nineveh in the bible

Nineveh in the Bible | The Empires of Egypt

Nineveh in the Bible was one of the most important cities of Assyria. Finally, under the rule of Sennacherib and Ashurbanipal, even the capital. According to the biblical report, the city founder Nimrod also built Nineveh in the Bible. According to Assyrian traditions. However, the city is said to have existed around 1800 BC. to have been founded by the goddess Ishtar. Nineveh is mentioned several times in the Bible: when King Sennacherib went to war against Judah and Jerusalem (2 Kings 18:13). And in the judgment announcements of the prophets Jonah, Nahum, and Zephaniah. The story of Jonah is known to Bible scholars: About 770 B.C.

God commissioned the prophet to predict Nineveh’s imminent downfall if the inhabitants did not regret their wickedness (Jonah 1:2). Ultimately, the people of Nineveh in the Bible listened to God’s words, and 120,000 people were spared from the sinking. But 150 years later, Nahum spoke new prophecies against Nineveh: “The city of bloodshed will fare terribly! Everything about this city is wrong. It’s full of robbery, and the looting doesn’t stop. There is no cure for your breakdown. Your injury is fatal. For who has not suffered from your constant wickedness?” (Nahum 3:1, 19).

And Zephaniah also said: The Lord will “make the great capital city of Nineveh in the Bible a desolate wasteland and a barren wasteland.” (Zephaniah 2:13). After the destruction of Nineveh in the Bible by the Medes and Babylonians in 612 B.C., the city was never rebuilt. And it disappeared into the darkness of history until the 19th century.

Nineveh in the Bible was famous for being the last capital of the Assyrian Empire (previously, it was the cities of Assyria and Kelch). It lay on the east bank of the Tigris, opposite the modern-day city of Mosul. The place was already settled since about 4500 BC. However, the town had its heyday under the Assyrian kings Sennacherib (704–681 BC) and Assurbanipal (669–ca. 630 BC). At that time, the inner city area alone covered an area of ​​around 5 km2 and was surrounded by a 12 km long city wall. 

The palaces of Sennacherib and Ashurbanipal were decorated with magnificent reliefs. Ashurbanipal had a library built in Nineveh in the Bible, in which he collected literature of all kinds. The library contained around 25,000 clay tablets written in cuneiform. In 612 BC, the city was conquered and destroyed by the Medes and Babylonians. In the Old Testament, Nimrod, a great-grandson of Noah, was considered the builder of Nineveh in the Bible ( Genesis 10:11).

However, Israel’s experiences with the Assyrians’ cruel policy of conquest meant that Nineveh in the Bible, their capital, was seen not only as a vast metropolis but also as a symbol of wickedness and distance from God. In the book of Jonah, Nineveh in the Bible stands for the entire Assyrian world power that threatened Israel’s existence and faith ( Jonah 1:2; Jonah 3-4).

nineveh in the bible

Representation of Nineveh in the Bible

Where is Nineveh mentioned in the Bible?

Nineveh in the Bible is next mentioned in 2 Kings 19:36 or Isaiah 37:37, when Sennacherib returned to Nineveh after God had destroyed his army, where he was killed by two of his sons.

The other scriptural references to Nineveh in the Bible deal with her judgment and the proclamation of her destruction. The prophecy of Nahum is primarily devoted to this city. Diodorus claims that there was an ancient prophecy that Nineveh should not fall before the river became an enemy of the town. This occurred in the third year of the siege when the river burst its banks and partially flooded the city. In the prophecy of Nahum, it is said: “With an overflowing flood he will utterly destroy the site of Nineveh” ( Nah 1:8 ), and “The gates of the rivers are opened, and the palace is faint” ( Nah 2:7). Nineveh in the Bible was to be utterly destroyed and not rise again: “He will make Nineveh in the Bible a wasteland, barren as the steppes.”

This city had been very proud and had said in its heart: “It is I and no other.” It was to be a place for wild beasts to camp ( Zeph 2:13-15; Isa 10:5-19 ), a “city of blood, filled with falsehood and violence” ( Nah 3:1 ). It was to be reduced to nothing and finally destroyed; there would be no healing for its wound ( Nah 3:19 ). In Ezekiel 31 :3 -17 Assyria is compared to a tall cedar which had been utterly destroyed.

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Nineveh’s condition can be seen as typical of a world with its haughty pride in its bravery. This city was the power used by God to show His displeasure toward Israel. So it is called the “rod of my wrath” ( Isa 10:5 ). The wrath of God against his country and his people ends in the destruction of the Assyrians – an indication of power in the last days that corresponds morally to the character of the Assyrian and will be destroyed after Babylon ( Isa 14:24,25 ) In history, Assyria fell before Babylon.

Nineveh in the Bible was founded around 606 BC and destroyed by the Medes and Babylonians. The fall of the city spelled the end of the Assyrian Empire.


Therefore, Nineveh, in the Bible, was known as the capital of the ancient kingdom of Assyria. It was founded very early by Nimrod (Gen. 10:11.12; Micah 5:5). She was no doubt comparatively small at first. Nothing further is recorded of its development until about 1300 years after its founding. When Jonah was sent to threaten its destruction. At that time, it was a vast city – literally “a city great for God” ( Jonah 3:3 ) – of three days journey, which probably indicates its extent.

“Three days’ journeys” is estimated by Niebuhr at about 145 km. This area would also have gardens, pastures (necessary for the “crowd of cattle” ( Jonah 4:11)), and other green spaces. The population was huge, but they did not live as close together as in modern cities. There were 120,000 who could not distinguish between their right and left. This probably means children. The population can be estimated at around 600,000 inhabitants.