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Week 21 - The Prequel

Out of Babylon

Genesis 11 - Out of Babylon

Nahum 1,2 - The Fall of Ninevah

The Assyrian empire laid the foundation for the Babylonian and succeeding empires. They invented much of the basic technology still in use today. Some examples are: paved roads, postal system, magnifying glass, electric battery, plumbing (with flush toilet), the first use of iron, the first chariots, the first aqueduct (which was in use until 1996 A.D.), the first library, the first system of musical notation. The library at Ninevah is how we know so much about the empire. When the city was burned, the fire actually hardened the clay tablets, preserving them for millenia.

However, the Assyrian Empire became known for its cruelty. "Judged from the vaunting inscriptions of her kings, no power more useless, more savage, more terrible, ever cast its gigantic shadow on the page of history as it passed on the way to ruin. The kings of Assyria tormented the miserable world. They exult to record how 'space failed for corpses'; how unsparing a destroyer is their goddess Ishtar; how they flung away the bodies of soldiers like so much clay; how they made pyramids of human heads; how they burned cities; how they filled populous lands with death and devastation; how they reddened broad deserts with carnage of warriors; how they scattered whole countries with the corpses of their defenders as with chaff; how they impaled 'heaps of men' on stakes, and strewed the mountains and choked rivers with dead bones; how they cut off the hands of kings and nailed them on the walls, and left their bodies to rot with bears and dogs on the entrance gates of cities; how they employed nations of captives in making brick in fetters; how they cut down warriors like weeds, or smote them like wild beasts in the forests, and covered pillars with the flayed skins of rival monarchs." (Farrar, The Minor Prophets, pp. 147,148)

Jonah warned Ninevah (during the reign of Jereboam II, 793-753), and they repented, and God stayed their judgement. However, a century later they are worse than ever. (Just like Israel.) And Nahum has a message for them.

Ninevah was obliterated so completely that until the 20th century, skeptics mocked the Bible as a fable for describing a non-existent city and its history in such detail. Then the library of Ninevah was discovered.