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An Important Lesson from the Fertile Crescent: What Corporate Christianity learned from the Assyrian Empire

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[Immediate Update, here, deletes the top portion of post for a separate one. It quoted from Mohawk Nation News. I tend to contrast and compare, but the transcontinental jump (North America . .. Middle East/Fertile Crescent, etc.) would probably prompt readers to hit the “eject” switch en route.

THIS one relates Assyria (then and now) and its god and practices to Christianity (ditto). It is a good history lesson; better told on the links than right here.

The next one is simply going to remind us that other cultures probably really did have it better, and to get back to “better,” we can’t reverse the clock and layer a “tribal model” into an “empire” situation. Both world views affect all aspects of life for almost everyone (welll, everyone) living under them. There has to be a better way, and while sponsoring “responsible fatherhood” from the corporate model to counter the welfare model may sound like a good idea — it’s not. Both are doing it atop the “empire” model which is wealth accumulation through expanding the empire and taking tribute. In our time, the tribute includes the income tax.

The Mohawk, and many other tribal, models apparently had more equality between the sexes, and because they were NOT building empires, and so excavating the earth for skyscrapers (a.k.a. civilization) — they didn’t have such need of vast slave labor forces and vast tributes (last I heard). They have had slaves, and tributes — but I’m talking the technologies that so leverage differences they have refined and perfected how to change worldviews of entire populations (and wipe out or marginalize those who differ) — that there remains pollution, genocide and exterminations.

I think this has to be discussed. However, in a wealth-based religious society based on the (Western) monarchy model (as applied in the judicial system which, you should know by now, is being globalized to match other countries under either constitutional monarchies, a commonwealth, or even socialism) our days and times are pre-occupied with servicing the national gods. This includes dominating at least married women (and by and large, all of us) such that we, meaning women of a variety of backgrounds, have to actually clamber up the ladder (hierarchy) or collect around the religious institutions, or around the public schools –or, as possible, dominate the web somehow — and it’s difficult to find a real, genuine connection free from that static.

Blogs, incidentally, aren’t so interactive as they seem. They are “conduit” technology based on “tell.” The issue there becomes a confusion and lack of personal organizing principle — all is organized around the search engine results and browsers, not to mention we also organize our priorities to maintain internet access or travel to where it’s free. This provides wider — but shallower — connections between human beings who may never live in the same community. a LOT is lost in translation that your average woman would pick up in a few hours in the other person’s presence, or working with them.

Most tools extend the reach of people — that’s their purpose. There are pros and cons to the detachment, one of which is, less information comes to the recipient.

And that’s something entirely lost in a commerce-driven globe. (Oh well…..)


This is the continuation from the last post. I just want the information available; and only learned about Peter BatBasoo (author, below) yesterday. However, I tend to keep an ear to the ground on the matter of the development of Christianity and its transformation into an empire; it has been pretty well a life-long interest. I never realized it might be useful for saving lives, but who knows?

Below here, there is a segment with an Orthodox Rabbi (not to mention with military experience and an attorney) who is reviewing a book I’ve quoted before about when Christianity Incorporated, i.e., doctrine was decreed by a Roman Emperor, and heresy suppressed. Ironically, this same person (“Dr. Israel Drazin,” and that’s only part of the available titles) was trained at a Baltimore yeshiva, “Ner Israel” which made headlines for — what else — molestation of some of the young men & boys (it’s all-male) coming up through the ranks. THat’s a live issue and I included it.

The history of the Assyrians (you’ll see) is interlaced with the history of the “Arameans” who are different people living in the same area. Language changes are involved, as Aramaic was a common language of the Bible times (Jesus spoke it), even after the Assyrians had conquered the area. Possible parallel, if in our country, while bilingual (or more) we picked a primary language of trade, and it was, for example, Spanish, and eventually English was only for certain circles or spheres of society.

This becomes interesting because Dr. Drazin is also heavily involved in Aramaic studies — see below. This is understandable, given his background and interests. It must go with the territory. What I find ironic is, he admitted that he was able to go get all those degrees and write so many books in part because of the support of his wife, who took over some of his “husband” duties (It doesn’t say what; I find it hard to believe that might include providing income)….

I suppose I could produce shorter posts if I would shut up, and quit posting quotations to prove a point, or illustrate one. Anyhow, here it is, not heavily revised or re-arranged, just posting.

(Assyria and the Costs of the Gift of Civilization)

Assyrian Empire, Christian Empire-Building: (Religion and War)


I am reminded of an article on the Assyrian empire (see “Middle East”) and the terroristic tactics used to expand. I am reminded of a telling phrase that the business of empires was to expand territories (plundering as they went) and with the spoil, building monuments to the local gods. Sound familiar?

In reading this summary by Peter BatBasoo (as sometimes happens when I read) the history extends right up to this century, as Assyrians, whose original home was in the Plains of Nineveh, Tigris, Mesopotamia (I think you get the general idea) are now being persecuted in Iraq, primarily for their Christianity; i.e., post-Saddam.

It gets down to the concept of empire-building. The “Empire” of Assyria fell (in 612 B.C.?) but the people — and its core ideas — continued. Descendants remain. As the Assyrians appear to have converted to Christianity early and Christianity at some point in time became associated with “national God/Empire-building” and how that works, it all gets rather interesting.

Here’s a brief history establishing that the concept of Asshur, imperial expansion with regional governors, and Christianity, when introduced (same general idea) were quite compatible. Note the timeframes:

The Assyrian land is rich and fertile, with growing fields found in every region. Two large areas comprise the Assyrian breadbasket: the Arbel plain and the Nineveh plain. To this day these areas remain critical crop producers. This is from where Assyria derived her strength, as it could feed a large population of professionals and craftsman, which allowed it to expand and advance the art of civilization.


Between 4500 and 2400 B.C., complex societies appear in the form of cities, with craft specialization and writing. These featureswere associated with the Sumerians, but they quickly spread to other parts of Mesopotamia, including Assyria. In Assyria, settlements had become large and guarded by fortifications walls, which implies the risk of attack from outside, and hence the need for defense and warfare.First Golden Age: 2400 B.C. to 612 B.C.
We enter into an extremely fruitful period in Assyrian History. This period would see 1800 years of Assyrian hegemony over Mesopotamia, beginning with Sargon of Akkad in 2371 B.C. and ending with the tragic fall of Nineveh in 612 B.C.

Sargon of Akkad established his kingdom in 2371 B.C., becoming the first king to assert control outside of his city-state. His model would be followed by all succeeding empires, down to our times. From his base at Akkad, south of Baghdad, Sargon would come to control territories stretching north to Ashur and west to the Mediterranean.

…Assyrian kings had a problem with immigration. They tried to stamp it out, but failed.

“The Middle Assyrian empire began in 1307 B.C. with Tiglath-Pileser, who greatly expanded Assyrian territory. It is also during his reign that a significant development occurs, that of the Aramean migrations into Assyria. This would have a profound impact on Assyria and Assyrians, as we shall see. Tiglath-Pileser states “I crossed the Euphrates twenty eight times…in pursuit of the Arameans.” This would ultimately prove unsuccessful.

Of course in “Arameans” I think of “Aramaic,” which language brings us into the realm of the history of the scriptures. Quick Reference from “Assyrians in Iran“:

The term “Assyrian.” Assyrians (Āšūrīs) is the term for the modern, East Syrian Christian communities in Iran. The ancient name “Assyrian,” derived from that of the god Aššur, designated the Semitic population of north Mesopotamia and their capital city. Even before the final destruction of the Assyrian empire in 612 B.C., its population had become largely Aramaic-speaking; knowledge of its ancient language, Akkadian, had become restricted to the educated people and to scribes.

This facilitated the rise of a confusion over the identity of “Assyrian.” The term “Assyrian letters” used by Herodotus (4.87) meant to Ezra (465-24 B.C., scribe to Artaxerxes I) the Aramaic alphabet he used as a scribe; with it he transcribed the Pentateuch from the ancient Hebrew script, and he read these scriptures in this form before the Jewish congregation in 444 B.C. (Nehemiah 8). The Hebrew square-letter script was developed from this alphabet and is still called keṯāḇ aššūrī, “Assyrian script” and until the last century, the language of the Aramaic portions of the Bible continued to be called “Chaldean.”

(Feb. 2013, Smithsonian) “How to Save A Dying Language” by Ariel Sabar, under “Ideas and Innovations”

It was a sunny morning in May, and I was in a car with a linguist and a tax preparer trolling the suburbs of Chicago for native speakers of Aramaic, the 3,000-year-old language of Jesus.

The linguist, Geoffrey Khan of the University of Cambridge, was nominally in town to give a speech at Northwestern University, in Evanston. But he had another agenda: Chicago’s northern suburbs are home to tens of thousands of Assyrians, Aramaic-speaking Christians driven from their Middle Eastern homelands by persecution and war. The Windy City is a heady place for one of the world’s foremost scholars of modern Aramaic, a man bent on documenting all of its dialects before the language—once the tongue of empires—follows its last speakers to the grave.

. . .
Aramaic, a Semitic language related to Hebrew and Arabic, was the common tongue of the entire Middle East when the Middle East was the crossroads of the world. People used it for commerce and government across territory stretching from Egypt and the Holy Land to India and China. Parts of the Bible and the Jewish Talmud were written in it; the original “writing on the wall,” presaging the fall of the Babylonians, was composed in it. As Jesus died on the cross, he cried in Aramaic, “Elahi, Elahi, lema shabaqtani?” (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”)

But Aramaic is down now to its last generation or two of speakers, most of them scattered over the past century from homelands where their language once flourished. In their new lands, few children and even fewer grandchildren learn it. (My father, a Jew born in Kurdish Iraq, is a native speaker and scholar of Aramaic; I grew up in Los Angeles and know just a few words.) This generational rupture marks a language’s last days. . .


Its first speakers, the Arameans, were desert nomads. (The Bible describes the mythic forebear of the Hebrews as “a wandering Aramean.”) Spreading out from ancient Syria, they so blanketed Mesopotamia that when the Assyrians conquered the Middle East in the eighth century B.C., they adopted Aramaic—not their own tongue, Akkadian—as a language of empire. So did the Babylonians when they vanquished the Assyrians, and the Persians when they toppled the Babylonians. The language crossed the lips of Christians, Jews, Mandeans,Manicheans, Muslims, Samaritans, Zoroastrians and pagans.The writing on the wall (the proverbial sort) came for Aramaic in the seventh century A.D., when Muslim armies from Arabia conquered the Middle East, and Arabic routed Aramaic as the region’s lingua franca. Aramaic survived only in the Kurdish mountains of Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria, places so remote they never got the memo. Jews and Christians there (though not Muslims, who spoke Kurdish) kept up Aramaic as an everyday tongue for another 1,300 years.

Another (shorter) summary of The Aramaeans, although I haven’t checked its source, which looks to possibly be religious….

In considering “RESPONSIBLE FATHERHOOD” I see it as a SYSTEM OF DOMINATION and also understand it in terms of how this concept — which was not grass-roots, but from the font of the federal fountain — has been used to establish a more centralized form of control of the entire country, through controlling the courts which control families, and in addition the “faith-based institutions” which also control individual families. As these same families are experiencing a WHOLE lot of violence in the home through this theory and the concept of justice has been eroded to be defined by gender, etc. — I think a historic retrospective IS in place. Again, this seems consistent with the concept of Empire and my personal understanding of how that Roman one — consolidated the faith under Constantine, then Theodosius (see “AD 381: Heretics, Pagans and the Dawn of the Monotheistic State (C. Freeman” ) (Review by Barbara Buzzard). An easier to read review, here, with the author of the review being quite an interesting guy himself… as also seen here: how often do you read the description: “Brigadier General Dr. Rabbi Israel Drazin“? Do check out the bio (lest you think the review was the result of a sloppy, lazy thinker… I do have to note, after all the degrees

Oct 29, 2009 — Rabbi Israel Drazin was ordained as a rabbi in 1957 at Ner Israel Rabbinical College [[founded 1933, all-male yeshiva, Lithuanian-style…**]] in Baltimore, Maryland. After receiving semichot from two other rabbis, he entered Army active duty, serving until 1960 in both Louisiana and Germany. He left active duty in 1960 and officiated as a weekend rabbi at synagogues until 1974 and then officiated as a rabbi on an intermittent basis until 1987.
[[para added]]
He also continued to served in the Army’s active reserves, soldiering with half a dozen units. He attained the rank of Brigadier General in 1984. He graduated the U.S. Army’s Command and General Staff College and its War College for generals in 1985. Additional degrees include a B.A. in Theology (1957), an M.Ed. in Psychology (1966), a JD (1974), an MA in Hebrew Literature (1978), and a Ph.D. in Aramaic Literature (1981). Thereafter, he completed two years of post-graduate study in philosophy and mysticism.. . . .


“My father, mother and other relatives were all highly educated in both Torah and secular matters. In truth, I became a rabbi only because of the information I could acquire, not to serve as a pulpit rabbi. I entered the military at a time that Iwas tired of studying and wanted to get away from it. This period of alienation from study only lasted for a few weeks. I took books along with me to basic training.”Since I was young, I have never been able to do only a single thing at one time. That’s why my career is so varied. Today, I write on the Targum with Stanley Wagner, write books on philosophy with a totally different worldview, write book reviews on history, philosophy, the holocaust and mystery novels. I read 150 books a year. I am grateful beyond measure that my wife, Dina, accomodates my needs by doing most of the functions that a husband generally performs.”

[[top part indicates after getting a J.D> in 1974, he opened a law practice and continued in it til retiring in 1997]]…

[[Definitely Orthodox: Also see: Ner Israel Rabbinical College of Baltimoore has a Sexual Predator R’Moshe Eisemann and Will Not Terminate Him! from “Unorthodox Jew: A Critical View of Orthodox Judaism.” I’m not ready to get into this one, but you know the topic. The article is dated July 2006. Discussed at length 2007 in the Jewish Times. Warning, may trigger some stuff reading — but in the end and interview with one of the individuals, who said he went to the opposite extreme, joined the Marines, stayed single all his life and was lost to “orthodoxy,” the commentary was:

In the Phoenix restaurant, he said the Rabbi Eisemann incident wasn’t the exclusive reason he wasn’t interested in Judaism any longer. It was just part of the process that turned him off.

“People like me could have been directed better,” he said. “But everyone did the same thing, ‘Shut up and do this.’ They would tear the covers off of Agatha Christie books because there was a woman on them. They lost us to unorthodoxy and to wandering in the land. They didn’t teach us spirituality. They taught us religion. It was sit-down-and-shut-up stuff.”

[[Definitely disciplined scholarship (and for men only). See description…hover cursor.]]

Mr. Simms takes some gulps of coffee from a brown cup.

“This was all a huge chilul HaShem,” he said. “For me, it was an encounter with evil. But it was also the whole Tevya, ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ thing. There was no room for question; You did things because you were told to do them. Even if it meant getting molested. Who knows what this guy did? Who knows?”

Note: The connection above with was “Ner Israel” of Baltimore, and not with “Brigadier General Dr. Rabbi Drazin,” below.

A.D. 381, Heretics, Pagans and the Dawn of the Monotheistic StateReviewed by Israel Drazin – March 16, 2010

Charles Freeman presents an excellent, readable, and surprising history of Christianity, filled with many unknown facts, that focus around the events of the year 381 when the Roman Emperor Theodosius issued a decree mandating that all Christians believe in the Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, an idea not contained in the New Testament and rejected by most Christians at that time. Theodosius called those who refused to accept his view “demented and insane heretics.”

Freeman shows how many early Christians enjoyed a diverse spiritual life. The court orator Themistius, for example, wrote in 360 that religious belief should not be controlled by the state or by the inclinations and motivations of certain popular clergy. He said that God “enjoyed being worshipped in a variety of ways.”
[para added]
Freeman writes: “It is one of the tragedies of western thought that this approach was, in effect, suppressed as a result of Theodosius’ decrees against ‘heretics’ and pagans in” 381. As a result, countless thinking men and women lived under the continual threat of excommunication and the promise of eternal punishment in fiery hell, a concept and threat that had not existed previously. It was not until the seventeenth century that religious toleration was reinstated, and then only partially.

This insistence upon acquiescence to a single idea is startling since it ignores Church history. Only sixty years earlier, in 313, the emperor Constantine had issued an Edict of Toleration in which he had removed Christianity from being a despised religion and promised “that no one whatsoever should be denied freedom to devote himself either to the cult of Christians or to such religion as he deems best suited for himself.” Now, the religion that had been despised was despising many of its own faith.

Freeman shows how emperors and clergy with non-religious motivations brought about many Christian innovations. Besides the court decrees of Constantine and Theodosius and other government officials for civic reasons, to assure peace, priests pushed ideas to help their advancements and the money and freedom from taxes that accompanied it. “The high level of religious violence (to secure higher level priestly posts) has been largely ignored by historians…almost every vacant bishopric gave rise to murder and intimidation as rival candidates fought for the position.

Freeman’s book has many other insights and whether one agrees with his history or not, it is worth reading since it offers many facts and is thought provoking.

Dr. Israel Drazin is the author of fifteen books, including a series of five volumes on the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible, which he co-authors with Rabbi Dr. Stanley M. Wagner, and a series of four books on the twelfth century philosopher Moses Maimonides, the latest being Maimonides: Reason Above All, published by Gefen Publishing House, http://www.gefenpublishing.com. The Orthodox Union (OU) publishes daily samples of the Targum books on http://www.ouradio.org.

Trust me, the dots connect. My post says, not to confunse a LABEL with the CONTENTS. This also goes for the label “Christian.” I find it relevant, as I have said often on this blog, my experience of being a MARRIED Christian exactly parallels violence, and more violence; in fact, it could be called “Violence + Communal Silence” although I was hardly myself silent about it. Violence does, however, have a suppressive quality to it. Some people anguish over “abuse in the church.” I don’t. I have simply understood there are more accurate definitions for the word “church” and better understandings of why it’s such a VIOLENT institution…. and why this kind of VIOLENCE has to SILENCE the voices of women. And minorities. And other subjugated populations — for the good of the empire-building state’s economic welfare (used to further its control and standing professionalized armies) and its chief God/s…

So, I’m going to drag us through some of the history of Assyria, a prosperous area of Tigris and Euphrates which gave us the gift of civilization, and with it commerce, and unending wars, and the unifying factor of a national religion. Although officially we do not have a national religion, or God….

We’re talking north of Baghdad, on the banks of the Tigris, and dating back many millennia.

http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1130 The City of “Ashur” made the “world heritage in danger” list in 2003 for reasons which relate to an American President at the time, and a certain invasion of Iraq:

Inscription Year on the List of World Heritage in Danger: 2003
Brief Description
The ancient city of Ashur is located on the Tigris River in northern Mesopotamia in a specific geo-ecological zone, at the borderline between rain-fed and irrigation agriculture. The city dates back to the 3rd millennium BC. From the 14th to the 9th centuries BC it was the first capital of the Assyrian Empire, a city-state and trading platform of international importance. It also served as the religious capital of the Assyrians, associated with the god Ashur. The city was destroyed by the Babylonians, but revived during the Parthian period in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD.

ASSYRIA — ASHUR….
From “Brief History of Assyrians” by Pete BetBasoo

ALPHABET:

Assyrians have used two languages throughout their history: ancient Assyrian (Akkadian), and Modern Assyrian (neo-syriac). Akkadian was written with the cuneiform writing system, on clay tablets, and was in use from the beginning to about 750 B.C.. By 750 B.C., a new way of writing, on parchment, leather, or papyrus, was developed, and the people who brought this method of writing with them, the Arameans, would eventually see their language, Aramaic, supplant Ancient Assyrian because of the technological breakthrough in writing. Aramaic was made the second official language of the Assyrian empire in 752 B.C. Although Assyrians switched to Aramaic, it was not wholesale transplantation. The brand of Aramaic that Assyrians spoke was, and is, heavily infused with Akkadian words, so much so that scholars refer to it as Assyrian Aramaic.

RELIGION/MAIN GOD:

Assyrians have practiced two religions throughout their history: Ashurism and Christianity. Ashurism was, of course, the first religion of the Assyrians. The very word Assyrian, in its Latin form, derives from the name of Ashur, the Assyrian god. Assyrians continued to practice Ashurism until 256 A.D, although by that time, most Assyrians had accepted Christianity. Indeed, Assyrians were the first nation to accept Christianity, and the Assyrian Church was founded in 33 A.D. by Thomas, Bortholemew and Thaddeus.

Apparently it was a natural transition. As it turns out, ancient Assyria and modern Christianity are very, very much closely linked with imperialist expansion and subjugation of neighboring tribes, with the purpose of obtaining tribute, developing standing armies, and covering the trade routes…. This gets interesting around “Fathers’ Day” and “Responsible Fatherhood” (to me, that is) as we notice the composition of Congress, and how dominantly Christian it is, and of course how male it is. As Christians and males who rule the provinces well, it seems apt to keep the focus on the national God/s and not the activities of expansion, taking tribute, and stamping out dissent….

Ashur, the National God of Assyria (more than you ever wanted to know about it….from “Myths of Babylonia and Assyria” by Peter MacKenzie (1915)…

THE rise of Assyria brings into prominence the national god Ashur, who had been the city god of Asshur, the ancient capital. When first met with, he is found to be a complex and mystical deity, and the problem of his origin is consequently rendered exceedingly difficult. Philologists are not agreed as to the derivation of his name, and present as varied views as they do when dealing with the name of Osiris. Some give Ashur a geographical significance, urging that its original form was Aushar, “water field”; others prefer the renderings “Holy”, “the Beneficent One”, or “the Merciful One”; while not a few regard Ashur as simply a dialectic form of the name of Anshar, the god who, in the Assyrian version, or copy, of the Babylonian Creation myth, is chief of the “host of heaven”, and the father of Anu, Ea, and Enlil.
. . .

I think it’s about time to examine the analogies and references, as I consider the “tree” (or as it were, “rivers”), the fount of federal blessings from whom all funding flows, and the priestly (faith-based?) caste which eats from its waters. Or is it a TREE? These are symbolic languages with some present-day realities….

>Assyria’s greatness was reflected by Ashur, but he also reflected the origin and growth of that greatness. The civilization of which he was a product had an agricultural basis. It began with the development of the natural resources of Assyria, as was recognized by the Hebrew prophet, who said: “Behold, the Assyrian was a cedar in Lebanon with fair branches. . . . The waters made him great, the deep set him up on high with her rivers running round about his plants, and sent out her little rivers unto all the trees of the field. Therefore his height was exalted above all the trees of the field, and his boughs were multiplied, and his branches became long because of the multitude of waters when he shot forth. All the fowls of heaven made their nests in his boughs, and under his branches did all the beasts of the field bring forth their young, and under his shadow dwelt all great nations.

Thus was he fair in his greatness, in the length of his branches; for his root was by great waters. The cedars in the garden of God could not hide him: the fir trees were not like his boughs, and the chestnut trees were not like his branches; nor any tree in the garden of God was like unto him in his beauty.” 1

Asshur, the ancient capital, was famous for its merchants. It is referred to in the Bible as one of the cities which traded with Tyre “in all sorts of things, in blue clothes, and broidered work, and in chests of rich apparel, bound with cords, and made of cedar”. 1

As a military power, Assyria’s name was dreaded. “Behold,” Isaiah said, addressing King Hezekiah, “thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands by destroying them utterly.” 2 The same prophet, when foretelling how Israel would suffer, exclaimed: “O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation. I will send him against an hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets</strong<.” 3

A tree by the waters representing a LONG reach and sustaining birds and beasts, and being fed from the waters, this tree reached a very high statur. “All the fowls of heaven… all the beasts of the field under his branches..” “Under his shadow dwelt all great nations.” SUSTENANCE under which birds and beasts (and “all great nations”) not to mention COMMERCE, and ARMIES (the military). In Isaiah’s prophecy, Assyria was being sent by God to punish Israel for its hypocrisy.

This is indeed what empires do to this day, and it seems what this one also did… Once subjugated, of course they paid tribute….

“From further down, same site:

But it is not only things that originated in Assyria, it is also ideas, ideas that would shape the world to come. It is the idea, for example, of imperial administration, of dividing the land into territories administered by local governors who report to the central authority, the King of Assyria. This fundamental model of administration has survived to this day, as can be seen in America’s federal-state system.


It is in Assyria where the mythological foundation of the old and new testament is found. It is here that the story of the flood originates, 2000 years before the old testamentis written. It is here that the first epicis written, the Epic of Gilgamesh, with its universal and timeless theme of the struggle and purpose of humanity. It is here that civilization itselfis developed and handed down to future generations. It is here where the first steps in the cultural unification of the Middle Eastare taken by bringing under Assyrian rule the diverse groups in the area, from Iran to Egypt, breaking down ethnic and national barriers and preparing the way for the cultural unification whichfacilitated the subsequent spread of Hellenism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.


(in reverse paragraph order, let us think about the cost of the gift of civilization)

The Assyrian empires, particularly the third one, had a profound and lasting impact on the Near East. Before Assyrian hegemony would come to an end, the Assyrians would bring the highest civilization to the then known world. From the Caspian to Cyprus, from Anatolia to Egypt, Assyrian imperial expansion would bring into the Assyrian sphere nomadic and barbaric communities, and would bestow the gift of civilization upon them.

And though today we are far removed from that time, some of our most basic and fundamental devices of daily survival, to which we have become so accustomed that we cannot conceive of life without them, originated in Assyria. . . .One cannot imagine driving without paved roads; it is in Assyria where paved roads were first used. And the list goes on, including the first postal system, the first use of iron, the first magnifying glasses, the first libraries, . . . and on and on.

It sounds to me like commerce comes at a price – submission.

Tiglath-Pileser III (Britannica) knew how to subjugate tribal dissent and maintain loyalty through centralized control. Definitely in Biblical times….

Tiglath-pileser III,  (flourished 8th century bc), king of Assyria (745–727 bc) who inaugurated the last and greatest phase of Assyrian expansion. He subjected Syria and Palestine to his rule, and later (729 or 728) he merged the kingdoms of Assyria and Babylonia.


As king,Tiglath-pileser III, an intelligent and vigorous man, acted swiftly. He rearranged territorial governorships by subdividing the larger provinces that had tended to strive for independence from the central power. Outside the immediate home territory he appointed Assyrian officialsto be directly responsible to him as well as to support their local ruler. By 738 there were 80 such provinces. The Assyrians had to report directly to the king, who thus was able to check continuously on the loyalty and efficiency of all of his civil servants. They were responsible for local taxation, the storage of military supplies, and the calling up of local forces to support the new Assyrian army, now a skilled professional force compared with its predecessor, which had relied on somewhat haphazard conscription. A new intelligence system, using reports transmitted by staging posts, was also created.Military campaigns.
Tiglath-pileser was thus prepared to break the stranglehold of the surrounding tribes. He first moved eastward against Zamua (modern Sulaymānīyah), then north against the Medes. Both were brought back under control of the adjacent provincial governors. The tribal lands of Puqudu, northeast of Baghdad, were joined to the Arrapkha (Kirkūk) province, thereby holding the Aramaean tribes in check. This and contiguous operations strengthened the hands of Nabonassar, the native king of Babylonia, who maintained peace until his death in 734. All this was facilitated by Tiglath-pileser’s policy of mass resettlement. Groups whose loyalty was assured, since they were now dependent on the king for protection in a foreign environment, were settled in troublesome border regions. In 742–741 alone, tens of thousands were thus resettled.

(the same) Tiglath-Pileser from “JewishEncyclopedia.com.” We are looking at our federal model; notice the importance of tribute (a.k.a. taxes):

Tiglath-pileser left several important inscriptions of his reign; but these were badly broken when discovered. Upon his accession he inaugurated a new policy for the government and administration of Assyria. Former kings had maintained by military force the union of the so-called empire; the new policy established a method of organization which more closely united the central and provincial sections of the government: systems of transportation and transplantation of strong but rebellious subjects minimized dangers that had wrecked other governments. This was the method pursued by Sargon at Samaria, by Sennacherib, and by other rulers down into Persian times.

Tiglath-pileser’s first campaign into the west country took place in 743-742, when he entered northern Syria. While here he received tribute from Rezin of Damascus and Hiram of Tyre. A two-year siege was necessary to reduce to complete submission the plucky little city of Arpad, in 740 (comp. Isa. x. 9; II Kings xix. 13). The very next year he seems to have clashed with the interests of Azariah (Uzziah), King of Judah, far in the north (comp. II Kings xiv. 28) and to have established Assyrian sovereignty there. Either in this or in the following year Menahem (II Kings xv. 19, 20), king of northern Israel, purchased his throne of the Assyrian ruler.

[[to look up Bible verses, easy enough, but one site might be http://Bible.cc]]

Not until 734 was Tiglath-pileser’s presence again required in the west. Pekah, who had secured by strategy and tragedy the throne of northern Israel, formed a league with Rezin of Damascus to withstand any further assumption of sovereignty over Israel and Syria by the power centered on the Tigris [[i.e., Assyria/this king.]]. Together they besieged Ahaz at Jerusalem, either to force him to join the anti-Assyrian coalition or to put a man of their own choice on the throne. Ahaz in desperation appealed to Tiglath-pileser for help. The Assyrian king made a dash for Damascus and laid siege to it.

In the meantime he ravaged northern Israel (comp. II Kings xv. 29) and other territory all the way to Philistia. In 732 Damascus fell (comp. Isa. viii. 4; II Kings xvi. 9). At this time apparently Ahaz, among a number of petty kings, appeared within Damascus before the throne of the great conqueror and paid the price of submission. Soon after this event, probably, Tiglath-pileser incited or encouraged Hoshea to slay Pekah, the unyielding king of northern Israel. Hoshea was rewarded by being put in authority over this Assyrian province; and Tiglath-pileser retired to the east. In 728 he became master of Babylon, and died the following year.

FROM “UCL.AC.UK,” whoever that is, I learn that this king usurped the throne (and possibly may not have been “the crown prince” at a time when Assyria’s over-extended empire was being threatened. Sorry, but this rather reminds me of the year 2000…. I also learned that his Assyrian throne name (which was less commonly known than the Biblicalized version above — as cuneiform was no longer the main language) has an interesting religious reference to the son of Asshur:

Assyrian Empire-Builders: Tiglath-Pileser (744-727 B.C.)

TIGLATH-PILESER RISE TO POWER:

In 746 BC, a rebellion took place in Kalhu, the main royal residence, and in the following year, Tiglath-pileser III seized the throne. He had certainly supported the revolt against Aššur-nerari V, as had the governors of Assur and Kalhu who were among the very few high officials who remained in power after the coup: the insurrection had clearly started at the very centre of Assyria, with the backing of some of the most senior officials. Many other governors and magnates were replaced, however, probably following their execution after Tiglath-pileser’s faction prevailed against those who remained loyal to Aššur-nerari V.

As we have very few archival texts from the reigns of Tiglath-pileser III’s immediate predecessors, we do not know under which name he was known before he became king and, crucially, whether he had been the crown prince. But it is certainly significant that Tiglath-pileser never mentions his father in his royal inscriptions even though the ancestor’s name is typically invoked in this context in order to stress the king’s legitimate claim to the throne. The omission is especially odd as, according to the Assyrian King List, Tiglath-pileser was the son of his predecessor Aššur-nerari V. >Today, it is therefore generally assumed that, although of royal blood, he was a usurper who took the Assyrian crown by force after engineering a coup against his ineffective predecessor.

As king of Assyria, he adopted the throne name Tukulti-apil-Ešarra, meaning “my trust belongs to the son of the Ešarra temple”. This name refers to Ninurta, the son and heir of Aššur, the head of the Assyrian pantheon. The significance of the name is obscured by the fact that we use “Tiglath-pileser” (or “Tiglatpileser”), a distorted Biblical form of the name, as is always the case when an Assyrian king is mentioned in the Bible: this was, after all, how the knowledge of these rulers survived when the cuneiform script was no longer in use and the memory of the Assyrian empire had faded.

In 744 BC, he founded two new provinces in the region controlled by the Medes, situated along the important trade route which we know today as the Silk Route . . . .


It can be argued that it was the decade-long experience of Assyrian vulnerability and impotence, when it was eclipsed and threatened by Urartu and had lost its hold over Syria and Babylonia, that caused Tiglath-pileser and his army to initiate the military campaigns in the west which marked the beginning of Assyria’s expansion to the Mediterranean coast, deep into Anatolia and the Zagros mountain range and to the Persian Gulf. Only under Tiglath-pileser did Assyria outgrow its traditional boundaries and was it transformed into what we today call the Assyrian empire.When Arpad was ultimately defeated, the Assyrian army did not leave, as in previous centuries: instead, the country was turned into two provinces and transformed into a permanent part of Assyria . . . .

[[Is this starting to sound familiar yet??>?]] [[Hamat had helped Arpad, therefore it had to go, too…]]

But the state of Hamat did not collapse and the fight for its independence continued, assisted by its allies Damascus PGP  and Israel. This war was decided in Assyria’s favour only six years later, in 732 BC, when the troops of Hamat and Damascus were defeated, their countries invaded and permanently annexed; at the same time, Israel was subjugated and the northern half of the kingdom integrated as the Assyrian province of Megiddo


[[The more he conquered, the more armies he could conscript; it was becoming a professional army. This explains how he kept them in check, allowing them tomaintain individual “idioscyncrasies” andvy for royal favor, while maintaining the concept of courageous death on the battlefield:]]…It would seem that most of the income provided by Tiglath-pileser’s conquests was invested in the establishment of the professional army and the maintenance of the new provinces.

(from “Assyrian Army” link):
As a consequence of the ongoing incorporation of the professional warriors of the armies of defeated neighbouring kingdoms from the 10th century BC onwards, the Assyrian army was slowly but steadily transformed into a professional standing army, with specialised soldiers largely replacing the conscripts who provided military service only during the summer months, when the agricultural calendar permitted the absence of farm workers.


Written by Let's Get Honest

June 14, 2013 at 11:07 am

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martinplaut

Journalist specialising in the Horn of Africa and Southern Africa

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