Friday, December 13, 2013

This week in history, life, and faith...

We are studying the ancient Assyrians in co-op. They were such a fascinating warlike people that did a lot of conquering and killing. However, they did create some pretty amazing art and much of their history directly intersects with Israel's history. You can find some neat up close and person art/history/geography lessons about them on Khan Academy and I link to a few videos below. I highly recommend you watch them!

If any of my readers read the Bible (and I am guessing quite a few of you do!) this will be of interest to you.

Ashurbanipal Hunting Lions, gypsum hall relief from the North Palace, Nineveh.

Yes, THAT Nineveh - you know, the one Jonah tried to avoid. This photo struck me as simply astonishing:

This is an artist's view of what ancient Nineveh would have looked like. That is what Jonah would have walked into--where God sent him to preach against their sin. It gives you a better idea of why he chose the whale. God sometimes asks us to do hard things, doesn't He?

The second Assyrian art I wanted to share was this:

I have seen one of these up close and they are intimidating. These were in the entrance of the throne room of the Assyrian King. The videos are brief, but give so much good information. I loved that they talked about the fact that they (in addition to the whole room) would have been painted to look like this:

These winged lion/bull/kings are over ten feet tall. If you ever get a chance to see one - go do it!

The history of Assyria and Israel is a sad and shocking one:

In 722 BC, the Assyrians conquered Israel. The Assyrians were aggressive and effective; the history of their dominance over the Middle East is a history of constant warfare. In order to assure that conquered territories would remain pacified, the Assyrians would force many of the native inhabitants to relocate to other parts of their empire. They almost always chose the upper and more powerful classes, for they had no reason to fear the general mass of a population. They would then send Assyrians to relocate in the conquered territory.

When they conquered Israel, they forced the ten tribes to scatter throughout their empire. For all practical purposes, you might consider this a proto-Diaspora ("diaspora"="scattering"), except that these Israelites disappear from history permanently; they are called "the ten lost tribes of Israel." (Source)

So here is one of the more fascinating twists in history for you!

Assyrians turn into Samaritans...

24 The king of Assyria brought men from Babylon and from Cuthah and from Avva and from Hamath and Sepharvaim, and settled them in the cities of Samaria in place of the sons of Israel. So they possessed Samaria and lived in its cities. 25 At the beginning of their living there, they did not fear the Lord; therefore the Lord sent lions among them which killed some of them. 26 So they spoke to the king of Assyria, saying, “The nations whom you have carried away into exile in the cities of Samaria do not know the custom of the god of the land; so he has sent lions among them, and behold, they kill them because they do not know the custom of the god of the land.”

27 Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, “Take there one of the priests whom you carried away into exile and let him go and live there; and let him teach them the custom of the god of the land.” 28 So one of the priests whom they had carried away into exile from Samaria came and lived at Bethel, and taught them how they should fear the Lord.

29 But every nation still made gods of its own and put them in the houses of the high places which the people of Samaria had made, every nation in their cities in which they lived.
(II Kings 17:24-29)

Isn't that interesting? So now you know why the Samaritans had such a messy faith and why the "pure" Jewish leaders disliked them so much.

I love the study of the ancients, but I really love it when it intersects with my faith in some way. These were real people - people that walked away from the God of the universe - and they were lost forever.

We have this time, right now, to know our Lord! As Romans 5:8 so beautifully states, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

I don't want to be an Israelite lost forever. What a terrible terrible fate.


Leah Courtney said...

I was fascinated last year when we were doing the ancients in history to learn more about Assyria. They are kind of one of those Bible mentions I would skim over and then not really think about. But Diana Waring's history really did a good job of pointing out the Biblical links- like Nineveh- to the things we know about the ancient Assyrians. It was quite interesting. (And I'm a history buff.)

Kate said...

Thanks, Leah! I have long been fascinated with the links between ancient cultures and Israel in scripture. There are so many ties. I loved learning these things (some for the second or third time ;) again. :+)


Chris said...

Terrific post, Katie. Thank you!

I, too, am fascinated by the link between the Bible and ancient history..... We could spend hours discussing our history lesson when we discover a connection between it and our Bible reading! I'm sure your kids could as well..... Love this, thank you.