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TIME AND COMPLETENESS OF ISRAEL'S CAPTIVITY.
separated from his brethren." Their cities, it seems, are to be spread abroad; they are to be such an innumerable multitude, that, although the land of Israel will be their common centre, they will, at the same time, be possessors of sea and land, unto the ends of the earth. But then, indeed, Israel and Judah shall have become one. They shall be one nation, upon the mountains of Israel, for ever.
The Time having come for the removal of Israel into their place of hiding; or, rather, their destined position, as the administrators of blessing to the nations whom the Lord intended to bring into his inheritance, he prepared fit instruments for the purpose: who seem to have spared no labour or cost, so as that the work should be fully accomplished. The first grand instrument, was the king of Assyria, the rod of the Lord's anger for the correction of Israel. In 2 Kings, xv. 29, we read that, “ In the days of Pekah, king of Israel, came Tiglath-pileser, king of Assyria, and took Ijon, and Abel-bethmaachah, and Janoah, and Kedesh, and Hazor, and Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali, and carried them captive to Assyria." Assyria lies northward of the Holy Land, and approaching the Caspian and Euxine seas. This captivity of the most northeast portion of Israel, is supposed to have happened before the Christian era, about seven hundred and forty years; which is just about the time that had elapsed since their having been brought out of Egypt. This first captivity is adverted to, also, in 1 Chron. v. 26. After having remarked that Israel had transgressed against the God of their fathers; and gone a whoring after the gods of the people of the land, whom God destroyed from before them, it is said, “ And the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul, king of Assyria, and the spirit of Tiglath-pileser, king of Assyria, and he carried them away, even the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh, and brought them unto Halah, and Habor, and Hara, and to the river. Gozan, unto this day."
About nineteen years after this partial captivity, another and a more complete removal of Israel took place; with regard to which, it is said, (2 Kings, xvii. 6,)“ In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria took Samaria," (the capital of the kingdom of Israel,) " and carried Israel away captive into Assyria, and placed them in Halah, and in Habor, by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes." This second captivity is said to have occurred about the year before Christ seven hundred and twenty; that is, about one hundred and twenty years before the captivity of Judah, under Nebuchadnezzar. We are now past the middle of the third thousand years since the political death of that house, which is so frequently called, in Scripture, All Israel. And, as one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day: and, as the Lord condescended to fulfil, in Himself, many things which are accomplished in his people, He, on the third day, arose from the dead, to ascend into glory: so is Israel given to say, as in Hosea, vi. 2, 3:
“ After two days will he revive us;
We follow on to know the Lord :
ing; And he shall come unto us as the rain, As the latter and former rain unto the
So much as to the Time of the captivity; and now, as to the Completeness thereof. It has been objected, that the difficulty of transporting such a multitude of people to any great distance, was so great, as to make it altogether improbable that anything like the whole nation was carried away, as described. It may perhaps be said that it was only the more useful and noble part of the inhabitants that were taken: the common people being left to cultivate the land. This hypothesis, however, is not borne out, either by the language of Scripture or the facts of the case. With regard to the cap
CONTINUANCE AND PLACE OF CAPTIVITY.
tivity of Judah, indeed, which was long after, it is expressly mentioned, that the baser of the people were left: and this may have been to obviate the very evils which had been incurred in the case of Israel's captivity,—which was so complete, that the wild beasts multiplied in the land, and greatly annoyed the new Gentile inhabitants : so much so, that they felt obliged to propitiate, as they thought, the God of the land, by uniting the worship of the God of Israel with that of their other gods; and for this purpose, they were under the necessity of sending to the king of Assyria for an Israelitish priest. No such supply of new inhabitants, and no such multiplying of wild beasts, do we read of, in the case of Judah; and yet we know, that Judah's captivity was very great. Let us also consider, that when the captivity of Israel is mentioned, it is uniformly spoken of as being national, and not merely in part. Before the captivity took place, Amos (vii. 17,) declared, “ Israel shall surely go into captivity, forth of his land." And, immediately before it took place, Isaiah (chapter vii) very graphically describes the desolation of the land which would en
And in 2 Kings, xvii. 23, it is thus described : “ The Lord removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said, by all his servants, the prophets: so was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria, unto this day."
Thus complete was the captivity. Now let us inquire as to its Continuance. Were the children of Israel ever restored to their own land, as was the house of Judah, after the Babylonian captivity? In the hook of Kings, which brings down the history of the Jews to the year before Christ five hundred and sixty-two, (about one hundred and sixty years after the captivity; and long after the breaking up of the Assyrian empire,) it is expressly said, as we have just seen, that the captivity of Israel had not then been restored. And upon the release of Judah from their seventy years' captivity in Babylon, we have no evidence whatever that Israel returned with the
Jews; except, indeed, as to some of those from the ten tribes, who had previously united with the Jews, and who were reckoned as belonging to the kingdom of Judah. The two houses had otherwise become greatly alienated. After the return of the Jews, to build Jerusalem, Samaria still remained in the possession of the Gentiles; and, so tar from there being an interchange of favours, as was foretold would be the case upon the return of Israel to their own mountain of Samaria, (see Jer. xxxi.) we find that, instead, the Jews were cursing the Samaritans, and would have no dealings with them. Galilee, northward of Samaria, came afterwards into union with Judah; but, not as being peopled by returning Israel. It was only a Jewish colony, having Gentiles intermingled with them. It is the conviction of the Jews themselves, that they have never yet been joined to the ten tribes; which denial they have little temptation to make, seeing that their prospect of a happy settlement, in their own land, can never be realized, until they are fully reunited unto Ephraim, the first-born. The Jews may, from their own Scriptures, most clearly know, that without Ephraim they cannot be blessed :
—even as clearly, as that, when the two nations are made one;—when God hath " accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people," their troubles shall be ended, and Messiah's glorious kingdom be established in the earth.
And now, as to the Places to which Israel were carried: by tracing out which, we may the more certainly discover the route which they afterwards took; and he led towards their present abode; to the places in which they were so to take root, and flourish, and bring forth the multitude of nations afterwards to be united into one. Assyria, and Media, are among the places we can most easily identify. Assyria lay north-east of the Holy Land; and Media still further, in the same direction. In the maps, Media is usually made to include the southern border of the Caspian, as far west as the
ROOM PREPARED FOR OUTCAST ISRAEL.
Araxes. This north-western portion of Media seems, however, to have been somewhat independent of Media Proper. It was, perhaps, rather claimed by the Medes, than actually at all times possessed. It was the less likely to be so, if this were the quarter to which Ephraim was carried captive; or of which he took possession upon being brought forth into the north country. Without any apparent regard to our present view, it is to this neighbourhood that the Saxons have been traced, by one of the most eminent of our historians. The river running into the Caspian, south-east of the Araxes, is now called Kuzal Ozan, and may possibly be the Gozan, mentioned as that on the banks of which some of Israel were located. The empire of Assyria is supposed to have reached down into Asia Minor. It is likely enough, that some portions of captive Israel were sent in this direction, and materially assisted in giving birth to some of those important states that here, afterwards, arose, and sent forth numerous colonies westward. The fountain which supplied these, it is not extravagant to suppose, was Israel, whose seed was to be in many waters; -see Num. xxiv. 7.
It is remarkable, that almost immediately upon Israel's transmission into the northern possessions of Assyria, those countries, and especially Media, revolted from under the Assyrians; and seem to have lived, for some time, as Israel had so long lived, every man doing that which was right in his own eyes : they having only Judges, of popular election, without any powerful executive. For this, of course, the other people were not even so well prepared as Israel were. Great disorder, accordingly, prevailed; and many of Israel, it is probable, took the opportunity of effecting their escape, to some more remote abode of their own choosing. And room, at this very time, was made for them, farther north, by an immense migration from thence, which now came pouring into Asia; and, for a number of years, held great part of these countries in subjection:
arresting any arm that would have been stretched out after Israel, in their progress more northward. Those that remained, would, doubtless, greatly invigorate the Median commonwealth; which, having, like the Israelites in the time of the Judges, found that kind of government insufficient for personal security, made choice of a king, one Deioces, to whom they allowed a powerful executive. The Medes forthwith arose into great power; and extended their dominion, by the conquest of some neighbouring states, such as Persia,—on which side, afterwards, the empire chiefly raised up itself, and ultimately grasped, in a manner, the world. It was the instrument, under Cyrus, of letting captive Judah return from Babylon. And intimately must Judah have become connected with the south-eastern portion of this empire, as well as Israel, with its north-western, when we find a Jewess, Esther, as their queen; and Jews, such as Daniel and Mordecai, in the first offices of state.
Although the Assyrian had laboured so diligently in the removal of Israel from his own land into the north country, his purpose was very much opposed to that of the God of Israel: He thought to interweave the several parts of his empire so together, as to make them more entirely one. Thus proudly did he boast ; (Is. x. 13, 14):
"By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I am prudent. And I have removed the bounds of the people, and have robbed their treasures, and I have put down the inhabit. ants, like a valiant one, and my hand hath found, as a nest, the riches of the people. And as one gathereth eggs left, have I gathered all the earth : and there was none that moved the wing; or opened the mouth, or peeped."
But, thus did the Lord answer, (verses 15—23):“Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth there with ?—Shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? As if the rod should shake against them that lift it up ;—as if the staff should lift up, as if it were no wood. Therefore shall
FAVOUR OF GOD FOR THE LOST HOUSE OF ISRAEL.
the Lord, the Lord of Hosts, send among his fat ones leanness, and under his glory he shall kindle a burning, like the burning of a fire, and the light of Israel shall be for a lire, and his Holy One for a flame; and it shall burn and devour his thorns and his briers in one day; and shall consume the glory of his forest, and of his fruitful field, both soul and body: and they shall be as when a standard-bearer fainteth, and the rest of the trees of his forest shall be few, that a child may write them. And it shall come to pass in that day,—the remnant of Israel, and such as are Escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them, but shall stay upon the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. The remnant shall return, the remnant of Jacob, unto the Mighty God; for though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant of them shall return : the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness,
for the Lord God of Hosts shall make a consumption, even that determined, in the midst of the land.”
Lord doing even better for them than at their beginnings. The restoration of even the Jews, from Babylon, was only partial ; and, as it were, but a pleo of what is hereafter to take place, with regard to both Judah and Israel. The great body of the people seem to have remained in the land of the enemy. It certainly could not be of that time that the Lord hath said, as in Ezekiel, (xxxix. 28, 29):“I have gathered them unto their own land, And have left none of them any niore there, Neither will I hide my face any more from
them : For I have poured out my Spirit upon the
house of Israel, Saith the Lord God."
We should never forget that the house of Israel, which was taken away captive, or otherwise dispersed, by the Assyrian, was that which is called the whole house of Israel, or All Israel; and this, both in the historical and prophetical parts of Scripture,—both at the time they separated from Judah, and also after they had been taken captive by the Assyrian into the north country. They are, of the Lord's peculiar treasure, not merely as one piece of money, but the whole ten. They are, of the sheep of God's pasture, not merely as one of the hundred, but the ninety-and-nine, who had wandered into the wilderness. They are, of the family of our Father in Heaven, the God of Abraham,not merely the younger son, but even the first-born; for thus He hath said, “ I am a Father to Israel, and Ephraim is my first-born."
Many, overlooking the case of Israel, have fixed their eye exclusively upon the people called Jews; as if all that is said in Scripture about Israel were fulfilled in them; and, as if their return from Babylon was the grand fulfilment of those glorious descriptions given in the prophets respecting the perfectly peaceable and permanent resettlement in the land of All the house of Israel, after their old estate; the
It was not from thenceforth that Jerusalem was safely inhabited, and that no stranger passed through her any more. The very contrary of all these things, in a remarkable degree, took place; as if to force our view forward to the grand truth of prophecy—the full redemption of Israel.
But now let us speak, for a little, with those who seem to take a more rational view of the subject,—who look upon the promises as still future, and to be accomplished in the people called Jews—the recognized children of the fathers, unto whom, and to whose seed, the promises were made. Let them remember that many—very many of the Jews, who were dispersed in the east at the time of the Babylonish captivity, became mingled among the nations, and their descendants are not now known as being Jews. They may have much tended to originate, or, at least, to improve some of those tribes that border upon India and Persia; and that are said considerably to resemble the Jews.
These are generally Mahometans: and many of the Jews in other parts also embraced the religion of Mahomet; neither are their descendants now known to be Jews. A much more pleasing dispersion of them, in the apostolic age, took place, when multitudes of even the priests were obedient to the faith. The whole original stock of the Christian Church, in all parts of the world, was Jewish.