August 28, 2007
In a series of three postings on August 21-22, 2007 at The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies (CAIS), some very interesting information has been unearthed by a team of Iranian and British archaeologists. [As an aside, in this era of tense relationships between Iran and the West, it is good to see some cooperation still can exist on an academic level.] Links to the site are included below.
This team of archaeologists have discovered a large defensive wall which extends “200 kilometers in the southern coast of the Caspian Sea” region. Called the Gorgan Wall, this defensive structure included 16 forts and a large canal which could be flooded to serve as a defensive moat to reinforce the defensive power of the Gorgan Wall. These reports indicate that this was “Asia’s second longest wall after the Great Wall of China.”
The location of these defensive fortifications was in the territory of ancient Parthia, and the structures apparently “belong to the late Parthian or early Sassanian dynastic eras.” However, the defensive canal, according to the reports, dates “to the Parthian dynastic era.” The reports date the Parthian era as “248 BCE- 224 CE ” and the Sassanian era as “224-651 CE.” This defensive fortification was used by both the Parthians and the Sassanians as 28 historical sites have already been found in that region which date to either the Parthian or Sassanian periods.
One report makes the noteworthy observation that the Sassanians would have used this defensive wall “against the invasions of the Ephthalites, a nomadic people who once lived in Central Asia.” I discuss this very historical period on pages 71-74 of my book, Israel’s Tribes Today. I note that the “Ephthalites” who raided the Sassanians were also called “Nephthalites” and “Hephthalites” in ancient texts. They were also called “White Huns” due to what we would call their Caucasian or Semitic appearance. The Israelite origin of this tribe is glaringly obvious in the rendering of their name as “Nephthalites,” which faithfully preserves the unique name of the Israelite tribe of Naphthali (although it is recognizable in the other spelling variants as well). The tribe of Napthali was forcibly resettled into Asia by the Assyrians circa 740 BC (I Kings 15:29).
The Parthian Empire was a vast Asian empire which was an Asian Superpower concurrent with the great Mediterranean Superpower, the Roman Empire. Rome invaded Parthia many times and usually Parthia defeated Rome. The Parthian nobility which selected the emperors of Parthia consisted of the Magi and Wise Men, the same group which journeyed to give costly gifts to the Christ child (Matthew 2). The visit of the Parthian Wise Men, who would have been escorted by a large number of Parthian soldiers and camp-followers, greatly frightened the inhabitants of Jerusalem and even Herod himself! Herod was right to be afraid because a Parthian victory over the Roman Empire resulted in Parthian rule over Jerusalem and Judea a few decades before this event. Josephus records that the ten tribes of Israel were “an immense multitude, and not to be estimated by numbers” in the 1st century AD and that the ten tribes lived “beyond the Euphrates” (Antiquities of the Jews , XI, V, 2). The Euphrates River was the recognized border between the Roman and Parthian Empires for a very long time so Josephus’ comments were tantamount to saying: “The ten tribes lived in Parthia.” The forgotten geopolitics of the visit of the Wise Men to Jerusalem are discussed in detail in my book, Parthia: The Forgotten Ancient Superpower, on pages 128-142.
The defensive structure found southeast of the Caspian Sea was likely begun by the Parthians toward the end of their empire’s reign. It would have been necessary to defend their empire against potential attacks by hostile tribes in Central Asia. However, since the Ephthalites (or Nephthalites) were a part of the ten tribes of Israel as were the Parthians, the Parthian defenses very likely had other enemies in mind than the Ephthalites.However, when the Sassanian Persians rebelled against the Parthians and forced the Parthians to migrate elsewhere, it is very logical that the Sassanians strengthened this defensive fortification to keep out the Ephthalites, whose kingdoms were then located in Bactria and Sogdia in Central Asia as well as in domains in Northwest India. The Ephthalites were one of the many “Saka” tribes of Asia who bore the name of “Isaac” upon them (the “Sacae” Scythians, Iberians and Parthians were all related to the Ephthalites). Genesis 21:12 prophesied that Isaac’s name would be placed on his birthright descendants, the tribes of Israel, throughout history.
The fact that the Sassanian Empire had to invest so much effort and time into strengthening this massive ancient fortification against the Ephthalites offers graphic confirmation to Josephus’ assertion that the ten tribes of Israel were by that time too great a multitude in Asia to number. The Nephthalites/Ephthalites were just one tribe of Israel, the Naphthalites, and they were large enough to cause the Sassanian Empire to build the second largest wall in ancient Asia just to keep them out! God had prophesied in Hosea 1:10 that he would vastly multiply the population of the ten tribes of Israel after their exile from the Promised Land. The record of Josephus and the extent of the Sassanian fortifications to keep out just one of the tribes of Israel gives remarkable confirmation that the prophecy of Hosea 1:10 was fulfilled. It is also noteworthy that the Parthians used water-moats as a defensive strategy while located in Asia. Their descendants, who were called “Caucasians” after they migrated into Europe via the Caucasus Mountains after the fall of the Parthian Empire, also used moats around their castles in feudal Europe as a defensive strategy. The history of the Parthians, Ephthalites and the other tribes of Israel can be found in my two books named above in this blog. See the book links at this website or you can order them on-line at the publisher’s website, www.bibleblessings.net.