The Ten Lost Tribes of Israel
This story goes back to the times of the Israelites taken into captivity by Assyria in 721 BC. This relates to the 10 northern tribes who settled in Halah and Habor (2 Kings 17:6).
Note: all bible quotes are from the kjv unless otherwise stated.
The Twelve Tribes of Israel
The twelve tribes were from the descendants of Abraham. In 1868 BC Abraham had a son named Isaac by his wife Sarah. In 1807 BC Isaac and his wife Rebekah had twins, Esau and Jacob. Between 1723-1710 BC, Jacob (God later changed his name to Israel) had twelve sons. Eleven of these sons, along with his son Joseph’s son, Ephraim, Moses appointed land to after conquering Canaan. These became the 12 tribes of Israel. Ephraim, adopted by Jacob, became one of the 12 tribes. Ephraim became a powerful leader and head of the northern tribes. This led to the adoption of the name Ephraim to represent the northern tribes.
Now that makes 13 tribes in all. But the Levites didn`t get a portion of land, Moses appointed them the priesthood of the tribes.
The Levites gained cities. They lived among all the tribes of Israel. They also gained the city of Jerusalem and authority over the holy temple.
The southern kingdom (known of as the House of Judah), comprised Judah and Benjamin and part of the Levites. But always noted as the two tribes of Judah, or just Judah.
The northern kingdom was The House of Israel or Ephraim. This comprised the tribes of Reuben, Simeon, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Issachar, Asher, Zebulun, Joseph and Levi.
They separated into two nations after the death of king Solomon. Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, became king, and the northern tribes didn`t follow the harsh rule he imposed over them. This caused the nation to split into two separate states. Rehoboam, the king of Judah, planned to war against the northern state. To bring all the tribes back under a one king leadership, but God relayed a message to him not to fight, and he backed off.
Here is how the bible describes the event:
ll Chronicles 11: 1-4
1 And when Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he gathered of the house of Judah and Benjamin and a hundred and fourscore thousand chosen men, which were warriors, to fight against Israel, that he might bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam.
2 But the word of the LORD came to Shemaiah the man of God, saying,
3 Speak unto Rehoboam the son of Solomon, King of Judah, and to all Israel in Judah and Benjamin, saying,
4 Thus saith the LORD, ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren: return every man to his house: for this thing is done of me, And they obeyed the words of the Lord, and returned from going against Jeroboam.
1 Kings 12:24
Thus saith the Lord, ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren the children of Israel: return every man to his house; for this thing is of me. So they hearkened unto the word of the Lord, and returned and went their way, according to the word of the Lord.
As we can see in the two passages above, this was part of God’s plan.
The northern tribes conquered
Assyria conquered Israel in 721 BC. Israel comprised two nations. Split into a nation of the ten-tribe house of Israel (Ephraim) and the two-tribe house of Judah.
The northern nation of Israel became captive. This was the House referred to as the Jews. This is the separation that still lasts until today. They parted from Judah, later referred to as the lost tribes of Israel.
When the Assyrian kingdom fell into decline, the ten tribes then migrated. They started their long and arduous migration, which took several hundred years. In the passage below, we see God told them to mark their way.
Set thee up way-marks, make the guide-posts: set thine heart toward the high way. Even the way by which thou wentest: turn again, O virgin of Israel, turn again to thee thy cities.
Archaeology can attest to the Israelites migration of this period. The landmarks and cultural artefacts unearthed. The various forms of written stone records discovered. These all relate to the period, thus providing evidence
In Genesis 48 we see Jacob speak to Ephraim, the leader of the ten northern tribes. He tells him he will become a nation, comprising of a series of nations whose people will be so vast that it would be difficult to number.
Genesis 48: 17-19
And when Joseph saw his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him: and he held up his father’s hand, to remove it from Ephraim’s head unto Manasseh’s head. And Joseph said unto his father, Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put the right hand upon his head. And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: howbeit his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations.
So, we see in this passage that the ten lost tribes migrate and become many nations somewhere in the world. They have not disappeared from existence. Instead, they have grown into a mighty nation or group of nations related.
Babylon the new world empire
Some years later, in 612 BC, Babylon became the next world empire. In 597 BC the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, conquered Jerusalem. He plundered and destroyed the temple. The Jews went off into Babylonian captivity.
When the Assyrians took the house of Israel into captivity, the Israelite nation comprised the House of Judea only, referred to as the Jews.
The Persian Empire
In 538 BC, Babylon fell to the Medes and Persians. The Persian Empire became the second great empire in the ancient world. During this period, Cyrus, the king of Persia, let the Jews go back to their homeland. This was to rebuild their temple in Jerusalem that the Babylonians destroyed. From the destruction to the start of rebuilding of the temple, the period of exile was 70 years. (Jeremiah 29:10)
But the bible states that the returning exiled Jews comprised only descendants of the southern tribes. The house of Judah. Nothing mentioned of descendants of the ten northern tribes, the house of Israel. The returning Jews were of the house of Judah only. The number of the returnees was 42360. (See Ezra 2:64 and Nehemiah 7:66).
So, what became of the house of Israel?
Hosea gives some specific information on the matter.
Hosea 1: 6-11
6, She conceived again and bore a daughter. And the Lord said to him, call her name Lo-ruhamah: for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel, that should in any wise pardon them.
7, But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the Lord their God, and I will not save them by bow nor by sword nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen.
8, Now when she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived, and bare a son.
9, And the Lord said, Call his name Lo-ammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God.
10, Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass that, in the place where it was said unto them, ye are not my people, it shall be said unto them, ye are the sons of the living God.
11, And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint themselves one head, and shall go up from the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel.
What does Ezekiel say about the northern kingdom?
Ezekiel chapter 37: 11, 16, 17, 21, 22, 26.
Verse 11 Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold they say, Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are clean cut off.
Verse 16 And thou, Son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions.
Verse 17 And join them for thee one to another into one stick, that they may become one in thine hand.
Verse 21: And say unto them. Thus saith the Lord God: Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land:
Verse 22: And I will make them one nation in the land, upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all:
Verse 26 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them: it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.
Ezekiel is proof that the ten lost tribes of Israel exist by the fact of their unification again at the end times. The dry bones represent the nation of Israel.
The two sticks clearly show that God is referring to the whole twelve tribes of Israel. The two divided nations that will again come together as one.
They gather the children of Israel from all the nations. Meaning all around the world, but they will come home to the holy land.
The house of Judah came home to the holy land in 1948, three years after the second world war had ended. In that year David Ben Gurion, the future prime minister of Israel, declared a new state of the house of Judah, entitled the state of Israel. (More information on this later).
The house of Israel (the ten lost tribes) is yet to come home to reunite with the two southern tribes.
In the future, this will happen and they will have one king, or one prime minister rule over them. Ezekiel verse 22 above states: they shall become one nation again and never again divided into two nations. This refers to the end times because they shall become one nation again forever.
Another interesting point to make is in verse 26 above. God says he will set his sanctuary (temple) amid the Jewish community forevermore. Solomon’s temple must be built again, for a third time, in the holy city of Jerusalem.
God makes a new covenant.
Jeremiah 31: 31-34
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
Jeremiah is about the end times here. A time when all the tribes of Israel will come together and never separated again. There will be no need to preach about God anymore because this event will happen after the tribulation. The entire world will have witnessed proof of who God is. There will be no doubt.
Hebrews 8: 10-12
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”
Here in Hebrews we see the same prophecy repeated. It’s understood that the apostle Paul wrote the book on AD 67, around 700 years after Jeremiah first prophesied. Paul was reiterating what was to come in future events. As this prophecy is not fulfilled, it relates to in the future.
Where are the lost tribes now?
From 721 BC, when the Assyrians took the northern tribes of Israel into captivity, until the present day (2020) there are 2741 years.
So, where are they now? We know they are still around because the scriptures tell us they will reunite. Some later time in history, a time not yet reached. The scriptures also tell us they will have grown. So vast that they are too many to number and that they will comprise many nations.
From the point of migration, after the fall of Assyria, they verged West. They settled in various countries.: Great Britain, the Netherlands, Germany, North Africa and other parts of western Europe.
As these nations grew, they migrated to various places, including America. The British Commonwealth formed and expanded. It took in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and many other countries. This correlates to them becoming many nations. Too difficult to number because of their masses.
Modern day Israel
On the 14th of May 1948, in Tel Aviv, David Ben-Gurion declared a Jewish state known as the State of Israel.
Over the following years, the Jews gathered from around the world. The Jews that had kept their identity as being from the southern tribes, the nation of Judah.
There was much debate on what name to use. They suggested Judea instead of Israel. They rejected it because it referred to the territory that was not covered in the treaty. Even though Judea was the original birthplace of the Jews. The name Jew became accepted as a recognizable name for the nation that survived even when in exile. They had formed a new state for the first time in almost 2000 years. The State of Israel once again jumped out of the history books and came back into existence, even without the lost northern tribes. Maybe the name Israel is for future times when all tribes are united again under one leader.
D. Marsden © 2020