Chapter 2:Peoples and Empires in Early Near East. 1. IMPACT OF THE INDO-EUROPEANS
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1. IMPACT OF THE INDO-EUROPEANS
The original Indo-European-speaking peoples lived in the steppe region north of the Black Sea. A group of them moved into Asia Minor to form the Hittite kingdom, destroyed by the Sea Peoples in 1200 bc, leaving in west Asia a power vacuum for some petty city-states to emerge. The Hebrews were a people of them at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea.
According to tradition, the Semitic-speaking Hebrews were Abraham’s offspring, who had migrated from Mesopotamia to Palestine; due to a drought they migrated to Egypt and lived peacefully until the pharaohs enslaved them; they suffered a lot until Moses led them out of Egypt; they wandered in the desert until they entered Palestine, organized in twelve tribes.
B. The Monarchy
In the 11th century bc, in the midst of internal strife and external threat Saul united the tribes to establish a kingdom known as Israel. After his death, David became king, succeeded by his son Solomon who set up a court modeled on other oriental monarchs, built a palace and a Temple in Jerusalem & overtaxed resources of the country for his luxurious programs.
Mount Zion is the easternmost hill lying in the Old City section of Jerusalem. The hill, whose name came to signify the “holy hill” of God, was the center of political and cultural life of the ancient Hebrews.
C. The Kingdoms of Israel and Judah
After the death of Solomon, the two kingdoms, Israel and Judah, often fought each other. The period of the divided monarchy featured hard threats from the Assyrians, the Arameans, and the Babylonians. Judah suffered the surrender of Jerusalem in 597 and its destruction in 586 bc by the Babylonians. Captives were carried off to Babylon, though with some freedom.
illustrates the Bible story of Judith, who saves the Jews from the Assyrian leader Holofernes. After getting him drunk, Judith kills him with the sword and cuts off his head. In this realistic work, Judith plunges the weapon into Holofernes’ neck while her servant holds him.
D. The Postexilic (放逐到巴比伦后的) Period
When the Persian king Cyrus established the Persian Empire in 538 bc, the Jews were set free from Babylon. They rebuilt temples for Judaism and reestablished institutions. Judah became a province of the Persian Empire; the Hebrews had relative autonomy, especially in religion until an abortive revolution in ad 70, which led to the destruction of Jerusalem.
E. The Spiritual Dimensions of Israel
Among the Babylonian exiles, the belief that Yahweh is the only God of Israel came to be the major theme of Judaism, along with two other themes: covenant, an contract between nations or individuals, and the pact between Yahweh and Israel sealed at Mount Sinai by Moses; the law, regulations for interpersonal behavior & rules relating religious practices.
According to Genesis, the first book of the Bible, God created in his own image Adam, the first man, from dust. In this fresco Italian Renaissance artist Michelangelo depicted God in the form of man, giving Adam the breath of life.
When Eve saw that the tree was good for food, a delight to the eyes, & they needed it to make them wise, she picked its fruit to eat, and give some to Adam to eat. Their eyes were opened, & they knew they were naked, so they sewed fig leaves together & made for themselves aprons.
The Commandments are the fundamental moral laws of Judaism &Christianity. Moses, according to the Bible, received them directly from God on Mount Si Sinai. He smashed the tablets on returning from the mountain for he found the Israelites had begun to worship a golden calf.
The Ten Commandments 1) Yahweh as the supreme God 2) no other gods to be worshiped 3) no cursing others 4) observing Sunday as a holy day 5) be pious to parents 6) no murdering 7) no committing adultery 8) no stealing 9) no lying against others10) no greed
In 3,000 bc Assyria came under the influence of the Sumerian civilization to its south. 2300 bc saw Assyria as part of the empire of Sumer & Akkad. After the fall of the empire in about 2000 bc a Semitic people from Arabian Desert conquered much of Mesopotamia. By 1850 bc Assyrian merchants with Ashur as the national god had settled in parts of central Asia Minor, with a thriving trade in metals & textiles.
He reigned in 800 bc as one of the most influential Assyrian rulers, and one of the best-known rulers of the ancient Middle East. Under his rule the Assyrian borders were extended & the capital was moved to the restored city of Calah from Ashur.
He ruled as king of Assyria from 745 to 727 BC. He extended his empire to cover areas of Israel, Syria, Gaza, the plateau in now Turkey, and to Babylon finally.
As part of the temple to Bel, built in about 575 bc in Babylonby Nebuchadnezzar, the gate is made of glazed brick tiles with layers of tile to create figures of the bull of Adad & the dragon of Marduk (太阳神), who alternate across the surface.
Persia subdued the New Babylonian empire in 539 bc, and became a subordinate unit in the Macedonian Empire in 330 bc when defeated by Alexander the Great. Zoroastrianism is the Persian religion. Its belief in heaven, hell, and limbo (地狱的边境); individual judgment at a celestial (天上的) bridge, final judgment, and afterlife; a savior, resurrection, and an eternal life affect such faiths as Islam & Christianity.
This detail from a 2nd-century wall painting in Syria depicts Zoroaster, a poet regarded as the prophet and the founder of Zoroastrianism, the Persian faith. The wall paintingwas painted more than 1,000 years after Zoroaster lived.
Around 1200 bc, the decline of the Hittites & Egyptians left a void for many small states to emerge and flourish. Most of them were over-shadowed by Assyrians, Chaldeans, Persians, but Hebrews, creating no empire, survived on their monotheism that made Judaism one of the World’s greatest religions and helped the growth of Christianity and Islam. Their faith is a major component of the Western culture.