EARLY HISTORY OF ISRAEL Although the nations of Egypt, Assyria and Babylon were founded long before the Kingdom of Israel was established, the history of Israel is the most fascinating of all!
The nation of Israel has descended from SHEM through the Patriarchs — (1) Abraham (2) Isaac and (3) Jacob.
JACOB, whose name was later changed to ISRAEL (Gen. 32:28), was the father of the TWELVE sons who became the founding fathers of the TWELVE TRIBES comprising the nation of Israel.
During the lifetime of Israel (or Jacob) severe drought and famine gripped the land of Palestine. Joseph, one of Jacob's twelve sons, had become the second in command under the Pharaoh in the land of Egypt. He was, in fact, Egypt's Prime Minister! Joseph invited his father, Israel, and his whole family to come down and dwell in the very choicest part of the land of Egypt — the land of Goshen (Gen. 46:28-34). The total number of all the house or family of Israel (if we include Joseph and his two sons) who went down to Egypt (circa 1731 B.C.) was SEVENTY souls (Gen. 46:27).
The sons of Israel and their descendants lived in Egypt for about two hundred and forty years. See Dr. Torrey's Comments on Exodus, Chap. XII, for a clear explanation of the exact numbers of the years of Israel's sojourn in Egypt (The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, p. 46).
In 1491 B.C., Moses (a man of great ability) was given the charge of leading the infant nation of Israel from Egypt to the Promised Land.
How many Israelites were there at the time of the Exodus from Egypt? According to Dr. Adam Clarke there were "upwards of three millions" (Clarke's Commentary, Vol. I, pp. 357-358). Jamieson, Fausset and Brown in their Critical and Experimental Commentary say there were "2,400,000" Israelites who took part in the Exodus (Vol. I, p. 317). There were undoubtedly between 2,500,000 and 3,000,000 who left Egypt under Moses!
If this phenomenal population increase seems incredible, consider the following facts!
In 1800 England had a population of about 8,000,000; the United States had circa 7,000,000. A century and a half later, England had nearly 50,000,000 (not including the millions who emigrated to the Commonwealth countries)! The U.S. grew to about 170,000,000 in the same period. The population of any country (if unchecked by warfare, famine or disease epidemics) increases very rapidly!
Notice what God said concerning the people of Israel: "The Lord did not set His love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for you were the fewest of all people: But because the Lord loved you, and because He would keep the OATH which He had sworn unto your fathers...." (Deut. 7:7,8). God had solemnly sworn unto the Patriarchs that He would bless Israel so that they would become a very prolific people.
Notice God's oath which was repeated to all of the patriarchal, founding fathers of the nation of Israel! To Abraham, God had said: "I will multiply thy seed as the STARS of heaven, and as the SAND which is upon the seashore" (Gen. 22:17). Unto Isaac's wife, Rebekah, it was said: "Be thou the mother of thousands of millions...." (Gen. 24:16). Unto Jacob (or Israel) God had solemnly promised: "And THY SEED shall be as the DUST of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the WEST, and to the EAST, and to the NORTH, and to the SOUTH" (Gen. 28:14).
These are only a few of the many promises which God made to the Patriarchs concerning their children. God truly had solemnly sworn that the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were to become as the "stars," as the "dust" and as the "sand."
Notice another very important promise which the Almighty God made to Israel (or Jacob): "And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and A COMPANY OF NATIONS shall be of thee and kings shall come out of thy loins" (Gen. 35:10, 11).
Yes, the descendants of Jacob were prophesied to become a "COMPANY ('MULTITUDE' — Gen. 48:19) of nations." The JEWS have never comprised more than ONE small nation! But all of the descendants of Israel collectively were to become a multitude or company of nations!
Because of faithlessness, outright rebellion and gross iniquity, the people of Israel who took part in the Exodus were all denied entering the Promised Land — except Joshua and Caleb, who, as a reward for their faithfulness to God, were commissioned to lead the nation of Israel across the Jordan river and into the Promised Land (Num. 14:30)! There were about THREE MILLIONS of Israelites who occupied the Promised Land under Joshua in circa 1451 B.C.
In the Promised Land Israel was ruled over by Judges for about three and a half centuries.
From the time Joshua led the Twelve Tribes of Israel into the Promised Land (in 1451 B.C.) until the time that the Ten-Tribed House of Israel was taken captive (in 721 B.C.) was a total of about 730 years (The Cambridge Companion to the Bible, p. 182).
But in the time of Samuel (about 1092 B.C.) the people of Israel wanted a human king. God granted them their desire, but protested — showing them the tragic consequences of their action (I Sam. 8).
Saul was the first king of Israel, but because of his refusal to rule Israel according to the laws and ways of God, he was rejected and David was chosen as his successor. David ruled Israel wisely, and when he died his son, Solomon (Heb: "peaceable") ascended the throne and ruled the Twelve Tribes of Israel. He governed Israel judiciously during his lifetime, and as a result there was great peace and prosperity throughout the land during his reign.
When King Solomon died, his son, Rehoboam, ascended the throne. Because of his unwise policies and exorbitant taxes, the northern Ten Tribes of Israel revolted (in 972 B.C.) from the leadership of the throne of David and formed a separate kingdom under the leadership of their newly elected king, Jeroboam (I Ki. 12).
After the revolt of the Ten-Tribed House of Israel from the leadership of the kings of Judah, we thereafter read of "Israel" and "Judah" as being distinct nations though they were closely related. The term "Israel" thereafter referred to the northern Ten-Tribed House or Kingdom of Israel (whose capital was Samaria), and the term "Judah" referred to the Kingdom of Judah which was comprised of the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and most of the Levites. The capital city of the Kingdom of Judah was Jerusalem.
What is the origin of the name "Israel"?
The first use of the name Israel in the Bible is found in Genesis 32:28, where the angel who wrestled all night with Jacob says: "Thy name shall be no more called Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with man, and hast prevailed." "Israel" is derived from a Hebrew root which literally means "he that strives (or prevails) with God."
As Jacob became Israel, so his descendants through his TWELVE SONS became the tribes of Israel and the ISRAELITES....When Israel was divided by civil war in the time of Rehoboam and Jeroboam, the NORTHERN kingdom alone retained the name ISRAEL, while the SOUTHERN kingdom was called JUDAH. From that time on we read of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah, although the inhabitants of both kingdoms continued to be called Israelites in the older and broader sense of the inhabitants of the old land of Israel (Stimpson, A Book About the Bible, pp. 235, 236). When Israel was rent by civil war under Rehoboam (king of Judah) and Jeroboam (king of Israel), "the Northern kingdom alone retained the name Israel," after which the Southern kingdom was called — not Israel — but Judah.
The Encyclopaedia Britannica also shows that the name of Israel was for some centuries "applied to the northern kingdom as distinct" from the nation and the peoples of Judah.
ISRAEL (Hebrew for "God strives" or "rules"; See Genesis 32:28....Israel was a name borne by their ancestor Jacob the father of the 12 tribes. For some centuries the term was applied to the NORTHERN KINGDOM, as DISTINCT from JUDAH, although the feeling of national unity extended it so as to include both (Ency. Brit., 11th ed., Art., Israel, p. 885, par., 1).
THE ORIGIN OF "JEW" The inhabitants of the Southern kingdom as the author just quoted pointed out, were sometimes called Israelites; but they were never called the "House of Israel" or the "Kingdom of Israel." However, not one Scripture can be produced to prove that the inhabitants of the Northern Ten-Tribed Kingdom of Israel were ever called JEWS! Throughout the histories of Israel as found in the books of the Kings and of the Chronicles of Israel and Judah, you will notice that there was intermittent strife between the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah.
In fact on one occasion, the army of the Ten-Tribed Northern Kingdom of Israel entered Jerusalem as the victor (II Kings 14).
The first mention of the word "Jews" in the Bible is also found in this same book.
Then Rezin king of Syria, and Pekah son of Remaliah, king of ISRAEL came up to Jerusalem to war: and they besieged Ahaz, but could not overcome him. At that time, Rezin, king of Syria recovered Elath to Syria and drave the JEWS from Elath (II Kings 16:5, 6). In verses 7 and 9 you will notice that King Ahaz of Judah, in order to get out of this dilemma, sent messengers and silver and gold from the very Temple of the Lord to the Assyrian King, Tiglath-Pileser to secure the aid of the Assyrian monarch against his enemies, Rezin King of Syria, and Pekah King of Israel.
The Assyrian king, Tiglath-Pileser, in response to this letter invaded the Ten-Tribed House of Israel and carried them into captivity.
We have observed the origin of "Israel", but we have not seen the origin of this word "Jew" even though we have seen the first place in recorded history where it is used.
How did the word "Jew" originate? It is derived from Judah (Yehuda), the fourth of Jacob's twelve sons. The territory occupied by the tribe of JUDAH was called Judah and its inhabitants were denominated JEWS, or the children of Judah. After Israel was split into two kingdoms, the southern section, comprising Judah, Benjamin and most of the Levites, was called the Kingdom of Judah, while the northern tribes were called the Kingdom of Israel. In 604-585 B.C. this southern Kingdom of Judah was destroyed and its people were deported to Babylon, where they remained for 70 years. At the end of this 70-year-period under Persian protection, a remnant of this Babylonish captivity returned to Palestine and established the Jewish nation and the Temple worship once again. "This state, like its predecessor was called Judah" (Stimpson, A Book About the Bible, p. 236).
Notice how the word "Jew" developed through the centuries. Stimpson says:
The inhabitants of Judah (Yehuda) called themselves Yehudim in Hebrew and Yehudaye in Aramaic. To the Greeks and Romans Yehuda became Iouda and Judea and the inhabitants Ioudaios and Judaei. The name of the inhabitants of the Hebrew commonwealth passed through the following successive linguistic stages: Hebrew, Yehuda, Greek, Ioudaios, Latin, Judaeaus, Old French, Juieu, and English, Jew. One of the earliest known uses of the English form Jew is dated 1175 A.D. (ibid., p. 236). These are a few of the many different forms or ways of spelling this word "Jew." For still further interesting spellings of "Jew" see Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th ed. Notice the following interesting statement: "For centuries adherents of the Mosaic faith who lived in Judea were called JEWS, while those of the dispersion were called ISRAELITES" (ibid., p. 237).
Stimpson has clearly shown that for centuries those who adhered to the "Mosaic faith" in Judea were called by the name of "Jews" while the TEN TRIBES of Israel in the DISPERSION were called ISRAELITES. He showed that the word "Jew" finally came to denote "any adherent of the Mosaic faith."
Notice this significant statement from Josephus:
"So the Jews prepared for the work: that is the name they are called by from the day that they came up from Babylon, which is taken from the tribes of Judah, which came first to these places, and thence both they and the country gained that appellation" (Antiquities of the Jews, Book XI, p. 274). It is superfluous to quote from any more authorities showing what has already been clearly pointed out in this chapter — that Israelites are descendants of Israel, and that Jews are either the physical, fleshly descendants of Judah or else those who have taken up the Jewish faith and have consequently been termed as "Jews" because of their Jewish beliefs.
Reuben was the firstborn son of Israel (Gen. 49:3), and was therefore the first "Israelite" (son of Israel). The Jews were the sons of Judah, but we do not know when the sons of Judah were first called Jews.
ISRAEL'S CAPTIVITIES AS MENTIONED IN THE CUNEIFORM INSCRIPTIONS A very important archaeological discovery bearing upon the history of the people of Israel in their pre-captivity period is the Black Obelisk. Kinns, quoting from the front of the Black Obelisk, says: The tribute of Yaua (Jehu), son of HUMRI (Omri): silver, gold, a golden cup, golden vases, golden vessels, golden buckets, lead, a staff for the hand of the King, and sceptres, I received (Kinns, Graven in the Rock, p.494).
A footnote referring to this incident says: "It is possible that the writer of this inscription did not know who Jehu's father was, or he might have meant that he was a royal son or successor to Omri, whom he knew to have been a prominent sovereign."
Jehu. On the Black Obelisk, 'Jehu' (=Yaua), 'the son of Omri' (=Khumri), is represented as giving tribute to Shalmaneser II...He was 'son' only as a successor to the throne of Omri the late king. He was the son of Jehosaphat and grandson of Nimshi (Norton, Bible Students' Handbook of Assyriology, pp. 105,106). The Black Obelisk is a black alabaster stone which was set up by Shalmaneser III at Nimrud. On its four sides is inscribed an account of the expeditions undertaken by Shalmaneser during the thirty-one years of his reign, and depicts scenes representing the paying of tribute by the kings whom he had conquered. "The description 'son of KHUMRI' is thought merely to show that Jehu was an Israelite, because Israelitish territory was called 'BIT KHUMRI'" (A Guide to the Babylonian and Assyrian Antiquities of the British Museum, pp. 46, 47).
IMPORTANT ASSYRIAN INSCRIPTIONS "(Sargon) the conqueror of the Thamudites, the Ibadidites, the Marsimanites, and the Khapayans, the remainder of whom was carried away and whom he transported to the midst of the land of BETH-OMRI" (Sayce, Assyria, pp. 178-179).
Another extract from this same work, from fragments of the Annals of Tiglath- Pileser IV, says:
The town of Gil(ead) and Abel-(beth-Machah?) on the frontier of BETHOMRI [Samaria], the widespread (district of Naphtali) to its whole extent I turned into the territory of Assyria. My (governors) and officers I appointed (over them)...The land of BETH-OMRI...a collection of its inhabitants (with their goods) I transported to Assyria (ibid., pp.176, 178). Here is a further translation from the inscriptions of Tiglath-Pileser, Luckenbill cites a notable instance of the use of the name OMRI ("BIT-HUMRIA") in The Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylonia:
Gala'za(?), Abilakka, which are on the border of BIT-HUMRIA (House of Omri, Israel)...the wide land of Naphtali, in its entirety, I brought within the border of Assyria. The land of BIT-HUMRIA...all of its people, together with their goods I carried off to Assyria. Pakaha, their king they deposed, and I placed Ausi (Hoshea) over them as king (Series 1926, Vol. I, par. 815, 816). We know the English word for the Hebrew name of the people of Israel as recorded in the Scripture was just simply "Israel," "House of Israel," or the "land of Israel" and similar names. But what name or names did the Gentile nations (the neighbors of Israel) use when referring to the land or to the House of Israel?
This question is very ably answered by Dr. Schrader, in his remarks concerning the Assyrian inscriptions.
Israelites. The name Israel does not occur in the inscriptions as a general term for the Israelites. Nor does it, as a rule appear as the name for the Northern Kingdom. Instead of this the name that is usually employed is mat BIT-HUMRI i.e. land of the House Omri... (Schrader, The Cuneiform Inscriptions of the Old Testament, Vol. I, pp. 137, 138). Israel came into contact with Assyria at a much earlier period, and was in fact tributary to Assyria in the ninth century B.C. (ibid., p. 144).
Israel... The usual term for the Kingdom of Israel in the Assyrian inscriptions is not this, as we have already observed. The ordinary designation was rather MAT BIT-HUMRI or MAT HUMRI "LAND OF THE HOUSE OF OMRI," or "LAND OF OMRI," or merely "LAND OMRI" (ibid., p. 177). The translations just cited from Dr. Schrader's book will, it is hoped, suffice to give the reader ample knowledge of the most important cuneiform inscriptions bearing upon the history of the nation of Israel.
ISRAEL'S FIRST INVASION We have seen a number of quotations taken directly from the cuneiform writings excavated in the Middle East, proving the absolute veracity of the scriptural account. Thus again we find the Bible stands completely verified. Let us now go to the historical accounts of the invasions and the deportations of Israel as found in the Scriptures.
The Kingdom of Israel was invaded on three different occasions by the Assyrian monarchs. First in 771 B.C. Pul, also called Assurbanipal, in the reign of Menahem, king of Israel, invaded the northern outskirts of the Kingdom of Israel. Menahem bribed the king of Assyria with a huge sum of 4,000 pounds of silver (II Ki. 15:19). This bribe temporarily, at least, averted the greed of the Assyrian monarch, and he thereupon retired from the land of Israel not having occupied the northern portion of the land of Israel which he had invaded: neither did he carry away any Israelitish captives at that time.
The prophet Isaiah was inspired to refer to this First Invasion as a "light affliction" on the land of Zebulon and the land of Naphtali (Isaiah 9:1).
The land of these two tribes lay immediately to the west of the Jordan River extending from the northern extremity of the border of Israel down to a point just southwest of the Sea of Galilee. You will find this First Invasion of the land of Israel described clearly in II Kings 15:19, 20.
And Pul the king of Assyria came against the land: and Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver, that his hand might be with him to confirm the kingdom in his hand. And Menahem exacted the money of Israel, even of all the mighty men of wealth, of each man 50 shekels of silver, to give to the king of Assyria. So the king of Assyria turned back, and stayed not there in the land. But the kings of Israel who ruled over the Northern Ten-Tribed Kingdom of Israel (called Samaria) paid little attention to this "light affliction." They still continued in the sins of Jeroboam.
SRAEL'S SECOND INVASION Shortly after this, God sent the Assyrian ruler, Tiglath-Pileser back to the land of Israel, this time to afflict the people of Israel with greater severity. A new king had arisen over the nation of Samaria by the name of Pekah.
And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord: he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin. In the days of Pekah, king of Israel, came Tiglath-Pileser, king of Assyria, and took Ijon and Abel-beth-maachah and Janoah and Kedesh, and Hazor, and Gilead and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali, and carried them captive TO ASSYRIA (II Ki. 15:28, 29). This brief historical, scriptural account of the Second Invasion of Israel (their first captivity) occurred (according to Ussher) in the year 741 B.C.
Notice all of the towns and territories described in the above reference were located in the general territories of the tribes of Naphtali, Gad, Reuben, and the half tribe of Manasseh lying east of the Jordan. The tribe of Naphtali was situated in the extreme northern part of the Kingdom of Israel, and lay immediately to the west of the Jordan River, the Sea of Galilee and Lake Hulah. The one-half tribe of Manasseh, and the tribes of Reuben and Gad were all located immediately east of the Jordan River. This territory had been known as the land of Bashan and Gilead.
Numerous Scriptures show that the half tribe of Manasseh, the tribe of Gad, and the tribe of Reuben all had their inheritance on the east side of the Jordan River (Deut. 29:7,8; Josh. 1:12-15; 12:1-6; 13:7-8).
It is also interesting to note that Moses had given this land to these tribes before his decease (Josh. 12:1-6).
If one will follow this Second Assyrian Invasion, he will see that the Assyrian king, Tiglath-Pileser, swept down from the north through the northern tribes of Naphtali going south to the Sea of Galilee where he turned eastward and conquered the three aforementioned tribes lying to the east of the Dead Sea, in the region called Trans-Jordania.
We are informed that the tribe of Reuben prior to the Assyrian invasions had extended its territory all the way to the Euphrates River (I Chron. 5:6-9).
Another account of the Second Invasion of the Ten-tribed Northern Kingdom of Israel, or Samaria, is found in the fifth chapter of the book of I Chronicles.
And they [referring to the three tribes living east of the Jordan — i.e. the half tribe of Manasseh, the tribe of Gad, and the tribe of Reuben] transgressed against the God of their fathers, and went a whoring after the gods of the people of the land, whom God destroyed before them. And the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul, king of Assyria, and the spirit of Tiglath-Pileser, king of Assyria, and he carried them away, even the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh, and brought them unto Halah, and Habor, and Hara, and the river Gozan, unto this day (I Chron. 5:25, 26). Before going to the cuneiform inscriptions for verification of the Second Invasion of Israel, let us again recall that this Second Invasion of the land of Israel was a more grievous affliction than the former.
Now let us read again the inspired account of this Second Invasion of Israel: "Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first He [God] lightly afflicted the land of Zebulon and the land of Naphtali, [referring to the First Invasion] and afterward did more grievously afflict her [the Second Invasion] by way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations" (Isa. 9:1).
CUNEIFORM ACCOUNT OF THE SECOND INVASION Again we return to the cuneiform inscriptions where Israel's First Captivity (the Second Invasion) of 741 B.C. is mentioned:
"The cities of...Gala'za(?), Abilakka, which are on the border of BITHUMRIA... the wide land of Naphtali, in its entirety, I brought within the border of Assyria. My official I set over them as governor...." (Lukenbill, The Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylonia, Vol. I, p. 292).
ISRAEL'S THIRD AND FINAL INVASION The Assyrian account of the Third Invasion (the second and last captivity) of the land of the Ten-Tribed Kingdom of Israel in the year 721 B.C. is as follows:
The land of BIT-HUMRIA...all of its people, together with all their goods I carried off to Assyria, Pakaha, their king they deposed, and I placed Ausi (Hoshea) over them as king (ibid.). The Assyrian name for Pekah was Pakaha, and their name for Hosea was Ausi.
Despite these two invasions by the Assyrian monarchs—the first light affliction of Israel, and the second more severe affliction, when a number of the tribes were carried captives to Assyria—the kings of Israel and their people still turned a deaf ear to their God. They could not see the handwriting on the wall. They went on blindly as though no calamity could overtake them. How could such a disaster befall them? Were they not God's "chosen" people?
But whether they knew it or not, the Assyrian king was already plotting the culminating defeat, the complete overthrow of the Ten-Tribed House of Israel, called Samaria.
The account of this final deathblow to Israel, her Second Captivity dealt by Assyria, is recorded as follows:
Then the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years. In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes...There was none left but the tribe of Judah only...He...cast them out of His sight. For He rent Israel from the house of David...the Lord removed Israel out of His sight...So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day (II Ki. 17:1-23). What was the date of this final captivity? The commonly accepted date of this second and final captivity is 721 B.C.
Observe closely who it was that was brought into the land of Israel (Samaria). These Gentiles were still residing there in the time of Christ.
And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon and from Cuthah and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof (II Ki. 17:1-24). In the sacred account just quoted, there are a number of important points which should be brought to the attention of the reader. Notice why God let Israel be taken into captivity. They had become very sinful, had degenerated into loathsome and sensuous Babylonish and Phoenician religious practices, and had even caused their sons and daughters to "pass through the fire" (II Ki. 17:17).
THE AREA TO WHICH ISRAEL WAS DEPORTED Another very important point that should be brought to the reader's attention is mentioned in verse 6 of the previous reference.
"The king of Assyria took Samaria and carried Israel away into ASSYRIA, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river Gozan, and in the cities of the MEDES."
In connection with this also note verse 23:
"So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day." The expression "unto this day" refers to the time of Ezra and Nehemiah who directed the final canonization of the Hebrew Scriptures. This statement proves that the Ten Tribes were still in exile in about 400-450 B.C.
Notice the places to which Israel (the Ten-Tribed Northern Kingdom) was carried! These people were deported "to ASSYRIA," and to "the cities of the MEDES," to Gozan, Habor and Halah.
If you will consult an accurate map of these times, you will note that the people of Israel were deported to the lands lying immediately SOUTH OF THE CAUCASUS MOUNTAINS and south of the Caspian Sea. Keep this location in mind as it has a most important bearing upon points which will be mentioned later. (See The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. I, pp. 569-571; The Imperial Bible Dictionary, Vol I, pp.347-350.)
Here is another interesting point worth noting:
"And the Lord rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of spoilers, until He had cast them out of His sight" (II Ki. 17:20, 23).
What is meant by the expression "cast them out of His sight"? Speaking of the Promised Land, the land Israel was to inherit, God had revealed His concern for it in the following words:
"A land which the Lord thy God careth for, the eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even until the end of the year" (Deut. 11:12).
Notice that this Scripture shows the eyes of God are always on the Promised Land. When Israel was removed from this land, God spoke as though they were removed out of His sight.
Ezekiel was inspired by God to write the following comment concerning Israel's captivity.
I scattered them among the heathen, and they were dispersed through the countries: according to their way and according to their doings I judged them. And when they entered unto the heathen, whither they went, they profaned My Holy name, when they said to them, these are the people of the Lord, and are gone forth out of His land (Ezekiel 36:16-20). The nineteenth verse just quoted is of especial importance. It says that God had "scattered Israel among the heathen" and "dispersed them through the countries." Keep this fact in mind as we later go through some of the historical sources following the footsteps of Israel from the time they left their ancient homeland in Palestine until they reached their modern-day lands.
We have already observed that the people of the Northern Ten-Tribed Kingdom of Israel were in the biblical account called "Israel," "Kingdom of Israel," or "House of Israel," whereas the people of the Southern Kingdom of Judah were called "Jews," "Judah," or the "Kingdom of Judah."
The people of the Northern Kingdom were never called Jews! The people of the Southern Kingdom were, however, sometimes still called Israelites. But there is not one instance in sacred or secular history where the Northern Ten Tribes of Israel were (as a nation) ever called Jews.
THE POPULATION OF ISRAEL IN 741-721 B.C. The population of Israel at the time of the Exodus from Egypt was undoubtedly somewhere around three millions. The Twelve Tribes of Israel inhabited the Promised Land circa 1451 B.C. They remained in this land for about 730 years before finally being taken captive. (Remember also that they were a very prolific people.)
How many Israelites were in Palestine when the Assyrian kings began the captivities or deportations of this people? (For further comments regarding Israel's population in 741-721 B.C., see: The Expository Times, Vol. IX, p. 168.)
Let us now notice a few significant statements from Salo Baron in regard to the population of the Jews.
During the Eichmann trial held in Israel in 1961 Baron testified against Eichmann by giving some astounding figures regarding the Jewish population and their slaughter by the Nazis in World War II.
The London Daily Express of April 25th, 1961, had this to say regarding Salo Baron.
"Professor Salo Baron, reputed to be the world's greatest living authority on Jewish history..."
Notice that Professor Baron is reputed as "the world's greatest living authority on Jewish history."
In his book, A Social and Religious History of the Jews, Baron, speaking of the Israelitish captivity by Assyria, says:
The 27,290 deported from Samaria in 721, mentioned in the well-known inscriptions of Sargon, represent only a fraction of the Israelitic exiles. We must add not only a number of women and children who accompanied them but, in all probability, unrecorded further groups deported in 734;733, and perhaps in 720. Similarly Sennacherib's boast about the effects of his campaign against Judah in 701, "200,150 people, small and great...I brought out of their midst and counted as booty," whether or not absolutely accurate, reflects a large-scale involuntary expatriation (ibid., Vol. I, p. 95). Professor Baron says, "There were not less than four hundred settlements classified as towns" in the land of Israel prior to the Assyrian Captivity of 721 B.C. (ibid., Vol. I, p. 72).
Since Sennacherib deported "200,150 people small and great" in "his campaign against Judah in 701" this proves that there must have been a few million Jews at that time, for it would appear that the bulk of the Jewish population was left intact and was carried into captivity over 100 years later by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.
Recall that this Assyrian invasion of Judah occurred in 701 B.C., or 20 years after the remnant of Ten-Tribed Israel had gone into captivity. And yet after myriads were slaughtered and 200,150 were deported there must have been many hundreds of thousands of Jews living in Palestine at the time of the Babylonish invasions of 604-585 B.C.
This further proves that the small Southern kingdom of Judah must have had at least two or three millions of inhabitants prior to the Assyrian invasions. Consequently the Northern Kingdom of Israel (composed of not two, but Ten Tribes) must have easily contained a population of 5,000,000 or more at the time of the beginning of the overthrow of Israel by Assyria in 741-721 B.C.
According to reliable estimates there were somewhere around 7,000,000 or more people in Israel and Judah prior to their captivity. The Promised Land was formerly a "land flowing with milk and honey" and could have easily supported this number (Ex. 3:8; Lev. 20:24). Also remember that the population of the United States increased from 7,000,000 to about 170,000,000 in a period of circa 150 years — 1800-1950 A.D.
It was after this land vomited out these rebels that God turned it into a desolation. Since the small family of Israel grew from 70 people to about 3,000,000 in a short period of 240 years while in the land of Egypt, it is probable that there were even more than 7,000,000 people in the land of Palestine just before Israel's deportations. From the time that Israel occupied the Promised Land until the captivity encompassed about 730 years.
THE LAND OF ISRAEL'S CAPTIVITIES We have seen from the Scriptural account that the people of Israel were taken into captivity by the Assyrians to the land of the MEDES, and the ASSYRIANS. Any reliable map showing the lands of Media and of Assyria for this period, will reveal that these two territories were located south of the Caucasus Mountains, southeast of the Black Sea, and south to southwest of the Caspian Sea. It is very important to keep the general location of this territory in mind because later it will be shown that all of the modern nations of Northwest Europe comprising most of the so-called "Nordic races" came from this very area of the Caucasus in S.W. Asia.
Also bear in mind that the remnant of the Northern Ten-Tribed House of Israel were finally invaded and conquered in the year 721 B.C., or perhaps as late as 718 B.C. The exact date is not of any great importance in this instance.
But the Southern Kingdom of Judah was not conquered and deported to Babylon until circa 585 B.C., when Nebuchadnezzar at last beat down the walls of Jerusalem and completely demolished the city, killed many of the Jews and took the remainder, except the poorest of the land, to Babylon. Remember, Babylon lay to the EAST of Palestine. Israel had been taken to an area NORTH of Babylon 130 years before the Jewish captivity. The Bible and secular history both show that the Ten Tribes of Israel never mingled to any great extent with the exiles of Judah. The peoples of these two distinct captivities remained separate.
The Jews remained in the Babylonish captivity for 70 years. After this time God stirred up the hearts of the Persian kings, Cyrus and Darius the Great and others who issued three different decrees (536 B.C., 457 B.C., 444 B.C.) permitting the Jews to go back to Jerusalem to build their Temple and to re-establish the Jewish nation (Halley, Bible Handbook, p. 312).
There were about 50,000 Jews who returned from the Babylonish captivity (Ezra 2:64; Neh. 7:66), plus about 1,000 priests and Levites who returned with Ezra to set up the Temple worship.
ONLY JUDAH AND BENJAMIN RETURN Did any from the Ten Tribes of Israel return to Judah in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah? Here is the answer from the Bible:
Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity builded the Temple of the Lord God of Israel, then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto Him since the days of Esar-haddon, King of Assur, which brought us up hither (Ezra 4:1, 2). Did you notice that only Judah and Benjamin were mentioned as having returned to Jerusalem?
"Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered themselves together unto Jerusalem within three days" (ibid., 10:9).
Notice again that only the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin were mentioned as having returned to the Holy Land at that time. Does this not prove that there were no other tribes present, except as we shall see later some of the Levites? In the book of Ezra, the Levites are mentioned about twenty-one times; and in the book of Nehemiah they are mentioned over forty times. These numerous references to the Levites prove that many of the Levites returned with their Jewish brethren from the Babylonish captivity to the land of Judah.
A casual perusal of all the biblical and historical material regarding those who returned from Babylon, will show that only a small portion even of the Jews returned to Palestine at that time. Most of the Jewish people remained either at Babylon, Alexandria, Egypt, or else were left scattered throughout the provinces of the Persian Empire.
The Apostle Peter was inspired to write:
"The Church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you" (I Pet. 5:13). The Apostle Paul shows that the gospel of (or to) the circumcision had been committed to Peter, whereas the gospel of the uncircumcision had been committed to him (Gal. 2:7). Peter was the one in charge of the dissemination of the gospel to those who were circumcised, that is, he was sent primarily to the Jews. Paul was commissioned to oversee the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles.
We know from historical sources that many Jews remained in Babylon. Some estimate the Jewish population to be over 1,000,000 at Babylon in the time of Christ. The church which Peter mentioned at Babylon was undoubtedly a Jewish church primarily.
Since there must have been at least 7,000,000 Israelites inhabiting the territories of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah just prior to their deportations, just how many were there in the Northern Ten-Tribed House of Israel at that time?
The Southern Kingdom of Judah, remember, was comprised of the tribes of JUDAH, BENJAMIN, and undoubtedly the majority of the LEVITES. Taking all of these things into account, the Kingdom of Judah may well have contained two million inhabitants at the time of the Jewish captivity (585 B.C.), and the Northern Kingdom of Israel must have had a population of at least 5,000,000 at the time of her captivity by Assyria.
Such a computation seems well justified judging by David's census (I Chron. 21:5). According to that census, there were 1,570,000 "MEN-AT-ARMS" (Moffatt translation) in Israel and Judah, and this did not include the tribes of Benjamin and Levi!
Since there were ONE MILLION, FIVE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY THOUSAND able-bodied "men-at-arms" in Israel and Judah in David's time, there may have been 15,000,000 people living in all Israel at that time. It would be rare indeed for any nation to have one-tenth of its total population eligible for military service at any given time! And remember, this was about 300 years BEFORE Israel was taken captive!
Putting all of these points together, one cannot help but conclude that Israel's population (excluding the people of the Kingdom of Judah) must have been at least five millions by 741 B.C. — the beginning of Israel's captivities!
THE DISPERSION In the 7th chapter of the gospel of John is recorded a very interesting conversation between Christ and the Jews. Christ had spoken about going to a place which would be inaccessible to the Jews. He was, of course, referring to heaven. But the Jews, misunderstanding Him, said: "Will He go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles?" (v. 35).
Who were the dispersed (Gk. diaspora)?
Dr. Bullinger gives the following note regarding the diaspora. "Dispersed (The) diaspora, dispersion, (occ. James i,1, and I Pet. i,1)....John vii, 35." (A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek Testament, 8th ed., p. 228).
Remember, we have already seen that when Israel sinned against their God, He solemnly declared, "Wherefore I poured my fury upon them for the blood that they had shed upon the land, and for their idols wherewith they had polluted it: and I scattered them among the heathen, and they were dispersed through the countries" (Ezek. 36:18,19).
Who were the ones who were to be "dispersed through the countries?" Only the Jews? No, God says Israel had been scattered and dispersed among the Gentile peoples. The Jews only comprised the people inhabiting the small Southern Kingdom in Palestine; whereas the Ten-Tribed House of Israel inhabited the northern part of the Promised Land. Also bear in mind that the House of Israel were carried into captivity, some in 741, and the remainder in 721 B.C. The Jews were taken captive to Babylon circa 604-585 B.C.
This Greek word "Diaspora" referred to all of the Israelites which were dispersed or scattered throughout the whole world. The overwhelming majority of the dispersed ones at this time were Israelites from the "House of Israel."
THE TWELVE TRIBES SCATTERED ABROAD Few have ever noticed that the Apostle James wrote an epistle to the dispersed tribes of Israel. "James a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greetings" (Jas. 1:1). The Revised Standard Version and the Moffatt translation render this verse as follows: "To the twelve tribes in the dispersion."
The epistle of James was not addressed to an individual, or a church, or the "Elect," or the "Saints," but it was written to "the twelve tribes in the dispersion." Nearly every other epistle in the entire New Testament is addressed to a particular church, or to the "Saints" of a particular city such as Rome, Corinth, or Ephesus, or to some particular individual, such as Timothy, or Titus. The epistle of James was not written to the Saints primarily, but to the unconverted Twelve Tribes of Israel.
"From whence come wars among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members" (Jas. 4:1). Notice that James is not speaking of Saints warring among themselves. They would not have been "Saints" had they literally been fighting among themselves! He was referring to carnal-minded Israelites!
SHOULD WE SEEK THE "LOST SHEEP"? Some express the erroneous opinion that it is wrong to be concerned about the present-day whereabouts of the people of Israel. They would not hold such a view if they realized how much of the Bible is devoted to prophecy directly concerning the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel — whoever they may be! The Bible clearly reveals that certain blessings were to accrue to these "lost sheep" in the "last days," only to be followed by a great national calamity of unparalleled proportions brought on them because of their ingratitude and disobedience (Jer. 30:7).
Let us see what Christ thought about this subject. In the great commission to the twelve disciples, as recorded in Matthew, chapter 10, we find Christ giving the following charge: "Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matt. 10:5, 6).
THE TWO-FACED SAMARITANS—ISRAELITES? Who were the Samaritans? Huxley and Haddon show that "the blood-groups of the Samaritans show no affinity to those of the Hebrews" (We Europeans, p. 186.).
The present-day Samaritans, according to their blood groups, are not closely related to the Hebrews. Who were the Samaritans who lived in Samaria in the time of Christ?
According to II Kings 17:24, they were Gentiles, who had replaced the Israelites. We are informed that the King of Assyria brought men from Babylon, Cuthah, Ava, Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in "the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel."
Josephus informs us that these Samaritans were two-faced. They claimed kinship to the Jews only when it would be to their advantage. When the Jews fell into disrepute, the Samaritans disclaimed any racial affinity with them.
But now the Cutheans, who removed into Samaria...are called in the Hebrew tongue Cutheans, but in the Greek tongue Samaritans. And when they see the Jews in prosperity, they pretend that they are changed, and allied to them, and call them kinsmen, as though they were derived from Joseph, and had by that means an original alliance with them; but when they see them falling into a low condition, they say they are no way related to them, and that the Jews have no right to expect any kindness or marks of kindred from them, but they declare that they are sojourners, that come from other countries... (Ant. Bk., IX, Chap. XIV, Sec. 3). In Christ's day, the Jews had "no dealings with the Samaritans" (Jo. 4:9).
Now let us return to Matthew 10:5,6. Notice Christ told the disciples not to go into any city of the Samaritans (because they sometimes claimed they were Israelites even though they were not)—neither were they to go into the way of the Gentiles.
Who were the Gentiles? The word "Gentile" in the Hebrew and Greek languages simply means "nations"—including, of course, all of the nations outside of "the nation of Israel."
Also notice that Christ told the apostles to go to "the lost sheep of the House of Israel."
The Palestinian Jews were not lost. Neither were their Jewish brethren lost who were scattered through the world. The Jews have always retained many of their customs traditions and laws, such as the observance of the weekly and annual sabbaths, and their dietary regulations which prohibit the use of blood, fat, or unclean meats. (See Lev. 3:17; 11:1-31). Their observance of the sabbath has kept them from being lost wherever they have gone (Ex. 31:13-17). Remember, the Jews have been scattered, but never have they been "lost" so far as their racial identity is concerned.
The "lost sheep of the house of Israel" referred to by Christ, meant the Lost Ten Tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Christ told His disciples to go to these "lost sheep." How could they go to the lost sheep, unless they knew where they were? There is every reason to believe — in fact we know — that Christ (and possibly the apostles) knew the whereabouts of the dispersed people of Israel at that time, even though they were undoubtedly lost so far as most people were concerned. The apostles would have to find the "lost sheep" before they could go to them and teach them.
In the 34th chapter of Ezekiel, God solemnly indicts the "shepherds (pastors or ministers) of Israel" for a number of things which they neglected to do:
Son of man, prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds. Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them (Ezek. 34:2, 4, 6). In verses 9 and 10 God shows that He is "against the shepherds." "I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out" (v. 11). When will God seek out His sheep? This will occur at the Second Coming of Christ. God shows that at that time David will be resurrected to become their shepherd (v.23).
The clergy stand foremost in the ranks of those who oppose the truth regarding the identity of modern-day Israel. They are often intolerant toward anyone who does have the concern, or the zeal to seek out the "lost sheep of the House of Israel."
Now we should clearly understand the importance of tracing historically the people of Israel from the time of their captivity in 741, 721 B.C., throughout their dispersion and wanderings through the countries; and finally to their present-day national homelands.
WHAT BECAME OF THESE TEEMING MILLIONS? We have seen that there must have been at least 5,000,000 Israelites dwelling in the Northern Kingdom of Israel at the time when the Ten Tribes were taken into captivity.
We now come to the most important question of all — "Just what happened to those 5,000,000 (or more) Israelites who were taken bodily from their own homeland in Samaria and were transported into the lands of MEDIA and ASSYRIA — just south of the CAUCASUS MOUNTAINS, to the area of the southern shores of the CASPIAN SEA? Yes, just what happened to these teeming millions of prolific Israelites?"
This is a question which has perplexed countless millions down through the ages and has baffled Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish theologians as well.
Let us notice what Graetz, a prominent Jewish historian, has to say on this question of the "Lost Ten Tribes of Israel."
The kingdom of the Ten Tribes, of Israel, had existed for two centuries and a half ...but in one day it disappeared, leaving no trace behind. The country vomited out the Ten Tribes, as it had vomited out the Canaanitish tribes. What has become of them? They have been looked for and believed to have been discovered in the distant East as well as in the far West. Cheats and dreamers have claimed to be descended from them. But there can be no doubt that the Ten Tribes have been irretrievably lost among the nations (Graetz, History of the Jews, Vol. I p. 265). Do not millions erroneously hold the same view which Graetz has expressed? Many believe that "the Ten Tribes have been irretrievably lost among the nations." Such a view, however, is incompatible with the facts!
Next let us notice what the Jewish Encyclopedia has to say on this most vital question of just what happened to the myriads of Israelites who were deported from the Northern Kingdom of Samaria in 741-721 B.C.
TRIBES, LOST TEN...As a large number of prophecies relate to the return of "Israel" to the Holy Land, believers in the literal inspiration of the Scriptures have always labored under a difficulty in regard to the continued existence of the tribes of Israel, with the exception of those of Judah and Levi (or Benjamin), which returned with Ezra and Nehemiah. If the Ten Tribes have disappeared, the literal fulfillment of the prophecies would be impossible: if they have not disappeared, obviously they must exist under a different name (ibid., p.249). First, note carefully the significance of the foregoing statements. It is true that (as stated) many prophecies speak of Israel and Judah (Ezek. 37:15-22; Jer. 3:17, 18; 51:15).
Secondly, note that God's word is at stake on this matter of whether the Ten Tribes still exist: "If the Ten Tribes have disappeared, the literal fulfillment of the prophecies would be impossible." But remember, the Scripture cannot be broken (Jo. 10:35; Tit. 1:2).
Thirdly, notice that "If they [the Lost Ten Tribes] have not disappeared, obviously they must exist under a different name." And that is precisely the case—they do "exist under a different name!" How else could they be "lost" if everyone knew their identity?
In the Apocrypha it is presumed that the TEN TRIBES still exist as tribes. Thus Tobit is stated to be of the tribe of Naphtali, and the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs assume their continuous existence. In the Fourth Book of Ezra (xiii. 39-45) it is declared that the Ten Tribes were carried by Hosea, king in the time of Shalmaneser, to the Euphrates, at the narrow passages of the river, whence they went on for a journey of a year and a half to a place called Arzareth. (Jewish Ency., p. 249). The article then mentions all of the places or countries where the Lost Ten Tribes have supposedly been located: North Arabia, India, Abyssinia, Persia, Yemen, Armenia, Afghanistan, South Russia, China, the Sahara, Japan, Australia, Peru, Mexico, North America (the aborigines), and Denmark. According to this article, the Lost Ten Tribes are identified with the "English", the "Teutonic race", with the "Sacae," (or Scythians), and with the "Tuatha da Danaan" of Irish Tradition (ibid., pp. 249-252).
In fact, there is hardly any people who have not, at one time or another, been identified with the "Lost Ten Tribes." The great arch-deceiver, Satan, has caused this confusion in order to keep this knowledge lost to modern-day Israel. Also much confusion on this vital subject has caused people to scoff at the real truth.
G. Moore, indeed, attempts to prove that the high-class Hindus, including all the Buddhists, are descendants of the Sacae, or Scythians, who again, were the Lost Ten Tribes (ibid., p. 250). Later, we shall see conclusive proof that the Sacae and the Scythians were included in the dispersed tribes of Israel. We will see that the Sacae and Scythians settled in Northwest Europe — and not in the Orient!
The identification of the Sacae, or Scythian with the Ten Tribes because they appear in history at the SAME TIME, and very nearly in the SAME PLACE, as the Israelites removed by Shalmaneser, is one of the chief supports of the theory which identifies the English people, and indeed the whole TEUTONIC RACE, with the TEN TRIBES, Dan is identified sometimes with Denmark, and sometimes with the Tuatha da Danaun of Irish Tradition (ibid., p. 250). This last admission is of utmost importance. One of the "chief supports" of the "identification of the Sacae, or Scythians with the Ten Tribes" is that these Sacae or Scythians "appear in history at the same time, and very nearly in the same place."
All history confirms the fact just mentioned. The Sacae or Scythians do not appear in history before Israel's captivity, but they do appear in the areas of the Black and Caspian Seas, shortly after Israel was deported to those same general regions.
The Scythians are generally found a little further north than Israel was located at the time of her deportation to Assyria and Media, and the Sacae (a Scythian branch) had moved from the southern shore of the Caspian Sea (the land of their captivity) to the districts lying east of the Caspian.
Also bear in mind that this article in the Jewish Encyclopedia mentions that the "English people," "the whole Teutonic race," "Denmark," and the "Tuatha da Danaun" are all identified with the Lost Ten Tribes.
We shall shortly see abundant historical proof showing that the Anglo-Saxons, and the proper Teutons, the Celts, Gauls, Cimbri and the other peoples who settled North-west Europe are all descendants of the "dispersed" and "scattered" Lost Ten Tribes of Israel.
It will also be shown that the words "Teutoni" and "Germani" were first applied to Celtic tribes who were in no way Alpine-type of Germans. These true Teutoni and Celts are no longer found in Germany in any appreciable numbers!
This same article in the Jewish Encyclopedia then goes on to mention that more literature has been written on the identification of the English as Israel ("Anglo-Israelite") than any other. The second most publicised belief is that which identifies the American Indians as the descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. Joseph Smith held this view, and propounded it in the Book of Mormon. (See 1920 ed., pp. 22, 429-432).
There are many reasons why we know the American Indians and the orientals, etc., are not descendants of Israel. They are descendants of Japheth, instead of Shem; and they had not been the recipients of the promises made to the Fathers, as have the Anglo-Saxon, Celtic peoples!
Speaking of the Lost Ten Tribes, Josephus says: "the entire body of the people of Israel remained in that country, wherefore there are but two tribes in Asia and Europe subject to the Romans, while THE TEN TRIBES are beyond Euphrates till now, and are AN IMMENSE MULTITUDE, and not to be estimated by numbers" (Ant. XI., v., sec. 2).
Josephus shows the Ten Tribes were "an immense multitude" in his day, and were not subject to the Romans. Only "two tribes" were subject to Rome. The Ten Tribes had certainly not returned to Palestine in Josephus' time. He was born in about 37 A.D. and died circa 100 A.D. (Webster's Biographical Dictionary, Art., Josephus, p. 795).
Keller, proceeds to express a personal opinion more-or-less commonly held by people concerning this question of just what happened to the so-called "Lost Ten Tribes" of the House of Israel. He says:
The people of the Northern Kingdom and their Kings with them disappeared, were absorbed into the population of these foreign lands, and never emerged again in history. All investigation into what became of the TEN TRIBES who had their home there has so far come to nothing (The Bible as History, p. 247). But is such a view tenable, even though it is accepted by countless millions – especially in the face of the overwhelming flood of archaeological and historical material which is at our disposal today?
Is it feasible to believe that this populous people of Israel lost their identity and became amalgamated among the nations where they went? Small nations such as Ethiopia, Lybia, Greece, Syria, Arabia, and other have continued to maintain their national identities throughout the centuries to the very present time.
Jerome shows the Ten Tribes inhabited the cities and mountains of the Medes ("Opera," vi, 780). Kitto also mentions that the Ten Tribes never returned.
The captives of [the Ten-Tribed] Israel exiled beyond the Euphrates did not return as a whole to Palestine along with their brethren the captives of Judah; at least there is no mention made of this event in the documents at our disposal (Jewish Quarterly Review, Vol. I, p. 15). Edersheim says it is of the "greatest importance" to remember that only a "minority of the Jews" (about 50,000) returned from Babylon — in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah (The Life and Time of Jesus the Messiah, p. 8).
In fact, the return of the TEN TRIBES was one of the great promises of the Prophets, and the advent of the Messiah is therefore necessarily identified with the epic of their redemption (ibid., p. 17).
The hope of the return of the Ten Tribes has never ceased among the Jews in exile....This hope has been connected with every Messianic rising (ibid., p. 21).
In what has been said, no notice has been taken of those wanderers of the ten tribes, who trackless footsteps seem as mysterious as their after-fate... Josephus describes them as an innumerable multitude, and vagely locates them beyond the Euphrates.... Still the great mass of the TEN TRIBES was in the days of Christ, as in our own, lost to the Hebrew nation (ibid., pp. 14- 16). These statements from leading Jewish and other authorities will suffice to show the utmost confusion in the minds of historians generally, whether they be of Jewish or Gentile origin, regarding the whereabouts of the "Lost Ten Tribes of Israel."
They are, however, pretty well agreed that Israel have been "irretrievably lost."
In the Jewish Chronicle of May 2nd, 1897, we read:
The Scriptures speak of a future restoration of Israel, which is clearly to include both Judah and Ephraim (or Israel). The problem, then, is reduced to its simplest form. The Ten Tribes are certainly in existence. All that has to be done is to discover which people represent them.
ISRAEL TO BE SIFTED AMONG THE NATIONS It is interesting to note how many different authors speak of the Ten Tribes as being swallowed up in the other nations — amalgamated among them — so integrated, they think, among the Gentiles that they would be indistinguishable today. If this is true then God's Word definitely has failed.
Behold the eyes of the Lord God are upon the sinful Kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth; saving that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith the Lord. For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth (Amos 9:8, 9). God revealed that He would destroy the sinful kingdom of Israel, but He promised that He would not utterly destroy the PEOPLE of the house of Jacob.
It was merely the kingdom of Israel as it was constituted in Palestine that God was going to destroy. But God could not destroy the people of Israel because He solemnly promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that their seed would become as the stars in the heavens in number. God prophesied that the house of Israel would be "scattered," "dispersed," or "sifted" among "all nations"; yet He promised that not the least grain would fall to the ground.
The Bible clearly shows that the Jews look upon the Promised Land as belonging solely to them; they do not wish to share this and the Patriarchal blessings with the Lost Tribes of Israel.
Notice how clearly this Jewish reluctance to share the blessings with Lost Israel is brought out in the following Scripture: "Son of man....all the house of Israel wholly [the Lost Ten Tribes], are they unto whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem [the Jews] have said, Get you far from the Lord: unto us is THIS LAND given in possession" (Ezek. 11:15).
But God's answer is very emphatic:
Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord God; Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet....I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel (vv. 16,17). Also compare this prophecy with the 48th chapter of Ezekiel which clearly shows that the Promised Land is yet to be divided among the Twelve Tribes of Israel.
When the true identity of the Lost Tribes of Israel is revealed, the Jews will at first be reluctant to acknowledge their long-lost brethren; and they will not wish to share the Holy Land with them — "unto us is this land given," they will say. But God will reveal to them that they are only co-inheritors with the rest of the tribes of Israel.
Ezekiel 11:19, 20 and many other similar prophecies reveal that the time setting of this regathering of the Tribes of Israel, and the redividing of the Promised Land, occurs at the Second Coming of Christ.
The House of Israel and the House of Judah (two distinct peoples) will be joined in the not-too-distant future to become one forever-inseparable people (Ezek. 37:15-23). This chapter deals with the two sticks. One in the hand of Joseph, who was the leading tribe of the Northern Ten Tribes of Israel, and the other stick was in the hand of Judah, which was the leading tribe for the Southern Kingdom including the tribes of Benjamin, Judah and most of the Levites.
These two sticks, representing the entire Twelve Tribes of Israel, are to be joined or united in the land of Palestine once again. Many, many prophecies in the Bible relate this same thing. In Ezekiel 37:13-23, and also in Ezekiel 48:1-35, is given a description of the actual allotment or the re-apportioning of the land of Palestine among the Twelve Tribes of Israel after they are all gathered back to Paelstine — in the time when the Messiah will be ruling not only over Israel but over all the earth!
It is a great pity that Robert Ingersoll is said to have been led into atheism because he had seen in the Bible the staggering promises God had made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their descendants — promises of material, physical and national greatness — promises which Ingersoll believed were never fulfilled. He certainly did not believe God kept His promises to Israel (see Some Mistakes of Moses, pp. 183-189).
Now let us seek out the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel from recorded secular history in order to see "which people represent them" today!