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Israel. A Colonial Nation Part I. Fall of Samaria.

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A Colonial Nation

Part I

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Fall of Samaria

  • The fall of the Northern Kingdom was the most devastating event in the history of the Hebrew people. Some may find that statement odd when you read the Books of Jeremiah and Lamentations or read the great historian Josephus on the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Both of these authors wrote about the impact of Judea and the house of David, but very little is written in both the scriptures and secular sources on how devastating the fall of Samaria was.

  • The fall of the Jewish kingdom in the minds of the Jews and the loss of their temple continues to ring in their hearts because they never forgot their heritage. However, the loss of life and culture still pale into comparison to the fall of Samaria. The Israelites of the northern kingdom in a very short period after Samaria was destroyed would lose much of their identity, and any attachment to their land.

  •  However unknown to many, they would attempt to regain control of their former territory only under a different name many times throughout history.

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Fall of Samaria

  • From a spiritual aspect the complete divorce of the 10 tribes from the land (Hosea 1: 2-10 and 2 Kings 17:3-6,18) would have the most impact on our world today.

  • It was never God’s intention to remove his people from the land, but was prophesied even before they were to conquer the land of Canaan. (Deuteronomy 28: 49 – 66) God foretold the eventual scattering of the 12 tribes.

  • The Purpose of this presentation is to show how the 10 tribes of the Northern Kingdom were colonial in nature dating back to their time in Egypt. Once they were exiled they continued to act in the same way as they had for centuries; conquering and exploring to the corners of the earth.

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The Birthright of Joseph

  • Many readers of the scriptures have skipped over or explained away Genesis 48:19-20 where Manasseh and Ephraim, the sons of Joseph were promised they would form nations. These would be nations far from the promise land. In the prophetic words of Moses in Deuteronomy 33:17, the tribes of Joseph were promised they would push other people to the corners of the earth, and would control thousands perhaps millions of people through their leadership. In Genesis 27:29 and Psalms 47:3, Israel was to rule over other nations. Some of this rule would take place while they were in the land, but as Deuteronomy 33:17 states, along their migratory path to the corners of the earth, they would rule over other peoples.

  • Perhaps the most significant verses in scripture come from Isaiah. In Isaiah 42:6 and 49:8, Israel, primarily the tribes of Joseph would go into covenant with the coming Messiah, and be a light to the Gentiles as his servants. The fall of the northern kingdom, their exile and eventual forming of nations at the corners of the planet were all part of God’s design to spread his word to the lost gentile nations.

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The Birthright of Joseph

  • The Birthright of Joseph involved two aspects; a spiritual and a physical one.

    • The Spiritual portion of the birthright was: 1. possession of the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant. 2. A double portion of the promised land. 3. The leadership over all 12 tribes. 4. An eternal relationship with Yashua

    • The physical portion of the birthright involved: 1. Wealth and prestige 2. Military prowess- which included many military disciplines and discoveries 2. Rights to all overseas colonies 3. The ability to make treaties and expand the physical boundaries of the promised land. 4. Inventions and discoveries 5. Impact in music and other cultural settings such as art and architecture. 6. Great wealth from natural resources 7. Control of the seas and sea lanes. 8. The physical inheritance of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob 9. An extremely large population.

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The Birthright of Joseph

  • The two tribes of Joseph would lose their spiritual birthright in two phases –

    • The rights of the firstborn belonged to Joseph (1 Chronicles 5:2).

    • Little by little the spiritual rights would be taken from them

    • Around 980 BC the Philistine city states attacked the Armies of Saul and took the Ark of the Covenant from Shiloh. Once the Ark was recovered, it never returned to Ephraimite country. From then on Judah became the custodian of the Ark.

    • In Psalms 78: 9- 70 David tells us that Joseph rejected the Mosaic covenant and as a result they lost the most important portion of their birthright – The presence of God Tabernacled with them.

    • The final spiritual portion of their birthright was tied to the Mosaic covenant and a future exile from the land. (Deuteronomy 28: 25, 41, 52, and 64). This came at the hands of Assyria. Their deportation lasted between 740 BC and 720 BC when finally their capital of Samaria was stormed and destroyed.

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The Birthright of Joseph

  • Around 1625 BC in a house built by Joseph for his father Jacob. Jacob blessed the sons of Joseph and passed on the Abrahamic covenant that he inherited from his father and his grandfather.

  • Joseph’s son, Manasseh and Ephraim became tribes of Israel as Reuben and Simeon and received the birthright of Israel.

  • The land of Goshen was divided up in 12 regions with Ephraim getting the region of Zoan and the capital of Avaris. Joseph’s palace and the second capital of Egypt was located at Avaris.

  • All the feudal lords of Egypt and the city-state kingdoms of Canaan lost much of their sovereignty during the great famine and would continue paying tribute to the Egyptian central Government. Around 1600 BC one of the Canaanite city-states of Gath rebelled and refused to pay their tribute.

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Birthright of Joseph

  • 1 Chronicles 7:21 Two sons of Ephraim, Ezer and Elead led the Egyptian army into Canaan to regain tribute from the city-state of Gath and were killed. This example shows from the very early days, Ephraim was leading the Army and in control of the nation of Egypt and Canaan.

  • The story doesn’t end there. Ephraim has another child Beriah. Beriah’s daughter Sherah, Ephraim’s granddaughter takes her family with the help of her tribe and establishes 3 cities for Ephraim and Israel (Beth Horon, Upper-Sherah, and Uzzen-Sherah) in the land of Canaan. This action while Egypt was in control of Canaan, gave Israel the legal right to claim the entire land of Canaan 200 years later.

  • When it came to the physical birthright, Ephraim took this very serious. They would continue claiming territory and colonizing for the next 3500 years.

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House of Israel

  • Before we begin to talk, about the Exile of the 10 northern tribes, a brief summary of their geopolitical situation needs to be discussed.

  • Around 931 BC the 10 northern tribes centered on the leadership of the tribe of Ephraim and Jeroboam I, led a tax revolt that separated the tribes of Manasseh, Ephraim, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Reuben, Isaachar, Simeon, Zebulon and elements of Benjamin from the tribe Judah. Judah, which would include much of Levi and Benjamin, would form the Southern Jewish kingdom. Jeroboam who had fled from Jerusalem for fear of King Solomon, settled in Egypt until the death of the King. God stirred his heart and led him back to Israel to take charge of the eventual Northern Kingdom. Jeroboam, was heavily influenced by the politics and the religion of Egypt. He brought with him a counterfeit religion centered around Bull worship. Jeroboams desire was for the tribes under his leadership to make a clean break from Judah, and that included religion as well as political alliances. He no longer wanted Jerusalem to be a place of pilgrimage. He feared a loss of political power if his people recognized their spiritual roots and continued to make their yearly pilgrimages for the feasts. Jeroboam set up two centers of worship one in Bethel in the heart of Ephraim and the other on the northern end in the city of Dan.

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House of Israel

  • The Northern Kingdom quickly rose in power and prestige with their new-formed alliance with Egypt and the Phoenician city-states of Tyre and Sidon. This alliance was one of the most significant economic alliances of the ancient world. These three nations would build a maritime navy that would stretch commerce from the Near East to points of call as far away as the Americas, up and down the African coast and as far away as Australia (Land of Sinim).

  • From the inception of the conquest of Canaan, the tribes of Dan, Manasseh, Asher, and Zebulon who were allotted land along the coast of the Levant, would build ships of commerce to navigate the Mediterranean. There is both biblical evidence as well as secular evidence that the ancient “Sea People” were none other than Philistine, and Israelites who were attempting to establish colonies to bring trade and natural resources from areas as far away as Tarshish (modern day Spain) and the northern coast of Africa.

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House of Israel

  • In the east, the half tribe of Manasseh known as Gilead, Gad and Reuben had settled and controlled the spice trade routes. During the time of King Solomon these tribes began pushing northeast and would eventually control the crossing points of the Euphrates River. Hamath on the Orontes River would become a northern boundary used in the horse trade with Hittites (1 Kings 8:65), and ancient Damascus (known as Meskene), which at one time was located on the Euphrates River (2 Kings 14:28), was used in commerce with Assyrians, Aramaens and Chaldeans. The clans of Machir and Yair of Manasseh had established two major trading outposts on the Euphrates River, one called Makrisu and the other Yaru (2 Kings 14:28).

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House of Israel

  • In the years just before the fall of Samaria, the tribe of Simeon and elements of the clan of Bela from Benjamin, attempted to occupy areas east of the Jordan (1 Chronicles 4: 42 and 43, and drove the remaining Amalekites completely out of the eastern Jordan. Maps by Ptolemy show these clans extending to the Babylonian border along the Euphrates.

  • To get an idea in modern day terms the extent of the Israelite empire. Under Jeroboam the II (786 –746 BC), they controlled most of the area of modern day Israel, Jordan, most of Lebanon, and half of Syria. They had colonies along the coast in Spain, northern Africa in Carthage, colonies in Greece such as Argos, and Corinth, operational control over most of Cilicia in modern day Turkey and other minor colonies worldwide. Most secular historians don’t associate Israel with these areas because they never understood how the various tribes would break down into clan names when they were colonizing. It is through these clans mentioned in the book of Chronicles that we are able to recognize the migrating Israelites to their modern day nations.

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Tribe of Dan

  • Before we get to the reasons behind the fall of the northern kingdom, a brief summary of the tribe of Dan must be mentioned. During the conquest of Canaan, the tribe of Dan was one of the most numerous according to Moses final census. (Numbers 26:42). Jacob and Moses prophecy two very interesting prophecies about the future of the tribe of Dan. (Genesis 49:16,17 and Deuteronomy 33:22.) Both Prophecies must be taken as one because it foreshadows the migration of the 10 tribes. Jacob tells Dan that the seed of Dan would judge Israel. Like all scripture there is sometimes multiple meanings to each verse. The very obvious meaning is that at some point in the future Dan would be involved in bringing judgment on the other tribes. The other possible significance of this scripture is that the future identity of Israel would be unveiled through the migration and markings left behind by this tribe. Jacob continues to tell his son Dan, he would be like a serpent marking his way along his path of migration.

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Tribe of Dan

  • Dan militarily could inflict great harm to any army or people that attempted to stop their migratory progress. Which brings us to the words of Moses, that Dan would spring forth out of Bashan. Now Bashan is considered the area of the Golan, a portion of Gilead. (Area around Mt Hermon). Dan’s tribal allotment was not in the Northeast of Israel but in the central coastlands near modern day Ashkelon and Tel Aviv. They were initially able to take control of the coastland with the help of Judah. During the time of Deborah the Judge, she relates in her song that Dan refused to fight against the Canaanites in the north choosing to continue in their commerce of the sea. Dan was a tribe of sea merchants and metallurgist. (Exodus 31:6, 2 Chronicles 2:14, Ezra 3:7 and Judges 5:17)

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Tribe of Dan

  • During the period around 1200 BC, the Danites were involved in exploring and colonizing the Mediterranean, specifically the Greek Islands. The prophet Ezekiel links Dan with Greece (Javan) in Ezekiel 27:19, as going to and fro, or simply trading in goods via ships throughout the Greek Islands.

  • Greek tradition relates that a “Danaus, the father of fifty daughters on coming to Argos took up his abode in the city of Inarchos and throughout Hellas (i.e. Greece) he laid down the law that all people hitherto names Pelasgians were to be named Danaans” (Strabo 5.2.40 quoting Euripides).

  •  According to Diodorus Siculus: “They say that those who set forth with Danaus, likewise from Egypt, settled what is practically the oldest city of Greece, Argos, and that the nations of the Colchi in Pontus and that of the Jews, which lies between Arabia and Syria, were founded as colonies by certain emigrants from their country….” (Diodorus Siculus I;28; 1 5) Both of these accounts collaborate with the scriptures that Dan was integral in establishing the first colonies in Greece. Later they would be involved in transporting much needed natural resources back to the land of Israel as the population grew and became stronger.

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Tribe of Dan

  • The Philistinesalso known to be Sea Peoples began settling along the Philistine coast in the 1100’s. The island of Cyprus and Crete suffered sever destruction as a result of the Eruption of Mt. Thera. Many Philistines and Cretans were forced to flee their homes. This brought a huge influx of people to the area of Ashdod, Ashkelon and Gaza. This large influx of people to the coast of Israel severely hampered the Danites ability to settle and live in their land. God raised a Judge from the tribe of Dan to rule over Israel. His name was Sampson. As long as Samson was alive, the Danites lived in relative peace and were able to continue their commercial interest. Once he was killed the lives of the Danites became precarious and they chose to migrate north. The scriptures does not mention anything about Danites migrating to Greece, but one can only speculate that the portion of tribe that was involved in maritime commerce migrated away into Greece and other areas, while the rest resettled in the north at Laish. The tribe of Dan flourished in this area, and built a very close relationship with the rising Phoenician city-states. The Danites populated the area, and would stretch from the Galilee all the way north to the Orontes River near Hamath. The character and nature of this tribe would continue to thrive in the use of metallurgy and sea commerce, and would eventually assist the nation in the future building of the temple. (2 Chronicles 2:13).

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Tribe of Dan

  • During the time of the divided kingdom, the tribe of Dan would establish two major colonies outside of Israel. The first Danite center was located on the island of Cyprus known as the “Yadnana”(Isle of the Dana). This was a Phoenician island, but you can see an overlap between them and the Phoenicians. The other region that was ruled by both the tribe of Dan and Judah was the area of Cilicia in Anatolia. There are both Egyptian and Greek accounts linking the Dananu of Cilicia with the Dan of Israel. According to Strabo 14; 4; 3, a tribe of Mopsus (form of Moses) invaded eastern Mediterranean area on the coast of Cilicia and established the city of Adana. According to Strabo, this band of warriors was famous for riddles; and according to Xanthus died in Ashkelon of snakebite. Samson was also famous for his riddles (Judges 15:12) and gave up his life in Gaza. In Genesis 49:17, “Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path that bites the horse’s heels, so that his rider shall fall backward.”

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Tribe of Dan

  • Until the rise of the Assyrian empire, the tribe of Dan had built an extensive network of colonies all through the Mediterranean. They would lay a path where their brother tribes would eventually follow.

  • They began to abandon many of their colonies around the Mediterranean. By 720 BC they had left much of their former colonies to other Hebrew tribes such as Judah or to the Phoenicians who continued their use until the time of Alexander the Great.

  • The scriptures never mention the exile of any portion of the tribe of Dan. Just like the prophecy of Moses, Dan would leave the Bashan area and migrate completely out of Israel to Cilicia and eventually to northern Anatolia and establish their last colony in Asia, a city called Sampson.

  • By the time of Alexander the Great, the Danites lived north of the Black Sea. The Greek army enlisted many Danites as mounted archers to fight the Mallians in 326 BC. (Peter Tsouras – Alexander’s Most Heroic Moment)

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Tribe of Dan

  • Very little detail about Danites in Greece is found after 700 BC. According to legend, as the Assyrians began to conquer Israelite colonies with the aid of the Philistines and Phoenicians, the Danites abandoned Argos, Greece and sailed to Ireland, the Island once known as the Isle of Hibernia. According to the author, ("On the Ancient Races of Ireland" by Sir William Wilde) Irish legends spoke of the tribe of Dana (Tuatha de Danaan) who were renowned metallurgists, and scientifically adept “Man of Metal”. According to the author they arrived from northern Isles (Scandinavia) after some disaster. The author described them as such– “Danann certainly sounds very Grecian; and if we consider their remains, we find the long, bronze, leaf-shaped sword, so abundant in Ireland, identical with weapons of the same class found in Attica and other parts of Greece.

  • Other Irish sources said they originally came from the region of Mt. Lebanon, sojourned in Greece, and after a great battle with the Philistines fled north and came to Ireland. All the colonies that had been formerly controlled by Dan had to be abandoned for fear of the Assyrian Army and the Philistine naval ally who was attempting to enslave them.

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Tribe of Dan

  • The Danites who served in the Armies of Alexander and lived on the plains of Scythia along the Black Sea, eventually were forced to migrate northwest to the Jutland Peninsula. The descendants who destroyed Laish and built Tel-Dan came to their final resting place, the land of Denmark.

  • Before they migrated this tribe left their mark all over Europe: The Don, Dnieper, Dniester and Danube are rivers that all flow into the Black Sea. The territory they once inhabited. As they migrated north several cities are named after their tribal patriarch, such as Danzig, Dunnkirk and others

  • From all evidence only a few Danites in the Galilee were ever taken into exile. There was a group in Iran known as Dangalai (Dan of the Galilee) However, the vast majority of them learned from the early days as a nation, their biggest ally would always be their ships.

  • Today much of the tribe of Dan can be found in Denmark, Ireland, Wales and in the United States. The path they left along their migration, was marked by the name of their patriarch Dan. In locating the tribe of Dan you will be able to Judge by which path the other 9 tribes took.

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Sea People’s

  • As you have seen the tribe of Dan set a precedent of maritime travel and colonialism. To this very day, Israelites are still being accused of Imperialism and Colonialism. Ideas like the sun never sets on the British Empire and Americas Manifest Destiny, are all part in a long historical pattern of exploration and an inherent desire to extend their rule far beyond their boundaries. As Joseph rose to power in Egypt, he showed a God given ability to organize and lead a nation in both good and bad times. He was able to break down the feudal system in place in Egypt and Canaan and establish a strong central government by simply controlling the resources of the land. This trait was passed on to generations of Hebrew leaders who realized that if you were going to build an empire, you must have a labor force willing to do the job, and natural resources even if your own land would not provide what was necessary. The need for natural resources and their ongoing struggle with the Canaanite people laid the groundwork for their westerly expansion.

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Sea People’s

  • Historically, almost all rulers or forms of government of Israel came from the leadership of Ephraim, Manasseh or Judah. (Psalms 60:7 and 109:8)

  • Ephraim and Judah’s tribal allotments were primarily in areas that were mountainous and were less inclined toward maritime activity. It was from these mountains, they ruled over the entire land. Since the various capitals of Hebron, Bethel, Shechem and later Samaria were in the mountains the perception was that Israel was mainly a land based people.

  • The tribes of Asher, Zebulon, Manasseh, Dan and to a lesser degree Simeon and Isaachar were situated at the gateway to the Great Sea, they were much more inclined toward sea exploration.

  • There is evidence that many Hebrews would escape Assyrian exile by using the fleet of ships available before the Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom.

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Sea People’s

  • So Where does the belief that Israel wasn’t a sea power come from?

    • Over the years many historians and archaeologist have either ignored or glossed over the evidence that the Hebrews truly were a sea power.

    • As you can see in the following quote, when evidence is found that Hebrews did have a great navy, they try to tell us they weren’t really Israelites.

  • According to Yigael Yadin in Biblical Archaeology Review stated: “The Danites were originally not members of the Israelite confederation… They seem, rather, to have been connected with a group of the Sea Peoples called Danuna or Denyen in Egyptian sources, and known to the Greeks as the Danaoi.”

    • He found clear evidence that the tribe of Dan was seafaring but yet couldn’t connect the dots with the other tribes.

    • Mr. Yadin does allow us to see that the Danites showed a streak of independence, but so did many of the other tribes – The desire to discover is an inherent God-given Hebrew trait. Whether it’s in a laboratory or at sea, this characteristic prevails to this very day.

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Sea People’s

  • The Egyptians around 1200 BC, state peoples known as “People of the Sea” or simply Sea Peoples attacked them from the Libyan coast. The Egyptians mentioned among the Sea Peoples, groups of people known as the Peleset (Philistines), Sardana (Sered of Zebulon), Sakaresh (leaders of Isaac), the Deny or (Dananu), Ekwesh, Teresh or Tulisha (Tola of Isaachar), Zakkar (Isaachar), Menesen (Manasseh), and others. According to evidence found during the rule of Ramses III, the Sea Peoples used Libya as a base of attack on Egypt. Records stated that non-Libyan people who attacked them were circumcised, and their local Libyan allies were not. The Sakara, Tulisha, Ekwesh and Sardana were said to be all circumcised. The Egyptians tell us that the Sea Peoples settled in the Lands of Israel after their attack on Egypt fails and Ramses III drives them out. The Egyptians did not use the word “Israel” instead they tell us they were driven back to thier homes in the land of Peleset. This region could easily encompass land from Gaza all the way up to Mt. Carmel.

  • What is interesting the Zakkar (Isaachar) were said to at one stage to have completely conquered the Phoenician city of Sidon. Is it possible, that Israelites of the Northern Kingdom who were said to intermarry with Sidonians, had simply married Israelites of Isaachar who had been absorbed into the Phoenician culture centuries prior?

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Sea People’s

  • Egyptians at various times write about their battles waged against Philistines, Canaanites and Hebrews, but the scriptures seem to rarely mention Israel’s battles against Egypt in their land. However, in Judges 6:9, states: “I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hands of all that oppressed you and drove them out before you, and gave you their land.” It is possible the author of Judges is referring entirely to local events that were happening during a specific period of conflict with Egypt. This verse could be an account of the raids the “Sea Peoples” were conducting against Egypt, and God delivered the Israelites out of Ramses III hands. What’s fascinating about the historical account written by the Egyptians, a group of people with names very similar to clans and tribes of Israel, were known to be circumcised, came from bases in Libya, and returned to “Philistine coast” could be none other that Israelites colonizing well beyond their own boundaries.

  • The implication is very profound because it shows at a very early stage in their development as a nation; they used their favorable location on the Mediterranean to look for resources and land, and were not constrained to their physical boundaries within their tribal allotment. The other obvious synopsis, is Israel’s rise to a monarchy and eventual empire status was built on the backs of these early Hebrews who laid the groundwork for both a land conquest of Canaan and a control of the Mediterranean, in their pursuit of resources.

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Israel’s Colonial Navy

  • Before we go into the maritime navy of King Solomon and the future kings of Israel, we need to highlight a promise made to Abraham about his descendants. In Genesis 22:17 it states that the descendents of Abraham, the Hebrews would control the gates of their enemies. A promise passed on to future Hebrews generations. They would have the ability to control key choke points or strategic locations that kept their enemies at bay. Examples of key choke points would be places like Panama and Suez canal, the Straits of Gibraltar, Guatanamo Bay Cuba, in ancient times the Daryiel Pass in the Caucus Mtns., Islands in the Sea, such as Cyprus, or Hawaii, or Diego Garcia. As mentioned earlier, fording sites on the Euphrates River, and key areas along the caravan routes, dominating the Persian Gulf and many others. These are all examples of locations where Abraham’s descendents would physically place their army or navy in a certain location or colonize an area to keep their enemy from expanding and becoming a threat to their nation either militarily or economically.

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Israel’s Colonial Navy

  • As the Israelites migrated or traveled to foreign nations; when speaking to foreigners they referred to themselves as Hebrews. (Exodus 5:3, Jonah 1:9)

  • Colonies of Israel such as Tarshish (Spain) was referred to as Iberia, Ireland as Hibernia and after Israel’s exile the Caucus Mountains as Iberia. Other nations recognized these areas as major Israelite concentrations. So when you look at Ptolemy maps, or maps of the Roman Empire you will see the above listed names.

  • When an individual clan or tribe would colonize or form a nation they would refer to themselves by their tribal or clan name. Examples of this were the Sicambri (Shechem of Manasseh) or Yasubgalli (Exiles of Joseph) and the Barbarian tribe Usipetes (Josephites) and Moesia (descendents of Moses).

  • The name of Israel was rarely used outside of the boundaries of the promise land. However the name of Isaac would become more common. In Part 3, after exile we will show how the name of Isaac became the predominant name used by Israelites, and the use of Israel or Hebrew was for all intensive purpose abandoned.

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Israel’s Colonial Navy

  • The Legacy of Solomon Empire on Judea:

    King Jehoshaphat of Judah attempted to reestablish the Judean kingdom’s maritime fleet but it was destroyed by a great storm. 1 Kings 22:48 stated that Jehoshaphat attempted to send a fleet of ships out to bring gold from Ophir. His reign was estimated to be from 873 – 849 BC. Now what is interesting about this was King Jehoshaphat pursued an alliance with the Northern Kingdom to pull gold out of mines in a land of Ophir.

  • The Northern Kingdom had continued to use these mines well after the time of Solomon. There has been much speculation as to where Ophir was located. Some have said Mozambique, Africa and even some maps have it located in India. Both are plausible choices, which at one stage or another were major gold mining operations. Both locations show that a maritime fleet was needed that could travel long distances 3000 years ago.

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Israel’s Colonial Navy

  • Another plausible argument for Ophir is the Peru Brazil region. According to Craig White (Origin of Nations), the name of Peru, originates from the Inca Dynasty name Pirua or Ophirua. Was this the location of Ophir, is this where the sons of Joktan finally settled? They may for a time been located in Mozambique, Africa and then moved on to the Americas? Even if the location where they searched for gold was Africa or India, the Israelites with their Phoenician partners demonstrated their ability to use large ocean going ships that could transport substantial amounts of natural resources.

  • There wasn’t a port of call or place throughout the world that the Israelite/Phoenician navy wouldn’t visit. 425 years later Daniel tells us that the Chaldean Empire reached to the ends of the Earth. (Daniel 4:22) Most minimalist tend to dismiss and think the end of the world was possibly the fertile crescent, Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean. In my opinion, during the time of Solomon and later, the nations were building ships that could cross any ocean and bring whatever resource that was required.

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Israel’s Colonial Navy

  • Under the reign of King David and Solomon, Israel was able to extend their empire and usher in what is known as the golden age of Israel. According to historians the rise of the Phoenician empire rose during the same period of 1000 BC to 700 BC. Ironically, their rise also coincides with the rise of the Israelite empire. This empire was a land empire as well as a sea empire. 1 Kings 9: 26-27 states: “King Solomon built a fleet of ships in Ezion-Geber, which is beside Eloth on the shore of the Red Sea, in the land of Edom. And Hiram sent with the fleet his servants, seamen who were familiar with the sea, together with the servants of Solomon.” Solomon established a major Port on the Red Sea at Ezion Geber. This port after the death of Solomon would fall into the hands of Edom, however most of the time is was controlled by the Northern Kingdom as a southern port to Africa and to India.

  • Corroborating evidence indicates King Solomon built one of the most advanced smelting facilities in ancient times. According Daniken in Chariots of the Gods states: “the biggest smelting installations in the ancient East…consisting of a regular ultramodern furnace with a system of air channels, chimney flues, and openings for specific purposes.”

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Israel’s Colonial Navy

  • Werner Keller in his book, The Bible as History, states the following: “..remains of an extensive settlement were excavated. The most interesting things were casting-moulds and a vast quantity of copper slag… In the middle of a square walled enclosure an extensive building came into view. The green discoloration on the walls left no doubt as to the purpose of the building: it was a blast furnace. The mud-brick walls had two rows of openings. They were flues: a skillful system of air passages was included in the construction. The whole thing was a proper up-to-date blast furnace, built in accordance with a principle that celebrated its resurrection in modern industry a century ago as the Bessemer system. Flues and chimneys both lay along a north to south axis. For the incessant winds and storms from the Wadi el-Araabah had to take over the role of bellows.” Keller continues, “Nowhere else in the Fertile Crescent, neither in Babylonia or Egypt, was such a great furnace to be found…Ezion-Geber was the Pittsburg of old Palestine.”

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Israel’s Colonial Navy

  • Keller dates the blast furnace to around 1000 BC. Only David or Solomon could have ruled this area during this time. As you can see, these deep ocean going ships built by Solomon navigated out into the Red Sea, whether they traveled to India or Africa, or chose to circumnavigate the African continent, there main purpose was to bring back gold, silver, iron ores, copper and tin to build the incredible projects Solomon would need. After the death of Solomon, the southern kingdom remained relatively land locked and the Northern Kingdom under Jeroboam I, would continue in search of resources from this port.

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Israel’s Colonial Navy

  • Three verses that stand out in scripture further demonstrating the knowledge Israel had of the oceans; the first one is in Psalms 107:23-30 “ 23 Others (Hebrews) went out on the sea in ships; they were merchants on the mighty waters (Oceans).  24 They saw the works of the LORD, his wonderful deeds in the deep. 25 For he spoke and stirred up a tempest that lifted high the waves.  26 They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths; in their peril their courage melted away. 27 They reeled and staggered like drunken men; they were at their wits' end.  28 Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. 29 He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.  30 They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven.”

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Israel’s Colonial Navy

  • David is talking about his own people, because only they would cry out to the God Yahweh. Where did David’s knowledge of the sea come from, some was from his own people, the rest came from a group of Sea Peoples. Cretans, and Philistines had come from Cyprus and Crete and settled along the southwest coast of Israel. 2 Samuel 15:18 David’s mercenary force came from the Philistine city of Gath who was made up of Pelethites and Kerethites, immigrants who were known to have great knowledge of the sea. The knowledge of the Seas was common and wide spread during King David’s time and before.

  • In the next verse the author refers to the Phoenician city of Tyre. 1 Kings 10:11“(Hiram's ships brought gold from Ophir; (Peru?) and from there they brought great cargoes of almugwood, and precious stones.”

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Israel’s Colonial Navy

  • 1 Kings 9:28 They (Phoenician and Israelites) sailed to Ophir (Peru?) and brought back 420 talents of gold, which they delivered to King Solomon.

  • 1 Kings 9:27 “And Hiram sent his men—sailors who knew the sea—to serve in the fleet with Solomon's men.”

  • As you can see, Tyre and Sidon (Phoenicians) served in a joint fleet captained by both Israel and Phoenicia. The root of this alliance dates back to the period of Judges when Isaachar established a colony in Sidon. David formalized this alliance after defeating Assyria, Edom, the sons of Lot (Moab and Ammon) and the Ishmaelites. In Psalms 83, David speaks of a major Middle East conflict with these nations, which included some Philistines, and Phoenicians from Tyre and Gebal.

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Israel’s Colonial Navy

  • Once this relationship was formalized with Tyre and Sidon, it would continue until the fall of Samaria. The last scripture, which shows you, the extent of the Phoenicians and Israelites maritime activity is found in Chapter 27 of Ezekiel. Tyre had a global trading operation, which made them very wealthy. The Northern Kingdom was allied to them through both marriage and trade. Ezekiel 27: 25" The ships of Tarshish serve as carriers for your wares. You are filled with heavy cargo in the heart of the sea.  26 Your oarsmen take you out to the high seas. But the east wind will break you to pieces in the heart of the sea.  27 Your wealth, merchandise and wares, your mariners, seamen and shipwrights, your merchants and all your soldiers, and everyone else on board will sink into the heart of the sea on the day of your shipwreck.”

  • Ezekiel predicts a coming destruction of this massive maritime fleet. Keep in mind the fate of Tyre was intricately tied to that of Samaria. Once the Northern Kingdom fell, the army that protected these coastal cities, it would not be long before they fell as well. Israel could no longer come to the aid of Tyre, 400 years later, their final destruction would come at the hands of Alexander the Great.

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Ship’s of Tarshish

  • Finally, I would like to end with the “Ships of Tarshish”. A people by the name of Tarshish, sons of Javan, had established themselves on the southern coast of Anatolia in the area known as Cilicia. There was a city by the name of Tarsus well into the Roman period. These sons of Japheth (Genesis 10:4) migrated to what we know today as Spain and Portugal. At one stage Javan (Ionians) and Tarshish maintained a trading network between Anatolia and the coasts of modern day Spain. The population of these people was not very significant, and very little archaeological evidence of them has been found. However, once the Hebrews and Sidonians realized the vast natural resources that this peninsula had, it became a major colonial base for both the Phoenicians and the Israelites. Eventually they would establish several ports along the coast, some run by Israelites others run by Phoenicians.

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Ship’s of Tarshish

  • The peninsula or land of Tarshish or Tartessus became a jumping off point for ships sailing into the Atlantic. These ships of Tarshish were both an Ocean going type of vessel, as well as ships referring to a destination. 1 Kings 10:22 states: “once in three years came the navy of Tharshish, bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes and peacocks.” The important point to mention here is it does not take three years for ships to travel from the port cities of Israel to Tarshish (Spain) and back. These ships would use ports in Ezion-Geber on the Red Sea, Joppa, Dor, and Tyre to begin their voyages. The ships that left the ports on the Mediterranean may have stopped for cargo in Tarshish (Spain), but it was only in-route to locations throughout the world.

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Ship’s of Tarshish

  • A verse that always caught my attention was 2 Chronicles 9: 22-24  “22 King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth. 23 All the kings of the earth sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart. 24 Year after year, everyone who came brought a gift—articles of silver and gold, and robes, weapons and spices, and horses and mules”

  • This period of history, every nation had the ability to travel by sea, and traveling across great oceans was as common then as it is today.

  • It is true that Jonah when attempting to run from God did leave out of Joppa and head to Tarshish (Spain), but it is also possible he may have been searching for a land further west than this.

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  • From the early days in Egypt the tribes developed their merchant skills. In David Rohl’s book – A Test of Time, he shows how pottery from Crete was found in Hebrew burial sites at Goshen and in the capital, Avaris. The famous Minoan Frescoes common only to Crete, were also found inside their burial tombs and throughout Avaris. The Hebrews in Goshen had developed trading partners with the Mediterranean states such as Crete.

  • The tribe of Ephraim demonstrated that not even one generation removed from the death of Joseph, they were leading an Egyptian Army into Canaan, and establishing 3 cities in the heart of that land.

  • Once they took the land of Canaan, they would colonize the world until they were exiled.

  • The Israelites were Colonist - either by land or sea, from early times down to the present day. Today their legacy can be found in space or in the depths of the sea. They were given a God-given gift of Discovery – This is the legacy of Israel!