8-1 The Assyrian
and Babylonian Invasions: Introduction
Assyria and Babylon
were empires based on the fertile crescent, formed by the Tigris and Euphrates
rivers. Assur, the early capital of Assyria, was only 200
miles away from Babylon. In many ways Babylon was a reformation
and continuation of the Assyrian empire: " The land of
the Chaldeans; this people was not, till the Assyrian founded it"
(Is. 23:13). The many similarities between them have been
catalogued elsewhere, along with conclusive evidence of the way in which
'Assyria' and 'Babylon' are used interchangeably in Scripture.
Both of them fall broadly within the boundaries of the land promised to
Abraham (Tigris is to the east of Assyria, Gen. 2:14), making them
" kings of the earth (land)" which we have identified with the
present Arab nations. As the major aggressors towards Israel
in Bible times, they must have much to teach us concerning the latter-day
Arab invasion. We have explained in an appendix how ‘Babylon’ may well
be revived in the last days. Assyria trode down Judah (Is. 10:6), and
thus became the prototype for the latter day power which will tread down
Jerusalem for a short period.
areas comprise modern Iran and Iraq, although in reality they coerced,
or operated in tandem with, a number of the other smaller Arab powers
around Israel (Is. 29:7,8; 30:28; 33:3; 34:1,2;
2 Chron. 22:22; Ps. 83). Herodotus called Sennacharib "
king of the Arabians and the Assyrians" . It seems reasonable
to assume a literal geographical echo of this in the last days.
To avoid repetition, a number of points which might appear obvious
have been omitted from the analysis which follows.
The judgments to come
upon Assyria are often described in terms which connect with those to
come upon Babylon. Jer. 50:18 is explicit on this: "
I will punish the king of Babylon and his land, as I have punished the
king of Assyria" . Zeph. 2:13-15 provides a good example:
" He (God) will stretch out his hand against the north, and destroy
Assyria...flocks shall lie down in the midst of her, all the beasts of
the nations: both the cormorant and the bittern (the language of
Is. 13:21,22 about Babylon)...This is the rejoicing city that dwelt carelessly,
that said in her heart, I am, and there is none beside me: how is
she become a desolation" (cp. Is. 47:8 and Rev. 18:7 concerning Babylon).
Indeed, the entire prophecy of Nahum, which is primarily concerning the
destruction of Assyria, is shot through with Babylon language (e.g. Nah.
3:13 = Jer. 50:37; Nah. 3:1 = Rev. 18:24; Nah. 3:4 = Rev.
17:5; Nah. 3:11 = Rev. 17:6); both were to be made desolate
(Zeph. 2:13 cp. Jer. 50:3). The similarity of their judgments
would indicate that they both represent the latter-day enemies of Israel,
who are to be destroyed at the second coming.
It is also significant
that the language used of the judgment of the Arabs in the last days,
notably Babylon and Assyria, is also used concerning the punishments of
apostate Israel (see Appendix
3 for a discussion of this). This is further proof that the
wicked amongst God's people will perish with, and perhaps during, the
punishment upon the world around them. The following are a
19:8; 1 Kings 9:8
Sam. 8:8 (Moab)
from " the north"
from " the north" , Jer. 50:3
" As Babylon hath
caused the slain of Israel to fall, so at Babylon shall fall the slain
of all the earth" (Jer. 51:49).
THE ASSYRIAN INVASIONS
The Assyrian confederacy which came against
Jerusalem is described as being the foes of Israel who will be swept away
as chaff (Is. 29:5 RV). This was fulfilled in Sennacherib’s destruction
outside Jerusalem. And yet the language of being swept away as chaff refers
without doubt to the image of Dan. 2 being swept away as chaff. The conclusion
surely is that the Assyrian attack against Jerusalem, comprised as it
was of a confederacy of local Arab nations, is typical of the final destruction
of a similar confederacy by the Lord’s return.
The first mention of
the Assyrian invasions is in 2 Kings 15:19,20: " Pul (Tiglath-Pilneser?)
the king of Assyria came against the land: and Menahem gave Pul
a thousand talents of silver...Menahem exacted the money of Israel, even
of all the mighty men of wealth." This in itself would
indicate a reasonable level of prosperity within Israel, and a willingness
to buy off the invader rather than fight. It would seem that
this was the position of Israel during some periods of the Judges in relation
to the Philistines. There are several hints in the record
of Samson of Israel's willingness to placate the Philistines rather than
provoke them to direct conflict (Jud. 14:4 [Hebrew]; 15:11,12).
Both the Philistines and Assyrians became more excessive in their demands,
until they began to use direct military force to plunder Israel. The background
of 2 Kings 15 gives the picture of the Israelites as plagued by infighting
and assasinations; there is good reason to think that latter day Jewry
will also be plagued by this perennial problem. This would explain the
otherwise pointless association of the Assyrian invasion with " the
day that Ephraim departed from Judah" in Is.7:17. The new Israel,
the NT hints, will be in a similar position.
The beginning of the
holocaust to come upon Israel may well be in a similar way to which the
first Assyrian attacks were carried out against Israel. They
could slip into this position through a period of over-confidence after
a dramatic success against the Arabs, or by being duped into thinking
that the Arabs really want peace; alternatively, Israel may become so
evidently inferior militarily to the Arabs (due to their trading oil for
military hardware) that Israel resort to the use of commercial concessions
to keep the enemy at bay. We must therefore look for Israel's
present nuclear and missile capacity to be either taken out or far surpassed
by the Arabs.
The first Assyrian invasion
was confined to the Northern part of Israel (2 Kings 15:29), commented
upon in Is. 9:1 as a 'light affliction' compared to the fury of the main
invasion. The previous study of 'Gideon and Midian' has shown
how this has an application to the initial prolonged period of overrunning
the land in the future, which will lead up to the great final invasion.
The people of those
Northern areas were " carried captive to Assyria" , raising
the question of whether Jews will be literally transported out of Israel
during the future Arab domination. Modern Arab leaders being
so eager to replicate the actions of their historical heroes like Sennacherib
and Nebuchadnezzar, it is within the bounds of probability that this will
literally happen. Hitler's manic concentrationn on railroading
Jews around Europe in huge numbers shows that 'carrying into captivity'
is not just a thing of the past.
The prophecies of Israel's
regathering from the lands of their persecution have only had a very small
fulfilment so far. Their major realization must be in
the future, which may possibly imply a future scattering of Jews from
Israel before this happens. Passages which speak of Israel's
latter-day regathering in terms of their restoration from Babylon under
Ezra and Nehemiah would take on great significance if Jews are literally
carried captive to 'Babylon' and her Arab satellites in the last days.
Two passages in particular seem to call for a literal captivity in the
" In that day"
" It shall come
to pass in that day (the period of the second coming), that the Lord shall
set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his
people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt (cp. Deut. 28:68),
and from Pathros...Cush...Elam...Shinar (Babylon)...Hamath...and there
shall be an highway for the remnant of his people, which shall be left,
from Assyria; like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up
out of the land of Egypt" (Is. 11:11,16).
" It shall come
to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown (cp. Matt.
24:31; Rev. 11:15), and they shall come which were ready to perish (from
captivity) in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt,
and shall worship the Lord...at Jerusalem" (Is. 27:13).
However, the Hebrew
for 'carrying away captive' means strictly 'to make naked', applicable
to captivity because this is how captives were led away. This
idea of nakedness is associated with public shame, and it may be that
Israel's 'carrying away captive' in the last days may just refer to this
rather than to a literal captivity. Thus 2 Chron. 28:19 speaks
of Israel being made naked to the nations as a result of their sin.
" He that is courageous among the mighty shall flee away naked in
that day" of punishment at Arab hands (Amos 2:16).
Speaking with some reference
to Israel's final Arab 'captivity', Ezekiel wrote: " I will
deliver thee into the hand of them whom thou hatest (her Arab neighbours),
into the hand of them from whom thy mind is alienated (clear reference
to the mutual abhorrence of Jew and Arab!): and they shall...leave
thee naked and bare: and the nakedness of thy whoredoms shall be
discovered" (Eze. 23:28,29 cp. Hos. 2:2,3). This is consciously
referring to Israel being " naked and bare" in the innocent
days of her national babyhood (Eze. 16:7,22). Thus Israel's
'making naked' or 'carrying into captivity' by the latter-day Assyrian
will result in her returning to her spiritual youth, and once again entering
into covenant with God.
It can be demonstrated
that Adam walking naked and shameful after the fall is a figure of sinful
Israel (Gen. 3:7-10). The fig tree symbolizing the law, with
its initial glossyness in covering sin that soon faded due to man's weakness,
it follows that only when Israel throw this down will they be fully 'naked'.
Their 'making naked' by the Assyrian 'captivity' can therefore be expected
to finally teach them the inability of the law to save.
The Hebrew for 'carry
away captive' is translated 'uncover' in Is. 47:2,3 with reference to
Babylon, again showing that what the Arabs do to Israel will be visited
upon them: " O virgin daughter of Babylon...uncover thy locks,
make bare the leg, uncover the thigh...thy nakedness shall be uncovered,
yea, thy shame shall be seen." There is reasonable emphasis
on this making naked of Babylon and Assyria in the last days - Rev. 17:16;
Nah. 3:4,5; Hab. 2:15,16.
At this time of the
initial Assyrian invasion there was large scale bickering going on within
Israel (2 Kings 15:30). We can therefore expect there to be
feuding in natural Israel in the very last days, a tragic mirror image
of that which is prophesied to afflict spiritual Israel at the same time
" In those days
the Lord began to send against Judah Rezin the king of Syria" (2
Kings 15:37) indicating that before the major 'Assyrian' invasion of the
last days, we can expect Israel to be raided by the smaller, neighbouring
Arab powers, as typified by " Syria" here.
The record later summarizes what happened: " The Lord rejected
all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them ('to browbeat/depress' - this
mental suffering of Israel is also mentioned in Lev. 26:16), and delivered
them into the hand of spoilers" (2 Kings 17:20). These
" spoilers" , or plunderers, probably refer to these early Syrian
raids. The same word is used in Jud. 2:14 to describe other
Arab marauders which typify those of the last days (see the previous study
of the Judges period). The ultimate 'spoiler' was, of course,
the Assyrian (Is. 10:13).