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ASSYRIA


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ASSYRIA


N'iiiil>pal-Eshara, reigning over Assyria. These, }io\ve\er, were attacked and defeated by the Baby- loniaiLS, who thus regained possession of a consider- able part of their former territorj'. The next As- syrian monarch was Asshur-dan, Ninilj-pal-Eshara's son. He avenged his father's defeat by invading Babylonia and capturing the cities of Zaban, Irria, andAkarsallu. In 1150 B. c, As.shur-dan was suc- ceeded by his son, Mutakkil-Nusku; and in 1140 li. c, by the latter's son Asshur-resli-ishi, who sub- jugated the peoples of Ahlami, Lullumi, Kuti (or iiuti'). and other countries, and administered a crusliing defeat to liis rival and contemporary, Xabucliodonosor (Nebuchadnezzar) I, King of liabylonia.

.\bout 1120-10 B. c. Asshur-resh-ishi was succeeded by his son, Tiglath-pileser I, one of the greatest .Assyrian monarchs, under whose reign of only ten years duration Assyria rose to the apex of its military success and glory. He has left us a very detailed and circumstantial account of his military achieve- ments, wTitten on four octagonal cylinders which he placed at the four corners of the temjJe built by him to the god Ramman. According to these, he under- took, in the first five years of his reign, several suc- ressful military expeditions against Mushku, against the Shubari, against the Hittites, and into the moun- tains of Zagros. against the people of Nairi and their twenty-three kings, who were chased by him as far north "as Lake Van in Armenia; against the people of Musri in Northern Arabia, and against the Ara- mieans, or Syrians. "In all", he tells us, "forty- two countries and their kings, from beyond the Lower Zab, from the border of the distant mountains as far as the farther side of the Euphrates, up to the land of Hatti [Hittites] and as far as the upper sea of the setting sun [i. e. Lake Van], from the beginning of my so^■ereignty until my fifth year, has my hand conquered. I carried away their possessions, burned their cities with fire, demanded from their hostages tribute and contributioas, and laid on them the heavy yoke of my rule." He crossed the Euphrates several times, and even reached the Mediterranean, ui»n the waters of wliich he emljarked. He also invaded Babylonia, inflicting a hea\-y blow on the Babylonian king, llarduk-nadin-ahhe and his army, and capturing several important cities, such as Dur-Kurigalzu, Sippar, Babylon, and Opis. He jnished his triumphal march even as far as Elam. Tiglath-pileser I was also a daring hunter, for in one of his campaigns, he tells us, he killed no fewer than one hundred and twenty lions on foot, and eight hundred with spears while in his chariot, caught four elephants alive, and killed ten in his chariot. He kept at the city of .\sshur a park of animals suitable for the chase. .\t Nineveh he had a botanical garden, in which he planted specimens of foreign trees gathered during his campaigns. He built also many temples, palaces, and canals. It may be of interest to add that his reign coincides with that of Heli (Eli), one of the ten judges who ruled over Israel prior to the establishment of the monarchy. \t the time of Tiglath-pileser's death, Assyria was enjoying a period of tranquillity, which did not last, however, very long; for we find his two sons and successors, Asshur-bel-Kala and Shamshi-Ramman, seeking otTensive and defensive alliances with the Kings of Babylonia.

From about 1070 to 950 b. c, a gap of more than one hundred years presents itself in the history of .Assyria. But from 950 b. c. down to the fall of Nineveli and the overthrow of the Assyrian Empire (60(> B. c.) the historj' of A.ssyria is very completely represented in documents. Towards 9.50 B. c, Tiglath-pileser II was king over Assyria. In 930 B. c. he was succeeded by his son, Asshur-dan II. and about 910 b. c. by the latter's son, Ramman-nirari II,


who, in 890, was succeeded by his son, Tukulti- Ninib IL The last two monarclis appear to have undertaken several successful e.xpeditions against Babylonia and the regions north of AssjTia. Tukulti- Ninib's successor was his son Asshur-nasir-pal (885-860 B. c), with whose accession to the throne began a long career of victorj- that placed AssjTia at the head of the great powers of that age. He was a great conqueror, soldier, organizer, hunter, and builder, but fierce and cruel. In his eleven militarj- campaigns he invaded, subdued, and conquered, after a series of devastations and raids, all the regions north, south, east, and west of Assyria, from the mountains of Armenia down to Babylon, and from the mountains of Kurdistan and Lake Urmi (I'rum- yah) to the Mediterranean. He crossed the Eu- phrates and the Orontes, penetrated into the Lebanon region, attacked Karkemish, the capital of the Hittites, invaded Syria, and compelled the cities of the Mediterranean coast (such as Tyre, Sidon. Byblos, and Armad) to pay tribute. But the chief interest in the historj- of Asshur-nasir-pal lies in the fact that it was in his reign that Assyria first came into touch with Israel. In his expedition against Karkemish and Syria, which took place in 878 B. c, he undoubtedly exacted tribute from Amri (Omri). King of Israel; althovigh the latter's name is not explicitly mentioned in this sense, either in Asshur- nasir-pal's inscriptions, or in the Old Testament. The fact, however, seems certain, for in the AssjTian inscriptions from about this time down to the time of Sargon — nearly 150 years — the land of Israel is frequently mentioned as the "Land of Omri"; and Jehu, a later King of Israel, but not of the dynasty of Amri, is also called the "son of Omri". This seems to show that the land of Israel was known to the As- syrians as the land of that king who happened to be reigning when they were first brought into political relations ^\-ith it, and we know that this king was Amri, for in 878, the year of Asshur-nasir-pal's ex- pedition to SjTia, he had been king over Israel for some nine years.

Asshur-nasir-pal was succeeded by his son, Shal- maneser II, who in the sixth year of his reign (8.54 B. c.) made an expedition to the West with the object of subduing Damascus. In this memorable cam- paign he came into direct touch ^ith Israel and their king Achab (Ahab), who happened to be one of the allies of Benhadad, King of Damascus. In describing this expedition the Assyrian monarch goes on to say that he approached Karkar, a town to the south-west of Karkemish, and the royal residence of Irhulini. — "I desolated and destroyed, I burnt it: 1.200 chariots, 1,200 horsemen, 20,000 men of Rir- idri of Damascus; 700 chariots, 700 horsemen, 10,000 men of Irhuhni of Hamath; 2,000 chariots, 10,000 men of Ahah of Israel . . . these twelve kings he [i. e. Irhulini] took to his assistance. To offer battle they marched against me. With the noble might which Asshur, the Lord, granted, with the powerful weapons which Nergal, who walks before me, gave, I fought with them, from Karkar into Gilzan I smote them. Of their soldiers I slew 14,000."— The Old Testament is silent on the presence of Achab in the battle of Karkar, which took place in the same year in which Achab died fighting in the battle of Ramoth Galaad (III Kings, xxii).

Eleven years after this event Jehu was proclaimed king over Israel, and one of his first acts was to pay tribute to Shalmaneser II. This incident is com- memorated in the latter's well-known "black obe- lisk", in the British Museum, in which Jehu himself, "the son of Omri", is sculptured as pajnng tribute to the king. In another inscription the same king records the same fact, sajang: "At that time I re ceived the tribute of the Tyrians, Sidonians, and Jehu the son of Omri." This act of homage took