Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom from the late 25th or early–24th century BC to 608 BC. It was centered on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia (present day northern Iraq).  Assyria ruled regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur. Assyria was also sometimes known as Subartu, and after its fall, from 605 BC through to the late seventh century AD variously as Athura, Syria (Greek), Assyria (Latin) and Assuristan. The term Assyria can also refer to the geographic region or heartland where Assyria, its empires and the Assyrian people were centered. Their descendants still live in region today, and they form the Assyrian Christian minority in modern Iraq, and  extend into north east Syria, south east Turkey and north west Iran.

Partial list of the kings of Assyria
885-607 B.C.

(The time when their power was on the rise and Israel was declining.)  Kings shown in bold are mentioned in the Bible:

Assur-nasipal II (885-860 B.C.)
Shalmaneser II (860-825 B.C.)
Shansi-adad (825-808 B.C.)
Adad-nirari (808-783 B.C.)
Shalmaneser III (783-771 B.C.)
Assur-dayan (771-753 B.C.)
Assur-lush (753-747 B.C.)
Tiglath-pileser III (Pul) (747-727 B.C.)
Shalmaneser IV (727-722 B.C.)
Sargon II (722-705 B.C.)
Sennacherib (705-681 B.C.)
Esar-haddon (681-668 B.C.)
Assur-banipal (668-626 B.C.)
Assur-etil-ilani (626-607 B.C.)

In the Bible we first meet Assyria when Nimrod leaves Shinar and goes to Assyria and builds Nineveh among other cities. (see Genesis 10.8-11.) As the Bible story develops we see Assyria and Babylon challenging each other for world domination until the the Greeks sort them both out in the 300's b.c.  It is often overlooked these days but the United kingdom under David and Solomon was very much a world power.

The kingdom established by David around 1050 B.C. on the foundations started by Saul and Samuel roughly attained all the borders and limits of the Biblical promised land.  More than this, all of the Near East was under the control of the united tribes of Israel and ruled from Jerusalem. Garrisons of Israeli soldiers were stationed in Damascus, Hamath, Ammon, Edom, Moab and the out posts of the Negev and the Euphrates River. Shipping in the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean was under the control of Israel. Coincidentally the strongest nations of the Near East, Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, were eclipsed by the power of Israel and due to Israel's political power and control this period is an empty page in the annals of those subject nations. ( 2/27/12)

With the death of Solomon (c. 933 B.C.) and the division of his Kingdom into Judah in the south and Israel in the north the political power of Israel begins to wane.  Assyria begins to attack the Northern Kingdom of Israel in about 745 B.C. making Menahem, king of Israel, a vassal. In II Kings 15.19-20 we read:

And Pul the king of Assyria came against the land: and Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver, that his hand might be with him to confirm the kingdom in his hand. 20 And Menahem exacted the money of Israel, even of all the mighty men of wealth, of each man fifty shekels of silver, to give to the king of Assyria. So the king of Assyria turned back, and stayed not there in the land.

This is the beginning of the end for the Kingdom of Israel as full sovereignty is never restored.  Even with the tribute being paid to him, Tiglath-pilezer began a three step deportation of Israel with the initial deportation of the tribes east of the Jordan.

In the days of Pekah king of Israel came Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, and took Ijon, and Abelbethmaachah, and Janoah, and Kedesh, and Hazor, and Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali, and carried them captive to Assyria. (2 Kings 15.29)

When Ahaz ascends to the throne of Judah he does not continue in the ways of his father David, instead he begins to follow after the customs of the peoples that the Lord had driven out of the land.  Ahaz is attacked by Syria and complains to Tiglath-pileser which causes the downfall of sack of Damascus and the end of the quasi-independent Syrian kingdom.  It also makes Judah vassal to Assyria.

Then Rezin king of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel came up to Jerusalem to war: and they besieged Ahaz, but could not overcome him. 6 At that time Rezin king of Syria recovered Elath to Syria, and drove the Jews from Elath: and the Syrians came to Elath, and dwelt there to this day. 7 So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria , saying, I am thy servant and thy son: come up, and save me out of the hand of the king of Syria, and out of the hand of the king of Israel, which rise up against me. 8 And Ahaz took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the LORD, and in the treasures of the king's house, and sent it for a present to the king of Assyria. 9 And the king of Assyria heard him: for the king of Assyria went up against Damascus, and took it, and carried the people of it captive to Kir, and slew Rezin. 10 And king Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, and saw an altar that was at Damascus: and king Ahaz sent to Urijah the priest the fashion of the altar, and the pattern of it, according to all the workmanship thereof.  (II Kings 16.5-10)

Ahaz has begun to surrender sovereignty by making this alliance. The alliance did not work out too well however.

Assyrian annals mention contacts with nine Hebrew kings:

Omri, King of Israel c. 886-874 b.c.
Ahab, King of Israel c. 875-853 b.c.
Jehu, King of Israel c. 843-816 b.c.
Menahem, King of Israel c. 748-738 b.c.
Pekah, King of Israel c. 738
Uzziah, King of Juda c 787-735 b.c.
Ahaz, King of Judah c. 741-725 b.c.
Hezekiah, King of Judah c. 726-697 b.c.
Manasseh, King of Judah c. 697-642 b.c.

20 And Tilgath-pileser king of Assyria came unto him, (Ahaz) and distressed him, but strengthened him not. 21 For Ahaz took away a portion out of the house of the LORD, and out of the house of the king, and of the princes, and gave it unto the king of Assyria: (Tiglath-pilezer) but he helped him not. (II Chronicles 28.20, 21)

Although Judah had struggled with pagan influences off and on since the time of Rehoboam, Ahaz goes further in sacrificing his son (II Kings 16.3, 4). There are good kings after Ahaz but Judah never does fully recover.  Hosea is the last king of Israel.

1 In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah began Hoshea the son of Elah to reign in Samaria over Israel nine years. 2 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, but not as the kings of Israel that were before him. 3 Against him came up Shalmaneser king of Assyria; and Hoshea became his servant, and gave him presents. 4 And the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea : for he had sent messengers to So king of Egypt, and brought no present to the king of Assyria (Shalmaneser), as he had done year by year: therefore the king of Assyria (Shalmaneser) shut him up, and bound him in prison. 5 Then the king of Assyria (Shalmaneser) came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years. 6 In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria ( Sargon II) took , and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. (II Kings 17.1-6)

The Assyrians destroyed the northern kingdom Israel under Shalmaneser IV who besieged Samaria and then died during the siege leaving Sargon II to finish the task and drag Israel into captivity. After defeating the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 B.C., the Assyrians carried away thousands of Israelites and resettled them in other parts of the Assyrian Empire.

And it came to pass in the fourth year of king Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria , and besieged it. 10 And at the end of three years they took it: even in the sixth year of Hezekiah, that is the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel, Samaria was taken (by Sargon II). 11 And the king( s) of Assyria did carry away Israel unto Assyria , (on more than one occasion by Tiglath-pileser, Shalmaneser, and Sargon II at different times) and put them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes:...  Now in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah did Sennacherib king of Assyria come up against all the fenced cities of Judah, and took them. (II Kings 18.9-11, 13)

As an extra note: The religion of the Assyrians, much like that of the Babylonians, emphasized worship of nature. They believed every object of nature was possessed by a spirit. The chief god was Asshur. All other primary gods whom they worshiped were related to the objects of nature. These included Anu, god of the heavens; Bel, god of the region inhabited by man, beasts, and birds; Ea, god of the waters; Sin, the moon-god; Shamash, the sun-god; and Ramman, god of the storms. These gods were followed by five gods of the planets. In addition to these primary gods, lesser gods also were worshiped. In some cases, various cities had their own patron gods. The pagan worship of the Assyrians was vehemently condemned by several prophets of the Old Testament (Is. 10:5; Ezek. 16:28; Hos. 8.9)

The Book of Jonah is the story of the Hebrew prophet Jonah and his mission to Ninevah.  One hundred and fifty years later The prophet Nahum spoke against Assyria indicating that they were ripe for the slaughter. 2/19/12 2/19/12


 Assyrian Christians.  The word Assyrian can also refer to an ethnic group so some clerification is in order. Today there are several churches claiming Assyrian roots. 

The Assyrian Church of the East, officially the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East, is a Syriac Church historically centered in Mesopotamia. It is one of the churches that claim continuity with the historical Patriarchate of Seleucia-Ctesiphon – the Church of the East. Unlike most other churches that trace their origins to antiquity, the modern Assyrian Church of the East is not in communion with any other churches, either Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, or Roman Catholic.  This may be explained in part by the fact that this church developed to the east of the Roman-Byzantine empire and so outside the political control of those empires.  The other issue may be Nestorian Christology which is a study on its own.

The Assyrian Church traces origins to Saints Thomas, Bartholomew, Thaddeus (Addai) and Mari. Saint Peter may have visited it see I Peter 5:13-14. 2/19/12 2/19/12 2/19/12


 Rezin king of Syria ruled from Damascus during the 8th century BC. During his reign he was a tributary of King Tiglath-pileser III of Assyria.
Rezin's reign ended around 732 BC when Tiglath-pileser sacked Damascus and annexed Syria. According to the Bible, the sack of Damascus was instigated by King Ahaz of Judah and ended in Rezin's execution (2 Kings 16:7-9). The execution of Rezin is neither confirmed nor disconfirmed by independent evidence. 9/1/12


 The Akkadian Empire reached its political peak between the 24th and 22nd centuries BC, following the conquests by its founder Sargon of Akkad (2334–2279 BC). Under Sargon and his successors, Akkadian language was briefly imposed on neighboring conquered states such as Elam. Akkad is sometimes regarded as the first empire in history, though there are earlier Sumerian claimants.

After the fall of the Akkadian Empire, the Akkadian people of Mesopotamia eventually coalesced into two major Akkadian speaking nations; Assyria in the north, and a few centuries later, Babylonia in the south. 11/16/13