Crucial to understanding of the fall of Israel, and the scattering among
the nations, is the fact of deportation to other lands. The people were
not slaughtered or persecuted in pogroms; they were carried away and resettled.
For reasons which we can now more deeply appreciate, they were given opportunity
to reestablish themselves in small groups in separate foreign locations.
The purpose behind the deportation may have been to break the unity of
the people, but this action greatly served God's purpose. Faced with the
consequences of insurrection against Assyrian authority they had to suppress
their tribal pride. Thus they may have recognized the futility of attempts
to reestablish themselves as a unified people. With return to their homeland
now closed to them they may have become discontented; they may have cast
their eyes on other geographical locations.
Furthermore, we should always keep in mind their wandering proclivities
and desire to mix with other people, both suited to God's purpose.
These conditions and natural genetic tendencies may have led to ambitions
to move beyond the range of Assyrian power, outside the control of empire.
They may have relocated to more attractive distant regions. No longer identifying
themselves as the people of Israel under the protecting hand of Yahweh,
they may have reverted to former ethnic designations. It is well within
the range of possibility that they renamed themselves in their new homes.
No longer were they "ben Yishrael," the sons of Israel, but rather Iberi,
or perhaps other designations which denoted their special status. They
may have become disillusioned with their special status as "ben Yishrael."
Since they were also eager to follow the pagan traditions, they may have
identified themselves according to the older traditions of Adamic descent
and forsaken their special status as the people of Yahweh.
We also should not neglect the great intellectual, artistic, and administrative
potentials of these people. While not finding full expression under the
complacent ease of life in Canaan those potentials may have been stimulated
by the hardships of establishing new lives in less amenable situations.
We know from the biblical record that such potentials certainly existed.
The great social respect accorded these people is clearly evident for the
Babylonian captivity. The Jews were placed in high administrative positions.
Those who were skillful in wisdom and endowed with knowledge, "who were
capable of learning and competent to serve in the king's palace," were
taught the letters and language of the Chaldeans, Dan 1. Daniel was made
ruler over the whole province of Babylon, Dan 2:48. These highly influential
positions as teachers and administrators were also demonstrated by the
unique honor accorded Joseph in Egypt. Continued bondage in Egypt may have
been the natural result of a desire on the part of the Egyptian ruling
classes to employ those outstanding Hebrew tribesmen. They were regarded
as far more than mere witless slaves. Some of the greatest architectural
wonders of Egypt come out of the era when the Iberi were indentured servants.
We have been witness to similar cultural processes in our own day. The
scientific staffs of Germany were prized by both Russia and the United
States after World War II. During the Hungarian uprising of 1956 thousands
of selected refugees were admitted to the United States, based on their
education and their technical abilities.
Although the policy of deportation and resettlement in foreign locations
broke up resistance among subject populations it also resulted in the loss
of strong patriotic unity. This was one of the elements that led to the
eventual fragmentation and fall of the Assyrian empire. When people lose
their ethnic identity they no longer feel a sense of cultural unity. They
may continue their respective social customs but they no longer identify
with a national purpose. The many different social elements scattered around
the Assyrian empire posed no threat to royal power but they also did not
build a solid nationalistic spirit.
Given these social conditions and ethnic expectations we should expect
groups to emigrate to other regions. The Eberi/Iberi name was witness to
just such process. We also might find it in other names.
A second group that deserve attention are the Kimmerians. The Kimmeri
or, in the manner of the Semitic verb inflections, Kimri, were first alluded
to by the Greek elegiac poets Archilochus and CallinusHOAG.
Archilochus was born on Paros and lived from about 720 to 660 BC. Callinus
was born in Ephesus and lived somewhat contemporaneous with Archilochus.
They mention a Kimmerian invasion of Asia Minor taking place in their own
Note the inflectional parallels between the Ibri/Iberi and the Kimri/Kimmeri.
Herodotus gave us more detailed account of the Kimmeri but his versions
are subject to debate. In IV.11 he states the following:
This passage is difficult because the land of the Scyths was a vague
and general term for regions north and east of the Black Sea. If the Scythians
had crossed the Araxes they would be in Media, the exact location of the
Iberi deported to "the cities of the Medes" described in II Kings 17:6
Herodotus further complicates matters by stating in IV.12:
He remarks further in IV.13:
A resolution to the dilemmas created by Herodotus is to suggest that
the Scythians were on the move, probably due to the pressure of people
who lived farther north and east in Asia, and that they moved in both westerly
and southerly directions, forcing the Kimmeri from their habitations north
of the Black Sea, and also pouring along the shore of the Caspian into
Media. Other groups of Kimmeri living in the "cities of the Medes" may
have escaped over the Black Sea, as well as moved through passes in the
Caucasian mountains to reach the northern regions of Asia Minor.
The information from Herodotus is instructive in spite of its difficulties.
The tract of land known to Herodotus as Kimmeria is now known as the Crimea.
The name Crimea derives directly from Kimmeria. The Kimmerian Bosphorus
is the narrow passage of water from the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov, now
known as the Kerch Straight. The Sea of Azov was then known as the Palus
Maeotis. The Kimmerian wall probably refers to a wall that ran across the
narrow isthmus which connects the Crimea to mainland Russia, about three
It is important to note that regions on both the northern and southern
shores of the Black Sea occupied by the Kimmerians correspond roughly to
the regions occupied by the Iberi. We found the latter attested historically
by Pompey and Theophanes just south of the Caucasus mountains. Montanus
placed them around the Sea of Azov. The available evidence suggests that
both groups were in the same geographical regions at the same time. It
is interesting, and pertinent, that the Irish folk traditions also say
their ancestors came from the land of Scythia, reinforcing the possibility
that the Iberi and Kimmeri were related racial stock.
The date of the movements by the Kimmeri in Asia Minor was sometime
during the eighth century BC. The existence of a simultaneous movement
of Scythians and Kimmeri is affirmed not only by Greek writers but also
in the historical records of Assyria. Sargon II fought Kimmeri attacking
his northern provinces. In 706 he marched to Tabal (Tubal) where he met
the Kimmeri. Sargon was killed in 705 in one of those battles. Esarhaddon,
king of Assyria who reigned from 681 to 668 BC, listed the Kimmeri as one
of the groups whom he fought on his northern borders. Ashurbanipal, 668-616
BC, also fought the Kimmeri in Asia MinorHOI,NET,CAH. At the
time of Aristeas of Proconnesus (Marmora) about 550 BC, quoted by Herodotus,
there were Kimmeri still remaining in the regions of the Crimea, although
Herodotus does not recognize Kimmeri living in those regions a hundred
The Kimmeri were on the move along the southern shore of the Black Sea
and in the central regions of Asia Minor through this period. They destroyed
the Midas dynasty in Phrygia and controlled that section of Asia Minor
for at least thirty years. They reached the borders of the Lydian kingdom
in western Asia Minor by 685 BC; by 660 the Lydians were in danger of being
overrun. Gyges (Assyrian Gugu), king of the Lydians, appealed for help
to the Assyrians, hoping that Assyrian attacks on the southern flanks of
the Kimmeri would inhibit their adventures in Lydia. According to the Assyrian
annals Gyges won a victory over the Kimmeri. But attempts by Gyges to sustain
a strong alliance with Assyria were not successful; the Kimmeri fell on
Lydia in 652 and captured Sardis, the capital. The success of this venture
emboldened Tugdamme, the leader of the Kimmeri, to return through Cilicia
toward Assyria. Unfortunately the records are incomplete. Apparently the
Kimmeri were not successful in prosecuting further action on their own.
They may have made alliance with other groups; Assyrian records use the
general term Umman-manda for groups of tribes who were defeated in battle
in Cilicia shortly afterward.
Such alliance is attested in the Assyrian records for Esarhaddon about
670 BC. He proposed to use Bartatu, king of the Ashguzai (Scythians) against
a league of Gimirrai, Sapardai, Madai and Mannai threatening his borders
around Lake Van. The Madai are the Medes, the Sapardai are the Sepharad
of Obadiah 20, the Mannai are the Minni of Jeremiah 51:27, while the Ashguzai
are the biblical Ashkenaz. Gimirrai is the Assyrian name for the Kimmeri.
Origin of the Kimmeri is subject to considerable scholarly debate. Strabo equated them with a group of Bulgarian people called the Treres. More than one ancient historian knew a tradition that Lydia had been invaded by a northern horde to which the name Kimmeri was attached, long before the historic attack on Sardis. Eusebius mentions invasions as far back as the twelfth centuryCAH. How much of the movement in Asia Minor was composed of Kimmeri who had settled there in the eighth century and how much was due to infusion of new people from northern regions is totally unknown. Herodotus' use of the term suggests almost a generic designation, that he meant more than one small tribe; the invasions in Asia Minor and the attacks against the Assyrians also suggest a large diverse group. For both Assyrians and Greeks the term stood for any non-Scythian horde which invaded from the northCAH. As with the Puni and Iberi, through cultural infusion and interbreeding, imposition of the name on large groups of people probably was part of that powerful Semitic social phenomenon. Groups which had been blessed with the genetic and cultural gift of the noble descendants of Abraham might welcome assumption of a designation which helped uplift them.
Xerxes, the king of Persia circa 470 BC differentiated between Amyrgian
Kimmerians and Kimmerians wearing pointed capsNET. The name
was not applied to one group as a unique designation, by either Greek classical
or Assyrian writers, but rather was used in later records as a generic
term for northern foreign invaders.
The language and social customs of the Kimmeri are equally unknown.
They are believed to have spoken an Indo-European tongue. The names of
their leaders suggest an Iranian origin. The Medes referred to the regions
of Cappadocia, location of the Kimmeri, as Gamir. This name is similar
to the biblical Gomer. Both Gamir and Gomer are thought to refer to the
Kimmeri. Other Assyrian historical records show a group of people living
in Media called the Kumri. There was a fortified town on the Araxes River
called Gumri. Again, ancient records and traditions confirm the same geographic
location for Iberi and Kimri.
This information takes on even more intriguing aspects when we examine
the Semitic root word -- khamar.
Brown, Driver, and Briggs, on page 331, show #IV of khamar as
a verb which means "to be red." In Arabic it is used for "dye red," "redness,"
and "reddish brown, apparently a skin color." In Job 16:16 it is translated
in some versions as "my face is reddened from weeping." The verb also means
"to boil up" or "to ferment2560." It has the following inflections:
1) Kimmer = Pi'el singular third person past tense.
Gomer is sometimes thought to derive from gamar, a cognate word
which means "to end," in the sense of completion or failure. However K-to-G
phonetic changes could have given the name Gomer from Komer.
The Kumri, Gumri, and Gamir names are all phonetic
variations of words readily identified in Hebrew. The designation Kimmeri/Gimirrai,
as a description for red skin color, may have developed from groups of
red-skinned Iberi who integrated among the native tribes around the Black
Sea. The appellatives Kimmeri, Kimri or Gimmeria denoted
the visible skin color rather than the Iberi racial designation.
As I indicated above, the Kimmerian name was well-known to Greece by
the latter part of the eighth century. If it derived from groups of red-skinned
Iberi coming out of Canaan those people would have had to migrate appreciably
earlier, perhaps as much as a hundred years before. This would take such
movement into the latter part of the ninth century, the time of the conquest
of the eastern Israelite tribes by Hazael. Although deportation is not
attested at that time, groups of Israelites may have moved elsewhere. If
they mixed with tribes on the northern shore of the Black Sea the Kimmeri
name may have been acquired that early by those mixed people. More than
one group using the physical Kimmeri designation may have settled on both
the northern and southern shores.
We should not neglect the possibility that the Ibri were sensitive to
the destiny ordained by God. If their prophets had reminded them of the
promises made to their forefathers, and if those prophets were telling
of a sifting among the nations, the promises and warnings may have weighed
heavily on their minds. It is conceivable they carried such doctrines with
them. If they were an impressive group, displaying outstanding talents,
native populations could have welcomed them as major contributors to their
cultures. With such social prominence their theological doctrines also
might have had major influence. The blended people might easily have adopted
the Kimmeri and Kimri names. God was creating a ferment among
the nations; the Kimmeri name not only reflects the red skin color; it
also could have meant a great boiling up.
After the events with Lydia in the middle of the seventh century the
Kimmeri of Asia Minor fade from the historical scene. Although mention
is made of them by Aristeas as existing in Asia Minor a century later,
they are, by that time, of little importance.
Where did they go? Did the pursuit of the Scythians and the Assyrians
rout them completely? Were they absorbed into other tribal groups? Did
they lose their Kimmerian identity to become known by other names on the
pages of history? Did they migrate to other regions -- as did the Iberians?
Considerable evidence exists to show Kimmeri/Kimri movements. Kimri
is a town in Russia some fifty or sixty miles north of MoscowRHDEL.
The name is straight out of the Hebrew dictionary - shown by the list above.
Was it assigned by wandering Kimmerian tribes who settled in those regions?
Recent archeological evidence points to Kimmerians moving in a westerly
direction up through the Balkan peninsula. This supports Strabo's identification
with the Treres. He merely misplaced the direction of their movements.
They were known as the Thraco-Kimmerians. They --
Yes, indeed, they influenced the emerging aristocracy of the west. They
were of noble, aristocratic blood. They were sifting their biological heritage
among the nations.
Further confirmation of their movements is found in names which show
up in the western extremities of Europe.
According to classical authors the Kimbri lived in the northern regions
ancient Germany near to or on the isthmus of Jutland, modern Denmark. Their
identity is not exactly known. According to Strabo and Plutarch their armor
and customs were very unlike the Teutons; therefore, they are believed
to be KeltsAE.
They were a powerful people. They appear in central Europe late in the
second century BC. About 120 BC they are attested in Teutoburgium, between
the Sava and Drava rivers in northern Yugoslavia, exactly where archeological
traces of the migrating Kimmeri from Asia Minor were found. In 113 BC they
defeated a Roman army in Noricum in the Austrian Alps. The Romans sent
two other armies to subdue them but both were defeated. The Kimbri then
marched into Gaul. Two new armies were dispatched to stop them but they
also were defeated with the loss of 80,000 men. The Kimbri then passed
over the Pyrenees into Spain where they were repulsed by the Celtiberians.
As these invasions neared Italy they created the so-called Kimbrian Panic
at Rome. Finally they stormed into Italy but Gaius Marius, who had spent
three years preparing for their attack, routed them at Vercellae in the
Po valley in 101 BC.
The powerful attacks of the European Kimbri certainly show parallel
to the power of the Kimmeri in Asia Minor in earlier centuries. Although
Roman historians imply that the Kimbri originated in Jutland their appearance
on the Hungarian Plain corresponds to the earlier appearance of the Kimmeri
in the same geographical locale. These facts bring into question the true
sequence of events with the Kimmeri/Kimbri/Kimri, their movements, and
their origins. Rather than marching from Jutland to Teutoburgium, branches
of those tribes may have migrated from the Hungarian Plain to Jutland.
Other branches may have migrated into England. In the face of the meager
historical and archeological evidence we cannot be sure.
As stated by CunliffeCW:
This statement demonstrates the major influence a relatively small group
of people can have on a culture if the social environment is amenable.
Such has been the history of the Ibri/Kimri people.
The Kimri/Kimry name is found not only in a town in Russia; it is the
name by which the people of Wales know themselves to this day. They are
believed to be a branch of the Keltic family which succeeded the Gaels
in a great westward migration of Kelts. According to this view they drove
the Gaels west into Ireland and north into Scotland while they occupied
the southern regions of England, where they were known as Britons.
In the fifth century of this era they, in turn, were driven into the hill
country of Wales, Cornwall and northwest England by the invading Anglo-Saxons.
A part of them may have reverse crossed the English channel and settled
in BrittanyAE. The movement of the Kymry (Kimri) is detected
by variations of the Kymric/Kymric dialect known as Cornish in Cornwall
and Amorican in parts of Brittany. The Welsh name Kymru is the plural
of the name Kymro. Linguists believe the name derives from an ancient
Celtic word, combrox = "compatriot," or "fellow-countryman." They
suggest this origin of the Kymru/Kymri name from a parallel with Allobrox
= "men of another countryOED." However, the parallels with the
Hebrew words are striking: Kimri/Kymry and Kimru/Kymru are one-for-one
in pronunciation. Also, we cannot be sure of reverse origins, that combrox
comes out of Kimri, not vice versa.
Other evidence suggests that migrations took place from the time the
Kimmeri fade from Asia Minor until the appearance of Kymry/Kimbri tribes
farther west in Europe. An "m-to-mb" phonetic variation is common with
the Kimri name. The Romans knew ancient Wales as Cambria, a variation
on KimriAE. Many scholars in the past referred to the Welsh
as the Cambrians. This name form is shown in the Cambrian
Mountains of Wales. Many persons believe that the Grampian Mountains of
Scotland also derived their name from the Kimri, but they are so far from
known residence of those people the association is questioned. Eilert Ekwall
lists many English and Welsh place names with the Camb- or Cumbr-
formCODEPN. Cumberland is the "land of the Cumbrians,"
the ancient Britons. This name is very popular in English speaking countries
and is found many places, including in the United States. Other ancient
English and Welsh names are Cumberworth from Cumbras Worth,
from "The valley of the Cumbrians," and Comberback,
Comberford, Comberton, and so on, all from the ancient British
Cumbra. Such names as Combrook,
are thought to not derive from Kymry/Cumbra but rather from cumb,
the ancient Britonic word for deep hollow or valley. However, this word
also may have the same origins. Cumrew is identical in pronunciation
to the Hebrew Kumru.
The name Cambridge is still another of Kimri originsCODEPN.
The Iberian and Kimmerian evidence shows that the migration of groups
of people, from the eighth century BC, down to historical times, is a complex
web which cannot be easily untangled. The mixture of Kelts and Iberians
in Spain to form the Celtiberians, the migration of Iberians to Ireland
to form part of the Keltic stock of that land, the blending of Kimmerians
with Kelts in the Hungarian Plain to confuse the separation of the two
groups, and the influence of these groups to form an aristocracy -- all
demonstrate the profound sifting which was taking place among the nations.
But other evidence speaks to this great sifting among the nations.