Ancient Mesopotamia

Manila Bulletin, March 18, 2007 | Go to article overview

Ancient Mesopotamia


Byline: Nelly Favis Villafuerte

IN ancient history, Mesopotamia refers to the place between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. In the Old Testament of the Holy Bible, Mesopotamia is known by the following Hebrew names: Aram (Judge 3:8-11); Aram-Naharaim (Genesis 24:10; Deuteronomy 23:4; 1 Chronicles 19:6) and Padam-Aram. In Acts 2:9 and Acts 7:2 in the New Testament, the word Mesopotamia is used. Today, ancient Mesopotamia constitutes a major portion of modern Iraq, headed by Saddam Hussein.

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The word Mesopotamia means the "land between rivers.'' The earliest known people of Mesopotamia lived in the southern portion which today is known as Iraq. The early inhabitants were called "proto-Euphrateans.'' The group of people known as Sumarians, the first inhabitants of Babylonia came from the proto-Euphrateans group. The Sumarians, however, did not belong to the Semitic group. Semites were a group of ancient people descending from Shem, son of Noah and who were communicating with one another through related languages.

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From ancient history, we see that the Babylonians and Assyrians inhabited ancient Mesopotamia. Most of the ancient territories of Babylonia and Assyria located north of Euphrates are now included as modern Iraq. The Assyrian armies were famous for their cruelty. Here are some recorded account of the Assyrian cruelty and vindictiveness in ancient history:

"Pyramids of human heads marked the path of the conqueror; boys and girls were burned alive; men were blinded or deprived of their hands, feet, ears, or noses; tortures insert their hands into the victims mouth, grips his tongue and wrenches it out by the roots.''

* * *

Nineveh was the capital of Assyria. The Biblical history of the once powerful city of Nineveh is not complete without the story of Jonah. From Biblical account, too, we see the destruction of Nineveh in fulfillment of the prophecy of prophet Nahum. The fall of Nineveh is recorded in the Bible (Nahum 2 and 3).

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Babylonia, on the other hand, is the place called Shinar in Genesis 10:10 and also called the land of the Chaldeans in Jeremiah 24:5 and Ezekiel 12:13 in the Old Testament. The capital of Babylonia, famous for the hanging gardens of King Nebuchadnezzar is Babylon.

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The city of Babylon, as foretold in the Bible was also destroyed and left in ruins. As prophesied in Isaiah 13:19-22: "Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms, the glory of the Babylonians' pride, will be overthrown by God like Sodom and Gomorrah. She will never be inhabited or lived in through all generations; no Arab will pitch his tent there, no shepherd will rest his flocks there. But desert creatures will lie there, jackals will fill her houses; there the owls will dwell, and there the wind goats will leap about. …

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