In spite of all the facts to the contrary, there is a class of teachers who without one word of historic proof insist upon teaching that the Egypt-Israelites returned with the Jews. Here is the argument of a commentator who has written two commentaries on "The Revelation." He is a good man and has a pure heart; but in so far as this subject is concerned, he certainly has not informed himself. He first asks the question: "Were not the ten tribes lost after the deportation of Shalmanezar, as none but Judah and Benjamin returned in the Exodus of Nehemiah?" And answers it thus: "There is a general misapprehension and delusion on that subject. As the ten tribes were carried into captivity a hundred and thirty-four years before Judah and Benjamin; yet doubtless many of the ten tribes returned with them to Palestine. So the ten tribes were not lost, but they simply lost their tribe-hood, as they did not return in their organized tribes, but as individuals. Hence all of this hue and cry about the lost tribes, ransacking all the world to find them, and writing vast volumes, is a piece of twaddle and nonsense."
Thus with one presumptive wave of the hand he attempts to sweep from before our eyes the most important subject, so far as the vindication of the Word of God is concerned, that has ever made an appeal to a Bible-loving people for an honest hearing.
This same commentator speaks of "The Exodus of Nehemiah," and of the number that returned "under Nehemiah," as though there were but one Exodus from Babylon. Whereas there were two, the first and largest being under Ezra, while that of Nehemiah was fourteen years later, and was composed of those Jews "which were left" of the Babylonish captivity, who did not go up with the first or Ezra exodus.
He further says: "The ten tribes had been in the Chaldean Empire two hundred years at the time of the Exodus." But it is written "that Israel was taken into Assyria, and placed in the regions of the rivers Hilah and Habor," a region of country more than five hundred miles from Babylon. To us it seems an insult to the integrity of God for any man to presume that the ten tribes ever saw Babylon.
This commentator still further says: "Of course they were but a fraction of Judah and Benjamin" which returned. But God says: "All the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered themselves together unto Jerusalem, and EVERY ONE unto his city." Is there any question here as to which we shall believe? None whatever; but, since our brother says that only a fraction of Judah and Benjamin returned, we would ask:
Where are the remaining fractions from which that fraction was taken? And since he tells us that doubtless many of the ten tribes returned with that fraction, we would ask: Where is the whole number from which the many came? And, without waiting for an answer, we will hasten to say that when this man was driven to use the "doubtless" argument, he had evidently lost something, and that the people in question are lost, at least to him.
When the Lord had determined to give Israel a bill of divorce, he called Hosea to prophesy against her, and, in order to have a perfect type of her adulterous condition, made him take a wife of whoredoms and bear children of whoredoms because the people of "the land had committed great whoredoms, departing from the Lord."
As the wife of the prophet bore children, the Lord took the privilege of naming them, and in each name uttered a prophecy.
When the first daughter was born, "God said unto him, Call her name Lo-ruhamah [which means, not having obtained mercy], for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel; but I will utterly take them away. But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah," (Hosea 1:6, 7).
"Now when she [the prophet's wife] had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived and bare a son. Then said God, Call his name Lo-ammi [which means, not my people], for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God. Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sands 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, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the Living God," (Hosea 1:8-10). Beloved, do you catch the wonderful meaning to all this? Look! The name of the newborn son is Lo-ammi, for God refuses any longer to be the God of that people among whom the child is born; he casts them off and forsakes them.
"Yet" -- O do you see the immutability of the promise of the covenant-making and covenant-keeping Jehovah, who after making an unconditional promise must keep it, even if some conditions do change? God has said it. He cannot lie; with him there is "no variableness nor shadow of turning." He has promised Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that their seed shall become "many nations." "I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven." "I will make thee fruitful and multiply thee." "Thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south." And then he told Joseph that all these promises should be fulfilled in his sons, at that same time making Ephraim his first-born. Then in due time he separated the Sceptre and the Birthright, causing all the tribes to gather under the one or the other, making two kingdoms of the entire Abrahamic posterity, saying, "This thing is of me."
But now "Ephraim-Israel is joined to his idols." "They are not my people," "I will not be their God," "I cast them out"; and "Yet," in spite of this, and although driven from home by their enemies, "yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sands of the sea, which cannot be numbered." This language proves that, although cast off, they must still increase and fulfill their God-appointed destiny by growing into a multitude of people in the midst of the earth, and in due time become a great nation or a company of nations. Also, the words which immediately follow these show that, while in that cast-out condition, and while developing into their destiny as regards multiplicity, they will become lost, so lost that they themselves will not know who they are. For it shall come to pass that, in the place where they go, they will be told that they are not the people of God, that they are not Jacob's seed, that they are not Israel, as at the time of the casting off they knew themselves to be. And when they are told that they are not the people of God they shall have so forgotten their origin, that they will believe it. This being the case, they certainly will be LOST, at least to themselves, and will need some one to prove to them that they are the descendants of God's chosen people. So, when the time comes, the Lord has said that those persons shall be there, and shall say unto them: "Ye are the sons of the Living God."
While Israel was true to the Lord, she was likened to a delicate and comely woman, and the Lord called her his wife; but when she became an idolatrous nation, she was called a harlot, and the Lord treated her as a woman who had broken wedlock, by giving her a bill of divorce. After the Lord has "cast her out of his sight," and allowed her to be carried away into the Assyrian captivity, she is spoken of in prophecy as "forsaken," a woman in "widowhood," "a wife of youth," "refused," "barren" and "desolate."
But the Lord made a promise of redemption to that same desolate one, saying: "Thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more. For thy Maker is thy husband [once more], the Lord of Hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; the God of the whole earth shall be called. For the Lord hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God. For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee," (Isa. 54:4-7).
You will also find by consulting this same chapter that, while barren, forsaken, and desolate, this same woman was to become the mother of more children than while married, or, in other words, Israel was to increase while cast out more than before. This is exactly what the prophet Hosea has declared in the prophecy which we have been considering.
The Lord further uses Hosea to teach that Israel would become lost after being cast out in the following: "For she said: I will go after my lovers (Israel is swallowed up: now shall they be among the Gentiles as a vessel wherein is no pleasure, for they are gone up to Assyria, a wild ass alone by himself: Ephraim hath hired lovers), that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink. Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that SHE SHALL NOT FIND HER PATHS," (Hosea 8:8, 9; 2:5, 6).
To show that the Scriptures, which we have just quoted, refer to Israel, aside from the Jews, we call your attention to the opening words of the chapter in which the non-parenthetical, or enclosing text appears, which is as follows: "Say ye unto your brethren Ammi, and to your sisters, Ruhamah. Plead with your mother, plead! for she is not my wife, neither am I her husband."
When God gave to Israel the name of Lo-ammi, or not my people, it was because he had cast them off, and they were no longer his people. For when the Lord gives a name to a person, or a nation, he names them in harmony with their character or condition. But while it is true that Israel was not at that time the people of God, it is true that Judah was then ruling with him, and was counted among the faithful; hence, they were Ammi, or the people of God.
Also when God gave to Israel the name of Lo-ruhamah, the meaning of which is, not having obtained mercy, he did so because that name was characteristic of his attitude toward them, at that time, for he declared that he would no longer have mercy upon them, but would cast them out. But at that same time he said, "I will have mercy upon the house of Judah." So, if Israel was Lo-ruhamah, the one not having obtained mercy, then Judah was Ruhamah, the one which obtained mercy. For that word "Lo" is the Hebrew negative, and, in the Scriptures under consideration, the words Ammi, Lo-ammi, Ruhamah, and Lo-ruhamah are Hebrew words which are transferred, but not translated.
These things being true, it is clear that the brethren Ammi, and their sisters Ruhamah, who are exhorted to plead, are the Jews and Jewesses of the kingdom of Judah. It is they who are exhorted to plead with their mother, i.e., to plead with that out from which they came, namely: THE KINGDOM OF ISRAEL.
Yes, Israel, she of whom the Lord hath said: "She is not my wife, neither am I her husband;" she, the woman of whoredom: she, the woman who had broken wedlock; she, who had run after hired lovers; she, who asked counsel of cattle and stone images; she, who was joined to Jeroboam's calves, and of whom, after she was sent adrift, the Lord said that he would hedge up her way, and make a wall, "that she shall not find her paths," i.e., lost.
The Lord further declares, "When Ephraim spake trembling he exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended in Baal he died. And now they sin more and more, and have made them molten images of their silver, and idols according to their own understanding, all of it the work of craftsmen; they say of them, Let the men who sacrifice kiss the calves. Therefore they shall be as the morning cloud, and as the early dew that passeth away, as the chaff that is driven with the whirlwind out of the floor, and as the smoke out of the chimney," (Hosea 13:1-3).
After the smoke out of a chimney has disappeared, after the sun has risen and scattered the morning cloud, after the dew has been drawn from leaf and blade, and passed away -- if we were to ask you to hunt that scattered cloud, to search for that smoke, and find again that dew, we are certain you would be willing to admit that they were lost. This is certainly what the Lord intends us to understand concerning the kingdom known as Israel, for subsequent to this, and yet prior to the time when the Jews went into the Babylonian captivity, he declares, through Jeremiah the prophet, "My people have been lost sheep."
Ezekiel not only corroborates these prophets, but he visited Israel about twelve years before Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and took the Jews to Babylon. He says, "As I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God," (Ezek. 1:1). You will find by consulting the map that this river Chebar is in the same region of country with Habor, Halah and the river Gozan, where the Israelites were deported by Shalmaneser, king of Assyria. In fact, the rivers Gozan and Halah empty into the Chebar, which, in turn, empties into the Euphrates. Chebar, Chabor, Habor, Kebah and Heber are only different forms of the same word.
Ezekiel continues and says, "Then I came to them of the captivity at Tel-abib, that dwelt by the river of Chebar, and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days. And it came to pass at the end of seven days, that the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel," (Ezek. 3:15, 17). Then after speaking of many who should be destroyed by sword, famine and pestilence because of their abominations, how that he would scatter their bones round about the altars of their idols, he says: "Yet I will leave a remnant, that ye may have some that shall escape the sword among the nations, when he shall be scattered through the countries. And they that escape of you shall remember me among the nations whither they shall be carried," (Ezek. 6:8, 9).
Again, the offended God of Israel uses Ezekiel to declare, "I will scatter thee among the heathen and disperse thee in the countries, and will" -- What? Destroy them? No, but -- "consume thy filthiness out of thee," (Ezek. 22:15). After this, the Lord declares this dispersion to have been accomplished, saying: "I scattered them among the heathen and they were dispersed through the countries . . . and when they entered into the heathen, whither they went, they profaned my holy name, when they said to them, These are the people of the Lord, and are gone forth out of his land. But I had pity for mine holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the heathen, whither they went. Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God, I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name's sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went. And I will sanctify my great name . . . and the heathen shall know that I am the Lord God, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land," (Ezek. 36:19-24).
The Jews were taken into Babylon and returned from thence; but the house of Israel, as herein stated, was scattered throughout all countries. But for the vindication of his holy name, he declared that he should yet be sanctified in the eyes of all nations, by saving Israel and bringing them back to their own land. When this takes place, Israel shall come out from all countries.
In two of these quotations they are called, "The dispersed." This will enable us to understand Zeph. 3:10 -- "From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia, my suppliants, even the daughter of my dispersed, shall bring mine offering.”
Since we understand that "the dispersed" are the ten tribes, which composed the Birthright kingdom, we comprehend the grave import of the question asked by the chief man of Judah in the following: "When the Pharisees heard that the people murmured such things concerning him; and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take him. Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto him that sent me. Ye shall seek me and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come. Then said the Jews among themselves, ‘Whither will he go that we cannot find him? "Will he go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles?’ " (John 7:32-35).
This very question reveals the fact that the Jews knew that the ten tribes were dispersed among the nations, and that they did not know where they were; hence, that they could not go to them. They also comprehended the fact that, if this man called Christ should prove to be the long-expected Messiah, he did know where the lost people were, and could go to them. It is also an admission, from the chief men of Judah, that a portion of the race were lost.
Isaac Leeser, an eminent Jewish scholar, who translated the Hebrew Scriptures for the English speaking Jews, says in his great work, "The Jewish Religion," Vol. I, page 256: "Let us observe that by this return of the captives (from Babylon) the Israelitish nation was not restored; since the ten tribes, who had formerly composed the kingdom of Israel, were yet left in banishment; and to this day the researches of travelers and wise men have not been able to trace their fate."
Micah, also, falls into exact line with the rest of the prophets, for through him the Lord declares: "I will surely assemble, O Jacob, all of thee; I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together as the sheep of Bozrah, as the flock in the midst of their fold, they shall make great noise by reason of the multitude of men. The breaker is come up before them: they have broken up, and passed through the gate, and are gone out by it; and their king shall pass before them, and the Lord on the head of them," (Micah 2:12, 13).
The reason the Lord says that he will assemble and put them together is, that, prior to the time when Shalmaneser took the main body of the kingdom of Israel into Assyria, it seems that a former king (Tiglath-Pileser) had taken the Reubenites, the Gadites, a portion of Naphtali, and one of the half tribes of Manasseh, "And brought them unto Halah, and Habor and Hara, and to the river Gozan." Later, the rest of the ten tribes were brought to this same region.
As we have already noted, the last that Josephus knew concerning the ten tribes, is that they were beyond the river Euphrates. This river rises at the foot of Mount Ararat, up in the Caucasian Pass, between the Black and Caspian seas. Israel, making a great noise because of the multitude, went out through this pass, or gate, or entrance.
What is meant by the king passing on before them is explained later.