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Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Assyrians Who Carried Away the 10 Tribes of Israel


The Assyrians attacked Israel and took away 10 of the 12 tribes of Jacob in 721 BCE.  Who were they?  Where did they come from?  Are they the Syrians of today?   That was 2,734 years ago.

They were also a Semitic people, just like the Jews who lived in Israel.   They were from the northern area of Mesopotamia (Iraq) , which was the land between the  Tigris and Euphrates Rivers and were centered at the city-state of Ashur, which is now the Saladin Province of Iraq.  Nineveh was also one of their major cities.  It was originally one of a number of Akkadian city states in Mesopotamia.  Once it had been a great power.  .   The Assyrians tried to create their own empire. They lasted for about 15 centuries.    They were stopped by the Babylonian king, Hammurabi, who ruled from Babylon from 1728 to 1686 BCE.  So we can say that Assyria was Iraq.

The Asiatic Hurrians (Mitanni) invaded Assyria, but they were overcome by the Hittite Empire that had been growing in strength.  However, the Hittites gave up control of Ashur because it was far away from their center, so gave the Assyrians their  independence in c 1400. BCE.

The successes of King David (1010-970 BCE) and his son, King Solomon (961-920 BCE) against the Aramean states in Mesopotamia and Syria probably helped Assyria's recovery.    Damascus was taken in 806 BCE which freed Israel from Damascus' control. Damascus was the capital of Syria and still is.  It had a Jewish connection since the days of King David  in whose realm it was comprised.  It was the capital of Aram-Dammesek which was important in the days of the kings of Israel and was either a friend or a foe of Israel in different periods. A lot of Jews lived in Damascus during King Herod's reign.  He had built a theater and a gymnasium there.  When the Jews revolted against Rome starting in 67 CE, many Jews were killed in Damascus.  

By 745-727 BCE, a leader named Tiglath-Pileser III tried to renew another period of Assyrian expansion.  At least 13 states came under their domination:  Uratu, Persia, Media, Mannea, Babylonia, Arabia, Phoenicia,  Nabateaa, Chaldea, Cyprus, Moab, Edom and the Neo-Hittites.

He became king of Babylon and the Assyrian empire now stretched from the Caucasus Mountains to Arabia and from the Caspian Sea to Cyprus.  Tiglath-Pileser III had organized the Assyrian army into a first rate professional fighting force.  He also improved the administration of his empire and set the example for others that followed him.  He introduced Eastern Aramaic is their own language.

Shalmaneser V (726-723 BCE) ruled after him for a short while and consolidated their power and stopped the Egyptian attempts to get a foothold in the Middle East by defeating and driving out Pharaoh Piye from the area.  He is even mentioned in the Biblical sources as having conquered the Samaritans and being responsible for deporting the 10 Lost Tribes of Israel to Assyria. His attack on Samaria, the capital of Israel, was a siege.   He took 27,290 Israelites to Assyria and Media and replaced them with  Syrian and Babylonian prisoners.  

Sargon II (722-705 BCE) kept the empire going.  He also drove out the Cimmerians and Scythians from Iran as they had invaded and attacked the Persians and Medes, which were now vassals of Assyria.   Israel fell to them in 721 BCE.  Mannea, Cilicia Cappadocia and Commagene were also conquered.  They ravaged the Uratuwas, and Babylon, Aram, Phoenicia, Israel, and Arabia.  Cyprus and Midas (King of Phygia) were all  forced to pay tribute.

Sargon's stele (pillar)  has been found as far west as Lamaca in Cyprus (found in 1845  It was their way to brag about their accomplishments.  
 He conquered Gurgum, Milid, the Georgian state of Tabal, and all the Hittite kingdoms of the Taurus Mountains.

Egypt tried again to gain a foothold by supporting Israel's rebellion against the empire, but Sargon II crushed the uprising, and Piye was routed and driven back over the Sinai.  Sargon II was killed in 705 BCE while on a punitive raid against the Cimmerians, and Sennacherib succeeded him.

Sennacherib, king of Assyria from 705-681 BCE, Sargon's son,  was marching south and took the Phoenician cities one by one, defeated the Egyptians at Eltekeh in 701, took Ascalon and Joppa and 44 other cities and many prisoners, sacked Lachish and Jerusalem in 700 and ravaged Judah but didn't take it.  King Hezekiah of Judah was able to hold out and got some moderate terms of agreement by paying tribute and ceding some territory.  Sennacherib had to then leave as a plague hit his army.

Babylonia took  Judah finally in 597 and 586 BCE which was 100 years later.  This land is the scene of the Tower of Babel, also known as the land of Shinar or the Kasdim (Chaldees.).  Abraham was born in Ur of the Chaldeans but migrated to Canaan to live.  It was the symbol of insolent pagan tyranny.  The Babylonian Nebuchadnezzar II (604-561 BCE) inherited the Assyrian empire and took Judah in 597 BCE and again in 586 BCE.  He also exiled many Jews to Babylon,  for slavery,  most likely.   They probably came in contact with their previous Jewish tribal cousins of the captured 10 tribes.    Cyrus II (d: 529 BCE) king of Persia, had overrun the Babylonian Empire and took what had been Israel and Judah.  He  told the Jews when he conquered the land in 538 BCE  that they could return to their homes and even told them to rebuild their temple when they got there.   The Jews thought he was Divine!

What are these Semites that are Jews and Assyrians?  Our story is that Shem was one of the 3 sons of Noah, and the nations of Elam, Asshur, Arpachshad and Aram came from Shem.  Arpachshad was  father of Eber and ancestor of Abraham.  People that speak languages similar to Hebrew are called Semitic people and their languages are Semitic languages.  For example, Arabic is very similar to Hebrew.  It is called a cognate (related by descent from the same ancestral language) to Hebrew and is a branch of the Semitic languages.  There are many words that are exactly alike, and many that are almost exactly alike.  Shalom and Salaam are good examples, meaning hello, good-by and peace.  Since Ishmael and Esau were descendants of Abraham and forerunners of the Arabs, and Jews are also from Abraham and we both have Semitic languages, we say we are distant cousins.  We even share DNA that is very similar in that there is the haplogroup called the Cohen gene of J1c3d found in many Jews who are actually Cohens in the synagogue.  It's also found in some Arabs with a slight difference in it's title at the end showing it is a branch, but also labeled as J1c3d.   This should be the genes going back to Abraham and Noah.


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