Lost Tribes

One the articles of faith is that ten Hebrew tribes were lost after the Assyrian conquest of Israel. Without any substantiation in the Bible, Archeology, or history the lost tribes supposedly migrated as a unit to find a new home. The choices for their final home are legend: Mongolia, Tibet, India, North Africa, North America. Take your choice, it is entirely fantasy.

The actual destiny of the captured Israelites is much more prosaic. Assyria deported the leaders of the country: The Royal family, the top levels of the priesthood, the military leaders, the tribal elders, the wealthy land owners and merchants, any anyone else capable of organizing resistance. Altogether, about 1-2% of the population, certainly much less than 5%. The vast majority of the "common people" went about their life with little change. There were new rulers and a new wealthy class but little change for the laborers and farmers. Even most of their temples remained intact. They could interact with people in Judea about as easily as they could under the Kingdom of Israel.

So what was lost? National and tribal identity! Important for the upper classes but of little if any interest to the menial laborers. They had to work as hard as they did under their previous rulers.

And how many tribes were "lost?" The tribes of Judah and Benjamin are considered to be the Kingdom of Judea (known as the House of David in contemporary documents). But what of the tribe of Simon? The land of Simon was located south of Judea and never was part of Israel. Apparently, at some time, the tribe of Simon was absorbed into Judah before the Assyrian conquest. Thus Simon should not be included in the "lost" tribes. When Manasseh lost its land east of the Jordan river, a part of the tribe settled in the territory of Judea. Gad, Ruben, Ephraim and Dan were on the border of Judea. It is conceivable that, during and after the Assyrian invasion, people from these tribes found refuge in Judea. Actually, it is inconceivable that some did not.

The final final tally appears to be that the Kingdom of Judea, after the Assyrian conquest of Israel, contained three complete tribes and remnants of at least five other tribes. None of these tribes can be considered "lost" in the genetic sense. They are included in the Jewish gene pool.

Even the four other tribes should not be considered as lost. Their descendants would later become the Samarians.

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