Friday, November 28, 2014


(Please scroll down to read parts 1-6)


Traditions and claims regarding the ten lost tribes of Israel abound, but the question that concerns us here is whether the promises of God really do depend upon the actual and present-day existence of the Ten Tribes.

The Covenant with Abraham

The search for our answer begins with some words that God spoke to the patriarch, Abraham (then called “Abram”), who was the grandfather of Jacob – the father of the twelve sons.  It was from these twelve sons of Jacob that the twelve original tribes of Israel began. 

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you;

And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing;

And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:1-3 NAS). 

With these words, God enters into a covenant with Abraham, one which God later confirms in the Ceremony of the Smoking Oven and the Flaming Torch (Genesis 15:12-21).  The ceremony that normally accompanied this covenant involved the two parties who where entering into the agreement passing together through a path formed by the divided halves of certain animals that had been sacrificed for this purpose. These animals were meant to signify the binding responsibility that each party of the covenant was setting upon himself, thus the sealing the agreement. Both parties were bound to adhere to the conditions of the covenant.

However, when God entered into this covenant with Abraham, God did not require Abraham to pass through on the path, but instead there appeared a “smoking oven and a flaming torch” which passed alone between the pieces.  This was God’s manner of demonstrating that this covenant was an unconditional promise, meaning God bound Himself to its fulfillment, regardless of any compliance on the part of Abraham.

The vow of God was basically three-fold.  God promised Abraham a land to which Abraham was to go. We generally consider the Palestine region of that day to be this land of promise, but in the reading of the passage concerning this covenant, we see that God told Abraham that this land would be  the entire world known to Abraham at that time. I will refer to this in the next post.

God also assured that Abraham would become a great nation. In fact, God told Abraham to look into the night sky to see if he could count the stars, which of course, are beyond count. “So shall your descendants be,” God told him (Genesis 15:5).

Lastly, God promised that Abraham would be blessed. This blessing was also to have an extended meaning, which we shall see in the subsequent post.

It was the presence of the descendants of Abraham later living in the land that gave the initial evidence of the fulfillment of the blessing. This was especially true in the days of King David, as David ruled over the land of promise and the Israelite people experienced the blessing of God.

Abraham himself, however, never saw this literal, earthly fulfillment. In fact, he was told by God that his descendants would first be “enslaved and oppressed four hundred years” in a foreign land before they would return to live in the Promised Land (Genesis 15:13-16).  However, despite the fact that Abraham never saw the physical fulfillment of the promise, the covenant is later reaffirmed to him (Genesis 17:4-21, 22:15-18); to Isaac (Genesis 26:3-5,24); and to Jacob (Genesis 28:13-15; 35:9-12). 

The Covenant with David

Skipping ahead now to the time after the four hundred year oppression in the land of Egypt, to the days when King David sat on the throne in Jerusalem, we see that God again reaffirms this covenant with this king of the nation of Israel.  David says, “…For He has made an everlasting covenant with me” (2 Samuel 23:5).  The content of this covenant is found in 2 Samuel 7:8-16, relayed to David by Nathan the prophet: 

Now then, tell my servant David, “This is what the LORD Almighty says: I took you from the pasture and from following the flock to be ruler over my people Israel.  I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men of the earth.  And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed…” 

“The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house for you: When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom…I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod of men, with floggings inflicted by men.  But my love will never be taken away from him…Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever” (NIV). 

The principle points of this covenant are as they were to Abraham. They consist first of God telling David that He will make David great and establish his family as a dynasty.  (“Now I will make your name great…Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.”).

There was also to be a land for the kingdom (“And I will provide a place for my people Israel.”)  God’s words to David also spoke of blessing and of a father and son relationship that demonstrated God’s familial love for His people.

David, along with his son Solomon saw beginnings of the fulfillment of this covenant from God, but as we have already seen in a previous post (the very first post of this series), this united kingdom did not last.  The Davidic Kingdom, under David’s grandson Rehoboam, underwent civil strife and the ten northern tribes broke away from the dynastic line.  They later were invaded by the Assyrians and deported, never to be heard from again.

But we must remember that God’s covenant through Abraham was unconditional. This covenant extended to the descendants of Abraham, whom God called in this covenant with David, “My people Israel”. Even though the Israelites had broken faith in the covenant that God made with David, God reaffirmed His own faithfulness not only to the throne of David, but also to the people of God. 

The New Covenant 

The Scriptural passages we read earlier (post #2) from the book of Jeremiah are some of these affirmations that God made with His people.  In this passage of Jeremiah’s message, God speaks of a New Covenant, which He means to make with His people. The prophet Jeremiah lived at the time when it seemed as if the reign of the Davidic kingly line was at an end. The nation of Judah had largely abandoned the ways of the Lord and the nation was overtaken by the Neo-Babylonian empire.

It must have seemed to Jeremiah that God was abandoning his people, but that was far from the truth. God again confirms His promise to Jeremiah:

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.” 

The conditionality of this covenant did not change, for God still bound Himself to it with an oath.  This covenant was called “new” however, because through it, God means to make a change within the hearts of His people. Despite the current conditions that Jeremiah saw concerning the people of God, in speaking of this new covenant, God does not diminish His intentions. Rather, He enlarges them! The Lord spoke in terms that must have been difficult for Jeremiah to grasp. 

“Not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them…But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days… “I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Jeremiah 31:31-33 NAS). 

Another part of this covenant which is of utmost importance and which was not addressed in the earlier covenants was the manner in which God means to make a lasting change in His people. 

“For I will forgive their iniquity,” God told them “and their sin I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:34 NAS). 

There is no overstating the importance of this declaration by God.  The earlier covenants, if we remember, spoke of blessings and of lands and descendants, but they did not speak of forgiveness.  In the covenant with David, God said that when his son did wrong God would “punish him with the rod of men” but that God would not remove His love from him.  (2 Samuel 7:14-15).

However, it is in the New Covenant that we find for the first time in any of these covenants that God actually states that His intention is to forgive.  “Their sin I will remember no more,” He says.

Forgiveness is more of a New Testament concept.  It is not that forgiveness was unknown in the Old Testament, but we see it almost exclusively in the Old Testament in the form of the people crying out to God for forgiveness (the present passage in Jeremiah and the well known verse of 2 Chronicles 7:14 excluded).

It is also true that King David did receive forgiveness for his sin with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uriah (2 Samuel 12:13).  It was probably because of this that he could write so eloquently “Bless the Lord, O my soul…Who pardons all of your iniquities.  As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:1,3,12 NAS).

However, the Old Testament sacrifices did not bring forgiveness. They were instead instituted and intended to provide a covering for sin.  True forgiveness could not come until the ultimate sacrifice in the Person of Jesus Christ was accomplished.  In this New Covenant, of which God is speaking to Jeremiah, He is looking ahead to the time “after those days” when true forgiveness would be possible.
(Next time we shall see who are the recipients of these promises)

Monday, November 24, 2014


(Please scroll down to read parts 1-5)


Discovery Claims in Europe and the New World

The arrival to the Americas by the Europeans during the 16th century brought a whole new wave of claims of discovery of lost tribes.
        In the eyes of most of the Spanish and Portuguese conquistadors in Central and South America, the natives already living in these places were either to be conquered and made subject to the rule of the conquistadors, or simply to be exterminated.  However, there were a few of the newly arrived Europeans who had a heart for the indigenous people and came to their defense.

 Lost Tribes in Central America

One of these was a missionary named Bartholeme de Las Casas, who worked among the natives of the Caribbean as well as those from the jungles of Peru, and especially among the Mayans of Mexico and Guatemala.  De Las Casas worked tirelessly on behalf of the indigenous peoples to try to convert them to Christianity, for, he said, “Their conversion is apt indeed, as I am convinced the Indians (Mayans) originate in Ancient Israel.  Indeed, I can bring proofs from the Bible that they are of the Lost Tribes” (I do not know if de Las Casas indeed did bring these proofs, as he called them, for I have not been able to find them documented.)

 Lost Tribes in Peru

In the middle of the 17th century, a Dutch Jewish scholar named Rabbi Menasseh ben Israel published a treatise in a book he called The Hope of Israel on the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, whom he said lived in the Americas.  Menasseh ben Israel was inspired to pursue this subject after hearing reports from the Portuguese traveler Antonio Montezinos who had been imprisoned by the Inquisition in Cartagena, Colombia.  Montezinos escaped from prison, and as he fled his imprisonment, he found his way to the Peruvian jungles where he claimed to have come in contact with the descendants of the Ten Tribes.

Christian Theologians at that time believed that when the Ten Tribes would be found, it meant that the tribes would be soon reunited and restored to the Promised Land and that the Second Coming of Christ would soon come.

In the year 1655, Rabbi Menasseh ben Israel referred to the report of Montezinos and others to appeal to this belief and to convince Oliver Cromwell of England that Cromwell could hasten the return of Christ by allowing the Jews to return to England, where they had not been allowed to live since the year 1290. In presenting his case to Cromwell, Menasseh ben Israel made an association between the Hebrew word for “the end of the Earth” and the medieval term for England, “Angle Terre,” which he then linked to Biblical texts concerning the scattering and salvation of the Ten Tribes ( as found, for example in Deuteronomy 28:64 and Isaiah 49:6).  This he did to try to demonstrate to Cromwell the importance of England in the plan of God.

Lost Tribes in Polynesia

Even to the present day, the teaching is common among the Mormon churches of the Pacific Islands that the original the Polynesian people are direct, blood descendants of Israel. Actually, they believe that all of the Americas were first inhabited by a tribe of Israel that they call the Laminites, but that these Laminites degenerated in their worship (I am not completely certain what the official present-day Mormon teaching of this is).

However, in 1911, a letter from the First Presidency of the Mormon Church, written to the Maoris of New Zealand, speaks specifically of the Polynesians and especially of the Maoris. Here we learn that the Mormon Church believed that the Polynesians were so blessed by God because, “The Lord … directed their course away from this continent [America] to their island homes [Polynesia], that they might not be left to be preyed upon and destroyed by the more wicked part of the House of Israel whose descendants still roam upon this continent in a fallen and degraded state.”

It was, and perhaps is still taught in many Mormon churches of the Pacific, that the original Polynesian people left the Americas to preserve the purity of their place with God. Again, I do not know for certainty that this is still the official teaching of the church, however, I do know that the belief is not unusual among many Pacific Islanders that they are direct literal and blood descendants of the lost tribes of Israel.

Lost Tribes in Europe and Judah in England

Entire books have been written tracing the resettlements of the Ten Tribes using local names as “evidence” and even “proof” that some of the tribes settled in certain areas.  Some of this evidence includes names such as the city of Danzig in Poland, and the Danube River given as a confirmation that these areas were settled by the Israelite tribe of Dan.

Then there are the claims of the British-Israeli movement, which teaches that the Royal line of England is actually the Davidic blood line, brought to England via Ireland. According to this teaching, the royal line was brought to England through the daughter of King Zedekiah, who was brought to Ireland by the prophet Jeremiah.

Along with the princess, Jeremiah also is said to have brought a three-hundred pound stone. For centuries, many of the monarchs of Ireland, Scotland, and England have received their crown as they sat in the coronation chair built above this this stone.  According to legend, this is the very stone which Jacob used as a pillow on the night that he dreamed the dream of angels ascending and descending the stairway at Bethel.

Although the story of how the stone came to be found in the British Isles is a very long one and has various versions, This Coronation Stone (also known as The Stone of Destiny, The Stone Lia Fail, or the Stone of Scone) had been placed in a special chair that had sat for many years in the Westminster Abbey.  The stone now has recently (1996) been moved to Edinburgh Castle in Scotland.

Lost Tribes in Japan and Ethiopia

Among other traditions is that a great many people strongly believe that the people of Japan are actually descendants of some of the Ten Lost Tribes and give some good reasons for their conclusions. Among these reasons are hundreds of words and names of places in Japan with no etymological relationship to the Japanese language, but which have similar meanings of the corresponding Hebrew words.

And, of course, there is the famous case of the Ethiopian Jews, the Falashas, or the Lemba, a southern African tribe who claim to be descended from the Jewish race and carry a very strong incidence of the same Y chromosome as the Jews of Israel.  These would not be related to the Ten Tribes, but to the southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin.

Claims of links to the Ten Tribes range from Africa to Kashmir in India to China to the Americas and to all points in between. There are hundreds of claims, but the great majority of them that I have read seem simply too incredible for me to consider as being possibilities. But of course, the possibility does remain that some of these claims may have elements of actual fact.  It is just that there is no way that we can verify it. However, what we can see is the zeal with which some people have searched for the lost tribes.
I have spent much more time on this than I should have, but I did it for a couple of reasons.  First, it is quite an interesting study, but a subject for which I doubt if I should ever devote an extended writing.  So, for interest’s sake, I had to include in these posts at least some of what I found.
        However, the second reason that I brought up some of these points is to demonstrate how a pre-conceived and rigid interpretation of a Biblical doctrine that is not completely revealed to us (such as eschatology), can lead not only to poor hermeneutics, but a poor interpretation of history.

Next time, three covenants that God made with men, which in light of this subject, I think are important to understand

Thursday, November 20, 2014


(Please scroll down read parts 1-4)

Discovery Claims in the East

If we may speak historically about the two views regarding what happened to the descendants of Israel, I think we must conclude that the belief that it must be the actual physical descendants of the Ten Tribes that are to return to the Promised Land that has resulted in the most speculative and unusual claims. This was especially true during the Medieval period, when there was a widely held belief among Christians that when the Ten Tribes were found, the return of the Lord Jesus to the earth would come.

Although the search for these lost tribes had become a Christian teaching by that time, the belief that the Lost Tribes should return to Palestine seems to be at first strictly a Jewish phenomenon.  For instance, the New Testament Apostles and Christian writers make no mention of the need for the return of the literal tribes of Israel in all of their teachings.

Indeed, it was at first Jewish explorers and religious leaders who began the search for the Lost Tribes.  Legends and myths abound of these adventures and make for very fascinating, if not somewhat incredulous tales.

The early Jews believed that the Ten Tribes desired to return from their exile, but the Lord prevented them from doing so by placing them on the other side of a great and legendary river called the Sambatyon.  This river churned with such fury that it was uncrossable, seething with rapids so powerful that the river would throw up huge rocks into the air so that anyone standing nearby would be in great danger of being crushed.  Besides that, there were mighty whirlpools that would swallow anything flowing down the river.

Only on one day out of the week was the river relatively placid and when a traveler could possibly cross.  Alas, that day was always the Sabbath, when the Ten Tribes, in their reverence for the day of rest, were forbidden to travel.

The early Jews then, began their search for their lost brothers, these Ten Tribes who were exiled beyond the Sambatyon.  There are, for instance, the stories of one Benjamin, who came from a town in Spain called Tudela.  Early in the twelfth century, Benjamin of Tudela set out on a several year journey with one of his purposes being a search for the lost tribes.  He tells of finding Jewish tribesmen in Persia and even the names of the tribes of Israel from which they came.  There were more descendants of the Ten Tribes that he claimed to have found in the Arabian Peninsula.

This search for the Ten Tribes continued by others and then spread until the Christian church also became involved.  This is not surprising, since there is a good deal of prophecy in the Bible that speaks of a reunited kingdom.  These Christians reasoned that if the tribes are to be reunited, then the ten lost tribes must be found.

Then there is also the fact that we all enjoy solving a mystery, and what happened to the Ten Tribes of Israel is one of history’s greatest mysteries.  However, in solving a mystery of history, there is no substitute for primary documents that verify the migrations and movements of a people, such as we have in Ezra, chapter two, concerning the return of the southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin.  Lacking those documents, we are left to speculate.  Unfortunately, in the case of the Ten Lost Tribes, we have only speculation.

To the Jews, the return of the Ten Tribes to Palestine was closely linked to the appearance of the Messiah.  In the Christian community, it has sometimes also been linked to the return of the Christ.

When an importance that great is placed upon the matter, the temptation to exaggerate or fabricate claims of discovery is considerable.  This is not to say that all alleged links of peoples both in the past and in the present to the tribes of Israel are entirely without merit, but one must simply be careful and be very thoughtful in drawing up any conclusions.
Next time we will look at a couple claims of discovery of lost tribes in Europe and the New World

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


(Please scroll down for parts 1-3)
What have we been shown in the Scriptures about the return of the Ten Tribes?  As important as this question appears to be for the fulfillment of God’s promises, what we have been shown is not very much.

The seemingly great importance of this matter, coupled with the very little factual information that we have, is the reason why the subject has given rise to such wild speculation. There have been basically two approaches to answering the question of the Ten Lost Tribes. Each seems to answer some of the difficulties, but each also creates further difficulties.

The first approach is to view the Ten Tribes as the literal and physical descendants of the tribes of Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Zebulun, Issachar, Dan, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, and Joseph. Besides the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, who made of the nation of Judah, these ten are the remaining sons of Jacob that would have consisted of the nation of Israel.

Most of these tribes were allotted a section of land in the Palestine. The single exception was the tribe of Levi. These families were not given a separate unified allotment of land because they were the priestly tribe. Instead of a single entire region, the families that made up this tribe of people were given forty-eight cities with their pasturelands, scattered in among the territories of the rest of the tribes (Numbers 35:1-8).

The descendants of Joseph however, were allotted two entire areas, one for each of the families of Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, born to him in Egypt. In fact, the nation of Israel is often referred to in the Bible simply as “Ephraim.” The listing of the tribes in various parts of the Old Testament actually varies a bit, at times listing both of the names of Ephraim  and Manasseh, and then not including Levi.

For example, in the book of Numbers, chapter 1, the twelve tribes numbered include both of the two sons of Joseph, but the tribe of Levi is not. This was done by the order of the Lord for various reasons; the main one being that the Levites were to take care of the Tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant and all of the furnishings.

Despite these minor difficulties concerning the tribes, at first blush the literal approach seems the best.  When promises are given in the Old Testament concerning the ten tribes, the literal approach to this question would say that these promises will be fulfilled in the ethnic descendants of these tribes. Those that hold to this interpretation often congratulate themselves on their sound Biblical hermeneutics, accusing others who see it a bit differently of “spiritualizing” or “allegorizing” the texts that give the promises to the twelve tribes.

However, neither is the literal approach without problems and to maintain all of its teachings, this interpretation must also engage in some “spiritualizing” of its own of some other of the Biblical writings.  We will see some of these in a subsequent post.

The second approach is to look at the promises of God given to the nations of Israel and Judah as being fulfilled not necessarily by the genetic and physical heirs of the Jewish people, but by the spiritual descendants of Israel.  These are those of whom the Apostle Paul refers to as the “Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16).

This “Israel of God,” according to those who hold this interpretation, is the spiritual alternative for the bloodline of the Jewish race, although the Israel of God includes both Jews and non-Jews who have been redeemed by Jesus Christ.  It is not the physical hereditary factors that become important here, but new birth into the family of God by faith.

For instance, the Apostle Paul writes of this subject, “For they are not all Israel who are descend from Israel, nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants…it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise that are regarded as descendants” (Romans 9:6b-8) NAS).

There is also this:

For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourself with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise (Galatians 3:27-29 NAS).
This then, is a very brief and unsophisticated summary of these two approaches. We shall examine each of the two in a little greater detail future posts.  However, I am aware that even our further inspection of these interpretations will by no means be exhaustive.  Many thousands of pages have been already written giving the pros and the cons of each of these and I should not hope to enter into that level in this series of short posts.
        My only goal here is to give a brief summary of the difficulty in understanding this question and some material for further thought.
In the next couple of posts, we will look at some of the claims made concerning some discoveries of lost Israelite tribes in various parts of the world. First, some claims of discovery in the East, then in the New world. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014


(Please scroll down to read parts 1 and 2)


The principle difficulty concerning the return of Israel to the Promised Land is this:  The Ten Tribes were deported into the ancient land of Assyria over 2700 years ago.  I am quite certain that for a few, and perhaps for several generations, the individual Israelites could have named from what tribe (or tribes) they originated.

However, no genealogical records of the tribes after that time have ever been discovered, and quite honestly, we do not even know what happened to the people.  It can be assumed that the Israelites were either assimilated into the local population, or, when they had the opportunity, made an exodus as an individual tribe or group of tribes to another land in which to live.

It is this latter point, which has given rise to all manner of fantastic conjecture and claims of the “discovery” of some lost tribe of Israel in some distant corner of the globe.  We shall mention some of these in a later post in this series.

But the former point of the Israelites being assimilated into the local population is no less difficult.  God had placed very strong sanctions in the Old Testament against His chosen people intermarrying with the pagan nations (Deuteronomy 7:3-4 among other scriptures.)
        If the Israelites lost their ethnic and blood line by assimilation into ungodly societies, in so doing, they would have demonstrated their unfaithfulness and their disobedience to the LORD God. This would have brought serious consequences from God.
Judah has dealt treacherously, and an abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the LORD which He loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god.  As for the man who does this, may the LORD cut off from the tents of Jacob everyone who awakes and answers, or who presents an offering to the LORD of hosts (Malachi 2:11-12 NAS).
There seems to be no simple solution that would explain how God will deal with this difficulty of reestablishing the Ten Tribes, which, no doubt, is a difficulty for us but not for Him.  The simplistic answer for us is perhaps the best, which is to say that God has preserved His remnant.  Even though we cannot see it, God has His people and His plan perfectly intact.

       In this regard we are somewhat like Elijah when he did not see all that God was doing and did not know about the remnant of faithful ones that the Lord had preserved. Elijah believed he was the only one left who had not forsaken God. He told the Lord, “I alone am left, and they seek my life to take it away.”
       But God corrected Elijah. He told the prophet,   “I will leave 7,000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him.”
(1 Kings 19:18 NAS).
However, the question concerning the return of the Ten Tribes is not unimportant to us, because also like Elijah, we have allowed the fact that we do not see what God is doing to affect our perspective of what is real.  This lack of understanding can give us a false impression both of the actual situation and in our perception of what God is doing. It will also affect our views on eschatology.

Of course, we cannot expect to reach any definitive conclusion in this short series of posts that will be satisfactory to all. Nevertheless, it is good to consider what we have been shown in Scripture without allowing ourselves to be carried away by mere speculation, as persuasive as some of these speculative theories may be.
In the next post I will talk about the distinction made in the New Testament between the literal Israel, and the spiritual Israel.


Thursday, November 13, 2014


(Please scroll down to read part 1)


The prophecies concerning the restoration of the ten lost tribes are numerous, but perhaps none express it more clearly than does the prophet Jeremiah.
I am quoting quite a few scriptures below, but don’t omit any of them in your reading. They show both God’s commitment and his love for his people:

“For, behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will restore the fortunes of My people Israel and Judah...I will also bring them back to the land that I gave to their forefathers, and they shall possess it” (Jeremiah 30:3 NAS).

“The land,” to which Jeremiah was referring, is the land of Canaan (Palestine) and he is speaking of the fulfillment of a promise that God first had made to their ancestor Abraham when Abraham journeyed out of the region of Haran (Genesis 12:1-3).
    Through the generations, God had reaffirmed this promise concerning the return of the ten tribes, and this place of return even became known as the “Promised Land.”  It has been the traditional homeland of the Jews. The entire Jewish Kingdom, as it was under the reign of David, included both the Northern and Southern Tribes.

In a beautiful and poetic discourse, Jeremiah continues with his prophecy, portions of which read as follows:

“Fear not, O Jacob My servant,” declares the LORD,
“And do not be dismayed, O Israel; for behold, I will save you from afar,
And your offspring from the land of their captivity.
And Jacob shall return, and shall be quiet and at ease, and no one shall make him afraid...”

Thus says the LORD, “Behold, I will restore the fortunes of the tents of Jacob
And have compassion on his dwelling places;
And the city shall be rebuilt on its ruin,
And the palace shall stand on its rightful place...”

“And you shall be My people, and I will be your God.”

“At that time,” declares the LORD, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel,

"And they shall be My people...
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness." 

"Again I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt, O virgin of Israel!
Again you shall take up your tambourines, and go forth to the dances of the merrymakers.
Again you shall plant vineyards On the hills of Samaria;
The planters shall plant and shall enjoy them.

“For there shall be a day when watchmen on the hills of Ephraim shall call out,
‘Arise, and let us go up to Zion, to the LORD our God.’
For thus says the LORD, “Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob,
And shout among the chiefs of the nations;
Proclaim, give praise, and say, ‘O LORD, save Thy people, the remnant of Israel.

 “Behold, I am bringing them from the north country,
And I will gather them from the remote parts of the earth,
Among them the blind and the lame,
The woman with child and she who is in labor with child,
Together; a great company, they shall return here.  (Jeremiah 30:10,18,22; 31:1,3-8 NAS).
This is a promise of a restoration of Israel and Judah in which God says that He will accomplish His intention of gathering of His people back to the land of promise.  Of Israel (the Ten Tribes) God specifically says, “Behold, I am bringing them from the north country.”

There are many other references in the Bible of this same promise, another of which is the prophet Ezekiel. 

And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries and bring them to their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the streams, and in all the inhabited places of the land (Ezekiel 34:13 NAS).
               It is no wonder then, among those of us who hold the Word of God to be true, that there should be a great interest in these tribes that have been lost to history.  Scripture seems to require their reemergence to prominence.
     However, as important as this matter may seem to be, in the end of the matter, just how God will finally accomplish this restoration is not really our main concern.  If we hold the Bible to be true, we have faith that God will restore His people in His manner and in His time.

Nevertheless, that does not prevent our inquiring minds to wonder how this obstacle of restoring some tribes that have been lost for millennia will be overcome, for the difficulties in doing so are great.
(In the next post we will look at some of these difficulties, and also some conjectures of what is involved with these prophecies concerning the ten tribes)