The Kraig Josiah Rice
Devotional Bible Commentary on

Jonah Addendum web page 1

written by
Kraig J. Rice

(clicking on these links will move you down the page)

Assyria in the Beginning
The Rise of Assyria
Info on Assyrian symbols
Some Assyrian Rulers
Jonah's Ministry to Nineveh
The Cruelty of the Assyrians
The Decline of Israel
The Samaritans
The Decline of Judah
The Decline of Assyria
The Fall of Nineveh

Why study Assyria? I think that if you are studying the bible books of Jonah, Nahum, or Zephaniah then you might gain a little more insight into who the Assyrians were, what they accomplished, and why they did what they did. In other words, it might help you to understand the bible a little better. Or, maybe it will help you in your study of history.

Is this what the Tower of Babel looked like?


Assyria in the beginning came into existence when Nimrod, a world ruler, united the known world (after the universal flood from God that nearly destroyed all humanity). God's will was for all people to scatter across the face of the world and re-populate it. But Nimrod decided to act on Satan's will instead. Why did this act eventually bring about God's judgment by the confusion of languages? Nimrod shook his fist of defiance in God's face and had the intention of his heart to build a high tower in the sky that would help unite all of humanity. This ziggurat is known as the Tower of Babel. Like King Nebuchadnezzar's Golden Statue (idol) in the city of Babylon, it was high so everyone could gather around it and render their worship. Today, archaeologists call these towers by the name of "ziggurats".

The first such ziggurat was built in the ancient city of Babylon by Nimrod. Later, one was also built in the ancient city of Nineveh. Archaeologists affirm the fact that the ruins of these ziggurats are still there. It is probable that Nimrod would stand on top of his tower as a god and receive the worship of the people. This "salvation tower" allowed all of humanity in that area of the Euphrates Valley area to openly sin and be as wicked as they wanted to without having to face God's judgment because Nimrod was their saviour. Therefore, the Tower of Babel was a tower of rebellion against God and it was built in the city of ancient Babylon. Why Babylon? Because Babylon was rising in power to rule the known world.

Why can this study of history be so confusing? It is because Nineveh and Babylon were rival cities (much like Rome and Carthage were in later years). Both cities stood in the Euphrates Valley in ancient Mesopothamia. Some Christian historians think that these cities were not that far from the original site of the biblical Garden of Eden. Nineveh was in the northern part of the valley, while Babylon was in the southern part. These two cities were about 300 miles apart from each other. It appears that they took turns in ruling over each other. This was over a one thousand year period of time. The city of Babylon ruled over the Babylonian Empire. The Babylonians were also called Chaldeans. The city of Nineveh ruled over the Assyrian Empire.

1) The first city to gain dominance in the area was Babylon. This is generally called Early Babylon by historians to distinguish it from Neo-Babylon or simply Babylon due to the fact that Babylon ruled twice. The Assyrians and the city of Nineveh were under the rulership of Early Babylon in those days. Babylon ruled supreme.
2) Then the Assyrians, with their capital city at Nineveh, ruled and Early Babylon was under their rulership. Up to about 625 B.C. Babylon was under Assyrian control.
3) Then, once again, Babylon (Neo-Babylon) ruled supreme in later years and the Assyrians were under their rulership again.

Note: not all historians agree on all of the dates- some dates differ as much as several years and this can lead to some confusion.

Nimrod founded Babel (Babylon) and Nineveh (Genesis 10:10-11).

Here is what the Bible has to say about the Tower of Babel:
"At one time the whole world spoke a single language and used the same words. As the people migrated eastward, they found a plain in the land of Babylonia and settled there. They began to talk about construction projects. "Come," they said, "let's make great piles of burnt brick and collect natural asphalt to use as mortar. Let's build a great city with a tower that reaches to the skies- a monument to our greatness! This will bring us together and keep us from scattering all over the world." But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building.
"Look!" He said. "If they can accomplish this when they have just begun to take advantage of their common language and political unity, just think of what they will do later. Nothing will be impossible for them! Come, let's go down and give them different languages. Then they won't be able to understand each other."
In that way, the Lord scattered them all over the earth; and that ended the building of the city. That is why the city was called Babel, because it was there that the Lord confused the people by giving them many languages, thus scattering them across the earth"
(Genesis 11:1-9 Living Bible).

Some historians believe that the Tower of Babel was a ziggurat and that our word for "Babylon" came from the word "Babel". There were many ziggurats in the Tigris-Euphrates Valley. The city of Nineveh had one and Ur of the Chaldees (where Abraham lived at first) had one. What were ziggurats like? Each one was made of brick and solidly constructed. Each one was also a religious symbol and on top of it was erected a small temple that contained an altar. People worshipped Satan there. Some ziggurats were round, others were square, but all of them had runways leading to the top, and on the top the people carried on idol worship, human sacrifice, and the worship of the sun, moon, and stars. By being up high in the air where they could see the sun, the moon, and the stars, they had a false sense of security in thinking that another universal flood would never be able to destroy them.

What did Nimrod use the Tower of Babel for? Some bible expositors believe that he built it as a place of refuge in time of high water just in case God decided to flood the world again with water- that he built it above the flood stage for just that reason. He would defy God and just dare God to try it again. It could be that Nimrod wanted to prove his love for Satan. Nimrod could prove that by human sacrifice that could be accomplished on top of the Tower of Babel. The ancient Aztecs did something similar on top of their temples in Mexico. No matter what Nimrod's reason was for building it, the Tower of Babel was against God. The Tower of Babel represented the rebellion of mankind against Almighty God. Nimrod was a leader of this anti-God movement. Credit is given him by historians as the the builder of the city of Babel (Babylon) and also of the Tower of Babel.

It would not surprise me to learn that Satan set up his throne at the Tower of Babel. If that were the case, this Tower would have been a center of unity- a sort of headquarters, a place to assemble and a place to look to. It would help Satan, through Nimrod, carry out his dream of world empire- a world empire without God.

Ancient Babylon was known for its emphases on education. Babylon had great public libraries in each of its chief cities. The city of Erech was known as the City of Books. The temple library found at Nippur contained over 30,000 books (clay tablets).

A large temple of Bel was discovered at the city of Nippur. The Babylonians worshipped Satan through this god for hundreds of years. It was not unusual for a temple to be built to honor a god in each major city of the Assyrians. Sometimes these temples were used for more than worship. They were also used for libraries, schools, banks, and business centers. Sometimes, much of the surrounding land of the community was also owned by the temple rulers in the name of the god. The god, Bel, at Nippur, according to archaeological findings, owned a great part of this city and its surrounding lands.

God continually warned His people Israel not to follow Satan or worship idols dedicated to Satan:
"Listen, all you people of Judah and Benjamin! The Lord will stay with you as long as you stay with him! Whenever you seek Him, you will find Him. But if you abandon Him, He will abandon you. For a long time, Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach them, and without God's law. But whenever you were in distress and turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought Him out, you found Him"
(2 Chronicles 15:2-4).

Nimrod had brought to his subjects the worship of Satan. This turned out to be a popular religion for many generations and many and varied wicked spirits were worshipped by the early Babylonians and Assyrians. This worship included the practice of magic rites and incantations to avert the malign influence of these demons.

The early Babylonians and Assyrians also practiced astrology or the foretelling of events by the aspects of the stars. These folks developed this art of religion until the fame of the Chaldean astrologers was spread throughout the ancient world. Later, the Greeks accepted this type of worship and also spread it abroad. In other words, we understand that these folks believed in and used magic, sorcery, and astrology.

It is common knowledge that human sacrifices ceased for awhile amongst the patriarch Abraham's neighbors after they found out from Abraham that God hated human sacrifice. This happened after God stopped Abraham from sacrificing his only son, Isaac, on the mountain top
(Genesis chapter 22).

The courage of your enemies does you honor


The capital city of Assyria was Nineveh. It had been founded by Nimrod
(Genesis 10:11), whom the Bible describes as "a mighty one on the earth"
(Genesis 10:8-9). His influence had been so great that later, even Micah, the prophet, refered to Assyria as the land of Nimrod
(Micah 5:6). Nimrod first settled in the land of Shinar in the Euphrates Valley area. From there he went to Babylon and from there his influence spread to Assyria where be built the city of Nineveh.

Nimrod passed from the scene but not the Assyrian desire for world government. In Early Babylon days one city (having it's gods) fought against another city (having it's gods). This was before a mighty ruler, Hammurabi (about 2250 B.C.), brought them all together under one government to form the mighty Early Babylonian Empire. The city of Babylon was his capital city.

According to one historian, "the original Babylonians of the past were a mixed people, a non-semitic race called the Sumerians, from Sumer, the name of one of the ancient divisions of the country. Another group of nomads came in from Arabia and the union of these two groups formed the Babylonian populace."

The Assyrians wanted to dominate the region and they were able to pull together political and military unity. They raised an army and were successful in their military endeavors of early conquest. They eventually conquered Early Babylon and gained much territory. How did this happen?

King Shalmaneser I fought for Assyrian independence against Babylon and won. Then the Assyrians ruled the whole Euphrates Valley.

Then power went back and forth between Assyria and Babylon. Assyria declined in power.

Tiglath-pileser I (1120-1100 B.C.) made Assyria great again.

Then Assyria declined in power again.

Then King Assur-nasipal II (885-860 B.C.) helped Assyria become great again.

King Shalmaneser II marched his armies to many conquests but the Assyrian king, Tiglath-Pileser III, did something extra. One historian stated that:
"he was a political organizer of great capacity, had great energy, and military talent. He was the first to introduce and put into practice in a large way, the plan of reducing conquered states to provinces- that is, instead of allowing the princes that he conquered to rule as his vassals, he put in their places Assyrian magistrates, or viceroys, upon whose loyalty he could depend. This transplanting of a conquered people was a regular governmental device of the Assyrian kings. It was done not only in order that conspiracy and revolt should be rendered practically impossible, but also in order that, with the old ties of country and home thus severed, the rising generation might the more easily forget past wrongs and old traditions and customs, and become blended with the peoples about them."

By conquest, Assyria collected large amounts of wealth. Their conquests eventually spread westward towards Syria, Israel, and Egypt.

The Assyrian Empire was very powerful for about 273 years (885-612 B.C.). Eventually, the Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel. According to the bible, it was God's will for the Assyrians (and Babylonians) to conquer and deport His people of Israel and Judah because it was a fulfillment of what God said He would do to them if they worshipped Satan through idol worship
(Deuteronomy 29:24-27). And God did exactly what He said He would do.

"The Lord shall bring on you, and on your people, and on your father's house, days that have not come, since the days that Ephraim departed from Judah, the king of Assyria"
(Isaiah 7:17).


Albert Barnes placed this information in his commentary, "...in ancient sculptures it was common to unite the head of a man with the figure of an animal, as combining symbols. Among the most remarkable figures discovered by Mr. Layard, in the ruins of Nineveh, were winged, human-headed lions. These lions are thus described by Mr. Layard: "They were about twelve feet in height, and the same number in length. The body and limbs were admirably portrayed; the muscles and bones, although strongly developed, to display the strength of the animal, showed, at the same time, a correct knowledge of its anatomy and form. Expanded wings sprung from the shoulder and spread over the back; a knotted girdle, ending in tassels, encircled the loins. These sculptures, forming an entrance, were partly in full, and partly in relief. The head and forepart, facing the chambers, were in full; but only one side of the rest of the slab was sculptured, the back being placed against the wall of sun-dried bricks."
{Nineveh and its Remains, volume 1, page 75}..."among the sculptures found by Mr. Layard, in the ruins of Nineveh, were not a few winged bulls, some of them of large structure, and probably all of them emblematic. One of these was removed with great difficulty, to be deposited in the British Museum. See Mr. Layard's "Nineveh and its Remains," volume 2 pages 64-75. Such emblems were common in the Eastern culture."

Why did the Assyrians combine their symbols? What did they mean? Barnes explained: "The head indicated intelligence, and the wings denoted rapidity. On the use of these figures, found in the ruins of Nineveh, Mr. Layard makes the following sensible remarks- remarks admirably illustrating the view which I take of the symbols before us: "I used to contemplate for hours these mysterious emblems, and muse over their intent and history. What more noble forms could have ushered the people into the temple of their gods? What more sublime images could have been borrowed from nature by men who sought, unaided by the light of revealed religion, to embody their conceptions of the wisdom, power, and ubiquity of a Supreme Being? They could find no better type of intellect and knowledge than the head of a man; of strength, than the body of the lion; of rapidity of motion, than the wings of a bird. These winged, human-headed lions were not idle creations, the offspring of mere fancy; their meaning was written upon them. They had awed and instructed races which flourished 3000 years ago. Through the portals which they guarded, kings, priests, and warriors had borne sacrifices to their altars, long before the wisdom of the East had penetrated into Greece, and had furnished its mythology with symbols long recognised by the Assyrian votaries."-
{Nineveh and its Remains, volume 1, pages 75-76}.

It is not guided missiles but
guided morals
that is our great need today


The Assyrians began to become very powerful as a world nation at that time.

God ordered His prophet, Jonah, to Nineveh. He preached to them because they were headed in the wrong spiritual direction. They repented and were headed in the right direction. The Book of Jonah was written between 800-750 B.C. from somewhere in the northern kingdom (this was in the early 8th century B.C.). This was during the reign of Jeroboam II of Israel
(2 Kings 14:23-25).

Assyrian King Adad-Nirari (810-782 B.C.) was possibly the King of Nineveh when Jonah preached to the populace of Nineveh. This king took tribute money from Israel.

It appears that the revival that started via the preaching of Jonah lasted through the reigns of
Assyrian King Shalmaneser III (782-772 B.C.) and
Assyrian King Ashur-dan III (772-755 B.C.).
But then the Assyrians made wrong choices and headed in the wrong spiritual direction. They became corrupt and once again they became violent, wicked, and immoral as a people.

Assyrian King Tiglath-pileser III (747-727 B.C.) (His personal name was "Pul") deported most of the Israelites from the Northern Kingdom of Israel to Assyria. How did this happen? Assyria invaded the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah. To the east of the Jordan, Assyria took as slaves the folks of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh. On the west side of Jordan, Assyria conquered most of the rest. The first major deportation of folks from Israel to Assyria took place over a 2 year period of time.

Assyrian King Shalmaneser (727 to 722 B.C.) sent his army to the capital city of Israel, Samaria, and besieged it. He died during the siege.
About 722 B.C. Assyria destroyed Samaria, the capital of Israel, after a lengthy 3 year siege
(2 Kings chapter 17). King Shalmaneser wrote much on his Black Obelisk that archaeologists have found. The major deportation(s) of the folks from Judah to Assyria took place over a 5 year period of time.

Assyrian King Sargon II (722-705 B.C.) completed the destruction of Samaria and also deported the rest of the folks in Israel and Judah to Assyria. If he was Sargon the Second, who was Sargon the first? Sargon I was a Babylonian king who previously ruled many years earlier.

Assyrian King Sennacherib (705-681 B.C.) was the most famous of the Assyrian kings. He defeated and burned the city of Babylon and tried to do the same to Jerusalem. He sent his army to the Southern Kingdom of Judah to conquer Jerusalem. This took place about
699 B.C. but his army was destroyed by God at that time. The prophet Isaiah prophesied against him. In other words, God killed most of his army while they were preparing to attack Jerusalem and this king retreated to Nineveh.
In 680 B.C. King Sennacherib died there in the temple of Nisroch.

Jerusalem was not conquered at this time. Jerusalem, as the capital of Judah, would continue to exist for another 100 years or so past the fall of the Northern Kingdom. Instead of learning their lesson from watching the fall of Israel (the Northern Kingdom), they repeated the mistakes of Israel and eventually ended up the same way under the Babylonians.

The Assyrian King Esar-haddon (681-668 B.C.) conquered Egypt and re-built the city of Babylon.

The Assyrian King Assur-banipal (668-626 B.C.) destroyed the city of Thebes in Egypt in 663 B.C. He was also called Sardanopalus and Osnapper in the Assyrian writings.

The Assyrian King Assur-etil-ilani (Sin-sar-iskun) was also called Saracos in the Assyrian writings. He was the last ruling king of Nineveh.

Things usually do not happen overnight
It takes time and hard work


Nineveh was the capital city of the Assyrian Empire. It was founded by Nimrod. The city was geographically located about 400 miles east of the Mediterranean Sea. The city had 5 walls and 3 canals (moats) surrounding it. The walls had 15 gates guarded by the images of large bulls and lions. The city walls stretched several miles in circumference and were at least 100 feet high and 40 feet thick. The city had 70 large meeting halls that were highly sculptured. A tower (ziggurat) similar to the Tower of Babel stood as the center of their religious worship to Satan. Eventually, four palaces were built in Nineveh. One for Sennacherib, Ashurbanipal, Sennacherib, and one built by Esarhaddon. It would take about three days to cover all its neighborhoods by walking like Jonah did. Nineveh was the largest city of its time.

Archaeologists believe there was an inner city inside of a larger city. The inner city measured 3 miles long and 1 1/2 miles wide while the outer city measured 30 miles long and 10 miles wide. Nineveh's great size is attested to by the ancient geographer, Strabo; by the Greeks: Diodorus Siculus and Herodotus. It is possible that the four small cities built close together by Nimrod
(Genesis 10:11-12) became one large one. The city stretched from the town of Calah in the south to the town of Khorsabad in the north.

Thousands of slaves deported to Assyria helped build all of their landmarks including the 5 walls and 3 canals that helped to protect the city of Nineveh. Assyria was a warrior nation. She was arrogant, powerful, and brutal in her actions. She lusted for the wealth that poured into her pockets from all the provinces she conquered.

Nimrud was a city in Assyria about twenty miles away from Nineveh. Archaeological excavations there revealed a large monument of Assyrian King Ashurnasipal II (885-860 B.C.). On this monument was a menu for a banquet at the dedication of his palace where 70,000 were fed. Those in attendance were the VIP's (Very Important People) of Nimrud. Many more folks inhabited the areas surrounding the city. Since this large city had such a large population, then it would have been very easy for Nineveh to have had a population of well over 120,000 in the days of Jonah.

"Before they call I will answer;
while they are still speaking I will hear"
(Isaiah 65:24)


It was not God's will for the Assyrians to use terror and to torture the folks who they captured. God sent Jonah to preach to them and get them straightened out. They did repent and accept Him and His commandments for awhile...

Here is what the Bible states in reference to Jonah's ministry to Nineveh:
"On the day Jonah entered the city, he shouted to the crowds: "Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!" The people of Nineveh believed God's message, and from the greatest to the least, they decided to go without food and wear sackcloth to show their sorrow. When the king of Nineveh heard what Jonah was saying, he stepped down from his throne and took off his royal robes. He dressed himself in sackcloth and sat on a heap of ashes. Then the king and his nobles sent this decree throughout the city: "No one, not even the animals, may eat or drink anything at all. 8Everyone is required to wear sackcloth and pray earnestly to God. Everyone must turn from their evil ways and stop all their violence. Who can tell? Perhaps even yet God will have pity on us and hold back his fierce anger from destroying us." When God saw that they had put a stop to their evil ways, He had mercy on them and didn't carry out the destruction He had threatened"
(Jonah 3:4-10).

It is important to God to have folks who will share His word with others:
"For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek (gentile), for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!"
(Romans 10:12-15).

There was much power, wealth, and education in ancient Nineveh, but, there was much violence and wickedness also. Nineveh's repentance and salvation is noted in the Gospels:
Matthew 12:41 and Luke 11:32.

But, eventually, the folks in Assyria turned back again to their old ways. What were those ways? They worshipped Satan, they were violent, and they were immoral. Now, many years after the preaching of Jonah, God commanded Nahum to give the Assyrians this message:
"The Lord has given a command concerning you:
"Your name shall be perpetuated no longer. Out of the house of your gods I will cut off the carved image and the molded image. I will dig your grave, for you are vile"
(Nahum 1:14).

There is a lesson here from God to every person and to every nation on earth:
"Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man (or nation) sows, that will they also reap"
(Galatians 6:7).

I would like to mention something here. The same evil spirits that were active in corrupting the folks of Nineveh are at work today. They are trying to corrupt you and I. And how are we to act when we are engaged in spiritual warfare today?
"Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places"
(Ephesians 6:11-12).


The Cruelty of the Assyrians:
1) Some prisoners would have their tongues torn out.
2) Some prisoners would have their eyes bored out with the sharp point of a spear.
3) Some prisoners would have sharpened metal hooks thrust through their lips and would be lead away in chains to Assyria as slaves.
4) Some prisoners would be flayed alive (have strips of their skin slowly peeled off) until they died. Sometimes, stone pillars were clothed with their bleeding flesh. Then their heads would be cut off and thrown into a pile to form a pyramid at their city's gate.
5) Some prisoners would be impaled. What was that? They would shove a sharpened wooden pole deep into a person's rectum. Then they would lift that person up and mount the pole vertically into the earth while the prisoner screamed in agony as he slowly died. Rows of impaled persons would be lifted up outside the walls of any city they were trying to conquer.
6) Sometimes a prisoner would be buried up to his neck in the sand with a hole bored through his tongue. A long leather strip would be placed through his tongue to keep his mouth from closing. For days that prisoner would "cook in the hot sun" slowly dehydrating until he went mad and then died.

One royal inscription reads: "Their men, young and old, I took prisoners. Of some, I cut off feet and hands; of others, I cut off noses, ears, and lips; of the young men's ears I made a heap; of the old men's heads I built a tower. I exposed their heads as a trophy in front of their city. The male children and the female children I burned in the flames."

The Assyrians used fear and terror as effective weapons of psychological warfare against their enemies. History records that the populations of some towns would commit mass suicide after they got the bad news that the brutal Assyrians were coming their way to conquer them.

God did not want the Assyrians to act that way. That is one reason that He sent Jonah to warn them.

Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die


"At about that time the Lord began to reduce the size of Israel's territory. King Hazael of Syria conquered several sections of the country east of the Jordan River, including all of Gilead, Gad, Reuben, and Manasseh. He conquered the area from the town of Aroer by the Arnon Gorge to as far north as Gilead and Bashan"
(2 Kings 10:32-33).

"And the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of King Pul of Assyria (also known as Tiglath-pileser III) to invade the land and lead away the people of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh as captives. The Assyrians exiled them to Halah, Habor, Hara, and the Gozan River..."
(I Chronicles 5:26).

"Then King Tiglath-pileser III of Assyria invaded the land. But King Menahem of Israel paid him thirty-seven tons of silver to gain his support in tightening his grip on royal power. Menahem extorted the money from the rich of Israel, demanding that each of them pay twenty ounces of silver in the form of a special tax. So the king of Assyria turned from attacking Israel and did not stay in the land"
(2 Kings 15:19-20 Living Bible).

Assyria took Israel away in captivity 734-721 B.C.

In his royal reports Tiglath-pileser III makes a number of references to Old Testament people: naming Azariah of Judah, and Menahem of Samaria who paid him tribute.

"In the days of Pekah king of Israel, Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria came and took Ijon, Abel Beth Maachah, Janoah, Kedesh, Hazor, Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali; and he carried them captive to Assyria"
(2 Kings 15:29).

King Tiglath-pileser III mentions that he replaced Pekah with Hoshea on the throne of Israel during his Palestine Campaign in 734-732 B.C. Obviously, he was the one behind this palace intrigue:
"Then Hoshea the son of Elah led a conspiracy against Pekah the son of Remaliah, and struck and killed him; so he reigned in his place in the twentieth year of Jotham the son of Uzziah"
(2 Kings 15:30).

One historian mentioned this: "Archaeological discoveries often give additional information on Old Testament activities which are NOT recorded in the Bible. The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser, King of Assyria, was found in the ruins of his palace at Calah (Nimrud). It shows officials of five different nations paying tribute to Shalmaneser, one of whom is Israel's King Jehu
(2 Kings 9-10). This record mentions the "Tribute of Jehu, son [or descendant] of Omri: gold, silver, golden goblets and pitchers, golden vases and vessels, scepters from the hand of the king, [and] javelins I received from him."

One inscription found at Khorsabad in Assyria stated that Assyrian King, Shalmaneser, died while fighting at Samaria, and that he, Sargon II, succeeded him. He even mentioned the number of Israelites he deported as slaves: 27,290. He then rebuilt the city of Samaria, settled Assyrians in the cities, and placed a trusted official over them as governor.

Another historian stated that Sargon II was a great conquerer and builder. "In 721 B.C. he captured Samaria, the capital of Israel, the siege of which had been commenced by his predecessor, and carried away the most influential classes of the "Ten Tribes" of Israel into captivity. The greater portion of the captives were scattered among the towns of Media, and probably became, for the most part, merged with the population of that region."


The Samaritans held on to God with one hand and on to their idols with their other hand. This caused the Hebrews to hate them and that is why they were known as "the despised Samaritans". We cannot hold on to God and to the evil world system at the same time: "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God"
(James 4:4).

What does the bible say about the deportation of the 10 tribes of Israel and how foreigners were settled in Israel?
"And the king of Assyria transported groups of people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim and resettled them in the towns of Samaria, replacing the people of Israel. So the Assyrians took over Samaria and the other towns of Israel. But since these foreign settlers did not worship the Lord when they first arrived, the Lord sent lions among them to kill some of them. So a message was sent to the king of Assyria: "The people whom you have resettled in the towns of Israel do not know how to worship the God of the land. He has sent lions among them to destroy them because they have not worshiped Him correctly." The king of Assyria then commanded, "Send one of the exiled priests from Samaria back to Israel. Let him teach the new residents the religious customs of the God of the land." So one of the priests who had been exiled from Samaria returned to Bethel and taught the new residents how to worship the Lord. But these various groups of foreigners also continued to worship their own gods. In town after town where they lived, they placed their idols at the pagan shrines that the people of Israel had built. Those from Babylon worshiped idols of their god Succoth-benoth. Those from Cuthah worshiped their god Nergal. And those from Hamath worshiped Ashima. The Avvites worshiped their gods Nibhaz and Tartak. And the people from Sepharvaim even burned their own children as sacrifices to Adrammelech and Anammelech. These new residents worshiped the Lord, but they appointed from among themselves priests to offer sacrifices at the pagan shrines. And though they worshiped the Lord, they continued to follow the religious customs of the nations from which they came. And this is still going on among them today. They follow their former practices instead of truly worshiping the Lord and obeying the laws, regulations, instructions, and commands He gave the descendants of Jacob, whose name He changed to Israel. For the Lord had made a covenant with the descendants of Jacob and commanded them:
"Do not worship any other gods or bow before them or serve them or offer sacrifices to them. Worship only the Lord, Who brought you out of Egypt with such mighty miracles and power. You must worship Him and bow before Him; offer sacrifices to Him alone. Be careful to obey all the laws, regulations, instructions, and commands that He wrote for you. You must not worship any other gods. Do not forget the covenant I made with you, and do not worship other gods. You must worship only the Lord your God. He is the One who will rescue you from all your enemies."
"But the people would not listen and continued to follow their old ways. So while these new residents worshiped the Lord, they also worshiped their idols. And to this day their descendants do the same"
(2 Kings 17:24-41 Living Bible).

When the Assyrians deported the Israelites to Assyria, there was a large vacuum created in the land of Israel for awhile until the King of Assyria repopulated the region with gentiles (non Jewish peoples) that he sent there. This was the beginning of:
1) The people called Samaritans (this word taken from Samaria,
      the one time capital of that land). Also
2) The Sea of Galilee region called "Galilee of the Gentiles", and
3) The Jewish expression: "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?"
      (John 1:46).

Later, the "despised Samaritans" were there in the same land in the days of Jesus Christ. The Jews of that time hated the Samaritans so much that they would refuse to journey through their land. They would take an alternate route around Samaria.
"Then the woman of Samaria said to Him: How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman? For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans"
(John 4:9).

Had God given up on the Assyrians at this time? Previously, He had sent Jonah to them with the message of repentance. God's plan was successful, for awhile, but then the Assyrians backslid and went back to their old, sinful ways. It is possible that God instituted another plan. What was that plan? We see that God providentially allowed His chosen people to be defeated in battle by the Assyrians and be hauled off as slaves. Sometimes, some individuals have to be placed in the fires of affliction before they will turn to God with all their heart in sincerity. Because of all this, I believe that many of the displaced Israelites in Assyria repented, renewed their covenant with God, and witnessed to their unsaved neighbors. They influenced their new neighbors to get saved, to forsake their idols, to repent from their sinful and rebellious ways, to worship God, and to practice His righteousness. As a consequence, many Assyrians were born again and their names added to the Lamb's Book of Life.

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    Did anything like this ever happen again? Yes, much later, we see that Daniel and his 3 Hebrew friends rose to power in Babylon and influenced many in the world to worship God and turn from evil. This is one reason why God put them there.

    So what do we see in the big picture here? We see that the Northern Kingdom of Israel chose to worship Satan through idols. By doing this, they violated their covenant with God. As a result they were conquered by Assyria, were rounded up to be slaves, and were deported out of the land to Assyria. God had warned them that if they worshipped idols this would happen to them.


    The northern kingdom of Israel went into slavery, but God intervened to save the southern kingdom, Judah, (under King Hezekiah) from going into slavery at that time. (However, Judah went into slavery over 100 years later under the Babylonians).

    The city of Lachish, in Judea, fell to the Assyrians.

    A biblical historian had this to say:
    "King Sennacherib of Assyria beseiged forty-six cities in the land of Judah, one of which was Lachish. When archaeologists discovered Sennacherib's palace, a monument and a record showed an officer of Lachish bringing tribute to the Assyrian king. The record stated that (Hebrew King) Hezekiah paid him thirty talents of gold and eight hundred silver talents. This record appeared to contradict the Biblical account of Hezekiah's tribute to Sennacherib as found in
    (2 Kings 18:13-16) until another record was unearthed which listed measurements and weights. This record showed that it took eight hundred Assyrian talents of silver to equal three hundred Hebrew silver talents. Once again archaeology has confirmed another passage of Scripture."

    The Assyrian army then advanced toward Jerusalem and demanded that King Hezekiah surrender the capital city of Jerusalem to him. God intervened due to the prayers of King Hezekiah and the prophet, Isaiah. Here is the thrilling account from the bible about what happened there:

    Assyria Invades Judah:
    "After Hezekiah had faithfully carried out this work, King Sennacherib of Assyria invaded Judah. He laid siege to the fortified cities, giving orders for his army to break through their walls. When Hezekiah realized that Sennacherib also intended to attack Jerusalem, he consulted with his officials and military advisers, and they decided to stop the flow of the springs outside the city. They organized a huge work crew to stop the flow of the springs, cutting off the brook that ran through the fields. For they said, "Why should the kings of Assyria come here and find plenty of water?" Then Hezekiah further strengthened his defenses by repairing the wall wherever it was broken down and by adding to the fortifications and constructing a second wall outside the first. He also reinforced the Millo in the City of David and manufactured large numbers of weapons and shields. He appointed military officers over the people and asked them to assemble before him in the square at the city gate. Then Hezekiah encouraged them with this address: "Be strong and courageous! Don't be afraid of the king of Assyria or his mighty army, for there is a power far greater on our side! He may have a great army, but they are just men. We have the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles for us!" These words greatly encouraged the people.

    Sennacherib Threatens Jerusalem:
    Then King Sennacherib of Assyria, while still besieging the town of Lachish, sent officials to Jerusalem with this message for Hezekiah and all the people in the city:
    "This is what King Sennacherib of Assyria says:
    What are you trusting in that makes you think you can survive my siege of Jerusalem? Hezekiah has said, "The Lord our God will rescue us from the king of Assyria." Surely Hezekiah is misleading you, sentencing you to death by famine and thirst! Surely you must realize that Hezekiah is the very person who destroyed all the Lord's shrines and altars. He commanded Judah and Jerusalem to worship at only the one altar at the Temple and to make sacrifices on it alone."
    "Surely you must realize what I and the other kings of Assyria before me have done to all the people of the earth! Were any of the gods of those nations able to rescue their people from my power? Name just one time when any god, anywhere, was able to rescue his people from me! What makes you think your God can do any better? Don't let Hezekiah fool you! Don't let him deceive you like this! I say it again- no god of any nation has ever yet been able to rescue his people from me or my ancestors. How much less will your God rescue you from my power!"

    And Sennacherib's officials further mocked the Lord God and his servant Hezekiah, heaping insult upon insult. The king also sent letters scorning the Lord, the God of Israel. He wrote:
    "Just as the gods of all the other nations failed to rescue their people from my power, so the God of Hezekiah will also fail." The Assyrian officials who brought the letters shouted this in the Hebrew language to the people gathered on the walls of the city, trying to terrify them so it would be easier to capture the city. These officials talked about the God of Jerusalem as though he were one of the pagan gods, made by human hands.
    Then King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz cried out in prayer to God in heaven. And the Lord sent an angel who destroyed the Assyrian army with all its commanders and officers. So Sennacherib returned home in disgrace to his own land. And [later] when he entered the temple of his god, some of his own sons killed him there with a sword. That is how the Lord rescued Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem from King Sennacherib of Assyria and from all the others who threatened them. So there was peace at last throughout the land. From then on King Hezekiah became highly respected among the surrounding nations, and many gifts for the Lord arrived at Jerusalem, with valuable presents for King Hezekiah, too"
    (2 Chronicles 32:1-23).

    Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the king of Assyria:
    "He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor build a siege mound against it. By the way that he came, by the same shall he return; and he shall not come into this city, says the Lord. For I will defend this city, to save it for My own sake and for My servant David's sake."

    And it came to pass on a certain night that the angel of the Lord went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses- all dead.
    So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went away, returned home, and remained at Nineveh.
    Now it came to pass, as he was worshiping in the temple of Nisroch his god, that his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer struck him down with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Ararat. Then Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place"
    (2 Kings 19:32-37).

    One historian stated:
    "While Sennacherib was besieging Jerusalem (and King Hezekiah), the king of Egypt appeared in the field in the south with aid for Hezekiah. This caused Sennacherib to draw off his forces from the siege to meet the new enemy; but near the frontiers of Egypt, the Assyrian host (army), according to the Hebrew account, was smitten by "the Angel of the Lord," and the king returned with a shattered army and without glory to his capital, Nineveh."

    In Assyrian King Sennacherib's own record of his seige of Jerusalem, he stated:
    "Concerning an expedition against Hezekiah, King of Judah, I took forty-six of his strong fenced cities; and of the smaller towns which were scattered about I took and plundered a countless number. And from these places I captured and carried off as spoil 200,150 people, old and young, male and female, together with horses and mares, asses and camels, oxen and sheep, a countless multitude. And Hezekiah himself I shut up in Jerusalem, his capital city, like a bird in a cage, building towers round the city to hem him in, and raising banks of earth against the gates, so as to prevent escape. The one coming out of the city [Hezekiah's messenger], I turned back to his own misery."

    It is interesting to note that no actual claim is made by him of defeating King Hezekiah, implying that he retreated without a victory in trying to take Jerusalem. Why? Because God delivered the royal city of Jerusalem. And how was Sennacherib to report this to his people? He was careful to give details of his battles and victories, such as his seige of Jerusalem, and receiving tribute after defeating Lachish. But his scribes did damage control for him in not reporting anything negative in regards to their king like God destroying his army.

    Let's take a more modern look at what God did to King Sennacherib's military war machine. In World War 2 estimations there were about 20,000 men in one U.S. infantry division (with attached troops at full strength). The bible states that there were 185,000 Assyrians dead on the field. That makes roughly a total of over 9 infantry, cavalry, and chariot divisions. 9 Combat Divisions is a lot of men. Assuming that 3 divisions make one army, then we have a total of 3 armies that the Assyrians lost.
    3 armies might consist of:
    1 army consisting of 3 infantry Divisions
    1 army consisting of 3 cavalry Divisions
    1 army consisting of 3 army tank (chariot) Divisions
    Besides these, they lost an additional 5,000 support troops (transport, medical, cooks, etc.)
    Any military war machine today that lost that many casualties would be in a very bad way as well.

    Assyrian King Sennacherib was assassinated in Nineveh in 681 B.C. His sons, who did the deed, formed part of the palace guard and private bodyguard of the great Assyrian monarch. Assyria "sowed" a lot of palace intrigue and assassination among other nations and in this instance, she "reaped" what she had sowed.

    "Now it came to pass, as he was worshiping in the temple of Nisroch his god, that his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer struck him down with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Ararat. Then Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place"
    (2 Kings 19:37). Esarhaddon, another son of Sennacherib who succeeded the murdered king, had the following words written in which he describes those turbulent days in Nineveh: "Disloyal aspirations overpowered my brothers...they rebelled. To seize the kingdom they killed Sennacherib. I became a raging lion, I was consumed with fury..."

    Events were also turbulent back in Judah:
    "About that time, Hezekiah became deathly ill. He prayed to the Lord, who healed him and gave him a miraculous sign. But Hezekiah did not respond appropriately to the kindness shown him, and he became proud. So the Lord's anger came against him and against Judah and Jerusalem. Then Hezekiah repented of his pride, and the people of Jerusalem humbled themselves. So the Lord's anger did not come against them during Hezekiah's lifetime"
    (2 Chronicles 32:24-26).

    Assyria continued on with it's conquest of Egypt. What is some of the history of ancient Egypt?
    In reference to Egyptian history, in the 12th Dynasty (2500-2300 B.C.) power shifted in Egypt from Memphis to Thebes as the seat of royal power (the capital city). The 18th through 20th Dynasties comprise what is called the "New Empire". The 21st through 31st Dynasties reflect the rule of foreigners or conquerers.

    Thebes fell to the Assyrians about 663 B.C.

    The bible book of Nahum was written against Nineveh between 663-612 B.C., after the fall of Thebes.


    For many years Assyria continued to be powerful and arrogant but then it's decline started. There was fighting in Assyria. Assyria was invaded by the Medes and Babylonians (the Medes and the Persians) and this began its decline. The invasion of Assyria took place in about 630 B.C. after Cyaxares, the leader of the Aryan Medes, from the east, joined forces with Nabopolassar, the leader of the Babylonians (Chaldeans), from the south.

    Egypt in the far southwest eventually became stronger, revolted, and victoriously attacked Assyrian troops. Egypt won it's own independence and then attacked Assyria. As a result, Egypt added Syria to her empire.

    The Medes and the Persians continually attacked Assyria and took one city after another. Finally, they attacked Nineveh, the capital, in a three year siege and destroyed it.

    Asshur, the ancient capital of Assyria fell in 614 B.C. to the Medes and Persians.

    Nineveh fell two years later in 612 B.C.

    King Sennacherib's great grandson, Saracus, was the last king of Nineveh. It is thought by many that the prophet Nahum prophesied against Assyria while this king was ruling.

    You don't break God's law
    God's law breaks you


    How many persons lived in Nineveh? It is believed that over one million persons lived in the expanded city.

    God, through the prophet, Zephaniah had this to say about Nineveh:
    "And He (God) will stretch out His hand against the north, destroy Assyria, and make Nineveh a desolation, as dry as the wilderness. The herds shall lie down in her midst, every beast of the nation. Both the pelican and the bittern shall lodge on the capitals of her pillars; their voice shall sing in the windows; desolation shall be at the threshold; for He will lay bare the cedar work. This is the rejoicing city that dwelt securely, that said in her heart, "I am it, and there is none besides me." How has she become a desolation, a place for beasts to lie down! Everyone who passes by her shall hiss and shake his fist"
    (Zephaniah 2:13-15 MKJV).

    The book of the prophet Nahum is full of prophetic denouncements against the Assyrians. This nation's final ruin and utter desolation are foretold:
    And this is what the Lord says concerning the Assyrians in Nineveh:

    "You will have no more children to carry on your name. I will destroy all the idols in the temples of your gods. I am preparing a grave for you because you are despicable and don't deserve to live!"
    (Nahum 1:14 Living Bible).

    The historians: Ctesias (5th century B.C.) and Diodorus of Sicily tell of the destruction of Nineveh. Their report was that Arbaces the Scythian leader had besieged Nineveh for two years. In other words, Nineveh was surrounded by enemy armies and the city was nearly impossible to take. Every attack had failed. But in the third year heavy rains came. The Tigris River and the Khoser (Khausser) River overflowed and washed away part of the foundation of the palace and part of the wall of the city. The enemy attacked through this weakness in the wall and conquered the city.

    "The gates of the rivers are opened, and the palace is dissolved"
    (Nahum 2:6).

    Some historians believe that "the gates of the rivers" were the gates of the large irrigation ditches that were opened by the enemy soldiers who surrounded Nineveh. Opening the flood gates helped to overflow all of the rivers in the area. The Khoser (Khausser) River and the Zab River flowed into the city while the Tigris River flowed outside of the city. The interior of the city was flooded. This helped to undermine the foundation of the palace. Opening the flood gates into the Tigris River also helped the overflowing river water to dissolve one section of the exterior walls surrounding the city. This was easy as these walls were made of sun-dried mud brick. Not only did a flood of waters come pouring into the city but also a flood of enemy soldiers. They entered through the gap in the wall made by the flood waters.

    "Behold, I am against you, says the Lord of Hosts, I will burn your chariots in smoke, and the sword shall devour your young lions; I will cut off your prey from the earth, and the voice of your messengers shall be heard no more"
    (Nahum 2:13).

    In spite of the rain and the floods, part of Nineveh was set on fire. It could be that some troops in the Assyrian military burned up valuable assets to keep it from falling into the hands of their enemy, or the enemy set parts of Nineveh on fire to drive out enemy troops and to help conquer the city.

    Where the Khoser River joined the Tigris River was located the Palace of Sennacherib. Actually, there were several palaces- one belonged to King Sennacherib and one belonged to King Assurbanipal. Within the palace of King Sennacherib was the "Library of Assurbanipal" that contained over 100,000 volumes of early Assyrian and Babylonian literature. Some of this recovered literature from the archaeologists is in the British Museum. These palaces were built by the blood and sweat of many people who were turned into slaves. These palaces were meant to stand for a thousand years or more. They were to be everlasting monuments to Assyria's pride and dominance- the rule of the strong over the weak, the rule of Satan over all peoples in the world. These palaces were built by folks who were suffering, mistreated, unloved, and oppressed. How can any monuments to greatness be respected when associated with massive human rights violations? Did the palaces last one thousand years? No. God brought the palaces down in judgment- not only the palaces but the entire city- not only the city but the entire nation. God told Nahum, so to speak, that He was going to preach their funeral- and God did exactly what He said He was going to do. He said He was going to judge them and He judged them. Today, the city of Nineveh is still buried. It will never be physically resurrected. Why? Because Nineveh serves as a warning to every individual and to every nation on the earth as to how we are expected to conduct ourselves. God rules supreme and He expects folks to love Him and to love each other.

    King Sennacherib's great grandson, Saracus (Saracos), the last king of Nineveh, apparently committed suicide while in an emotional state of despair. This ended the ruling dynasty of King Sennacherib, who was a very cruel king. One might say that everything that he built and conquered was all for nothing as his empire eventually crumbled into dust. He had no one of his family members, past the 4th generation, to rule forever after him as he had hoped for.

    Sometimes, when things go wrong today, one might ask the question: "will this problem and it's solution make any difference a thousand years from now?" King Sennacherib wanted his greatness and his family to continue for a thousand years and make a difference in this world. A difference for evil. Instead of building a dynasty towards eternal greatness, he built a nation given to everlasting shame and vanity. Here is what the bible says about it all:

    "These are the words of the teacher, King David's son, who ruled in Jerusalem. Everything is meaningless, says the teacher, utterly meaningless! What do people get for all their hard work? Generations come and go, but nothing really changes. The sun rises and sets and hurries around to rise again. The wind blows south and north, here and there, twisting back and forth, getting nowhere. The rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows again to the sea. Everything is so weary and tiresome! No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content. History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. What can you point to that is new? How do you know it didn't already exist long ago? We don't remember what happened in those former times. And in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now"
    (Ecclesiastes 1:1-11 Living Bible).

    One can visit Nineveh's ruins across the Tigris River from the modern day major city of Mosul, in the present day country of Iraq. Archaelogists have been working in 2 main large mound areas there- one area is called "the Jonah mound" or Nebi Yunus, and the other area is called the Quyunjiq mound.

    Nineveh failed to fear God and keep His laws for all of humanity:
    "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man (or a nation) sows, that will they also reap"
    (Galatians 6:7). "Those who have sown the wind will reap the whirlwind"
    (Hosea 8:7), and
    "...those who have lived by the sword will die by the sword..."
    (Matthew 26:52 paraphrased).


    Devotional Bible Commentary on Zephaniah

    Jonah Devotional Commentary

    Nahum Devotional Commentary

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    The Christian Counter
    November 21, 2011