I'm having trouble describing economic systems, social systems, and military achievements for the following empires: Assyrian, Phoenician, Persian, and Hebrew (and I don't think Hebrews were an empire). Please help!

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To help you get started on this assignment, let's identify some of the characteristics of the Assyrian, Phoenician, and Persian empires. Then we'll talk about the Hebrews.

The Assyrian empire was a military empire. It raised large, well-organized armies that ravaged enemies with chariots, well-trained infantry, and sieges. They terrorized nearly everyone in surrounding regions and grew rich off of the plunder. Surprisingly, the Assyrians are also known for their art and architecture, the remnants of which provide important information about their religion, their government, and their laws. In terms of social structure, Assyria had a king, who was assisted by government officials, priests, and scribes. Lower classes included merchants, artisans, and farmers, with slaves at the very bottom of the ladder. Economically, the Assyrians traded widely (when they weren't fighting) and practiced agriculture.

Now let's think about the Phoenicians. These people were sailors and build up a thriving economy on trade, especially in luxury goods. They were essentially the middlemen of the ancient world, carrying goods all over the Mediterranean world and even as far away as Britain. Socially, the Phoenicians are famous for contributing the first phonetic alphabet to world history. Writing was, after all, important; they had to keep track of their trade deals and profits! In terms of social structure, a few rich merchant families headed up the Phoenician empire, assisted by religious authorities. Militarily, things were pretty quiet with the Phoenicians. War disrupted trade, after all. Yet the Phoenicians did participate in the Punic Wars and also built warships.

The Persians were an empire with a king—namely, Cyrus the Great and his successors. Cyrus was also a great military leader who spread his empire far and wide. Cyrus, however, tended to be tolerant of the varying customs and beliefs within his empire and decided that he would rather let his people keep their unique cultures and learn from them than make everyone conform. Cyrus appointed satraps, or provincial governors, to manage remote areas of his kingdom. Economically, the Persians practiced agriculture, but the economy actually flourished mostly through taxes and tributes paid by the diverse peoples in the large empire.

Now let's think about the Hebrews. You are right; the Hebrews were not an empire, yet they certainly had their own social and economic structures and even some military accomplishments. The Hebrews focused their life around their religion. Socially, they were governed first by Moses and Joshua, then by judges, and finally by a series of kings starting with Saul and David. They were split into twelve tribes according to their original ancestors. Economically, the Hebrews were largely devoted to agriculture, and the economy was directed toward religion, with each Hebrew paying part of his crops to the priests at certain times of the year. Militarily, the Hebrews partly conquered the peoples already living in their promised homeland as they entered from Egypt and their wanderings in the wilderness. The judges and the kings, especially Saul and David, also attained many military victories.

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