Many biblical scholars consider Amos, a prophet from Tekoa in northern Judah, to be the first to warn of the impending exile of "the remnant of Joseph" (Amos 5:15). But Amos also told Israel it would not be entirely lost from God's view. "'Behold, the eyes of the Lord God are on the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it [the kingdom of Israel] from the face of the earth; yet I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob,' says the Lord. 'For surely I will command, and will sift the house of Israel among all nations, as grain is sifted in a sieve; yet not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground'" (Amos 9:8-9).
The Israelites would indeed be sifted among other nations. They first would be compelled to join scores of other ethnic groups in a cruel exodus from their homeland. Where would they be forced to go? "For the Lord will strike Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water. He will uproot Israel from this good land which He gave to their fathers, and will scatter them beyond the Euphrates River..." (1 Kings 14:15, NASB)—a river to their north.
These prophecies show that the exiled Israelites would be unable to remain in one cohesive group. They would scatter—break up into smaller units—and have to share their land of exile with other peoples.
In other passages the prophets reveal that these Israelites would eventually find themselves in a new location to the north and west of the Promised Land, from which they faced imminent eviction. It is from this direction they will return to their homeland in the Middle East after Christ's return.
The most obvious verse that shows this is in the book of Isaiah: "Surely these shall come from afar; look! Those from the north and the west, and these from the land of Sinim" (Isaiah 49:12; see also verses Isaiah 49:13-23).
Since Hebrew has no expression corresponding to the English "northwest," this verse may also be understood that Israel would migrate to a region to the northwest of the Promised Land.
But there are other biblical clues. One is Hosea 12:1: "Ephraim feeds on the wind, and pursues the east wind." This expression implies Ephraim would migrate to the west (compare Hosea 11:9-10).
Other passages suggest that Israel would ultimately be scattered and found in an island setting. After Jesus' return "they shall come with weeping, and with supplications I [God] will lead them. I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters, in a straight way in which they shall not stumble; for I am a Father to Israel, and Ephraim is My firstborn. Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, 'He who scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd does his flock'" (Jeremiah 31:9-10).
Other references to an island or maritime location include Isaiah 24:15; Isaiah 41:1-5; Isaiah 51:5; Isaiah 66:19 and Psalm 89:25. Collectively, these passages indicate that the captive Israelites would eventually move on from their land of exile in northern Mesopotamia to ultimately settle in Northwestern Europe—the major maritime and coastal region north and west of their Middle Eastern homeland.