Call for Expediting the Return of the Ten Tribes (17 September 2017, 26 Elul, 5777)
Note by Editor (Yair Davidiy):
The article below was by Alexander Zephyr in Response to a piece that appeared in "The Jerusalem Post," September 4, 2017,.
"Israel Must Reach Out to Lost and Hidden Jews," By Michael Freund
Freund calls on the Israeli Government to gather in groups descended from Jews in Spain, Portugal, and Russia, etc, as well as groups claiming to belong to the Lost Ten Tribes in Burma and China, etc.
In reply Alexander Zephyr draws attention to the Lost Ten Tribes as defined by Brit-Am.
Michael Freud, who is the chairman of Shavei Israel, has constantly propagated an idea of regathering millions of 'lost and hidden Jews' from all places of the World. Among those 'people with Jewish roots' are Subbotniks of Russia and Ukraine; Falash Mura from Ethiopia; Kaifeng's Jews of China; Bnei Menashe from India; Sicily's Bnei Anousim; Spanish and Portuguese Marranos,just named few among others. 'For the first time,' he says, 'the government of Israel will be proposing a concerted series of steps to engage with descendants of Jews. We have a responsibility toward these people.' In another place he wrote: 'I believe we, the Jewish people, have a historical, moral and religious responsibility to reach out to descendants of Jews and bring them home, they are our lost brethren' (BIN, January 3, 2016).
The regathering of the Jews and their descendants is a noble task and should be welcomed in every possible way. But what about the 'Lost' Ten Tribes of Israel?! No Michael Freud, no Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett, (whom I admire as a skillful politician and excellent speaker), no Ministry director-general Dvir Kahane and Dr. Ofir Haivry - nobody speaks of them. Do not they realize that Jewish people are not Israelites of the Ten Tribes? Despite the fact that these nations are of the same Semitic stock, being of the twelve sons of the Patriarch Jacob, after the separation and exiles, they became different nations, living in different countries with different histories, cultures, languages, traditions, and religions.
Today, the two terms are not synonymous. The Jews are part of Israel, just two and a half tribes among twelve. By no means is it correct to substitute them for the Ten Tribes of Israel! It could not be farther from the Biblical truth. Likewise, the Israelites are not the Jews. It is safe to say that all Jews technically can be called 'Israelites', like New-Yorkers are Americans, whereas not all Israelites can be called Jews like not all Americans are New-Yorkers. It is important to notice that God's prophets have constantly made a careful distinction between the Israelite people and the Jewish people. 'Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah' (Jer. 33:14). Throughout the Scripture, the Almighty speaks separately of the House of Judah and the House of Israel: 'Judah and Israel will be as though I had not cast them off' (Zechariah 10:6); or: 'And I will cause the captivity of Yehudah and the captivity of Yisrael to return, and will build them, as at the first' (Jeremiah 33:7); and one more: 'I will turn the captivity of My people Israel and Judah' (Jeremiah 30:3). Nowhere in the Scripture does God say that Judah and Israel are the same! By the way, the Scripture says that the Jewish people have to return to the Promised Land first before the coming of the Messiah; then the Exodus of the Ten Tribes led by the Messiah will follow: 'Also, O Judah, I hath set a harvest for thee, when I return the captivity of My people' (Hosea 6:11).
The Ten Tribes of Israel are not Jews. But they are still our brothers. They are also the chosen people of God, the same way Jews are. The Almighty made a Covenant with all Israelites, not only with the Jews. He has always remembered exiled Israel: 'For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee' (Isaiah 54:7). God loves and protects Israel: 'I am the father to Israel, and Ephraim is My firstborn' (Jeremiah 31:9).
Do not they know that there are more than forty prophecies in the Hebrew Bible predicting reunification and redemption of the whole House of Israel, which consist of the Twelve Tribes, including Judah and the Israelites? It is the word of God that all Twelve Tribes of the House of Israel will be represented among the nations at the end of days. In order to fulfill these prophecies, the entire House of Jacob has to be reunited, not only the Jews. As the Midrash says: 'And you find that Israel will not be redeemed until they become one unity' (Tanchuma, Nitzavim 1:18). The return of the tribes is fundamental and is an essential dimension of Judaism.
The total estimated number of the Jews (Judah, Benjamin, and half of Levi) is15 million; plus, give or take, 5 million of 'hidden Jews', we have altogether 20 million Jews in the world. How is it compatible with approximately 550 million of the Ten Israelite Tribes? Is it not of them God said: 'Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as stars of the heaven, as the sand of the seashore, which cannot be measured nor numbered' (Hosea 1:10; Genesis 22:17, 48:19)? That was the promise of God to our patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The 20 million Jews certainly would not fit this description, but it properly may apply to the multitudinous Ten Tribes.
It is true that Judah is the only nation of all the Israelite nations who has not abandoned the Torah and the Law for thousands of years, despite persecutions and unparalleled sufferings. But it also was a time when all Israel lived by the Torah and obeyed the Commandments. In the long centuries since their defeat and exile, the Ten Tribes have lost their Israelite identity. They have become violators of the first and fourth Commandments. The first Commandment is 'You shall have no other gods before Me,' and they become first nations who accepted Christianity. The fourth is 'Keep My Sabbaths holy, that they may be a sign between us. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God' (Ezekiel 20:20). This 'sign' has been lost. The Israelites have forgotten the God-given holy Sabbaths and replaced them with meaningless Sundays. Nevertheless, God says that 'The children of Israel in the Last Days will seek the Lord their God' (Jeremiah 50:4-5). Obviously, 'their God' means the Almighty God of Israel. Judah and Israel need each other. That is what God wants, and eventually, their relationship will be restored (Jeremiah 3:18; Ezekiel 37:22-28; Zechariah 10:6). The whole House of Israel will return to the Biblical Holy Land. No one will be left in exile.
"Frankly, we owe it to them and to ourselves to bring our lost Jewish brethren back. Doing so will strengthen our people demographically and spiritually, quantitatively and qualitatively. It is a win-win situation for all concerned, so let's roll up our sleeves and get to work. Jewish destiny is calling and there is much to be done," writes Michael Freud. Can one imagine how much 'spiritually, quantitatively and qualitatively' hundreds of million Israelites of the Ten Tribes will strengthen the State of Israel in its prophesied borders?!
Seem to me, for many Bible scholars and Rabbis the existence of the Ten Tribes is a myth and fairy-tail. They teach that all Tribes returned to the Promised Land and that the Jewish people are the Biblical Israel and all future prophecies of reunion and redemption apply to the Jews only and there is no such thing as the 'Lost' Ten Tribes of Israel in exile. These people are dead wrong and their teaching goes against the sacred Word of the Almighty.
Thus, in the end of the first Century, the celebrated historian Josephus Flavius stated: 'The Ten Tribes are beyond the Euphrates and are an immense multitude whose numbers cannot be estimated.' He understood perfectly the difference between the Ten Tribes of Israel and the two tribes of Judah, 'which are in Asia and Europe subject to the Romans' (Antiquities of the Jews, book XI, chapter 5:2).
The great R. Nahmanides (1194-1270 AC) also rejected this nonsense that the Ten Tribes joined Judah in the past and said that 'the overwhelming majority of the Ten Tribes never returned to the Promised Land though they are destined to do so in the future. There was no redemption for the Ten Tribes who remain in exile. They should be ashamed not to recognize this fact!' (Sefer HaGeulah).
Few Centuries later, the distinguished scholar R. Abarbanel (1437-1508) also foresaw such a reunion: - 'The Ten Tribes will return to Samaria and its daughter-regions and so will the scattered dispersion of Judah be gathered in from the four corners of the earth. There is no doubt that this promised ingathering will occur in the Times of the Messiah. Until now it has never been fulfilled.'
The nineteenth-century Hebrew scholar R. Malbim anticipated that God would reunite the dispersed Tribes of Israel in the future: 'God will ingather the Ten Tribes who were in faraway lands and did not return in the time of the Second Temple.'
As Rav Kook (1865-1935 CE) noted at the turn of the nineteenth century, those Israelites who were assimilated in ancient times, as well as their descendants, have gradually become more suited to receive the Divine Revelation of their Israelite identity. As time passes, they will yearn and strive to reclaim their Israelite inheritance (Shemoneh Kevatsim, Kovets 8:205).
To clarify the issue, the question before these great Rabbis was whether the Ten Tribes would ever return to the Promised Land, not whether they had already returned. If the Ten Tribes have been lost to human history, not so with God. His words are self-evident and require no explanation: 'Mine eyes are upon all their ways; they are not hid from My face' (Jeremiah 16:17). Throughout the Bible, the prophets reinforced the intention of God to finally return the Ten Tribes to the status of chosen and blessed people again. Where the Ten Tribes are concerned, God's plan is plain: 'I will say to them which were not My people, you are My people; and they shall say, You are my God' (Hosea 2:23).
To all the deniers of the existence of the Ten Tribes still in exile and their future return, including various rabbis, scholars, and other skeptics, the God of Israel responds: 'Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come. I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel. And they shall be My people, and I will be their God' (Ezekiel 11:15-20). The divine presence of God, Shekhinah, follows the Ten Tribes in Exile and 'hovers over Israel like a mother over her children.' Thus we read: 'Wheresoever they were exiled, the Shekhinah went with them' (Megillah 29a). As Joseph revealed his identity with a loud cry to his shocked brothers in the land of Egypt (Genesis 45:1-2), so it will be in the future when the descendants of Joseph, who represent the Ten Tribes, come to Judah for reunification: 'With cries they will come, and with mercy I will lead them' (Jeremiah 31:8).
The greatest prophecy of the Bible is the prediction of the final ingathering and redemption of the nations of Israel and Judah in the later years with the advent of the Messiah. This great Exodus of all Twelve Tribes will be much greater than the miraculous return of the Jews in 1948, even greater than the Exodus from Egypt in circa 1300 BC under Moses. God knowledge will cover the Earth. All nations will serve the God of Israel. Justice and Peace, at last, will prevail. People will usher in the Golden Age of Humanity, the Messianic Era. With the redemption of the whole World and establishing of the Kingdom of God, the mission of Israel on the planet Earth will have been successfully completed.
And lastly, one of the most crucial tasks that God has given to the Jewish people is to go to the countries and places where the Ten 'Lost' Tribes of Israel in exile reside (mainly in the West) and do everything possible to bring them back to the God of their fathers, to His everlasting Laws, and to the Promised Land. In fulfillment of this ambitious goal, the Jewish scholars and rabbis should enlighten the Israelites with the knowledge of God and kindle in their hearts the flame of love for the divine Torah that its light may shine on them once more. The idea that the Jewish people are obliged by the Almighty to teach the lost Israelites the Torah and bring them back to the Holy Land finds its full support in the Tanakh, the Talmud, and the rabbinical literature.
The Midrash (Yalkut Shimeoni on The Song of Solomon 1:16) fully supports and validates the prophesies regarding the future reunification of God's chosen people: "The Ten Tribes who were exiled beyond the Sambation River are they whom the exiled of Judah and Benjamin are destined to go unto and to bring them back in order to merit with them the days of the Messiah and life in the World-to-Come, as it says. 'In those days the House of Judah shall go unto the House of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land I have given for an inheritance unto their fathers' (Jeremiah 3:18)."
What we have to realize is that the majority of the Ten Tribes have never reunited with the Jewish people. They are still living in exile. This situation is clearly the work of God and His essential divine plan for the future. God will not leave Israel until everything was written and spoken will be done. Their future destiny is a prophesied reunion with their brother Judah and redemption in the times of Messiah. The reunification of all the families of Jacob will be the beginning of a new Messianic age of Liberation and Redemption. The best description concerning the destiny of Israel and Judah in the last days can be found in the famous 'Two Sticks' prophecy of Ezekiel:
'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 anymore' (Ezekiel 37:16-24). To this powerful message, we may add, that it is forbidden to be amongst those who deny the Redemption of the Ten Tribes.
As one nation of Priests, the Light to the world, the Israelites and their Messiah will teach and guide the nations to worship the one and the only God of the Universe, the God of Israel, by demonstrating God's righteousness, holiness, and love to all the inhabitants of the earth, in order that all might merit life together in the wonderful World-to-Come that is the purpose of all Creation.
NOTE: If somebody is interesting in more details about the Ten Tribes, like who are they, where are they dwelling, what are the proofs, and many other particulars, I recommend to contact the renowned scholar and author of many books on the subject of the Ten Tribes, founder of the movement Brit-Am/Hebrew Nations, Yair Davidiy.
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