Scripture and Scholars say...

1 Ki. 14:15, God “shall scatter” Israel “beyond the river,” not all in one place.

2 Ki. 10:32, “In those days the Lord began to cut off parts of Israel...” –before their final complete exile.

2 Ki. 17:6, The Assyrian king “captured Samaria and exiled Israel”

Deut. 29:28, “cast them into another land, as it is this day”

Isa. 5:26 “the end of the earth”

Isa. 11:11-12, “the four corners of the earth”

Isa. 27:13 (Vulgate), “those lost from the land of Assyria”

Isa. 49:9, “say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves.” An address to the lost ten tribes according to Jewish midrash “Pesikta Rabbati 31:10”

Isa. 49:21, (Ten Tribes:) “where had they been?”

Jer. 15:4, “I will cause them to be removed into all kingdoms of the earth”

Hos. 2:14, “I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness,” not a return to Canaan.

Hos. 8:8, “Israel is swallowed up now among the nations”

Hos. 9:17, “wanderers among the nations”

Ezra 1:15, ONLY “Judah and Benjamin” returned; remaining ten tribes did not return

“Israel and Judah... developed more or less independent of the other, Israel in the north and Judah in the south; and only gradually did circumstances bring them together, and then came the inevitable clash of interests, religious as well as political.” –"Hebrew Origins," Theophile James Meek, 1936, p.76

“Israel as a kingdom was never restored from Assyria, as Judah was from Babylon after 70 years.” –Jamieson, Faucett, Brown Commentary, p.650

“There never was a real return from the exile, although some individuals doubtless returned...the captivity of Israel did not actually terminate at 538 [B.C.], nor, in fact, ever.” –Geo. Ricker Berry, Colgate-Rochester Divinity School, “Was Ezekiel in the Exile?” pp.89, 92 (Journal of Biblical Literature 49 (1930)

“Many of the towns in southern Judah and Simeon were not reoccupied after the exile. This process was quite as disastrous as it is portrayed in the Old Testament...” –Thos. Davis, “Shifting Sands,” Oxford Univ. Press, 2004

“That the Redeemer comes ‘from Zion’ [Isa. 59:20] for Israel implies that Israel is in exile...” –G.K. Beale and D.A. Carson, “Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament,” Baker Academic, 2007, p.674

“The exile, into all lands, among all nations, was as irrevocably decreed as was the destruction of the city.” –Charles C. Torrey, Yale University, Journal of Biblical Literature 56 (1937), p.206

“...the returnees came only from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin —the exiles in Babylon. The ten tribes did not return...the loss of the [ten] tribes marked the greatest demographic defeat inscribed in Jewish memory since Biblical times.” –Zvi Ben-Dor Benite, “The Ten Lost Tribes: A World History,” Oxford Univ. Press, 2009, pp.17, 117

“Evidently it was a token return...” –Frank Moore Cross, Harvard University, “A Reconstruction Of The Judean Restoration,” Journal of Biblical Literature 94 (1975), p.15

“The tree of Israel, grown from one root with various branches, was cut into pieces.” –John Calvin, cited in Boer, “John Calvin,” pp. 190-191

“The ten [tribes] which had previously been carried away being scattered among the Parthians, Medes, Indians, and Ethiopians never returned to their native country, and are to this day held under the sway of barbarous nations.” –Sulpitius Severus (circa. 360-420 A.D.), Severus, Sacred History, bk ii, ch. Ii, in Schaff, et al., transl. Sulpitius Severus

“Jewish people often thought that ten of the twelve tribes were lost and would be restored only in the end time.” –Craig Keener, “A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew,” Eerdmans, 1999, p.315

The ten tribes’ not returning opened “a huge wound that does not heal.” –Talmudic Haga, Sefer Ha-Berit Ha-Hadash

"The prophecy of a restored and reunited Israel and Judah...was never actually to be fulfilled... Intransigence on the part of both...produced separate and irreconcilable societies that were never able to reunite." -Bruce Vawter, "Amos, Hosea, Micah, With An Introduction To Classical Prophecy," p.81






The Chief Rabbis On The Lost Tribes

the records of the assyrian kings
as found on assyrian monuments

Excerpts from "Sacred Books And Early Literature Of The East,"
Charles F. Horne, editor. Parke, Austin, and Lipscomb, Inc.,
New York and London, publisher, 1917


            Jewish scholarship for centuries has held that the ten tribes of the House of Israel have not reunited with Jewry since the breakup and dispersion of the ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah. The following information is an extract from A Short Study Of Esau-Edom by C.F. Parker, 1948, pp. 12-16:

            It is important to bear in mind the fact that the Ten Tribes did not return to Palestine and unite with the Jewish nation. Many have been under the impression that they did so, but historical evidence of such a fact is entirely lacking, and it is the agreed testimony from various Jewish sources that the Ten Tribes have not united with Jewry. Josephus, in the time of Christ, wrote as follows:

            “And when these Jews had understood what piety the king had towards God, and what kindness he had for Esdras, they were all greatly pleased; nay, many of them took their effects with them, and came to Babylon, as very desirous of going down to Jerusalem; but then the entire body of the people of Israel remained in that country; wherefore there are but two tribes in Asia and Europe subject to the Romans, while the ten tribes are beyond Euphrates till now, and are an immense multitude, and not to be estimated by numbers.”            (Antiquities Of The Jews XI, v, 2)

            There is no evidence of the Ten Tribes having been united with the Jews since Josephus’ day, and the Jews themselves are foremost in asserting this. In the words of D.A. Neubauer:

            “The captives of Israel exiled beyond the Euphrates did not return as a whole to Palestine along with their brethren the captives of Judah; at least there is no mention made of this event in the documents at our disposal… In fact, the return of the ten tribes was one of the great promises of the Prophets, and the advent of the Messiah is therefore necessarily identified with the epoch of their redemption.” (Jewish Quarterly Review, Vol. I -1888, pages 15, 17)

            Dr. Neubauer appropriately headed his article: “Where are the Ten Tribes?” and stated the traditional Jewish belief that they exist somewhere unknown (although he himself did not accept this view); he cited the Apocrypha, the New Testament, the Talmud, and other writings to prove that: “The hope of the return of the Ten Tribes has never ceased amongst the Jews in exile… This hope has been connected with every Messianic rising.” (ibid., p. 21)

            In the English translation of Professor H. Graetz’s History of the Jews, Jewish opinion concerning the completeness with which the Ten Tribes vanished from ken is expressed:

            “The idols of Dan and Samaria and of other cities were taken to Nineveh, and the thousands of captives were scattered and settled in groups in thinly populated districts, the location of which is not definitely known, in Halah and Habor on the river Gozan, in the mountains of Media, and in Elam west of Persia. The house of Israel, that had endured for two hundred and sixty years, under the rule of twenty kings, vanished in one day, leaving no trace behind it, because it forsook its original elevating and invigorating teachings and followed the enervating vices connected with idolatry. What became of the ten tribes? Some believed they discovered them in the far east, some in the far west. They were deceivers and visionaries who claimed to be descendants of the lost tribes. Undoubtedly the ten tribes were absorbed among the nations and disappeared. Some of them, husbandmen, vintagers and shepherds, were allowed to remain in the land, and some of the nobles who lived on the border of Judah probably sought safety in that country.” (English translation by Rabbi A.B. Rhine, D.D., 1930, Vol. I, p. 146)

            A concise statement of the official attitude of orthodox Jewry on the question of the Ten Tribes is to be found in the answer of the late Chief Rabbi, Dr. Hertz, to the following questions asked by the late Captain the Rev. Merton Smith in 1918:

1.   Are the people known as the Jews throughout the world the descendants of Judah and Levi; or is there a known admixture of other tribes?

2.   If so, in what proportion, and what authority is there for saying so?

3.   If not, what has become of the other tribes, and where, according to your knowledge, are they?

4.   If that is unknown, where were they when Judah last knew of them? Does the orthodox Judaism still look for the recovery of the Twelve Tribes at some future date?”

            The Chief Rabbi’s answer to these questions is to be seen in the accompanying reduced facsimile of his letter.

            To these expressions might be added the view of the late Dean Inge, who said: “The Assyrians deported most of the Ten Tribes in 720 B.C. They never returned, and foreigners from the East were brought in to replace them. The Babylonians deported only the upper and middle classes, leaving the mainly Canaanite fellahin on the land.” (Evening Standard, 26th January, 1939)

            The Jewish Encyclopedia states the question rather nicely:

            “As a large number of prophecies relate to the return of ‘Israel’ to the Holy Land, believers in the literal inspiration of the Scriptures have always laboured under a difficulty in regard to the continued existence of the tribes of Israel, with the exception of those of Judah and Levi (or Benjamin), which returned with Ezra and Nehemiah. If the Ten Tribes have disappeared, the literal fulfillment of the prophecies would be impossible; if they have not disappeared, obviously they must exist under a different name. The numerous attempts at identification that have been made constitute some of the most remarkable curiosities of literature.” (1925 ed., art. ‘Tribes, Lost Ten’)

            Those who have read anything of the mediaeval Jewish travelers Eldad the Danite and Benjamin of Tudela will know that they endeavoured to find the lost Ten Tribes, without success. In Cromwell’s time the learned Rabbi Manasseh ben Israel was yet another who endeavoured to trace the still lost Ten Tribes, and recorded his view that Columbus had discovered them in the North American Indians! Within recent years Jewish writers have been unanimous in their testimony that the Ten Tribes have not yet joined them. The series of articles by Dr. A. Neubauer in the Jewish Quarterly Review, 1888, is a learned exposition of Jewish attempts down through the ages to find the lost tribes. So complete has been their disappearance from the pages of history that Dr. Neubauer concludes that they are to be found “nowhere,” and he abandons the attempt to discover them.

            Historically, then, we have certain very clear outlines concerning the Israelitish origins of the Jewish nation. It was composed of parts of the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, Levi, and the House of David. Despite the Jews’ admission that they do not represent the Ten Tribes, it must be allowed that what appears to be an almost insignificant remnant of ten-tribe Israelites had either returned to Palestine or been left in the land from earlier days. In the New Testament we read of Anna the prophetess, of the tribe of Asher, who rejoiced in the coming of the Messiah. Any such remnants [of the ten tribes], however, have never been recognized by Jewish authorities as of anything more than the smallest numbers, insufficient to be considered representative of a tribal return.


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