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Date Posted:16/04/2008 8:20 AMCopy HTML


The return of Israel and the Ten 'Lost' Tribes

his is a large topic so what I would like to focus on are the often one sided expositions given by British Israelites when they maintain that the House of Israel (ten lost tribes) did not return to Canaan and that the Jews of today and at the time of Christ do not/did not consist of the 'house of Israel', but rather, as they often state,  are mixed marriage of a small proportion of the tribe of Judah. As BI maintain, the real House of Israel (Ephraim & Manasseh), all left and became America, Britain and the associated Commonwealth.

In making the above statements, much of BI seem to totally ignore those Scriptures that do not support the beliefs they are often bound to adhere to (in the past, to have a role as oversight within some Revival fellowships, you had to adhere to the tenants of BI).

While this is certainly not a topic that I would claim the 'last word' on, I would like to present another side of the picture, and then ask people to 'pleaseconsider'.

Let us now look at some specific RCI samples below and how they present their picture:-

Seventy years after the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, as God had promised, about 42,000 descendants of Judah and Benjamin, then known as Jews, returned to Canaan from their Babylonian captivity and rebuilt that city. It is because a small portion of modern Jewry (less that 10%) are descendants of Jews of that era that the claim is made today that they are God's people and that Canaan (Palestine) belongs to them. This is not what the Bible indicates!


Because of their continuing rebellion against God's law the whole of the House of Israel and a large part of the House of Judah were deported to northern Assyria. The remnant of the House of Judah struggled on for another one hundred and thirty years and then in the year 586BC all but a handful were taken captive to Babylon. Soon afterwards this remaining handful migrated to Egypt. At that time Canaan had become an Israelite free zone.


All of the kings of the northern House of Israel rejected God's laws and turned to idol worship. Although God sent prophets to warn these people of the consequences of such behavior, His entreaties and directives were ignored. The result was that Samaria, capital of the Northern Kingdom was conquered in 721 BC and around 27,000 of those who survived the horrendous siege were deported to Assyria. In 676 BC the Assyrian king Esar-Haddon removed the rest of the Northern Kingdom to Assyria and replaced them in Canaan with people from other countries. There is no historical or biblical record of these Israelites ever returning to Canaan.


Apart from this small remnant of the House of Judah, Jacob-Israel was temporarily settled in northern Assyria. As time went by, these Israelites migrated west and the majority finished up in the appointed place, i.e. the British Isles, and from there they expanded to USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. There is no record of any of these people returning to Canaan except as visiting foreigners such as on the Day of Pentecost for the celebration of this feast.


These texts come from two RCI articles entitled:-

Is Canaan (Palestine) Israel's Home Today?  and  Is Jacob-Israel Divided Today?

In the Revival articles above the author confidently states that:-

"There is no historical or biblical record of these Israelites ever returning to Canaan"

It is this statement and type of thinking that is well entrenched in much of the Revival ethos.

So then, let us then see how well the Revivalist author has searched his Bible on these matters...........

did the ten tribes all leave to never to return?


931 BC - 722 BC 

The time from the initial split between Judah and the northern tribes until the captivity of the ten northern tribes (House of Israel). 

In the following examples, the dating system I have referred to is generally taken from the book "A survey of Israel's History" Leon J Wood. For the date of the 722 / 721BC for the fall of the Northern Kingdom, I have also referred to several other resources to check accuracy. Both Evangelical, Catholic and a number of BI sources seem to be in agreement on this date.

During the split, prior to the fall of the Northern Ten Tribed Kingdom, we note the following:


During the split kingdom, there were already some from the northern tribes of Israel in Judah. The people from these tribes were warned not to go and fight against their brethren in the north.


2 Chronicles 11:3 (KJV)

Speak unto Rehoboam the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all Israel in Judah and Benjamin, saying, 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.


During the split, Judah was greatly strengthened by the migration south of many from the northern tribes, including the priests and Levites, who were kicked out of their offices in the north. These people wanted to remain loyal to God and so headed to Judah.


2 Chronicles 11:13-16 (KJV)

And the priests and the Levites that were in all Israel resorted to him out of all their coasts. For the Levites left their suburbs and their possession, and came to Judah and Jerusalem: for Jeroboam and his sons had cast them off from executing the priest's office unto the LORD: And he ordained him priests for the high places, and for the devils, and for the calves which he had made. And after them out of all the tribes of Israel such as set their hearts to seek the LORD God of Israel came to Jerusalem, to sacrifice unto the LORD God of their fathers.


Again, very early in the piece we see "an abundance" of people from the Northern Tribes heading south (around 748 BC). This again resulted in "Israel" dwelling in Judah. This scripture particularly highlights the well know BI tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh.


2 Chronicles 15:9-10 (KJV)

And he gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and the strangers with them out of Ephraim and Manasseh, and out of Simeon: for they fell to him out of Israel in abundance, when they saw that the LORD his God was with him. So they gathered themselves together at Jerusalem in the third month, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa.


1 Kings 12:16-17 (KJV)

So when all Israel saw that the king hearkened not unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David. So Israel departed unto their tents. But as for the children of Israel which dwelt in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them.


See also verse 23 of the same chapter.


The size of Judah during the split? 

Of course at the final fall of the Northern Kingdom, it would also be reasonable to assume many from the North would flee south. If, within our own country for example, Queensland was invaded from the North by a foreign power, I am sure the people from Queensland would head south if the battle was being lost and if they had the opportunity. For a Queenslander, even going to Melbourne would be better than being taken captive!!

While these people would always be Queenslanders by birth, it is easy to see how they would be generally be called Victorians after there assimilation into their new state. Along the same lines then, if the state of Victoria became the only state in the country to survive the attack and remain intact, Victoria and Australia would become almost synonymous names as they generally would represent the same thing under these conditions (even though they were now full of dispossessed Queenslanders as well).

To quote from some work relating to archaeological excavations that centre around the time of the fall of the northern kingdom:-

"Archaeological evidence discovered over the past two decades supports this conclusion. Archaeologists now recognize a sudden and significant increase in Jerusalem's population at the time of the northern kingdom's fall. "After the fall of Samaria many refugees from the Northern Kingdom migrated south and settled in Judah, including Jerusalem. The increase in population of Jerusalem accounts for the expansion of Jerusalem westward at that time."1





"A survey of Israel's history" places the following events  at 715BC, six years after the captivity of Samaria (some others place it even later). Here, Hezekiah calls to the remnant of Israel that had "escaped out of the hand of the Kings of Assyria". It would seem there were still plenty of Israelites around the place to call on even after the initial captivity.


2 Chronicles Chapter 30 (KJV)

And Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to EPHRAIM AND MANASSEH, that they should come to the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, to keep the passover unto the LORD God of Israel. For the king had taken counsel, and his princes, and all the congregation in Jerusalem, to keep the passover in the second month........

So they established a decree to make proclamation THROUGHOUT ALL ISRAEL, FROM BEERSHEBA EVEN TO DAN, that they should come to keep the passover unto the LORD God of Israel at Jerusalem: for they had not done it of a long time in such sort as it was written. So the posts went with the letters from the king and his princes throughout ALL ISRAEL AND JUDAH, and according to the commandment of the king, saying, Ye children of Israel, turn again unto the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, and he WILL RETURN TO THE REMNANT OF YOU, THAT ARE ESCAPED OUT OF THE HAND OF THE KINGS OF ASSYRIA. And be not ye like your fathers, and like your brethren, which trespassed against the LORD God of their fathers, who therefore gave them up to desolation, as ye see....... For if ye turn again unto the LORD, your brethren and your children shall find compassion before them that lead them captive, SO THAT THEY SHALL COME AGAIN INTO THIS LAND: for the LORD your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if ye return unto him. So the posts passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh even unto Zebulun: but they laughed them to scorn, and mocked them. Nevertheless DIVERS OF ASHER AND MANASSEH AND OF ZEBULUN humbled themselves, and came to Jerusalem. Also in Judah the hand of God was to give them one heart to do the commandment of the king and of the princes, by the word of the LORD. And there assembled at Jerusalem much people to keep the feast of unleavened bread in the second month, a very great congregation. ............For a multitude of the people, even MANY OF EPHRAIM, AND MANASSEH, ISSACHAR, AND ZEBULUN, had not cleansed themselves, yet did they eat the passover otherwise than it was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, The good LORD pardon every one........AND THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL THAT WERE PRESENT at Jerusalem kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with great gladness: and the Levites and the priests praised the LORD day by day, singing with loud instruments unto the LORD.

..........And all the congregation of Judah, with the priests and the Levites, and all the congregation that came out of Israel, and the strangers that came out of the land of Israel, and that dwelt in Judah, rejoiced. So there was great joy in Jerusalem: for since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel there was not the like in Jerusalem.......


 Notice in these verse's there is reference to the "remnant of Israel" as distinct from the general BI quotations that focus on only on  the "remnant of Judah". The next scripture also uses the same terminology.


About 100 Years AFTER the captivity and deportation of the 'Lost Tribes', we read of Ephraim and Manasseh and the remnant of Israel giving money to the Levites....


2 Chronicles 34:9 (KJV)

9And when they came to Hilkiah the high priest, they delivered the money that was brought into the house of God, which the Levites that kept the doors had gathered of the hand of Manasseh and Ephraim, and of all the remnant of Israel, and of all Judah and Benjamin; and they returned to Jerusalem.



The following is early 600BC in Jerusalem, well after the captivity of the Northern Ten Tribes. Here we see all of those of Israel AND Judah that were present celebrated the passover.


2 Chronicles 35:18-19 (KJV)

And there was no passover like to that kept in Israel from the days of Samuel the prophet; neither did all the kings of Israel keep such a passover as Josiah kept, and the priests, and the Levites, and all Judah and Israel that were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. In the eighteenth year of the reign of Josiah was this passover kept.


The above verses clearly show that after the captivity of the Northern Ten Tribes, they were many Israelites still either in the Northern area or in territory of Judah itself.


We can now turn to the period post Babylon ("Jewish" captivity & return). The following scriptures will continue to highlight two aspects:-


A. They continue to show the presence of the peoples from all Israel both in Jerusalem and in the surrounding lands, even after the supposed disappearance of the "10 lost tribes" and after the "Jewish" return from exile in Babylon.


B. With the preceding scriptures in mind that clearly show the significant migration of Israel general into Judah, we can now very easily understand why the remainder of the Old Testament (as well the New Testament) continues to refer to both Israel & Judah and often as interchangeable terms. This is because all of Israel WERE represented in Judah.


Ezra is one of the last Old Testament books written and deals with the return of the Jews' from Babylon. This prophet covers years from approximately 536 to 432 BC, SEVERAL HUNDRED years AFTER the captivity and deportation of the Northern ten tribes of Israel.



In the following, all Israel dwelt in their cites outside of Jerusalem:-


Ezra 2:68-70 (KJV)

And some of the chief of the fathers, when they came to the house of the LORD which is at Jerusalem, offered freely for the house of God to set it up in his place: They gave after their ability unto the treasure of the work threescore and one thousand drams of gold, and five thousand pound of silver, and one hundred priests' garments. So the priests, and the Levites, and some of the people, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinims, dwelt in their cities, and ALL ISRAEL in their cities.



The children of Israel came to Jerusalem to make an offering:-


Ezra 6:15-17 (KJV)

And this house was finished on the third day of the month Adam, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king. And the children of Israel, the priests, and the Levites, and the rest of the children of the captivity, kept the dedication of this house of God with joy, And offered at the dedication of this house of God an hundred bullocks, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs; and for a sin offering for all Israel, twelve he goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel.



In the following verse, it shows that the children of Israel, which had been 'spread among the heathen', separated from these foreign nations / heathen and came back to Jerusalem. Apparently these ones did not shoot through to Britain:-


Ezra 6:21 (KJV)

And the children of Israel, which were come again out of captivity, and all such as had separated themselves unto them from the filthiness of the heathen of the land, to seek the LORD God of Israel, did eat,



Those of the children of Israel from round about went up to Jerusalem:-


Ezra 7:7 (KJV)

And there went up some of the children of Israel, and of the priests, and the Levites, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinims, unto Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king.



In the following, the decree of  Artaxerxes  was to ALL the children of Israel that dwelt in his realm:-


Ezra 7:13 (KJV)

I make a decree, that all they of the people of Israel, and of his priests and Levites, in my realm, which are minded of their own freewill to go up to Jerusalem, go with thee.



Here we read of those of Israel who were present made an offering:-


Ezra 8:24 (KJV)

Then I separated twelve of the chief of the priests, Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and ten of their brethren with them, And weighed unto them the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, even the offering of the house of our God, which the king, and his counselors, and his lords, and all Israel there present, had offered:




In the following the offering was made for all Israel:-


Ezra 8:35 (KJV)

Also the children of those that had been carried away, which were come out of the captivity, offered burnt offerings unto the God of Israel, twelve bullocks for all Israel, ninety and six rams, seventy and seven lambs, twelve he goats for a sin offering: all this was a burnt offering unto the LORD.



Another example of the people after the return from captivity in Babylon being referred to as Israel.


Ezra 10:1 (KJV)

Now when Ezra had prayed, and when he had confessed, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, there assembled unto him out of Israel a very great congregation of men and women and children: for the people wept very sore.



In the rather distressing time when the "Jews' / Israel" acknowledged their sin in taking foreign wives and had to then put them away, we see the inclusion of "Israel" in this group with their own listing:-


Ezra 10:25 (KJV)

Moreover of Israel: of the sons of Parosh; Ramiah, and Jeziah, and Malchiah, and Miamin, and Eleazar, and Malchijah, and Benaiah.





Nehemiah also wrote around the same time as Ezra. I would suggest to anyone doing a bit of research on this subject to read through chapters 9,10,11. There are many scriptures that could be quoted from this book, but I think you get the point from the preceding verses quoted from Ezra (see also Nehemiah 7:73, Nehemiah 9:1-2 etc).

If the preceding evidence were not enough, Nehemiah helps to further settle the matter.



Nehemiah 11:3-4 (KJV)

Now these are the chief of the province that dwelt in Jerusalem: but in the cities of Judah dwelt every one in his possession in their cities, to wit, Israel, the priests, and the Levites, and the Nethinims, and the children of Solomon's servants. And at Jerusalem dwelt certain of the children of Judah, and of the children of Benjamin. Of the children of Judah; Athaiah the son of Uzziah, the son of Zechariah, the son of Amariah, the son of Shephatiah, the son of Mahalaleel, of the children of Perez;



Nehemiah 11:20-35 (KJV)

20And the residue of Israel, of the priests, and the Levites, were in all the cities of Judah, every one in his inheritance......The overseer also of the Levites at Jerusalem was Uzzi the son of Bani.........And for the villages, with their fields, some of the children of Judah dwelt at Kirjatharba, and in the villages thereof, and at Dibon, and in the villages thereof.............The children also of Benjamin from Geba dwelt at Michmash, and Aija, and Bethel, and in their villages............


The above two scriptures texts, use lots of names, Judah, children of Judah, the residue of Israel, Benjamin etc, so it can be a bit confusing. Fortunately, the Bible helps clarify itself. A parallel chapter and account of the names given in Nehemiah 11, can be found in 1 Chronicles 9. This chapter, parallel in parts to Nehemiah, gives the genealogies of those people returning from the captivity in Babylon, i.e. the "Jewish" return. As BI adherents well know, Ephraim and Manasseh were of the northern tribes and were often used to represent the 10 northern tribes. With this in mind we can read 1 Chronicles 9:-


1 Chronicles 9:1-4 (KJV)

So all Israel were reckoned by genealogies; and, behold, they were written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah, who were carried away to Babylon for their transgression. Now the first inhabitants that dwelt in their possessions in their cities were, the Israelites, the priests, Levites, and the Nethinims. And in Jerusalem dwelt of the children of Judah, and of the children of Benjamin, and of the children of Ephraim, and Manasseh; Uthai the son of Ammihud, the son of Omri, the son of Imri, the son of Bani, of the children of Pharez the son of Judah.


Quite a list, it reads like a BI who's who.......and all after the return from captivity of the "Jews" in Babylon. Not only do we have the children of Judah and Benjamin, the priests and Levites, but we also have Ephraim and Manasseh and the Israelites general, among the first to return.


The bible is clear and simple on this matter, those that returned to Israel after the captivity represented all Israel, not just a 'Jewish remnant'.


The Bible indicates, that after the captivity and into the New Testament, Israel was called Israel because they were of all Israel. At times they were also called Jews, as Judah was of course the prominent tribe, and many of the people were living in the general territory of Judah.

The term Jew & Israel seem relatively interchangeable at times in the Bible. When looking through the books of Ezra and Nehemiah we see the word Jew used about 19 times and Israel used about 62 times. The context it seems, would then help determine the specific use, those in the territory or those of the tribe etc. After all, Paul was a Jew, of the tribe of Benjamin.

Needless to say, the NT is simply full of evidence showing the cross usage of Jew / Israel by this time in history. The term is used interchangeably and people other than the tribe of Judah are mentioned in the NT. The NT also seems to use the term Jew in opposition to Gentile to highlight the point their were only two "groups" of people generally, especially relating to Gods plan, Gods people Israel (Jew / the Circumcision etc) and the rest (Gentile). See Romans 2:9&10 for one such example (see also Rom 3:1-2, 9, 29, 30 etc). Paul certainly did not see the three groups Jew / Israel / Gentile.

On this point of terminology's, I think BI makes a mountain out of a mole hill and many Revivalists have been caught in the error.




To try and keep Judah an the Northern ten tribes "isolated" from each other simply does not agree with the extensive Biblical witness. The Northern ten tribes were well represented in both Judah and the surrounding lands before, during and after the captivity of the Northern land. This broad representation continues to hold true both before, and more importantly AFTER the Jewish captivity and final return from Babylon. Yes, many from the north were deported and mixed with the surrounding nations during the captivity as prophesied, but many did not.

Many were reunited with their brethren from Judah, returned to the land of promise, the appointed place, the only appointed place, and in time became known generally as Jews.

From my general understanding of this topic to date, it would be safe to say that those descendants of the returned exile, found in Israel at the first advent of Jesus Christ, were a good representation of the whole house of Israel, not just a corrupted remnant of a bit of the tribe of Judah. As a number of the worlds Jews are descended from these people there is no reason to see why these people should be anything else other than Israelites.

As for the RCI statement that Israel became an "Israelite free zone" and that the Northern peoples did not return to Israel, well, that statement is simply incorrect according to the Scriptures.


It is a pretty fundamental aspect for much of BI that the Jews are not really Israel and that ALL the Northern Tribes took off never to return. Unfortunately for them, the Biblical evidence does not provide them with the support they claim and indeed the Biblical witness would seem to run contrary.

After all, our Lords first advent was to the 'the Lost Sheep of the house of Israel'



"Geography, history and archaeology," The New Oxford Annotated Bible, Oxford University Press, 1991, 414). For more detailed information read "Jerusalem," The New Encyclopaedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land, Vol. 2 (Israel Exploration Society and Carta, Simon and Schuster, 1993), 704-9. From the latter we quote, "It seems that refugees flocked to Jerusalem from Samaria and the surrounding countryside.... Presently available excavation results provide ample evidence for the growth of Jerusalem's population and concomitant increase in area."

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