The Ten Tribes of Israel in America.

Original title page

Some readers would probably appreciate an explanation of the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel before we launch into Mr Ingram’s tract, so I will do my best to oblige.

In the eighth century BC the Assyrians conquered Palestine and, in accordance with their custom, deported en masse the people they found living there, so as to make way for their own people. The deportees were essentially the ten northern tribes of Israel, and they were apparently sent to somewhere in the region south-west of the Caspian Sea (see 2 Kings 17.6; 18.11 & I Chronicles 5.26.) Eventually, of course, many Israelites returned to Palestine, but many others must have stayed where they were, or drifted off elsewhere. The point is, though, that after the deportation their identity as ‘the ten tribes’ was lost, and they simply melted away into history.

Many authors are not happy with this, though, and the idea took root that the ten tribes retained their identity, and are still to be found somewhere. There have been many attempts to locate them – one idea is that they became the Anglo-Saxons that invaded England; another that they became the Japanese; but Mr Ingram’s favoured theory is that they were to be found somewhere among the tribes of American Indians.

Mr Ingram begins by quoting Manasseh ben Israel, the theologian, philosopher and founder of the modern Jewish community in England. He was the author, in 1650, of a book entitled The Hope of Israel. In it he told the story of one  Aaron Levi. In 1644 Levi is said to have encountered a tribe of Indians who claimed direct descent from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob-Israel. He had been guided to this tribe by an Indian called Francis Canicur, who assured him that this tribe were “the sons of Israel, and were brought hither by the Divine Providence of God, who for their sakes wrought many miracles.” All this Francis had learned from his forebears. Apparently the indigenous Indians had tried to exterminate these intruding Israelites, but without success (not surprisingly, since they had God on their side), and in the end, Israelites and Indians had settled into a state of treaty.

Mr Ingram cites other evidence of Israelitish settlement in America. For example, he assures us that there is, in Collai, a province of the West Indies, the remains of a temple which, according to Indian legend, “was erected by apeople who were white and bearded like the Spaniards” and who “came thither a long while before the Indians.” This temple was a synagogue, no less!

Then there is the case of the Dutch mariner who, under directions from the local Indians, “sailed two months up a large river, where he met with white men, bearded, well clothed, and abounding with gold and silver, and many precious stones.” Well, who else could they be but another jungle-bound Jewish community?

Again, still following Manasseh ben Israel, Mr Ingram points to the practice of circumcision among certain Indians, and a knowledge of the Universal Deluge, as further confirmation of Israelitish settlement and influence.

After quoting extensively from Manasseh ben Israel, Mr Ingram strikes out on his own. How did the Israelites get to America? The simple answer is: they walked. Starting in Babylonia, God parted the waters of the river Euphrates for them so that could walk across into Iran. Or maybe they went via Mount Ararat, in Eastern Turkey, in which case they might have seen Noah’s Ark on the way. God then guided them across the Russian Steppes and through Siberia to the Bering Straits, where He obligingly parted the sea for them, Exodus-style, so that they could walk across to Alaska. This journey took them a year and a half, all told.

Apparently the Israelites settled originally in various places in the southern and central parts of America, but on account of persecutions by the indigenous Indians, they were driven back north again, possibly not long before the arrival of the Spaniards. At any rate, many were driven back to settle in what is now California, though Mr Ingram thinks that another contingent became the Mosemlecks, a civilised tribe of Indians in the Hudson Bay area. The name Mosemlecks suggests that they might well have known “something of the law of Moses”, he says.

Incidentally, Mr Ingram believed that the native Indians of America were of Phoenician, Canaanitish and Cushite origin, and that they had got there by using the mid-Atlantic continent of Atlantis as a ‘stepping stone’ to cross the ocean. Mr Ingram’s tract is thus of interest not only as an early ‘lost tribes’ oddity, but also for its mention of Atlantis, which pre-dates by many years that classic work of Ignatius Donnelly, Atlantis: the Antediluvian World, published in 1882.

It is prophesied, of course, that the Jews and the rest of the Tribes of Israel will eventually return to Palestine (see Jeremiah 3.18, for example.) This being the case, Mr Ingram fully expected a migration of the ten tribes from America which was the very reverse of that which got them there in the first place. This reverse migration would include yet another parting of the sea in the Bering Straits, for is not such an event prophetically implied by Zechariah 10.11? (Those readers who answer “No!” to this question will kindly leave the room.)

After the return to Palestine, things will really start to hot up. The Lord will appear, “and his armies shall go forth as lightning.” The Sun will be turned into darkness and the Moon into blood. This is in accordance with Joel 2.31, if you must know. More importantly, this will be the time when “all the adversaries of Christianity will be finally overthrown by the final judgement of God.”

One problem with all this is that on their return to Palestine the Israelites will have so increased in numbers since they left there in the eighth century BC, that their old territories will no longer be big enough for them. But Mr Ingram has it all worked out. By a careful study of Biblical prophecies he finds that the Turkish Empire will be defeated by Israel, leaving the Israelites “in possession of the whole country from the Euphrates to the Nile.”

All this was to take place “soon” after 1792, according to Mr Ingram’s reckoning. We are, of course, still waiting.