Chapter 2 - Small Kingdoms and Mighty Empires in the Near East

    Recovery and diffusion

    1. The invasions of the thirteenth century B.C., which brought down the Hittites and stunned Egypt resulted in confusion, weakness, and the creation of many small kingdoms.
    2. The Sea Peoples who had invaded Egypt also created new settlements along the coast of Palestine. They were important in spreading the culture of the old empires throughout the Near East.

    A shattered Egypt and a rising Phoenicia

    1. The invasions of the thirteenth century B.C. inaugurated an era of weakness and confusion.
      1. The Third Intermediate Period (eleventh to seventh centuries B.C.) was characterized by political fragmentation and loss of power.
      2. From 950 to 730 B.C. northern Egypt was ruled by the Libyans, while southern Egypt came under the control of the Africans of Nubia.
      3. Both the Nubians and the Libyans adopted the Egyptian culture.
    2. In the eighth century B.C., Egypt was reunified by the African Kingdom of Kush.
      1. The king of Kush, Piankhy, brought unity and peace to Egypt, but not a revival of empire.
      2. Egyptian culture had a massive impact on nortarticle-titlestern Africa.
    3. The Phoenicians were Semites who lived in coastal cities of Tyre, Sidon, and Byblos in today's Lebanon
      1. They were manufacturers and international traders who founded Carthage in 813 B.C.
      2. They developed an alphabet based on one letter for one sound.
      3. Their significance lay in spreading the cultures of the East throughout the western Mediterranean.

    The children of Israel

    1. The power vacuum created by the fall of the Hittite and Egyptian states allowed a Hebrew state to thrive.
      1. The Hebrews were probably from a people called Hapiru and they migrated from Egypt into the Sinai Peninsula and Palestine.
        1. Some Hebrews worshiped the ancient Semitic fertility god, Baal.
    2. Hebrews struggled against the Philistines.
      1. Under Saul and David, the twelve tribes became united under a monarchy.
      2. David led them to defeat the Philistines and capture Jerusalem.
      3. King Solomon built a great temple in Jerusalem and extended Hebrew power.
        1. The temple became the home of the Ark of the Covenant and the symbol of Hebrew unity.
        2. He replaced the tribal division of Israel with twelve territorial districts.
      4. At Solomon's death the kingdom was divided in two.
        1. The northern half became Israel, while the southern half was Judah, with its capital still at Jerusalem.
        2. War broke out between these two Hebrew kingdoms.
        3. The northern half of the kingdom was destroyed by the Assyrians, but the southern half became the center of Judaism.
        4. This kingdom of Judah survived until it was crushed by the Babylonians and its survivors were sent into exile; many were freed by the Persians in 538 B.C.
        5. During and just after this "Babylonian Captivity," the exiles redefined their beliefs into the law of Yahweh--these believers are called Jews.
    3. The evolution of Jewish religion
      1. The Hebrew religion centered on the covenant between the god Yahweh and the Hebrew people.
        1. At first Yahweh was just one of a number of recognized gods, including Baal, but in time Yahweh was regarded as the only god (monotheism).
        2. Hebrew monotheism became the religion of all Hebrews, although they did not consider it their duty to spread the belief in one god, as later Christians did.
      2. Jewish law and ethics, with their stress on justice and mercy, evolved from the Ten Commandments of Yahweh and the words of the prophets.
        1. The early codes (the Torah) originated from Moses and were harsh, while the later codes of the prophets were more humanitarian.
        2. The prophet Jeremiah preached that Yahweh demanded protection for the weak and helpless.
        3. The Hebrews believed that Yahweh would protect them and make them prosper if they obeyed him--including his high moral standards.
    4. Daily life in Israel
      1. The end of nomadic life and coming of urban life changed family and marriage customs.
        1. Communal landownership gave way to family ownership.
        2. The extended tribal family gave way to the nuclear family; women became less free, confined to the home; and religion became maleoriented.
        3. The typical marriage was monogamous, and a virtuous wife was highly respected and honored.
        4. Jewish society placed strong emphasis on rearing children; both parents played a role in the child's education.
      2. Land was precious to the family, but peace and prosperity brought about a decline of the family farm and a rise of large estates and slave labor.
      3. The rise of urban life brought new job opportunities and increased trade.
        1. Craft and trade specialization thrived, often under guilds.
        2. Jews mostly dealt with local trade while export trade and commerce was dominated by foreigners.
        3. The Torah is basically the Mosaic law, while the Talmud is a record of civil and ceremonial law begun during the Babylonian Captivity.
        4. The Talmud states regulations with regard to diet and food preparation--because of concern about eating dangerous food.

    Assyria, the military monarchy

    1. The power of Assyria followed the rise of militarism and political cohesion among the Assyrians.
      1. King Shalmaneser unleashed the first of the Assyrian attacks on Syria and Palestine in 859 B.C.
      2. Under Tiglathpileser III and Sargon II, the Assyrians created an empire that extended from Mesopotamia to central Egypt.
      3. Conquest bred revolt, which in turn led to brutal Assyrian retaliation.
      4. Assyrian success was due to and effective military organization and new military techniques and equipment.
    2. Assyrian rule and culture
      1. The Assyrians organized an empire with provinces and dependent states.
      2. The Babylonians and the Medes destroyed the Assyrian Empire in 612 B.C.
      3. The Assyrians disappeared from history until Nineveh was excavated in 1839.
      4. The Archeologist Layard and others have unearthed many artistic masterpieces (palace reliefs) that convey detailed information about Assyrian life.
      5. Many Assyrian innovations were taken over by the Persians.

    The empire of the Persian kings

    1. The Persians were Iranians who unified many cultures under a tolerant and humane empire.
    2. Persia (modern Iran) was a land of mountains and plateau.
      1. The chief geographical feature of Persia is a central plateau between the TigrisEuphrates valley and the Indus valley surrounded by high mountains.
      2. This explains Iran's position as the highway between East and West.
    3. The first Iranians--the coming of the Medes and Persians
      1. The first Iranians were nomadic Medes and Persians whose use of horses allowed them to conquer the natives.
      2. They established a patchwork of small kingdoms led by war lords who depended on noble warriors and who demanded labor service from peasants and slaves.
      3. The Iranians of the south settled Persia; in the north, the Iranian Medes grew strong enough to help overthrow the Assyrian Empire.
    4. The creation of the Persian Empire
      1. The founder of the Persian Empire, Cyrus the Great (559-530 B.C.), held enlightened views.
        1. He viewed Persia and Medea as the state of Iran.
        2. His empire gave respect, toleration, and protection to its conquered peoples.
        3. His first act after conquering the Medes was to unite them with the Persians.
      2. Next Cyrus won control of the west as far as the Greek coast of Anatolia.
      3. Then Cyrus marched to eastern Iran (Parthia and Bactria) to secure Iran from the pressure of warring nomads.
      4. He conquered Babylonia and gave protection to the Jews.
    5. Thus spake Zarathustra: the religion of Iran
      1. At first Iranian religion was polytheistic, simple, and primitive.
      2. Zoroaster gave Iranian religion new ideas.
        1. Most information about Zoroaster comes from a collection of hymns and poems called Zend Avesta.
        2. Zoroaster preached that life is a battleground between good and evil.
        3. A person's eternal fate would be decided on the basis of his or her deeds in life.
        4. The conversion of King Darius to Zoroastrianism led to its spread throughout the empire.
      3. Zoroastrianism influenced the liberal Jewish, Christian, and Islamic idea that good behavior in the world would be rewarded in the hereafter.
    6. Persia's world empire
      1. Cyrus's successors rounded out the Persian Empire by adding part of India in the east, and Anatolia, Egypt, and Libya in the west.
        1. The empire was divided into twenty satrapies, each ruled by governors--or satraps.
        2. Roads were built so that royal couriers could enable the king to keep in touch with his officials and subjects.
      2. For over two hundred years the Persians gave the Near East a period of peace.


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