Lord Byron’s poem The Destruction of Sennacherib begins with the line, “The Assyrian came down like a wolf on the fold.”
My friend Paul Thigpen makes the link between the actions of the ISIS warlords and the ancient Assyrians.
Two ancient civilizations jockeyed for power in what is now the nation of Iraq: Babylon to the south and Assyria to the North.
The ancient Assyrian Empire was centered on the exact geographical territory that Islamic State now claims–Eastern Syria and Northern Iraq.
Assyria emerged as a territorial state in the 14th century B.C. Its territory covered approximately the northern part of modern Iraq. The first capital of Assyria was Assur, located about 150 miles north of modern Baghdad on the west bank of the Tigris River. The city was named for its national god, Assur, from which the name Assyria is also derived.
While the Babylonian Empire was known for its accomplishments in learning, architecture, and the arts, the Assyrians were known as experts in warfare. Cruel, bloodthirsty and proud, they bragged about their military victories and heartless oppression of their victims.
One early Assyrian king, Assurnarsipal wrote,
I built a pillar over against his gate, and I flayed all the chief men … and I covered the pillar with their skins … some I impaled upon the pillar on stakes. Many captives … I burned with fire … From some I cut off their hands and their fingers, and from others I cut off their noses, their ears … of many I put out the eyes.
Another historical account reads:
In strife and conflict I besieged [and] conquered the city. I felled 3,000 of their fighting men with the sword … I captured many troops alive: I cut off of some their arms [and] hands; I cut off of others their noses, ears, [and] extremities. I gouged out the eyes of many troops. I made one pile of the living [and] one of heads. I hung their heads on trees around the city.”
This informative website, informs us that like the IS barbarians the Assyrians proudly recorded their brutality–not with cell phone cameras and video, but in obelisks of stone:
From the reign of Shalmaneser III, Ashurnasirpal II’s son, we also have some bronze bands that decorated a massive pair of wooden gates of a temple (and possibly a palace) at Balawat, near modern Mosul. These bronze bands display unusually fine examples of bronze repoussé (a relief created by hammering on the opposite side). In a detail, we see an Assyrian soldier grasping the hand and arm of a captured enemy whose other hand and both feet have already been cut off. Dismembered hands and feet fly through the scene. Severed enemy heads hang from the conquered city’s walls. Another captive is impaled on a stake, his hands and feet already having been cut off. In another detail, we see three stakes, each driven through eight severed heads, set up outside the conquered city. A third detail shows a row of impaled captives lined up on stakes set up on a hill outside the captured city. In an inscription from Shalmaneser III’s father, Ashurnasirpal II, the latter tells us, “I captured soldiers alive [and] erected [them] on stakes before their cities.”
They were like the wargs in Lord of the Rings–demon dogs–wolves possessed with demonic power
Is it possible that the violent spirits unleashed in Northern Iraq and Syria today are the same dark forces that infested that land thousands of years ago? Are those same demons surging forward today like wolves on the fold? The name “Assyrian” is now associated with the Christian church in the area. However, are the same demons that drove the ancient pagans now driving the bloodthirsty ISIS warriors? Continue Reading
ATTENTION: Don’t confuse the ancient Assyrian civilization with modern Assyrians who are one of the persecuted Christian groups in Iraq. The Assyrian Church of the East is an ancient group of Christians with a venerable history–having been persecuted by many groups down the ages.
The Chaldean Catholic Church is a group who broke away from them and are now in communion with the Catholic Church. This blog post is not about them, but about the dark spirit that is behind the ISIS barbarians. Go here to read an article about the struggles of modern Assyrian Christians.