Eagle's Eye: Ancient Assyrians alive!
The Assyrians literally believe in one passage in the Bible which
says, "In that day there shall be a way from Egypt to the Assyrians
and the Assyrian shall enter into Egypt and the Egyptian to the
Assyrians and the Egyptians shall serve the Assyrian-
I nearly fell out of my chair when I stumbled over a tiny piece of
news about the fact that August 7th is declared as the Memorial Day
for Assyrian Martyrs. Assyrians? Surely somebody is pulling my leg or
its April fool's day. Assyrians as a people died out millennia ago
and for a press release coming out commemorating August 7th as
Martyr's day for them sounded a total joke to me. After I had managed
to drag my carcass up from the floor, collected my jaw and settle
down my oculars, I went digging into this strange and interesting
news-story which I thought I would share with you dear readers. Here
is what I found out.
There are approximately 1.8 million Assyrians scattered around the
globe, but mainly in Iraq, USA and Syria. Previously inhabiting a
swathe of territory ranging from Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran and bits
of the Caucuses, genocide and ethnic cleansing meant that a lot of
them have emigrated to other countries. The link to the ancient
Assyrians seems to be a bit weak and not very clear, but I suppose it
is very difficult to establish it either way, even with DNA testing.
What is interesting is that these modern day Assyrians have a
different culture, language and religion to their Iraqi, Kurdish,
Iranian and Syrian neighbours.
The language spoken by the Assyrians is Aramaic. If one is a movie
goer or follows the tinsel-town news, one would know that Mel Gibson
recently made a film about Jesus and used Aramaic in this film.
Historians posit that the language of Jesus and the early Christians
was Aramaic. Of course, any language would change over the course of
couple of millennia, but it is apparently still heavily related to
its roots of ancient Aramaic. The current day language borrows from
Hebrew, Arabic, Syriac and Akkadian languages. The religion which
they follow is Christianity and they follow the Chaldean Church of
Babylon in Iraq, the Assyrian Church or Chaldean or Assyro-Chaldean
Church in Syria and Church of the East in Iran. There seems to be
some confusion but the Syrian Orthodox Church who also consider
themselves as Assyrians or Arameans. Be that as it may, these are
minor details. There has been much to'ing and fro'ing between the
Roman Catholic Church of Rome with some elements of the Church of the
East becoming catholic, while others have maintained their own unique
church, liturgy and theological aspects.
An interesting aside, the Assyrians literally believe in one passage
in the Bible which says, "In that day there shall be a way from Egypt
to the Assyrians and the Assyrian shall enter into Egypt and the
Egyptian to the Assyrians and the Egyptians shall serve the Assyrian.
In that day shall Israel be the third to the Egyptian and the
Assyrian: a blessing in the midst of the land, Which the Lord of
hosts hath blessed, saying: "Blessed be my people of Egypt, and the
work of my hands to the Assyrian: but Israel is my inheritance."
(Isaiah 19:23-25)." This has been repeated in many Assyrian websites
and mailing lists, it is an article of faith for them. Egypt is their
promised land and between Egypt and Israel, the Assyrians will be the
lord and masters. Now the situation in the Middle East is difficult
and convoluted enough to attempt to understand without bringing in
more complexity like this.
Imagine me writing an alternative history of the region, or a fantasy
tract. And then we have these Assyrians coming over the hills (or is
that the Golan Heights?) and sweeping the Israeli's and Egyptian
border pickets and armies away, the respective armies melting away
and a new Assyrian state is born in this region. Many have created a
state in this area comprising of Israel major and Egypt in the past,
such as the Romans, Ottomans, etc but this one should be good and
interesting. It will really set the local politics alight. I wonder
what will happen to the various other 'promised land theories'?
Actually, here's a theological quandary for you, if the God of the
Christians, Jews and Muslims is the same, how did he manage to
promise the same few kms of land to so many different people?