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orion Eshel's 'Kittim of Asshur'

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In his remarkable paper on ^—Kittim in the War Scroll and the Pesharim^“,
posted on the Orion Web, Hanan Eshel notices, that

"during the Second Temple period, naming Syria as Asshur is a well known
fact, and therefore the phrase 'ASHSHU(W)R must refer to the Seleucids."

That seem to be a classical flight-over, for it was common to mention 'ARAM
when referring to the people or the nation of Aram/Syria and 'ASHSHU(W)R in
connection with the nation/people and ^—the land of Assyria^“, whereas the
^—region of Syria^“ was defined as SURIA, doubtlessly (it must be) the
shortform of ASSURIA.

The remaining questions is: When was the close connection between Syria and
Assyria and its split first introduced into non-cuneiform literature?

Xenophon speaks of one Belyses, governor of Syria and Assyria, and Syria
seems to be equivalent to the later region Chyrrestikť between the Amanus
Mts. and the Euphrates (Xenoph. Anab. i.4; vii.8). Arrian, based upon
Alexander^“s brother-in-arms Ptolemy specifies to Assyria (Arrian Anab.
ii.5-7), when he refers to the Amanus-region beyond the Assyrian Gates
(Xenophon^“s Syrian Gates) east of Cilicia. During Alexander^“s campaign a
differentiation probably was superfluous because of the same speech,
cuneiform and government of both Syrians and Assyrians. Later Plutarch
(Plut. Alex. 20. 3ff.) reworked Xenophon and Ptolemy by using Appians
designations Syrian Gates and Syria (cf. App. Civ. Bell. and Syriake)
without any (emotional) connection to Assyria at the Tigris.

Justin, the epitomiser of Pompeius Trogus finally had his remarkable
HEUREKA, when he argues, that "the Assyrians were afterwards called Syrians
(and not vice versa)." [Just 1.11]. And the great STRATEGOS Josephus calls
the Syrians, nay, even the Philistines, on the most south part of Syria,
Assyrians (JosBell v.9.4).

However, there was a Hellenistic influenced literary development from ^—Syria
& Assyria^“ to bare ^—Assyria minor^“ (= Syria) in the middle of the 4th c. BCE
, initiated by the Greek military (probably based upon the Persian
administration), which refers to the strategic importance of the region and
not to the nation/people of Syria. Because from Cilicia the eastern
countries could be reached only by two strategic relevant routes through the
Amanus Mts., the Syrian or Assyrian Gates (Beilan Pass) south-east of
Alexandretta leading to Antioch at the Orontes and the Amanian Gates
(Bogtche Pass) in the north leading to the ford of the Euphrates at

In so far the phrase ^—Kittim of Asshur^“ in the DSS means ^—Kittim of Syria^“,
not necessarily Seleucids or Cypriotes hired by them, but in any case
^—mighty men of war^“ (Jub 37.11), a perfect working western military machine,
an alien element installed in Syria at the invitation (!) of some ruling
natives to put not only Palestine, but the whole Orient under military

In this light Cypriotes, Cilicians, Macedonians, Seleucids or Romans as
Kittim of/in Syria are much more than a religious justified matter of taste,
a modern seeking-after-smooth-things, rather a metaphor which retained
(hoplite or legionnaire, doesn^“t matter) the very western way of war, the
classical infantry battle of flexible tactical units, the basic elements of
military unit construction systems.



Dr. Dierk Vandenberg
Heinrich-Heine University
Duesseldorf, Germany

For private reply, e-mail to "Dierk Vandenberg" <haGalil@gmx.net>
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