During Mesopotamian times, wars were what divided ruling periods. There were many different peoples that dominated Ancient Mesopotamia and the Assyrians were one of them. The Assyrians prospered mainly because of their divine talent to defensively resist and offensively overwhelm their enemies. At no point of Assyrian
rule was there ever a time without conflict of some sort.
The Assyrians were known to have a powerful, ruthless army. The army was the largest Middle East or Mediterranean fighting force that had ever been seen. It is believed that God himself promised the Israelites that if they disobeyed Him he would allow them to be taken up and carried away to foreign lands. His promise is explained in Isaiah 5:26-29. It reads, “He will whistle to them from the end of the earth; Surely they shall come with speed, swiftly. No one weary or stumble among them No one will slumber or sleep Nor will the belt on their loins be loosed, Nor the strap of their sandals be broken; Whose arrows are sharp, And all their bows bent; Their horses’ hooves will seem like flint, And their wheels like whirlwind. Their roaring will be like a lion, They will roar like young lions; Yes, they will roar And lay hold of the prey; They will carry it away safely, And no one will deliver.” Israel’s rebellion angered God and it led to war with the invincible Assyrians. The Northern Kingdom of Israel was wiped out.
“Why were the Assyrians at war so much?” is a likely question to arise when discussing these people. And in my eyes the answer is simple. For land and power. The map of the beginning of the Assyrian empire compared to the end of the Assyrian empire shows great difference. It is obvious that much expansion took place during this rule. Like the Chinese Han dynasty, there was an explosion of territory growth in the Assyrian time period
. Not being able to control all the land and people was the Hans’ weakness and led to their downfall. The Assyrians had an interesting policy that eliminated this problem. They would deport defeated nations and led them to captive lands. This would destroy the individuals’ sense of nationalism and would cause them to be much more willing to submit to Assyrian rule. They figured that the less people would resist, the less problem they would have with their captives and it worked well for them.
What led the Assyrians to be so successful was location, technology, and resources. They were located in the center of all other civilizations, in-between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, as well as many others. They had the ability to use the fertile land to grow a strong, healthy people which brought tremendous advantages over the competition. The exigencies of war awakened much technological development. Aside from all the mathematical inventions like the division of the circle into 360 degrees to lateral and longitudinal graphical navigation. They established advanced metal working techniques to develop weapons like swords, armor, battering rams, and lances that benefited them in battle.
A plunderer is someone who takes things wrongfully or with force. That term can describe Assyrian warfare
very well. It is believed that Assyria was God’s army. If God was unhappy with unrighteous decisions of other counties then the Assyrian army had the duty to destroy that nation. Assyria was God’s rod and he would use them to carry out his wrath on those ungodly nations. And they did indeed take care of those nations. With extreme power and without mercy the Assyrians annihilated their enemies. With this power also came pride. Assyria demanded all to pay tribute to them. In their minds they were the superior people and everyone should show that through money and other worldly possessions. Of course from this arose additional conflicts, so they had to react to the resistance. They skinned victims alive, cut of their hands, feet, ears, noses, eyes, pulled out tongues, and made? out of heads to burn fear into those considering to not pay them tribute.
All the pride and arrogance the Assyrians displayed made more enemies than they probably could have handled. Their rival enemy, the Babylonians, were also skilled in warfare and had developed fighting tactics. In 652 B.C. the Babylonians began rebelling against their Assyrian rulers but weren't as successful as they would have hoped. Later, in 612 B.C., the Medes and Scythians allied with Babylonians all rebelled against Assyria. As the three allied groups were about ready to retire, a flood came which demolished the Assyrian walls and opened the doors that in turn put an end to an evil empire. It seems to be an ongoing cycle; a group prospers and does well until they get too powerful and full of pride when others team up against them, eventually bringing them down and starting another ruling period.
“Ancient Assyria” Bible History, February 19, 2005
“Assyria”, AAE, copyright 1980-1989, pages 266
Academic American Encyclopedias
"Babylonian and Assyrian Religion." LoveToKnow 1911 Online Encyclopedia ©2003-2004
Hooker, Richard “Mesopotamia, Assyrians”, Washington State University, February 15,2005
“The Assyrian Empire”, WFU, February 15, 2005
“Warfare”, Mesopotamia, February 17, 2005