One of the Three Places of Exile recalled by the Talmud
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Duration 19.10 minutes
One of the Three areas a Talmudic source says the Ten Tribes were to be found in was known as The Place of Clouds. It is shown that this meant an actual area and provides an additional link with the Cimmerians amongst whom the Ten Tribes were to be found. The Cimmerians and Israelites migrated to Britain, the Netherland, and Scandinavia and here too the themes of clouds and darkness were repeated in Classical accounts.
We saw how the Talmud and Midrash (Numbers Rabah 1;6, Eichah Rabah 2;9, Jerusalemi Sanhedrin ch.17, L.6,29) on Isaiah 49:9) traced the Lost Ten Tribes to
The Sambation, to the Place of Clouds, and to Daphne of Antiochea. The Sambation was discussed above. Now let us consider the Place of Clouds.
The Sources said:
" To those who are in darkness, 'Show yourselves.' " (Isaiah 49:9): These are those whom the cloud descended upon and covered.
At the symbolic level Binyamin A. Eisenberger (Sefer Mesilat HaNaviim, 13:1) quoting from Rabbi Dessler (Mictav MeEliyahu) and the Maharal shows how the concept of being encompassed by clouds connotes living an existence separated from the Gentiles. It does not necessary mean a cloudy area in actuality but rather is symbolic of a state of separation.
This allegorical explanation may also be applicable but a literal connotation is the one we shall concentrate upon.
Another Midrash (Numbers Rabah 17;16) says that part of the exiled Israelites from the Ten Tribes went to the "Mountains of Darkness" which is a related concept. The Mountains of Darkness were identified by Rashi (on Amos 4:3) with the Mountains of Mannae whereas others equated them with the nearby Caucasus. The Caucasus in the Talmud are nicknamed "The Mountains of Slug" i.e. "The Mountains of Snow", the term "slug" is a form of "sheleg" meaning snow in Hebrew. Pliny (N.H.4;17) reports that the Scythians called the Caucasis, "Croucasis" meaning, he says, "white with snow". "The Mountains of Slug were identified as an area to which the Lost Ten Tribes were exiled (Talmud Sanhedrin 94a). These regions (Mannae and the Caucasis etc) neighbor and interlock with each other and may be considered one area.
Now from those places to which the Lost Ten Tribes were exiled there emerged the Cimmerians, Scythians, and Gothic ethnic groups. There is much evidence that these peoples were either mainly Israelite or that at least Israelites were a significant element amongst them. At the least the bulk of Israelite exiles were to be found in their midst.
It should be remembered that the Book of Hosea says that the Lost Ten Tribes would be known as Gomer in their places of Exile or be at the least affiliated in a union with Gomer and give rise to three separate entities. Gomer elsewhere is counted as a son of Japhet and traditionally gave rise to peoples in Europe. Gomer is also identified with the Cimmerians who are called Gimirri and similar terms by the Assyrians and Babylonians. The Scythian and Gothic nations emerged from the Cimmerians and from these came the Scandinavians and peoples in the west.
Like part of the exiled Israelites in the Midrash, so too, were the Cimmerians in Classical Literature to be associated with Clouds, Mountains, or simply regions, of Darkness. A word root "comer" (reminiscent of "Cimmerian") in both Hebrew and Latin even connotes "darkness"!1 At one stage a portion of the Cimmerians were to be found in the Crimean Peninsula. At that time the climate was much wetter in the Crimean region than it is now and the area was apparently always cloudy. In Latin Literature there existed a phrase "Af tenebrae Cimmeriae" meaning "Cimmerian Darkness" and applied to the Crimea2.
The bulk of the Cimmerians via the Balkans entered Europe and moved westward. They are identified in general with the Celts. The name "Celt" has been interpreted as:
"Meaning hidden the word which gives us the Irish form `ceilt', i.e. concealment or secret, and the word which gives us the English word kilt"3
The Scottii who from Scythia reached Ireland and from there went to Scotland were counted as Celts. Their name ("Scotoi") in Greek was understandable as meaning obscure or hidden4. In Britain and Brittany (Gaul) lived a people called Ostrynimians by the Carthaginians and Phoenicians and this name also is said to mean hidden5 from the Hebrew root "sater". The god Saturn who allegedly reigned in the British Isles too has a name derivable in Hebrew from the same root ("sater") and connoting the "hidden god". Pagan writers identified Saturn with Israel. Saturn was said to have been driven out of the Middle East and gone with his followers to dwell in one of the Isles of Britain. In their terminology this meant the Lost Ten Tribes who had been exiled and were then were already to be found in part in the British Isles. The Talmud says that a portion of the Lost Tribes was hidden by the Clouds of Darkness. We find indeed amongst the Celts (especially those of Britain) terminology that relates them to the associated concepts of 'hidden', 'clouds', and 'darkness'. This could be dismissed as coincidental were it not for the fact that too numerous other proofs from all fields point in the same direction.
Amongst the Celts, the Cimmerians are specially linked with the Galatian section and even more especially with the Cimbri of Scandinavia and the Cymry of Britain. The Cimmerians have also been equated with the Western Celts on the whole.
The Orphic Argonautica (supposed ca.500 BCE) placed the Cimmerians far away in the north somewhere in the British Isles:
"Cimmerii who were hidden from the sun rising by the mountains of Ripaeus in Britain near the vicinity of Hades 6..."
"....far away in the north on the way to the Iernian [Ireland] islands 7.. ".
Homer (in the "Odyssey" 11;19) mentioned, "The deep sea of Oceanos [i.e.The Atlantic Ocean] which is the World's boundary. There is the city of the Cimmerian people. Night is forever spread over these unhappy mortals".
It is generally agreed that both these above passages place Cimmerians in Britain. Both the quotations above concerning the Cimmerians in Britain expressions imply darkness or hiddenness.
Mark Williams asked,
# This "land where they (the exiles of the Ten Tribes) are covered by cloud... It wouldn't be the British Isles (famed for its fogs, a species of cloud), by any chance?#
By reply we may say that this too is a possibility. It should also be noted that Ireland is considered to have more cloud-covered days per year than any other country. A large number of days with cloud covering have been blamed (or credited) for blue eyes, red hair, and freckles.
Irish red hair a result of our lack of sunlight by Lynne Kelleher
Plutarch seems to have identified the Cimmerians with the Cimbri of Scandinavia and the North sea coast as did other Roman writers. Plutarch says of these Cimmerian descendants:
"Part of them still inhabit the remotest regions upon the outer Ocean. These... live in a dark and woody region hardly penetrable by the sunbeams...their days and nights being equally continuous, they divide their year into one of Each..(Plutarch: "Caius Marius").
.W. Whatmore also noted the linkage in Classical works of the Cimmerians with the Dark in the Caucasus, in Crimea, in Britain, and in Scandinavia8. So closely associated were the Cimmerians with darkness that a people in Italy, near Lake Arverno, who lived by robbery and dwelt in dark caves, were also named Cimmerians9.
Denmark was settled at one stage by the Cimbri descendants of the Cimmerians and then later by the Danes from the Israelite Tribe of Dan.
This overlapping of Cimbri with the Danes of Dan is interesting. A Midrash commented on the Tribal Order of Marching forward in the Wilderness when the ancient Israelites had escaped from Egypt yet still had not been allowed to enter the Promised Land.Â The Position of Dan, says the Midrash (Numbers Rabah 2), "was in the north, whence darkness comes". The Midrash infers that this positioning was indicative of future developments.
The Cimbri, claimed Plutarch, in their migrations carried a metal bull with them10. The Cimbri in Scandinavia are known to have had a bull cult of Mediterranean origin11. The Israelites in the Wilderness were punished for making a golden bull calf (Hebrew: "aegel") which they intended to go before them in their wanderings (Exodus 32:1-4). Excavations in the area of northern Israel have unearthed metallic statuettes of bulls that are dated to the period of Israelite occupation prior to their exile12. King JeroboamÂ from the Tribe of Ephraim was the first king of northern Israel after it broke away from the south. He set up a bull calf cult with golden statues and cultic centers at Dan and in Beth-el (2-Kings 12:28-29). These golden statues, according to one source, were later smashed. They may have been exchanged for metallic ones. Sargon, the Assyrian king after defeating northern Israel said, "I counted the gods on whom they trusted as spoil"13. The statue at Beth el (Beth Aven)Â was captured by the Assyrians and "carried unto Assyria" (Hosea 10:6). The Cimbri practice of carrying a metallic bull with them may have been a carryover from their North Israelite paganism.
The Cimbri were later to be found throughout Scandinavia14 especially in Denmark Jutland, which Procopius ("Gothic Wars 2.1.7) referred to as "Brittania" whereas the isle of Britain (home of the British Cymry in Wales) he called "Brittia". Part of the Cimbri reached Holland in their wanderings and there too the presence of a tribe of "Bretons" was reported (Pliny N.H.4;17)15. ISAIAH (ch.49) placed the Lost Israelites in "Isles of the Sea" and said they would establish a "Brit-Am" i.e. A People's Covenant or Commonwealth.
Whatmore ("Insulae Britannicae", 1913) showed that in Classical Literature the Islands of Britain were considered the edge of the world, the last section of Scythia, and associated with Cimmerian darkness. The same characteristics were ascribed to Scandinavia and then later Scandinavian writers said the same things about North America wherein Viking Scandinavians attempted to settle!
Leif Ericson in the 1100s CE visited the coasts of North America and an effort at colonization was made. A Chronicle of the event gave the names Helluland, Markland, and Vinland to the countries visited. Whatmore equated "Markland" with North America16. After drawing parallels between the Danish Norwegian word "merke" and the Russian "mrak", he said that the name "Markland" (given to North America) signified DARKNESS.
The Scandinavian Chronicler was continuing the Classical tradition and Whatmore concludes that "Markland" (i.e. the name given to North America),
"is quite as likely an echo of the dark Kimmerian world"17.
Another word for "dark" in Hebrew is Kedar. "Kedar" was a son of Ishmael (Genesis 25:13). Part of the sons of Kedar assimilated amongst the Arabs, others became the Kidarites who were once important in Central Asia. Descendants of Kedar also reached North America and intermarried with the Red Indians.
It follows that in Biblical and Rabbinical tradition the Lost Ten Tribes or at least a portion of them were associated with Darkness, Clouds, and Concealment in general. Both linguistically and conceptually these same attributes were attached to the Cimmerians and to those who emerged from them. Proofs from other fields confirm that these same entities were descended largely from Israel.
28 Do not fear, O Jacob My servant, says the Lord,
For I am with you;
For I will make a complete end of all the nations
To which I have driven you,
But I will not make a complete end of you.
I will rightly correct you,
For I will not leave you wholly unpunished.
One of the places to which the Ten Tribes were exiled was Habor (2-Kings 17:6) which lay by a River (modern Khabor in Iraq) of the same name. For the ancient Sumerians of Mesopotamia, the "Hubur" (i.e. Habor) had been a mythical river in the west over which the dead had to cross18. Procopious (in the 500s CE) reported that fishermen on the North Gaulish coast were traditionally exempt from taxation since they had the task of rowing the souls of the dead across the Channel to Britain19. In Classical Literature Britain was known as the "Isle of the Dead" and Saturn (Dis Pater, the god of the dead) was said to rule there. On the Metaphysical level these notions fit Britain being the Place of the Lost Ten Tribes who in some late Jewish traditions had been taken away to an inaccesible place and their whereabouts was a mystery.
The Celts believed in two worlds: This world and the "otherworld",
"A constant exchange of souls took place between the two worlds: death in this world took a soul to the Otherworld; death in that world brought a soul to this world"20.
These notions were appropriate for Israelites who had been uprooted from one sphere of existence and artificially transplanted into another, stranger, one.
Other sources from Second Temple Times amongst the Jews in Judea and later the Jews in Arab Lands placed the Ten Tribes and associated groups (such as the Rechabites, etc) in the Isle of the Blessed which was one of the names for Ireland.
1. Markale 1 p.56.
2. Lempriere, "Cimmerri".
3. PETER BERRESFORD ELLIS, "The Celtic Empire," London, 1990, p.9.
4.La Tour p.244, "Scoti, secundum quosdam, a tenebris adepti".
6. Whatmore p.14.
7. J.B. Bury in "Klio" vi, 1906, p.79 ff.
8. Whatmore pp. 13, 40, 212.
Â 9. Markale, Pliny N.H. 3;9.
10. Melin p.291.
11. APS (Schutte) p.95.
12.BASOR, 247, 1982, Amihai Mazar, "The Bull Site".
13. Cogan p.104.
14. Melin p.291ff.
15. see also L.G.A.Roberts p.101, who quotes from Hyginus (ch.29,30), Juvenal(15;24), and Martial (xi;3).
16. Whatmore p.49.
17. Whatmore p.49.
18. St.Langdon, "Syria, Gutium, and the Aramaeans", p.219, in Sprechsaal, "Zeitschrift Fur Assyriologie", Strasbourg , 1909.
20. Ellis p.17.