Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Ransom Captive Israel (Part 5)

Evans also makes the important point that though the southern tribes returned from the exile, the northern tribes deported under the Assyrian campaign never did—hence the expression the “lost ten tribes.”[1] This expectation is well attested to in the prophets, as our survey above demonstrated.[2] Sirach 48:10 speaks of the coming of Elijah in the eschatological period, who will “restore the tribes of Jacob.” It is also well attested in the intertestamental and pseudepigraphical writings. Consider just a few examples:

T Naph 5:8: And I looked... and behold a sacred writing appeared to us, which said, 'Assyrians, Medes, Persians, Elamites, Gelachians, Chaldeans, Syrians shall obtain a share in the twelve staffs of Israel through captivity.

T Ben 9:2: But in your allotted place will be the temple of God, and the latter temple will exceed the former in glory. The twelve tribes shall be gathered there and all the nations, until such time as the Most High shall send forth his salvation...

T Ben 10:8-11 "Then shall we also be raised, each of us over our tribe, and we shall prostrate ourselves before the heavenly king. Then all shall be changed, some destined for glory, others for dishonor, for the Lord first judges Israel for the wrong she has committed and then he shall do the same for all the nations.... Therefore, my children, if you live in holiness, in accord with the Lord's commands, you shall again dwell with me in hope; all Israel will be gathered to the Lord.

T Moses 4:8-9 "Now, the two tribes will remain steadfast in their former faith, sorrowful and sighing because they will not be able to offer sacrifices to the Lord of their fathers. But the ten tribes will grow and spread out among the nations during the time of their captivity.

2 Baruch: 77:2: Hear, O children of Israel, behold how many are left from the twelve tribes of Israel.

2 Baruch 78:4-7: Are we not all, the twelve tribes, bound by one captivity as we also descend from one father? Therefore, I have been the more diligent to leave you the words of this letter before I die so that you may be comforted regarding the evils which have befallen you, and you may also be grieved with regard to the evils which have befallen your brothers, and then further, so that you may consider the judgment of him who decreed it against you to be righteous.... For if you do these things in this way, he shall continually remember you. He is the one who always promised on our behalf to those who are more excellent than we that he will not forever forget or forsake our offspring, but with much mercy assemble all those again who were dispersed.

The “pan-Israelite” hope is also well-attested to at Qumran.[3] The eschatological battle described in 1QM assumes the participation of all twelve tribes (3:12-13; 5:1-2). Something similar is found in 1 QT 57:6. Likewise, the Community Rule states:

When the two houses of Israel were divided, Ephraim departed from Judah. And all the apostates were given up to the sword, but those who held fast escaped to the land of the north; as God said, 'I will exile the tabernacle of your king and the bases of your statues from my tent to Damascus' (Amos 5:26-7). The Books of the Law are the tabernacle of the king; as God said, I will raise up the tabernacle of David which is fallen (Amos 9:11) .... and the bases of the statues are the Books of the Prophets whose sayings Israel despised” (7:14-16).

As Schiffman observes, “In most of these texts, there is a fundamental assumption that the restoration is not an event that took place in the Persian period. . . the restoration was still to come.”[4]

Brant Pitre therefore concludes,

Wright has the right insight but the wrong exile. The Jews of the first century were certainly waiting for ‘the End of the Exile’—but not the Babylonian Exile. Rather, they were waiting for the end of the Assyrian Exile, as we saw with the quote from Josephus. For it was only with the end of the Assyrian Exile that all twelve tribes could be restored to Zion.”[5]

To be continued...
[1] Fredricksen writes, “And the redeemed Israel would include more than those Jews currently living in the Diaspora. It would include as well those who, centuries earlier, had been lost: not just the two tribes, Judah and Benjamin, which had survived the Babylonian Captivity in the sixth century b.c.e., but also the ten lost tribes of of the Northern Kingdom that had been swallowed up by Assyria after 722 B.C.E.” Jesus of Nazareth, 95. It has come to my attention recently that some Jewish scholars today contest this claim, arguing that they did in fact return or that they are not in fact “lost”. However, this flies in the face of all of the ancient testimony. See for example, Allen H. Godbey, The Lost Tribes A Myth: Suggestions Towards Rewriting Hebrew History (New York: KTAV Publishing House, 1974).
[2] Also see Shemaryahu Talmon, “’Exile’ and ‘Restoration’ in the Conceptual World of Ancient Judaism,” in Restoration: Old Testament, Jewish, and Christian Perspectives (vol. 72 in Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism; ed., James H. Scott; Leiden: Brill, 2001), 107-146; David E. Aune and Eric Stewart, “From the Idealized Past to the Imaginary Future: Eschatological Restoration in Jewish Apocalyptic,” in Restoration, 147-77.
[3] For complete references see Lawrence H. Schiffman, “The Concept of Restoration in the Dead Sea Scrolls,” in Restoration, 203-21.
[4] Shiffman, “Restoration in the Dead Sea Scrolls,” in Restoration, 220.
[5] Brant Pitre, Jesus, the Tribulation, and the End of the Exile: Restoratin Eschatology and the Origin of the Atonement (Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2005), 35.

3 comments:

Theocoid said...

Doh! Never thought of the similarity between the bronzed snake on the pole and the staff of Asclepius until I saw this image.

MatthewG said...
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Matthew Gonzalez said...

Very well argued, Michael. Indeed, the Assyrian exile needed to end for the full restoration of all 12 tribes. The Babylonian exile only affected the southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin. Yet, in Luke 2:36, we do find the prophetess Anna who was from the tribe of Asher...