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An ancient empire which, with its rival Babylon, ruled much of the old states of Syria and Palestine throughout most of Old Testament times. Even though the Assyrians were a major power from the mid-12th century B.C. until the close of the 7th century B.C., they were never able to build a stable political structure. They ruled by terror, crushing their enemies by fire and sword or weakening them by deporting large portions of a population to other parts of their empire. Their subjects never ceased to be their foes, and the whole course of the empire was marked by incessant revolts. (See 2 Kgs. 18–19; 2 Chr. 32; Isa. 7:17–20; 10; 19; 37.)