Most people seem unaware of the three separate ‘taking into captivities’ of the children of Israel. Being more and more awakened to the knowledge that God, who created the universe and space-time didn’t leave it all to indiscriminance. I suspect that there is an understanding here that will unveil further understandings waiting to be revealed in His reliable Word which most of us have only scratched the surface of understanding. Remember that the kingdom of Israel was split into separate kingdoms after the death of Solomon. The ten northern tribes (Ephraim and Manasseh numbering among them) are referred to as the house of Israel and retain the name of ‘Israel’ as part of the birthright of Ephraim and Manasseh. Gen 48.16 The southern kingdom (which includes Judah, Benjamin and Levi) are referred to as the house of Judah and are commonly referred to, in the bible, as ‘Jews’.
The Jews can be further split into two separate groups, those who were taken captive from the ‘defenced cities’ of the house of Judah (2Kings 18, Isaiah 36) into Assyria a few years after the house of Israel, and those who were taken captive into Babylon from Jerusalem many years later.
The Bible is clear in Zechariah that these three groups constitute three different prophetic references to the descendants of Israel (Jacob).
Zec 1:19 And I said unto the angel that talked with me, What be these? And he answered me, These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.
- House of Israel (Israel) – taken into Assyrian captivity after the reign of Hoshea, king of the house of Israel
- House of Judah (Judah) – referred to as the ‘defenced cities of Judah’, they were taken captive also into Assyria but about 10 -15 years after the house of Israel
- Jerusalem (Jerusalem) – God had mercy on Jerusalem from the time of the taking away of Judah until Nebuchadnezzar came and took Jerusalem away captive into Babylon in the early 4th century BC (585 bc – 590 bc).
A very general outline of the three distinct captivities goes something along these lines.
The house of Israel was taken into captivity in Assyria in the latter part of the 6th century BC by Shalmanezer, king of Assyria.(2Kings 18:9-11)
Ten years later Sennacherib, then king of Assyria, took all of the defenced cities of the house of Judah(2Kings 18, Isaiah 36) and was intent to take Jerusalem as well but God had mercy on Hezekiah, king of the house of Judah, and for a time Jerusalem was spared from captivity.
In the very late part of the 5th century BC, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, began his first siege of Jerusalem and Jerusalem was eventually taken by him and exiled into Babylon.
Note that in these first two captivities (house of Israel and house of Judah) it was the Assyrian kings that took them away out of the land. The third and final conquest of the remnant of Israel (Jerusalem) came from Babylon.
Is it inadvertent / unintended that prophecy often uses references like ‘house of Israel’, ‘house of Judah’ and ‘Jerusalem’ as though they are distinct from one another? On many occasions ‘Zion’ and ‘Jerusalem’ are used in the same sentence as though they are to be understood separately from each other. Yet most people think of them as one and the same and that those occasions where they are used in the same sentence is ‘just a form of poetic Hebraic expressiveness’.
Continually, Ephraim (or Israel) and Judah are referred to in objective context as distinct peoples and yet most people read right over that assuming that they are all just different names that God likes to call the Jews and that when He says these different names He actually is speaking of the same people. That’s an odd assumption, especially since there is no basis for it. And yet it seems to be the prevailing view among Christians in general. The following are some example verses where two different terms are often mistakenly taken to reference the same peoples or groups. (Psa 60:7, Isa 9:21, Isa 11:13., Eze 37:16, Hos 5:5, Hos 6:4, Zec 9:9, Zec 9:13, 1Ki 8:1, Psa 135:21, Isa 4:3, Isa 30:19, Lam 1:17, Joe 3:17, Zec 1:17)
Is it any wonder that with the confusion of terms like these that many are falling away from Christianity. People, when confronted about notions like this (that the Jews, house of Israel, Ephraim, Judah, etc… are all referring to the same people, God just likes to mix it up a little by referring to them with different names) are forced to admit that it doesn’t make any sense (or more properly, that is doesn’t fit together very reliably). But rather than study the Bible as though it is the Word of God, they view it as another version of world history no more reliable than wikipedia or the liberal headed university (though not as tenaciously agenda-ed).
God exists and so does His Word (Truth). That being the case then this is a spiritual world. Those who have considered very far into this, approach the Word of God with enthusiasm for studying it, while others begin racking up student loans and/or suffer death by wikipedia. It’s almost as predictable now as the weather the way a non believer seeks verification through secularly governed institutions (religious institutions for example) where truth is obfuscated.