Thursday, July 22, 2010

History and Me - Lachish Destroyed, Lachish Rebuilt - Part 1

I think we all know that all of life and history is interconnected. So how do I fit in with Lachish, the Assyrians and Gush Katif? Have a long listen!
As I left the British Museum two weeks ago, after a day of historical window-hopping, I saw ME hanging on the wall. Well, I thought it was me. About eight years ago, in the second Raise Your Spirits theater production, ESTHER and the Secrets of the King's Court,, I played the semi-wicked, semi-bright King Achashverosh – Xerxes, to the outside world.
There on the wall of the British Museum, I thought I was looking right at my stage alter-ego. Suddenly I got my second wind, and asked my family to sit down and relax while I explored a bit further.
Reading the plaque under the wall-sculpture, I sighed in disappointment. It wasn't Achashverosh (above left, who ruled Iran when it was Persia – 486 BCE) after all, but an earlier Iranian ruler, Tiglath-pileser III (immediately left, king of Assyria in 745 BCE). Well, you can't blame me; they kind of look alike, except for the hat.
Since I was already in the Assyrian section of the museum, I thought I'd take a quick look. After Tiglath-pileser III became king of Assyria, among his many military feats, he conquered Ashkelon, one of the five Philistine cities (along with Gaza, Gath, Ekron and Ashdod). Even after our beloved scholar-warrior king David defeated the Philistines in many of their strongholds, he could not remove them from Ashkelon. It took the Assyrian conqueror Tiglath-Pileser III to do so in 734 B.C.E. And so, after about 600 years in, and neighboring the Land of Israel, the Philistines finally disappeared forever, B"H. Thanks for that, T-P.
Unfortunately, this Tiglath-Pileser III started the cataclysmic destruction of the Northern Kingdom, Samaria and the Exile of the Twelve Tribes. Because of T-P and the Assyrian Kings after him, our brethren have been scattered throughout the world for thousands of years. Our nation is incomplete, and we are always searching for our lost kinsmen.
Who were these Assyrian conquerors? As I walked further through the Assyrian section, I drifted into a room that stunned me. I had read about it in the spell-binding book Purim and the Persian Empire by Yehuda Landy, but seeing it in real life was so much more powerful. Yehuda Landy wrote, "In Sennacherib's palace at Nineveh, a central room was dedicated to his siege and conquest of the Judean city of Lachish [in the northern Negev near Ashkelon and Kiryat Gat]. It was one of Sennacherib's major campaigns, taking place during the sixth year of his reign, in which he marched his entire army from Nineveh to Judea."

Continue to Lachish Part 2 -

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