Allow me first to write that I'm glad to read such comments in order to be able to correct many misconceptions and wrong judgements which are passed upon the ancient Assyrians. I should make it a point and case to put not a penny but a dollar aside for every time I see an article repeating that the ancient Assyrians were "ruthless" people but no one mentions the accomplishments and the civilization that the ancient Assyrians left for the world, in addition to being the first people to believe in the message of salvation and spreading it as far as India, Mongolia, Soumatra, Japan, China, Azerbaijan, and so on with their monuments being witnesses to that great effort long before Marco Polo or the Roman Catholic Church set foot in those remote lands, the missionaries of the Holy Church of The East a.k.a. The
I quote the comments of anonymous in full because I am sympathetic to the plight of the Assyrians who are alive today. Their culture has survived even though the Assyrians had to endure much persecution. There are, however, a few points in his comments that need to be addressed.
1. The Bible and history show that the Assyrians imposed a policy of terror and violence upon their enemies. The Assyrian monuments give full evidence of their brutality. The graphic above shows Tiglath-pileser III besieging a city and bodies of dead enemies impaled and piled up on the ground.
2. The conversion of the Assyrians is a matter of debate. The book of Nahum gives no indication that the Assyrians were converted. The people who settled in
3. The original language of the Hebrew people was a dialect of Canaanite; the language spoken by
In fact, when the Assyrians invaded
When the Assyrian officers spoke to the officers of Hezekiah, the Israelite officials said to the Assyrian field commander: “Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, since we understand it. Don't speak to us in Hebrew in the hearing of the people on the wall” (2 Kings 18:26).
After the Assyrians established their empire, Aramaic became the language of the Ancient Near East. This is seen when the Bible says that some of the Jews who returned from exile had a difficult time preserving their native language.
The book of Nehemiah says that of the people who came back, “Half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod or the language of one of the other peoples, and did not know how to speak the language of Judah” (Nehemiah 13:24). Thus, when Ezra read the Law of Moses he had to translate it to the people: “Ezra read from the book of the Law of God, translating and giving the sense; so the reading was understood” (Nehemiah 8:8 NJB).
4. Anonymous wrote: “The word which you used in the article as niphal is the Assyrian word napla from the verb napel meaning to fall.”
This is not correct. The word “Niphal” does not come from “naphal” (נפל), a Hebrew word meaning “to fall.” Rather, the word “Niphal” comes from the Hebrew word “pa`al” (פעל) a Hebrew verb meaning “work.” It is also the Modern Hebrew word for “verb.” The word “Niphal” (נפעל) is the word “pa`al” (פעל) with the prefix נ (a preformative) attached to the word “pa`al” to give a passive or reflexive meaning to a verb.
The Bible is not completely negative about the Assyrians. There are several passages in the Old Testament that seem to indicate that
In that day
In this passage, the prophet affirms that in the last days
In this passage, God calls
This passage describes in a parabolic manner the greatness that was
From these passages we discover that God has a plan for
Many Assyrians today are Christians. According to estimates, there are about 4,000.000 Assyrians in the world today. Of these, 3,000,000 still live in the Middle East; most of them live in
If anyone wants to know more about Assyrian Christians, a good source is Assyria: The Forgotten Nation in Prophecy by John Booko. Booko is an Assyrian American and an alumnus of Northern Seminary. Booko’s book takes a maximalist view of
The book Assyria: The Forgotten Nation in Prophecy can be ordered from:
Tags: Archaeology, Aramaic, Assyria
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary