Aramean people: Aramean people (not to be confused with ‘Armenians’) speak Aramaic, the language spoken by Abraham, Moses and Jesus. They are the indigenous people of what was called in ancient times Aram- Nahrin, in our days it is called ‘Mesopotamia’.
Some Arameans today identify themselves with “Assyrians”, because of the spiritual colonial hate generating activities of the Western missionaries and diplomats in the Middle-East in 16th and 19th centuries. Other Arameans became known as “Chaldeans”. However all of them are Arameans.
Shutting down of Aramaic institute: It would be a travesty for Syria
On 2nd of April 2010 an article was published by the Christian Science Monitor entitled “Easter Sunday: A Syrian bid to resurrect Aramaic, the language of Jesus Christ” (see below) on the closing of the Aramaic institute initiated in 2007 at the university of Damascus.
The reasons seem to be the deep-seated hatred and paranoia towards Israel. A newspaper in Syria published an article saying that the used square Aramaic characters resemble the Hebrew alphabet used now in Israel. Because the hatred towards everything which is ‘Jews’ or ‘Israel’ seem so huge, that the university of Damascus decided to freeze the course for the time being. This is a monumental insanity that goes beyond any imagination!
Most probably this horrendous blind hatred towards Israel will at the end lead not only Syria, but also other Islamic “Arabic” countries to fire and destruction. And probably it is this insanity and blind hatred that finally will lead to the prophecy of Isaiah 17:1-3 to be carried out, “The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from [being] a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap. 2 The cities of Aroer [are] forsaken: they shall be for flocks, which shall lie down, and none shall make [them] afraid.
Historians tell that Damascus is the only city which continuously has been inhabited during its existence. In the prophecy of Isaiah we are told about the total annihilation of Damascus resulting in ruinous heap which never will be inhabited. There has been suggested that when a war will start in the Middle-East between Israel and it’s mainly Islamic “Arabic” neighbours (prophecy Psalms 83), Damascus probably will be completely annihilated by nuclear bomb or Scalar weaponry (Amongst those who posses the scalar weaponry are Israel, Russia, China and few other countries. The US posses the less advanced HAARP system).
In the article of Christian Science Monitor David Taylor is being quoted. On the closing of the Aramaic institute he says, “It would also be a travesty for Syria”. Worse, it would be a monumental travesty.
More than 1,5 million Arameans in Syria
Syria is one of the less countries where the Arameans relatively enjoy freedom. Although the Aramean cultural heritage is being oppressed (many of them being assimilated and "Arabised"), yet on the religious level the various Aramean denominations in Syria are able to exercise their faith in freedom in contradiction to for example the situation of the Copts in Egypt who suffer terrible under fanaticism and barbarism (see also our letter to the president of Syria, Bashar Assad on 6-7-2009)
Hafes Assad (president 1971-2000), the father of present president of Syria, Bashar Assad, ruled Syria with discipline and tight hand. Fanaticism, like for example in Egypt, was not tolerated and suppressed mercilessly. The same method of combating fanaticism and intolerance was also applied in Iraq by Saddam Hussein. The power of the both rulers, Saddam and Hafes, was based on the secular Ba’at party, something which opened the way for the Aramean Christians to climb on the political ladder. An example was the East- Aramean Chaldean minister of Iraq Tarreq Aziz.
The various Aramean denominations in Syria always enjoyed certain degree of freedom of religion. To build and to restore of churches, schools and other buildings in Syria is very normal in contrast to some other Islamic countries where even building a wall is forbidden.
There are in Syria more than 1,5 million Arameans of various denominations, namely: Syrian Orthodox, Syrian Catholic, Syrian Melkite Catholic, Syrian Melkite orthodox, Nestorian Chaldeans, Nestorian Assyrians and Syrian Maronites.
In the West Syria is heavily being criticized and have been put on black list of “rogue” states. The same qualifications was attributed to Iraq of Saddam Hussein. The West would bring so-called “civilization”, ‘democracy” and “respect for human rights” to Iraq. Result: bloodbaths, uranium poison, more than million Iraqis killed, malformed children, thousands orphans and widows, million homeless, broken families, destroyed churches, homes and other buildings.
The vast majority of the Iraqi people is looking with outrage and condemnation to the “liberation” and “bringing democracy and human rights” to Iraq by the West. The sympathy for the Iraqi journalist who threw a shoe to George Bush during his visit to Iraq, is a vivid proof for the condemnation of the Iraqi people for what in the name of “freedom” and “democracy” has been done to their country. Obviously, the Aramean Christians are not interested to bring similar “democracy” and “human rights” by the West to Syria. Under regime of Saddam Hussein, the Aramean Christians enjoyed respect, honor and occupied high positions in the politics, the army and flourished economically very well. After “civilization”, “human rights” and “democracy” was brought to Iraq by the West, the majority of the Aramean people left Iraq, have lost their social, political positions, are marginalized and are a easy prey for fanatical groups and ordinary criminals. Of course nobody is interested in this kind of “democracy” and “human rights”.
Easter Sunday: A Syrian bid to resurrect Aramaic, the language of Jesus Christ
April 2, 2010
Jesus Christ is remembered on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, but the language he spoke is all but forgotten. A controversial new language institute in Syria seeks to save Aramaic.
While millions will commemorate the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ this Easter Sunday, only a handful of people could discuss his works in the language of his day: Aramaic.
Nearly all of them live in three Syrian villages, the last outposts in a region largely swept by the Arabic of Islam. In a bid to preserve its ancient heritage, Syria launched a series of language courses in 2007 to bolster the fading influence of a 3,000-year-old language that once reigned supreme in the Middle East.
And so it was that an Aramaic institute joined the cluster of buildings that cling to a rocky spine in the village of Malula, about 35 miles northwest of Damascus. But the program ran into trouble recently, when a Syrian newspaper suggested that the alphabet being used to teach written Aramaic bore an uncanny resemblance to the Hebrew characters found in modern-day Israel.
Worried that a flagship heritage scheme might in any way be associated with the country’s neighboring enemy, the government-run University of Damascus, which established the institute, acted quickly to freeze the Aramaic program.
“There were some people in the press trying to cause trouble,” says George Rezkallah, an elderly villager from Malula who runs the institute. He is hopeful that classes will be able to resume this summer.
The origins of Aramaic
Speaking from his flat overlooking the village’s higgledy-piggledy hillside houses, Mr. Rezkallah says that while the two alphabets do have similarities, it is Aramaic which first began using square lettering around the 12th century BC. The Hebrew now used in Israel, he said, was formulated 700 years later after the restoration of the ancient kingdom of the Jews in the 5th century BC.
“The Persians adopted Aramaic. The Babylonians adopted it and so did the Jews. It then prevailed as the language of the Middle East until 700 AD.”
David Taylor, author of "The Hidden Pearl: Aramaic Heritage of the Syrian Orthodox Church," adds that the Jewish people adopted the square Aramaic alphabet – which had become the lingua franca of the entire Middle East from about 700 BC – after they were exiled to Babylon in 587 BC, before which they had used a Palaeo-Hebrew script.
The fact that it has survived in Malula today is nothing short of a “miracle,” says Gene Gragg, professor of Near Eastern Languages at the University of Chicago.
“It would be something of a linguistic tragedy if this splendid survivor were allowed to disappear,” he added.
It would also be a travesty for Syria, says Dr. Taylor.
“Aramaic is a constant reminder of the international importance of Syria in the ancient world, when it was a beacon of learning and culture that had a profound impact worldwide,” he says. “It mirrors the cultural, linguistic and religious diversity that has always been of such great importance in Syria and is key to its long-term success.”
A last remnant of Jesus's language
Modern branches of the language are still spoken across southeast Turkey, northern Iraq, and northwest Iran.
But the dialect spoken by its inhabitants – as well as the residents of two nearby, mostly Muslim, villages – is the only survivor of Western Aramaic, the closest modern descendant to the language spoken by Jesus and his disciples.
It would, in all probability, have been spoken by the Christian martyr St. Thecla, a disciple of St. Paul whose tomb in Malula draws pilgrims from around the world.
“It’s quite extraordinary,” says Annyck Wustyn, a 63-year-old visitor from France. “In our country, where we are mostly Catholic, Aramaic is like a myth. Now I know it is a reality.”
Pushing forward with the program
Undeterred by the move to shut down his Aramaic institute, Rezkallah plans to introduce a new course this summer which, for the first time, will include a textbook using Aramaic to English translations – effectively opening up the institute to non-Arabic speaking students for the first time since it was founded.
According to Rezkallah, the dispute over the Hebrew similarities is still “being discussed,” but the institute has trained an extra nine teachers this year in anticipation of an extension of the program. The new textbook will, however, use Syriac script from the second century BC in lieu of square Aramaic lettering.
For the likes of Atallah Shaib, a young man working in his father’s restaurant overlooking the rickety houses of Malula, the fight to secure his language’s future is as important as ever.
“Aramaic is not a normal language,” says Mr. Shaib, his rolled-up sleeves revealing a series of inky blue Aramaic tattoos on his forearms. “It’s Jesus Christ’s language, and that’s the most important reason why we should keep it alive.”
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