The History of the Ten "Lost" Tribes:
Anglo-Israelism Examined




The Anglo-Israel theory is based for the most part on the supposition of a separate history during the Dispersion, and a separate destiny of the Ten Tribes from that of Judah. I have already shown that the supposition is a false one, but it may be well to analyse here a few more of the Scripture "proofs" by which the contention is supported.

The following is from a truly amazing pamphlet, entitled "Fifty Reasons why the Anglo-Saxons are Israelites of the Lost Tribes of the House of Israel," a publication full of misinterpretations, wild fancies, and absurd fables, which are given out as facts of history.

But the reader may judge for himself of the method of this writer, who is a "D.D.," in handling Scripture.

"The Jews," we are told with an air of authority—

"are one people, the Lost Tribes are another. . . . The Word of God clearly intimates that Israel would lose their identity, their land, their language, their religion, and their name, that they would be lost to themselves, and to other nations lost. ‘I will scatter them into corners, I will make the remembrance of them to cease from among men’ (Deut. 32:26). ‘The Lord hideth His face from the House of Jacob’ (Isa. 8:17). He was not any more to speak to them in the Hebrew tongue; but ‘by another tongue will I speak unto this people’ (Isa. 28:11). They shall no more be called Israel, He will call them by another name. ‘And thou shalt be called by a new name which the mouth of the Lord shall name’ (Isa. 62:2). ‘The Lord shall call His servants by another name’ (Isa. 65:15). ‘The name Israel shall be no more in remembrance’ (Psa. 83:4) . ‘And ye shall lose, or leave, your name, and the Lord shall call His servants by another name.’ ‘Why sayest thou, O Jacob! and speakest, O Israel! my way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God?’ (Isa. 40:27).

"‘For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid My face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy upon thee’ (Isa. 54:8).

"In Hos. 1:4, 7 the Lord says, ‘I will cause to cease the kingdom of the House of Israel. . . . I will no more have mercy upon the House of Israel, but I will utterly take them away. . . . But I will have mercy upon the House of Judah.’ Israel is to be called Lo-Ammi, for ‘ye are not My people, and I will not be your God’ (Hos. 1:7)."

Now let us look for a moment at the references and quotations here given. The first is Deut. 32:26: "I will scatter them into corners," etc. This occurs in the song which Moses was commanded to put into the mouth of the whole nation at the very commencement of their history, which, besides being a vindication of God’s character in His dealings with the nation from the beginning hitherto, is also a prophetic forecast of their whole future history. It is the whole people, which according to Moses was to be scattered into all corners as a special punishment for their apostasy, until such time as the Lord shall turn their captivity and have compassion upon them, and gather them from all the nations (Deut. 4:25-31; 28:64, 65; 30:1-7; 31: 16-22). This reference then has nothing whatever in it about a "lost identity."

These forecasts are fulfilling themselves, not in lost tribes, but in the Jews. The second reference, Isa. 8:17: "The Lord hideth His face from the House of Jacob," is (as is often the case in Anglo-Israel quotations) a sentence broken away from the context, and has not the least shadow of connection with "lost" or found tribes. It is an exclamation of the prophet Isaiah with reference to the condition of things then prevailing in Judah. Because of the wickedness of the people and its king, God’s face seemed to be hid from the people. But Israel’s prophets always looked beyond the present gloom and darkness, and exercised faith in God even in the most adverse circumstances, so he exclaims: "And I"—whatever the nation whom he sought to bring back to God may do—" will wait upon Jehovah that hideth His face from Jacob (which stands for the whole nation) and will look to Him," i.e., "my hope shall be set on Him alone."

A quotation is made in proof that God would not’ any more speak to "lost" Israel in the Hebrew tongue. The reference is Isa. 28:11: "By (or with) another tongue will I speak to this people."

This is another instance of breaking away an isolated text from its context, and giving it a meaning which was never intended. In that chapter we read how the leaders, not of the Ten Tribes, but of Judah, perverted the Word of God, which He intended should bring "rest" and "refreshing" to the weary (ver. 12), and turned it into so many isolated "precepts" and commandments. But because the words of grace and salvation He was speaking to them through the prophets were scorned and abused, God threatens that He will speak to them in judgment—" with strange lips and with another tongue "—in which there may be included also a reference to their being carried into captivity, "where they would have to listen to a strange language," which they understood not (Psalm 81:5; 114:1).

The next references in proof that the "lost"? tribes were "no more to be called Israel," but by another name, is a typical instance of the perversion of even the most beautiful spiritual truths of the Bible for mere outward, I was going to say, carnal, ends. The first quotation in proof of this point is from Isa. 62:2: "Thou shalt be called by a new name which the mouth of the Lord shall name." This short chapter is one of the most precious and beautiful in the whole Old Testament, and it is like laying hold of an exquisitely delicate and beautiful work of art with a rough and dirty hand to treat it as Anglo-Israel "theologians" do. The chapter begins: "For Zion’s sake will I not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest until her righteousness go forth as brightness and her salvation as a lamp that burneth." The speaker is either the prophet, or very probably the servant of Jehovah, the Messiah, who is the speaker in the preceding chapter. The subject is "Zion" or "Jerusalem," which includes the people. I believe that it includes the whole nation of which Jerusalem is the God-appointed metropolis; but if it is to be limited to any part of the people, then it is certainly Judah, of which Zion or Jerusalem is the capital, and not the Ten Tribes who are here spoken of.

This Zion, for whom the Messiah makes unceasing intercession, is now called ‘azobah—"forsaken," and her land shemamah—"desolate"; but when God’s light shall again break upon her, and her righteousness goes forth as a lamp that burneth, "Thou shalt be called chephtsiy bah (Hephzibah, i.e., My delight is in her); and thy land be‘olah" (Beulah, i.e., married). But the new name by which the mouth of Jehovah shall then call her shall not only answer the outward transformation which shall then come over the people and the land, but will describe the inward transformation and the true character of the people. In fact, we are told in this very chapter what the new name shall be. They shall call them—Saxons ? Britons ? No, "they shall call them the Holy People, The Redeemed of the Lord." This is also the "other name" in Isa. 65:15, by which God shall call His true servants in contrast to the ungodly in the nation, who shall be "slain," and leave their name (i.e., their remembrance) as a proverbial "curse" unto His chosen.

The next reference given in proof that the Ten Tribes were to lose their name is Psalm 83:4: "The name of Israel shall be no more in remembrance." This is a typical and characteristic specimen of the manner in which Anglo-Israel "theologians" deal with Scripture. It reminds one of the grounds adduced by a certain individual for paying no heed to the Old Testament because it is written, "Hang the law and the prophets" (Matt. 22:40). It is certainly most easy to prove almost anything from the Bible by breaking away an isolated sentence from its connection, and attaching to it a meaning which was never intended.

Psalm 83 is an impassioned cry to God for His interposition and deliverance of His people from a confederacy of Gentile nations, who are gathered with the determined object of utterly destroying them as a people.

"O God, keep not Thou silence:
Hold not Thy peace and be not still, O God; for lo, Thine enemies make a tumult:
And they that hate Thee have lifted up the head:
They take crafty counsel against Thy people, and consult together against Thy hidden ones.
They have said: Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation,
That the name of Israel be no more in remembrance."

This historical occasion of this Psalm may perhaps have been the great gathering of the Moabites, Ammonites, and a great multitude of others against "Judah," * who, in the Psalms belonging to that period, is invariably called Israel. At the same time there is a prophetic element in the Psalm, for all the past gatherings of the nations against Jerusalem foreshadow the final great gathering under Antichrist, when the battle-cry of the confederated armies shall indeed be, "Come, let us destroy them from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance." But note, part of the furious cry of the Gentiles in their onslaught against Jerusalem is broken away from its connection and used by Anglo-Israel writers to prove that the Ten Tribes would lose their identity and that the very name "Israel" would be "lost."

* See 2 Chron. 20:1-13.

Passing on to the next two references, Isa. 40: 27 and Isa. 54: 8, I would ask the intelligent Bible-reader what relevancy or connection these precious Scriptures have with the subject of the identification of any "lost" tribes? They are glorious words of consolation and promise addressed to the Jewish nation, or rather to the godly remnant in exile, assuring them that God’s eye is ever upon them, and though, on account of their sins, His face has been turned away from them, as it were, "for a moment," He will yet return to them with "everlasting kindness and have mercy upon them." It is like sacrilege to misapply such beautiful Scriptures and great spiritual truths to prove a theory which has no basis in fact, and with which they have not the remotest connection.

The last reference is Hosea 1:4-7; the words are plain enough, and if they prove anything in connection with this subject it is the very opposite of what the Anglo-Israel writers assert. Hosea did speak primarily to the Israel of the "Ten Tribes" shortly before its final overthrow by Assyria, and what he announces is that God would cause that kingdom, as a kingdom, "to cease," and that He would no more have mercy upon them. As a people they would be preserved, but, as it were, disavowed of God, and therefore called "Lo-Ammi" (i.e., "not My people "). But what is said here by Hosea of the condition of the people of. the "Ten Tribes," after they shall have ceased to exist as a kingdom, is true also, as we know from many other Scriptures, of those who belonged to the southern kingdom of Judah. It is now the Lo-Ammi period for the whole nation of the Twelve Tribes, and they shall continue to be disowned of God nationally (not as individuals) until they as a nation acknowledge and own their long-rejected Messiah. Then, in the final trial, when the spirit of grace and of supplication is poured upon them, and they shall look upon Him whom they have pierced, and mourn, God will look down upon them and say, "Ammi"—"It is My people" and they shall say, "Jehovah is my God" (Zech. 13:9).

And it is not only the prophetic Scriptures of the Old Testament which are abused in this manner, the plainest statements in the Gospels and Epistles are also twisted and perverted to mean the very opposite of what was intended. The following is from a booklet, "The Lost Tribes of Israel," by Reader Harris, K.C., "founder of the Pentecostal League," in which all the absurdities and misinterpretations found in all the Anglo-Israel publications are embodied:—


"Let us now turn to the New Testament. It is perfectly clear that Israel, who had been dispersed for more than 700 years, was much in our Lord’s mind during His three years’ ministry upon earth, for many were the references to Israel made by Him. As an example, let us turn to the commission He gave to the twelve apostles in Matt 10:5, 6

"These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, go not into the way of the gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’

"These apostles were not to go to the Gentiles, nor to the Samaritans—who were the descendants of usurpers of Israel—‘but to the lost sheep of the House of Israel’; and they obeyed this command as far as was then possible. The only tribe that they could reach which had any connection with Israel was Benjamin, and Benjamin as a tribe was won to allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ. Benjamin had gone into captivity with Judah, and had come back with Judah; but in the prophecies of God, Benjamin had been always associated with the Ten Tribes of Israel. It is a remarkable fact that the majority of our Lord’s disciples at the time of His earthly ministry were connected with the tribe of Benjamin. It is also of interest that, when Jerusalem was afterwards besieged by the Romans under Titus, the members of what had become the Christian tribe of Benjamin escaped.

"Christ Himself declared, in Matt. 15:24, this was His own mission: ‘He answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the House of Israel.’

"Again our Lord says, in Matt. 21:43: ‘Therefore say I unto you (He was speaking to the Jews), the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation (the Jews had long since ceased to be a nation) bringing forth the fruits thereof.’

"The Jews themselves evidently so understood His statement, for in John vii. 35 we read:— "Then said the Jews among themselves, whither will he go, that we shall not find him? Will he go unto the dispersed among the gentiles, and teach the gentiles?’

"So the Jew quite understood our Lord to refer to Israel.

"Israel was evidently in the minds of the apostles themselves. On the day of the ascension they asked Him:—

"‘Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?’ (Acts 1:6.)

"A restoration of the kingdom of Israel with the kingdom of Judah had been promised. The apostles did not confuse the kingdom of Israel with that of Judah, for they said, ‘Wilt Thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ St. Paul devotes thirty-six verses in Romans 11 to prove that God has not cast away His people, but that "blindness in part is happened unto Israel until the fulness of the nations be come in," so that all Israel shall be saved.

"Lastly, the final word must be that of our Lord. In Acts 1:7, 8 Christ said:—

"‘It is not for you to know the times or the seasons which the Father hath put in His own power, but ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you, and ye shall be witnesses unto Me in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth’—which refers to the ‘regions beyond’—an expression that was fully understood to mean the dispersed among the Gentiles."

With much pain one has to say that this reveals either lamentable ignorance of the plainest and simplest truths of New Testament Scripture on the part of an otherwise educated man, or a clever adaptation by which a lawyer would seek to support a preconceived theory.

I have already dealt with some of these perversions in the first part of this pamphlet, so need only refer to them again in the briefest possible manner.

(a) It is indeed "perfectly clear" to any reader of the New Testament that Israel "was much in our Lord’s mind during His three years’ ministry upon earth"; but as clear and evident is it to any candid reader that the only "Israel" of whom He thought and spoke were the people among whom He lived and moved, and to whom His blessed ministry on earth was confined, and who are alternately called in the New Testament "Jews" and "Israel."

It was to these "lost sheep" in the land of Palestine for whom His own compassions were moved when He beheld them in multitudes, that the Twelve were sent out in Matt. 10, and He ascribes to them the term "lost" in a deeper and more solemn and spiritual sense than Anglo-Israelism has evidently any conception of. (See page 41.)

(b) The statement here repeated about the tribe of Benjamin, and that the "majority of our Lord’s disciples at the time of His earthly ministry were connected with the tribe of Benjamin," is nothing but a fiction invented by Anglo-Israelites, as already shown in Part I. (See page 17.)

The only thing which is historically true is that the Apostle Paul was of the tribe of Benjamin, but he was called after our Lord’s earthly ministry was ended, and he was appointed not to the "lost tribes," but to preach Christ’s Gospel among the Gentiles (Acts 22:21; Rom. 11:13; Gal. 1:16).

(c) The nation which brings forth the fruits of the kingdom of God during the present dispensation of Israel’s national unbelief is not the British Empire, but the Church of Christ—the elected body out of all nations and kindreds and peoples and tongues, who are called "a chosen generation (or ‘elect race ‘), a royal priesthood, a holy nation (ethnos), a people for God’s own possession" (1 Peter 2:9).

(d) To state that the Jews themselves understood Christ’s statement in Matt. 21:43 as referring to some "lost" Israel, because in John vii. 35 they said:

"Will He go unto the dispersed (ten diasporan) among the Gentile (or ‘Greeks ‘), and teach the Greeks?" is not true.

The "dispersed" among the Greeks were Hellenistic "Jews" of all the Twelve Tribes scattered abroad, who stood (as already shown in Part II.) in closest connection with the Temple and hierarchy in Jerusalem, and were never "lost"; and the Greeks among whom they were dispersed were "Gentiles."

(e) And what can be said of such a perverted application of the question in Acts 1:6, namely, that when the disciples, immediately before Christ’s ascension, asked: "Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" it was not their own nation, the "Jews," that they meant, and Jerusalem the centre of God’s kingdom on earth—but some "lost" tribes in distant regions of which they knew nothing—I suppose on the same principle of Anglo-Israel interpretation when Peter, with the eleven on the Day of Pentecost, for instance, addressed the people as "Ye men of Israel," and again, "Let all the house of Israel, therefore, know assuredly that God hath made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom ye crucified" (Acts 2:22-36)—he did not speak to the assembled multitude of "Jews" before him, but over their heads to some distant regions where there were some wandering "lost" tribes who alone were entitled to the name "Israel." But such assertions are altogether too ridiculous to be treated seriously.

The "Israel" which "was evidently in the minds of the apostles," and to whom Peter spoke, and of whom Paul wrote in that great prophetic section in his Epistle to the Romans (chaps. 9-11), were the "Jews," whether of Palestine or in the "Dispersion," who are the only representatives of all the Twelve Tribes of "Israel" with whom Scripture or prophecy has any concern, and not any supposed "lost" tribes to be identified after many centuries by Anglo-Israel writers as the British and the United States.

(f) "Lastly, the final word," we are told, "must be that of our Lord," and then there follows the quotation of the glorious promise and prophetic forecast from Acts 1:7, 8: "Ye shall receive power when the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth"; and we are assured that the last sentence refers "to the regions beyond—an expression that was fully understood to mean the dispersed among the Gentiles "—by which, I suppose, we are meant to understand, the "lost" tribes.

But the sentence—kai eos eschaton tes ges--means, as it ‘has been properly rendered, "unto the end (or ‘uttermost part’) of the earth," and has always been "fully" and properly understood by the Church of Christ as a Divine warrant and forecast of the preaching of the Gospel, not to the Dispersed among the Gentiles, but to the heathen world.

Continue to Note II...