(Map 6:H3). The capital of Assyria in the seventh century BCE, when that empire had annexed the northern kingdom of Israel and forced Judah to pay tribute. Most biblical references reflect this time, when Nineveh was the center of the Assyria they knew. The book of Jonah, even if written long afterward, remembers this period of Assyrian glory and Israelite humiliation. Nahum prophesies the destruction of this enemy (1.1; 2.8; 3.7), as does Zephaniah (2.13). Sennacherib is said to have withdrawn to Nineveh after Yahweh inflicted a plague on his army besieging Jerusalem (2 Kings 19.36; Isa. 37.37). Otherwise, Nineveh appears in the description of Assyria in Genesis 10.11–12, where its association with Calah reflects early‐first‐millennium geography, when Calah (Akkadian Kalḫu) was a major complement to Assur and Nineveh. Archaeological evidence shows that Nineveh already existed in the fifth millennium BCE, and contacts with Sumer and Akkad to the south are recorded in third‐millennium texts. Nineveh remained an important Mesopotamian city for the next two thousand years, though it only became capital of Assyria under Sennacherib.

Daniel E. Fleming