Ten Lost Tribes

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August 20, 2011

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Do you have any idea where the Ten Lost Tribes of the northern kingdom of Israel are today? Is anyone trying to find the descendants of these people?

The Aish Rabbi Replies

First some background: The Jewish commonwealth split into two kingdoms in 796 BCE, following the death of King Solomon. The two kingdoms were defined along tribal lines, with the tribes of Judah and Benjamin forming the Kingdom of Judah, and the other 10 tribes forming the Kingdom of Israel.

In 555 BCE, the Kingdom of Israel was exiled to Assyria and disappeared. Jewish tradition holds that all Jews today are descended from the Kingdom of Judah.

So what happened to those 10 tribes?

They evidently settled somewhere in the east, probably in the areas of Kurdistan, Afghanistan, Syria and Iran. It is very likely that most of them assimilated into the nations to which they were exiled. Accordingly, they are permanently lost and will not even rejoin the Jewish people in the time of the Messiah. (Talmud – Sanhedrin 110b with Rashi)

On the other hand, there are indications from the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, that the Ten Tribes may have maintained their Jewish identity and will eventually be reunited with Judah and Benjamin.

A third opinion is that many of them fled into the tribe of Judah, which was not taken into exile. Over time, it was forgotten which tribe they came from.

As for searching for them, some believe that Ethiopian Jews are from the Tribe of Dan, and that certain Judaic tribes in India may be descended from Menashe.

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