Are the Lost Ten Tribes Amongst Judah? Sephardim and Ashkenazim by Yair Davidiy
Amnon Goldberg Asked:
It is said that Sefardic Jews carry the tradition of the First Temple era and the Babylonian Exile.
And that Ashkenazic Jews carry the tradition of the Second Temple era and the Roman Exile.
Bearing in mind that "Sefardic" literally means Jews who hailed from Spain from the time of the 1492 Expulsion, and is not necessarily equivalent with "Mizrachic" i.e. Jews who lived in North Africa for 1000 years, what is your opinion of those who claim that it is today's Sefardic/Mizrachic Jews who are actually the Ten Lost Tribes?!
From which of the Twelve Tribes, if any, do you believe today's Sefardic/Mizrachic are Jews mainly composed?
The Bible says that the Lost Ten Tribes on the whole would not be known nor recognized by Judah meaning the Jews. They would also fulfill roles entirely different from those of the Jews. Amongst other things the Ten Tribes were destined to rule over other peoples and to elevate the nations by force of arms and geo-political reality. Judah had a different role. Judah had to keep and develop the Law, suffer Exile among the nations, and eventually return and prepare the Liberation of the Land of Israel. Elements from the Ten Tribes do however exist amongst the Jews though they are a minority. What is more as Ramban (Nachmandies) emphasizes those from the Ten Tribes amongst Judah are considered to be subsumed in Judah. Their tribal destiny was to be played out by their brothers in Exile. By the same token amongst the Ten Tribes are descendants of Judah but the Tribal Goals of Judah are to be fulfilled in the Jews as we known them.
Concerning your question:
The Ashkenazi and Sephardi/Mizrachi groups of Jews differ from each other in some matters. The differences to outsiders actually seem quite minor but they exist.
It may be that the Ashkenazic and Sephardi/Mirachi communities represent two originally homogeneous bodies, or it may not.
Let us consider how these groups were formed and came to differ from each other.
About 120 years after the Ten Tribes were exiled the Jews of Judah were taken away to Babylon in Mesopotamia. After 70 years they were allowed to return. A small number went back to the Holy Land but most remained in the Babylonian Diaspora.
Over time the settlement in Judea increased through natural increase and more Jews from the Diaspora moving there. Nevertheless the number of Jews in Babylon and its neighborhood probably accounted for the majority of Jews in the world at that time.
The Jewish Religion developed along parallel lines both in Babylon and Judah. Scholars, sages, and students moved from one place to another and the authorities considered the opinions of each other. Nevertheless differences did exist.
The Romans destroyed the Jewish settlement in Judah. Many Jews were taken as captives to Italy and Gaul (France). From there in the course of time they moved northward into Austria and Germany. Meanwhile from Babylonia and Persia many Jews were pushed into southern Russia and southeast Europe. The Khazars ruled over those regions and facilitated the settlement of Jews.
Later the Jews from Germany were pushed eastward moving to Poland and Galicia (Ukraine etc). They brought with them the Yiddish Langauge from Germany and the practices of German Jews that to some degree may be traced back to that of the Land of Judah. The Yiddish Language and German Jewish practices in large measure were accepted by all European Jews even though many of them had come from Babylonia.
Subsequently European Jews are generally known as Ashkenazim meaning "From Germany".
A similar phenomenon occurred with the Sephardim.
There were Jews in Spain from the earliest times.
SPAIN AND THE JEWS
By a series of almost miraculous events several Sages from Babylonia came to Spain and so determined the characteristics of Spanish Jewry. In Hebrew the name for Spain is Sepharad. It is mentioned in the Book of Obadiah.
20 The captives of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad
Shall possess the cities of the South.
The term Sepharad according to an inscription quoted by Godbey at first had referred to the city of Sardis in Lydia (western Turkey). Later it was transferred to Spain.
It is interesting that a similar explanation is given for the term Hesperides in Greek Mythology. These originally were isles off the coast of Turkey but from an early date became also identified with islands in the region of Spain.
When in 1492 the Jews were expelled from Spain many went to North Africa and the eastern Mediterranean. Their practices and customs etc were adopted by Jews already living in those areas. Consequently they all became known as Sephardim i.e. Spaniards.
Sephardim are the Mediterranean and Eastern Jews. "Sepharad" was a name for Spain. Traditionally, Jews whose forefathers had remained in
"Babylon" were more important amongst the "Sephardim". Jews who were exiled from Spain, became influential in Mediterranean and Eastern Jewish communities,
therefore they are all often referred to as "Sephardim".
The Jews who originally were in Spain were dominated by families from Judah some of whom belonged to the family of King David. Examples include the family of Abarbanel and the family of Dayan who later moved to Aleppo (Haleb) in Syria.
As for North Africa,
In some Moroccan Jewish communities there appear to have been many more Levites than elsewhere on a relative basis. They also included a few important families that had a tradition they were from Ephraim.
A Moroccan Jewish legend says that when the Ten Tribes were exiled part of the tribe of Ephraim reached Morocco. They ruled over the land until the time of Ezra (ca.457-445 BCE) at which period their rule was lost.
REUBEN KASHANI, "The Ten Tribes" (Hebrew), 1984, Jerusalem, p.29.
Ancestors of the Yemenite Jews may include Judah, Levi, Dan, and Jethro.
For an article (by the Jewish Sage, Nachmanides) explaining how nearly all the Lost Ten Tribes were exiled yet some remained and these are counted amongst Judah and Benjamin see:
Nachmanides (Short Version)
At all events, a minority opinion exists that the Ten Tribes became the Ashkenazic Jews or some of them.
The Natziv may have held this opinion. Most seem to have not.
The Jews of Rumania had a tradition that the Tribe of Benjamin had been in their area. Louis Ginzberg repeats this tradition but instead of Rumania as the location of Benjamin he puts Germany. Rashbi on Obadiah 1:20 says the Ten Tribes went to "Tserefat meaning the Land called Francia". According to the context and other commentators and related information we understand the intention to be the Lost Ten Tribes who were to be found amongst the Gentiles of that neighborhood. An article on the Ten Tribes however by the editor of Kountrass, Jerusalem, assumes the intention is to the Jews of that area.
There is also a tradition amongst the Jews of Bukhara that the Ten Tribes had been in their area though later there arrived Jewish Jews from Persia.
Jews in the Caucasus had a tradition that they descend in part from the Ten Tribes.
Also some of the Jews from Tunisia (it was claimed up to 20% of all the families) have a tradition that they are from the Tribe of Zebulon.
Shortly after we first published "The Tribes" I was confronted by a big muscular blond blue-eyed "Viking" type with a golden beard to boot. He was a Jew from Tunis in North Africa and somewhat indignant that we had identified the Dutch as Zebulon and neglected his own tradition of Zebulon descent.
Quite a few Jews from Tunis actually look more Dutch than the Dutchmen.
I was once invited to a celebration and was surprised at the large number of natural "blondes" (both men and women) arriving. I thought to myself that they must be from Germany and I it was amazing to think that German Jews usually looked so much like Scandinavians. It turned out that they all belonged to the Tunisian Jewish community and many were related to the Tunisian Jewish family whose guest I was.
A few later I had an almost identical experience and then it turned out that all the blond guests turning up belong to an extended family of Jews who originally came from Iraq!
Whatever the case, all this is neither here nor there.
If you look at the article on our site,
"The Completeness of the Exile. Answers to Deniers of Brit-Am Biblical Truth"
It is clear that a minority representative portion from the Ten Tribes had
returned to Judah but they were destined to be subsumed in Judah, see also Nachmanides on this matter.
In 2-Kings 24:14 it says that Nebuchadnessar in the first stage of exiling the Jews of Judah carried away 10,000 captives. Two verses down (2-Kings 24:16) it says he took away seven thousand.
Jeremiah 52:28, referring to the same event, says 3,023 Jews.
14 Also he carried into captivity all Jerusalem: all the captains and all the mighty men of valor, ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths. None remained except the poorest people of the land.
15 And he carried Jehoiachin captive to Babylon. The king's mother, the king's wives, his officers, and the mighty of the land he carried into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon. 16 All the valiant men, seven thousand, and craftsmen and smiths, one thousand, all who were strong and fit for war, these the king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon.
28 These are the people whom Nebuchadnezzar carried away captive: in the seventh year, three thousand and twenty-three Jews;
The Commentators (Radak, Metzudat David) say that there were about 10,000 altogether. 3023 (or 3000 in rounded-off figures) were from the Tribe of Judah and 7,000
from the other Tribes.
This was after the Ten Tribes had been exiled. We know that as well as Judah most of the Tribes of Benjamin (1-Kings 12:21, 2-Chronicles 11:12) remained in the southern Kingdom and that these were joined by most of Levi.
13 And from all their territories the priests and the Levites who were in all Israel took their stand with him. 14 For the Levites left their common-lands and their possessions and came to Judah and Jerusalem, for Jeroboam and his sons had rejected them from serving as priests to the Lord.
Taking this 10,000 as a representative sample of the people of Judah we get 30% from the Tribe of Judah alongside 70% from the Tribes of Benjamin and Levi and minority representatives from the other Tribes. There were therefore some of the other tribes in the Jewish population. They were however a minority and were destined to remain as such.
The Tribal expression of the Lost Ten Tribes (says Nachmanides) is to be achieved amongst the majority of the Tribe in their place of exile.
It may be that a few families from one or other of the Tribes remained in Judah and managed to stick
together after being exiled. 2000 years gives a lot of time for any little group to become a larger one.
Even so these various traditions do not contradict the Brit-Am understanding.
On the contrary, after close examination they confirm it.
There also exists the phenomenon of members of the Lost Ten Tribes converting and re-attaching themselves to Judah like the Khazars did and like thousands of others have done throughout history though this is not publicized. The Khazars for instance had a tradition that they descended from the Tribes of Simeon and half-Manasseh.
Nevertheless the Tribal expression of those Tribes that comprise the Lost Ten Tribes is to be found in the forces of "Joseph".
Concerning the Jews, the Divisions between them, and the Ten Tribes:
Physically, the Jews are on the whole one body with differing proportions of the same components in the different places. Here and there on the physical level foreign accretions also must have made a contribution in addition to the effects of environment and genetic drift in isolated communities.
On the spiritual-symbolical level we may hazard to draw a parallel between the Jews of Judah and those of Babylon as compared to Judah and the Ten Tribes. The Jews of Judah had an influence on the Ashkenazic Jews whereas those of Babylonia affected more the Sephardim. We could therefore say that Judah represents the Ashkenazim whereas the Sephardim may be closer to the Ten Tribes. There may be something to this parallelism at the physical level as well, in a relative sense.
The major religious streams amongst Ashkenazic Jews (Orthodox, National-Religious, Reform, Conservative, etc) all derive from the Ultra-Orthodox: This is despite that fact that some, such as the Reform, are in open revolt and diametrically opposed to them at present. The Ultra-Orthodox in turn are divided into two main groups, Mainstream Orthodox and Hasidim. The Mainstream group includes the Western and Lithunaian type and is often referred to in general as Lithuanian ("Litayim"). Another term used for the Mainstream type is Mitnagdim (Misnagdim). Personally I would say that Judah predominates amongst the Mainstream (Western and Lithuanian) Jews; Benjamin amongst the Hasidim of Galicia and Eastern Europe. The Hasidim fit the Tribal Profile of Benjamin even though there are also descendants of Judah, Levis and Cohens, and other Tribes amongst them. The Sephardim are also from Judah but have a higher proportion from the other Tribes intermixed with them.
All this does not detract from the force of our identification of the Ten Lost Tribes with peoples of West European derivation who are not aware of their Hebraic ancestry.
The Jews from Judah in Demographic History
1. The Exiles of Israel and of Judah
2. Babylon and Rome
3. The Khazars Appear
4. Spain and Sephardic Jews
5. Jews in the West included some of the Lost Ten Tribes.
6. Persecutions in the West and an Exodus Eastward.
Poland, Hungary, Russia
7. Were the Ashkenazi Jews descended from the Khazars?
8. DNA Findings.
10. Demographics of Israel.
The Lost Ten Tribes as Joseph were destined to Rule Over OTHER Peoples, be Seafarers in several oceans, dominate the seas, be the Dominant World Power ,
the enforcer of the peace and policeman of the globe , and Defeat Edom.
See: Ephraimite Criteria
Those who were not from Joseph were to have unique tribal Characteristics of their own. In general they were to be in the west and north from the Land of Israel, at the ends of the Earth, and to enjoy physical blessings and material prosperity. They were also to serve in a general way as a Light to the Gentiles. They were to be separate from Judah. They were not on the whole to be aware of their identity nor recognizable by Judah. They were also to be concentrated in the same locations and not scattered like Judah.
Altogether there are more than 120 proofs identifying the Lost Ten Tribes.
Any nation or group claiming to descend from the Ten Tribes must be pertinent in some way or other to all of these proofs. These proofs include the names of tribes and Tribal clans. If a group we identify as descended form a specific tribe does not bear the name of another tribe they must yet show evidence of somehow belonging to the same ethnic group. This principle applies to all the evidence.
It is point no. 9 in our Ephraimite Criteria:
# Family Connection: The identified group should have proven "ethnic" links to at least one of the other identified groups so that the proofs of one may be applied to the other. #
Only the English-speaking peoples and the nations of Western Europe meet the Biblical Criteria needed to confirm their descent from the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel.
Judah has its own specific goals and tasks. These are different from those of the Ten Tribes. Nevertheless in the End Times Judah and the Ten Tribes shall re-unite. They have not yet done so. The Ten Tribes have tasks of their own.
Judah today has the task of learning the Torah and developing the Law, of keeping the commandments, and settling in the Land of Israel. In Israel they should increase and multiply, keep the law and encourage learning, settle the land and establish infrastructure. They should also guard their independence and not let themselves by ruled nor influenced by foreigners. Judah needs to recognize who the Ten Tribes are and take steps to reach out to them.
See: The Task of Judah
Yalkut Shimeoni on Shir HaShirim (Song of Solomon)
...These are the 'Ten Tribes' . The exiles of Judah and Benyamin [i.e. the present-day 'Jews'] are destined to go unto them and bring them back in order to merit with them the Messianic Era and life in the World-To-Come. This is 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 unto the land that I have given for an inheritance unto your fathers' (Jeremiah 3;18).
-Yalkut Shimeoni, Song of Solomon 905.