By guest author: Caleb Meyers
The cause of any nation’s downfall is one of the most interesting and debated subjects. This is especially true if the nation in question was a powerful one, or if it fell in a sudden or unexpected way. And yet as I gaze at the plain of history, there seems to be one overarching cause for the downfalls of the great empires of man, particularly those before Christ was born. In other words, the same sins reappear and repeat in some form or another in the destruction of empires prior to Christ.
Some might object that though there similarities, these similarities are not significant, and that the general causes are different. If this were true, it would mean that either God has no effect on the fall of empires or it would mean He is unjust, and doesn’t have ethical grounds for his actions. The former is atheism and nihilism, while the latter is Hinduism, animism, or the Greek polytheism. These six empires or countries: Pre-flood world, Hittite, Assyria, Neo-Babylon, Persia, and Seleucid prove the point very well. Each shall be given its paragraph on how its sins caused its fall.
After Adam and Eve fell, Cain went the wrong direction. All his descendants fell away and dragged the other righteous families in as well, so that soon only Noah was left. The clear sins in scripture are fornication between the “Sons of God and the daughters of men,” humanism as seen by Gen. 6:3: “‘My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh,’” the invention of evil, Gen 6:5: “Every intent of the thoughts of his [man’s] heart was only evil continually,” and the lack of obedience to authority and government and constant murder, Gen. 9:6: “‘Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man.’” The result was the worldwide flood, the second worst catastrophe in world history after the fall in Eden.
The Hittites rose in the 1700’s soon after Hammurabi, the most famous of the kings of Babylon’s old empire, died. They really gained prominence under Hatulatis I in the 1500’s. By the end of that century, they abandoned an organized form of government, the kingship instead being earned by whoever had the most power and forcefulness at the time. They “began to devour properties, conspired constantly against their masters, and began to shed their blood.” They were without a clear government or order, just like the men before the Flood. They were murderous and did whatever they liked. A perfect illustration of this is Mursilis, Hatulatis’s nephew, who at 13 or 14 inherited the throne. At a grown age, he marched out to attack Babylon his neighbor. His cupbearer, who reigned the next 30 years after him, killed him. Once he died, a court official killed his son and all his grandsons. However, he didn’t reign long for his son killed him, immediately to be slaughtered by usurper who was slain by yet another usurper. Things went on in this way for another 200 years before the Hittite empire was cut off. Though their empire might have been greater than Assyrians, because of this chaos, the Assyrians demolished them in 1274 BC.
The Assyrians first began with Nimrod who built the city of Nineveh in 2418\ 2248 BC. They ruled a large territory until they descended into a dark age in the 1200’s. They reemerged into the 9th century BC with a growing empire on the rise. They were known all throughout history for cruelty and invention of evil. They were an arrogant empire. God promised in Isaiah 10 to destroy them for their arrogance. When Babylon invaded them, sexual perversion was rampant. Diodorus says the Assyrian kings were given to homosexuality without restraint and immorality. Destruction, cruelty, murder, adultery, treachery, envy, maliciousness, genocide, torture, and misery all marked this cruel empire. Internal strife weakened the Assyrian empire so much that the Babylonians found it easy to topple them. These sins, especially maliciousness, treachery, and murder, characterized the Hittite empire, the Assyrian empire, and the pre-flood world.
Babylon, like Assyria, began very early as an empire. Under Hammurabi the First Babylonian Empire reached it zenith. Since not much is known about the First Babylonian Empire, I shall discuss the Neo-Babylonian Empire of 612-539 BC. Morally, the Babylonians were looser than the Assyrians or the Hittites had been. According to Swanson, the Babylonian religion forced sexual immorality upon all its followers. The men became effeminate. Like the Hittites, soon after Nebuchadnezzar died, war among his sons and other relations broke out over the kingship. Their religion soon grew into a form of humanism like Isaiah 47:10 says. Nebuchadnezzar (until he repented) and all his successors were extremely prideful. Astrology replaced any real knowledge of the stars, making them a very superstitious people. Like the Hittite king Anitas I who gave himself the title “king of every land where the sun rises,” Nebuchadnezzar said, as is recorded in Daniel 4:30, “Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?” However, within 30 years, the Persians crushed their empire so that it would never rise again.
The Persians themselves had their roots in a people called Elam, an ancient nation arising sometime between the Tower of Babel and Moses. The Medes, on the other hand, were more recent, becoming a unified nation around 725 under the rule of Deioces. (Some say he was a dictatorial tyrant, others a wise and just judge and ruler). In 551 Cyrus inherited the throne of Persia; and before 2 years passed, he had taken the Medes as well. Then he invaded Babylon in 539. Though Cyrus was generally considered a just king, his followers were not. They battled for the throne in a series of assassinations. Cambyses II, Cyrus’s son murdered many of his own family, until he was murdered himself in 522. Darius I beat Cambyses’ brother to the throne and reigned for the next 36 years. Upon Darius death, cruel Xerxes I (aka Ahasuerus or Artaxerxes), known for his violent temper and for killing men at his will, grabbed the throne. He divorced Vashti over something idiotic and remarried Esther over something trivial. The Persians fell fast into drunkenness, dissipation, gluttony (their one meal per day often extend from noon till bedtime), homosexuality (which they learnt from the Greeks), polygamy was rampant among kings.
After Artaxerxes I killed Xerxes I’s murderer, Artabanus captain of the bodyguard, every single king either murdered someone for the throne or was murdered by someone for the same cause, or both. After Axtaxerxes II died, Xerxes II’s brother murdered Xerxes, but he only reigned a few months because Darius II assassinated him in 423 BC. Darius’s sons Artaxerxes II and Cyrus fought until Cyrus was defeated and killed. Artaxerxes out of spite deceitfully murdered all of the generals of the mercenary Greeks in 404 BC. Xenephon only save them through his quick head. Artaxerxes III murdered his whole family, reigned until 338. Baogas the Younger, an open homosexual, kill all Artaxerxes III descendants and threw Darius III on the throne that fled like a coward from Alexander and was murdered by a relative. Their empire fell apart the way the Hittites and the pre-flood world did, by murder for “every man did what was right in his own eyes.”
The Seleucid Empire was really one of five empires that came about as the division of Alexander’s after his death (the Ptolemies, Antigonus, Lysimachus, Cassader, and Seleucus). However, since Seleucus Nicator ruled the largest empire, and was the greatest of Alexander’s generals, I have chosen to include him. By 185 BC, only the Seleucid and Ptolemy Empire remained (the two biggest to begin with).
The Seleucid Empire was extremely proud. Antiochus Soter, Seleucus’s son, reigned after him and gave himself the title, Antiochus II Theos, (Antiochus the God). He was always drunk, though, and after he divorced his wife and remarried, she came back and murdered his new wife and her son. Antiochus III invaded Judah from Ptolemy V in 198BC, and his son Antiochus IV Epiphanes desecrated the temple and offered a pig on the altar. He invaded Egypt from Ptolemy VI, and was anti-Semitic. He intentionally searched for laws of God to break. It was only because God was angrier with Judah that He allowed these things to happen. “The Hellenistic world was a violent world and so by the mid-second century BC the enemies of Seleucids were many and on all sides…The Seleucid throne went into a freefall [sic] after Demetrius became king.” To recount how often so-and-so was assassinated and the line of the Seleucid throne would be more than I have time for now, but their final kings before their fall were very much like the Persian Empire. By 64 BC the Seleucid throne was extinguished.
We see that the empires of man are hopeless. They all fall of their own accord because of their wickedness and sinfulness. Though they are warned 100 times by the preceding empires and by the godly believers of the time, yet they will not repent or listen to wisdom. Therefore, He “will laugh at their calamity, He will mock when their fear cometh,” for “He who sits in the heavens laughs.” All peoples of the earth are deluded and follow in the sins of their fathers, though it destroyed them. How about us?
 Kevin Swanson, Preparing the World for Jesus (Generations: Louisville, KY, 2020) p.296
 Susan Wise Bauer, The History of the Ancient World (W.W. Norton Publishing Company Inc., 2007) p.199-200
 Swanson, p.320
 Ibid. p.342
 Bauer, p.197
 Anonymous “How did the Seleucid Empire Fall?” Daily History.org