When King Dawid (David) died, his son and successor Solomon raised the taxes, putting a heavy burden on the people. Solomon died, and his son Rehoboam decided to not only continue with the taxes but to raise them even higher. The disgruntled nation was ultimately divided in two. To the south was the tribe of Yehudah (Judah) plus the tribe of Benyamin (House of Yehudah); the other ten tribes did not agree to the tax raise and separated from them. These ten tribes settled in the north, and their king was Yeroboam (House of Yisrael also called the House of Ephraim).

1 Kings 11:10-13 [Hebraic Roots Bible - HRB]
11 And YAHWEH said to Solomon, Because this has been done by you, and you have not kept My covenant and My statutes that I charged on you, I shall surely tear the kingdom from you and shall give it to your servant.
12 Only, I will not do it in your days, for the sake of your father David; I shall tear it out of your son's{Rehabʽam or Rehoboam} hand.
13 Only I will not tear away all the kingdom; I will give one tribe to your son for my servant David's sake, and for the sake of Jerusalem that I have chosen.
Divided Kingdom: Yehudah & Yisra’el (930 before Yeshua)

The next verse refers to the leader of the ten northern tribes Yarobʽam (Jeroboam)

1 Kings 11:31-35 [HRB]
31 For so says YAHWEH, Elohim of Israel, Behold, I am tearing the kingdom from the hand of Solomon and giving to you the ten tribes.
32 And he shall have the one tribe for my servant David's sake, and for Jerusalem's sake, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel.
33 Because they have forsaken Me, and bow themselves to Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, to Chemosh the god of Moab, to Milcom the god of the sons of Ammon; and have not walked in My ways, to do the right in My eyes, and My statutes and My judgments, as his father David did.
34 But I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand, but I will make him ruler all the days of his life, for My servant David's sake, whom I chose, because he kept My commandments and My statutes.
35 But I will take the kingdom out of his son's hand, and will give it to you, ten tribes.

Later on we see a war between the House of Yehudah and the House of Ephraim or House of Yisrael

1 Kings 12 :20 [The Scriptures - TS]
20  And it came to be when all Yisra’el heard that Yarob‛am had come back, they sent for him and called him to the congregation, and set him up to reign over all Yisra’el. There was none who followed the house of Dawid, except the tribe of Yehudah only. 
21  And Rehab‛am came to Yerushalayim, and he assembled all the house of Yehudah with the tribe of Binyamin, one hundred and eighty thousand chosen brave men, to fight against the house of Yisra’el, to bring back the reign to Rehab‛am son of Shelomoh. 
Original Distribution Of the Tribes in the Land

We have already mentioned that Judah and Bejamin were the tribes that formed the Southern Kingdom of Judah but if we look at the original distribution of the tribes in the land, the tribe of Shimon was inside the the territory of the southern kingdom or House of Yehudah. 

Joshua 19:1 [TS]
And the second lot came out for Shimʽon, for the tribe of the children of Shimʽon for their clans. And their inheritance was within the inheritance of the children of Yehudah{Judah}. 

We can find some more important information about the House of Yehudah in the following verses

1 Kings 12:23 [TS]
23 “Speak to Rehabʽam son of Shelomoh, sovereign of Yehudah, and to all the house of Yehudah and Binyamin, and to the rest of the people, saying...
Tribes of the North & of the South in the Land

According to this verse the tribe Yehudah and the tribe Binyamin were not the only people in the southern Kingdom but they were accompanied by other people of Yisra’el, most probably from the tribe of Shim’on. If this is so, we are seeing two basic tribes and perhaps not other entire tribes but people from other tribes.

Aside from the tribe of Shim’on and perhaps a few individuals from other tribes we have information about the tribe of Lewi (Levi) . The Eternal instructed all the other tribes to allow the tribe of Lewi to dwell in the open land around their cities all over the land (north & south). According to this, it follows that there would have been members of the tribe of Lewi in the cities of the south. The tribe of Lewi had no land. They focused on the service of the Temple, teaching the Torah and they were the  judges and teachers of the people of Yisra’el.
Before the exile of the northern tribes into Assyria, there were Lewites and Yisraelites from all the tribes that travelled to the southern kingdom

2 Chronicles 11 [TS]
And Rehabʽam dwelt in Yerushalayim....And from all their borders the priests and the Lewites who were in all Yisra’el took their stand with him...For the Lewites left their open lands and their possessions and came to Yehudah and Yerushalayim,
And after the Lewites left, those from all the tribes of Yisra’el, such as set their heart to seek יהוה Elohim of Yisra’el, came to Yerushalayim to offer to יהוה Elohim of their fathers...And they strengthened the reign of Yehudah, and made Rehabʽam son of Shelomoh strong for three years

In 2 Chronicles 15, it is recorded that Asa (Shelomoh’s great-grandson) gathered individuals from the different tribes:

2 Chronicles 15 [TS]
...(Asa) gathered all Yehudah and Binyamin, and those who sojourned with them from Ephrayim, and Menashsheh, and Shim‛on, for they came over to him in great numbers from Yisra’el when they saw that יהוה his Elohim was with him

This evidence tells us that people from the the ten northern tribes migrated to the southern kingdom of Yehudah and Binyamin.


Northern Tribes (House of Yisra’el) taken captives to Assyria

When the Northern Kingdom was invaded by Assyria in 722 before Yeshua, most of them them were taken captive into Assyria.

2 Kings 17:6; 24 [TS]
In the ninth year of Hoshea, the sovereign of Ashshur captured Shomeron{Samaria, capital of the Northern Kingdom} and exiled Yisra’el to Ashshur, and settled them in Halah and Habor, the River of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. 
24 And the sovereign of Ashshur brought people from Babel, and from Kuthah, and from Awwa, and from Hamath, and Sepharwayim, and placed them in the cities of Shomeron instead of the children of Yisra’el. And they took possession of Shomeron and dwelt in its cities.

To break the ethnic identity of the Northern Kingdom (House of Yisra’el), the Assyrian king used a strategy often used in antiquity; he brought in people from other regions to replace those taken into captivity and re-populate the region with other ethnic groups. As a result, most of the people of the Ten Northern tribes eventually lost their identity (lost sheep of the House of Yisra’el). However, a remnant from each of the tribes remained.

There is recorded evidence that after the Assyrian invasion, a remnant from the Northern Tribes who were faithful to the Eternal still migrated to the Southern Kingdom to worship in Yerushalayim for the Feasts of the Eternal:

2 Chronicles 30
Ḥizqiyahu{king of Yehudah ca. 715-686 before Yeshua}  sent to all Yisra’el and come to the House of יהוה at Yerushalayim, to perform the Passover to יהוה Elohim of Yisra’el...“Children of Yisra’el, turn back to יהוה that He returns to the remnant of you who have escaped from the hand of the sovereigns of Ashshur. 
Some from Asher and Menashsheh and from Zebulun, however, humbled themselves and came to Yerushalayim... (Ephrayim and Yissaskar are also mentioned)

This evidence contradicts the popular belief that there was no communication or contact between the two kingdoms. We can see that even after the invasion, individuals from Yisra’el continued to be in contact with those from Yehudah.

So far, we have seen that in terms of tribal territories, there were nine tribes to the north that could have been 10 tribes at other points in time. To the south we had  Yehudah that was joined by Binyamin and later on, some individuals from the northern tribes also joined them. It is evident that not all the tribes of the Northern Kingdom were exiled by the Assyrians to other regions outside the land and that many members of the northern tribes transferred to the Southern Kingdom. 

2 Chronicles 31:1 [TS]
And at the completion of all this, all Yisra’el who were present went out to the cities of Yehudah and broke down the pillars, and cut down the Asherim, and tore down the high places and the altars, from all Yehudah, and Binyamin, and in Ephrayim and Menashsheh, even to completion. Then all the children of Yisra’el returned to their own cities, each to his possession. 

Again, after many of the tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Yisra’el were taken captives into Assyria, there was a remnant of Yisraelites remaining in the north. Ephraim and Menashsheh are mentioned because they were the two main tribes; this does not mean members of the other tribes were not involved in the removal of the high places and altars dedicated to the pagan ‘gods’. 

In the year 612 before Yeshua, Nineveh (Assyria’s capital) was conquered by the Babylonian Empire. Yoshia, king of Yehudah, took advantage of this moment of weakness and took back the northern cities of Yisrael:

2 Chonicles 34:3-6; 9
he began to cleanse Yehudah and Yerushalayim from the high places, and the Asherim, and the carved images, and the moulded images...and in the cities of Menashsheh, and Ephrayim, and Shimʽon, as far as Naphtali, in their ruins all around...the Lewites who kept the doors had gathered from the hand of Menashsheh and Ephrayim, and from all the remnant of Yisra’el, and from all Yehudah and Binyamin, and which they had brought back to Yerushalayim

To put things in perspective, a hundred years after the exile of the ten tribes we see that  the tribes of Menashsheh, Ephrayim, Shim’on and a remnant of all Yisra’el are mentioned. Once again, it is evident that there were members from the tribes of Northern Kingdom living in the Southern Kingdom. Menashsheh, Ephrayim and Shim’on are probably mentioned because they were the most prominent of the northern tribes, surely other tribes would be included in the term «all the remnant of Yisra’el».


Judah is Taken to Babylon – James Tissot

In the year 586 before Yeshua, Babylon invaded the Southern Kingdom of Yehudah and they took away individuals from Yehudah, Binyamin, Shim’on and the other individuals from the remnant of Yisra’el that were with them by then.
History tells us that seventy years later the Persian Empire ruled over the then known world. It put an end to the Babylonian Empire and also reigned over the land of Yisra’el.
The Persian king Cyrus allowed all the Yisra’elites to return to their ancestral land. Gradually many returned, while others remained in the cities they were exiled to. This part of Yisra’el’s story is recorded in the book of Esther where we see Yisra’elites still living in Persia such as Mordechai and Esther among many others.
We see that when the exile ended, Ezra returned with individuals from both kingdoms 

1 Chronicles 9
And the first inhabitants who were in their possessions in their cities of Yisra’el, were the priests, the Lewites, and the Nethinim{temple servants}. ...And in Yerushalayim dwelt some of the children of Yehudah, and some of the children of Binyamin, and some of the children of Ephrayim and Menashsheh:

In the book of Nehemiah we find a list of 12 men who returned from exile 

Nehemiah 7:6-7
6 These are the sons of the province who came back from the captivity of the exiles whom Nebukadnetstsar the sovereign of Babel had exiled, and who returned to Yerushalayim and Yehudah, each to his city, 
7  Zerubbabel, Yeshua, Nehemyah, Azaryah,  Ra'amyah, Nahamani, Mordekai
Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigwai, Nehum, Ba'anah.(see Ezra 2:2 with some  errors in in transcriptions).

We find the same information when we compare Nehemiah 7:73 with Ezra 2:70

Nehemiah 7:73; Ezra 2:70
So the priests, and the Lewites, and the gatekeepers, and the singers, and some of the people, and the Nethinim, and all Yisra’el dwelt in their cities

More evidence exists that the tribes of Yisra’el were never lost, perhaps the tribal territories were, but the people of these tribes were not. 
Below are some verses that record more evidence

Ezra 8:24-25; 29
24 And I separated twelve of the leaders of the priests: Sherebyah, Ḥashabyah
, and ten of their brothers with them; 
25 and weighed out to them the silver, and the gold, and the utensils, the contribution for the House of our Elohim which the sovereign and his counsellors and his heads, and all Yisra’el who were there, had presented. 
29 “Watch and guard them until you weigh them before the leaders of the priests and the Lewites and heads of the fathers’ houses of Yisra’el in Yerushalayim,
Ezra 8:35
The sons of the exile, who had come from the captivity, brought burnt offerings to the Elohim of Yisra’el: twelve bulls for all Yisra’el, ninety-six rams, seventy-seven lambs, and twelve male goats as a sin offering – all as a burnt offering to יהוה. 
Ezra 6:16-17
16 Then the children of Yisra’el, the priests and the Lewites and the rest of the sons of the exile, did the dedication of this House of Elah with joy, 
17 and offered at the dedication of this House of Elah one hundred bulls, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs, and as a sin offering for all Yisra’el twelve male goats, according to the number of the tribes of Yisra’el. 

The Eternal, through Moses, told the people that if they were disobedient and reluctant to obey His commandments… the people would go into exile 

Deuteronomy 28 [HRB]
And it shall be, if you will not heed the voice of your Elohim, to take heed to do all His commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today, even all these curses shall come on you and overtake you...YAHWEH shall raise a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as the eagle flies; a nation whose tongue you will not understand...And YAHWEH shall scatter you among all people, from one end of the earth even to the other, and you shall serve other gods there, wood and stone, which you have not known, nor your fathers.

Were the tribes of Yisra’el lost? In light of all this evidence and information, the question would be, did all of the individuals of the Northern Tribes and of the Southern tribes return from their respective exiles?
The answer would be, only the remnant from both kingdoms that remained faithful to the Eternal returned to their ancestral lands. These individuals returned in the days of Nehemiah and Ezra. According to the words of Moses, those who would return would be the ones who repented and were remorseful of their national and personal sins of the past; they had forgotten the commandments and statutes of the Eternal (Sabbaths weekly and annual and the Torah in general).

The key to return to the land was repentance, to turn to the Eternal again, and then the Eternal would gather them and bring them back to the land.

Deuteronomy 30:1-3 [HRB]
1 And it shall be when all these things have come on you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you among all the nations where YAHWEH your Elohim shall banish you, you shall bring these things back to your heart;
2 and shall turn back to YAHWEH your Elohim and listen to His voice, according to all that I am commanding you today, you and your sons with all your heart, and with all your soul;
3 then YAHWEH your Elohim will turn your captivity, and He will have pity on you, and will return and gather you from all the nations where YAHWEH your Elohim has scattered you.
5 And YAHWEH your Elohim shall bring you into the land which your fathers have possessed, and you shall inherit it; and He shall do you good and multiply you above your fathers

Those who listened to the voice of the Eternal were returned to the land of their ancestors. Some of those who did not return and stayed in the cities where they were scattered would travel to Yerushalayim as a pilgrimage during the annual Sabbaths of the Eternal (Passover, Sukkot or Pentecost and the feast of Tabernacles) but after the Feasts went back to their cities in the dispersion. 
The others, who were not interested in the commands, statutes and Feasts of the Eternal, intermarried with other nations and some migrated even farther from the Promised Land and lost their identity as a result. Yeshua called these individuals the ‘lost sheep’ of the House of Yisra’el:

Yair Davidiy, an orthodox Jewish author, researcher and scholar, has done extensive research on where these scattered tribes may be today. Although he uses the term ‘Lost Ten Tribes’ (as we have seen they were never lost), his research is tremendously useful and valuable  

Ten out of the Twelve Tribes of Israel were exiled and lost their identity. Their descendants are now to be found amongst Western Peoples. This is proven from the Bible, Talmud, and Rabbinical Sources as well as from Secular Studies in Ancient History, Archaeology, Mythology, Linguistics, and related fields. The Prophets spoke of this. Peoples that emerged from the British Isles (including North America) represent Joseph. The Jews of the State of Israel and the Diaspora are Judah. Joseph and Judah are destined to re-unite! The Tribes will be united in One Kingdom. Each Tribe shall dwell in its own territory.
This information deserves to be studied and internalised.
Yair Davidiy 

Were the Ten tribes of Yisra’el lost in the Assyrian exile? The Northern Ten Tribes were not lost, there was always a remnant of all the tribes of Yisra’el that was faithful to the Eternal. The others who were not interested in being faithful to the Eternal lost their identity and were scattered all over the world. 


Matthew 15:24 [TS]
...I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Yisra’el.

Notice that Yeshua said he was sent to the lost sheep of the House of Yisra’el and not to the lost tribes because the tribes were never lost. We have established that a remnant of the Northern Ten Tribes was faithful to the Eternal. The others who were not faithful to the Eternal and were scattered all over the world are the ones Yeshua came to gather.
For more insight, see YESHUA’S MISSION.

Avdiel Ben Oved; Yair Davidiy