An email that I thought was interesting asked what happened to the northern ten tribes also called the lost ten tribes. Well we have a couple of pieces of evidence from the scripture and one from Joshephus.
Luke 2:36 And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in many days, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity.
In the book of Luke there is a woman descended from the tribe of Asher of the house of Israel, the ten northern tribes. She was an Israelite. It might be helpful to note that she was of the tribe of Asher, not Judah. Since she lived in Jerusalem in Judea she would be called a Judean, but she was not a Jew as people misunderstand the word today.
Also in John Christ told the Pharisees that where he was going to go they could not follow.
John 7:35 Then the Jews said among themselves, Where is he about to go that we shall not find him? Is he about to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks, and to teach the Greeks?
The Dispersion is in actuality another term for Israelites living in foreign countries. Take a look at James 1:1.
Jamess 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes in the Dispersion, greeting:
Notice that the book of James is addressed to the twelve tribes! James certainly believed that the entire twelve tribes existed. So as is commonly reported among the churches today the northern ten tribes did not dissapear and cease to exist or become a part of the Assyrians. To suggest such makes God a promise breaker! 1 Peter 1:1 is very similar, but one must do a little deciphering. I will add the meanings from the Greek in (parenthesis) after the word in question.
1 Peter 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the elect sojourners (resident foreigner) of the Dispersion (Israelite residents in foriegn countries) of Pontus, of Galatia, of Cappadocia, of Asia, and of Bithynia,
The word dispersion refers to the largest dispersion of Israelites when the ten northern tribes were relocated to Assyria and then later escaped according to historical documents. If you also include what parts of the tribes were actually taken into the Assyrian captivity then you know that most of all 12 tribes of the house of Israel and the house of Judah were included. All that was left were those living in Jerusalem and a few surrounding towns. Now for the quote from Josephus.
"...wherefore there are but two tribes in Asia and Europe subject to the Romans, while the Ten Tribes are beyond the Euphrates till now, and are an immense multitude, and not to be estimated by numbers." Flavius Josephus, historian and contemporary of the Apostle Peter.
One has only to read the many prophecies promising the northern ten tribes that one day they would return to favor with God and become known as "sons of the living God". I believe that means that they would be Christians. There are many answers to the prophecy of the reunion of the house of Israel and the house of Judah in the new testament that have been mislabeled as a reunion between the house of Judah and Gentiles. After all, when in the old testament were there any instances or promises of Israel being with or reunited with non-Israelites? The word Gentile does not mean non-Jew or non-Israelite. Context is important, but the word Gentile in the new testament is a Latin word and indicates kinship with Israel, not unrelated foreigners.
Matthew 15:24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
The word "lost" in Matthew 15:24 is interesting. It is a poor translation as the meaning of the Greek word "apollumi" would have been better rendered as "put away and punished". Based on the comments from scripture, the Pharisees, Josephus and what we know from historical documents the ten tribes of Israel were never lost in the sense of no one knowing where they were. At the time of their Assyrian captivity they lost the right to be called Israel, "ruling with God", the meaning of the word Israel. Look in the articles on Marriage here for an article about God's divorce of the house of Israel. The word lost is really more accurately translated as "put away and punished". So the above verse would have been better translated as the following.
Matthew 15:24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the put away and punished sheep of the house of Israel.
The parable of the Prodigal son is actually about the lost ten tribes and Judah.
Luke 15:24 for this my son was dead and is alive again, he was lost and is found. And they began to be merry.
This could get to be a rather long article with the evidence found in the new testament when you include the answered prophecy. Suffice it to say it is incorrect to conclude that the northern ten tribes no longer exist.
Feel free to send your helpful comments.