Z I N D A M A G A Z I N E
|Good Morning Bet-Nahrain
|Vatican Cancels Pope's Visit to Iraq
|Barak Criticized Over Building of Nazarene Mosque
|"the major international events...during Roosevelt's presidency"
|Win a Brand New Beetle!
|Assyrian Surfing Posts
|IRISH TIMES on the Assyrians in Cyberspace
An Interview with Assyrian-Iraqis in Australia
Ancient Assyrian Names for Baby Boys
Ancient Assyrian Names for Baby Girls
|The King's Prayer
|Pump Up the Volume
|Insects & Feeling
|Back to the Future
|The Epic of Atrahasis & the Second Crusades
|This Week in History
|The First Newspaper in Georgia
|Calendar of Events
All blue links throughout this issue are hyperlinks to other sections on this page or featured websites.
Excerpts from Simo Parpolla's Sons of God: The Ideology of Assyrian Kingship
To the Assyrians, a king immersed in revelries and cruelties would have been an abomination; their kingship was a sacred institution rooted in heaven, and their king was a model of human perfection seen as a prerequisite for man's personal salvation.
A cosmic tree growing in the middle of the world and connecting heaven with earth was the best imaginable visual symbol for the king's pivotal position as the focal point of the imperial system and the sole representative of god upon earth. When seated on his throne, the king, from the viewpoint of the people present in the throne room, merged with the tree, thus becoming, as it were, its human incarnation. This idea is implicit in the fourth chapter of the biblical Book of Daniel, in which the king of Babylon dreams of a huge tree growing in the middle of the earth, its top reaching the sky, and is told by the prophet: "That tree, O king, is you" (Daniel 4:10-22). Representing the king as the personification of the cosmic tree not only emphasized the unique position and power of the king, it also served to underline the divine origin of kingship.
As already noted, the cosmic tree had been planted in the world by the goddess Inanna/Ishtar, who elsewhere figures as the divine mother of the king. In Assyrian imperial art, the goddess nurses the king as a baby or child. The message conveyed was that the king was identical in essence to his divine mother. In keeping with this idea of essential identity, or consubstantiality, the goddess too is identified with the date palm in Assyrian texts.
Since the human king, in contrast to gods, was made of flesh and blood, his consubstantiality with god of course has to be understood spiritually: It did not reside in his physical but in his spiritual nature, that is, in his psyche or soul. He thus was an entity composed of both matter and divine essence. This sounds very like the doctrine of homoousios enunciated at the Council of Nicaea in 325, in which Jesus is said to be "of the same substance" as the Father. According to the Epic of Gilgamesh, the eponymous hero, a "perfect king," was two thirds god and one third man.
Ishtar, the divine mother of the king, was the wife of Ashur, the supreme god of the empire, defined in Assyrian sources as the "sum total of gods" and the only true god. Ashur was thus, by implication, the "heavenly father" of the king, while the latter was his "son" in human form. The Father-Mother-Son triad constituted by Ashur, Ishtar and the king reminds one of the Holy Trinity of Christianity, where the Son, according to Athanasius, is "the selfsame Godhead as the Father, but that Godhead manifested rather than immanent."
The notion of the king as the son of god held true only insofar as it referred to the divine spirit that resided within his human body. In Mesopotamian mythology, this divine spirit takes the form of a celestial savior figure, Ninurta, whose mythological role the Assyrian kings consciously emulated both in ritual and in daily life. The Ninurta myth is known in numerous versions, but in its essence it is a story of the victory of light over the forces of darkness and death. In all its versions, Ninurta, the son of the divine king, sets out from his celestial home to fight the evil forces that threaten his father's kingdom. He proceeds against the "mountain" or the "foreign land," meets the enemy, defeats it and then returns in triumph to his celestial home, where he is blessed by his father and mother. Exalted at their side, Ninurta becomes an omnipotent cosmic accountant of men's fates. It is this that the Assyrian kings emulated.
It is not difficult to recognize in this myth the archetype of the Christian dogma of the elevation of Christ to the right hand of his Father as the judge over the living and the dead. The figure of Ninurta also recalls that of the archangel Michael, the "Great Prince," the slayer of the Dragon and the holder of the celestial keys, in Jewish apocalyptic and apocryphal traditions.
Doctrinally, the perfect king as Ninurta incarnate was the "perfect likeness of god," who shared all the attributes of the godhead. Like Ashur, he was omnipotent, omniscient, profoundly wise and prudent, perfectly just and merciful, all love, glorious and superbly strong. Like the Pauline Christ, he also metaphysically encompassed the whole universe, symbolized by the cosmic tree. In short, he was god in human form, the "perfect man," the only person possibly fit to rule the world as god's earthly representative. As a semi-divine being, he alone of all human beings was surrounded by divine radiance, or melammu, the outward sign of divine perfection.
The Assyrian idea of royal perfection is not elaborated in terms of Aristotelian logic but is expressed only through metaphors, allegories and symbolic imagery. In order to understand it, we must see it through the symbols and images by which it is expressed. The most important of these is the sun, the primary symbol of the supreme god, Ashur. The blinding brilliance of its disk symbolized the absolute purity, holiness and righteousness of god as opposed to the darkness of the world, associated with evil, ignorance, injustice and death. The sun's unwavering, absolutely straight path across the skies, its merciless heat and the triumphant return of light after the winter solstice symbolized god's irresistible victory over wickedness and evil. Finally, the eternal return of the seasons symbolized the eternity of god and kingship as a divine institution eternally regenerating itself, notwithstanding the bodily death of the king.
In Assyrian royal ideology, the king is often referred to as the "sun" or the "very image" of Shamash (the sun god), and the word "king" was commonly written with the sacred number of the sun god, 20.
It was, of course, patently clear to everybody close to the king that whatever his spiritual condition, he was physically human and thus subject to all the weaknesses and imperfections of humankind: disease, bodily injury, misbehavior, imperfect memory and reasoning, error of judgment, faulty decisions, miscalculations, flaws of all sorts and, of course, even physical death.
The fragility of the human component of the king was duly recognized and accepted as an inevitability. However, it could not be tolerated. The king's body was viewed as a temple erected by god himself--the worldly residence of the divine spirit. Like a temple of stone eventually worn and stained by dust, smoke, rain, fire and other agents, it was subject to the constant influence of the elements, pollution, decay and old age. But just as it was unworthy for the image of god to reside in a dirty or dilapidated temple, it was inconceivable that the spirit of god, synonymous with purity, chastity, wisdom, light and perfection, could have resided in a filthy and foul body. It was essential that any stains and defects observed in the king's body and comportment be immediately removed and amended, just as the disk of the sun would soon return to its pristine glory and beauty after an eclipse. If not, the divine spirit would depart from the king's body, leaving behind just an empty shell.
In the royal palace, the king lived in a sacred space designed and built after celestial patterns and guarded against the material world by deities and apotropaic figures stationed at its gates and buried in its foundations. Colossal supernatural beings in the shape of a bull, lion, eagle and man, symbolizing the four turning points, guarded its gates. These apotropaic colossi marked the palace as a sacred space and thus may be compared to the four guardians of the divine throne in Ezekiel 1:10 and Revelation 4:76, which later re-emerge as symbols of the four evangelists of the New Testament: Matthew (man), Mark (lion), Luke (bull) and John (eagle).*
To reach the greatest possible perfection in decision making and to eliminate, as far as possible, the element of human error, the king made no important political, military or judicial decision without first consulting his cabinet. The final decision was, however, always the king's, and all resolutions of the council were issued in the name of the king alone. For additional safety, the will of the gods was consulted by extispicy before any decision of major importance was implemented.
Over and above the royal council, the safeguarding of royal perfection essentially depended on another group of men attached to the king's service, namely the royal scholars.
These men, experts in five different branches of Mesopotamian learning, functioned as the spiritual guardians and advisers of the king, constantly monitoring his conduct and health and helping him with their advice and expertise whenever needed. It was believed that the king's performance was being constantly watched from heaven and that the gods communicated their pleasure or displeasure with him through a system of signs transmitted in dreams, portents and oracles that could be interpreted and reacted to. Any royal error or act committed against the divine will was a flaw calling for correction and, if perpetuated, divine punishment. However, no punishment was inflicted before the king had been notified of his error and had been given a chance to change his ways. After all, he was god's beloved son.
The esoteric lore I have described did not die with the fall of the Assyrian Empire. The scholars who had previously served the Assyrian emperor later found employment at the courts of the Median and neo-Babylonian kings, the usurpers of Assyria's claim for world dominion.
In due course, we find their descendants teaching Daniel the esoteric secrets of the Chaldeans, advising the Achaemenid kings of Persia, transmitting their wisdom to Pythagoras, waiting at the deathbed of Plato, performing the substitute king ritual for Alexander the Great, reading the physiognomy of Sulla and finally spreading their doctrines in the imperial court of Rome, as highly valued advisers of the emperors Claudius, Nero, Domitian, Trajan and Marcus Aurelius. I venture to suggest that their influence was far greater than is generally believed.
1 Maximilian Streck, Assurbanipal und die letzen könige bis zum untergange Ninevehs, Vorderasiatische Bibliothek 7 (Leipzig, Germany: Hinrichs, 1916), p. 255.
*See Elie Borowski, "Cherubim: God's Throne,"
and Robin M. Jensen, "Of Cherubim and Gospel Symbols," Biblical Archaeology
Review, July/August 1995.
Professor Simo Parpolla teaches at the University of
Helsinki, Finland, and has also taught at the University of Chicago and the
University of Padua, Italy. He is a former editor-in-chief of the State Archives
of Assyria text series. Professor Parpolla was a guest of the Assyrian
American National Federation's Annual Convention held in Los Angeles, between
September 2 and 5, 1999. To read Professor Parpolla's entire article CLICK
GOOD MORNING BET-NAHRAIN
POPE'S TRIP TO IRAQ OFFICIALLY POSTPONED
(ZNRU: Chicago) John Paul II has once again postponed his trip to Iraq again- this time indefinitely. Assyrian-Chaldean Patriarch Mar Raphael I Bidawid said the decision was made for security reasons: "We are very saddened by this new delay in the visit, but here in Iraq the situation changes every day. In spite of this, the Pope's trip is only postponed: the Jubilee Year is long and we are only at the beginning of the millennium." The Vatican Press Office has noted that: "Iraqi authorities have communicated to the Secretariat of State that the abnormal conditions in which the country is living because of the embargo and the no-fly zone, as well as the situation the region is experiencing, do not make it possible to adequately organize the Holy Father's visit to Ur of the Chaldeans, in Iraq." Mar Raphael Bidawid explained that this decision has nothing to do with the criticisms of the Pope by some Iraqi intellectuals, who accused him of scarcely mentioning the Muslims in a letter written to the Christians of the country. According to His Beatitude Raphael I, these criticisms have not had the slightest effect: "Only the West gives importance to these things; here no one has been concerned about this." The real reason for the new delay in the papal trip, the Patriarch said, is the fact that Iraq cannot guarantee the safety of the trip: "The Americans and British control all the air space. A few months ago they bombed an area close to Ur. What would happen if they start bombing this same areas during the Pope's visit? Or even if they don't, but some cruel person does? Without a doubt the international community would accuse Iraq. Everyone would be ready to blame our country...I can say the Iraqi government and the Vatican have an optimum relation. Iraq would be honored to welcome the Pope. For all of us, Christians and Muslims, the Pope is a saintly person. We do not want to profane the visit of a holy man with an attack by a deranged person or some foreign power." His Holiness concluded: "We Iraqis all anxiously wait for him, but we shall have to hope for better times. The trip was scheduled for January, at the beginning of the Jubilee Year, but the Pope could come at the middle or end of the year."
In the United States and Europe the reaction of the Assyrian activists was mixed. While some regret the loss of an opportunity for world's recognition of Iraq's Christian community and a possible papal trip to Nineveh, others rejoiced at the missed prospect of a visit to Bet-Nahrain. One Assyrian civic leader, who asked to remain anonymous, told Zinda: "A visit from the Pope would have painted a different picture of that monster in Baghdad [Saddam]. The Pope's visit would have undermined everything we have done in the [Iraqi] Opposition so far."
Britain and the United States had strongly opposed the proposal for the Pope to visit Iraq, arguing that it would be a propaganda coup for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
The Iraqi government never issued a formal
invitation. The central purpose of the Pope's trip to Iraq was to visit
the southern city of Ur, birthplace of the Biblical patriarch Abraham and one
of the Old and New Testament sites the Pope wants to pray at during 2000, which
he has declared a Holy Year.
BARAK CRITICIZED OVER THE BUILDING OF NAZARENE MOSQUE
(ZNDA: Rome) According to the Vatican News Agency, Fides, the Israeli government is divided over the question of the building the mosque in Nazareth. Prime Minster Barak is under pressure from his cabinet ministers to withdraw permission for the building.
It was in fact National Security Minister Shlomo Ben Ami who gave permission to proceed with the construction of a large mosque in Nazareth in the square adjoining the Christian Basilica of the Annunciation. The decision and actual laying of the foundation stone, has set off friction between all the Christian Churches present in the Holy Land and the Israeli government, and between Tel Aviv and the Vatican.
High ranking police and army officers criticized Ben Ami for being "too hasty", some generals have even handed in their resignation. Ehud Barak’s cabinet is divided and the split is public news. Radio, television and newspapers carried statements by Religious Affairs’ Minister Rabbi Yitzhak Cohen strongly criticizing the step taken by his colleague Ben Ami.
"Just today I found the new zinda section. I have been trying to open the old zinda but no new issues were coming. Now that I could open the new Zinda, I don't like it at all. I like the old Zinda and it was much better and more clear to me. I hope that you will change it back to the old fashion Zinda."
Zinda Magazine is still published in its old format
under the ARCHIVES section, easily accessible from the Home Page.
WIN A BRAND NEW BEETLE
The Assyrian American Association of San Jose will give away a BRAND NEW BEETLE on New Year's Eve of Year 2000!
Delivery will take place on January 1, 2000
Winner does not have to be present at the time of drawing.
Tickets are sold at $10.00 each.
Proceeds will benefit cultural and educational programs of the Assyrian American Association of San Jose.
For tickets/information contact Homer Younan (408) 266-7676 or AAA of San Jose (408) 927-8100.
Links to Other Assyrian Websites
TIMES on the Assyrians in Cyberspace
An Interview with Assyrian-Iraqis in Australia
Ancient Assyrian Names for Baby Boys
Ancient Assyrian Names for Baby Girls
THE KING'S PRAYER
Who has kept the commandment for ever?
All of mankind who exist are sinful.
I, your servant, have committed every sin.
I stood at your service, but turned to falsehood,
I spoke lies, I pardoned my own sins,
I spoke improper things, you know them all.
I committed offense against the god who created me,
I did an abomination, ever doing evil.
I coveted your abundant property,
I desired your precious silver.
I raised my hand and desecrated what should not be so treated.
In a state of impurity I entered the temple.
Constantly I committed a terrible abomination against you,
I transgressed your rules in what was displeasing to you.
In the fury of my heart I cursed your divinity,
I have continually committed iniquities, known and unknown.
I went the full length of my wishes, I got iniquity.
Enough, my god! Let your heart rest.
May the goddess who was angry fully subside.
Release the pent-up wrath of your heart,
May your essence by which I swore be reconciled with me.
Though my iniquities be many, release my bond,
Though my transgressions be seven, let your heart rest.
Though my sins be many, show great kindness and cleanse me.
My god, I am exhausted, take my hand,
I fall to the ground, support my head.
I am an ox, I do not know the plants I eat,
I am a sheep, I do not know the absolution rite in which I take part.
I am river water, I do not know where I am going,
I am a ship, I do not know at which quay I put in.
The iniquities, sins, and transgressions of mankind are more numerous than
the hairs of his head.
I have trodden on my iniquities, sins and transgressions, which were heaped
up like leaves.
On this day let them be released and absolved.
Wilfred G. Lambert, "DINGIR.SA.DIB.BA Incantations," Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Vol. 33 (1974), pp. 283-285.
The “1999 National Australia Bank's Ethnic Business Awards” recognise and reward the contribution of migrants to Australian business and economic development. Finalists in the two categories, small and big business, came together at a gala dinner and presentation night at the National Australia Bank headquarters on Thursday the 2nd of December.
In the “Businesses with a turnover of $5 million and below” category Sue Ismail an Assyrian businesswoman who migrated from Syria to Australia was awarded first prize in the category. Along with the award she also received 2 International around-the-world air tickets along with $5,000 spending money. The award night was replayed on SBS national Australian television at 2:30PM on Sunday the 5th of December.
Sue Ismiel is the director of NAD'S Pty Ltd that was formed in 1992 to manufacture and market NAD'S Natural Hair Removal Gel through an innovative direct marketing system. Sue Ismiel's daughter Natalie was the inspiration for the product. Older daughter Nadine, provided the product name and youngest daughter- Naomi has featured in promotional activities.
Much of the success of the NAD'S range of products is due to the in-depth and very professional research which has been conducted by the company and its associated scientists. The NAD'S company directors have maintained a regime for natural ingredients conducive to easy application, low irritation rate even in highly sensitive body areas. Clever formulation and rigorous testing has ensured results far superior to any comparable competitive products on the market today. Since the initial formulation and success of the NAD's Natural Hair Removal Gel we established a tight targeted marketing strategy using the media multiplier approach of television and print media.
The successful combination of selective television programming and mass market colour magazines will continue to be at the forefront of NAD'S comprehensive sales promotion support for national retail distributors. In addition extensive ongoing editorial support for NAD'S product range ensures retail distributors a maximum sales result.
NAD'S continues to work through dedicated scientists to improve existing products and to develop new products in the skin care arena which will treat problems such as dermatitis and other skin rashes effectively and quickly. For further information readers can go to the NAD's website.
BACK TO THE FUTURE
The Epic of Atrahasis is written in Bet-Nahrain (Mesopotamia), a story about the origin of mankind. The gods, in the beginning the story tells us, had to do their own work - digging and clearing canals. Eventually they became tired, destroyed their tools, and revolted against their manager. The solution to this "labor discontent" was the creation of mankind, formed from clay and blood.
Mesopotamia, Julian Reade
The combined forces of the cities of Mosul and Mardin defeated an attack by the Christian Crusaders on Harran in northwestern Bet-Nahrain. Aleppo was occupied by the Muslim rulers in 1128 and then in 1144, the city of Edessa (Urhai) fell in the hands of the Muslims. The fall of Edessa galvanized the Crusaders against the infidels and so began the Second Crusade.
The Age of the Crusades,
THIS WEEK IN HISTORY
December 15, 1913 : The first Assyrian newspaper in Georgia, Maddinkha, is published in Tbilisi. This publication was produced semi-monthly.
THE MILLENNIUM GALA
The Assyrian American
Association of San Jose proudly presents
Package includes complete dinner with appetizer and dessert, two complimentary
Wine/Beer drinks or four soft drinks, Champagne toast , after mid-night
coffee/tea service and the best Assyrian and international dance music
Tickets will only be sold at the Assyrian American Association of San Jose
20000 Almaden Road, San Jose
October 2nd to October 21
member $120 non-member $130
NEW YEAR'S EVE PARTY
Celebrate the Millennium
TREASURES FROM THE ROYAL TOMBS OF UR
Organized by the University of Pennsylvania Museum of
On view are approximately 150 artifacts excavated from
the ancient city-state of Ur in 1922 during an expedition led by British
archaeologist C. Leonard Woolley. Many of the objects are from the tomb
of the female Puabi and include jeweled headdresses, chokers, necklaces,
rings and earrings, musical instruments, games, furniture, and vessels.
Ur, the traditional birthplace of the biblical patriarch Abraham and the
city under protection of the ancient Mesopotamian moon-god, was located
on the western bank of the Euphrates River in what is now southern Iraq.
MEMORIAL OF ST. EPHREM
Divine Liturgy in the Eastern Assyrian Rite (Chaldean
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