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Ten "lost tribes" of Israel


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Iyyar 26, 5772
Dear Rabbi, I thought that the so-called "ten lost tribes of Israel" was just story? What about the Levites? (in shuls they always asks for a Cohen or a Levite), doesn’t that mean that the tribe of Levi is not lost? When did they get lost? Kind regards, shalom, Gerhard
Shalom Gerhard, The Tanach (Bible) itself tells us that Sanhereb, king of Assyria, exiled the ten tribes more than 100 years before the destruction of the First Temple (Kings II, 17, 6, about the year 700 BCE), and since then, they have generally not been heard from. Accordingly, most Jews today are from the tribe of Judah (hence, the name “Jew’) and some from Benjamin and S(h)imon, Judah’s neighbors. The exception are those particular Kohens and Levites, who lived among Judah (they always lived spread out in 48 cities among the different tribes, because they were not allotted a portion of the Land, to free them to teach Torah), and therefore were not exiled with the ten tribes. Interestingly, the Jews from Ethiopia have a tradition, upheld by many rabbis, that they are from Dan, which is one of the lost ten tribes. With Love of Israel! Rav Ari Shvat
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