After their arrival on the promised land, the colony led by Lehi received further information regarding the dispersion of Israel. The prophet Zenos, quoted by Nephi, had predicted the unbelief of the house of Israel, in consequence of which the people were to “wander in the flesh, and perish, and become a hiss and a byword, and be hated among all nations.” The brothers of Nephi, skeptical in regard to these teachings, asked whether the things of which he spake were to come to pass in a spiritual sense or more literally, and were informed that “the house of Israel, sooner or later,” will be scattered upon all the face of the earth, and also among all nations”; and further, in reference to dispersions then already accomplished, that “the more part of all the tribes have been led away; and they are scattered to and fro upon the isles of the sea”; and then, by way of prediction concerning further division and separation, Nephi adds that the Gentiles shall be given power over the people of Israel, “and by them shall our seed be scattered.” Though an ocean lay between the country of their nativity and the land to which they had been miraculously brought, the children of Lehi learned through revelation by the mouth of Jacob, Nephi’s brother, of the captivity of the Jews whom they had left at Jerusalem. By Nephi they were further told of troubles then impending over the city of their birth, and of a further dispersion of their kindred, the Jews.
The Lamanites, a division of Lehi’s posterity, were also to be disrupted and scattered, as witness the words of Samuel, a prophet of that benighted people. Nephi, the third prophet of that name, grandson of Helaman, emphasizes the dispersion of his people by declaring that their “dwellings shall become desolate.” Jesus Himself, after His resurrection, while ministering to the division of His flock on the western hemisphere, refers solemnly to the remnant who were to be “scattered forth upon the face of the earth because of their unbelief.”
From these citations it is plain that the followers of Lehi, including his own family, and Zoram, together with Ishmael and his family, from whom sprang the mighty peoples the Nephites, who suffered extermination as a nation because of their unfaithfulness, and the Lamanites, who, now known as the American Indians, have continued in troubled existence until the present day, were informed by revelation of the dispersion of their former compatriots in the land of Palestine, and of their own certain doom if they continued in disobedience to the laws of God. We have said that the transfer of Lehi and his followers from the eastern to the western hemisphere was itself a part of the general dispersion. It should be remembered that another colony of Jews came to the west, the start dating about eleven years after the time of Lehi’s departure. This second company was led by Mulek, a son of Zedekiah, who was the last king of Judah; they left Jerusalem immediately after the capture of the city by Nebuchadnezzar, about 588 B.C.
The Fulfilment of These Prophecies-The sacred scriptures, as well as other writings for which the claim of direct inspiration is not asserted, record the literal fulfilment of prophecy in the desolation of the house of Israel. The dividing of the nation into the separate kingdoms of Judah and Israel led to the downfall of both. As the people grew in their disregard for the laws of their fathers their enemies were permitted to triumph over them. After many minor losses in war the kingdom of Israel met an overwhelming defeat at the hands of the Assyrians, in or about the year 721 B.C. We read that Shalmanezer IV, king of Assyria, besieged Samaria, the third and last capital of the kingdom, and that after three years the city was taken by Sargon, Shalmanezer’s successor. The people of Israel were carried captive into Assyria and distributed among the cities of the Medes. Thus was the dread prediction of Ahijah to the wife of Jeroboam fulfilled. Israel was scattered beyond the river, probably the Euphrates, and from the time to this event the Ten Tribes are lost to history.
The sad fate of the kingdom of Israel had some effect in partially awakening among the people of Judah a sense of their own impending doom. Hezekiah reigned as king for nine and twenty years, and proved himself a bright exception to a line of wicked rulers who had preceded him. Of him we are told that “he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord.” During his reign, the Assyrians under Sennacherib invaded the land; but the Lord’s favor was in part restored to the people and Hezekiah roused them to a reliance upon their God, bidding them take courage and fear not the Assyrian king nor his hosts, “for,” said this righteous prince, “there be more with us than with him: With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God to help us, and to fight our battles.” The Assyrian army was miraculously destroyed. But Hezekiah died, and Manasseh ruled in his stead; this king did evil in the sight of the Lord, and the wickedness of the people continued for half a century or more, broken only by the good works of one righteous king, Josiah.
While Zedekiah occupied the throne, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, laid siege to Jerusalem, took the city about 588 B.C., and soon thereafter led the people captive into Babylon, thus virtually putting an end to the kingdom of Judah. The people were scattered among the cities of Asia, and groaned under the vicissitudes of the Babylonian captivity for nearly seventy years, after which they were given permission by Cyrus the Persian, who had subdued the Babylonians, to return to Jerusalem. Multitudes of the exiled Jews availed themselves of this opportunity, though many remained in the land of their captivity; and while those who did return earnestly sought to reestablish themselves on a scale of their former power they were never again a truly independent people. They were assailed by Syria and Egypt, and later became tributary to Rome, in which condition they were during the personal ministry of Jesus Christ amongst them.
Jeremiah’s prophecy still lacked a complete fulfilment, but time proved that not a word was to fail. “Judah shall be carried away captive, all of it; it shall be wholly carried away captive”; this was the prediction. A rebellious disturbance among the Jews gave a semblance of excuse for chastisement to be visited upon them by their Roman masters, which culminated in the destruction of Jerusalem, A.D. 71. The city fell after a six months’ siege before the Roman arms led by Titus, son of the Emperor Vespasian. Josephus, the famous historian to whom we owe most of our knowledge as to the details of the struggle, was himself a resident in Galilee and was carried to Rome among the captives. From his record we learn that more than a million Jews lost their lives through the famine incident to the siege; many more were sold into slavery, and uncounted numbers were forced into exile. The city was utterly destroyed, and the site upon which the Temple had stood was plowed up by the Romans in their search for treasure. Thus literally were the words of Christ fulfilled: “There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”
Since the destruction of Jerusalem and the final disruption of the Jewish autonomy, the Jews have been wanderers upon the face of the earth, a people without a country, a nation without a home. The prophecy uttered by Amos of old has had its literal fulfilment-truly have Israel been sifted among all nations “like as corn is sifted in a sieve.” Let it be remembered, however, that coupled with this dread prediction was the promise: “Yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth.”
The Lost Tribes-As already stated, in the division of the Israelites after the death of Solomon ten tribes established themselves as an independent kingdom. This, the kingdom of Israel, was terminated as far as history is concerned by the Assyrian captivity, 721 B.C. The people were led into Assyria and later disappeared so completely that they have been called the Lost Tribes. They seem to have departed from Assyria, and while we lack definite information as to their final destination and present location, there is abundant evidence that their journey was toward the north. The Lord’s word through Jeremiah promises that the people shall be brought back “from the land of the north,” and a similar declaration has been made through divine revelation in the present dispensation.
In the writings of Esdras or Ezra, which, however, are not included among the canonical books of the Bible but are known as apocryphal, we find references to the northbound migration of the Ten Tribes, which they undertook in accordance with a plan to escape the heathen by going to “a farther country where never man dwelt, that they might there keep their statutes which they never kept in their own land.” The same writer informs us that they journeyed a year and a half into the north country, but he gives us evidence that many remained in the land of their captivity.
The resurrected Christ, while ministering among the Nephites on this hemisphere, specifically mentioned “the other tribes of the house of Israel, whom the Father hath led away out of the land;” and again He referred to them as “other sheep which are not of this land, neither of the land of Jerusalem; neither in any parts of that land round about whither I have been to minister.” Christ announced a commandment of the Father that He should reveal Himself to them. The present location of the Lost Tribes has not been revealed.