Over 4000 years ago, Abraham was called to the top of a mountain. There, he was told that his heirs would eventually inherit the whole world and even the stars in the sky. Figuring out how this promise works out across history is the riddle of finding the lost tribes of ancient Israel. This Bible Tribes project uses time and the signing dates of modern national documents to discover where each of those tribes are located in the world today.
The Story Of The Jews?
Many people conflate the story and promises to Abraham as being the history of modern Jews. This is a mistake. Consider the promises made in Genesis 48 to Joseph's 2 sons so you can understand the problem.
One of those sons of Joseph was to become a great nation. The other son of Joseph was to become a community of nations. These 2 national promises are mutually exclusive. No single group can inherit both of these promises at the same time.
These 2 promises are the largest of the national promises made to Abraham's family. The other sons of Jacob have other, still different, national promises. There are 13 such promises in total. Implicit in these promises are different national languages, different cultures, different histories and often different forms of religion which together creates different ways of thinking.
It is not possible for any single modern nation to fulfill all of these various promises at the same time. So even theoretically, modern Israel and/or the Jews can only be 1 of those tribes.
It turns out, the modern nation of Israel does have a place in this story. But, modern Israel is only 1 of the lost tribes. Israel, like the others, has its own unique language, culture, history and religion that it shares with no other nation.
The other common mistake that many people make is to think that history has developed in some random way. This belief comes in part because of training in secular schools that teach evolution as the governing principle of human history.
In that world view, even the existence of life itself is the result of random events happening over a great length of time. The development of human society is thus the natural result of those same random processes. Cultural evolution sees modern society as the culmination of that random evolutionary process.
That same training regimen wants its students to treat the Bible as some sort of myth. So they view passages like the promises to Abraham at best as self-fulfilling prophecies.
The promises to Abraham, and their eventual fulfillment in modern nations, is a major counter example that flies in the face of the idea of history being random.
Finding the fulfillment of the promises to Abraham as spread around the modern world also supports the general idea that the Bible is inspired. Whomever caused it to be written, knew and perhaps even controlled, the general flow of human history. More on that below.
Someone spoke to Abraham about the future of the world. Abraham's immediate descendants were told more specific details. Together, members of that family were told that their future history on Earth would develop into a group of nations each with different characteristics. Through successive waves of adoption, eventually all the nations on Earth would be adopted into Abraham's increasingly diverse family. Depending on how you read the story, even territory in the skies will become part of that same inheritance.
This, of course, might be some sort of wishful thinking on the part of a non-inspired ancient writer. The wishful thinking argument can be refuted by understanding how the development of modern nations happened on a predicted schedule. We will eventually explore that day-accurate schedule in full detail.
What you need to know now is that history is being driven by a divine hand. That hand runs with day-accurate precision across many thousands of years. Nations, using their normal political processes, have ended up passing laws and signing treaties on day-accurately predicted prophetic dates.
Not only was Abraham told about the future, that future is developing under the control of forces external to Earth itself.
What Riddle? What Strategy?
At this point I hope you are interested in understanding the riddle presented in the Bible dealing with the lost tribes. Indeed, it is a riddle.
Riddles are always solved in steps. The first step is to realize a riddle exists. This usually starts with small parts of the riddle, touching just parts of the full problem.
Some aspects of the lost tribes riddle have been known within American Christianity since the 1700s.
The earliest expression of this was to wonder about the founding of the United States itself. The 13 original colonies looked to people of the 1700s as some sort of modern replay of the 13 original tribes that settled ancient Canaan after leaving Egypt. The 13 bars on the modern American flag are a reminder of that observation.
Indeed, crossing the Atlantic to settle North America also looked like crossing the Red Sea on the way out of Egypt. It was also easy to see the monarchy in Britain as a modern type of Pharaoh. So the American revolution was a type of leaving Egypt.
This whole view was the subject of many a sermon in the colonial era. This view of the founding of the United states picks off an important aspect of the single lost tribe that became the USA. That tribe often reflects the rest of the tribes within itself. So reflecting the ancient tribal origins was itself an aspect of the general riddle of finding all of the lost tribes.
Early American preachers were touching parts of the riddle. They were following what we might now consider to be part of a general strategy. By using known facts about a nation, it is possible to look for patterns matching those facts in the text of the Bible. This can also be done the other way around. Start with the text and look out for national matches. In the end, this is always an iterative process.
The first real strategy for finding the lost tribes is to study and catalog all of the Bible's recorded history for each of the tribes that descend from Abraham. Most of Abraham's heirs, in particular Jacob's heirs, went down to Egypt and started to return to Canaan 430 years later.
Using that set of data, and by looking at all known modern nations, it is possible to start to piece together their modern tribal identities.
Doing this well requires 2 important things. First, it demands that the text of the Bible is well understood. It is not possible to cheat this process. There are many dusty corners in the pages of the text of the Bible that few people ever read, much less hear about in church.
There are also many ideas, especially Jewish, that are carried around popularly, but are not backed up by stories in the inspired text itself. Recent forms of American Christianity, especially since World War II, are not very evidence based. The Bible is often only used to proof-text ideas that come from other places. Often the proof-texting process used by American preachers is picking sides in textual contradictions.
America was founded mostly by Protestant refugees from Britain and later by refugees from other parts of Christian Europe. Luther's founding principles of Protestantism were 1) use scripture alone and 2) read it for yourself. These are well suited principles for cutting through propaganda and political control. They once formed the basis for American culture itself.
Firebrand colonial era preachers embodied these principles. It drove American Christianity until the time of Zionist takeover in the late 1800s. That early form of American Christianity is basically unknown to modern Christians in the USA.
For much of America's history, this first condition on finding the tribes was easily met within American Christianity. One of the observations made when studying the text in this way, is by noting that some tribes are better documented than others. Joseph, through his 2 sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, are perhaps the best documented. So those will be easier to spot than some of the other lost tribes.
The second point for solving these riddles is that details of modern nations must be understood too. Differences in national languages prevents this from happening easily.
It is easy for, say, Americans speaking the English language to riddle out the US and UK. It is not easy for Americans to riddle out Russia, with her detailed history written in the Russian language, and never taught in detail in American schools. Russian history and culture is thus mostly hidden to Americans. Russia's identity in the Bible is thus nearly impossible for American Christians to properly figure out.
In any case, the identity of the USA was worked out by others in the past using this strategy. Manasseh was identified as the likely lost tribe that became the USA. His brother Ephraim was identified as the likely lost tribe that became the modern UK. By this I also mean that Ephraim encompasses the former British empire, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, and many more. There are approximately 50 governments in the commonwealth to match the 50 states in the USA. Manasseh is thus the great nation and Ephraim is thus the community of nations. We will return to how this was discovered later.
Similar strategies appear possible in other parts of the world. I was told once, by a refugee to the USA from Russia, about how their tribal identity was worked out by Russians. That identification would have made zero sense to me, nor to most reading this website, if I had not already worked out Russia's tribe by other means. In fact I was being complimented for matching their work.
Linguistically? Using Names?
Another strategy for finding lost tribes is to explicitly look for them by name. This linguistic study only really works for Switzerland, and then not in English. Their own name for themselves is the Confederation of the Helvetti. Their high level national domain name on the internet is the abbreviation of this name: '.ch'
Helvetti is the Hellenized form of the name Levites. Hellenized is a fancy way for linguists to say the letter H, usually meaning 'the,' was added to the front of the name. Take off that letter and you can easily spot the root Levites in what remains, even in English. Hellenization happens commonly to names when they get transmitted through the Greek language.
The lost tribe of Dan is another that might be possible to find in a similar way. Some have suggested that Denmark might be the tribe of Dan. The name itself might simply mean "Dan's Mark." So this would suggest to look for Dan in Denmark.
This turns out to be a false lead. But, it is an example of another problem. The land gets the name of the people and then keeps that name even if the people living in that land later leave. As will be shown, Dan moved west into what is now the Netherlands.
Judah in Palestine is a similar example of how names can trip up many people. Judah is the correct name of part of that land. The tribe of Judah once lived there. But, then that tribe departed. They left behind land with their name still attached.
So linguistic studies are not very strong at solving the lost tribes riddle. It does not work for the general case of finding them all at the same time.
The problem with all of these strategies is that they are built on lines of argument that come by using tools of the humanities. In particular, the study of history and culture.
These tools, though interesting, are also weapons of intellectual warfare. Only victors write history. Written history tends to be self serving to special interests. This is especially so since the end of World War II.
What we are told about our own history changes with time. It is one aspect of the domain of national politics. Politicians, and the people driving them, are the authors of most history.
So all of these strategies are weak and hard to trust. Someone can easily come along later and shout out the truth, republish text books and control public and church narratives to hide truths in any area dealing with history.
There is a different way to find the tribes. We can use mathematics. This turns the riddle of finding the tribes into a problem using the tools of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).
Of course mistakes are still possible. Politics has taken over most of the organized sciences. Anyone claiming to be a scientist, but speaking on a political platform, or who is funded with public or agenda driven money, can never be trusted. But, STEM tools, properly used, can even identify when they are being used to make mistakes or outright lie.
For our purposes here, the use of error analysis, sometimes called "error bars," is important to keep in mind. All well done scientific measurements of any sort should include a tolerance, or estimate of error, that goes with each value.
Using STEM tools makes it much easier for anyone trained in STEM disciplines to verify solutions to problems using those same STEM tools. As an added benefit, using math to find the tribes, means the study is not very dependent on learning foreign language nor learning distant culture nor learning hard to find history.
It is possible to identify all of the lost tribes by solving for a single, simple, equation. It is also not possible to 'shout out' the answer. To refute a STEM based answer requires proposing an alternative that is more accurate, that somehow fits the data better.
The earliest articles here on Bible Tribes date back to the year 2000. At the time they were located as a tab on the Bible Time website.
That website goes into extensive details on the calendar and timeline of the Bible. The conclusion of that study is that it is possible to figure out the calendar used to write the Bible. It is also possible to align, day accurately, that calendar with the modern calendar.
This brings day-accurate precision back to all events in the Bible. This is so whenever it uses day-accurate precision. Even when the text is not day-accurate, time references always carry some other accuracy. Month and year accuracy is quite common across the Bible.
Even undated Bible stories are often not timed but are time-accurate replays of other passages that are accurately timed. It might be the case that every story can be accurately timed within reasonable error bars.
So normal STEM error analysis can easily be applied throughout the timeline of the Bible. Time measurements are always bounded by whatever time accuracy might have been used in the various written accounts.
Curiously, the earliest of the day-accurate passages is Noah's flood, nearly 7000 years ago. So the text of the Bible is now running with a time accuracy of 1 day in over 2.5 million days, at least for some time calculations. The Bible is not just a dusty old book. In some uses, it has higher precision than was used in modern industry and science until the invention of the integrated circuit.
The Bible Time study also involves understanding principles of prophetic time intervals. The most important of those comes from Joseph's interpretation of the cup bearer's and baker's dreams. Joseph introduces a principle. Counts of anything, no matter what those things might be, are also references to time. In their case, the 3 things in their dreams became 3 days of future time.
That principle appears to apply across many passages within the text. I did an extensive survey of all large counts of things given in the pages of the Bible. I was out to understand the scope of this principle. Is this principle true in all cases?
One of those high-count lists is found in Revelation 7. There we find a passage that looks like a census. But it also lists the names of each of the lost tribes. These are not individual people.
Most interpretations of that passage take it to mean a group of 144,000 people are being called out as 'sealed.' How they are sealed, exactly, is never explained very clearly.
But, Joseph's principle of how to interpret prophetic counts means there are 144,000 days being called out in Revelation 7. This may or may not be people. That aspect of understanding Revelation 7 does not matter. The time aspect is always true no matter what else those counts might be counting.
Using this principle means Revelation 7 is calling out a day-accurate, long distance series of time intervals. They are each 12,000 days long. They chain end-to-end over 144,000 days. The actions of those lost tribes must be visible at those times, so on or near some precise list of dates. The list does not tell us what error bars should be applied.
With Joseph, the rest of the dreams that he interpreted give more details about how those dreams were to be applied in the lives of the men with the dreams.
The same is happening here. Revelation 7 says there is a process of 'sealing' for each of those 144,000. Sealing is what is done by anyone putting wax on documents in order to emboss that wax with their seal. So sealing means someone is agreeing to a contract of some type. The forehead, or brow, is a place on the body that indicates remembering or forgetting. These are tribes that have forgotten who they are. The sealing process brings them back to remembrance.
So that Revelation 7 passage is calling out the signing of national documents by national assemblies, or their representatives, in each of those lost tribes. So in each of those tribes as they are now modern nations.
To verify what was originally a hunch about this passage, I needed to see if I could find each of the signed national documents. They needed to have been signed every 12,000 days, or so, across more than 390 years. I then went on a hunt to see if I could find those documents.
I had to keep in mind 1) unknown error bars. The passage in Revelation 7 does not hint at tolerance. I also had to consider that 2) this whole list might all still be future. It was also possible that 3) the whole list was ongoing, so it might have dates late in the list that have not yet happened. It might also be the case that 4) some aspect of the signing process might not be well documented in English language sources.
Anyone familiar with high precision machinery knows that equipment must be calibrated. An accurate measuring tape calibrates a carpenter's use of his saw. Calibrated systems allow a builder to check his work against the original design.
I was already familiar with the identification of the USA and UK as being the lost tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim respectively. This was from a popular book published in the 1970s. The known identity of Manasseh and Ephraim became the basis of my calibration.
I set out to see if I could find documents that were signed on dates that aligned important document dates with those 2 tribal names. This first condition was that the USA and UK must fit the seal date pattern. These nations must have signed documents at their times along the list of dates. If I could find those documents with known signing dates, then documents signed at the other dates would identify the other lost tribes.
With a few surprises, especially involving Russia, this strategy worked. The only trouble was knowing where in the world those documents might be signed. History is recorded by place, not by date.
I now call this process the Seal Date Strategy for finding the lost tribes of ancient Israel.
Bible Tribes Website
This Tribes work unleashed a wave of discovery that warranted a different website. Thus Bible Tribes was born. The articles dealing with the lost tribes were moved off of Bible Time and brought here to Bible Tribes.
Through successive seasons of discovery, the number of articles on this Bible Tribes website has grown over the years. There are now a little over 120 articles located here.
Some of the articles are basically sketched in. Some are extensive and detailed. You could theoretically build a college level, year long, course out of the material presented here.
So to help you grapple with this material, let me review the organization of the articles presented here.
This website is organized as an online book. Using a keyboard you can arrow right/left to move forward or backward through all articles. On touch devices you can swipe between articles.
There are tabs across the top. 1 for each lost tribe. There is also a home tab which you are in now. This home section includes a long set of articles that give complete explanation of the Seal Date strategy for finding the lost tribes.
This home section also includes a thorough review of the covenants in the Bible. These provide the launch stories and general patterns that inform the theoretical problem of the Lost Tribes. Those stories provide many of the characteristics of how the world has developed. They provide many of the tribe specific characteristics that is expressed in the world today.
Each tribe has a fundamentally different nature than the others. They might even reflect all the different possible personalities that you might find in your own children. Jacob may have found this out through raising his own sons.
These tribal personalities are not completely documented in the original Genesis accounts of Jacob and his sons. Their different personalities are documented using a different strategy that is spread across the text. This is done through the use of 'tribal grids.'
Tribal grids are places in the text which list (usually) 12 different things that express 12 different aspects of some subject. Those 12 aspects are listed in tribal order. Each aspect applies to those tribes in order.
In study of tribal grids we have found over 25 places in the text where a tribe list is being run in order. These include the holidays, miracles, kings, fruits of the spirit, prayer, even aspects of Jesus himself.
We have also placed these articles under the home tab. See the outline, usually on the left of the screen, for outline and links to those articles. I, Phil, wrote the main tribe theoretical articles. Ryan wrote the grid articles as a second witness to the main tribal work.
Warning On Inspiration
The Bible Tribes study appears to endorse the Bible as having divine inspiration. The argument appears to go like this: As the Bible 1) does lay out the history of nations and as it 2) does predict distant future document signing dates therefore 3) it must be divinely inspired.
The mistake is to assume that the entire Bible is inspired. The Bible was composited under government sponsorship around 2500 years ago. Read Ezra's commissioning letter if you do not know this. That effort swept inspired texts into the larger document we today call the Old Testament.
This Bible Tribes project is a proof that only some parts of the Bible are inspired. Working the problem of finding those inspired parts is what occupies most of our time. See Paleo.In for more on that subject.
To continue reading the story of finding the lost tribes, click or tap on the bottom right corner where it says Seal Date Theory >> Or, on a touch device, you can swipe through these articles.