THE WORLD TODAY SERIES #34

A Summary of Israel’s Captivities and Dispersions

Moses foretold in Deuteronomy 28 two separate instances where Israel would be removed from her land as punishment for willful, prolonged disobedience to God’s commandments, particularly for turning away from Abraham’s God to the false gods of other nations. The first instance is highlighted in two parts: Deuteronomy 28:32-34 and Deuteronomy 28:36.

According to Deuteronomy 28:32-34,

“Thy sons and thy daughters shall be given unto another people, and thine eyes shall look, and fail with longing for them all the day long: and there shall be no might in thy hand. The fruit of thy land, and all thy labours, shall a nation which thou knowest not eat up; and thou shalt be only oppressed and crushed alway: so that thou shalt be mad for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see.”

Quoting next from Deuteronomy 28:36,

“The Lord shall bring thee, and thy king which thou shalt set over thee, unto a nation which neither thou nor thy fathers have known; and there shalt thou serve other gods, wood and stone.”

The second instance, which is highlighted in Deuteronomy 28:64-67, is more severe and lengthy, wherein the Jews are to be scattered among all the nations of the earth:

“And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth, even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone. And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the Lord shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind: and thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life: in the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! And at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning! For the fear of thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see.”
The prophecies do not end here. In Deuteronomy Chapter 30, God shows His mercy toward Israel with the promise that they will not remain scattered among the nations. Instead, they eventually will be regathered and returned to their land.

The first instance of Israel’s removal from her land is in two parts because following the reign of Solomon around 950 B.C., Israel broke up into two separate kingdoms (1 Kings 12) wherein Israel (later called Samaria) consisted of the northern ten tribes and Judah consisted of southern two tribes of Judah and Benjamin. Each of these kingdoms suffered defeat at separate times. The northern kingdom of Samaria was overthrown by the Assyrians under Shalmaneser around 730 B.C. (2 Kings 17 and 18). A few years later Shalmaneser’s son Sennacherib attempted to besiege Judah also (2 Kings 18-20) but his troops were wiped out by an odd natural catastrophe; Sennacherib’s attempt simply didn’t conform to the Lord’s timing. Judah would still be subject to the reign of good kings among the bad who would remain somewhat loyal to Abraham’s God. The kingdom of Judah was later taken captive by Nebudchadnezzar around 605 B.C., a little more than a hundred years after the fall of Samaria. The Books of 1 and 2 Kings are replete with the sordid details of this first falling away from God of Samaria and Judah following the reigns of David and his son Solomon.

As foretold by the prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 25:12, the captivity of Judah lasted for seventy years until 535 B.C. Samaria didn’t fare so well, as the people of the northern kingdom were forced to intermarry, thus diluting and confusing their Hebrew bloodline. It was for that reason that, at the time of Jesus, the Jews looked down upon the Samaritans, having little to do with them. Most interestingly, the tribe of Judah was not subjected to this forced intermarriage, thus preserving the bloodline to Jesus.

Another interesting side issue is the nature of the blast that killed 185,000 of Sennacherib’s troops during his attempt to besiege Jerusalem. At the time of the blast the sun moved about ten degrees, indicating a planetwide catastrophe so enormous as to alter the rotation of the earth. Immanuel Velikovsky (Worlds in Collision, 1950 and Earth in Upheaval, 1955) and others have surmised that the cause of this disaster was a near collision of the earth with a planet-sized mass, probably Mars. He thought that it was this same event that evoked Homer’s Iliad (an eyewitness account rather than myth) and reinforced the gentile practice of associating planets with gods. Recently-acquired data regarding the devastation of Mars, as well as the discovery in the Antarctic continent of meteorite ALH84001 that originated in Mars, the juvenile Argon-36 in the Martian atmosphere, and the synchronous kinematic features among Earth and Mars tend to support this hypothesis.

Two important events accompanied the end of the first captivity of the Israelites. The first of these was the proclamation of Cyrus, king of Persia around 535 B.C. under which a number of Israelites under Ezra were permitted to return to Jerusalem for the purpose of rebuilding the temple there. This event is recorded in the Book of Ezra.

Another interesting side point is that the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 44:28, 45:1) over 150 years earlier had called Cyrus by name as God’s servant in association with the rebuilding of the temple.

The second event associated with the end of the Israelites’ captivity was the decree by the Persian King Artaxerxes Longimanus allowing the Israelites under Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the city itself. This decree was issued in 445 B.C. and is the same decree predicted by the Prophet Daniel (Daniel 9:25) that was to initiate the countdown to the coming of Messiah after 69 weeks of (prophetic) years. Jesus made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem 173,880 days later, 69 weeks from the decree to the very day.

The second instance of the removal of Israel from her land occurred was also foretold by Jesus in Matthew 24:2 and occurred in 70 A.D., about 37 years after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. The destruction was led by the Roman General Titus, but was accomplished with the use of soldiers recruited locally, which were presumably of Arab stock. The event indeed left not one stone upon another because of the soldiers’ furious scramble for the gold, melted by the burning of the temple and which spilled into the cracks between the stones.

This time the dispersion of the Jews, called the Great Diaspora, was worldwide. But it, too, ended as foretold by Ezekiel (Ezekiel 36 and 37) as well as Moses (Deuteronomy 30) some eighteen centuries later with the creation of the state of Israel in May 15, 1948.

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