Hi Steve, I hope you are well!
I have a dispute, what do you answer to those who say, that “no Jew knows what tribe they belong to” ??
That is from Wikipedia, which says that :
“With the Kingdom of Judah remaining as the sole Israelite kingdom, the term Yehudi (Jew), originally the adjective of the name Yehudah (Judah), came to include all the Israelite people.”
In medieval Rabbinic stories, the concept of the ten tribes who were taken away from the House of David (who continued the rule of the southern kingdom of Judah) becomes confounded with accounts of the Assyrian deportations, leading to the teaching of the “Ten Lost Tribes”. The recorded history differs from this teaching: No record exists of the Assyrians having exiled people from Dan, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, or western Manasseh. Descriptions of the deportation of people from Reuben, Gad, Manasseh in Gilead, Ephraim, and Naphtali indicate that only a portion of these tribes were deported, and the places to which they were deported are known locations given in the accounts. The deported communities are mentioned as still existing at the time of the composition of the books of Kings and Chronicles and did not disappear by assimilation. 2 Chr 30:1-11 explicitly mentions northern Israelites who had been spared by the Assyrians, in particular the people of Dan, Ephraim, Manasseh
, Asher, and Zebulun, and how members of the latter three tribes returned to worship at the Temple in Jerusalem during the reign of Hezekiah.
Your email brings up some very good points about the Israelite exiles and what happened afterwards. To begin with, I’d respond that most Jews are very well aware of their tribal affiliation (Judah) although some are also of Levi. Wikipedia may be quoting a concept that came in later rabbinic traditions, but it is hard for me to comment on it as I do not know the overall context in which that comment appeared.
It makes sense that Assyrian history would make no mention of taking people from Dan, Asher, Issachar, Zebulon or Western Manasseh as my books document the evidence that those tribes did not go into an Assyrian captivity. They did go into exile, but it was a voluntary one as those tribes (and other ones) migrated to new homelands in the Black Sea region becoming known as Scythians, Sacae, Iberians, Gauthei, etc. You correctly named the tribes which had all or portions of their tribes taken into an Assyrian captivity. II Kings 15:29 records that the Assyrians took captive “all the land of Naphtali” and also Israelites living in Gilead (the tribes of Eastern Manasseh, Reuben and Gad). Galilee is also mentioned but Israelites in that area could have easily retreated into the territories of the other tribes which successfully resisted the Assyrian invasion at that time and did not go into captivity. Ephraimites also went into captivity when the old Israelite capital of Samaria fell years later.
There is actually a good explanation re: why Hezekiah was able to send messengers to some people of Ephraim and Manasseh during his reign. His invitation to people of the northern tribes was written soon after the fall of Samaria. As my books make clear, the Israelites of the northern kingdom (who were the backbone of the Phoenician Empire in its heyday) had a large number of colonies all over the world (North Africa, Spain/Iberia, the British Isles, mainland Europe and even North America. Many Israelites of the ten tribes (especially the wealthy) could easily have escaped to the Israelite/Phoenician colonies and returned to take control of their old estates with their associates soon after the Assyrian army left the region. I doubt many Israelites taken captive by Assyria ever made it back to the old kingdom of Israel’s territory, but the free Israelites who fled to the Israelite colonies could have quickly returned in limited numbers to their old estates. These would have been resident in their old tribal territories in the time of II Chronicles 30:1.