The Advantage of Genealogy--Part 2
May 20, 2008
When God exiled the northern House of Israel, that is, the ten so-called "lost tribes of Israel," they were not all killed, nor were they simply absorbed by the Assyrians into their culture. They were settled by the hundreds of thousands (if not millions) in specific locations within the boundaries of the Assyrian Empire. 2 Kings 18:6 tells us where they were placed: "in Halah, and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes."
A century later, the prophet Ezekiel was sent to the House of Israel to give them the Word of the Lord, for we read in Ezekiel 3:4, 5,
" (4) Then He said to me, Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with My words to them, (5) For you are not being sent to a people of unintelligible speech or difficult language, but to the house of Israel."
They would not listen to him, of course, since it was in the divine purpose that they NOT return to that old land. God had a New Covenant in mind, along with a much bigger plan for them and for others with them. So verse 7 says,
"Yet the house of Israel will not be willing to listen to you, since they are not willing to listen to Me. Surely the whole house of Israel is stubborn and obstinate."
So Ezekiel went on this lengthy journey, as he was told. And that is where Ezekiel actually begins writing his book, for we read in Ezekiel 1:1,
"Now it came about in the thirtieth year, on the fifth day of the fourth month, while I was by the river Chebar among the exiles, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God."
It is unclear if the river Chebar is the same as the river Habor mentioned in 2 Kings 18:6. It is probably the same one, but the people were settled in a large area, so there may have been quite a few rivers with similar names. But the point to understand is that Ezekiel was not sent to the people of Judah, but to the House of Israel in captivity. This took place before Judah had been carried to Babylon, yet Ezekiel was contemporary with both Jeremiah and Daniel. In those days, Ezekiel was the prophet to the House of Israel, Jeremiah was the prophet to the House of Judah in Canaan, and Daniel shortly afterward became the prophet to those of the House of Judah who had been carried captive to Babylon. They each ministered in different locations.
Ezekiel's book begins with a specific date: "in the thirtieth year, on the fifth day of the fourth month." It coincided also with the fifth year of Jehoiachin's exile. Which year was this? Jehoiachin had been taken captive to Babylon in 597 B.C., along with the temple vessels (2 Kings 24:12, 13). The fifth year of his captivity would have been in 593-592 B.C. This was also the thirtieth year of their 17th Jubilee cycle (since their Jordan crossing in the days of Joshua).
Many years later, toward the end of Ezekiel's book, he had another great vision of the future temple. It was described in Old Testament terms, but time has proven that this is to be applied in a New Testament manner. The prophet dates the vision in Ezekiel 40:1,
"In the twenty-fifth year of our exile, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth of the month, in the fourteenth year after the city was taken. . ."
If the fifth year of Jehoiachin's exile was the thirtieth year of the Jubilee cycle, then the 25th year of the exile was 20 years later--the 50th year of the Jubilee cycle. It would have been their 18th Jubilee, if they had remained in the land. Furthermore, it occurred "at the beginning of the (civil) year," that is, the seventh month on the Hebrew calendar. In fact, it was "the tenth of the month." This was the day of Atonement, or the day when the Jubilee trumpet should have been blown (Lev. 25:9).
Ezekiel's temple vision came on Israel's 18th Jubilee, dating from their Jordan crossing. It was the year 573 B.C.
At any rate, Ezekiel's ministry itself proves that the "lost sheep of the house of Israel" still EXISTED a century after their captivity. And the Assyrian records show that they were called Gamirri. The place where they had settled was called the land of Gamir, or, in the Babylonian language, Matu Gimiri. These were the Ghomri, or Khumri (Celts), who are also called Saka and Sakka on the tomb of Darius the Great. The Greeks called them Sacae, Skuths, and Scythians. The Skuths today are the Scots (the people of Scotland). The Romans called them Saxons.
We know them better today by the name of Scythians (pronounced Sakka).
Though the migrations of these ex-Israelites of the dispersion began almost immediately after the fall of Nineveh in 612 B.C., the bulk of them remained near the Caspian Sea until the revival of the second Persian Empire in the middle of the third century A.D. Then the war coming from Persia drove them west as refugees into Armenia, where the Persian advance was stopped. But then it was too crowded for so many people to remain there, so most of them continued to migrate north to the Baltic Sea in Europe. This was called the great Anglo-Saxon Confederation.
Most of them by this time had lost their identity as Israelites, though there were many who still retained this knowledge. Many of the tombstones in the Crimea (north of the Black Sea) still reflect their Israelite heritage. One tombstone reads,
"This is the tombstone of Buki, the son of Itchak [Isaac] the priest; may his rest be in Eden at the time of the salvation of Israel. In the year 702 of the years of our exile."
This was deciphered and translated by Prof. Chwolsen of Petrograd (in Russia) a century ago. Obviously, those who wrote the epitaph had kept records of the years of their captivity. The year 702 is probably dated from the fall of Samaria in 721 B.C. If so, this "Scythian" had died in the year 19 B.C. He also still retained the hope of "the salvation of Israel," perhaps a result of Ezekiel's ministry many centuries earlier.
I had a Jewish professor at the University of Minnesota many years ago, who taught a course on the history of Israel. He told us that the biblical prophets were not to be believed, because they thought Israel was going to be restored, when in fact, they were "lost." He knew the distinction between Israel and Judah, and he knew that the state of "Israel" created in 1948 was NOT the fulfillment of these prophecies. He knew the Jews were not Israel, nor had that state fulfilled the prophecies of Scripture.
The problem was that he made no attempt to tell us where those ex-Israelites had gone. He used our ignorance to "prove" that the Bible was unreliable and uninspired. Fortunately for me, I had already learned the truth of the matter, so my faith was not overthrown.
My purpose in writing about the dispersion of the House of Israel into Assyria and into Europe by way of the Caucasus Mountains is not to glorify the flesh in any way, but to point out that the present-day state called "Israel" is NOT the fulfillment of the biblical prophecy of the restoration of the House of Israel. The Jews are a separate people--and they know it, because for centuries they have prayed in their synagogues to be reunited with their brethren of the House of Israel.
The true nation of "Israel" (from a legal and political standpoint) does not exist today. The people do exist, but they are ex-Israelites of the dispersion. God took away their Birthright name (Israel) when He sent them into exile. The question is this: How does one become an Israelite? How does one qualify like Jacob to be given this name once again? That is the key that unlocks the door of understanding.
This is the second part of a series titled "The Advantage of Genealogy." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones