Fall of Nineveh
Ancient Nineveh
      Nineveh, that great city of the Assyrian Empire and a bitter enemy of Israel, was spoken against by the prophet Nahum. God gave the following words to Nahum of how the city would meet its destruction.
      “But with an overflowing flood He will make an utter end of its place, And darkness will pursue His enemies. What do you conspire against the Lord? He will make an utter end of it. Affliction will not rise up a second time. For while tangled like thorns, and while drunken like drunkards, they shall be devoured like stubble fully dried. From you comes forth one Who plots evil against the Lord, a wicked counselor. Thus says the Lord: “Though they are safe, and likewise many, Yet in this manner they will be cut down when he passes through. Though I have afflicted you, I will afflict you no more; For now I will break off his yoke from you, And burst your bonds apart.” The Lord has given a command concerning you: “Your name shall be perpetuated no longer. Out of the house of your gods I will cut off the carved image and the molded image. I will dig your grave, For you are vile.” . . .  The shield of his mighty men are made red, the valiant men are in scarlet.  . . .  They make haste to her walls. And the defense is prepared. The gates of the rivers are opened and the palace is dissolved.  . . . Take spoil of silver! Spoil of Gold! There is no end of treasure . . . she is empty desolate and laid waste!  . . .  You also will be drunk .  .  . You will seek refuge from the enemy. All your strongholds are like fig trees with ripened figs. If they are shaken, they fall into the mouth of the eater . . .  Draw water for the siege, fortify your strongholds. Go into the clay and tread the mortar! Make strong the brick kiln! There the fire will devour you . . .  Your commanders are like swarming locusts, And your generals are like grasshoppers . . . When the sun arises they flee away. And the place where they flee is not known.” Nahum 1:1-3:17
      The first part of this prophecy deals with the fact that the Lord was going to bring judgement to the city under eight circumstances.
       First, it would happen when they are drunken like drunkards.Second, Nineveh’s valiant warriors would be bathed in blood. Third they would seek refuge inside the clay walls of Nineveh and be put under siege. Fourth, God was going to bring an overflowing flood from the rivers to bring down the great city. Fifth, fire would devour the city. Sixth, the Assyrian generals and commanders would escape and flee the city to another place. Seventh, the city of Nineveh would be looted of it's silver and gold, And eighth, the city would be laid waste.  
       First of all, the story of God's promised judgement against Nineveh really had its roots way back during the time of Jonah. God almost brought judgement against Assyria at that time because of their violent and blood thirsty nature. But God sent Jonah to them preaching pending doom if they did not repent. And indeed, the Assyrians did repent, so God held back his hand of judgement against the city.
       But Assyria would eventually once again inflict great violence on all the surrounding peoples, which would reach its climax with the last king of Assyria.
      One of the things that the kings of Assyria were fixated on was making sure Nineveh was an impenetrable fortress. You can see this in Nahum's prophecy which says: "fortify your strongholds. Go into the clay and tread the mortar! Make strong the brick kiln!"
      Now, the Assyrian kings fortified the great walls of Nineveh, and although very great in height and width, its foundation and its mud brick walls were susceptible to the forces of water. And we know this was true from Nineveh’s history. For example, the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal, who reigned only 50 years before the fall of Nineveh, had to rebuild the cities walls that his grand father, Sennacherib, had built. Heavy rains occurred during his reign and were washing the walls out. In one of his inscriptions he stated: 'At that time the citadel wall on Nineveh which Sennacherib, king of Assyria, my father's father, had built, of which the foundation had shifted and the battlements fallen because of abundant rains and mighty storms that Adad had rained on my land yearly during my rule, that the wall had grown old, and its base ruined, I cleared away it's debris, reaching its footings . . .  with mountain stone I reinforced its foundation. I made the wall [higher?] than it was before . . . from it's base to its top I repaired it completely. I made its foundation stronger than it was earlier. I wrote an inscription with my name and to the praise of my valor, how I passed through the lands and established my power and authority, with the aid of (my gods) Ashur, Sin, Shamash, Bel, Nebu, Ishtar of Nineveh, Ishtar of Arbail, Ninurta, Nergal, and left it for days to come. Let a latter prince among the kings of my sons, grandsons and descendants, whom Assur and Ishtar shall nominate to rule the land and the people, restore this wall when it has grown old and ruined."
       Notice that Ashurbanipal realized that a future king would probably have to repair the wall when it would become ruined, for he knew how the force of water had affected the previous wall.      
      Now, is there any record of these things happening at the fall of Nineveh? Oh yes indeed there is. One possible account  comes from the Greek historian Diodorus Siculus who compiled a general history from creation to his present time composed from what previous writers of history had said. And although certain parts of his world history are suspect because of his inclusion of some mythological accounts, others parts of his history have been proven accurate.
        He is the only early historian’s work we have that gives an in-depth account of the fall of Nineveh. In his work entitled ‘Library of History’ he mentions six of Nahum’s prophecy being fulfilled.
       First, Nineveh's downfall began with its great army being totally wiped out because they were drunken.
       Second, their army would be bathed in blood.
      Third, the Assyrians would seek refuge in the city of Nineveh and by placed under siege.
      Fourth, that a prophecy had been given that Nineveh would not fall until the river became the city's enemy, and indeed that's just what happened.
      Fifth, the place of Nineveh and its king would be destroyed by flames.
      Sixth, Nineveh’s gold and silver would be carried off.
        The account of Diodorus Siculus, in his work ‘Library of History,’ concerning the fall of Nineveh is as follows:
       “The King of Assyria had become overjoyed with his past victories, so he began a celebration for his soldiers serving them with great quantities of wine and other provisions. Learning that the army was drunken and relaxed, the Medes quickly attacked their camp by the cover of night catching them off-guard.”
      After slaying many of the soldiers, they pursued the rest of them as far as the city .  . . The rebels then massed their forces on the plains before the city and defeated the Assyrians in two battles . . . some Assyrians were cut down while fleeing, while others, who had been shut out from entering the city, were forced to leap into the Euphrates river. They were destroyed almost to a man. So great was the slaughter that the water mingled with blood and could be seen for a great distance. Furthermore, now that the Assyrian king was shut up in the city (of Nineveh) and surrounded, many of the nations revolted, each of them going over to the side giving freedom from his rule.
       They were destroyed almost to a man. So great was the slaughter that the water mingled with blood and could be seen in the river for a great distance. Furthermore, now that the Assyrian king was shut up in the city and surrounded, many of the nations revolted, each of them going over to the side of freedom from his rule. . . . "Now there was a prophecy which had been handed down to him from his ancestors that "No enemy will ever take Nineveh by storm unless the river shall first become the city's enemy." Assuming, therefore, that this would never be, he held out hope, his thought being to endure the siege and await troops which he hoped would be sent from his subjects  . . . The inhabitants of the city had a great abundance of all provisions, since the king had made plans for this situation. Consequently the siege dragged on.  . . .  But in the third year, after there had been heavy and continuous rains. it came to pass that the Euphrates running very full, inundated a portion of the city and broke down the walls for a distance of 20 stades (approximately 2 1/4 miles.) At this the king, believing that the prophecy was fulfilled and that the river had plainly become the city's enemy, abandoned all hope of saving himself. And in order that he might not fall into the hands of the enemy, he built an enormous pyre in his palace . . . he consigned . . . himself and his palace to flames. . . . the silver and gold was carried off.” The rebels, on learning of the death of the king, took the city by forcing an entrance where the wall had fallen.” Diodorus Siculus - Book II.
Battle of Nineveh
      Confirmation of Nineveh’s destruction by flood, fire, and its total desolation was confirmed by archaeologist Austen Henry Layard who wrote in Chapter 13 of his work ‘Discoveries at Nineveh’:
      “The palace had been destroyed by fire. The alabaster slabs were almost reduced to lime, and many of them fell to pieces as soon as uncovered. The places, which others had occupied, could only be traced by a thin white deposit, like a coat of plaster, left by the burnt alabaster upon the wall of sun-dried bricks”.
      "This was the extent of my discoveries at Kouyunjik (Nineveh). From the dimensions of some of the halls, it is evident that the ruins are those of a building of great extent and magnificence. The mound upon which it stood was once washed by the river . . . Nineveh the wonder of the ancient world, and her fall, the theme of the prophets, is the signal most instance of divine vengeance. Without the evidence that these monuments afford, we might have doubted that the great Nineveh ever existed, so completely "has she become a desolation and a waste."
      Another artifact known as the Babylonian Chronicle from Nabopolassar, the king of Babylon, also records the fall of Nineveh:
       “In the fourteenth year of Nabopolassar, the king of Akkad called up his army. Cyaxares, the king of the Manda-hordes (the Medes), also marched out to meet the king of Akkad . . . and they joined forces . . . They marched on the banks of the Tigris river and laid siege to Nineveh . . . Three battles were fought, then they made a great attack against the city . . . and the city was turned into a pile of rubble . . . but the army of Assyria escaped . . . Ashuruballit . . . became the new king of Assyria and reigned in Harran.”  ANET 304-305  
      This confirms the following passages in Nahum that the city of Nineveh would be laid waste, but the army of Assyria would flee to another city:
      “It shall come to pass that all who look upon you will flee from you, and say, ‘Nineveh is laid waste!” . . . Draw your water for the siege . . . There the fire will devour you . . . Your commanders are like swarming locusts, And your generals are like grasshoppers . . . When the sun arises they flee away. And the place where they flee is not known.  Nahum 3:7-17
      And thus with the seemingly invincible pride of a lion, Assyria meets her end as recorded by the prophet Zephaniah:
       “This is the carefree city that lived in safety. She said of herself’ I am, and there is none beside me.” What a ruin she has become.”  Zephaniah 2:15
 
      Assyria didn’t realize that the great I AM can humble even the most mightiest of men and nations.
 
THE GREATEST WORDS SPOKEN BY NAHUM:
 
      “The Lord is slow to anger and great in power; the Lord will not at all acquit the wicked . . . The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him.”  Nahum 1:3,1:7
 
THE GREATEST WORDS SPOKEN ABOUT NINEVEH:
 
      "For as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation . . . "The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here."
                                                    Luke 11:30-32
 
      This one, who is known as being greater then Jonah, is Jesus Christ the Lord. God said of Him “This is my beloved Son, Listen to Him.”
      This article is a chapter from our 3 volume book series "Bible Believer's Archaeology" which can be downloaded for your ebook reader by visiting our resource download page by Clicking Here.
ARTIFACT LINKS
Fall of Nineveh
British Museum BM21901
Ashurbanipal Wall Repair
British Museum  127887
127916, 128296
Sources:
 
Artwork: The city of Nineveh from ‘Library of Universal History Vol .01' (1898) Author: Clare, Israel Smith, Publisher Union Book Company.
 
Artwork: Soldiers storming the Gate of Nineveh from ‘Library of Universal History Vol. 01' (1898) Author: Clare, Israel Smith, Publisher Union Book Company.
 
Greek Historian Diodorus Siculus Book II chapters 26 & 27:        
Loeb Classical Library; Translated by C. H. Oldfather
ISBN 0-674-99307-1  Account of fall of Nineveh pg. 425-445.      
Mention of the Herodotus account of the Medes conquering the Assyrians. Pg. 457
 
Fragments of Historical Texts from Nineveh: Ashurbanipal  pg. 105
Nineveh wall repair A. R. Millard Iraq  -  Vol. 30, No. 1 (Spring, 1968), pp. 98-111 Published by: British Institute for the Study of Iraq.
Plate XXII Lines 64-77  BM127840  Nineveh Wall repair due to heavy rains.
Plate XXII Lines 66-78  BM127916 Nineveh wall repair due to heavy rains combined with BM128296 =  tablet picture BM127887 located at the British Museum.
 
Babylonian Chronicle (British Museum #BM21901) from the twelfth to fourteenth year of Nabopolassar king of Babylon, also records the fall of Nineveh:
 
Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament with Supplement, Author: James Pritchard ISBN: 0691035032 Third edition 1969.
pg. 304-305 - Twelth-fourteenth year of  the king of Akkad records the siege and fall of Nineveh.
 
“Discoveries at Nineveh - Chapter13: Austen Henry Layard 1854
Accounts that the palace of Nineveh was destroyed by fire.
 
Herodotus: Book1 (106): mentions the Medes taking Assyria and Nineveh. Herodotus also mentions that he would write in detail as to the fall of Nineveh in future History of his yet to be written. Whether or not he actually did write such an account is uncertain since no history of his has yet to be found describing Nineveh's fall in detail. But it is possible that Diodorus Siculus may have drawn on his Nineveh account since Siculus was familiar with Herodotus writings. Diodorus states in book 2 of his history: “Now Herodotus, who lived in the time of Xerses, gives this account, “After the Assyrians had ruled Asia for five hundred years they were conquered by the Medes.”  
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