Chapter Two Notes
Begin with review:
the Wheel The oldest wheel
found in archeological excavations was discovered in what was Mesopotamia and is
believed to be over fifty-five hundred years old. (Making the invention
about 3000 B.C.-- a little earlier than the time of the building of the Great
Timeline of Egypt:
Keystone used by the Sumerians enabled the building of arches--In the
seventh century BC the Sumerians used five such corbelled arches to take an
aqueduct across a 20-metre-wide valley. This was the first recorded arch bridge
- rather clumsy by modern standards, but such is all innovation when viewed with
- By 3,000 B.C., the Sumerians had established a number of independent
cities in Mesopotamia with an economy based on farming as well as industry and
- Sumerians made great contributions to civilization in many areas: they
invented the arch and
dome and built great brick buildings in large cities; they organized a
structure of government to direct people in public works and irrigation
projects; they invented the wheel and built carts; they
developed the cuneiform system of writing and a system of numbers based
on 60; and they worked in astrology.
Roman-style aqueducts were used as early as the
century BC, when the
built a limestone aqueduct 30 feet (10 m) high and 900 feet (300 m) long to
carry water across a valley to their capital city,
lying in the modern city of
Iraq) the full
length of the aqueduct ran for 50 miles (80 km).
THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST: PEOPLES AND EMPIRES
Dates to remember
Exodus: 1300-1200 B.C.
David king 1000-970 B.C.
Building of Solomon's Temple 970-930 B.C.
Northern Kingdom of Israel destroyed by the Assyrians 722 B.C.
Zoroaster 660 B.C.
Fall of Jerusalem 586 B.C.
Cyrus king of Persia 550-530
Music of the Near East musical fragments found on cuneiform
tablets in Ugarit, stemming from the 12th century BC
The decline of the Hittites and Egyptians around 1200 B.C. created a power
vacuum which allowed several small states to emerge and temporarily flourish.
In the long run,
these large empires had less impact on Western civilization than the Hebrew
people. In human history, the power of ideas is often more significant
than the power of empires. Jackson Spielvogel
I. Hebrews: "The Children of Israel"
Monotheistic The Israelites were a minor factor in the politics of the
ancient Near East, but their spiritual heritage--the Judeo Christian values--is
one of the basic pillars of Western Civilization.
The tradition of the Hebrews states that they were descendants of the patriarch
Abraham who had migrated from Mesopotamia to the land of Palestine.
Scholars agree that between 1200 and 1000 B.C. the Israelites emerged as a
distinct group of peoples who established a united kingdom known as Israel.
The Exodus in the Old Testament refers to the Hebrews' flight from Egypt
under the guidance of Moses in the first half of the thirteenth century B.C..
They were monotheistic
A. United Kingdom
1. Saul, the First King
Solomon's most revered contribution to the Hebrew society was to construct the
Temple, the symbolic center of the Hebrew religion and society. After the
death of Solomon, tensions between the northern and southern tribes led to the
establishment of two kingdoms, the kingdom of Israel and Judah.
2. David and Jerusalem
David was the second King of the Hebrew nation, the leader who created a central
administration, brought much of Palestine under Hebrew control and made
Jerusalem the capital.
King David's chief contribution to Hebrew history was the establishment of
Hebrew control over Palestine. He was a warrior king and therefore could
not build the Temple.
Solomon was the son of David, known for his wisdom, who as king of the United Hebrew Kingdom brought
the nation to the heights of its economic power and built the first temple in
Jerusalem. The Temple was dedicated by King Solomon in 953 BC The Israelites
viewed the Temple as the symbolic center of their religion, and hence of the
kingdom of Israel itself. The Temple now housed the Ark of the Covenant, the
holy chest containing the sacred relics of the Hebrew religion and,
symbolically, the throne of the invisible God of Israel. Under Solomon, ancient
Israel was at the height of its power, but his efforts to extend royal power
throughout his kingdom led to dissatisfaction among some of his subjects.
Read Prophets p. 36
B. Divided Kingdom: Captivity and Return
The destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. and the Babylonian Captivity of the
Hebrews occurred at the hands of the Chaldeans. .
After the fall of Assyrian power in
Mesopotamia, the last great group of Semitic peoples dominated the area.
Suffering mightily under the Assyrians, the city of Babylon finally rose up
against its hated enemy, the city of Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian
empire, and burned it to the ground. The chief of the Babylonians was
Nabopolassar; the Semites living in the northern part of Mesopotamia would
never gain their independence again.
Nabopolassar was succeeded by his son, Nebuchadnezzar II (605-562 BC).
Nebuchadnezzar was the equal of all the great Mesopotamian conquerors, from
Sargon onwards; he not only prevented major powers such as Egypt and Syria
from making inroads on his territory, he also conquered the Phoenicians and
the state of Judah (586 BC), the southern Jewish kingdom that remained after
the subjugation of Israel, the northern kingdom, by the Assyrians. In order
to secure the territory of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar brought Jehoiachin and
Zedekiah, the two kings of Judah (in succession) and held them in Babylon.
In keeping with Assyrian practice, the "New Babylonians," or
Chaldeans forced a large part of the Jewish population to relocate.
Numbering possibly up to 10,000, these Jewish deportees were largely upper
class people and craftspeople; this deportation marks the beginning of the
Exile in Jewish history
Under Nebuchadnezzar, the city of Babylon
was rebuilt with great splendor; it would eventually become one of the most
magnificent human cities in the area of the Middle East and Mediterranean.
But all was not perfect beneath the shining surface; there still existed a
number of cities that were loyal to the Assyrians. The entire period
dominated by the Babylonians, in fact, is a period of great unrest as
Babylonian hegemony was continually tested by philo-Assyrians. This conflict
slammed the door on the Babylonian empire after a dynasty of only five
kings. Babylon in 555 BC came under the control of a king loyal to the
Assyrians, Nabonidus (555-539 BC), who attacked Babylonian culture at its
heart: he placed the Assyrian moon-god, Sin, above the Babylonian's
principal god, Marduk, who symbolized not only the faith of Babylon but the
very city and people itself. Angered and bitter, the priests and those
faithful to Babylon would welcome Cyrus the Conqueror of Persia into their
city and end forever Semitic domination of Mesopotamia. The center of the
Middle Eastern world shifted to Cyrus's capital, Susa, and it would shift
again after the Greeks and then the Romans. For almost two and a half
centuries, Mesopotamia and Babylon at its center, dominated the landscape of
early civilization in the Middle East to be finally eclipsed by the rising
sun of the Indo-European cultures to the north and to the west.
The Diaspora when Jews became scattered
throughout the ancient world after their exile to Babylon Only then
did they become merchants.
The Lost Ten Tribes of Israel
C. Spiritual Dimensions of Israel
I. Yahweh as God--Yahweh
was the name of he Hebrews' protector, the God who gave them their law, the
Being they came to believe was the only true God.
a. The Hebrew knew god as the creator of but not an inherent part of
b. All peoples of the world were subject to him.
c. He would punish those not following His will.
d. There was no room for personal relationships with him, as his word was
2. Hebrew Bible: Covenant, Law, and Prophets
a. The Hebrew religion was an ethical religion centered around the law of
b. The Hebrew prophets were considered by the Hebrews to be the voice of
Yahweh. The prophet Amos prophesied the fall of Israel.
1. Promoted universalism by stating that all nations would one day worship
the God of Israel.
2. Proclaimed that Israel would rise again from the ashes of conquest.
3. Advocated social justice by condemning the rich for mistreating the
4. Encouraged a separation between Jews and non-Jews.
c. The Hebrew Bible focuses on the theme of the necessity of the Hebrews
to obey their God. The Hebrew religions tradition includes:
The first five books of the Hebrew Bible are known as the Pentateuch.
1. the Law
TORAH (The Law):
- Bereishith (In the beginning...) (Genesis)
- Shemoth (The names...) (Exodus)
- Vayiqra (And He called...) (Leviticus)
- Bamidbar (In the wilderness...) (Numbers)
- Devarim (The words...) (Deuteronomy)
2. the covenant
This was first made
with Abraham, from whom the Jewish believe
they came. This covenant
was renewed with Abraham's son Isaac, and Abraham's
grand son Jacob.
The covenant was
extended as Moses was given the Ten Commandments and
other laws. From this, the
Jews learn how they
should lead their lives.
The covenant was an
agreement which the Hebrews believed they had made with Yahweh, making them his
"chosen people," which required them to follow his law and gave them a special
place in history. It gives them certain rights as well as
responsibilities. Central in the Jewish belief
is that there is only one God, and that
there is a special pact between God and
Jews are obliged to observe the
Law given by God. The purpose of this pact is to
bring the world forward to the
point where Messiah arrives in the world, in order
to recreate order and stability in the world,
with Jerusalem and Israel as
the centre. The central
theme of Judaism, is the
covenant between the
Jews and God
3. the prophets Holy men who called on the nation to follow the
divine law, warned them of dire consequences if they did not, and helped make
Judaism a universal religion.
- Yehoshua (Joshua)
- Shoftim (Judges)
- Shmuel (I &II Samuel)
- Melakhim (I & II Kings)
- Yeshayah (Isaiah)
- Yirmyah (Jeremiah)
- Yechezqel (Ezekiel)
- The Twelve (treated as one book)
- Hoshea (Hosea)
- Yoel (Joel)
- Ovadyah (Obadiah)
- Yonah (Jonah)
- Mikhah (Micah)
- Chavaqquq (Habbakkuk)
- Tzefanyah (Zephaniah)
- Zekharyah (Zechariah)
4. monotheistic -- worship of one god -- Hebrew monotheism had a spiritual
legacy that included Christianity and Islam.
Social Structure of the Hebrews
1. Men of Rank and Influence
officials of the king, military officers, civil officials and governors
2. Marriage and the Family Patriarchal society..the
husband--father was master of his wife and possessed absolute authority over his
children, including the over of life and death
3. Men and Women
The book of Proverbs contains a description of the ideal Hebrew wife.
II. Neighbors of the Israelites: Phoenicians
settled the coast of what is now called Lebanon and established independent
trading cities around 3,000 B.C. Phoenicia is a Greek term applied to the coast
of Lebanon. Because the location at the intersection of land and sea routes
linking the ancient world, Phoenicia became famous as a commercial center.
Phoenicians discovered and used the North Star (Polaris) to keep their bearings
at sea. They were the first ones to sail around Africa. They colonized parts of
Cyprus and Rhodes and crossed the Black Sea. They founded Tarshish on the coast
of Spain and Carthage in North Africa.
The greatest international sea traders of the ancient Near East were the
A. Explorers to the West
Phoenicians founded the colony of Carthage.
trading stations throughout the Mediterranean.
Byblos was a Phoenician port city located in ancient Palestine that was a
distribution center for Egyptian papyrus. The Greek word for book is
derived from its name.
B. Alphabet --Go to
Pedagogy. Explain the importance of the
phonetic system of reading. What's the big deal?
The Phoenicians contributed a simplified alphabet and system of writing.
The Phoenician alphabetic script of 22 letters was used at Byblos as early as
the 15th century B.C. This method of writing, later adopted by the Greeks, is
the ancestor of the modern Roman alphabet. It was the Phoenicians' most
remarkable and distinctive contribution to civilization.
See name in
After a long period of vassalage, the Assyrians achieved their independence in
the 1300s. The Assyrians overran the northern kingdom of Israel, destroyed
the capital of Samaria in 722 B.C., and deported many Hebrews to other parts of
the Assyrian Empire. These dispersed Hebrews (the "ten lost tribes") merged with
neighboring peoples and gradually lost their identity. Eventually the Assyrian
Empire fell to a coalition of Medes and Chaldeans (Neo-Babylonians) in the late
seventh century. About 2500 BC Sargon the Great made war on the Sumerians,
won and made everybody pay tribute to him. Their chief god was Assur--the
A. Tiglath Pileser I was a brutal
conqueror whose policy of deliberate terror set a pattern for later Assyrian
Shalamaneser III Assyrian king who began a new phase of expansion
marching westward into Palestine and southward into BAbylonia. From then
on there was almost continual warfare until they were conquered by the Chaldeans
(Neo Babylonians) under Nabopolasser (6250
Tiglath Pileser III was a prominent king of
8th century BC (ruled
BC).Waged military campaigns almost every year, reestablishing control over
Mesopotamia and completely subduing Palestine.
Sargon II ruled from 722-755. He fought the
Medes and made war on the Egyptian pharaoh. His army had archers, foot
soldiers, shield-bearing spearsmen and horse-drawn charioteers. If they
had to cross a river they used an animal skin that he could fill with air and
use as a life preserver. His capitol was Ninevah.
--Because his lands were so vulnerable to attack fighting became a way of life
for the Assyrians. Ashurbanipal established a standing army.
Reigned from 668 to 626 B.C. He is best known for
amassing a library of literary texts including an epic of creation, the
Flood and others. Modern
scholars have reason to be grateful to Ashurbanipal because he was a lover of
learning and collected a great library of cuneiform
clay tablets (over
22,000 in number) that have given to us most of what we know of Babylonian and
Assyrian literature. In Ezra 4:10, his name is also rendered "Asnapper" or "Osnapper".
He was the king who believed in God through
Prophet Jonah, and spared his life and the life of Ninevites. He abandoned his
glory, dignity, and greatness and humbled him self and fasted to please the God
who never worshiped before.
Sennacherib . When the Assyrian
king Sennacherib, in about 700 B.C., led his army to Egypt, it camped at
Pelusium. The pharaoh did not have a working army at the time, but the god Ptah
advised him to draft the shopkeepers, craftsmen and market workers. The pharaoh
did so and led them to Pelusium where the two sides camped for the night. In the
morning the Assyrian camp discovered rodents had destroyed their leather
weapons. Not only were their weapons useless, but rodents meant plague, and so
the Assyrians fled, with the Egyptians pursuing.
Sennacherib who made Nineveh
a truly magnificent city (c. 700 BC). He made sure there would be a water
supply for the city of Nineveh. He guilt a series of huge water
conductors, or conduits, and aqueducts that carried water for more than thirty
miles from the mountains in the north.
C. Military Machine-- Iron weapons,
activities of terror, superior, diversified tactics and ruthless leaders helped
make Assyria an efficient military machine. The
Assyrian army was able to conquer and maintain an empire due to its ability
to use diversified military tactics. The Assyrians' use of terror tactics
and atrocities especially targeted inhabitants of the empire who rebelled
against Assyrian rule.
D. Society and Culture
In Assyria, the king's power was absolute;
they were the vicars of the Assyrian god Ashur. Assyrian society was well known
for its assimilation of other cultures and development of a polyglot society.
Language, religious practices, the king and the army were all unifying forces in
Assyrian society. Mainly agricultural. Religion was a cohesive
force. Strongly masculine world where discipline, brute force and
toughness are the enduring values..the values of the Assyrian military monarchy.
1. Free and Non-free
2. Agriculture and Trade
a. Agriculture based on farming villages was the principal economic basis
of Assyrian society.
Relief Sculpture--Assyrian art was
primarily concerned with glorifying the king, hunting and war.
IV. Neo-Babylonian Empire--The most tolerant and efficient of the Near
Eastern empires was the Persian.
A. Nebuchadnezzar II--acnieved the final
defeat of the Assyrian empire, defeated Egypt to gain control of Syria and
Palestine, destroyed Jeruselem, carried the people of Judah into exile into
The Bible records that it was Nebuchadnezzar who destroyed Jerusalem, brought
the kingdom of Judah to an end, and carried off the Jews into exile.
B. Grand City of Babylon--King
Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon dedicated the great Ishtar Gate to the goddess
Ishtar. It was the main entrance into Babylon. King Nebuchadnezzar II performed
elaborate building projects in Babylon around 604-562 BC. His goal was to
beautify his capital. He restored the temple of Marduk, the chief god, and also
built himself a magnificent palace with the famous Hanging Gardens, which was
reported by the Greek historian Herodotus to have been one of the wonders of the
world. Babylon was the cite of the second Hebrew captivity.
V. Persian Empire--The Persian professional
army was very large compared to other ancient armies and relied upon
A. Cyrus the Great--Founder
of the Persian Empire and a member of the Achaemenid dynasty. He founded Persia
by uniting the two original Iranian Tribes- the Medes and the Persians. Although
he was known to be a great conqueror, who at one point controlled one of the
greatest Empires ever seen, he is best remembered for his unprecedented
tolerance and magnanimous He was the Persian king who brought most of the near
east under one government, a man whose mercy to conquered peoples earned him
widespread respect and gave him in history the title "Cyrus the Great."
When he conquered Babylon, he did so to cheers from the Jewish Community, who
welcomed him as a liberator- he allowed the Jews to return to the promised Land.
Dashing Persian Army
I. Control of Media
2. Conquest of Lydia
3. Victory over Babylon
4. Freedom for the Hebrews
B. Expanding the Persian Empire
Persian conqueror of Egypt
Later Cambyses used another animal trick to take
Pelusium and Egypt from the Egyptians. In front of his troops he put up a shield
of animals worshiped by the Egyptians, including cats and ibexes. The Egyptians
backed down and were defeated.
Darius replaced Susa
as capital with Persepolis
Darius was not merely an administrator and, after
curbing several rebellions in various parts of the empire during his first year
in power, he also continued the politic of expansion of his ancestors, toward
the east in India, as well as toward the west and Europe, starting with Thracia.
In 499, some
Ionian Greek cities of the satrapy of
Lydia, under the
leadership of Aristagoras of
against the Persians and set fire to
Sardis. It was not
until 494, with
the naval victory of the Persian fleet at Lade, off the shores of Miletus, and
the recapture of Miletus, that the rebellion was completely curbed. Having thus
subdued the Ionian Greeks, Darius set out to conquer the rest of Greece, which
led to the first Persian War. But his troops were stopped by the Athenians at
the battle of
Marathon in 490
102-120). It was left to his son
Xerxes to lead a
second attempt in 480,
with no more success (2nd Persian War).
The "kings eye" was an official who made annual
inspections of each satrapy.
Coins in Lydia
3. Confrontation with the Greeks--The
historian of the Persian wars was Herodotus.
Governing the Empire
Satrapies were administrative divisions of the Persian Empire, organized to
solve local problems but subservient to the central government, inspected by
visitors called "the king's eyes."
Communication and Transportation
D. Persian Religion
Zoroaster and Zoroastrianism
Zoroaster was the semi-legendary founder of Persia's most influential religion,
which emphasized an ongoing struggle between good and bad divinities.
Zoroastrianism stressed the free will and power of humans to choose between good
and evil. The central sacred text of Zoroastrianism is Zend
Avesta. In Zoroastrianism the evil spirit was known as Ahriman.
The sun god, who became a helper of Ahuramazda and later, in Roman times, the
source of another religion was Mithra.
Dualism: Ahuramazda and Abriman Ahuramazda was the true or good god of
Zoroastrianism, the opponent of the evil god Ahriman, the eventual victor in the
battle for supremacy, the final judge of men. Those who had performed good
deeds would achieve paradise "the House of Song" "the Kingdom of Good
Mithra and Mithraism
5. Hebrew Bible
6. the Exodus
11. the Temple
14. the Pentateuch
16. the Divided Kingdom
17. the Assyrians and the kingdom of Israel
18. Babylonian captivity of the Jews
19. the covenant
21. Byblos, Tyre, and Sidon
22. Phoenician alphabet
24. Tiglath-Pileser I
25. Ashurbanipal and Sennacherib
26. Nimrud and Nineveh
28. Chaldeans and Medes
29. Neo-Babylonian Empire
30. Nebuchadnezzar II
31. Hanging Gardens of Babylon
33. Archaemenid dynasty
34. Ishtar Gate
35. Cyrus the Great
37. Cambyses II
39. Susa and Persepolis
41. the Royal Road
42. the "king's eye"
46. the Zend Avesta
48. the House of Song