The Ten Tribes comprised the majority of the Ancient Israelites. They were exiled and lost consciousness of their ancestry. A few critics have claimed that there may not have been that many of them. This talk considers the evidence.
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Demographic Reality. How Many Israelites (from the Ten
Tribes) Really Were Exiled?
Steve M. wrote:
Do you have a figure re the population of the Northern Tribes at the time of
their deportation? If so, can you please give me the source?
How Many Were Exiled?
(a) How Many Israelites were there in
the North? When the Israelites came out of Egypt they numbered more than 600,000
males between the ages of 20 and 60 plus those who were older and younger and
The southern section of Israel and the northern part were destined to split
aside and form two separate Kingdom:
Judah in the south; Israel (of the Ten Tribes) in the north.
In the time of David, the Northern Tribes had 1,100,000 warriors; Judah had
470,000 plus Levites and Benjaminites who were not numbered.
5 Then Joab gave the sum of the number of the people to David. All Israel had
one million one hundred thousand men who drew the sword, and Judah had four
hundred and seventy thousand men who drew the sword. 6 But he did not count Levi
and Benjamin among them, for the king?s word was abominable to Joab.
In the time of Solomon the Bible tells us that Israel (i.e. both Judah and
Israel) were extremely numerous.
Solomon was followed by his son Rehoboam in whose reign the northern Ten Tribes
The northern Ten Tribes called themselves the Kingdom of Israel. They were
headed by Jeroboam ben Nebat.
Jeroboam with 800, 000 warriors (2-Chronicles 13:3) attacked Judah and was
defeated, 500,000 of his men were killed (2-Chronicles 13:17) .
Those killed were males, the females remained so since polygamy was permitted at
that time we may assume that
the population of Israel returned to what it had been.
About 70 years later,
King Amaziah of Judah hired 100,000 Israelite Mercenaries from Samaria
He also had 300,000 of his own from Judah.
If in the time of Amaziah such a large number of warriors were available for
surplus usage then there must have been many more on hand for the regular
The final exile of the Northern Israelites was 60 years afterwards.
The Exile happened after northern areas had been lost to Aram, and most of Dan
and possibly other Tribes had left in some way or other.
The Exile by the Assyrians was in Stages.
It involved millions of people who were taken away a 20 to 30 (or possibly
longer) stretch of time.
RAYMOND F. McNAIR, "America And Britain In Prophecy", 1996, U.S.A.
McNair (1996) p.18: 'Were Millions Just Assimilated?....Professor Salo Baron,
acclaimed by the London Daily Express as the world's greatest authority on
Jewish history, says that, prior to Israel's Assyrian captivity, 'there were not
less than four hundred settlements classified as towns' (Social and Religious
History of the Jews, vol.1, p.72.) Interestingly, 'Tiglath-pileser boasts that
he destroyed at this time five hundred and ninety-one cities[!], whose
inhabitants were carried away with all their possessions to Assyria? ('Tiglath-pileser,'
Unger's Bible Dictionary, p.1,094). We must remember that those 600 cities were
all located in the northern part of the Northern Kingdom and in the region
across the Jordan- away from the main concentration of the northern tribes!
Thus, Israel, in the eighth century B.C. was an extremely populous nation!?
How Many Remained? According to a Midrash possibly 12% (one in eight) who mostly joined
themselves to Judah.
Midrash Seder Olam says that when the Jews (from Judah, Benjamin, and Levi)
returned from Babylon they were joined by a number (ca. 20% of the total)
whose Tribes were not given. These were remnants of the Ten Tribes who (explains
Nachamnides) were to be subsumed under Judah since their Israelite Tribal
was to be fulfilled by their brothers amongst the Ten Tribes in Exile.
In the time of King Hezekieh Sennacherib of Assyria attacked Judah. Sennacherib
boasts ot taking more than 200,000 from Judah into Exile.
These joined the Ten Tribes and shared their fate. Even though numerically they
may have comprised the majority of Judah they are subsumed as part of the
Ten Tribes in the same way as refugees from the Ten Tribes amongst Judah are
considered part of Judah.
To sum up,
We do not know how many people were involved.
Based on what we do know we may estimate that it involved millions of people.
BUT even more important than the absolute numbers are the following basic facts:
MOST of the Ten Tribes were Exiled.
They were destined to be Exiled and Lose their Identity.
In their places of Exile they were DESTINED to increase and multiply.
This is what the Bible says.
This is what happened.
We can show this from the Bible and from History.
The Ten Tribes were destined to loose their identity.
They were destined to become enormously numerous in their places of exile.
Their expression as Israelites in general (and especially concerning descendants
of Joseph) was to be fulfilled as Ten Lost Tribes.
This is what Prophecy predicted.
We have numerous historical precedents based on demographical and genetic
studies where relatively small numbers of people grew to great numbers.
Sometimes great population expansion took place over relatively short periods of
times from a historical perspective.
Examples include the French Canadians, the people of Finland, the descendants of
Neil and the Connachta in Ireland.
We also know examples where the opposite phenomenon occurred and whole peoples
seem to have disappeared.
Genealogical and demographic studies are full of cases where families and ethnic
groups grow exponentially whereas others diminish.
For Polemical reasons it is good to know that the overwhelming majority of the
Ten Tribes were Exiled and Lost their identity.
The Bible says that the Ten Tribes especially Joseph would increase and
AND HE BROUGHT HIM FORTH ABROAD, AND SAID, LOOK NOW TOWARD HEAVEN, AND TELL THE
STARS, IF THOU BE ABLE TO NUMBER THEM: AND HE SAID
UNTO HIM, SO SHALL THY SEED BE.
THAT IN BLESSING I WILL BLESS THEE, AND IN MULTIPLYING I WILL MULTIPLY THY SEED
AS THE STARS OF THE HEAVEN, AND AS THE SAND WHICH IS UPON THE SEA SHORE; AND THY
SEED SHALL POSSESS THE GATE OF HIS ENEMIES;
AND IN THY SEED SHALL ALL THE NATIONS OF THE EARTH BE BLESSED; BECAUSE THOU HAST
OBEYED MY VOICE.