In the days of Pekah king of Israel came Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria and took Ijon, and Abel-Bet-Maachah, and Janoah, and Kedesh, and Hazor, and Gilead and Galilee, all the land of Naftali, and carried them captive to Assyria. (Kings II; 15; 29) In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah began Hosea the son of Elah to reign in Samaria over Israel nine years. And he did that which was evil in the eyes of the Lord… Against him came up Shalmaneser king of Assyria; and Hosea became his servant, and gave him gifts. And the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hosea; for he had sent messengers to So king of Egypt… Then the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria and besieged it three years. In the ninth year of Hosea 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. (Kings II, 17; 1-6) And the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, and the spirit of Tiglath-Pilneser king of Assyria, and he carried them away, even the Reubenites and the Gadites, and half the trive of Menasseh, and brought them unto Halah, and Habor, and Harah, and to the river Gozan unto this day. (Chronicles I; 5; 26) The Ten Tribes as a concept are first mentioned in the meeting between Jeroboam ben Nevat and Ahiah the Shilonite in the field. AT this meeting Ahiah says: "Thus says the Lord God of Israel, behold I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give Ten Tribes to thee. But he shall have one tribe…" (Kings I; 11; 31-32) About two hundred years passed between this meeting until the Ten Tribes were exiled from their land and the Kingdom of Israel was extinguished in the year 720 BCE. According to Assyrian documentation, the Assyrian king exiled from Transjordan and northern Israel some 200,250 souls, and from the capital Samaria, 27,290 souls. The exiles were not denied freedom of religion and were permitted to remain in large groups and continue their national existence in the cities to which they had been exiled. The king of Assyria operated according to the principle of "divide and rule" in order to ensure his sole rule over the areas he had conquered. From the words of the Assyrian Chief of Staff at the time of the siege of Jerusalem, we learn that the Assyrians, despite all their cruelty, tried to transmit the exiles to fertile lands that were easy to cultivate, areas that were similar geographically and agriculturally to those of Samaria and the Galilee. This is what Rab-Shakeh in the name of the king of Assyria during the siege of Jerusalem: "…come out to me… until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, and land of corn and wine, and land of bread and vineyards, a land of oil, olive and honey, that you may live and not die…" (Kings II; 18; 31-32) The Samarian exiles were brought to Halah, Habor, the river Gozan, the cities of the Medes, and Hara. Halah: According to one opinion, an area located at the foot of the Zagros Mountains, which are also known as The Medean Mountains. Another opinion identifies it with the area between city of Nineveh and Horsabad. Our sages identified this city with a city named Helwan or Halazon. (Kiddushin 72a) Habor: B"Z Luria (5744) writes that Habor is the name of the river that runs from Karga-Dag and Tur Avdin and flows down the plain between the Euphrates and the Tigris until it enters the Euphrates north of Maidin. The river crosses a wide plain along which many cities arose in ancient times. In the 8th century BCE, when the Ten Tribes arrive here, the Arameans - who had also been conquered by the Assyrians - lived in the plain, and the exiles from Samaria were settled here in their stead. The Gozan River: According to Luria, this is located in a place called "Tel Halaf" which is the western part of the Gozan River. Gozan is the name of the capital city as well as that of the Assyrian Pahwa. This is also where an Aramean kingdom existed until it was conquered by the Assyrians. The Cities of the Medes: The location of these cities ranges from southeast of Lake Umia to the Zagros Mountains. According to the documents of Tiglath Pileser, 65,000 people were exiled to this area - among them many exiles from Samaria. It is important to mention that the Ten Tribes never disappeared from the awareness of their Judean brethren. Most scholars of Israelite history are of the opinion that the residents of the Samarian kingdom intermingled rather swiftly among the peoples to which they arrived, were swallowed up among them and intermarried until they completely lost their identity. Despite this, among the prophets we find many prophecies of comfort about the children of Efraim and the return of the Ten Tribes. The tribe of Judah was exiled 136 years later, but never lost its identity and thus was able, 70 years later, to return to its land and to maintain its autonomy until the Second Destruction during the first century. The questions arises: Why is it that in Babylon, the tribe of Judah succeeded in maintaining its identity while in Gozan, Halah, Habor and the cities of the Medes, they didn't? It seems that the writings of the prophetic works and the development of prophetic literature which began after the destruction of Samaria was able to strengthen the spirit of the people of Judah, and to immunize it against the surrounding pagan influence. The residents of Judah learned from their sources and from painful reality what had befallen their brethren - the Ten Tribes - and how easily they had lost their identity. Thus they sought to strengthen the foundations of their identity in the period prior to the Babylonian exile. Some of the Ten Tribes returned with Ezra to the Land of Israel at the beginning of the Second Temple period. Contact was lost with the others. The Latin version of the Book of Ezra, written in the first century CE (the Hagiography, Kahana Edition 5716) says: "The Ten Tribes who were exiled from their land during the days of king Hosea and who were led by Shalmaneser king of Assyria into captivity, and he transported them across the river and transferred them to another land." The words "another land" are written "Artzeret" - this form of writing testifies that the author had no knowledge where the exiles of the Samarian kingdom were to be found, and already at this stage in history they became the Ten Lost Tribes." The Talmud mentions that the Ten Tribes were exiled to three places: "Israel was exiled to three exiles, one within the Sambatyon River, and one to Daphne in Antiochia, and one upon which a cloud descended and covered it." (Jerusalem Talmud Sanhedrin 39a). Antiochia: The Samarian exile did not only settle there but moved south toward Armenia, Horkania, Kilikia, Ludia and Tarsus. Today, this city is to be found in Turkey. Daphne was the name of a suburb of the city. The city suffered numerous earthquakes, and it seems that the descendants of the ten tribes died in any or all of these earthquakes. Sambatyon: Josephus in his book "The War of the Jews" tells that Titus Caesar, upon his return to Italy after the capture of Jerusalem, passed through Syria and there he saw: "A river full of water, the current of which never ceases. Afterwards, it disappears for six days for its entire length from its source and appears completely dry. But on the seventh day it sends forth it waters as if nothing had changed." The Roman historian Pliny, who lived the same time as Josephus, identifies the river with one in the land of Judah, writes the opposite view and calls the river "The Sabbath River" for it flows for six days and ceases on the seventh. Rabbi Akiva, also a contemporary of that period, tells the wicked Turnus Rufus something similar to Pliny: "The Sambatyon River testifies, for all the days it drags along stones and sand, and on the Sabbath it rests." (Midrash Tanchuma, Ki Tissa, Parasha 33) There is no doubt that each of these three places is more mysterious that the other. The geographical location of the Sambatyon and the cloud remain a mystery that many have attempted to discover - but without any great success. Eldad Hadani In the Geonic period we find a responsum of one Zemach Bar Rav Haim Gaon who served as Gaon from 886 to 879 in Kerouan. He received a query from a group of people who had met Eldad Hadani and were unable to evaluate the man. "In the matter of Eldad Hadani which you sent before us that you had heard from him, sages have told us that they heard from Rabana Yitzhak ben Mar and Rabana Simha who saw this Reb Eldad Hadani and they wondered about his words, some of which seemed words of wisdom and some of which seemed wondrous. We have seen sources that support our sages. For when Sennacherib rose and exiled the tribe of Zebulun in the eighth year of king Ahaz' from the establishment of the temple until the eighth year of Ahaz there were close to 264 years. And since the children of Dan saw - and they were mighty men - that the king of Assyria has ruled in Israel, they left the land of Israel to Kush and they rested there to be there in a land of gardens and orchards, fields and vineyards. A wide plained land fileld with all forms of goodness, and they permitted them to worship God in fear and to perform all His commandments with love, and this helped them for they were crowned with two crowns, the crown of Torah and kingship, when Reb Eldad Hadani told of this." (Otzar Hamidrashim, p20) The exchange of letters between the people of Kerouan and Rabbi Zemach Gaon is the primary source we have on Eldad. Later on, there developed many stories and myths regarding his personality and about the Land of Cush from where he came as a representative of the tribe of Dan. Eldad continued from North Africa to Spain. He is mentioned again in a letter sent by Hisdai Ibn Shaprut, a minister in the government of Andalusia, to the Jewish ruler of the Khazar kingdom. After that, his footsteps disappear. From the honorable manner in which both Rabbi Zemach Gaon and Hisdai Ibn Shaprut refer to him, we learn that they considered his testimony about the kingdom of the tribe of Dan in Abyssinia to be true, unlike later scholars who considered him an imaginative charlatan. Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela In the year 1165, about 300 years after the travels of Eldad Hadani, Benjamin ben Jonah departs from Tudela on a journey in search of Jewish communities. In 1171 he returns to Spain and writes his memoirs, the famous "Journeys of Benjamin of Tudela." Regarding the Ten Tribes, he writes: "… and it is said that there are people there who are the tribe of Reuben and Gad and half the tribe of Menashe… and they went and built great, fortified cities, and they fight against all the kingdoms, and none can enter them. For eighteen days one walks in the uninhabited deserts, until one come to Khievar, a very great city with some fifty thousand Jews, including scholars and warriors, who fight against the sons of Shinar and the northern lands, and the nearby land of Aliman, which is the beginning of India." With regard to the Jews of India he writes that "all the people of the land of black and the Jews too, and they are good Jews who fulfill mitzvoth and they have the Torah of Moses and the prophets, and some of the Talmud and the Halacha." About the Jews of Shinkli (Kranganur) he writes: "There are about a thousand Jews there." Regarding the tribes of Dan, Zevulun, Asher and Naftali he writes: "…And it is said that in the Nasbor cities there are four tribes of Israel, Dan, Zevulun, Asher and Naftali… and the distance of their land is twenty days, and they have provinces and cities. On the one side they are surrounded by the river Gozan, and the yoke of the non-Jews is not upon them, for they have a president named Joseph Hamarkli Helo, and among them are scholars, and they sow and reap and go to war in the Land of Cush through the deserts." The area describes by Rabbi Bejamin, as the home of the Ten Tribes, is a mountainous area, divided by steep valleys. The cities of Nisbor are found in northeastern Iran, close to the border with Afghanistan. Rabbi Saadia Gaon in the 9th century and Moshe ben Ezra in the 11th century mention Afghanistan - then known as Horasan - as the home of the Ten Tribes. Literature of the Rishonim The Rishonim, in their writings and mainly in their letters, dealt at length with the subject of lost Jews. Maimonides in one of his letters, writes: "With regard to your question about the tribes, you should know that this is a true issue and we wait for their arrival, for they are hidden beyond the mountains of darkness, and the river Gozan and the river Sambatyon." Rabbi David Hareuveni Avigdor Shachan is of the opinion that the Jewish dispersion arrived in the state of Kerala and to Cochin in three different historic waves of migration: In the 1st Century BCE: When members of the Ten Tribes communities left Afghanistan and settled in India in the Sakito-Parthic Kingdom. This was a nation of Indian-European origin that lived from the 8th century BCE through the 1st century CE in the plains of southern Ukraine on the banks of the Black Sea and the Don and Dnieper rivers. Most scholars consider that they migrated to the Ukraine from Central Asia. The Kushan invasion of the Sakito-Parthic Kingdom resulted in many inhabitants fleeing northern India for the south. In the 5th Century CE: As a result of thedecrees of the Persian King Prosus, more Jews fled northern India and joined their brethren in the south. A third group, descendants of the Raban (=Hareven) family, also from the Ten Tribes, arrived in India from Yemen at an undetermined time, and settled in Malabar. Joseph Raban, who was a descendant of the family, received copper tablets from the local ruler. Shachan claims the existence of a 16th century document in Amsterdam, written in Hebrew and signed by the Jewish leaders of Cochin. The document states that for over 1,000 years (starting in the 6th century) 70 kings (melichim) from among their people ruled in Cochin. However, due to a quarrel between two brothers close to the royal court, and due to timeously unpaid taxes to the Hindu ruler, their royal independence was removed. This loss of Independence, says Shachan, led to Muslim control over the harbors of southern India, and David Hareuveni, a descendant of Joseph Raban, departed in the 16th century, on a hazardous journey from Cochin to Portugal and Italy, in order to bring to Portuguese to southern India, so that they might defeat the Muslims, and return the kingship to the Jews in Cochin. And this is what Reuveni writes about himself: "I, David son of the late King Solomon, of blessed and righteous memory, and my brother the king Joseph who is older then me, and he sits on his throne in the desert of Habor and rules over thirty thousand, over the sons of Gad and the sons of Reuven and half the tribe of Menashe, I have traveled from before the king, my brother, and his counselors, the seventy elders, and they commanded me to go first to Rome before his majesty the Pope." Hareuveni's itinerary goes from southern India to Afghanistan, the Habor desert, Heart, Jeddah, by ship via the Red Sea to the city of Tsuakin in the land of Abyssinia in the kingdom of Sheba. From there he continues for two months through the jungles of Africa until he comes to Maul on the banks of the Nile. He remains in Maul for ten months and then continues to Sonar, and then by boat along the Nile to the edge of the Sheban kingdom, from where he travels to the kingdom of El-Galbeh. From there to Mount Ataki, the land of Donguluah, Ahbir, Girgam, Cairo, Gaza, Hebron, Jerusalem, Gaza, Egypt, Portugal and finally Rome. Shabtai Zvi About 100 years after David Hareuveni, there appears the false messiah Shabtai Zvi in 1666 in Izmir, Turkey. The tales of his conquests in the city of Mecca and the African continent with the help of a Hebrew-speaking army of the Ten Tribes that he gathered, upon whom the fire rained down and returned upon the heads of those who fired at them, an army for whom the Turkish Sultan offered the city of Alexandria, and Tunis, and so on. These fables were distributed by word of mouth and by letter, and caused Jews to sell their possessions in the Diaspora, exhume the bones of their deceased relatives and go up to Israel. Many communities were severely damaged when Shabtai Zvi decided to become a Muslim and turn his back on the destruction he had wrought. It seems that as European geographers expanded their knowledge, discovered new continents and developed sea routes for trade, and as the European colonies abroad grew, the Ten Tribes were dispossessed of their former lands. By the end of the 17th century, Asia, Africa and India ceased being mysterious places populated by the Ten Tribes. Once the world had understood that the Sambatyon and the Mountains of Darkness were not in Africa or Asia, the search began to find the Ten Tribes in the Americas. Menashe ben Israel Menashe ben Israel published a book in Amsterdam in 1652 called "The Hope of Israel." In it Ben Israel proves that the Ten Tribes are to be found in America. He bases himself upon a story he heard from a certain Marrano who returned from South America to Amsterdam. In the Andes Mountains, the man came across some Indian who told him that he is a Hebrew, and introduced him to a group of Hebrews who declared themselves to be the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Ben Israel thought this to be possible and quotes from the Talmud, Josephus, Eldad Hadani, Benjamin of Tudela, David Hareuveni and assorted other Jewish and Christian scholars - that the Ten Tribes are to be found in many places around the world and that they reached China, and northeast Asia, and Siberia from where they crossed the Baring Straights that divide Asia from America. In his opinion the two continents were once connected until earthquakes separated them. Ben Israel's scholarship is scientific and considered a pioneering work in the field of research into the whereabouts of the Ten Tribes. Modern Scholars Research of the Ten Tribes in the modern ages has been influenced by fakes and forgeries on the one hand and serious research by ethnogarphers, missionaries and travelers on the other. Among the researchers that need to be mentioned is Joseph Israel Benjamin, known as the Second Benjamin (1818-1864). In 1844 he departed on his first journey to the east, passing through Vienna and Kushta. He visited Egypt, Israel, Syria, Iraq, Armenia, Kurdistan, Iran, Afghanistan, India and China. During his travels in the east he met many tribes among who he saw descendants of the Ten Tribes. He summarized his journey in 1856, in his book "Travels of the Children of Israel." Another researcher is a British medical officer, H. W. Bellew, who lived in Afghanistan for a long time, and in 1891 published in London his work "An Ethnographic Review of Afghanistan." In it Bellew maintains that many of the Pashtun tribes who live in Afghanistan believe that they descend from "Bani Israil". They identify themselves as people who used to observe Torah until they converted to Islam in the 8th century. In 1889 Adolf Neuberger published his essay "Where are the Ten Tribes?" He claims in all to be a mirage. He is of the opinion that only the upper classes of the Israelite Kingdom were exiled, while the simple folk remained behind and integrated into the peoples who were brought to the Land of Israel by the Assyrians. Most the exiles integrated swiftly among the peoples where they had been brought, while others mingled with the exiles from Judah 136 years later. In his opinion, the Assyrian exiles never existed as an autonomous entity. Shimon Menahem Lazare writes in his book "The Ten Tribes and their Solution" (1908) that most of the Samarian exiles maintained their identities and returned with the Judean exiles after Cyrus' declaration. Zvi Kasdai in his article "The Tribes of Jacob and the Captive of Israel" (1928) writes that the exiles from Samaria and Judah connected together mainly in the mountains of Kurdistan-Caucus, the snow-capped peaks of which can be identified as the "Mountains of Darkness". Kasdai believed that many traditions regarding the Ten Tribes are based upon historical fact. Alan Godbey, a professor of Bible at Duke University, published in 1930 an 800-page study entitled "The Ten Tribes - The Story of a Legend." This book was an encyclopedic life's work, and it discusses the place of the Ten Tribes in Africa and Asia. While he defines the Ten Tribes as a myth, he posits that they were surely exiled from their land, while continuing their attempts to spread their monotheistic faith in all the countries of their exile. In his opinion, they succeeded in this mission and converted many believers from North Africa in the west to central Asia in the east. Even after the tribes converted to Islam or Christianity they maintained their monotheistic beliefs and customs, which originated in ancient Israel. 60 years passed and once again scholars started to deal with the subject again. In Israel the subject arose in the 1980s when Rabbi Eliyahu Avichail of Jerusalem founded the Amishav movement and discovered the lost tribes of Benei Menashe in Mizoram and Manipur, in northeastern India. Another organization active in this effort is Shavei Israel, headed by Michael Freund. A British researcher, Dr. Theodore Parfitt, has been conducting research on genetic effects and the presence of chromosome Y among numerous tribes around the world. This chromosome is prevalent among Jews in general and Cohanim in particular. In India he is assisted by a young researcher from the University of Lucknow - Dr. Navras Afreedi - who claims that his ancestors were Afreedi, descendants of the tribe of Efraim, and that many of the Pathans and other tribes are descendant from the Ten Tribes. Dr. Afreedi did his post-doctoral work at Tel Aviv University, entitled "Indian Jewry and the Self-professed Lost Tribes of Israel in India." Dr Avigdor Shachan, a lecturer in military history, published his book "Across the Sambatyon" in 2005, in which he recounts the migration routes of the exiled Ten Tribes from the Land of Israel to Assyria, and from there across Asia Minor, Iran, Afghanistan, India, China and Japan. His conclusions are that in these areas there continue to live millions of people who maintain remnants of customs that connect them to ancient Israel, despite the passing of 2700 years. The last writer on this subject is Hillel Halkin, who in his book "On the banks of the Sambatyon: A journey in the footsteps of the descendants of Menashe" presents the question of the origin of Bnei Menashe. Halkin, somewhat skeptically, accompanied rabbi Avichail to Manipur and Mizoram, was impressed that there indeed exists an unsolved mystery, returned twice to research it further, and slowly concluded that this lost tribe indeed has a connection to the people of Israel.

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