Chapter 2 The Ancient Near East: Peoples and Empires
The Hebrews: “The Children of Israel” • Hebrew Bible – Old Testament Pentateuch • Descendants of Abraham • Migration to Egypt • Slaves of Pharaohs • Moses leads them out of Egypt (Exodus) • 12 Tribes • Troubles with the Philistines • Origins of United Kingdom (c. 1200 – c. 1000 B.C.)
Pentateuch • Genesis-beginning “covenant” • Exodus-Moses 10 Commandments • Leviticus-Laws • Numbers-God’s forgiveness • Deuteronomy-link Hebrews
The United Kingdom • Saul (c. 1020 – 1000 B.C.) • David (c. 1000 – 970 B.C.) • Solomon (c. 970 – 930 B.C.) • Temple of Jerusalem • Arc of the Covenant • Proverbs • Trade and commerce • Son-Rehoboam
The Divided Kingdom • Kingdom of Israel • 10 Northern Tribes • Capital in Samaria • Kingdom of Judah • 2 Southern Tribes • Capital in Jerusalem • Assyria conquers Kingdom of Israel (722 B.C.) • Chaldeans conquered Kingdom of Judah (586 B.C.) • Jerusalem Destroyed • Babylonian Captivity
Spiritual Dimensions of Israel • Yahweh (Monotheism) • Covenant, Law and Prophets • Covenant with Yahweh • Laws • 10 Commandments • Regulation of economic, social and political life of all Hebrews • Prophets • Yahweh’s voice to his people • Universalism and Social Justice • Separation between Jews and non-Jews
The Social Structure of the Hebrews • Social Patterns • Family was the central social institution of Hebrew life • Marriage and Women • Monogamy versus Polygamy • Dependence of women on men • Goal of marriage was the production of children
Hebrew Readings • Cite examples in your answers on a separate sheet of paper in complete sentences: (15 points) • 1. Identify laws of the Hebrews that were similar to Hammurabi, and those that pertained primarily to their faith. • 2.What does the Book of Job say about God, the Devil, and man’s place in the universe? • 3. What can one learn from the Book of Job?
Laws • *Laws can tell you about a society's social hierarchies--e.g., about the differences between elites and non-elites, or the status of women, children, and "outsiders." • *Laws can tell you about the organization of the economy--e.g., about property rights, the existence of various kinds of property (including tools), types of economic activity (such as farming), and types of labor (such as slavery). • *Laws can tell you about the organization of government—e.g., if it had a Kingship, if it was a theocracy, what powers the King claimed as King, what powers rested with other religious authorities (the Temple priest or the gods), what aspects of people's lives the government tried to regulate, what aspects of people's lives other religious authorities tried to regulate (etc.).
Laws • *Laws might not necessarily tell you exactly how people behaved, but they can tell you how the lawmakers wanted people to behave. Laws might not tell you what people valued, but they can tell you what lawmakers wanted people to value. Laws might not tell you exactly how much authority those in power really exercised, but they can tell you what authority those in power claimed to have.
The Book of Job • Why does evil exist? • Complicated • Part of human experience • Life can be full of pain and despair • Book of Job • Shows problem as it really is • Honest record of the sufferer’s doubts • Removes common idea about suffering • Suffering is not a punishment for sins
The Book of Job • God permits the Devil to afflict Job in order to test his faith (Job 1:6-12; Job 2:7-8) • Will Job continue to love God? Remain loyal? • In our suffering, we do not know all the facts • (Job 9:1-4), (Job 38-1-7) • What have I done to deserve this? (Job 9:15) • Job knows he is innocent. No sin in his life deserves his great suffering • God can use the experience of suffering for good. • Continuing when things are hard
The Neighbors of the Israelites • Philistines-Conquest of Canaan • Had Iron Weapons • Settled as Farmers • Phoenicians • Trade (Glass, Wine, Lumber, Dyes-rare purple) • Colonies throughout the Mediterranean • Carthage-North Africa • Transmitters of Culture(AKA Carriers of civilizations) • Alphabet-22 different signs to represent the sound of their speech
The Assyrian Empire • Semitic Language • Iron Weapons • Ashurbanipal (669 – 626 B.C.E.) • Built great library at Nineveh • Governing the Empire • Absolute Kings • Well-Organized Empire • Military • Size • Discipline • Weapons • Tactics • Terror
Assyrian Society and Culture • Imported Prisoners of War • Language-common • Religion-God Ashur • Agriculture-Principal basis of Assyrian life • Trade-2nd to agriculture • Middlemen-built roads • Hybrid Culture • Guardians of Sumerian and Babylonian Culture • Art • Relief Sculptures
The Neo-Babylonian Empire • Rise of the Chaldeans • Reign of Nebuchadnezzar II (625 – 605 B.C.) • Economic Prosperity • The City of Babylon • Fall of Babylon to Persians (539 B.C.)
The Persian Empire • Cyrus the Great (559 – 530 B.C.) • Conquered Kingdom of Lydia (c. 547 B.C.) • Conquered Greek city-states • Conquered Mesopotamia (539 B.C.) • Cambyses (530 – 522 B.C.) • Conquered Egypt • Darius the Great (521 – 486) • Western India • Ionian Revolt in Asia Minor • Invasion and Defeat in Greece (490 B.C.)
Governing the Empire • Satrapies (Provinces) • Satraps were of Persian descent • Major satrapies went to princes of the king’s family • Minor satrapies went to Persian nobles • Communications • Royal Road from Sardis to Susa
The Great King • Regent of the god Ahuramazda • Palaces • Gap between ruler and ruled • Military Power • 10,000 Immortals
Persian Religion • Zoroastrianism-worship the powers of nature (sun, moon, fire, and winds) • Zoroaster (born c. 660 B.C.) legendary figure • Monotheistic • Zend Avesta-Book of Zoroastrianism • Ahuramazda “Wise Lord” • Ahriman (Evil Spirit) • Struggle between good and evil • Good person chooses the right way • Last Judgment • Each soul faced a final evaluation of its actions
Ancient Religions Historians believe that Zoroastrianism had an impact on Christianity. Do you agree? The Hebrews left a spiritual legacy that influenced much of the later development of Western Civilization. Judaism influenced the development of both Christianity and Islam. Judeo-Christian heritage: Concept of monotheism, but also the ideas of law, morality and social justice.
Discussion Questions • How was ancient Judaism different from other ancient near-eastern religions? What impact did this have on ancient Hebrew history? • What legacy did the ancient Hebrews leave to Western Civilization? • Why were the Assyrians so successful in subjugating their neighbors? • What role did terror play in Assyrian military tactics? • How were the Persians able to conquer and maintain their large empire? • How did Zoroastrianism influence religions that came later?
Web Links • Internet Jewish History Sourcebook • The Old Testament and the Ancient Near East • ABZU: Internet Guide to the Ancient Near East • Ancient Mesopotamia and the Levant • Hittite Homepage • Cyrus the Great • AVESTA: Zoroastrian Archives