Finding the Lost Tribes
Vol: 156 Issue: 30 Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Most people have heard of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. For those that have not, the phrase refers to the ancient Northern Kingdom of Israel which was defeated and overrun by Sargon II of Assyria in the eight century BC.
After the death of Solomon in the 10th century BC, the ten northern tribes rejected Solomon’s successor, Rehoboam, preferring instead Jeroboan, who was not of the Davidic line.
The Ten Lost Tribes are believed to be the tribes of Reuben, Simeon, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Ephraim, and Manasseh. The Tribe of Ephraim and all Israel raised the old cry, “Every man to his tents, O Israel”.
Rehoboam fled to Jerusalem, and around 930 BC, Jeroboam was proclaimed king over all Israel at Shechem. After the revolt at Shechem at first only the tribe of Judah remained loyal to the house of David. But very soon after the tribe of Benjamin joined Judah.
Shechem was the first capital of the Kingdom of Israel. Shechem is today located in the West Bank, in what was formerly Biblical Samaria.
The northern kingdom continued to be called the Kingdom of Israel or Israel, while the southern kingdom was called the Kingdom of Judah. 2 Chronicles 15:9 also says that some members of the tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon fled to Judah during the reign of Asa of Judah.
During the three-year siege of Samaria by the Assyrians, Shalmaneser V died and was succeeded by Sargon II of Assyria, who personally recorded the capture of that city: “Samaria I looked at, I captured; 27,280 men who dwelt in it I carried away” into Assyria.
Thus, around 720 BC, after two centuries, the kingdom of the ten tribes came to an end. The Bible relates that the population of Israel was exiled, becoming known as The Ten Lost Tribes.
That left only the Tribe of Judah, the Tribe of Simeon (that was “absorbed” into Judah), the Tribe of Benjamin and the people of the Tribe of Levi who lived among them of the original Israelites nation in the southern Kingdom of Judah.
The Kingdom of Judah continued to exist as an independent state until it was conquered in 586 BC by Nebuchanezzar of Babylon. The Kingdom of Judah (also known as Judea) lost its independence under the Babylonians and subsequently became a province of a succession of empires.
It was transferred as a possession of empires; from Babylon to Persia to Greece to Rome. In AD 70 the Romans destroyed what was left of Judea, Jerusalem and the Temple and exiled the Jews from their homeland, which the Romans renamed “Palestina” after the Phillistines.
They settled in Asia Minor until they were driven out by the Byzantine Christians, and later, by the Seljuk and Ottoman Turks, who ruled from 1077 to 1922.
Palestine had no independent status during the Ottoman Empire. As European powers expanded their foothold in the region and as Zionism brought Jewish immigrants to their ancestral homeland, no one could define Palestine’s contours.
A picture emerged only in the early 1920s under the British Mandate, which extended from the Jordan River to the sea, from the upper Galilee to the Gulf of Aqaba.
The 1948 war created a de facto partition, but no Palestinian state. Jordan took the West Bank, and Egypt grabbed the Gaza Strip, filled with refugees from Israeli areas that now included 78 percent of the British Mandate territory.
When Israel captured the Egyptian Gaza and Jordanian West Bank in 1967, the ‘Palestinian people’ were created out of the displaced Arabs.
When Sargon destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel, he did what conquerors did in those days; he transplanted the population of Israel to elsewhere in the Assyrian Empire, and then relocated elements of other subjugated people in their place.
From the time that Sargon II captured Samaria and the Northern Kingdom of Israel until May 14, 1948, there was nowhere on earth known as “Israel” and no such nationality as “Israelite.” Citizens of the Southern Kingdom of Judah became known as “Jews”.
Still, the Prophet Ezekiel’s writings are filled with references to a future place called ‘Israel’, one that he describes as “the people that are gathered out of the nations” (38:12) and then further describes as “my people of Israel” (38:18)
Ezekiel wrote of Israel’s regathering in the last days. In Ezekiel 37, the prophet is shown a valley of dry bones. Those dry bones, the Lord explains, are the “whole house of Israel”(37:11) that the Lord says would be restored in the last days.
Six hundred years BEFORE the remaining Jews of Israel were scattered by the Romans, the Lord told Ezekiel of their regathering in the last days.
“Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land; And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all.” (Ezekiel 37:21-22)
The fulfillment of this amazing prophecy could not be more obvious. The Jews of the Diaspora have indeed ‘come from among the heathen’ from ‘every side’ and returned to the Promised Land. Including those that were once believed lost to history.
Precisely as predicted in Scripture for the last days.
When I was in Arizona a couple of years back, Jonathan Bernis had just returned from Zimbabwe. Jonathan told me that he had been home for only four days this year. JVM has dedicated itself to ministering to the Lost Tribes of Israel, both body and soul.
Here is how Jonathan Gannon, JVM’s Director of Outreach, described the trip.
On Tuesday the adventure went to the next level. We boarded a seven-passenger Cessna twin propeller airplane and flew deep into a remote bush area of Zimbabwe. Once we arrived, we checked into a small lodge and headed even deeper into the remote southern regions of Zimbabwe. We drove for nearly three hours over unpaved roads. My body is still bruised from the bumpiness of the drive.
We drove directly to the home of Chief Mbosi, the regional leader of the Lemba community. Honorable Member of Parliament Hamandesche, also a member of the Lemba tribe, accompanied us. We quickly affirmed that these remarkable people were Jewish. Their customs and practices bore all the markings of authentic and ancient Judaism. In fact, the “head men,” or elders of the community, are called Tzadikim, a Hebrew word for “righteous ones.”
Like something out of a movie, Jonathan Bernis formally greeted the chief and presented our team and objectives for coming. It was instantly evident that they were thrilled to see us. We got excited that we would be able to offer them a clear presentation of the Gospel. Some members of the Lemba are Believers, but most are not. The Lord has yet again led Jewish Voice directly into a harvest field of Jewish souls ripe for the Good News of Yeshua!
While I was visiting their Phoenix headquarters, I witnessed what the Apostle James (2:17) was talking about when he wrote, “faith without works is dead.”
I watched as they packed up some five truckloads of medicines and other medical supplies and shipped them to Zimbabwe for the next step in JVM’s ministry to the Lembas.
The mission of JVM is to save souls, and to lead God’s Chosen People into a saving knowledge of Christ, which is itself a formidable undertaking.
But here is what the Apostle James meant by “dead” faith.
“If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” (James 2:15-17)
Jonathan told me that the nearest dentist to the Lembas is more than 200 miles away. There are no hospitals or clinics for the Lembas. So Jewish Voice Ministries is shipping a hospital clinic, complete with doctors, dentists, medicine and medical equipment, from Phoenix, Arizona to the outback of Zimbabwe.
It is just one of JVM’s medical outreaches aimed at presenting the Love of Christ to lost Jewish communities of the African interior. It is one thing to say “Jesus loves you. Be saved!” But it is another thing altogether to say, “Jesus loves you. Be fed, clothed, healed and saved.”
How far would you go to spread the Gospel? How much time would you spend away from your home and family? How many people have you been involved in leading to Christ?
Consider the following statistics. In just the past year, JVM has led medical teams and outreach workers to minister to the lost Jews of Ethiopia and India. JVM provided medical treatment to 7200 people in Woliso, Ethiopia in February, 2011. They also led 832 people to Christ!
In May, in Addis Ababa, JVM treated 9,043 bodies, and while they were at it, they saved 1,463 souls. In October in Gondar, they treated 7,224 bodies and added 1,696 souls to the Kingdom. In Manipur, India, they treated 6430 bodies and 316 souls.
Thanks to the efforts of Jewish Voice Ministries, some three thousand, four hundred and seventy-five backwoods African tribesman will never stand in judgement before the Great White Throne, but instead will be rewarded at the Bema Seat of Christ.
“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me.” (Matthew 25:40)
Featured Commentary: The Late Great Holy Scriptures ~ Wendy Wippel