A celebrated country and empire, had its name from Ahur, or Assur, the second son of Shem, who settled in that region, Genesis 10:22. In the Bible the name Assyria is employed in three different significations: namely, 1. Assyria ancient and proper lay east of the Tigris, between Armenia, Susiana, and Media, and appears to have comprehended the six provinces attributed to it by Ptolemy, namely, Arrapachis, Adiabene, Arbelis, (now Erbil,) Calachene, (Heb. Halah? 2 Kings 17:6,) Apollonias, and Sittacne. It is the region which mostly comprises the modern Kurdistan and the pashalik of Mosul. Of these provinces, Adiabene was the most fertile and important; in it was situated Nineveh the capital; and the term Assyria, in its most narrow sense, seems sometimes to have meant only this province. 2. Most generally, Assyria means the Kingdom of Assyria, including Babylonia and Mesopotamia, and extending to the Euphrates, which is therefore used by Isaiah as an image of this empire, Isaiah 7:20; 8:7. In one instance, the idea of the empire predominates so as to exclude that of Assyria proper, namely, Genesis 2:14, where the Hiddekel or Tigris is said to flow eastward of Assyria. 3. After the overthrow of the Assyrian state, the name continued to be applied to those countries which had been formerly under its dominion, namely, (a) To Babylonia, 2 Kings 23:29; Jeremiah 2:18. (b) To Persia, Ezra 6:22, where Darius is also called king of Assyria.
The early history of Assyria is involved in obscurity. We know from the sacred narrative that it was a powerful nation. Israel was subjugated by one of its monarchs in the period of the Judges, and during the reign of the kings the Assyrian power was an object of perpetual dread. Pul, king of Assyria, invaded Israel in the reign of Menahem. Tiglath-pileser assisted Ahaz against a confederate army formed of the Syrian forces in league with those of the ten tribes. Shalmanezer invaded Israel, conquered Hoshea, and made him a vassal, bound to pay a yearly tribute. Hoshea wishing however to throw off the yoke, attempted to form a league with Egypt, and refused the tribute. On ascertaining this secret design of the Israelitish prince, Shalmanezer again invaded Israel, reduced Samaria, loaded its king with fetters, and transported the people of the land into Media, and put an end to the separate kingdom of the ten tribes. The three tribes located east of Jordan had already been deported into Media by Tiglath-pileser, when he ravaged Israel to save Ahaz, and the kingdom of Judah. Sennacherib of Assyria come into Judah with a powerful army in the reign of Hezekiah, but was miraculously defeated. Esarhaddon, his son and successor, ravaged Judah in the days of Manasseh, and carried the conquered sovereign in chains to Babylon. After this period the empire of Assyria suddenly waned, and its last monarch was the effeminate Sardanapalus, Numbers 24:22. Its capital was one of the most renowned of the eastern world. See NINEVEH. But the kingdom fell at length into the hands of the Medes, the monarchy was divided between them and the Babylonians, and the very name of Assyria was thenceforth forgotten.
These dictionary topics are from American Tract Society Bible Dictionary published in 1859. Public Domain, copy freely.