The Assyrian Empire
884 to 612 B.C. (272 years)
During its period of empire Assyria, which was founded by colonists from Babylon, became the most powerful nation on earth. At one time the empire encompassed 540,543 square miles (1.4 million square kilometers) of land. Some scholars regard the Assyrians as the first real empire in human history. It was they, under King Shalmaneser V, who in 723 B.C. conquered Samaria and carried away captive the northern tribes of Israel (also known as the lost ten tribes of Israel).
Assyria's interactions with Ancient Israel and Judah
King Shalmaneser III (859 - 824 B.C.)
Shalmaneser III was the first king of Assyria to come in conflict with Israel. Israel's King Ahab (874-853 B.C.), with a confederation of princes, fought against him at the battle of Qarqar in 853 B.C. King Jehu of Israel (841-814 B.C.) began to pay tribute money to Shalmaneser in 841 B.C.
It is believed that the earliest preserved depiction of an Israelite is that of King Jehu. The King appears on a black limestone obelisk (c. 825 B.C.) from Nimrud commemorating the deeds of Shalmaneser III. Jehu is shown, in front of Shalmaneser, kissing the ground. Inscriptions on the Obelisk state that the Israelite King cut his ties with the Kingdoms of Judah and Phoenicia and became subject to the Assyrians.
King Tiglath-pileser III (745 - 727 B.C.)
Menahem, King of Israel (752-742 B.C.), paid the king one thousand talents (75,000 U.S. pounds or 34,300 kilograms) of silver to not come up against him (2Kings 15:19). King Ahaz of Judah (735-715 B.C.) not only paid tribute to Tiglath-pileser, but also pleaded to Assyria's king to "Come up and save me from the hand of the king of Syria and from the hand of the king of Israel, who rise up against me." (2Kings 16:7). Tiglath-pileser responded by attacking Damascus and executing its king in 732 B.C.
King Shalmaneser V (727 - 722 B.C.)
Conquers Samaria, which is Israel's (northern ten tribes) capital, in 723 B.C. Takes Israelites as captives to Assyria.
King Sennacherib (705 - 681 B.C.)
In 701 B.C. Sennacherib threatened to destroy Jerusalem. God responded by sending the Angel of the Lord, who killed 185,000 troops as they prepared to enter the city (2Kings 18-19, Isaiah 37:33-38).
King Esarhaddon (681 - 669 B.C.)
Manasseh, King of Judah (696-642 B.C.), paid tribute money to Esarhaddon.
King Ashurbanipal (669 - 633 B.C.)
Manasseh, King of Judah, paid tribute to Ashurbanipal. King Manasseh was also taken, in shackles, to Babylon by either King Esarhaddon or Ashurbanipal (see 2 Chronicles 33).
The Babylonian Empire
612 to 539 B.C. (73 years)
Babylon was the power that conquered Assyria. In its westward sweep the empire destroyed Judah and conquered Egypt. At one time the empire controlled 193,051 square miles (500,000 square kilometers) of land. King Nebuchadnezzar (605 - 562 B.C.) is considered the greatest of all Babylonian Kings.
The prophet Isaiah sang of the fall of Babylon one-hundred years BEFORE its rise to power in 612 B.C. (Isaiah 13:1, 13:19, 14:22). Babylon's splendor as the Queen city, the "glory of kingdoms" and "the city of gold" (Isaiah 13:19, 14:4) was clearly envisioned. Babylon's fall is pictured in detail, naming the unknown Medes as destroyers of Babylon (Isaiah 13:17-19).
Babylon's interactions with Ancient Judah
King Nebuchadnezzar (605 - 562 B.C.)
In 605 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar made his first attack of Jerusalem during the reign of Judah's King Jehoiakim (2Chronicles 36:7). The prophet Daniel and his companions were taken captive.
In 597 B.C. the king of Babylon came up again against Jerusalem during the reign of Judah's King Jehoiachin (2Chronicles 36:10). Jehoiachin was captured and taken captive to Babylon, as well as the prophet Ezekiel and others. Nebuchadnezzar sets up Zedekiah as the new King of Judah.
In 586 B.C. Jerusalem is attacked a third time by Nebuchadnezzar, this time during the reign of Judah's puppet king Zedekiah. The Babylonians burn Jerusalem's temple, destroy the city and carry all the temple's treasures to Babylon.