Jonathan Bernis - Finding The Lost Tribes of Israel
Jonathan Bernis: Shalom and welcome to Jewish Voice and thank you for joining me. I'm Jonathan Bernis. The lost tribes of Israel, are they just a myth or do they really exist? If they are real, who are they? Where are they? And how did they get there? In fact, they are real, and they're directly connected to Bible prophecy being fulfilled in our day. My co-host Ezra Benjamin and I will answer these questions and then later in the program we'll be visiting our lost tribe's discovery center where we're actually identifying and establishing contact with isolated communities all around the world who claim to be descendants of the children of Israel. Ezra this is one of my favorite topics.
Ezra Benjamin: Yeah, Jonathan, it's really a passionate area for our ministry, we can say we're called to this as a ministry. Interfacing with these communities wherever they are around the world. But first things first, who do we know this isn't just some anthropological anomaly? Some invention of man, and people deciding they wanna be Jewish, so they are Jewish. What are the scriptural underpinnings for this idea that there might actually be scattered remnants of the Jewish people still alive today?
Jonathan Bernis: Well, first of all we have it very clearly laid out in scripture, and I want to look at it just a couple. This is your really important starting point in Deuteronomy chapter 28 and that's where there's lots of scriptures that say the same thing over and over again. I'm just picking one of the clearest.
Ezra Benjamin: Okay.
Jonathan Bernis: And in Deuteronomy 28 the whole chapter is listing blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. So, the Lord is saying to the children of Israel that if you follow my commandments, if you follow after me and you obey my laws and rules if you seek after me, these blessings will come upon you. And they're all listed specifically in Deuteronomy 28 beginning in verse one. So, if you'll listen to my voice, if you will be careful to obey my mitzvot or my commandments, here's how you'll be blessed. In verse three, you'll be blessed in the city, blessed in the field, the fruit of your womb, the produce of your soul, the offspring of your livestock - the increase of your herds on and on. And all of this is related to life in the land that today is Israel.
Ezra Benjamin: And Moses is telling the children before they ever get into the Promised Land, you'll be blessed in the land.
Jonathan Bernis: That's right. This is the land that you're going to, the land that's promised to you through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Ezra Benjamin: Right.
Jonathan Bernis: The land today's known as Israel.
Ezra Benjamin: But he's also saying, I mean it seems like ahead of time, he's saying, but I know you're not going to, and the Lord knows you're not going to and here's what's gonna happen in the land when you don't.
Jonathan Bernis: Well I think that in his foreknowledge of course he knows but he's laying out all of these blessings and say this is your choice. This is free will. So, all of the blessings and then beginning in verse 15 he says if you don't listen however, to Adonai your God, and you don't do as mitzvot that's commandment and the statutes then these curses will come upon you. And it actually repeats the same things. Instead of being blessed in the cities, you'll be cursed in the city, instead of being blessed in the field, you will be cursed in the field and then very very specifically it says that you will be scattered from the lands.
Ezra Benjamin: Right, your enemies will have victory over you.
Jonathan Bernis: Right, they're not even in the Promised Land yet but in verse 64 after declaring that they will be blessed in the land of their forefathers if they disobey verse 64. "Adonai the Lord will scatter you among all peoples from the one end of the earth to the other, and there you will serve other Gods - wood and stone - that you and your fathers have not known. Among these nations you will find no rest".
Ezra Benjamin: Right.
Jonathan Bernis: Okay?
Ezra Benjamin: It's serious.
Jonathan Bernis: Alright, so, here's the declaration that you will be scattered two chapters later Ezra. And this is what I love so much. Deuteronomy 30:1 says now when these things come upon you, in other words in his foreknowledge he knew that they would be scattered because of disobedience. "When these things come upon you, these blessings and the curse I have set before you, and you take them to heart in all the nations where Adonai your God has banished you and you return to the Lord your God and listen to his voice, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul, then the Lord your God will bring you back from captivity and have compassion on you, and he will return and gather you from all the peoples where Adonai your God has scattered you".
Ezra Benjamin: Before they ever set foot in the Promised Land. This is Moses before he dies in a mount nebo looking into the Promised Land. You're gonna mess up because I know your heart. You're gonna be scattered from the land not just next door but to the ends of the earth but I will regather you because I've made promises to you.
Jonathan Bernis: Right and another promise is that say that as long as the sun shines by day or the earth can't be searched out, I will preserve you as a nation, as a people before me.
Ezra Benjamin: So there's this hope of return, right from the beginning.
Jonathan Bernis: Right so you have a promise declared that I will bring you back but while you're scattered, I will preserve you. So, we know God has declared that he will preserve the people of Israel in the remotest part of the world. So, it's not a myth, this is a reality that God would scatter the children of Israel but - and he would preserve them as a people and then ultimately bring them back to himself and back to his, that's why this is prophetic. This is a prophetic thing that's happening.
Ezra Benjamin: Jonathan, some of our audience may be saying. Wait a minute, you're saying lost tribes of Israel, I know for a fact there's millions of Jews living today in the land of Israel there's millions of Jews living in Europe and America. They don't seem very lost. Are we speaking of a subset of the worldwide Jewish community or of the entire Jewish people?
Jonathan Bernis: No, we're talking about a subset of Jewish people that in fact aren't yet recognized in many cases by the state of Israel or the worldwide Jewish community and we'll talk about some of them on future shows. But specific groups in many cases that have been in isolation for centuries as were preserved their Jewish identity in some way. I don't even wanna say Jewish, their Israel identity. Because Jewish actually refers to if you want to be specific to the two tribes in the south. So, let me go back and lay this out and try to answer the question. Who are the lost ten tribes? This mystique about the lost ten tribes and it's a simple fact of history. The children of Israel were united together under the reign of David as king. About a thousand b.C and under the reign of Solomon, his son, he built the temple but the kingdom then became divided after Solomon. After Solomon the kingdom split into a northern kingdom. Ten tribes in the north.
Ezra Benjamin: Right.
Jonathan Bernis: And a southern kingdom two tribes in the south. The northern kingdom, the ten tribes were known as the tribes of Israel. The southern kingdom was known as the tribe of Judah. The northern kingdom was taken into captivity by the Assyrians in around 1722 B.C.E, or B.C. And we don't have any record of their return. So they disappear.
Ezra Benjamin: So they were lost to world consciousness basically.
Jonathan Bernis: They were lost to world consciousness, they were never, in other words there's no mention that they come back into the land. They're scattered. Now they assimilated into cultures but interestingly we have historical records of communities from these ten tribes being discovered in various places in the world. Beginning in 9th century a.D. Very interesting but that's like 1.700 years later.
Ezra Benjamin: Right.
Jonathan Bernis: It's the southern kingdom Benjamin and Judah that are taken into captivity by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. And there's a record of a remnant returning and rebuilding the temple.
Ezra Benjamin: So, historic data. They're kicked out of Israel but then they return physically to the land of Israel, physically to Jerusalem. Rebuild it and there's continuity of history from then on of this portion of the Jewish community.
Jonathan Bernis: Yes with one correction. They didn't all return. Only a remnant returns. Many stay in Babylon and in Babylon they create this extensive Jewish life and they write the Thamud. The Thamud, the oral law is primarily composed in Babylon. There's a rich history of Babylonian Jewelry but the remnant are the ones that return, rebuild the temple and re-establish Jewish life in the land that is today, Israel. And they are the ones that are referred to as the Jewish people. They're the ones that are living in the land when Jesus, when Yeshua is born and comes to Jerusalem.
Ezra Benjamin: Right. And Jonathan, it would be for us to say, y'know, the northern kingdom you're talking about, the tribes of Israel, disappear into central Asia. They disappear into far-east Asia and they're just lost but there's a problem isn't there? God promised he would regather the whole house of Israel.
Jonathan Bernis: That's why this is not a myth, that's why this is reality. Because God declared I would scatter you, that's his decree but I will also bring you back to your land and I will bring you back to myself.
Ezra Benjamin: Right. A dual restoration.
Jonathan Bernis: And we're see, and that's where we're involved in here at Jewish Voice. We are seeing, experiencing isolated tribes saying we're part of those lost ten tribes.
Ezra Benjamin: That's right.
Jonathan Bernis: That's an amazing thing. So much more I want to talk about. We have to take a break, when we come back, Ezra and I are gonna be touring our lost tribes discovery center. Our research teams are actually in contact with lost tribes in some of the most remote areas of the world. So you don't want to miss this, but first we have a message from our announcer sharing how you can get involved in this amazing outreach. And it is absolutely amazing. We'll be right back.
Jonathan Bernis: Welcome to our lost tribes discovery center. I'm really excited, this is pretty new.
Ezra Benjamin: It is Jonathan.
Jonathan Bernis: And tell us what we're seeing back here.
Ezra Benjamin: It's actually one of my favorite spaces here at Jewish Voice in Phoenix, what we have here is a team of people who are identifying and in some cases these communities are contacting us where there are Jewish communities, even lost tribes communities with a historically Jewish identity. All around the world and we're establishing contact with them, trying to understand their oral history, understand their traditions, understand where they are on the faith spectrum and in at least several cases a year Jonathan actually traveling around the world. To what feels like the ends of earth to meet these community elders.
Jonathan Bernis: It feels that way because I've been on planes as you have for 50 hours. Almost two full days to get to some of these places. Now, let me just recap because I want everybody to understand what we're talking about here. There are many, many Jewish, millions of Jewish people. When I say Jewish people I'm talking about physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that are living outside of Israel. Israel is the homeland for the Jewish people but there's just as many Jewish people living here in America. There's millions living in Europe, in South America.
Ezra Benjamin: Sure.
Jonathan Bernis: Right? In Asia there's major world Jewish population centers. We're talking about a different group beyond that. So, you have Jews living in Israel, about six million of them.
Ezra Benjamin: That's right.
Jonathan Bernis: You have Jews living in the western world, America, Europe, South America, Australia about to 15 to 17 million.
Ezra Benjamin: That's right.
Jonathan Bernis: It's only an estimate 'cause we don't know how many exactly that are part of the known Jewish world. Inside of Israel, outside of Israel and then there are scattered tribes, we call them lost and scattered tribes of Israel living in places like Africa, living in remote parts of Asia. We'll talk about that specifically in a little bit that are not recognized by the state of Israel or the mainstream Jewish community that are now coming to light. That Isaiah chapter 11 refers to these people as the scattered remnant of Israel or the outcasts of Israel and those are the people that we are discovering that are coming to us and some of these maps actually show key areas. So, talk about this.
Ezra Benjamin: Right. Not just the nation as a whole but the specific communities, in some cases small remote villages at the end of dirt roads where hundreds if not thousands of people live in a closed community in many cases. Which identifies as historically Jewish. It's really incredible Jonathan.
Jonathan Bernis: It is incredible and what's - what I want you to understand this is because many of these Jewish people. These historic scattered tribes of Israel are coming to faith in Jesus. We're making disciples in the remotest parts of the world. Remember the command of Jesus, Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria in the uttermost parts of the earth. Jewish people in Israel, in Jerusalem are coming to know Jesus as the Messiah. In Judea, in Samaria but also in the uttermost parts of the earth.
Ezra Benjamin: That's right and, y'know, Jonathan earlier in the show you read from the end of Deuteronomy where God says I'm gonna scatter you from one end of the earth to the other and we see that as you said. Latin America to far east Asia. There's a community in Kaifeng, China called the Kaifeng Jewish community who identifies as Jewish. And there's people at the very tip of Chile and Argentina from the Marrano, the historically Sephardic Jewish community from Spain, from Portugal and also from the Ashkenazi or the European Jewish community who say, "We're here too, we're Jewish". Literally one end of the earth to the other.
Jonathan Bernis: To the uttermost parts of the earth, as our interesting thought I went to Kaifeng, China a number of years ago with my friend Sid Roth and Paul Wilber, and some other friends you may now know or be aware of. We met Jews in Kaifeng and it's now just reported in the news.
Ezra Benjamin: Right.
Jonathan Bernis: That they're bringing Jews from Kaifeng, about there's a thousand they've identified and they're beginning to bring them to Israel.
Ezra Benjamin: That's right.
Jonathan Bernis: Bible prophesies being fulfilled.
Ezra Benjamin: It's incredible, y'know, Jonathan, it's so interesting that the community's we're talking to and the communities that are establishing contact with us are in many cases unrecognized as part of the world Jewish community. And God's opening a door for us as a ministry to go and began to interact, to share the gospel with these communities and we see tremendous response. Years or in some cases a decade later the government of Israel starts speaking with these communities and they're brought back to the land of Israel.
Jonathan Bernis: Yeah.
Ezra Benjamin: But they're also being brought back to the Lord first.
Jonathan Bernis: Ezra, all of this was seen by the prophets, they're seen by the prophets in the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah and Zachariah, they're written about in the Psalms but king David. And then yet they're also - it's also declared in the New Testament that this blindness will come off of their eyes before Jesus returns. He's returning to Jerusalem, but two things happened, that are directly related to end-time prophesy. One is, they're gathered back to the land, Jerusalem is restored. Jesus said that Jerusalem would be restored and no longer trotted by the gentiles before he returns and then second, they will be restored back to their God. And that's what we're seeing, we're seeing these communities in remote villages. In the bush of Zimbabwe coming to faith in Jesus.
Ezra Benjamin: That's right, y'know Jesus said to his disciples Jonathan the prophets longed to see the things that you see. He longed to see what we're seeing through Jewish Voice, what we're seeing the Lord do around the world among Jewish communities today.
Jonathan Bernis: So be thrilled because this is Bible prophecy being fulfilled before our very eyes and it signals the near return of Jesus, Yeshua to the earth.
Ezra Benjamin: Jonathan, when God says the word ‘all' he really means all. And I love so many times in the scriptures he says he's regathering all the tribes of Israel and yet the majority of those tribes as we talked about earlier in the show have really fallen off of the awareness of world history.
Jonathan Bernis: Indeed, there's only two tribes that we hear anything about. Judah because Judah directly relates to Jew and to the Messiah. Jesus is from the tribe of Judah but, and the other is the Levites. We hear about the Levites in connection with the rebuilding of the temple and the sacrificial system and so on. You never hear about Issachar. You never hear about Dan, you don't hear about Menashe. But we're hearing those names because we're meeting community representatives that say, "We're the children of Menashe, we're the bnei Menashe".
Ezra Benjamin: That's right.
Jonathan Bernis: We're the children of Dan. It's amazing.
Ezra Benjamin: Yeah, Jonathan to piggyback on what you're saying, the Ethiopian Jews identify with Judah as we said. It's a known tribe but also with Dan, with 2.500-year history from Solomon and Sheba, Judah and Dan and they'll tell you that to this day because they've passed that tradition down, that oral history. L'dorv'dor as we say. From generation to generation. Thinking about the bnei Menashe or they called themselves the bnei Manmasi in India. Menashe is Menasa. Their name of the tribe is the children of Menashe. So there's another example.
Jonathan Bernis: Yeah and by the way just I want to deal with the fallacy and just first of all go back and make a comment on all. When God says all tribes, all the tribes. He means all the tribes. Every last tribe will experience the restoration and they were mentioned by Naaman revelation as well. I don't know if all, like, where it says, "All Israel will be saved". Or when it says, "All of Judea came to see him". If it's every last one but God remembers every tribe and every tribe will be presented both in the return back to the land and in the return back to God. The spiritual renewal of Israel. When Israel as a whole, 12 tribes shall be saved. The fallacy is that people can identify what tribe they're part of through DNA. That's a fallacy or that anyone knows what tribe they're part of outside of Levite. And that's handed down through tradition and being called to read from the Torah and specific last names like Levi, Levenson, Levit, Aaronson from the Aaronic priesthood.
Ezra Benjamin: Cohen.
Jonathan Bernis: But beyond that, no one knows what tribe they're part of through DNA testing. It's oral tradition that's been handed down to these isolated communities that allows them to identify as a descendant of Menashe or a descendant of Dan. Do we have any way to prove it? No. But when you look at the customs and the traditions that have been observed it's stunning.
Ezra Benjamin: Right and, y'know, one, we talk about this a lot at Jewish Voice in our travels around the world. In many of these areas where there's communities identifying as Jewish Jonathan there's no reason, there's no benefit for them to say that. In many cases it actually equals persecution and isolation.
Jonathan Bernis: Who wants to identify as part of a people that are being persecuted by their neighbors. Which is I think is proof that they are in fact historically tied to Israel. They're persecuted and yet they're identifying as Israel amidst the persecution. Who would circumcise their kids if they weren't following the traditions of their forefathers? Who would butcher meat as a, with distinct butchers and not eat other meats except those butchered by own people? We're finding that in the bush of Zimbabwe. We're finding that in the mountains of Gondar, Ethiopia. It's amazing.
Ezra Benjamin: Right, it's incredible and talking to groups on the border of Burma. Of Myanmar, Jonathan we're talking to tribal elders from the pashtun community and the Khyber pass. The ancient silk road, the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. It's incredible. Somali land. So many places.
Jonathan Bernis: We have so much more to talk about. We have to talk a short break so that our announcer can share some information about the resources that we're making available to you today. Resources you won't get anywhere else. So please consider becoming a shalom partner with Jewish Voice. Your monthly support will make a huge impact on so many lives. We also want to come into agreement in prayer with you when we come back so don't go away.
Jonathan Bernis: I want to pray for your needs. Ezra and I want to agree with you. The Bible says where two or three agree on earth is touching any one thing it shall be done.
Ezra Benjamin: That's right.
Jonathan Bernis: Let's pray.
Ezra Benjamin: Alright. "Well, Lord, we thank you that you are the God of history, you are the God of time and you who made promises binding for Jewish people two, three millennia ago and who are faithful to bring those to pass today are able even more than able to perfect that which concerns us today. Lord you are the God of more than enough and so we thank you that you will answer that prayer of faith today. Lord you are the God of more than enough and we thank you for that. Provide for every need".
Jonathan Bernis: In the name of Yeshua, in Jesus' name, amen. And amen. Hey, if you'd like more information about our ministry, we'd love to hear from you. It's so easy, you just log on to our website, it's Jewishvoice, one word, jewishvoice.tv. You'll find so many useful resources on the website and you'll be able to see the impact that your support is having all around the world. In addition, you can also send us your prayer request, we love hearing from you, and I want to promise you this, we will pray for your need. We care about you and more importantly God does. So, we'll pray for your needs. I also want to thank you in advance with Ezra for your prayer support of Jewish Voice. You are making a difference. As we close our program, I want to remind you what God ask of each of us. "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem". The Bible says, "They shall prosper who love thee". On behalf of Ezra Benjamin and myself this is Jonathan Bernis saying shalom and God bless you.