THE EXILEThe original Twelve Tribes of Israel had split into two kingdoms. Two tribes comprising "Judah" were in the south, and the ten tribes of "Israel" were in the north. The Ten Northern Tribes were entirely taken away by the Assyrians to places in northern Mesopotamia, to the Caucasus area and to eastern Iran. The Bible says that, "The King of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Hala, and in Habor, and in the cities of the Medes" (2-Kings 17;6). The Bible also mentions "Hara" (1-Chronicles 5; 26) in eastern Iran as a place of exile. The Talmud and archaeological findings enable the identification of these places of re-settlement. Shortly after the exile and re-settlement every one of the said places became a centre for a group of peoples who then appeared for the first time. They are known to history as the Cimmerians, Scythians, and Guti or Goths. It will be shown that these entities were (at least in part) the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel!
by Yair Davidiy
The bulk of the Israelites had been exiled in the period 730-710, or earlier. In about 707 b.c.e., a people named "Gimirae" were reported from the region of Mannae10. These are the Cimmerians. They were referred to as "Outcasts" by the Assyrians11. The Prophet Amos had said that the northern tribes would be "cast-out" to the Mountains of Mannae. Apart from their being in Mannae, the Cimmerians were also reported as at first centered in the region of Iberia13. The Cimmerians killed the king of neighbouring Urartu (Ararat) and overran his land. They also defeated and killed Sargon, king of Assyria, in 705. Sargon was replaced by Sennacherib (705-681) who beat off the Cimmerians after which a portion of them invaded the Land of Phrygia in Anatolia.
The Cimmerian king was called by the Assyrians "King of the Umman Manda [i.e. Cimmerians], king of the Sakae [Scyths] and Guti [Goths]"14. Umman Manda means "People [Umman] of Menasseh"…since in Aramaic, Persian, and other northern dialects at that time the Hebrew "d"-sound was often changed for "s", thus Menasseh becomes Manda. The Cimmerians and Scythians were essentially different branches of the one people and both could be called Umman Manda by the Assyrians at that time. Later the Babylonians would misapply the term to the Medes who took the Scythians' place. The Cimmerian king was also termed "King of the Amuru" by the Assyrians and the
Cimmerians were referred to as "Amuru". "Amuru" means Amorite but in Assyrian usage the expression meant "Dweller of the Land of Israel" or "Previous Dweller of the Land of Israel and/or Syria". In the passage spoken of "Syrians" (Achlamu) are explicitly spoken of separately as adversaries of the "Amuru" and it therefore follows that in this case by
"Amuru" only Israelites could have been intended! As we mentioned above, a portion of the Cimmerians had invaded Phrygia . These were soon driven out of Anatolia and crossed the Bosporus into Europe. Jerome (on Zecharia 10; 11), the translator of the Bible into Latin, had heard from Jewish sages the tradition that Israelites, exiled by the Assyrians, had reached the Bosporus and from there headed north, i.e. into Europe. These Cimmerians, via the Balkans and Danube valley, eventually reached Gaul, the British
Isles, and Scandinavia They became the major factor in "Celtic" civilization.
Meanwhile, those other of the Cimmerians who had not been driven into Phrygia but had remained on the fringes of the Assyrian Empire managed to recuperate. By the end of Sennacherib's reign they had gained control of Mannae. They posed a serious challenge to Sennacherib's successor, Essarhaddon (681-669 b.c.e.). Essarhaddon at first beat the Cimmerians, some of whom joined his forces15. In about 676 a new element, known as " Ishkuza"16 emerged from the Cimmerian ranks. These are identified with the Scythians whom the Persians and Babylonians referred to as the "Saka": The terms "Ishkuza" and
"Saka" are both forms for the name "Isaac". Abraham the patriarch had been promised: "In Isaac will your seed be called" (Genesis 21;12). After their first appearance, the Scythians and Cimmerians are recognizable as distinct entities though, in effect, both bodies were combinations of Scythians proper, of Goths, and of Cimmerians in varying proportions.
In 673 Esarhaddon slew the Scythian king who was replaced by Bartatua. Bartatua became the Scythian ruler and entered into alliance with the Assyrians, which entailed marrying Esarhaddon's daughter. The Assyrian Empire at that stage was troubled by rebellious Medes, Mannaens, Cimmerians, and others. The Scythians from allies of the Assyrians progressed to hold the Assyrians in some type of subservience for 28 years17. For a period they took control over much of the Assyrian Empire. According to Herodotos they ruled it. They established a center at Beth Shean18 in the former land of northern "Israel". Archaeological finds testify to their presence throughout the Israelite region19. They attacked Egypt and raided the Phillistine city of Ashkelon. At this stage the Jews
of Judah in the south who had not been exiled but had remained on part of their own land centered around Jerusalem were ruled by king Josiah ben Amon (628-609 b.c.e.). Whilst the Scythians were taking over control from the Assyrians and setting themselves up in Beth-Shean and over portions of the former land of Israel, King Josiah of Judah was also extending his influence into that very same area! King Josiah had made himself
independent of Assyria, smashed idols which represented Assyria's authority20, and established colonies in northern Israel, at Megiddo, in the north near Beth-Shean, and in Philistia on the coast21. He also had a presence in Beth-Shean (which was considered the Scythian headquarters) itself!
The Scythians, as well as king Josiah, attacked Phillistia and later also maintained a presence there22 in addition to the Judaean colonies in that place. In other words, the Scythians and Judeans of King Josiah were in the same areas, undertaking the same activities, and must have been working hand in hand23. Also at this time, in eastern Iran (in the region of Hara and Bactria), there arose a religious reformer named Zarathustra
(ZOROASTER) whose original doctrine was monotheistic and even Biblical in character24. After Zoroaster's death, his religion was paganised by the Median tribe of Magi, even though the original message had been Hebraic.
Zoroaster, according to Iranian tradition had been taught by the prophet Jeremiah or by one of Jeremiah's pupils25. Zoroaster himself had Scythian familial connections26 yet some reports identify him as an Israelite27. Zoroaster is an additional indication that the historical Scythians were to a significant degree of Israelite origin. Eventually, after enduring Scythian subjection and witnessing the partial disintegration of their Empire, the Assyrians attempted to re-assert themselves. At this stage, ca. 616 b.c.e., the Medes and Babylonians were in open revolt. About two years later, in 614 the Medes began to besiege
Nineveh, the Assyrian capital. The Assyrians were supported by part of the Mannaeans and by Egypt. At first, the Scythians seemed more inclined to support Assyria versus her besiegers than to be against her. The Medes, Babylonians, Guti, Gimiri (Cimmerians), and others were combined against Assyria. Scythians from Bactria-Hara and from the city of were called to Assyria's help. Ecbatana in Media was THEN a Scythian center but later
became the capital of Media. When the Scythians arrived at NINEVEH they were somehow persuaded to change sides and to join the besiegers28. According to a Babylonian inscription, Nineveh was taken and sacked by the allies with the Umman-Manda (meaning in this case, the Scythians) taking the leading role. Shortly afterwards all of the other Assyrian cities received similar treatment. The Assyrian Empire was destroyed.
Meanwhile, an Egyptian army under Pharoah Neco had been marching to the aid of Assyria. King Josiah of Judah attempted to stop the Egyptian progress but was killed fighting Pharoah Neco at Megiddo. The Egyptians continued northward, only to be defeated at Carcamish29. King Josiah of Judah had died fighting on the Scythian behalf. After having defeated the Assyrians and the Egyptians, the Scythian leaders were invited by the Medes to a feast. The Medes got the Scythians drunk and then massacred them30.
After this the Medes and Babylonians divided the former Assyrian Empire between each other. The Babylonians conquered Judah and exiled its inhabitants to Babylon. Later, the Medes lost paramountcy to their allies, the Persians. Cyrus the Persian king conquered Babylon and allowed the Judeans to return to their land. Medes, Babylonians and Persians were to progressively drive the Scythians out of the Middle East area and into the
north. From the north the Scythians were eventually to continue westward into Europe.
Were The Israelites Scythians??
Talmudic sources and connected Commentaries state that King Josiah ben Amon of Judah sent Jeremiah the prophet to bring back the Lost Ten Tribes.
They say that SOME FEW OF THEM DID IN FACT RETURN TEMPORARILY!31 They later left according to the report and returned to their places of exile31. A religious reformer known as Zoroaster had appeared in Scythian areas in the time of Jeremiah.
The message of Zoroaster was originally Hebraic but after his death the Iranian Magi paganised it. Tradition held that Jeremiah had taught Zoroaster. During the reign of King Josiah of Judah and in the time of Jeremiah the Scythians had settled for a time in the Land of Israel and had made it a center of theirs. King Josiah of Judah died fighting on the side
of the Scythians. After Josiah's death the Scythians departed from the Land
of Israel. The Scythians bore Tribal names similar to Israelite ones, they identified
their ancestor with JOSEPH of Israel, and their artwork was of Israelite-Phoenician origin.
The events of the Scythian-Assyrian epoch were also echoed in Biblical Prophecy. The prophets largely predicted events that in their fullness will occur in the Messianic era. Nevertheless, they often presented their account of the future in the description of events happening in their own time or not so long afterwards and thus history may be considered to repeat itself32. There are a few Biblical passages concerning the fall of Nineveh,
the Assyrian capital, which are also apposite to the Scythian-Judean symbiosis in the reign of King Josiah. The fifth chapter of Micah, for instance, speaks of a ruler coming out of Beth Lehem and King Josiah was a descendant of David, who came from Beth Lehem. "The remnant of his brethren" returning unto the Children of Israelis is spoken of (v 5; 3) and refers to the partial (and temporary -then) re-settlement of Israelite Scythians in the former Land of northern Israel. The important verses, for our consideration, are verses 5; 5-8:
"And this man shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into our land: and he [i.e. Assyria] shall tread in our palaces, then shall we raise against him [i.e. against Assyria] seven shepherds, and eight principal men."
"And they shall waste the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrud in the entrances thereof "....
"And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the LORD..."
"And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the GENTILES in the midst of many people as a lion among the flocks of sheep..."
Again, the main point of these passages may be applicable only to the Messianic era yet it is also descriptive of our explanation of the Israelite-Scythian equation. The Assyrians, at first, came into the land of Israel and trod it down, including the Royal palaces, as archaeological excavations of Samaria have proven. They then exiled all of the surviving
inhabitants. From their places of exile, the Israelite-Scythians made peace with Assyria, then became "Shepherds" i.e. allies and protectors of Assyria, and after that graduated to be the effective rulers of the Assyrian Empire, i.e. "eight principal men". Finally the
Israelite-Scythians destroyed the Assyrian cities and wasted "the land of Assyria with the sword", just as Micah describes.
Similarly, the Talmud says (Shabbat 147) that the Lost Ten Tribes came to a calamity because of the "Wine of Phrygia33" and perhaps the reference is to the same drunken feast that caused the Scythian leaders to be killed and to lose control of the Assyrian empire. Other parallels can be drawn between descriptions of the exiled Israelites and the Scythians but for the moment the point has been made.
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