This chapter presents the historical circumstances that gave birth to the story of the Ten Lost Tribes in the 8th and 7th centuries BCE. The two most important elements in this chapter are the imperial deportations and the prophetic culture that “processed” them into a divine punishment understood to be an overall exile of an entire nation. The chapter tells how the rise of the Assyrian Empire to world dominance during the 8th century BCE resulted in the destruction of the Israelite kingdom in Northern ancient Palestine and the deportation of several tens of thousands of its subjects to the eastern provinces of the Empire. This was an uncommon occurrence in the ancient Near East as other small kingdom and nations were deported as well. However, this particular deportation was recorded in the Bible. The chapter then describes how prophets in Israel and the southern Kingdom of Judea‐most notably Hosea, Amos, and Isaiah turned the deportation into a divine punishment enacted by God through Assyria. Most crucially, Isaiah (and he was followed by other prophets such as Jeremiah and Ezekiel) promised that the tribes would return. When they did not, their search began.
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