Sunday, August 26, 2018

The Northern Ten Tribes of Israel and the Assyrians Who Captured Them

Nadene Goldfoot                                           
If you think the Egyptians were the only ancient but advanced culture, you should see what the Assyrians were like.  Their empire, the largest in the world,  covered today's countries of  Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait, and Cyprus.  Their dates of having power were from 911 BCE to 609 BCE, starting in King David's time.  It was from 721 BCE to 715 BCE  that they had attacked Israel and had captured the best of the 10 Tribal members of Israel.   

These tribes originated from the 12 sons of Jacob whose name was changed after a religious experience he had had to Israel.  These sons were Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, Benjamin, Dan, Naphtali, Gad and Asher.  The tribe of Levi had become special in that Moses gave them the priestly position in teaching about the Laws of Moses.  Out of Aaron's descendants would be the Cohens (Priests).  Since this was such a responsible position and gave them status, Moses did not want them to be given any land of their own as he was doing for the other 11 tribes.  For them, they would stay in the homes of those he taught throughout Israel.  He divided Joseph's land, though, because he had become a leader in Egypt and remained there,  between his descendants, Ephraim and Manasseh, keeping the division to 12 men.  Twelve was a sacred number.  
Moses died outside of Eretz Yisrael (The Land of Israel) so that Joshua took over his position.  Reuben, Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh were given land on the other side of the Jordan River-Transjordan.  Naphtali and Asher were given land in the Galilee on the Sidonian frontier.  Issachar and Zebulun were given land in the Valley of Jezreel.  Ephraim and Manasseh were to be in the mountains of Samaria and Benjamin was to be to their southern side and Judah was to be further south.  Dan was to have  land along the seacoast around Jaffa, and Simeon was to live on the Negev desert.

It was a challenge as other people occupied their holdings.  The tribe of Dan could not hold their land as the Amorites expelled them and they had to move to the source of the Jordan River.  A few of the other tribes were also unsuccessful in holding all the land they were assigned to have.  

When Saul was king, the tribe of Simeon took the land of Seir and the territory of the Amalekites , the most hostile group toward Israelites, in their fights with the native population.  
Israel was ruled first by Judges.  During this period, the original division of the tribes was maintained.  But by the time that Solomon was king from 961 BCE to 920 BCE, there would be 19 more  kings ruling before the Assyrians would capture and take away the 10 northern tribes.  King Solomon had adopted a different administrative division of the country  He was taxing the people too much, causing rebellion.  After he died in 920 BCE,  the country of Israel split in two with the tribes of Judah, Simeon and most of Benjamin making up the southern region.  
200 years later in 732 BCE, the Assyrian kings started their invasion of Israel with Tiglath-Pileser II. It was Tiglath-Pileser III who was king of Assyria from 745-726 BCE.  He had levied tribute of King Menahem of Israel in 743 and invaded Syria.  

Before this happened,  Aramaic was  an official language of the Assyrian empire, alongside the Akkadian language.  The Neo-Assyrian Empire was an Iron Age Mesopotamian empire, in existence between 911 and 609 BC.  It was the largest empire in the world.    Their empire was to collapse in 123 years.  The Israelites would be in their control for the next 5 generations at least. 
2 Assyrian gods; the Chaos monster and the sun god.
They had a pantheon of gods.  

 The religion of the Assyrians was called Henotheism, practiced  by the people of Sumer, Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia between circa 3500 BC and 400 AD. They believed in many gods connected to the forces of nature.  Our 10 tribes that were taken from their national family had been practicing the Laws of Moses for the past 590 years.  What would happen to them being away from their important center of Jerusalem and the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Simeon?  They would be lost to these 3 southern tribes who would call them the LOST TRIBES OF ISRAEL.  

"The last stages of Mesopotamian polytheism, which developed in the 2nd and 1st millenniums, introduced greater emphasis on personal religion and structured the gods into a monarchical hierarchy with the national god being the head of the pantheon.[1] Mesopotamian religion finally declined with the spread of Iranian religions during the Achaemenid Empire and with the Christianization of Mesopotamia. "
                                  Then about 10 years later in 721 BCE, Sargon of Assyria invaded Israel and they took the northern tribal members to Assyria, Media and the lands neighboring Aram-Naharaim.                                  
Assyrian soldier leading the northern 10 tribes way
146 years after this large captivity, a large section of the population of the southern kingdom of Judah was also captured and exiled by Nebuchadnezzar and taken to their center, Babylon in 597, then again in 586 BCE when the  Temple of Solomon was also destroyed.  
NebuchadnezzarThe Sumerians part of southern Babylonia, who were the early Assyrians,  were advanced: as well as inventing writing, they also invented early forms of mathematics, early wheeled vehicles/Chariotsastronomyastrology, written code of law, organised medicine, advanced agriculture and architecture, and the calendar. They created the first city-states. This included Nimrod and Cush in their population. 
Leaving Babylon and Returning after 48 years to Jerusalem 538 BCE
 Unlike the capture of the 10 northern tribes, the Judeans were able to return 48 years later in 538 BCE.  That was 2 whole generations of being away from their homeland.  They returned and rebuilt the Temple.                                                     
Solomon's Temple, housing the Ark of the Covenant
The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia