Captivities of the Jews
Captivities of the Jews. The present article is confined to the forcible deportation of the Jews from their native land, and their forcible detention, under the Assyrian or Babylonian kings.
Captivities of Israel.—The kingdom of Israel was invaded by three or four successive kings of Assyria. Pul or Sardanapalus, according to Rawlinson, imposed a tribute (b.c. 771 or 762, Rawl.) upon Menahem. 2 Kings 15:19 and 1 Chron. 5:26. Tiglath-pileser carried away (b.c. 740) the trans-Jordanic tribes, 1 Chron. 5:26, and the inhabitants of Galilee, 2 Kings 15:29, comp. Isa. 9:1, to Assyria. Shalmaneser twice invaded, 2 Kings 17:3, 5, the kingdom which remained to Hoshea, took Samaria (b.c. 721) after a siege of three years, and carried Israel away into Assyria. This was the end of the kingdom of the ten tribes of Israel.
Captivities of Judah.—Sennacherib (b.c. 713) is stated to have carried into Assyria 200,000 captives from the Jewish cities which he took. 2 Kings 18:13. Nebuchadnezzar, in the first half of his reign (b.c. 606–562), repeatedly invaded Judea, besieged Jerusalem, carried away the inhabitants to Babylon, and destroyed the temple. The 70 years of captivity predicted by Jeremiah, Jer. 25:12, are dated by Prideaux from b.c. 606. The captivity of Ezekiel dates from b.c. 598, when that prophet, like Mordecai the uncle of Esther, Esther 2:6, accompanied Jehoiachin. The captives were treated not as slaves but as colonists. The Babylonian captivity was brought to a close by the decree, Ezra 1:2, of Cyrus (b.c. 536), and the return of a portion of the nation under Sheshbazzar or Zerubbabel (b.c. 535), Ezra (b.c. 458) and Nehemiah (b.c. 445). Those who were left in Assyria, Esther 8:9, 11, and kept up their national distinctions, were known as The Dispersion. John 7:35; 1 Pet. 1:1; James 1:1.
The lost tribes.—Many attempts have been made to discover the ten tribes existing as a distinct community; but though history bears no witness of their present distinct existence, it enables us to track the footsteps of the departing race in four directions after the time of the Captivity.
1. Some returned and mixed with the Jews. Luke 2:36; Philip. 3:5, etc. 2. Some were left in Samaria, mingled with the Samaritans, Ezra 6:21; John 4:12, and became bitter enemies of the Jews. 3. Many remained in Assyria, and were recognized as an integral part of the Dispersion; see Acts 2:9; 26:7. 4. Most, probably, apostatized in Assyria, adopted the usages and idolatry of the nations among whom they were planted, and became wholly swallowed up in them.