A very interesting story out of The Jerusalem Post:
"Thousands of kilometers to the east, in the furthest reaches of northeastern India, a long-lost community continues to nourish its age-old dream of returning to its ancient homeland, the land of Israel. The Bnei Menashe, or “sons of Manasseh,” are descendants of one of the 10 lost tribes of Israel, which were exiled by the Assyrian empire more than 27 centuries ago. The community, which numbers 7,232 people, resides primarily in the Indian states of Mizoram and Manipur, along the border with Burma and Bangladesh. Despite generations of wandering, the Bnei Menashe never forgot who they were, where they had come from, or where they aspired to return. Three times a day, every day, they turn in silent prayer toward Jerusalem, pleading with the Creator to put an end to their long exile and bring them home to Zion. That dream is now poised, at last, to become a reality." [Below, I created a map to show where Manasseh resides now and how far that is from Israel]
"This past Monday, an extraordinary meeting of the Ministerial Committee on Immigration and Absorption took place in the Prime Minister’s Office. At the top of the agenda was the issue of the Bnei Menashe. ... As Chairman of Shavei Israel, an organization that has been assisting the community for over a decade, I had lobbied intensively for much of the past year for the committee to address the issue. ... And rest assured, I told the ministers, the Bnei Menashe are our lost brethren. In March 2005, Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar recognized them as Zera Yisrael, or the “seed of Israel,” and said they should be brought to the Jewish state."
"So I turned to the members of the committee and made a simple yet forceful plea: It is time for Israel to let the remaining Bnei Menashe come home."
"And then a miracle took place. After deliberating the matter, the ministerial committee, headed by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, formally decided to draft a government resolution and bring it to the cabinet for approval no later than the end of July. The resolution will permit all the remaining Bnei Menashe in India to make aliya, and will finally bring an end to their years of waiting and uncertainty. Both the foreign minister and Absorption Minister Sofa Landver said they were behind the measure. This means we are just one month away from an historic turning point, one that will restore 7,232 precious souls to the Jewish people. ... Soon enough, I am sure, the Bnei Menashe will cross the sea, reuniting with the Land and people of Israel after a remarkable journey. Just as the prophets foretold, Manasseh’s children are at last coming back. And all one can say is: Thank God."
So when in 2005 Shlomo Amar, Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel, announced that he regarded the Bnei Menashe's claim of tribal inclusion to be true, under the Law of Return this allows them to migrate to Israel, as long as they formally convert to Judaism in accordance with halachic standards. This is what the author of the Opinion piece above was explaining.
It is a miracle, hands down, that all the tribes and the People, including the Bnei Menashe, never assimilated, never acculturated, but maintained a distinct identity apart from their surroundings. That has never happened to any people or culture in history, ever. The study of the twelve tribes is an interesting one, however there are no clear answers as to which of the tribes will end up being considered a 'real' tribe in the Millennium Kingdom. We do have a list in Revelation 7:5-8 of which tribes receive the blessing of being chosen to participate in the sealing of the 144,000 in the Tribulation. (12,000 from each tribe). God certainly knows His remnant and under His sovereignty He chooses the tribes. Here is the Jewish Virtual Library's list of the twelve tribes if you care to see a list and explanation of the characteristics of each tribe.
I do think that it is highly interesting that several years ago Ehud Olmert (Israel Prime Minister) stopped the Bnei Menashe's aliya (return) and now the Powers That Be seem open to it. Just the fact that one of the Tribes of Israel is in the news is prophetically interesting. Praise the Lord for His works and wonders!
The above chart's information was gotten from GotQuestions.org, here and I put it into chart form. Additionally, the piece explains: "Some Bible teachers understand Dan being left off the list in Revelation 7 because of what is said in Genesis 49:17, “Dan will be a serpent by the roadside, a viper along the path, that bites the horse's heels so that its rider tumbles backward.”
The Levites are not mentioned in some lists perhaps because they never went to war and they never were given land, rather, they were assigned to service in the Temple. So maybe they are considered more of a priestly caste than a Tribe. (Joshua 14:3).
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