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Chapter 2:Peoples and Empires in Early Near East. 1. IMPACT OF THE INDO-EUROPEANS

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chapter 2 peoples and empires in early near east
Chapter 2:Peoples and Empires in Early Near East

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.

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The Hittites formed the earliest Asian Minor civilization in 1900 bc, imposed on the native the culture & language, built up peaceful & mutually profitable relations. They developed the lightest and fastest chariots of their time, advanced military & governmental system and were among the first to smelt iron.
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2. “THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL”

A. Introduction

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.

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2. “THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL”

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.

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The kingdom of Israel which ever reached the height of its existence, included the most territory under the reign of King David (1000–961 bc). Its borders stretched far beyond present-day Israeli borders and included parts of what is now, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon.
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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.

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2. “THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL”

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.

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Judith killing Holofernes

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.

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King Solomon (961-922 bc) attempted to unify and improve the empire of King David, but his oppressive rule caused dispute among the Israelites, leading to the division of the empire, after his death, into the kingdom ofIsrael in the north and the kingdom of Judah in the south.
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2. “THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL”

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.

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More than 800 years after the initial split between Israel and Judah, Hasmonaeans created a new nation in which they could practice a pure form of Judaism, free from foreign influence. It was also called the kingdom of Judah.
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2. “THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL”

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.

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Creation of Adam

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.

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The Fall of Man

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.

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Moses Smashing the Ten Commandments

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.

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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

3 the assyrian empire 1813 627 bc
3. THE ASSYRIAN EMPIRE(1813-627 bc)

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.

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An Assyrian king established in the Middle East the first centrally organized empire (1813-627 bc) that controlled the area from Egypt to the Persian Gulf.
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Ashurnasirpal II

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.

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Tiglath-pileser III

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.

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Babylonian chieftain and Median king overthrew the Assyrians to found Neo-Babylonia in 612 bc, who in 586 bc sacked Jerusalem, driving its men to Babylon, a period of exile known as the Babylonian Captivity.
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Ishtar Gate

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.

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The Chaldean king, Nebuchadnezzar II built,in about 600 bc, Hanging Gardens of Babylon to please his Median wife who missed the scenery of her home.
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The ancient city of Babylon developed in stages & reached its peak when Nebuchadnezzar II ruled the Neo-Babylonian dynasty. The city was the capital of a big kingdom that covered a large part of southwest Asia and was the largest city in the known world.
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4. THE PERSIAN EMPIRE (539-330 bc)

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.

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Cyrus the Great established the Persian Empire in 539 bc when his army of the Indo-European Persians from southwestern Iran defeated the Empire of New Babylonia and occupied Mesopotamia.
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In 539 bc, Mesopotamia became part of the Persian Empire, the largest empire of the time in the world.
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Darius I, (522-486 bc), and his son. He secured the borders of the Persian empire, reformed its internal organization, built up commerce, set up a postal system, built highways, & allowed freedom of worship among the different ethnic groups within Persian empire’s vast borders, earning their respect and goodwill.
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Remnants of the Persian Empire. Persepolis, capital, lay in the mountainous region of southwestern Iran.
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Zoroaster

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.

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Zoroastrian ceremony to initiate kids into the faith: they put on a white undershirt, symbol of spiritual rebirth. A holy white cord, tied around the waist is untied and retied in morning prayers after initiation.
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5. CONCLUSION

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.

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