After Solomon's death, ancient Palestine was split into two
kingdoms. The southern two tribes, Judah and Benjamin, stayed
loyal to Solomon's son Rehoboam. The ten northern tribes set up
their own kingdom, Israel, under king Jeroboam. The northern
kingdom was conquered by Assyria in 722 B.C., and the southern
kingdom was conquered by Babylon in 586 B.C. In 458
B.C. Cyrus, king of Persia, made this proclamation (Ezra
All Jews throughout the kingdom may now return to Jerusalem to
rebuild this Temple of Jehovah, who is the God of Israel and
of Jerusalem. May his blessings rest upon you.
In the book of Ezra, this is followed by Ezra 1:5-6
Then God gave a great desire to the leaders of the tribes of Judah
and Benjamin, and to the priests of Levites, to return to
Jerusalem at once to rebuild the Temple. And all the Jewish
exiles who chose to remain in Persia gave them whatever assistance
they could, as well as gifts for the Temple.
So, the question is, was it only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin
who returned to Palestine, or was it all of the twelve tribes?
When Cyrus referred to "All Jews", did he just mean those of Judah
and Benjamin, or all Israelis? If it was all the twelve tribes,
as most people believe, then all is well and good. But what if it
was only two tribes? Then you have Ten Lost Tribes, and the
problem of where they went.
Of course, the lost tribes could have simply assimilated into
Assyria/Babylon/Persia, but that would hardly be very interesting,
now would it? So some people think that they migrated somewhere
else. The Mormons believe that some of the lost tribes
migrated to the Americas and became the Native Americans.
British Israelism believe that the migrated to north-western
Europe and became the Anglos, Saxons and Celts;
Christian Identity takes this one step further and claims that
modern day Jews aren't really descended from the tribes of Judah
and Benjamin, but are impostors. Some believe that the Japanese
are a lost tribe. Some Rastafarians believe that
they are a lost tribe. The more looney subgroups of British
Israelism and Christian Identity use The Great Pyramid and
Stonehenge as evidence for their theories.
Of course, this ignores the fact that none of the cultures,
religions and languages of the supposed "lost tribes" is in any
way related to those of the ancient Israelites. British Israelism
takes a few stabs at it. For instance, it argues that the word
"British" is derived from the two Hebrew words "b'rith"
(pronounce "Brit"), meaning "covenant", and "ish", meaning man.
Thus "British" means "man of the covenant". However, it would
more closely translate as "covenant of man". There are a few
other words/phrases that are pointed out as being derived from
Hebrew, but linguistics has shown that seeming connections like
this between languages happen by pure random chance; there would
be a lot more evidence laying around if English actually
was derived from Hebrew.
Since there isn't any archeological, linguistic or anthropological
evidence for the lost tribes, believers in this theory use various
quotes from the Bible to demonstrate that there must be lost
tribes out there somewhere, and then drag out obscure
historical facts and linguistic coincidences to show where they