Home > apologetics, Bible Prophecy, Bible Study, Christian Authors, hermeneutics, Israel, John MacArthur, Luke > Responding Again To The Ten Lost Tribes Myth

Responding Again To The Ten Lost Tribes Myth

December 14, 2012

A recent VeritasDomain post, a devotional exhortation to Christians including teachers, emphasizes the importance of studying and being careful to “investigate everything carefully,”  with the example of the gospel of Luke and Luke’s introduction.

 the Christian ought to study things with care and sharpness if we want to emulate Luke. Can you say with a clear conscience, that your studies have reasonably “investigated everything carefully”? This glorifies God when we do this, knowing that He’s a God of truth. … the Christian ought to present the things he studied with equal care and sharpness (like the way he ought to study)”

The same morning I also had brief conversation with a pastor-teacher on a topic that includes one of the interesting details addressed in Luke’s infancy narrative:  Anna of the tribe of Asher.   When this individual (not for the first time) stated in a group (as though it were a fact),  that the people now living in Israel are only from the two tribes of Judah, and God has yet to gather the (lost) ten tribes, I mentioned a few things regarding this error, as something that has been addressed by many including David Baron, John MacArthur and others, and specifically linked John MacArthur’s sermon on that topic in Luke 2.

The teacher in question dismissed the whole topic as a “long-standing debate” he was familiar with but unconvinced of, even saying that John MacArthur was “quite speculative,” and that he doesn’t support Anglo-Israelism (so as to also discredit David Baron’s detailed work)–and then put forth a few scriptural “proofs” for his position, including his statement that the presence of people migrating from the Northern tribes to the south is something different from gathering all 12 tribes and that God has actually promised to regather the specific people scattered in the Assyrian captivity, thus only those people constitute the ten tribes.

(For additional reference see this previous post, a review of David Barron’s classic work.)

To begin with, the basic issues are the same regardless of whether someone supports the particular Anglo-Israelism addressed by David Baron.  As Baron even pointed out, the idea first began among Muslim Arabs by the 1oth century.  As anyone would know who has read it, Baron’s study covered the whole idea, regardless of the particular form.

Now to the specific scriptural “proofs”:

And it’s not true that the Bible mixes and matches the terms Jew and Israel. Jesus “came to His own” — the Jews who rejected Him. In John 11:54 we read that Jesus no longer walked among the Jews.  But when He sent His apostles out, He told them:  “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” (Matt. 10:5-6)

Regarding John 11:54:  Every reasonable individual who reads this passage understands the context, which is plain enough: “the Jews” referred to the leaders of the Jews.  Furthermore, during and after this time Jesus did walk among many non-leaders of that same group of people, who were following Him.  By this reasoning, the Jewish leaders were true Jews of the tribe of Judah and Benjamin, and the non-leaders were from the other ten tribes. What does this have to do with asserting that the Jews are a different tribal group restricted to only Judah and Benjamin?

Then Matthew 10:5-6:  This claim goes way back within the Lost Tribes group, a verse that David Baron addressed (showing that these ideas are not unique to the Anglo-Israel view).

(a) In Matthew x. we have the record of the choice, and of the first commission given to the apostles. “These twelve,” we read, “Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not; but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Of course, the merest child knows that this journey of the twelve did not extend beyond the limits of Palestine, but the “Jews” dwelling in it are regarded as the house of Israel, although many members of that “house” were also scattered in other lands.

Citation of Ezekiel 36:22-28:  Therefore say to the house of Israel  [Northern Tribes, in distinction from the House of Judah]…”

Response:  This assumes a particular meaning of “house of Israel” as only meaning the specific Northern Tribes population that was scattered in the Assyrian captivity.  But what in this text specifically relates to such an identification in the first place?

Further, as brought out by many expositors, we are to understand from actual history that the deportation to Assyria involved the leaders, the wealthy, the nobility – but not every single individual that lived in the north, and indeed not even the majority of the population.  Such was indeed standard practice amongst conquering nations.  Judgment was upon the nation itself, such that the deportation removed the northern tribes’ political power and influence as a nation; it did not remove even the majority of the people, as evidenced by the later statements in 2 Chronicles of the large population still remaining in that geographical area after the Assyrian exile.

But as to the history and identification of Assyria and Babylon, David Baron further notes:

Jerusalem was finally taken in B.C. 588, by Nebuchadnezzar—just 133 years after the capture of Samaria by the Assyrians. Meanwhile the Babylonian Empire succeeded the Assyrian. But although dynasties had changed, and Babylon, which had sometimes, even under the Assyrian régime, been one of the capitals of the Empire, now took the place of Nineveh, the region over which Nebuchadnezzar now bore rule, was the very same over which Shalmaneser and Sargon reigned before him, only somewhat extended.

Now Babylon stands not only for the city, but also for the whole land, in which the territories of the Assyrian Empire, and the colonies of exiles from the northern kingdom of “Israel” were included. Thus, for instance, we find Ezekiel, who was one of the 10,000 exiles carried off by Nebuchadnezzar with Jehoiachin, by the river Chebar in the district of Gozan—one of the very parts where the exiles of the Ten Tribes were settled by the Assyrians more than a century previously. …

This proclamation, which was in reference to all the people “of the Lord God of heaven,” was issued in the year B.C. 536, two years after the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus, and was, we are told, promulgated “throughout all his kingdom,” which was the same as that over which Nebuchadnezzar and his successors reigned before him, only again somewhat extended, even as the kingdom of Babylon was identical with that of Assyria, as already pointed out. Indeed, Cyrus and Darius I are called indifferently by the sacred historians by the title of “King of Persia” (Ezra iv. 5), “King of Babylon” (Ezra v. 13), and “King of Assyria” (Ezra vi. 22).

Another important point brought out in the prophets, though, and missed by the Lost Tribes advocates, is that God’s purpose in the schism—as a punishment on the House of David—ended with the Babylonian captivity.  As Baron points out, specifically addressing Ezekiel’s prophecies in the section including Ezekiel 36:

The point, however, to be noticed in this and other prophecies is the clear announcement which they contained that the purpose of God in the schism—as a punishment on the House of David—was now at an end, and that henceforth there was but one common hope and one destiny for the whole Israel of the Twelve Tribes—whether they previously belonged to the northern kingdom of the Ten Tribes, or to the southern kingdom of the Two Tribes—and that this common hope and destiny was centred in Him Who is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, and the rightful Heir and descendant of David. In like manner Jeremiah, in his great prophecy of the restoration and future blessing (chaps. 30-31), links the destinies of “Judah” and “Israel,” or Israel and Judah together; and speaks of one common experience from that time on for the whole people.

Daniel’s prophecy also shows this, that the purpose of God in the schism was now over, in that Daniel includes “not only the men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem in his intercessory prayer, but ‘all Israel that are near, or far off, from all the countries whither Thou hast driven them.’

  1. December 15, 2012 at 2:54 am

    Thanks for the reference to our blog. This makes me want to read more of David Baron’s work–I need to make the time for it. What little I have read by him has been a blessing–it’s time I finish the entirety of one of his book.

    • December 17, 2012 at 8:29 am

      Thanks, Jim. Agree, what I’ve read of David Baron has been good.

      • December 18, 2012 at 1:38 pm

        Was he dispensational also, or did such a fully orbed term did not apply to him at the time he was living in (pre-Darby?)?

  2. December 18, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    David Baron wrote mostly in the early 20th century, so after Darby but apparently before the popular era of dispensationalism in the mid-20th century. His writings are definitely premillennial with future restoration of Israel to its land. According to Barry Horner, referenced in this PDF — http://www.bunyanministries.org/books/israel_and_millennialism/06_israel_seed_of_abraham.pdf — David Baron was among the non-dispensational classic premillennialists: “… many bandy about the term ‘dispensational’ without carefully distinguishing is from classic premillennialism.We could further quote from David Baron, Adolph Saphir, Joseph Seiss, Charles Simeon, Nathaniel West, etc., none of whom were dispensational, and yet they believed the aforementioned premillennial scenario.”

  3. June 30, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    There is at least one problem with the entire article and that is that the Apostles and Jews of Y’shua’s Day believed in the Doctrine of the Ten Lost Tribes and passed it on to the Church who accepted it as the “Faith once and for all delivered to the Saints” but when the Premillennial Faith was abandoned by the Church (thanks to Origin and Augustine) so too, was the Doctrine of the Ten Lost Tribes. When the Premillennial Faith was revived in the 1800’s they forgot to revive this Apostolic Doctrine which Jews to this day still embrace. It is not to be confused with British Israelism (which has managed to incorporate a certain amount of erroneous teaching into the original doctrine) and it certainly did not start with the Arabs in the Middle Ages.

    • July 1, 2014 at 7:56 am

      I do not know about the beliefs of Jews in the years since the 1st century, but the scriptures, and the apostles, are clear enough about what they believed, both during the post-exilic period and afterwards, as David Baron and others have well pointed out, in reference to numerous scriptures both Old and New Testament. As the apostle Paul clearly stated, he was in chains for the hope of Israel, “to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship night and day.” (Acts 26:7) The very fact that he mentions the twelve tribes, and that they worship night and day, indicates that all of them still were around and knew they were Jews and were worshiping the God of the Old Testament. Further, Luke was a close associate of Paul, and Luke even tells us of a woman from the tribe of Asher, still there at the time of Christ’s birth hundreds of years after the ten tribes were supposedly lost. Clear enough evidence regarding the truth.

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