Thursday, March 19, 2015

The 10 Lost Tribes and the Messianic Expectation [COMPLETE]

"Upon retiring from professional life, Avigdor Shahan, a prolific writer, historian, and educator, embarked on the greatest journey of his life:  following in the footsteps of the ten lost tribes.  The ensuing voyage culminated in a book, [Towards the Samatyon], which is half a history of the tribes and half a travelogue for which Shahan had a deeply personal impetus.  As he explains: 
I was eight years old [in 1940] when our teacher at the traditional Jewish school told us with trembling voice about the exile of the ten tribes:  Reuben, Shimon, Zebulun, Yissachar, Dan, Gad, Asher, Naptali, Ephraim, and Manasseh--by the kings of Assyria and their cruel soldiers.  He described the formidable river they crossed in their wanderings, the Samatyon; and the fearsome mountains of darkness behind which they disappeared.  He told us about that great county where they live a life of freedom and liberty; the commanders of their armies alert and ready, their swords sparkling, and their legions ordered in columns behind their banners and flags.
The young pupils, children of the Jewish quarter of Komarov, Romania, listened with 'breathless anticipation.'  Finally, one of them exclaimed, 'Why don't we send messengers to let them know about our misery?'
     'Indeed, throughout the generations many messengers set out towards the tribes,' the teacher answered solemnly.  '[T]hese messengers climbed high mountains and wandered in desolate deserts, but their traces were also lost.'
     That very day, Shahan and two young friends, Moishe'le and Leibe'le, set out themselves in search of the ten tribes.  They decided that the nearby Dniester River was in fact the Sambatyon.  They undertook to leave Komarov, but never got to cross even the limits of its Jewish quarter.  A large black dog standing at its edge frighterened them back home.
     Just one year later, in September 1941, the Jews of Komarov went on their own terrible march.  Following the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, Romanian soldiers deported Komarov's Jews to Transnistria, a mass death zone created by the occupying forces across the Dniester.  Shahan recalls how his friend Moishe'le likened the Romanian soldiers leading the forced march to the ancient Assyrian military that had so cruelly deported the ten tribes.  Growing frantic, the boy fled the ragtag column of marchers, and ran for the Dniester--the 'Sambatyon.'  As he had the year before, Moishe'le wanted to seek the help of the ten tribes, which he imagined to be on its far bank.  He never reached them; a soldier murdered him beside the river.  Shahan later leared that Romanian soldiers had also killed his other friend, Leibe'le, by drowning him in the Dniester,'" Zvi Ben-Dor, The Ten Lost Tribes

Tim Hegg, against all evidence, claims that the Jewish people are completely mistaken, that in reality there are NO lost tribes at all:
"The Two House theory is built upon the [false] presupposition that the Northern Tribes were lost among the nations and have forgotten their true identity.  In general, biblical and historical data show conclusively that the Northern Tribes were never lost," Tim Hegg, The Two-House Theory:  Three Fatal Flaws [emphasis added].
But going back to the beginning of the Common Era, we see that Jews fervently believed in Lost Tribes:
 "…the entire body of the people of Israel remained in that country [Media]; wherefore there are but two tribes [Judah and Benjamin] 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, 11.5.2, from The Works of Josephus, translated by Whiston, W., Hendrickson Publishers. 1987. 13th Printing. p 294
 "The Ten Tribes will not return [to the Land of Israel], for it is said, 'And cast them into another land, as is this day: just as the day goes and does not return, so they too went and will not return.' This is R. Akiba's view. R. Eliezer said: 'As this day—just as the day darkens and then becomes light again, so the ten tribes—even as it went dark for them, so will it become light for them." Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 110b. 
For the Jewish people, this was an absolute certainty--there WERE lost tribes.  There had to be!  Later, we read Rashi referring to the mythical river Sambatyon as though it were an actual river:
"Because they were dispersed in a distant land beyond the River Sambatyon, [Isaiah] called them lost," Rashi on Isaiah 27:13

Beginning with the Apostles, we have record of Jews who associated Messianic redemption with the recovery of the Lost Tribes:

Peter, addressing Gentiles, refers to Gentiles as the forsaken House of Israel, the "Loammi" from Hosea:
"9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy," 1 Peter 2:9
Paul similarly says:
"23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— 24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? 25 As he says in Hosea: “I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people; and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one,” 26 and, “In the very place where it was said to them,  ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘children of the living God,'" Romans 9:23-26
James, after citing to a group of prophecies in which the House of Israel "turns" to G-d in the latter days, announces:
"We should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn (epistrephousin) to God," Acts 15:19
And then, flash forward to the 18th Century, when world Jewry was expecting the return of the Messiah (and some believed that they had actually found him), we have another rush to find the Lost Tribes, of which the following are but a few examples:

  • Isaac Nieto, sent on behalf of the Jews of Britain to find the 10 Lost Tribes in China (c. 1760).
  • Tobias Boas, wealthy Jewish banker who spent 20 years searching for the 10 Lost Tribes in Asia (c. 1762)
  • Barukh Gad, rabbinical emissary, who claimed to have encountered the 10 Lost Tribes in Persia (c. 1646)
  • Moses Pereira de Piava who searched for the 10 lost tribes amongst the Jewish community of Cochin (c. 1687).

Why is that the Jewish people have always connected the return of the Messiah with the return of the 10 Lost Tribes?

The answer is that they believed, having read the Messianic prophecies, that the Messiah would be a Davidic figure.  David was considered a great king because he did what no other king had done:  he destroyed the Jebusites that controlled Jerusalem.  Why was this significant?  In David's time, certain natives still dominated the central area of Israel.  Geo-politically (and spiritually), this made a united Israel impossible.  What David accomplished in defeating the Jebusites was to unite these two realms, the House of Judah and the House of Israel, around the centralized city-state of Jerusalem.  His victory was virtually complete when he finally brought in the Ark of the Covenant--the symbol of a unified Israel.

David was the first shepherd to gather the tribes of Israel!

So, in conclusion, the heart of the Messianic expectation is that there will arise a Davidic Messiah who will unite Judah with his "lost" brethren and thereby create a unified Kingdom Realm of Israel:
"My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd," Ezekiel 37:24


  1. Looking forward to this...

    1. I just want you to know that you have been an encouragement to me over the past week. I've had Satan whispering in my ear, "Nobody reads this anymore, the readers are're just wasting your time." And I think of what Rob Vanhoff of Torah Resource said, "His [Peter's] blog contains nothing of value." I've just felt really stupid and defeated all week. But then seeing you and Shoshanna re-blogging, it helped me to realize that I do have something to offer. So I just wanted to thank you for that, brother.

    2. Be encouraged, bro. I read and enjoy your site near daily.

      Drop me an email, I have a book for you.

  2. While I agree with your points, the two houses of Israel is clearly described in scripture, and I agree Tim Hegg is definitely wrong on "the 10 Tribes never being lost", there are many sources in Judaism expecting this prophecy to be fulfilled and they are right for doing so, however the error comes in, when people "generally" or "broadly" apply this prophecy to gentiles without any evidence. The error is when gentiles claim they are part of the lost 10 tribes. It is a HUGE claim to make, with NO evidence to back it, which is a mistake. Just because Paul and Peter reference scriptures directly speaking of the Northern Kingdom and relates them to gentiles, does not make John Doe of Whatever state in America part of the tribes of Naphtali or Ephraim... This is a subject that must be scrutinized and yet it is being taken very lightly by gentiles saying they are lost tribal members, because if they are not, then they are purporting a lie... and many have already done this in history in very anti-semitic ways... claiming they are the "true" heirs. In fact, there is a black Hebrew movement right now that is growing, and a prominent message they share, denies Jews their rightful heritage, claiming the real Jews were black and the Jews in Israel are phonies... This is very dangerous and even gentiles who support Israel and Jews, yet also claim to be lost Israelites, is also potentially dangerous, even if meant well. Let's imagine the theory of John Doe being a lost Israelite is true, even if he is, he has no way to provide evidence, thus he has nothing to stand on, other than reading himself into the text. It would be best to keep that to himself, if one day we find out he is, great, but there would need to be a certain amount of evidence, which simply at this point does not exist, at this point, it simply looks like a major identity crisis, trying to be someone your not. You just wrote a post about someone who had an identity crisis and changed his name, its no different than this... What do you think?

    1. Zion,

      Wow, a lot of good points. We're in agreement that identity for Gentiles should not be based on ethnicity but rather solely in Yeshua. This means that Gentiles don't have to keep searching for lost ancestry. They must recognize that they now belong to Israel through Yeshua.

      Need to do a post on the Black Israelites as that's come up a lot recently...

    2. I agree with you both. Believers (Jews & non Jews) in messianic communities are having unnecessary identity issues. I believe two house theology is the backbone to ministries such as ffoz. I enjoy this blog as well.

    3. Zion,

      I always said that you are the sane one in this meshugene bunch.....

    4. Dan,

      This post is now complete. Which part do you disagree with? Are you saying we're crazy for believing in a Davidic Messiah (i.e. Yeshua) who will follow in the footsteps of David by uniting all the tribes of Israel?

      Tell you what, I'm writing a new post just for you.

  3. I did not say you are crazy, I said you are a Meshugene....

  4. I did not say you are crazy, I said you are a Meshugene....

  5. ezekiel 20 is the stick of Ephraim-spain began the population of the wilderness of the goy-the Americas in 1492(beginning of dan.12s last MOED).
    It is here that Ephraim and the companions are judged and a tenth form a remnant to Israel.
    Ephraims stick is predominately Christian. Isaiah 54(and hannahs prophecy) show that the tribes of the shawmame(usually translated as desolate) will out number the tribes of judahs stick.
    shawmame is a reference to the stupor that the idolatry of the trinity creates.
    The shikkoots shawmame sits on Moshiac ben Aarons tomb in city of david(632 ad, beginning of the 3 moeds-1290 years).

    The stick of Judah predominately is moslem. Judaism is devided about equally in both sticks. These are the tribes that stayed in the land of the medes(still there in 29ad-see acts 2 about the languages of the diaspora at Pentecost you will find jews from media).
    These tribes converted to islam. they are the topic of psalms 68 and the medes of Isaiah 13.
    They are the tribes of Ezekiel 11 that will be responsible for abolishing the idols in the land of Israel(this has already started near the Euphrates).
    The diminished sanctuary that YHVH will be are mosques, not churches. Perhaps even the dome of the rock was built initially with that in mind.
    Our temple will be on the site of Yehoshushas tomb in the city of david. A mountain raised up high, a sanctuary and alter at its base just as at Sinai.
    The descendant of david on his throne there and the high priest yeshoshua(uncle and nephew) will have the harmonius understanding that zechariah speaks of.
    Two messiahs come from a daughter of aaron and a son of zerrubabel.

    1. by the way my name is Anthony and I used to associate with messianic judasim. I came to realize that the glory can belong only to YHVH and YHVH only.We cannot even petition or bless in Yehoshuas name. He is a man, just as Elijah, Joseph, Moses, aaron etc.
      YHVH and YHVH only shall we glorify.
      Yehoshua is the priest of 1samuel 2:35 a creation not the creator.