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Map of Mesopotamia Near East
Map of the Near East Mesopotamian Region in Ancient Times
Israel was originally ruled by Egypt, but in the time of the Kings new powers appeared, primarily from the Mesopotamian region. First the Assyrians dominated Israel (850-650 B.C.), then the Babylonians (597-538 B.C.), and finally the Persians (538-331 B.C.). After that, as a result of Alexander the Great's conquests, Israel came under the control of the Hellenistic rulers of Syria and finally under domination of the Romans (63 B.C.).
This map includes some of the geographical locations within the ancient Biblical world. The British Museum describes the Ancient Near East as Mesopotamia, Iran, Anatolia, the Caucasus, the Levant, Egypt, and Arabia. In ancient times the Near East was never one huge homogeneous area but an assorted collection of changing cultures.
Assyria in Smith's Bible Dictionary
was a great and powerful country lying on the Tigris, Ge 2:14 the capital of which was Nineveh. Ge 10:11 etc. It derived its name apparently from Asshur, the son of Shem, Ge 10:22 who in later times was worshipped by the Assyrians as their chief god.
1. Extent.-- The boundaries of Assyria differed greatly at different periods, Probably in the earliest times it was confined to a small tract of low country lying chiefly on the left bank of the Tigris. Gradually its limits were extended, until it came to be regarded as comprising the whole region between the Armenian mountains (lat. 37 30') upon the north, and upon the south the country about Baghdad (lat. 33 30'). Eastward its boundary was the high range of Zagros, or mountains of Kurdistan; westward it was, according to the views of some, bounded by the Mesopotamian desert, while according to others it reached the Euphrates.
2. General character of the country.-- On the north and east the high mountain-chains of Armenia and Kurdistan are succeeded by low ranges of limestone hills of a somewhat arid aspect. To these ridges there succeeds at first an undulating zone of country, well watered and fairly productive, which extends in length for 250 miles, and is interrupted only by a single limestone range. Above and below this barrier is an immense level tract, now for the most part a wilderness, which bears marks of having been in early times well cultivated and thickly peopled throughout.
3. Original peopling.--Scripture informs us that Assyria was peopled from Babylon, Ge 10:11 and both classical tradition and the monuments of the country agree in this representation.
4. Date of the foundation of the kingdom.--As a country, Assyria was evidently known to Moses. Ge 2:14; 25:18; Nu 24:22,24 The foundation of the Assyrian empire was probably not very greatly anterior to B.C. 1228. Full Article
Babylon in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE
1. Names by Which the City Was Known:
The name of the great capital of ancient Babylonia, the Shinar of Gen 10:10; 14:1, other names of the city being Tin-dir, "seat of life," E (ki), probably an abbreviation of Eridu (ki) "the good city" (=Paradise), Babylonia having seemingly been regarded as the Garden of Eden (PSBA, June 1911, p. 161); and Su-anna, "the high-handed" (meaning, apparently, "high-walled," "hand" and "defense" being interchangeable terms). It is possible that these various names are due to the incorporation of outlying districts as Babylon grew in size.
2. Probable Date of Its Foundation:
According to Gen 10:9, the founder of Babylon was Nimrod, but among the Babylonians, it was Merodach who built the city, together with Erech and Niffer (Calneh) and their renowned temples. The date of its foundation is unknown, but it certainly went back to primitive times, and Babylon may even have equaled Niffer in antiquity (the American explorers of that site have estimated that its lowest strata of habitations go back to 8,000 years BC). Babylon's late assumption of the position of capital of the country would therefore be due to its rulers not having attained power and influence at an earlier period. Having once acquired that position, however, it retained it to the end, and its great god, Merodach, became the head of the Babylonian pantheon--partly through the influence of Babylon as capital, partly because the city was the center of his worship, and the place of the great Tower of Babel, concerning which many wonderful things were said. Full Article
Persia in Smith's Bible Dictionary
(pure, splended), Per'sians. Persia proper was a tract of no very large dimensions on the Persian Gulf, which is still known as Fars or Farsistan, a corruption of the ancient appellation. This tract was bounded on the west by Susiana or Elam, on the north by Media on the south by the Persian Gulf and on the east by Carmania. But the name is more commonly applied, both in Scripture and by profane authors to the entire tract which came by degrees to be included within the limits of the Persian empire. This empire extended at one time from India on the east to Egypt and Thrace on the west, and included. besides portions of Europe and Africa, the whole of western Asia between the Black Sea, the Caucasus, the Caspian and the Jaxartes on the north, the Arabian desert the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean on the south. The only passage in Scripture where Persia designates the tract which has been called above "Persia proper" is Eze 38:5 Elsewhere the empire is intended. The Persians were of the same race as the Medes, both being branches of the great Aryan stock.
1. Character of the nation. --The Persians were a people of lively and impressible minds, brave and impetuous in war, witty, passionate, for Orientals truthful, not without some spirit of generosity: and of more intellectual capacity than the generality of Asiatics. In the times anterior to Cyrus they were noted for the simplicity of their habits, which offered a strong contrast to the luxuriousness of the Medes; but from the late of the Median overthrow this simplicity began to decline. Polygamy was commonly practiced among them. They were fond of the pleasures of the table. In war they fought bravely, but without discipline.
2. Religion. --The religion which the Persians brought with there into Persia proper seems to have been of a very simple character, differing from natural religion in little except that it was deeply tainted with Dualism. Like the other Aryans, the Persians worshipped one supreme God. They had few temples, and no altars or images.
3. Language. --The Persian language was closely akin to the Sanskrit, or ancient language of India. Modern Persian is its degenerate representative, being largely impregnated with Arabic. Full Article
The Bible Mentions a lot Concerning "Assyria"
Jeremiah 2:18 - And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? or what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the river?
2 Kings 16:10 - And king Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglathpileser 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.
2 Kings 19:4 - It may be the LORD thy God will hear all the words of Rabshakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master hath sent to reproach the living God; and will reprove the words which the LORD thy God hath heard: wherefore lift up [thy] prayer for the remnant that are left.
Isaiah 37:4 - It may be the LORD thy God will hear the words of Rabshakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master hath sent to reproach the living God, and will reprove the words which the LORD thy God hath heard: wherefore lift up [thy] prayer for the remnant that is left.
Jeremiah 2:36 - Why gaddest thou about so much to change thy way? thou also shalt be ashamed of Egypt, as thou wast ashamed of Assyria.
2 Chronicles 32:9 - After this did Sennacherib king of Assyria send his servants to Jerusalem, (but he [himself laid siege] against Lachish, and all his power with him,) unto Hezekiah king of Judah, and unto all Judah that [were] at Jerusalem, saying,
2 Chronicles 30:6 - So the posts went with the letters from the king and his princes throughout all Israel and Judah, and according to the commandment of the king, saying, Ye children of Israel, turn again unto the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, and he will return to the remnant of you, that are escaped out of the hand of the kings of Assyria.
2 Kings 16:7 - So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglathpileser 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.
The Bible also Mentions "Babylon"
2 Kings 24:7 - And the king of Egypt came not again any more out of his land: for the king of Babylon had taken from the river of Egypt unto the river Euphrates all that pertained to the king of Egypt.
Ezra 6:5 - And also let the golden and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took forth out of the temple which [is] at Jerusalem, and brought unto Babylon, be restored, and brought again unto the temple which [is] at Jerusalem, [every one] to his place, and place [them] in the house of God.
2 Kings 25:27 - And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the seven and twentieth [day] of the month, [that] Evilmerodach king of Babylon in the year that he began to reign did lift up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah out of prison;
Jeremiah 52:31 - And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, in the five and twentieth [day] of the month, [that] Evilmerodach king of Babylon in the [first] year of his reign lifted up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah, and brought him forth out of prison,
Jeremiah 21:7 - And afterward, saith the LORD, I will deliver Zedekiah king of Judah, and his servants, and the people, and such as are left in this city from the pestilence, from the sword, and from the famine, into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of those that seek their life: and he shall smite them with the edge of the sword; he shall not spare them, neither have pity, nor have mercy.
Jeremiah 50:2 - Declare ye among the nations, and publish, and set up a standard; publish, [and] conceal not: say, Babylon is taken, Bel is confounded, Merodach is broken in pieces; her idols are confounded, her images are broken in pieces.
Jeremiah 44:30 - Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will give Pharaohhophra king of Egypt into the hand of his enemies, and into the hand of them that seek his life; as I gave Zedekiah king of Judah into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, his enemy, and that sought his life.
Micah 4:10 - Be in pain, and labour to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail: for now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go [even] to Babylon; there shalt thou be delivered; there the LORD shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies.
Jeremiah 32:4 - And Zedekiah king of Judah shall not escape out of the hand of the Chaldeans, but shall surely be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon, and shall speak with him mouth to mouth, and his eyes shall behold his eyes;
Jeremiah 20:6 - And thou, Pashur, and all that dwell in thine house shall go into captivity: and thou shalt come to Babylon, and there thou shalt die, and shalt be buried there, thou, and all thy friends, to whom thou hast prophesied lies.
Jeremiah 38:23 - So they shall bring out all thy wives and thy children to the Chaldeans: and thou shalt not escape out of their hand, but shalt be taken by the hand of the king of Babylon: and thou shalt cause this city to be burned with fire.
Jeremiah 36:29 - And thou shalt say to Jehoiakim king of Judah, Thus saith the LORD; Thou hast burned this roll, saying, Why hast thou written therein, saying, The king of Babylon shall certainly come and destroy this land, and shall cause to cease from thence man and beast?
Ezra 5:17 - Now therefore, if [it seem] good to the king, let there be search made in the king's treasure house, which [is] there at Babylon, whether it be [so], that a decree was made of Cyrus the king to build this house of God at Jerusalem, and let the king send his pleasure to us concerning this matter.
Jeremiah 52:17 - Also the pillars of brass that [were] in the house of the LORD, and the bases, and the brasen sea that [was] in the house of the LORD, the Chaldeans brake, and carried all the brass of them to Babylon.
The Bible also Mentions "Persia"
Ezra 4:7 - And in the days of Artaxerxes wrote Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of their companions, unto Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the writing of the letter [was] written in the Syrian tongue, and interpreted in the Syrian tongue.
Ezra 4:3 - But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the LORD God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us.
Ezra 9:9 - For we [were] bondmen; yet our God hath not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving, to set up the house of our God, and to repair the desolations thereof, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem.
Ezra 6:14 - And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished [it], according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia.
2 Chronicles 36:23 - Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which [is] in Judah. Who [is there] among you of all his people? The LORD his God [be] with him, and let him go up.
Daniel 10:1 - In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a thing was revealed unto Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar; and the thing [was] true, but the time appointed [was] long: and he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision.
Ezra 1:2 - Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which [is] in Judah.
Esther 1:3 - In the third year of his reign, he made a feast unto all his princes and his servants; the power of Persia and Media, the nobles and princes of the provinces, [being] before him:
Ezra 3:7 - They gave money also unto the masons, and to the carpenters; and meat, and drink, and oil, unto them of Zidon, and to them of Tyre, to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea of Joppa, according to the grant that they had of Cyrus king of Persia.
Ezra 4:24 - Then ceased the work of the house of God which [is] at Jerusalem. So it ceased unto the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.
Daniel 10:20 - Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come.