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Missing Links of Israel in Assyria #3

The 12 Tribes settle the Holy Land

                   MISSING LINKS OF ISRAEL IN ASSYRIA #3



THE ISRAELITES


     The Israel of the Old Testament traces its origin to
Babylonia. It was from "Ur of the Chaldees" that Abram, the
"Habiru" or "Hebrew" had come - "the rock whence ye are hewn."
(Isa.51:1) While in Haran, Abram was visited by the Lord who said
to Abram: "Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and
from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I
will make thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make
thy name great; and thou shall be a blessing" (Gen.12:1,2).
The "Promised Land" was Canaan, which later became known as
"Palestine." While Abram went to Canaan, in obedience to the call
of God, and dwelt there, he did not actually take possession of
it (Acts 7:1-5) However, the Lord foretold that the descendants
of Abram, after sojourning for generations in a strange land,
where they would serve as slaves, would eventually be delivered
from their bondage and brought into the Promised Land. This was
later fulfilled when the Hebrew people dwelt in Egypt and were
eventually delivered from Egyptian bondage under the leadership
of Moses.
     The Scriptures picture Abram as a "Sojourner" in the midst
of the established people of Canaan. In actuality, Abram came to
Canaan as a Babylonian prince; an ally of its Amoritish
chieftains and a leader of armed troops. With his flocks, his
family and his entourage, Abram moved through the sparsely
settled hill country, wandering from place to place. During a
famine in Canaan, "Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there."
(Gen.12:10) Upon his return to Canaan, the Lord again visited
Abram, saying: "And I will make thy seed as the dust of the
earth; so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then
shall thy seed also be numbered"(Gen.13:16).
     At Mamre, (in Canaan) God entered into another covenant with
Abram - a covenant that gave a promise of multiplicity of nations
to come from his seed: "As for me, behold, my covenant is with
thee, thou shall be a father of many nations, neither shall thy
name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham, for
a father of many nations have I made thee." (Gen.17:4-5) Abraham
did become the "father of many nations" starting with the
Ishmaelites (through Hagar) who settled in the north of the
Arabian peninsula and the descendants of Keturah who colonized
Midian and the western coast. Edom (Esau) the elder brother of
Abraham's grandson, Jacob, took possession of the
mountain-fastness of Mt. Seir (Petra) subjugating or assimilating
its Horite and Amalekite inhabitants. Moab and Ammon also trace
their pedigree to Abraham through his nephew, Lot.
     The Scriptures relate a further covenant God made with
Abraham when he was willing to submit to God's request that he
sacrifice his son Isaac: ". . . for because thou hast done this
thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thy only son: That in
blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply
thy seed as the stars o f the heaven, and as the sand which is
upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his
enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be
blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice" (Gen.22:16-18).
     That covenant was passed on down through Abraham's son
Isaac, to his son, Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel: And
God appeared unto Jacob again, "I am God Almighty: Be fruitful
and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee,
and kings shall come out of thy loins" (Gen.35:9-11). 
     Jacob had twelve sons and one daughter by his two wives and
two handmaidens. The twelve sons became the founders of the
tribes which afterwards formed the nation of Israel. They were,
in the order of their birth:

     The growth of a family into a tribe or people is in
accordance with Oriental practice; a single individual becoming
the forefather of a tribe or a collection of tribes, which under
favorable conditions may develop into a nation. The tribe of
people was known as the "son" of their ancestor; his name being
handed down from generation to generation.
     SON            MOTHER
     (1)  Reuben    Leah
     (2)  Simeon    Leah
     (3)  Levi      Leah
     (4)  Judah     Leah
     (5)  Dan       Bilhah (Rachel's handmaiden)
     (6)  Naphtali  Bilhah
     (7)  Gad       Zilpah (Leah's handmaiden)
     (8)  Asher     Zilpah
     (9)  Issachar  Leah
     (10) Zebulun   Leah
     (11) Joseph    Rachel
     (12) Benjamin  Rachel

     About 1850 B.C. Jacob and his family migrated to Egypt
because of a famine in the land of Canaan. While in Egypt, Jacob
adopted the two sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh, establish-
ing them as two tribes. In adopting them, Jacob placed the
younger son, Ephraim, ahead of Manasseh. Consequently, Ephraim
took Joseph's place to become the 11th tribe, leaving Manasseh
(who came after Benjamin) to become the 13th tribe. Because Levi
was removed from being numbered among the tribes, the Bible
continues to speak of the 12-tribes of Israel, although Manasseh
remained the 13th tribe.

THE TWELVE TRIBES OF ISRAEL - LEVI DISTRIBUTED AND JOSEPH
DUPLICATED

     From twelve to fourteen generations, Egypt was the home of
the Israelites. There they became "fruitful, and increased
abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the
land was filled with them" (Exodus 1:7- 8.)  It was only after
"There arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph"
that they were placed into bondage: (Exodus 1:8) "And the
Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour: And
they made their lives bitter with hard bondage in mortar, and in
brick, and in all manner of service in the field: All their
service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour" (Exodus
1:13-14).
     When the children of Israel "sighed by reason of the
bondage" God "remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac,
and with Jacob," (Exodus 2:23,24) and appointed Moses to lead the
Israelites back to Palestine. About 1453 B.C. the descendants of
Jacob left Egypt and after forty years wandering in the
wilderness arrived at Canaan. Moses died after viewing the
"Promised Land" from Mount Nebo and Joshua was chosen to lead the
conquest of Canaan.
     Canaan was at this time in possession of Amorite or
Canaanite tribes, closely akin to the Israelites. Their cities
were strongly walled and the desert warriors, under Joshua, were
not able to drive out all of the inhabitants. Some of the plains
dwellers of Palestine were "they who are of the valley of
Jezreel" (Joshua 17:16) and had "chariots of iron" (Judges 1:19)
and were more than a match for the Israelites. So the two peoples
dwelt together in the land; the Canaanites controlling much of
the hill country and the Israelites settling in unoccupied areas
of the plains.


THE ISRAELITES ENTER THE PROMISED LAND

     Although much of the land of Canaan remained to be
conquered, the land was divided among the twelve tribes of Israel
by the drawing of lots. In the north were Asher, Naphtali,
Zebulun, Issachar and Manasseh. In the middle were Dan, Ephraim,
Gad and Benjamin. In the south were Judah, Reuben and Simeon. The
tribe of Levi did not receive a definite territory, but was
allotted 48 cities, proportioned among all the tribes for
priestly duties.
     At about the same time the Israelites entered Canaan by
crossing the Jordan River from the east, the Philistines invaded
the country from the south and settled on the coastal plain in
the area later known as "Philistine." The name "Philistine" is
first found in the Egyptian form as the name of one of the
"People of the Sea" who invaded Egypt in the eighth year of
Ramses III. (cir. 1188 B.C. ) According to Biblical tradition,
the Philistines came originally from "Caphtor," the Hebrew name
for Crete. (Jer.47:4; Amos 9:7; Deut.2:23) There is no
archaeological indication of the Philistine occupation of Crete.
Most scholars believe the Philistines came from eastern Europe
after being displaced from their original homelands as part of
the extensive population movements of the latter half of the
second millennium B.C. Having assimilated the Minoan-Mycenean
culture patterns of the Aegean world, they became identified with
other "Sea Peoples." This term included numbers of different
northern people having one thing in common, Indo-European racial
characteristics.


     The war-like Philistines were despised by the Israelites as
"the uncircumcised Philistines" (Judges 14:3) and clashes between
them were inevitable. In the period of the early monarchy the
Philistines were victorious, perhaps because they had a monopoly
in iron weapons and chariots, whereas "no blacksmith was to be
found in the whole of Israel" (I Sam.13:19).

     The intrusion into Canaan by the Israelitish tribes was
followed by a long period of petty wars, disorders and turmoil.
During this time there arose of line of national heroes, such as
Gideon, Jephthal and Samson. Their deeds of valor and daring, in
saving the Israelites from their foes, caused their names to be
handed down, with grateful remembrance, to their posterity. These
popular leaders, most of whom were local leaders, are called
"Judges" by the Bible writers.
     During the time of the "Judges" there was, as the history of
the period shows, no effective union among the tribes of Israel.
It was the common danger from their enemies surrounding them,
especially the Philistines along the coast of Palestine, that led
to the unification of the Israelite tribes into a single kingdom,
under Saul. (about 1050 B.C.) However, no sooner was the new
kingdom established than the Ammonites, from the east, sent
forces across Gilead against the northern tribes. They were
repulsed by the armies of Saul.
     The Philistines, from the south, next invaded the hill
country of both Judah and Benjamin. This time the invaders were
defeated by Saul's son, Jonathan, helped by David's successful
encounter with Goliath. Later, the Philistines again invaded
Israel. This time they invaded through the land of the Canaanites
to the north, defeating the armies of Saul on the Plain of
Jezreel. Saul, wounded by enemy archers, fell on his own sword
and died on Mount Gilboa.

     David succeeded Saul as King of Judah around 1000 B.C. He
found the kingdom little more than a loose federation of tribes
and under his statesmanship and military prowess, welded the
tribes into a stable nation, well on its way to becoming an
empire. During David's reign, while Israel kept the Laws of God,
prosperity was the result. However, when David died, his son
Solomon caused the people of the kingdom to sin,which resulted in
the Kingdom being divided into two separate kingdoms (I Kings
11:29-36).
     Ten tribes, under the leadership of Ephraim, formed the
"Northern Kingdom of Israel" with Samaria as its capital and
Jeroboam as its king. The other two tribes of Judah and Benjamin
(with some of the tribe of Levi) formed what was known as the
"Southern Kingdom of Judah." Their capital was located at
Jerusalem and Rehoboam (Solomon's son) was their king. (I Kings
12:12-19) Thus (in 922 B.C.) each kingdom was free and
independent of the other to fulfil its God-appointed destiny.    
One, to fulfil the first covenant which God made with their
father Abraham; that of having multitudinous seed, spreading
abroad and becoming many nations having kings coming from them.
The other, to fulfil the second covenant of bringing forth the
Messiah.
     After the division of Israel into two kingdoms, heathen
influences that the Israelites had acquired during the conquest
of Canaan under Joshua, grew stronger. Although the true worship
of Yahweh (Jehovah) was not completely abandoned, both parts of
the divided kingdom engaged in the worship of false gods. In the
Northern Kingdom of Israel, Jeroboam assigned priestly duties to
"the lowest of the people" so that the Levites who had served as
priests now took refuge in Judah. However, in the Southern
Kingdom of Judah, Rehoboam and many of his followers had turned
apostate and began setting up temple towers, idols and pagan
groves throughout the land.

     In the northern city of Shiloh, the prophet Ahijah
prophesied God's judgment upon Jeroboam, king of Israel: "For you
have made yourself other gods, molten images, to provoke me to
anger, and cast behind your back, therefore behold, I will bring
evil upon the house of Jeroboam and will cut off from him every
male, both bond and free in Israel, and will utterly sweep away
the house of Jeroboam as a man sweeps away dung until it is all
gone"(I Kings 14:9,10).
     A succession of kings followed both Jeroboam and Rehoboam,
and under their reigns, the history of both kingdoms is one of
steady decline. With the exception of a few God-fearing kings
like Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joash, Uzziah and Hezekiah, the kings of
Israel and Judah transgressed after the abominations of the
heathen and polluted the House of the Lord.

     The continuous worship of idols caused a further prophecy to
be given concerning the future fate of the Kingdom of Israel: 
". . . and henceforth the Lord will smite Israel as a reed is
shaken in the water, and root up Israel out of this good land
which he gave to their fathers, and scatter them beyond the river
(Euphrates) because they have made their idolatrous symbols,
provoking the Lord to anger" (I Kings 14:15,16).

     Centuries before, God (through Moses) had warned the people
of the consequences of such transgressions. "If ye walk contrary
to Me, I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins...
you shall be delivered into the hands of the enemy ... and I will
scatter you among the heathen..." (Lev.26:24-38) Seven times, we
know from Biblical evidence, means 2520 years. Consequently, God
caused the Assyrians to come down against Israel and remove them
from their land.

     But, before we take up the captivity of Israel it should be
noted that the dispersal of Israel had started centuries earlier
than the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities of the kingdom of
Israel and the kingdom of Judah.

                          .......................


To be continued


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