While walking through an airport bookstore, a paperback caught my eye that sounded just right. It was long enough for an eight hour flight, a New York Times best seller and about history , my new favorite subject. “ Where God was Born “ by Bruce Feiler goes through the middle east with an archeologist’s eye and a bible, pointing out the stories, the places , and the remains of those stories. The foundations , the walls and roads are still there. When you pick up a stone from the field where David slew Goliath it takes you back to that time. Towards the end of the book while going through Persia ( modern day Iran), he talks about the first Jewish Diaspora. He remarks about how this great dispersal it is such a mystery to Jewish scholars. That statement also caught my eye as just a few weeks prior I happened on a tv show in which a Jewish scholar was being interviewed and she also remarked on the same subject ; the mystery . Since up to this point, all of Jewish history has been about settling God’s promised land and now with that finally in their grasp, they instead disperse throughout all of Asia Minor. The answer to this mystery is , of course, that the settling of the promised land is NOT the end purpose of the exodus. The exodus was just God’s next step. There is more, and to see how much more, try looking at the Old Testament in it’s entirety. Look at it with a crime scene investigators eye, putting all the pieces together on a time line until all the pieces fit. Then , just as in a courtroom, purpose will appear. I call this a walk through the Hebrew scriptures from a Christian perspective.
To watch the mystery resolve, consider the following: If you were assigned the task of bringing the messiah into the world in the year one, how would you do it? Remember, this is a world already very crowded with gods. The Egyptians had many gods as did the Romans and the Greeks. And then there is Mesopotamia, changing civilizations and cultures like fashions. News of gods here ended at their counties borders. To reach everyone, you would need a telegraph system that bridged all languages and all cultures. More importantly , you would need a highly respected telegraph system that would transmit only highly important, highly accurate information in all languages. To see how this was done, we will start in Exodus. Here is the game plan:
- Start with the most intelligent person in existence.
- Reproduce him/her many thousands of times.
- Plant them deeply but very visibly in each culture.
- Make sure they are very highly respected and trusted by the individual cultures.
- Let them know , the messiah is here.
God started with Abraham. Abraham started his tribe in Canaan, growing in | Genesis 17:5-8
numbers to the extent of the lands ability to feed them. Great grandson Joseph | Genesis 37: 28
went to Egypt ( against his will ) where, with God’s help he became very influential | Genesis 41: 41
with the pharaoh. With Joseph’s political power they are now able to bring the
tribes to Egypt and under the protection and care of the oldest established
civilization in history. Here the tribes grew in numbers to the extent of the land
and culture’s ability to grow them further. The pharaoh’s birth
control method was to kill all male Jewish | Exodus 1: 16-22
babies. Baby Moses was hidden in the reeds in the river and found by the pharaoh’s | Exodus 2 : 3-10
daughter. Next, the tribes were relocated to the “ Promised Land “ ( their exodus ) | Exodus 12: 31-32
where they could now grow to numbers large enough to serve their eventual
purpose. The move out of Egypt also gets them out of the pharaoh’s protection
making them vulnerable for the next step. Many years later, Nebuchadnezzar
sends them off to Baghdad( their exile ) . Here they are educated in the languages | II Chronicles 36: 17-21
and cultures of Asia Minor. Then , after 70 years, the last step. They were released
from Baghdad by Cyrus the Great of Persia for the diaspora and implanting into all | II Chronicles 36: 22-23
corners of the civilized world.
It’s important to see that each step of this history was guided by God’s expressed instruction and guidance. God closely guided Moses and ensuing generals. God instructed Nebuchadnezzar to remove the Jews to Baghdad. And, finally, God instructed Cyrus the Great to release the Jews. After many generations and cultural acceptance, we are ready to spread information across all borders. We are ready for the messiah.
If you are familiar with scripture, you will realize that the number of Jews returning to Israel is given prominence in scripture, while the number dispersing is not mentioned. I had originally suspected that the pharisees might be behind this but this is not the case. It is actually just a matter of timing. The Torah was written ( assembled ) in Baghdad which would then mean during the exile and also then just prior to the diaspora, around 515 BC. It is , however, acknowledged in history books. The book I like concerning the diaspora is: Atlas of world History by Harper Collins. Published in 2001by Border Press, it shows an excellent map on page 103. This map shows how well the Jews had dispersed across Asia Minor circa 312 to 165 BC. The next mention of the dissemination in scripture does not happen until the New Testament in Acts 19: 10.
Looking at the diaspora from this perspective also sheds light on other aspects of Jewish history that gave me pause. I was always bothered by the mass homicide of all the civilians in the towns the Jews conquered while taking the promised land. All the children, women, young and old. And by God’s order. Why? I believe the Jews were recipients of traits needed to fulfill their purpose. Traits that would be lost by intermarriage and that exist to this day. The number of Jewish Nobel prize winners is astounding when compared to their percentage of population. And their ability to manage assets seems stereotypical. These and other traits assure a very respected place in society. Genocide protected these chromosomal traits from intermarriage.
As you know, there are many stories in the Torah and Bible that piece meal this history. When in church or temple, the pastors or rabbis focus on these stories individually and use them to preach morality and faith, consequently, few see the whole story from this perspective. This lends itself to the mystery of the Diaspora. To me, the real mystery is why there are no writings from the Jews of the diaspora as to why they dispersed. With the hundreds of years, countless generations battles and lives invested in settling the Promised Land, and their ability to return at will courtesy of Cyrus the Great; surely an educated culture must have written something explaining why they dispersed rather than return to their promised land.
It seems ironic that, to me, their entire history is to bring about the man whose purpose they now vehemently deny.
J, Everett Wilson