked corpses like cordwood by the gates of defeated cities.  Nahum’s description of the cruel Assyrians is àpropos.

4 Because of the multitude of the whoredoms of the well favored harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts, that selleth nations through her whoredoms, and families through her witchcrafts.

5 Behold, I am against thee, saith the LORD of hosts; and I will discover thy skirts upon thy face, and I will shew the nations thy nakedness, and the kingdoms thy shame.

“I will discover thy skirts upon they face” – the punishment of prostitutes and adulteresses.

3 Ashur Dan II
Ashur-Dan II succeeded his father, Tiglath-Pileser II. He was succeeded by his son Adad-nirari II.
He reigned from 935 BC until his death in 912 BC.

Ashur-dan II concentrated on rebuilding Assyria within its natural borders, from Tur Abdin to the foothills beyond Arbel, he built government offices in all provinces, and as an economic boost, provided ploughs throughout the land, which yielded record grain production.

6 And I will cast abominable filth upon thee, and make thee vile, and will set thee as a gazing stock.

7 And it shall come to pass, that all they that look upon thee shall flee from thee, and say, Nineveh is laid waste: who will bemoan her? whence shall I seek comforters for thee?

“Who,?  Whence…?” – rhetorical questions.  Nineveh will receive no sympathy.

8 Art thou better than populous No, that was situate among the rivers, that had the waters round about it, whose rampart was the sea, and her wall was from the sea?

“No’ – Hebrew name for the city of Thebes.  No-amon is the more common spelling and means “city of (the god) Amon.”  Thebes was the great capital of Upper Southern Egypt.  Its site is occupied today by the towns of Luxor and Karnak.  It was destroyed by the Assyrians in 663 B.C.

9 Ethiopia and Egypt were her strength, and it was infinite; Put and Lubim were thy helpers.

“Put” – a neighbor of Egypt, but its location is uncertain.

10 Yet was she carried away, she went into captivity: her young children also were dashed in pieces at the top of all the streets: and they cast lots for her honorable men, and all her great men were bound in chains.

“Her great men were bound in chains” – Assyrian kings often did this; e.g., King Ashurbanipal gave this description of his treatment of a captured leader: “I…put a dog chain on him and made him occupy a kennel at the eastern gate of Nineveh.”

11 Thou also shalt be drunken: thou shalt be hid, thou also shalt seek strength because of the enemy.

12 All thy strong holds shall be like fig trees with the first ripe figs: if they be shaken, they shall even fall into the mouth of the eater.

4 Assyrian attack
Assyrian attack on a town with archers and a wheeled battering ram; Assyrian Relief, North-West Palace of Nimrud 865–860 BC.

“Fig trees with the first ripe figs” – a metaphor for the eagerness with which victors gather the rich loot of Nineveh.

“They shall even fall into the mouth of the eater” – Nineveh’s fortresses will finally fall just as easily.

13 Behold, thy people in the midst of thee are women: the gates of thy land shall be set wide open unto thine enemies: the fire shall devour thy bars.

“Thy people…are women” – They are weak and unable to stand against the invading armies.

14 Draw thee waters for the siege, fortify thy strong holds: go into clay, and tread the mortar, make strong the brickkiln.

“Fortify thy strong holds” – irony, the point being that it will do no good.

15 There shall the fire devour thee; the sword shall cut thee off, it shall eat thee up like the cankerworm: make thyself many as the cankerworm, make thyself many as the locusts.

“Fire devour thee” confirmed by history and archaeology.  Assyria’s king died in the flames of his palace.

16 Thou hast multiplied thy merchants above the stars of heaven: the cankerworm spoileth, and flieth away.

“Thy merchants above the stars of heaven” – speaks of Assyria’s vast trading and commercial enterprises.

“Cankerworm Spoileth” – in the time of Nineveh’s adversity the merchants stripped the land of its reassures, and the trade network was destroyed.

17 Thy crowned are as the locusts, and thy captains as the great grasshoppers, which camp in the hedges in the cold day, but when the sun ariseth they flee away, and their place is not known where they are.

5 Susa
Susa, sacked by the Assyrians. Ashurbanipal’s brutal campaign against Susa in 647 BCE is triumphantly recorded in this relief.

Here, flames rise from the city as Assyrian soldiers topple it with pickaxes and crowbars and carry off the spoils.

“Locusts” – feared by the farmers of the ancient Near East because they came in huge swarms and devoured everything in their path.

“Place is not known” – thus will Nineveh’s officials disappear, without a trace.  Interestingly, for centuries no one knew where Nineveh itself lay buried; in 1845 A.D. it was finally uncovered by archaeologists.

18 Thy shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria: thy nobles shall dwell in the dust: thy people is scattered upon the mountains, and no man gathereth them.

“O king” – the reigning king at the time of Nineveh’s fall was Sin-shar-ishkun; so these words are prophetically addressed to him.

19 There is no healing of thy bruise; thy wound is grievous: all that hear the bruit of thee shall clap the hands over thee: for upon who hath not thy wickedness passed continually?

“Thy wound is grievous” – incurable.  See Micah 1:9.  Micah and Nahum share the major theme of the day of the Lord, but for Micah it was Judah while for Nahum it would be Assyria.  Nineveh was so totally destroyed that it was never rebuilt, and within a few centuries it was covered with windblown sand.

So that “great city” (Jon 1:2) fell in 612 B.C., never to rise again – all in fulfillment of God’s word through His prophet Nahum.  It is significant that the last phrase in Nahum is:

“Thy wickedness…” God will by no means leave such behavior unpunished.

Assyria through the Middle Assyrian Period

The heartland of Assyria lay in a small area in northern Mesopotamia, centered on the Tigris River. Villages were established in this area by 7000 B.C., although traces of human activity seem from thousands of years earlier.

6 Asshur or Assur
Asshur or Assur was originally an Assyrian Moon and War god of the city bearing his name.

He may be a later development of Anshar. He later became head of a pantheon, occupying a position similar to Marduk. In fact, in Assyrian copies of the creation epic Enuma Elis, he replaces Marduk as the hero. Assyrians also identified him with Enlil, and a ziggurat named Enlil arattakisharra was built for Asshur-Enlil at Asshur.

His temple at Asshur was named Betum Rimum, “House of the Wild Ox,” also known as the Enlil kur, “Mountain House,” like Enlil’s temple at Nippur. His temple complex at Asshur, Enlil sharra, “House of the Universe,” dates from later in Assyrian history.

The Assyrians marched to battle under his emblem – a god in a horned cap, shooting an arrow from a bow and enclosed in a circle. This symbol was to be found in one form or another wherever the Assyrians spread.

 The great cities of Assyria included Asshur (founded c. 2700 B.C.), Nineveh c. 3000 B.C.) and Kalhu (Biblical Calah, modern Nimrud founded c.878 B.C.).  Although Assyria was dominated early in Babylonia, it eventually became the most powerful empire in the ancient Near East.

Its history was one of continual expansion and retraction.

Old Assyrian Period (c. 2334-1275 B.C.)

Early in its history Assyria was a group of independent cities. The empire of Sargon of Akkad (c. 334-2279 B.C.) exercised authority in Assyria, and a king in Sargon’s line, Manishtushu  (c. 2269-2255 B.C.), is said to have built a temple in Nineveh.

With the collapse of the power of Akkad, Assyria came under another Mesopotamian power, the Third Dynasty of Ur (c. 2112-2004 B.C.). Sometime later Asshur won its independence and began to set up trading colonies in Anatolia.

Thousands of cuneiform documents from the Anatolian town of Kanish (modern Kultepe) provide detailed information about prosperous Assyrian merchant colonies from about 1900 to 1750 B.C.

At the same time Amorite tribes from the west began to invade Mesopotamia. An Amorite ruler, Shamshi-Adad I (c.1814-1782 B.C.), dominated most of the Assyrian heartland, including Asshur.

He installed his sons as governors of Mari on the Euphrates River and Ekallatum, south of Asshur on the Tigris. Shamshi-Adad himself ventured west, establishing a vast empire stretching over northern Mesopotamian into Syria.

After his death in 1781 B.C., Shamshi Adad’s son Ishme-Dagan I was unable to keep up his father’s empire.  Hammurabi of Babylon conquered Mari and Asshur, while the Hurrians invaded from the northeast.

For the next 400 years there is almost no documentation from the Assyrian cities, except for the Assyrian King List.

The reign of Ashur-uballit I (1364—1329 B.C.), who unified and consolidated the city- states of Assyria into a stable political entity, marks the beginning of Assyria as a political state.

7 Emblem
Emblem (possibly hypothetical) of the city of Asshur (Al Daiyara, northern Iraq) the original capital of Assyria, a country prior to 606 B. C. centered in the Tigris river valley.

Letters uncovered at Amarna prove that he corresponded as an equal with Egypt’s Amenhotep IV. Although the Babylonian king considered Ashur-uballit I his vassal, Ashur-uballit I was able to exert much influence in Babylon when his daughter was given in marriage to the Babylonian king; the son of this union became the next ruler of Babylon.

Much Babylonian literature and learning was imported to Assyria, a practice later Assyrian monarchs would continue.

8 Map Empire of SargonFollowing the reign of Ashur-uballit, his successors lost influence in Babylonia; however, they (particularly Adad-narari I) were able to push westward into Mitanni  and as far as Carchemish, continuing to lay the groundwork for empire building.

Middle Assyrian Period (c. 1274-935 B.C.)

The Assyrian Empire emerged under the next two kings, Shalmaneser I (c. 1274-1245 B.C.) and Tukulti-Ninurta I (c. 1244-1208 B.C.). As the son of Ashur-uballit, Shalmaneser I campaigned especially in the west against the Hittites and against the Hurrians of Mitanni.

9 Shamshi Adad I
Shamshi-Adad I was an ancient Near East king. He rose to prominence when he carved out an empire encompassing much of Mesopotamia, Syria and Asia Minor often referred to as the Kingdom of Upper Mesopotamia.

Tukulti-Ninurta continued the military expeditions of his father, even gaining temporary control of Babylonia. The first recorded deportation occurred under Tukulti Ninurta, who relocated Hittites from Syria to the Assyrian heartland as laborers.

Tukulti-Ninurta also established a new capital on the eastern bank of the Tigris—and was murdered in his own new palace.

With the collapse of the Hittite Empire, other people began to move. The Mushki (probably the Phrygians) migrated into Anatolia, and the Arameans (Syrians) pushed against Assyria from the west, causing a decline in Assyrian control.

In the ensuing instability Babylonia was able to regain its independence, and Assyrian control over other areas weakened.

Ashur-resha-ishi I (c. 1133-1116 B.C.) restored and reunified the core area of Assyria, and Tiglath-Pileser I (c. 1115-1077 B.C.) built upon this foundation, expanding the empire in all directions.

10 Akhenaten
Akhenaten known before the fifth year of his reign as Amenhotep IV, was a Pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt who ruled for 17 years and died perhaps in 1336 BC or 1334 B.C.

He campaigned successfully against the Mushki and the Arameans to the west, bringing all of Syria and southern Anatolia under Assyrian domination. He also marched south into Babylonia, capturing many of its leading cities.

Assyrian culture surged under the prosperity brought about by these military conquests. Upon the death of Tiglath-Pileser, however, the fortunes of Assyria once again declined until the reign of Ashur-dan II (c. 934-912 B.C.).


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