Nineveh: The Neo-Assyrian Capitol
“The city of Nineveh, the ancient capital of the Assyrian Empire, was destroyed in 612 B.C.” Introduction:
Figure [ 1 ]: Nineveh Today
For nigh on one hundred years Nineveh stood vigil on the banks of the Tigris River; the capitol of the great Neo-Assyrian empire. Until, in 612 BC, the capitol of the Assyrian Empire came crashing to the ground, never to be rebuilt. For years sceptics were doubtful of the existence of the city since it could not be found, and simply passed it off as another Bible myth. Today, its whereabouts are marked only by two large mounds, Kuyunjik and Nebi Yunus (Prophet Jonah), and the remnants of the city’s once impassable walls. There are several suggested reasons for why Nineveh, and subsequently Assyria as a whole, was brought to its knees at the height of its power. Jewish history states that God promised to bring the destruction of Nineveh for her vileness and false teaching, through the prophecies of Nahum and Zephaniah. Historians believe that Nineveh’s destruction was the end of a campaign against the Assyrian empire in response to its’ cruel treatment of its defeated nations. Is either of these theories uniquely correct, or are there aspects of each which are tied into unravelling the truth of how one of the most powerful empires in history was unseated in less than ten years? Are these the issues which motivated Assyria’s neighbours to tear out the heart of an empire in as little as three months? Nineveh:
Nineveh took its turn as one of three cities, along with Asshur and Calah to be the capital of Assyria, whose rule over Mesopotamia dates back to 2400 BC. The ancient city of Nineveh rested on the east bank of the River Tigris in Iraq, in the vicinity of what is now the city of Mosul. The Khawsar River flowed through the center of Nineveh to convene with the Tigris on the western side. Nineveh was a walled and heavily fortified city; it is estimated that the perimeter of Nineveh's wall was 7.5 miles long and 148 feet high in certain spots, and there were fifteen gates that linked these city walls. Each of these gates of Nineveh was named after an Assyrian god. The first settlements at Nineveh began in around 6,000 B.C. with the arrival of Nimrod. In the 2nd and 3rd millennia BC Nineveh was known primarily as a religious center, dedicated to the worship of various gods and goddesses including their own goddess Ishtar. The healing powers of its statue of the goddess Ishtar were renowned as far away as Egypt. In the 9th century architectural projects began, and by 705 B.C., Nineveh became the new capital of the Neo-Assyrian Empire under King Sennacherib.
Regardless of the greatness that was Nineveh, in May of 612 BC the city was captured by the Medes and Babylonians during a three month siege and the Assyrian Empire came to an unexpected end, credited to their hostile neighbours. The Lord’s Anger Against Nineveh:
Christians believe that God rained destruction on Nineveh as a response to the wickedness of their ways. Whether or not this is true comes down to what you believe, however, the book of Nahum, in the Old Testament, is a book of prophecy concerning the annihilation of Nineveh. “A prophecy concerning Nineveh. The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The Lord takes vengea- nce on his foes and vents his wrath against his enemies. 3 The Lord is slow to anger but great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished. [...] 8b he will make an end of Nineveh.”
This passage makes quite plain the opinion the Israelites held of the Assyrians and particularly Ninevites – the people of Nineveh. And they believed that their God would avenge their suffering, the anguish of his people, that he was a jealous and wrathful God who would destroy his enemies and the enemies of his people. Nineveh fell in 612 BC, yet it wasn’t until the 1989 and 1990 seasons of the University of California,...
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