From Neo-Assyrian to Persian Empires

The Neo-Assyrian Empire (911-612 BCE) is remembered for the brutal and efficient manner in which it conquered its foes, often using mass deportation to remove conquered people to different and unfamiliar parts of their empire, using these subject peoples as everything raging from agricultural slaves to soldiers and charioteers.

Map of Assyria and phases of expansion By Ningyou [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Map of Assyria and phases of expansion By Ningyou [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Grisly Assyrian Record of Torture and Death by Erika Belibtreu
[This is a secondary source examining Neo-Assyrian methods of torture and coercion in their conquests. It is in PDF format and not hosted locally.]

One of the most historically prominent (largely due to its recording in the Hebrew scriptures) is the conquest of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah by the Neo-Assyrians (and others).

After the fall of the Neo-Assyrian empire in 612 BCE, a new power, eventually known as the Persians, would arise. Cyrus the Great, first ruler of the Achaemenid dynasty, would astound the world by returning various subject peoples from their exiles. The Israelites were one group he freed.

Different accounts of Cyrus freeing the Jews

[Hosted at Fordham University]

Questions for consideration:

  1. evaluate the sources used in Belibtreu’s analysis. Do her conclusions seem justified by the evidence?
  2. what similarities and difference exist between the two accounts of Cyrus (Kurash) freeing the Jews? Provide specific examples.