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Ashur (אַשּׁוּר‎) or Asshur[a] was the second son of Shem, the son of Noah. Ashur's brothers were Elam, Arphaxad, Lud, and Aram.

The Hebrew text of Genesis 10:11 is somewhat ambiguous as to whether it was Asshur himself, or Nimrod who, according to Biblical tradition, built the Assyrian cities of Nineveh, Resen, Rehoboth-Ir and Calah, since the name Asshur can refer to both the person and the country (Genesis 10:8–12 AV, Genesis 10:8–12 ESV).[1] Sir Walter Raleigh devoted several pages in his History of the World (c. 1616) to reciting past scholarship regarding the question of whether it had been Nimrod or Ashur who built the cities in Assyria,[2] but the Book of Jubilees 9:3 clarifies these erroneous waves of thought stating, "And for Asshur came forth the second Portion, all the land of Asshur and Nineveh and Shinar and to the border of India, and it ascends and skirts the river.".

According to the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, the Greek Septuagint; which is a Greek translation of the Hebrew version, the Geneva Bible, and both the 1611 and New King James Versions, it was Ashur who was accredited as being the founder of the cities of Nineveh, Rehoboth, Calah, and Resen.[3][4][5][6] The 1st century Judaeo-Roman historian Flavius Josephus gives the following statement: "Ashur lived at the city of Nineveh; and named his subjects Assyrians, who became the most fortunate nation, beyond others" (Antiquities, i, vi, 4). Assyrians, prior to making Ashurian "Aramaic" the lingua franca, wrote and spoke Akkadian. The Fast of Nineveh, from the biblical story of Jonah, is still observed by all Syriac speaking Churches. The Nineveh Plain Protection Units was founded in 2014 by the Assyrian Democratic Movement of Iraq in defense of the indigenous Syriac speaking populace of Nineveh Governornate.

Ashur the son of Shem is sometimes compared with the figure of the deity Ashur, for whom a temple was dedicated in the early capital city of Aššur—traditionally by an early Assyrian king named Ushpia in ca. the 21st century BC. It is highly likely that the city and indeed the Assyrian nation and people, were named in honour of this deity.[citation needed]

Ashur, father of Tekoa[edit]

Another Ashur, the father of Tekoa, is mentioned in 1 Chronicles 4 among the Judahite descendants.[7]


Helah was the first wife of Ashur and Naarah was his second wife.[citation needed] The name "na'arah" means "girl" or "maiden" in Hebrew. Naarah was of the tribe of Judah and gave birth to Ahuzam, Hepher, Temeni, and Haahashtari (1 Chr. 4:5, 6).


  1. ^ The name is often transliterated as Asshur to reflect the pointing of Hebrew letter 'ש' (Shin) in the Masoretic text, which doubles the 'ש'


  1. ^ Samuel Shuckford; James Talboys Wheeler (1858), The sacred and profane history of the world connected, Vol.1, pp. 106–107 
  2. ^ Walter Raleigh, History of the World p. 358–365
  3. ^ Greek Septuagint. 
  4. ^ Geneva Bible. 
  5. ^ 1611 King James Bible. 
  6. ^ New King James Version. 
  7. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Assur (2)". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.