Thunderstorm in Baghdad
Today we had a thunderstorm and rain here in Baghdad. This is also a time of transition. Units are moving out and I am at about the middle of my deployment. The mornings here are still cool and the evenings too, but it gets hot in the afternoons.
The Shekinah Glory
I have heard many preachers talk about the "Shekinah" glory of God. This was a glow or a light that shined from the Ark of the Covenant upon the mercy seat. The Bible describes it as a glowing cloud. In 1 Kings 8:10-11 the Bible says, that when King Solomon dedicated the Temple a bright cloud filled the Temple. The priests had to go outside because the glory of the Lord was filing the entire building. I looked in the Bible for the word "shekinah" in this context. The word isn't used. The Hebrew word "Kevod" is used. The word "Shekinah" is the word that is used in the Aramaic Targum version of the Old Testament.
I was wrong
I have been reading "Moses: A Life" by Jonathan Kirsch. Mr. Kirsch has strong passionate feelings against Moses and the God of the Bible. For instance he describes God as "perverse" and "cranky." He believes Moses is a mythological figure and never existed. The book is handy because he summarizes most of the Jewish legends about Moses from the "Midrash." Last newsletter I said that the Jewish legend was that Moses' adoptive Egyptian mother's arm stretched out 30 feet long when she grabbed his ark out of the Nile. I was wrong. Actually, the tradition is that her arm stretched out 225 feet (yes-that is no typo: "two-hundred and twenty-five feet") when she lifted Moses from the waters of the Nile. Many of the legends of the Midrash are similar to this and are absurd. However, one interesting thing is that many scenes from "The Ten Commandments" (both the Charlton Heston version and the Christian Slater version) and from Burt Lancaster's "Moses the Lawgiver" come from these Midrash tales and not the Bible. Rarely, extremely rarely, the Rabbis make an interesting observation. Sometimes people look towards Rabbinic lore for extra insight into the Scriptures but often it isn't there. I think the best insight comes from archeological discoveries. Jonathan Kirsh is a Jewish lawyer. I am surprised with his loathing of Moses and God that he would put so much time and effort in research of the subject. He was absolutely no sympathy for Moses whatsoever.
Soldier died in our motorpool
Sgt. Kurt E. Kruize, 35, of Hancock, Minn died in our motorpool when we was pinched between a truck and a trailer when he was attempting to attach a trailer at night. He left behind a widow and four children. He did not belong to my unit and I did not know him. Pray for his family.
The Ancient Egyptians
I watched a series of movies entitled "The Ancient Egyptians" (with Jeremy Sisto) that were strict recreations of historical events based on Egyptian inscriptions and ancient scrolls. Some of the film is filmed in the ancient Egyptian language. (Actually, "Stargate," "The Mummy," "The Mummy Returns" and "Immortal" also have dialogue in ancient Egyptian.) Egyptian is very closely related to Semitic languages. It is closely related to Hebrew and Aramaic. The film contains a "making-of" documentary showing Coptic Christian church services. Since Egyptian Christians still use Egyptian, they used the Egyptian Coptic language as an aide in simulating the pronunciation of Ancient Egyptian.
The Assyrians: An Indigenous Ethnic Christian Group of Iraq (Conclusion: Part 4 of 4)
By Chaplain (1LT) Stephen Andrew Missick
Islam is a religion and a political system. Moslems are members of the umma, which can be translated as "the nation" or "the community." Although Assyrians are the indigenous people of Iraq, they are viewed as "outsiders" by many Moslems, since they, as non-Muslims, are outside the umma. As non-Muslims they are often discriminated against. During the Armenian Genocide of 1914-1915, 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Turks and tens of thousands of Assyrians were also slaughtered. Throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries Kurds and Turks carried out several pogroms and massacres of Assyrian Christians. The Assyrians volunteered to fight for the British during both World War I and World War II, hoping that the British would protect them from religious persecution. The Assyrians fought in a decisive conflict against Nazis in Iraq at Fallujah during World War II and were instrumental in achieving a major victory there. The Assyrians feel they were betrayed by the British and feel the British are partly to blame for the pogroms and ethnic cleansing that occurred after World War I and World War II. (Some Assyrians feel that an independent Assyrian nation should have been created after World War I.) Assyrians endured ethnic and religious persecution under the regime of Saddam Hussein (but also had a certain level of protection from religious violence). After the fall of Saddam Hussein insurgents have targeted Assyrians for terrorist attacks and have bombed churches during religious services and have assassinated clergy. With the surge some stability has returned. The Assyrians face an uncertain future in Iraq.
Resources with Additional Information
Samuel Hugh Moffett A History of Christianity in Asia: Volume 1: Beginnings to 1500 (Harper San Francisco 1992) Hans-Joachim Klimkeit and Ian Gillman Christianity in Asia Before 1500 (University of Michigan Press, 1999) Sebastian Brock The Hidden Pearl (Transworld Films, Italy 2001) Christoph Baumer The Church of the East: An Illustrated History of Assyrian Christianity (I.B. Tauris, June 2006)
Chaplain (1LT) Stephen Andrew Missick is the author of Aramaic: The Language of Jesus of Nazareth and is the author and illustrator of the educational comic book The Assyrians: The Oldest Christian People.