THE TWO HOUSES OF ISRAEL
AN INTRODUCTION TO BIBLE PROPHECY
Pastor J.S. Brooks
AN important key to understanding Israel in prophecy is that after the time of Solomon God’s people were split into two nations, the house of Israel (ten tribes), and the house of Judah (two tribes), as related in First Kings, chapter 12. This division continued, for God speaks of “the two families” whom He had chosen — Israel and Judah — and declares, “Thus says the Lord: If I have not established my covenant with day and night and the ordinances of heaven and earth, then I will reject the descendants of Jacob [Israel] and David my servant [Judah] ...” (Jeremiah 33:24-26) These two families are called the “two wives”(Jeremiah 3:6-14), “sisters” (Ezekiel 23:2), “two nations” (Ezekiel 37:22), and “two kingdoms.” (Ezekiel 37:22) They were the “two sons” of Christ’s parables, indicating their continuing separateness in His day. (Matthew 21:28-32; Luke 15:11-32)
In fact, the first Scriptural mention of the Jews is in 2 Kings 16:6 where they were at war with Israel. Letters were written by the chief rabbis of the British Empire in 1918 and 1950, explaining that this division has continued to the present day, and that the Jewish people are descended only from the house of Judah. The house of Israel, sometimes called ‘Ephraim’ after its leading tribe, instead was conquered by Assyria in the 8th century, B.C. and scattered through the nations of the world.
“In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes ... So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day.”
The parable of the two sticks in Ezekiel 37:15-30 reveals that the coming reunion of the two houses will occur only at the end of the present age, just before the last great battle described in chapter 38. Similarly, it is when “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea,” that “the outcasts of Israel” and “the dispersed of Judah” are gathered together “from the four corners of the earth.” (Isaiah 11:9, 11, 13) Some say that they were reunited in the land of Assyria shortly after their captivity began. If so, how can the separate sets of latter day promises be fulfilled to Judah and Israel if they were reunited 2700 years ago? Instead, we are told that they would be rejoined when they had “One Shepherd,” David’s Greater Son, the Messiah (Ezekiel 37:24; John 11:51-52), which awaits the full conversion of Judah to Jesus Christ. Given this future time frame, the reunion could not yet have fully occurred. The Bible presents much additional evidence that the houses of Israel and Judah are still separate nations and peoples in our world today, and clearly identifies the “lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 10:5; 15:24)
Indeed, there are many clues to the identity of lost Israel from both the Bible and history. The Apocrypha tells us that they were conquered by Assyria and dispersed to an uninhabited land, “where never mankind dwelt” (2 Esdras 13:40-48), a good description of uninhabited Europe of that day. Isaiah 62:2 says that they would have “a new name.” They would become “a company of nations” (Genesis 17:5), “many nations” (Genesis 35:11), and would take the gospel “to the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6). In fact, Ezekiel tells us that the dispersion of the house of Israel was God’s way of purifying this people: “I will scatter you among the nations and disperse you through the countries: and I will consume your uncleanness out of you.” (Ezekiel 22:15, Masoretic Text) They would have a new land, a new heart, a new Spirit, and a New Covenant. (2 Samuel 7:10, Ezekiel 36:24-26, Jeremiah 31:31) The result would be that God would use them to set right the earth. (Isaiah 42:3-7) Who could this people be in our modern world? The Bible gives us many clues, including the heraldic emblems associated with each of the tribes of Israel in Genesis 48 and Deuteronomy 33.
The details in our picture help to tell the story of these “lost sheep” in our world today. The soldier in the foreground wears brightly coloured clothing which was favoured by the people popularly called Scythian, the Greek form of the Medo-Persian word, Saka. A later form of the word is “Saxon,” from the Medo-Persian, “Saka-Suni” or ‘Sons of the Saca.’ In his book The Story of Celto-Saxon Israel, Mr WH. Bennett provides scholarly evidence of the origin of the words, Scythian, Saka, or Saxon in the word, Isaac. The soldier’s colourful clothing reminds us of the Patriarch Joseph’s famous “coat of many colours” referred to in Genesis 37:3, 23, and 32. The origin and inspiration of the famous Scottish Tartan patterns may also date back to Joseph. Indeed, the word, “tartan,” itself was a Semitic term for a military official or captain of a host. (2 Kings 18:17; Isaiah 20:1)
In the soldier’s belt is a battle-axe, an identifying mark of Israel, the nation called in Scripture, “God’s battleaxe.”
Jeremiah 51:20 says: “Thou art my battle axe and weapons of war: for with thee will I break in pieces the nations, and with thee will I destroy kingdoms.”
Other Biblical prophets echo this: “Thus shall they be taking captive their captors, and shall tread down their oppressors.” - (Isaiah 14:2)
“Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument, having teeth, thou shalt thresh the mountains [large nations], and beat them small, and shalt make the hills [small nations] as chaff.” - (Isaiah 4l :15)
“Arise and thresh, 0 daughter of Zion, for I will make your horns of iron, and your hoofs of brass, and you shall beat in pieces many peoples” - (Micah 4:13)
The battle-axe — a symbol of Israel — also symbolized their descendants, the ‘Saka,’ or ‘Saxons,’ exactly as the prophets foretold. Remarkably, it was only during the time of Israel’s defeat and dispersion by the Assyrians and Babylonians, when the future looked darkest, that these prophecies of victorious military conquests were given by Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Micah! Clearly, the story of Ephraim-Israel did not end with the 8th century, B.C. destruction of the Northern Kingdom and its capital, Samaria, but prophecy was fulfilled in succeeding centuries in the form of ‘Scythian’ tribal victories in Asia and Europe.
Mountains in prophecy signify large nations, and hills are small nations. Is there evidence that these Hebrew Saka-Scythians overthrew large kingdoms? The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia tells of Assyria’s last days:
“In 1923 the British Museum published a newly discovered Babylonian chronicle giving a detailed description of the events which transpired ... [in] Assyria’s last days. We learn from it that the Chaldeans were combined with the Medes and with the Scythians, [who were] an important factor in the weakening of Assyria; that ... in 612 proud Nineveh fell before an assault of the Medes, who were aided by Nabopolassar and a contingent of Scythians.” (1.566-567)
Yes, the SAKA-Scythians, or house of Isaac, played a prominent part in the overthrow of the Assyzian Empire, and other kingdoms as well.
Despite such conquests, they found themselves moving ever westward through the centuries, for God foretold that He would, “let the blessing come upon the head of Joseph... his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth.” - (Deuteronomy 33:16-17) Joseph is an important tribe of the house of Israel whose heraldry is now found in Britain, and the “ends of the earth” is a fitting symbol for Western Europe at the bounds of the Atlantic Ocean.
Famous respected Bible scholar, Dr James Augustus Strong, compiler of Strong’s Concordance and other works, made this statement, “The larger proportion of the Ten Tribes were, in a state more or less pure, propagated to distant regions by the great national migrations proceeding from Central Asia.” - (McClintock and Strong’s Cyclopedia, X:545) These great national migrations were from Asia westward, and included the Mongols, Huns, Slavs, and other tribes who pushed, or were pushed by, the lost tribes of Israel into Europe. Dr. Strong’s comments indicate that the house of Israel fled from Assyria northward through the Caucasus Mountains, where they were caught up in the westward migration of peoples and settled in Europe.
Memories of their former homeland in the Mid-East were not entirely forgotten, for the famous Roman geographer and historian, Pliny (Natural History, book 4) recorded the Saka-Scythian statement that they were “descended from slaves.” The Israelites, of course, were slaves in Egypt, and captives in the land of Assyria, as well. If these SAKA were not Israelites, then to what ancestral captivity were they referring? As these tribes migrated across Europe to the Baltic Sea, Pliny records that in their language, “the name for it Is Morimarusa, that is, [the] ‘Dead Sea.’” [ibid.] The Baltic Sea, being connected with the Atlantic Ocean, is very salty like the Dead Sea of Palestine; but it is teeming with life and far from dead. They obviously carried with them knowledge of an ancestral dwelling near a salty body of water called the Dead Sea. They would not have named the Baltic after the Dead Sea of ancient Israel unless they were Israelites. In fact, early Greek historian, Herodotus, recorded in his History (4:76) that one of the Scythian kings was named “Saulius,” evidently named after the first Hebrew king, Saul. (I Samuel 9)
On the soldier’s head is a distinctive high-peaked hat that Harper’s Bible Dictionary (“dress” p.227) depicts as an important part of the “Hebrew royal attire.” It is called a “mitre,” and was worn by the Israelite high priests. - (Exodus 28:37) Herodotus recorded in his History (7.64) that, “The Sacae, who are Scythians, have high caps tapering to a point and stiffly upright.” This style of hat is found on the Behistun Rock, where Scythian king Skunka is depicted wearing it. The Cambridge History of Iran, [vol.3:2:913] states, “We furthermore have some stories about Jewish officials bearing Parthian names, Arda, Arta, and Pyl-y Barish who had a mounted retinue of troops and wore high hats.” In Europe of later centuries, it became known as a “Wizard’s Cap,” often with the depiction of a half-moon, the symbol of Muhammadism. Far from being of Muslim origin, the moon symbol apparently denotes the eastern origin of this ancestral clothing.
Other distinctive dress of the early European Scythian tribes included “polychrome” enamelled jewellery, which is known to have originated in Medo-Persia where the Israelite lost tribes were resettled by Assyria. Russian archaeologist, Michael Rostovtzeff said, “The style as such develops in the East, in Iranian lands, as we see from the Oxus and Susa treasures.” (Iranians and Greeks in South Russia, pp. 173) A book on Persian art shows an ancient Persian breastpin, displaying the intricate interloped pattern that has come to be associated with the Celtic peoples.
The horses depicted are of a strong, stocky short legged breed that is now extinct, except for some mixed descendants that are found today in Spain. These horses were multi-use, for although they had some oxen, they also used horses in a variety of capacities. In fact, according to Hebrew scholar, Dr Isaac E. Mozeson, our English word, horse, itself comes from the Hebrew word, Horesh, meaning to plough. [Radio interview on ‘Southwest Radio Church’ broadcast] These horses were well adapted for the rough and mountainous terrain that was the scene of their travels.
The ancient Greek historian, Herodotus (Bk 4), tells us that the Scythians travelled with their wives, children, and belongings in covered wagons, perhaps presenting a picture reminiscent of the early American pioneers in their famous ‘Conestoga Wagons’ on the Western frontier. Viewing the picture above, in the far distance a Scythian wagon train is dwarfed beneath the towering Caucasus Mountains. These mountains soared thousands of feet above sea level, causing some historians to suppose that they were impassable. To the contrary these peaks were traversed many times by both Scythian and Persian. A ‘Daryal Pass’ valley route sometimes called, “the Pass of Israel,” is clearly marked out in red in the Cambridge History Of Iran, (vol. 3:1:522); it was a favourite passage-way to Europe from the Mid-East.
There are many evidences of Hebrews in the Caucasus. The Jewish Encyclopedia states, “...the Caucasus Jews claim to be descendants of the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel ... the Georgians are equally certain of their descent from the Israelites who were taken from Palestine by Shalmanesar [726-722 B.C.].” (111.628) Do we have any proof that Hebrews were in the Caucasus and that they were in fact lost tribes of the house of Israel? The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia carries a fascinating article documenting the early presence of Hebrews in the Caucasus Mountains. It states, “The first immigration of [Israelites] into the Trans-Caucasus (supposed to have taken place in the 7th century, B.C.E., during the reign of the Assyrian kings) is recounted in ancient Armenian and Georgian chronicles. According to these chronicles, [Israel] arrived in these regions as early as the beginning of the 6th century, B.C.E. The first arrivals were probably free merchants, while the later partly came as captives.” (VIII:26) What Israelites were in captivity in the 6th and 7th centuries B.C.? These were the lost ten tribes of the house of Israel, found in the Caucasus Mountains of Eastern Europe a few short years after their dispersion, according to the ancient Armenian and Georgian Chronicles. It is also significant that the Caucasus Mountain nation we call, Georgia is known to its inhabitants by its native name of ‘Sakartvelo,’ and another early town there is called, ‘Sachkhere,’ perhaps revealing the presence of the ‘Saka’ in that region in early times.
The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia continues, “tombstones were discovered, dating from the 4th to 5th centuries, one of them bearing an inscription In Aramaic.” (VIII:26) Aramaic was the language of the region of Halah and Habor, where Assyria settled many of the captive Israelites. Several of these tombstones, from a Hebrew graveyard in the Crimea, north of the Caucasus, were translated in the Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archaeology in 1874. One read, “This is the tombstone of BUKI, the son of Isaac the priest; may his rest be in Eden, at the time of the salvation of Israel. In the year 702 of the years of our exile.” This tombstone dates to 6 A.D., during the time of Christ.
Many of the house of Judah were captured, along with the ten tribes of the house of Israel, at the time of the Assyrian conquest. Second Kings 18:13 records:
“Now in the fourteenth year of king Hezekilah did Sennacherib king of Assyria come up against all the fenced cities of Judah, and took them.”
This conquest included major cities of Judah such as Lachish. - (2 Chronicles 32:9) Only Jerusalem was spared the Assyrian conquest, so members of both houses of Israel and Judah were taken into captivity. Is it coincidence that the royal banner of England shows two symbols, the lion and the stag (or unicorn), the emblems of both of these houses? Yet a significant number of Judah were spared Assyrian conquest, to be used of God as His Sanctuary (Psalm 114:2) and be reunited completely with their brethren of the ten tribes at the end of the age.
Until that day arrives, we have God’s sure Promise, “For thus saith the LORD; David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel” - (Jeremiah 33:17) Somewhere in the world, David’s descendants have reigned in an unbroken succession throughout subsequent centuries. The land of Canaan in Palestine became a virtually uninhabited wasteland after the Assyrian and Babylonian conquests, so it is certain that this prophecy was not fulfilled there. Instead, we saw that many of the tribe of Judah were exiled with the house of Israel, so David’s descendants may indeed have reigned with the ten tribes in new homelands. The poor rocky soil of the Caucasus would have caused most of them to continue north into lands beyond. Where could David’s descendants have reigned over the house of Israel except in Europe? The real question therefore is not whether Hebrew tribes migrated to early Europe (the evidence indicates that they did), but instead, what percentage of Europeans are of Hebrew descent? The evidence gathered shows it to be significant in many parts of Europe. You are invited to write for more information!
Back To Archive Contents