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by Wayne Blank
"From the one end of the earth even unto the other"
Diaspora originated from a Greek word meaning "to scatter seed." It is now commonly used to refer to the people of Judah, the Jews, who were and are scattered through the earth after the Babylonian exile, as warned of by The Lord in the verses above (and numerous others). What many ignore or overlook however is that when The Lord gave the Israelites that warning, He was speaking to all of the tribes of Israel, not just the Jews.
God changed Jacob's name to Israel (Genesis 32:28). Each of Israel's twelve sons (Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph and Benjamin) were founders of one of the tribes of Israel, the Israelites e.g. from Reuben came the Reubenites, from Levi came the Levites, from Judah came the "Jews." Although the tribe of Joseph was later divided into two tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh (Genesis 48:1-20), the number of tribes in the division of the land (see Tribal Lands) remained at twelve, because the tribe of Levi, as the priesthood, were distributed among the other tribes, and had no allotment of their own.
The Israelites were united as a single kingdom through the reigns of David and Solomon, but after Solomon's death they split into two completely separate and independent kingdoms - the southern kingdom of "Judah," consisting of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin (1 Kings 12:21) with their capital at Jerusalem, and the northern kingdom of "Israel," consisting of the other ten tribes, with their capital up in Samaria. Israel and Judah were never united again (see Kings of Israel and Judah). Surprisingly, they even fought wars against each other from time to time (see Jews At War With Israel). A very important fact that many do not realize is that Judah, that is, the Jewish people of today, are only one of the tribes of Israel - while all Jews are Israelites, not all Israelites are Jews.
Because of their forsaking of Him, God permitted the two kingdoms to be destroyed. First, the northern kingdom of Israel was gradually conquered by the Assyrians (see The Galilee Captivity), and by 721 B.C. they had practically all been taken into exile to Assyria (2 Kings 17:1-23). The vast majority of them never returned, and have become known as the "Lost Ten Tribes of Israel."
Then, about 135 years later, in 586 B.C., the southern kingdom of Judah was conquered by the Babylonians (see Why Babylon?), and the Jews were taken into captivity to Babylon. The original Temple of God in Jerusalem was destroyed at that time (see Temples and Raiders Of The Lost Ark). Some of the people of the southern kingdom of Judah however did return after the Babylonians fell to the Persians (see Ancient Empires - Persia), and their descendants have become the Jewish people of today.
Fact Finder: What does the Word of God say about how and when the people of all of Israel will be gathered?