Lest anyone think Jewish animus toward Christians is a recent phenomenon; this traditional hostility actually precedes the advent of Christianity in Europe and carries on today directly in Palestine and indirectly through the state of Israel's support of the Kurds in their usurping of the traditional Christians lands of Upper Iraq and Syrian Mesopotamia. The Jewish community of Iraq were reliable supporters (and sometimes instigators) of Zoroastrian and Muslim government repressions against Oriental Christians.Good Friday, 339 A.D.
The persecution under king Shapur lasted for forty years, and it was very severe. The following is a description of the massacres that took place on Good Friday, A.D. 339:
". . .The first 'Firman' of persecution was issued, ordering all Christians [Assyrians] to pay double taxes, expressly as a contribution to the cost of a war in which they were taking no share, the Catholicos being ordered to collect the same. The special order may have been a kind of test for Mar Shimun, but there was nothing unusual in the government thus dealing with the melet through its recognized head. In any case, Shimun refused to obey the order, on the double ground that his people were too poor, and that tax collecting was no part of a bishop's business. On this it was easy to raise the cry, 'he is a traitor and wishes to rebel'; and a second Firman was issued, ordering his arrest and the general destruction of all Christian churches. Shimun was arrested at Seleucia, the Court being then at Karka d'Lidan (i.e., Susa), and in the leisurely fashion characteristic of Eastern justice, was allowed to collect his flock and to take a last farewell of them, before being conducted, with several colleagues, to what all foresaw would be his death. All gathered to receive the solemn blessing which a contemporary writer has preserved for us: 'May the Cross of our Lord be the protection of the people of Jesus; the peace of God be with the servants of God, and establish your hearts in the faith of Christ, in tribulation and in ease, in life and in death, now and forever more." The story of his martyrdom has been told by able writers, to whom we may refer for the moving tale of Shimun's interviews with the king; of the fall, penitence and triumph of Gushtazad the eunuch; of the offer of freedom, both for himself and for his melet, made to the Catholicos, if he would consent to adore the sun but once; and of the personal appeal of the King to him to yield, by memory of their friendship. The last scene took place outside Susa, on the morning of Good Friday, 339; when the Catholicos, five bishops, and about one hundred clergy sealed their testimony together, Shimun being last to die. To him it was given to die for both of the two noblest causes for which a man may lay down his life -- for his faith in God, and for his duty to his people." (An Introduction to the History of the Assyrian Church, P. 64)
The Greek historian Sozomen says of the above incident:
"When, in course of time, the Christians increased in number, assembled as churches, and appointed priests and deacons, the Magi became deeply incensed against them. The Jews were likewise offended. They therefore brought accusations before Shapur, the reigning King, against Shimun, who was then metropolitan of Seleusa and Ctesiphon, the royal cities of Persia, and charged him with being friends of the Caesar of the Romans, and with communicating the affairs of the Persians to him. Shapur believed these accusations, and at first imposed intolerably oppressive taxes upon the Christians. He appointed cruel men to exact these taxes, hoping that by being deprived of the necessities of life, and by the atrocity of the tax-gatherers, they might be compelled to abjure their religion-for this was his aim. Afterwards, however, he commanded that the priests and ministers of God should be slain with the sword. The churches were demolished, their vessels were deposited in the Treasury, and Shimun was arrested as a traitor to The Kingdom and religion of the Persians. In this way the Magi, with the cooperation of the Jews quickly destroyed the house of prayer. Shimun was arrested, bound with chains, and brought before the King. There he showed clearly the excellence and firmness of his character; for when Shapur commanded that he should be led away to the torture, he did not fear, and refused to prostrate himself. The King, greatly exasperated, asked why he did not prostrate himself, as he had done formerly. Shimun replied that he had not formerly been led away bound, in order that he might abjure the truth of God. When he had finished speaking, the King commanded him to worship the sun. He promised, as an inducement, that he would bestow gifts upon him, and raise him to honor; but on the other hand he threatened that, if he did not comply, he would destroy him and the whole body of the Christians as a punishment. When the King found that promises and menaces were alike unavailing he remanded him in prison. The following day, which happened to be the sixth day of the week, and likewise the day on which, because it came immediately before The festival of the resurrection, the annual memorial of the Passion of the savior is celebrated, The King issued orders for the decapitation of Shimun; for he had been again brought to the palace from the prison, and he had reasoned most boldly with Shapur on points of doctrine, and had expressed a determination never to worship either the King or the sun. On the same day, a hundred other prisoners were ordered to be slain. Shimun saw their execution, and last of all he was put to death. Among the victims were bishops, presbyters, and other clergy of different grades." (Patriarch, Shah, and Caliph, pp. 25.)
When Shapur died, in 379, the persecutions, for the most part, died with him. The forty years of terror saw 16,000 Assyrians, whose names were known and recorded, killed, and an immense number of Assyrians whose martyrdom was unrecorded448 A.D.
One of the most horrifying massacres occurred in the year 448, in modern day Kirkuk. The King Yasdegerd II began a wave of persecution of Assyrians (and Armenians, in Azerbaijan) throughout Persia. A massacre of ten bishops and 153,000 clergy and laity took place, ". in several consecutive days of slaughter on the mound of Karka d'Bait Sluk (Kirkuk). Local tradition still asserts that the red gravel of the hillock was stained that color by the martyrs' blood, and the martyrium built over the bodies remains to this day." (Introduction to the History of the Assyrian Church, pp. 138). The place where this massacre occurred, to this day, bears the name of the Persian executioner, who was led by the sight of the endurance and faith of the people he was butchering to believe that their faith must truly be from God, and who joined them in their confession, and fate -- Tamasgerd was baptized in his own blood (ibid, pp. 139).November, 519 A.D.
Early in the sixth century a young Jewish king rose to power in the Kingdom of Himyar (present day Yemen). This king, Yusuf As'ar, began a brutal massacre of the Assyrians who were living in that kingdom. These massacres did not escape the attention of tThe Burning of the Church
"The Jews amassed all the martyrs' bones and brought them into the church, where they heaped them up. They then brought in the priests, deacons, subdeacons, readers, and "sons and daughters of the covenant", and laymen and women as well -- whose names we shall give at the end of our letter. They filled the church up from wall to wall, some 2000 persons according to the men who came from Najran; then they piled up wood all around the outside of the church and set alight to it, thus burning the church along with everyone inside it. Some other women who had not been seized at the time, on seeing the church in flames with priests and "members of the covenant" inside, rushed to the church calling out to one another, "Come, friends, that we may take pleasure in the fragrant offering of the priests." Thus they rushed into the fire themselves and were burnt alive.Elizabeth
The sister of the holy bishop and martyr Paul was a deaconess named Elizabeth. She was in hiding in a house where the Christians had forcibly concealed her. On learning that the church was in flames, with the "members of the covenant" and the bones of her brother inside it, she dashed out of the house where the Christians had hidden her and went straight to the church, crying out, "I shall go to Christ with you, my brother, with you my brother and with all the rest of you." This was what she was crying out as she reached the courtyard of the church, and when the Jews saw her, they seized her, saying, "Adonay, Adonay, Adonay, Adonay! She has escaped from the fire, she has vanquished the fire by sorcery and got out!" But she assured them, "I haven't left the church-far bet it; rather, I have come from outside in order to enter it and to be burnt along with the bones of my brother and with the priests his companions. I want to be burnt in the church where I have ministered, together with my brother's bones." She was about forty-seven years old. The Jews grabbed her and produced thin cords; they bent down her head and bent her knees like a camel's and her arms as well, and threw the cords around them. They put in wooden pegs below the cords and turned -them so as to tighten the cords until they sank into her flesh. They did the same with her chest and the temples of her head. Then they produced some hay and fashioned something resembling a crown; this they placed on her head, saying to her in mockery, "receive your crown, servant of the carpenter's son!" Next they modeled the hay into the shape of a basin on top and heated up some oil in a pan; this they poured onto the top of her head when it was on the boil. When her entire head was scalded, the Jews said to her, "Perhaps it is too cool for you? Would you like us to heat it up again?" The blessed woman was unable to speak for pain, but she did manage to make a sign to them, softly indicating to them, "Yes, I would." While there was still some life in her, they took her outside the town and stripped her naked. There they tied ropes to her feet and brought along a wild camel, which they took out into the desert, tying the ropes to the camel and attaching wooden knockers that would dash against each other and agitate the camel. They then let the camel go into the desert, and it jerked her along violently behind it. This is how blessed Elizabeth was crowned." (Holy Women of the Syrian Orient, pp.105.)Tahna. Ummah. and Hudayyah
"Another woman named Tahna, hearing that the church was burning, seized her daughter's hand (her name was Ummah, and she was a "daughter of the covenant") and they went off to the church to be burnt. When her maidservant (whose name was Hudayyah) saw her, she said, "My lady, my lady, where are you off to? The church is on fire and the `members of the covenant are being burnt in the fire". Her mistress replied, "I too am going along to be burnt up with the priests, both I and my daughter here, who is a `member of the covenant.'" The maid said, "I adjure you by Christ, my lady, take me with you so that I too may enjoy the fragrance of the priests." So her mistress took her by the hand, and thus the three of them entered the church and were burnt to death along with the priests. This blessed lady's younger daughter, who was also called Hudayyah, did not go into the church along with her mother and sister but stayed in the house. The Jews, however, caught her, set fire to the house, and threw her into the tire. Then, when she had been scorched a little, they extracted her, rekindled the fire, and threw her in a second time; then they repeated this a third time, and so the blessed girl was crowned." (Ibid. p.107.)Khusraw Parviz destruction, 615-628 A.D.
Because of suspicions that the Monophysite Assyrians living under the Persian reign of Khusraw Pavriz may be communicating with the Syrian orhtodox church of the west, Pavriz maintained a persecution campaign which lasted till his death in 628 A.D. During this campaign, many monasteries near the royal court were destroyed.(Nau, "Ahoudemmeh," p.54, 75.)
In his thirtieth year (620), thirteen Christians were imprisoned in Adiabene (Modern Arbil and surroundings) for five years and then in 625, crucified at the bridge marking the border of Beth Garme. At about the same time, a bishop by the name of Nathaniel was crucified for writing a polemic against the Magians.
(Chabot, "Chastete,," p.37, 39-40,256,258. Also Hoffmann, "Persiscer Martyrer" , p. 119,121.) http://aina.org/martyr.html#Tahna__Ummah__and_Hudayyah