Project Genesis

The 12 Tribes Today

Question: Why do we presume that all Jews alive today, with possible rare exceptions like in China and India, are Judah? Wasn’t there still a mixture of tribes in the Babylonian Exile and also in the Roman Exile? If someone were say, Issachar, then through the male line we could safely assume the offspring would be Issachar right? (Even if they had no knowledge of this.)

Answer: You are absolutely correct. Without a doubt, there are members of all the tribes mixed among us. Since the large majority are from Judah and, to a lesser degree, Benjamin and Levi, we identify mostly with them. But there are others.

Question: How does the situation of the Ten Lost tribes today match the circumstances needed for the fulfillment of the prophecy of the restoration of all Israel? In other words, are there only a few representatives of the Ten Lost tribes to be gathered up? Many of whom may have suffered loss of ethnic ties and religious awareness? Or on the other hand, do we say there are Ten Lost tribes mixed in with the mainstream Ashkenazi, Sephardi and Ethiopian populations even though these tribes have already been united with Judah for thousands of years?

Answer: As to the future restoration of all of the ten tribes, the Talmud (Sanhedrin 110b) leaves the matter in doubt, recording a dispute between Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Eliezer over whether they will eventually return at all.

With my regards,
Rabbi Boruch Clinton

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