97) The First Empires

Shem’s son Arphaxad was born just two years after the flood. Imagine what it would be like to be one of only eight adults colonizing a strange new world. The birth of a son would be cause for great rejoicing. Maybe they spoiled him too much, because, like King David, Shem’s joy and hopes for this child turned to heartbreak as his son grew up to be a psychopathic mass murderer.

To recognize Arphaxad’s significance in the historical records, we must apply the knowledge that names were given at any stage of a person’s life to memorialize that individual’s significant behaviors.

The name Arphachshad is probably a combination…meaning extent, border; and כשד, Chesed, the Hebrew word for Chaldeans

Josephus…also concluded Boundary Of The Chaldeans.

This is easily recognized as memorializing this individual for expanding the borders of his domain, a major preoccupation in any pioneer era. This is also easily recognized as population explosion after the flood, and expansion of productive territory as the flood-induced glacial climate thawed.

Decadent Babylonian

Akkad was the northern (or northwestern) division of ancient Babylonia. The early inhabitants of this region were predominantly Semitic, and their speech is called Akkadian.

“Babylonia” is used to describe the south of modern Iraq…the “land of Sumer and Akkad”, a term attested from the third millennium BC onwards…”

Semitic Sargon the Great reigned during Arphaxad’s long lifetime from the city he had founded and named Akkad about 2300 BCE.

No one else fits the bill. We can confidently identify the biblical Arphaxad as the historical Sargon.

Sargon of Akkad (r. 2334 – 2279 BCE)…the king of the Akkadian Empirethe first multi-national empire in history...

“for at least 1,500 years after his death, Sargon the Great, founder of the Akkadian Empire, was regarded as a semi-sacred figure, the patron saint of all subsequent empires in the Mesopotamian realm”. Even so, where he came from and even his actual name are unknown.`Sargon’ was not the name given him at birth but the throne name he chose for himself. It is a Semitic, not Sumerian, name and so it is generally accepted that he was a Semite.

It means “True King”, clearly in defiance of the LORD God’s King of Righteousness.

Sargon of Akkad, the founder of the Akkadian Empire, came from the area near Kish, called Azupiranu according to a much later Neo-Assyrian text purporting to be an autobiography of Sargon. The legend that reports that Sargon began his rise to power as a cupbearer / most trusted associate to the king of Kish, “the seat of the first postdiluvian dynastytells that Arphaxad’s upbringing as Noah and Shem’s heir gave him not only first-hand training in administration and military strategy, but also rare access to the ancient world heritage documents of wisdom and arcane knowledge. He was certainly a good choice for any king’s Prime Minister, but also the worst choice. He used his position to overthrow the king and begin his sweep through Mesopotamia.

The line in the Legend of Sargon that states “my father I knew not” does not mean he couldn’t identify his father. He must have in order to identify his uncles, “the brother(s) of my father”, i.e. Japheth’s tribe who he states “loved the hills”, which is a sneer to their defensive posture. Yep, that was the tribe that headed back to the Caucasus Mountains alright, becoming the Indo-Europeans AKA Caucasians.

“I knew not” is the same wording Jesus uses when he rejects false followers by announcing “I never knew you.” (Matthew 7:23) Sargon is stating that he rejected being identified with his father and way of life ordered by his LORD God.

Sargon is famous for founding the first historic empire at the dawn of known civilization. In the 24th to 23rd centuries BC he conquered the fledgling Sumerian city-states, ruling from the city of Akkad. Among the most important sources of information about Sargon’s reign is a tablet of the Old Babylonian period recovered at Nippur…The tablet is a copy of the inscriptions on the pedestal of a statue erected by Sargon in the temple of Enlil…In the inscription, Sargon styles himself

  • display-2957Sargon, king of Akkad [naming his capitol after himself, like “Alexandria” in Egypt],
  • overseer (mashkim) of [the goddess] Inanna,
  • king of Kish – usurping his father Shem’s authority,
  • anointed (guda) of Anu / Creator, i.e. Messiah / Christ,
  • king of the land [Mesopotamia],
  • governor (ensi) of [the line of] Enlil / Adam who was given dominion over the earth by the Creator Ani / Anu.

Basically Sargon is announcing that he rejects following the God of his father Shem and has gone to the dark side.

He celebrates the conquest of

  • Uruk – one of Cain’s sin cities, restored after the flood waters receded. A great city known for the White Temple of Anu on a ziggurat.


  • 5edc9025d9e61f4793d1bd55974f95c2Lugalzagesi, the first and only king of the third dynasty of Uruk, whom Sargon brought “in a collar to the gate of Enlil.”

Sargon then conquered Ur and E-Ninmar and “laid waste” the territory from Lagash to the sea, and from there went on to conquer and destroy Umma, and he collected tribute from Mari and Elam. He triumphed over 34 cities in total. Ships from Meluhha, Magan and Dilmun rode at anchor in his capital of Akkad on the Tigris River. Submitting himself to the Levantine god Dagan in exchange for his support in his territory, Sargon conquered territories of Upper Mesopotamia and the Levant, including Mari, Yarmuti (Jarmuth?) and Ibla “up to the Cedar Forest (the Amanus) and up to the Silver Mountain (Aladagh?)”, ruling from the “upper sea” (Mediterranean) to the “lower sea” (Persian Gulf).


As the above account of the “beginning” of Sargon’s kingdom demonstrates, the list of cities congregating into any kingdom means a warlord’s initial military victories, not his initial building projects.


Arphaxad / Sargon is more accurately portrayed in gory movies than in glorifying history books.

mad-max-fury-road-foto-2Sargon is reported to have supported a court, i.e. standing army, of 5,400 men who “ate bread daily before him”. This is a credible number in an exponentially expanding population.

As with the nature of warfare in South Africa upon Shaka Zulu’s appearance on the scene, warfare under Sargon in Mesopotamia changed from seizing property and slave labor between neighboring clans with a minimal loss of life into total destruction of the enemy on the battlefield.


The innovative tactics and military reforms of both Shaka Zulu and Sargon welded neighboring clans into a powerful empire.

Sargon of Akkad (unknown–2279 B.C.) and his successors bequeathed to the world a concept of power that involved more than military strength. They commanded obedience not simply by winning battles and striking fear in their foes, but also by…serving as earthly representatives of gods their subjects dreaded and revered.

Sargon is known almost entirely from the legends and tales that followed his reputation through 2,000 years of cuneiform Mesopotamian history, and not from documents that were written during his lifetime. The lack of contemporary record is explained by the fact that the capital city of Agade (Akkad), which he built, has never been located and excavated. It was destroyed at the end of the dynasty that Sargon founded and was never again inhabited.

Sounds like classic retribution against a deeply hated enemy.

And ________…the beauty of the ________ excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited.” (Isaiah 13:19-20)

Cruel Assyrian

King Adad Nirari I (c. 1307-1275 BCE) who expanded the Assyrian Empire to the north and south…is the first Assyrian king about whom anything is known with certainty because he left inscriptions of his achievements which have survived mostly intact…

Adad Nirari I…began what would become standard policy under the Assyrian Empire…the best way to prevent any future uprising was to remove the former occupants of the land and replace them with Assyrians…Those segments of the population that had actively resisted the Assyrian presence were killed or sold into slavery, but the general populace became absorbed into the growing empire and they were thought of as Assyrians…

While the whole of the Near East fell into a ‘dark age’ following the so-called Bronze Age Collapse of c. 1200 BCE, Ashur and its empire remained relatively intact…

In the 11th Century BCE…civil war…allowed certain regions that had been tightly held by Assyria to break free and among these was the area known as Eber Nari (modern-day Syria, Lebanon, and Israel), which had been particularly important to the empire because of the well-established seaports along the coast…

The Late Empire (also known as the Neo-Assyrian Empire) is the one most familiar to students of ancient history as it is the period of the largest expansion of the empire. It is also the era which most decisively gives the Assyrian Empire the reputation it has for ruthlessness and cruelty. The historian Kriwaczek writes…

Babylon may be a byname for corruption, decadence and sin but the Assyrians and their famous rulers…rate in the popular imagination just below Adolf Hitler and Genghis Khan for cruelty, violence, and sheer murderous savagery…

it is tempting to see the Assyrian Empire, which dominated the Middle East from 900-612 BC, as a historical forebear of Nazi Germany…As with the German army of World War II, the Assyrian army was the most technologically and doctrinally advanced of its day and was a model for others for generations afterwards…

Their most common method of conquest was through siege warfare which would begin with a brutal assault on the city…

The internal reliability of the Judean kings’ scribes documenting the standard practice and many times they were abandoned by their God to the destruction of their enemies, and the well-known spin put on embarrassing failures by politicians of any era certainly gives the biblical account the credibility in this contested report.

Sennacherib drove his army against Babylon, sacked it, and looted the temples…[two of his] sons… assassinated him in his palace at Nineveh.


Hmm. This too is recorded in II Kings, chapter 19, but the historian failed to mention that.

His son Esarhaddon (681-669 BCE) took the throne, and one of his first projects was to rebuild Babylon. He issued an official proclamation which claimed that Babylon had been destroyed by the will of the gods owing to the city’s wickedness and lack of respect for the divine…

Hmm. This too is recorded in the biblical record. Hundreds of times.

the last great Assyrian king, Ashurbanipal (668-627 BCE)…was the most literate of the Assyrian rulers and is probably best known in the modern day for the vast library he collected at his palace at Nineveh…


In 612 BCE Nineveh was sacked and burned by a coalition of Babylonians, Persians, Medes, and Scythians, among others. The destruction of the palace brought the flaming walls down on the library of Ashurbanipal and, although it was far from the intention, preserved the great library, and the history of the Assyrians, by baking hard and burying the clay tablet books…the destruction of the great Assyrian cities was so complete that, within two generations of the empire’s fall, no one knew where the cities had been.

Two hundred years later in 400 BC the Greek general Xenophon led Ten Thousand soldiers across Anatolia and successfully routed their Persian foe at the Battle of Cunaxa. Only to discover that their Persian ally had been killed in the fighting, foiling their plan to replace the current ruler with him and making their expedition a failure and their safe return to Greece while pursued by the Persian army a highly unlikely possibility.

a969a3d043d332e1dbc55c715f36bc3eXenophon hedged his bet by, like his Japhethite forebears, making the same wilderness mountains his stronghold.

No space to present here, but definitely a military adventure on par with Star Wars, worth reading if only to share the awe of gazing upon the ruins of Nineveh.

The two ruined strongholds described by Xenophon (Anabasis 3.4.7-12) have been identified beyond a doubt as the Assyrian cities of Kalhu and Nineveh, surrounded by 8 miles of walls 50 feet thick and up to 100 feet high. 

Both cities appear to have been violently sacked. The evidence from Nineveh is particularly gruesome.

The complete collapse of the Assyrian heartland is borne out by the fact that Xenophon recorded the wrong names for both of the cities he encountered. Xenophon never discovered that the cities he passed were once the heart of a mighty empire, known to Archaic Greek poets as a wealthy power and employer of mercenaries. It’s only in the Roman geographer Strabo that we find the name “Ninos” given to a city in old Assyria, showing that the site’s dramatic history somehow survived.

Even so, it should be said that Assyria did remain populated, insofar as it could sustain self-reliant communities of farmers. Xenophon notes that some local people fled to the top of a crumbling ziggurat at the edge of the city when they saw the Greeks approaching, and a few days beyond Nineveh the Greek army encountered rural villages. (Anabasis 3.4.18).


“How are the mighty fallen!” (II Samuel 1:19, 25, 27)

“The nations have heard of thy shame, and thy cry hath filled the land: for the mighty man hath stumbled against the mighty, and they are fallen both together.” (Jeremiah 46:12)

Is there something we need to learn from the past? Ninevah as see in the contemporary photo above is located in Mosul, Iraq. This should sound familiar.

Women and children in Mosul

Mosul fell to IS in June 2014, with IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaiming the creation of a “caliphate” from its ancient and now destroyed Great Mosque of al-Nuri.

Thousands of Iraqi soldiers, Kurdish fighters, Sunni Arab tribesmen and Shia militiamen, assisted by US-led coalition warplanes and military advisers, took part in the offensive, which began in October 2016.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi formally declared victory over IS in the city on 10 July.

He waved a national flag with troops after announcing the “collapse of the terrorist state of falsehood”.

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