Ten Lost Tribes: Found
© January 2001 By Asher Intrater
The kingdom of Israel reached its height at the time of
David and Solomon, approximately 1,000 years before the time of Yeshua.
During the reign of Solomon's son, Rehoboam, the northern ten tribes
of Israel split away from Judah and Benjamin. Thus the kingdom was
divided into the northern tribes of Israel and the southern tribes of
This division became the object of the messianic hope to
be reunited by the future Messiah (Ezekiel 37:12ff). There is also the
symbolic sense that the northern tribes represent the international
church, while the tribe of Judah represents the Jewish people and the
nation of Israel. Yet those two viewpoints are prophetic and symbolic,
not historical and genealogical.
The northern tribes of Israel were taken into captivity
by the Assyrians in the eighth century BC and the southern tribes of
Judah were taken into captivity in the sixth century. The Bible records
that the captivity of Judah returned to the land of Israel during the
fifth century BC.
Since there was no major description of the restoration
of the northern tribes, much speculation and curiosity have arisen over
the years as to the question, "Where are the lost ten tribes?"
An interesting yet dangerous trend is that many
Christian cult groups claim to be actual descendants of the ten northern
tribes. This ranges from groups in Japan to native Americans. There are
some elements in Mormonism and Jehovah's Witnesses that make a similar
claim. It has even effected parts of the Christian Zionist movement.
The truth of the matter is that there are no lost ten
tribes. During the time of the kingdom division and the captivities, a
certain percentage of each of the northern tribes came down and took up
residence in the area of Judah. After that time the name Judah or the
Jews referred not only to the specific tribe of Judah but also to the
Benjaminites, the Levites and the remnant of all the northern tribes.
There are no lost ten tribes. All the tribes of Israel
are included in what we call today the Jewish people. There are seven
basic biblical evidences that prove this position.
Israel Remnant in Judah (II Chronicles)
The book of II Chronicles records many times that the
members of the northern tribes immigrated to Judah after the kingdom
division. This happened from the very moment of the division.
II Chronicles 10: 16-17: "So all Israel departed to their tents. But Rehoboam
reigned over THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL WHO DWELT IN THE CITIES OF JUDAH."
It couldn't be stated more clearly that there were
members of the Israeli tribes living in the territory of Judah.
Chronicles 11:3 states that Rehoboam was the king not only of
Judah but to "ALL" Israel living "IN" Judah and Benjamin.
- II Chronicles
11:16-17 states that members of "ALL" the tribes of Israel who
were loyal to God came down to Jerusalem and strengthened the kingdom of
- II Chronicles 15:9 tells us that
during the revival of King Assa that there were "great numbers from Israel" who
came over to Judah.
- II Chronicles 24:5 speaks of members gathered
from all the tribes of Israel.
- II Chronicles 30:21 and 25 speak
of the children of the Israelite tribes who came to Judah during the time
of King Hezekiah.
- II Chronicles 31:6 speaks again of the
children of Israel who dwelt in the cities of Judah.
- II Chronicles 30:10 speaks of members of the tribes
of Ephraim, Menassah, Zebulun, and Asher coming to Jerusalem.
- II Chronicles
30:18 mentions also the tribe of Issachar.
- II Chronicles 34:6 adds
to that list members of the tribes of Simeon and Naphtali.
- II Chronicles
34:9 states clearly that there were members of "ALL THE REMNANT
OF ISRAEL" who were living in Jerusalem after the time of the Assyrian
- II Chronicles 35:3 again
mentions that there were members of "all Israel" who were part of Judah.
Captivity Restored (Ezra and Nehemiah)
After the Babylonian captivity, the nation of Israel was restored under
the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah. In those books are extensive
genealogical records. The fact that there were careful genealogical
records proves that not only were the northern Israelites part of the
restoration, but that they kept records of their families and they knew
which tribe they were from.
Ezra 2:2 starts the records of "the number of the men
of the people of ISRAEL." Ezra 2:59 states that people
had specific genealogical records not only to which of the northern tribes
they were part of, but even as to which household: "identify their father's
house or their genealogy, whether they were of Israel." Those who had
records but were not perfectly documented were disqualified and had to
wait for supernatural verification by the urim and thumin (should they
ever arise). This proves how meticulous and well documented were the great
majority of the family records (Ezra
2:62-63). Ezra 2:70 again speaks of "all" Israel
dwelling in Judah after the restoration of Ezra and Nehemiah.
Ezra 6:16 and 21 speaks specifically of "the children
of Israel who had returned from the captivity." Ezra 7:7, 9:1, 10:1
and 10:25 speak of the problem that the Israelites had with
Nehemiah 7:7 to 73 repeat the genealogy of the Israelite
tribes that were recorded in Ezra 2. Nehemiah 9:2, 11:3 and 11:20 speak
of "the rest of Israel.in all the cities of Judah." Nehemiah 13:3 speaks
of separating Gentiles so as not to confuse the genealogical records of
The Testimony of Anna (Luke 2)
In Luke 2:36 the prophetess Anna is listed as coming from the tribe of
Asher, one of the most northern and least populated tribes of Israel. In
other words, we have a clear statement in the New Testament that people
who were considered Jews in the time of Jesus included people from the
northern ten tribes of Israel, and that they had genealogical
documentation as to which tribe they were from.
How could the tribe of Asher, for instance, be "lost"
from 700 years before Jesus, if Anna knew her descendancy from Asher
during the time of the New Testament?
Yeshua and the Apostles (Gospels and Acts)
Yeshua ministered all over the land of Israel. He addressed the Jewish
people there. In all of His speeches, it is assumed that He is speaking
to all the descendants of Israel. Yeshua never mentioned once the
possibility that there was some other group or some lost tribe of Israel
floating around somewhere. In preaching to the Jews of the first
century, Yeshua said that He was called to go to "the lost sheep of
the house of Israel" (Matt. 10:6).
In the same way, the apostles addressed the crowds of
Jews in the first century with the assumption that they were all the
descendants of Israel. In Acts 2:22 Peter turns to the "Jews" living
in Jerusalem and refers to them as "men of Israel." Peter concludes
his sermon addressing his crowd as "ALL the house of Israel" (Acts
2:36). In other words, in the eyes of Peter, the Jewish people in the
first century included all the tribes of Israel. Peter continued this
way of addressing the people as all the house of Israel in his other
speeches (Acts 3:12, 4:8, 4:10, 4:27, 5:21, 5:31, 5:35, 10:36).
Paul also addressed the Jews of the first century as "men
of Israel" (Acts 13:16). He continued to address the Jews as
Israelites throughout his messages (Acts 13:23-24, Acts 21:28, Acts
The twelve disciples were seen to be future leaders to
"sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matt.
The Twelve Tribes of James
The letter of James is addressed to "the twelve tribes which are
scattered abroad" (James 1:1). He is not speaking of some lost tribes,
but rather to the scattered audience of Jewish believers in Jesus of the
The same argument is true as we look at the letter to
the Hebrews. The group here called "Hebrews" are not some tribe of
Japanese or native Americans, but rather the Jewish people of the first
The Remnant of Israel (Romans 9-11)
This argument has specific importance when we look to the promises of
the restoration of the believing remnant of Israel, spoken of in the
book of Romans, chapter 9 to 11. Here Paul expresses his prayer for the
children of Israel to be saved (Romans 9:1-4, 10:1-4). This remnant that
is to be restored is the biblical remnant of Israel that fulfills the
prophecies. They are the same people who rejected Yeshua in the first
century. It was not some lost tribe that rejected Him, but rather the
Jews living in Israel at that time.
Paul states that God has not forsaken the people of
Israel (Romans 11:1). There is a remnant of Israel by grace (Romans
11:5). What Israel did not achieve the elect have received (Romans
11:7). The falling away of Israel has meant the salvation of the Gentile
nations (Romans 11:11). Their restoration will be the resurrection of
the dead (Romans 11:12,15).
The whole drama of Romans 9-11 only makes sense if it is
speaking about the people we know today as the Jewish people. If someone
thinks that this is referring to Mormons or Jehovah's Witnesses, or to
Christian Zionists, or to some other native people group, the whole
meaning of the passage is lost. That viewpoint would destroy the
promises of God to Israel, the purpose of evangelism in Israel, and the
meaning of the reconciliation between Israel and the church in the end
The Cultic View
It is not a coincidence that so many cults have come to the conclusion
that they are one of the "lost" ten tribes of Israel. That viewpoint
is confusing to their members and incorrect according to scriptures.
That theology is dangerous and deceptive as we try to understand the
prophecies of the restoration of Israel leading up to the second coming
of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus).