Ephraim and Menashe were supposed to make great nations of themselves, as it is written. But since the first diaspora, their existence is either unknown or they have all died out. What can we say about this? What can we expect to see in the world to come?

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    There are groups in India that claim descent from each of these tribes. R' Shlomo Amar ruled that the claim of the Bnei Menashe was authentic but that full conversion was required due to the thousands of years of separation from the Jewish community.
    – yoel
    Aug 14, 2012 at 15:38
  • It's possible that they are numerous in some hidden place in the world that no one else can enter, so we just don't know about them.
    – b a
    Aug 14, 2012 at 16:43
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    @ba, with satellites today, that seems unlikely.
    – msh210
    Aug 14, 2012 at 19:34
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    yhyrcanus, welcome to Mi Yodeya and thanks for your interesting question,. I hope you stick around and enjoy the site. You might wish to tighten up your question so it is more focused and answerable: rather than "What can we say about this?", which is very open-ended, perhaps something along the lines of "How to we resolve this seeming contradiction?".
    – msh210
    Aug 14, 2012 at 19:36
  • @msh210 I heard in the name of the Maharal that 10 shevatim have to be hidden until G-d wants them to be revealed. If that is true, then it's very possible
    – b a
    Aug 14, 2012 at 19:45

1 Answer 1


To the best of my knowledge, the promise that Ephraim and Menashe would become great is the following verse (Bereishis 48:19 from Chabad.org):

יט. וַיְמָאֵן אָבִיו וַיֹּאמֶר יָדַעְתִּי בְנִי יָדַעְתִּי גַּם הוּא יִהְיֶה לְעָם וְגַם הוּא יִגְדָּל וְאוּלָם אָחִיו הַקָּטֹן יִגְדַּל מִמֶּנּוּ וְזַרְעוֹ יִהְיֶה מְלֹא הַגּוֹיִם׃

19. But his father refused, and he said, "I know, my son, I know; he too will become a people, and he too will be great. But his younger brother will be greater than he, and his children['s fame] will fill the nations."

Rashi there explains:

he too will become a people, etc.: for Gideon is destined to be descended from him. [Gideon] through whom the Holy One, blessed be He, will perform a miracle. — [from Midrash Tanchuma Vayechi [6]]

But his younger brother will be greater than he: for Joshua is destined to be descended from him, [and Joshua is] the one who will distribute the inheritances of the land and teach Torah to Israel. — [from Midrash Tanchuma Vayechi [6]]

The end of that Midrash Tanchuma says:

‏...ואימתי נתקיימה ברכתו בחנוכת הנשיאים שהקריב אפרים ביום ז' ומנשה ביום השמיני

...And when was this blessing fulfilled? When the Princes inaugurated [the Mishkan]. Because [the prince of] Ephraim was on the 7th day, and [the prince of] Menashe was on the 8th day.

As such, it seems to me that according to Midrash Tanchuma, that particular blessing has already been fulfilled.

  • I don't follow. The blessing which was fulfilled was that Ephraim would precede Menashe, not that they became great nations. What do we see about their becoming great nations from here? Isn't that what the question is asking?
    – Double AA
    Dec 27, 2012 at 6:37
  • @DoubleAA Where does it say they will be great nations?
    – HodofHod
    Dec 27, 2012 at 6:39
  • Re Ephraim: וְזַרְעוֹ יִהְיֶה מְלֹא הַגּוֹיִם and re Menashe: הוּא יִהְיֶה לְעָם וְגַם הוּא יִגְדָּל
    – Double AA
    Dec 27, 2012 at 6:40
  • @DoubleAA 1: Rashi comments on those words: "כל העולם יתמלא בצאת שמעו כשיעמיד חמה בגבעון וירח בעמק אילון" and 2: Rashi seems to understand those words to have been fulfilled with Gideon.
    – HodofHod
    Dec 27, 2012 at 6:51
  • That's kind of a strange read as far as pshat goes, but if that is your answer then it shouldn't just be in the comments.
    – Double AA
    Dec 27, 2012 at 6:53

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