The Shuffling of the Twelve Tribes of Israel
Two thousand years ago, when Messiah Yeshua walked the Land of Israel, the identification of the tribes became even more difficult. Many of them had to make a choice between believing that Yeshua of Nazareth was the promised Messiah or that he was not. By the year 100 A.D. we have left only three recognizable groups from the 12 Tribes of Israel:
3) Gentiles (waiting to be Christians, believers?)
The three groups have something in common. Except for some of the tribe of Judah, Levi and the sub-group the Kohanim, who never forgot their tribal identity, the others do not know to which of the twelve tribes of Israel they belong. Thanks to the tribes of Judah, the Levis and Kohanim keeping their identity, we know today what their Y-chromosome in general looks like. Also, many other descendants of Judah, Levi and Kohanim that were hidden in Christianity in the past are able to now, in 2011, identify their tribe by DNA testing… Praise YHVH!
The House of Judah does remember that they were Israelites, but they also do not know to which tribe they belong.
To identify the tribes by DNA, we must first start with groups that know who they are by faith, as did the Levis in the example above. With the shuffling of the Tribes of Israel that has occurred in the last 2,700 years, today the task becomes even more difficult than in the first 100 years after Yeshua. Let’s take a walk down history lane and into the Bible to see how this shuffling occurred; it may be that it will help us in the “un-shuffling” and identification process of the rest of the tribes.
Picture this, the year is about 720 BC, the place is Jerusalem, Israel and the authority in the land is King Hezekiah. The Assyrians have taken away most of the 10 Northern tribes, but there are some left in the Northern Kingdom.
Up to this point the Northern Kingdom or “Stick of Joseph” had 10 tribes: Reuben, Simeon, Dan, Issachar, Zebulun, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Ephraim and Manasseh. The Southern Kingdom or “Stick of Judah” had two tribes: Judah and Benjamin, plus part of Levi.
King Hezekiah invites the remnant of the 10 Northern tribes to return to the Lord and celebrate in Jerusalem the Passover Feast. This feast has not been celebrated for about the last 215 years, since Solomon was unfaithful to YHVH and the punishment for Israel was to be splinted into two Kingdoms.
2 Chronicles 30:1-9
• 1 And Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and also wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, to keep the Passover to the Lord God of Israel.
• 2 For the king and his leaders and all the assembly in Jerusalem had agreed to keep the Passover in the second month.
• 3 For they could not keep it at the regular time, because a sufficient number of priests had not consecrated themselves, nor had the people gathered together at Jerusalem.
• 6 Then the runners went throughout all Israel and Judah with the letters from the king and his leaders, and spoke according to the command of the king: “Children of Israel, return to the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel; then He will return to the remnant of you who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria.
• 7 And do not be like your fathers and your brethren, who trespassed against the Lord God of their fathers, so that He gave them up to desolation, as you see.
• 8 Now do not be stiff-necked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the Lord; and enter His sanctuary, which He has sanctified forever, and serve the Lord your God that the fierceness of His wrath may turn away from you.
• 9 For if you return to the Lord, your brethren and your children will be treated with compassion by those who lead them captive, so that they may come back to this land; for the Lord your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn His face from you if you return to Him.”
Some from the tribes of Asher, Manasseh, & Zebulun, humbled themselves and returned in confidence in the Word of YHVH.
• For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.’ But you would not
2 Chronicles 30:10-11
• 10 So the runners passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh, as far as Zebulun; but they laughed at them and mocked them.
• 11 Nevertheless some from Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem.
Issachar and Ephraim are also mentioned. They also returned to the Lord and had confidence in Him.
2 Chronicles 30:18-20
• 18 For a multitude of the people, many from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the Passover contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, “May the good Lord provide atonement for everyone
• 19 who prepares his heart to seek God, the Lord God of his fathers, though he is not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary.”
• 20 And the Lord listened to Hezekiah and healed the people.
After these five northern tribes obeyed YHVH, celebrating the Feast of the Lord (Passover and Unleavened bread with Judah) they are revived. When Asher, Zebulun, Issachar, Ephraim and Manasseh return to their cities, they destroy all the idols from their cities.
2 Chronicles 31:1
• 1 Now when all this was finished, all Israel who were present went out to the cities of Judah and broke the sacred pillars in pieces, cut down the wooden images, and threw down the high places and the altars–from all Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh–until they had utterly destroyed them all. Then all the children of Israel returned to their own cities, every man to his possession.
Some of the Israelites from Asher, Zebulun, Issachar, Ephraim and Manasseh stayed living in Judah. They were protected when Assyria placed a siege to Jerusalem in 701 BC; The Assyrians had to leave running after the Angel of The Lord killed 185,000 of the Assyrian army in one night.
2 Kings 19:35
• 35 And it came to pass on a certain night that the angel of the Lord went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses–all dead
2 Chronicles 31:6-8
• 6 And the children of Israel and Judah, who dwelt in the cities of Judah, brought the tithe of oxen and sheep; also the tithe of holy things which were consecrated to the Lord their God they laid in heaps.
• 7 In the third month they began laying them in heaps, and they finished in the seventh month.
• 8 And when Hezekiah and the leaders came and saw the heaps, they blessed the Lord and His people Israel.
How are the tribes going to be identified at end times, if we see that the Bible tells us that some people from Asher, Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun moved to Judah?
The shuffling of these five tribes to Judah will complicate the picture of identifying the tribes as we will see 700 years down the road…
Picture it, the year is 4 AD, Messiah Yeshua has been born and is brought to Jerusalem, to the Temple in Mount Moriah for presentation to YHVH. There is someone from the tribe of Asher waiting for Him. She studied the Word of God, and famous painters like Rembrandt made her immortal.
• 36 Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity;
• 37 and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.
• 38 And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
700 years later, because members of the tribe of Asher returned to YHVH, returned to Judah to celebrate the Passover, moved to Judah and waited patiently on the YHVH, Anna, a member of the tribe of Asher got to meet their promised Messiah.
• 18 Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; Blessed are all those who wait for Him.
As we see, Anna of the tribe of Asher became a believer of Messiah Yeshua and became one of the first evangelists on earth. All the descendants of Asher that became believers were then called Christians and down through the years forgot that they came from the tribe of Asher. Now there may have also been members of the tribe of Asher that rejected Messiah Yeshua as their Savior. These members also through the years lost their identity as Asher and became known to the world simply as Jews.
So just looking at the Tribe of Asher, we find the three groups into which the tribe splintered, none of them knowing that they came from Asher:
1) Asher that was scattered by the Assyrians and forgot who they were as they mixed with the nations and are known to the world as Gentiles.
2) Asher that moved down to Judah in 720, rejected Messiah Yeshua in the first century AD, were scattered by the Romans in 70 AD, forgot who they were and are known to the world as Jews.
3) Asher that moved down to Judah in 720, recognized Messiah Yeshua as their Savior in 4 AD, as Anna did, became believers, forgot the tribe they came from, and are known to the world as Christians (Acts 11:26).
Notice that the designations of Jews, Christians and Gentiles are based on beliefs and not on Israelite ancestry, so people can switch from one group to another as their beliefs changes, and of course this complicates the matter of identifying the tribes even more… Finding the Israelites ancestors of the 12 tribes among the Jews, Christians and Gentiles is going to take a lot of fun work.
The Jews were the first to have their Y-DNA testing done. Humanity was divided in 20 Y Haplogroups from letter A to letter T, according to mutations also called the Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (changes found in the four letter sequence of DNA, see Genetic memory part I and II) found in the Y-chromosome. This SNP’s single historical event changes in the DNA four letter sequence, are ancient and rare. They are the markers that we are looking for that may have occur in the Y-chromosome of each of the fathers of the 12 tribes.
“A” will be the oldest and “T” the youngest mutations. Every designated letter of the chart has subgroups according to further mutations found in the Y chromosome. Each mutation has a series of letters and numbers to indicate the mutaion’s name. Geneticists have found that the majority of the Jews have the Y-haplogroups J and E, but also we find G, I, K2 (today is “T”), Q, R.
These twenty Y-chromosome haplogroups table has been modified as the years pass by and new SNP’s are found. Letter S, and T are not used any more.
Each Y-chromosome haplogroup can be subdivided in further sub-branches, known in the DNA literature as sub-clades. For every new SNP mutation that is discover, a new subclade is name. For example for the Y-chromosome haplogroup E, geneticists have found about sixty subclades:
The Y-chromosome haplogroup E, the subclade E1b1b1 is found among the Levites…
The E1b1b1 haplogroup (formerly known as E3b1) has been observed in all Jewish groups worldwide. It is considered to be the second most prevalent haplogroup among the Jewish population outside of the J haplogroups. According to one non-peer reviewed paper it has also been observed in moderate numbers among individuals from Ashkenazi, Sephardic and Samaritan communities having traditions of descending from the tribe of Levi, suggesting that the E1b1b1 men claiming to be Levites may have existed in Israel before the Diaspora of 70 CE.In Europe, the E1b1b1*/M35* subclade is more prevalent in the Ashkenazi Jewish population (20%) than the non-Jewish population (6%), possibly indicating a founding role for the E1b1b1*/M35* subclade for the Ashkenazi Jews in Europe.
Adolf Hitler had the subclade E1b1b (telling us that he had jewish ancestry). And the Wright brothers that invented aviation were E1b1b1. Go and have fun checking famous Y-chromosome DNA haplogroups at:
A must read that will help us to understand Jewish genealogy by DNA is found in the Journal of Genetics at:
So we have found in the Jews that have done the DNA test of the Y-Chromosome, 7 different Y-haplogroups: the majority belongs to J, E, and in less numbers in the G, I, K2(today is “T”), Q, and R. We expect that more will be added.
And at the time of Messiah Yeshua, we have that the Jews were made up by the House of Judah with its two tribes of the South plus the Levis, and that they were joined by five tribes from the North, giving us a total of 7 different Tribes: Judah, Levite, Benjamin, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, and Joseph. (Joseph is made up by Ephraim and Manasseh, if we think that Manasseh and Ephraim have the same Y-Chromosome of their father Joseph.)
Fellow believers, we do not believe in coincidences, but that all happens for a purpose under the control of the Hand of YHVH.
We have not forgotten about the other five Israelite tribes that are not mentioned as joining Judah during the King Hezekiah’s reign: Dan, Reuben, Simeon, Naphtali and Gad…But, since the Word of God does not tell us that they went down and became assimilated in the House of Judah, we would not be surprised if we do not find large numbers of them identified as Jews today. We would expect to find them mostly in the Christians and Gentiles of today.
The only exception to these five tribes may be Dan. This is because it is believed that at the time of the Assyrian scattering of the tribes, some from the tribe of Dan went to Ethiopia to join the Jews that lived there, descendants of Menelik I, the son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. So we may find some of the tribe of Dan as Ethiopian Jews today and some as Christians.
The Ethiopian Jews are also called Beta Israel. The Jewish Virtual library, A division for the American-Israel Cooperative tells us in the Time Line of the Ethiopian Jewish History web site, that the part of the Jews in Ethiopia are known to belong to the tribe of Dan, Naphtali, Gad and Asher since the 9th century AD. By the 16th century AD, only the tribe of Dan is remembered living in the land of Cush along with the Solomonic dynasty of the Ethiopian Jews:
9th Century — The earliest apparent reference to the Beta Israel appears in the diary of Eldad Hadani, a merchant and traveler claiming to have been a citizen of an autonomous Jewish state in eastern Africa inhabited by the tribes of Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher.
13th Century — The Solomonic dynasty (which claims decent from Solomon and Sheba) assumes control. During the next 300 years (1320-1620), intermittent wars are fought between the Christian kings of Ethiopia and those of the Beta Israel, which finally result in the Beta Israel’s loss of independence.
16th Century — Rabbi David B. Zimra, known as the Radbaz, issues a legal response in Cairo declaring that “those who come from the land Cush (Ethiopia) are without a doubt the Tribe of Dan…” He confirms that Ethiopian Jews are fully Jewish.
Trying to find the genetic marker for each of the tribes seems complicated. We use the tribe of Asher as an example to help us understand this better. If there is a genetic marker for the tribe of Asher, we would find that same marker or Y-haplogroup in the populations of Jews, Christians and Gentiles, since Asher forgot who he was and became part of each of these three communities. This is a mammoth unfeasible task unless Asher is identified first by the blessings given to them in the Bible. YHVH knew it would be so, and this is one of the reasons for the blessings given in Genesis 48-49, Deuteronomy 33, as well as other places in the Bible. We must study the blessings and see which one is most prominent in our lives from the paternal side of the family. (See the 12 Tribes Characteristics by the Bible at etzyoseph.org.) YHVH promised that if we obey His Word, those blessings will be manifested abundantly in our lives today. Deuteronomy 28:2
After identifying the blessings in their lives, more people from the stick of Joseph in the hand of Ephraim must have their Y-DNA testing done so we can compare the Y-haplogroups of common tribal beliefs and in turn may find the marker for each individual tribe. This is exactly what the stick of Judah accomplished. They believed they were Jews, then went to have their DNA testing done, and today many people may find out if they have Jewish ancestors by comparing their DNA to Judah.
If you feel moved by the Ruach Hakadosh (Holy Spirit) to participate in this project, join us at.
For more information, visit us at our web site www.etzyoseph.org
(In the love of Yeshua)
Alex Perdomo MD
Georgina Chan Perdomo MD