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Missing Links in Assyrian Tablets #5

Israel and Judah in Captivity

                         MISSING LINKS IN ISRAEL'S
                       CAPTIVITY IN ASSYRIAN TABLETS


CHAPTER 5.


THE CAPTIVITY OF ISRAEL


     The story of the Israelites downfall and deportation to
Assyria is well known to any student of the Bible. "And they
transgressed against the God of their fathers, and went a whoring
after the gods of the people of the land whom God destroyed
before them. And the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul,
king of Assyria, and the spirit of Tiglath pileser, king of
Assyria, and he carried them away, even the Reubenites, and the
Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh, and brought them unto
Halah, and Hazor, and Hara, and to the river Gozan, unto this
day" (I Chron.5:25,26).
     The same account is given in 2 Kings 15:29, "in the day of
Pekah, king of Israel came Tiglath-pileser (PUL), king of
Assyria, and took Ijon, ,and Abelbeth-maachah, and Janoah and
Kedesh, and Hazor, and Gilead and Galilee and the land of
Naphtali, and carried them captive to Assyria." From the annals
of Tiglathpileser 111 (745 B.C.) we find he also carried away
three other tribes of Israel: Asher, Issachar, and Zebulun, and
distributed them in and on the borders of Assyria, where he built
cities. In his annals, he wrote: "People the conquest of my hand
in the midst of them I place" (Assyrian Discoveries - Smith, Pg.
281).
     From other inscriptions of Tiglath-pileser III, we find some
of the cities he built were named "Sakka," "Danium," "Elisansa,"
"Abrania," "Evasa," etc. Probably these cities were named to
commemorate his victories over them or to distinguish the
different people he had placed there. The names are distinctly
traceable to Israelitish origin. The policy of deportation of
rebellious subjects and the importation of foreign subjects to
take their place was inaugurated by Tiglathpileser III. This was
to compensate for the deportation of the people in captured
territories and the depletion of land values. The vacated lands
were not to be left to grow wild and to be the haunts of wild
beasts. They were to be worked to provide continuing tribute for
the Assyrian king. As motivation, the subjugated people were
given a certain degree of freedom which enabled them to cultivate
the country according to the experience which they had acquired
in their own land. Those classified as "artisans," no doubt, were
employed in the building of the cities in which they were placed.
During his reign, Tiglath-pileser III restored all the old empire
of Babylonia as far as the Mediterranean. He subjected the
Hittite peoples on the Orontes and in northern Syria. He occupied
the city of Babylon and legitimized his title by receiving the
crown of Asia in the holy city of western Asia. This powerful
king aimed at the conquest of the whole civilized world. He began
by building up a great organization of which Nineveh and its
succeeding rulers were the head. To achieve this goal he built up
an army whose training, discipline and arms were such as the
world had never seen before. In addition to this, he established
a civil administration in his vassal states (wherever possible)
instead of a military one; one in which the populace would have
some part or word.
     Tiglathpileser died December 725 B.C. and his son, Ulula,
another usurper, possessed himself of the throne and assumed the
name of "Shalmaneser V." His reign, however, was short. He died
while besieging Samaria, which had revolted after the death of
Tiglath-pileser. The invasion of Samaria is found recorded in II
Kings 17:6: "In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took
Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in
Halah by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes."
 
     It is generally accepted that Shalmaneser V captured
Samaria, and this is certainly the impression which the
Scriptural narrative leaves. However, the assertion is not
expressly made. If we accept the direct statement of Sargon 2,
successor of Shalmaneser V to the Assyrian throne, we must
consider that he, and not Shalmaneser V, was the actual captor of
the Samarians.

     Sargon II relates in his annals, that he took Samaria; "I
surrounded and deported as prisoners 27, 290 of its inhabitants,
together with their chariots ... and the gods in whom they
trusted. From them I equipped 200 chariots for my army units,
while the rest I made to take up their lot within Assyria. I
restored the city of Samaria and made it more habitable than
before. I brought into it people from the countries conquered by
my hands. My official I set over them as governor and reckoned
them as people of Assyria itself. (Numrud Prism IV, 25-41)


ASSYRIANS RECORDING SPOIL FROM SAMARIA

     It would appear therefore that Shalmaneser died, or was
deposed, while Hoshea still held out, and that the final
captivity of Israel fell into the hands of his successor.   In
the latter trans portation of Israel, we have mention of "the
cities of the Medes" as a fresh locality where the captives were
placed by the king of Assyria. The other areas received a
supplementary portion from the later captives of Samaria. The
condition of Media during this period, like that of the other
countries bordering on the great Assyrian kingdom, was
subjugation but enjoying a relative independence. The Assyrians
claimed tribute as due them. But the Medes, whenever they dared
withheld payment, probably paid tribute only when the demand was
enforced by the presence of an army.

     Those Israelites forced into co-existence with the Medes, no
doubt enjoyed equal freedom and privileges with them. Thus, they
were able to carry out many of their old customs and manners
unmolested, perhaps governed by their own elders and chieftains.
It was not long before the two races acted in concert in
resisting the demands and encroachments of Assyria. From Tobit,
himself a captive, we get some information on the social state of
the Israelites in Assyria and Media during Sargon's reign. He
relates that he and his wife (who both belonged to the tribe of
Naphtali) were carried away from Thisbe into Assyria, whence he
seems to have acquired favor, for he became purveyor to the king
Enemassar (Sargon). Others had been placed in Rages and Ecbatana,
and cities of the Medes.
     Tobit also wrote that he "went into Media, and left in trust
with Gabael, the brother of Gabrias at Rages a city of Media, ten
talents of silver," (Tobit 1:14) evidently believing it was the
safest place. Thus, it appears the captives had sufficient
freedom to journey from one part of the empire to another, and to
hold intercourse with their relatives and countrymen in Media.
Josephus also records Israel as having been placed in
MediaPersia. Writing of the 721 B.C. conquest of Samaria, he
says: "This conquest proved wholly destructive of the kingdom of
Israel, Hoshea being made prisoner, and his subjects being
transported to Media, in Persia, and replaced by people whom
Shalmaneser caused to remove from the borders of Chuthah, a river
in Persia, for the purpose of settling in the land of Samaria
(Antiquities IX, 13,14).
     The inhabitants of other captured cities which Sargon
imported into Samaria to repopulate it were regarded as heathens
by the remnant of Judah who later returned to Jerusalem from
Babylonian captivity. In fact, great hostility existed between
the two peoples. This is reflected in the parable of the Good
Samaritan, as related by Jesus. The Samaritans, as the imported
people became known, accepted the authority of the Pentateuch,
but not the Prophets or the Talmud. They preserve to this day
their own customs and Scriptures and even their own version of
the Old Phoenician Alphabet.
     The areas where the captive Israelites were settled (as
given in 2 Kings and 2 Chron.) have been located. Most were in
Upper Mesopotamia which at that time formed part of the Assyrian
Empire, Gozan was the area of Bilikh (ancient Besilius) and
Khabour (formerly called the Araxes, or Chaboras). These areas
joined with Halah, (Chalcitis of Ptolemy), Habor (the Khabour)
and Hara (Harran or Carrhae). They are now found in modern
Alleppo and Kurdistan, districts of Turkey and Asia. The ancient
city of Halah is unidentified. But Habor is the city of Guzana -
on the River Habur (in north Syria), which was conquered by
Adad-Nirari III (in 794 B.C.) and made into an Assyrian province.
Ezekiel confirms Habor as one area occupied by the captive
Israelites. He wrote that God came to him, saying: "Son of man, I
have made thee a watchman unto the House of Israel," (Ezekiel
3:17) and he expressly states that he "came to them of the
captivity at Tel-abib, that dwelt by the river of Chebar."
(Ezekiel 3:15) Chebar is ancient Khabour.
     In 705 B.C., Sargon II was assassinated and Sennacherib
assumed the throne of Assyria. Of all the Assyrian kings, none
were more famous, or infamous, than Sennacherib. His terrifying
assault upon Judah, his blasphemous defiance of the Lord beneath
the very walls of Jerusalem, and his miraculous repulse at the
eleventh hour through the unshaken faith of Isaiah the prophet
and the prayers of the faithful King Hezekiah are all well known
to every student of the Old Testament.
     Sennacherib ordered accounts of his military exploits to be
recorded on a number of hexagonal prisms. One of them, known as
the "Taylor Prism," after the name of its first owner (found at
Nineveh) can be seen today in the British Museum. It was probably
made in 691 B.C. and contains the last of Sennacherib's records.
After first enumerating successful victories over Sidon, Ascalon,
and others, the inscriptions record Sennacherib's own
contemporary and unusually detailed account of his historical
assault upon the Kingdom of Judah. Thus, we have the Assyrian
version to compare with the Hebrew record as found in 2 Kings 19
and Isaiah 36 and 37. Needless to say, the Assyrian version shows
Sennacherib in a far more favorable and successful light.
     The Biblical account of Sennacherib's seige of Jerusalem
describes how the city was dramatically saved from destruction
when "the angel of the Lord went forth, and smote in the camp of
the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand (185,000)
and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all
dead corpses. So Sennacherib, king of Assyria departed, and went
and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh." (2 Kings 19:36,37 - Isa.
37:36,37)
     Sennacharib's own account of this episode, recorded on the
Taylor Prism, presents a very different picture. The language is
boastful, referring to Hezekiah "Like a caged bird . . . shut up
in Jerusalem, his royal city." (An analogy for his being unable
to capture Jerusalem). It also describes Sennacherib's capture of
"forty-six strong walled cities" and the taking of many prisoners
and much spoil:  "Two hundred thousand, one hundred and fifty
people, great and small, male and female, horses, mules, asses,
camels, cattle and sheep without number." In addition,
Sennacharib records annual tributes he claims he was able to
exact from Hezekiah.

     One of the "strong walled cities" was Lachish. The site of
ancient Lachish is known today as "Tell ed-Duweir" and it has
been extensively excavated. It was found to be one of the largest
cities discovered in Judah. The flat summit of the mound covers
about 18 acres. (Megiddo has an area of about 13 acres). Rehoboam
had built a double-wall round the city. The higher one was of
sun-dried bricks about 20 feet thick; the lower one of stone and
brick nearly 49 feet high and 13 feet thick. On the north-west
slope of the mound a pit was found into which over 1500 bodies
had been thrown, probably during a cleaning-up operation
following Sennacherib's siege of the city. Jehoiakim later
rebuilt Lachish, but it was heavily attacked by the Babylonians
under Nebuchadnezzar and thoroughly destroyed by fire in 589 B.C.
The famous "Lachish Letters" are dated from this period. (The
Lachish Letters are first hand documents dealing with the uneasy
political and military situation reigning in Judah on the eve of
Nebuchadnezzar's destruction of Jerusalem).
     Sennacherib was slain by two of his sons. Esarhaddon, a
third son and successor to the throne, in his records,
corroborates the Biblical account of this slaying. "In the month
Nisan," writes Esarhaddon in 680 B.C., "I entered the royal
palace, the awesome place wherein abides the fate of kings. A
fierce determination fell upon my brothers. They forsook the gods
and returned to their deeds of violence, plotting evil and
revolting. To gain the kingship they slew Sennacherib their
father. The gods looked with disfavor upon the deed of the
villains ... and made them submit themselves to me ... As for
those villains who instigated revolt, they fled to parts
unknown." From the Biblical account we learn that the
assassination took place in the temple of Nisroch, and that the
names of the "villains" were Adrammelech and Sharezer, and that
it was to Armenia that they fled (2 Kings 19:37).
     Esarhaddon rebuilt Babylon which his father had destroyed.
He then engaged in an endless succession of expeditions against
the people of the mountainous north, against the Chaldeans, and
against Syria. He even invaded Egypt, forcing the king of
Ethiopia to flee; advancing up the Nile Valley he captured Thebes
the capital. After dividing Egypt among twenty petty kings who
recognized his supremacy and vowed to pay tribute to him,
Esarhaddon conferred upon himself the title of "King of Kings of
Egypt" (671 B.C.). In 688 B.C., Esarhaddon retired and handed
over the throne to his son, Ashurbanipal.
     Ashurbanipal who is called in Ezra "the great and noble
Asnappar," (Ezra 4:10) was the last of the great Assyrian kings.
     During his reign a new round of wars took place. He had to
reconquer the whole of Egypt, put down rebellions in Syria,
Armenia and Susiana. The worst carnage took place in Susiana. The
king of Susiana, Teuman, was captured and beheaded in the
presence of the entire army and his head taken back to Nineveh to
be left impaled on a spear outside one of the gates of the city.
Two messengers, whom Teuman had dispatched to the king of Assyria
before his defeat, reached Nineveh without having learned of the
intervening events. Upon seeing their master's head, one of them
committed suicide and the other one was put into chains. Two
other officials of the city of Susa (capital of Susiana) were
taken to Arbela, where their tongues were cut out before they
were flayed alive and tossed into a red-hot furnace. As a
deterrent to any would-be insurgents in Susiana, the Assyrians
cut off the lips of Teuman's sons and sent them back home in this
badly mutilated state.
     Esarhaddon showed no mercy to his younger brother, the
governor of Babylon, after he revolted against his rule. After a
siege of the city in which the inhabitants were forced to eat the
flesh of their own children to survive, the brother was captured
and burnt alive. Those of his soldiers who had not starved to
death or killed themselves were treated, in Ashurbanipal's own
words, in the following way: "I ripped out the tongues of those
officers whose mouths had blasphemed against Ashur, my master,
and then slaughtered them. Any soldiers who were found still
alive were flogged in front of the winged bulls built by
Sennacherib, my grandfather; I whipped them on Sennacherib's
tomb, and then tossed their quivering flesh for the jackals, the
birds and the fish to eat. In this way I placated the wrath of
the gods who had become incensed by their ignominious deeds."
     A later revolt brought Ashurbanipal back to Susa. Again, the
city was ransacked. All the gold, silver and statues of the
deities were removed to Nineveh. This time, he took into
captivity all the royal family, the officers and most of the men
of the army. Ashurbanipal recorded the storming of Susa in
bas-reliefs of his palace. These showed scenes of prisoners being
flayed alive, having their eyes gouged out, their ears chopped
off, and their beard and nails torn out. Ashurbanipal held a
triumphal parade in Nineveh, in which he was pulled along in a
chariot drawn by four captive kings.
     Ashurbanipal did much to enhance the beauty of Nineveh. He
repaired the palace of Sennacherib and added several new rooms.
He accumulated a library of clay tablets dealing with all manner
of subjects. The inscriptions showed they had been arranged
according to their subjects in different positions in the library
(as found by Sir Henry Layard in 1850 A.D.). The writings
included astronomical books with observations of the planets,
astrological and magical texts, mathematical calculations,
medical prescriptions, business documents, historical records of
different reigns, and personal correspondence of the kings. It
was among the royal correspondence that the archaeological
"links" (covered in chapter 6) were found.

     The great Assyrian Empire was beginning to crumble before
Ashurbanipal died in 626 B.C. Of Ashurbanipal's successor,
Ashur-etil-ilani, little is known. One of his acts was to assign
a Chaldean, "Nabopolassar," as viceroy of Babylon in 625 B.C.
Nabopolassar seized complete control of the city and by the tenth
year (616 B.C.) of his reign he became master of North Babylonia,
calling himself "the king of Akkad." In 612 B.C., the combined
armies of Nabopolassar and the Medes assaulted, captured, and
destroyed Nineveh.
     The destruction of Nineveh had been prophesied by the
prophets of the Old Testament. Zephaniah wrote: "And he will
stretch out his hand against the north, and destroy Assyria, and
will make Nineveh a desolation, and dry like the wilderness. And
herds shall lie down in the midst of her, all beasts of the
nations; both the pelican and the porcupine shall lodge in the
capitals thereof; their voice shall sing in the windows;
desolation shall be in the thresholds: for he hath laid bare the
cedarwork. This is the joyous city that dwelt carelessly, that
said in her heart, I am, and there is none besides me: how is she
become a desolation, a place for beasts to lie in! Every one that
passeth by her shall hiss, and wag his hand" (Zeph.2:13-15).
     Nahum is the prophet-artist who gives us the most vivid and
detailed description of the final fall of the "blood stained
city" of Nineveh and cites the distress of the hated Assyrians.
His descrip tions of the methods of defense, of the movements of
the army in the streets and numerous other data, mark his account
at the word of an eye-witness, or of one very familiar with life
in the capital. We see the dash of the enemy, with his glittering
and bounding chariots, and flashing weapons, and prancing horses,
as the walls are stormed. The attackers prepared a protection
over their heads as they came close to the walls (Nahum 2:5). But
by some means or other, possibly, as sometimes suggested, by the
rising and roaring river, the walls were undermined and the
river-gates carried away (though this is tradition) "the palace
is dissolved" (Nahum 2:6). The bloody combat and noisy confusion
in the streets result (Nahum 3:3) in "a multitude of slain, and a
great heap of corpses, and there is no end of the bodies; for
they stumble upon their bodies." "Take ye the spoil of silver,
take the spoil of gold; for there is no end of the store, the
glory of all goodly furniture" (Nahum 2:9) gathered from the ends
of the earth.
     Nahum's final words depict the end of the nation that roared
"like a lion," (Isa.5:29) whose chief sport was hunting and
slaying lions, and whose ravages were most fittingly compared
with those of lions: "Thy shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria:
thy nobles shall dwell in the dust: thy people are scattered upon
the mountains, and no man gathereth them. There is no healing o f
thy bruise; thy wound is grievous: all that hear the bruit of
thee shall clap the hands over thee: for upon whom hath not thy
wickedness passed continually?" (Nahum 3:18,19).
     At the fall of Nineveh, the king (Sin-shar-ishkun) of
Assyria disappeared and in Harran (in northwestern Mesopotamia)
Ashuruballit was made king of Assyria. In the sixteenth year (610
B.C.) the Babylonians and the Medes, who had combined their
forces to destroy Nineveh, again united their armies to attack
Harran. This was the new western capital of Assyria occupied by
the Assyrian warriors who had escaped Nineveh. The new capital
fell to the attackers but the king and most of the Assyrian army
escaped across the Euphrates.
     After the fall of Harran, the Medes took over the lands to
the north and northwest, while the Babylonians occupied the
territory to the south and southwest. Babylon also claimed Syria
and the Holy Land, and required tribute formerly paid to the king
of Assyria. With the tribute, Nabopolassar did much to rebuild
Babylon as well as the other cities of Chaldea that had suffered
immense devastation during the reign of Ashurbanipal. However, he
was of advanced age when he began and died (604 B.C.) before he
could finish his planned restorations.
     Nabopolassar's son, Nebuchadnezzar (who bore the title
"King" even before his father's death) was one of the most famous
monarchs of antiquity. He fought several wars putting down
rebellions of the petty Syrian kingdoms and was victorious over
an Egyptian army, under Pharaoh Necho, on the banks of the
Euphrates River at Carchemish. The Egyptian army was forced to
retreat to Egypt. The Book of 2 Kings refers (but does not
describe) to the results of this battle. "In his (Jehoiakim's)
days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became
his servant three years: then he turned and rebelled against him"
(2 Kings 24:1).


BABYLONIAN CLAY TABLET


     The Babylonian Chronicle (B.M. 21901) describes the events
leading to the final collapse of Assyrian power. The Chronicle
records that in the 17th year of Nabopolassar, (607 B.C.) in the
month of Tammuz, an Egyptian army reinforced by Assyrian units
under Ashur-uballit, advanced on Harran but they abandoned the
seige on the approach of the Babylonian army led by Nabopolassar
(in Elud - August, September). Obviously, the Egyptian army could
not have gotten to Harran (to the east of Carchemish) in the
Upper Euphrates basin, without passing through the land of
Palestine.
     The Bible records (2 kings 23:29) that King Josiah of Judah,
was killed opposing an Egyptian army under Pharaoh Necho (Nekau)
which was on its way to the Euphrates. According to the
chronology of the kings of Judah, as given in the Bible, this
incident took place in 607 B.C. Obviously, this was the same army
reported in the Babylonian Chronicles. Thus, the Bible and the
Babylonian Chronicles confirm each other both as regards the
circumstances and the date.

     With the defeat of the Egyptians and Assyrians in 607 B.C.,
the domination of the peoples of Syria and Palestine passed from
Assyria to Babylon. This assumption of Babylonian authority over
all western Asia is confirmed by Jeremiah as dating from the
accession year of Jehoiakim. Jehoiakim had been placed on the
throne of Judah by Pharaoh Necho, but transferred his allegiance
under pressure of Babylon. 2 Kings 24, vs.1 records that he
served the Babylonian king for three years and then rebelled
against him. Consequently, Nebuchadnezzar, who had been virtually
acting as king during the latter half of his father's reign, sent
an army of mixed nationalities against Jerusalem. Daniel 1:1
gives the date of this attack as the 3rd year of Jehoiakim, which
was just three years after his accession year. This confirms II
Kings 24: vs.1, that he was vassal three years before he
rebelled.


NEBUCHADNEZZAR

     Jehoiakim's rebellion was short lived. When Nebuchadnezzar's
army came up against Jerusalem, in Jehoiakim's third year, "the
Lord gave Jehoiakim, king of Judah, into his hand" (Daniel
1:1-2). The Babylonian Chronicles reveal details of the capture
of Jehoiakim: "In the seventh year (of Nebuchadnezzar) in the
month of Kislev, the Babylonian king mustered his troops and,
having marched to the land of Hatti, beseiged the city of Judah.
On the second day of the month Adar, he captured the city and
seized the King. He set up in it a king after his heart and
having received its heavy tribute sent (them) off to Babylon."
(Compare this with 2 Kings 24:10-17) 2 Chronicles 36:6 states
that Jehoiakim was bound in fetters and carried to Babylon.
Jeremiah prophesied regarding Jehoiakim that "he shall be buried
with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates
of Jerusalem" (Jer.22:19). Jeremiah further prophesied that "his
dead body shall be cast out in the day to the heat, and in the
night to the frost" (Jer.36:30). Although the Scriptures and the
Chronicles are seemingly at odds with each other, it is not
inconceivable that all the records are true. In the general
capture of the city, Jehoiakim could have been taken with the
other captives to Babylon, but later on examination was found to
show a rebellious spirit, so was ordered slain by the king and
disgraced by being cast without the city (Jerusalem) and left
unburied for a time.
     Nebuchadnezzar placed Jehoiakim's son, Jehoiachin, to
succeed his father. However, within a few months, the new king's
haughtiness and defiance of Babylonian authority brought another
Babylonian army to Jerusalem. When the Babylonian army surrounded
the city, Jehoiachin surrendered, "he, and his mother, and his
servants, and his princes and his officers." (2 Kings 24:12) This
time Jerusalem was plundered and immense quantities of goods and
treasure was carried to Babylon. Along with the booty, the
Babylonian king deported some 7,000 workers, 1,000 craftsmen and
smiths and 2,000 of the most influential citizens of Jerusalem.
Thus, Nebuchadnezzar was guaranteed, for a period of time at
least, the respectful submission of this western district. Also,
he was supplied with skilled craftsmen for the execution of his
elaborate plans to refurbish Babylonia.
     Zedekiah (Mattaniah) the third son of Josiah, was chosen by
Nebuchadnezzar to replace Johoiachin as king of Judah. Like his
predecessor, Zedekiah defied Nebuchadnezzar and entered into an
alliance with a new king of Egypt, Hophra (Apries) who was
challenging Babylonian control of Syria. Zedekiah's refusal to
pay the annual tribute caused Nebuchadnezzar to order his army to
attack Jerusalem. When the city refused to surrender, the
Babylonians settled down for a long seige.
     Jeremiah, the prophet, advised Zedekiah to capitulate, and
consequently gain mercy and life for the inhabitants. Zedekiah
refused, confident that his pact with Egypt would bring their
forces to the defense of the city. The Egyptian allies, true to
their oath, sent an army to the rescue of Zedekiah. The
Babylonians raised the siege just long enough to meet the
Egyptian forces somewhere between Jerusalem and Egypt and drove
them back to the Nile-land.

     The siege of Jerusalem lasted about a year and a half. On
the ninth day of the fourth month, (July) 586 B.C., the city
walls yielded to the strokes of battering-rams and the
Babylonians took the city. Zedekiah made a vain attempt to escape
but was captured on the plains of Jericho. The Judean king was
carried to Riblah and in the presence of Nebuchadnezzar, the king
against whom he had rebelled, was forced to witness his own sons
slain. Then Zedekiah was manacled in fetters, his own eyes put
out, (probably in the manner indicated on the Assyrian monuments,
by the use of short swords) and carried prisoner to Babylon. To
forestall the possibility of any future rebellion in the strong
fortress, Jerusalem was thoroughly plundered and burned. Its
walls were leveled to the ground, and the better part of the
population transported to Babylon (2 Kings 25:1-11).


     The main cause of the overthrow and destruction of the
Judean kingdom was the unfaithfulness of Zedekiah to his oath and
his refusal to obey the words of the Lord that he should serve
Nebuchadnezzar. Jeremiah spoke the words of the Lord unto
Zedekiah: "I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are
upon the ground, by my great power and by my outstretched arm,
and have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto me. And now I
have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the
king of Babylon, my servant, and the beasts of the field have I
also to serve him. And all nations (shall) serve him, and his
son, and his son's son, until the very time of his land shall
come: and then many nations and great kings shall serve
themselves of him. And it shall come to pass, that the nation and
kingdom which will not serve the same Nebuchadnezzar the king of
Babylon, and that will not put their neck under the yoke of the
king of Babylon, that nation will I punish, saith the Lord, with
the sword, and with the famine, and with the pestilence, until I
have consumed them by his hand. But the nations that bring their
neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him, those
will I let remain still in their own land, saith the Lord; and
they shall till it, and dwell therein" (Jer.27:5-11).

     In Babylonian captivity, the Judeans enjoyed many of the
privileges of citizens, with settled homes and fixed communities.
Nebuchadnezzar made it one of the chief aims of his life to bring
prosperity to his subjects in order to bind them to him with ties
stronger than fetters. Contrary to popular belief, the Hebrews in
exile enjoyed a peaceful and prosperous time, aside from the
tearful memories of the desolation of their native land. Seventy
years later when the exiles were given their freedom to return to
Palestine, chose to remain in Babylon, content with their life in
their many new homes.

CUNEIFORM TABLET RECORDING LIST OF RATIONS GIVEN TO HEBREW
PRISONERS HELD AT BABYLON. JEHOIACHIN (KING OF JUDAH) AND HIS
SONS ARE NAMED AMONG THE RECIPIENTS.

     After the Babylonian empire was overthrown by Cyrus, king of
the Persians, the exiled Judeans were allowed to return to their
homeland. Of the hundreds of thousands originally taken captive,
less than 50,000 accepted the invitation to return to Palestine.
It is this 'remnant' that became known as the "Jews" a name
meaning "remnant of Judah, and never having been applied to any
branch of the Semitic peoples prior to the Babylonian captivity.
(The name "Jew" is a mistranslation of the word "Ioudaious,"
meaning from, or being of: as a country - Judea, and
"Ioudaismos," meaning Judaism: the religion of Judah. The name
"Jew" cannot be correctly utilized to designate any of the other
"Lost Tribes of Israel").

     During the Babylonian captivity, Edomites settled in
Jerusalem and they together with the Babylonians who migrated
with the Israelites to Palestine and the returning Judeans
collectively, became known as the "Nation of the Jew." Modern
Jewry includes a further in-mixing with Mongol-Turkish people
(Khazar kingdom of Russia that contained some infusion of
Hebrews-Jews of the Diaspora). A great majority of the Jews
today, are Semites only in speech.
     It should be noted that Idumea was conquered by the Jews
during the time of the Maccabees and thus a considerable number
of "Edomites" was added to Jewry. By the time of Christ, they had
become so powerful that one of their number, Herod, was king in
Jerusalem. The second chapter of Matthew's Gospel shows that the
hatred of Esau's descendants against the Israelites had continued
to that time (Read Exodus 7: vv. 8-16).

     It is generally believed, by Bible scholars, that the
Israelites carried away captive from their homelands, other than
the Israelites that returned to Jerusalem from the Babylonian
captivity, amalgamated with the peoples of the lands of their
captivity (Assyria and Babylon) never again to emerge into world
history. However, the error of this belief becomes evident as one
examines the Assyrian records of a people bearing the name
"Gamir" (later "Gamera" and "Gimira") suddenly appearing in the
very lands to which the exiled Israelites had been placed just a
few years earlier.

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


To be continued


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