THE RESTORATION OF ALL ISRAEL
He who scattered Israel will gather him,
and will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.
Christians have been taught for centuries that the Church has replaced
Israel as the Chosen nation, taking over her mission to the world. In
a related way, the dozens of Prophetic texts which promise the full
and complete restoration of all Twelve Tribes of Israel to the
Land have been allegorized and applied to either the Church, or to salvation
in Heaven. The sad tale of Christian history, particularly the Christian
slander and slaughter of the Jews, certainly belies any such transfer
of the Plan to the Church. It is noteworthy that many texts from the
New Testament itself reject such displacement interpretations, indicating
that such ideas entered the Nazarene movement only over time and slowly
took root. However, it is beyond doubt that the Hebrew Prophets know
of no such shift in the Abrahamic Plan. Accordingly, those who take
the Biblical revelation seriously must thoroughly reject all forms of
According to both Torah and Prophets, and pious Jews have understood
this through the centuries, the House of Israel (the northern 10 tribes),
and subsequently the House of Judah (the Jews) went into Exile because
of their sins, and YHVH actually hid His face from her:
Then My anger shall be aroused against them in that day, and I will
forsake them and I will hide My face from them, and they shall
be devoured. And many evils and troubles shall befall them, so that
they will say in that day, "Have not these evils come upon us because
our God is not among us? And I will surely hide My face in that day
because of all the evil which they have done, in that they have turned
to other gods (Deuteronomy 31:17-18)
Then He said, I will hide My face from them, I will see what
their end will be (Deuteronomy 32:20)
Then they will cry to YHVH, but He will not hear them. But He will
even hide His face from them at that time, because they have
been evil in their deeds (Micah 3:4).
However, this "hiding of the face" is neither rejection nor
replacement. On the contrary, the very purpose of the Exile is
to prepare for the full restoration of all Israel. Exile is always
understood as a temporary measure of discipline, for a set period
of time. Notice, when Moses first mentions the Exile, he includes promise
When you are in distress and all these things have come upon you in
the latter days, when you turn to YHVH your God and obey to His
voice, for YHVH your God is a merciful God, He will not forsake you
nor destroy you nor forget the covenant of your fathers which He swore
to them (Deuteronomy 4:30-31)
YHVH your God will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion
on you, and will gather you again from all the nations where YHVH
your God has scattered you. If any of you are driven out to the farthest
part under heaven, from there YHVH your God will gather you, and from
there He will bring you .·.·. And YHVH your God will circumcise
your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love YHVH your
God with all your heart and will all your soul, so that you may live
The Lost Tribes of Israel
These promises of restoration are addressed to both the House
of Israel (the Lost Tribes) and the House of Judah (the Jews). One of
the most neglected points in the Hebrew Prophets, even among Jews, but
virtually unacknowledged among Gentiles/Christians, is their constant
emphasis on the total restoration of ALL Israel--meaning all
twelve Tribes. Ephraim/Joseph, who has seemingly been lost among the
Gentiles, will make himself known to his brother Judah. The results
of this reunion will astound the world and alter world history. This
is even hinted at mystically in the Joseph story (Genesis 45), but is
declared in most uncertain terms throughout the Prophets. The average
reader seldom notes the careful distinction which the Prophets consistently
make between the House of Israel (Ephraim/Joseph), which refers to the
Lost Tribes, and the House of Judah, whom we have known since the Babylonian
Exile as the Jewish people.
2 Kings chapter 17 recounts the stark story of how the Assyrian king
Sargon II took the Ten Tribes into captivity in 723 B.C.E and settled
them northwest of Palestine, in the area of the Habor River near Lakes
Van and Urmia. The writer makes it clear that "none was left except
the tribe of Judah" (17:18). Josephus tells us that in his day many
of them were still living in these areas, "beyond the Euphrates" (Antiquities
11. 133). However, there is a persistent tradition that significant
portions of these tribes began to migrate elsewhere. The question of
just where they went has been a subject of controversy down through
the years and has given rise to many legends and attempts to locate
them. 2 Esdras says that after crossing the Euphrates they journeyed
a year and a half and came to a distant sparsely inhabited country called
"Arzareth," where they are to remain until the last days (13:43-47).
Unfortunately this name simply means "another land" and tells us only
that they left their original area and went a considerable distance.
The rabbinic sources say that they migrated beyond the river Sambatyon,
across which they will someday return. This mysterious river is said
to flow six days a week, but rest on the Sabbath. Most scholars have
taken this reference to the Sambatyon River as purely legendary and
fantastic. However, recent research in Jerusalem as identified the river
as none other than the Bosphorus strait, where the waters of the Black
Sea flow past Istanbul toward the Aegean. There the current does actually
slow down drastically, and at times even stop or reverse, on average
about once a week, giving rise to these accounts. Isaiah also indicates
that these tribes were located to the west in his time (Isaiah
Based on this and much additional recent research it can definitely
be shown that significant portions of the Lost Tribes migrated northwest,
toward Europe and are to be found today among the Scandinavian, Celtic
& kindred peoples. In other words the tribes are largely located
today in the United States, Great Britain, northwestern Europe, Australia,
New Zealand, and other scattered areas. They are primarily Protestant,
tied to their Biblical heritage, and have by and large provided a hospitable
climate for Jews and even supported Zionism. Unfortunately, most researchers
have tended to look to the East, and have only found scattered pockets
of peoples who might be associated with the tribes--the Bene Israel
of India, the Pathans on the Afghani-Pakastani border, the Kashmiris,
the Chiang-Min on the Chinese-Tibetan border, and even many tribes of
Africa of whom the Ethiopians have been the most prominent example.
These attempts at locating the tribes miss the fact that the most significant
group went northwest into Europe, and did finally fulfill the
promises that were made to the two sons of Joseph--Ephraim and Manasseh,
about unprecedented national greatness (Genesis 48:4-20). They were
to become a great company of nations leading the world in wealth and
influence (Genesis 49:22-26; Deuteronomy 33:13-17). This fits in well
with what the Prophets predict for the last days, when the Lost Tribes
return. They are pictured "without number, as the sand of the sea" not
as tiny insignificant pockets of tribal groups. The official rabbinic
ruling (halacha) is that the Lost Tribes will return.
The Hebrew prophets consistently and carefully distinguish between
these two "Houses." This is not a minor theme, but actually the
dominant emphasis that runs throughout these texts. This restoration
of all Israel rests upon the absolute promise of YHVH. Although Israel
(that is the Ten Tribes) is scattered through the nations, numbering
as the sands of the sea, and they even come to think of themselves
as Gentiles, YHVH declares that not the "least grain" will be lost.
His eyes are on all their ways, and they will surely RETURN--to YHVH
their God, to Judah (the Jews), and to the Land. The following texts
provide a brief overview of the prophetic picture. The details and consistency
one finds in the Prophets on this subject is quite impressive. Anyone
who will bother to carefully study these texts will come away
with a transformed understanding of what lies on the horizon with regard
to the prophetic times in which we live.
Isaiah 11:11-12: The Davidic ruler gathers both the House of
Israel and the House of Judah--and peace comes between the two. This
full gathering seems to come with the appearance of the Davidic Messiah,
however, many texts indicate that the first stages of the reunion begin
earlier and in less dramatic ways.
Jeremiah 3:6-18: The northern tribes of Israel return and join Judah,
"one from a city, two from a family" prior to the complete union when
the Kingdom of God comes. This appears to be what has begun to happen
in our day.
16:14-19: This is often applied to Judah and to the Jews returning
to the Land in our century, but in context, it applies in particular
to the House of Israel (Lost Tribes), who have become like the "nations,"
whose fathers have inherited lies. Note the images: the first stage
is fishing; the second is hunting. Judah already went through this stage,
particularly after 1880, when the Zionists were able to "fish" ordraw
a number of Jews back to the Land. However, it took the "hunters" (Nazis,
Arabs, Soviets) to really get them to leave "Egypt and Babylon," following
WWII. Perhaps we may expect a similar pattern with the return of the
23:1-6: This passage makes it clear that both Houses will come
eventually--and again their return is associated with the Davidic Messiah.
This GREAT RETURN is to rival the Exodus from Egypt in the time
30-31: These key chapters are particularly full and vivid regarding
the sequence of events to come about in the "latter days," and the establishment
of the much expected new covenant with the restored Twelve Tribes
Hosea 1-3: The Lost Tribes become "not My people," losing their identity
and their knowledge of God and turning to paganism ("days of the Baalim,"
through they number as the sands of the sea (1:10-11; 2:13). They remain
in this state for "many days" but return to Judah and to their God in
the "latter days." Once again their return is associated with the appearance
of the Davidic Messiah (1:11; 3:4-5).
5:6- 6:3: They are "revived on the third day," probably meaning after
2500 years of exile.
Amos 9:8-10: In 8:11-12 the northern Ten Tribes lose contact with God.
They are to be sifted through the nations, nonetheless they are kept
intact. Their restoration is once again connected to the Davidic Messiah.
Obadiah 15-21: A restored ``Joseph/Ephraim" (Lost Tribes) is instrumental
in finally punishing the Arabs who have rejoiced at Judahµs (the
Jews in the Land) troubles and distress (the Holocaust, the Wars of
1947-73, the Gulf War).
Micah 2:12-13: Great multitudes of the remnant of Israel return, until
their is no room for them, even spilling over into Gilead (the east
Bank, see 7:14).
5:3-15: They are given up until the Davidic restoration, "then the
remnant of the Messiahµs brethren return unto the children
Zechariah 8:13; 9 & 10: All the tribes eventually come together--Judah
and Ephraim are joined. Judah seems to be saved first (12:7),
and have great military success (10:3-5), but Joseph (the Lost Tribes)
is afterward associated with them (10:6-10). They are so numerous that
they spill over into Lebanon and Gilead. Of particular note is the language
of Zechariah 10:9: "And I will sow them among the peoples; and they
shall remember me in far countries, and they shall live with
their children, and turn again."
Ezekiel 34-37: YHVH Himself will search out His "lost sheep" which
have been scattered among the nations (34:11-13). The "two sticks" of
the House of Judah (the Jews) and the House of Israel (the Lost Tribes
of Joseph and his brethren) are absolutely destined to become one,
leading to the Messianic era (37:15-28).
Almost all interpreters of prophecy, whether Jewish or Christian, tend
to loosely read these texts and apply them in a blanket way "to the
Jews." Surely, the return to Zion in our century, with the establishment
of the State of Israel in 1948, is of the greatest prophetic
significance. However, these passages from the Prophets clearly speak
of a further GREAT RETURN of ALL Israel. This vital distinction
between the House of Judah and the House of Israel must be carefully
noted if one wants to understand the detailed prophetic picture presented
in these texts.
These promises to national Israel are absolute and unconditional.
There are over forty separate sections of the Hebrew prophets
which deal specifically, and in the greatest of detail, with this theme
of the full and unqualified restoration of all twelve of the Tribes
of Israel. The cumulative impact of these texts is overwhelming. They
cannot be ignored or spiritualized if one wishes to interpret the Scripture
with any historical seriousness. Yet they have never been fulfilled
in past history--not in the 6th century B.C.E when a few thousand Jews
returned to the Land, nor yet in our day. The establishment of the State
of Israel in 1948 is a bare beginning, a kind of "firstfruits" sign
of what is to come. The Prophets speak of Judah returning first
to the Land. Their return in our day is a concrete demonstration that
YHVH has not and will not cast off or reject His people Israel--including
the Ten Lost Tribes:
Thus says YHVH, who gives the sun for light by day, the ordinances
of the moon and the stars for a light by night, who disturbs the sea
so that its waves roar; YHVH of Hosts is His name: "If those ordinances
depart from before Me, declares YHVH, then the offspring of Israel shall
also cease from being a nation before Me forever."
Thus says YHVH, "If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations
of the earth searched out beneath, then I will also cast off all
the offspring of Israel for all that they have done," declares YHVH
`For this is like the waters of Noah to Me; for as I have sworn that
the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth, so have I sworn
that I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you. For the mountains
shall depart and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not
depart from you, nor shall my covenant of peace be removed," says
YHVH who has mercy on you (Isaiah 54:9-10).
Surely language could be no plainer. The full restoration of all Israel
is as sure and certain as the laws of Nature and as the sworn testimony
of YHVH God Himself. The Prophets speak about a specific period of time
when this restoration will come:
For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king
or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, without ephod or teraphim.
Afterward the children of Israel will return and seek YHVH their
God and David their king. They will fear YHVH and His goodness in
the last days (Hosea 3:4-5)
Though scattered to all nations, shifted like wheat, YHVH declares
"my eyes are on all their ways," and "not the least grain will fall
to the ground" (Jeremiah 16:17; Amos 9:9). Both Israel and Judah (all
Twelve Tribes) will be brought back to the Land and reunited in a GREAT
RETURN that will rival the Exodus from Egypt (Ezekiel 37:15-23; Jeremiah
16:14-15). This return is for spiritual purposes which leads to the
arrival of the Messianic age and the Kingdom of God.
Therefore thus says the Lord YHVH, "Now I will bring back the captivity
of Jacob, and have mercy on the whole house of Israel; and I will be
jealous for My Holy Name .·.·.·. When I have brought
them back from the peoples and gathered them out of their enemiesµ
lands, and I am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations, then
they shall know that I am YHVH their God who sent them into captivity
among the nations, but also brought them back to their land, and left
none of them captive any longer. And I will not hide my face
from them anymore; for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house
of Israel" (Ezekiel 39:25-29).
`But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
after those days," says YHVH: "I will put my Torah in their minds,
and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they
shall be My people" (Jeremiah 31:33).
For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all the
countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean
water on you, and you shall be clean .·.·. I will give
you a new heart and put a new spirit within you .·.·.
This is all part of the Plan: that through the nation Israel, and her
Messiah, all the world will come to experience the Kingdom of God. Israel
suffers Exile, receiving "double for all her sins," but according to
Isaiah 40-53 she is also the "servant of YHVH" whose suffering leads
to redemption for all nations. Jeremiah puts it most succinctly:
I will cause the captives of Judah and the captives of Israel to return,
and will rebuild those places as at the first. I will cleanse them from
all their iniquity .·.·. then it shall be to Me a name
of joy, a praise, and an honor before all the nations of the earth
The conversion of Israel leads to the turning of all nations
to the knowledge of YHVH and His Torah Way for all humankind. The Davidic
Messiah regathers all Israel, and at the same time the nations seek
YHVH (Isaiah 11:10-12). It is at that time the "earth becomes full of
the knowledge of YHVH as the waters cover the seas (Isaiah 11:9). The
Torah goes forth from Jerusalem to all nations; the nations stream up
to the Land to learn the Way of YHVH (Isaiah 2:2-4). Consistently the
Prophets associatethese three related phenomena: the return of
the House of Judah, the joining of Judah with the Lost Tribes, and the
subsequent conversion of all the nations to YHVH and His Way (see Isaiah
14:1-2; 56:7; 60:3; Zechariah 2:10-13; and Psalm 67). Note these clear
Sing for joy and be glad, O daughter of Zion; for behold I am coming
and I will dwell in your midst, declares YHVH. And many nations
will join themselves to YHVH in that day and will become My people
·.·. For I will bring them back into their land which
I gave to their fathers .·.·. The Gentiles shall come
to You from the ends of the earth and say, surely our fathers have
inherited lies, worthless and unprofitable things (Jeremiah 16:15-19).
At that time Jerusalem shall be called The Throne of YHVH, and all
the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of YHVH, to Jerusalem.
Nor more shall they follow the dictates of their evil hearts. In
those days Judah will walk with the house of Israel, and they will
come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given
as an inheritance to your fathers (Jeremiah 3:17-18).
Yes, many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek YHVH
of Hosts in Jerusalem and to pray before YHVH .·.·. Thus
says YHVH of Hosts, "In those days ten men from every language of the
nations will grasp the corner of the garment [the tzizit; Numbers
15:38-40] of a Jewish man saying, `Let us go with you, for we have heard
that God is with youµ" (Zechariah 8:23).
Jeremiah says, "Israel was holy to YHVH, the firstfruits of
His harvest" (2:3). This image of the firstfruits relates to the symbolic
meaning of Israelµs Holy Days and the harvest seasons, as set
forth in Leviticus 23. The Way of YHVH will first be realized through
the "great nation," as promised to Abraham, repeated to Isaac and Jacob,
and reiterated throughout the Bible, then the "full harvestµµ
will follow. There is nothing racist about this Plan of God,
rather it is a matter of YHVH using those whom He has determined and
prepared for his historic purposes, thus fulfilling His promises. As
YHVH Himself declares, this Restoration of All Israel is a "vindication"
of His Holy Name (Ezekiel 36:23). This is the prime Messianic task according
to all the Prophets.
Unless and until all Israel is restored to the Land, with Judah and
Joseph joined as one, there is no Messianic fulfillment, and there will
be no realization of the Kingdom of God.