by Wayne Blank
Nineveh was located on the eastern bank of the Tigris River in northeastern Mesopotamia (Iraq). It flourished from about 800 to 610 B.C. as the capital of the Assyrian empire (see Ancient Empires - Assyria). It is first mentioned in the Bible back in Genesis as being founded by Nimrod (Genesis 10:9-12).
During its time of power, the Assyrian empire conquered the northern Israelite kingdom of Israel, with their capital at Samaria, and transported them away into captivity. Unlike the southern Israelite kingdom of Judah, with their capital at Jerusalem Fact File, they never returned, and became known as the "Lost Ten Tribes" of Israel. The Assyrians themselves eventually were lost, although some identify their descendants as being in central Europe today.
Nineveh was the city that the reluctant prophet Jonah was sent to by God. Jonah did not want to go, so he ran away. However, after a famous adventure with a whale at sea he accepted what he was to do - get the people of Nineveh to repent of their evil. He went, and was successful. The photo shows the remains of the gate of ancient Nineveh where Jonah entered the city (Jonah 3:4).
Jonah however still was not happy because he did not very much like the Assyrians because of all of the harm that they had inflicted upon Israel. He was hoping that they would refuse to repent so that God would destroy them. He may well have been the only prophet in history that hoped that his ministry would fail!
Eventually, the Assyrian empire declined and fell. It was overtaken by the Persian (see Ancient Empires - Persia) and Babylonian (see King Nebuchadnezzar) empires who were themselves just then on the rise. Today, Nineveh is just a vast stretch of ancient ruins.
Fact Finder: How many people in Nineveh did Jonah convince to repent?