I have read that Rabbi Saadia Gaon, a great sage who lived from 882 to 942, considered the Assyrian Exile to be in modern day Afghanistan, Pakistan, and parts of Iran.

Would anyone be able to confirm that the rabbi actually said this, and perhaps be able to provide direct quotes from his writings?


2 Answers 2


Okay, it was tough, but I found the text of the quote:

In Me'asef Nidachim by Avraham Harkavy, he writes:

"בכתאב אלמהאצרה (אשכל הכפר) לר' משה בן עזרא יביא את דברי הרס"ג אודות שכחת לה"ק אצל בני ישראל בגלות בבל, ואלה סוף דבריו: וכדלך ערץ באקי גאליה אלאסבאט מן שומרון אלחאצלה פי חואצר כראסאן כמא נץ אלכתאב ויביאם לחלח וחבור נהר גוזן וערי מדי ולא שך אן הדה אלאעמל כראסאן וחבור רבמא כאנת ואד אלכאבור באלכא אלמעגמה והו משהור הנאך הדה כלה ען רבנו סעדיה גאון זצ"ל פי כתאב תחציל אלשראיע אלסמעיה לה; ובהעתקה עברית: "וכזה קרה לשארי בני גלות השבטים מן שומרון אשר באו למחוזות כראסאן כמו שכתוב ויביאם לחלח וחבור נהר גוזן וערי מדי. ואין ספק כי המדינות האלה הם בכראסאן. וחבור הוא נחל הכאבור אשר לפעמים נכתב בחית (בלי נקודה). וזה נודע בפה. כל זה מדברי רבנו סעדיה גאון זצ"ל בספרו תחציל אלשראיע אלסאמיעה (קובץ המצות השמעיות)". (pg. 101)

Translation: "In Kitab Almhatzrah (the cluster of the village) to R' Moshe ben Ezra he would bring what says Rasag on the forgetting of the holy tongue by the children of Israel in the Babylonian Exile, and this is the last of what he says: "U'k'dlach 'aratz baki galiyah alasbast min Shomron alkhatzlah pi khuatzar Charasan kemah natz alkitab and [he] brought them to Halah, Habor, the river of Gozan and the cities of Medes v'lo shach an hadah ala'amal Charasan v'Khabur ravma chant v'ad Alchabur Balcha alm'agma v'ho mash'hur hanach ahdah kalah 'an our sage Saadiah Gaon zt"l pi Kitab Takhtzil Alshraiy'a Alsm'aiyah La; and when translated to Hebrew: "And such as this happened to the rest of the people of the exile of the tribes from Samaria who came to the provinces Charasan as it says and [he] brought them to Halah, Habor, the river of Gozan and the cities of Medes. And without a doubt these states are in Charasan1. And Habur is the Chabur River which is sometimes written with a Khet (without a dot). And this is known by mouth. All of this from the words of our sage Saadiah Gaon zt"l in his book Takhtzil Alshraiy'a Alsm'aiyah (The Compilation of Decree Commandments)."

Charasan spans parts of Afghanistan, Iran and central Asia. The Khabur River covers land from Turkey to Syria.

Furthermore, in his commentary on Yeshayahu 37:12, Rasag wrote: enter image description here

"הַהִצִּילוּ אוֹתָם אֱלֹהֵי הַגּוֹיִם אֲשֶׁר הִשְׁחִיתוּ אֲבוֹתַי אֶת גּוֹזָן וְאֶת חָרָן וְרֶצֶף וּבְנֵי עֶדֶן אֲשֶׁר בִּתְלַשָּׂר - השיזיבא יתהון דחלת עממיא דחבילו אבהתי יתגוזן וית חרן ורצף ובני עדן דבתלסרי הל כלצת מעבוראת אלאמס אלתח אהלכוהא אבאי מן בלדך אלי חרן ואלי רצף ובני עדן בארמינייה."

Translation: Were the nations that my predecessors destroyed—Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and the Bethedenites in Telassar—saved by their gods? etc [first he brings an Aramaic translation, then he brings a Judeo-Arabic translation which includes his understanding of which places are which]..."

Here he translates Gozan as Baldach, a city in Afghanistan2 and Bnei Eden as being in Armenia.3

1 It should be noted that in his commentary on Beresheet 10:2, Rasag wrote:

"ומשך, כראסאן"

Translation: And Meshech, Charasan (meaning that the land of the people known as Meshech is Charasan).

2 Also known as Balach, which also happens to be the city of Khivi al-Balkhi, a man (some believe he was a Karaite) who wrote a work criticizing the Tanach which led Rasag to write a work answering all of his questions.

3 I've tried searching for a likely match to this name in Armenia but couldn't find any. Some people identify Bnei Eden with Bit Adini, a former Aramean state, but that's in Aram, not Armenia (nor could I find evidence that it was ever under the control of the Armenians), though they aren't quite so far from each other, relatively speaking.

As it turns out, it's actually somewhat ironic that Rasag would place Bnei Eden in Armenia, considering that according to Ben Tzion Luria, the Assyrians actually exiled the tribes to those specific locations to serve as a buffer against the Armenian empire.


I'm unaware of any such quotations by RaSaG (זצ"ל), but there is indeed a popular opinion that the Ten Lost Tribes may be in some of those areas, especially Afghanistan: https://ohr.edu/ask_db/ask_main.php/329/Q1/

In Emunot veDeot, RaSaG (זצ"ל) references Yechezkel 48:1, which states that the tribe of Dan bordered Damascus (in modern-day Syria). The reason he references this is to say that, after the Resurrection of the Dead, all formerly deceased people (including the Ten Lost Tribes) will know where they're from and be recognized by their families.

Hope this helps!

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