The conclusions of this study are radical. Using biblical, historical, circumstantial and archaeological evidence, the study confronts the negative stance on Israel taken by many institutionalized churches. It suggests that descendants from the so-called ten lost tribes of Israel are being used by God to bring good news and blessings to receptive nations. And all this via the church! Today’s church is largely ignorant of her Hebraic roots.
A study of the 12 tribes of Israel is essential if we are to understand today’s world scenario. For instance, the religious occupants of present-day Israel are essentially Jews (traditionally from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin), and prophecy says they will suffer great persecution in coming days. But where are the other 10 tribes? The Bible records that they were “scattered amongst the nations”, but where exactly? Have they served their purpose in history and are no longer important? Certainly many in the institutionalized church think so. On the other hand, the Bible claims these ‘lost’ tribes had, and still have, a very definite role in God’s plan for the world. It claims that towards the end of the age they will become “a multitude of nations” praising the God of Israel “from the ends of the earth”. Surely such a multitudinous people must be visible in the world?
This study identifies this multitude and suggests they are the hidden roots of the true Christian church. Descendants from the scattered 10 tribes of Israel could be amongst today’s Gentile congregations! The study suggests this scenario arose through a migration of the 10 tribes to western Europe and Scandinavia, with Britain taking a prime role in God’s plan.
Terminology Explained – The 12 Tribes – The 10 Tribes – Birthright – Defining the Jew – Key Points about Jews – The Throne of David – Persecution of Jews – Locating the Throne – The House of Israel – Migration Paths – Biblical Confirmation – Archaeological Confirmation – Israel’s Role Today – Israel and the Church – The Future – The Kingdom Restored
See also Israel in the Millennium
THE 12 TRIBES OF ISRAEL
The 12 tribes of Israel are descendants from the 12 sons of Jacob (so sometimes they are referred to as ‘the house of Jacob’). As he was dying, Jacob (whom God renamed ‘Israel’) blessed his 12 sons (Gen 49.1-28), and this blessing included sons Levi and Joseph. The tribe of Levi was actually unique in that they received no allotment or inheritance from the LORD (Deut 18.1-8, see map). The Levites were excluded from a land allotment because their service would require them to live throughout all of Canaan. They were to minister the Lord’s instruction and perform as priests for all the other tribes. It is interesting to note that in the coming millennial age the Levites are allotted an area close to the millennial temple in order to minister in the temple (Ezek 45.5), link.
The tribe of Joseph was also unique. Whilst Jacob blessed Joseph to be “a fruitful bough … with blessings of heaven above and blessings of the deep” (Gen 49.22,25), in reality this blessing was to come through the two sons of Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh). As Jacob was dying on his deathbed, he understood that God was saying to him that the two children of Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh) were to be considered tribes in their own right. Jacob said to Joseph
And now your two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine. (Gen 48.5)
This act of adoption effectively gave Joseph the birthright and a double allotment of the territory of the promised land. So there is generally no tribe by the name of Joseph; instead there are the tribes of Ephraim and Menasseh, link. Put simply:
12 sons – 1 (Levi) – 1 (Joseph) + 1 (Ephraim) + 1 (Manasseh) = 12 tribes of Israel
and so the (territory owning) 12 tribes of Israel are:
Judah, Benjamin, Reuben, Simeon, Zebulun, Issachar, Dan, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Ephraim and Manasseh
All 12 tribes are Israelites (or Hebrews), all were led out of Egypt, and all 12 tribes were given the first five books of Moses – the Pentateuch. The (united) Kingdom of Israel under the kings Saul, David, and Solomon lasted from about 1020 to around 930 BC (2 Sam 5.12), see map. But around 930 BC the last 10 tribes in the above list formed the independent Kingdom of Israel in the north. It was called ‘Israel’ simply because it was led by the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh who bore that name (Gen 48.16).
The other two tribes, Judah and Benjamin, set up the Kingdom of Judah in the south. The term “Jew” originally referred to a member of the tribe of Judah and it was Jews who returned to rebuild Jerusalem after their Babylonian exile.
In scripture the two tribes are often referred to as the ‘house of Judah’ whilst the 10 tribes are referred to as the ‘house of Israel’, or simply ‘Israel’. They are also referred to as the ‘ten lost tribes’ since many claim their identity and location became uncertain after their deportation to Assyria.
That said, the true meaning of ‘house of Israel’ depends upon its context. Prior to the breaking up of the Kingdom of Israel, and in Acts 2.36 and Hebrews 8.10 the phrase refers to all twelve tribes. And when Yeshua said he was sent only to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Mat 10.6, Mat 15.24) the phrase implies Yeshua had the Jews in mind and not the lost tribes.
Finally, bear in mind that most Hebrews (Israelites) are not Jews, and ten-tribed Israel are never called Jews!
The ‘Ten Lost Tribes’
Some maintain that the ten lost tribes are not lost at all and claim it’s all a myth, link, link. Others maintain its not a myth and the tribe locations are known – even staring us in the face, link. They claim many historians and researchers have verified that the so-called ‘Lost Ten Tribes of Israel’ are in our midst, link.
Here we examine many biblical references to these 10 tribes and relate them to circumstantial evidence and plausible historical and archaeological clues as to their identity. In particular, the location and role of the key tribe, Ephraim, cannot be overstated. This is because of Ephraim’s birthright.
In Judaism, the first-born son usually took rank before his brothers and sisters and was given the ‘birthright’. This gave him judicial authority to rule over the family and to act as head and priest for the family. The priestly role of Ephraim has implications for today’s world. In the last days Israel will be called “the priests of the LORD” (Isa 61.6). Does this come from Ephraim’s role in today’s church? See later.
The birthright came with the ‘blessing’ in that this person received a double portion of the father’s wealth, link. Following the birthright and blessings through biblical history, we find it initiates with God’s blessing upon Abraham, then through Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and finally to Ephraim. To quote God’s promise of blessing, first to Abraham, then to Jacob and finally to Ephraim:
I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore … I will surely prosper you and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which is too great to be numbered … his (Ephraim’s) descendants shall become a multitude of nations (Gen 22.17, 32.12, 48.19)
Why the blessing to Ephraim? Jacob’s firstborn was in fact Reuben and traditionally he should have received the birthright. But due to Reuben’s sin the birthright went to his younger brother Joseph and to his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim (1 Chron 5.1). Again, traditionally the elder brother Manasseh should have had the birthright, but under the Spirit’s guidance Jacob gave the younger brother Ephraim the birthright (Gen 48.16-20). So, although Ephraim’s older brother Manasseh would become a great people, Ephraim would became greater and become “a multitude of nations” (Gen 48.17-22). Ephraim in Hebrew means ‘fruitful, fertile, productive’.
Summary of the 12 Tribes of Israel
Around 930 BC the 12 tribes separated into the Southern Kingdom (Judah and Benjamin) and the Northern Kingdom (Israel). Traditionally the Jews are descendants of Judah (although today the term has became synonymous with “Israelite”).
Some maintain that the so-called ‘Ten Lost Tribes’ are not lost at all and they can be identified in today’s world. God gave Ephraim, the younger son of Joseph the historic birthright and blessing that had been handed down through the generations. As a result, Ephraim’s descendants were to become “a multitude of nations” with a special role in the world. Through the birthright promises certain nations of the world have been (and still are) greatly blessed by the God of Israel.
Sadly, such dramatic prophecies are often too much for the institutionalized church and they are ignored. But to do so greatly weakens the church. So in this article we ask the important question: ‘Where are these tribes today, and what is their role?‘ If they are a multitudinous people and a multitude of nations then surely they can be identified?
DEFINING THE JEW
Before we study the ten lost tribes, it is important to understand what we mean by the term ‘Jew’. All Jews are Israelites (or Hebrews), but not all Israelites are Jews. Put another way, not all of the 12 tribes are Jews. Strictly speaking, Jews (Hebrew, ‘Yehudi’) are those who follow Judaism and who are descendants from the Kingdom of Judah. But over time, the word Yehudi described anyone from the Kingdom of Judah, which included the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and some of the priestly tribe of Levi. The apostle Paul claimed to be a Jew since he was from the tribe of Benjamin (Acts 22:3, Rom 11.1).
According to Orthodox Jewish law, matrilineal descent is one way a person can be a Jew i.e. birth from a Jewish mother. Another way is through proper conversion to Judaism by an Orthodox Jewish Beit Din (Court of Jewish Law). So Israel’s Law of Return (2nd Amendment) defines ‘Jew’ as “a person who was born of a Jewish mother or has become converted to Judaism and who is not a member of another religion”, link.
Note the last condition. Under the Law of Return, every Jew has the right to immigrate to Israel. But currently, Israeli law generally regards Messianic Jews as ineligible for immigration (aliyah) because of their belief in Yeshua (Jesus).
Key Points to Note about Jews
- Jews are of the ‘house of David’, the line of royal-kingly descent from the tribe of Judah. Prophecy says: the scepter shall not depart from Judah until Shiloh comes (Gen 49.10). Christ was seen to be born of the royal tribe of Judah
- By 586 BC all of the southern kingdom (house of Judah) had been deported to Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar
- A remnant of about 50,000 Jews returned to Jerusalem from Babylon in 536 BC. So there was a Jewish presence there at the time of Christ (Ezra 1.1-4). This was to fulfill the prophecy: “the stone (Jesus) which the builders (Jews) rejected has become the chief cornerstone” (Ps 118.22)
- In 70 AD the Jews were finally dispersed worldwide by Titus and today they have no king
- The Jews were to become a reproach, a byword, a taunt and a curse in all the places where they settled (Jer 24.9)
- The Jews were prophesied to be bereft of children (Jer 15.7) i.e. they would not be a multitudinous people. In contrast, the house of Israel (the northern Kingdom) would become an innumerable people, like the sand of the sea (Hos 1.10)
- Apart from a small minority (Messianic Jews) today’s Jews remain unregenerate under the old law. In contrast, the house of Israel were to come under a new covenant and have God’s law written on their hearts (Jer 31.33)
Continuous Worldwide Persecution of Jews
The Israelites were warned repeatedly that they would be dispersed worldwide if they were not faithful to their covenant with God, and that they would find no rest:
And among those nations you shall find no rest … but there the Lord will give you a trembling heart … and anguish of soul. Your life shall hang in doubt before you; you shall fear day and night, and have no assurance of life (Deut 28.65-66)
For the Jews this is seen to be true, from their exile in 586 BC to present-day. Their rejection of truth reached its climax when they rejected their true Messiah, Yeshua, and said to Pilate: “His blood be on us and on our children” (Mat 27.25). How true. Some 6 million Jews perished in the holocaust. But their persecution reaches its climax in the “great tribulation” at the end of this age (Mat 24.15-22). This time of severe persecution is also described as “Jacob’s trouble” (Jer 30.7) which implies it concerns both Israel (the ten tribes) as well as Judah (Jer 30.3-7). Just one-third survive as they are refined for service to the LORD in the millennial age (Zech 13.8,9).
Note: It is claimed that one of the darkest secrets of the Protestant Reformation was the fact that Jews were slaughtered side by side with the lost 10 tribes of Israel during the Dark Ages of Papal Christianity, link.
Jews Make Aliyah
Aliyah refers to a “going-up” to Jerusalem in the form of mass immigration. Jews see it as ‘going up to holiness’, link. Using the official (aka Israeli government) definition of ‘Jew’, we can now examine official Jewish demographics. As mentioned, according to prophecy we should not expect large numbers. As of 2017 there were some 6.5 million Jews in Israel or 45% of the world Jewish population (Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, link). So, possibly surprising to some, there are only about 14.5 million Jews in the world! This is certainly not an innumerable people, like the sand of the sea.
It appears that those who have already returned to Israel are largely from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. It seems that the LORD is “gathering together the dispersed of Judah” (Isa 11.12). Already nearly 50% of all Jews reside in Israel. Why? We note that it is the tribe of Judah which is made “like a firepan in the woodpile” during the defense of Israel in the final end-time wars (Zech 12.1-9). And at Christ’s return it is Judah (the house of David) and the associated priestly tribe of Levi who mourn at Jerusalem for the One whom they pierced (Zech 12.10-14).
The fact that the house of Judah in particular is immigrating to Israel (as opposed to the ‘lost’ house of Israel) has prompted some to comment that the modern nation of Israel should have called herself Judah, not Israel!
Judah’s Role Today: A Sign to the Nations
Most Jews currently in Israel reject Yeshua as their Messiah. About 80% follow some form of Judaism, 20% are secular and only some 3% follow Yeshua (Jesus), see Messianic Jews. But the fact that millions of Jews have now returned to Israel is a sign in itself. Today the nation of Israel is “an ensign (banner or flag) to the nations”. God is working His purposes out with His chosen people and for His glory:
He will set up a banner for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. (Isa 11.12)
Surely the nations can see an amazing thing here? In 1915 there were just 83,000 Jews in Israel (Palestine) but this increased to nearly 6.5 million Jews in 2017, link. This is an amazing 7700% increase! In comparison, over the same period the UK population increased just 55%. Other signs are the sudden appearance of the state/nation of Israel (as prophesied), the regeneration of the land (as prophesied) and the discovery of vast natural resources under the sea (as prophesied). Not to mention Israel’s advanced agricultural and web-security technology which is exported all over the world, link. Although only 20% of Israel’s land is arable, Israel still manages to produce 95% of her own food requirements! Surely the nations can see that ‘Someone’ is blessing the Jews in Israel?
So they (the nations) will say, ‘This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden; and the wasted, desolate, and ruined cities are now … inhabited’. Then the nations … shall know that I, the LORD, have rebuilt the ruined places and planted what was desolate (Ezek 36.35,36)
THE CONTINUING THRONE OF DAVID
To help solve the mystery of Israel’s location (the ten tribes) we refer to Jacob’s last words to his sons. When blessing Judah he said:
the scepter shall not depart from Judah … until Shiloh comes (Gen 49.10)
A scepter is a symbol of kingship, and ancient Jewish authorities interpret ‘Shiloh’ as a compound of ‘shel’ and ‘loh’ meaning ‘to whom it belongs’. This is the Davidic Covenant which promises that there would always be a descendant from King David to reign over Israel until Christ takes the royal throne at His return (Mat 25.31, Rev 3.21):
I have made a covenant with My chosen, I have sworn to My servant David: ‘Your seed I will establish forever, and build up your throne to all generations.’ Selah (Ps 89.3-4)
For thus says the Lord: ‘David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel’ (Jer 33.17)
But since the Southern Kingdom, Judah, ceased to exist around 586 BC after the final Babylonian invasion, Judah had no throne to offer Christ at His first coming. They rejected the way of Christ and were finally totally dispersed in 70 AD under Titus (an event known as the Diaspora). So who carried the scepter after the destruction of the Kingdom of Judah? According to Genesis 49.10 a monarchy honouring and pointing to Christ must exist in the world today.
Locating the Royal Scepter
Here are some keys as to the identity of this monarchy:
- The lost Israelites were to have a new name: they would be called by the name Iaaac (Gen 21.12). We note that around 450 AD the Saxons began to arrive in Britain and some claim that “Saac-Sons” or “Sakai-Sons” means “Sons of Isaac”, link. Others dispute this claim, link
- Jacob (aka Israel) blessed Joseph’s sons Ephraim and Manasseh (Ephraim receiving the greater blessing) and said “let my name be upon them, and the name of my father’s Abraham and Isaac” (Gen 48.16). So should a people be associated with the name ‘sons of Isaac’, they could be descendants from Ephraim and Manasseh and would be Israelites
- Around 750 BC the prophet Amos referred to the Northern Kingdom (Israel) as “the house of Isaac” (Amos 7.16)
- Israel was appointed a special place other than Canaan; they were to be ‘planted’ (2 Samuel 7.10) in a coastal location far from Canaan (Isa 49.1). There they sing to God and cry aloud the name of the LORD “in the coastlands of the sea, from the ends of the earth” (Isa 24.14-16), “in the isles afar off” (Jer 31.10)
- Jacob’s blessing to Judah described him as a ‘lion’ (Gen 49.9). The British royal coat of arms shows a crowned lion (representing a royal kingdom)
- The Authorized Bible translates the same Hebrew word nine times as ‘unicorn’ (possibly a wild ox or single-horned animal). Mysteriously, the British royal coat of arms bears a unicorn with a chain around it (representing strength)
- The British royal coat of arms also bears the text “DIEU ET MON DROIT” meaning “God and my Right”. Does this refer to the birthright given to Jacob? Recall that Esau sold his birthright to Jacob (Gen 26.33) and that Jacob means “Israel”
- For centuries, under the Coronation Chair in Westminster Abbey lay a stone 26″ x 16″ x 10.5″ of purplish-red sandstone of a type not found in the UK but found in Judea and Moab, link. Some call it ‘Jacob’s Pillow’ and claim it has great biblical significance (Gen 28.10-22) link, link
- Some claim that ‘Brit-ish’ in Hebrew means “Covenant-Man”, and that it is related to the expression Brit-Am meaning ‘Covenant of the People’ (Isaiah 42:6, 49:8). In Hebrew, the word ‘brit’ literally means “covenant,” and “ish” means “man.”, link. This can mean nothing other than the covenant God made with Abraham and his descendants (Genesis chapter 17). It is an unconditional covenant of blessings to Israel. Others dispute these claims, link, link
- God said to Jacob (Israel): “I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body” (Gen 35.11). Today, the Commonwealth of Nations is a voluntary association of 53 sovereign states. Nearly all of them are former British colonies or dependencies of those colonies. Note that the New Testament refers to “the commonwealth of Israel” (Eph 2.12)
- The British flag was called “Jack” out of respect for King James I of England. The Latin for James is “Jacobus” and in Hebrew “Jacob” (jckb). When shortened it becomes “Jac”. Interesting!
Given these interesting facts we ask ‘are some of the ten lost tribes closely associated with the British Isles?‘ One view is that the prophet Jeremiah was appointed by God to transplant the throne of David in the British Isles shortly after Judah’s captivity in 586 BC:
See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull down … to build and to plant (Jer 1.10)
Some see the riddle of Ezekiel 17.1-24 (spoken to the house of Israel) as pertaining to the same ‘transplant’ event. The British-Israel explanation is that Jeremiah brought Tea Tephi, supposedly one of the daughters of the King of Judah to Ireland where she married the son of the king. From her line arose the monarchs of Scotland and England, thereby continuing the throne of David. See the genealogy of the descent of the British Royal throne from King David. On the other hand, some question the historical accuracy of such explanations and point out that the lineage of David as King of Israel passed through the male line, not the female one. Perhaps the throne came to the British Isles via the kings of the Scythian Tribes (see later) since they were believed to be descended from David, link. More at Migration Paths of Israel.
Summary of the Throne of David
From biblical, historical and present-day evidence, some 45% of all Jews in the world now reside in modern Israel. These people are essentially from the tribe of Judah (house of Judah), but some must also be from the tribes of Benjamin and Levi. The ‘ten lost tribes’ or ‘house of Israel’ (Reuben, Simeon, Zebulun, Issachar, Dan, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Ephraim and Manasseh) are now scattered throughout the nations. Strong biblical, archaeological and historical evidence associates the British Isles with the continuing throne of David (the scepter). Similar evidence also suggests that the British Isles is closely associated with the birthright given to the tribe of Ephraim. In other words, Britain could be closely associated with the blessing of a “multitude of nations” (see later).
For a discussion on the relationship between Ephraim, David’s enduring throne and the British Royal throne, see Joseph Wild, 1882.
THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL – THE TEN LOST TRIBES
Let us now leave the Jews and the house of Judah and consider the other ten tribes (the Northern Kingdom, commonly referred to simply as ‘Israel’). What happened to them? The second book of Kings traces the sinful activities of this kingdom, culminating in its captivity by Assyria c722 BC and exile from Canaan. Only the tribe of Judah (including Benjamin) remained (2 Kings 17.18). A few years before, God had warned Israel that He would disown them for their sinful ways: “You are not My people and I will not be your God” (Hosea 1.9). For a long time they were to become like the Gentiles, without any of the structures used for worship and essentials ordained by God:
For the sons of Israel will remain for many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar and without ephod … (Hos 3.4)
The Scattering of the Northern Kingdom
Moses warned the Israelites (all 12 tribes) to carefully follow all God’s commandments. The consequences were drastic if they rebelled, and this included their scattering throughout the nations:
And you shall become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword among all nations where the Lord will drive you … the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other (Deut 28.37; 28.64)
This warning applied to all Israelites and history records that, first the house of Israel (the ten tribes) and later the house of Judah (Judah and Benjamin) were exiled from Canaan following their worship of foreign idols and rejection of God’s commandments. Samaria, the capital of the Northern Kingdom, fell to the Assyrians in 722 BC and the house of Israel was exiled, link. With reference to this event, God told the prophet:
I have cast them far off among the Gentiles … I have scattered them among the countries … (Ezek 11.16)
Around the time of Jesus most of the Northern Kingdom had moved to the farthest reaches of the Assyrian Empire, although a remnant had clearly returned (Lk 2.36). The Jewish historian Josephus, writing from Rome in the year 70 AD (nearly 800 years after Israel was taken into captivity by the Assyrians) writes:
The entire body of the ten tribes are still beyond the Euphrates, an immense multitude not to be estimated by number.
Around the time of Josephus, the early church also recognized that the tribes of Israel were “scattered abroad” (James 1.1). Clearly, the majority were not in Canaan.
Probable Migration Paths of Israel
God promised Abraham that his descendants will be given their own land, Canaan. But in God’s plan for the world there was much more. God promised Jacob that his many descendants would spread abroad:
Your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed (Gen 28.14)
Note that this migration was to be a blessing to the whole earth. And, paradoxically, it came about through Israel’s sin and scattering!
Assyrian Invasions and Names of the Lost Tribes
The ten tribes were exiled north to Assyria over several Assyrian invasions between 734 and 722 BC. Finally, around 722 BC the Kingdom of Samaria fell, marking the end of the Northern Kingdom. Samaria’s territory largely corresponded to the tribes of Ephraim, the western half of Manasseh, and Zebulon, see map. When Sameria was conquered these tribes were carried north and east to the cities of the Medes – modern Iran, (2 Kings 17.6). There, Ephraim and Manasseh became identified with the Cimmerians and Scythians.
Secular historians acknowledge that the Scythians were known by the name ‘Isaac’, or rather as ‘Sacae’, ‘Saka’ or ‘Sakka’ (the initial ‘I’ of Isaac being a vowel was not written). So both the Cimmerians and Scythians were groupings of the tribes of Israel. In fact, the lost tribes were known by many names: Ghomri, Khumri, Ghomir, Gamera, Gimir, Gimira, Cimmerians, Kimmerioi, Scythians, Massagetae, Sak, Sacae, Saka and Sakka, link, link. For example, King Darius of Persia had inscribed on a rock in northern Iran:
This kingdom that I hold is from Sakka (tribes of sons of Isaac) which is beyond Sogdiana to Kush and from India to Sardis.
The Scythians and Cimmerians are of particular interest here since they were groups of Israelites that became closely associated with north west Europe, link. The Scythians were a nomadic people who migrated westward from Central Asia to southern Russia, Ukraine and eastern Europe in the 8th and 7th centuries BC, link. Between 300 and 100 BC the Scythian-Israelites (Sarmatia groups) were in Armenia and Bulgaria and subsequently migrated north west to Scandinavia. Meanwhile, in the 8th and 7th centuries the Cimmerian-Israelites were pushed out of southern Russia to the north Caucasus region, whilst some settled in Asia Minor (Cappadocia, Turkey), link.
Cimmerians and Celts
Around 650 BC the first waves of Cimmerian-Israelites were driven into SE Europe and subsequently moved west to Gaul and Britain, link, link. The Greeks refer to a people called the Celts who lived in regions near the Danube River around 600 BC, but they were originally called Cimmerians, link. The Celts became the controlling power in Europe for 500 years before being called Gauls. So Celts and Gauls are two more names for the lost tribes of Israel, link.
It is interesting to note that some in Wales claim Celtic identity and call themselves CYMRU…cimri – a name relating to the Cimmerians. In fact, the term ‘cymric’ refers to the Brythonic group of Celtic languages, consisting of Welsh, Cornish, and Breton. The rest of the Celtic world were German or Slavic, link.
Taking an overview, historians claim that the tribes of Israel emerged into northern Europe in the 3rd century BC as the Cimmerians, Scythians, Cymrics, Celts and others. Scythian-Israelites (the tribes of Naphtali, Asher, Dan and Issachar) migrated north and west to Scandinavia where they populated Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark. Others migrated west to France, the Netherlands, Belgium, and the ‘Isles of the West’ (Britain, Ireland, and Scotland), link.
The Caucasian Link: Whilst the origins of the early peoples of Britain (the Celts) is much discussed, what we can say is that “the early peoples of Britain biologically were part of the Caucasoid (Caucasian) population of Europe – they were not European”, link, link. This supports the view that Cimmerian-Israelites migrated west to Gaul and Britain from their exiled locations in the Caucasus-Turkey region.
Another possible migration route for Israel was westwards by sea. Phoenician and Philistine ships working for the Assyrians transported Hebrews to Spain (tribe of Simeon), Gaul, and Britain, link.
What of the Saxons?
Here we consider a much later period in British history. The Saxons, aided by Angles and Jutes invaded Britain after the fall of Roman Britain around 450 AD. Although Germanic speaking they were of diverse origin e.g. northern Germany, Denmark and The Netherlands.
The origin and meaning of the word ‘Saxons’ is of interest here, particularly: German: Sachsen, Low German: Sassen, and Dutch: Saksen, link. The traditional understanding is that ‘Saxon’ is a Germanic word meaning “warrior with knives”. But others see a deeper meaning. After Assyria fell, ancient records tell of a new people living around the shores of the Caspian Sea. These people were variously known as Sacae, Sakki, Scyths or Scythians, link. As discussed, we know that Scythian-Israelites migrated west into Europe and Scandinavia.
SACCAE was the contemporary Middle Eastern term for Scyth and the name is believed to be a derivative of ‘Isaac’. The appellation ‘Saxe’ or ‘Saxon’ is a further development of the same name. [“The Tribes”, by Yair Davidy]
Saka-Suna or the Sons of Sakai abbreviated into Saksun, which is the same sound as Saxon, seems a reasonable etymology of the word ‘Saxon’ [“History of the Anglo-Saxons” by Sharon Turner]
So some see ‘Saxon’ as the final form of Sacae, Saka, Sacasone or Scythians, and claim ‘Sakka’ means the “peoples of Isaac”, link. Note that the Dutch word for Saxon was ‘Saksen’ and that the Dutch female first name, Saskia, originally meant “A Saxon woman”.
Now lets put history and the Bible together. Remember, in his blessing of Joseph’s sons Ephraim and Manasseh, Jacob said; “Let my name (Israel) be named upon them, and the name of my Fathers Abraham and Isaac” (Gen 48.16). Since historical records suggest that the Saxons were “sons of Isaac”, then Genesis 48 verse 16 implies that these invading peoples – the Saxons – were descendants of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh.
Looking wider afield, the video associates the ‘lost’ tribes with western Europe e.g Dan with Denmark, Zebulun with France, Naphtali with Norway, Reuben with Holland and Ephraim with Britain.
Biblical Confirmation of Israel’s Migration Paths
As discussed, secular history indicates that the house of Israel migrated north and then west towards Europe, and in particular to the British Isles. Is there biblical confirmation of this? Consider the following prophecies:
Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd does his flock.’ (Jer 31.10)
Therefore glorify the Lord in the dawning light, the name of the Lord God of Israel in the isles (coastlands) of the sea. (Isa 24.15)
The isles saw it, and feared; the ends of the earth were afraid, drew near, and came. (Isa 41.5)
Let them give glory unto the LORD, and declare his praise in the islands (Isa 42.12)
He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law. (Isa 42.4, KJV)
Listen, O coastlands (isles), to Me, and take heed, you peoples from afar! The Lord has called Me from the womb; from the matrix of My mother He has made mention of My name. (Isa 49.1)
The world translated ‘isles’ here means ‘a habitable spot (as desirable), dry land, a coast, an island’, link. Here it is evidently used in the sense of distant nations or lands; the people who were remote from Palestine and who were ignorant of biblical truth. In these texts God is calling distant island nations to worship Him. This is precisely what happened to Britain during the 16th century Protestant Reformation. And, surely, Britain has long been recognized as a ‘desirable place’ in which to live! After years of spiritual darkness, prophecy indicates that the British Isles at last comes to know the God they had forgotten:
My righteousness is near; my salvation is gone forth, and mine arms shall judge the people; the isles shall wait upon me, and on mine arm shall they trust (Isa 51.5)
Even today the British Isles is sometimes seen as an ‘Atlantic Archipelago’, link.
Finally, Moses Margouliouth, a Jewish scholar of the 19th century, in his ‘History of the Jews’ said
It may not be out of place to state that ‘the isles afar off’ mentioned in chapter 31 of Jeremiah were supposed by the ancients to be Britannia, Scotia, and Hibernia, the isles often visited we know by the merchant mariners of Phoenicia whose fleets included ships and crews drawn from the tribes of Dan, Asher and Zebulun of the coastal areas of the Land of Israel.
Archaeological Confirmation of Israel’s Migration Paths
Some point to a traceable archaeological path for Israel’s migration. This is suggested in Jeremiah’s prophecy concerning the tribe of Ephraim:
Set up signposts, make landmarks; set your heart toward the highway, the way in which you went. Turn back, O virgin of Israel, turn back to these your cities (Jer 31.21)
Here God is calling the tribe of Ephraim (His ‘firstborn’, Jer 31.9) back to Himself. As he went, Ephraim is asked to make road signs or guideposts pointing back to Canaan. Is there any evidence of these ‘signposts’ today?
One strong candidate is the dolmen. Dolmens are stone monuments made of two or more upright stones with a single large stone lying across them. Their purpose is uncertain but many claim they were tombs. The most widely known dolmens are found in northwest Europe, notably in the region of Brittany, France; southern Scandinavia; Britain; Ireland; and the Low Countries. But over 5,000 dolmens have also been documented in the Golan, northern Israel, link. This makes dolmens good candidates for Israel’s signposts since, historically, the ten tribes appear to have migrated north east to Assyria and then north and west to northwest Europe. Dolmens are also found in Portugal and Spain. It is interesting to note that this region is called the ‘Iberian Peninsula’ and ‘iberia’ means ‘Hebrew’.
Despite the complexities and uncertainties of secular history, many claim that there is a verifiable migration path from the tribe of Ephraim in Samaria, to Assyria (Iran), to the Cimmerians in the Caucasus and Asia Minor (Turkey), to south east Europe, to north west Europe – and eventually to Britain. The Cimmerian-Israelites subsequently became known as the Celts and Cymric people. There is a biological link between the early Britons (Celts) and the people of the Caucasus region.
The other major peoples, the Scythian-Israelites, migrated west and north into Europe and Scandinavia. Historians see ‘Saxon’ as the final form of Sacae, Saka, Sacasone or Scythians, and claim ‘Sakka’ means the “peoples or sons of Isaac”. This suggests that some descendants of Ephraim migrated to northern Europe and then via the Saxons to Britain (note that the Netherlands word for Saxon is ‘Saksen’).
These historical records of Ephraim’s possible migration paths are supported by biblical prophecies relating to Israel in the ‘distant isles’. In addition, there are intriguing archaeological signs leading from Israel and eventually across Europe to the British Isles. These also are in prophecy.
As for the other tribes, it is claimed that around the third century BC they emerged in northern Europe as the Scythians, Celts, Cymrics, Goths, Angles, Saxons, Ostrogoths, Visigoths and Frisians. These peoples populated Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, northern France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain, link.
THE ROLE AND DESTINY OF THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL
Let’s focus on the tribe of Ephraim, a chief tribe of the house of Israel. Given the notable absence of a kingly line through present-day house of Judah, it appears from the foregoing discussion that Ephraim (centered in the British Isles) holds both the SCEPTER promise (the royal throne of David) and the BIRTHRIGHT promise (a fruitful, multitudinous people bearing blessings to the nations).
The Scepter Promise
As discussed, scattered Israel was appointed a special place far from Canaan. A place “in the coastlands of the sea”. God said to David:
Moreover I will appoint a place for My people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own and move no more … also the LORD will make you a house … and your house and your kingdom shall be established forever … Your throne shall be established forever (2 Sam 7.10-11,16)
Note the term ‘house’ (Heb: bayit, meaning household, family or clan). God promised David that He would build him a house in the sense of establishing a royal dynasty for the house of David. This was an enduring legacy for David long after his death. Although David could not see it, God’s promise meant that this royal dynasty would be continued even after the destruction of the house of Judah and the final dispersion of the Jews in 70 AD. There are strong indications that this was continued through the scattered house of Israel, and in particular through the tribe of Ephraim in the British Isles, link. As discussed, there is a fascinating connection between Israel and the British Royal throne.
The Birthright Promise
Assuming the Davidic throne (the SCEPTER) was indeed established in the British Isles, what about Israel’s BIRTHRIGHT promise? What was Israel’s role here and elsewhere in the world? Remember that God had divorced unfaithful wife Israel and called Israel “not My people” (Hos 1.9). Consequently the sons of Israel would remain for many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar and without ephod (Hos 3.4). But what happened after “many days”? God sought His unfaithful wife Israel, who by now had grown into an innumerable multitude:
Yet the number of the sons of Israel will be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And in the place where it is said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ it will be said to them, ‘You are the sons of the living God.’ (Hos 1.10)
Rebellious unfaithful Israel, wherever she had gone, was once more to be reconciled to her husband. Again they would sing to God and cry aloud the name of the LORD, but this time they sing and cry “in the coastlands of the sea, from the ends of the earth” (Isa 24.14-16), “in the isles afar off” (Jer 31.10). These important prophecies point to an immeasurably large number of spiritually blind people (exiled Israel) who become reconciled to God. It appears that at some future time and place, the rejected and dispersed people of Israel would respond and say “You are my God” (Hosea 2.23). We might see this restoration and blessing starting with the early church. Peter said they were “a royal priesthood, a holy nation to proclaim the praises of God”. This people “who were once not a people are now become the people of God” (1 Pet 2.9,10).
A Nation and a Company of Nations – the Commonwealth of Nations?
So what happens when rebellious Israel is reconciled to her God? Recall that God made the following promises to Jacob (renamed Israel):
I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body (Gen 35.11)
Your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed (Gen 28.14)
Here the word ‘company’ (Heb: ‘qahal’) also means ‘multitude’. Demographically, these promises are not seen in the house of Judah (the Jews), who today are numbered only in millions. But they can be seen in the house of Israel who, according to prophecy, will be numbered “like the dust of the earth”. Some claim that this multitude is seen, in part, in the Commonwealth of Nations, initially called the British Commonwealth of Nations. This is certainly a multitudinous people, embracing almost a third of the world population (billions).
The origins of the Commonwealth lie in the British Empire, when some countries were ruled directly or indirectly by Britain. Currently this is a voluntary association of 53 sovereign states, nearly all of them being former British colonies or dependencies of those colonies. Despite the Empire’s many failings (e.g. country invasion for profit), there was also a deep spiritual impact. This can be seen in the Commonwealth’s values and principles outlined in The Commonwealth Charter. This brings together the values and aspirations which unite the Commonwealth – democracy, human rights and the rule of law – in a single, accessible document. All these are fundamental requirements for Godly living that are found in the Bible. Moreover, we note that members of the Commonwealth include the United Kingdom, Canada, African nations, Australia and New Zealand – all countries that have been given the Gospel and have spread the good news (blessing) of Jesus Christ throughout the world.
To go one step further, some claim that the Commonwealth and European countries, such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Belgium, Denmark, Scotland, Ireland, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, and Norway are all Israelite countries, originating from Israelite tribes. Some of these countries have a large percentage of Israelite (or Hebrew) descent, whilst others have less, link. Some confirmation of these claims comes from Sabbath keeping. Within these nations there are small groups of people who keep the LORD’S Sabbaths, as commanded by God (Ezek 31.16-17).
Is America the tribe of Manasseh?
British Israelism claims that “a nation and a company of nations” in Genesis 35 verse 11 (see above) speaks of America (as in “nation”) and the Commonwealth (as in “a company of nations”), link. America is seen as the tribe of Manasseh which migrated from Germany en-mass in the 1800s, link, link, link. It is true that America has become ‘great’ (Gen 48.19) and has blessed the nations through spreading the message of salvation through Christ. But note that Jacob said Manasseh was to become ‘a people’, not a nation or ‘multitude of nations’ like Ephraim (Gen 48.19). Moreover, in the British Israel interpretation, where in Genesis 35 verse 11 is the nation of Israel – the “great nation” prophesied in Gen 12.2? Why should America (Manasseh) take precedent over Israel when neither existed in Jacob’s time?
An Alternative View: The context of Genesis 35.1-15 is God’s birthright blessing upon Jacob (who had just been renamed Israel) in that from Jacob would come “a nation and a company of nations”. Now Jacob is found on the Bible timeline from 1836 BC to 1689 BC. This is some 400 years before the people of Israel were crystallized into a nation c1300 BC following the Exodus from Egypt, link, and some 700 years before the nation of Israel (the United Kingdom of Israel) first appeared under King David c1000 BC.
So an alternative view of verse 11 is that “nation” refers to the nation Israel which is soon to emerge, and “company of nations” refers to the end of the age when nations across the world (including America) will honor and praise the God of Israel. Clearly the birthright promises are not restricted to nations of the Commonwealth (the United States of America is not a member, for example) and today there are many nations across the world embracing the gospel message and lifting up their voice to praise the God of Israel:
They shall lift up their voice, they shall sing; for the majesty of the LORD. They shall cry aloud from the sea. Therefore glorify the Lord in the dawning light, the name of the Lord God of Israel in the coastlands of the sea. From the ends of the earth we have heard songs: “Glory to the righteous!” (Isa 24.14-16a)
Does Israel do Aliyah?
Does scattered Israel (the house of Israel) immigrate to their promised land and ‘go up to Jerusalem’? It is generally accepted that the vast majority of Israelites do not even know which tribe they are from, link. Scripture says that for a time (during the ‘church age’) they are spiritually blind to their true Israelite identity (Rom 11.25). So why should they make aliyah? In fact, prophecy specifically says that, wherever these Israelites are, only a fraction of this vast uncountable multitude (Gen 32.12) will do aliyah and actually live in Israel:
The remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob. For though your people, O Israel, be as the sand of the sea, a remnant of them will return (Isa 10.21-22)
Some see Isaiah 10.20-23 as referring to the future partial return of exiled Judah from Assyria (Babylon), link. But likening multitudinous Israel to “the sand of the sea” is a reference to the promise of many descendants, which was a major part of the Abrahamic covenant (Gen. 22.17; 32.12). Also, the remnant is described as from Jacob and Israel. In this context it must refer to the Northern Ten Tribes that split off around 920 BC and were exiled to Assyria in 722 BC, link. The prophet Jeremiah also refers to the return of (a remnant of) Israel at the end of this age (Jer 33.7). There they join with Judah to become one glorious and prosperous nation, as depicted by the two sticks of Ezekiel 37.
This view of the text is also a pragmatic view. Clearly, the tiny land of Israel (the size of Wales) can only accommodate a tiny fraction of the multitudinous house of Israel. On the other hand, as discussed, the number of Jews worldwide is relatively small and can be accommodated in tiny Israel.
THE CONNECTION BETWEEN ISRAEL AND THE CHURCH
Today many Christians are attracted to the Israeli people and to the nation Israel e.g. tourism. There is also an interest in the Hebrew roots of the church, and in Messianic Judaism. Why? One line of thinking is that the church is spiritual Ephraim (aka Israel), link, whilst others go further and claim the church is Ephraim, link, link. On the other hand, such ‘theology’ is roundly condemned as heretical, link. Where is the truth?
Consider the following parallels between the church and the house of Israel:
- For many years the world (including Britain) was in spiritual darkness. The Bible was locked up in a Latin translation ordinary people couldn’t read. “The sons of Israel were to remain for many days in spiritual darkness, unable to worship God” (Hos 3.4)
- By the early 16th century, Europe was ripe for the Protestant Reformation. In Britain Wycliffe and Tyndale translated the Bible into English and from around 1525 AD the scriptures were made public for wide readership. Later Bible versions were used to generate the King James Bible, a version that lasted through the 20th century. From the 1730’s to the mid-20th century, Britain was one of the leaders in missionary activity, spawning many missionary organisations. As a result, the word of God was spread to many nations e.g. Africa, China, India and South America. “Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days” (Hos 3.5). Israel was to give glory to the LORD, and declare his praise “in the islands” (Isa 42.12), “in the isles afar off” (Jer 31.10)
- Today Yeshua is worshiped as LORD and Saviour in the church throughout the world. “They shall cry aloud from the sea … glorify the LORD in the coastlands (isles) of the sea. From the ends of the earth we have heard songs: ‘Glory to the righteous!'” (Isa 24.14-16)
- Today there are over 2 billion believers in the world. “The number of the sons of Israel will be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered” (Hos 1.10)
- The word ‘church’ is a translation of the Greek ‘ecclesia’ meaning ‘a called out congregation’. It applies to the Israelites in the wilderness: “This is he who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the Angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai” (Acts 7.38)
- The church is ‘called out’ from the world (1 Pet 2.9). “For you are a holy people to the Lord your God” (Deut 7.6)
- The church is God’s witness in that she is commanded to make disciples of all nations (Mat 28.19). “You are My witnesses,” declares the LORD (Isa 43.10)
- The church acknowledges Yeshua as LORD and God (Jn 20.28). “One will say, ‘I am the LORD’s’; another will call himself by the name of Jacob” (Isa 44.5)
- The New Covenant between God and man through Christ is central to church teaching; “Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you’ (Lk 22.20). “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel … this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days … I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people … I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jer 31.31-34)
Given these parallels, it would be strange indeed if Christ’s church had no connection with Israel. In fact, although the institutionalized church largely ignores it, believers in Yeshua are ‘grafted’ into the same Hebrew roots as Israel (Rom 11.24-25). The church is grafted into Israel’s symbolic ‘olive tree’:
For if you (the Gentile church) were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree? (Rom 11.24)
Making the Connection
The olive tree is usually likened to a tree whose roots are in the Patriarchs, particularly Abraham and the Abrahamic Covenant, link. So, according to Romans 11, we might view the church as a ‘congregation with Israelite roots’, or as ‘the congregation of Israel’, link. If we accept the historical accounts of Israel’s migration, many of these believers may well be descendants of the house of Israel. Some put it like this:
Many Christians are without a doubt the literal descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh. Those who are not, according to Paul the apostle, once they come to a saving faith in Yeshua in some unique sense become the descendants of Abraham (Gal 3.7,29), link.
This may explain why many believers are now looking to their Hebrew roots and are sympathetic to the modern nation, Israel.
Consider another key text which supports the view that the ten tribes are intimately associated with the church. Recall that God made a covenant with Abraham:
And in you all the families (nations) of the earth shall be blessed (Gen 12.3)
Material Blessings: Looking at modern Israel, few would deny that these descendants of Abraham (essentially Jews, descendants from the tribe of Judah) have blessed the world. Everywhere you look you find Jews at the top of the tree e.g. in medical science, agricultural technology, bio-technology, nano-technology, car technology, computing and IT, cyber-security, solar energy, and optical sensors, link. Israel ranks first in the world for total expenditure on R&D, ranks first in the world in scientific publications, and has the highest density of start-up companies in the world. The Jews represent just 0.2% of the world population but have won 129 Nobel prizes.
Spiritual Blessings: Clearly, many of these material blessings are courtesy of the Jews (the tribe of Judah). What about the other descendants of Abraham, the other tribes? How have they blessed the nations? It is generally accepted by the church that the primary meaning of Genesis 12.3 is spiritual; it is an early reference to the reconciliation of man to God through the sacrificial death and resurrection of God’s Son, Jesus (the lion of Judah). Through Christ “the blessing of Abraham came upon the Gentiles” (Gal 3.10-14). But, as Romans chapter 11 explains, since most Jews in Israel rejected Christ, this blessing had to come through Christ’s church. Initially this church was comprised of small groups of Jewish believers, a remnant of Israel (Rom 11.5), link, but gradually “salvation came to the Gentiles” (Rom 11.11). History shows how this blessing was spread to all the earth through Christian nations, with Britain leading the way. For instance:
- John Wycliffe and later William Tyndale (both Englishmen) translated the Bible into English. So from around 1525 AD the scriptures were made public for wide readership. Later Bible versions were then used to generate the King James Bible in 1611 AD, a version that lasted through the 20th century
- During the agricultural and industrial revolution, the Wesley (1703-1791) and Whitefield (1714-1770) ministries, together with those of other preachers, ushered in a period of great spiritual revival and strength
- From the 1730’s to the mid-20th century, Britain was one of the leaders in missionary activity, spawning many missionary organisations. As a result, the word of God was spread to many nations, including Africa, China, India and South America
- In the first part of the 20th century, Britain experienced great spiritual revivals. It saw the Welsh Revival of 1904 under Evan Roberts, where some 500,000 were converted. It also saw the amazing Hebridean Revival in 1949
- Missionary activity continues today through many organisations
As already mentioned, the Abrahamic promise of ‘blessing’ was not only spiritual. Missionary activity brings practical benefits to nations. In a 2014 Christianity Today article, political scientist Robert Woodberry remarked, link:
Areas where Protestant missionaries had a significant presence in the past are on average more economically developed today, with comparatively better health, lower infant mortality, lower corruption, greater literacy, higher educational attainment (especially for women), and more robust membership in nongovernmental associations.
Clearly, in the present age the church is fulfilling God’s covenant with Abraham through missionary activity.
Summary of Israel and the Church
The foregoing discussions beg the question:
Can we refer to at least some of the worldwide multitudes of believers (the ‘church’) as ‘Christian Israelites’? Or are they all ‘Gentile believers’ (Messianic Jews excepted)?
Let’s assume the following timeline:  the ten lost tribes initially settled in western Europe and Scandinavia, with Ephraim settling mainly in the British Isles,  the tribes intermingled by marriage with the Gentiles,  at the end of the medieval period (15th century) Britain and most of northern Europe had a spiritual awakening via the Protestant Reformation,  Britain translated the Bible and, via her oft-maligned Empire, spread the Gospel message across the world through missionary activity,  Today (as prophesied) we hear the God of the Bible praised “from the ends of the earth”, the seed for this historically coming from the British Isles.
Now, since all 12 tribes of Israel were Hebrews, and ten of these tribes intermingled with the peoples of Europe, then some of Europe’s so-called ‘Gentiles’ must be of Hebrew descent. Also, some of these peoples via missionary activities spread the Gospel overseas to other nations. So at least some believers in Britain and many nations of the world might be described as Christian Israelites in the sense that, unknowingly, they have Hebraic roots by descent. Moreover, this hidden Hebraic descent could be the catalyst for the growth of the true church worldwide, and the revived interest in Israel and the Hebrew scriptures today. To underscore this view we note that the New Covenant in church teaching is the fulfillment of the new covenant promised to Israel in Jeremiah 31.33-34.
If we reject this concept and fall back on Replacement Theology (the church has replaced Israel in God’s salvation plan), then we have to conclude that all 10 tribes have served their purpose and vanished! But why do we find them on the end-time world scene e.g. in the book of Revelation chapters 7 and 21?
The Destiny of the House of Israel: Persecution and Rewards
It seems that the end-time destiny of the house of Israel now spread throughout the nations will be harsh.
Today many nations are opposed to biblical teaching and in particular to the Gospel message of salvation in Christ. Former mainly Christian nations (as in the British Isles) are now embracing humanistic laws which trump biblical teaching. A recent study concluded that Christians are the most widely targeted religious community in the world, link. From the horrific beheadings of Coptic Christians in Libya by the Islamic State, to the mutilation of Indonesian Christians who refused to convert to Islam, it is estimated that 7,100 Christians died for their faith in 2015.
All this is seen in Bible prophecy. Jesus gave His followers signs about the end of the age, and added:
But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake. But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony. (Lk 21.12-13)
The book of Revelation associates this time of persecution with the tribulation of the Jews in end-time Israel (see below). Satan rages against both the house of Judah in Israel, but also against the regenerate house of Israel (followers of Jesus) throughout the world (Rev 12.13-17). Multitudes of believers suffer in the coming “great tribulation” but come out to inherit eternal life with Christ (Rev 7.9-17).
Rewards: As implied in Mat 24.36-44 and Rev 3.10, some maintain that true believers (the true church) will escape such times through the so-called Rapture. As Christ comes “in the clouds” these believers will be taken to be with their LORD for the “marriage supper of the Lamb” and to receive rewards. This is “the first resurrection” (Rev 20.6). This ‘congregation of Israel’ (Adat Israel) returns to earth with Christ to rule over the 12 tribes of Israel in the Millennial age, link:
So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Mat 19.28)
The Destiny of the House of Judah: Tribulation, Service and Blessing
As discussed, the descendants of Judah (the Jews) are today returning to the land promised by God to Abraham and his descendants (Gen 17.8). So what is the destiny of the Jews in Israel? First, prophecy points to an imminent and brief time of trouble just prior to the return of Christ. Although worldwide, its vortex is the nation of Israel since she bore the Christ child (Rev 12.13). It is “the time of Jacob’s trouble”:
Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it (Jer 30.7 NKJV)
Jesus referred to this time as the “great tribulation” (Mat 24.15-28) and it reaches its climax when “the abomination of desolation” is set up by the end-time world dictator in the (new) Jewish temple (Dan 9.27). The reference to “Jacob” implies that persecution comes to all 12 tribes, although it is primarily to the house of Judah (the Jews in Jerusalem). A literal interpretation of Rev 7.1-8 suggests that Israelites from all 12 tribes are ‘sealed’ for their protection around this time.
Prophecy points to two major wars against Israel and many Jews will die at this time. But one third will be refined as if through fire and survive (Zech 13.8-9). The house of David (aka Judah) in Jerusalem and some from the tribe of Levi will mourn as they recognize Yeshua as their expected Messiah (Zech 12.10-14).
The Blessing: The regenerate Jewish remnant will enter the millennial age with Yeshua as He returns to rule the nations as King on David’s throne (Zech 14.6-9). There they will enjoy a time of peace and blessing (Isa 65.19-25). As a chosen people and God’s witness they will be sent to the Gentile nations who do not know Yeshua to declare His glory (Isa 66.19). At last the Jews will be honoured by the Gentile nations as they recognize that God is with them:
In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you” (Zech 8.23)
THE KINGDOM OF ISRAEL RESTORED: A GLORIOUS AGE
Currently there is an important distinction between the Jews (essentially the house of Judah) and the other tribes of Israel (the house of Israel), link. This is seen for example in Ezekiel chapter 37, which differentiates between the children of Israel (essentially Judah) and the house of Israel (headed by Ephraim). The dispensational view of this well-known chapter (‘the Valley of the Dry Bones’) sees it as pertaining to the end-time restoration of national Israel (all 12 tribes). The LORD says to the prophet:
Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel … O My people, I will open your graves … and bring you into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the LORD … I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live (v11-14)
… take a stick for yourself and write on it ‘For Judah and for the children of Israel, his companions (v16). Judah’s companions were Benjamin and some of the priestly Levites (2 Chron 11.12,13-17)
Then take another stick and write on it, ‘For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel, his companions’ (v16). Joseph’s companions were the remaining tribes of Israel (v19)
… and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand (v19). Thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land (v21); and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel’ (v22)
In v21 the term “sons of Israel” (NASB) or “children of Israel” (NKJV) appears, in this context, to be a generic term for all 12 tribes since they once again form one nation after they return.
How will this be done? As discussed, the Jews in Israel suffer terrible persecution just prior to Christ’s return, and this results in a remnant being “refined as silver” and “tested as gold” (Zech 13.8,9). They mourn as they recognize “the One whom they pierced” (Zech 12.10) to be their looked-for Messiah (Heb: Moshiach).
And so, as Christ returns, both northern and southern kingdoms of Israel become united in belief in Christ as Messiah, Saviour and LORD. The number of people involved are not defined, but clearly it is sufficient to demonstrate a merging of Israel’s two kingdoms into one nation. One of Ezekiel’s sticks represents the SCEPTER people and the other the BIRTHRIGHT people. Paul refers to this event by saying “all Israel will be saved” (Rom 11.26). The nation Israel once more becomes God’s witness to the nations during the Millennial reign of Christ. This glorious future age sees the fulfillment of the unconditional Abrahamic, Davidic, Palestinian and New Covenants.
In other words, Israel becomes a great nation, Christ sits on David’s throne, the land of Israel becomes blessed and fruitful, and God writes His Law on the hearts of both Jew and Gentile.
APPENDIX: MIGRATION PATHS OF ISRAEL
The migration of the Lost 10 Tribes of Israel shows the spread of the Birthright throughout what is now Europe, Great Britain and Northern Africa. This major migration took around 1200 years, it started in 721 BCE and covered the Middle East, all of Europe and North Africa.
Starting in 721 BCE the Tribes of Israel moved north east through Assyria to Parthia, where they settled for some 900 years. Around 200 CE the major movements occurred north west across Europe to what it now the northern parts of the Netherlands and Germany. The tribes moved in Europe for the next two to three centuries.
Between 400 and 500 CE the migration moved north into Scandanavia which was the home of the Finns who were part of the Magyar or Hun horde which had invaded Europe 1200 years before. Migration to the west was into Britain with it’s Angles, Saxons and Jutes. To the south east the Lombards (sub tribe of the Anglo Saxons) and Ostrogoths migrated into what is now Italy. At the same time there was also movement to south west through Iberia. The Suevi settled in what is now Portugal and the Visigoths into what is now Spain displacing the Vandals who moved into northern Africa to a revolt there. The Heruli (the most unstable of all the tribes) moved into Dalmatia and what is now Croatia.
The Allemanni Teutons also moved into Switzerland. See the Descendants of Odin for more details about Odin and the Parthian Horde’s movement into Britain. Also see the Scandinavian Great Migration Period.