Sunday, July 03, 2011

A GLIMPSE AT MY ASSYRIAN ROOTS

By Helena Lehman
http://pillar-of-enoch.com

Shalom Everyone,

After posting the statements that I have listed below at Facebook, I was challenged to back up my claim that there is such a thing as the Assyrian people and that I may be a Lost Israelite through my connection to these practically unknown people:

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Facebook Comments:

Did any of you know that I am one quarter Assyrian (NOT Syrian, but Assyrian, a people group from Iran that are almost all Orthodox Christians today, NOT Muslim)? Furthermore, that is where the Ten Tribes from the Northern Kingdom of Israel were taken into captivity, so I could be a literal descendent of the lost Israelites, maybe even from Ephraim, the largest northern tribe.

Also interesting to note, the Assyrians speak Aramaic, the same everyday language Yahshua spoke when He walked the Earth in His First Advent. Sadly, I know only a few words of that language today though.

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In answering that challenge, this article has resulted. It begins with a short personal history, and then gives a brief history of the ancient and modern Assyrian people and their language and culture.

First of all, let me tell you a little about me. As far as my ethnic background, my father was Polish and my mother was half German and half Assyrian. Both of my parents were born in Chicago, Illinois and were American citizens. I was also born in Chicago on August 6th, 1957, which unfortunately happened to be the infamous 9th of Av on the Jewish calendar in that year.

As for what I know about my Assyrian heritage, I have some fond memories of my personal family history that my parents shared with me. Secondly, the parties that I shared with the Assyrian side of my family left a big impression on me. That is where I learned how to do Middle-Eastern style dances and where I developed my love for Middle Eastern style music. I also learned to speak a little Assyrian when I met with the Assyrian side of my family at parties and get-togethers.

Incidentally, one of the largest communities of Assyrians outside of Iran and Iraq today live in Chicago, Illinois, USA, where I was born. My mother was Mary Ann David, and her father John (Yohannon) David was a full-blooded Assyrian from Iran. My grandfather had a surviving sister named Violet (Violetta) and her married last name was Yohannon. I did not know them as well as I would have liked, but I loved my brief exposure to the exotic flavor of their culture and music, which is so different from American culture and music.

In the Bible, the Assyrians under Shalmaneser III, Tiglath-Pileser II and other kings attacked and invaded the Northern Kingdom of Israel several times, at first putting that kingdom under their subjugation but then destroying the Northern Kingdom by killing the poor and unskilled among them and then carrying off the best and most talented of the local Israelite populace and resettling them in Assyria. The Bible also tells us that the biggest tribe with the most territory in the hills of the Northern Kingdom of Israel was the Tribe of Ephraim.

The chief prophets to the Israelites in the Northern Kingdom were Hosea, Amos and Micah. Therefore, reading the Books of Hosea, Amos and Micah in the Old Testament gives many details about Yahweh God's grievances with the Northern Kingdom's spiritual adultery. These books make it clear why God allowed the Kingdom of Israel to be destroyed.

The following brief history of the Assyrian people was taken from the Chicago Assyrian Civic Club web site that was written by a full-blooded Assyrian that speaks Aramaic as their mother tongue. I have re-written the translation slightly into more understandable English. What is interesting about this history is that it makes it clear that the Assyrians are Christians that have been almost as mercilessly persecuted as the Jews in the Middle East, and also left without a homeland:

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A Brief History of the Assyrian People

Taken from the Chicago Assyrian Civic Club Web Site:
http://www.assyriancivicclub.com/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=8

The Assyrians Of Today...

The Assyrians of today are descendants of the ancient Assyrian people who built the mighty empires of Assyria and Babylonia. They rose to power and prosperity in Mesopotamia, whose mainland consists of modern-day Iraq. Assyrians played a major role in the foundation of the civilization of mankind. After the fall of the Assyrian and Babylonian empires, respectively in the seventh and sixth centuries BC., Assyrians were reduced to a small nation living at the mercy of their overlords in the vastly scattered lands in the Middle East.

Assyrian are Christians and their church dates back to the time of Christ. In the first century they were among the first people to embrace Christianity. Living apart from the Christian World, the Assyrians came almost to losing their identity as a nation. It was not until the middle of the 19th century when they came in direct contact with the western world and their existence attracted the attention of the outside world.

Thus experiencing a cultural renaissance, they built modern schools, colleges and technical institutions in Iran and Iraq during the 19th and 20th centuries. Assyrians suffered the most destructive blows because of their religion and ethnicity. They fell victim to the poor treatment inflicted upon Christians under the Ottoman Empire. Those who escaped the massacres fled their homeland to join the Assyrians living in Iran. To defend themselves, they threw their lot in with the allies in WWI and fought bravely against all odds to repulse blows coming from all sides. For their bravery in the victorious battles, British historians called them "Our Smallest Ally".

In 1918, the Assyrians were left alone, and without any support, they had no choice but to retreat from Iran to reach the British forces in Baghdad - Iraq. In this long and costly exodus, the Assyrians lost more then one-third of their population. In Baghdad, Assyrians were settled in camps and their battle tested men were recruited by the British I special military forces named "Assyrian Levies".

In return for the loss of their homeland in Hakkari, Turkey and in compensation for stupendous losses inflicted on them during the Great War (WWI), Britain, France, and Russia alike promised Assyrians a safe and independent homeland. This promise was not fulfilled and Assyrians were again betrayed and left alone in the situation that culminated in the terrible massacre of the non-combatant Assyrian population in Simeil, Iraq in 1933.

From this time on, the Assyrian Diaspora started and they began to flee in all directions as stateless refugees to find a safe haven and protect themselves from total elimination until such a day when their voice would be heard through an international forum.

In conclusion, this should be said of the Assyrians of today: although they are scattered all over the world these days, they are the descendants of a great nation and they have gained the respect of the countries that they now inhabit as citizens. In most of those countries such as the United Stated of America, Australia, Iran, and Syria, they have run for political office and have been elected to high positions, such as Senators, Congressmen and City Officials. This will continue in the future as they become more recognized as loyal citizens in their adopted countries.

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The Assyrian web sites linked to below make it clear that the Assyrian people’s Christian roots can be traced back to the first century AD. These web sites also explain that the modern Assyrian language is Aramaic, which is essentially the same language that Yahshua spoke and that part of the Old Testament was composed in. The Aramaic language is a Semitic language that can be traced to the descendents of Noah’s son Shem. Their language and alphabet are unique in the Middle East, but they are directly related to other Semitic languages such as Hebrew and Arabic.

In my dealings with the Assyrian people here in America, I have found them to be very moralistic, proud and loyal people of integrity who value their family, their Christian faith, and their unique culture. So, whether or not I am a Lost Israelite, I am proud to be part Assyrian, but far more proud to be an Israelite by adoption under the New Covenant with Yahshua.

God bless you all and Maranatha!

Helena Lehman


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Here is one of the best web sites to find out more about the Assyrians:

The Assyrian Foundation of America:
http://www.assyrianfoundation.org/

Here are some other great web sites to find out more about the Assyrians:

“Assyria Online”:
http://www.aina.org/aol/

“Nineveh Online”:
http://www.nineveh.com/

I also highly recommend these pages describing the ongoing Assyrian Holocaust that no one really seems to care about:

Religious Persecution and Ethnic Genocide of Assyrians in the Middle East:
http://www.atour.com/holocaust/

Facing Extinction: Assyrian Christians In Iraq
http://www.atour.com/news/assyria/20091010a.html