The dispersion of the Jews among the nations is specifically referred to in the Scriptures in the time of Esther (Esther 3:8) and at Pentecost (Acts 2:5; Acts 2:5, 9–11). And the apostle James eluded to it when he addressed his epistle “to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad” (James 1:1). Here, James was talking to the twelve tribes of Israel collectively (Gen. 35:22–26; 49:28; Acts 7:8). Also, Herod Agripa II, in his famous speech to keep the Jews from rebelling against the Romans, declared that same fact “there is not a people in the world which does not contain a portion of our race” (Josephus War ii. 16. 4 ).
The reasons for the dispersion
This dispersion of the Jews was due primarily to the great captivities or invasions they had suffered because of their apostasy. God sent them warnings by His messengers but they mocked His messengers, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets. So, the Lord withdrew His protective hand from them as seen in the following:
The King of Assyria took the ten tribes of the northern kingdom into captivity in 722 B.C. (2 Kings 17:6, 23). Only a few of their descendants ever returned to Palestine (Ezra 6:17; 8:35). In addition to the Jews who were dispersed by the captivities, thousands of them were attracted to every part of the world by commercial activities and business endeavors.
The tribe of Judah was carried to Babylonia, in three separate transportations beginning in 605 (2 Chron. 36:1–21; Jer. 52:1–30; Dan. 1:1–7).
Great numbers of Jews went to Egypt by the Macedonian Ptolemy Soter (Josephus Antiquities xii. 1. 1 [6, 7]). And others went there during the troubles of the Maccabees against the Seleucid kings. And Jews formed about one third of the inhabitants of Alexandria in Luke’s day, and were ruled by an ethnarch of their own (Josephus Antiquities xiv. 7. 2 ).
Christians Jews fled Jerusalem just before the Romans destroyed the city in 70 AD. Those that remained were destroyed. Josephus says (War vi. 9. 3 ), more than one million people perished during and after the siege of the city and 97,000 and more were taken captive. However, during a temporary break, when the Romans unexpectedly raised their siege of Jerusalem, all the Christians fled as Jesus warned them (Matthew 24:15-22). Their place of retreat was the city of Pella east of the Jordan River. And these Christians spread the gospel to all the world (Colossians 1:23).
The original purpose of God was for the Jews to be missionaries to the whole world (Isaiah 49:6). Even though Israel was unsuccessful to fulfill this plan as God first planned, the effect of these captivities was to accomplish—in part—God’s original purpose as seen in the lives of people like Daniel, Esther, Ezra and other. Because the Jews failed, God committed to the Christians Church the responsibility of bringing the truth of salvation to the world. “I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth“ (Acts 13:47).
In His service,