Who Were The Parthians?
Parthia was a vast ancient empire that ruled over Asia, India, and the Caucasus Mountains, at the same time Rome ruled in the Western region of Europe and the Middle East. In fact Rome suffered many crushing defeats at the hands of Parthia when these two ancient "Superpowers" opposed one another. There is a woeful lack of knowledge in the modern world about the Parthian empire. It almost totally ignored in history texts.
A famous 19th century historian George Rawlinson wrote two book extensively documenting the history of the Parthian empire. They were titled Parthia and the Sixth Great Oriental Monarchy. The Greco-Roman classical writes recorded a volumous amount of information about Parthia, and Rawlinson extensively cites the classical writers in the histories of the Parthians.
Who then were the Parthians? There is no record of the presence in Asia at all until the Persians refer to them in the sixth century B.C., and "there is no mention of them in the Old Testament, or in the Assyrian inscriptions, or in the Zendavesta" (Rawlinson, Parthia, p.27, emphasis added). This indicates that they were not present in Asia UNTIL SOMEWHAT PRIOR TO THE MIDDLE OF THE FIRST MILLENIUM B.C.They are clearly identified as having a common origin with the Scythians as Rawlinson states: "...there was a strong conviction on the part of those who came into contact with the Parthians, that they were Scythes," and adds, "...that the Scythian character of the Parthians is asserted in the strongest terms by the ancient writers: (Sixth Great Oriental Monarchy, p.20).
There is a record from Diodorus, a Greek historian of the first century B.C., that the Parthians had "passed from the dominion of the Assyrians to that of the Medes...to a similar position under the Persians" (ibid., p.26). Rawlinson also notes that early historians regarded the Parthians to be "exiles" (ibid., p.19). These statements are very significant. We have seen that the Israelites were exiled by the Assyrians, and that Ezra wrote that they were in the "cities of the Medes." After the fall of Assyria, it is logical that the Asian Israelites would come under the dominion of the Medes and Persians. All this evidence above supports the idea that the Parthians were in fact the "exiled" Israelites.
"The alphabets in use in Persia [where Parthia was], at least from the time of the Arsacid dynasty onwards, are based upon the Aramaic...The earliest records of Aramaic go back to about 800 B.C., and were found in northern Syria...Other developments of Aramaic are modern square Hebrew..." (Encyclopedia Britannica, vol.1, "Alphabet, " pp.683-684, emphasis added). The "Arsacid dynasty" was the dynasty of the Parthians. The Parthians utilized the Aramaic language (and imposed it within their empire) powerfully indicates that the Parthians originated in the region of Syria [an area the Israelites ruled in the time of Solomon] and Palestine where the Aramaic language originated. The fact that they also used a Semitic language also indicates that they were of the race of Shem, as the Israelites were. As Stephen Collins states: "...the Parthians language was related to the Hebrew language [this] also indicates that the Parthians were among the descendants of the lost ten tribes of Israel, a large mass of Semites who were transplanted into Media and other Asian regions" (LTTF, p.208).
The names of the tribes in Parthia itself indicates that they were Israelite in origin. And "given their huge population, it is logical that the Israelites would also have become known by the names of their SUBTRIBES in addition to the names of their principal tribes" (ibid., p.209, emphasis added). For example, Numbers 26:35-36 records that subtribes (or clans) of the Israelite tribe of Ephraim were named Bachrites, the Eranites, and the Tahanites. The old Seleucid province of Bactria, which grew up in conjunction with Parthia bears that name of one of the subtribes of Ephraim.
The Eranites were present in the region of ancient Persia and Parthia as well, see Ragozin, Media, pp.15-21. The name Eran survives even today in the modern name for the territory of ancient Persia; Iran. Indeed the Encyclopedia Britannica, in referring to "Eran" in its index section, simply states: "Eran see Iran" (vol.24 index section, see "Eran," p.580). The modern capital of Iran is Teheran, also preserving the name of the Ephraimite clan of Eran. This book in no way implies that the modern Iranians are Israelites as it is very clear from subsequent history that the modern Iranians are principally Medo-Persian in racial origins. These names are labeled by the Israelites. It is clear that the Israelites migrated to other lands, and these names in Persia were only preserved by other races in that region today.
The Scythian clan of the Dahanites had a major role in the origin of Parthia's independence. These were the third major branch of the Ephraimite clan called "Tahanites" Numbers 26:35. "...("d" and "t" are linguistically similar consonants)..."(Collins p.211, emphasis added). All these tribes of the Parthian empire, the Bacterians, the Eranians and the Dahanites were "the backbone of Parthia's strength...[and] Ephraimite names predominate in Parthia's origin...[and] the Massagetae were one of the foremost tribes of their Scythian kinsman, [also] indicates that Ephraim and Manasseh...were the dominant tribes of the Parthians and the Scythians respectively" (ibid., pp.211-212).
As further evidence of the Israelite origins of the Parthians, some cities of Parthia were given Hebrew names. One Capital was name Dara, see 1 Chron 2:3-6. Another was "Asaak." Strobo records that Alexander the Great noted a region called "Asaacanus." The Parthian province of Media Atropatene was located southwest of the Caspian Sea, and George Rawlison records "The chief city was 'Gaza''' apparently named after the old Palestinian Port. Since the Israelites were transferred to the "cities of the Medes" it is no surprise to find the Israelite names there. In the Parthian province of Hyrcania (located southeast of the Caspian Sea), we find that two major chief cities were named "Samariane" and "Carta." Both meaning "Samaria" and "Carta" meaning in the Hebrew "Kerjath," which is the same root as the old Phoenician city of "Carthage," meaning "New City." (All quotes above are from Strabo, Geography, 11, 3, 3; Gawler, p.9; Culican, Medes and Persians, p.50; Frye p.211; Britannica, vol.17, "Parthia," pp.344-345; Rawlinson Ancient History, pp.474-475; Rawlinson Sixth Great Oriental Monarchy, pp.297, 318).
Other evidences are the coins of the Parthians. "The Parthian monarchs, whose faces are shown on these coins, clearly exhibit facial features of the white race, supporting a Semitic origin for the Parthian nation...all hard evidence indicates a Semitic origin for the Parthians, debunking speculation that the Parthians were Mongoloid (Oriental Race)..." (Collins p.216).
Josephus the Historian in the 1st century A.D located the lost ten tribes in his time. He said that they, "...are an immense multitude, and not to be estimated by numbers, [and were located] the ten tribes beyond the river Euphrates till now..." (Antiquities of the Jews, XI, V, 2).
"At the time Josephus wrote, the Euprates river had long been a recognized border between Roman and Parthian empires. For Josephus to write ...'the ten tribes beyond the river Euphrates till now ' was another way of Saying the ten tribes were 'in Parthia...''' (Collins p.220). Josephus also wrote of the language the Parthians spoke. He originally wrote his Wars of the Jews in his native Semitic tongue so that the people of Parthia could understand what happened in the Roman-Jewish war of the first century A.D.: "I have proposed...for the sake of such as live under the government of the Romans, to translate those books in the Greek tongue, which I formerly composed in the language of our country [Hebrew], and sent to the upper Barbarians...[identified in a footnote as the Parthians and 'the Jews' (separate peoples)] beyond Euphrates...'' (Perface 1-2). Note the phrase "beyond Euphrates" is again used as a euphemism to designate Parthian territory. "Upper Barbarians" Rawlinson states the following about Josephus comments: "Josephus...regarded the Parthians as familiar with the Hebrew, or Syro-Chaldaic, and wrote his history of the Jewish war in his own native tongue, before he put out his Greek version, for the benefit especially of the Parthians among whom he declares he had many readers" (Sixth Oriental Monarchy, p.424, emphasis added).
Go To Page 26
Back To Page 24