The Origins of Assyria and Germany
Herbert W. Armstrong boldly and authoritatively claims in Chapter 5 of Mystery of Ages, "The Assyrians settled in central Europe, and the Germans, undoubtedly, are, in part, the descendants of the ancient Assyrians." (p. 183). Although he speaks with confidence on this matter, he does not give any historical references to back up his claims. Since Herbert W. Armstrong challenged his followers to "prove all things," we will take him up on the invitation. We will first examine the statements made by him concerning ancient peoples, then we will look at some reference materials to see whether his information can be verified.
In his book, The United States and Britain in Prophecy1 (heretofore abbreviated as US&BIP, 1980), Herbert Armstrong goes into what seems to be great detail to prove the modern identities of ancient peoples. He uses the identity of these ancient peoples to prove his version of Bible prophecy. So it is important that we prove whether the "facts" he states are true, for if we can prove what he said as fact, then he will prove himself as a true prophet and apostle. But if we find erroneous information, and contradictions, then he will qualify himself as a false prophet and apostle, because a true apostle does not need to resort to deception, distortion, and lies.
HWA invites readers of the MOA to write for a free copy of the US&BIP to get further details concerning the true identity of modern-day Israel, the end times and how it relates to Bible prophecy. Once he convinces the reader that the U.S. and Britain are Ephraim and Manasseh, he will begin to frighten the reader with graphic details of impending invasion, also known as the Great Tribulation (WW III): "Now it becomes painfully clear! The Great Tribulation is this sevenfold intensity of corrective punishment which God is now soon going to lay on Britain-America!" (p. 175). So it is imperative that we make 100% sure that the information we receive from this prophet is absolutely correct.
First, let's examine what HWA said concerning Assyria and it's role with the U.S. & Britain [emp. mine]:
The Assyrians—before 604 B.C.—left their land north of Babylon and migrated northwest—through the lands that are now Georgia, the Ukraine, Poland, and into the land that is called GERMANY today. Today the descendants of those Assyrians are known to us as the GERMAN people. (p. 143-144)
That YOKE of SLAVERY without mercy is to be laid on the U.S. and Britain by the coming united nations of Europe! It has started already, through the economic Common Market and the recently implemented EMS (European Monetary System)…
The prophecy does not literally say so, but in all probability, by present indications, the head of this new WORLD POWER will be in central Europe. And it will precipitate World War III. And this time it will be allowed to succeed!
Many of the ancient Assyrians migrated NORTHWEST from their ancient land south of the Caspian Sea and settled in central Europe, just as the House of Israel migrated from the land of their captivity to the coastlands of northwest Europe. So when you read about Assyria in prophecies pertaining to NOW, they refer to central Europe.
So, history is to repeat! It was ancient Assyria which invaded the House of Israel, and carried them out of Samaria into the Assyrian's own land. (p.174)
We can clearly deduce that HWA believed and taught that:
- The Ancient Assyrians migrated and settled into central Europe, and are the German people of today.
- All bible prophecies, pertaining to NOW, that mention "Assyria" are speaking specifically of the Germans.
- The head of this new WORLD POWER will be in central Europe. Since the Germans live in central Europe, this is speaking about them. It will head the united nations of Europe (also known as the European Common Market).
- The united nations of Europe will punish the U.S. and Britain.
- History is repeating itself. Since the ancient Assyrians invaded the House of Israel, and the U.S. and Britain are this modern-day House of Israel, then the modern-day Assyrians (Germans) will invade the U.S. and Britain and start World War III.
Notice in every statement above, HWA did not give ANY historical references--any concrete data--to back up his claims! The US&BIP is supposed to give further details, but what we find is a lot of sensational speculation and no proof! HWA could have given a simple reference to an encyclopedia, but he doesn't. Why? Let's take a closer look. Here is an excerpt from Collier's Encyclopedia, Vol. 9, p. 38, (1959), "Germany: Racial Origin" [emp. mine]:
The German's racial origin, like that of other Europeans, is very complex. They cannot be regarded, as the Nazis and some German anthropologists have maintained, as a "pure race" with dominant Nordic characteristics. It is sufficient to say that the Germans are largely a mixture of Nordic, who would predominate in the north, and Alpine, who would predominate in the south, with further blends of the Dinaric in the southeast and Baltic in the northeast, and with a substratum of remnant prehistoric types.
While there is great uniformity of language and considerable ethnographic similarity, there are still many differences of stature, head shape, hair color, customs, traditions, and philosophy, all showing diversity of background. During the Volkerwanderung, from the first to the fifth centuries, the Germanic peoples migrated in tribal units from the Nordic center around the western Baltic--southern Sweden, Denmark, and the mainland between the lower Elbe and Oder rivers. In the process of settling central Europe they mixed with other groups who were previous settlers, or who later moved into or through the area.
From this article we can derive that the racial origin of the modern Germans is largely Nordic, from around the western Baltic. Notice the countries of Sweden and Denmark are named as descendents of the Germans. This is significant, as we will later see. The Germans are also descended from the many other racial blends, so to believe that there is a "pure" Germanic race is quite erroneous. It also appears that in settling into central Europe, they have intermarried and mixed with other groups that were already settled there. What can also be derived from this is the total silence of the Germans descending from Assyrians. Even if the "substratum of remnant prehistoric types" refers to any Assyrian descent, they are a negligible minority.
Now let's examine the history of the Assyrians. We previously noted that HWA did not give any detailed references to prove the origins of the Germans. Neither does he give any historical proof concerning the Assyrians. Did the Assyrians migrate into central Europe "before 604 B.C." just like HWA claimed? Let's see what the encyclopedia has to say concerning this. I have extracted paragraphs that apply from the article on Babylonia and Assyria [emp. mine]:
Assyria lay north of Babylon along the upper Tigris and the waters of the Great and Little Zab rivers; its modern boundaries would be Iran in the east, Turkey in the north, and Syria in the west. In general, modern Iraq, north of the Euphrates, includes most of the ancient territory of Babylonia and Assyria.
With the Kassite occupation of Babylonia, the rise of Assyria as an independent state began. In the time of Hammurabi, Assyria had been a province of Babylonia, but the Kassites were unable to keep the Assyrians in subjection. Thus, along the upper Tigris, the warlike, predominantly Semitic Assyrians began to lay the foundations for an empire larger than any of its predecessors.
[Author's note: I skipped over the first two Assyrian dynasties and only used the last dynasty since it applies to the article].
By 745 B.C. order in Assyria had been restored by Tiglath-pileser III, who also accomplished the re-conquest of Babylonia and was crowned king in the ancient city of Hammurabi in 728. Under Sargon II, who established a new Assyrian dynasty in 722 B.C., the Assyrians began a truly imperial age. It was Sargon II who captured and deported the Israelites, destroyed the Hittite fortress of Carchemish, and extended his realm to the borders of Egypt. Sennacherib (705-681 B.C.) carried the Assyrian standards into Elam and also destroyed the city of Babylon after it had revolted in 689. Esarhaddon (681-669 B.C.) in 671 carried out the conquest of Egypt; and between 669 and 626 B.C. during the reign of his son Ashurbanipal, the Assyrian empire attained it greatest limits and began to disintegrate. New invasions of the Near East by the Cimmerians and Scythians and the rise of nationalism in Media and Babylonia saddened the last years of Ashurbanipal and sapped the military and financial reserves of Assyria. A combined force of Medes, Babylonians, and Scythians captured the Assyrian capital of Nineveh in 612 B.C. and thus brought the independence of Assyria to an end.
After 539 B.C., Babylonia and Assyria ceased to be independent and passed successively under the rule of the Persians, Alexander the Great, the Seleucids, the Parthians, and the other later conquerors of the Near East. (Collier's Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, pp. 635-638, 1959)
Now let's corroborate this with following excerpts from, The Assyrians (Elaine Landau, 1997) [emp. mine]:
One of the first places this first occurred [civilization] was an area in what is now the Middle East known as Mesopotamia--a land where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers empty into the Persian Gulf. There on a hot, dry, windswept plain now referred to as a ""cradle of civilization," some of the earliest cultures arose. Among these was Assyria, an area on the upper Tigris River in northern Mesopotamia…Another important region, known as Sumer, occupied 10,000 squares miles in southern Mesopotamia. Sumer later became Babylonia. (p. 11-12)
Assyria, which existed from the 14th century B.C. to 612 B.C., was situated on the upper Tigris River. To its north lay the Armenian mountains, while the Zagros Mountains and the hills of Iran bordered Assyria to the east. (p. 16)
Eventually the Assyrian empire reached remarkable heights…Yet a number of factors were actually working against Assyria. At one point, its empire spanned a distance of more than 1,000 miles, an immense area for any ancient state to control for an extended period. With its acquired territory so widespread, it became exceedingly difficult for Assyrian rulers to stamp out the rebellions that sprang up on various fronts at the same time. As a result, Assyria's strong grasp on its empire began to weaken…(p. 53)
Then near the end of the seventh century B.C. the region's balance of power began to shift. Determined to seize the opportunity, the Medes, a little-known people of the Iranian plateau, joined forces with the Chaldeans of Babylonia to topple an already weakened Assyria. They destroyed the magnificent Assyrian cities of Nineveh and Assur, as well as other important Assyrian centers. Unlike it had done in the past, Assyria never recovered.
In the centuries that followed, the area that had been Assyria was invaded by a number of foreign powers, including the Greeks, Arabs, and Turks. When Britain defeated Turkey in WWI, the land fell into British hands. They renamed the region Iraq and established an Arab government that operated under British control…Britain finally granted Iraq its independence in 1932.
A visitor to modern-day Iraq would never know that Assyria once existed in the country's north. All that is left of this once great military power are the recovered ruins that reveal its dramatic story. (p. 54)
We see absolutely no historical references of the Assyrians migrating north to Europe and being the ancient descendents of the Germans. Notice that it does say that the ancient Assyrians are the modern-day Iraqis!
It is interesting to note that the Assyrians were Semitic, a fact that HWA never brings up! Let's look at another entry in the encyclopedia--"Mesopotamia"--that will verify this. I have extracted sections that apply [emp. mine]:
MESOPOTAMIA, the "land between the rivers," the name often applied to the Tigris-Euphrates Valley…In ancient times it included the territory of Babylonia and Assyria; today it is the kingdom of Iraq.
Sumerian-Akkadian (4000-1850 B.C.)—In the Sumerian-Akkadian Era, while Neolithic tribes of a different linguistic stock dwelt in the highlands, the mysterious Sumerians from the northeast and Semites from the desert moved onto the plain…famous Sumerian city names include Ur, Eridu, Umma, Erech, and Nippur. While these states traded and fought with one another, to the north in the vicinity of what was later to be Babylon the Semitic tribes were gradually assimilating the Sumerian culture and becoming civilized.
Old Babylonian (1850-1600 B.C.) – A new Semitic invasion, principally from the west, resulted in the establishment of the Old Babylonian Kingdom…The sixth king of the new Semitic dynasty was the noted lawgiver, Hammurabi (c. 1700 B.C.). Old Babylonian civilization was founded on the Sumerian, but the ancient Sumerian language gave way to the Semitic tongue of the rulers…As in Babylonia, so in Assyria the Semitic element became the predominant one.
Mitannian and Kassite (1600-1200 B.C.) – In the succeeding age, however, Semites suffered a temporary eclipse. About 1600 B.C. in Babylonia and at least a century earlier in Assyria new groups came into prominence. Out of the northern mountains came the Hurrians, who spoke a language quite different from the Sumerian or the Semitic tongues. These people overran Assyria and formed…the Mittanian Kingdom…But the Hurrians were not the only invaders of Mesoptamia in this period…The Kassites overthrew the Old Babylonian Dynasty about 1600 B.C. and remained in control until about 1200….
Both the Mitannian and Kassite kingdoms ultimately fell before the resurgent Semites. In the 14th century a Semitic kingdom was established in Assyria, which pushed the Mitannians westward to the region of the upper Euphrates.
By the above articles, we observe that not only are the Assyrians Semitic, they are also the descendants of modern Iraq. We do not see any information concerning a north-westward migration, nor that they descended into the modern Germans. In fact, the peoples of the Assyria and Babylon were so intermeshed that they are both descended from the same Semitic origin, and both of them comprise the peoples of modern-day Iraq. HWA claimed that the Assyrians migrated around 604 B.C., but he never mentioned any specific circumstances or historical evidence to back this up. We can see from the above article that Assyria's capitol, Nineveh, was destroyed in 612 B.C., and afterward (539 B.C.) was invaded by the Greeks, Arabs, Persians and Turks--conquerors of the Near East, not the northwest!
Now let's observe where HWA said the Assyrians carried the House of Israel [emp. mine]:
The people of ten-tribed Israel also migrated northwest. Though the Assyrians had taken Israel into captivity, the Israelites did not remain as slaves of the Assyrians in Europe. They continued on a little further – into Western Europe, the Scandinavian Peninsula, and the British Isles! (p. 144, US&BIP, 1980).
Note carefully that HWA gives absolutely no historical references, nor any kind of "proof" to back up this claim. He gave no dates, no detailed information as to when the Israelites were "freed" from Assyrian captivity to continue their journey northwestward. HWA states that the Israelites migrated into the Scandinavian Peninsula and has stated that Denmark, Sweden and Norway are part of the "Lost Ten Tribes." But as we observed the article from the encyclopedia, it is the Germans who have their racial origins from Sweden and Denmark. HWA clearly stated that the Germans settled in central Europe, while the Israelites continued on and settled in Scandinavia. But credible references state otherwise.
Speaking of the origins of ancient Babylon, HWA states in the US&BIP (1980) [emp. mine]:
Her [Mystery Babylon] KINGDOMS over which she ruled were called "The Holy Roman Empire" of A.D. 554 to 1814, briefly revived by Mussolini and SOON to have a last and final "resurrection" by a political-military union of ten in Europe (Rev. 17:8-4).
And where, today, are the ancient BABYLONIANS—the Chaldeans? They migrated west and settled in ITALY. Their religion was the Assyrian-Babylonian MYSTERY religion. It is going to come as a breathtaking, awesome, shocking surprise when the world learns that one Simon, the sorcerer of Samaria in the time of the original apostles, leader of the BABYLONIAN MYSTERY religion having the title of PATER or PETER, meaning PAPA, actually appropriated the NAME of Christ and the Christian principle of GRACE, which he turned into LICENSE, doing away with GOD'S LAW (Jude 4) and started what is today called "Christianity."
Carefully note the lack of any detailed references to back up these revelations. He quickly throws up smokescreens, detouring the reader with words in capital letters (BABYLONIAN MYSTERY, PATER or PETER, PAPA, GRACE, LICENSE, GOD'S LAW) like well-placed street signs. These paragraphs are filled with emphatic sensationalism, but where is the "proof" that the ancient Babylonians migrated into Italy? HWA cannot give any outside sources to prove his speculations because absolutely none exist! This is the real reason why HWA trained, employed, and appointed "Dr." Herman Hoeh2 to write the Compendium of World History. The Compendium is a compilation of fictional history invented by Hoeh so it would agree with HWA's doctrines! Whenever a church member became confounded as to why he couldn't find historical records to back HWA's claims, he was handed a copy of the Compendium, while being admonished that, "History was written by worldly men deceived and inspired by Satan. History books are filled with error, but Dr. Hoeh has carefully researched and restored true biblical history." Those who attempted to read the meaty, two-volume series were rendered comatose after the experience. Others, who didn't buy into the concocted history and continued to question its "validity," would be put out for "questioning God's apostle" and the scholarly "Dr." Hoeh.
Can we see what lengths HWA will go in order to make history agree with his revelations? He readily condescends to lies, omissions, and distortions to keep his sheep blind and his empire intact. In brief, HWA has omitted accurate historical facts, and has fabricated history to suit his own agenda, clearly proving himself a false, deceiving apostle. Everything his hand touches is twisted into a lie, whether it be church history, secular history, scripture, or prophetic calculations.
"It is going to come as a breathtaking, awesome, shocking surprise" when HWA tells the truth about anything.
By Kelly Marshall
Exit & Support Network™
December 1, 2004
For further study:
Where Are the Tribes of Israel Located? (by Kelly Marshall)
British-Israelism--True or False? (Are Britain and the United States part of the lost ten tribes of Israel?)
2 Herman Hoeh died November 21, 2004.