REFUSE is the most fitting term Paul could find for all of his undoubted physical advantages. “We,” he says, “are the Circumcision who are offering divine service to God in spirit, and are glorying in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in flesh.” He goes on, “And am even I having confidence in the flesh, also? If any other one is presuming to have confidence in the flesh, I rather. Circumcision the eighth day, of the race of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews...But what things were gain to me, these I have deemed a forfeit because of Christ....and I am deeming it to be refuse, that I may be gaining Christ...” (Phil.3:1-8).
Paul was a real Israelite. There was no question of his “identity.” He could name the tribe from which he sprang. He was not “lost” in regard to his physical descent. The burning question is, What advantage was it to him? How did it affect his relation to Christ? What use did he make of it? What value did he place upon it? The answer is all contained in this one word—refuse! All confidence in the flesh, all claims to physical superiority are worse than useless in relation to Christ, in this economy of God’s grace. They are a detriment. To claim them is to forfeit Christ and our place in Him. We should deem them undesirable dirt, refuse of which we would be rid. In the coarser language of the Authorized Version it is called “dung.”
Even in Paul’s day this truth was not grasped by all. In the same chapter he says that “many are walking of whom I often told you, and now am lamenting also, as I tell it, who are enemies of the cross of Christ...who are disposed to terrestrial things. For our citizenship belongs to the heavens, out of which we are awaiting a Saviour also, the Lord, Jesus Christ...” In the coming kingdom spiritual blessing will flow through a physical channel. Israel according to the flesh will bring blessing to the nations. Then it will be right to be “disposed to the terrestrial.” But now it is the badge of apostasy, for our blessings do not and cannot come through the Jews or Israel, for they are spiritual and celestial, not material and terrestrial.
For several years in my youth I was intensely interested in Anglo-Israelism and the Great Pyramid. I bought the best books on the subject obtainable at that time. I grasped eagerly at every “identity” which seemed to prove that Great Britain and the United States were the lost ten tribes. I followed most minutely the drawings of the pyramid of Gizeh. But I went on to study the Scriptures, and, as I entered into the truth as to the present economy of God’s grace, the whole matter gradually lost its interest, until, like the apostle Paul, I saw no advantage whatever in being an Israelite, for I had lost all standing in the flesh by crucifixion with Christ, and now my all was in Him. I no longer desired an earthly citizenship, for I had found a celestial.
Since then I have deemed it enough to lead the saints into these great truths to free them from the lure of a physical standing before God. But urgent appeals have come to me, from time to time, to deal with this theme, and help those who are being led into this teaching. Hitherto I have refused, for I do not wish to say aught against any teaching. I only defend the truth when it is assailed. Now, however, that the cries have become most insistent, and my work has been openly attacked by one of the leaders of Anglo-Israelism, I feel free to say what is on my heart, to help my fellow saints.
Essentially, Anglo-Israelism has three features of the apostasy: it is terrestrial, it is an enemy of the cross, and it has confidence in the flesh. I do not suppose anyone would even care to deny that it deals only with things on the earth. I have never seen it connected with things celestial. It opposes the great truth of the crucifixion, that, not only was Christ crucified on Golgotha, but that the world which crucified Him is utterly at enmity with God. It gives the Israelite a superior position upon no other ground than his physical descent. True, in the kingdom that is to come some of this will have its proper place, but now, when the flesh is utterly worthless, when the world is altogether at enmity with God, and when our blessings are exclusively spiritual, among the celestials, this teaching is out of place.
In writing thus we do not wish to accuse all who hold this teaching of equal apostasy from the vital verities of God’s present activities. Some may even deny that they apply the physical to themselves or to their relationship with God. But then their position is most questionable. Why make a main issue out of a matter of no importance? We all know that there are Jews, but these lose all that distinguishes them the moment they believe. Suppose that others are Israelites. Is it worth while even telling them this? If we make out that this is the least advantage to them, then we are in irreconcilable conflict with God’s Word. The case would be like one who spent millions to recover currency from a submarine wreck but finds that it no longer has any value except the expense of carting it away. It is no advantage whatever to be an Israelite today. In practical effect it is an immense hindrance, for it breeds fleshly pride and national hypocrisy, and distorts the Scriptures to drag God’s grace in the dust. It is earthly, soulish, and counter to the cross, so that they glory in their shame.
Those who contend for Anglo-Israelism are not all agreed. Indeed, there are irreconcilable differences between what may be called the evangelicals and the others. The differences will not be discussed here, as we are only concerned with the main issue. It is enough to know that, even if the northern nations of Europe and America and their connected colonies are the “lost ten tribes,” that this is no advantage in this era of God’s grace, and can be held and heralded only as we forfeit our place in Christ, in Whom there is “no Greek and Jew, Circumcision and Uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, freeman, but all and in all is Christ.” No slave would glory in his bondage. Neither should anyone boast because he is descended from a Scythian, or any other race, even if it be favored Israel.
As it is not worth while to go over the whole ground of the divisions, we will confine ourselves chiefly to one presentation, which has been commended to us as the best and most spiritual, the author of which introduces many precious truths, like the body of Christ and the coming of our Lord for His saints. A discussion is not essential to our subject and is given under protest in response to many requests. Extracts have been freely taken from the correspondence of friends.
The notion of the “lost ten tribes” of Israel has come down to us from the middle ages, and much theory has been woven around it. Many peoples have been “identified” as the lost ten tribes. In the seventeenth century it was suggested that the English were of Israelitish origin. This has since been taken up by a number of writers, and has developed into what is now termed “British-Israelism.”
It is claimed that all the various elements of the northern European nations, the Kelts, the Danes, the Scandinavians, the Normans, the Angles, and the Saxons are Israelites. If we go on to show the fallacy of this, it is not because it is vital, but because we have been asked to give our opinion and because it affords an excellent example of the futility and lack of real reasoning which is so prevalent in matters which touch the Bible.
The main argument may be briefly stated thus: Israel, the ten tribed nation, in contrast with Judah, was carried away captive by the Assyrians, and later reappeared as the Scythians, near the Black Sea, and gradually worked their way northwest, until they now are confined to Scandinavia, Denmark, the north coast of France, and the British Isles, including also those colonies and states in other parts of the world which sprang from them and speak English.
Besides this we are told that the tribe of Dan took a different route, some going with ships, by way of Greece, to Ireland, and some by the Dardanelles and the Danube to Denmark, and Danelagh, on the east coast of England.
THE EVIDENCE OF HISTORY
The evidence presented is mostly tradition, or so-called history, which is usually little more than the same thing. “Undeniable” historical evidence is found only in the Scriptures. Its definite statements conflict with this argument. Negatively, it mentions the Scythians in such a way that it is utterly impossible to identify them with Israel. The reference is as follows: “Greek and Jew, Circumcision and Uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, freeman” (Col.3:11). Israel belongs to the Circumcision. To mention the ten tribes after “barbarian,” without the least explanation, is utterly incredible. This passage is one of the most important in this whole discussion. Either way we take it, there is now no place for Israel or for the Scythians, for all is Christ.
As the Scriptures tell us so little about the Scythians, we may conclude that their identity with Israel is quite imaginary. I do not think it worth refuting, yet, for the sake of those who may think that these fables are real history, I have looked up the high lights concerning this people in a small history which came my way during the writing of this article. This gives the date 722 B.C. as the year in which Israel was deported to Assyria and Media. About forty years later (681-668), during the reign of Esarhaddon, the Scythians, a nomadic northern people called “Skutsha” and “Gimirai,” begin to threaten his kingdom. It is not easy to see how, in this short interval, the Israelites could have been transformed from a handful of captives into a powerful warlike nation which would be either able or desirous of attacking Assyria, without any attempt to return to their patrimony, the land of promise.
Somewhere about 670 B.C. Media was freed from these Scythians. Later the Scythians raided Assyria as far as Syria. It is even said that they devastated Palestine about 630. Surely they would not have come so near the land without an attempt to return, if they really were Israel. About 514 B.C. Darius, the Persian, crossed the Bosphorus and the lower Danube and invaded the land of the Scythians. Alexander the Great is said to have found them in 329, when he overran Persia.
Many of the passages used in this discussion contain the word “isles.” In no case are these islands in the possession of Israel. The mere mention of the word seems to give color to the supposition that the British Isles are in view. But the Hebrew word ai does not denote island, but coast. The very first occurrence, Genesis 10:5, “By these were the isles of the gentiles divided in their lands,” raises a suspicion in our minds, for, at that time especially, the proportion of the nations who dwelt on islands was so small that this statement seems uncalled for. It should read, “By these are the coasts of the nations parted among their lands.” Most of the nations of that day had a coast line. Two other passages seem conclusive. Tyre was on the coast, hence could not be addressed as “inhabitant of the isle.” In no case does this word distinguish an island from the mainland. It may be used of any coast of a continent or island.
THE GREATEST EMPIRE THAT EVER WAS
Stress is often laid upon the size of the British Empire, and the conclusion is reached that, since it is “greater” than the empires of Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece (and Rome), it must be the great kingdom, the stone which crushes them, which shall endure for the eon. But all of this is founded on a false view of greatness. We will not discuss the extent of Nebuchadnezzar’s realm. It reached wherever the sons of Adam dwelt. I am quite sure that, in our ignorance, we give it limits quite unwarranted by the facts. The point is that it had no limits except the earth. This also was true of the next two empires. Alexander’s realm had no real boundaries. He had conquered all opposition. Has Great Britain ever reached such a pinnacle as this?
I have not the least desire to minimize either the size or the might of the British realm, especially when my own country, “the grand old U.S. A.” is included in it. But greatness is a matter of comparison. It may be stated by percentages. Relative to itself Britain is great indeed, for it rules over a hundred and fifty times as large an area as the British Isles. In contrast, Germany rules over no territory outside of the homeland. In fact, before the annexation of the Saar, and even now, it falls far short of including even its own people under its sovereignty. Shall we therefore conclude that England is more than a hundred times as great as Germany? The same applies to France in a somewhat lesser degree. Yet France is ever fearful for her safety, despite the fact that another vast empire, the Soviet republics, far more than counterbalances Germany in case of conflict. Greatness, or even might, is not composed of a single factor. Large countries, even populous lands, may be comparatively weak, as China in the past, for instance.
The world today is apportioned among a number of “great” nations. There are many world powers. Britain is only one among half a dozen who might challenge her supremacy. And she has publicly acknowledged her fear of them by voting an increase of her armaments. In contrast to this, Babylon ruled over all. Not a man on earth but what was beneath the scepter of king Nebuchadnezzar. Medo-Persia had a similar sway. Alexander wept because there were no more worlds to conquer. No tears are lost in Downing Street on this score. The rulers of Britain do not even hope for supremacy in Europe.
Because they do not intensely believe God’s words, students of prophecy have allowed themselves to be led astray as to the identity of the kingdoms included in Daniel’s visions. The first three are clearly indicated by the prophet himself. These were world kingdoms which ruled over all. No other power was able to stand before them. They reached absolute supremacy. Their center was in Babylon. Such, and such alone, are the kingdoms of Daniel. Since the days of Alexander many vast empires have arisen for a time whose territory, we imagine, has greatly exceeded his. The Roman empire is usually considered to have reached a greater extent. Various oriental empires, and the Mohammedan Caliphs, seem to have held sway over a greater area, not to speak of Spain in her palmiest days. But this is not the point. Not area, but supremacy, is what God is emphasizing in the empires of the earth.
Had this been recognized, Rome would never be given a place in this list. It had distinct borders and built walls and military camps to guard it. An emperor might talk of registering the whole world, but I am quite sure that they did not accomplish it in Scotland or in Ireland, for example. The Roman Senate may have sighed because they could not conquer their northern and eastern neighbors, but they never lamented because there was no other world to subdue. It has no place in this prophetic picture. No more has Britain. Even with its great possessions, it dominates only a fraction of the earth’s surface. It finds itself bound to combine with other powers for its own protection. A world power? Yes! But not the only world power, irresistible and supreme.
There will be such a world power at the time of the end. It will consist of a combination of the present western nations, so-called “Christendom,” which will be able to subdue the Orient and incorporate it into the universal federation. Of this Great Britain may be the most important member. But it will by no means play the beneficent part allotted to Israel in the thousand years. On the contrary, it may be the principal member of the universal antichristian power of the end time. In Daniel’s visions this is seen as a great monster, so terrible that none of the wild beasts is ferocious enough to represent it, with its iron teeth and copper claws. Let us not be deceived. The nations of this eon will turn against God and His people of the covenant. They will persecute the woman who brings forth the male son. They will slay the two witnesses. Even Great Britain is fast rejecting faith in God’s revelation, and it will not escape inclusion in the great persecutor of Israel at the time of the end.
It is regrettable how a play upon words so often takes the place of faith in God in this discussion. Thus, the fact that Abraham’s name is to be great is distorted to refer to the fact that Britain is called “Great Britain.” Such arguments only weaken a case. The term “name” in Hebrew is used idiomatically for the person it represents. God’s promise does not signify that Abraham is to make the word “great” a part of his name.
Positively, God’s Word plainly states that the twelve tribes were in a dispersion in the days of the apostles. They were not a compact body of people, nor known as a distinct nation (James 1:1). Not only that, but we are told precisely where some of them were dispersed (1 Peter 1:1,2). They were in various parts of Asia Minor, in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, the province of Asia, and in Bithynia, in such numbers that Peter, the chief of the apostles, addressed an epistle to them. In it he applies prophecies to them which apply to Israel, not to Judah. If, at this late date, the Israelites were still dispersed in these countries south of the Black Sea, it is not at all thinkable that, hundreds of years earlier, they had been a great nation in that vicinity.
That some Jews or Israelites wandered over the region of the Black and Caspian seas, and in all of the lands of Europe, and that they may have left traces, on gravestones, etc., no one will care to dispute, when we know that this is God’s word concerning them. They were to be sifted among all nations. I question whether there is a single passage of Scripture which segregates either Judah or Israel from the other nations until they unite to form one when Messiah comes. To make them great in the absence of God’s Anointed is traitorous to Him, and contrary to God’s decree, that in Him, the single Seed of Abraham, in Christ alone can blessing come (Gal.3:16). To imagine that Israel as a nation, even as nominally “Christian,” should inherit the promises in the absence of the true Isaac, involves a grave underestimate of His place, His work, and His power.
It is generally insisted that the “Bible history of ten-tribed Israel ends with the deportation of that nation into Assyria in the eighth century B.C.” This, as we have seen, is not the case. James and Peter write to them and locate them in Asia Minor. The ancient prophets are supposed to give the data necessary for filling in the history of Israel until it will be united with Judah once more. This is quite true. But we need to note the terms used very carefully, for they clearly contradict the idea of a national revival of Israel before this time. Strange to say, the very scriptures that do this are quoted in order to prove it! We are told that (Jer.31:10)
The Winnower of Israel will gather it together,
And keep it as a shepherd does his flock.
In the future Israel will be gathered as a flock, but now it is scattered as sheep, each individual by himself. A “winnowed” Israel is a good proof against Anglo-Israelism, not for it. I believe this prophecy, and therefore I cannot accept that which contradicts it.
Again, we are told in Amos (9:9):
For behold, I will instruct,
I jerk them to and fro among all nations.
The house of Israel will be jerked to and fro as grain,
And no pouch shall fall to the earth.
This is explicit, and by no means fits the teaching being examined, for Israel is to be sifted among all nations, not simply a few lands, for a part of the time. This tells us very plainly where the “lost ten tribes” are. They, like the Jews, are dispersed, not gathered; they are scattered, not in one place; each one of them is separated from the rest as grain is by a sieve, so that each falls in a separate location. Here we have clear intimations which answer the questions as to the “lost ten tribes.” They are not “lost,” they are scattered. They are not gathered as a nation or a company of nations, but are to be found as individuals among all nations. We have all come into contact with them under the name of “Jew.” Only in Palestine are they striving to come together again in order to become a nation. And only there will they have a national existence after they are gathered and joined with Judah.
Second Samuel (7:10) is also appealed to as proof. Yet, to us, it seems disproof. “Moreover, I will appoint a place for My people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more: neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as beforetime.” In this scripture the term Israel cannot be confined to the ten tribes. Judah must be included, for there had been no division at that time. But the Jews certainly have not been planted in such a place up to the present. It cannot refer to Israel in the British Isles. We know that these islands are not the home spoken of in the Scriptures, for the ten tribes are definitely assigned their portion in the land, on territory which was not yet in possession of the nation, clear across the desert to the Euphrates. The land given to Abraham is the only final resting place for Israel. Israel in Britain would have to be moved once more.
A COMPANY OF NATIONS
Much stress is laid upon the wording of Israel’s blessing upon the sons of Joseph. The Authorized Version renders this, “let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth” (Gen.48: 16). A closer rendering is, “and they shall be prolific, to make a multitude within the land.” Anyone who will consult a concordance will be speedily convinced that there is no warrant for changing the word multitude to company, for the latter seldom, if ever, fits the contexts, while the former always does. The usual word for nations is not here, so its introduction is quite gratuitous. In the fourth verse of the same chapter, however, there is the phrase “assembly of peoples.” But it is immediately followed by the promise “I give this land to your seed after you...” The reference is to blessing in that, and in no other land.
THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN JUDAH AND ISRAEL
Commendable is the insistence on a difference between the name of the leading tribe of the south and the term, which, in some connections, is used in contrast with it. But we fear that this distinction has not always been intelligently carried out, or, perhaps, at times, it has been strained. Basically, the name Israel belongs to all of the sons of Jacob and their descendants, when viewed from the spiritual standpoint. The “house of Israel” is used of the whole nation, including Judah, before the days of the division more than a dozen times (Ex.16:31; 40:38; Lev.10:6; Num. 20:29; Joshua 21:45; Ruth 4:11; 1 Sam.7:2,3; 2 Sam.1:12; 6:5,15; 12:8; 16:3). This is the natural and usual meaning, to which the Scriptures constantly return. The term “Israel” is the spiritual title given to Jacob at Peniel (Gen.32:28; 35:10,21,22), which applies to all his descendants, only temporarily restricted to the ten tribes, but used, as in the ninth of Romans, of all the tribes.
One most important consideration seems to have been much minimized in the effort to make a clear cut distinction between Judah and Israel. It is this: On account of the religious defection of the ten tribes, so many out of them who had set their hearts to fear God joined themselves to Judah that it came to lose its tribal character, and the name came to stand for the religious Israelite of any tribe. The priests and Levites out of all Israel resorted to Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Rehoboam (2 Chron. 2:13,14). “And after them out of all the tribes of Israel, such as set their hearts to seek the Lord God of Israel came to Jerusalem, to sacrifice unto the Lord God of their fathers. So they strengthened the kingdom of Judah...” (2 Chron.11:16,17) even though they failed to keep on walking in the ways of David. And later king Asa “gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and the strangers with them out of Ephraim and Manasseh, and out of Simeon: for they fell to him out of Israel in abundance...” (2 Chron.15:9).
We are distinctly told that Rehoboam reigned over such of the sons of Israel as dwelt in the cities of Judah. They had evidently been mixed even before the division (1 Kings 12:17; 2 Chron.10: 17). A special message was sent to these at the time, “to all Israel in Judah and Benjamin” (2 Chron.11:3). We read of sons of Ephraim and Manasseh dwelling in Jerusalem (1 Chron.9:3). Baasha, king of Israel, built Ramah, to hinder intercourse with Judah (1 Kings 15:17; 2 Chron.16:1).
Also, after the deportation to Assyria, a proclamation was made by Hezekiah, throughout all Israel, from Beersheba even to Dan. The runners went throughout all Israel and Judah, and the king wrote to those who had escaped out of the hands of the king of Assyria. This shows that there were Israelites left everywhere, Ephraim, Manasseh, Zabulon, and Asher being specifically mentioned. Many of Ephraim, and Manasseh, Issachar, and Zabulon were at Hezekiah’s passover. About eighty years after the deportation, good king Josiah practically took in all that were left of Israel, for he took away all the abominations out of all the land of the sons of Israel and made all that were present in Israel to serve Jehovah, their God (2 Chron.34:6,33). He gathered money from all the remnant of Israel (2 Chron.34:9).
The return from the captivity was not limited to Judah. The ten tribes had been taken to Assyria, and Jehovah turned the heart of the king of Assyria to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel (Ezra 6:22). It was the sons of Israel who had returned from the deportation who kept the festival (Ezra 6:21). None of the tribes were forgotten when twelve he-goats were offered, “according to the number of the tribes of Israel” (Ezra 6:17). There was a considerable “residue” of Israel (Neh.11:20) in the restoration. All of these were called “Jews,” not because they were all of the tribe of Judah, but because they associated themselves with that tribe, under its religious and political leadership, because it upheld the worship of Jehovah in Jerusalem, His appointed place.
DAN AND EPHRAIM
A reader of God’s later revelation will find this fully substantiated. The hundred forty-four thousand who will be sealed in the great affliction of the end time are not confined to Judah and Benjamin. They are out of every tribe of the sons of Israel. This is before the national reunion in the kingdom. But perhaps I should modify this statement, for, as a matter of fact, Dan and Ephraim are not there. This is peculiarly interesting at this time, since these two tribes are particularly prominent in the claims of British-Israelism. Dan, we are told, is now Denmark, etc., and Ephraim is Great Britain, as the leading tribe of the ten. Alas! These names may fit better than some may care to acknowledge! These tribes are blotted out, before the kingdom is set up, because they introduced idolatry into Israel, for Jehovah had warned the people that He would blot out any tribe that was guilty of this (Deut.29:18-26). The story of Dan’s apostasy is in Judges eighteen. The sin of Ephraim is recorded in 1 Kings 12:28-30. He was joined to grievous idols (Hosea 4:17). Ephraim and Dan will not be protected by God’s seal in the great affliction.
This makes a very serious situation for those who claim to be Dan or Ephraim, for these are not reckoned as Israelites in the judgment era which lies ahead of us. Nor will it be any consolation to point to the fact that their modern progeny are as idolatrous in their way as the ancient tribes, for God will be worshiped by very few in the time of the end, and all cannot be descended from these idolatrous tribes. And it is not much consolation to think that the United States is not overlooked, for only 12,000 will be sealed in Manasseh, and what is that among 120 millions? Only one in ten thousand!
It is useless to speak of being Israel, or of inheriting the blessings of that favored nation apart from circumcision in flesh. And if anyone really wishes to get into the kingdom, let him be circumcised.
THE TRIBES OF LATER TIMES
It will be interesting and helpful to note the occurrences of the names of the tribes in the Greek Scriptures. Dan and Ephraim, are, of course, not mentioned. Judah is referred to seven times, the land, the princes (Matt.2:6), a city in (Luke 1:39), the house (Heb.8:8), and the tribe (Rev.5:5; 7:5 [Heb.5:5]). Reuben, Gad, Manasseh, Simeon, Issachar, and Joseph (Rev.7:5-8) are mentioned only once, though, of course, Joseph was not usually counted as one of the tribes. The tribe of Benjamin comes before us four times. Saul the king sprang from this tribe (Acts 13:21) as well as Saul of Tarsus, according to the flesh (Rom.11:1; Phil.3:5). Zabulon and Nephthalim are mentioned thrice each, and in the same connection (Matt.4:13,15). The prophetess Anna, who lived in the sanctuary, was of the tribe of Asher (Luke 2:36). The tribe of Levi, which takes the place of Dan in the sealing, is also mentioned thrice, unless one be counted merely personal (Heb.7:5,9). The passage telling of their future protection in the end time is the only one listing the tribes together.
Very few of the characters in the Greek Scriptures are connected with their tribes, if we except the genealogies of our Lord which, of necessity, were confined to the descendants of Judah, for this was the tribe royal, from which He sprang. We are not sure that any others, outside of His family, belonged to the ruling tribe. Several, we know, were Levites such as John the Baptist and his father and mother, and Barnabas. Anna was of the tribe of Asher. Paul was a Benjaminite. The account of our Lord’s visit to Capernaum (Matt.4:12-16) reads just as if a remnant of these tribes still remained, according to the Hebrew Scriptures. Possibly two of the apostles sprang from these two tribes. Indeed, since the twelve apostles are to sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel, it may be that nearly every tribe is represented among them, possibly with some readjustments, as in the case of the hundred forty-four thousand, who will be sealed in order that they may pass unscathed into that glorious day.
JACOB AND ISRAEL
We should always distinguish between “Jacob,” the Circumventer, and “Israel,” the Chief-of-the-Deity. Jacob and his sons are always connected with the flesh and its striving, but Israel with submission to God’s mercy. The lesson, that Abraham’s physical seed is not called to enjoy the promises, had been clearly taught in the choice of Isaac and the repudiation of Ishmael. It was repeated in the case of Jacob and Esau. Now God, however, deals with all the sons of Jacob, and, however undeserving most of them were, they are all included in His future plan of blessing the other nations through them, hence are all sons of Israel, as well as sons of Jacob. “Blessed is the man who has the God of Jacob for his help” (Psa.146:5), for God acted toward him in utter grace. When the nation insisted on using its own strength He called them sons of Jacob. But when He views them as the channels of His blessing, then they are the sons of Israel. It is only those who have faith, however, who receive the promises.
WHO ARE ISRAELITES
Consequently all descendants of the patriarch Jacob are Israelites. The temporary restriction of this term, when in contrast to the southern kingdom, cannot be forced on the occurrences of the word in the Greek Scriptures. Paul was an Israelite, although of Benjamin, which was reckoned with Judah (Phil.3:5). The very first occurrence (Matt.2:6), shows that out of Judah shall come a Governor, Who shall be shepherding Israel. This must include the whole nation, for it refers to our Lord Himself. The land, as a whole, was called the land of Israel (Matt.2:20,21). Joseph considers Judea to be a part of this land. The cities are called the cities of Israel (Matt.10:23). The inhabitants are called the people of “Israel” (Matt.2:6; Luke 2:32; Acts 4:10, 27; 13:17,24), even in the sanctuary at Jerusalem, which was not in the territory of the ten tribes. They are called the “sons of Israel” (Matt.27:9; Luke 1:16; Acts 5:21; 7:23,37; 9:15; 10:36; 2 Cor.3:7,13; Heb.11:22; Rev.2:14; 7:4; 21:12), though it is often clear that the people in Jerusalem and Judah are included. Even the term “house of Israel” (Matt.10:6; 15:24; Acts 2:36; 7:42), is freely used by Peter in speaking to the people at Jerusalem, whom he addresses, not as Jews, but as Israelites (Acts 2:22). Indeed, this form of address is freely used, even when there were no strangers in the city (Acts 3:12). Gamaliel addresses the Sanhedrin as Israelites (Acts 5:35). Paul used this term to address the Jews in Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:16). Jews from the province of Asia used it in inciting the mob against Paul (Acts 21:28).
It is sometimes asserted that the Jews, not the Israelites, are guilty of crucifying Christ. But is it not safer to accept the testimony of Peter, who was present at the time? He charged Herod, Pontius Pilate, together with the nations and the peoples of Israel, with the crucifixion (Acts 4:27).
Our Lord often referred to the nation simply as Israel. He found no faith like that of the centurion in Israel (Matt.8:10; Luke 5:9). The throngs exclaim, “It never appeared thus in Israel!” (Matt.9:33). John the Baptist was shown to Israel (Luke 1:80). Simeon anticipated the consolation of Israel (Luke 2:25,32,34). Cleopas, on the way to Emmaus, said that they had expected our Lord to redeem Israel (Luke 24:21). John the Baptist came that our Lord might be manifested to Israel (John 1:31). Nicodemus was called by our Lord a teacher of Israel (John 3:10). Our Lord was hailed as the King of Israel (John 1:49; 12:13). The disciples asked Him if He would, at that time, restore the kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:6).
If the earnest student will weigh carefully every passage in the Greek Scriptures in which Israel is mentioned he will come to the conclusion that the term always includes the whole nation, and is never limited to the ten tribes in this part of God’s revelation. The reason is evident. As an independent nation, the rival of Judah, the ten tribes no longer exist. They were dispersed, not only among the gentile nations, but many of them went over to Judah at the time of the division, others joined later, and many had been left in the land, and these also fell to Judah. In this way, seeing that Benjamin remained with them, and most of Levi clung to them as well, it is more than probable that actual descendants of Judah were in the minority in the land, and it was far more correct to call them Israel, even though many of the ten tribes, as well as the two, were dispersed among the nations even at that time.
Outside the land there is no least hint that Israel was a nation, or that it was distinct from Judah. The separation between the tribes is utterly ignored. There is nothing about any ten tribes or two tribes, but always twelve tribes. Peter speaks of them. Paul speaks of the twelve tribes offering divine service in the land, and James writes to the twelve tribes in the dispersion. The attempt to distinguish between them now is altogether contrary to God’s latest revelation about them.
THE JEW AND THE GREEK
We are now in a position to see why the term “Jew” or Judah-ite was, and is, applied to Israelites without much regard to the tribe from which they sprang. When Jeroboam tried to force idol worship upon the ten tribes, those who wished to remain true to Jehovah, and worship Him in Jerusalem, would be identified with the men of Judah, and called Jews. The same was true of those whose hearts stirred them up to return to the land. Thus the term Jew acquired a special religious significance. No longer is it Judah and Israel. Now it is Jew and Greek which are contrasted. It is a pity that the Authorized Version so often translates the latter “gentile.” The distinction is not one of race or nationality, but of religious conviction. The Greek was the cultured, the philosophic man, even if he were a Hebrew. But the Jew was the religious man who clung fast to the traditions and customs of his ancestors, and was “orthodox” in his attitude toward the Scriptures. He was called a “Jew” because Judah was the nucleus for all such.
In the book of Esther the Israelites are called Jews (Esther 8:17) because the issue was a religious one. And so it will be in the future also. “In those days ten men, from all the languages of the nations shall hold fast, and shall hold fast the hem of a man who is a Jew, saying, `We will go with you, for we hear that God is with you’” (Zech.8:23). God will be with Israel in those days. Here is an “identity” which cannot be gainsaid. So also, our Lord’s declaration that salvation is of the Jews, and many more. The religious Israelite, whatever his tribe, is now properly described as a Jew. The argument which is based upon the assumption that the Jews are Judah and not Israel has no foundation in God’s Word. Both in the land and in the dispersion Israelites not of the tribe of Judah are called “Jews.” The contention that one of the nations of the earth must be Israel, or God’s Word has failed, is utterly groundless, for Israel was to be scattered among all nations, until Messiah comes. They were not a nation when Peter and James wrote to them, but a dispersion. And such they are today. Those who have left the God of their fathers have been assimilated by the nations, but those who hold fast to their heritage are “Jews,” no matter from what tribe they may spring. And, at the end time, when an innumerable throng of them are saved, they come out of “all nations and tribes and peoples and languages” (Rev.7:9). We are living in the era of the nations (the “times of the gentiles”), and blessing for Israel awaits the day of her deliverance by Christ, her Messiah.
THE LANGUAGE ARGUMENT
Again and again we are assured that the Hebrew language is closely related to Keltic and Anglo-Saxon, and that there are many names which clearly prove their identity with Israel. But the actual evidence could hardly be any weaker. Almost any language can show occasional sounds and syllables which remind one of Hebrew. For this reason such utterly groundless arguments are presented as the following: “Brithish (contracted to British), a pure Hebrew word. 'Brith’ occurs over a hundred times in the Old Testament and is always translated ‘covenant.’ ‘Ish’ is the Hebrew word for ‘man,’ and it also appears many times in Scripture. Hence Brithish or British signifies the ‘Covenant People.’” It is true that brth signifies “covenant” in Hebrew, and aish “man.” But it does not follow that aish, means people. “Aish” cannot apply to a people, but a man. But surely ish here, as in many other English words is simply the adjective termination. “Childish” does not signify child-man! And it is better to have a childlike trust in God’s Word than in such childish derivations. German has this termination, but not Hebrew.
An incident occurred in Jerusalem which shows the relation of Hebrew to English as well as any of those given as proofs for British-Israelism. A native fellagheen woman had brought her basket of beans to sell, and had squatted right down in a main thoroughfare of the old city, so that a British policeman deemed it his duty to get her out of the way. She remonstrated with great volubility, but the young man could only catch one expression with which he was at all familiar. She continually repeated “fool! fool!” Just as he was about to resent such a personal remark our instructor in Arabic (who told us the story one evening in class) happened along. He explained that she was not slandering the representative of the law, but referred to the beans in her tray. These are called “phool” in both Arabic and Hebrew. We will leave others to expatiate on this remarkable identifying feature, because we have not yet been able to see the connection between beans and fools, so that we cannot be expected to give proper weight to the fact that this utterance is common to both languages. It was a helpful story, for I cannot forget the name for “bean” in Hebrew or Arabic, ever since.
If this matter is to be determined by the evidence of language, let us face the facts. In the course of my work it was my duty, during the last few weeks, to go through the whole vocabulary of the Hebrew Scriptures and, after each word denoting some visible object, to place the English and German equivalents. Having in mind the argument that the Hebrew and English languages are so closely related as to prove the origin of the Anglo-Saxon race, I made a special point of noting every English root which possibly might be related to the Hebrew. There were some, as kphr, for cover. But they were so very scarce that they did not even amount to the number one would naturally expect from sheer accident. Then we must remember that some Hebrew words, such as hallelujah, amen, etc., come to us through the Bible, because they were not translated, but transliterated. These we must not count. Leave these out, and there is almost no evidence whatever that English came from Hebrew.
Each one can easily test this for himself. Take any good dictionary which gives the derivation of the terms. At random look up the words that come to your mind, especially those not from the Latin or Greek, and you will not find that one in a hundred is derived from the Hebrew. That you may discover syllables like those in Hebrew (and other languages), with an entirely different significance and usage, must be expected, for the Israelites are identical with the British to the extent that they are human beings with the same vocal organs. In order to be proof of identity, a large percentage of the roots should show the same consonants with closely related sense. But when words of the same meaning practically never have the same or a similar sound, the languages clearly were not derived from one another, nor from a common ancestor. The language test, when properly applied, is most conclusive that the English never spoke Hebrew, and never were Israelites.
Very striking and contrary to this was the evidence as to the German. By far most of the terms had German names very much like the English. No one who ever looks over this list, or who knows ever so little of both German and English, will doubt that they have sprang from the same stock. Take the commonest terms, which are the best test. We have bread, Brod, blood, Blut, house, Haus, land, Land, plow, Pflug, cow, Kuh, milk, Milch, and so on. Such words as these go far back. The list could be made a very long one. But I question whether anyone who knows the languages needs it. The evidence is so overwhelming that proof is superfluous. Not one hundredth as much “proof” can be adduced for the derivation of English from Hebrew. Yet we are asked to believe, on the evidence of language, just the contrary, viz.: that we have sprung from Israel and are not related to the German people. Such is the blinding effect of religious reasoning. Overwhelming evidence to the contrary has no effect upon it.
The argument for the Danite character of Denmark points to occasional recurrences of the syllable dan in geographical names from the Dardanelles to Danelagh. Anyone who will take a good map of the region, with its thousands of names, will be surprised, not that the syllable dan does occur occasionally, but that it is seen so seldom. How different, and how much more convincing is the evidence that the English came from Germany! There is not much territory between them in which to leave traces of their march, but the only peoples who now live between them, on the North Sea coast and in Holland, have a language which is a perfect link between the two. If something like this existed between English and Hebrew, we might consider it.
The following sentence shows how the same thought is expressed in German, Low German, and English:
|German:||Gib mir das zu essen.|
|Low Ger. :||Gif me dat to eeten ayten.|
|English:||Give me that to eat (compare ate).|
A friend tells me that in Friesland they have a saying that “Good butter en green tzieze (cheese) is good English en good Friese.”
The Low German is a link between the two which cannot fail to convince anyone open to conviction. The Dutch is very similar. I never learned a word of Dutch, yet I have little difficulty in reading several columns of Dutch every week, because so many words resemble either German or English. Now comes British-Israelism and asks me to identify the English with the Hebrew-speaking Israelites on the ground of language, yet reject the evidence which language so abundantly offers as to the relation of the Germanic peoples. It is simply impossible for a sane and sober intellect to yield itself to such utterly contradictory and radically prejudiced proceedings. Language proves that the English are closely related to the Germans and not at all connected with the Semitic races, if we allow language to be logical proof in such a case, which I cannot accept.
But this is far from all that can be said. There is still a much stronger argument. Hebrew belongs to a kind of language different from the tongues of Europe. It is very closely related to Arabic. Indeed, Arabic is only a variation of Hebrew. Time, which is one of the chief points in English grammar, is quite unknown to Semitic verbs. They have no past, present, or future, though grammars written by westerners apply these terms to them by mistake. There is no possessive case. There are hardly any adjectives. There are really very few actual “nouns,” in the sense in which we use the word, for the participle or the infinitive of the verb supplies the need. It has special forms for the passive, the causative, and the reflexive, a feature quite unknown to English. I am not theorizing about these things, for I am in the midst of translating the Hebrew into English and I am making my own grammar, based on the facts, and not on text books. English not only has not been, but cannot be, derived from Hebrew. At Babel radical differences were introduced and English belongs to an entirely different class of languages.
If we must reason, let us at least be logical. German is so clearly derived from the same stock as English that, if we prove that the English are Israelites we automatically prove the same of the Germans. We must not confuse reasoning with wishing. Some would have us believe that the Israelites stayed in central Europe long enough to teach some later comers (who are not Israelites), the language, and then went on. Were this miracle revealed in the Scriptures we would believe it. But, as it is contrary to the Scriptures as well as to all experience, it must be consigned to the realm of fables.
THE ARGUMENT FROM LAWS
As this is in reality no argument at all, we will not take it up in detail. That Jews and Israelites were scattered all over the world is not questioned. They undoubtedly carried their laws with them. There is no reason why they should not be copied by other peoples. King Alfred did this, not because he was an Israelite, but because he was convinced of the divine origin of the Mosaic code. Had he been an Israelite, he would not have copied parts of it, but would have taken it as it was, without altering a single letter. His action proves that lie was not an Israelite, if it proves anything.
THE EVIDENCE OF ANCESTRY
To give a “logical” proof that I, or you, dear reader, or the British peoples, are the descendants of William the Conqueror, or of Julius Caesar, or of king David, or of the ten sons of Jacob is quite simple, if we deal with genealogy as is done in this discussion. The following is the “proof:” (For ease in figuring we will take each generation as twenty-five years, four to a century). In each generation each person springs from two parents, each of which had two, and these, in turn had as many, and so on. Twenty-five years back each one had two ancestors, fifty years ago they had four, seventy-five, eight, and a hundred years ago sixteen persons were in their genealogy. Counting only even centuries, we will tabulate the number back to the year 1000 A.D. The following table shows that, in the year 1000, each of us had more than 137 billions of ancestors, which is far more than the whole population of the earth at that time, to say the least. Therefore we are descended from every one who ever lived before that! Therefore we are all the offspring of Jacob and his ten sons, quod erat demonstrandum!
1925-1 1450-524 thousand
1900-2 1425-1048 "
1875-4 1400-2096 "
1850-8 1375-4192 "
1825-16 1350-8384 "
1800-32 1325-16,768 "
1775-64 1300-33,536 "
1750-128 1275-67,072 "
1725-256 1250-134,144 "
1700-512 1225-268 millions
1675-1024 1200-536 "
1650-2048 175-1072 "
1625-4096 1150-2144 "
1600-8192 1125-4288 "
1575-16,384 1100-8576 "
1550-32,768 1075-17,152 "
1525-65,536 1050-34,304 "
1500-131,072 1025-68,608 "
1475-262,144 1000-137 billions
This table is given to show how unwarranted it is to trace a genealogy along both male and female lines, as is done in this discussion. At some point it is always possible to make a turn and “prove” that we are descended from this or that personage, especially if we go back a few generations. Let no one be deceived by such genealogies. Their plausibility misleads. They prove nothing.
THE EVIDENCE OF GENEALOGY
Not long since a debate was arranged to settle this question. The case was opened by presenting the Scripture “David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel” (Jer. 33:17). The speaker was asked to read the entire chapter before proceeding, and spent most of his time apologizing for the difference in thought which the context gives this text. The Hebrew word is not never, but simply not. The context shows when this will be. It is concerned entirely with the land and the people in the time to come when Jehovah causes the captivity of Judah and the captivity of Israel to return (or be reversed). It has absolutely nothing to do with any other land or any other time. This is characteristic of most of the quotations which are produced. Only when divorced from their contexts have they the least show of plausibility.
Based upon such passages as “the scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh come” (Gen.49:10), and “David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the House of Israel” (Jer.33:17), we are assured that “there would be reigning over Israel somewhere a line of monarchs having direct descent from David.” To prove that this has been fulfilled, we are given a full genealogy from David down to the present king of England, through Zedekiah and his daughter Tamar Tephi, queen of Ireland, about fifty kings and nobles of that country, not quite so many of the Scottish nobility to king James I, who became king of Great Britain. The rest of this genealogy we will copy below, as given:
112. James I . . . . . . . . . . . . . . King of Great Britain
113. Princess Elizabeth.
114. Princess Sophia.
115. George I . . . . . . . . . . . . . . " " " "
116. George II . . . . . . . . . . . . . . " " " "
117. Prince Frederick of Wales.
118. George III . . . . . . . . . . . . . " " " "
119. Edward, Duke of Kent.
120. Victoria . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Queen of Great Britain
121. Edward VII . . . . . . . . . . . . . King of Great Britain
122. George V . . . . . . . . . . . . . . " " " "
(123. David, Prince of Wales.)
The conclusion drawn is that, “Thus the Royal House of Britain is none other than the House of David.” This is a palpable play on the prejudice of English readers, who are strongly attracted by the idea that their own sovereign may be descended from so great a king as David, and may be, on this account, a special favorite of heaven. Until this prejudice is removed it is impossible to think soberly on this subject, so we give the same genealogy, only we insert the fact that George I came through two German princes, the Elector of the Palatinate, and the king of Hannover, after the Scottish line died out. And then we take the same liberty as elsewhere and trace the line through the daughter of George the First right down through the reigning Prussian house of Hohenzollern, to the last king, William II, now an exile in Holland. Besides this we give a shorter genealogy, from Queen Victoria, showing that, from both his father and his mother, he has a right to the throne of David!
THE GENEALOGY OF THE GERMAN KAISER
112. James I . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . King of Great Britain
113. Princess Elizabeth . . . . . . . . . Electress of Palatinate
114. Princess Sophia . . . . . . . . . . . . . Queen of Hannover
115. George I . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . King of Great Britain
116. Sophie Dorothy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Queen of Prussia
117. August Wilhelm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Prince of Prussia
118. Frederick William II . . . . . . . . . . . King of Prussia
119. Frederick William III . . . . . . . . . . . King of Prussia
120. William I . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Kaiser of Germany
121. Frederick Ill . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Kaiser of Germany
122. William II . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Kaiser of Germany
120. Victoria . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Queen of Great Britain
121. Victoria . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Empress of Germany
122. William II . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Kaiser of Germany
Moreover, since one of the princesses of the Prussian line, at the time of Napoleon, married the Czar of that day, she also conveyed to the Russian rulers the royal rights of David! In fact it would not be difficult to prove that almost all of the higher continental nobility are entitled to sit on David’s throne if all that is needed is such a “genealogy” as this is. It is surprising the interrelations that exist, so that almost all, in some way or other, are related to the rest.
“Genealogies” traced through male and female branches and families may lead anywhere. We are all related to Adam, and, through him, to each other. Such a genealogy proves so much that it proves nothing. What a contrast to those found in the Scriptures! There, in Matthew, the royal rights are transmitted through the male line to Joseph, and, as he is a descendant of the accursed Coniah, he transfers them, not to his physical descendants, but to his legal Heir, the Child of Mary, his wedded wife, even as Joseph himself was the natural child of Jacob, and the legal son of Heli (Matt.1:16; Luke 3:23). Anglo-Israelism’s genealogy is a fraud.
The introduction into the genealogy of three men who are foreigners, and whose race Anglo-Israelites themselves declare to be non-Israelite, not only nullifies the genealogy, but destroys all confidence in the honesty of the propaganda. The fact that the names of these men are omitted from the genealogy, and even the proper titles of the “princesses” Elizabeth and Sophia are not given, and the name of the Prince Consort is withheld, brands the whole as an attempt to delude the ignorant. The name of the male link must never be omitted from a genealogy which is supposed to transmit the royal rights. Their inclusion here is destructive, but their omission is fatal. All honest associates of this movement should protest against this attempt to hoodwink the public.
And this word, protest, reminds us that these German princes were drawn into this line because the English line (the real “Davidic house,” if you insist) were Catholic, and they persecuted true believers in Christ, who wished to worship according to the Bible. Because William of Orange was a staunch Protestant he was called to reign in England. And, as he died without issue, kings of continental lineage were chosen to follow him. The house of Hannover, which, according to the claims of British-Israelites, was not Davidic, ruled Great Britain during the time of her greatest glory. And when this line expired in Queen Victoria, the ancient German house of Coburg, the Wettin family, entered and supplied the main line for the present sovereigns.
Let us suppose that, in two crises, the genealogy of our Lord, in Matthew’s evangel, contained the names of women who had married princes of Amalek, or of Egypt, and had introduced their seed into the Messianic line. Who would ever accept it? No Jew, certainly. Nor any Israelite. No, nor any gentile. I am sure I would not. Only those too credulous or ignorant to realize the facts would care to rehearse such crass dishonesty. And do not the leaders of the British-Israel movement incriminate themselves when they publish or countenance such a manipulated genealogy? It discountenances and disgraces the whole movement. We cannot help wondering if all the other evidence is of the same quality. The ruling house of Great Britain may have a tinge of blood from so-called “Davidic” sources, but it is overwhelmingly German, so far as any genealogy goes. Other European royalty may have every whit as much. It is very difficult to see how any intelligent British-Israelite, can be loyal to the British crown.
But the gravest feature of this genealogical fraud is the fact that it challenges the right of our Lord Jesus Christ to the Davidic throne. According to this He had no right to claim to be Israel’s King, for the real ruler of Israel was already enthroned in northern Britain at the time He presented Himself to Israel!
Hardly a worse beginning could be found for the genealogy than the departure into Egypt. To the intelligent student of the Scriptures it might form the link for a false kingdom, but never for a true, for it was one of the most flagrant acts of disobedience in the history of the nation. They had asked for guidance, and Jehovah spoke to them through Jeremiah, the prophet, saying: “If you will still abide in this land, then will I build you, and not pull you down, and I will plant you, and not pluck you up...” (Jer.42:10). Yet He warned them that, if they went to Egypt, “they shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: and none of them shall remain or escape from the evil that I will being upon them” (Jer.42:17). In defiance of this terrible warning they went to Egypt. Then Jehovah spoke to them again, saying to all Judah who dwelt in the land of Egypt: “Behold, I will watch over them for evil and not for good: and all the men of Judah that are in the land of Egypt shall be consumed by the sword and by the famine, until there shall be an end of them. Yet a small number that escape the sword shall return out of the land of Egypt into the land of Judah, and all the remnant of Judah, that are gone into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, shall know whose words shall stand, Mine, or theirs” (Jer.44:27, 28).
What a challenge this is to British-Israelites! Shall we believe their word that some who went down to Egypt went on to Ireland and not only escaped Jehovah’s wrath but became channels of His blessing by defying His words? He says that only those who returned to the land of Judah escaped. They say that some who went to Ireland not only escaped but carried with them sacred treasures and divine approval. Whom shall we believe?
Unfortunately again, they seek to convey the Messianic rights through one of these rebels, and she a woman, whose name is denied a place in the divine scrolls. God says the king’s daughters either remained in Egypt or returned to Judah. He makes no exceptions. It is simply a question of believing God or the false fabrications of human tradition. Let no one say that he believes the Bible, especially the forty-second to the forty-fourth of Jeremiah, if he is heeding myths rather than faith (1 Tim.1:4).
Moreover, the tradition that Israel had a king continuously from very early times is flatly contradicted by Jehovah in Hosea’s prophecy. There we read that “the sons of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince...Afterward shall the sons of Israel return and seek Jehovah, their God, and David, their king...” (Hosea 3:4,5). Until, in the day of Jehovah, David once more rules under the Messiah, Israel will have no ruler. Here is a mark of identification which absolutely rules out every king except David himself. It allows no king for Israel as distinct from Judah.
THE EVIDENCE OF CIRCUMCISION
The covenant God made with Abraham has its seal in circumcision. This was so inwrought into the customs of the Israelites that it is quite impossible to conceive of any corporate company of this people without this custom. The Jews are scattered and seldom formed even a small community by themselves, but they have kept this and many other customs in the face of the most adverse environments and severe persecutions. But where do we find such customs among those now “proven” to be Israel? They have the Bible, and know of these customs, but even then they prefer to keep heathen festivals, such as Christmas, and New Year, and Easter, which clearly show their heathen ancestry, rather than the Biblical feasts and customs which, according to this teaching, were their own and now are found incorporated in the Bible they profess to follow.
THE UNITED STATES
Having lived in the United States for over half a century, I confess that I find it hard to even consider any argument that, as a whole, it is descended from the tribe of Manasseh. When I am told that Anglo-Saxons predominate in the population, I am inclined to wonder whether there has not been some more “genealogical” proof, and what is really meant is that about half of the population has some Anglo-Saxon blood. Remembering the strict laws against intermarriage with foreigners in Israel, I cannot help thinking that such an admixture must be most evil in the sight of Jehovah, even as an alliance between a gentile and a Jew is contrary to His holy law. I fear that only a small part of the population of the United States is of pure “Anglian” ancestry, if these are indeed descendants of the tribe of Manasseh.
One of my earliest impressions of the actual composition of the American people may not be out of place. When we settled in Los Angeles, California, in 1887, I knew of only one English family in the neighborhood. In this erstwhile Spanish state, there were many Mexican families, which we will not count. On one side of us were Italians, on the other Germans. Behind us was a large French family. But, as the children grew up, they lost their foreign tongue and manners, and were merged into the great American people. Another point has pressed itself upon my attention through the intervening years. The “foreigners” usually had large families, the others with English names, did not average two children to a family, so they did not increase. It takes far more credulity than I can muster to imagine that this conglomerate mass is the tribe of Manasseh. If God had said so, I would believe. Since He has not spoken, I merely smile. I am from Missouri, and must be shown.
THE CORRUPTION OF SCRIPTURE
Perhaps the saddest feature of this movement is the deliberate attempt on the part of some of its teachers to remodel the Word of God to prove their contentions. As an example, in an American publication, we are told that when Isaiah prophesied concerning a region “beyond Ethiopia,” the Soudan of today, he referred to the United States! Capital is made out of the evident looseness of the translation. But, instead of making it more consistent, the passage is still further corrupted, simply in order to conform to the new interpretation. All of the details fit the land “beyond Ethiopia” perfectly, and none of them suit the United States. It is the land of the tzltzl wings. This word is usually rendered cymbal (2 Sam.6:5; Psa.150:5,5), and refers to the stridulous sound of the gadfly’s wings. We should not mix our figures. The shadow of a hen’s wings may denote safety, but who would care to rest under the wings of an eagle? An eagle does not protect its young with its wings but with its beak and with its talons.
We are told that vessels of bulrushes should be “water-drinking” vessels! The Hebrew root does mean to sup, for this is characteristic of the papyrus, as a plant. But who would care to call a steamship a “water-drinking” craft outside of a theological debate? Suppose we substitute it in the other occurrences. Then Moses was placed in a steamship in order to meet his fate! (Ex.2: 3). Job innocently asks, “Can the steamship swell if it is not in a morass?” And Isaiah says again, “In the homestead where jackals recline, is grass with reeds and steamships!” These are all of the occurrences. The fact is that not only the little boat made for Moses was constructed of a reed of papyrus or like it, but larger vessels were made of this material, so light that they could be carried on portages. The Septuagint translates this Hebrew word gma by papyrus from which we get our word paper, and bublinos, from which was derived the noun Bible.
The Authorized Version rendering “whose land the rivers spoil,” is changed to, “whose land the rivers quarter.” But there is no question as to the meaning of this Hebrew word bzz. It always signifies “spoil” in the sense of PLUNDER or forage. How would it do to translate, “Quarter ye the silver, quarter the gold” (Nahum 2:9)? And it is a fact that the waters of the Blue and White Nile plunder this region of its soil. Its very name, the Soudan, denotes the “suds” or floating islands, which have been made by the waters. The whole description fits this land perfectly, but how far-fetched, in both space and time, when we seek to “apply” it to the United States! Its agents traveled on papyrus boats, but I question whether any ambassadors of our country would care to cross the oceans on such light craft!
Since writing the foregoing I have read the latest “Identifications.” If men were hanged on such evidence, what a hanging there would be! Most of us would have been executed long ago. Let us take the first one given in “The National Message.” It reads: “she is to be the greatest of the nations” (Jer.31:7; Amos 6:1). If this proves that Great Britain is Israel today, it must also prove that Great Britain was not Israel for at least four-fifths of the last two thousand years. It proves that Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, and many other powers, including Spain and France have been Israel in their day. Besides, the proof texts prove the opposite. The “chief of the nations” is not Israel, as in the tenth verse (Jer.31:7,10). The shouting is about a scattered Israel among the head of the nations. The text proves that Israel is not, at the time indicated, the head of the nations. In Amos the reference is to Israel before the captivity. Is it honest to apply that to Great Britain today? Anyone who will subject the identifications to a serious test will see that they violate sound logic and offend true faith. They play with history and trifle with the Word of God.
THE GREAT PYRAMID
Much is made of the great pyramid in connection with Anglo-Israelism, as once was the case with Pastor Russell, and similar movements. I once supposed that, if the predictions founded on pyramidology should fail, the teaching would be discredited and be rejected. Quite the opposite is the case. The reason seems to be this: Such symbolic interpretation is very plastic and easily adjustable. Past failures do not daunt those whose minds are dazzled by the apparent wonders which can always be found in any geometrical design, but especially in such as these, for the ancient Egyptians were far, far, wiser in many things than we modern men, according to the testimony of the Scriptures themselves. Just as is the case with so-called “numerics,” the average student is astounded by the “results,” but mature acquaintance with such mathematical and geometrical phenomena will soon show that there is little real ground for astonishment except our own inexperience and ignorance. These investigations are not founded on faith, hence we have no need of them.
During the past few decades men of distinguished mental caliber have given much attention to the problem of the great pyramid, especially as a chronological monument, predicting the future. I feel safe in asserting that there was a consensus of opinion that, since 2520 years have passed since the Jewish dispersion, no “date” could be set beyond 1933. A chart, by one of the most prominent “year-day” writers, gave all of the principal prophetic periods, and the very last date of all is now in the past. When I definitely came to reject the substitution of a year for a day, as a theory unwarranted by faith in God’s Word, I looked forward to the present time, beyond all “dates,” and hoped that the theory would be so utterly discredited that no one would care to countenance it any further. But, alas, even experience does not teach those who do not wish to learn.
We are now assured that the great pyramid prophesied the exact date of the great war and the great depression in 1928 (by changing to a new scale of an inch for a month instead of a year!) so we will enter the king’s chamber in 1936. This should indicate the consummation of all, I should think, for I know from personal observation, that you cannot go much further in any direction when you arrive there. Other calculations, paralleling Judah’s history in the past, give us 1935-6 as corresponding to the siege and fall of Jerusalem. I am tempted here to say, Wait until these dates come, and we will see. Set some definite event— the coming of Christ, on which all else depends—and if your prophecy is not fulfilled go out and stone yourself! But this is a day of grace, and false prophets simply postpone their dates or readjust their standards, but go right on.
The pyramid is altogether unlike an altar for Jehovah. He gave directions for such as follows: “And should it be an altar of stone that you make for Me, you shall not build it of what is trimmed,...” The pyramid is probably the largest pile of trimmed stone in the world. Never can it be an altar to Jehovah, even in that future day.
Nor does the word monument suggest the pyramid. Jacob set up such a monument (Gen.31:45), a single stone, between him and Laban. Nor can we imagine this monument just anywhere on the border of Egypt. It must be between Egypt and the land of Israel, not on the far side, where it could have no significance for Israel.
There is only one point about the great pyramid upon which I feel I must insist. It is absolutely unknown to the Word of God. It is human speculation, not divine revelation. The lone passage which is produced to prove the presence of the pyramid in God’s purpose proves the opposite. In Isaiah 19:19 we read,
In that day there shall be an altar to
Jehovah In the midst of the land of Egypt,
And a monument beside the boundary to Jehovah,
And it shall be for a sign and a testimony to Jehovah of Hosts in the land of Egypt.
And Jehovah shall be known to Egypt,
And Egypt shall know Jehovah in that day.
There is absolutely nothing in this passage about what was in Egypt in the past or what is there today. It speaks only of what will be there in the future. If you think that Jehovah is known in Egypt today, go there and be undeceived.
If the great pyramid were a divine revelation it is incredible that no word concerning it should have found a place in sacred Scripture. Therefore it behooves all who are concerned to maintain God’s Word in its purity, to oppose all efforts to add this to the divine records. We are fully furnished, and need no stone testimony such as this, which speaks only in riddles, and depends on the ingenuity of man to solve its supposed secrets. When there is so much undiscovered truth in the Scriptures, why burden ourselves with such wreckers’ beacons with their false flares which only confuse?
THE OLIVE TREE
The reason I have hitherto made no effort to correct British-Israel teaching is this: No one who grasps the great truths which are given us in Paul’s epistle to the Romans or that to the Philippians will ever concern himself with his place in the flesh or imagine that Israel has already become a channel of blessing in this administration of God’s grace, for this is diametrically opposed to its character and purpose. As both the eleventh of Romans and the epistle to the Philippians are to be given a full exposition in the near future in our magazine, I had hoped to make this suffice. But the matter seems urgent, so I will conclude with a brief reference to Romans eleven, where the nations are seen under the figure of olive branches, which figure God’s means of illuminating this dismal scene.
Salvation is of the Jews. And so is all divine illumination. The Sacred Scriptures which have come to us through them are the only source of heavenly light in this dark world. In the Tabernacle and the Temple all earthly light was excluded by heavy curtains, and olive oil provided the only illuminant. That is why the olive tree figures God’s revelation, given to Israel. During the era of the book of Acts, Israel not only rejected the evangel for themselves, but they refused to herald it to the nations. Hence, in a figurative sense, they are as boughs broken off from the olive tree. In their place other nations have been grafted in. It is important to note that, in this context we are dealing with nations, not individuals. In this administration, Israel as a nation is not a light bearer. Various other nations have been, especially Germany in the Reformation, and Britain in the last few centuries. This, if it proves anything, shows that they are not the nation of Israel.
Until the time comes when everyone of Israel will be saved, when the Rescuer arrives out of Zion (Rom.11:26), it is the special privilege of the other nations to spread the light of God’s Word, even if they must derive it from Israel, through the revelation God first gave to them. Israel remains the olive tree. The nations cannot be the root or the trunk. They can only be wild grafts, which take the fatness from the tree and turn it into oil to illuminate the world. There can be no better proof today that a nation is not Israel than evidence to show that it leads in the spreading of the Scriptures. That is precisely what Israel does not do at present. As to the evangel, they are enemies.
RETURN TO LEGALISM
Some Anglo-Israelites claim that Israel should keep the law, and claim that all the blessings of the law will be hers if she does. They forget that, if Britain is indeed Israel and under the law of Moses, then she is under an awful curse, and has been during all her past, for all who are under the law are under a curse if they fail to keep all that is written in it. Yet, strange to say, instead of being cursed, they claim she has been blessed, and these blessings are her identifications! If Israel were a nation today and kept the law she might be blessed, but if she did not keep the law she would be cursed. And that Britain does not keep the law is evident from the efforts now being made to introduce some of its precepts.
In closing this discussion, I can do no better than to quote the words of Paul, which were written on this very theme. He says (Rom.11:25):
For I am not willing for you to be ignorant of this secret, brethren, lest you should pass for prudent among yourselves, that Israel, in part, has become calloused until the complement of the nations may be entering.
British-Israelites are on the horns of a dilemma. If Britain is Israel, then she is calloused. Indeed, it is a dire misfortune, in this day, to be reckoned as Israel. If they are Israelites, it is only so much refuse—the sooner they rid themselves of every trace of it the better for them. But, thank God, many of them are not calloused, but earnest believers in Christ and the Scriptures, and they do not wish to glory in the flesh, but in Christ and His cross, which ended all their physical advantages.
OUR CITIZENSHIP IS IN THE HEAVENS
The mistaken conception that God is now blessing us on earth in connection with a citizenship in Israel places us in a totally false relation to the world and to its governments as well as to God’s law. It disposes us to things terrestrial, to social and political reform, to the amelioration and improvement of mankind, so as to forestall the work of Christ in the kingdom, to bring material and soulish blessing before He comes. This is man’s day, not Jehovah’s day. It is not God’s intention that man shall be happy and contented now, because of conforming to His law. That almost all social institutions are proving to be failures is to God’s glory, for it shows that man cannot get on without Him.
That it is God’s will to bless man on the earth is clear from His Word, but it is also clear that such blessing is to come, not only through His people Israel, but only in the presence of Christ.
The key to the whole matter lies in properly apportioning the Word of truth. Passages which apply to Israel in the kingdom, the millennial reign, when physical distinctions and privileges will again be recognized, are wrenched from their contexts and “applied” to a people and a time and an administration where they are a misfit. It will be a great advantage to be an Israelite in the millennium. They will not only rule all the rest, but will be a channel of blessing to all nations, because they are physical descendants of Abraham’s grandson. But today such physical pretensions are a hindrance, a forfeit. If we realize the transcendent grace which is ours in Christ Jesus, and the utter worthlessness of the flesh, were we truly Israelites, it will be a vast relief to be rid of such rubbish.
ISRAEL SCATTERED AND SLIGHTED
EVEN SOME who admit that we should “refuse the refuse,” and who reject all physical and national advantages as a basis of blessing in this economy of unadulterated grace, feel that Israel must be somewhere, and that we ought to be able to identify it by means of the Scriptures. This thought keeps them from seeing the impossibility of Anglo-Israelism, and the many false lines of reasoning with which it seeks to find a foundation in God’s Word. A few passages of Scripture ought to suffice to show that Israel, before the coming of her Messiah, is scattered among all nations, and is slighted by the peoples of the earth.
In the wonderful description of the coming glory which we find in the eighth chapter of Zechariah there are phrases reminiscent of their present state. As to location, we read, “Behold Me saving My people from the land eastward and from the land of the sunset” (v.7). Neither of these directions would point to the British isles.
But, more than that, there is a distinct contrast between their condition before and after Jehovah avers (Zech.8:13):
And it shall be as you came to be slighted among the nations,
House of Judah and house of Israel,
So will I save you, and you will become a blessing.
The usual rendering, curse, is somewhat strong, and is more suited to another Hebrew word. Slighted comes from the word qll, LIGHT (not heavy), and is, perhaps, a little weak. But is it true that Great Britain is slighted among the nations? Quite the opposite. No other nation has such widespread respect among the peoples of the earth.
The present state of Israel was foretold by Moses. Should they not observe the law he gave them, Jehovah would scatter them among all people, from one end of the earth even unto the other (Deut. 28:64). And it is only after this has come to them, that they shall call this to mind among all nations whither Jehovah, their God, had driven them, that He will reverse their captivity, and have compassion on them, and will return and gather them from all the peoples, whither Jehovah, their God, had scattered them (Deut. 30:2,3). This refers to all the tribes, not to Judah alone, as the division into two kingdoms came long afterwards. As those peoples usually “identified” as Israel lack this vital feature, they cannot be considered as one with Israel.
Ezekiel clearly indicates the state of Israel at the present time, and gives us the end and the reason of it all. He says (Ezek.22:15,16) :
And I cause you to be scattered among the nations,
And I winnow you among the lands . . . .
And you shall know that I am Jehovah.
Israel is to remain scattered among the nations until God gathers them in His indignation and in His fury in order to bring them into the crucible to be refined in the great day of Jacob’s trial (Ezek.22:20). In this way they shall learn the ways of Jehovah. It is only after they know Him that they will enjoy the promised blessings. The British never were scattered among all nations. They have not endured the trial that is now impending over the earth, and never, as a people, have known Jehovah as Israel will know Him, when all Israel will be saved (Rom.11:26).
A recent book, “China’s First Missionaries,” comes to the conclusion, after much investigation, that the Chiang people, in western China, are a part of scattered Israel. They have a tradition that their ancestors wandered three years and three months before settling there. Some of their customs seem to be derived from Israel. But especially their religion points back to the rites of God’s ancient people. They have only one God, make much of purification by bloody sacrifices, and have a priesthood. It is said that, when one of them first read the books of Moses, he was immediately convinced that these are the basis of their peculiar beliefs and practices, although, in the course of more than two thousand years, they had lost much of it. So, all over the earth , is Israel scattered.
God is preparing Israel for the kingdom by a long period of discipline. He scatters them and humbles them, for without this wholesome national debasement they would not be fit for their exaltation in the kingdom. This is clearly to continue until He is ready to restore them to their true place as Jehovah’s representatives in the earth. That millennial blessings are to be theirs without their Messiah is to some extent true of Babylon, the false Israel, but never of the true. In assigning to the British peoples the blessings promised to Israel in the future, without the preceding afflictions, are we not going utterly contrary to God’s ways and reversing His counsels as revealed by the prophets?
Paul agrees with this and warns us explicitly when he says: “I am not willing for you to be ignorant of this secret, brethren, lest you should pass for prudent among yourselves, that, in part, callousness has come on Israel, until the complement of the nations may be entering. And thus all Israel shall be saved...” (Rom.11: 25,26). If Britain is Israel, then it is callous, so callous that it can have no share in the olive tree, can spread no light. This is quite contrary to the facts, for more Bibles are sent out from England than from any other place. Israel is now callous, for the complement of the nations has not yet come. Only when the Rescuer arrives out of Zion will Israel realize the promises which are theirs not-withstanding their crucifixion of Christ (Acts 2:22-40).
THE OLIVE TREE
We earnestly urge all who are interested in this theme to study carefully the ninth, tenth and eleventh chapters of Paul’s epistle to the Romans, for these are God’s thoughts on this very subject. What part has Israel, according to the flesh, in the present economy of God’s grace? Paul himself was an Israelite (Rom.9:4), and no one was ever more concerned for their blessing than he was. But he goes on to show that God’s calling has not been based on the physical relationship alone, for Ishmael was rejected and the seed was called in Isaac. So also in the case of Esau and Jacob. Not all of Abraham’ s physical descendants are made his spiritual heirs. So also will it be in Israel. Though their number be as the sands of the sea, only a residue will be saved (Rom.9:27).
But God has not thrust away His people whom He foreknew. Paul himself is proof of that. As in Elijah’s days, He always has a remnant according to the choice of grace (Rom.11:1-6). As a whole, Israel has not received the blessing. Only the chosen receive it. The rest were calloused, according to that great prophecy, so often repeated in the later Scriptures, the sixth of Isaiah. They have been given a spirit of stupor. Their eyes and ears do not perform their proper functions in the spiritual sphere. Their offense is salvation to the nations. Their casting away is the conciliation of the world. Their taking back will be life from the dead. This will not occur until the Messiah comes. For the present conciliation continues.
By a beautiful figure all of this is made clear to us. All illumination in the tabernacle and temple was by means of olive oil, hence it is the symbol of divine light and revelation. This light is maintained in the world by God’s witnesses, and these are aptly figured by means of an olive tree, or, perhaps we should say, two olive trees, one cultivated, the other wild, which yields no oil. Such is the difference between Israel and the nations. God cultivated them, so that they gave forth light. The nations, with their vain philosophies, could not pierce the darkness which enshrouded them. Israel was God’s testimony in the earth. But he has broken some of the boughs off, and, in their place , He has grafted in some from the wild olive tree. The nations have taken the place of Israel, as God’s testimony in the earth.
That is the condition of affairs during this era of the nations. It is to continue until the complement of the nations is complete. It is to remain so as long as there is some faith left among the nations. Only after they become apostate as Israel was, will Israel be grafted back into her own olive tree. The apostasy has progressed far in Christendom, but this great change has not yet come. Until it does, Israel cannot have a leading place in enlightening the world . One unmistakable sign can be easily checked, for every single one of them will be saved when this occurs (Rom.11:26). Surely no one imagines this to be the case with any nations at present! The real, vital marks of identification mark the British as the very antithesis of Israel.
A. E. Knoch
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