The Israelites, at the time of the deportation, which took place in several stages, were successively taken into captivity, as in Assyria, or in other foreign nations, notably in the cities of the Medes. The deportation to foreign places was customary in Assyrian politics, because it permitted easier destruction of all spirit of nationalism in their prisoners, reducing them totally to slavery.
A Deportation in Several Stages
The first stage of this deportation en masse was carried out by Tiglath-Pileser (II Kings 15:29), and took place due east of the Jordan; this territory was occupied by the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. The captives were taken "to Halah, to Habor, Hara, and the river Gozan" (I Chronicles 5:26). This deportation took place about 740 B.C. It affected the majority of the population of the house of Israel. Only Samaria was exempt, though its inhabitants, under King Hoshea, later became the slaves of the Assyrians. As we have already noted, when Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, discovered the conspiracy of Hoshea, he went against Syria and besieged it. During the siege which lasted three long years, Shalmaneser died, and his successor achieved the conquest and took the rest of Israel in captivity. The new captives were sent to Assyria, to be deported to "Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes" II Kings 17:6, 18:11. The great Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, confirms this fact (Antiquities IX, XIV, 1), whereas Tobit, author of the book of the apocalypse of the same name, states precisely that as a member of the tribe of Naphtali, he himself was taken into captivity by the king of Assyria (Apocrypha, "Tobit," 1:3, 10). By combining these diverse testimonies, we establish that the house of Israel, known under the name of the "house of Omri" or "Bit Khumri," by the Assyrians, was deported to the north, in regions which are actually part of the Persian or Iranian territory. These diverse places of deportation, as we can easily prove, are not at all far from the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. The Assyrians always strove to deport their prisoners as far as possible from their birthplaces. This method achieved a double objective: first, it rendered impossible any means of communication between the deported prisoners and their native country; secondly, it prevented them from regaining their country in case of escape. Only consider the example of the Syrians whom Tiglath-Pileser deported to the "extreme north of Media" (Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus, Vol. IX, Chap. 12, Sec. 3), near the Caucasus. Why did he deport them so far? For the same reasons we have just stated: the mountainous terrain, the rivers round about and the considerable distance prevented any escapee from returning home. Therefore it is incontestable that at the time of this new stage of deportation, the Israelites were sent into captivity beyond the Tigris, in the country of the Medes, where a part of their compatriots had already been taken in a preceding deportation. The tribes of Israel did not return home after their liberation. This fact is proved by history! Although the deportation of the Israelites took place in several stages, it must be noted that the members of one tribe were often directed towards the same place of captivity to which their compatriots had previously been taken, as indicated by Tobit. This fact is of capital importance, because not only did it permit the different tribes to retain their unity, but their respective representatives could thus retain their characteristic traits.
Nevertheless, as a nation, Israel ceased to exist in the eyes of the world. Ever since, historians have ignored the fate of Israel; they are "in the dark" because they don't believe in the Bible and are not able to understand divine prophecy! They "suppose" only that all these tribes, with time, succeeded in returning to Palestine and ended up assimilating completely with the Jewish nation. This supposition is false and without basis. It directly contradicts the Bible, as well as historical facts. "Thus saith the Eternal, who made the sun to light the day, who destined the moon and the stars to light the night... if these laws come to an end before me... the race of Israel also will cease from being a nation before me" Jeremiah 31:35-36. The Bible is infallible and the divine declaration that we come to cite is categorical. Since, today, the laws of nature continue in effect, Israel of course has not ceased from being a nation before the Eternal! In fact even the Jews openly admit that the ten tribes of Israel still exist in some part, but under a different name: "If the ten tribes had disappeared, the literal accomplishment of divine prophecy would be an impossibility; and if they had not disappeared then they must actually exist under a different name," states the Jewish Encyclopedia! (Article: "Tribes, Lost" emphasis ours.) The Jewish writer Esdras declares in his book of the Apocrypha that the ten tribes of Israel, after their liberation, emigrated to other countries, rather than returning to their own land (II Esdras 13:40-46). It is evident that the Bible agrees with this categorically. Why did the ten tribes resettle in foreign lands? It was surely not in order to be able to observe the divine commandments and the statutes that they hadn't wanted to observe in their country, or that they hadn't been able to keep them during their captivity! No! Israel has always been a "rebellious people"! One of the most interesting historical confirmations that firmly establishes the fact of this migration of Israelites to far countries, is that of the great Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, who writes: "The Ten Tribes, forming an immense multitude, are located to this day beyond the river Euphrates" (Antiquities Vol. II, Chap. 5, emphasis ours). This testimony is far from proving that the ten tribes of Israel have disappeared or that they had returned to Palestine to combine with the Jewish nation! At the time of this historian, Josephus, that is to say in the first century A.D., not only were the ten tribes still in existence, separate from the house of Judah, but they formed "an immense multitude"!
Where Did They Go?
So in what direction did these tribes go after their liberation? Where are they located now? In which countries did they settle, and who are their modern descendants? This is what we will examine in the following chapters. Whatever their present-day location, it is evident that these tribes have different names and that they are unrecognizable to the world, since they are integrated with the inhabitants of the foreign countries in which they settled. The Bible clearly indicates the direction the tribes took in their migration. Speaking of the "time of the end," that is to say, the era in which we live, the prophet Jeremiah declares that the Eternal will restore Israel, "from the countries to the north and the coasts of the earth, and reassemble them from the ends of the earth!" Jeremiah 31:8. If Jeremiah indicates the tribes had directed themselves toward the north, the prophet Isaiah states that they would be found "in the last days" in the countries situated to the northwest of Palestine (Isaiah 49:12). According to these divine declarations, it is certain then that in the last days, that is to say, in the present era, the tribes of Israel would be found to the northwest of Jerusalem; we say "of Jerusalem" because the Bible always establishes directions from the location of that city. Let's consult then an atlas in order to determine which are the "remote" countries to the northwest of Jerusalem. If we look in the direction of the markings, where do we see they point? To Western Europe! Thus, according to divine prophecy, the ten tribes of Israel must live, in our days, in Western Europe. God says this is so. "Let God be true, and every man a liar" (Romans 3:4).