Search for the Lost Tribes of Israel Part 3

About the search for the lost tribes of Israel, history and background of the Biblical group.



The theory that American Indians were descendants of the Lost Tribes gained eager acceptance in the New World, too. Cotton Mather and Roger Williams believed in it. And William Penn, after seeing his first Indians, said, "I imagined myself in the Jewish Quarter of London." Ethan Smith, referring to the supposedly basic language common to all Indians, wrote in 1823 that it "appears clearly spoken Hebrew, because both languages have no prepositions and are formed with prefixes and suffixes." The Yuchi Indians, who were moved from Georgia to Oklahoma in 1836, were also cited as proof that there is a Jewish connection in North America. Many of their practices indeed paralleled those of the Jews. (As recently as 1975, Newsweek said that "some specialists in American folklore think the customs, language, and appearance of the Yuchi ... imply an old Jewish heritage.")

Lord Kingsborough published in London The Antiquities of Mexico in the first half of the 19th century, and his confusing nine-volume opus concluded that the American Indians were descended from the Lost Tribes of Israel. Today, this belief survives in the doctrine of the Mormom Church, whose Book of Mormon is supposedly a religious history of one of the Lost Tribes of Israel which immigrated to North America around 2000 B.C. Then there were those who claimed that the peoples of the British Isles themselves were Jewish. At the peak in the 1880s, the British Israel theory had some 2 million believers. But serious scholars have proved it to be unmitigated nonsense. Japan wasn't spared either. The Makuya ("Tabernacle") Society, founded in the 1940s, believes that the Japanese are partially descended from the Lost Tribes. Members of the society believe in Jewish as well as Christian scriptures and support modern Israel in many ways.

Today, Father Miguel S.M. Puerta, a Colombian scholar, continues to claim that Jews discovered America. His theory, based on 30 years' research and the recent discovery of stones with supposedly Jewish inscriptions, has found some interest in Europe. Father Puerta believes Jews sailed to America thousands of years ago, most likely under Solomon. But that still doesn't shed any light on the Lost Tribes, who got "lost" more than 200 years after Solomon's death.


The first authentic source on the disappearance of the 10 tribes remains also the last. The Bible (II Kings 17:6,23) says that the tribes of Israel were carried off into Assyria--but that's all. Here the facts end and the myths begin. Farfetched theories, superficial evidence, wishful thinking, and incredibly careless scholars have, at one time or another, connected almost all the peoples of the world with the Lost Tribes. But the intervening centuries have failed to furnish even one shred of conclusive evidence as to their ultimate fate. Today most rabbinical and other scholars believe that the 10 exiled tribes were not "lost" but simply assimilated into the native populations of various regions. But the 10 tribes did lose their national identity and thus disappeared from the pages of history. Only the remaining two tribes (Benjamin and Judah) survived culturally intact. According to The New Jewish Encyclopedia, however, today's worldwide Jewish community consists of descendants of all 12 tribes.

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