Sign up for Meridian’s Free Newsletter, please CLICK HERE
Cover image via LDS.org.
We as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are the only people on the earth who have a correct understanding of the tribes of Israel and have modern revelation specific to the scattering and the gathering of Israel in the last days.
One of the first purposes of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon is: “…to show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever.”[i]
In our recent survey on Meridian, we asked readers to identify the tribe declared to them in their Patriarchal Blessing. Though we did this for fun, we were able to gather all but three of the tribes (Simeon, Issachar and Gad) and also gather some pretty interesting information about geography. If you have not taken the survey, please CLICK HERE to participate. If you would also like to indicate to us your tribe and where you are from you can send a note with subject line: “Tribes” to firstname.lastname@example.org
Perhaps one day we will be able to do the survey again but have a multi-level approach that pinpoints the person’s birthplace (by their own declaration) and then charts the world on a digital map from all the reader responses.
Background on the Tribes of Israel
From our scripture study aids we read: “Abraham’s grandson Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel, had twelve sons. Their descendants have become known as the twelve tribes of Israel or the children of Israel. These are the twelve tribes: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun (the sons of Jacob and Leah); Dan and Naphtali (the sons of Jacob and Bilhah); Gad and Asher (the sons of Jacob and Zilpah); Joseph and Benjamin (the sons of Jacob and Rachel) (Gen. 29:32–30:24; 35:16–18).
Of course, Ephraim and Manasseh, sons of Joseph and Asenath, were given blessings from Jacob as separate tribes so there are actually 13 tribes. Later Manasseh was divided again into two half tribes. This is all documented in the Old Testament.
The Scattering of Israel
The Lord scattered and afflicted the twelve tribes of Israel because of their unrighteousness and rebellion. However, the Lord also used this scattering of His chosen people among the nations of the world to bless those nations. From a small sampling of not less than ten ancient scriptures, we see clearly the Lord’s plan of scattering Israel : “I will scatter you among the heathen,”(Lev. 26:33). “The Lord shall scatter thee among all people” (Deut. 28:25, 37, 64). “I will deliver them to be removed to all the kingdoms of the earth” (Jer. 29:18–19). I will sift the house of Israel among all nations” (Amos 9:9, Zech. 10:9). “I have other sheep which are not of this fold” (John 10:16). “Israel shall be scattered upon all the face of the earth” (1 Ne. 22:3–8). The list goes on and on.
The Gathering of Israel
Equal to the hand of the Lord in the scattering of Israel is His miraculous power in gathering them back into the safety of the fold. Joseph Smith taught this doctrine in the Tenth Article of Faith in 1842: “We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes.” Isaiah prophesied: “He will lift up an ensign and they shall come” (Isa. 5:26). “With great mercies will I gather thee” (Isa. 54:7). “The Lord shall gather the house of Israel from the people among whom they are scattered” (Ezek. 28:25). “In the dispensation of the fulness of times he will gather in one all things in Christ” (Eph. 1:10). “The Lord will gather in all people of the house of Israel” (1 Ne. 19:16, 3 Ne. 16:5).
And, of course, Moses visited the Prophet Joseph and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple on April 3, 1836: “After this vision closed, the heavens were again opened unto us; and Moses appeared before us, and committed unto us the keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth, and the leading of the ten tribes from the land of the north.
The Ten Lost Tribes of Israel
One Meridian writer, John A. Tvedtnes, wrote an entire article in the Ensign about the “Other Tribes” and gives a wonderful background on what happened to them. To read that article, CLICK HERE. John wrote specifically concerning the “ten lost tribes:
“As is well known, there is clear evidence that not all members of the tribes listed above (Reuben, Ephraim, Issachar, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Dan, Half-tribe of Manasseh, Zebulun, Half-tribe of Manasseh—Machir) were taken captive. Some members of these tribes were left behind on the land, while others fled to the kingdom of Judah for refuge. (See, for example, 2 Chr. 11:16–17; 2 Chr. 15:9; 2 Chr. 30:1, 5–6, 10–11, 25.) Consequently, descendants of these “lost” tribal groups remained among the Jews and have thus been spread throughout the world today. As a result, some of each of the Twelve blood tribes have been gathered in this last dispensation to reassemble under the banner of the One King who is destined to reunite all Israel in these last days. The promise is that we shall yet have the joy of helping all of Israel—blood-tribe Israel and land-tribe Israel—to gather under the gospel banner from the four quarters of the earth as a result of the last days gathering of the dispersed and outcasts of Israel. It is a promise in which we all have great faith and confidence.”[ii]
The scriptures document the return of the lost tribes. “I will say to the north, Give up” (Isa. 43:6). “These shall come from the north” (Isa. 49:12, 1 Ne. 21:12). “Judah and Israel shall come together out of the land of the north” (Jer. 3:18). “The Lord liveth who brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north” (Jer. 16:14–16). “I will bring them from the north country” (Jer. 31:8). “I go to show myself unto the lost tribes of Israel” (3 Ne. 17:4). “They who are in the north countries shall come in remembrance before the Lord” (D&C 133:26–32).
A Declaration of Lineage
President Thomas S. Monson taught: “‘Patriarchal blessings,’ wrote the First Presidency in a letter to stake presidents, ‘contemplate an inspired declaration of the lineage of the recipient and, when so moved upon by the Spirit, an inspired and prophetic statement of the life mission of the recipient, together with such blessings, cautions and admonitions as the patriarch may be prompted to give for the accomplishment of such life’s mission…”[iii]
President James E. Faust taught us: “We are most fortunate some men are specifically ordained and authorized by their priesthood office and calling to give blessings and declare our lineage in the house of Israel. The inspired declaration of lineage is an integral part of the blessing. …
“As moved upon by the Holy Spirit, the patriarch declares by inspiration the lineage in the house of Israel of the recipient, together with such blessings, spiritual gifts, promises, advice, admonition, and warnings the patriarch feels inspired to give. The patriarchal blessing is, in essence, a prophetic blessing and utterance.
“A patriarchal blessing from an ordained patriarch can give us a star to follow, which is a personal revelation from God to each individual. If we follow this star, we are less likely to stumble and be misled. Our patriarchal blessing will be an anchor to our souls, and if we are worthy, neither death nor the devil can deprive us of the blessings pronounced. They are blessings we can enjoy now and forever.”
Clearly, the declaration of lineage is an integral part of one’s Patriarchal Blessing and it is also a part of the gathering of Israel in the last days.
Meridian’s Tribal Survey
Through our survey on Meridian we were able to see that Ephraim, as expected, has certainly dominated the gathering in these last days. Almost 93% of the 1,735 who responded were from Ephraim. We had a surprising number from Manasseh, Benjamin and Judah. Here is a view of the results for you to look over:
Meridian readers enthusiastically wrote in little insights into their whereabouts and also brought up some questions about their lineage and their families. Here are your comments (we have only quoted a few of you) about your tribes.
“I was very surprised to learn 50 years ago that I am from the tribe of Judah.
The Patriarch was surprised as well. He hesitated about two minutes before he said it. He said he was asking if he had heard correctly.”
–Ena MacDonald, Domain, Manitoba, Canada
I am from Benjamin. I am of English, Scottish and Irish ancestry. I am Australian. Three of my children are of Ephraim. My youngest never received her patriarchal blessing and is inactive. My husband, their stepfather, is of Ephraim. He is Australian. Looking forward to the results of your survey.
–Sister Wendy Lander
My husband was given his patriarchal blessing before he left for his mission to Peru and Bolivia in 1966. He was told by patriarch, Daniel Bushnell, “Brother Doi, you are of the children of Abraham by adoption.” Nothing further concerning this was stated. More than once, my husband has asked various Church patriarchs about this declaration. And, they have told him to leave the matter alone. He is still curious about it. My husband, Rickard K. Doi is a Japanese American born in California, and the third generation from Japan. He is a Sansei. We are both converts to the Church.
Maybe, one day, we will know more.
–Sister Janet E. D. Doi
Tribe of Benjamin. Born & raised in Alberta, Canada.
Ephraim, 68 percent British, born USA Florida
I’m from Ephraim. I’m in the United States and before the 1700/1800s my family was primarily from England/Wales.
I am from the tribe of Ephraim and was born in England
My husband is from Ephraim. I am from Manasseh.
I am from the tribe of Ephraim. I am from the USA with family origin in Northern Europe.
Manasseh, female, born in Los Angeles, California now live in Phoenix Az. Convert, sealed to husband who is from Ephraim, husband born in AZ.
I’m from Ephraim tribe, having also ancestors in Judah. I am French (living in France).
I have a son who will not be responding to this so I will respond for him. He is from the tribe of Naphtali born in Salt Lake City.
I am from the tribe of Asher and was born in the United States. My ancestry is from the UK and Western Europe. Incidentally my parents and siblings are from the tribe of Ephraim. 3 of our 4 children have had patriarchal blessings and their lineage is also Ephraim.
I am from the Tribe of Naphtali. Born and raised in Idaho and live in Utah. All my family members are from Ephraim. I am the only one that I know of from my tribe.
I am from the tribe of Manasseh and from the United States; California.
I am from the tribe of Dan, my sister is from Manasseh & our mother is from Ephraim. We were all born & raised in the U.S.
Born in Hartford CT, 1953, Jewish Father (Levy but found out his biological father was Hechler) and Roman Catholic Mother (Beauchemin). Joined Church at age 30 in Topsham ME and had Patriarchal Blessing about a year later. Been a member for 35 years and presently serving as Bishop of the Gallipolis Ward, Huntington WV Stake. Becky is from WV and heritage is English/Welsh tribe of Ephraim.
–Bob, Mason, West Virginia
My name is Maureen Michalowsky (maiden name King). I was born & live in Cape Town, South Africa. I am from the Tribe of Ephraim
I am the only one in my family from Benjamin. The rest are from Ephraim! USA
My wife is from Ishmael. Wondering if you had any others from this?
I’m from the tribe of Ephraim. Born and raised in California. Ancestors from western Europe.
Hi. I cannot get into the survey but I was born and live in Australia. My ancestors are English and German my tribe is Benjamin, my wife was born in England but lives in Australia where she received her blessing her tribe is Judah.
I’m from Brazil and from the Benjamin tribe.
I am from American Fork Utah and I am from the tribe of Mannassa. Seems strange to me and no idea why or what it means. I asked a patriarch once and he said was usually darker skinned people. I’ve always been very blonde.
I’m Samoan, from the tribe of Naphatali.
According to my patriarchal blessing, I am from “…the House of Israel from the seed of Abraham and though your lineage is mixed you are from the tribe of Joseph, who was sold into Egypt.” My father and my mother’s parents were born in the Netherlands, as were many of my ancestors.
My whole family, husband, me, 3daughters and 2 sons are the tribe of Ephraim, from England. Thru a DNA test I have 16% Askenazi (spelling!) Jew. In my Patriarchal blessing it said that thru my faith I am of the tribe of Ephraim! All the others are of the lineage or the descent of Ephraim. I think our tribes are so interesting
I was born in the US. I am from the tribe of Ephraim, my sister is from Manassah.
I have two daughters, same father. One is Ephraim, the other Manassah.
–Jackie Holloway, Atlanta, Georgia
Husband is from the tribe of Benjamin. Born in Los Angeles. Father’s from northern Italy – Mother’s from Ireland
[i] Title Page of The Book of Mormon.
[ii] Tvedtnes, John A. The Other Tribes, Ensign, January 1982.
[iii] Monson, Thomas S. Your Patriarchal Blessing, Ensign, November 1986.