Ten Tribes Quotes by Mormon Leaders

Star trail with Polaris in center. Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

Star trail with Polaris in center. Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

From the seventeenth to twenty-first century, theories about the ‘Lost Ten Tribes’ are in no short supply. It seems everyone has had an opinion about it. One of the hot topics in the early nineteenth century was the speculation of what happened to the so-called ‘Lost Ten Tribes of Israel’.

Opinions they had assimilated into the remaining two tribes during the Assyrian takeover c. BC 700, to the belief they had become the American Indians, ran their full course for more than a century.

Society also drew more unconventional theories the tribes had been driven to the North Pole, or the earth heaved a section of itself away to afford them their own civilization. Each theory seemed to beget a more grandiose tale as time wore on.

The LDS Church wasn’t immune from the wild theories, with the subject finding itself in the Church’s official canon. Surprisingly (or maybe not), leaders of Mormonism were still offering opinions on the tribes’ whereabouts in the 1980’s.

To give you an idea of how vast and crazy this subject matter is, for every quote we’ve listed, there’s at least ten more out there.

The one thing we must ask ourselves:

Is this really the inspired work of God?

BC 559-554

2 Nephi 29:12-13; “For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it. 13 And it shall come to pass that the Jews shall have the words of the Nephites, and the Nephites shall have the words of the Jews; and the Nephites and the Jews shall have the words of the lost tribes of Israel; and the lost tribes of Israel shall have the words of the Nephites and the Jews.”

34 AD

3 Nephi 15:15-17; “Neither at any time hath the Father given me commandment that I should tell unto them concerning the other tribes of the house of Israel, whom the Father hath led away out of the land. 16 This much did the Father command me, that I should tell unto them: 17 That other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.”

34 AD

3 Nephi 16:1-3; “And verily, verily, I say unto you that I have other sheep, which are not of this land, neither of the land of Jerusalem, neither in any parts of that land round about whither I have been to minister. 2 For they of whom I speak are they who have not as yet heard my voice; neither have I at any time manifested myself unto them. 3 But I have received a commandment of the Father that I shall go unto them, and that they shall hear my voice, and shall be numbered among my sheep, that there may be one fold and one shepherd; therefore I go to show myself unto them.”


Wonders of Nature

2nd edition ‘Wonders of Nature’ is published by Josiah Priest in Rochester, NY (24.3 miles from where Joseph Smith was residing at the time).

This is a highly  speculative work on different topics in nature, and how various civilizations came to be. Included are theories American Indians descended from the Lost Ten Tribes.

You’ll want to notice where Priest lived and the publication date of his work.

March 7, 1831

John the Apostle of the Lost Ten Tribes?

Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg. 264-265; “In addition to the spiritual manifestations already mentioned as having occurred at this conference of June 3rd-6th, it should be said that, according to John Whitmer’s History of the Church, ch. v: “The Spirit of the Lord fell upon Joseph in an unusual manner, and he prophesied that John the Revelator was then among the Ten Tribes of Israel who had been led away by Salmanasser, king of Assyria, to prepare them for their return from their long dispersion, to again possess the land of their fathers. He prophesied many more things that I have not written.” (HC 1:176.)” fn #4

November 3, 1831

Lost Tribes Come to Zion Bearing Gifts for Ephraim

D&C 133:30; “And they shall bring forth their rich treasures unto the children of Ephraim, my servants.”

March 1832

D&C 77:11; “Q. What are we to understand by sealing the onehundred and forty-four thousand, out of all the tribes of Israel—twelve thousand out of every tribe?A. We are to understand that those who are sealed arehigh priests, ordained unto the holy order of God, to administer the everlasting gospel; for they are they who are ordained out of every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, by the angels to whom is given power over the nations of the earth, to bring as many as will come to the church of the Firstborn.”


American Antiquities

American Antiquities publishes article written by Josiah Priest stating “The opinion that the American Indians are descendants of the lost 10  tribes is now a popular one and generally believed”.

October 1835

Lost Ten Tribes Live on North Pole

Messenger and Advocate, Vol. 2, No. 1, “Letter No. 11”, October 1835, pg 194;“Let no man marvel at this statement, because there may be a continent at the north pole [sic], of more than 1300 square miles, containing thousands of millions of Israelites, who, after a highway is cast up in the great deep, may come to Zion, singing songs of everlasting joy.” – W.W. Phelps

Messenger and Advocate, Vol. 2, No. 1, “Letter No. 11”, October 1835, pg 194; “Let no man marvel at this statement, because there may be a continent at the north pole [sic], of more than 1300 square miles, containing thousands of millions of Israelites, who, after a highway is cast up in the great deep, may come to Zion, singing songs of everlasting joy.” – W.W. Phelps


Samuel Holister Rogers, Journal, p. 8 in Original, p. 17 of Typescript, Original in Brigham Young University Library –
“The winter following (1840) I attended a public meeting held in Vincent Knight’s house at which the Prophet Joseph Smith gave the following instruction:
‘When the world was first made it was a tremendous big thing. The Lord concluded it was too big. We read in the Scriptures that in the days of Peleg the earth was divided so the Lord divided the earth. When the ten tribes of the children of Israel went into the north country he divided it again, so the earth has been divided and subdivided. We also read in the Scriptures that the earth shall reel to and fro like a drunken man. What shall cause this earth to reel to and fro like a drunken man? We read that the stars shall fall to the earth like a fig falling from a fig tree. When these stars return to the place where they were taken from, it will cause the earth to reel to and fro. Not that the planets will come squarely against each other, in such case both planets would be broken to pieces. But in their rolling motion they will come together where they were taken from which will cause the earth to reel to and fro.’”


Fallen Stars Will Restore the Ten Tribes of Israel

Parley Pratt. editor of Millennial Star, answers questions for Joseph Fielding –

Millennial Star, Vol. 1, No. 10, 10 February, 1841, p. 258; “How can the stars fall from heaven to the earth when they (as far as we know) are much larger than the earth?

“We are not here given to understand that all the stars will fall, or even many of them: but only as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs when she is shaken by the wind. The stars which will fall to the earth are fragments which have been broken off from the earth from time to time in the mighty convulsions of nature;—-some in the days of Enoch;—-some in the days of Peleg;—-some with the Ten Tribes; and some with the death of Christ. These must all be restored again at the time of the restitution of all things.” This will restore the Ten Tribes of Israel; and also bring again Zion, even Enoch’s city. It will bring back the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God; that you and I may partake of it. [See Rev. ii.7] When these fragments, (some of which are vastly larger than the present earth) are brought back and joined to this earth, it will cause a convulsion of all nature; the graves of the Saints will be opened, and they will rise from the dead; while the mountains will flow down, the vallies [sic] rise, the sea retire to its own place, the islands and continents will be removed, and earth be rolled together as a scroll. The earth will be many times larger than it is now – “If I have told you of earthly things and ye believe not; what would you think if you were to be told of heavenly things?””


Articles of Faith 1:10; “We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.”

Philo Dibble, as quoted in Norman C. Pierce, “3½ Years,” n.d., n.p., p. 129; which paraphrases Matthew W. Dalton, “A Key to This Earth,” 1906;
The Hon. Philo Dibble of Springville, Utah, onetime bodyguard and intimate friend of the Prophet Joseph, is said to have received a diagram from the Prophet in 1842, which indicated the arrangement of this earth as a triple planet at the time when the Ten Tribes were directed to the northern sphere.

The diagram appears much as would one large and two small balls spaced close together; the larger ball in the center representing the earth. It is pointed out that the Ten Tribes attained this northern planet by means of the axis that joined them together, and the triple arrangement of these planets gives a literal significance to the passage in the Doctrine and Covenants, 88:45, “The earth rolls upon her wings, and the sun giveth his light by day, and the moon giveth her light by night, and the stars giveth their light, as they roll upon their wings in their glory, in the midst of the power of God.” Here it is pointed out that many of the stars are in double and triple arrangement, although they may not be touching each other.

This author also points out that the northern planet also provided the place from which the water came and receded during the great baptismal flood of Noah’s day. And it is there that the great surplus of water will go when the continents are made into one land mass again as they were before the days of Peleg. Some believe that the seeming nearness of such a planet is what inspired construction of the Great Tower of Babel in a vain attempt to reach another world of higher order, – to reach heaven as it were.



“Also the two wings north & South of our earth were inhabited. the north with the 9-1/2 tribes & the south wing by the People of Enochs City – this Earth when first created occupied a Position next to Kolob the highest in glory of all the Creations consequently on account of the high Position we once occupied we have fallen below all of the others in space – consequently our sufferings are greater – the greater the rise the greater will be the fall – when we are Redeemed we will be taken back again & Placed in our former Position.” (WW Phelps; James Beck Journal 10/8/1861)


Ten Tribes On Land Separated from Earth

Matthias F. Cowley, “Wilford Woodruff, History of His Life and Labors, as Recorded in His Daily Journals. Salt Lake City, 1909, reprinted by Bookcraft, Salt Lake City, 1964, p. 448. [1867] 

“The leaders on their return from Provo made a visit to Logan. Here, President Young is quoted as saying that the ten tribes of Israel are on a portion of the earth – a portion separated from the main land. This view is also expressed in one of the sacrificial [sacramental?] hymns written by Eliza R. Snow:
“And when the Lord saw fit to hide
The ten lost tribes away,
Thou, earth, was severed to provide
The orb on which they stay.””

Ten Tribes on Portion of Land Separated from Earth

Wilford Woodruff, Journal, Sep 8, 1867, Printed in Waiting for World’s End, The Diaries of Wilford Woodruff, Susan Staker, ed., Signature Books, Salt Lake City, 1993, p. 291;
“8 Sunday We had social Conversation in the Evening President Young said he herd Joseph Smith say that the Ten Tribes of Israel were on a Portion of Land separated from this Earth. He had also herd Joseph say that Children would not Grow after death & that at another time that they would grow & he hardly knew how to reconcile it. He would like a variety in Eternity. Children might grow in intelligence & not in statute as well as a grown Person. If his Children were grown up after leaving him he would not know them.”

Highway Made Through Arctic Ocean for Lost Ten Tribes

Millennial Star, Vol. 29, No. 13, 30 March 1867, p. 201; “We are told by Jeremiah and other Jewish Prophets, that they will return from the north. (Jer. 16: 15; also 31: 8.) consequently they must have been led in a northerly direction, and very probably passed between the Black and Caspian Seas, and continued through Russia to the extreme northern shore of Europe, which would bring them about 2500 miles to the north: but this could not be considered “a year and a half’s” journey; indeed it would not be an average of 5 miles a day. From many intimations of ancient prophecy, they evidently had a highway made for them in the midst of the Arctic ocean, and were led to a land in the neighborhood of the North Pole. This region would be about 4000 miles north of their Assyrian residence; and could be travelled in 18 months time at an average of a little less than 8 miles per day.”


Americas Converted by Christ

Journal of Discourses 14:11; “He came down and stood in their midst, and showed them the scars in his hands and feet, and in his side; and after visiting them for several days successively, he told them that he was going to the ten tribes of Israel. He also chose twelve disciples to administer his Gospel on this land and for the ministration of the Holy Ghost. The twelve disciples went forth and preached the Gospel, commencing in South America, and then went into North America, until all the people both in North and South America were converted, receiving the principles of the Gospel-namely, baptism, and the laying on of hands, and all the other principles as preached in our day.” – Orson Pratt, Salt Lake City, February 19, 1871


Ten Tribes to be Crowned by Children of Ephraim

Journal of Discourses 16:325-326; “…we find that there is to be a great work among the nations—which will probably take place in the morning of the seventh thousand years. The ten tribes will have to come forth and come to this land, to be crowned with glory in the midst of Zion by the hands of the servants of God, even the Children of Ephraim…” – Orson Pratt, Salt Lake City, November 22, 1873


The Ten Tribes Come to Zion from North Countries

Journal of Discourses 18:25; “They will dwell in Zion a good while, and during that time, there will be twelve thousand chosen out of each of these ten tribes, besides twelve thousand that will be chosen from Judah, Joseph, and the remaining tribes, one hundred and forty-four thousand in all. Chosen for what? To be sealed in their foreheads. For what purpose? So that the power of death and pestilence and plague that will go forth in those days sweeping over the nations of the earth will  have no power over them. These parties who are sealed in their foreheads will go forth among all people, nations and tongues, and gather up and hunt out the house of Israel, wherever they are scattered, and bring as many as they possibly can into the Church of the firstborn, preparatory to the great day of the coming of the Lord. One hundred and forty-four thousand missionaries! Quite a host. All this has got to take place. There are persons in this congregation who will be in the midst of Zion, when the ten tribes come to Zion from the north countries, and will assist in bestowing the blessings promised by the Almighty upon the heads of the tribes of Israel. There are servants of God in the midst of this congregation who will lay their hands upon many of each of these twelve thousand, chosen out of the ten tribes, and set them apart as missionaries to visit the nations of the earth and hunt up the remnants of the seed of Jacob.” – Orson Pratt, Salt Lake City, April 11, 1875

Zion to be in Western Hemisphere

Journal of Discourses 18:68; “By and by, when all things are prepared—when the Jews have received their scourging, and Jesus has descended upon the Mount of Olives, the ten tribes will leave Zion, and will go to Palestine, to inherit the land that was given to their ancient fathers, and it will be divided amongst the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. They will go there to dwell in peace in their own land from that time, until the earth shall pass away. But Zion, after their departure, will still remain upon the western hemisphere, and she will be crowned with glory as well as old Jerusalem, and, as the Psalmist David says, she will become the joy of the whole earth. “Beautiful for situation is Mount Zion on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.”” – Orson Pratt, Salt Lake City, July 11, 1875

Ten Tribes Separated from Earth

Orson Pratt, Letter Box of Orson Pratt, Church Historian’s Office, Letter to John C. Hall, December 13, 1875. [Quoted in R. Clayton Brough, “The Lost Tribes”, Horizon Publishers, 1979, p. 50.]

“The Prophet Joseph [Smith] once in my hearing advanced his opinion that the Ten Tribes were separated from the Earth; or a portion of the Earth was by a miracle broken off, and that the Ten Tribes were taken away with it, and that in the latter days it would be restored to the Earth or be let down in the Polar regions. Whether the Prophet founded his opinion upon revelation or whether it was a matter of mere speculation with him, I am not able to say.”


Earth Once Larger than Now

The transcript below comes from classroom notes and discussions at BYU. The professor, Dr. Marcus Martins, was discussing the creation of the earth with his students. He used several different sources of information such as diaries, newspapers and sermons, all provided by the Church. The last three paragraphs of his notes were taken from a section of the LDS owned church publication,The Millennial Star. The topic was on the creation of the earth. http://faculty.byuh.edu/martinsm/Rel431/Cn431/D431-Creation.htm (page is now defunct)

“… Sister Eliza R. Snow … told … that she heard the Prophet say that when the ten tribes were taken away, the Lord cut the earth in two, Joseph striking his left hand in the center with the edge of his right to illustrate the idea, and that they were on an orb or planet by themselves, and when they returned with the portion of this earth that was taken away with them, the coming together of these two bodies or orbs, would cause a shock and make the earth ‘reel to and fro like a drunken man.’

“She also stated that he said the earth was now ninety times smaller than when first created or organized.” (Diary of Charles Walker, p. 691, March 10, 1881)”


Ten Tribes Taken Away to Separate Planet, Earth Divided

Diary Excerpts of Abraham H. Cannon, p. 202                                                                                                                                                                                                             “…”Mon. June 9th 1884‑‑He called on Sis. Eliza R. Snow Smith Young: “. . . and in the course of our conversation she said she heard the Prophet Joseph once remark, ‘when the ten tribes were taken away, the earth was divided, so that they occupy a separate planet from this.’ This was news to me.”


Ten Tribes on Separate Planet

Oliver B. Huntington, The Young Woman’s Journal, Vol. 3, No. 6 March 1892, p. 264;
One truth after another men are finding out by the wisdom and inspiration given of God to them.
The inspiration of God caused men to hunt for a new continent until Columbus discovered it. Men have lost millions of dollars, and hundreds of lives to find a country beyond the north pole; and they will yet find that country – a warm, fruitful country, inhabited by the ten tribes of Israel, a country divided by a river, on one side of which lives the half tribe of Manasseh, which is more numerous than all the others. So said the Prophet. At the same time he described the shape of the earth at the poles as being a rounded elongation, and drew a diagram of it in this which any one can readily see will allow the sun’s rays to fall so near perpendicular to the center that that part of the earth may be warmed and made fruitful. He quoted scripture in proof of his theory which says that “the earth flieth upon its wings in the midst of the creations of God,” and said that there was a semblance in the form of the earth that gave rise to the saying.”

Ten Tribes Flying into Space

Juvenile Instructor, “Recollections of the Prophet Joseph Smith”, Vol. 27, June 1, 1892, No. 11, pg 345; “I heard Joseph Smith preach baptism for the dead…. I heard him say, ‘the Ten Tribes were not on this globe, but a portion of this earth had cleaved off with them and went flying into space, and when the time comes when the “earth reels to and from like a drunken man and the stars from heaven fall,” it would join on again.’” – Bathsheba W. Smith


Bible and Book of Mormon to be One

Conference Report, ‘Tribes to be Brought Forth from Their Hiding Place,’ April 1916, p. 130; “There is a tendency among men to explain away what they don’t wish to understand in literal simplicity, and we, as Latter-day Saints are not entirely free from the taint of that tendency. . . . Some people say that prediction is to be explained in this way: A gathering is in progress, and has been in progress from the early days of this Church; and thus the ‘Lost Tribes’ are now being gathered; but that we are not to look for the return of any body of people now unknown as to their whereabouts. True, the gathering is in progress, this is a gathering dispensation; but the prophecy stands that the tribes shall be brought forth from their hiding place . . . [and their] scriptures shall become one with the scriptures of the Jews, the holy Bible, and with the scriptures of the Nephites, the Book of Mormon, and with the scriptures of the Latter-day Saints as embodied in the volumes of modern revelation.” – James Talmage

Coming Forth of the Lost Ten Tribes

Conference Report, ‘The Coming Forth of the Lost Tribes of Israel,’ October 1916, p. 76; “The ten tribes shall come; they are not lost unto the Lord; they shall be brought forth as hath been predicted; and I say unto you there are those now living—aye, some here present—who shall live to read the records of the Lost Tribes of Israel, which shall be made one with the record of the Jews, or the Holy Bible, and the record of the Nephites, or the Book of Mormon, even as the Lord hath predicted.” – James Talmage


Lost Ten Tribes Walked North towards Polar Star

The Articles of Faith, p. 340; “Concerning the journeying of the Ten tribes towards the north, George Reynolds, in his little work Are We of Israel? says; – “They determined to go to a country ‘where never man dwelt,’ that they might be free from all contaminating influences. That country could only be found in the north. Southern Asia was already the seat of a comparatively ancient civilization; Egypt flourished in northern Africa; and southern Europe was rapidly filling with the future rulers of the world. They had therefore no choice but to turn their faces northward. The first portion of their journey was not however north; according to the account of Esdras, they appear to have at first moved in the direction of their old home; and it is possible that they originally started with the intention of returning thereto; or probably, in order to deceive the Assyrians, they started as if to return to Canaan, and when they crossed the Euphrates and were out of danger from the hosts of Medes and Persians, then they turned their journeying feet toward the polar star.” – James E. Talmage, 1919

Some members of Lost Ten Tribes Still in Hiding

The Articles of Faith, p. 340; “—it is plain that, while many of those belonging to the ten tribes were diffused among the nations, a sufficient number to justify the retention of the original name were led away as a body, and are now in existence some place where the Lord has hidden them’.” – James E. Talmage, 1919


The Way to Perfection; “The Ten Tribes were taken by force out of the land the Lord gave them. Many of them mixed with the peoples among whom they were scattered. A large portion, however, departed in one body to the north, and disappeared from the rest of the world……..that they will return in a body, must be believed, else how shall the scriptures be fulfilled? There are to many prophecies concerning them and their return in a body to ignore the fact.” – Joseph Fielding Smith


10 Tribes Return

“Speaking Today: ‘A message to Judah from Joseph,’” Ensign, December 1976, p. 70;
“This predicted gathering has three phases: the gathering of Israel to the land of Zion, the American hemisphere; the return of the Ten Tribes from the north countries; and the reestablishment of the Jews in Palestine which has been long ago predicted by the prophets.” – Ezra Taft Benson