“Yet the passive courage inspired by the love of gain, induced the Jews to dare the various evils to which they were subjected, in consideration of the immense profits which they were enabled to realize in a country naturally so wealthy as England. In spite of every kind of discouragement, and even the special court of taxations already mentioned, called the Jews’ Exchequer, erected for the very purpose of despoiling and distressing them, the Jews increased, multiplied, and accumulated huge sums, which they transferred from one hand to another by means of bills of exchange – an invention for which commerce is said to be indebted to them, and which enabled them to transfer their wealth from land to land, that when threatened with oppression in one country, their treasure might be secured in another.” (from the book Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott).
The Jews have been noted for three characteristics down through the ages: religious fervor, wealth, and conflict. The first time the word Jew is mentioned in the authorized version of the Bible is in 2 Kings 18:26: “Then said Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and Shebna, and Joah, unto Rabshakeh, Speak, I pray thee, to thy servants in the Syrian language; for we understand it: and talk not with us in the Jews’ language in the ears of the people that are on the wall.” The word referred to the people of the Kingdom of Judah, not the Kingdom of Israel. The Kingdom of Judah was destroyed by the Babylonians in two invasions of 604 B.C. and 586 B.C.
Babylon was eventually conquered by the Persians, and in 536 B.C. the Persian king Cyrus sent a Jewish leader named Zerubbabel to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. (Ezra 1:1-4, 2:1-2). In 457 B.C. the Persian king Artaxerxes commissioned Ezra the priest to establish Jewish law under Jewish magistrates and judges. (Ezra 7: 20-26). He was assisted by Nehemiah and the walls of the city were rebuilt and the Judah nation fully re-established with Nehemiah as their Jewish governor. Almost all of the Jews were from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin and the priesthood was from the tribe of Levi. There were only smatterings of people from other tribes. “Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered themselves together unto Jerusalem within three days.” Ezra 10:9. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah do not even mention the other tribes.
Jews within Babylon were involved in conflict with their enemies within the Persian Empire and were delivered by Queen Esther, of Jewish descent, who petitioned the Persian king. “And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king’s commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them.” Esther 8:17. This is the first record in the Bible of non-Israelites becoming Jews.
The Jewish nation continued in turmoil and conflict as the Greeks conquered the Persians and persecuted the Jews until around 140 B.C., when the Jews liberated their nation under the leadership of Judas Maccabeus, who was their high priest and military leader. Later, John Hyrcanus, son of Judas’ brother Simon, became high priest and governor. The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, in his book Antiquities of the Jews, recorded his military exploits: “Hyrcanus took also Dora and Marissa, cities of Idumea, and subdued all the Idumeans; and permitted them to stay in that country, if they would circumcise their genitals, and make use of the laws of the Jews, They were so desirous of living in the country of their forefathers, that they submitted to the use of circumcision, and of the rest of the Jewish ways of living; at which time therefore this befell them, that they were hereafter no other than Jews.” Book 13, Chapter 9:1. This is the first record of a whole nation of non-Israelites becoming Jews. The Idumeans were descended from Esau, brother of Jacob. Flavius Josephus stated that John Hyrcanus was influenced by the Pharisees. We know they valued non-Israelite converts to Judaism. Jesus said to them, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.” Matthew 23:15. By the time of Christ, the Galileans were ruled by Herod, an Idumean Jew.
Another possible mass conversion of people to Judaism involved the Khazars. According to Encyclopedia Brittanica, they maintained an empire which stretched “along the northern shore of the Black Sea from the lower Volga and the Caspian Sea in the east to the Dnieper River in the west.”…“Trade and the collection of tribute were major sources of income. But the most striking characteristic of the Khazars was the apparent adoption of Judaism by the khagan and the greater part of the ruling class in about 740. The circumstances of the conversion remain obscure, the depth of their adoption of Judaism difficult to assess; but the fact itself is undisputed and unparalleled in central Eurasian history.” The khagan was the chief ruler of the empire. The numbers of converts to Judaism in the Khazar Empire is unknown, but it could mean that many Jews today are of non-Israelite Slavic origin.
The question of, “Who are the Jews?” is not easy to answer. They are not all of one ethnic group. Some of them are descended from Israelites. Others are descended from Persians, Idumeans, Khazars, and the many ethnicities in the Roman Empire. The best answer to “Who are the Jews?” is that they are descendants of people who practiced Judaism. Anyone could become a Jew, even in the time of the Persian Empire. It is the same today, and many movie stars have become Jews. Evangelical Christians are wrong when they say all Jews are Israelites. Also, the Jews that are Israelites are almost all from three tribes: Judah, Benjamin, and Levi. The lost tribes of Israelites never joined with them. Even the Jewish Talmud says that. “To where did he exile the ten tribes of Israel? According to Mar Sutra to Africa, and according to Rabbi Hanina to the mountains of Slug.” Babylonian Talmud, Book 8, Chapter 11.
We, in the Israel Truth movement, proclaim that the Anglo-Saxon and kindred people are the descendants of the lost tribes of Israel and fulfill the prophecies of the Bible concerning Israel. We believe our ancestors crossed the Caucasus Mountains and made their way across Northern Europe to settle in Northwestern Europe and the British Isles. We await the return of our king, Jesus the Christ, to rule over all of Israel and establish a Christian world empire to bring a thousand years of peace to this troubled planet.
All dates in this article regarding the period of Babylonian and Persian captivities were taken from the book The Other End Of the World by Roger Rusk, Plano, Texas, Le Book Company, Inc., 1988.