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Israelite Diaspora

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Begun in or around the year 720 B.C., a rebellion against the Assyrian Empire broke out, participated in by ancient Syria and the Philistines (descendants of the 'Sea Peoples') from Mycenaean Greece, and also with Egyptian encouragement. Sargon II, who had ascended to the throne of Assyria, probably after Shalmaneser V's victory over Samaria, reacted quickly, campaigning against the ancient Philistines, and captured the ancient cities of Gaza and Raphia. Sargon inflicted defeat upon a relief force sent by Egypt to Gaza, and exacted tribute from the Egyptians, and even from the Arabians. Further, later rebellions in the area resulted in the swift extinction of the Philistines as a separate people, and in the conquest of Egypt by Assyria. Samaria had also been involved in this general rebellion against Assyrian control, and Sargon II punished Samaria and the other nations by extensively shifting captive populations within his provinces. Many of the captive inhabitants of the northern Kingdom of Israel, with its capital in Samaria, were exiled into distant regions of the Assyrian Empire, to the region of the Harbur River, the region around Nineveh and to the recently-conquered cities of ancient Media. This began the 'Israelite Diaspora' and the legend of the 'Ten Lost Tribes of Israel'. In the place of these displaced, exiled captives, Sargon II imported different peoples from Babylonia and Hamath and settled them in Samaria, where they inter-mixed with the remaining Israelites and became the people known afterwards to history as the 'Samaritans'. Arabians were also re-settled in Samaria by Sargon II, in 716 B.C. These new, forced emigrants brought with them their social customs and their local gods, introducing them to the region and 'corrupting' the remaining Israelites further with their idols and cults, especially fertility worship. The southern Kingdom of Judah was left in an extremely weakened and vulnerable position, and it was not long before this southern kingdom too joined its relatives in the Diaspora, or Babylonian Captivity, which eventually over-flowed the entire region, a generation later.

Sources

  • Yohanan Aharoni & Michael Avi-Yonah, "The MacMillan Bible Atlas", Revised Edition, p. 97 (1968 & 1977 by Carta Ltd.).

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