Monday, June 23, 2014

Ancient History of Israel and Judah Fighting Assyrian Empire: Today's Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Syria

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                 

Assyria encompassed parts of Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria

Assyria expanded by the 13th and 10th centuries BCE.  
The kingdom started in northern Mesopotamia and covered 4 of today's countries. 

 It went from Syria west to the Euphrates River. 
 From Turkey it went north to Harran, Edessa, Diyarbakir and Lake Van.  
From Iran it went east to Lake Urmi.
In Iraq it went 100 miles south of Kirkuk.  
                                      Empire of Assyria

Abraham, father of 2 peoples, the Arabs and the Jews, lived in the 2nd millennium BCE.  Assyria, an aggressive kingdom,  was born in Western Asia in the 20th century BCE.   Joseph, son of Abraham, lived in about 1700 BCE, to give one an idea of what it was like back then.  The date would be 3,800 years ago.

Kings Saul born in 11th century BCE in the tribe of Benjamin,  David, (1,000-960 BCE) of the tribe of Judah  and his son, King Solomon were kings of Israel.  When King Solomon died (961-920 BCE) the kingdom of Israel split in half with the southern part becoming Judah, as the tribe of Judah lived there.  The kingdom of Israel continued with Jeroboam I as king (930-910 BCE).  He was of the tribe of Ephraim.  His first capital was at Shechem and later at Penuel in Jordan and finally at Tirzah, the final capital of Samaria before the time of King Omri (887-876 BCE of Israel.   He set up new shrines at Bethel and Dan  since he didn't have Jerusalem.  It went with Judah.  The shrines centered around the symbols of golden calves.  Jews feel he had sinned with this and caused Israel to sin.

 Dan was captured by Ben Hadad of Syria during the rule of King Baasha of Israel, son of Ahijah (908-885  BCE)  Ben Hadad was the name of 3 kings of Aram-Dammasek and reigned from 908 to 886 BCE.  He was an ally of King Baasha of Israel until bribed by King Asa of Judah (915-875 BCE) to attack the northern kingdom .  He declared war on Israel (856 BCE) but was defeated and captured.  Then he was freed by King Ahab of Israel (876-853 BCE)  and they became allies in the war against Shalmaneser III of Assyria in 853 BCE.  Later he defeated Ahab at Ramoth Gilead.  He was defeated 3 times by King  Jehoash of Israel (800-785 BCE)  who recaptured the towns that had been ceded to Aram II.

In 853 BCE Shalmaneser III, king of Assyria,  attacked Ben-Hadad II of Damascus.  King Ahab (876-853 BCE) of Israel supported his neighbor in Damasus in the battle of Karkar against Shalmaneser.   So Shalmaneser, not having won that battle, attacked again in 848 BCE and lost again.  The House of King Ahab was liquidated in 842 BCE.  Israel then had Ahaziah (853 BCE), and Jehoram (853-843 BCE) as kings.  Next was King Jehu (843-816 BCE)   who now sat on the throne of Israel and he had to pay tribute to Shalmaneser who reigned from 860-825 BCE.  Damascus held out till 841 BCE but then was captured in 806 BCE  which freed Israel from Damascus control.  Shalmaneser fought against Sidon and Tyre, Phoenician cities now in Lebanon,  and Acre, now a city in Israel.

In 803-802 BCE, Adad-Nirari III (810-783 BCE)  caused the submission of Ben-Hadad III of Damascus.  In Israel, King Jehoash (800-785 BCE)  was successful and his son Jeroboam II (785-745 BCE)  fought against Ben-Hadad III  because at the time Shalmaneser IV (782-772 BCE) was rather passive since he was under the pressure of the kings of Ararat and of Ashur-Dan III (772-759 BCE).  The king of Israel, Jeroboam II died in 745 BCE and King Uzziah  of Judah (780-740 BCE) became head of the Western anti-Assyrian alliance.   He became king at age 16 and conquered Philistia and defeated the Arabians and Meunites tko the south of his kingdom.  He also headed a league of kings who opposed Tiglath-Pileser of Assyria.  Uzziah rebuilt the Red Sea port of Eleath, and under his reign Judah reached the zenith  of its development.  When very old he suffered from leprosy so handed his crown to his son Jotham.

Israel then had kings Zechariah in 744 BCE, Shallum in 743 BCE, Menahem  (743-736 BCE), Pekahiah (736-735 BCE), Pekah (735-730 BCE) and the their last king, Hoshea (730-721 BCE).  Hoshea had revolted against Shalmaneser, but fell into his hands.  Shalmaneser died during the siege of Samaria, which was the capital of Israel.   The battle ended with the Assyrians taking the best of the population of Israel as captives and led them back to their land.

  The 13th king after Jeroboam I was Jeroboam II (784-744 BCE) who exploited Aram's weakness after the defeat by Assyria by recapturing all the and detached from Israel and annexing Aramean towns. Aram was another tribe with a common ancestry of the Israelites.  Assyria had been threatened by Aramean tribes, and only at the end of the 10th century did she finally succeed in averting the danger.  The Aramean states in Syria were overthrown in 743-42 BCE and turned into Assyrian dependencies.  Rebellions were punished by the deportation of the inhabitants to distant countries.  The principal Aramean god in Syria was Hadad, god of wind, rain, thunder and lightning.   Jeroboam II's  rule was full of corruption and the pursuit of pleasure and profit.  This sounds like any country existing today.  The prophets Hosea and Amos denounced his rule.                                                            

Assyria attacked  Israel  in 721 BCE and throughout 722 BCE captured the best of the population and took them away to their land as captives.   Israel's king at the time was King Hoshea (730-721 BCE) 

 This came about due to the nearness of these empires and their combativeness.  Everyone attacked other groups in those days.  Things haven't changed much.  Here's the situation back then.  I"ll lead you to the attack.  Assyria took away 10 of the 12 original tribes of Israelites were taken as captives.  from 721 to 715 BCE.  

At this same time, the southern kingdom, Judah, was ruled by King Hezekiah, a good king.  They were  attacked by the Assyrians later on  but were stopped at the walls of Jerusalem in 701 BCE.  Judah had come into being in 933 BCE after the death of King Solomon.  It preserved monotheistic Judaism in a purer form than Israel had.  They were ruled continually by the House of David.

The Assyrian land was rich and fertile.  Every region had fields where they grew food.  The Arbel plain and the Nineveh plain were the Assyrian breadbasket and are producing food to this day.  It could feed a large population full of professionals and craftsmen which helped their empire to expand and advance the art of civilization-that is, up until today.
 The religion of the Assyrians was Ashurism.  Their god was Asshur, and he was the king of all their gods. The Assyrians believed they were their god's chosen people.   This was a polytheistic religion, just like the Babylonian religion.  Their gods were based around nature.  They had hundreds of gods.  Anu was god of heaven; Bel was god of land where people lived; Ea was god of water; Sin was god of the moon; Shamash was the sun god; and Ramman was god of storms.  The Assyrians were first to convert to Christianity, but many kept practicing Assurism until 256 CE.     The attack of Assyria upon Israel  happened  about 722 years before Jesus was born and 1,292 years before Mohammad was born.

125 years later, the Babylonians would attack Israel and Judah in 597 BCE and again in 586 BCE and take away the best of the population.  Babylon was  south of today's Baghdad.  There was a stark geographical distinction between Babylonia and Assyria.  If one made a journey from Baghdad, Iraq which was in the area of ancient Babylonia to Mosul, Iraq, you would be near several old Assyrian capitals.  The area of Baghdad and southwards the vegetation is of palm trees on flat land.  Most of the year the land is arid and dead where water has not reached.  Near Mosul one sees a change.  The land is made up undulating plains and in spring it is green with pasturage or cereal crops, flowers and clover.  The rolling plains are cut with wadis, full of spring rains.  Higher ranges of hills are on the horizon.  This was Assyria; around Mosul.

Right now Mosul is in the hands of ISIS who has created a Caliphate.  Mosul was Iraq's 2nd largest city.  They have taken parts of eastern Syria and much of Iraq except for Baghdad.

The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia


  1. Warfare is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

    Your article is very well done, a good read.

  2. Thanks, Great Military Battles. Seems like we are still learning from them. Our methods and materials have advanced faster than our cultures. I'm still waiting for man to turn their swords into plowshares.