The Found Tribes of Israel

by Edwin L. Crozier,
via Gospel Power, Vol. 15, No. 4, Jan. 27, 2008.

One of the most common mistakes made about Biblical history is the supposedly lost tribes of Israel. We know God divided the descendants of Jacob into 13 diffferent tribes: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin, Ephraim and Manasseh. The
last two were the double portion granted to Joseph through his two sons.

Rehoboam's folly caused the kingdom to be divided. Only Benjamin and Levi stayed with Judah; the rest formed the northern kingdom of Israel. Years later, because of idolatry and sin, Israel was taken captive by the Assyrians. At that time, Judah was delivered because Hezekiah turned to God.

While Israel was in Assyrian captivity, Babylon became the ruling power. Babylon conquered Assyria and eventually conquered Judah taking her captive and dispersing most of the Judeans among the Babylonian lands.

About 70 years after the Babylonian captivity began, Cyrus, king of the Medo-Persians conquered Babylon and allowed the Jews to return home. But which Jews? Did this only apply to the Judeans? That is how most people view it. The 10 tribes taken captive by the Assyrians are simply viewed as lost.

However, those tribes are found in Luke 2:36. Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, did not depart from the temple. She praised God when Jesus was brought there for purification and went about telling everyone of the redemption of Jerusalem. Did you notice her tribe? She was not of Benjamin, Judah or Levi. She was of the tribe of Asher, one of the supposedly lost tribes.

Don't misunderstand. I have no doubt over the years of Assyrian captivity, many of the Israelites blended in with their captive nation and lost their identity as Israelites. But clearly the tribes were not lost. They were restored as God promised.

The fact is, the prophets are filled with passages that Israel would also be restored along with Judah. That is, when Cyrus released the Jews, he released them all whether their captivity originated with Babylon or Assyria. Consider just a few prophecies.

Isaiah 11:12 promised God would assemble banished Israel and gather the dispersed of Judah. Jer. 3:18 promised Judah and Israel would be joined and walk again in the land of their heritage. In Ezekiel 37:15-23, God used the picture of a broken stick brought back together to discuss the restoration of the kingdom. Part of it represented Judah, the other part Israel. There are many other passages in addition to these.

The fact is there were not lost tribes of Israel. God restored all of His people. God keeps His promises and in Luke 2:36 we see that truth.