Judah = Israel?

Sceptics of British Israel claim: "The two nations of Israel (Judah and the Northern Tribes) did not remain separate. The peoples continually mixed together, and in the return from the final Babylonian captivity there was a good representation from the whole house of Israel, not just a remnant of Judah. Yes, some of Israel were "dispersed", many were not, but all this is according to Scripture. Of course many people in the world today will be descended from these dispersed tribes, but I doubt it is in the way National Israel presents it. The term Jew and Israel also displays significant cross usage.”

2 CHRONICLES 11:3; 2 CHRONICLES 11:13-16; 2 CHRONICLES 34:9; 2 CHRONICLES 35:18-19; EZRA 2:68-70; EZRA 6:15-17; EZRA 6:21; EZRA 7:7; EZRA 7:13; NEHEMIAH 11:3-4; NEHEMIAH 11:20-35; 1 CHRONICLES 9:1-4.


1. Israel and Judah Were Two Separate States

2. The Size of Judah During the Split

3. Did many Israelites move to Judah?

4. Did many Israelites stay back after the Assyrian invasion?

5. Judah returned to Palestine from the Babylonian captivity– not Israel

6. What's in a Name?


1. Israel and Judah Were Two Separate States

The various Scriptures quoted do NOT SAY that the Northern tribes migrated to Judah en masse. What they repeatedly PROVE is that SOME of them returned to worship God in Jerusalem, as there was NO SUCH OPPORTUNITY to do so in Israel (being under the influence and worship of the golden calves).

2 CHRONICLES 11:13-16 "And the priests and the Levites that were in all Israel resorted to him out of all their coasts. For the Levites left their suburbs and their possession, and came to Judah and Jerusalem: for JEROBOAM AND HIS SONS HAD CAST THEM OFF FROM EXECUTING THE PRIEST'S OFFICE UNTO THE LORD: And he ordained him priests for the high places, and for the devils, and for the calves which he had made. And after them out of all the tribes of Israel SUCH AS SET THEIR HEARTS TO SEEK THE LORD GOD OF ISRAEL CAME TO JERUSALEM, TO SACRIFICE unto the LORD God of their fathers."

It is always well documented in British Israel literature that the LEVITES MOVED TO JUDAH BECAUSE JEROBOAM HAD SET UP THE GOLDEN CALVES. Thus the kingdom of Judah was, for a time at least, composed of three tribes, in addition to those scattered families out of all the rest of the tribes who would not forsake the worship of God, BUT these people (as conceded by critics) evidently LOST THEIR TRIBAL RELATIONS AND WERE ASSIMILATED INTO ONE OF THE THREE TRIBES of which the kingdom of JUDAH was composed. In all the history and prophecy which concerns the three tribed kingdom, there are no tribal names used save ONLY those of JUDAH, BENJAMIN and LEVI.

2 CHRONICLES 15:9-10 "And he gathered ALL JUDAH AND BENJAMIN, and the strangers with them out of Ephraim and Manasseh, and out of Simeon: for they FELL TO HIM out of Israel in abundance, when they saw that the LORD his God was with him. So they gathered themselves together at Jerusalem IN THE THIRD MONTH, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa."
If one does NOT QUOTE THE FULL CONTEXT OF THE SCRIPTURE ABOVE, it can seem as if "the abundance" of Israel migrated to the southern Kingdom of Judah. Whereas the whole chapter shows these people came to WORSHIP at Jerusalem, and it gives NO indication that they moved permanently!

To prove the point (that in God's eyes these two nations DID REMAIN DISTINCT for purposes of prophecy) here is a list of Scriptures in no particular order of various prophecies SHOWING THE CLEAR DISTINCTION BETWEEN THE TWO HOUSES :-
"Behold the days come, saith the LORD, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised UNTO THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL, AND TO THE HOUSE OF JUDAH" (JEREMIAH 33:14).
"I will no more have mercy upon the HOUSE OF ISRAEL... But I will have mercy upon the HOUSE OF JUDAH, and will save them by the LORD their God" (HOSEA 1:6-7).
See also JEREMIAH 33:7, JEREMIAH 30:3-4, JEREMIAH 32:30, JEREMIAH 13:11, JEREMIAH 3:8, JEREMIAH 3:11, JEREMIAH 3:8, HOSEA 4:15 etc, etc, etc.
Clearly in God's eyes, despite the small number of people migrating from the Northern Kingdom, ISRAEL AND JUDAH REMAIN SEPARATE.

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2. The Size of Judah During the Split

Any attempt to equate the size of the army with the size of the population MUST BE DONE CAREFULLY. The size of various armies is listed as follows :-

  • 1 KINGS 12:21 180,000 (approx. 930BC)
  • 2 CHRONICLES 13:3 400,000 (approx. 913BC)
  • 2 CHRONICLES 14:8 580,000 (approx. 898BC)
  • 2 CHRONICLES 17:14-19 1,160,000 (approx. 858BC)

However ONLY THE LAST SCRIPTURE QUOTED purports to be the total of all the fighting men in Judah. The rest could easily be ONLY A PORTION OF THE STANDING ARMY. There is no indication in any of the other Scriptures that this was the size of the ENTIRE army. Thus it CANNOT possibly be USED AS A LITMUS TEST for the size of the general population.

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3. Did many Israelites move to Judah?

As for the suggestion that many fled from Israel to Judah during the Assyrian invasion, are there any Scriptures to back this up? Conjectures about increasing sizes of Jerusalem are all well and good, but WHERE IS THE SCRIPTURAL REFERENCE? The Bible says :-
"For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them; Until the LORD REMOVED ISRAEL OUT OF HIS SIGHT, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day" (2 KINGS 17:22-23).
"Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: THERE WAS NONE LEFT BUT THE TRIBE OF JUDAH ONLY" (2 KINGS 17:18).
"I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hid from me: for now, O Ephraim, thou committest whoredom, and Israel is defiled. They WILL NOT FRAME THEIR DOINGS TO TURN UNTO THEIR GOD: for the spirit of whoredoms is in the midst of them, and they have not known the LORD". (HOSEA 5:3-4)
There is NO ROOM in any of the warnings to Israel for a temporary escape route to Judah. Neither are there Scriptures to back up this position.
So God REMOVED ISRAEL out of His sight. Returning to Jerusalem, where Judah were still in some shape or form following God, hardly counts as being 'removed out of His sight'. If you read the books of Amos and Hosea (prophets to the Northern Kingdom before their captivity in Assyria), you will clearly see God's INTENT TO REMOVE THEM FROM THEIR LAND and ‘sift them among all nations’ (AMOS 9:9). Only a REMNANT (literally the leftovers) was to stay. There is NO RECORD WHATSOEVER in the Bible of Israel returning to Samaria as a nation.

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4. Did many Israelites stay back after the Assyrian invasion?

It has been claimed from 2 CHRONICLES 30 that since Hezekiah calls to the remnant of Israel that had "escaped out of the hand of the Kings of Assyria" it would seem there were still plenty of Israelites around the place to call on.
Well there was a remnant who did escape the King of Assyria, notice though THEY WERE STILL IN ISRAEL AND NOT IN JUDAH as has been postulated. Also, the claim there were "plenty of Israelites" does NOT MATCH WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS, i.e. there was a "remnant", with no indication as to how many. Taking the book of Amos into account, it is probable that the number would be VERY SMALL indeed. And most of these refused Hezekiah's offer to partake Passover with Judah.

It is true that part of 2 CHRONICLES 30 says that Israel will return to their land. Indeed they shall. HOWEVER before that happens they must:

  1. be sifted throughout the nations - AMOS 9:9
  2. lose their identity - HOSEA 2:6, HOSEA 1:9, HOSEA 2:17

and then fulfil the MYRIAD promises given to them and quoted in several of the other files available on the site.

Some people claim that: "The above verses clearly show that after the captivity of the Northern Ten Tribes, they were many Israelites still either in the Northern area or in territory of Judah itself".

Once again, the Bible says that there was ONLY A REMNANT LEFT - this CANNOT BE MAGNIFIED UP TO "MANY ISRAELITES" as God clearly stated he would REMOVE ISRAEL OUT OF HIS SIGHT. It is being a little optimistic to suggest this! In fact, the king of Assyria replaced the children of Israel en masse with men from Babylon, Cuthan, Ava, Hamath and Sepharvaim.

In fact, there is excellent archaeological PROOF to show that there was absolutely NO ISRAELITE activity in Palestine after they were carried away by the Assyrians. (1) The eminent Jewish writer Josephus, who was born about three years after our Lord's crucifixion (A.D. 37) refers to the following concerning the ten tribes (Northern House of Israel): "Shalmaneser, the King of Assyria... besieged Samaria... and transplanted ALL THE PEOPLE into Media and Persia, among whom he took King Hoshea alive; and when he had removed these people out of this their land, HE TRANSPLANTED OTHER NATIONS (later called 'Samaritans')... into Samaria, and into the country of the Israelites.” (Antiq. Book IX. Chap. 14)
So WHERE ARE THE TEN TRIBES at this stage? Let's read on: “Wherefore there are but TWO TRIBES in Asia and Europe subject to the Romans, while the TEN TRIBES are BEYOND EUPHRATES TILL NOW (A.D.), and are an IMMENSE MULTITUDE, AND NOT TO BE ESTIMATED IN NUMBERS." (Book XI. Chapter 5.Par.2)

In this light the following New Testament Scriptures MAKE PERFECT SENSE:

  • JAMES 1:1 "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, TO THE TWELVE TRIBES WHICH ARE SCATTERED ABROAD".

Here is one more quote, taken from the Apocrypha Esdras: "And whereas thou sawest that He gathered unto him another multitude that was peaceable, these are THE TEN TRIBES, which were led away OUT OF THEIR OWN LAND in the time of Hosea the king, whom Shalmaneser the king of the Assyrians led away captive, and CARRIED THEM BEYOND THE RIVER EUPHRATES, and they WERE CARRIED INTO ANOTHER LAND. But they took counsel among themselves, that they would leave the multitude of the heathen, and go forth into a FURTHER COUNTRY, where never mankind dwelt, that they might there KEEP THEIR STATUTES, WHICH THEY HAD NOT KEPT IN THEIR OWN LAND” (ISRAEL)!! II Esdras 13:39-44.

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5. Judah returned to Palestine from the Babylonian captivity– not Israel

It should be noted that - by the time of the return to Jerusalem (with Ezra & Nehemiah), the original 12 tribed Israel was split into TWO camps. The one ten tribed portion that had been (on the whole) REMOVED to Assyria and beyond, and the three tribed nation had been taken into captivity in Babylon.

So when the three tribes returned to Jerusalem - THEY WERE ALL THAT WAS LEFT OF THE ORIGINAL ISRAEL. Just as if all of America was taken away captive and only the Californians returned, they could call themselves "America", even though THEY ONLY REPRESENT A SMALL PORTION of the original. Thus to find references to Israel in Ezra, Nehemiah etc is not surprising as, although they were from Judah and Benjamin (& Levi), they were STILL part of the twelve tribed Israel.

If you look at EZRA 1:1-5 - it was ONLY men from Judah, Benjamin and Levi who returned to build Jerusalem. WHERE was the multitude of the ten tribed Israel that supposedly dwelt in Jerusalem between the fall of Samaria and Jerusalem????
EZRA 4:1 - again only mentions Judah and Benjamin as does NEHEMIAH 4:1-2.

After Israel had been "CAST OUT OF GOD'S SIGHT" and taken away to Assyria she is spoken of in prophecy as "forsaken", "widowhood", "a wife of youth", "refused", "bare" and "desolate".

But God says He will GATHER THEM AND TAKE THEM BACK (see ISAIAH 54:5-7), however they still had to fulfil all other prophecies given to them.

Hosea wrote - "And God said unto him, Call her name Loruhamah (not having obtained mercy): for I will NO MORE HAVE MERCY UPON THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL; but I will utterly TAKE THEM AWAY. But I will have mercy upon the house of JUDAH, and will save them by the LORD their God, and will NOT save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses nor by horsemen" (HOSEA 1:6-7).

Let God be true and every man a liar. God has DIVORCED ISRAEL at this point, there is no room for the House of Israel to partake in the re-building of Jerusalem or the temple. How can they if they are Loammi - not my people - HOSEA 1:9?

EZEKIEL 6:8-9 also clearly shows that God would take the Loammi Israel, and carry them throughout the nations, bringing them to a place WHERE THEY WILL REMEMBER HIM AGAIN. This promise is repeated in EZEKIEL 22:15. These were now known as the "dispersed".
So if, as some people claim, there were many from Israel either still in their own land or returning with the portion of Judah from Babylon then Hosea, Amos, Micah, Ezekiel and Jeremiah (see JEREMIAH 16:13-21) ARE ALL FALSE PROPHETS as they said quite the reverse.

We notice while going through NEHEMIAH 11 that although great detail is taken to record the descent of all the people, it is NOT MENTIONED ONCE that any of them were from the Northern ten tribes. It does say however "...children of Judah... children of Benjamin... the Levites... the children of Benjamin from Geba... And of the Levites were divisions in Judah, and in Benjamin" (NEHEMIAH 11). NOT ONCE IN NEHEMIAH 11 IS THERE A CLEAR REFERENCE TO SOMEONE RETURNING FROM BABYLON WHO WAS NOT FROM JUDAH, BENJAMIN OR LEVI.

In 1 CHRONICLES 9:1-4, it does say that there were some from Ephraim and Manasseh. As we have seen, there was a SMALL REMNANT of people from the Northern Kingdom who did sojourn among Judah as they could not stomach the calf worship. BUT this, when laid against all the other Scriptures and prophecies, DOES NOT CONSTITUTE the Northern Kingdom returning from captivity, but rather records the small remnant who still followed the Lord. Prophetically they had joined themselves to the house of Judah.
To conclude this part of the discussion, let’s look at HEBREWS 8:8 "...BEHOLD, THE DAYS COME, SAITH THE LORD, WHEN I WILL MAKE A NEW COVENANT WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AND WITH THE HOUSE OF JUDAH..." So even in NEW TESTAMENT TIMES we have a very clear distinction between the two houses which are still, after all this time, in existence and separate.

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6. What's In A Name?

As mentioned above, ANYBODY coming from Judah (one of three tribes there) can still RIGHTLY CLAIM THAT THEY ARE FROM ISRAEL too (as part of the twelve tribes united as one nation).
For example, a Scottish person is also British. As Scotland only makes up a small part of Britain, despite being a separate country, it is still part of a larger "whole". Similarly, the Judahites CAN ALSO rightly claim the title ISRAELITE.
That is why Paul can say that he was "of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews, as touching the law, a Pharisee" (PHILIPPIANS 3:5).
Paul was by RACE - A HEBREW
Paul was by RELIGION - A JEW
Paul was by SECT - A PHARISEE
These statements do not and never will make JEW and ISRAELITE interchangeable terms.

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Only a MINOR REMNANT of the Northern Kingdom moved to Jerusalem after the split. The rest STAYED IN ISRAEL and rejected the overtures to return to Judah. God removed them from His sight (which precludes them escaping en masse to Judah), divorced them and called them "not my people". There was not a significant number of the Northern Kingdom found in Judah BEFORE, DURING or AFTER the captivity in Babylon as they had been removed, and had to be "sifted through the nations".

In conclusion, let us look at quotes from several Jewish scholars which show that the ten-tribed nation of Israel and the three-tribed nation of Judah are two separate nations:

The Jewish Chronicle of May 2nd, 1879 said "While not a link is missing of the historical chain so far as the romance of the House of Judah is concerned, the Israelites, who were subjected by the Assyrian power, DISAPPEAR from the page of history as suddenly and completely as though the land of their captivity had swallowed them up ... the Ten Tribes ARE CERTAINLY IN EXISTENCE, all that has to be done is to DISCOVER WHICH PEOPLE REPRESENT THEM".

The Jewish Quarterly Review of July, 1903 "nothing authoritative is known after the Israelites departure from the fatherland, to Habor and Halath... they seem to have passed from human knowledge".

Rabbi Gershom wrote "We are longing to find our LOST brethren who for two thousand years have baffled all our efforts to discover their whereabouts, and are at this time a RIDDLE to the greatest of our illustrious Rabbis".

Former Chief Rabbi Dr. H. Alder... "You are quite right to assume that the Ten tribes DID NOT RETURN to the Holy Land".

Rabbi Aaron Werner of Spokane, USA in answer to the question "do the Jews represent the Twelve Tribes?" replied... "NO, THE TEN TRIBES OF ISRAEL WERE CARRIED AWAY BY SENNACHERIB, king of Assyria, and have become LOST. The Jews of today ARE BUT A REMNANT made up of the Tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi".

Rabbi A.H. Fink of Temple Immanuel, Spokane, USA in reply to the same question: "The Jews DO NOT CLAIM TO REPRESENT THE TWELVE TRIBES for the Ten tribes NEVER RETURNED from captivity and are lost to history".

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  1. Kenyon. K., Royal Cities of the Old Testament, London, 1971.
  2. Allen, J.H., Judah's Sceptre and Joseph's Birthright, Destiny Publishers, 1917.
  3. Campbell, A., British Israel Fact or Fiction, Open Bible Ministries, 1989.
  4. Even The Jews Know Better, Open Bible Ministries.
  5. Houghton, H.D., The Marks Of Israel, Evangel Press, 1933.
  6. Davidy. Y., The Tribes, Russell Davids - Hebron, 1993.