1 Chron. 5:1, 2; "Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel, (for he was the firstborn; but, forasmuch as he defiled his father's bed, his birthright was given unto the sons of Joseph the son of Israel: and the genealogy is not to be reckoned after the birthright. For Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the chief ruler; but the birthright was Joseph's:)."
The Anglo-Israelites make much of this text, misapplying it to Britain and the U.S. as supposedly the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. They ignore the historic fulfillment of Reuben's birthright inheritance transferred by Jacob to Joseph (Rachel's eldest son) and through him to his two sons, and they try to make it apply, not to Joseph personally, but only to Britain and the U.S. as supposedly Joseph's sons in "the last days" of the Gospel Age (US&BCP, p. 57). They claim that the birthright inherited from Abraham is solely of "RACE, not grace," "the material and national promises"; and by contrast they set forth—as we have already noted—a very misleading definition of the scepter, namely, "the spiritual promises" (US&BCP, p. 34), thus excluding the right, or authority, to rule earth's dominion. But Christ's Kingdom is both heavenly and earthly.
Note carefully, however, that in the birthright the Bible includes spiritual as well as earthly promises, which shows the falsity of Mr. Armstrong's definition. Jacob longed for the Abrahamic Covenant birthright and its gracious promises, especially the promise that through Abraham's seed all the families of the earth would be blessed. And as we have already seen, that seed was to be spiritual—"as the stars of heaven," as well as earthly—"as the sand which is upon the sea shore" (Gen. 22:17). After Esau "despised the birthright" and sold it for a "morsel of meat" (Gen. 25:31-34; Heb. 12:16), Jacob, thereafter its rightful owner, claimed by faith that which was rightfully his and fled after receiving Isaac's blessing, leaving all the temporal possessions for Esau. God then confirmed the Abrahamic Covenant of Grace to Jacob—it was all of God's grace (see Gen. 28:10-15, especially v. 14), and included Covenant promises for those of the spiritual seed who would not be of his race. Of course, it was also of race, for God's gracious promises to Abraham involved his race through Isaac and Jacob and the twelve tribes of Israel as a nation, including those of the spiritual seed who would be of his natural progeny. God made the Covenant with Abraham and confirmed it "unto Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant"—to the "seed of Abraham," the "children of Jacob his chosen" (Psa. 105:6-10; Gal. 3:8, 9, 14, 16, 29).
Reuben's birthright that passed to Joseph and through him to his sons was his personal birthright as Jacob's eldest son—not that the gracious promises of the Abrahamic Covenant were exclusively his; for Jacob in bestowing blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant did not single out any one of his twelve sons but gave blessings to them all, who at his death were for the first time called "the twelve tribes of Israel" (Gen. 49:28). God blessed all Israel (including Reuben) as Abraham's seed, gave them His Law and made a covenant with them as a nation, typically His "holy people"—"a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth" (Deut. 14:2; Amos 3:2).
Reuben forfeited his birthright as Jacob's firstborn by his sin (Gen. 35:22; 49:4). As seen from what Esau lost by selling his birthright to Jacob, the firstborn naturally became the head or chief of his house or tribe ("be lord over thy brethren …"; Gen. 27:29, 37, 40). The dominion passed to Judah (Gen. 49:10). His "prevailing" among his brethren is shown, e.g., when in Moses' day the tribe of Judah considerably outnumbered all the other tribes (Num. 1); when it was given the first mention (Num. 2:3; 7:12; 1 Chron. 2:3, etc.); and when God made Judah the vanguard of the army in the war against the Canaanites (Judg. 1:1, 2). Also, of Judah came the chief ruler, David first (1 Chron. 28:4), and finally, Messiah the Prince (Micah 5:2). This honor was secured to Judah; and the reason for Judah's pre-eminence was seen when our Savior was born of the house of David (Matt. 2:6; Luke 2:11).
However, the birthright was Joseph's. In particular, the right of Jacob's firstborn to "a double portion" (Deut. 21:17) was conferred on Joseph, both by the expressed will of Jacob (Gen. 48:22) and in the actual partition of Canaan (Joshua 16 and 17). The wording in the parenthesis in 1 Chron. 5:1, 2 explains why the sons of Joseph, to whom was transferred Reuben's birthright, i.e., its privileges, were not entered into the family register of the house of Israel according to the birthright, i.e., as firstborn sons. The genealogy was not reckoned after the birthright, but started with Reuben, Jacob's firstborn. Joseph's two sons—Ephraim and Manasseh—by obtaining the birthright of Jacob, became "as Reuben [Jacob's firstborn] and Simeon [his second-born]" (Gen. 48:5), thus supplanting them, but not in the genealogy.
Joseph had also a "double portion" (two parts) of inheritance among his brethren in that two tribes descended from him, each of which—Ephraim and Manasseh—became as considerable and prominent as any one of the other tribes, except Judah. Thus the proper distinctions and the literal fulfillments leave no room for the legendary and suppositional conclusions and guesswork of Anglo-Israelism in this connection.
UNCIRCUMCISED ISRAELITES CUT OFF
According to historical records (which are much more reliable than legends and guesswork), the Angles and the Saxons were Germanic tribes. Consequently, they have none of the ethnological evidences that Israel certainly would have if they had stayed together as a separate people, as the Jews did. Therefore one of the greatest weaknesses in all the Anglo-Israel claims is the fact that the Anglo-Saxons, which they allege are the "true Israel," have not practiced fleshly circumcision. So even if it could be shown that the Anglo-Saxons now living in Britain and the U.S. were actually descended from Jacob, this would not make them heirs of the Abrahamic promises through any "birthright" legacy, unless it could also be proven that they have practiced fleshly circumcision.
Note the following terms of the Abrahamic Covenant, set forth in Gen. 17:1-14: Vs. 10, 11 state: "This is [represents] my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee: Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token [or, sign] of the covenant betwixt me and you." And vs. 13, 14 state: "He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant."
Circumcision had been neglected in Israel's wilderness journey, so Joshua saw to it that every male was circumcised before they entered into the promised land and its blessings, and thus the reproach of Egypt was rolled away from them (Joshua 5:2-9). But we do not find any record of circumcision being a practice of the Celto-Anglo-Saxon people. Even if they were of Israelitish origin (as is alleged) they could not rightfully claim any favor from God on this basis, because from the time they would have failed to perform fleshly circumcision they would have been cut off from God's people, having broken their covenant with Him. If the Anglo-Israelites are sincere in their professions and wish to claim the blessings of Abraham's seed according to the flesh, they should follow God's pertinent arrangements for the children of Israel and be circumcised.
But the British and kindred nations have been uncircumcised as far back as their history extends, so the Anglo-Israelites' boasting in the flesh is in vain. There is still, however, an opportunity to become of Abraham's seed in a much higher sense; for "they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham" (Gal. 3:7-9, 29). "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth" (Rom. 10:4). "If ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing." "Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace." "For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision: but faith which worketh by love" (Gal. 5:2-6).
In Phil. 3:1-16 the Apostle Paul explains that though he was "circumcised the eighth day," "of the stock of Israel," etc., yet he had "no confidence in the flesh"; he counted these things but loss and dross that he might win Christ. The Anglo-Israelites would do well to glory not in the flesh, but only "in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Gal. 6:14); for "it is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing" (John 6:63).
SABBATH-KEEPING—A PERPETUAL SIGN
Another token or sign whereby we can identify "true Israel" according to the flesh is the keeping of the Sabbath—the seventh day of the week. This identifying sign was given by Jehovah to mark Israel forever: "The seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God"; "The children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign [the same Hebrew word that is translated token in Gen. 17:11] between me and the children of Israel for ever" (Ex. 20:10; 31:16, 17).
The keeping of the seventh day—the weekly Sabbath—was not made obligatory on anyone until after 2,500 years of human history had passed. Then God appointed Moses as His agent to deliver Israel from Egyptian bondage and dealt with him as the typical father or representative of the Israelites. The Passover was a prominent feature of the Law, and it was instituted before the Exodus began (Ex. 12:21-43). By accepting and obeying Moses, the Israelites in effect made a covenant to obey the laws God would give them through him. The demonstration later at Sinai was a formal ratification and acknowledgment of their covenant.
The observance of the Sabbath Day, which was new to the Israelites, was not instituted until shortly before the formal giving of the Law on tablets of stone at Sinai (Ex. 16:1; 19:1). The providing of manna for the Israelites afforded a most favorable opportunity for giving them an object lesson in the double supply on the sixth day, and none on the seventh day (Ex. 16:5, 22-30). Moses' uncertainty in the case of the first transgression of the Sabbath law (Num. 15:32-36) proves that the keeping of the Sabbath was new, that it had not been previously enjoined upon nor kept by them or their fathers. It was inaugurated as a memorial of their deliverance from Egyptian bondage, in which they had no rest from their taskmasters. This is clearly stated in Deut. 5:15: "Remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath day." The Law Covenant is continually referred to as dating from the time of the Exodus (Heb. 8:9; Jer. 31:32; Ezek. 20:5, 6); and it, together with its seventh day observance, was made, not with the Gentile nations, but with Moses and with Israel only (Ex. 34:27; Deut. 5:2, 3; Amos 3:2).
The Law Covenant is just as binding on non-Christian fleshly Israelites today as it ever was; for "the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth" (Rom. 7:1). It was typed by the bondwoman Hagar, who gendered to bondage, and was cast out, with her son Ishmael. Fleshly Israel as a nation, antitypical Ishmael, will not be given everlasting life until they accept their Messiah, are forgiven their sins and are regenerated and proven faithful (Matt. 19:28; 25:31-40) under the New Law Covenant, which God through the Christ, Head and Body, as their Mediator, will make with all the tribes of Israel as a whole (Gal. 4:21-31; Gen. 21:12-19; Jer. 31:31-34; Rom. 11:25-32; Heb. 8:6-13). Meanwhile "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth" (Rom. 10:4). Therefore, only by actual death, or by becoming "dead to the law by the body of Christ" (Rom. 7:1-4), by accepting Jesus as his Savior and becoming His disciple, can a fleshly Israelite now be set free from that Law Covenant.
The Apostle Paul (Heb. 4:3-11) explains that fleshly Israel did not enter into the real rest or Sabbath, although many zealously observed the seventh day. He says that the reason for their failure was unbelief (Heb. 3:12, 18, 19; 4:6, 11)—that they did not exercise the faith by which alone the rest can be enjoyed. "We which have believed do enter into rest [and thus have a perpetual Sabbath]." "There remaineth therefore a rest [Greek, sabbatismos; margin, keeping of a Sabbath] to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest [the rest of heart and mind in faith, given by Christ], he also hath ceased from his own works [from attempts to justify himself by works], as God did from his [works — i.e., as God left the work of redemption and recovery for Christ to do, so we also accept Christ's finished redemptive work, and rest by faith therein, with all the obedience possible]." Those who trust in the Law Covenant or who blend its requirements with those of the Grace Covenant, the Covenant of Sacrifice (Psa. 50:5), cannot fully enjoy this rest, which is for the consecrated Christian believers only.
The Apostle (Rom. 14:5, 6) shows also that it is a morally indifferent thing whether we esteem one day above another or every day alike unto the Lord. For allowing themselves to be Judaized into keeping as obligatory, days (weekly Sabbaths), months (the new moons), times (Jewish festal seasons) and years (sabbatical and Jubilee years), the Apostle feared that the Galatian Christians had lost their standing before the Lord in the High Calling, and thus had made his work on them fruitless (Gal. 4:9-11). And in Col. 2:16, 17 he forbids Christians to allow anyone to teach them as obligatory, dietary matters (meat or drink), or Jewish days of observance — annual (holy days, such as the Jewish feasts of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles), monthly (Num. 10:10; 28:11) and weekly (seventh-day Sabbaths), declaring them to be types, shadows of future good things (Heb. 10:1), their substance being of Christ. We see then that these typical obligations are binding on no others than Jews—fleshly Israelites—under the Law. As to Christians, the Apostle says: "Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace" (Gal. 5:4).
ANGLO-SAXONS HAVE NO SABBATH SIGN
It is rather amusing to see how the Anglo-Israelites try to get around the Sabbath-keeping obstacle and still maintain that they are of the ten tribes of Israel. The Destiny Publishers in their booklet "The Lost Tribes of Israel," by the late Reader Harris, cite Ex. 31:16, 17 (quoted above), and explain: "The observance of a Sabbath has been given by God as a sign which shall mark Israel for ever." But in Ex. 31:16, 17, God does not specify the keeping of "a sabbath," but specifies twice the keeping of "the sabbath." And, as seen above, the manna was withheld on the seventh day, not the first day. God thus shows that His Sabbath is the seventh, not the first day of the week.
It is in vain that Reader Harris claims for the Anglo-Saxons the identifying sign, saying (p. 27) that "of all the nations, Great Britain and her [former] sixty colonies and the United States of America alone observe the Christian Sabbath," and that they "alone of the nations on earth possess this sign." It is good that Christian people set apart a special day each week for general rest, fellowship and worship, be it the seventh, or the first [our Lord's resurrection day], or any other day of the week; but, as seen above, the true, antitypical "Christian Sabbath" is the rest of faith, and should be enjoyed, not just one day in seven, but every day throughout the Christian life—a continued rest, a perpetual Sabbath, like that which God Himself enjoys. (For proofs that Jesus rose on the first day, and not the seventh day, as Mr. Armstrong and other seventh-day keepers claim, please see BS 265—a copy free on request.)
On the other hand, Mr. Armstrong—advocating the Seventh Day Adventist viewpoint—also refers to Ex. 31:17, and states (US&BCP, p. 157): "It was on the seventh day of that Creative week that He [God] rested from the work of Creation. Not Sunday, the first day of the week. Only the seventh day of the week points back to Creation." And on p. 158 he says: "The Sabbath also was given as a sign which identifies who are the people of God and who are not!" Then on p. 164 we have what is to the Anglo-Israelites an embarrassing question: "But if the Sabbath is God's sign to identify His people Israel, then WHY don't our nations keep it today?"
To circumvent this obstacle, Mr. Armstrong bases his argument on a number of false premises and derives a number of false conclusions. He starts by saying: "The answer to that question is the answer to another: WHY are the Ten Tribes of the House of Israel called 'The lost Ten Tribes'?" The true answer to this question is that they are not so called nor allowed for anywhere in God's Word. As already seen, the ten tribes, as well as the two, were represented in the return to the promised land after the Babylonian captivity. In the New Testament the twelve tribes are referred to interchangeably by the terms Israel, Israelite and Judah, Judean (Jew). But after indulging in various falsities in this and other respects, Mr. Armstrong comes up with the following astounding conclusion (p. 166, bottom): "The Ten Tribes, known as the house of Israel, lost their identifying tag—God's Sabbath. That is why they lost their national identity!"
In Ex. 31:16, 17, God makes it very plain that "the children of Israel [all twelve tribes] shall keep the Sabbath [the seventh, not the first day of the week], to observe the sabbath THROUGHOUT their generations [no room here for them to lose their tag for most of their generations!], for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever."
"Let God be true," even though others with substitutions of the first day for the seventh and with claims of lost tags of circumcision and the loss of God's Sabbath do more or less "make lies their refuge, and under falsehoods hide themselves" (Rom. 3:4; Isa. 28:15, 17; 59:3, 4). The only "Israel after the flesh" on earth today, who have "observed [though imperfectly] the Sabbath throughout their generations," are the children of the more faithful of the twelve tribes of Israel, mostly of the tribe of Judah, who in response to Cyrus' and Artaxerxes' proclamations (Ezra 1:1-5; 7:11, 13, 28) went up to Jerusalem to build "the house of the LORD." For many centuries they have been known as "Jews"; and they still have the "for ever" sign of their "perpetual covenant"—namely, the keeping of God's Sabbath—the seventh day of the week. (For those desiring a more thorough and detailed study on the Bible's teaching respecting the Sabbath, we recommend our booklet "The Sabbath Day"—a copy free on request.)
THOU SHALT LEND, AND NOT BORROW
Among the many Scriptures that the Anglo-Israelites wrest out of their context and misapply to Britain and the U.S. are Deut. 8:18; 15:6 and 28:12; thus they claim for themselves the promise: "Thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow." But note that in each case the promise is made to the twelve tribes of Israel under their Law Covenant, and that only on condition of obedience; and in each case the context warns of what punishments they would suffer "if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day" (Deut. 28:15).
The Anglo-Israelites are finding it more difficult to claim this promise for Britain and the U.S. in the face of their inability to pay off their tremendous war debts, their begging for mercy from their creditors, the repeated devaluations of the pound and the dollar and the threatening collapse of their monetary systems.
Identity magazine (Nov.-Dec., 1972), quotes a publication as predicting the end of the world leadership for the American dollar, as follows: "The U.S. dollar is dying as a world currency. Gold will resume its position, and then watch the [Russian] ruble. Many Western economists also believe that the gold-backed ruble will shortly replace the dollar in world trade."
ISA. 49:6 SADLY MISAPPLIED
Another Scripture that the Anglo-Israelites wrest in the interests of furthering their fanciful theory is set forth in Item (7) of their creed, given in the forepart of this treatise. They misapply Isa. 49:6 to "the Anglo-Saxons," most of whom surely are not truly "Christianized," nor are they God's "salvation unto the end of the earth," as they claim. Jesus Christ is God's salvation for the world; "neither is there salvation in any other" (Acts 4:10-12). God gives Him, together with His Body members, the Church, "for a covenant of the people, to establish [raise up, in the Millennial restitution] the earth, to cause [the restored race of mankind] to inherit the desolate heritages [the perfect physical, mental, moral and religious endowments originally conferred on Father Adam but desolated under the curse of death resulting from his sin—Rom. 5:12, 18, 19], that thou [the Christ, Head and Body] mayest say to the prisoners [to all the world, locked up in the prison house of Adamic death], Go forth ['all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth'—John 5:28, 29]. … I will also give thee [not the Anglo-Saxons as such] for a light [Jesus is 'the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world'—John 1:9] to the Gentiles [nations, peoples—Gen. 22:18], that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth ['all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God'; 'all nations shall come and worship before thee'—Isa. 52:10; Rev. 15:4]" (Isa. 49:8, 9, 6; compare Isa. 42:1-7). It was not to the Anglo-Saxons as such, but to His disciples that Jesus said, "Ye are the light of the world" (Matt. 5:1, 2, 14-16).
RESPONSIBILITY FOR JESUS' CRUCIFIXION
The fictitious claim of the Anglo-Israelites that they are the "ten lost tribes of Israel" naturally would include them in the responsibility for the crucifixion of our Lord; and they labor hard to exclude themselves from this responsibility and its consequences. Items (1) and (3) in their creed state that "Judah and Israel are entirely distinct and separate entities" and that "Israel had nothing to do with the crucifixion of our Lord, not being in the land, except Benjamin, who accepted Him." If Israel was not in the land, then where did John the Baptist go in "the day of his showing unto Israel" (Luke 1:80)?
In The Lost Tribes of Israel, by Reader Harris, it is stated (p. 6): "Let us understand the difference between the Jews and the lost tribes of Israel. … The Bible is perfectly plain. When it speaks of Israel, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred the ten tribes are meant. There are some few passages where the word 'Israel' undoubtedly refers, as it did originally, to the twelve tribes of Israel.
NO "TEN LOST TRIBES" IN THE BIBLE
The terms "ten lost tribes," "lost tribes" and "lost Israel" cannot be found in the Bible, and such a thought is contrary to its teachings. Our Lord twice used the expression "lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matt. 10:6; 15:24); but in sending His disciples to preach to them He was not telling them to go to any lost tribes, for they would not have known where to find them. The "lost sheep of the house of Israel" were not lost tribes, but individuals of the twelve tribes who had wandered from the faith (1 Pet. 2:25). It was to these that Jesus and His disciples were sent; they did not travel to distant eastern, western, or northern countries, including England, in search of any "lost tribes." The Apostle James knew nothing of ten lost tribes, so he addressed his epistle to "the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad" (Jas. 1:1). And the Apostles Peter and Paul spoke of "all the house of Israel" (Acts 2:36) and of "our twelve tribes" (Acts 26:7), thus indicating that their whereabouts were well known. It was common knowledge where they were!
Mr. Harris' reservation of one case out of a hundred when the term Israel does not refer to the ten tribes but to the twelve tribes, is essential to the Anglo-Israel hypothesis, in order to provide a way whereby they can try to turn away from themselves as the alleged ten tribes the responsibility for Jesus' crucifixion. Note what he writes: "When the Messiah came, the Jews, or rather, the tribes of Judah and Levi, as was predicted, put Him to death, saying, 'His blood be on us, and on our children' (Matt. 27:25), which saying has been fulfilled in terrible measure. The tribe of Benjamin seems to have taken no part in putting our Lord to death."
But if the Anglo-Israelites are really the ten tribes of Israel then they are surely a part of "all the people of Israel," responsible for the crucifixion of the only begotten Son of God and the resultant punishment that followed. In Acts 2:22-23 the Apostle Peter says plainly that it was the "men of Israel" who took Jesus and by wicked hands crucified Him; in v. 36 he addresses "all the house of Israel [leaving not the slightest doubt that all twelve tribes are included]," and he tells them, "God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ"; in Acts 3:12-15, 17 (compare vs. 25, 26) he states unequivocally that it was the "men of Israel" who "delivered up and denied … and killed the Prince of life"; and in Acts 4:10 he reaffirms that it was "by all the people of Israel" that Jesus was crucified.
But in spite of these many plain statements of the Scriptures, the Anglo-Israelites boldly claim that "Israel had nothing to do with the crucifixion of our Lord, not being in the land"—Item (3) of their creed. They try to put the full responsibility for Jesus' crucifixion on the tribes of Judah and Levi only. And as respects Rom. 11:25, which plainly states that "blindness in part is happened to Israel," they claim that this does not refer to the ten tribes at all!
ALL 12 TRIBES REPRESENTED IN JUDEA
The other above-mentioned Anglo-Israelite dictum—that when the Bible "speaks of Israel, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred the ten tribes are meant"—is likewise entirely untrue. Also, it is a sad mistake to think that only the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi were represented in the inhabitants of Judea at Jesus' First Advent — for all twelve tribes were represented there. Even in the period of the kings, after the division between the ten tribes and the two tribes, the name Israel did not refer exclusively to the ten tribes; for example, both Jehoshaphat and Ahaz, kings of Judah, are spoken of also as kings of Israel (2 Chron. 21:2; 28:19).
Very shortly after this division, many of the more faithful people of the ten tribes (these tribes turned away from the true worship of God into idolatry) migrated into Judea in order to hold to the true worship. In the very beginning, in the days of Rehoboam, a message came to "all Israel in Judah and Benjamin" (2 Chron. 11:3; see also vs. 13-17). It is seen also in 2 Chron. 15, which tells of the revival that occurred in the southern kingdom (Judah) during the reign of Asa, king of Judah. People came "to him out of Israel [the ten tribes] in abundance, when they saw that the LORD his God was with him," and the tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon are mentioned particularly (v. 9). They brought many animals for sacrifice and renewed their covenant with "the LORD God of Israel [in this expression, which occurs many times in the Bible, the name Israel always—not just one time out of a hundred—refers to all twelve tribes]" (vs. 11-14).
Also, when Hezekiah, king of Judah, held his great passover—about the time of the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel—he sent "to all Israel [the ten tribes] and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, to keep the passover unto the LORD God of Israel [the twelve tribes]" (2 Chron. 30:1). The messengers went "throughout all Israel [the ten tribes], from Beersheba even to Dan" (vs. 5, 6) and "passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh even unto Zebulun: but they laughed them to scorn, and mocked them. Nevertheless divers [various ones] of Asher and Manasseh and of Zebulun humbled themselves, and came to Jerusalem" (vs. 10, 11).
About one hundred years after the fall of the northern kingdom, Josiah, king of Judah, did a great reform work in Judah and "throughout all the land of Israel," including Manasseh, Ephraim, and Simeon, even unto Naphtali; and for repairing the temple, the Levites "gathered of the hand of Manasseh and Ephraim, and of all the remnant of Israel, and of all Judah and Benjamin" (2 Chron. 34:6, 7, 9). This does not sound much like "ten lost tribes of Israel." There was, according to this Scripture, a "remnant of Israel" still in the land, i.e., those that were "left in Israel" (v. 21). And in 2 Chron. 35:17, 18 we read that "the children of Israel that were present kept the passover at that time … the Levites, and all Judah and Israel that were present."
After the 70 years' desolation of the land and the Babylonian captivity, portions of the ten tribes, as well as the two, went back to the land of Israel, though the tribe of Judah was the most largely represented. Cyrus' edict stated: "Who is there among you of all his [Jehovah's] people … let him go up to Jerusalem … and build the house of the LORD God of Israel" (2 Chron. 36:23; Ezra 1:3). Less than 55,000 cared enough to return.
"ALL WHOSE SPIRIT GOD HAD RAISED"
We read: "Then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised, to go up to build the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem" (Ezra 1:5). Mr. Armstrong (US&BCP, pp. 89, 90) quotes from this verse, but stops after the words "the Levites" and states: "Only those of the tribe of Judah, together with remnants of Benjamin and Levi, who constituted the house of JUDAH, returned at that time." But why did he not quote what follows—the italicized portion? Was it because the error of his statement would thus be exposed? For this last group, "all them whose spirit God had raised," included the more faithful ones of the ten tribes.
But Mr. Armstrong falsely claims that "the House of Israel did NOT return to Palestine with the Jews in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah" (US&BCP, p. 89), and he adds: "Jews are, truly, men of Israel — or people of Israel — but they are not of the NATION called HOUSE OF ISRAEL. … Consequently those in Jerusalem in the time of Christ were of these three tribes [Judah, Benjamin and Levi], NOT of the House of ISRAEL." This is in direct contradiction of God's Word; for it is recorded of Anna that she was of the tribe of Asher, one of the ten tribes of the house of Israel (Luke 2:36); and in Acts 2:36 the Apostle Peter says that it was "all the house of Israel" that crucified the Lord. By claiming that the three tribes—Judah, Benjamin and Levi—are "NOT of the House of ISRAEL," Mr. Armstrong thus really exonerates the Jews from responsibility for Jesus' crucifixion and confines it to the ten tribes only—contrary to his own belief! How inconsistent, self-contradictory and confused some errorists really become!
Those who returned from the Babylonian captivity included "all them whose spirit God had raised." Cyrus' proclamation was addressed to the ten tribes as well as to the two—to "all his [Jehovah's] people"; for both Judah and Israel were captives in the land of Assyria (Ezek. 8:1; 14:1; 20:1). The two tribes were further joined to the ten tribes in the Assyrian captivity when Nebuchadnezzar, "the king of the Chaldees," took the remnant of the two tribes to the same area, "where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia" (2 Chron. 36:17-20). And now "all Israel" in their representatives "whose spirit God had raised" returned to their land of Israel and dwelt "in their cities" (Ezra 2:70); "and when the seventh month was come and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people [of the twelve tribes] gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem" (3:1). After building a house "unto the LORD God of Israel" (4:1), "the children of Israel" made "a sin offering for all Israel, twelve he goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel" (6:16, 17).
Later on, Artaxerxes, king of Persia, likewise made a proclamation that "all they of the people of Israel" who wanted to go back to Jerusalem might go; and they did so (Ezra 7:11, 13, 28). They selected twelve priests to carry the offering of gold and silver, made in part and received by "all Israel there present" (Ezra 8:24, 25, 29). In their burnt offerings "unto the God of Israel" they offered "twelve bullocks for all Israel," and they offered "twelve he goats for a sin offering" (v. 35). That the ten tribes were joined to the two in their return and all together called Israel is manifest also from Ezra 9:1; 10:2, 5, 10; Neh. 1:6; 2:10; 7:7, 61, 73; 9:1, 2; 10:33, 39; 11:20; 12:47 and 13:3, 18.
However, in spite of all this and other Scriptural and historical evidence, J. Mountain, the Anglo-Israelite author of The Ten Tribes — Lost and Found, states: "Over and over again, the books of Ezra and Nehemiah limit the returned tribes to Judah, Benjamin and Levi." Arthur Pritchard, author of The Bible and the British Race, is somewhat more liberal and admits "there might have been a few Israelites of the other tribes mingling with them." P.W. Thompson, author of British-Israel: The Plain Argument, concedes even more in his admission: "When Matthew Henry said that Jerusalem was repopulated after the Babylonian captivity by 30,000 Jews and 12,000 Israelites he was probably right." The truth is that all twelve tribes were represented in the land from that time on and the ten tribes and two tribes were no longer considered as two kingdoms.
JEW AND ISRAELITE SYNONYMOUS TERMS
After the division of the twelve tribes of Israel, the kings of the ten tribes were called kings of Israel, and the descendants of David who ruled over Judah and Benjamin were usually (though not always, for example, 2 Chron. 21:2; 28:19) called kings of Judah. The name Jew was formed from Judah and indicated a subject of the kingdom of Judah. Thus for a time Jacob's descendants were called either Israelites or Jews, according to their tribal relation to one or the other kingdom. However, even then, as seen above, the application of the name Israel to the entire nation was never completely lost. This is seen, e.g., in Jer. 31:27-33, which points to the Millennial Age and the New Covenant, which God will make with all the twelve tribes of Israel, when all shall know Him and He will forgive their iniquity and remember their sin no more. This prophecy was made when the ten tribes, called Israel, were separate from the two, called Judah; therefore to make it clear that all twelve tribes are included in the promise of a New Covenant, both kingdoms are mentioned by name (v. 31); and after thus joining them as one, the prophecy refers to all twelve tribes by the one name Israel (vs. 33, 36). That the Jews are included in Israel here is confirmed by vs. 38-40, which describes places in the portion of the two tribes, in and about Jerusalem.
The term "Jews" (translated from Yehudim, of the tribe of Judah, i.e., Judaites) appears for the first time in 2 Kings 16:6, which describes how they were driven from Elath during the reign of Ahaz. The people of the southern kingdom are again called Jews during the reign of Hezekiah, the successor of Ahaz (2 Kgs. 18:26). It seems from Esther 3:6, 10; 9:1-3 and Dan. 3:8 that the term Jew was applied to all Hebrews during the captivity. That it was so applied after the captivity is clear from Ezra 4:12; 5:1, 5 and Neh. 1:2; 2:16. Young's Concordance defines a Jew as "A descendant of Judah; in later times also an Israelite," and states: "In 2 Ki. 16:6 this appellation is applied to the two tribes; in later days the twelve tribes."
The same general usage is found also in the New Testament, where the term Israel occurs 78 times and the term Jew (Jews, Jewish, Jewry, Jewess) 207 times. Nathaniel, "an Israelite indeed," spoke of Jesus as "the King of Israel"; and Jesus confessed that He Himself was "the King of the Jews" (John 1:47-49; Matt. 27:11; Mark 15:2; Luke 23:3). The people of Israel were called Jews, even though all twelve tribes were represented (Matt. 2:2, 6; John 4:22; 6:4; 19:14). One outstanding example proving that in Jesus' day members of the ten tribes were included among the Jews at Jerusalem is Anna the prophetess, "of the tribe of Aser [Asher]" (Luke 2:36, 38). Above Jesus' head on the cross were the words, "This is Jesus the King of the Jews"; yet His revilers referred to Him as "the King of Israel" (Matt. 27:37, 42; Mark 15:26, 32).
Jesus was recognized as being a Jew (John 4:9; Matt. 1:1; 22:42; Heb. 7:14; Rev. 5:5), yet the people hailed Him as "the King of Israel" (John 12:13). Surely Jesus as "the King of Israel" was King, not merely of the ten tribes, nor of the two tribes, but of all twelve tribes—Israel as a whole, often called Jews. Similarly, Israel as a whole was referred to when the disciples asked Jesus, "Wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6); they looked for all Israel (not just the ten tribes) to be redeemed (Luke 24:21). They recognized no lost tribes, but only one Israel composed of members of the two tribes and the ten tribes, in two parts—a part dispersed among the Gentiles and a part at home in the land of Israel, which also was trodden under foot by the Gentiles, under Gentile dominion (Luke 21:24).
Representatives of the twelve tribes were referred to as Jews and as men of Israel—the terms being used interchangeably. In commending the faith of the Gentile centurion, Jesus said: "I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel" (Matt. 8:10); and in addressing Nicodemus, a "ruler of the Jews," Jesus called him "as master of Israel" (John 3:1, 10). Surely in these two cases Jesus was referring, not to ten lost tribes in Britain or elsewhere, but to Israelites then living in the land of Israel, often called Jews. It was the "men of Israel," the "house of Israel," living in the land of Israel, that crucified our Lord (Acts 2:22, 23, 36; 3:12; 4:8, 10). But these "men of Israel" are in Acts 2:5 spoken of as "Jews" from "every nation under heaven"; they are described as "Parthians [from east of Media], and Medes, and Elamites [Susiana, a part of Persia], and the dwellers in Mesopotamia [the western part of Assyria], and in Judea, and Cappadocia [north of Syria], in Pontus [northeastern Asia Minor], and Asia [western Asia Minor], Phrygia [central Asia Minor], and Pamphylia [south central Asia Minor], in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene [in north Africa, west of Egypt], and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes [of the island southeast of Greece] and Arabians [from southeast of the Holy Land]" (Acts 2:9-11). In view of this description, the early church obviously did not recognize any "ten lost tribes"!
The "council" and "all the senate of the children of Israel" were not in Britain but in the land of Israel (Acts 5:21, 34, 35). In the Apostle Paul's missionary tours he ministered to "the twelve tribes scattered abroad." The synagogues of these "men of Israel" are sometimes referred to as "the synagogues of the Jews" (Acts 13:5, 14-17, 23, 24, 42, 43, 45, 50; 14:1, 2; 17:1, 10, 17). Obviously the terms "men of Israel" and "Jews" were used synonymously and interchangeably. Note that in Acts 21:27, 28 the Jews from Asia called the Jews at Jerusalem "men of Israel"; and in Acts 26, Paul spoke of the Jews (vs. 2, 3) as consisting of "our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night" and hoping for the fulfillment of the promise that God had made to their fathers (vs. 6, 7). Surely Paul was not referring to any lost tribes of Israel in Britain, totally unaware of their identity, as earnestly serving God day and night and maintaining faith in His promises to their fathers, for history shows that the Britons were pagans before Christianity was introduced. Accordingly, when John the Baptist showed himself to Israel (Luke 1:80), he did not have to go to Britain to do so.
Following the custom of his day of calling all Israelites Jews and using these terms interchangeably, the Apostle Paul asks: "What advantage then hath the Jew?" And he answers: "Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them [the Jews] were committed the oracles of God" (Rom. 3:1, 2). Would our Anglo-Israelite friends have us believe that the Law and the Prophets were committed only to one of the twelve tribes and not to any of the others? Surely not! The Law was committed to Moses and the tribe of Levi, together with the other twelve tribes. They were all Israelites, yet Paul calls them Jews.
Paul, of the tribe of Benjamin, calls himself an Israelite (Rom. 11:1; 2 Cor. 11:22; Phil. 3:5), and he speaks of himself also as a Jew (Acts 22:3; Gal. 2:15), thus using these terms interchangeably. Even to this day the term "Jew" is used to designate all the descendants of Abraham through Jacob, or Israel, and the Israelis are known as Jews. In Rom. 1:16, Paul says that the Gospel of Christ "is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek [this name represented all of the Gentiles, just as 'the Jew' represented all members of the twelve tribes—Israel as a whole; compare Rom. 2:9, 10]." Surely Paul in mentioning only two classes here was not excluding any members of the ten tribes; for they were known as Jews. The words "every one that believeth" would include also believers of the ten tribes (called Jews) as well as believers of the Gentiles. So allowance is made here for only two classes: Jews and Gentiles. Thus the Bible here rules out completely any third classification which is neither Jew or Gentile, such as Anglo-Israelites claim for themselves.
JESUS WAS A JEW
But in the face of all these Scriptures, the Anglo-Israelites claim that Jesus was not a Jew. Here again they build their theory on tradition, misconstrued history, conjectures, misunderstandings, misapplications, and/or ignorings of ancient usages and customs. For example, Benjamin Freedman in Common Sense, May 1, 1959, states that "Jesus was a 'Judean,' not a 'Jew,' just as the term 'Texan' signifies a person living in Texas." What sophistry! Such an illustration is very deceptive and does not fit at all; for the term "Texan," unlike the term "Jew," does not describe either race or religion.
The Greek word translated "Jew" is Ioudaios (literally, a Judean, i.e., one belonging to Jehudah, or a Judaite). Unlike the claim for a Texan, the Judaite, or Jew, did not have to be "a person living in Judea" in order to be a Jew. In fact, many Judeans, or Jews, probably never were in Judea. For example, Aquila ("a certain Ioudaios"—Judean, or Jew) was born in Pontus, in Asia Minor, and came from Italy to Corinth, in Greece, "because that Claudius had commanded all Jews [Judeans] to depart from Rome" (Acts 18:2). There is no indication whatever that Aquila, Priscilla, or others of these Jews who had lived in Rome had ever lived in Judea. Note also the Judeans, or Jews, "dwelling in Ephesus" and in Damascus (Acts 19:17; 22:11, 12). Did they have to live in Judea in order to be Judeans, or Jews? Surely not!
Jesus was a Judean, a Judaite, a Jew, of the tribe of Judah, regardless of where He was living. As already noted, He was descended from Judah through David, was "of the seed of David according to the flesh" (Rom. 1:3), and therefore was a Judaite, a Jew. He was of the Jewish race, nationality, nativity and religion.
If we were to accept the definition that Jesus was not a Jew, but merely a Judean in the sense of living in Judea, "just as the term 'Texan' signifies a person living in Texas," then by analogy we would have to say that "the term 'Italian' signifies a person living in Italy." Thus if an African or a Chinese would move to Italy and live there he would thereby become an Italian! And if an Italian would move to China or to Egypt and live there he would thereby cease to be an Italian and would become a Chinese or an Egyptian! Pilate spoke of Jesus as "the King of the Jews," but, though living in Judea, he disclaimed that he himself was a Judean, a Jew (John 18:33-35, 39). Let us be rid of all this Anglo-Israel nonsense about Jesus not being a Jew!
Thus we have examined in the light of the Scriptures, reason and reliable history the main arguments and many minor ones advanced by the Anglo-Israelites, and we have found that they are fanciful, far-fetched, without real basis in the Bible and history and grossly erroneous, and should therefore be rejected by true Bible believers.
As indicated at the beginning of this treatise, Anglo-Israelism emphasizes the importance of one's lineage; and its tendency is to lead away from a proper humbling of one's self. Note, e.g., Mr. Armstrong's statement as to his genealogy, as given in earlier editions of US&BCP: "The writer has a copy of this chart [allegedly giving the ancestry of the British royal family], and also his own genealogy for each generation back into the line of ancient British kings, and therefore has the complete record of his genealogy through the House of David clear to Adam—believe it or not!"
(We are aware, of course, of the many serious charges that have been made recently against Mr. Herbert Armstrong and his son Garner Ted Armstrong, and that many of the prominent leaders in their movement have left as a consequence. We will not discuss these charges, however, for even if it could be proven that both men are innocent of them, their teachings on Anglo-Israelism and certain other subjects would still be just as erroneous, and they would still be very unsafe teachers to follow.)
Anglo-Israelism leads also to misapplications and misinterpretations of Scriptures that border on blasphemy. Note the following, from a current issue of The National Message: "The Stone Kingdom, Israel-Britain, has taken the fruits of the Sacrificed Son to the ends of the earth, in offering the open Bible that 'all families of the earth be blessed.' She will yet become the 'great mountain and fill the earth' as promised by her Creator, Law-giver and Redeemer, the Rock and Stone in Sacrifice." What a perversion of the promises pertaining to Abraham's true seed and their fulfillment in Christ's Kingdom soon to be set up on earth!
Many earnest and devout Christians, including many who would gladly die for their Lord rather than in any way deny Him, have been and are being deceived, and others are in danger of being deceived, by the Anglo-Israelism delusion. We are now living in "the last days" when "perilous times" have come, when many, "having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof," as seducers, "wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived" (2 Tim. 3:1, 5, 13).
God's consecrated people are to be sanctified by the Truth, the Word of God (John 17:17). "Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine" (1 Tim. 4:16). Error can be disastrous to character and eternal life. Accordingly, our Lord warns: "Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ [anointed]; and shall deceive many. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect" (Matt. 24:4, 5, 24).
This treatise goes forth with the prayer that the Lord will bless it and use it for the blessing of His true and faithful people, whether laboring under the Anglo-Israel deception or not, "that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God" (1 Cor. 2:5).
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