Ten Lost Tribes

Ten Lost Tribes

The phrase Ten Lost Tribes of Israel refers to the ancient Tribes of Israel that disappeared from the Biblical account after the Kingdom of Israel was destroyed, enslaved and exiled by ancient Assyria. [ [http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/listseason/27.html#2706 Lost Tribes of Israel] program on NOVA, Original broadcast date: 02/22/2000 ] Many groups of Jews have doctrines concerning the continued hidden existence or future public return of these tribes. This is a subject that is partially based upon authenticated and documented historical fact, partially upon written religious tradition and partially upon speculation. There is a vast amount of literature on the Lost Tribes and no specific source can be relied upon for a complete answer.

Twelve Tribes

According to the Hebrew Bible, Jacob (progenitor of Israel) had 12 sons and at least one daughter by four different women.

The twelve sons fathered the Twelve Tribes of Israel. These tribes were displayed on the vestments of the Kohen Gadol (high priest).

*When the land of Israel was apportioned among the tribes in the days of Joshua, the Tribe of Levi, being priests, did not receive land (Joshua 13:33, 14:3). However; the tribe of Levi was given cities. Six were given as refuge cities for men of all of Israel controlled by the Levi. Three on each opposing side of the river of Jordan. In addition 42 other cities (and their respective open spaces) totaling 48 cities of Levy. (Numbers 35)

*On the other hand, Jacob elevated the descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh (the two sons of Joseph by his Egyptian wife Asenath) (Genesis 41:50) to the status of full tribes in their own right, replacing the Tribe of Joseph (Joshua 14:4). Each received its own land and had its own encampment during the 40 years of wandering in the desert

Thus, the two divisions of the tribes are:

The Tribe of Judah, the Tribe of Simeon, and the Tribe of Benjamin joined together to form the Kingdom of Judah and are traditionally considered the ancestors of most of today's Jews. The Tribe of Levi, was assigned hereditary religious duties and did not receive any tribal land (Joshua 13:33, 14:3). (Genealogical DNA tests link many modern men with the last name Cohen to a mutation on the Y-chromosome, which is interpreted as indicating their descent from Aaron, a Levite who was the brother of Moses and whose descendents were to receive status of priests.(Hebrew: Kohen, pl. Kohanim), (see Y-chromosomal Aaron)). The remaining tribes (Reuben, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Ephraim, East Manasseh, and West Manasseh) are considered lost.

It has sometimes been inappropriately claimed that the Tribe of Simeon was a part of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and was therefore part of the "Ten Lost Tribes." However, the Tribe of Simeon was never located in the Northern Kingdom (Joshua 19:1), Simeon's land was located entirely within the land of Judah. Apparently, Simeon's tribal distinctions were lost shortly after Canaan was settled by the Israelites when the Simeonites assimilated into and with the Tribe of Judah.

The phrase "Ten Lost Tribes" does not appear in the King James version of the Bible (leading to some of the questions about the use of the number). However, 1 Kings 11:31 states that the LORD will tear the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon and give ten (10) tribes to Jeroboam.

" And he said to Jeroboam, Take thee ten pieces: for thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to thee" 1 Kings 11:31 KJV

" But I will take the kingdom out of his son's hand, and will give it unto thee, even ten tribes." 1 Kings 11:35 KJV


In Judaism, membership in the tribes is inherited patrilineally (father to son), as is priesthood (Kohen or Levite status) and royalty (the Davidic line). However, status as a Jew is inherited matrilineally (mother to child).

Religious beliefs

The concept of the "Ten Lost Tribes" originally began in a religious context, based on Biblical sources, not as an ethnological idea. Some scientists have researched the topic, and at various times some have made claims of empirical evidence of the Ten Lost Tribes. However, religious and scriptural sources remain the main sources of the belief that the Ten Lost Tribes have some continuing, though hidden, identity somewhere.

There are numerous references in Biblical writings. In Ezekiel 37:16-17, the prophet is told to write on one staff (quoted here in part) "For Judah..." and on the other (quoted here in part) , "For Joseph..." (the main Lost Tribe). The prophet is then told that these two groups shall be someday reunited.

Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions:

And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. Ezekiel 37:16-17 KJV

There are also discussions in the Talmud as to whether the Ten Lost Tribes will eventually be reunited with the Tribe of Judah, that is, with the Jewish people.

Historical background

The Twelve Tribes were geographically divided into the:Fact|date=August 2008
*Eastern Tribes: Tribe of Judah, Tribe of Issachar, Tribe of Zebulun
*Southern Tribes: Tribe of Reuben, Tribe of Simeon, Tribe of Gad
*Western Tribes: Tribe of Ephraim, Tribe of Manasseh, Tribe of Benjamin
*Northern Tribes: Tribe of Dan, Tribe of Asher, Tribe of Naphtali.

After the civil war in the time of Solomon's son Rehoboam, ten tribes split off from the United Monarchy to create the northern Kingdom of Israel.

These were the nine landed tribes Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, Dan, Manasseh, Ephraim, Reuben and Gad, and some members of Levi who had no land allocation. The Bible makes no reference at this point to the Tribe of Simeon, and some believe that the tribe had already disappeared due to the curse of Jacob. (Genesis 49:5-7)Fact|date=August 2008

Judah, the southern kingdom, had Jerusalem as its capital and was led by King Rehoboam. It was populated by the tribes of Judah and Benjamin (and also by some members of Levi and remnants of Simeon).

In 722 BCE the Assyrians under Shalmaneser V and then under Sargon II conquered the northern Kingdom of Israel, destroyed its capital Samaria and sent the Israelites into exile and captivity in KhorasonFact|date=August 2008, now part of eastern Iran and western Afghanistan. The Ten Lost Tribes are those who were deported. In Jewish popular culture, the ten tribes disappeared from history, leaving only the tribes of Benjamin, Judah and Levi to become the ancestors of modern day Jews.

In 607 BCE the nation of Judah was conquered by Babylon. About 70 years later, in 537 BCE, the Persians (who had conquered Babylon in 539 BCE) allowed Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple. By the end of this era, members of the tribes seem to have abandoned their individual identities in favor of a common one.Fact|date=August 2008

17th- to mid-20th-century theories

Since at least the 17th century (the time of Oliver Cromwell and Sabbatai Zevi) both Jews and Christians have proposed theories concerning the lost tribes, based to varying degrees on Biblical accounts. An Ashkenazi Jewish tradition speaks of the Lost Tribes as "Die Roite Yiddelech", "The little red Jews", cut off from the rest of Jewry by the legendary river Sambation "whose foaming waters raise high up into the sky a wall of fire and smoke that is impossible to pass through". [Moses Rosen. "The Recipe" (published as epilogue to "The Face of Survival", 1987).]

On December 23, 1649, after Manasseh ben Israel, a noted rabbi of Amsterdam had been told by Montezinos that some of the Lost Tribes were living among the Native Americans of the Andes in South America, he wrote:

In 1655, Manasseh ben Israel petitioned Oliver Cromwell to allow the Jews to return to England. Since 1290, Jews had been prohibited by law from living in England. One of the reasons for Cromwell's alleged interest in the return of the Jews to England was the abundance at the time of theories relating to the end of the world. Many of these ideas were fixed upon the year 1666 and the Fifth Monarchy Men who were looking for the return of Jesus as the Messiah who would establish a final kingdom to rule the physical world for a thousand years. They supported Cromwell's Republic in the expectation that it was a preparation for the "fifth monarchy" - that is, the monarchy which should succeed the Assyrian, the Persian, the Greek, and Roman world empires.

Mixed in with all of this was a background of general belief that the Lost Ten Tribes did not represent ethnic Jews who partially formed the ancient Kingdom of Judah, but tribes who maintained a separate capital at Samaria. Some have attempted to dismiss this complicated saga by stating that it is nothing but Supersessionism. However, the ideas behind these various competing theories are far more complicated, especially when Sabbatai Zevi, the "messiah" claimant and his supporters postulated that he represented groups in addition to those identified as being Jews. However, Zevi lost his credibility to all but the Donmeh when he converted to Islam and became an apostate to Judaism in 1666.

During the latter half of the 18th century, variations on this same theory were advocated by some who believed that the British Empire of nations was a manifestation of ancient prophecies recorded in the Book of Genesis predating both the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah.

Others believe that the 'Lost Tribes' simply merged with the local population. For instance, the New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia states "In historic fact, some members of the Ten Tribes remained in Palestine, where apart from the Samaritans some of their descendants long preserved their identity among the Jewish population, others were assimilated, while others were presumably absorbed by the last Judean exiles who in 597-586 [B.C.E.] were deported to Assyria...Unlike the Judeans of the southern Kingdom, who survived a similar fate 135 years later, they soon assimilated..." [The Lost Tribes of Israel as a Problem in History and Sociology, Stanford M Lyman, International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society, Volume 12, Number 1 / September, 1998] . Some of the article and a similar article can be read online at [http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=wvtWqHHFQYoC&oi=fnd&pg=PR9&dq=Lyman+%22The+Lost+Tribes+of+Israel+as+a+Problem+in+History+and+Sociology%22&ots=G6Xz9hga8N&sig=X0cFmbFF3D16mB-fzcTSkpdsA8c#PPA168,M1 Roads to Dystopia]

Groups claiming descent from specific Lost Tribes

Many groups claim to descend from specific Lost Tribes. These include:
*Bene Ephraim (from southern India) - claim descent from the Tribe of Ephraim
*Bnei Menashe (from northeast India) - claim descent from the lost Tribe of Manasseh
*Beta Israel, also known as Falashas - Ethiopian Jews some of whom claim descent from the lost Tribe of Dan
*Persian Jews (especially the Bukharan Jews) claim descent from the Tribe of Ephraim
*Igbo Jews of Nigeria claim descent variously from the tribes of Ephraim, Menasseh, Levi, Zebulun and GadThe Nasranis of Malabar, India are of Hebrew or Israeli heritage but not much is known of their past to be certain that they are also of the 'Lost Tribes'. (Ref. Dr. Asahel Grant's 'The Nestorians or the Lost Tribes of Israel' for more about the Nazarenes and Nestorians).

Bene Israel of India

The Bene Israel (Hebrew: "Sons of Israel") are a group of Jews who live in various Indian cities, Mumbai, Pune, Ahmadabad, and Karachi (now part of Pakistan). Prior to these waves of emigrations and to this day, the Bene Israel formed the largest sector of the subcontinent's Jewish population, and constitute the bulk of those sometimes referred to as Pakistani Jews. The native language of the Bene Israel is Judæo-Marathi, a form of Marathi. Most Bene Israel have now emigrated to Israel. Some researchers believe that the Bene Israel are descended from the Ten Tribes. [ [http://www.bh.org.il/Communities/Archive/BeneIsrael.asp#origin The Bene Israel of India] , Dr. Shalva Weil, bh.org.il. ]

Bnei Menashe of India

The Bnei Menashe (from northeast India) claim descent from the lost Tribe of Manasseh. Their oral traditions depict them as originally going from the Persian Empire into Afganistan. (They may have been in the Persian Empire because it occupied the lands of Assyria when it conquered Babylonia.) According to their traditions, they then went to China, where they encountered persecution, then pressed on to India and Southern Asia. [http://www.bneimenashe.com/history.html Bnei Menashe.com History page] , A Long-Lost Tribe is Ready to Come Home, by Stephen Epstein, 1997, accessed 4/23/07. ]

Beta Israel of Ethiopia

The Beta Israel (also known as Falashas) are Ethiopian Jews. Some members of the Beta Israel as well as several Jewish scholars believe that they are descended from the lost Tribe of Dan, as opposed to the traditional story of their descent from the Queen of Sheba.

Persian Jews

Persian Jews (especially the Bukharan Jews) claim descent from the Tribe of Ephraim. Persian Jews (also called Iranian Jews) are members of Jewish communities living in Iran and throughout the former greatest extents of the Persian Empire.

Igbo Jews of Africa

The Igbo Jews of Nigeria claim descent variously from the tribes of Ephraim, Naphtali, Menasseh, Levi, Zebulun and Gad.


All Samaritans, in one form or another, see themselves as descendants of the original Hebrews. The Samaritan community in Israel numbers about 600. These people, who still struggle to keep their ancient traditions, live in what was the capital of Samaria - Nablus and the town of Holon. They claim to be authentic descendants of the Israelite tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh who were not exiled. On Passover the whole community sacrifices on Mount Gerizim.

Groups claiming descent from a non-specific Lost Tribe

Some groups believe themselves to be descended from one of the Lost Tribes, but don't know which one. These include:
*The Lemba tribe (from Southern Africa) claims to be descended from a lost tribe which fled from modern Yemen and journeyed south.
*The House of Israel in Ghana claims to be one of the Lost Tribes of Israel.
*Pashtun people, ethnic Afghans traditionally claim descent from the Lost Tribes.
*Kashmiri people, like the Pashtun people, traditionally trace their ancestry back to the Lost Tribes of Israel.
*Chiang Min people (from northwestern China) claim to be descendants of Abraham.
*British Israelism (sometimes called Anglo-Israelism) claims that the British are the direct lineal descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel.
*The Makuya sect of Japan believes parallels between ancient Japanese culture and Biblical practice indicate a Lost Tribes origin for many aspects of Japanese religion and culture.

Lemba people of Africa

The Lemba people (Vhalemba) from Southern Africa claim to be descendants of a lost tribe which fled from what is now Yemen and journeyed south. [ [http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0409/11/i_if.00.html Transcript, INSIDE AFRICA: Current Events on the African Continent] , CNN, September 11, 2004. ] [ [http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/israel/familylemba.html The Lemba, The Black Jews of Southern Africa] , NOVA episode, PBS. ] [ [http://www.haruth.com/JewishLemba.html The Story of the Lemba People] by Dr. Rudo Mathivha, 15th October 1999. ] DNA testing has genetically linked the Lemba with modern Jews. [http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/israel/parfitt2.html Tudor Parfitt's Remarkable Journey Part 2] , NOVA, PBS website. ] [ [http://www.sdjewishjournal.com/stories/mar04_1.html Lemba of South African Jews] , - San Diego Jewish Journal March 2004. ] They have specific religious practices similar to those in Judaism and a tradition of being a migrant people with clues pointing to an origin in West Asia or North Africa. According to the oral history of the Lemba, their ancestors were Jews who came from a place called Sena several hundred years ago and settled in East Africa. Some research suggests that "Sena" may refer to Wadi Masilah (near Sayhut) in Yemen, often called Sena, or alternatively to the city of Sanaa, in Yemen.

Pashtuns of Afghan region

The Pashtuns are a predominantly Muslim people, native to Afghanistan and Pakistan, who adhere to their pre-Islamic indigenous religious code of honour and culture Pashtunwali. They traditionally claim descent from the Lost Tribes. The Yousafzai (Yusafzai) are a large group of Pashtun tribes. Their name means "Sons of Joseph". [ [http://www.moshiach.com/features/tribes/afghanistan.php Mystery of the Ten Lost Tribes - Afghanistan] , by Rabbi Marvin Tokayer, moshiach.com website] There are also similar names in other areas in the region, such as the disputed land of Kashmir. There are a variety of cultural and ethnic similarities between Jews and Pashtuns. [ [http://www.dangoor.com/74069.html The Israeli Source of the Pathan Tribes] , from the book, Lost Tribes from Assyria, by A Avihail and A Brin, 1978, in Hebrew by Issachar Katzir, at dangoor.com, website of The Scribe Magazine.] [ [http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/israel/losttribes2.html#tribal Tribal groups] , NOVA episode, PBS. ] A visit by a Western journalist in 2007 revealed that many currently active Pashtun traditions may have parallels with Jewish traditions. [ [http://www.momentmag.com/Exclusive/2007/2007-04/200704-Taliban.html Is One of the Lost Tribes the Taliban?] , by Ilene Prusher, Moment Magazine, April 2007.] The code of Pashtunwali is strikingly similar in content and subject matter to the Mosaic law.

A book which corresponds with Pashtun historical records, "Taaqati-Nasiri", states that in the 7th century a people called the Bani Israel settled in Ghor, southeast of Herat, Afghanistan, and then migrated south and east. These Bani Israel references are in line with the commonly held view by Pashtuns that when the twelve tribes of Israel were dispersed, the tribe of Joseph, among other Hebrew tribes, settled in the region. [http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/vjw/Afghanistan.html Afghanistan] , "The Virtual Jewish History Tour" (retrieved 10 January 2007).] Hence the tribal name 'Yusef Zai' in Pashto translates to the 'sons of Joseph'. This is also described extensively in great detail by Makhzan-i-Afghani, a historical work from the 17th Century by Nehamtullah, an official in the royal court of Mughal Emperor Jehangir. A similar story is told by Iranian historian Ferishta. [http://persian.packhum.org/persian/pf?file=06901021&ct=10 Introduction] : Muhammad Qāsim Hindū Šāh Astarābādī Firištah, "History Of The Mohamedan Power In India", The Packard Humanities Institute Persian Texts in Translation (retrieved 10 January 2007).]

This account is also substantiated by the fact that the Bene Menashe of India also have traditions which trace their wanderings as going originally from the Persian Empire to Afganistan. In their case, they then went to China, where they encountered persecution, then pressed on to India and Southern Asia.

Origin theories

The Bani-Israelite theory about the origin of the Pashtun is based on Pashtun traditions; the tradition itself is documented in a source titled "Makhzan-i-Afghani", the only written source addressing Pashtun origins. It was written about 1612, by Nematullah Harvi, a scribe at the court of Mughal Emperor Jehangir of Hindustan. Nematullah compiled the book upon the instruction from Khan Jehan Lodhi of the Lodhi dynasty, a Pashtun noble and a courtier of the Emperor Jehangir. [http://www.afghanology.com/BaniIsraeli.html Bani-Israelite Theory of Paktoons Ethnic Origin] "Afghanology.com" (retrieved 10 January 2007).]

Some sources state that the "Makhzan-i-Afghani" has been discredited by historical and linguistic inconsistencies. The oral tradition is believed to be a myth that grew out of a political and cultural struggle between Pashtuns and the Mughals, which explains the historical backdrop for the creation of the myth, the inconsistencies of the mythology, and the linguistic research that refutes any Semitic origins. There are also other sources who disagree strongly with the hypothesis of the Pashtun having Israelite origins. [ [http://www.britam.org/Questions/QuesAfghanistan.html Afghanistan and Israel] , britam.org ]

=Kashmiris of India= Some Kashmiris, like the Pashtuns, believe they are descended from the Lost Tribes of Israel. This has never been officially confirmed by any scholars and some Kashmiris dispute this themselves, and regard themselves as being ethnically indigenous to the Kashmir region. Although most Kashmiris are Muslims, they have distinct traditions and cultures, including their habits, dress, diet, and language. Furthermore, Jewish names, although never found in other Muslim groups, are quite common among the Kashmiris. The style of clothes and the type of beards that these people wear may also bear a strong resemblance to those of Jews who lived in Biblical times. [ [http://www.bh.org.il/Communities/Archive/TenLostTribes.asp#Kashmir Ten Lost Tribes – Kashmir] at Beit Hatefutsot. ] [ [http://moshiach.com/features/tribes/kashmir.php Kashmir] , by Rabbi Marvin Tokayer. ] [ [http://www.alislam.org/library/links/00000094.html#6 The Lost Tribes of Israel] , M. M. AhmadThe Muslim Sunrise, Summer 1991 (This paper was presented at the International Conference on Deliverance of Jesus from Cross held at Commonwealth Institute, London, on June 2-4 1978). ]

Chiang Min people of China

The Chiang Min people of northwest China claim to be descendents of Abraham. Tradition holds that their forefather had 12 descendents.

The Jews of Kaifeng, China

According to historical records, a Jewish community with a synagogue built in 1163 existed at Kaifeng from at least the Southern Song Dynasty until the late nineteenth century. A stone monument in the city suggests that they were there since at least 231 BC.

British Israelism

British Israelism (sometimes called Anglo-Israelism) is a Christian Theology essentially based on the basic premise, that most ancient British people were direct lineal descendants of some of the Lost Tribes of Israel and in many cases also of the Tribe of Judah. [http://www.thetrumpet.com/index.php?page=book&q=3598.6.0.10 Chapter 9: Israel’s New Land] , From the book The United States and Britain in Prophecy, by Herbert W. Armstrong, thetrumpet.com Philadelphia Church of God. ]

Some believers in this doctrine limit the Israelite ancestry claim to the European royal families. Others believe that most of the nations of Western Europe are also descended from the Israelites. Though most believers in this doctrine link England with the tribe of Ephraim, there is very little consensus as to which tribes correspond to which people, and there is no formal central ecclesiastic authority managing the believers and the doctrines.

Due to the Restorationist tendencies of the adherents, there has rarely been a central head, recognized leadership, or organizational structure to the movement. This has led to a diverse set of professions and beliefs ancillary to the genealogical claims. Just as in many Christian Restorationist sects such as in the Church of Christ, as well as in older religions such as Judaism, the ancillary doctrines held by some can often be contradictory to those held by others. In a similar fashion to Judaism and to a lesser degree Islam, the central theme revolves around the genetic connection of the believers with Biblical characters such as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Some adherents of this belief also believe that the Tribe of Dan gave rise to the nation of the Scots. [ [http://www.reluctant-messenger.com/judahs_sceptre_304.htm DAN -- THE SERPENT'S TRAIL Part Three, CHAPTER IV] JUDAH'S SCEPTRE AND JOSEPH'S BIRTHRIGHT, By J. H. ALLEN, Publ. 1946. ] [ [http://www.uhcg.org/Lost-10-Tribes/tracing-dan3.html Tracing Dan - Part 1 Chapter 3] By Walter Baucum, DAN IN ENGLAND AND EUROPE. ]


[http://www.britam.org/ Brit-Am] , sometimes confused with British Israelism, is an organization centered in Jerusalem, and comprised of Jews and non-Jews. Brit-Am, like British Israel, identifies the Lost Ten Tribes with peoples of West European descent, but does so from a Jewish perspective quoting both Biblical and Rabbinical sources. The evidence that Brit-Am relies upon is Biblical in the light of Rabbinical Commentary supplemented by secular studies. An example of Brit-Am scholarship may be seen from its treatment of Obadiah 1:20 [ [http://britam.org/obadiah.html Brit-Am Commentary to by Yair Davidiy, britam website, accessed 10/3/08.] ] where the original Hebrew as understood by Rabbinical Commentators such as Rashi and Abarbanel is referring to the Lost Ten Tribes in France and England. [ [http://www.britam.org/Proof/Joseph/joDemo.html Biblical Locations of the Lost Ten Tribes: Scriptural Proof, by Yair Davidiy, britam website, accessed 7/15/08.] ] Brit-Am also believes that "Other Israelite Tribes gave rise to elements within Finland, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Ireland, Wales, France, Holland, and Belgium" and that "The Tribe of Dan is to be found amongst part of the Danish, Irish, and Welsh." Brit-Am says that the Khazars were descended from the Ten Tribes and quotes Jewish and non-Jewish sources that were contemporaneous with them. [ [http://www.britam.org/KhazarIndex.html The Khazars and the Scottish, by Yair Davidiy, britam website, accessed 10/3/08.] ]

Bedul, Petra

At the beginning of the 20th century, the Bedouin tribe of “Bedul”, living in the caves of Petra, Jordan, captured the imagination of Zionist pioneers. Among them was the historian, explorer and second president of Israel, Yitzhak Ben-Zvi. Ben Zvi discovered traces of ancient Hebrew customs in the lifestyles of some Palestinian villagers and Bedouin tribes. He speculated that the inhabitants on both sides of the Jordan river may be descendants of the original Hebrew population which never left the area, despite the numerous exiles. Although 100 years ago they presented themselves to British historians as the “Sons of Israel”, the Bedul of today deny the legend concerning their Hebrew origin and claim that they are descendants of the Nabateans who built Petra.

Groups that others claim are descended from Lost Tribes

The Kurds

Some have promoted the notion that the Kurds represent a Lost Tribe. Some claims have been made regarding a genetic relationship between the Kurds and the Jews on the basis of a similarity between Kurdish Y-DNA and a Y haplotype that is associated with the Jewish priesthood. However, in genetic testing of the Y chromosome of 95 Muslim Kurds, only one sample (1.05% of the Kurds tested) matched the so-called Cohen Modal Haplotype (CMH), consisting of six specific Y-STR values. [ Almut Nebel et al, [http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/resolve?11573163PDF The Y Chromosome Pool of Jews as Part of the Genetic Landscape of the Middle East] , Am. J. Hum. Genet. 69:1095–1112, 2001 ] Various misleading statements have associated typical Kurdish Y-DNA with that of the Jews. However, these attempts are based on several sources of confusion:

(1) The Cohen Modal Haplotype in its original form includes only six Y-STR markers, which with the scientific advances since that time, are now understood to be far too few to adequately identify a unique, closely related group that shares common descent from one relatively recent paternal ancestor. The same six marker values can be found by random mutations in other populations that are only remotely related. They are thus identical by state, but not Identical by descent. The 6-marker CMH cannot be used as a clear indicator of Cohen genetic ancestry, without additional data. Thus its presence should not be used as grounds for probable Jewish ancestry in a population.

(2) It is touted as a fact of great significance that the most common (modal) 6-marker haplotype of the Kurds is only one step from the CMH, but in fact, these same six marker values that were found to be the "Kurdish modal haplotype" can be seen in the data, in numerous sources, to be the most common haplotype amongst a wide variety of J2 Y chromosomes, wherever they may be found, in ethnic groups of the Middle East or in Europe [ Cinnioglu et al, [http://hpgl.stanford.edu/publications/HG_2004_v114_p127-148.pdf Excavating Y-chromosome haplotype strata in Anatolia] , Hum Genet (2004) 114 : 127–148 ] [ Di Giacomo et al, [http://www.ftdna.com/pdf/HaploJ.pdf Y chromosomal haplogroup J as a signature of the post-neolithic colonization of Europe] , Hum Genet (2004) 115: 357–371 ] -- thus, it is hardly an indication of a close relationship with the Cohanim priesthood, or with the Jews.

(3) The fact that the 2001 paper by Nebel found somewhat more similarity between the Y-DNA of the Kurds and the Jews than between the Jews and Palestinians does not point to a uniquely close relationship between the Jews and Kurds. This study did not compare Jews with other non-Kurdish Iraqis, or with the people of Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, or other nearby lands. The available data indicate that these peoples are all closely related, with the Jews and Kurds just two of a diverse family of Middle Eastern peoples in this region.

The Japanese

Some writers have speculated that the Japanese people themselves may be direct descendants of part of the Ten Lost Tribes. There are some parallels between Japanese and Israelite rituals, culture, traditions, and language, which provide some evidence for this possibility. [ [http://www.moshiach.com/features/tribes/japan.php Israelites Came To Ancient Japan] , moshiach.com, Chabad website, accessed 3/23/07.] [ [http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/israel/losttribes3.html Japan article] , Nova episode: Lost tribes of Israel, PBS website. ] An article that has been widely circulated and published, entitled "Mystery of the Ten Lost Tribes: Japan" by Arimasa Kubo [ [http://www5.ocn.ne.jp/~magi9/isracame.htm Israelites Came To Ancient Japan ] , Arimasa Kubo. ] (a Japanese writer living in Japan who studied the Hebrew Bible), concludes that many traditional customs and ceremonies in Japan are very similar to the ones of ancient Israel and that perhaps these rituals came from the religion and customs of the Jews and the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel who might have come to ancient Japan.

Joseph Eidelberg's "The Biblical Hebrew Origin of the Japanese People" makes a similar case:

The Irish

There is a theory that the Irish, or Insular Celts as a whole, are descended from the Ten Lost Tribes. Proponents of this theory state that there is evidence that the prophet Jeremiah came to Ireland with Princess Tea Tephi, a member of the Israelite royal family. [ [http://www.reluctant-messenger.com/judahs_sceptre_303.htm Judah's Sceptre and Joseph's Birthright by J.H. Allen (the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel) ] ] Proponents of this theory point to various parallels between Irish and ancient Hebrew culture. For example, they note that the harp, the symbol of Ireland, also plays a role in Jewish history, as the musical instrument of King David. Some maintain that the Tribe of Dan conducted sea voyages to Ireland and colonized it as early as the period of the Judges under the name Tuatha Dé Danann.

Aspects of this theory are also sometimes cited by adherents of British Israelism, as one possible explanation of how the Ten Lost Tribes might have reached the British Isles. However, it should be noted that British Israelism takes many forms, and does not always use this hypothesis as its main narrative. [ [http://www.britam.org/Tribesman/GeneaologyDavid.html Lost Tribes article] at BritAm.org] [ [http://www.thetrumpet.com/index.php?page=book&id=1265&section=1369 United States and Britain in Prophecy] article at Trumpet Magazine website]

Native Americans

Several explorers, especially around the 17th and 18th centuries, claimed to have collected evidence that some of the Native American tribes might be descended from the Ten Lost Tribes. Several recent books and articles have focused on these theories. [ [http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/israel/losttribes2.html Nova Episode: The Ten Lost Tribes] , PBS.] [ [http://www.bh.org.il/Communities/Archive/TenLostTribes.asp#Quest The Myth of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel] , at bh.org.il] [ [http://uncpress.unc.edu/browse/page/372 UNC Press web page] for book "Sacred Tongue: Hebrew and the American Imagination" by Shalom L. Goldman 2004 by the University of North Carolina Press. ]

The belief that some Native Americans were a Lost tribe of Israel goes back for centuries and includes individuals like the 1782 President of the Continental Congress Elias Boudinot [cite web |title=Star in the West Or a Humble Attempt to Discover the Long Lost Ten Tribes of Israel Preparatory to Their Return to Their Beloved City, Jerusalem |author=Elias Boudinot |publisher=Kessinger Publishing |date=1816, 2003 |url=http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&id=0HAIX0fkMSoC&dq=Elias+Boudinot+Israel&printsec=frontcover&source=web&ots=Ss0QDUYN3T&sig=ONA1byYKcz2ynjgOoFQkF7IkdAI&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=5&ct=result |accessdate=2008-09-15] [cite web |url=http://amarielfamily.com/7.htm |title=Amariel Family Oral History |publisher=Amariel Family Publishing |accessdate=2008-09-03 |work= |first=Yeshiyah, Howshua |last=Amariel |quote=Boudinot seems to have felt that the popular identification of the Indians as the lost Israelites would bring with it a widespread realization that the Bible and its prophecies were true] and Mordecai Noah, the most influential Jew in the United States in the early 19th Century. [cite web |title=DISCOURSE ON THE EVIDENCES OF THE AMERICAN INDIANS BEING THE DESCENDANTS OF THE LOST TRIBES OF ISRAEL |author=Mordecai Manuel Noah |publisher=Oliver’s Bookshelf |date= |url=http://olivercowdery.com/texts/noah1837.htm |accessdate=2008-09-03 ] [cite web |title=Mordecai Manuel Noah |publisher=Jewish Virtual Library |date= |url=http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/MNoah.html |accessdate=2008-09-03 |quote=Mordecai Manuel Noah was the most influential Jew in the United States in the early 19th Century.]

The Book of Mormon, one of the religious texts of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), claims that early residents of the Americas were actually descended from the tribe of Joseph, and particularly through Manasseh.

A Feb 16th 2005 article written by Sheera Frenkel was published in the Jerusalem Post about a Black Native American (see Howshua Amariel) who traced his roots through Cherokee lineage back to the Jewish people. "'There are millions of us, who want to return here to Israel,' he stated in the article, 'People say we are the lost tribe, but we are not lost, we know exactly who we are."

According to Amariel, he also demonstrated ancient knowledge by being the first to translate ancient Hebrew Torah to English at Tel Arad (the House of Yahweh). [cite news |first=Aaron |last=Cohen |title=Unique Translation of the Paleo-Hebrew Tanach |date=2006-09-11 |url=http://www.articlesbase.com/religion-articles/unique-translation-of-the-paleohebrew-tanach-558436.html |accessdate=2008-09-15 |quote='For over 20 years I have used my knowledge of the ancient Hebrew language to identify the history of my people written in stone across the globe;' said Amariel, a Hispanic (Cherokee) Indian that is among a tribe whom have been mentioned for centuries in the Americas by European historians (Jews and non-Jews) as a potential lost tribe of Israel] [cite news |first=Sheera Clair |last=Frenkel |title=A headdress of many colors. Would-be Black Hebrew traces 'Jewish heritage' via Cherokee roots |url=http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/jpost/access/793889351.html?dids=793889351:793889351&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&date=Feb+16%2C+2005&author=SHEERA+CLAIRE+FRENKEL&pub=Jerusalem+Post&edition=&startpage=05&desc=A+headdress+of+many+colors.+Would-be+Black+Hebrew+traces+%27Jewish+heritage%27+via+Cherokee+roots |work=The Jerusalem Post |page=05 |date=2005-02-16 |accessdate=2008-09-08 |quote= [Amariel] translates ancient Hebrew into English] [cite web |url=http://amarielfamily.com/1.htm |title=Amariel Family Oral History |publisher=Amariel Family Publishing |accessdate=2008-09-03 |work= |first=Yeshiyah, Howshua |last=Amariel |page=7 |quote=returning a pure language unto our people (Zep: 3:9) for the purpose to demonstrate that we are the ancient ones (children of Israel).] After Amariel’s statements there followed several articles and additional DNA evidence from various members the Cherokee Nation which linked to the Jewish people. [cite web |url=http://www.israpundit.com/2008/?p=1700 |title=Missouri Cherokee Tribes proclaim Jewish Heritage |accessdate=2008-09-03 |work= |first=Ted |last=Belman |date=2008-08-02] [cite press release |title=Local Cherokee Prove Jew Connection |publisher=Cherokee of Lawrence County, TN |date= |url=http://www.cherokeeoflawrencecountytn.org/PressRelease.pdf |accessdate=2008-09-03]

General dispersions, via Media region

This theory begins with the notion that the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh are the sons of Joseph, who had been in captivity (sourcetext|source=Bible|version=King James|book=Genesis|chapter=37 through 45) and bore them with the daughter of the Pharaoh's Priest of On, Asenath (sourcetext|source=Bible|version=King James|book=Genesis|chapter=41|verse=45|range=-52). The Tribe of Levi was set apart to serve in the Holy Temple (sourcetext|source=Bible|version=King James|book=Numbers|chapter=1|verse=47|range=-54 sourcetext|source=Bible|version=King James|book=Numbers|chapter=2|verse=33|nobook= sourcetext|source=Bible|version=King James|book=Numbers|chapter=3|verse=6|range=-7|nobook=). The arrangement of the Tribes was given in "Numbers" 2.

It is now believed by many that the exiled tribes, who were, according to the Second Book of Kings, transported to the region of Media in what is now northwestern Iran, most likely simply assimilated into the population of the area, losing any special sense of Israelite identity. There is also Biblical and Talmudic testimony that much of the population of the "lost" tribes was simply reunited with the rest of the Israelites when they, too, were exiled and, later, returned to the Land of Israel. However, many over the years, in order to hide their Jewish or Israelite identities during tribulations, crusades and continual exiles, have scattered around the whole earth and are believed to have assimilated into the mass population.

There is now genetic testing being done to representatives of at least two groups - the Lemba in Africa and the Bnei Menashe in India - in attempts to verify claims of descent from the "lost ten tribes". So far, there is nothing conclusive, though in the case of the Lemba, there is a definite link [ [http://www.aish.com/societywork/sciencenature/the_cohanim_-_dna_connection.asp www.aish.com] ] to Levite Hebrew ancestry, specifically Kohen.

The Saka connection

For some people studying the Lost Tribes of Israel, the Behistun Inscription has provided an invaluable missing link. George Rawlinson, Sir Henry Rawlinson's younger brother, connected the Saka/Gimiri of the Behistun Inscription with deported Israelites:

In the photo of the Black Obelisk to the right, compare King Jehu's pointed Saka style headdress, which is similar to the captive Saka king seen to the far right on the Behistun Inscription. King Jehu of Israel was a successor to King Omri of the Northern Kingdom of Israel.

Some sources assert that the inscription connects the people known in Old Persian and Elamite as Saka, Sacae or Scythian with the people known in Babylonian as Gimirri or Cimmerian. This is important because the Assyrian's referred to the Northern Kingdom of Israel in their records as the "House of Khumri", named after Israel's King Omri of the 8th century BCE. Phonetically "Khumri", "Omri", and "Gimiri" are similar. [E. Raymond Capt, "Missing Links Discovered in Assyrian Tablets" Artisan Pub, 1985 ISBN 0-934666-15-6]

Nathan Ausubel's list

Nathan Ausubel wrote:

In his 1953 work "Pictorial History of the Jewish People", Nathan Ausubel compiled the following list of peoples connected in one way or another to this

*Mountain Jews
*Cochin Jews
*The Sahara
*Cave Dwellers = Atlas Mountains south of Tripolitania and Tunisia. Closely related to the Jews of the Sahara, they believe that their ancestors were brought as captives from Judea by Titus after 70 AD. They cut out tiny paper boats which decorate their synagogues where they pray: "May a boat soon come and carry us to Jerusalem."
*The Falashas = Lake Tana, Ethiopia. Claim to have come with the Queen of Sheba to visit King Solomon.
*The Samaritans = Nablus (Shechem). Claim to be from the tribes of Ephraim, Menashe, and Levi, and built a rival Temple on Mount Gerizim in the days of Ezra.

In other religions

Latter-day Saints

Latter-day Saints teach that a number of northern Europeans are descended from Ephraim [ [http://www.ldslastdays.com/talk_tribes.htm www.ldslastdays.com/talk_tribes.htm] ] , making them natural heirs to God's covenant with the Israelites.

Radio Church of God

In the 1920s, Herbert W. Armstrong, founder of the Radio Church of God, later renamed the Worldwide Church of God, published the belief that the 10 lost tribes, after their captivity by the Assyrians, had eventually migrated to northern and western Europe and constituted large portions of the nations that now exist in those areas. This belief also formed a basis for his understanding of Bible prophecy and its fulfillment in the "latter days".

ee also

*Schisms among the Jews - describes some of the early background to the split between the kingdoms of Israel and Judah
*Shavei Israel - organization to find "lost Jews"
*Assyria - destroyed the Kingdom of Israel and caused the Ten Tribes "to become lost"
*Babylonia and Assyria - the global powers confronting the Israelites in ancient times
*Babylonian captivity - inflicted by Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon
*Jewish diaspora - spread and growth
*Timeline of Jewish history - covers the flow of history from ancient until modern times
*History of the Jews in China, particularly the Kaifeng Jews
*History of the Jews in India
*Abrahamic religion - deals with Judaism, Christianity and Islam and a few other faiths
*Richard Reader Harris - wrote "The Lost Tribes of Israel" in 1908 and was a major promoter of the belief in the Lost Ten Tribes
*Joseph Wolff - the eccentric Jewish Christian missionary who in 1828 set off on extensive travels through Asia in search of the Ten Tribes
*United States in Prophecy
*Assyria-Germany connection

References and notes

*Michael Riff. "The Face of Survival: Jewish Life in Eastern Europe Past and Present". Valentine Mitchell, London, 1992. ISBN 0-85303-220-3

External links

* [http://www.dinur.org/resources/resourceCategoryDisplay.aspx?categoryID=411&rsid=478 Biblical History] The Jewish History Resource Center — Project of the Dinur Center for Research in Jewish History, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
* [http://www.bh.org.il/Communities/Archive/TenLostTribes.asp Database of Jewish communities] , at [http://www.bh.org.il website] of Beit Hatefutsot, the Museum of the Jewish People, in Tel Aviv. - Excellent overview of many hypotheses about the Ten Lost Tribes.
* [http://www.britam.org Brit Am Israel]
* [http://www.kulanu.org/ Kulanu ("All of us")]
* [http://www.bneimenashe.com/ Bnei Menashe Website]
* [http://www.geocities.com/britam_exposed/ Brit-Am fallacy exposed]
* [http://ohr.edu/ask_db/ask_main.php/329/Q1/ Afghanistan: Home to Lost Tribes of Israel?]
* [http://www.aish.com/literacy/jewishhistory/Video_The_10_Lost_Tribes.asp What happened to the 10 lost tribes? video feature direct from Jerusalem]
* [http://www.revneal.org/Writings/british.htm Imperial British-Israelism: Justification for an Empire. (1987)] by Gregory S. Neal
* [http://www.ondoctrine.com/10brtish.htm British Israelism] by Gary A. Hand
* [http://www.haruth.com/JewsLemba.html The Lemba People] by Haruth.com
* [http://www.unitedisrael.org/ United Israel] Lost Tribes Research
* [http://www.kolhator.org.il/ Kol haTor] Promoting Reconciliation between Returning 10 Tribes and Judah
* [http://www.revelations.org.za/MenuReturn.htm Bible Revelations] Library of studies on the Return of the Lost 10 Tribes
* [http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_History_of_the_Ten_%22Lost%22_Tribes Anglo-Israel The History of the Ten "Lost" Tribes by David Baron, "intended primarily as a thorough examination and debunking of Anglo-Israelism"]

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