A Question I Was Asked:

What Happened to The Lost Ten Tribes of Israel?

What happened to the lost Ten Tribes of Israel?

UK Apologetics Reply:

Re: the "lost ten tribes," I believe that, if you sweep away all the nonsense (a few cults and sects have led people astray about the significance of these peoples), these people simply got absorbed into other tribes and other peoples over hundreds of years. The Jewish historian Josephus (AD37–100) wrote that, "the ten tribes are beyond the Euphrates till now, and are an immense multitude and not to be estimated in numbers." (Josephus, Flavius. Antiquites. p. 11:133). Here Josephus is certainly suggesting that a large bulk of these people were already "beyond the Euphrates" as he wrote, so at least a substantial group moved towards eastern Asia. Read to the end of this article for more information on this.

Some evidence certainly exists of a continuing identification in later centuries of individual Israelites to the Lost Tribes. For example, in Luke 2;36, an individual is identified with the tribe of Asher, this tells us at once that some of these tribes later returned either to the Holy Land or to that general area.

In 1605, Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci discovered a small community consisting of approximately ten to twelve families of Chinese Jews in Kaifeng, China, becoming known as 'The Kaifeng Jews.' ('De Christiana expeditione apud Sinas,' p. 108 in Gallagher's English translation [1953]). According to historical records, a Jewish community in Kaifeng built a synagogue in 1163 during the Southern Song Dynasty, which existed until the late nineteenth century. Of course, most of the ten tribes were not truly Jews at all, although they were Israelites, but the name 'Jew' seems to have stuck. [Very strictly speaking, Jews were only from the tribe of Judah].

The Portuguese traveller and Marrano Sephardic Jew Antonio de Montezinos returned to Europe (from the Americas), with accounts that some of the Lost Tribes were living as Native Americans of the Andes in South America. Menasseh ben Israel, a noted rabbi and printer in Amsterdam, was excited by this news. He believed that a Messianic age was approaching, and that having Jewish people settled around the world was necessary for it.

So, to some degree or other, one may make their own choices on this. Without question these people became absorbed among other peoples whilst at least a few returned to the general area of Israel. It also seems very possible that some reached the New World and got absorbed among American Indians (but too much has been claimed for this by at least one large religious sect), whilst others undoubtedly did indeed end up in eastern Asia, including China. But how about the belief of 'British-Israelitism' which claimed that these people mostly became British, Celtic, northwest Europeans and, ultimately, Americans? No real proof exists for this, or even compelling evidence; the only proviso I would make here is that the Celtic peoples (eventually settling into parts of northwestern France, certainly Scotland, Ireland, southwestern England and Wales) do show some indications of being descended from a section of 'old Israel,' however, any sort of real proof is lacking.

In our day Christians should not be worrying about the so-called "lost ten tribes," the Bible message is fulfilled through the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, not through any of these tribes.

For more on this, please also go here: Can You Fully Explain Luke 14:15-24?

Robin A. Brace. April 8th, 2018.