From  the  book  “THE  LOST  TEN  TRIBES  OF  ISRAEL…. FOUND”

by Steven M. Collins


There is a common misconception that when the ten tribes of Israel migrated into Asia, they simply disappeared and nothing more was heard from them. Nothing could be further from the truth! In fact, for a significant period of time, ancient historians knew both who the Israelites were, and where they went. They were not "lost" at all.

We shall open this chapter with one such example. Flavius Josephus was a Jewish military commander, a Pharisee, and an historian of the first century A.D. Concerning the ten tribes of Israel in Asia during his day, he wrote:

"wherefore there are but two tribes in Asia and Europe subject to the Romans, while the ten tribes are beyond Euphrates till now, and are an immense multitude, and not to be estimated by numbers."1 

Eight centuries after the Israelites went into Asia, Josephus records that they were still known to their Jewish kinsmen, their population had become too numerous to estimate, and the Euphrates River served as a western border to their area of habitation.

Josephus' account that only the tribes of the old kingdom of Judah formed the population of Judea, the Roman province of the first century A.D., is quite important because it refutes the false notion that the ten tribes migrated back to Palestine and were included with the Jews at the time of Christ. The Bible supports Josephus' record that only two tribes of Israel lived in Judea during his lifetime. Ezra 4:1 states that only portions of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin returned to Palestine from their Asian captivity. Ezra 1:5 adds that portions of the priestly tribe of Levi accompanied them to Palestine as well.

Josephus clearly asserts that the ten tribes of Israel were still in Asia, and that they were not living in Judea in the first century A.D. Also, his comment that they constituted an exceedingly numerous population in Asia shows that we should expect to find large masses of Israelites in Asia in the first century A.D. instead of isolated little remnants. An inevitable result of nations having very large populations in the ancient world was the achievement of political and military power, and we will see that the Israelites had attained such power long before the time of Christ.. The comment that the Israelites were "beyond Euphrates" is also significant since it shows that the Asian Israelites were then located north and east of the Euphrates River.

We owe a debt of gratitude to the Jewish historian Josephus, as his writings debunk the assumption that the ten tribes of Israel simply "disappeared." As the reader will see, it is not difficult to determine the identities of the Israelites in Asia.

The Bible contains promises concerning the Israelites which must be reviewed as background information before the historical evidence is examined. A prophecy in Hosea 1:6-10, states that although God would "utterly take away Israel [from Palestine]," he would (after their removal from Palestine) make their population "as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered." This promise of an exploding population for the Israelites had been fulfilled by the time of Christ, as Josephus observed they were too numerous to number in his generation. There is an important lesson here: God always keeps his promises and fulfill his prophecies.

Also, the Bible promised that the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel) would bear a particular name. Genesis 21:12 records a key promise of God to Abraham that: "through Isaac shall your descendants be named."(RSV)

God's "covenant" blessings upon Abraham were inherited by Isaac and Jacob (whose name was later changed to "Israel"). Genesis 48:14-20 shows that Jacob/Israel passed on this patriarchal blessing to the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. Therefore, while the name of "Isaac" might generally be found on any of the Israelite tribes which sprang from Jacob/Israel, the term would most specifically identify the descendants of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. If God's promise was fulfilled, we should look for the Israelites in Asia to be known by various forms of the word "Isaac." As we shall see, secular history records that many large population groups in Asia, indeed, did come to be known by variations of the name "Isaac."

Many of the inhabitants of Israel's capital city, Samaria, were taken to the cities of the Medes (II Kings 17:6), and we will begin our search by looking for a group of people who were not physically present in Media before the fall of Samaria. An historical account of the Medes records that the Assyrian King Esarhaddon in 674 B.C. was confronted by an alliance of "Mannaean, Median, and newly-arrived Cimmerian forces. "2 (Emphasis added) These newly-arrived Cimmerians were likely the Israelite Samarians who had been relocated among the Medes only a few decades earlier. Notice the striking phonetic similarity between "Samarian" and "Cimmerian" (dictionaries confirm the "c" should be pronounced like an "s"). That these "Cimmerians" were recent arrivals in Media adds weight to their identification as Israelite captives from the city of Samaria. The transplanted Samarians of Israel would be anti-Assyrian, and would logically join an anti-Assyrian alliance.

Those Israelites who migrated to the Black Sea area became known as "Scythians." The Encyclopaedia Britannica records the Scythians as being present in Eurasian locations from the seventh century B.C., as this is the earliest date to which their tombs can be assigned.3 The Encyclopedia Americana adds:

"The Scythians...are those tribes that occupied this territory [the region north of the Black Sea] from about 700 B.C. and formed a single cohesive political entity until the 4th centuryB.C, when the nation was splintered into several groups.”4 

A third account of the Scythian arrival in the Black Sea region is found in The Scythians, by Tamara Talbot Rice, which states:

"The Scythians did not become a recognizable national entity much before the eighth century B.C....By the seventh century B.C. they had established themselves firmly in southern Russia...and analogous tribes, possibly even related clans, though politically entirely distinct and independent, were also centered on the Altai...[and]...Assyrian documents place their appearance there] in the time of King Sargon (722-705 B.C.) a date which closely corresponds with that of the establishment of the first group of Scythians in southern Russia." (Emphasis added.)5

These accounts are consistent with the historical records cited in chapter four that the Israelites migrated to the Black Sea area in the final decades of the eighth century B.C. It is also consistent with the biblical and Assyrian records that the kingdom of Israel ceased to exist in the latter portion of the eight century B.C. when its population left Palestine. That the Scythians had "related clans" living far to the east of the Black Sea Scythians is consistent with the fact that Israel was composed of many related tribes. Tamara Rice's book includes a map showing that "related clans" of the Scythians lived eastward far into Asia.6 Their burial sites have been found as far east as the Pazirik/Altai region of Russia where the Russian border meets the western edges of China and Mongolia. The appearance of the Scythians in Asia occurs in the reign of King Sargon of Assyria (722-705 B.C.). This is precisely the time period of the fall of the kingdom of Israel and the flight of Israelites out of Palestine into Asia.

The opening of a burial mound in the territory of the eastern Scythians was the subject of an article in the October, 1994 issue of National Geographic magazine. It stated:

"The Pazyryks thrived in these the sixth through the second centuries B.C. They were horsemen ...and shepherds...Dozens of such tribes rose on the steppes of Eurasia in this era, creating a deceptively uniform culture labeled Scytho-Siberian...The Greek historian Herodotus faithfully detailed much of the life of the Scythians, a powerful, seminomadic people who lived north of the Black Sea between 800 B.C. and 100 B.C.7

A female found mummified in the burial vault must have been a prominent person as she was buried with several horses and gravegoods with gold ornamentation. An earlier excavation in the area had yielded "two skeletons with European features"8 buried with weapons and ten horses. As this article confirms, these eastern Scythians were one of many clans on the steppes related to the Scythians of the Black Sea region. The fact that some of their burial mounds yield skeletons "with European features" will become increasingly important later in this chapter (and in this book).

The Scythians were also frequently called the "Saka," or "Sacae." The Encyclopaedia Britannica states that the terms "Saka (Sacae)...and Scyths...were regarded as synonymous. It is difficult always to judge whether given information applies to the Sacae (Saka) or the Scyths."9 It is also significant that "Cimmerii" were recorded as being one of the first settlers in the Black Sea region of Scythia.10 That "Cimmerians" were present in both Media and near the Black Sea soon after the fall of Samaria indicates that these two groups of people were related Israelites who were in separate locations after demise of Israel.

It is very significant that the Scythians were also known as Sacae or Saka. Genesis 21:12 contains the promise that Abraham's descendants would, in the future, be known by the name of Isaac. The ancient Hebrew language did not list vowel sounds; therefore, the name Isaac would then be represented by the consonants S-C or S-K (reflecting the fact that the "c" in Isaac is pronounced like a "k"). The word Sacae represents the word Isaac with the Latin plural "ae" attached. That these "Sacae" are recorded as being near the Black Sea soon after the Israelites migrated to Asia supports the contention that they were relocated Israelites. Historians unfamiliar with (or hostile toward) the Bible speculate that the Scythians came from the Asian interior. However, their name (a form of the Hebrew name, Isaac) and their arrival in Asia soon after the Israelites relocated from Palestine into Asia indicates that they were Israelites.

The speculation that the Scythians originated from deep in the interior of Asia is further refuted by the images found on Scythian artifacts. The Scythian faces depicted on their gold art-forms have Semitic features, not Mongoloid features.11 This is not to say that all ancient people bearing the name "Scythian" who lived on the Russian steppes were descended from the ten tribes of Israel. The term "Scythian" became a general term describing any tribe in the region with a nomadic or semi-nomadic lifestyle. Some Scythians were called "Turanian" instead of "Sacae." The Turanian Scyths may well have been of the Mongoloid (yellow) race of the steppes; with the term "Turanian" perhaps based on Tiras, one of the sons of Japheth (Genesis 10:2). There is a great deal of confusion in historical accounts between "Sacae Scythians" and "Turanian Scythians." George Rawlinson notes the following:

"The term 'Scythic' is not, strictly speaking, ethnical. It designates a life rather than a descent, habits rather than blood. It is applied by the Greeks and Romans to Indo-European and Turanian races indifferently, provided they are nomads, dwelling in on the produce of their flocks and herds... "12

There were two races called Scythians: the Indo-Europeans (the Sacae) and the Turanian (who were not Sacae). So, the term "Sacae (or Saka)" does represent an Israelite ethnicity, but the term "Scythian" can sometimes include non-Israelites as well.

In 653 B.C., the Medes and Cimmerians joined in an alliance with the Scythians (under a leader named "Phraortes") against the Assyrians. This alliance lost its battle against the Assyrians (and Phraortes died),13 but it is significant that the Scythians were anti-Assyrian. Once it is understood that these Scythians were Israelites, the motive for Scythian antipathy toward Assyria is apparent. The Scythians and Cimmerians were kinsmen, as the Encyclopaedia

Britannica calls the Cimmerians a "Scythian tribe."14 Here we see Israelite tribes joining together (along with the Medes) to again fight the Assyrians just decades after they left Palestine.

Their leader's name, "Phraortes," is also significant as it is a Hellenized form of the Jewish clan which descended from "Phares." God promised that kings (rulers) would come from Judah (the "sceptre" promise of Genesis 49:10), and that descendants of King David (also of the Phares line) would become numerous and would perpetually rule over descendants of "the house of Israel" (Jeremiah 33:17-22). Jeremiah's prophecy was made long after the House of Israel (the northern ten tribes) relocated to Asia. The above indication that descendants of King David (the line of Phares) were leading Asian Israelites a century prior to Jeremiah's prophecy shows that God had not forgotten his promise concerning David's progeny. This promise about David's progeny was first made in David's lifetime around 1000 B.C. (II Samuel 7:8-17).

What happened to the Israelites (at least three and one-half tribes) who were carried captive by the Assyrians about twenty years before Samaria fell? It is recorded that "Scythians" were not only located in the Black Sea region and westward into the Russian steppes, but were also located further south, just east of Assyria. The Encyclopaedia Britannica states that: "A Scythian power had grown up in the old kingdom of Ellip, to the east of Assyria."15 So, history records that Israelite Scythian powers developed both to the north of Assyria in the Caucasus, and to the east of Assyria as well.

This body of Scythians just east of Assyria (in modern Iran) were descended from the Israelites taken captive in about 740 B.C., and the Sacae Scythians located in the Russian steppes were descended from the Israelites who fled toward the Black Sea to avoid Assyrian captivity. That Assyria would have moved captive Israelites to the eastern edge of their empire is logical. By locating them far from their old homeland, Assyria was trying to prevent the Israelites from reuniting against Assyria.

Since God had promised to greatly increase the population of the Israelites in their lands of dispersal, this large body of Israelites soon displaced the nation of Ellip in which they had been placed. This begs a further question: What nation had been displaced by the Israelites who migrated to the Black Sea? History shows that Urartu had formerly been there, but that it was "enfeebled by Scythian incursions."16 It is also recorded that:

"the kingdom of Urartu had crumbled. The Scythians... firmly established themselves in northern Persia, occupying Urartu itself, where they set up their capital at Sakiz..."17

Significantly, a capital of Scythians was named "Sakiz," again preserving the name of the Hebrew patriarch, Isaac. Who else but the migrating ten tribes of Israel would name a capital city in honor of Isaac? Also, it indicates that the Scythians had entered the region with a very large population base as they soon controlled territory from the Caucasus region into "northern Persia." Another term for "northern Persia" would be "the cities of the Medes," where the Bible says many Israelites were taken by the Assyrians. This may indicate that the "free" Israelites from the Black Sea had liberated and linked up with the captive Israelites who were in the cities of the Medes.

Historians tell us the Scythians were agriculturalists who both planted crops and followed their herds (hence the word "nomads"). The old Israelite lifestyle from the days of Abraham revolved around agriculture, and they both planted crops and were herdsmen. Ezekiel 27:17 records the Israelites had been food exporters in the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. The Jewish source cited by Col. Gawler in chapter four stated that the Israelites fled through Armenia from the Assyrians, and went "with their flocks, and turned nomads."18 The Scythians carried on the old Israelite traditions of being agriculturalists, food exporters and "nomads" who dwelled in portable dwellings as they followed their flocks and herds. Zenaide Ragozin, in her book Media, records:

"Some seventy years after the time of Herodotus we find from contemporary evidence that 600,000 bushels of Scythian corn went to Athens alone each year."19

If 600,000 bushels of grain went to one Greek city in a single year, one can only wonder how much the Scythians exported to the world as a whole. Herodotus also recorded that the Scythians were food-exporters.20

However, the Scythian agriculturalists were not uncivilized. William Culican, in The Medes and the Persians, states:

"It was to the Scythians that Achaemenid objects had greatest appeal. The dinner services, upholstered beds and thrones designed for the mess tents of Persian officers on field duty admirably suited the task of the...nomadic Scythian leaders. Scythian tombs were elaborately furnished and...the Scythians not only had a close relationship with the Medes and Persians but supplied from their Ural territories much of the gold on which Persia depended. "21

Tamara Rice also wrote concerning the Scythians:

"...their wealth and love of finery won them the good will of the great Hellenic merchants established along the shores of the Black Sea...the Scythians... displayed an extraordinary to appreciate and assimilate the best in the art of their day."22

There is much that is significant about the above accounts. A nation that enjoys fine dinner tableware and eating utensils as well as upholstered beds and artworks is one which prizes the material comforts of a civilized society. Also, the fact that they maintained a gold mining industry indicates that not all the Scythians were agriculturalists. Their gold mines indicate that some Scythians were involved in industrial pursuits, and their success in the gold trade confirms that they possessed the technological expertise to mine and refine gold ores into a finished product. Indeed, the Scythians manufactured some of the ancient world's most beautiful works of gold art.23 Their involvement in commercial trading relationships with the Medes, Persians and Greeks also demonstrates that the Scythians were skilled in the ways of international commerce (both in manufactured products and agricultural commodities).

Is there a conflict between the above accounts and others which paint some nomads in the Russian steppes as being ignorant and uncivilized? No. It was mentioned earlier that the Scythians included nomads who were called Sacae and others who were called Turanian. In addition to the civilized Scythians, there were ignorant and uncouth nations on the steppes. Herodotus, a Greek historian of the fifth century B.C., notes that the Scythians were interspersed with less civilized...people. He describes the non-civilized nations of the steppes thusly:

"the Man-Eaters, a tribe that is entirely peculiar and not Scythian at all...[and] the Black Cloaks, another tribe which is not Scythian at all. "24

Herodotus confirms the civilized qualities of the Scythians and the backwardness of the non-Scythian tribes in the following words.

"The Euxine Pontus [the Black Sea]...contains - except for the Scythians - the stupidest nations in the world."25

Col. Gawler cites Epiphanius as stating "the laws, customs, and manner of the Scythians were received by other nations as the standards of policy, civility, and polite learning."26 He also cites the following from book viii, iii, 7 of Strabo's Geography:

"... 'hut the Scythians governed by good laws...' And this is still the opinion entertained of them by the Greeks; for we esteem them the most sincere, the least deceitful of any people, and much more frugal and self-relying than ourselves. "21

Strabo was a Greek writer of the first century B.C. Modern students are educated to think the Greeks were the most civilized people of the ancient world, yet Strabo's account offers an opinion that the laws, frugality and self-reliance of the Scythians excelled that of the Greeks! Strabo even declares that the Scythians excelled all nations in their sincerity and honesty.

While there were backward, uncouth nations in the steppes above the Black Sea, the Scythians were a civilized nation with refined tastes. This makes no sense if the Scythians were a horde of wild horsemen who rode out of Siberia from somewhere so far away from the civilized world that no one had heard of them prior to their arrival. However, it is entirely consistent with the Scythians being the descendants of the ten tribes of Israel, who had long interacted with the other civilized nations of the world as the main component of the Phoenician alliance.

There is an additional record that the Scythians of South Russia had their origins among the Semitic nations of the Mideast. Zenaide Ragozin's Media states:

"...Scythians was not a race name at all, but one promiscuously used for all remote, little known, especially nomadic peoples of the north and northeast, denoting tribes...of Turanian as of Indo-European stock: to the latter the Scythians of Russia are now universally admitted to have belonged."26

The term "Scythian" came to represent a lifestyle more than a racial group. However, the civilized Scythians of South Russia were known to be "Indo-European" in origin, not "Turanian." This confirms their origin was among the Indo-European nations to the south of the Black Sea, not among the uncivilized nomads in the interior of Asia.

If the Scythians truly were arrivals from the interior of Asia, they would have shared the uncultured, uncivilized ways of the wild nomads of the steppes. However, they were very civilized people with much more in common with the Greeks and Persians than the coarse nomads of the north. Scythian tastes for fine Persian dinner services and upholstered beds, their appreciation of Greek art, their own artistic excellence in gold workmanship, and their stable trade relationships with the Greeks and the Persians all confirm that the Scythians' originated not in the wild steppes of Asia, but in the civilized regions of the Mideast and Mesopotamia.

The "Sacae" Scythians had nothing in common with the wild, uncouth nomads of the northern steppes, but had very much in common with the civilized cultures to their south. The answer in simple: these Scythians moved into South Russia from the south, not from the north! The entire spectrum of their culture argues for this conclusion. All cultural factors support the ancient historical sources cited by Col. Gawler that a very large body of Israelites moved from Palestine to south Russia at the approximate time of Samaria's fall. Even as the Israehtes were herdsmen and exporters of grain, so were the Scythians. Even as the Israelites had been skilled in metallurgy (from the time of Solomon), so were the Scythians. Even as the Israelites had civilized tastes, so did the Scythians. The "Israelites" fled into the Black Sea regions in about 724 B.C., and the Scythians were first noted in the Black Sea regions just after this date. The Israelites were descendants of Isaac, and the Scythians were known as "Sac-ae" or "Sak-a." There can be little doubt on the origin of the Scythians: They were displaced Israelites building a new homeland in the Black Sea region and in parts of the Russian steppe.

The fact that other bodies of Scythians are noted "growing up" in the region of Elhp in eastern Assyria, and in the region of the Medes (the Cimmerians) without any invasion from the north placing them there also indicates that the Scythians in those areas were descendants of captive settlers (the Israelites who were settled in Assyria's empire and in the "cities of the Medes").

As the Israelite Scythians became more numerous, Herodotus records that the Persians generally referred to all the Scythian tribes as Sacae,29 and there is an account that Ptolemy referred to the Scythian/Sacae as the "Saxones."30 Substantiating the conclusion that the Sacae/Saka Scythians were Israelites is evidence that the Israelites were known by those names even before their departure from Palestine!

Assyrian records recall the rebellion of a people known as the Esakska, who called themselves "Beth Isaac" or "House of Isaac" in their own country.31 Here we have an Assyrian confirmation that the Israelites were known as the descendants of Isaac (with their name represented by the root word "Sak") prior to their migrations into Asia. The word "beth" is a Hebrew word meaning "house" and is also rendered as "bayith."32 The Israelites continued to bear the Hebrew racial names "Saka" or "Sacae" after their migration into Asia. The Bible itself preserves the fact that the pre-captivity Israehtes were known as "Beth Isaac" (or "House of Isaac"). Amos 7:16 records that the prophet Amos used the term "House of Isaac" to describe the ten-tribed northern kingdom of Israel a few decades prior to the fall of Samaria.

The book of Jeremiah supports the conclusion that the ten tribes of Israel migrated to the Black Sea region. Jeremiah's prophecy in Jeremiah 3:6 addresses both the Jews (Judah) and the ten tribes of Israel (Israel). This prophecy was given a hundred years after the fall of Samaria and the migration of the ten tribes of Israel out of Palestine. In verses 6-10, he warns Judah that she is repeating the sins which caused the ten tribed kingdom of Israel to fall. In verse 11, Jeremiah, speaking in approximately 620 B.C., states: "Backsliding Israel hath justified herself more than treacherous Judah." Jeremiah here confirms that the Jews and the northern ten tribes were still reckoned as separate entities, and that the ten tribes were in a better standing with God than were the Jews at the time of his prophecy! That is consistent with accounts presented in chapter four that the members of the ten tribes which migrated to the area around the Black Sea were 'jealous of the glory of God." In verse 12, Jeremiah directed this statement to the ten tribes of Israel:

"Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the Lord; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful..." 

If all ten tribes of Israel were taken captive to Assyria, Jeremiah should have addressed his prophecy about the Israelites "to the east" since Assyria was located east of Jerusalem. However, Jeremiah acknowledges that most of the ten tribes of Israel were then located not to the east but to the north of Jerusalem. The Black Sea region, where earlier accounts place most of the ten tribes, is located due north of Jerusalem.

Many people have the mistaken impression that God utterly forsook the ten tribes of Israel when they were displaced from Palestine. Not at all! Here we see Jeremiah directing a favorable message from God to them approximately a century after Samaria fell. In another prophecy of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 51:5), it is stated:

"For Israel hath not been forsaken...of his God, of the Lord of hosts..." 

God inspired messages through Jeremiah to the ten tribes a century after Samaria fell! Also, the quote from Josephus which opened this chapter confirmed that by the first century A.D., God had fulfilled the prophetic promise in Hosea 1 to make the descendants of the ten tribes "too numerous to count." In doing so, God confirmed that the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh were still the primary inheritors of the Abrahamic covenant blessings which included having too many descendants to number (Genesis 13:16 and 48:14-16)!

Let us review the Abrahamic Covenant blessings. Abraham was promised that his seed would have huge populations, would comprise many nations, would found royal dynasties and would possess the "gates of their enemies" (Genesis 13:16, 17:2-7, 22:15-17). These promises were passed on to Isaac (Genesis 17:21) and to Jacob (Genesis 27:19-33). Jacob (whose name was changed to "Israel," Genesis 35:10) next passed on these blessings to Ephraim and Manasseh (the sons of Joseph) and their descendants (Genesis 48:14-20). In verse 16, Jacob (Israel) said:

"...let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac..."

This prophecy promised that the name of Isaac would remain on the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh as God fulfilled these birthright promises throughout history. Therefore, the fact that the Scythians bore the name of Isaac (Sacae or Saka) confirms that many of the Scythians were from the tribes of Ephraim or Manasseh.

The great "birthright" blessings of the Abrahamic covenant were not given to the tribe of Judah (the Jews), as many people seem to assume. The birthright blessings have remained with the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh ever since Jacob/Israel assigned them to those tribes in Genesis 48. Jacob further promised that the descendants of Manasseh would someday become a single great nation, and that the descendants of Ephraim would become a company (or multitude) of nations. The one Abrahamic blessing received by the tribe of Judah was the promise that kings and dynasties would emerge from them (Genesis 49:10). This was fulfilled when the descendants of King David founded several dynasties of kings, as we will examine more extensively in the next chapter. While all of the tribes of Israel were "the chosen people," the best blessings were given (by God's will) to the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh.

As this book progresses, we will see that God remembered to give the great Abrahamic blessings to the descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh, the dominant tribes of the ten tribes of Israel. Now we will return to the "Saka" in the ancient world.

There are very ancient records of correspondence from Canaanite rulers to the Egyptian Pharaohs desperately calling for help against the powerful invasions of a people called the "Haberi," "Khaberi," "Aberi" or "Saga." These ancient letters were preserved on the famous "Amarna Tablets," and they apparently record the invasion of Canaan by the Israelites under Joshua! The "Haberi," "Khaberi," or "Aberi" are the Hebrews, and the "Saga" are the Saka (the people of Isaac), albeit expressed in Canaanite terms. Mrs. Sydney Bristowe, in Oldest Letters in the World, wrote in 1923 concerning the Amarna Tablets:

"The great importance of the Amarna Tablets has not been recognized because apparently, the translations have been unwilling to admit that the Israelites are mentioned upon them and that they tell of the conquest of Palestine by Joshua! The translations shown with the tablets now in the British Museum, give little idea of the interest of the letters, the name Haberi, Khaberi or Aberi is hardly seen in these translations, yet that name, appears frequently in the tablets and leading philologists certify that it stands for the Hebrews (Israelites). See Enc. Brit., Ed. 11, Vol. 10., p. 78. Another name mentioned upon the tablets is Saga which is said to be identical with Haberi (Knudtzon, Die El-Amarna Tafeln, p. 51), and is proved to be so by the fact that it occurs upon the Behistan Rock in Persia where, according to Sir Henry Rawlinson, it represents the Israelites (the Sakai or House of Isaac'). Dr. Hall (of the British Museum) admits the fact that the tablets tell of the Israelite's conquest of Palestine, for he writes: 'We may definitely, if we accept the identification of the Khabiru as the Hebrews, say that in the Tel-el-Amarna letters, we have Joshua's conquest seen from the Egyptian and Canaanite point of view' (Ancient History of the Near East, p. 409). "33

Mrs. Bristowe's book cites an early edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, a German book, and the famous historian, Sir Henry Rawlinson, as all supporting the conclusion that the Amarna Tablets identify the Israelites. Dr. H. R. Hall, whose book The Ancient History of the Near East was cited above, was formerly the Keeper of the Department of Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities at the British Museum. Dr. Hall further states in his book that:

"It seems very probable that the 'SA-GAZ'... and...the Khabiru who devastated Canaan in Akhenaton's time are no other than the invading Hebrews and other desert tribes allied with them...[and after presenting a philological analysis supporting this conclusion, he adds]...In my own view, the probabilities are all in favour of the identification. "34

It is noteworthy that these letters show both that the Canaanites pleaded for help from Egypt and that the Egyptians refused to assist them against the Khabiru/Hebrews. Given that the Encyclopaedia Britannica states that the time-frame of the Amarna tablets "is approximately that of Moses,"35 it is obviouswhy the Egyptians did not oppose the "Saga" and Khabiru. Egypt had been devastated by the God of Israel via the plagues aclrninistered through Moses just decades before this time (the Israelites wandered for 40 years between leaving Egypt and conquering Canaan), and it was too weak to intervene. Whatever was left of Egypt clearly had no will to fight the Habiru, whose God they feared!

Mrs. Bristowe's account references the "Behistan Rock." This is also noteworthy because it further links the Scythians to the Israelite/ Phoenician Empire. The Persian ruler, Darius, celebrated a victory (circa 516 B.C.) via a huge inscription on a mountain near Behistun (or "Behistan"). It depicts Darius receiving various captive nations whose leaders are being led before him tied with a rope around their necks.36 The last one is line is "a Scythian wearing a tall, pointed cap."37 Herodotus is cited above as stating that the Persians called all Scythians "Sacae (or Saka)," which is the equivalent of the Hebrew/ Israelite "Saga" in the much older Amarna Tablets. It appears that the Canaanites knew the Israelite invaders were the "seed of Isaac)," but rendered his name as "Saga" instead of "Saka," as did the Persians. [The letters "g" and "k" are closely-related guttural phonetic sounds.]

The above evidence that Canaanite and Assyrian sources indicate that the Israelites were known by the name of Isaac prior to their departure from Palestine confirms that it is their descendants who bore the name of Isaac in Scythia after their arrival in Asia.

The sources identifying the Israelites as the invaders of Canaan on the Amarna tablets, and linking the Hebrew-Israelite "Saga" with the Scythian "Saka" pre-date the permeation of modern academia by evolutionary theory. Even though evolution cannot be confirmed by the scientific method and is refuted by the laws of the universe, it has nevertheless become the "politically correct" foundation of modern academic thought. Because the Bible's creation account contradicts evolutionary fables, the Bible is impugned by many modern academics. Information supporting biblical historical accounts is, therefore, often ignored or suppressed. Since modern academics could jeopardize their careers by contradicting evolutionary dogma, one is not likely to find modern sources who will differ with the "politically-correct," anti-biblical bias of the modern scholastic world. For this reason, many modern sources are not likely to acknowledge information which was openly admitted by earlier sources.

That the Scythians are depicted as wearing a "tall, pointed cap" by the Persians is also significant. One cultural trait of the Israelite/ Phoenicians was their use of a tall, pointed cap. Evidence of this Phoenician trait has been found in both the Old World and in ancient America. In the Old World, an example of Phoenicians wearing such caps from a relief in Persepolis is shown in the Encyclopedia Americana.36 Dr. Barry Fell's America B.C. depicts a similar tall Phoenician cap (found in a North American burial mound) as a "characteristic high-crowned hat, the hennin, worn on formal occasions."39 Since the Phoenician Empire was primarily the Israelite empire, we can expect this wearing of a tall hat on formal occasions to be an Israelite trait as well. Israelite high priests wore miters (tall hats) as part of their official dress (Exodus 28:37-29:6). Descriptions of this miter show that it had a "forefront" (Exodus 28:37), and a blue decoration "high upon the miter" (Exodus 39:31), verifying that the miter was a tall hat. Apparently, this type of headgear later was adopted by Israelite leaders as a tall, pointed hat is shown in Harper's Bible Dictionary as being an example of "Hebrew royal attire."40

The Behistan rock depicts a Scythian leader being brought before Darius wearing a tall, pointed hat: a traditional headgear of Israelite leaders. That this hat was worn only by the Scythian identifies it as a uniquely Scythian trait. Herodotus confirmed this headgear was uniquely Scythians:

"The Sacae, who are Scythians, have high caps tapering to a point and stiffly upright, which they wear on their heads. "41

It was, specifically, the "Sacae" Scythians who wore headgear which was traditional among the Israelite/ Phoenician people. This offers further cultural evidence that the Scythians descended from the Israelites of the old Phoenician Empire in the Mideast, not from wild tribes in the Asian interior.

Further evidence of the Israelite origins of the Scythians is found in this comment of Herodotus about the Scythians:

"They make no offerings of pigs, nor will they keep them at all in their country." 42

Such a prohibition is very consistent with the long-standing Hebrew custom of forbidding the use of swine for either consumption or sacrifice because it was an "unclean" animal (Deuteronomy 14:7-8). Another interesting point is that Herodotus records that one of the Scythian kings was named "Saulius."43 Given the Hebrew/Israelite background of the Scythians, it would appear that the namesake of this Scythian king was Saul, the first Hebrew king (I Samuel 9).

Herodotus also records that "The Scythians themselves say that their nation is the youngest of all the nations...[and]...from their first the crossing of Darius into Scythia was, in all, one thousand years-no more, but just so many."44 Col. Gawler analyzes Herodotus' record as follows:

"Now Darius' expedition against the Scythians was about 500 B.C., and 1000 years before that brings us to the time of Moses."45

Significantly, the Scythians traced their origin as a nation to the approximate time of Moses. It was after the Exodus, under Moses, that the Hebrews truly became a nation with their own distinct culture and laws.

An additional evidence that Scythia was the new Israelite homeland is the frequent use of the name of the Israelite tribe of Dan in the Black Sea area. The tribe of Dan was known for giving its tribal name to geographic locations (Joshua 19:47). The rivers emptying into the Black Sea were formerly known by such names as the Ister, Tyras, Borysthenes, and Tanais, but, after the Scythians migrated into the region, their names were changed to the Danube. Dniester, Dnieper, and Don Rivers. Collier's Encyclopedia states:

"The names of the...rivers Danube, Dnestr, Dnepr and Don are Scythian..."46

The tribe of Dan was split into two homelands in Palestine: one on the seacoast, and one in a land-locked area in the north of Israel. In chapter four, we saw evidence that the many Danites migrated to Ireland when Israel fell, but the prominence of the name Dan in Scythian areas indicates other Danites joined the migration into the Black Sea regions. A major Scythian tribe was named the Dahai or Dahae, which may also indicate the tribe of Dan.

We will now reconstruct the mostly ignored history of the Scythians. We have seen that the Cimmerians and Scythians were allied against the Assyrians in 653 B.C., but were defeated. There is evidence that the Assyrians tried to placate the Scythians, going so far as to marry the daughter of an Assyrian king to a Scythian prince,47 but it did not long stem the tide of growing Scythian power.

In approximately 624 B.C., the Scythians launched a massive invasion to the south, and occupied Asia Minor, Syria, Media, Palestine and much of Assyria. They conquered as far south as Egypt, but spared that nation when the Egyptians offered them tribute money.48 In the words of Werner Keller, the Scythians "inundated the Assyrian Empire."49 The Encyclopaedia Britannica states:

"The Scythians penetrated into Assyria and made their way as far as the borders of Egypt. Calah was burned, though the strong walls of Nineveh protected the relics of the Assyrian army which had taken refuge behind them..."50

The Scythian attack upon the Assyrian city of Calah (Kalakh) was noteworthy. The Encyclopaedia Britannica notes that Calah "was the headquarters of the army in Assyria."51 By directly attacking the headquarters city of the Assyrian army, the Scythians were clearly "going for the jugular" of Assyria. Though Assyria struggled on for a few years, the Scythian invasion dealt Assyria a mortal blow. Babylonia revolted against Assyria, and the eastern Scythians joined this revolt. As the reader will recall, there were "northern Scythians" from the Black Sea region and "eastern Scythians" who had displaced the kingdom of Ellip (located east of Assyria). It was the northern Scythians who conquered most of the Assyrian Empire and burnt Calah, but it was (apparently) the eastern Scythians who joined Babylon to administer a "coup de grace" to Assyria. The Encyclopaedia Britannica notes that "the Scythian king of Ecbatana (a city east of Assyria)" intervened to assist the Babylonians, and adds that "Nineveh was captured and destroyed by the Scythian army."52 Some historical accounts credit "the Medes and Babylonians" with the destruction of Nineveh, but the Encyclopaedia Britannica states that it was the Babylonians and Scythians who conquered Nineveh. It explains that the Babylonians referred to Scythians as "Manda," and maintains that the Greek writers missed the Scythian role "through a confusion of Mada or 'Medes' with Manda."53 The Babylonian term Man-da may have been derived from Man-asseh, one of Israel's largest tribes.

The northern Scythians from the Black Sea held Western Asia and the Mideast under their dominion for only a short time, twenty-eight years according to Herodotus,54 and just ten years according to Werner Keller.55 Why did Scythia attack the whole territory of the Assyrian Empire, and then leave after so short a time? Both answers come clearly into focus when one understands that the Scythians were the descendants of the ten tribes of Israel.

The motive for the Scythian invasion was likely two-fold. The primary motive was the desire for revenge against the Assyrians who had forced them off their land and destroyed the old kingdom of Israel. It was poetic justice that after Assyria invaded and destroyed the kingdom of Israel; Assyria was invaded and given its death-blow by Scythia (the offspring of the Israelites that had originally fled from Assyria). Indeed, the desire to liberate those Israelites who were still captives of the Assyrians may have served as a further strong motive for the Scythian invasion.

A second reason for Scythia's invasion was apparently the reoccupation of the old Israelite homeland of Palestine. The fact that some Scythians charged straight south through Asia Minor and Syria into Palestine gives weight to this conclusion. In the century that had passed since the ten tribes were forced out of Palestine, it had probably been referred to as "the land of milk and honey" by old-timers who reminisced about their homeland. The Scythian Israelites may have originally intended to reoccupy Palestine permanently when they reconquered it.

Scythian victories were so widespread that Herodotus observed: "...the Scythians took control of all Asia."56

While the Scythians waged a total war against the Assyrians in Mesopotamia, Herodotus records that on their march through Palestine and Syria: "...the majority of the Scythians marched by, doing no harm to anyone."57

It is significant that while marching through Palestine, the Scythians took no action to attack or harm the Jewish capital of Jerusalem. If the Scythian motive was simple conquest, why did they spare the Jewish capital? Since the entire Assyrian army could not stand before the Scythian onslaught, Jerusalem had no might to resist them. The obvious conclusion is that the Scythians chose to spare Jerusalem. This makes sense only if the Scythians were the descendants of the ten tribes of Israel, who knew the Jews were one of their related tribes. This indicates that while the Scythians were intent on destroying Assyria, their purpose was to "liberate" Palestine. One city in Palestine (Beth-Shan) was renamed "Scythopolis" in honor of the Scythians, and the local population retained that name even after the Scythians left the area. Werner Keller notes that there is no evidence that the Scythians ever occupied or garrisoned Beth-Shan58, so the reason for changing the name of Beth-Shan to Scythopolis is a mystery. There is a logical answer for this "mystery." When a city is renamed after a person or a nation, it is done so to honor the memory of that person or nation. Since the Scythian presence among the Jews was a gentle one, and liberated them from the Assyrian Empire, Beth-Shan was likely renamed Scythopolis to honor the Scythian liberation of the region.

That the Scythians completely ravaged Assyrian territory while sparing Jewish cities clearly indicates that the Scythians looked upon the Jews more favorably than the other nations invaded. This would make no sense whatsoever if the Scythians were wild nomads from northern Asia who were in Palestine for the first time. However, it is completely logical when one realizes that, as descendants of the ten tribes of Israel, the Scythians were blood relatives of the Jews! It was noted earlier that the Scythians' artwork depicted Scythians as having bearded, Semitic faces, clearly indicating that they originated in the Fertile Crescent (the traditional Semitic homeland), not in the Asian interior. To assert that these Scythians had a Mongoloid origin from northern or eastern Asia, one must ignore the facts.

Herodotus also records that the Scythians were very zealous in forbidding idolatry and the worship of "foreign gods." In one instance, King Saulius of Scythia executed his own brother for participating in the rites of a Greek "mother-goddess" festival and wearing "images" associated with the mother-goddess.59 In another instance, a Scythian king (Scyles) participated in forbidden, pagan ritual of the Greeks in which devotees allowed "Bacchus" to possess them in frenzied rites. As testimony to the strict Scythian laws against such rites, King Scyles tried to prevent any Scythian from learning about his "secret life." His actions were discovered; however, and the Scythians rejected him as king, selecting his brother, Octamasades, as the new king. With an army, Octamasades pursued his paganized brother, and beheaded him in Thrace (the modern Balkan region of Europe), where Scyles had sought refuge.60

The fact that the Scythians executed, without mercy, even their own rulers and royalty who worshipped the mother-goddess or other pagan gods (or who kept "images" of such gods and goddesses) shows there was a very strict law among the Scythians against idolatry. Combining the fact that idolatry was a capital offense with the Scythian custom of avoiding swine flesh, it is clear that the Scythians were faithfully practicing two key features of the laws of God given to the Israelites under Moses. This further confirms that many of the Israelites of the ten tribes had experienced a "revival" in their new homeland near the Black Sea.

The fall of Nineveh has been dated as follows:

"...the Assyrian capital [Nineveh] fell after a long war conducted by the Medes, Babylonians and Scythians in 612 B.C.... "61

The presence of "a long war" between Scythia and Assyria prior to Assyria's defeat in 612 B.C. supports Herodotus' record that the Scythians ruled "Asia" (Mesopotamia, Asia Minor and Palestine) for almost three decades. Specifically, Herodotus wrote: "For twenty-eight years, then, the Scythians were masters of Asia... "62

This Scythian occupation, which included Palestine, occurred during the reign of King Josiah (circa 639-608 B.C.). The Bible does not mention "Scythians" in Palestine at that time because "Scythian" was a Greek term. However, the Bible refers to them as Israelites. There is an interesting account in the reign of Josiah that can only involve the Scythians. II Kings 22:3 states that Josiah issued a decree to restore the Temple of God "in the eighteenth year" of his reign (circa 621 B.C.).

During the reigns of previous evil kings, the Jews had lost the knowledge of God. When a copy of God's laws was found in this Temple restoration project, the nation again learned about God's laws (II Chronicles 34:8-33). When he learned what God's laws were, Josiah was aghast at his nations' degenerate condition. II Kings 23:4-20 records that King Josiah's reforms included the destruction of sun-god and mother-goddess images, forbidding human sacrifices, tearing down brothels of homosexual prostitutes ("houses of Sodomites"), slaying pagan priests and even destroying the altars for pagan gods which King Solomon had built for his foreign wives. Josiah also reestablished the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread (II Chronicles 35:17-18). However, notice the curious record of who kept these festivals along with Josiah and his nation. Verse 17-18 add:

"And the children of Israel that were present kept the Passover...and the Days of Unleavened Bread...there was no Passover like to that kept in Israel from the days of Josiah kept... and all Judah and Israel that were present..."

This records that "all Judah" and the Israelites "that were present" kept these Holy Days of God. It is clear that this account means that descendants of the ten tribes of Israel kept these festivals as it makes a distinction between "Judah" and "Israel." This seems to be an impossibility as II Kings 17:18 states that when the Israelites were deported from Palestine that God had "removed them" and that "none was left but the tribe of Judah only." Since all the tribes of Israel were earlier removed from Palestine, how was it possible that not only were portions of the ten tribes again in Palestine at the time of Josiah, but that they were also devout enough to participate in God's Holy Days?

The answer is simple. The 'Israelites" from the ten tribes "who were present" in Palestine at the time of king Josiah's revival were the Scythians who were then occupying everything from Palestine to Mesopotamia! We have seen that Herodotus recorded that the Scythians were known for good laws, avoided idols and pagan religious rites and even avoided swine flesh. That they were already practicing key aspects of the biblical laws of God makes it easier to understand how the Scythian Israelites could join Josiah and Judah in celebrating God's Holy Days. Indeed, if the Greeks had written II Chronicles 35:17-18, it probably would have read "all the Jews and Scythians that were present..."

Now consider II Chronicles 34:3-9 for even more evidence. Verse 3 records that Josiah began to serve God in the eighth year of his reign and began some religious reforms. Verse 6-7 adds:

"And so did he in the cities ofManasseh, and Ephraim and Simeon, even unto Naphthali...And when he had... cut down all the idols throughout the land of Israel,  he returned to Jerusalem."

Ten years later, Josiah took up a collection for the restoration of the Temple, and verse 9 states:

"...they delivered the money that was brought into the house of God, which the Levites.. .had gathered of the hand of Manasseh and Ephraim, and all the remnant of Israel, and of all Judah and Benjamin and they returned to Jerusalem. 

For at least ten years, contingents of the ten tribes were present in Palestine and living in their former tribal homelands. This account makes clear that these members of the ten tribes of Israel were separate and distinct from the tribes of "Judah and Benjamin" (who constituted the nation of Judah). What is profound is that these members of the ten tribes of Israel were both willing and able to donate money to restore God's Temple! In fact, the Israelites were probably able to donate far more for the Temple than the Jews. They (the Israelite Scythians) had conquered "all Asia" and were flush with war booty out of which to make donations.

Now, remember the prophecy of Jeremiah 3:8-12 that stated that the ten tribes of Israel were "more justified" than the Jews at that time, and that their new homeland was located "to the north" of Judah. Some versions of the Bible include dates for chapters in the Old Testament. The King James Version states that Jeremiah 3 occurred in "620 B.C." Josiah kept this great Passover in the "eighteenth year of his reign" (II Kings 21-23), which would date this Passover to 621 B.C. While the Bible does not expressly say so, the proximity of these dates indicates that the Prophet Jeremiah was present at this joint-Passover between Judah and portions of the ten tribes of Israel "who were present." This also makes clear that an historical context was, indeed, present for God to address a message via Jeremiah to the ten tribes of Israel. After all, portions of the ten tribes (probably soldiers and settlers) were present in Palestine and keeping the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread with Jeremiah present among them.

There is no conflict between I Kings 17:18 (which states God removed all the ten tribes from Palestine in around 721 B.C.) and II Chronicles 34 which records significant numbers of Ephraimites, Manassehites, Simeonites and Naphthalites living in their old tribal homelands of Palestine. These Israelite tribesmen were in Palestine during Josiah's reign because they were the "Scythians" (or "Sacae") who were present in Palestine at that time. Secular history calls them "Scythians," but the Bible instead refers to them by their traditional Israelite names.

Indeed, this brings up the question: what prompted king Josiah to restore the Temple of God in the first place? Perhaps it was the presence of the Scythians which prompted such an action. The Scythians were known to kill their own royalty for indulging in pagan practices, and Judah's people were (prior to Josiah's reforms) heavily engaged in pagan practices. Did the comparative righteousness of the Scythians and their liberation of Judah from Assyrian rule inspire King Josiah of Judah to restore God's Temple?

II Kings 23:25 records that while Josiah implemented his reforms with a genuine heart, Jeremiah 3:10 comments that most of Judah "feigned" agreement with the reforms, and the Bible records that Judah quickly forsook the laws of God after the death of Josiah.

Why did the seemingly invincible Scythians, the northern sons of Isaac (i.e. Sacae), abandon the Mideast so soon after thoroughly subduing it? There are two possible answers. When the kingdom of Israel fell, the Assyrians brought in foreigners who had no affinity for the land (II Kings 17:24-34). When the Scythian Israelites returned to Palestine, they were likely disappointed in what they found. The "land of milk and honey" about which their grandparents had reminisced was now a "land of weeds and foreigners," not suitable for the Israelite/Scythian lifestyle of growing crops and tending herds.

After a number of years, they likely decided that Palestine was simply not worth the effort, and withdrew into Scythia where the terrain provided the fertile expansiveness suitable for their chosen lifestyle. Also, the population of the Scythians was now far too large to seriously consider cramped little Palestine as anything but a remote colony. Besides, the other purpose for their invasion (crushing Assyria) had been completed, so there was no pressing reason to stay in Mesopotamia. The Scythians apparently preferred hving contently with their flocks and herds in the wide-open spaces of South Russia to governing a fractious empire of competing, conquered nations. The voluntary Scythian withdrawal from conquered territory is evidence that the motives for their initial invasion did not include imperial expansionism. Indeed, Herodotus records that the Scythians had an "isolationist" attitude toward other nations. He recorded that the Scythians:

"...dreadfully avoid the use of foreign customs, and especially those of the Greeks...So careful are the Scythians to guard their own customs, and such are the penalties [Herodotus refers to the death penalty for pagan religious activity] that they impose on those who take to foreign customs over and above their own. "63

The voluntary withdrawal of the Scythians from a large conquered territory is consistent with the isolationism of the Scythians. They wanted to live in their own "wide open spaces," and did not want the burden of ruling over nations of foreigners with unwanted customs and lifestyles.

When the Scythians returned to the steppes, the Babylonians became the masters of Mesopotamia, and it is during this time that Jerusalem fell and the remainder of Judah went into captivity. The Medo-Persian Empire then replaced the Babylonians, and it was in their rule that King Cyrus allowed a contingent of Jews to return to Palestine under Ezra and Nehemiah. The Jews flourished under Persian rule, and occupied high positions of governmental authority. Daniel served as the king's Prime Minister under Darius (Daniel 6:1-3), Esther was a queen of Persia (Esther 2:15-18), Nehemiah was cupbearer to a Persian king (Nehemiah 2:1), and Mordechai was high in authority under a Persian king (Esther 9:3-4).

However, in the power vacuum created after the northern Scythians devastated Assyria, the eastern Scythians (descendants of Israelites taken captive by Assyria) were given an opportunity to migrate out of the region. Apparently, many did so, and migrated northward and eastward out of Mesopotamia. Tamara Rice comments on the incredible expansion of Scythian territory after they withdrew from Assyria and Palestine:

"The Scythians had ruled a large portion of western Asia for twenty-eight years. They were now back in this date...some turned eastward again, to occupy the tract of steppe lying between the Caspian and the Sea of Aral, blending there with Dahai kinsmen to form an ethnic group from which the Parthians were to spring some three hundred years   later.   Others   may   have   pushed   on   as   far   as India...whilst others remained in Armenia."64

The Persians launched a massive military expedition against the Scythians in the Black Sea area in an attempt to make them subjects of the Persian Empire. Herodotus claims that one motive for the Medo-Persian invasion of Scythia was to seek vengeance for the Scythian occupation of Media at the time the Scythians invaded Assyria.65

Needless to say, the Scythians had no desire to be conquered, and put up an effective defense. Their defense was so successful, in fact, that the Persians came close to losing their whole army. With an army of 700,000 men, King Darius passed through modern Turkey, crossed the Bosporus on a bridge of ships, and attacked the Scythian/ Israelite homeland north of the Black Sea by marching through modern Bulgaria and Romania.66 The year was approxi-mately 512 B.C. The Scythians drew the Persian army ever deeper into their homeland while harassing the Persians, but declining a pitched battle. As the Persians pursued the elusive Scythians, their supply lines became stretched and vulnerable. The Scythian custom of living in portable dwellings became invaluable to them as they remained ahead of the Persians. As they drew the Persians them, they adopted a "scorched earth" policy, ruining the and burning the vegetation.67

After much skirmishing, Herodotus records that the Scythians sent a herald to Darius with a mysterious gift of a bird, a mouse, a frog, and five arrows. The Persians were told to ascertain the meaning of the message themselves, and they eventually determined it to be: "If you do not become birds and fly away into the sky or become mice and burrow into the earth or become frogs and leap into the lakes, there will be no homecoming for you, for we will shoot you down with our arrows."68The Persians did not know that the Scythians had attempted to cut off the Persian line of retreat by persuading the Greeks to destroy a bridge of ships across the Ister (Danube) River which was in their care. It nearly worked, but the Greeks refused to destroy the bridge. The Persians then fled from Scythia in haste, abandoning the weak and the wounded as they fled. The Black Sea Scythians retained their independence, without having to fight a full-scale battle.

Besides the above invasion of the western Scythians by Darius, the Persians had also launched another major invasion against the eastern Scythians under Cyrus the Great. In approximately 530 B.C., King Cyrus of Persia had invaded the eastern Scythians who were then located east of the Caspian Sea.69 The Scythian tribes which were attacked were the Massagetae and the Dahae, with the Encyclopaedia Britannica noting that some accounts called the Dahae the Dana or Dahans.70 The names of these Scythian tribes indicate that they were descendants of the Israelite tribes of Manasseh and either Dan or Ephraimites from the clan of Tahanites (Numbers 26:35). The Massagetae were then ruled by a queen named Tomyris. Although the English form of her name has come to us via a Greek translation of her name, the Hebrew name Tamar appears to be the root word of the name "Tomyr-is." The name Tamar was twice used in the Bible for females in the royal family of King David (II Samuel 13:1 and 14:27). Herodotus noted that "The Massagetae wear the same kind of clothes as the Scythians and live much the same."71

This was a much bloodier war than the one which Darius fought against the Black Sea Scyths, and it resulted in the death of King Cyrus in approximately 528 B.C.72 Herodotus records that this Persian-Scythian war resulted from Persian aggression, writing that Cyrus "set his heart on subduing the Massagetae."73The Massagetae were living in peace at the time, and Cyrus launched a war of aggression on them to force them to be his subjects. When Persia's invasion was imminent, Queen Tomyris sent the following message to Cyrus: "King of the Medes, cease to be so eager to do what you are doing...rule over your own people, and endure to look upon us governing ours."74 It is noteworthy that the Scythians were willing to "live and let live," but Persia persisted in its aggression. After some initial fighting, Queen Tomyris of the Massagetae offered Cyrus a second chance to cease hostilities and go back to his own land, but warned that "If you do not so, I swear by the sun, the lord of the Massagetae, that, for all your insatiability of blood, I will give you your fill of it."75

As a digression, the above comment shows that the eastern Scyths were sun-worshippers. Those Israelites who had gone eastward into Assyrian captivity left Palestine while the Israelites were worshippers of Baal (the sun-god). When Assyria fell, they migrated into the region east of the Caspian Sea, but retained their sun-worship customs. This group of Scythians likely descended from the three and one-half tribes of Israel who went into captivity prior to the final Assyrian invasion of Palestine. That group included one-half of the tribe of Manasseh, and it would be fitting for the Manassehites (the "Massagetae) to be their leading tribe.

History tends to look upon the Persians as "civilized" and the Scythians as "fierce barbarians." Yet, here we see the Persians launching a war of unprovoked aggression, and the Scythians living in peace, minding their own business, and twice urging a peaceful solution upon the Persians as they fought in self-defense. Who were the real "barbarians?"

Cyrus persisted in his aggression, and Herodotus described the ensuing battle.

"Tomyris, since Cyrus would not listen to her, gathered all her host together and fought him. Of all the battles that were fought among the barbarians, I judge this to have been the severest, and indeed my information is that it is so. Long they remained fighting in close combat, and neither side would flee. But finally the Massagetae got the upper hand. The most of the Persian army died on the spot and, among them, Cyrus himself...Tomyris sought out his corpse among the Persian dead, and...she filled a skin with human blood and fixed his head in the skin, and, insulting over the dead, she said: T am alive and conqueror, but you have...robfbed] me of my son {Tomyris son died in the war]...Now...I will give you your fill of blood, even as I threatened.' There are many stories of the death of Cyrus, but this...seems to me the most convincing. "76

The invading Persian army was virtually "wiped out" as the Scythians defended their homeland. Persia's emperor, Cyrus, was not only killed, but had his corpse humiliated. We do not know the total casualties in this war, but they must have been immense. Persia ruled a vast area and could assemble armies of over a million men. The army which Xerxes assembled against the Greeks was 1,700,000 men, and the army of Darius against the Black Sea Scythians was 700,000 men.77 Since the expedition against the Massagetae was led by King Cyrus himself, one would expect his army to have numbered in the hundreds of thousands. Yet the Massagetae utterly crushed the Persian army. It is strange that modern history stresses the histories of the Assyrian and Persian Empires, but in the three great wars fought between their empires and the Scythians, the Scythians decisively won all three. History teaches much about the losers of these wars, but rarely mentions the victorious Scythians.

There is further evidence that the Massagetae were descended from the ten tribes of Israel. Like the Scythians in the Black Sea region, the Massagetae were also called "Sacae" or "Saccae,"78 indicating that they also bore the name of "Isaac."

Tamara Rice writes in The Scythians, that:

"all the mounted nomads of the Scythian age spoke the same Iranian tongue, whether they came from the Dniester or the banks of the Oxus, there seems reason to think that....the majority were linked by some sort of racial tie. A definite affinity is indeed suggested by the nature of their art, which shows well-nigh identical features over so wide an area."79 

The reference to the Scyths of the "Dniester" and the "Oxus" Rivers denotes both the Black Sea Scyths who defeated Darius, and the Scyths (Massagetae) who lived east of the Caspian Sea and slaughtered the army of Cyrus. Scythian numbers and influence became so widespread that evidence of their culture has been found from central and eastern Europe to Manchuria.80

The Scythians, therefore, were a group of racially-related tribes with a common language, a common attire, and a common lifestyle. Clearly, they shared a common heritage. As we have seen in this chapter, those Scythian tribes who bore the common name "Sacae" or "Saka" (i.e. those named after Isaac) had their common heritage in the old ten-tribed kingdom of Israel.

Virtually all historical accounts speculate that the Scythians originated in northern Asia and migrated southward to South Russia. However, the evidence strongly points to an opposite conclusion. Their linguistic traits (they all spoke "the same Iranian tongue") indicate that they originated in the Mesopotamian/Fertile Crescent region, and that they had migrated northward into South Russia. If they had originated in the dim recesses of northern Asia, their common language would be in the Mongolian family of languages, not the "Iranian" family of ancient languages. Also, their own artwork depicts the Sacae/Scythians as a bearded, Semitic race, further confirming their origin was in the Middle East. The only Semitic nation which "disappeared" from the Fertile Crescent just prior to the arrival of the Scythians in the Black Sea region were "the ten tribes of Israel." As soon as the ten tribes of Israel "disappeared" from their old territory, the Scythians (bearing the name of Isaac) "appeared" near the Black Sea and spread throughout the Russian steppes. The connection between the Israelites and Sacae/Scythians is not hard to understand.

Additionally, Greek historians noted that the Sacae/ Scythians were a civilized, cultured, just people. They killed their own royalty for possessing idols of the "mother-goddess" and refused to eat or sacrifice swine. (Both of these traits indicate a heritage which was based on the Hebrew Old Testament Law.) Their metallurgical skills, exquisite craftsmanship in gold artwork, and tastes for civilized possessions also argue for an origin in civilized Mesopotamia, not the illiterate and uncultured areas beyond the steppes. The fact that the Scythians were composed of tribal groupings of racially related people also supports their identification as Israelites. The Israelites were all racially related, but preserved distinct tribal identities throughout their history. These tribal identities were so strong that even their enemies noted the tribal differences. For example, the Assyrian annals specifically identifies "Naphtali" as one of the Israelite tribes taken into captivity by the Assyrians.81

Although the Scythian tribes were racially related, they were by no means a united "empire." Tribal loyalties were paramount, and Scythian tribes even fought among themselves at times as they jostled each other for living space. Intertribal warfare was typical of the Israelite tribes. From the Bible's accounts, we know that Judah (the tribes of Judah and Benjamin) and Israel (the ten tribes) frequently fought very bloody wars. The tribe of Benjamin was almost wiped out in a civil war it fought with the other tribes in the pre-dynastic period (Judges 20-21). The tribe of Ephraim also fought a losing war against the tribes of Manasseh, Gad and Reuben (Judges 12:1-6). Ephraim and Manasseh were brother tribes, yet even they could come to blows. The fact that the Scythians put tribal loyalties above their common racial relationship was consistent with their Israelite history.

While the twelve Israelite tribes were all fathered by Jacob, they originated from four different mothers. As the twelve sons of Jacob took wives, the tribes became even more diverse. For example, Joseph married an Egyptian (Genesis 41:50-52), making Ephraim and Manasseh half-Egyptian. On the other hand, Judah married a Canaanite woman (Genesis 38). We do not know the ethnic background of all the wives of Jacob's sons, but as they married wives of different backgrounds, their bloodlines and progeny became even more divergent. As a result, the tribes did not all look and act alike. Indeed, some tribes did not get along well with certain other tribes. Their natural state was too subdivide into tribal units; being united was the exception, not the rule in their history. Their times of unity were only made possible by divine action working through strong personalities (Moses, Joshua, or Kings David and Solomon).

This chapter began with a quote from the Jewish historian, Josephus, who recorded that the descendants of the ten tribes of Israel were exceedingly numerous and living in Asia during his lifetime. This fact was likely known to many educated Jews of his time. One contemporary of Josephus was the Apostle Paul, who was a highly educated Jew. Paul was a member of the Pharisees, a Jewish sect (Acts 26:5), and a student of Gamaliel, a venerated Jewish teacher (Acts 22:3). Did Paul know the Scythians were members of the ten tribes of Israel? A careful reading of Colossians 3:11 indicates the answer is "yes." Paul wrote:

"Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian [nor] Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all and in all."

Paul here draws four sets of dichotomies to illustrate that all are free to become Christians, regardless of one's lineage or personal condition. "Greek nor Jew" is easy to understand, but consider the dichotomy between "Barbarian" and "Scythian." The Greek word translated "barbarian" means "foreigner" or "alien."82 Paul grew up in Tarsus in Asia Minor and was likely more familiar with the Black Sea Scythians than the Jews from Judea. Paul had to battle the xenophobia of the Judean Christian Jews who did not want to have personal dealings with gentiles (i.e. "foreigners" or "aliens"). In Acts 10, it took divine action to induce the Apostle Peter and other Jews to even interact with gentiles. In Galatians 2:11-13, Paul had to oppose Peter's tendency to "backslide" into avoiding Gentiles. Therefore, in Colossians 3:11, Paul was drawing a dichotomy between "foreigners" and "Scythians." How did the Scythians differ from "foreigners" in Paul's mind? The obvious answer is that the Scythians were not racial "foreigners" from the Jews because they were fellow Israelites from the ten tribes of Israel.

The Greek word used by Paul for "Scythians" is significant. A concordance will confirm that the Greek word translated "Scythian" begins with the Greek character for "S" with the next consonant being a "k."83 In other words, Paul referenced the Scythians with a word beginning with "S-k," the consonants of the root word for "Saka," which designated the seed of Isaac. Paul was a brilliant Hebrew scholar, and surely knew about the promise of Genesis 21:12 that Israel's seed would be known by the name of "Isaac." It is doubtful that Paul would have referred to the Scythians by such a name unless he knew they were, indeed, the seed of Isaac.

Paul also wrote in II Timothy 1:11 that his primary mission was to be "a teacher of the gentiles [non-Israelites]." Given Paul's avowed mission to evangelize gentiles, it is significant that he never went to Scythian territory. Apparently, Paul did not go to Scythia because he knew that the Scythians were not gentiles!

The various Scythian tribes lived for centuries in the Russian steppes. However, the eastern Scythians were eventually pushed into (and absorbed by) the Parthian Empire. The Parthians were also Sacae Scythians, and their empire will be discussed in the next two chapters. The Black Sea Scythians remained in their area for a longer period of time, but history records that they eventually "vanished." As we shall see in chapter ten, they did not "vanish." They were simply known by new names as they migrated elsewhere.

This concludes our chapter on the Scythians and their Israelite heritage. Given the substantial role and power of the Scythians in the ancient world, modern ignorance about them is remarkable. The Scythian invasion and defeat of the Assyrian Empire was one of the major events of the ancient world. The Scythians also crushed the Persian Empire in two major wars. Indeed, they wiped out an entire Persian army and killed the famous Persian emperor, Cyrus the Great. At one time, Scythians inhabited territory from Eastern Europe to China. With such an impressive history, it is remarkable that modern texts on ancient history contain little or nothing about them. In contrast, the ancient Greek historian, Herodotus, regarded the Scythians as being one of the more important nations of the ancient world.

If Scythia were to receive coverage commensurate with its role in history, it would be very hard to miss its its origins in the ten tribes of Israel, which begs the question: Why have history texts ignored the Scythians to such a degree?

Scythian history has probably been ignored because mankind, in general, does not want to be reminded of the reality of God's preeminent and ongoing role in human history. The Apostle Paul observed that man's natural state of mind is one of "enmity" against God (Romans 8:7), and that mankind frequently does "not like to retain God in their knowledge" (Romans 1:28). If historical texts included all the knowledge contained in this chapter, they would have to acknowledge that God did keep his promise to vastly multiply the Israelites' population (verifying Bible prophecy), and that the ten tribes of Israel remained a major power in world events even after their migration out of Palestine. So, history texts are more comfortable in deemphasizing all nations and empires of Israelite origin, often labelling them as "barbarians."

As we have seen, the Carthaginians and "Sacae" Scythians were both descended from the ten tribes of Israel. However, their Israelite origins and their major roles in ancient history are widely downplayed. However, this book has not yet examined the greatest ancient empire ruled by descendants of the ten tribes of Israel. That empire was Parthia! In fact, Parthia and Rome were two of the largest and most powerful empires that ever existed on the earth. Since they were concurrent empires, they became rivals in an ancient "superpower" struggle which lasted for centuries. The fascinating history of the Parthians, and their great rivalry with the Roman Empire will be discussed in the next two chapters.