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11/14/2019 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall
Inscribed black stone surface with cuneiform texts and a group of seven people engaged in ritual performance.

13th Annual Leon Levy Lecture:

Assyria and the Hebrew Bible: A Reassessment

Peter Machinist

Assyria, in its last or Neo-Assyrian phase of the first millennium BC, was the first universal empire in the ancient Near East. It was an imposing, indeed terrifying colossus to the many states and peoples that fell under its sway, two of which were ancient Israel and Judah. The Neo-Assyrian empire was a highly complicated and sophisticated entity, in which ruling elites and subjects interacted not simply in the military, political, and economic arenas, but, intertwined with them, in the cultural, especially the ideological, arena as well. In short, Assyria was more than a colossus of brute force; it imposed itself on its subjects as a powerful ideological system. The analysis of this system and its relationship to the other arenas of the empire has formed an important part of contemporary study of Neo-Assyria. In this study, scholars have drawn on the evidence, both written and non-written, of the Assyrian ruling elites themselves, but also of their various subject states and peoples. And from the latter, easily the most important evidence, because of its extent, variety, and depth of engagement with Assyria, has been the principal monument of ancient Israel and Judah, namely, the Hebrew Bible.
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