10 Lost Tribes of Israel: WHO ARE THEY?

I’ve heard all types of theories.

The Irish. A village of blonde haired blue eyed people in a valley in Pakistan. The Indians. The Mormons. Tribes in Africa and China whose customs mirror those of the Jewish religion. The Gypsies. The Upper Class of Edinburgh, Scotland.

HELP!!! I need the STRAIGHT DOPE on this: not theories and claims!!!

I had a book once with the very answer you are looking for.

But I lost it.

Aren’t they supposed to be the tribes that lived in Isreal before it was taken by the Assyrians? They didn’t really go missing. They were captured, fled to Judea, moved on and lived elsewhere.

What made you think of that?

Actually, they were never really lost. They just don’t get a lot of mention after Israel was taken by the Assyrian, the Babylonians, the Medo-Persians, etc. Basically what happened was after Solomon died, his son Rehoboam laid a huge tax increase on the Israelites, basically for the sake of being an asshole. There was a revolution, which resulted in Israel being split into two kingdoms- Israel, which consisted of the ten northern tribes, and Judah, the southern kingdom and tribe of the same name. (The twelfth tribe, Levi, was the priestly tribe, and was scattered among the other eleven, performing various priestly duties.) Israel was eventually overrun by the above listed emires, many of the people were taken captive, mostly into Babylon, but, after many years, wars, trials and tribulations, the captive Israelites returned to Israel, and the nation was effectively reunited. So stop worrying, the ten tribes are safe.

I never could get the hang of Thursdays. - Arthur Dent

above-listed empires, I mean.

The truth is that no one knows. Anything else is a theory. Sorry.


“Anger is what makes America great.”

Not disagreeing with Kyla, no one knows. But the most probable story:

Following the death of Solomon, around 950 BC or thereabouts, the Israelite tribes split into two kingdoms, Israel (10 tribes in the north) and Judah (two tribes in the south). The Book of Kings records the histories (usually considered to be fairly accurate) of both nations.

I’m at work, so I don’t have my references, but somewhere in the 700s BC, Assyria conquered the northern kingdom.

Many of the people fled south, to Judah, and were integrated into the southern nation, their tribal identities lost over time. ((Friedman, in his book Who Wrote the Bible thinks this was the point at which different versions of the same stories were combined, to help integrate the people into a common history/tradition.))

Those who were taken off to Assyria as slaves and captives, pretty much got assimilated into the pagan Assyrian culture. It was common belief at the time that the strongest god won battles for his believers, so if the Assyrian god could overcome the Israelite god, then the Assyrian god was stronger. So, no surprise that the captives assimilated into the larger culture.

((Aside: It is an extraordinary anomaly of history that when the southern tribes were conquered by Babylon, around 150 years later, the did NOT forsake their religion but molded and evolved it to reflect a universality to their God. ))

In any case, those tribes lost their identity and their center (having lost their leaders). There have been numerous wonderful theories about how the ten “lost” tribes are really Ethiopians, Chinese, Irish, American Indians, or Greenwich Village homeless. All nonsense.

I think the two tribes in the (let’s see… “North, South, Israel, Judah, Nineteen, Twenty, Zero, Eight”) south were Judah and Benjamin:

1 Kings 12:21

The Levites were traditionally the priests, yes, but that didn’t last very long in Israel at least:

1 Kings 12:31

The northern tribes seem to have intermarried with their conquerers and died out as a distinct people, though undoubtedly many people currently living in the middle east are descended from them.

Um… I thought that the tribes of Israel (aka the lost tribes) became the samaritans ( a mixed race of israel and assyryan colonists who moved there). correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t that why there was such emnity between the jews and the samaritans. that is why the parable of the good samaritan was used by Jesus to teach.
(Lk 10:29-37)

OOPS! i did’nt finish my thought. i meant- Jesus used it to teach compassion and mercy.

Another interesting theory held about the lost tribes of Israel comes from the time that the Philippines were first being settled by Europeans.

Magellan himself apparently believed the Philippines were the lands of Tarsis and Ofir (it was thought that the lost tribes of Israel would be found in those lands). Supposedly, he had been to the Malacca, and the natives there told him about the islands of Lequios, and that these islands were rich in gold and silver.

You can go here to read a better description than I can give: http://www.geocities.com/Tokyo/Temple/9845/zany.htm

It’s worth the risk of burning, to have a second chance…

And the Mormons (or is it Jehovah Witnesses? sorry, too lazy right now to check) claim that the American Indians (Native Americans, pre-Columbian Americans, whatever) are the 10 lost tribes*. That’s why ‘the lost tribes’ have any sort of modern press and usage.


*Scientifically provable to be the biggest load of bovine excrement – even compared to “compassionate conservatism.”

And there are also some racist swine who make other claims.

The Samaritans claim to be the lost tribes. (They’re dying out now.) The Jews traditionally said they weren’t, that their ancestors were really Assyrian carpetbaggers.

By the way, the tribes aren’t quite accurately described above. The ancient tribe of Reuben was split from the earliest days into Manasseh and Ephraim, making a total of 12 tribes plus Levi. (So there are two different “12 tribes” – one counting Reuben and Levi, and one counting Manasseh and Ephraim, but not Levi.) Simeon was associated with Judah, and eventually absorbed into it, bringing the northern non-Levite total to 10.

John W. Kennedy
“Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays.”
– Charles Williams

Samaria was built by one of the kings of Israel, but it was conquered by the Assyrians, who brought in people “from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof.”

John W. Kennedy:

Close, but just a wee bit off. It was the tribe of Joseph that was split into Manasseh and Ephraim. Reuben was and always was one tribe by all reckonings.

Chaim Mattis Keller

“Sherlock Holmes once said that once you have eliminated the
impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be
the answer. I, however, do not like to eliminate the impossible.
The impossible often has a kind of integrity to it that the merely improbable lacks.”
– Douglas Adams’s Dirk Gently, Holistic Detective

The 12 tribes of Isreal are alive & well; & living under their monarch----<font size=6>Elvis!</font>

“Show me a sane man, and I will cure him for you.”----Jung

check out Gary Greenberg’s The Moses Mystery, aka The Bible Myth. it won’t change the answer, but it will change the question.

Argh! You’re right, of course. I was so fuddled trying to spell “Manasseh” that I wasn’t even thinking.

John W. Kennedy
“Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays.”
– Charles Williams