Click to donate today!
Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
(Heb. Nineveh', נַינְוֵה :); Sept. Νινευή or Νινευῆ , v. r. Νινευϊ v; Vulg. Ninive), the capital of the ancient kingdom and empire of Assyria; a city of great power, size, and renown, usually included among the most ancient cities of the world of which there is any historic record. In the following account we bring together the ancient and the modern notices, especially the Scripture relations.
I. Name. — This, if Shemitic, signifies dwelling of Ninus; but it is probably of foreign etymology. In cuneiform (q.v.) it is written or Josephus Graecizes it Νενεύη, ‘(Ant. 9:10, 2), Ptolemy Νῖνος ἡ καὶ Νινευϊ v (8:21, § 3), Herodotus ἡ Νίνος or Νῖνος (1:193; 2:150); while the Romans wrote it Ninus (Tacit. Ann. 12:13) or Nineve (Amm. Marcianus, 18:7). The name appears to be derived from that of an Assyrian deity, "Nin," corresponding, it is conjectured, with the Greek Hercules, and occurring in the names of several Assyrian kings, as in "Ninus," the mythic founder, according to Greek tradition, of. the city. In the Assyrian inscriptions Nineveh is also supposed to be called "the city of Bel." Fletcher, rather fancifully, taking Nin as meaning "a floating substance or fish," and neveh "a resting-place," supposes the city to have been built nigh to the spot where the ark of Noah rested, and in memory of the deliverance provided by that wondrous vessel (Notes from Nineveh, 2:90). The connection of the name of.the city with Ninus, its mythical founder, is not opposed to the statement in Genesis 10:11; for the city might be named, not from Nimrod, its originator, but from a successor who gave it conquest and renown. In the Assyrian mythology Ninus is the son of Nimrod.
II. History. —
1. From Biblical and Later Accounts. The first reference to Nineveh in Scripture is in Genesis 10:11, "Out of that land went forth Asshur and builded Nineveh," as it is rendered in our version. The other and better version is, "Out of that land (the land of Shinar) went he (Nimrod) to Assyria, and builded Nineveh, and Rehoboth, and Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah; the same is a great city." The translation which we have adopted is that of the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan, and is defended by Hyde, Bochart, Le Clerc, Tuch, Baumgarten, Keil, Delitzsch, Knobel, Kalisch, and Murphy. The other exegesis, which makes Asshur the subject of the verb, has support from the Septuagint, the Syrian version, and the Vulgate, and has been adopted by Luther, Calvin, Grotius. Michaelis, Schumann, Von Bohlen, Pye Smith, and is apparently preferred by Rawlinson. The arguments in its favor are not strong; yet it contains or implies the reason why the country was named Assyria after its first settler. It is also a plausible theory of Jacob Bryant, that Nimrod by his conquests forced Asshur to leave the territory of Shinar, so that, thus expelled and overpowered by the mighty hunter, he went out of that land and built Nineveh (Ancient Mythology, 6:192). Hence Assyria was subsequently known to the Jews as "the land of, Nimrod" (comp. Micah 5:6), and was believed to have been first peopled by a colony from Babylon.
The kingdom of Assyria and of the Assyrians is referred to in the O.T. as connected with the Jews at a very early period; as in Numbers 24:22; Numbers 24:24, and Psalms 83:8 : but after the notice of the foundation of Nineveh in Genesis no further mention is made of the city until the time of the book of Jonah, or the 8th century B.C., supposing we accept the earliest date for that narrative, (See JONAH, BOOK OF), which, however, according to some critics, must be brought down 300 years later, or to the 5th century B.C. In this book neither Assyria nor the Assyrians are mentioned, the king to whom the prophet .was sent being termed the "king of Nineveh." Assyria is first called a kingdom ill the time of Menahem, about B.C. 770. Nahum (? B.C. 645) directs his prophecies against Nineveh; only once against the king of Assyria (Nahum 3:18). In 2 Kings (2 Kings 19:36) was Isaiah (Isaiah 37:37) the city is first distinctly mentioned as the residence of the monarch. Sennacherib was slain there when worshipping in the temple of Nisroch his god. In 2 Chronicles, (2 Chronicles 32:21), where the same event is described, the name of the place where it occurred is omitted. Zephaniah, about B.C. 630, couples the capital and the kingdom together (Zephaniah 2:13); and this is the last mention of Nineveh as an existing city. He probably lived to witness its destruction, an event impending at the time of his prophecies. Although Assyria and the Assyrians are alluded to by Ezekiel and Jeremiah, by the former as a nation in whose miserable ruin prophecy had been fulfilled (ch. 31), yet they do not refer by name to the capital. Jeremiah, when enumerating "all the kingdoms of the world which are upon the face of the earth" (ch. 25), omits all mention of the nation and the city. Habakkuk only speaks of the Chaldaeans, which may lead to the inference that the date of his prophecies is somewhat later than that usually assigned to them. (See HABAKKUK, BOOK OF).
The fall of Nineveh, like its rise and history, is very much enveloped in obscurity. But the account of Ctesias, preserved in Diodorus Siculus (2:27, 28), has been thought to be substantially correct. It may, however, be observed that Mr. Rawlinson, in his latest work (The Ancient Monarchies, 1:52i), says that it "seems undeserving of a place in history." According to that account, Cyaxares, the Median monarch, aided by the Babylonians, under Nabopolassar, laid siege to the city. His first efforts were in vain. He was more than once repulsed and obliged to take refuge in the mountains of the Zagros range; but, receiving reinforcements, he succeeded in routing the Assyrian army, and driving them to shut themselves up within the walls. He then attempted to reduce the city by blockade, but was unsuccessful for two years, till his efforts were unexpectedly assisted by an extraordinary rise of the Tigris, which swept away a part of the walls, and rendered it possible for the Medes to enter. The Assyrian monarch, Saracus, in despair, burned himself in his palace. With the ruthless barbarity of the times, the conquerors gave the whole city over to the flames, and razed its former magnificence to the ground. The cities dependent on Nineveh, and in its neighborhood, appear to have incurred a like fate, and the excavations show that the principal agent in their destruction was fire. Calcined sculptured alabaster, charcoal and charred wood buried in masses of brick and earth, slabs and statues split with heat, were objects continually encountered by Mr. Layard and his fellow-laborers at Khorsabad, Nimrud, and Kuyunjik.
From a comparison of these data, it has generally been assumed that the destruction of Nineveh and the extinction of the empire took place between the time of Zephaniah and that of Ezekiel and Jeremiah. The exact period of these events has consequently been fixed, with a certain amount of concurrent evidence derived from classical history, at B.C. 606 (Clinton, Fasti Hellen. 1:269). It has been shown that it may have occurred twenty years earlier. (See ASSYRIA).
The city was then laid waste, its monuments destroyed, and its inhabitants scattered or carried away into captivity. It never rose again from its ruins. This total disappearance of Nineveh is fully confirmed by the records of profane history. There is no mention of it in the Persian cuneiform inscriptions of the Achaemenid dynasty. Herodotus (1:193) speaks of the Tigris as "the river upon which the town of Nineveh formerly stood." He must have passed, in his journey to Babylon, very near the site of the city — perhaps actually over it. So accurate a recorder of what he saw would scarcely have omitted to mention, if not to describe, any ruins of importance that might have existed there. Not two centuries had then elapsed since the fall of the city. Equally conclusive proof of its condition is afforded by Xenophon, who with the ten thousand Greeks encamped during his retreat on, or very near, its site (B.C. 401). The very name had then been forgotten, or at least he does not appear to have been acquainted with it, for he calls one group of ruins "Larissa," and merely states that a second group was near the deserted town of Mespila (Anab. iii, iv, § 7). The ruins, as he describes them, correspond in many respects with those which exist at the present day, except that he assigns to the walls near Mespila a circuit of six parasangs, or nearly three times their actual dimensions. Ctesias placed the city on the Euphrates (Frag. 1:2), a proof either of his ignorance or of the entire disappearance of the place. He appears to have led Diodorus Siculus into the same error (2:27, 28). The historians of Alexander, with the exception of Arrian (Ind. 42, 3), do not even allude to the city, over the ruins of which the conqueror must have actually marched. His great victory of Arbela was won almost in sight of them. It is evident that the later Greek and Roman writers, such as Strabo, Ptolemy, and Pliny, could only have derived any independent knowledge they possessed of Nineveh from traditions of no authority. They concur, however, in placing it on the eastern bank of the Tigris.
During the Roman period, a small castle or fortified town appears to have stood on some part of the site of the ancient city. It was probably built by the Persians (Amm. Marceli. 23:22); and subsequently occupied by the Romans, and erected by the emperor Claudius into a colony. It appears to have borne the ancient traditional name of Nineve, as well as its corrupted form of Ninos and Ninus, and also at one time that of Hierapolis. Tacitus (Anan. 12:13), mentioning its capture by Meherdates, calls it "Ninos;" on coins of Trajan it is "Ninus," on those of Maximinus "Niniva," in both instances the epithet Claudiopolis being added. Many Roman remains, such as sepulchral vases, bronze and other ornaments, sculptured figures in marble, terra-cottas, and coins, have been discovered in the rubbish covering the Assyrian ruins; besides wells and tombs, constructed long after the destruction of the Assyrian edifices. The Roman settlement appears to have been in its turn abandoned, for there is no mention of it when Heraclius gained the great victory over the Persians in the battle of Nineveh, fought on the very site of the ancient city, A.D. 627. After the Arab conquest, a fort on the east bank of the Tigris bore the name of "Ninawi" (Rawlinson, Assoc. Journal, 12:418). Benjamin of Tudela, in the. 12th century, mentions the site of Nineveh as occupied by numerous inhabited villages and small townships (ed. Asher, 1:91). The name remained attached to the ruins during the Middle Ages; and from them a bishop of the Chaldaean Church derived his title (Assemani, 4:459); but it is doubtful whether any town or fort was so called. Early English travelers merely allude to the site (Purchas, 2:1387). Niebuhr is the first modern traveler who speaks of "Nuniyah" as a village standing on one of the ruins which he describes as "a considerable hill" (2:353). This may be a corruption of "Nebbi Yunus," the Prophet Jonah, a name still given to a village containing his apocryphal tomb. Mr. Rich, who surveyed the site in 1820, does not mention Nuniyah, and no such place now exists. Tribes of Turcomans and sedentary Arabs, and Chaldaean and Syrian Christians, dwell in small mudbuilt villages, and cultivate the soil in the country around the ruins; and occasionally a tribe of wandering Kurds, or of Bedouins driven by hunger from the desert, will pitch their tents among them. After the Arab conquest of the west of Asia, Mosul, at one time the flourishing capital of an independent kingdom, rose on the opposite or western bank of the Tigris. Some similarity in the names has suggested its identification with the Mespila of Xenophon; but its first actual mention only occurs after the Arab conquest (A.H. 16, or A.D. 637). It was sometimes known as Athur, and was united with Nineveh as an episcopal see of the Chaldaean Church (Assemani, 3:269). It has lost all its ancient prosperity, and the greater part of the town is now in ruins.
Traditions of the unrivaled size and magnificence of Nineveh were equally familiar to the Greek and Roman writers, and to the Arab geographers. But the city had fallen so completely into decay before the period of authentic history that new description of it, or even of any of its monuments, is to be found in any ancient author of trust. Diodorus Siculus asserts (2:3) that the city formed a quadrangle of 150 stadia by 90, or altogether of 480 stadia (no less than 60 miles), and was surrounded by walls 100 feet high, broad enough for three chariots to drive abreast upon them, and defended by 1500 towers, each 200 feet in height. According. to Strabo (16:737) it was larger than Babylon, which was 385 stadia in circuit. In the O.T. we find only vague allusions to the splendor and wealth of the city, and the very indefinite statement in the book of Jonah that it was "an exceeding great city," or "a great city to God," or "for God" (i.e. in the sight of God), "of three days' journey;" and that it contained "six score thousand persons who could not discern between their right hand and their left hand, and also much cattle" (4:11). It is obvious that the accounts of Diodorus are for the most part absurd exaggerations, founded upon fabulous traditions, for which existing remains afford no warrant. It may, however, be remarked that the dimensions he assigns to the area of the city would correspond to the three days' journey of Jonah — the Jewish day's journey being 20 miles — if that expression be applied to the circuit of the walls. "Persons not discerning between their right hand and their left" may either allude to children or to the ignorance of the whole population. If the first be intended, the number of inhabitants, according to the usual calculation, would have amounted to about 600,000. But such expressions are probably mere Eastern figures of speech to denote vastness, and far too vague to admit of exact interpretation.
The political history of Nineveh is that of Assyria (q.v.). It has been observed that the territory included within the boundaries of the kingdom of Assyria proper was comparatively limited in extent, and that almost within the immediate neighborhood of the capital petty kings appear to have ruled over semi-independent states, owning allegiance and paying tribute to the great lord of the empire, "the King of Kings," according to his Oriental title, who dwelt at Nineveh. (Comp. Isaiah 10:8 : "Are not my princes altogether kings?") These petty kings were in a. constant state of rebellion, which usually showed itself by their refusal to pay the apportioned tribute -the principal link between the sovereign and the dependent states-and repeated expeditions were undertaken against them to enforce this act of obedience. (Comp. 2 Kings 16:7; 2 Kings 17:4, where it is stated that the war made by the Assyrians upon the Jews was for the purpose of enforcing the payment of tribute.) There was, consequently, no bond of sympathy arising out of common interests between the various populations which made up the empire. Its political condition was essentially weak. When an independent monarch was sufficiently powerful to carry on a successful war against the great king, or a dependent prince sufficiently strong to throw off his allegiance, the empire soon came to an end. The fall of the capital was the signal for universal disruption. Each petty state asserted its independence, until reconquered by some warlike chief who could found a new dynasty and a new empire to replace those which had fallen. Thus on the borders of the great rivers of Mesopotamia arose in turn the first Babylonian, the Assyrian, the Median, the second Babylonian, the Persian, and the Seleucid empires. The capital was, however, invariably changed, and generally transferred to the principal seat of the conquering race. In the East men have rarely rebuilt great cities which have once fallen into decay — never perhaps on exactly the same site. If the position of the old capital was deemed, from political or commercial reasons, more advantageous than any other, the population was settled in its neighborhood, as at Delhi, and not amid its ruins. But Nineveh, having fallen with the empire, never rose again. It was abandoned at once, and suffered to perish utterly. It is probable that, in conformity with an Eastern custom, of which we find such remarkable illustrations in the history of the Jews, the entire population was removed by the conquerors, and settled as colonists in some distant province.
2. Monumental Records. — From the annals of Tiglath-Pileser I we learn that a temple had been founded at Asshur, or Kalah Sherghat, as early as the nineteenth century B.C., by Shamasiva, a son of Ismi-dagon, who was one of the early kings in the series answering to the great Chaldaean dynasty of Berosus, and from this circumstance may be inferred to have ruled over Assyria. In fact, as long as this dynasty lasted, Assyria probably occupied the position of an unimportant dependency of Babylonia, not being mentioned in one single, legend, and not furnishing the Chaldaean monarchs with one of their royal titles. At what period Assyria was enabled to achieve her independence, or under what circumstances she achieved it, we have no means of knowing, but the date at which, for several reasons, we may suppose it to have been accomplished is approximately B.C. 1273. Probably an Arabian conquest of Babylonia, which caused the overthrow of this Chaldaean dynasty in the sixteenth century, furnished the Assyrians with an opportunity of shaking off the Babylonian yoke, but it was not till three centuries later that they appear to have gained a position of importance.
During the period of Assyrian subjection to Chaldaea, and long after she became an independent empire, the vice-regal, or the royal city, was probably Asshur, on the west bank of the Tigris, sixty miles south of Nineveh, the name of which is still preserved in the designation given by the Arabs to the neighboring district. It may perhaps be as well to observe that the four kings in Genesis 14, according to Josephus, were only commanders in the army of the Assyrian king, who had then, he says, dominion over Asia. But this is very improbable, and is really contradicted by recent discoveries, which show, at least negatively, that Assyria was not then an independent power. Sir H. Rawlinson thinks that he has found the name of a king (Kudur-Mapula or Kudur-Mabuk) stamped upon bricks in Babylonia which corresponds to that of Chedorlaomer, and supposes that this king was the Elamitic founder of the great Chaldaean empire of Berosus. Mr. Stuart Poole thinks it not improbable that the expedition of Chedorlaomer was directed against the power of the Egyptian kings of the fifteenth dynasty and their Phoenician allies or subjects. Josephus also calls Chushan Rishathaim — who in Judges 3 is said to have been king of Mesopotamia — king of the Assyrians; but this again demands an earlier rise of the Assyrian power than the monuments warrant us in assuming. The first known king of Assyria is Bel-lush or Belukh, who, with three others in succession, viz. Pudil, Iva-lush, Shalmabar or Shalmarish, is reputed to have reigned shortly after its dependence on Babylon had been shaken off. The period from 1273 to 1200 may be assigned to the reign of these kings. They have left no other record but their names upon bricks, etc., which are found only at Kalah Sherghat; and the character in which these are inscribed is so ancient and so mixed with babylonian forms that they are assigned to this period, though the same effects might possibly have been produced at a later period of Babylonian ascendency. After these names, we are enabled to trace a continuous line of six hereditary monarchs, who, with the exception of the last, are enumerated on the oldest historic relic yet discovered in Assyria. This is the octagonal prism of Kalah Sherghalt, on which Tiglath-Pileser I records the events of the first five years of his reign, and traces back his pedigree to the fourth generation.
He calls himself the son of Asshur-rish-ili; the grandson of Mutaggil Nebu; the great grandson of Asshur-dapal-il, whose father was Nin-pala-kura, the supposed successor of Shalmabar or Shalmarish. Of his great-grandfather he relates that, sixty years previously, he had taken down the temple of Ann and Iva before alluded to, which had stood for 641 years, but was then in a ruined condition. His father seems to have been a great conqueror, and perhaps was the first to raise the character of the Assyrian arms, and to gain a foreign reputation. But whatever fame he acquired in this way was eclipsed by that of his son, who says that he won victories in Cappadocia, Syria, and in the Median and Armenian mountains. Particularly a people called Nairi, who probably dwelt at the north-west of Assyria proper, are conspicuous among his conquests. Now it so happens that the date of this king can be fixed in a remarkable way, by a rock inscription of Sennacherib at Bavian, which states that a Tiglath-Pileser occupied the throne of Assyria 418 years before the tenth year of his own reign, and as Sennacherib was reigning towards the end of the eighth, or the beginning of the seventh century, this would throw back the time of Tiglath-Pileser's reign to the latter part of the twelfth century B.C. We also learn from this same rock inscription that Tiglath-Pileser was himself defeated by Merodach-adan-akhi, the king of Babylon, who carried away with him images of certain Assyrian gods, showing that Babylon at this period was independent of Assyria, and a formidable rival to her power. Of Asshurbani-pal I, the son and successor of Tiglath-Pileser nothing is known. Only one record of him has been hitherto discovered, and this was found at Kuyunjik. This name was softened or corrupted by the Greeks into Sardanapalus. After this king a break occurs in the line of succession which cannot be supplied. It is thought, however, not to have been long, as Asshuradan-akhi is supposed to have begun to reign about 1050, and therefore to have been contemporary with David. This monarch, and the three kings who succeeded him, are obscure and unimportant, not being known for anything else than repairing and adding to the palaces at Kalah Sherghat. Their names are Asshur-danin-il, Iva-lush II, and Tiglathi-Nin.
With the last of these, however, Asshur ceased to be the royal residence. The seat of government was transferred by his son Asshur-bani-pal to Calah, now supposed to be represented by Nimrud, forty miles to the north, near the confluence of the upper Zab and the Tigris, and on the east bank of the latter river. The reason of this change is not known; but it is thought that it was connected with the extension of the empire in the direction of Armenia, which would therefore demand greater vigilance in that quarter. This king, Sardanapalus II, pushed his conquests to the shores of the Mediterranean, levied tribute of the kings of Tyre and Sidon, and therefore perhaps of Ethbaal, the father of Jezebel. He was also the founder of the north-west palace at Nimrod, which is second only to that of Sennacherib, at Kuyunjik, in magnificence and extent. The next monarch who sat on the Assyrian throne was Shalmanu-bar, the son of Sardanapalus. He reigned thirty-one years, spread his conquests farther than any of his predecessors, and recorded them on the black obelisk now in the British Museum. In his reign the power of the first Assyrian empire seems to have culminated. He carried his victorious army over all the neighboring countries, imposing tribute upon all Babylonia, Mesopotamia, Syria, Media, Armenia, and the scriptural kingdoms of Hamath and Damascus. The latter under Benhadad and Hazael are alike conspicuous among his vanquished enemies. But what is of paramount interest in the records of this king is the identification in the second epigraph in the above-named obelisk of the name of Jehu the king of Israel, who there appears as Yahua the son of Khumri, and is said to have given the Assyrian monarch tribute of gold and silver. This name was discovered independently, but almost on the self-same day, both by Dr. Hincks and colonel Rawlinson, the latter being at Bagdad and the former in the north of Ireland. It is supposed that Jehu is called the son of Khumri or Omri, either as being king of Samaria, the city which Omri built. or as claiming descent from the founder of that city to strengthen his right to the throne, and possibly even as being descended from him on the mother's side.
Shalmanu-bar was the founder of the central palace at Nimrud, and probably reigned from about 900 to 850 or 860. He was succeeded by his second son Shamasiva, his eldest having made a revolt during the lifetime of his father, which probably lost him the succession, and was with difficulty quelled by his younger brother. The annals of Shamas-iva extend only over a period of four years. At this time the history is enveloped in much obscurity; but it is probable that the reign of Shamas-iva-lasted much longer, as it is with his son and successor, Iva-lush III, that the first Assyrian dynasty comes to a close, and the reigns of these two princes are all we have to fill up the interval from 850 to 747, which is about the time it is supposed to have ended. Iva-lush is perhaps the Pul of Scripture. Among those from whom he received tribute are mentioned the people of Khinuri. i.e. Samaria; and Menahem gave Pul 1000 talents of silver to confirm the kingdom in his hand.
There is a statue of the god Neboin the British Museum which is dedicated by the artist "to his lord Iva-lush and his lady Sammuramit." This personage is in all probability the Semiramis of the Greeks, and her age remarkably agrees with that which Herodotus assigns her. viz. five generations prior to Nitocris, who seems with him to represent Nebuchadnezzar. He also speaks of her as, a Babylonian princess; and since Iva-lush asserts that Asshur had "granted him the kingdom of Babylon," he may very likely have acquired it in right of his wife, or reigned conjointly with her. But we cannot here replace conjecture by certainty. As we are altogether ignorant of the causes which terminated the first Assyrian dynasty or established the second, the interval between both may have been considerable, and may account for the difficulty above mentioned with respect to the period from the death of Shalmanu-bar and the end of the first empire. Tiglath-Pileser II, who founded the second empire, appears before us "without father, without mother." Unlike the kings before him, he makes no parade of his ancestry in his inscriptions, from which circumstance we may fairly assume that he was a usurper. Much uncertainty has arisen about the date of his accession, because he states that he took tribute from Menahem in his eighth year, which would make it B.C. 667 or 768 (received chronology), whereas it is more likely that it was connected in some way with the change of events in Babylon that gave rise to the sera of Nabonassar, or 747. However, as the Sept. gives the reign of Manasseh thirty-five years instead of fifty-five, this diminution of twenty years would exactly rectify the discrepancy, or else it is possible that in the said inscription Menahem may be by mistake for Pekah, since he is joined with Rezin, whom Scripture always couples with Pekah.
The annals of Tiglath-Pileser II extend over a period of seventeen years, and record his wars against Mesopotamia, Armenia, and Medaa; he also invaded Babylon, took the city of Sepharvaim or Sippara, and slew Rezin, the king of Syria. It was this king whom Ahaz met at Damascus when he saw the altar of which he sent the pattern to Urijah the priest at Jerusalem. Of Shalmaneser, his probable successor, little is known but what has come down to us in the sacred narrative. His name has not been found on the monuments. Shalmaneser twice invaded Israel; upon the first occasion it seems that Hoshea the king bought him off by tribute, but subsequently revolted upon having made an alliance with Sabaco or So, king of Egypt. Upon this Shalmaneser again invaded Israel, and besieged Samaria for the space of three years. He is supposed to have died or to have been deposed before the city surrendered, and to have left the final subjugation of it to his successor. This was Sargon or Sargina, who came to the throne in B.C. 721, was the founder of a dynasty, and is therefore suspected of being a usurper. He reigned nineteen years after the captives of Samaria had been brought to Assyria; he made war against Babylon, and perhaps placed Merodach-Baladan upon the throne. After this he marched in the direction of southern Syria and Egypt. At this time the latter country was under the dominion of the twenty-fifth or Ethiopian dynasty, and would seem to have recently gained possession of the five Philistine cities, according to the prediction of Isaiah 19:18. It is remarkable that Sargon speaks of Gaza as belonging to Egypt, and its king is said to have been defeated at Raphia by the Assyrian monarch. Upon this the Egyptian "Pharaoh" paid Sargon tribute of gold, horses, camels, etc. Afterwards he made war in Hamath, Cappadocia, and Armenia, turning his arms also against Mount Zagros and the Medes, whose cities he colonized with his Israelitish captives. Later he made a second expedition into Syria, and took Ashdod by his Tattan, or general (Isaiah 20:1), the king of that place flying to Egypt, which is said to be under the dominion of Mirukha or Meroe. At this time, also, Tyre fell under his power. Subsequently he made a second war upon Babylonia, and drove Merodach-Baladan, who seems to have offended him, into banishment.
Finally, the Greeks of Cyprus, who are called "the Yaha Nagd tribes of Yunau" or lonia. are named among those who paid him tribute. He appears to have removed the seat of government from Calah to Khorsabad, called from him Dur-Sargina. At this time the influence of Egyptian taste is manifest in Assyrian works of art. Sargon was succeeded in the year B.C. 702 by his son Sennacherib. He fixed his government at Nineveh, which, being now greatly decayed, he completely restored, and there he built the magnificent structure discovered and excavated by Layard. In the repairs of the great palace alone he is said to have employed no less than 360,000 men among his captives from Chaldaea, Armenia, and elsewhere. Sennacherib immediately after his accession proceeded to Babylon, where Merodach-Baladan had contrived to place himself again upon the throne with the aid of the Susianians. He fought a bloody battle with him, in which the Babylonian was entirely defeated, and then appointed Belibus, or Elibus, viceroy of Babylon. In his second year he marched on the north and east of Assyria,- and penetrated to certain Median tribes whom he asserts to have been quite unknown to his predecessors. The Philistines also were subdued by him, and the kings of Egypt who fought with him near Lachish were worsted. Lachish and Libnah fell before his arms, and Hezekiah, at Jerusalem, had to purchase peace by a tribute of 300 talents of silver and 30 talents of gold (2 Kings 18:13, 14).
This, however, is not recorded in his annals, which extend only to his eighth year, and therefore may have occurred subsequently to the period at which they close. In the year 699 he again marched against Babylon, defeated the party of Merodach-Baladan, deposed the viceroy Belibus, whom he had himself appointed three years before, and placed his own eldest son, Asshur-nadin, upon the throne. We know that Sennacherib reigned twenty-two years, because we have his twenty-second year stamped on a clay tablet, but it is uncertain when his second expedition to Syria was undertaken; some, however, consider his two Syrian expeditions to have been identical. The object of the second was to recover the cities of Lachish and Libnah, which had again fallen .under the power of Egypt. While he was warring against Lachish he heard of the agreement that Hezekiah had entered into with the king of Egypt, and sent a detachment of his host against Jerusalem, under Rab-Saris and Rab-Shakeh. For some reason which we are not told, these generals found it expedient to retire from Jerusalem and join their master, who had raised the siege of Lachish, at Libnah. Meanwhile Tirhakah, the Ethiopian, perhaps not yet king of Egypt, advanced from the south to meet Sennhcherib, and reinforce the Egyptian party against whom he was contending; but before the decisive battle could he fought, the Angel of the Lord had smitten in the camp of the Assyrians 185,000 men. Sennacherib, with the rest of his army, fled in dismay, and the Egyptians perhaps commemorated his disaster in the manner related by Herodotus (2:141). It is not a matter of surprise that this event is unnoticed on the Assyrian monuments. In all probability the murder of Sennacherib by his sons did not immediately follow his defeat at Libnah, but this also we have no means of knowing from the Assyrian records. He was succeeded by one of his younger sons (not his eldest, who had been regent in Babylon, and was probably dead), Esarhaddon, or Asshur-akh-iddina. He was celebrated for his victories and his magnificent buildings. He carried on his father's war with Egypt, Which county, as well as Ethiopia, he seems to have subdued.
He is also thought to have reigned in his own person at Babylon, and perhaps to have held his court indifferently either at Nineveh or Babylon, which would account for Manasseh being carried by the captains of the king of Assyria to Babylon (2 Chronicles 33:11); but in B.C 667, thirteen years after his accession, he was succeeded on the throne of Babylon by Saosduchinus, who was either a rebel or a viceroy appointed by Esarhaddon. About the year 660 his son Asshur-bani-pal, or Sardanapalus III, succeeded to "the throne of Assyria, and with him began the fall of the empire. He may have reigned till 640; but he feebly imitated the conquests; of his predecessors, and appears to have contented himself with hunting. He was succeeded by his son Asshuremit-ili, the last king of whom any records have been discovered. Under him Assyria was hastening its downfall, and- Cyaxares, with his victorious Medes, was preparing for the final attack. If he was not the last king, he was the last but one, and the Saracus of Berosus, perhaps his brother, may have succeeded him, or else we must consider Saracus to be identical with Asshur-emitiii, who corresponded in fate with the warlike Sardanapalus of the Greeks.
Copyright Statement Bibliography Information
These files are public domain.
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Nineveh'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/n/nineveh.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.