The blessing which was given to Ephraim and Manasseh might appear confusing at first glance, as neither tribe was particularly righteous. The tribe of Ephraim, which ruled over the northern Kingdom of Israel following the schism of the unified nation, never brought forth a righteous king. For more than two hundred years, God continued to warn Israel through the prophets to repent and to turn back to Him, saying, “I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hid from me; for now, O Ephraim, thou committest whoredom, and Israel is defiled. They will not frame their doings to turn unto their God; for the spirit of whoredoms is in the midst of them, and they have not known the Lord. And the pride of Israel doth testify to his face; therefore shall Israel and Ephraim fall in their iniquity.” [Hosea 5:3-5]
In consequence of their transgressions, the capital city of Israel was besieged and overcome by Shalmaneser, the king of Assyria, around 722 B.C., and thus the ten northern tribes were scattered as the Lord promised Moses almost seven hundred years earlier. “But it shall come to pass, if thou [the twelve tribes of Israel] wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes which I command thee this day, that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee… The Lord shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies; thou shalt go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before them; and shalt be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth… And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other.” [Deuteronomy 28:15, 25, 64].
Sadly, the Lord not only scattered the northern Kingdom of Israel, but the southern Kingdom of Judah was dispersed as well. For the Lord also spoke to Judah through the prophets, calling on her to return unto Him and to not repeat the mistakes of Israel. Yet for all of this Judah did not repent, but instead continued to follow after other gods. In response, the Lord spoke unto the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “Hear ye the word of the Lord, O kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold I will bring evil upon this place…because they have forsaken me…and I will cause them to fall by the sword before their enemies.” [Jeremiah 19:3-7]. The Lord fulfilled this promise through King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon who destroyed Jerusalem twice, once in 598 B.C. and again eleven years later in 587 B.C., carrying away captive many Jews.
Scriptures to Consider
Deuteronomy 28:15, 25, 64 (KJV)
28:15 But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee: 28:25 The LORD shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies: thou shalt go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before them: and shalt be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth. 28:64 And the LORD shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone.
Jeremiah 19:3-7 (KJV)
19:3 And say, Hear ye the word of the LORD, O kings of Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem; Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, the which whosoever heareth, his ears shall tingle. 19:4 Because they have forsaken me, and have estranged this place, and have burned incense in it unto other gods, whom neither they nor their fathers have known, nor the kings of Judah, and have filled this place with the blood of innocents; 19:5 They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind: 19:6 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that this place shall no more be called Tophet, nor The valley of the son of Hinnom, but The valley of slaughter. 19:7 And I will make void the counsel of Judah and Jerusalem in this place; and I will cause them to fall by the sword before their enemies, and by the hands of them that seek their lives: and their carcases will I give to be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth.
2 Kings 17:1-21 (KJV)
17:1 In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah began Hoshea the son of Elah to reign in Samaria over Israel nine years. 17:2 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, but not as the kings of Israel that were before him. 17:3 Against him came up Shalmaneser king of Assyria; and Hoshea became his servant, and gave him presents.
17:4 And the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea: for he had sent messengers to So king of Egypt, and brought no present to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year: therefore the king of Assyria shut him up, and bound him in prison. 17:5 Then the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years.
17:6 In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. 17:7 For so it was, that the children of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, which had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods, 17:8 And walked in the statutes of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made.
17:9 And the children of Israel did secretly those things that were not right against the LORD their God, and they built them high places in all their cities, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city. 17:10 And they set them up images and groves in every high hill, and under every green tree: 17:11 And there they burnt incense in all the high places, as did the heathen whom the LORD carried away before them; and wrought wicked things to provoke the LORD to anger: 17:12 For they served idols, whereof the LORD had said unto them, Ye shall not do this thing.
17:13 Yet the LORD testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets. 17:14 Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the LORD their God. 17:15 And they rejected His statutes, and His covenant that He made with their fathers, and His testimonies which He testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen 17:16 that were round about them, concerning whom the LORD had charged them, that they should not do like them.
17:17 And they left all the commandments of the LORD their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made a grove, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal. 17:18 And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, and used divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke Him to anger. 17:19 Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of His sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only.
17:20 Also Judah kept not the commandments of the LORD their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made. 17:21 And the LORD rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of spoilers, until He had cast them out of His sight.
2 Kings 25:1-11 (KJV)
25:1 And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came, he, and all his host, against Jerusalem, and pitched against it; and they built forts against it round about. 25:2 And the city was besieged unto the eleventh year of king Zedekiah. 25:3 And on the ninth day of the fourth month the famine prevailed in the city, and there was no bread for the people of the land.
25:4 And the city was broken up, and all the men of war fled by night by the way of the gate between two walls, which is by the king's garden: (now the Chaldees were against the city round about:) and the king went the way toward the plain. 25:5 And the army of the Chaldees pursued after the king, and overtook him in the plains of Jericho: and all his army were scattered from him. 25:6 So they took the king, and brought him up to the king of Babylon to Riblah; and they gave judgment upon him. 25:7 And they slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bound him with fetters of brass, and carried him to Babylon.
25:8 And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month, which is the nineteenth year of king Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzar-adan, captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, unto Jerusalem: 25:9 And he burnt the house of the LORD, and the king's house, and all the houses of Jerusalem, and every great man's house burnt he with fire. 25:10 And all the army of the Chaldees, that were with the captain of the guard, brake down the walls of Jerusalem round about. 25:11 Now the rest of the people that were left in the city, and the fugitives that fell away to the king of Babylon, with the remnant of the multitude, did Nebuzar-adan the captain of the guard carry away.