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Myths of Babylonia and Assyria

Page: 237

They (the Israelites) left all the commandments of the Lord their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made a grove, and worshipped all the host of heaven (the stars), and served Baal. And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, and used divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger. Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only. And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof.... And the men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, and the men of Cuth (Cuthah) made Nergal, and the men of Hamath made Ashima, and the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharites burnt their children in fire to Adram-melech and Anam-melech, the gods of Sepharvaim.

A number of the new settlers were slain by lions, and the king of Assyria ordered that a Samaritan priest should be sent to "teach them the manner of the God of the land". This man was evidently an orthodox Hebrew, for he taught them "how they should fear the Lord.... So they feared the Lord", but also "served their own gods ... their graven images".[523]

There is no evidence to suggest that the "Ten Lost Tribes", "regarding whom so many nonsensical theories have been formed", were not ultimately absorbed by the peoples among whom they settled between Mesopotamia and the Median Highlands.[524] The various sections must have soon lost touch with one another. They were not united like the Jews (the people of Judah), who were transported to Babylonia a century and a half later, by a common religious bond, for although a few remained faithful to Abraham's God, the majority of the Israelites worshipped either the Baal or the Queen of Heaven.

The Assyrian policy of transporting the rebellious inhabitants of one part of their empire to another was intended to break their national spirit and compel them to become good and faithful subjects amongst the aliens, who must have disliked them. "The colonists," says Professor Maspero, "exposed to the same hatred as the original Assyrian conquerors, soon forgot to look upon the latter as the oppressors of all, and, allowing their present grudge to efface the memory of past injuries, did not hesitate to make common cause with them. In time of peace the (Assyrian) governor did his best to protect them against molestation on the part of the natives, and in return for this they rallied round him whenever the latter threatened to get out of hand, and helped him to stifle the revolt, or hold it in check until the arrival of reinforcements. Thanks to their help, the empire was consolidated and maintained without too many violent outbreaks in regions far removed from the capital, and beyond the immediate reach of the sovereign."[525]


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