Official Website


The Blog

Meditating on the Ten Lost Tribes

Meditating onThe Ten Lost Tribes


In order to meditate on the Ten Lost Tribes, we have to understand who they are, their nature as a people, and how many of them are in the world at this time.

There are two categories of Ten Lost Tribespersons:

1) Those who need us.

2) Those who are needed by us.

Now, in order to understand their significance and potential impact upon the world, we have to calculate their numbers. This might seem to be an impossible task, since more than one hundred generations have come and gone since the ten tribes of the northern kingdom of Israel were led into Assyrian exile 2800 years ago, and disappeared. Today, because of widespread interest in this subject, there are non-Jews popping up everywhere who suspect that they are descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes, and are, therefore, Jewish.

Usually, the suspicion of being a descendant from the Ten Lost Tribes starts with a feeling in the heart that pulls towards Jews and Judaism. And this can be the collective feeling of an entire people.

The Pashtun in Afghanistan claim to be descended from the Ten Lost Tribes. The Lemba in southeast Africa also claim to come from the Ten Lost Tribes.  They are black Africans, and assert that they are Kohanim  (Jewish priests).  Recent DNA testing seems to indicate that their assertion is valid. And there are 30 million Igbo of southeast Nigeria who may well be from the Ten Lost Tribes. Many Igbo today practice Judaism.

In Japan, Shinto priests have a tradition that their islands were originally settled by members of the Ten Lost Tribes, who migrated from the west riding camels. Shinto priests wear little black leather boxes tied to their heads and biceps by black leather straps like Jewish tefillin. Written inside these boxes in Japanese are the words, “The Most High.” They also wear large, beautiful white prayer shawls with tassels on the four corners, almost identical to the tallit gadol, the classic Jewish prayer shawl.

In eastern India, near the border of Thailand, there are thousands of families that claim to be descendants from the tribe of Manasseh, and who have been accepted as Jews by many rabbis. The government of Israel has brought hundreds of these B’nai Manasseh families to settle in the Holy Land. A similar situation exists with tens of thousands of Beta Yisrael, Ethiopians who trace their ancestry back to the tribe of Dan, another one of the Ten Lost Tribes.

There are other well-known stories and legends about the Ten Lost Tribes from China, England, Scotland, and Peru and elsewhere.

According to Yair Davidi, the author of several books on the subject, inhabitants of the British Isles are descended from the Ten Lost Tribes. The word British in Hebrew means “covenant of man, brit ish.”

But the vast majority of the remnant of the Ten Lost Tribes has no idea of their identity – no idea that they are Jewish and no idea that they are lost.

So, if they do not know about themselves, how can we calculate how many of them are?  Well, the truth is that we can determine their number, perhaps not with pinpoint accuracy, but close enough for a valid approximation.

According to my calculations, there are 175 million descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes residing on the planet Earth at this very moment and every last one of them is as Jewish as Moses.  

This would make these hidden Jews the eighth largest country in the world by population, ahead of Russia, Japan, Mexico, Egypt, Germany, France and England, etc.

I will now explain how we calculated their number.  

To determine the population of the Ten Lost Tribes today, we begin with the Torah,  the Book of Numbers 1:46.

It is written there that in the second year of the Exodus from Egypt, God told Moses to take a census of the people. The final count of that census was 603,550 men between the ages of twenty and fifty. 

It is a reasonable assumption that men between the ages of twenty and fifty account about one-fourth of a normal population, including women and children and the elderly. This gives us a figure of 2,414,200 men, women, and children. Most Talmudic scholars put the number higher, but let us leave it around that conservative figure, rounding it off for convenience at 2,500,000 Children of Israel whom God took out of Egypt and brought to Mount Sinai and forty years later, into the Holy Land.

Now we must jump forward 470 years.  It is near the end of King David’s life. The Second Book of Samuel, Chapter 24, tells us that King David took a census of the men of Israel between the ages of twenty and fifty, just like Moses did in the desert.

The final tally, as written in the First Book of Chronicles 21:5, was 1,600,000 men between the ages of twenty and fifty.

Again, taking this figure as one-fourth of the total, King David’s census gives us a total Israelite population of 6,400,000 men, women, and children.

So, in 470 years from Moses to King David there was a 256% increase in the number of Jews, from 2,500,000 to 6,400,000.

But that includes the entire nation of Israel not just the Ten Lost Tribes. The Ten Lost Tribes are the ten tribes that formed the Northern Kingdom.

In David’s generation, the Jewish nation was still whole and unified, and it continued that way through King Solomon’s lifetime. However, after King Solomon died, the nation was split into two kingdoms, the Kingdom of Judea and the northern Kingdom of Israel. And it was only the tribes from northern kingdom that became lost.

Judea consisted of the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi, which included the Cohanim. There were also members of the tribe of Simeon living among the tribe of Judah.

The northern kingdom of Israel consisted of the other ten tribes – Ephraim, Manasseh, Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Issachar, Dan, Naftali, and rest of the tribe of Simeon.

Thus, the ten northern tribes represented four-fifths of the twelve tribes, 80% of the total Jewish population. So if we take 80% of the Israelite nation at the end of King David’s life, we get a figure of 5,120,000 Israelites living in the northern kingdom, the ones destined to become the Ten Lost Tribes.

Moving forward once more, we leap another 288 years from the time of King David to the time when the ten tribes of the northern kingdom were conquered by Assyria and led into exile. Most historians place this in the year 722 B.C.E.

I want to digress for a moment to explain the phenomenon of leading an entire people into exile. Sennacherib the king of Assyria was a clever man. He had conquered many nations living in many lands and he wanted there to be little or no rebellion against his authority.

It is a known fact that a conquered people, living on its own land, is motivated to fight for independence and freedom. How do you defuse this? By moving one nation onto the land of another nation – move the Moabites to Midian and the Midianites to Egypt; move the Egyptians to Turkey and the Turks to Moab; and most importantly, move the Israelites to Assyria. That way Sennacherib ruled over people who lacked the resolve to revolt against Assyria’s authority.

After the reign of Sennacherib, no nation in the Middle East and Asia Minor remained connected to its roots. And this, of course, included the Israelites of the northern kingdom who were led into exile to another land, never to be heard of again…at least, not yet.

So let us tally their total number today. If you remember, when King David took his census, 288 years before the expulsion, there were 5,120,000 members of the ten northern tribes.

Now it gets a bit tricky, but it is not really difficult to follow. The span of time from leaving Egypt to King David’s census was 470 years. And the span of time from King David’s census to the exile of the Ten Tribes was 288 years. That means that the period of time from King David to the ten tribes’ exile was 60% as long as from Mount Sinai to King David, 288 years compared to 470 years.

The growth in population from the time of Mount Sinai to King David was 3,900,000. Therefore, the growth in population from King David till the exile of the Ten Lost tribes should be approximately 60% of 3,900,000, which is 2,340,000.

Add this figure to the original population of the ten northern tribes, which was 5,120,000 and you have a grand total of 7,460,000 Israelites from the northern kingdom who were led into exile by the Assyrian king.

These people were forced to march a distance of 900 kilometers (540 miles) to Assyria, which is northern Iraq today.

The Babylonian Talmud (Sanhedrin 110a) tells us that only one-third of the people survived the long march.  One-third of 7,460,000 is 2,720,000 Israelite survivors. 

We can round this number off to 2,700,000 exiles from the Ten Tribes taking up residence in Assyria and the surrounding countries.

And then, what happened happened. They got lost, meaning they assimilated with their neighbors, the indigenous surrounding people. They intermarried and lost their Jewish identities, and had children, from that time until today.

In a scientific study, McEvedy and Jones, authors of The Atlas of World Population History, determined that at the time of the exile of the Ten Lost Tribes in the year 722 B.C.E., the world’s population was around fifty million people, 50,000,000. 

This means that the 2,700,000 exiles from the Ten Lost Tribes constituted a little more than 5% of the world’s population.

If we assume that this proportion has remained constant, a reasonable assumption, then 5% of seven billion people, 7,000,000,000, which is approximately the current world’s population, gives us a population of three hundred fifty million (350,000,000).

But not all of these people are Jewish.  Only one born of a Jewish mother is Jewish. And it must be remembered that these exiles became assimilated and intermarried. Jewish women married Gentile men and Jewish men married Gentile women.

Let us figure the maximum, that 100% of the Israelites from the Ten Lost Tribes intermarried. Figuring that 50% of the population were women throughout the generations, another reasonable assumption, you can cut the 350 million figure right in half, giving us a grand total of 175 million lost Jews who are scattered around the world and do not realize that they are Jewish. But their souls realize it and many are yearning to be brought back to their heritage and their people. One hundred seventy-five million lost Jews who Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel prophesied will return to their Jewish roots before the Final Redemption (Geulah shalaimah), which according to many rabbinic authorities, has been in process for the last fifty years.

Today, there is steadily growing attraction of non-Jews to the Torah and Jewish tradition. Christians in particular have begun to delve into their faith’s Jewish roots. And quite often the search leads them to the conclusion that the only truth in Christianity is what the early church fathers took from Judaism. The rest is pagan.

This realization has inspired many to convert and become Jewish themselves or take on the Seven Laws of Noah and observe Judaism as a Noahide Ger, a righteous Gentile, who has embraced the Torah and places his faith in Hashem, the God of Israel.

Many rabbis see this as the fulfillment of the prophesied “ingathering” and a sure sign that the Final Redemption has begun.

To be continued…


Chaim Clorfene