17.3.1. Northern Kingdom Falls to Assyria

The main thesis of the “lost tribes” myth is that ten of the tribes—the Northern Kingdom—disappeared when Assyria invaded and deported the Israelites from Syria. The myth requires that all the ten tribes were abducted in the fall of the Northern Kingdom. But the facts indicate otherwise. There was a significant mixing of the tribes prior to the fall of the Northern Kingdom and also probably during the Babylonian Captivity. A basic outline of the sequence of events concerning the captivity of the Northern and Southern Kingdoms and the return of Israel to the land will be helpful in our discussion.

Migrations and Captivities
DatePassageEvent
931 B.C.1 1K. 1K. 11:26-40; 1K. 14:21-31;Civil war results in the divided Kingdom. The Northern Kingdom under Jeroboam, the Southern Kingdom under Rehoboam.
931-910 B.C.2 2Chr. 2Chr. 11:13-14The Levites were rejected as priests in favor of pagan worship in the Northern Kingdom. They left their possessions and lands in the north and relocated to Judah and Jerusalem.
811-870 B.C.3 2Chr. 2Chr. 15:8-9In response to the reforms of King Asah of the Southern Kingdom, “great numbers” from Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon relocated to the Southern Kingdom.
734-732 B.C.4 2K. 2K. 15:29First invasion of the Northern Kingdom by Assyria under Tiglath-Pileser.
729-686 B.C.5 1Chr. 1Chr. 4:24-43“The Simeonites continued to dwell in the Southern Kingdom and were there in the days of Hezekiah, king of Judah. They were part of the Southern Kingdom when the Northern Kingdom was being carried away captive.”6
722 B.C.7 2K. 2K. 17:3-6Second invasion of the Northern Kingdom by Assyria under Shalmaneser and Sargon in 721 B.C. Samaria fell at this time.
701 B.C.Isa. Isa. 37:1Assyrian incursion into Judah (Southern Kingdom) under Sennacherib in 701 B.C. Jerusalem was delivered, but Assyrian records indicate forty-six cities and 200,150 captives were taken.8
605 B.C.9 Dan. Dan. 1:1Fall of Jerusalem to Babylon about 605 B.C. Some from Judah were carried to Babylon at that time. Note that Babylon had assimilated Assyria so those carried away from the Northern Kingdom were now joined by those from the Southern Kingdom under the same government.
537 B.C.10 Ezra Ezra 2:28; Ne. Ne. 12:44-47Return under Zerubbabel mentions Judah, Levi, and “all Israel.” This included: Arah from the tribe of Asher (Ezra Ezra 2:5 cf. 1Chr. 1Chr. 7:39), Bani from the tribe of Gad (Ezra. Ezra 2:10 cf. Ne. Ne. 7:15); Bethlehem from the tribe of Zebulun (Ezra. Ezra 2:26 cf. Jos. Jos. 19:15-16), Ramah from the tribe of Naphtali (Ezra Ezra 2:26 cf. Jos. Jos. 19:32-39), men from Bethel and Ai, towns of the Northern Kingdom (Ezra. Ezra 2:28), and Nebo from the tribe of Reuben (Ezra Ezra 2:29 cf. 1Chr. 1Chr. 5:1-8).
458 B.C.11 1Chr. 1Chr. 9:1-3Return under Ezra included Judah, Benjamin, Levi, and other tribes which had mixed with Judah prior to the captivity. All Israel was represented in the return, including Ephraim and Manasseh.

After the Northern Kingdom fell to Assyria, eventually the Southern Kingdom also fell to Babylon. By then, Assyria had also fallen to Babylonia and it is likely that among the captives in Babylon were to be found the offspring of some who had originally been taken in the fall of the Northern Kingdom to Assyria.

It is contended by Anglo-Israelites that these migrations were only temporary; that the Israelites came only to worship and later returned to the north. However, the Scriptures present positive evidence that the immigrants did not return. Immediately after the division of the Kingdom there was the threat of war between the two factions, and Rehoboam gathered an army of 180,000 men (1K. 1K. 12:21). Rehoboam must have mustered every available fighting man, as he anticipated war with a kingdom far outnumbering his in population. Just seventeen years later in the Southern Kingdom under the reign of Abijah another army was gathered, and this time it numbers 400,000. The increase of 220,000 in 17 years should be noted (2Chr. 2Chr. 13:3). Just three years later another army is mobilized under Asa and the size is given as 580,000 (2Chr. 2Chr. 14:8). Within a period of twenty years there has been an increase in the available army of Judah of 400,000 men. The only reasonable explanation of this phenomenal increase in population in the Southern Kingdom is the explanation given in the Word of God. The immigrants from the northern tribes strengthened the Kingdom of Judah.12


Notes

1 W. A. Criswell and Paige Patterson, eds., The Holy Bible: Baptist Study Edition (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991), 502.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid., 528.

5 Ibid., 504.

6 Roy L. Aldrich, “Anglo-Israelism Refuted,” in Bibliotheca Sacra, vol. 93 no. 369 (Dallas, TX: Dallas Theological Seminary, January-March 1936), 53.

7 Criswell, The Holy Bible: Baptist Study Edition, 504.

8 Aldrich, “Anglo-Israelism Refuted,” 56.

9 With the final fall of the Southern Kingdom in 586 B.C., Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed and many more captives deported to Babylon.

10 Criswell, The Holy Bible: Baptist Study Edition, 634, 645.

11 Ibid.

12 Aldrich, “Anglo-Israelism Refuted,” 55.