Bible Question:

Who are the twelve tribes in James 1:1? Where did they migrate and where did they end up? Did they cross the Caucasus mountains?

Bible Answer:

The first verse of the book of James reads as follows:

James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad, greetings. (NASB) James 1:1

Twelve Tribes

The twelve tribes refers to the Jewish people. The Jewish people are the offspring of Abraham, Issac, Jacob and Jacob’s twelve sons: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Zebulun, Issachar, Dan, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Joseph, Benjamin (Genesis 49:1-28; 50:24; Exodus. 1:1-5). The descendants of these twelve brothers are the twelve tribes or the nation of Israel,

. . .that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Luke 22:30 (NASB)

It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are those of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. Revelation 21:12 (NASB)


The Old Testament tells us the Jews (Israel) were deported into Egypt (Exodus 1:1-15), Babylon (2 Kings 24) and Rome (Romans 1:7; 15:3-4). We know from historical records that many of the Jews returned to Israel after their 70 years of captivity in Babylon (Jeremiah 29:8-10; Daniel 9:2) but not all. Historical records also indicate the Jews were forcibly deported and voluntarily emigrated to Egypt and Greece. James 1:1 refers to this as the tribes who were “dispersed.” The Greek word for “dispersed” is diaspora. This word simply means ‘scattered.” Today we know there are Jews in almost every part of the world. They also crossed the Caucasus mountains which are north of the modern country of Turkey and just inside the border of Russia.


God has scattered His special people, Israel, throughout the world because of their sin (Jeremiah 25:8-9). But God has already started to gather His people back to the Promised Land as evidenced by the revival of the nation of Israel. Scripture tells us that God will bring them back together during the millennial kingdom (Zechariah 8:7-8).

Suggested Links:

Who is a Jew?
Whatever happened to the ten tribes of Israel that were captured and taken away?