Readings: Isaiah 28:1-29, 2 Kings 18:10-22, 2 Kings 17:6-23 2 Kings 17:24-41.

It’s been 11 days on the trail. You may be growing tired and weary. Evenings on the AT over campfire often include tales, stories to fill the quiet evenings in the woods. Today I share a tale, a possible story of what could have happened to the 10 tribes of Israel after Assyrian conquest. The day has come in our time in the OT, the time of reckoning, the time of defeat. The time of captivity. The prophets warned them. The northern kingdom, Israel, its capital Samaria, is taken captive by Assyria.

The Assyrian government were purposeful in their attack. They were of nation of dispersement and assimilation. They chose to scatter the people of Israel, to diminish their power. They dispersed them throughout the kingdom of Assyria and no one really know where they were taken. 2 Kings 18: 11 states “At the time the king of Assyria exiled the Israelites to Assyria and placed them in colonies in Halah, along the banks of the Habor River in Grozan. But there is no city of this origin. There is no river of Grozan. There is one theory that is very interesting. Is it plausible that the Assyrians took the Israelites far far away, to a place 2000 miles away on the Volga river in Russia to a place currently called Samara. The people of this group were called the Khazars and in the same time period of our dispersion, this people group converted to Judaism. (1,2) Their state language was Hebrew. (3) See map below of a plausible trek from Samaria, Israel to Samara, Russia.

“The exiles who were removed from Samaria, a city of palaces and temples, no doubt bewailed the capital
they had heroically defended for three years against the army of what was, in its time, the world’s most
powerful nation. Therefore, it is quite plausible that they would call their new settlement Samaria (in
Hebrew, Shemer or Shomron; Sumur in the el-Amarna letters).
On the middle flow of the Volga, a city with the name Samara exists and has existed since gray antiquity. “(3)

With every interesting fable, be moans the real truth. To this day, we still do not know where the 10 tribes were taken. We do know that dispersion was paramount to the Assyrian government. And assimilation was part of their means to destroy subgroups of people. The king of Assyria transported groups of people and resettled them back into the holes he created in Samaria, and replaced the people of Israel. Reread 2 Kings 17:24-41. “These new residents worshiped the Lord, but they also continued to follow their former practices instead of truly worshiping the Lord”. Do we do this even today. We call ourselves a christian nation, one nation under God, but do we follow at all times the decrees, regulations, instructions, and commands that He wrote for us?” (2 Kings 17:37) Or do we make up religious practices of our own, ideas and customs that are fitting of the times, just like these new settlers of Samaria?

1 https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/371339

2 https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/khazars

3 http://sources.li/HALAH.pdf