I recently finished a series concerning the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel in which I explained how they became separated from the nation’s other tribes, how they were moved out of the Promised Land and how they were then scattered throughout the world as prophesied would happen in the writings of the Old Testament prophets. I also showed where two of the lost tribes eventually settled, specifically Ephraim and Manasseh who evolved into the British Empire and the United States of America. In this series I will explain where some of the other tribes settled and who and where they are today.
Though man lost track of the “lost” tribes of Israel, God did not, as is stated in several prophecies. Mankind in general, neither knowing nor believing the Word of God, came to believe that the ten lost tribes simply ceased to exist, as if they had dissipated like dew on a hot morning. Others believe that they all returned to Judea and moved in among the three remaining tribes–Judah, Benjamin and Levi–known Biblically as “Jews,” a nickname given to those Judahites by the King James translators.
Most people in the modern world can’t identify the modern-day descendants of the ten tribes of ancient Israel who, following their separation from the “Jews” over a tax issue, selected Jeroboam as their king, established the city of Samaria as their capital and called themselves “Israel.” Biblically the two segments came to be known as the House of Judah and the House of Israel. During the 700’s the Assyrians laid siege of Samaria which lasted for several years. In the end the Israelites were defeated and enslaved in Assyria which lay to the east of Samaria between the Euphrates River and the southern shores of the Caspian Sea as recorded in 2 Kings 17:23,24.
Later the Persians attacked the Assyrians, causing both them and their captive Israelites to flee. The two groups fled in various directions, the Assyrians finally settling in what is today called Germany while the ten tribes of Israel went east, north and west from Assyria and settled in what is now called Europe. Two of the tribes–Ephraim and Manasseh–traveled as far as the British Isles before settling. Later, many from the tribe of Manasseh crossed the Atlantic Ocean to the New World where they settled into what became known as the 13 Colonies which later, following a great westward expansion, became the Untied States of America. Meanwhile the descendants of Ephraim were becoming the British Commonwealth. Together they became the two most prosperous and powerful nations in the world, just as their forefather Jacob (Israel) prophesied they would. See the series titled Who and Where is Israel Today? for more details.
But the vast majority of mankind believes that the ten tribes of Israel either disappeared, stopped reproducing or returned to the Middle East and came to be called Jews. None of which is true. Having assimilated with the Gentiles among whom they settled, they simply lost their identity. Then, some 800 years the Jews’ Messiah–a Judahite descendant of King David–was born and, during His short time on earth, ministered to them. “He came unto His own (people–the Jews) and His own would not receive Him (Jn. 1:11). It is at this point that most people think He turned His attention to the Gentiles. This is also not true, a fact clearly brought out in several New Testament passages. For example, in Matthew 15:24 Jesus tells the Gentile woman that He came ONLY for the lost sheep of the House of Israel. Obviously, God knew where they were, else how could Jesus minister to them? But then, if they were scattered throughout the world, Jesus could not have personally ministered to them in that He never left the Holy Land and died shortly after beginning His ministry. Jesus had stated that He did nothing on His own, that His Father told Him what to do. So obviously God knew where the lost sheep of the House of Israel were located. But how did Jesus minister to them? Through His apostles. This is brought out in Matthew 10:5,6 where He told them not to go to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, but rather “… to the lost sheep of the House of Israel” who had been scattered throughout the world. This is why, after Acts 11, we neither read about nor hear about the apostles. Once they left Judea in search of the lost tribes history lost sight of them.
Note that the Apostle James, when writing his Christ-exalting letter, introduced the epistle in this way: “James, a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ, TO THE TWELVE TRIBES WHICH ARE SCATTERED ABROAD, greetings.” Notice that there was no mention of the Gentiles among whom the Israelites had settled. Nor did he address the Jews. His letter was addressed exclusively to the tribes of Israel which had been scattered some 800 years earlier. L.J.