In the time of David, God made a promise to His people Israel. He said, “. . . I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them . . .” 2 Samuel 7:10 Then many years later God gave further clarification to this promise by saying that the prophet Jeremiah would be instrumental in bringing this planting of His people Israel to pass.
God told Jeremiah, “See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.” Jeremiah 1:10 God said, “. . . like as I have watched over them, to pluck up, and to break down, and to throwdown, and to destroy, and to afflict; so will I watch over them, to build, and to plant . . .” Jeremiah 31:28
Not only that, God indicated that, in the place of their planting, He would make a new covenant (viz. new testament) with His people, and they would become a Christian people. “Behold . . . I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah … I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest . . .” v. 31-34
The Israelites were already in Palestine when this promise was made, so this indicates that the place where the Lord would plant His people Israel was a place other than Palestine. A second “Promised Land” if you will. But where was this place? And how would Israel get to that place from their home in Palestine? And what would cause them to move in the first place?
In the 8th Century before Christ, God began to chastise His beloved people for their awful disobedience in serving other gods — first with the Assyrian Captivity of Israel, and later with the Babylonian Captivity of Judah.
The Assyrian Captivity, which is what we will deal with here, came in waves beginning around 771 BC, coming to a climax with the siege of Samaria, 723-721 BC. Samaria was the capital of the kingdom of Israel. In 721 BC, Israel was taken captive into the land of Assyria by Shalmaneser. “And it came to pass in the fourth year of King Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of Hoshea son of Elah, king of Israel, that Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria, and besieged it. And at the end of three years, they took it: even in the sixth year of Hezekiah, that is the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel, Samaria was taken. And the king of Assyria did carry away Israel unto Assyria, and put them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes: because they obeyed not the Voice of the LORD their God, but transgressed His covenant, and all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded, and would not hear them, nor do them.” 2 Kings 18:9-12
Thus, the ten tribes were moved from their own land into Assyria because of their disobedience toward God, and the Assyrians used them as a buffer around their kingdom against any outside attacks. God had begun the moving of His people.
But they did not stay in Assyria. After their captivity, the Israelites left Assyria. They could not go back to their own land, however, because when the King of Assyria took Israel away captive, he filled the area where the Israelites had dwelt with the heathen. “And the King of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof.” 2 Kings 17:24
So where did the Israelites go?
Scholars are variously divided on this question. There is such controversy over this issue, that the people of this Assyrian Captivity — which was all of the House and Kingdom of Israel, and a great portion of the House and Kingdom of Judah — are called the “Lost Tribes of Israel”. These so called “lost tribes” are believed by many to be gone forever, having become amalgamated together with the people of Assyria, and mongrelized. But I do not believe this to be the case.
After the death of Solomon Israel was divided into two kingdoms, known as the kingdom of Israel and the kingdom of Judah. 1 Kings 11:31-35 The LORD had said of the northern house of Israel … “Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth; because of this, many believe the northern house of Israel ceased to exist. But they do not read the rest of the passage, for it continues … “. . . saving that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith the Lord. For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth.” Amos 9:8-9 So, the northern kingdom of Israel would be destroyed, but the people would remain, and not one of them would be lost. “I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hid from me…” Hosea 5:3 “. . . the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days.” Hosea 3:4-5
This passage is speaking of the northern tribes of Israel, who had rebelled and broke away from David’s harsh grandson Rehoboam to form their own kingdom, which kingdom God wiped out. Yet, it is saying that they would at some point and once again be subject unto the Crown.
The so-called “lost” tribes of Israel were never lost. They never could have been. There are numerous prophecies, many of which are yet to be fulfilled, which include each of the twelve tribes. What about these prophecies? If these people are truly “lost” forever, how could these prophecies ever be fulfilled? The veracity of God’s Holy Word demands that these tribes exist. The book of James, written eight centuries after the Assyrian captivity, is addressed “to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad.” So, they have got to be out there somewhere.
Josephus, writing in the first century AD, knew where his kindred were. He wrote: “…there are but two tribes in Asia and Europe subject to the Romans, while the ten tribes are beyond the Euphrates till now, and are an immense multitude, and not to be estimated by numbers.” — Antiquities Bk. xi, ch. v, 2
So, they have still got to be out there somewhere, according to this, west of Palestine! And they have got to be a great people! The prophet Ezra writes more specifically: “And whereas thou sawest that he gathered another peaceable multitude unto him; Those are the ten tribes, which were carried away prisoners out of their own land in the time of Osea the king, whom Salmanasar the king of Assyria led away captive, and he carried them over the waters, and so came they into another land. But they took this counsel among themselves, that they would leave the multitude of the heathen, and go forth into a further country, where never mankind dwelt, that they might there keep their statutes, which they never kept in their own land. And they entered into Euphrates by the narrow places of the river.” 2 Esdras 13:39-45
The area referred to is near the headwaters of the Euphrates, in the Caucasian Mountains, between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. That area has a ravine called the Darial Gorge, which in some early writings is called the pass of Israel. The fascinating thing is that according to classical history, this was the point of origin of the Kimmerians, or Cimmerians; and the area referred to as Arsareth is the same area where the Scythians emerge on the scene of history.
Who were these Cimmerians and Scythians?
There stands in the British Museum an Assyrian monument called the Black Obelisk, which the writer has examined. This monument refers to the Assyrian captivity of Israel, but does not call the Israelites “Israelites,” but rather, “Bît Khumri”, meaning “House of Omri.” (*) Among the many variations of this name, Khumri, we find Kimmerians, Kymry, Gimmiri. The Kimmerians, or Cimmerians, were also called Sakai. But these same Sakai are also called Scythians. This fact is established by the best-known inscriptions which have furnished the key to Assyriology. (†)
So, we see that the vast majority of Israel, became known as the Cimmerians, Scythians, Kymry,
Gimmiri, Sakai, etc. These peoples were all the same racial people — Israelites — but were known by different historians at different periods by different names. Archeology and anthropology confirm this. These people went northward and westward and later in history became known as the Celts, Vikings, Angles, Normans and Saxons.
§ According to Young, the term “Asia” was anciently used to designate the northwest peninsula of the Asiatic continent (i.e. Asia Minor). * Omri was the king of Israel who established Samaria as the capital of Israel (1 Kings 16:23,24). Omri made an impression on history outside of Israel. Not only did the Moabites remember his name; but after his death and the annihilation of his family the Assyrians for a time still attached his name, which they wrote Humri [Khumri], to the reigning monarch and land of Israel. — A DICTIONARY OF THE BIBLE by John D. Davis, Ph.D., D.D., LL.D. 4th edition, 1940, p.556 † POST-CAPTIVITY NAMES OF ISRAEL by Rev. Wm. Pascoe Goard, LL.D., F.R.G.S., F.R.E.S., p.12, 1934