On July 4 the United States celebrated Independence Day, so named because of the 1776 date when the colonies officially broke away from Great Britain. Nations don’t spring up overnight, though. Who were these people? Where did they come from?
We know that immigrants first flowed to the New World from Europe, but who were they before that? Where did they come from? Well, there is a fascinating story behind the story that connects the dots from the ancient past to the present.
If you start working back from today to try to answer, “Where did we come from?” you may well discover another group of people whose story makes you ask, “Where did they go?” It’s a long story, with a lot of mystery; but here’s the quick version.
We have to jump back in time to the Arabs and Jews. Both trace their ancestry back to the same father, Abraham, which is another story entirely; but it’s on the Jews’ side that the story gets really interesting … and sometimes confusing!
Abraham had a grandson named Jacob, whose name was later changed to Israel. In 1948 the Jews, honoring their forefather, named their new nation Israel.
So, that means that when you read in the Bible about Israel, it’s talking about the Jews, right? Wrong! Israel had 12 sons, one of whom was named Judah, the father of the Jews—but the Jews were just one of 12 family members.
All 12 tribes were known as “the children of Israel,” and after several centuries they became a powerful nation. Unfortunately, conflicts arose and the nation split in two—one group of 10 tribes keeping the nation’s name of Israel, and the other group becoming known as the kingdom of Judah.
Interestingly, in the first place in the Bible where the word “Jews” is mentioned, you find them fighting a war against Israel! So, it’s a mistake to think that “Jews” and “Israel” are one and the same thing! All Jews are Israelites, but not all Israelites are Jews.
In time, Assyria eventually conquered the 10 tribes of Israel, carried them into captivity; and from that point, they were scattered and seem to disappear from historical records.
A little over a century later, the Babylonians then conquered and enslaved the kingdom of Judah. Something interesting happened, though—unlike their brothers, the Jews never lost their identity. To this day, no matter where they’ve migrated, everyone knows who the Jews are and can easily trace their history.
But what happened to all of Judah’s brothers? Millions of people don’t just disappear from the face of the earth! They might change their identity, their names, their religion, their language, and that might make their history harder to track … but their descendants have to be out there somewhere today, just like their brothers the Jews are.
So, one of history’s mysteries is, “Where did the lost tribes go?”
Well, the records aren’t entirely silent on the subject. There is strong evidence tracing the “lost 10 tribes” for centuries through the Caucasus Mountains, where they picked up the name Caucasians, and from there into Europe and England and, eventually, … North America!
So what difference does it make? Our forefathers came from somewhere. Is it purely coincidental that the U.S. and Britain and her sister nations have risen to such prominence in the world? Could it have anything to do with promises made to Abraham and his children? If so, that would mean these modern nations are also key figures in the Bible’s prophecies about Israel, including prophecies that are yet to be fulfilled!
That’s just a quick summary. Take a look at the prophecy section here in Life Hope and Truth, and you’ll find the details connecting the dots between these peoples and nations going back for thousands of years. The Bible’s story behind the story is fascinating, and you ought to know what lies yet ahead.
For Life, Hope & Truth, I’m Clyde Kilough.