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The Rod Of Mine Anger

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            More than 24,600,000 people live in modern day Iraq.[1] The Tigris and Euphrates flow through central the central plane creating a wonderful place for agricultural. The land between these two rivers for centuries has been called Mesopotamia (Greek, “between the rivers”).[2] This fertile plain is where the earliest urban civilizations developed. From this condensed area came the world powers of the ancient world including: Assyria (911 – 612 BC), Babylon (612 – 538 BC), Greece (334 – 160 BC), Maccabees (166 – 40 BC), and eventually the Roman Empire took over this area and appointed Herod the Great to the throne in 37 BC. Assyria, the first major power to dominate served as the “rod of God’s anger”.[3]

            As a nation Assyria’s roots go back to the city of Ashur built by Shem’s son Asshur (ash’әr).[4] It is believed that Asshur’s decedents even worshiped him as a God.[5] Ham’s grandson Nimrod organized the building of the city of Nineveh (nin’ ә-ve) and it eventually became the capital city of Assyria.[6] The nation struggled rising to power as they were constantly engaged in conflict with Babylon, Sumer, and Akkad which were also trying to establish themselves as civilizations. Finally, after a period of being diminished to a vassal state of Babylon, Adad-nirari I established himself as a ‘Great-

King” (Sharru rabû).[7] Shalmaneser I suceeded him and managed to defeat the Babylonians and expand to the north at the expence of the Hitites.

            The Hitites sriviled to almost nothing when Shalmaneser defeated them at the battle of Nihriya.The Assyrians were on the rise to their first zenith of power. [8] After the death of Shalmaneser I his son Tukulti-Ninurta I continued to gain power and defeated the Kassite king and seize the rival city of Babylon.[9] His son Ashur-nadin-apli failed to continue his fathers legacy. His rule weakened the kingdom and soon after his son Ashur-nirari III became king he was defeated by the king of Babylon.

            Assyria’s next great rise of power would not occur until Tiglath-pileser I takes the throne. The long period between Tukulti-Ninurta I and Tiglath-pileser I allowed Israel to develop as a nation. David and Soloman were able to build Israel to a mighty nation while Assyria, Egypt, and Babylon were weak. God raised up Tiglath-pileser I to punish Israel for their sin and as soon as he died Assyria loss its power as a nation once again.[10]

            Assyrians are commonly concidered to be the crulest of all the ancient powers. But according to Howard Vos “they just kept better records of their actions.”[11]

 He goes on to say that the Egyptians and Hebrews have record of some cruel treatment of enemies as well. Weather or not the Assyrians were the crulest of all the nations around them they used crulity as a form of physological warfare and propaganda. They sucessfuly put fear into the hearts of all the nations around them. It was important for Assyria to be feared by those nations around them because they did not have any natural boundries to protect them from enemy threats. All they could do was continue to conqure and press on to take as much land as possible.

            It was very common for a conqured people to be deported and spread throughout the Assyrian empire. This is exactly what Shalmaneser V did to the ten tribes of Israel.[12] Deportation served as a tactic to expand their empire. The Assyrians treated their captives suprizangly well. They wanted the captives to be productive workers in their society and so they settled deportees in places where their skills could be put to good use. Profosser Saggs even claims that they provided ample food, water, clothing, and animals for the long deportation journey.[13] He goes on to sugest that the family unites were even allowed to stay together. The deportation also served as a method of taking away the national pride of the captives.

            When God was finished with Assyria He allowed them to fade of the scene. Sennacherib attempted to distroy Judah, but because of God’s servant Hezikaih’s faith Sennacherib’s army died at the hand of the Angel of God. He returned to Assyria a discrace and his own sons murdered him. With the army weakened and no longer strong enough to defend the empire the Chaldeans, Meads, and the Scythians were able to take down the mighty empire. Eventualy the Babylonian empire absorbed Assyria into itself.

            God’s rod of his anger, Assyria, fulfilled God’s purpose. When God needed Assyria to punish Israel he rasied them up to do it. But, when He wanted Israel to be blessed God put Assyria back in their cage. The mighty Assyrian empire was nothing more than a rod in the hand of the almighty God.


[1] © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Assyria

[2] © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Assyria

[3] Isaiah 5:10 O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation.

[4] This is according to Judeo-Christian traditions. (

[5] Jerry H. Ph.D. The History of the World in Christian Perspective. Vol. 1 (Pensacola, Florida: A Beka Book Publications, 1992) , 123

[6] Ibid. 123

[7] (

[8] (C. 1300 BC)

[9] (

[10] The History of the World in Christian Perspective. Vol. 1, 123.

[11] Howard F. Vos. Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Manners & Customs: How the People of the Bible Really Lived (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999) , 260.

[12] The History of the World in Christian Perspective. Vol. 1, 124.

[13] H. W. F. Staggs, The Might That Was Assyria (London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1984), 263.

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