Empires and Ancient Israel

The Assyrian Empire

A number of Assyrian kings mention contact with Hebrew kings. Kings of Judah mentioned in records include Azariah, Ahaz and Hezekiah. Kings of Israel (northern ten tribes) mentioned include Omri, Ahab, Jehu, Menahem, Pekah and Hoshea. It was the Assyrian empire, under King Shalmaneser V, that in 723 B.C. conquered Israel's capital of Samaria and carried away as captives to Assyria what is commonly referred to as the "Lost Ten Tribes of Israel."

King / Ruler
Events during Reign
884 - 859
Warlike and cruel. Welded Assyria into the best fighting machine of the ancient world.
859 - 824
Shalmaneser III
First Assyrian king to come in conflict with Israel. Ahab fought him. Jehu paid tribute to him.
824 - 811
Shamsi-Adad V
811 - 783
Adad-nirari III
783 - 773
Shalmaneser IV
773 - 755
Assur-dayan III
755 - 745
Ashur-nirari V
Decline of empire
745 - 727
Tiglath-pileser III
"Pul" was his personal name. Menahem, King of Israel, paid tribute money to him (Isaiah 7, 2Kings 15:19, 1Chronicles 5:26)
List of prophetic
world empires
from Babylon to
the Beast Power!
Kings of Ancient Israel and Judah
What are
the greatest
Empires in History?
Map of Roman
Empire at its Peak
Map of
Persian Empire
King / Ruler
Events during Reign
Bible Reference
and Notes
727 - 722
Shalmaneser V
King conquers Samaria, Israel's (Northern Ten Tribes of Israel) capital, in 723 B.C. The Israelites are taken out of the land of Palestine and transported to Assyria.
722 - 705
Sargon II
2Kings 17:5. Massive deportation of people who refuse to be good vassals.
705 - 681
Most famous of Assyrian kings. Burned Babylon (2Chronicles 32)
Defeated by an angel before entering Jerusalem. (Isaiah 37:33-38)
681 - 669
Rebuilt Babylon. Conquered Egypt. Was one of the greatest of Assyrian kings.
Isaiah 37:38. Manasseh, King of Judah, paid tribute to Esarhaddon.
669 - 633
Last great king of the empire. Collected a great library. Powerful and cruel.
Nahum 3:8 mentions No-Amon, Thebes and the Nile. Ezra 4:10 refers to king as Asnappar. Manasseh, King of Judah, paid tribute to Ashurbanipal.
Fall of Nineveh
Assyrian empire comes to an end.

The Neo-Babylonian Empire

The Empire's capital was in Babylon. In Isaiah's time Assyria was the dominant power of the world. Babylon was a dependency of Assyria. Babylon rose to world power status and then fell in 539 B.C. Isaiah sang of the Fall of Babylon one-hundred years BEFORE its rise in 612 B.C. (Isaiah 13:1, 13:19, 14:22). Babylon's splendor as the Queen city of the pre-Christian world, the "glory of kingdoms" and "the city of gold" (Isaiah 13:19, 14:4) was clearly envisioned. Babylon's fall is also pictured in detail, naming the unknown Medes as destroyers of Babylon. (Isaiah 13:17-19).

King / Ruler
Events during Reign
Bible Reference
and Notes
625 - 605
Viceroy of Babylon, threw off the yoke of Assyria and established the independence of Babylon.
Destroyed Nineveh with Cyaxeres the Mede in 612 B.C. (Nahum, Isaiah 13-14).
605 - 562
Greatest of all Babylonian Kings, he extends the power of Babylon over the then known world. Jerusalem falls at the hands of King Nebuchadnezzar in 597 B.C. He captures Judah's King Jehoiachin, who as prisoner, is taken to Babylon.

Nebuchadnezzar sets up Zedekiah as new King of Judah. The Jews, including the prophets Daniel and Ezekiel, are taken into captivity. King Zedekiah sits on the throne for eleven years before Nebuchadnezzar returns to destroy both the city of Jerusalem and its temple in 586 B.C.
2Kings 24-25 and book of Daniel. Daniel became one of chief advisers. His influence probably eased the lot of Jewish captives.
561 - 560
2Kings 25:27-30;
Jeremiah 52:31-34.
559 - 556
Jeremiah 39:3, 13.
555 - 539
The last king of the Babylonian empire. Nabonidus fights then surrenders to Cyrus of Persia in October 539 B.C.
553 - 539
Son of Nabonidus and co-regent with his father. His responsibility was to defend the city of Babylon.
Saw God's handwriting on the wall during a feast (Daniel 5). .
Babylon, oppressor of God's Old Testament people, gave its name to the Apostate Church.
Revelation 17

The Persian Empire

The Persian Empire, often called the Medo-Persian Empire, was the second great world empire represented in the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2) of Babylon. It was the LARGEST empire in ancient history in terms of total land controlled. Persia itself was the mountainous plateau east of the lower end of the Euphrates-Tigris River Valley and its empire extending eastward into India and reached westward to Greece. Its capitals were Persepolis and Susa, with its kings sometimes residing at Babylon. One of the first acts of the first Persian king, Cyrus, who was a "singularly noble and just monarch," was to authorize the return of the Jews to Jerusalem and to their own land (2Chronicles 36:22-23).

King / Ruler
Events during Reign
Bible Reference
and Notes
559 - 530
Cyrus the GreatConsidered first true king of the Persian empire. Conquered the Median Empire in 549 B.C. and the Babylonian empire in 539 B.C.
Cyrus issued decree to allow Jews to return to Jerusalem and conquered Babylon more than 150 years AFTER it was prophesied by Isaiah (Isaiah 44:28; 45:1; Ezra 1:1-4, 2; 2Chronicles 36:22-23).
536 - 534
Darius the Mede
(Probably Cyaxares II, Astiages, last king of the Medes)
Although not a King of the empire, Darius received the kingdom of Babylon as viceroy from Cyrus when he was 62 years old (Daniel 5:31).
Mentioned in Daniel 6:1, 9:1, 11:1. Cyrus is a nephew of Darius married to Darius daughter. Darius was probably a title.
529 - 522
Cambyses II
Son of Cyrus the Great and second king of the empire. Conquered Egypt.
Ezra 4:7, 11, 23. It is thought to have been this king who stopped work on the Temple.
521 - 486
Darius I the Great (Hystaspes)
Third king of the Persian Empire. Put down Smerdis insurrection. Authorized completion of Temple. Made "Behistun" inscription.
Temple at Jerusalem resumes and is completed. (Ezra 6:15)
485 - 465
Xerxes I
Warred against Greece
464 - 424
Artaxerxes I
Favorable to Jerusalem, authorized Nehemiah his cupbearer to rebuild Jerusalem.
423 - 405
Darius II Nothius
(The Persian)
Nehemiah 12:22
404 - 359
Artaxerxes II
 Longest reigning of all the Persian kings.  
358 - 338
Artaxerxes III
337 - 336
Artaxerxes IV Arses
336 - 330
Darius III (Codomannus).
Last King of Persia
Defeated by Alexander the Great in 331 B.C. at the famous battle of Arbela near the site of Nineveh.
Fall of Persia.
Rise of Greece.
Empire passed from Asia to Europe.

The Empire of Alexander the Great (Macedonian Empire)

Alexander the Great (356 - 323 B.C.) never lost a battle and is one of the most successful military commanders in history. At the height of his power Alexander controlled 2.01 million square miles (5.2 million square kilometers) of territory and conquered most of the known world. His titles included King of Macedon, Hegemon of the Hellenic League, Shahanshah (King of Kings) of Persia, Pharaoh of Egypt and Lord of Asia. The prophet Daniel predicted the rise of the Macedonian empire, its military success and enormous power (Daniel 8, 11).

King / Ruler
Events during Reign
Bible Reference
and Notes
336 Alexander
the Great
 Assumes the throne after his father is assassinated. The rise of the kingdom of Greece is foretold is Daniel 8:21-22.
335   Suppresses several Grecian revolts.  
332   The city of Tyre is attacked and conquered by Alexander. He kills all the men of military age and sells the women and children into slavery. He also assumes control of Egypt.  
331   Defeats King Darius III of Persia at the battle of Arbela. Persia falls. Alexander captures Babylon.  
327 - 325   Conquers parts of India and Pakistan.  
323   Alexander dies in Babylon at the age of 32. His empire is eventually divided among his four generals:

Ptolemy I: Took possession of Egypt and declared himself Pharaoh.

Antipater: Assumed the government of Macedon (Macedonia) and control of the western part of the empire.

Seleucus: Took over Babylon, Syria, Mesopotamia and adjacent areas.

Antigonus: Declared himself king of Asia Minor.

 Daniel 11:3-4 prophecied that Alexander's kingdom would not go to his posterity but would be broken up into four pieces and given to others.
Additional Study Materials
Empire of
Alexander the Great
Ancient Near East Empires
(Assyrian, Egyptian, Hittite)
Parthian Empire
at its greatest extent

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