The Ten Lost Tribes: A World History  -     By: Zvi Ben-Dor Benite
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The Ten Lost Tribes: A World History

Oxford University Press / 2009 / Hardcover

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Product Description

"The story of the lost tribes constitutes a mythology that is both potent and enduring. Writing a 'world history' on this scale demands enviable linguistic and interdisciplinary skills, which Benite has in abundance. This is an exhilarating venture in intellectual history; a readable and enjoyable book,"---Books & Culture. 320 pages, hardcover. Oxford University.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 320
Vendor: Oxford University Press
Publication Date: 2009
Dimensions: 9.30 X 6.20 (inches)
ISBN: 019530733X
ISBN-13: 9780195307337
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

The legendary story of the ten lost tribes of Israel has resonated among both Jews and Christians down through the centuries: the compelling idea that some core group of humanity was "lost" and exiled to a secret place, perhaps someday to return triumphant. In this fascinating book, Zvi Ben-Dor Benite shows for the first time the extent to which the search for the lost tribes of Israel became, over two millennia, an engine for global exploration and a key mechanism for understanding the world.

As the book reveals, the quest for the missing tribes and the fervent belief that their restitution marked a necessary step toward global redemption have been threaded through countless historical moments--from the formation of the first "world" empires to the age of discovery, and from the spread of European imperialism to the rise of modern-day evangelical apocalypticism. Drawing on a wealth of sources and presenting a vast array of historical players--explorers, politicians, scientists, geographers, and theologians--the author traces the myth from its biblical formation up through the present day. We see how the lost tribes, long thought to lurk at the world's "edges," became a means for expanding those edges: as new oceans, islands, or continents were discovered, the ten tribes were used as an interpretive device that made the unknown seem known and the new, old. Thus, virtually every spot on earth, whether Argentina or Zululand, the American Southwest or Southeast Asia, has at some point been claimed as the true home of the missing peoples.

More than a historical survey of an enduring myth, The Ten Lost Tribes offers a unique prism through which to view the many facets of encounters between cultures, the processes of colonization, and the growth of geographical knowledge.

Author Bio


Zvi Ben-Dor Benite is an Associate Professor in the Department of History and the Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University. He is the author of The Dao of Muhammad: A Cultural History of Muslims in Late Imperial China.

Editorial Reviews


"This book constitutes a sophisticated, often riveting meditation on those who have dreamed about, sought after, investigated, and longed for the ten Israelite tribes deported (according to the biblical account) by the Assyrians in the eighth century B.C.E. to a remote
location, after which they disappeared from human knowledge. More than a history of fantasy, however, Zvi Ben-Dor Benite's survey brings together the variegated odalities--religious, political, scientific, and literary--in which such fixations have played themselves out."--American Historical Review


"The story of the lost tribes of Israel has been told before, but never placed so successfully within the context of global history. Zvi Ben-Dor Benite's exceptional scholarly range, combined with his exquisite sensitivity to the relationship between presence and absence, promise and loss, will appeal to anyone fascinated with the ways myth-history and myth-geography function in the real time and real space of world events."
-- John Gillis, Professor Emeritus of History, Rutgers University


"From the Book of Isaiah to the Book of Mormon, the loss and recovery of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel were lamented and celebrated. This quintessential episode of loss sounded a leitmotiv in Jewish and Christian imaginations, and informed a western knowledge of world geography, real and imagined, from Biblical to modern times. This is the fascinating story told in this erudite and sweeping book."
-- R. Po-chia Hsia, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of History and Asian Studies, Pennsylvania State University.


"Writing a 'world history' on this scale demands enviable linguistic and interdisciplinary skills, which Zvi Ben-Dor Benite has in abundance. ...The Ten Lost Tribes [is] an exhilarating venture in intellectual history ...[A] readable and enjoyable book." --Books & Culture


"Readers will marvel at how belief in the lost tribes benefits the ambitions of British imperialists and at how it has guided modern Israeli leaders in shaping their country's repatriation policies. Scholarship of exceptional breadth, certain to attract a diverse readership." --Booklist


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