What do authentically Jewish sources say about the Lost Ten Tribes?


It is commonly believed today that Jewish perception of the Lost Ten Tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel is that they were gradually, at some non-specific point in time, reabsorbed into the fold of the Jewish people- that is, that they rejoined the tribes of Judah and Benjamin in the Southern Kingdom of Judah. I have a compilation of quotes here that show evidence from a truly Jewish perspective that supports quite the opposite- that the ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom never reunited with Judah, but were always considered a separate entity in Jewish reckoning.

The Ten Tribes are separate from the Jews, and still exist.

The following quotes show from a Jewish perspective that the lost ten tribes were not absorbed into the people called “the Jews” (i.e. Judah and Benjamin), but instead existed somewhere outside of the House of Judah.

“There are but two tribes 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.” – Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book IX, Chapter 5.2

“The people known as Jews are the descendants of the Tribes of Judah and Benjamin, with a certain number of the Tribe of Levi. So far as is known, there is not any further admixture of other tribes. The Ten Tribes have been absorbed among the nations of the world. The Jews look forward to the gathering of all the tribes at some future date.” – Dr. Hertz, Chief Rabbi of the British Empire, 1918

“While not a link is missing of the historical chain so far as the romance of the House of Judah is concerned, the Israelites who were subjected by the Assyrian power disappear from the page of history as suddenly and completely as though the land of their captivity had swallowed them up… the Ten Tribes are certainly in existence, all that has to be done is to discover which people represent them.” – The Jewish Chronicles, May 22, 1879.

“The captives of Israel exiled beyond the Euphrates did not return as a whole to Palestine along with their brethren the captives of Judah ; at least there is no mention made of this event in the documents at our disposal… In fact, the return of the ten tribes was one of the great promises of the Prophets, and the advent of the Messiah is therefore necessarily identified with the epoch of their redemption.” – Jewish Quarterly Review, Vol. I, 1888, pages 15, 17.

“Until the arrival of the Prophet Elijah and the Messiah, no member of any of the Ten Tribes shall be accepted (for the purpose of marriage) into the Jewish people.” – Rabbi Rafael Eisenberg, A Matter of Return, p. 138.

“If the Ten Tribes have disappeared, they must exist under a different name.” – The Jewish Encyclopedia, 1905, Vol. 21, page 249.

“Behold I will recall a matter that is expressly mentioned many times in Scripture. It is known that with the Return of the Exiles under Ezra only the Tribes of Judah and Benjamin returned.” – Nachmanides (Moshe ben Nachman) 1194-1270.

“It has been made quite clear from our study that the only ones who returned from the Babylonian Exile were they who belonged to the Kingdom of Judah. Those however who are termed the House of Ephraim, or The House of Israel, meaning the Ten Tribes are still in Exile in Assyria. These Tribes did not have any participants in the Second Redemption, as I have noted.” – Nachmanides (Moshe ben Nachman) 1194-1270.

“I believe that the Ten Tribes to be in various parts of West Europe.” Rabbi Moshe Maimon (Maimondes, 1135-1204), authored the Mishneh Torah.

The Ten Tribes are separate from the Jews, but opinions on their location vary.

The following quotes from the Talmud record that opinions were varied on if the ten tribes would return or not from the land of their exile. All quotes, however, do still support that they had not joined any organization of the Jews.

“The Ten Tribes will not return, 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 it will become light for them.” – Mishneh (Sanhedrin 110b)

“Our Rabbis taught: The ten tribes have no portion in the world to come, as it says, And the Lord rooted them out of their land in anger, and in wrath, and in great indignation: And the Lord rooted them out of their land, refers to this world; and cast them into another land- to the world to come: this is R. Akiba’s view. R. Simeon b. Judah, of the Kefar of Acco, said on R. Simeon’s authority: If their deeds are as this day’s, they will not return; otherwise they shall. Rabbi said: They will enter the future world, as it is said, And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the Lord in the holy mount of Jerusalem.” – Gemara (Sanhedrin 110b)

“Rab Judah said in the name of R. Assi: If at the present time a heathen betroths a daughter in Israel, note must be taken of such betrothal since it may be that he is of the ten tribes. But, surely, anything separated [from a heterogeneous group] is re garded as having been separated from the majority! …They did not move from there until they had declared them to be perfect heathens…” – Gemara (Yebamoth 16a, 16b)

The Ten Tribes are separate from the Jews, but have been lost altogether.

The following quotes show that the lost ten tribes were not absorbed into the Jewish people, and were thought to have been lost altogether from the pages of history.

“The people were transported eastward, and a new population was brought in westward. The transported Israelites became the ‘ten lost tribes’; in reality these were absorbed by the people of the lands to which they were transported and they disappeared.” – The Hebrew Scriptures by Samuel Sandmel, p. 20.

“Thus were the people led away into distant provinces of the [Assyrian] empire and became colonized with strangers, and the Kingdom of Israel became a tale that is told.” – Israel: A History of the Jewish People by Rufus Learsi, p. 79.

“…but in general it can be said that they disappeared from the stage of history.” – Encyclopedia Judaica, vol. 15, p. 1004.

“These are the Ten Lost Tribes; lost not as a jewel is lost on the road, perhaps to be found again, but as a drop of wine is lost in an ocean of water, dissolved, gone.” – Eternal Faith, Eternal People, by Leo Trepp, p. 14.

“The Ten Tribes of Israel were not even permitted like the sister kingdom of Judah, to bequeath to later ages… the memory of rich and varied destinies. They were irretrievably lost.” – C. and A. D. Rothschild, History and Literature of the Israelites, Vol. 1, page 489.

“The Jews do not claim to represent the Twelve Tribes for the Ten Tribes never returned from captivity and are lost to history.” – Rabbi Aaron Werner, when asked by Dr. Schiffner, “Do the Jews represent all 12 tribes?”


All in all, these statements speak for themselves, and present a compelling case that wholeheartedly agrees with the Scriptures: the Ten Tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel were never reabsorbed into Judah on a corporate scale. They still exist, “somewhere out there”, and await the return of the Messiah who will regather them and reunite them with their sister Judah.

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