Israel Follows The East Wind
In the previous chapter, it was shown that the division between the Northern Kingdom of Israel, the House of Israel, and the Southern Kingdom of Judah, the House of Judah, became final and complete during the century or more that the Great Captivities took place. The great dispersion of Israel that the Jews are always crying about, that happened to them in 70 A.D. and again in 135 A.D. The invading forces of the Assyrian Empire overcame Israel of the ten tribes in 721 B.C. and the process of their deportation from their "first" homeland began that year.
Over a hundred years later, in 586 B.C. the Southern Kingdom of Judah (three tribes) fell before the conquering Assyrian Empire, then Jerusalem and the surrounding country fell before the Babylonian Empire and, by stages, Judah was carried away to Babylon. In their new settlements, Judah and Israel were hundreds of miles apart in geographical distance. Those who had been separated into two Kingdoms in their own land were still separated in the two great empires of their captivity.
There is evidence in the prophetic books of the Bible, however, that after Israel was taken away out of the land, intermittent communications were maintained between the spiritually-minded men of both groups; that is, between Israel in Assyria and Judah still in Palestine.
This was for the purpose of consultation as to the meaning of events; particularly how the prophecies uttered aforetime were to be understood with reference to the new turn of affairs. There was communication also between the deported groups and those left in the homeland, for the deportations were not en bloc. Later, when the deportation of Judah to Babylon began, there was communication between the deportees of Israel in Assyria and those of Judah in Babylon.
The Prophet Ezekiel was one of those who went to Babylon with the earlier Judah deportees and in the 14th chapter of his book he tells us that, while he was sitting among his brethren in Babylon, he was visited by certain elders who came down from the Israel deportees in Assyria. Israel, a hundred years in an alien land, had no prophets, but there were those who knew that God spoke in Judah as before.
Therefore, these men of Israel sought out Ezekiel, the prophet of Judah, and not only did Ezekiel consult with them, but he also received a message which he was commissioned to deliver to them. It is important to know about this message, one of the last to be uttered directly to Israel through a living prophet. This will be found in the 17th chapter of the Book of Ezekiel and the form of address leaves no doubt as to who was to receive the information: "The word of the Lord came unto me [Ezekiel], saying, Son of man, put forth a riddle, and speak a parable unto the house of Israel." (1)
The news was to be conveyed under a Divine cipher that Israel would understand, yet no Babylonian spy or Jew could fathom its meaning. Employing spectacular symbolisms, it recounted how the conqueror was to remove the royal seed from Judah: "A great eagle with great wings, longwinged, full of feathers, which had divers colours, came unto Lebanon, and took the highest branch of the cedar [the royal branch]: He cropped off the top of his young twigs [the younger royalty], and carried it into a land of traffick; he set it in a city of merchants [Babylon]." (2) In that manner Ezekiel told of one incursion upon the land and afterward he told of a second incursion. Then came the heart of his message to the elders of Israel. The invading kings thought they had won control for all time of the royal seed of Israel.
However, the message continued: "Thus saith the Lord God; I will also take of the highest branch of the high cedar [the royal house], and will set it [I, the Lord will set it; not those eagle kings]; I will crop off from the top of his young twigs [the royal children] a tender one [a young daughter], and will plant it upon an high mountain and eminent [in an Israel royalty ruling somewhere on the earth, but certainly nowhere near the place where Ezekiel and his hearers were]. In the mountain of the height of Israel will I plant it: and it shall bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a goodly cedar [an established and flourishing royalty]: and under it shall dwell all fowl of every wing [it will rule over many different peoples]; in the shadow of the branches thereof shall they dwell. And all the trees of the field [other ruling houses and peoples] shall know that I the Lord have brought down the high tree, have exalted the low tree, have dried up the green tree, and have made the dry tree to flourish [note the Divine signature affixed]: I the Lord have spoken and have done it." (3)
That is the way Ezekiel made it known to the elders of Israel, those who had come down from their Assyrian captivity to consult him, that Jeremiah was escaping with the King's daughters and was fleeing with them to the Isles of the West whither many of their people had preceded them centuries before.
Although he was in Babylon, Ezekiel knew what was happening away to the west at the downfall of Jerusalem. The men of Israel understood from his riddle exactly what had happened and made their plans accordingly.
We have another instance of communication between the sections of Judah, those deported to Babylon and the other part still remaining in Palestine. This was a letter from Jeremiah; you will find it in the 29th chapter of his book.
Jeremiah was still in Palestine when he wrote to his deported brethren: "Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem unto the residue of the elders which were carried away captives, and to the priests, and to the prophets, and to all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon." (4)
This was the excellent advice given to them: "Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace." (5)
The import of these instructions was obvious. They were to settle down for a long stay and they were not to be tantalized by false prophets telling them this and that about the probabilities of an early return: "For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Let not your prophets and your diviners, that be in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed. For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them, saith the Lord. For thus saith the Lord, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place." (6)
Let us make a summation of all this. First, there was communication between all the parties, between Israel and Judah in their separate exiles, as well as between the two parts of Judah in exile and at home.
Second, note that the directions communicated to the two peoples, Israel and Judah, were quite different. Judah was promised a homecoming in seventy years. Israel was not promised that. Instead, Israel was told of the tender royal twig, cropped from the royal house and carried away, not by conquering kings, but by hands Divinely directed. In this way Israel was secretly appraised of a destiny that stretched far into the distant future.
We are not without knowledge as to how these deported people were treated in their exile. You may see from Jeremiah's letter that they were to live as normally as possible, howbeit in a strange land. Fortunately we have two extended pictures of exile life, if you care to red them. If you would like to know how Judah fared in exile, read the Book of Tobit in the Apocrypha.
In Tobit we have the interesting story of a deported Israel family who lived near Nineveh and did very well for itself, both socially and financially. We learn from it a great deal of how life went with the tribes of Israel in alien Assyria.
It matters little that Tobit is not a truly prophetic book; it does give a transcript of Israel's life in that foreign land, just as a novel by Sir Walter Scott pictures life in Scotland, or an early novel by Booth Tarkington pictured Indiana politics. They are not history per se, but they are historically accurate.
In this respect Tobit is a genuine source book. If you read it (as we hope you will) for its own quaint charm, you will observe, toward the end of the book, old Tobit's anxiety because of the disasters he felt were coming upon Assyria.
He warned his son Tobias to take his family and flee to Media where, as the Bible tells us, some of the tribes of Israel had been settled. Media was to the north, in the uplands of Assyria, and was more easily defensible from military attack. Tobit had earlier entrusted a sum of money in that part of the country.
There were rumors of attack upon Assyria from outside; there were signs of revolt inside. As we read the actual history of what occurred, we can see how wise the advice of Tobit was that Tobias flee to Media.
That such advice could be given in such a book indicates that this was the course taken by many an Israelite family when the affairs of Assyria became troubled. In fact, Media was one of the gathering places whence Israel made its break out of exile.
Two Empires Broken Up
Two great empires had swallowed up Judah and Israel - part of Judah was in the grip of the Babylonian Empire to the south; Israel was in the grip of the Assyrian Empire to the north. Then a great drama in what we call secular history opened. The Babylonian Empire attacked Assyria; the Empire that held Judah captive set upon the Empire that held Israel in bondage. It was the time of inner turmoil that old Tobit foresaw, when Assyria trembled from fear of war without and from unrest within. It was a time when the whole world seemed to be astir.
Nearly a thousand years before, a similar spirit of awakening had shuddered through the Semitic peoples of lower Mesopotamia, and set them moving. One group was led by Terah out of Ur of the Chaldees up toward Canaan, a directly northwest line. That group included Abraham and it was from that group that Abraham was commanded to depart to a land that was to be shown to him.
At the same time another great body of people had moved from the shores of the Persian Gulf to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, they were the Phoenicians of later history. A third and perhaps larger body had followed the course of the Tigris northward and these became the founders of Asshur (named from their god) and of the Assyrian Empire. Now, after a thousand years, the world seemed to be in flux again. There were great stirrings among its peoples. National ambitions became strong. The desire to be on the wing, to explore, to conquer, to subjugate, was regnant everywhere.
Sheba and Dedan, Shinar and Babel, Nineveh, Media and Parthia, all the old cradle lands of our history, were again being waked into action. The Scythians were attacking Assyria from the northwest along the borders of Media. Babylon was attacking from the southeast, against Nineveh, the capital of Assyria. When Scythian and Babylonian met in Assyrian territory, and the war drew south again, the door was open for Israel to pass out of Assyria if they wished. It was a case of the officers fighting among themselves, leaving the prisoners free to walk away.
This was not the case with Judah down south in Babylon. Judah had no door of escape, but was sill hemmed in. Judah had no need to escape; she knew that her future was settled for her. Israel, however, knew that the "tender twig" of the "high cedar" had been carried away to be planted in an Israel royal house far to the west, and Israel's thoughts turned there. These, then, were the movements of secular history, as we say.
The Bible's prophets had seen it all long before; the remaining prophets were seeing it then as one of the climaxes of sacred history. The Prophet Isaiah had foretold what was going to happen to Assyria.
Read it in the 10th chapter of his book: "O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation [whose military power is the staff of mine indignation]. I will send him against an hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge [in order that they, in their trouble, may be led back to me]... Howbeit he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so; but it is in his heart to destroy and cut off nations not a few." (7)
Nevertheless, the Lord made it clear that after His purpose concerning His people had been accomplished: "I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks. For he saith, 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 inhabitants like a valiant man." (8)
The challenging questions are asked: "Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith? Or shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it?" (9) Babylon became the rod of God's anger against Assyria and, in its turn, Babylon itself was to suffer disaster for the same kind of ungodly pride. Thus, the prophets saw the succession of the Gentile empires. As we previously said, secular history is sacred history; the human story is the story of God at work, history is His Story!
In this time of turmoil, what was Israel doing? The people could not return to their own land of Samaria for two reasons. First, the road thither lay southwest and the Babylonian armies blocked the way. Second, during the century they had been absent from their land, Assyria had populated it with other settlers, Arabs, Babylonians, Persians and people from Susiana.
You will remember that when Judah eventually returned to Palestine, they regarded these mixed peoples of Samaris with scorn. You will recall how in our Lord's time, the Samaritans would not allow Him to rest in their towns because He was on His way to Jerusalem; how His disciples were surprised to find Him in conversation with a Samartian woman; how our Lord offended the people by the Parable of the Good Samaritan, for no one would concede that there was such a person; how the deepest insult they could hurl at our Lord was, "Thou art a Samaritan."
All of this flowed from the difference which was felt to exist between the true people of Israel, of which Judah became the sole remaining representative in the land, and the mixed aliens with whom the conquerors repopulated Samaria, the former land of the ten-tribed Kingdom of Israel.
There was no inducement, therefore, for Israel to go back to their own land. To the West the Egyptian armies had come up; there was no escape toward the Mediterranean coast. To the east lay the Persian and Parthian powers. Only the road north and northwest lay open. The crux of our inquiry is this: Did Israel go out by that road?
As we read our Bible and trace their route on the old maps, corroborated by the ancient historians, we arrive at the answer that Israel did so go out. Anyone who imagines that our contention is entirely an extra-Biblical one is mistaken.
It is because the Bible tells us what to occur, and what was occurring, that we consider the possibility of confirmatory signs elsewhere. It is because history observes a very mysterious people moving slowly across Europe, whose origin no one seems able to account for, that we are gladdened by the light the Bible throws upon the problem. Take, for example, the Prophet Micah. He announced what was happening almost as a modern broadcaster would announce it. The Divine command had come: "Arise, ye, and depart; for this is not your rest: because it is polluted, it shall destroy you, even with a sore destruction." (10) With breathless sentences he described the great scene that was hidden from the eyes of his hearers but was fully open to the insight of his Divinely enlightened mind: "The breaker has come up before them! They have broken up! They have passed thorough the gate! They have gone out! Their king shall pass before them and the Lord at the head of them!" (11) What an exciting picture of what was taking place: the Babylonian and Scythian breakers coming up against Assyria and breaking it up; Israel espying the gate left open and escaping by it; their royal house having passed on before them by another way; and their whole movement directed by the purpose of God.
If you wish all this in more precise words, turn again to the Apocrypha, to the 13th chapter of 2 Esdras, and read this: "Those are the ten tribes, which were carried away prisoners out of their own land in the time of Osea [Hoshea] 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 passages of the river. For the most High then shewed signs for them, and held still the flood, till they were passed over. For through that country there was a great way to go, namely, of a year and a half: and the same region is called Arsareth." (12) If Arsareth can be identified as in the region of the River Sereth, then Israel had made its way to the west side of the Black Sea. The route that Israel would have taken was not an impossible one. Two centuries later Zenophon led the Retreat of the Ten Thousand in the same general direction of Israel's escape across the upper reaches of the Euphrates. In fact, Zenophon, like Israel, as Esdras tells us, found the waters at those upper parts easy to cross.
Now hear the chorus of the prophets as they speak of these events. "Israel is swallowed up," cried Hosea, "Now shall they be among the Gentiles as a vessel wherein is no pleasure" (13) However, he had previously prophesied: "Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them. Ye are not my people [called Gentiles], there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God [a Christian people]." (14)
The Prophet Amos joins in: "Behold, the eyes of the Lord God are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth; 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." (15)
Through the Prophet Isaiah the Lord transmitted a message expressing His merciful concern for His people: "But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Savior." (16)
Isaiah's great theme is supported by the prophetic testimony of the Prophet Jeremiah, who looked deeply into the far future: "At the same time, saith the Lord, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people. Thus saith the Lord, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest... Hear the word of the Lord, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock." (17) All of these utterances indicate a knowledge of what was transpiring in regard to Israel, and what the ultimate end would be - arrival, rest, reorganization, renewal of strength: "Keep silence before me, O islands; and let the people renew their strength: let them come near; then let them speak: let us come near together to judgment." (18)
Finally, there was to be the rediscovery of their identity and a complete restoration to their God. Isaiah foretold this: "Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the Lord: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged. Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him." (19)
Indeed, the Prophet Jeremiah was so moved by the mighty character of events to come that he asserted twice in his prophecies that it would mean an entirely new beginning in the history of Israel and in the way men speak of history. Up to that time the greatest deliverance in Israel's history by the direct intervention of the Lord was the emergence of the people from bondage in Egypt. However, Jeremiah prophesied: "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that it shall no more be said, The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but, The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers." (20)
There was to be a new order of things in the world which would be so marvelous that it would supersede the memory of all former great things. Oh yes, the prophets knew! What is our factual ground thus far? We know that Israel was deported to Assyria in two or three bodies and settled in two places; one in northern Mesopotamia and the other in Media. We know that while Israel was in those parts of Assyria, the Assyrian Empire broke up.
We know that only one way lay open if Israel wished to escape during the confusion. `We know that the Prophet Micah said that Ezekiel had given Israel intimation concerning where the royal house was to be planted again. We know that the apocryphal book of Second Esdras records the definite tradition that Israel, or at least a part of Israel, had gone up to the Caucasus in the region of the Black Sea, which we know was not an impossible route for it was followed two hundred years later by other men.
New Names For Israel
We know one more fact, a valuable, pivotal one; we know the name the people of Israel bore in Assyria. They were not called Israel; they were called Khumri. If you recall what the prophets say bout the nation of Israel losing its identity and being called by other names, this will not surprise you.
However, the confirmation of this is not in the Bible; it is in the sculptured records of Assyria. How did Israel come to be called Khumri? The sixth king of the separated Kingdom of Israel was name Omri. (21) We know little of him directly except that he built Israel's capital city of Samaria. Often the Kingdom of Israel was spoken of as Samaria, just as we sometimes refer to the United States government as Washington.
King Omri was evidently an internationalist and was well known in the kingdoms and empires round about. From a certain denunciation, uttered by the Prophet Micah, we gather that he changed the whole economic law of Israel. We know that he made a treaty with Tyre, a great commercial nation, for apparently the profitableness of trading with Tyre appealed to him.
Thus, we find a strange thing connected with his name, a singular thing in the Bible, for although we hear much of the Law of the Lord and its commandments, statutes and judgments, to name laws or economic systems by the names of men is unusual. We recall only one instance, and that was in the case of King David, until we come to King Omri. One of the bitter things said about Israel in the days of its downfall was that "the statutes of Omri are kept." (22)
The commandments and statutes Divinely given through Moses were designed to institute in Israel a righteous economic system that would make the imperfect and unjust economic systems of men obsolete and no king who followed them would have gained international fame. But so widely known was King Omri that always afterward Assyria called the Kingdom of Israel the House of Omri, or "Beth Khumri." It is so written on the Assyrian monuments of the reign of Shalmaneser and exists to this day. The Khumri were the Israelites of the Captivity!
The importance of this to us lies just here, whereas we could find little trace of the so-called host ten tribes of Israel under their own name, we do find many traces of the Khumri in the ancient records. We find their name first in the parts of Assyria where Israel was settled. We find it afterward across that narrow neck of water that separates the Sea of Azov from the Black Sea; that is, in the country we now know as the Crimea. It requires no great gift of cognizance to see the family resemblance between "Khumri" and "Crimea." Two hundred years later, we find the Khumri, now called Kymbri, far up the Danube, in what we know as Bavaria.
There they were met by another column of Israel that escaped out of Assyria by the east coast of the Caspian Sea who, after many years, made a junction with the Kymbri host. This second column bore several names on its long, slow trek.
They were called the Sacae, the Masagetae, the Getae, the Goths and finally the Saxons (spelled several different ways). They were known for centuries under the names of Goths and Saxons. Those who went north to Scandinavia returned in part as the Normans. Those who went to northern France became known as Britanni. Those who went southwest to Spain, Celtiberians.
Those who went to what is now Holland retained the name of Sacsons. Those who went up to Denmark were called Jutes. The last place we find the name Kymbri (or Kymri) is the present land of Wales. They are the Cimbirc people of the present day. All of these lines, Dane and Norman, Saxon and Angle, converged on what are now known as the British Isles, and there built a new empire.
In this swift glance at the process, we do not prove each step. We only seek to show you the bridge across which we walk. We have the indisputable starting point with the Khumri and with that key, and a student's patience, the successive steps of the migration of the Israel peoples are worked out.
However, that is not the whole story by any means. While this escape from Assyria has occupied us, other matters were transpiring in the world. We must not forget that for centuries there had been great traffic along the Mediterranean Sea to the Sicily Isles, off Land's End, England, and to the tin mines of Cornwall.
The merchants of Tyre, the great Phoenician traders, had regular routes through the Strait of Gibraltar, known to the ancients as the Pillars of Hercules, up to the Isles of Britain. In former times the British Isles were known as the Isles of Tarshish. If you read the Book of Jonah, you will see that it was quite the usual thing for a man to go down to the seaport at Joppa and pay his fare to Tarshish.
We read of Solomon's navy, which went to West Africa. We hear of the maritime tribe of Israel, the tribe of Dan, whose ships are often mentioned in the Old Testament. We find Dan's habit of leaving his name in all the places he visited and we think it can be traced in the Rivers Danube and Dneiper, in Dardana and In Danmark, and in the Danaans, the early inhabitants of Ireland. Traffic in those days was much greater than we commonly suppose. The ships of Tarshish, referred to many times in the Old Testament, were the great ships that sailed through Gibraltar into the Atlantic Ocean to Tarshish in the western Isles. All along the northern coast of the Mediterranean we find the marks of Israel settlements. Except for parts of the overland routes taken by those who escaped from Assyria, all of the other routes of Israel are perfectly clear. If you will look at a map of Europe and Western Asia, and use your imagination take your stand on the coasts of ancient Israel, you will see where the lines ran. You look straight up the Adriatic to Germany, Holland and Britain; or you look straight up through the boot of Italy to the same countries.
If you miss these invitations of geographical indentations and the inclinations of coastlines, and sail out through Gibraltar, you hug the coast until you come to the Isles of the West. Everywhere you will find the names, the traditions, the institutions of trekking Israel. You will find the name Iberia between the Caspian and the Black Seas, you will find it later denoting the land we know as Spain, and a little later denoting Hibernia, or Ireland. You will find the name "Scot" first given to the Irish and then to the people of Scotland. But even before that, you will find the name "Scot" in Egypt and Greece.
The poetic name of Scotland is Caledonia (that was its real name of old), but we find the name Caledonia first a little west of the Black Sea on one of the early routes of Israel to the west, long before the time of the Assyrian deportations. We must remember that, as trouble mounted on trouble, the people of Israel did not wait until the final blow, they were moving out in some instances centuries before. Which we will show later. All the Scots are Gaels and that name is a perfect derivative from Galilee, the home of Israel, and so runs to Scotland. Straight north of Galilee we find, under the south coast of the Black Sea, the name Galatia. We find it again at the northwest tip of Portugal. I find it again in the name of Gaul, for France, and in the name of Gael, for the people of Scotland. It is no wonder that this is so, as it may be to many of the scholars who write books on "Spanish influence in Scottish history" and similar subjects. When we read another scholar's book entitled The Scot in Poland, we still do not wonder; rather, it explains to us a great deal about Poland, our people came that way.
When we read in history that the French kings had Scottish regiments for their bodyguards, we do not wonder, they were both Gaels. When we read Paul's Epistle to the Galatians in the Bible, and see what he was driving at there, we recognize so many things about these people that we cannot help thinking of it as Paul's Epistle to the Scots in the East! Israel, as we have explained before, left pockets of people, racial influences and rearguards of liberty all along the way.
Spartans Were Israelites
God's purpose as expressed in the Bible, the outworkings of that purpose as detailed in the books of the prophets, the traces of that purpose in history, these stretch out and touch every land. Yet it is seemingly impossible for some to realize that the Bible is only the road-map; the actual roads run outside the Bible.
It seems impossible for some to see God outside His Book and see God's people still living and pursuing their course in these latter days as they did outside the Book, in the former days. If I were to connect ancient Greece with Israel, some of you would probably think it mere gratuitous zeal for a theory.
Yet there is evidence that the Spartans were Israelites! Their land, Lacedemon, called also Laconi, from which we get the word "laconic" for short and sharp speech, the proverbial speech of Israel, and themselves called of old Lacedemonians, are directly connected with Israel by two letters found in the first book of the Maccabees in the Apocrypha. When the Judeans, under the Maccabees, sent to ask the protection of Rome, their embassy called at Greece with letters to the Lacedemonians. This is what the high priest wrote to those Grecians: "There were letters sent in times past unto Onias the high Priest, from Darius, who reigned then among you, to signify that ye are our brethren."
He enclosed a copy of that earlier letter which read: "Areus, King of the Lacedemonians, to Onias the High Priest, greetings: It is found in writing that the Lacedemonians and the Judeans are brethren, and that they are of the stock of Abraham: therefore, since this is come to our knowledge, ye shall do well to write to us of your prosperity. We do write back again to you, that your cattle and gods are ours, and ours are yours." (23) In reply to the letter and its enclosure the Lacedemonians of this later time again acknowledged their racial unity. The Spartans were Israelites. That fully explains why they stand out in Grecian history as Israel stood out in the history of Semitic countries.
We can only give you a suggestion of the method; a suggestion of the vase movement of the peoples involved; a suggestion of the bridge of history across which our minds travel to this knowledge of ourselves and kindred peoples as descendants of those very people who went forth into the world bearing their Biblical destiny on their shoulders. They converged on the Isles as foretold. Everything of basic character they brought there with them: their courage, their customs, their spiritual aptitude, their undeviating progress until they reached the appointed place, which was later to include the desolate heritages still beyond them to the west. If you had been in the Isles in that early day, you would have seen in their ships that they knew who they were.
You would have known that Jeremiah had arrived in Ireland and that Ezekiel's riddle had been readily understood. For there on the topmost mast of every ship was the "craunnog," or tree tufts, the tender young twigs of the highest branch of the high trees! Up there in the strong Northwestern angle of the earth, the Danaans of Ireland and the Danes of Denmark knew no dishonor on the seas more humiliating than to lose the leafy cluster from the topmast. These were the Iberians, the Hibernians, the Gaels, which means "sons of God."
Ezekiel's parable translated in the Isles of the West! Jeremiah in Ireland on his Divine mission "to build and to plant!" Meanwhile, the tribes of the Assyrian Captivity were still laboring slowly across Europe! How long did it take them to make the journey? Those who traveled overland, the main body of the captivity, were more than a thousand years reaching central Europe and Europe's western front.
Remember, they did not travel as an army with its own supplies, but as a people who had to live by the way, and whose progress was a series of alternate periods of settling down and moving on again. Similar to the way the United States was settled - the East coast - then the westward trek to California, Oregon and Washington.
They did not live by war and rapine, but by their labor. It was a long road to travel, a long rod of discipline, but that Star of the West in their traditions never set for them. And even when they had reached the Isles, it did not set, it led a part of them westward across the Atlantic Ocean, to the continent of North America.
Jesus The Christ
When the body of Israel had penetrated as far as central Europe, and while Israel in the Isles was attaining strength and civilized government and a strong educational system, a momentous, history- changing event transpired in Palestine which dwarfed all others. Jesus Christ was born.
The little town of Bethlehem gave to earth the Man (24) who redeemed His people and opened the way for their restoration to the Divine purpose for it. Jesus was a traveled man; that much is true beyond all tradition.
The Gospels make very little of that, they dispose, in a few scant words, of even His journey into Phoenicia. Men are busy today with speculations as to where He spent the days between His boyhood and the age of thirty. They say He learned His mysticism in the East, which would be of absorbing interests if there were anything Eastern about His mysticism. There is a strong tradition that His uncle, Joseph of Arimathea, was in the tin trade with Cornwall, and indeed the Cornish miners sing a song to the effect that "Joseph was a tin merchant." There is a tradition that Jesus, as the ward of His uncle, made journeys to the Britannic Isles, or the Tin Islands as they were called.
Say what you will about it all; hold what opinions you may about the traditions. You will, nevertheless count it a notable fact that the people of Britain have stood together many times, singing the hymn of the old poet Blake. Read it and say why the tradition has lived:
"And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?
And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark Satanic mills?"
We think anyone will say that this is indeed a most remarkable thing, the people in a modern generation singing of a time when Jesus Christ was in England! But it is not all conjecture and tradition. The way to the Isles was a well-traveled one when Christ was born. There were men in Palestine, Egypt, Greece and Rome who knew the coasts of Ireland as well as they knew their homelands, you see that clearly in the work of the Roman historians.
Therefore, we are not at all surprised when we see two things occur. First, when the initial persecution came upon the newborn Christian Church at Jerusalem, it vanished from the country, none being left except the apostles. Where did the Church go? The answer to the question is that it went to the Isles. Christianity was planted where Israel was planted, in the west. The Glastonbury tradition is a sound one. The contention that Britain was not evangelized until Pope Gregory sent St. Austin to Kent in 597 A.D. lacks historical confirmation.
It is indeed a fact that the benevolent Gregory did send Austin, but when Austin came and proclaimed his mission, he was met with brotherly Christian hospitality by the representatives of the Bishopric of London which had then been in existence five hundred years. Within ten years of the Crucifixion, Christianity was in the Isles, forced there by persecution, and arriving there over the familiar routes that Israel had used for a thousand years.
The second thing to occur was this: when the Christian apostles began to evangelize the world, the greatest of them, the Apostle Paul, followed the coastline route of Israel and planted his churches among the Israel colonies along the north shore of the Mediterranean. The records of the early councils of the Roman Catholic Church are our authority for saying that Paul traveled as far west as the Britannic Isles, as the Church records name them.
If you read Morgan's entrancing history, St. Paul in Britain, you will see the documented evidence clearly laid out for your appraisal. This is not an astonishing thing at all, for we had always known from our Bible, from Paul's Epistle to the Romans, that Spain was within the boundaries of his evangelistic vision.
Paul intimates that Epistle that he had not yet visited Rome, and more than indicates that he had visited Spain: "Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company." (25) Again, explaining that he had to go down to Jerusalem first, he said: "When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain." (26)
If to Spain, why not "around the corner" into Britain, as the early Church councils declare? And if Paul went to Spain in that early day, why not also Joseph of Arimathea, reputed tin merchant and uncle of Jesus, at a slightly earlier day? If Joseph, why not also the young Jesus, who knew the destiny of Israel? Anyway, the fact is incontestable, Christianity, in its expansion into all the world, followed the same course that Israel did, to the westward.
Of all Paul's churches, to whom he wrote the Epistles, not one remains, and yet Paul's' churches are everywhere westward in the world. It is wonderful to think of the preparatory grace of God in all these great racial movements. It is wonderful to think that our supposedly prosaic life is really part of the epic movement of God's foreordained purpose.
Thus with a shuttle of so many threads, the ancient East and our own West are linked in every possible way. Prophecy shot its illumined arrows from East to West. By sea routes and coastal ports and overland roads, the chosen people traveled from East to West. But do not suppose God's movements to be completed there. We are to see arise in the West that which is to sweep East again to bring the new world change that is coming.
1. Ezekiel 17:1-2.
2. Ezekiel 17:3-4.
3. Ezekiel 17:22-24.
4. Jeremiah 29:1.
5. Jeremiah 29:5-7.
6. Jeremiah 29:8-10.
7. Isaiah 10:5-7.
8. Isaiah 10;12-13.
9. Isaiah 10:15.
10. Micah 2:10.
11. See Micah 2:13.
12. 2 Esdras 13:40-45.
13. Hosea 8:8.
14. Hosea 1:10.
15. Amos 9:8-9.
16. Isaiah 43:1-3.
17. Jeremiah 31:1-2, 10.
18. Isaiah 41:1.
19. Isaiah 51:1-2.
20. Jeremiah 16:14-15.
21. 1 King 16:16.
22. Micah 6:16.
23. 1 Maccabees 12:1-23.
24. 1 Corinthians 15:45, 47
25. Romans 15:24.
26. Romans 15:28.
Continue on to Part 20
In Search of Isaac's Children - Table of Contents
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