Personally, I feel that the extensive use of this phrase has contributed in no small way to the confusion which exists concerning the Jewish people living in Palestine and other countries throughout the world. I think it is fair to say that the general belief is that Judah, including Benjamin, was taken to Babylon from where some returned to Jerusalem under Ezra. Hence, they were not lost!
It seems to me that the word “lost” may have another connotation; such as, lost to idolatry and sin and consequently, death. Moses challenged the people of Israel in his farewell address, where he said, “This day have I put before you life and death; therefore, choose life!” Of course, we know the people were seduced by the Canaanites into worshipping their gods and all the curses outlined by Moses came into effect. But then came the good news of the Gospel. Jesus, the promised redeemer, had come bringing salvation through his sacrificial death. Good news indeed, and Jesus insisted with his disciples that the message be carried first to His people, just purchased by His atoning sacrifice. Further, we know the disciples were faithful to Jesus’ command and carried the Gospel to the children of Israel throughout western Asia and Europe. By the way, I should emphasize that Jesus did not say, “Go to ten tribes”, but, “Go to the Lost sheep of the House of Israel,” meaning ALL twelve tribes.
Now, to understand the situation with Judah, we need to review some basics. First, the Bible records that Sennacarib conquered all the tribes of the Northern kingdom in stages. First, the two and a half tribes on the eastern side of Jordan; namely, Reuben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh.Then, he took the remaining tribes on the west side of Jordan concluding with the capture of Samaria. Then the Bible records that he took ALL the fenced cities of Judah, except Jerusalem, deporting about 200,000 people of Judah. So, Sennacarib sent all these people (all TWELVE tribes) to Assyria and the cities of the Medes. The poorer sort of people he left in Palestine and added to them similar people from Assyria. As you know, Sennacarib ended ingloriously when he was besieging Jerusalem and the Angel of the Lord was sent to decimate his army. On returning home, he was slain by his two sons. So, all that remained of the House of Judah was the city of Jerusalem. We also know that under Cyrus’ decree, Ezra returned with about 50,000 of the people that Nebucadnezzar deported to Babylon. (An interesting aside concerns when Simeon was conquered, as part of Judah? Although numbered with the ten tribes, it actually was south of Judah and therefore presumably captured after the fenced cities of Judah and deported with them!)
In summary, we must say that the Assyrians deported ALL twelve tribes of Israel, leaving only the city of Jerusalem for the Babylonians! But does that account for all the Judahites? I think not! Let’s review. Judah had five sons, three by a Canaanitish woman and twins, Phares and Zarah, by Tamar. Two of the first three were taken by the Lord for their evil practices. Shelah, with his contaminated bloodline, lived mainly in Jerusalem. You know the story of how the midwife tied a scarlet thread on Zarah’s hand when it appeared but when withdrawn, Phares was born. So, once again rivalry was established. It has been shown by others that some of Zarah’s progeny left Egypt before the Moses led exodus. One son, Dara, migrated to the area of the Dardanelles and established the Trojan dynasty. Another son, Calcol, migrated to Greece and from there to Ireland. This established Judah in the Isles to await the reception of Tea Tephi in marriage thereby transplanting the Davidic dynasty to the British Isles and reconciling the Houses of Phares and Zarah. Furthermore, after the destruction of Troy, Brutus led a group of Trojans to Britain where he founded new Troy, later named London. And I am quite certain that Zarah Judahites were part of the colonizing that occured on the North and South shores of the Meditranean Sea.
So, let’s sum up. In this thesis, “lost”, does not mean geographically, but spiritually. The Assyrian deportations included ALL twelve tribes. Parts of Judah were located in other areas besides Palestine and never subjected to deportation. Finally, consider the opening of James’ epistle. “James a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.” Some of the Judahites returning with Ezra were pure Israelitish stock because the Book of the Acts of the Apostles records that some were converted to Christianity. We know they were “pure” stock because Jesus declared that Abraham’s children heard the voice of the good Shepherd because they were His sheep. I think it is safe to assume that those containing Canaanitish blood did not accept Jesus then or now.
So, can we stop talking about the, “Lost Ten Tribes?” The spiritually “lost” were ALL twelve tribes! The Gospel message is to the, “Redeemed Twelve Tribes!”