What in the world has God been doing? What will God do with the world in the future? Here's how you can track ancient tribes through history to understand prophecy. Think of it as a portal to God's plan for all mankind and your personal guide to the future.
Today's nations started as ancient tribes—or groups of tribes. Even today many people in Africa, Asia, North and South America and elsewhere carefully maintain their tribal identities.
All people and tribes come from one human source—Adam and Eve. "And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings" (Acts:17:26). God planned eras of greatness and natural borders—the overview of history.
God Himself chose one nation to be a model for all other nations, starting with the patriarch Abraham (Genesis 12), his son Isaac and his grandson Jacob. God changed Jacob's name to Israel, and his 12 sons became the patriarchs, or fathers, of the 12 tribes of Israel.
For several centuries after the Exodus from Egypt they existed as a confederacy of tribes in the Promised Land (largely where the nation-state of Israel is today). From around 1050 to 930 B.C. the 12 were united into a single nation under the famous kings Saul, David and Solomon.
Due to Solomon's disobedience, God divided the 12 tribes into two nations: two tribes in the south formed the house of Judah (ancestors of the Jewish people of today) and 10 tribes in the north formed the house of Israel (who were never known as Jews).
Rebelling against God's way, the northern house of Israel adopted sinful, pagan beliefs and practices. Consequently, from around 740 to 720 B.C. God allowed Assyria to attack, conquer and take them captive, deporting them from their homeland to Assyria's northern and northeastern borderlands. They became known in history as the "lost 10 tribes of Israel."
But these "lost" tribes of Israel did not just vanish. If you know what to look for, you can track them across the continents and through the centuries to the time of Christ and on to modern times as nations in northwestern Europe, Britain, her former colonies and the United States.
Obviously, not every modern nation is descended from the ancient tribes of Israel. But apply tribe-tracking principles and you'll plainly see evidence of God working with all the tribes and nations in the world.
Modern fulfillment of ancient prophecies
The first key in tribe tracking is prophecy. A prime example from the time of Jacob (also called Israel) describes the ancestors of the American and the British nations.
Many know the story of Joseph, one of the 12 sons of Israel, who was betrayed and sold by his brothers into Egyptian slavery. There he served time unjustly in prison. Finally God freed Joseph and he ultimately rose to the position of the pharaoh's prime minister.
Through necessity born of famine, God reunited Jacob and his other 11 sons with Joseph in Egypt. There, near the end of his life, Jacob formally adopted Joseph's two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, thus raising each to tribal status (Genesis:48:8-16).
Then he pronounced prophetic blessings upon the lads. Manasseh was to become a great nation near the time of Christ's second coming. Ephraim would be even greater, for he would become a multitude or company of nations (Genesis:48:17-20).
Israel (God's chosen model nation) was to receive the greatest blessings among the world's nations. And the tribes and nations fathered by Joseph's two sons were to receive the greatest blessings of all the tribes of Israel—thus, greatest among the greatest.
Can we identify these people today? Consider that the greatest company of nations in world history in terms of wealth, prestige, influence and power in its heyday was the British Empire. The greatest single nation in the history of the world is clearly the United States of America. (Detailed evidence for this is given in our booklet The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy. )
Bear in mind that although God promised great blessings for the tribes and nations of Israel, He expected them to live up to the high and holy standard of His law. If they did, they were blessed, but when they didn't, He punished them—or will punish them—severely.
There is no room for arrogance among the descendants of ancient Israel. And there is no room for envy among the other nations. "God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him" (Acts:10:34-35).
Direct fulfillment of divine prophecy leaves an obvious track from history to the future. There are more prophecies about the tribes in Genesis 49 and Deuteronomy 33 as well as prophecies about other nations in the Bible. However, the prophesied identity of the two most powerful nations during the final 200 to 300 years of the end of the age leaves the clearest tracks a tribe tracker can find.
Names of the tribes
A second key principle of tracking the tribes of Israel from past to future is discovering the names they bore during their wanderings. Let's look at two primary group names of the wandering Israelites.
King Omri ruled the house of Israel in the early 800s B.C., about 160 years before the fall of the northern kingdom (1 Kings 16). The Assyrians used his name to refer to the whole nation.
In the Assyrian language Omri was called Ghomri or Khumri, and in London we find a historical record of the house of Israel under subjugation to Assyria.
The famous Black Obelisk, prominently displayed in the British Museum, includes a pictorial record of King Jehu of Israel paying homage to the Assyrian king Shalmaneser. The inscription translates as: "The tribute of Jehu son of Khumri." And the Assyrians referred to the land of Israel as mat bit-Khumri —"land of the house of Omri."
Variations of Omri as a national name can be tracked initially as Ghomri or Khumri in Assyrian clay tablets, then Gamir, Gamera or Gamira, Cimmeri or Kimmeroi, as Cimmerians across Europe, and finally as the Cymry or people of Wales today. The Cimmerians were later called Celts and Gauls in northwestern Europe by the Greeks and Romans.
Remember, these linguistic transformations took place over hundreds of years and hundreds of miles.
Next, God promised that Isaac, the son of Abraham and Sarah, would leave the track of his name on history: "In Isaac your seed shall be called" (Genesis:21:12). Ancient written Hebrew didn't include vowels, so the written letters for Isaac were the SC or SK sound.
"In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria took Samaria and carried Israel away to Assyria, and placed them in Halah and by the Habor, the River of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes" (2 Kings:17:6). Their tribal wanderings began on Assyria's northern and northeastern borders, south of the Black and Caspian Seas and in the southern edges of modern Russia about 720 B.C.
By 700 B.C. the Cimmerians began to overrun northern Asia Minor (modern Turkey), commencing centuries of migration west and north into Europe. Simultaneously another group of the tribes shook off Assyrian rule, moving to the north and east. Known variously as Izkuza, Sacasene, Scythians, Saka, Sakka, Sacas and Sacae — the SK or SC of Isaac formed the core of these names.
Those migrating north around the Black Sea to Europe were called Scythians. The eastern branch initially between Persia and China were the Sakka or Saka. Later in Europe they became Sacesones (sons of Saka) and finally Saxons —settling in England and later America. The SK/SC sound is found yet today among descendant nations of some of the tribes: Scotland, Scotia, Scandinavia, etc.
Greek and Roman scholars wrote about the Scythians and Cimmerians as they moved across the continents and through history, listing their names on ancient maps. Knowing the "lost" tribes of Israel as Cimmerians and Scythians enables us to track them across land, sea and time as we read histories, study historical maps and read about or participate in archaeology.
But far more importantly, by tracking the tribes prophetically and historically we see God's hand working in the affairs of man. If God has worked so clearly in the lives of tribes and nations of the past, He most certainly can and will work with nations and people today. He can reveal to you the world's troubled, near-term future, plus the most incredible, eternal, long-term future in the great Kingdom of God.
For further study of the modern locations of the tribes of Israel and their destiny, be sure to read our free booklet The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy. VT