Rastafarians believe that the black races are the true Children of Israel, or Israelites.
According to the Hebrew Bible, the origin of the soul is described in the Book of Genesis, which states "the Lord God formed man from the dust of the earth.
The final chapters of the Book of Numbers and the entire Book of Joshua describe the initial conquest of Canaan by the Israelites under the leadership first of Moses, and then Joshua.
Accordingly, a prevalent theory has emerged that many proto-Israelites did not come from Egypt but must have lived in the area of Canaan and later joined the emerging Israelite federation at a later date.
After 40 years in the wilderness, the Israelites finally reach Canaan and conquer it.
A number of other groups claim to be the only "true Israelites" and condemn the Jews as imposter's to that status.
Other known groups that may have been known later as Israelites include the Hyksos and the Apiru.
The Latter Day Saint movement (Mormons) believe that through baptism and receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, they become "regathered" Israelites.
Finally, the Israelites were allowed to take wives from among the people whom they conquered.
The Book of Judges describes the Israelites' struggle to establish a national foundation as they face military opposition from the native peoples, temptation from Canaanite religious practices, and war among themselves.
Samaritans are a group claiming physical descent from the Israelites.
The tribe of Levi is set apart during this time as a priestly class to assist the sons of the high priest Aaron and attend the Tabernacle which the Israelites carried through the wilderness.
the Assyrians under Shalmaneser V conquered the northern Kingdom of Israel, destroyed its capital of Samaria and sent many Israelites into exile and captivity.
Exodus 12:38 itself stipulates that when the Israelites left Egypt, "a mixed multitude went up with them."
Earlier, in the Joshua 9, the Gibeonites, a Hivite clan, cleverly make peace with the Israelites and become their vassals.
Believers in Jesus affirm that the new covenant was established between God and the Christians, who are therefore a type of spiritual Israelites.
The Israelites, as described in the Hebrew Bible, were the descendants of the patriarch Jacob, later known as Israel.
Similarly, each of the Israelite tribes may once have had its own independent origin stories, which later merged into the various legends of the Israelites.
Some modern religions maintain that their followers are "Israelites" or "Jews" although the meaning of these claims differs widely.
The African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem (known in Israel as the Black Hebrews) is a small spiritual group whose members believe they are descended from the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.
Recent genetic surveys suggest that their claim to lineal descent from the Israelites may indeed be valid (see Samaritans).
Several other groups claim to be "Israelites" in the literal sense of being physically descended from Jacob.
The Bible affirms that several Canaanite tribes were never conquered but continue to live among the Israelites "to this day."
A number of theories have been put forth regarding the identity of the Israelites and the process by which Israel became a nation.