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Holman Bible Dictionary

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• International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

(a' sshuhr ban' ih pal) Assyria's last great king who is identified in Ezra 4:10 as the king of Assyria who captured Susa, Elam, and other nations and settled their citizens in Samaria.

The son of the King Esarhaddon was the heir apparent from about 673 B.C. He actually ruled from 668 to 629 B.C. Ashurbanipal's legacy is his famous library which contained more than 20,000 clay tablets. The library was located in the Assyrian capital of Nineveh and was discovered in 1853. Ashurbanipal's copyists not only transcribed Assyrian books but also preserved Sumerian and Akkadian literature. Most of what we know about the Assyrian Empire is derived from his library. Of particular importance are the Assyrian copies of the Babylonian creation and flood stories.

Ashurbanipal was also known by the name Osnappar and appears in the KJV as Asnapper. His name appears only once in the Bible (Ezra 4:10), the only report of such a settlement in Samaria. The Greeks called him Sardanapalus. His reign was contemporary with the reigns of Manasseh, Amon, and Josiah, Kings of Judah.

Ashurbanipal's military campaigns were extensive. The most significant event of his reign was a drawn-out struggle against a coalition of nations led by his brother Shamashshumukin, regent of Babylon. The coalition of kings was not strong enough to defeat the powerful Ashurbanipal, and the downfall of Babylon was sealed. He also waged a campaign against Elam, captured its capital Susa, and took many of the inhabitants captive to Assyria. Egypt was a trouble spot for him. His father Esarhaddon had captured it in 671, but rebellion occurred during Ashurbanipal's reign. He conducted two campaigns against Egypt but eventually lost it.

The Assyrian empire disintegrated quickly under the reign of Ashurbanipal's son Sinsharishkun (627-612 B.C.). Babylon, under Nabopolassar, threw off Assyrian domination and Nineveh, the capital city, fell to the Medes in 612.

M. Stephen Davis

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor.. "Entry for 'ASHURBANIPAL'". "Holman Bible Dictionary".
<>. 1991.


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