Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
How Many Tribes of Israel Do the Jews Represent?
This belief that the Jews represent all 12 tribes is an erroneous Christian doctrine -- it’s a "Christian" invention. It's unbiblical and false and I’m going to try to prove it in this article. Josephus wrote in the 1st. century: “The Ten Tribes did not return to Palestine; only two Tribes served the Romans after Palestine became a Roman Province...the Ten Tribes are beyond the Euphrates till now, and are an immense multitude not to be estimated in numbers” (Antiquities of the Jews, 11.5.2). If they were an immense multitude 2,000 years ago what are their numbers today? “Till now” means they were still outside the Roman Empire at the end of the first century.
by Jeff Booth
Some Christians are of the opinion that the Jews of today represent all 12 tribes of Israel, others believe that they only represent two.
Years ago I was talking to a Jewish believer on this very subject. I was explaining to him that Jews represent only two tribes and not 12 and he asked me a question: "What do Jewish scholars have to say about this?" I thought that was a fantastic question and told him I'd check it out. I spent a few months visiting synagogues with libraries, several public and county libraries making photocopies of pages from books written by Jewish rabbis, scholars, historians and theologians. I was only interested in Jewish thought on the issue. Not one of them maintained the position that the Jews of today represent all 12 tribes. They hold the position that the Jews represent only 2 tribes: Judah and Benjamin. In their opinion the 10 tribes are still "lost." I even made phone calls to rabbis and asked them this question. "They're lost, we don't know where they are," they all told me.
There are two schools of thought on the 10 tribes in Jewish circles:
(1) They’re lost and will some day be reunited with Judah (The minority point-of-view):
"The people known as Jews are the descendants of the Tribes of Judah and Benjamin, with a certain number of the Tribe of Levi. So far as is known, there is not any further admixture of other tribes. The Ten Tribes have been absorbed among the nations of the world. The Jews look forward to the gathering of all the tribes at some future date" (Dr. Hertz -- Chief Rabbi of the British Empire. 1918).
"While not a link is missing of the historical chain so far as the romance of the House of Judah is concerned, the Israelites who were subjected by the Assyrian power disappear from the page of history as suddenly and completely as though the land of their captivity had swallowed them up...the Ten Tribes are certainly in existence, all that has to be done is to discover which people represent them" (The Jewish Chronicles, May 22, 1879).
“The captives of Israel exiled beyond the Euphrates did not return as a whole to Palestine along with their brethren the captives of Judah; at least there is no mention made of this event in the documents at our disposal…In fact, the return of the ten tribes was one of the great promises of the Prophets, and the advent of the Messiah is therefore necessarily identified with the epoch of their redemption” (Jewish Quarterly Review, Vol. I -- 1888, pages 15, 17).
“Until the arrival of the Prophet Elijah and the Messiah, no member of any of the Ten Tribes shall be accepted (for the purpose of marriage) into the Jewish people” (Rabbi Rafael Eisenberg, A Matter of Return, p. 138).
(2) They intermarried and were absorbed into surrounding nations and races. They’ll never return (The majority point-of-view):
“The people were transported eastward, and a new population was brought in westward. The transported Israelites became the “ten lost tribes”; in reality these were absorbed by the people of the lands to which they were transported and they disappeared” (The Hebrew Scriptures by Samuel Sandmel, p. 20).
“Thus were the people led away into distant provinces of the [Assyrian] empire and became colonized with strangers, and the Kingdom of Israel became a tale that is told” (ISRAEL: A History of the Jewish People by Rufus Learsi, p. 79).
“…but in general it can be said that they disappeared from the stage of history” (Encyclopedia Judaica, vol. 15, p. 1004).
“These are the Ten Lost Tribes; lost not as a jewel is lost on the road, perhaps to be found again, but as a drop of wine is lost in an ocean of water, dissolved, gone” (Eternal Faith, Eternal People, by Leo Trepp, p. 14).
“The Ten Tribes of Israel were not even permitted like the sister kingdom of Judah, to bequeath to later ages…the memory of rich and varied destinies. They were irretrievably lost” (C. and A. D. Rothschild, History and Literature of the Israelites, Vol. 1, page 489).
“The Jews do not claim to represent the Twelve Tribes for the Ten Tribes never returned from captivity and are lost to history” (Rabbi Aaron Werner, when asked by Dr. Schiffner, 'Do the Jews represent all 12 tribes').
“So, to condense this massive summary all down to one sentence: the ten lost tribes were conquered, and, like almost every other conquered people in the ancient world, lost their separate identity and were assimilated away into the sands of history” (Collective summaries from Eli Barnavi's Historical Atlas of the Jewish People, Judah Gribetz's The Timetables of Jewish History, Joseph Telushkin's Biblical Literacy, and the Encyclopedia Judaica).
There are many more quotes I could give but I think the point has been made. These statements represent what the Jews themselves have to say on the subject.
That being said, why all the confusion and debate over the 10 tribes amongst certain Christian groups? My guess is that some have preconceived interpretations of scripture and will hold to these beliefs no matter what evidence to the contrary is presented. Also, popular books dealing with the subject of eschatology have been written with the premise that the Jews represent “all Israel” and have influenced millions. Hal Lindsey’s book, The Late Great Planet Earth, has sold 30,000,000 copies and is based on the premise that the Jews represent all Israel.
At the same time there’s absolutely no confusion or debate in Jewish academia on this issue. They all agree that the 10 tribes are still lost. This belief that the Jews represent all 12 tribes is an erroneous Christian doctrine -- it’s a "Christian" invention. It's unbiblical and false and I’m going to try to prove it in this article. Have you ever noticed that "Christian" groups that hold this position never quote Jewish sources to prove their point? The reason is there aren’t any. There’s not a Jewish scholar in the past 2000 years, that I’m aware of, that maintains the position that the modern-day Jews represent all 12 tribes. So why do many Christians hold to these beliefs? Or, to put it another way, why do some Christian scholars disagree with Jewish scholars on this issue? There’s a reason why it isn’t “The 12 Tribes of Judah” but that’s what some misguided Christians, and Jews, have made it.
"The question before the Rabbis was only whether they would ever return, not whether they had ever returned. This distinction is critical, because many people, both Jews and non-Jews, erroneously assume that whenever Israel or the Jews are mentioned either in the Hebrew Prophets, Writings, or in post-Biblical literature, that all twelve tribes are included in the reference. Such an assumption ignores the Rabbinic position that the Ten Tribes were deported and had not returned as of the 2nd Century C.E., a position which is clearly borne out in all of the Hebrew Prophets and in many post-Biblical writings" (Will the Ten Tribes Return? Dennis Jones, United Israel web site).
The biblical and historical facts concerning the tribal makeup of modern-day Judaism will create problems for those who have written books dealing with end-times events because it adds a whole new chapter into the eschatological mix. However, it's time to put this issue to rest. It's time to get our facts straight. It's time to investigate this issue with an unbiased point-of-view. It's called "rightly dividing the word of truth..." (2 Timothy 2:15).
The Plan Unfolds
It was never in YEHOVAH God's plan for all the tribes to remain in Israel nor was it in YEHOVAH’s plan for Israel and Judah to remain together (I Kings 12:15 and 24). This will remain the case until the Millennium. Now that I have everyone’s attention let me try to explain. First, concerning Israel’s expansion:
“And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 28:14).
Right from the start we get a picture of a migrating, colonizing people. The land of Canaan was the port-of-departure for Israel.
“Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well: whose branches run over the wall” (Genesis 49:22).
A wall is a boundary line. Ephraim and Manasseh would extend beyond the boundaries of Israel.
Another prophecy came when David was king and Israel was enjoying its greatest geographical expanse:
“Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, that they may have a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as beforetime” (II Samuel 7:10, I Chronicles 17:9).
“That they may have a place of their own…?” Didn’t Israel already have a place of their own when this promise was given? Yes, but YEHOVAH God had other lands predestined for Israel outside the Middle East. The Appointed Place and the land of Israel are two totally different geographical locations.
"The children you will have, after you have lost the others, will say again in your ears, 'The place is too small for me; give me a place where I may dwell'" (Isaiah 49:20).
Isaiah 54 sheds more light on this subject:
“Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate [Israel] than the children of the married wife, [Judah] saith the LORD. (2) Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes; (3) For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.”
What are these verses speaking of? Answer: World wide expansion. “And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 28:14). How can this prophecy be fulfilled if all 12 tribes remained in the state of Israel? Where it says “break forth”…from what? The population of Israel would grow to a point that they would need more lands to hold their numbers. Physical Israel was predestined to expand worldwide. This will not be fulfilled by the Church, but the physical descendents of Abraham -- to whom the promise was given to.
In spite of the fact that Israel exited Canaan via the Assyrian invasion, YEHOVAH would still keep His promises. Israel would expand geographically and in population while in exile. These promises were based on the unconditional Abrahamic Covenant, which is based on an oath YEHOVAH made by Himself (Hebrews 6:13-14) therefore, it cannot be broken. The Mosaic Covenant is based on obedience; “Thou shalt -- thou shalt not,” it’s conditional, and it can, and was, broken (Jeremiah 31:32). The Abrahamic Covenant is based on “I will.” Obedience, or lack thereof, does not come into play. This article deals primarily with the Abrahamic Covenant.
These verses make it clear that Canaan was not the only land YEHOVAH God reserved for His people. There was an "Appointed Place" waiting for them. "And move no more" means that they will still posses it during the Millennium. Judah today currently abides in the land of Canaan; Israel today currently abides in the Appointed Place. This fact, as we’ll see, plays an important role for Judah during the times ahead.
This may come as a surprise to some, but, there may be only one “Holy Land” however, there are several “Promised Lands.” The land of Canaan was not the only territory promised to Israel. The Appointed Place is every much a land promised to Israel as is Canaan -- and it’s theirs to keep forever.
“For Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the chief ruler; but the birthright was Joseph's” (1 Chronicles 5:2). The sons of Joseph would become like the stars of heaven, etc., not Judah.
The Abrahamic covenant was divided in Genesis chapters 48 and 49. “Judah was his sanctuary and Israel his dominion” (Psalm 114:2). “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be” (Genesis 49:10). The sons of Joseph received the birthright, Judah the Scepter.
Let me give a classic example of what I’m trying to get across:
Jacob said of Zebulun: “Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for an haven of ships; and his border shall be unto Zidon” (Genesis 49:13).
Moses said of Zebulun: “…for they shall suck of the abundance of the seas, and of treasures hid in the sand” (Deuteronomy 33:19).
According to these verses Zebulun would become noted for its maritime activity. However, if you look at a tribal map showing the boundaries of each tribe you’ll see that Zebulun was totally landlocked with no access to the sea whatsoever. Zebulun was the proverbial “Kansas” of the Promised Land and his inheritance could not be fulfilled until relocated in the Appointed Place. The Elders of Israel in Joshua’s day were not ignorant of Zebulun’s birthright promise so why did they place Zebulun in the center of Israel with no access to the sea? Did they know something that most of us miss today? I think the answer is obvious.
“And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea” (Isaiah 11:11).
Isaiah 11 speaks of a “second time” recovery which begs the question: when and where did the “first” recovery take place? Some articles I’ve read state that the first recovery took place when Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt. But Isaiah 11:11 mentions several nations not just Egypt. So we can rule out the Egyptian Exodus. That can’t be what Isaiah was referring to.
The first gathering took place after the Assyrian captivity. YEHOVAH God led the 10 tribes from Assyria into the “wilderness” (Hosea 2:14) where they would “renew their strength” (Isaiah 41:1) in a place where “never mankind dwelt” (II Esdras 13:39-45). There they would find “grace in the wilderness” and “rest” (Jeremiah 31:1-2). A place where Israel will “sing” and “praise” the LORD (Isaiah 42:10-12). There YEHOVAH God would plead with them “face to face” and be brought into “…the bond of the covenant” (Ezekiel 20:33-37). The “covenant” spoken of here is the “new covenant” (Jeremiah 31:31). Israel would receive the new covenant while in the wilderness. There, the population of Israel would grow, “…be thou the mother of thousands of millions” (Genesis 24:60). In exile Israel’s name would be changed, “and thou shalt be called by a new name” (Isaiah 62:2). Judah’s name has never changed.
"If the Ten Tribes have disappeared, they must exist under a different name" (The Jewish Encyclopedia, 1905, vol. 21, page 249).
The “Wilderness” and the “Appointed Place” are one and the same. There the birthrights would find their fulfillment -- an impossible task while in the land of Canaan.
The birthright described in the Abrahamic Covenant states: “That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;” (Genesis 22:17). The state of Israel, roughly the size of New Jersey, simply cannot handle those kinds of numbers -- even with the boundaries expanded during the Millennium.
During the Millennium only a small percentage of Israelites actually return to Canaan. “…and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion” (Jeremiah 3:14). The majority of Israelites will remain in the Appointed Place throughout the Millennium and go year-to-year to pay homage to YEHOVAH God as mentioned in Zechariah 14:16. A similar statement can be found in Isaiah 10:22:
“For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them shall return and the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness.”
The “consumption decreed” speaks of the bill of divorce which, after Calvary, will “overflow with righteousness,” it was rendered null and void at the Tree.
These two verses make it abundantly clear that during the Millennium the vast majority of Israelites will NOT return to Canaan when YEHOVAH God and the Messiah return. Only a small percentage will because there’s simply too many of them. These two verses also make it abundantly clear that the vast majority of Israelites are currently abiding somewhere outside the Middle East.
Where is Israel today and when they return at the beginning of the Millennium, what direction will they come from?
"Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say: 'Return, backsliding Israel,' says the LORD" (Jeremiah 3:12).
"In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given as an inheritance to your fathers" (Jeremiah 3:18).
"Behold, I will bring them from the north country" (Jeremiah 31:8).
"They shall walk after the LORD. He will roar like a lion. When He roars, then His sons shall come trembling from the west" (Hosea 11:10).
"Surely these shall come from afar; look! Those from the north and the west...." (Isaiah 49:12).
“Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no more be said, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers” (Jeremiah 16:14-15).
“And He [YEHOVAH God] shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth” (Isaiah 11:12).
Side Note: This is what the Messiah was speaking of in Matthew 24:30-31 where he said; “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he [YEHOVAH God -- see Isaiah 27:12-13] shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”
The Messiah was referring to Isaiah 27:13; “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem.”
Trumpets are mentioned many times in the Bible but there are only two places where the term “great trumpet” is mentioned: Isaiah 27:13 and Matthew 24:30-31 and both speak of the re-gathering of Israel.
I know the Bible says they’ll return from the north, south, east and west, but when the Bible gets specific the predominate direction is north and west.
Josephus wrote in the 1st. century: “The Ten Tribes did not return to Palestine; only two Tribes served the Romans after Palestine became a Roman Province...the Ten Tribes are beyond the Euphrates till now, and are an immense multitude not to be estimated in numbers” (Antiquities of the Jews, 11.5.2). If they were an immense multitude 2000 years ago what are their numbers today? “Till now” means they were still outside the Roman Empire at the end of the first century.
“Behold I will recall a matter that is expressly mentioned many times in Scripture. It is known that with the Return of the Exiles under Ezra only the Tribes of Judah and Benjamin returned” (What Does the Bible Say? Nachmanides (Moshe ben Nachman) 1194-1270).
Nachmanides also stated;
“It has been made quite clear from our study that the only ones who returned from the Babylonian Exile were they who belonged to the Kingdom of Judah. Those however who are termed the House of Ephraim, or The House of Israel, meaning the Ten Tribes are still in Exile in Assyria. These Tribes did not have any participants in the Second Redemption, as I have noted.”
Note: Nachmanides is considered one of the greatest Jewish scholars of the Middle Ages, some say one of the greatest of all time. That being said, if the Scriptures “expressly mentioned many times” that the ten tribes did not return with Ezra, why do many Christians maintain the belief that they did? With Jewish scholarship “it is known,” with Christian scholarship “it is not known.” Why is Christian and Jewish scholarship diametrically opposed in their opinions as to the tribal makeup of the Jews today? To be honest, I haven’t been able to come up with the definitive answer. No book that I’m aware of has ever been written on this subject. And the time will come when this issue will be forced upon all Christians to address as we approach the End Times. I believe the answer lies somewhere in the fact that after the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities only Judah remained in view and Israel disappeared and is now called by a different name as mentioned above. Over time, Judah became Israel and Israel became Judah. In Scripture, and in Jewish scholarship, this is not the case. I Chron. 5:26 states:
“And the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, and the spirit of Tilgathpilneser king of Assyria, and he carried them away, even the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh, and brought them unto Halah, and Habor, and Hara, and to the river Gozan, unto this day.”
“Unto this day” means the year I Chronicles was written. Remember, Judah returned from the Babylonian captivity around 536 BC. I Chronicles was compiled roughly 185 years later; 350 BC. If Israel returned with Judah out of Babylon in 536 BC why were Jewish scribes saying that Israel was still in Assyria “unto this day” in 350 BC? Also, II Chronicles 10:19 says “And Israel rebelled against the house of David unto this day. Again, this was written around 350 BC. A similar statement can be found in II Kings 17:23 written roughly a century after the Assyrian captivity:
“Until the LORD removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day.”
Note: Dating 1 and 2 Chronicles varies. Some Jewish and Christian scholars say Ezra actually wrote, or started, both books which, if true, gives greater credibility to the claim that Israel was still in Assyria “unto this day.” Who better than Ezra would know this?
Another factor that comes into play here was the name Judah chose to use when they declared themselves a nation in 1948: “Israel.” Then President Harry Truman, who had a prepared statement recognizing the newly formed nation, was caught off guard by their choice of title. In his prepared statement Truman wrote “Jewish State.”
This is also a cause for confusion for Bible students. What exists in the Middle East today, to be more accurate, is the State of Judah in the land called Israel! There’s a big difference between a land called Israel and the house of Israel! Because Judah chose the name Israel for their newly formed nation many Christians misapply prophecy addressing Israel to Judah. This is where many Christian writers who cover eschatology make a big mistake! When Judah fails to fulfill prophecy, as they have -- and are -- and will continue to fail, as those prophecies are addressed to Israel, Dispensationalists will claim they’ve been postponed until the Millennium and Replacement theologians will claim they were transferred to the Church and still others don’t discuss it whatsoever because they don’t know how to address the issue. I see it all the time -- even among some excellent writers on eschatology. This is a “blind spot” for many.
When the Bible says: “Thus saith the LORD, speak unto the house of Israel…” YEHOVAH God is not speaking to Judah. When the Bible says: “speak unto the house of Judah…” YEHOVAH God is not speaking to Israel. In Jeremiah 31:31 and Ezekiel’s “Two Sticks” prophecy YEHOVAH God is addressing both Israel and Judah simultaneously. And there are cases of this in the Bible -- but not in most cases.
Sometimes the Bible will say “all Israel” or “the whole house of Israel.” In some cases it could mean Israel and Judah -- but again, not in most cases. Daniel used the term “all Israel” when referring to the northern kingdom (Daniel 9:7). Nehemiah used the term “all Israel” in 12:47. But when you read Ezra and Nehemiah it only applies to Judah, Benjamin and the Levites (Nehemiah 11:4, Ezra 1:5, 4:1, 10:9). Ezekiel, Hosea and Jeremiah repeatedly made clear distinctions between the two houses in their writings. Christians who fail to differentiate between the two come up with some of the most confusing interpretations of prophecy imaginable.
This is how the birthright/Inheritances mentioned in Genesis 48 and 49 would be fulfilled: Each tribe would become a nation in its own right. There was only one tribe needed to remain in Israel for the birth of the Messiah and again for the return of the Messiah: Judah and Judah only. The presence of the other tribes are ancillary.
When would the birthrights find their fulfillment? “And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the LAST DAYS” (Genesis 49:1).
Well, no one will argue that we’re not living in the last days, so who fulfilled these birthrights and where? Where’s the “Appointed Place”? And it must be remembered that the “last days” ends when the Millennium begins. When you read the promises in Genesis 48 and 49 and Deuteronomy 33 they must be fulfilled BEFORE the Messiah returns. They’re not Millennial promises and they’re unconditional. Books dealing with eschatology written today NEVER discuss this subject -- and for good reason -- these best selling authors can’t explain it. They don’t have the answers. If you doubt the veracity of what I’m saying, choose the 10 best selling books dealing with the subject of eschatology today and see if you can find any mention of the birthrights being fulfilled as a prerequisite before the Messiah returns. The silence is deafening.
Where was Israel during the first century? Josephus gave us a clue, but there’s more.
Hosea and Peter also give us a clue: YEHOVAH God is about to divorce the 10 tribes of the northern kingdom. YEHOVAH tells Hosea to take a wife -- she has three children and the LORD tells Hosea what names to give them:
1) Jezreel: "YEHOVAH Scatters/Sows"
2) Lo-ru-hama: "No More Mercy".
3) Lo-am-mi: "Not My People".
These are the new names given to northern kingdom for turning from YEHOVAH God to idolatry. Judah was excluded from this prophecy, “But I will have mercy [Ru-hama] upon the house of Judah…” (Hosea 1:7). Judah cannot fulfill any part of this prophecy; it was not addressed to them or anyone else.
"The LORD was very angry with Israel and removed them out of His sight; there was none left but the Tribe of Judah only" (2 Kings 17:18).
“For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin; and within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken, that it be not a people” (Isaiah 7:8).
In the first chapter of I Peter the Apostle opens with greetings to the "sojourners of the dispersion" or "exiles of the dispersion" depending on which translation you have. The KJV uses the term “strangers scattered” which may not be the best translation or understanding of what the original Greek is saying because the word dispora, (Strong’s 1290) has a specific meaning and translates “Israelite resident in Gentile countries.” The Greek word translated “strangers” in the KJV is parepidemos, (Strong’s 3927) which means “resident stranger” or, “pilgrim,” or, “an alien alongside.” Peter is addressing exiled Israelite “pilgrims” that have taken up residence “alongside” Gentiles in a Gentile country. That’s what I Peter 1:1 is saying. When the KJV uses the term “strangers scattered” it really doesn’t give a full picture of what the verse is saying. Hence, many Christians gloss over it without giving it a second thought in spite of the fact it is a very profound statement: Peter is addressing a portion of the lost tribes of Israel in his salutation.
The people Peter is addressing are in a state of exile. They’re in a state of “Jezreel.” They're located in Asia Minor but who are they? Answer: The Galatians, the same group of people Paul wrote to.
I Peter 2:9 sheds more light on this: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people...” all Old Testament references to Israel (Exodus 19:5-6. Deuteronomy 14:2, 26:18).
Peter goes on to say, (v. 10) "Which in time past were "not a people" [Lo-Ammi], but are now the "people of God" [Ammi]. Which had "not obtained mercy" [Lo-ruhama] but now have "obtained mercy" [Ru-hama].
Compare Peter’s statement with Hosea 2:23: "And I will sow [Jezreel] her unto Me in the earth; and I will have mercy [Ru-hama] upon her that had not obtained mercy; [Lo-ru-hama] and I will say to them which were not My people, [Lo-ammi] Thou art My people; [Ammi] and they shall say, Thou art my God." Peter is quoting Hosea virtually verbatim.
This is the fulfillment of Hosea’s prophecies. No other race of people, including Judah, could fulfill this prophecy except the 10 tribes -- and that’s who Peter is writing to. In Romans chapters 9, 10 and 11 Paul talks about Israel: third person. Peter is talking to Israel: second person. Paul quoted the same verses as Peter telling the Romans that they must be fulfilled. Peter is saying that these prophecies have been fulfilled. They were fulfilled by the Galatians accepting Christianity. We now know that a portion of the 10 tribes were located in Asia Minor in the first century.
This is what Isaiah 54 -- and Romans 9, 10 and 11 -- speaks of:
“For the LORD hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, [bill of divorce] saith thy God. (7), For a small moment [from the time of the divorce to the Tree] have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. (8), In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, [through the Tree] saith the LORD thy Redeemer. (9), For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee.”
These verses are NOT speaking of Judah. They speak of what YEHOVAH God will do after Israel’s Assyrian captivity. Hosea 1 and 2 speaks of the same event.
There are a few references to Judah in the book of Hosea, but by-and-large, he was a prophet to the northern kingdom and his book dealt almost exclusively with that kingdom. He mentions Judah a few times to show the spiritual condition, the contrast that existed between Judah and Israel at that time. Israel had their prophets and Judah had their prophets. Daniel deals exclusively with Judah. Joel, Zephaniah and Zechariah deal primarily with Judah. Micah and Amos, primarily Israel. Elijah, Elisha and Hosea were exclusively northern kingdom prophets. Ezekiel, Jeremiah and Isaiah addressed both Israel and Judah.
Many Christians read these prophets with a “Jews-represent-all-Israel” mentality, hence a multitude of confusion and erroneous interpretations.
Side Note: Elijah dealt exclusively with the house of Israel while having no contact with Judah. John the Baptist, who came “in the spirit and power of Elijah” dealt exclusively with the house of Judah while having no contact with Israel. I believe the Elijah mentioned in Malachi 4 will address both houses.
“And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath driven thee, (2) And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul (3) That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee” (Deuteronomy 30:1-3).
These verses cite three stages -- for the ten tribes and history will prove that Judah did not fulfill this prophecy: First: Exile. Second: A spiritual return to YEHOVAH God while in exile, “I will put my spirit within you…” (Ezekiel 36:27). Only Christians can receive YEHOVAH’s spirit. Third: A return to the land of Israel after exile and spiritual rebirth. This is exactly what Hosea said would happen. The only prophecy that remains to be fulfilled is the return from exile at the onset of the Millennium. Ezekiel 37, Isaiah 54 and Hosea 1 cite the same stages.
Many Christians will point to Deuteronomy 30 and claim that it was fulfilled in 1948 when the Jews returned to the land of Israel. Really? You mean to say that the Jews returned to YEHOVAH God before 1948 “…with all thine heart, and with all thine soul…” -- that they returned as a converted, repentant people prior to 1948? Judah went into exile in 70 AD in unbelief and they returned in 1948 in unbelief. Israel on the other hand went into exile in 721 BC, would accept the New Covenant while in exile and then return to the land of Israel at the beginning of the Millennium as Christians. And this is what Deuteronomy 30 is speaking of. Judah will fulfill this prophecy later.
Romans 9, 10 and 11
Now allow me to go on record and say that I find Roman’s chapter’s 9, 10 and 11 somewhat confusing, or, I should say I used to, for this reason: It seems that Paul is talking about the Jews in these chapters -- and that’s how many interpret these 3 chapters. However, Paul quotes two prophets that were prophets to the northern kingdom. Paul quoted Elijah, (Romans 11:2-4) who dealt exclusively with the northern kingdom while having no dealings whatsoever with Judah (with the exception of a letter he wrote to Jehoram, the king of Judah, delivering one of the most gruesome prophecies imaginable, II Chronicles 21:12-15). This was the one and only contact Elijah had with Judah. Why would Paul quote Elijah who never spoke to Judah? Whatever Elijah said was addressing the 10 tribes. Paul also quotes Hosea who addressed the 10 tribes and not Judah. And Paul knew this when he wrote his letter to the Romans, and, it seems, so did the Romans.
Look at what Paul wrote in Romans 9:24: “Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?” If you interpret this verse at face value you’ll misunderstand what Paul is saying. Who are the “Gentiles” mentioned here? Look at the next verse:
(25) As he saith also in Osee, [Hosea] I will call them my people, [Ammi] which were not my people; [Lo Ammi] and her beloved, which was not beloved.” If Paul is addressing true Gentiles in this verse (i.e., non-Israelites) why is he quoting Hosea who was not a prophet to the Gentiles but the 10 tribes of the northern kingdom? Paul is quoting the very same verses that Peter quoted while addressing the Galatians. And Peter declared that these prophecies were fulfilled by the Galatians. What Paul is saying here is: “Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also Israel.” Now you know why I find these three chapters difficult…you really need to “connect the dots” to understand what Paul is talking about. And in other writings of Paul you’ll find that he uses the term “Gentiles” when he’s actually referring to Israel as I will demonstrate.
In Romans 11:15, Paul wrote: “For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead” (Ezekiel 11:16, Hosea 8:8, 9:17).
Who was “cast away” at the time Paul wrote to the Romans? He was referring to Israel because Judah was still abiding in Canaan. Judah wasn’t “cast away” in 55 AD when the letter was written. Judah never received a bill-of-divorce from YEHOVAH God. The word “outcasts” appears seven times in the Old Testament, five times in reference to the northern kingdom, Israel. It was never used in reference to Judah. When Paul says, “…the casting away of them…” who is he speaking of? The answer is obvious; he’s speaking of the 10 tribes. Judah ceased to be a nation after the Jewish-Roman War of 70 AD, which occurred 15 years after Paul wrote his letter to the Romans -- but they still remained YEHOVAH’s people. Israel on the other hand ceased being YEHOVAH’s people via the divorce, became various nations while in exile, and once again became YEHOVAH’s people via the Tree. As Isaiah 50:1 says concerning Israel: “Thus saith the LORD, Where is the bill of your mother’s divorcement, whom I have put away…?” Isaiah wasn’t speaking of Judah in this verse -- he was addressing Israel because Judah was never given a bill-of-divorce.
At the beginning of the Millennium, when the two houses return, Israel is described as “outcasts” and Judah is described as “dispersed.” “And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth” (Isaiah 11:12). Paul is using the same terminology as Isaiah when speaking of Israel. In 55 AD the northern kingdom were “outcasts.” After 70 AD Judah was “dispersed.” The Jews were not “outcasts” in 55 AD, nor were they ever described as “outcasts” in the Bible.
Where Paul wrote, “…but life from the dead” he’s referencing Ezekiel’s “Valley of Dry Bones,” “Then he said unto me, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost, we are cut off for our parts” (Ezekiel 37:11). Notice it doesn’t say “…the whole house of Judah…” here? When you read this chapter you’ll see that the “dry bones” are resurrected “and I’ll put my spirit in you,” Christianized, before the two sticks are joined together. The house of Israel would accept Christianity as their national religion while in exile BEFORE being reunited with Judah. This corresponds with Hosea 1:10-11, Isaiah 54 and Jeremiah 31:31-33.
Many Christian commentators equate Ezekiel’s dry bones prophecy to the return of Judah from Babylon -- but it had absolutely nothing to do with Judah. Their hope was not “lost” while in Babylon. They would only be there for 70 years and Jeremiah mentioned this three times in his book: 25:11-12 and 29:10. Still others attribute this prophecy to the rebirth of the state of Israel in 1948. Not so. Judah, from 70 AD to 1948, never experienced a “spiritual rebirth” while in exile -- even unto this day. Judah’s spiritual rebirth will take place during the end-times. Judah never fulfilled Ezekiel’s “Dry Bones” prophecy, and never will, because it wasn’t addressed to Judah -- it was addressed to Israel. One article I read by a Jewish writer stated that Ezekiel’s “Dry Bones” prophecy was addressing the Ten Tribes. Both Jewish and Christian scholars recognize this; "The union effected at the restoration from Babylon embraced but comparatively few of Israel; a future complete fulfillment must therefore be looked for" (Jamieson-FaussetBrown).
The fact of the matter is, this prophecy points to the remarriage of the house of Israel back to YEHOVAH God while in exile. The next fulfillment will be the two sticks prophecy.
Jewish theologians interpret Ezekiel’s two sticks prophecy as a future event:
“Here it speaks of a FUTURE Redemption for both Judah and Israel. Where it says, "For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions" by "the children of Israel his companions" it means Benjamin who was attached to Judah. [Important point being made here, the Messiah spoke of this] "For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and for all the house of Israel his companions” (Nachmanides (Moshe ben Nachman) 1194-1270).
Paul went on to write, “And if some of the branches be broken off…” If you read the 11th Chapter of Romans, Paul could only be talking about northern kingdom. The branches that were broken off happened some 700-plus years prior. If Paul was referencing Judah in these chapters, why didn’t he quote from Zechariah or Joel or other books that addressed Judah? Why would Paul quote two prophets that never prophesized to Judah? I think these are honest questions that should be examined.
John’s statement: “He came unto his own and his own received him not” (John 1:11) was written about Judah. And “…they [Judah] shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son…” (Zechariah 12:10) was also written concerning Judah. For Israel, the exact opposite is true. They’ve already accepted the fact that their Messiah was pierced for their redemption. According to Hosea 1:10, Israel, received him. Judah rejected the Messiah and at the same time Israel, while in exile, accepted the Messiah. You can’t have it both ways. If Judah today represents “all Israel” how can they “accept” and at the same time “reject” their Messiah?
Let me say at this point that there are a multitude of prophecies in the Bible that state that Israel would receive their Messiah and that Judah would reject their Messiah. This fact, and this fact alone, makes it clear that there is a difference between Israel and Judah then, and today. Many Christian writers fail to expound on these biblical facts. This is the reason why so many prophecies concerning Israel have erroneously been “postponed” until the Millennium or “transferred” to the Church. They simply can’t make the distinction between Israel and Judah in prophecy.
Some Christians spiritualize Hosea and Peter by saying that it applies to anyone who accepts the Messiah as Savior or the Church in general, and I’ve read articles stating this. If that’s the case, why did Paul address the Romans as a “wild olive branch grafted in” thereby excluding them? If Replacement Theology be true why didn’t Paul address the Romans as a “chosen generation,” a “royal priesthood,” etc? Why didn’t Paul tell the church at Rome that they fulfilled the prophecies recorded in Hosea when they became Christians? Fact is, they didn’t fulfill any part of Hosea’s prophecies whereas the Galatians fulfilled all of them. If Paul addressed the Romans in the same manner as Peter addressed the Galatians they would have been dumbstruck with confusion. It would have been totally out of place and inappropriate -- not to mention unscriptural. Note what the contrasts between Israel and the Romans were. Paul wrote:
"They are Israelites, and to them [not the Romans] belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ. God who is over all be blessed for ever. Amen" (Romans 9:4-5).
Again, totally inappropriate if Paul said these promises belonged to the Romans but, according to Peter, totally appropriate to say they belonged to the Galatians. Were the Roman, according to the flesh/race, connected to the Messiah? No! Were the Romans given the Law? No! Were the Romans given the covenants? No! Worship? No! The promises? No! Could the Romans say, “We have Abraham to our father.” No! But the Spartans in Greece made this claim and the High Priest and the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem confirmed that they were correct!!!
If the Galatians were not Israelites they had no more legal claim to these promises than the Romans! But Peter said they did have claim to these promises. Who were the Galatians then, and today? Again, the answer is simple: Go to Google.com and type in three words: “Paul Galatians Celts.” The Galatians were/are Celts. Where are the Celts today? Answer: WESTERN FRANCE, Parts of ENGLAND, WALES, IRELAND, SCOTLAND, CANADA, UNITED STATES, AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND, etc. If Peter and Paul were to write their letters to the Galatians today, they would be delivered to the countries mentioned above.
National Geographic (May 1977, Vol. 151, No. 5) published an excellent article titled “The Celts,” twice mentioning that Paul was addressing Celts: “To the Romans, Celts were Galli. And the Gauls of Caesar’s Gallic wars were related to the Gaels of Ireland and Scotland, and to the Celts of Galicia in Spain and Galicia in Poland, and to the Galatians in Asia Minor, to whom St. Paul sent an Epistle” (p. 588). And: “Some 20,000 Gauls crossed the Hellespont [278 BC] into Asia Minor, settling around Ankara, a region henceforth known as Galatia -- whence St. Paul’s Galatians” (p. 600). Do you know how many people it takes to occupy Ireland, Scotland, Spain, Poland and Asia Minor? And this was back in the days of Caesar! Now you understand what Josephus meant when he said that Israel was, “an immense multitude not to be estimated in numbers.” That was not an exaggeration.
No small wonder that Rabbi Moshe Maimon (Maimondes, 1135-1204) another renowned scholar who authored the Mishneh Torah wrote: “I believe that the Ten Tribes to be in various parts of West Europe.”
Paul again drives home the point when he says, “For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee” (Romans 11:21). This statement does not fit Judah/Jews at the time Paul wrote this letter. It only fits the northern kingdom who was still in exile.
“For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?” (Romans 11:24). The “natural branches” Paul is speaking of is the divorced/exiled house of Israel. Again, this statement does not fit the condition of Judah when the letter was written. Many Christians don’t read this from the prospective that was in place when Paul wrote these comments -- they read it with a 2000-year after-the-fact mind-set.
What I’m saying is this: to properly understand Romans 9, 10 and 11, imagine yourself in a Jules Verne time machine and travel back to 55 AD when the letter was written: Judah still abiding in Judea, in peace, no Jewish-Roman War, northern kingdom still in exile, etc. If you read these chapters in 55 AD, you would, in no way, come to the conclusion that Paul was speaking of the Jews. You would know, in 55 AD, that Paul was speaking of the 10 tribes. Today, that’s not the case. Time has blurred and confused the issue and many Christians are confused on this point -- including Martin Luther. His commentaries on these three chapters in Romans are based on Jews representing an “all Israel” position.
This is most evident when reading books dealing with the end-times. Most Christian authors who write books dealing with eschatology are totally clueless that Israel was two nations then, and today. And the Bible repeatedly addresses Israel and Judah as two different nations.
“Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?” (Romans 9:24). Who are the “Gentiles” that Paul is speaking of here? Look at the next five verses for the answer: (25) As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, [Ammi] which were not my people; [Lo-Ammi] and her beloved, which was not beloved. (26) And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; [Lo-Ammi] there shall they be called the children of the living God. [Ammi] (27) Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, [the birthright promise given to Ephraim and Manasseh] a remnant shall be saved: (28) For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth. (29) And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodom, and been made like unto Gomorrah.”
EVERY Old Testament verse Paul quotes is addressing the 10 tribes. Not ONE of these verses was addressing Judah or Gentiles. Notice that Paul first used the term “Gentiles” in his opening question and then quoted Scripture mentioning Israel twice thereafter? The “Gentiles” Paul was referring to were Greek-Israelites…AND the Galatians/Celts in Asia Minor! And other groups of people, however, time and space doesn’t allow me to expound upon this in detail.
The church at Rome was beginning to think that they were something “special.” They were being saved while the northern kingdom was still in exile. Hence Paul’s warning: “Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not high minded but fear. For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he spare not thee” (Romans 11:18-20). At the risk of sounding redundant, what Paul said in these three verses does not in any way pertain to Judah because Judah was not “broken off” when Paul made these statements.
If you paraphrase what Paul was saying it would read something like this: “Don’t boast yourselves, Romans, against Israel. But if you boast, remember, you don’t support Israel but Israel supports you. So then say, the house of Israel was broken off roughly 800 years ago so that we Romans might be grafted in. Because of unbelief the house of Israel was broken off so that you Romans might be grafted in. Be not high minded, Romans, but fear. Because of unbelief Israel was broken off and you stand by faith. For if YEHOVAH God spared not Israel take heed lest he spare not you Romans.” That’s what Paul was saying here.
The Romans were in danger of falling into spiritual pride -- they were actually “boasting” over the fact that they were being saved while Israel was still in exile and not being saved. I have little doubt that Paul found this to be very offensive and needed to remind them that, “Hath God cast away his people? God forbid” (Romans 11:1).
I say “very offensive” for this reason. Look at how Paul opened his letter to the Romans in chapter 9:
“I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost (2) That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. (3) For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.”
Unfortunately, the Romans didn’t share in Paul’s burden for lost souls. As a side note let me say that because Joseph and Benjamin, the tribe Paul was from, were of the same mother, Rachel, Paul was more closely related to Ephraim and Manasseh than Judah, whose mother was Leah. In a literal sense Ephraim and Manasseh were Paul’s cousins. This explains the “heaviness” and “continual sorrow.”
What Paul is telling the Romans in these chapters is that there’s no difference between Judah and Israel in spite of the fact that Israel was still in exile. The point Paul is driving home is because Israel was still in exile at the time the Romans were being “grafted” into the Church did not mean that YEHOVAH God was through dealing with His people and placing the Romans above them. This is why Paul warned the Romans against being “high-minded.”
Paul again reminds the Romans that YEHOVAH God was not through dealing with His people in Romans 11:25: “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.”
Here, Paul is quoting Ephraim’s birthright verbatim. Genesis 48:19 says: “…and his seed shall become a multitude of nations.” Multitude of nations and multitude of Gentiles are one and the same. The word “Goyum” in Hebrew is sometimes translated “Gentiles” sometimes “Nations” depending on the translator’s discretion. What Paul is saying is that blindness in part has happened to Judah until Ephraim comes into the covenant. That’s the only way “all Israel” can be saved (Romans 11:26).
"Both Dr. Delitzsch's translation of the New Testament into Hebrew, and Ginzburg-Salkinson's Hebrew New Testament, have absolutely the same Hebrew words in Rom. 11:25, that we find in Gen. 48:19 in the Hebrew Old Testament, and in these two verses only in the whole Bible. …When the 'fullness of the Gentiles' had to be rendered into Hebrew, the most eminent scholars naturally employed the phrase used in the promised birthright blessing given to Ephraim/Israel in Gen. 49!" (Dr. Henry Aldersmith, Fullness of the Nations, p. 72-73).
The central message in Romans 9, 10 and 11 is two-fold; First: YEHOVAH God was not through dealing with the northern kingdom and second: the northern kingdom’s fall from grace opened the door of salvation to all Races. Paul wrote:
“For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief” (Romans 11:30).
“Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fullness?” (Romans 11:12).
Both these verses are saying the same thing, but what is it? First, the northern kingdom's fall, “diminishing,” from grace would open the door for all nations to receive the Gospel, that’s “the riches of the world.” When they came into their “fullness” receiving the Gospel -- and their bill of divorce put away -- they would take the Gospel to all nations via evangelism. The fall and rise of Israel was a blessing to the nations in both respects. They became the “nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” (Matthew 21:43) after being reinstated back to YEHOVAH God.
What effect would the Romans coming into the Covenant have upon Israel in exile? It would provoke them to jealousy.
“But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you. (20) But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me” (Romans 10:19).
Rome was the “foolish nation” mentioned here, they were the “no people” that were “not asking” after the Lord. And yet they were being saved. When Paul said that the “whole world” was talking about the Church in Rome, no doubt the exiled Israelites were talking about it too: “Those blankety-blank, ne'er-do-well, hedonistic, emperor-worshiping Romans with their vomitoriums and orgies are being saved and we’re not! What the blankety-blank is going on here!!!?” This provoked Israel to anger and jealousy. YEHOVAH God used this modus operandi to provoke Israel to seek their own salvation. YEHOVAH goaded Israel into His plan of salvation by first saving the Romans who were the “foolish nation” and a “no people.”
This is what Paul meant when he wrote: “For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy [salvation] they also may obtain mercy” (Salvation, Romans 11:31). In other words, Israel’s unbelief opened the door of salvation to the Roman’s. Now, through Rome’s belief, the door of salvation would be reopened to Israel. Albeit motivated by jealousy and anger!
One article I read stated that it was Israel accepting the New Covenant while in exile that would provoke the Jews to anger and jealously. But I haven’t found any scriptural or historical evidence that this ever took place. Until I come across concrete evidence to the contrary, I have to maintain the position that it was Rome, not Israel in exile, that was foolish nation mentioned here. Also, this interpretation contradicts what Moses said -- or who he is said it to: He spoke these words against Israel and Judah. Therefore neither Israel nor Judah could fulfill this prophecy. It could only be fulfilled by a third party -- a non-Israelite people/nation.
I don’t believe that Judah would be provoked to jealousy and anger over the Romans becoming Christians because they had already rejected the New Covenant. The Jews couldn’t have cared less about what the Romans were up to. I believe the quotes Paul mentioned could only apply to the northern kingdom at the time. The Jewish mindset at the time would have been: “The Romans are becoming Christians…so what?” That being said, Judah could have used some “anger management” courses when Christianity first came on the scene.
Now, ask yourself this question; who is Paul addressing in Romans chapters 9, 10 and 11? If you say the Jews then why did Peter quote the very same verses from the Old Testament, declaring them fulfilled, while addressing the Galatians who were not Jews? And why was EVERY verse quoted from the Old Testament by Paul in the book of Romans addressing the northern kingdom and not Judah?
More Clues in Galatians
To further illustrate whom Peter was addressing we now turn to the book of Galatians. Paul was addressing the same racial group as Peter. Are there any indications that Paul was addressing Israelites?
Galatians 3:23: "But before faith came, WE were kept under the law...." If the Galatians were true Gentiles, they were never under the Law. I remember reading somewhere that Martin Luther admitted he was confused and couldn't understand why Paul was addressing the Galatians as if they were once under the Law. The fact is Paul was addressing them in this manner. The Galatians were once under the Sacrificial Law of Moses.
Galatians 3:24: "Wherefore the law was OUR schoolmaster to bring US unto Christ, that WE might be justified by faith." (25) But after that faith is come, WE are no longer under a schoolmaster.”
Galatians 4:3: Even so WE, when WE were children [children: nay'-pee-os, “an infant” Strong’s 3516, early history? Beginnings?] were in bondage..." (5) To redeem them that were under the law, that WE might receive the adoption of sons."
"But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how ye turn AGAIN to the weak and beggarly elements, [of the Sacrificial Law and all the dos and don'ts of the rabbis] whereunto ye desire AGAIN to be in bondage?” (verse 9).
There’s a lot of “us” and “we” in Galatians and “you” and “us” in Romans. And for good reason: the Romans were Gentiles, the Galatians were Israelites. The Galatians were being “restored” (Isaiah 49:6), the Romans were being “grafted in.” I don’t want this to be taken in a negative way, but Roman’s 9, 10 and 11 are three very racially biased chapters. A stark contrast between Israelites and non-Israelites is presented there.
If the Galatians were true Gentiles, how can they "return" to the Law of Moses "again?" Remember what was happening to the Galatians and what prompted Paul to write his letter. Rabbis from Jerusalem traveled to Asia Minor and told the Galatians that they had to keep the Sacrificial Law. Why the Galatians and no one else? Why did the Galatians so readily accept portions of the Mosaic Law as a means of salvation while other Gentile churches were ignored? Why did the Rabbis specifically target the Galatians for legalism (Sacrificial Law)?
It’s an important fact to remember that in Acts 21:25 there were only four restrictions imposed upon Gentile Believers: “As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.” That’s it, folks, these were the four restrictions imposed upon Gentile Believers. (Also read Acts 15:20 and 29.)
Side Note: What’s ironic in this decree from the Elders in Jerusalem is that two of the four edicts, refraining from blood and animals strangled, contradicts the Mosaic Law as it pertains to Gentiles. Deuteronomy 14:21 says: "Ye shall not eat of any thing that dieth of itself: thou shalt give it unto the stranger that is in thy gates, that he may eat it; or thou mayest sell it unto an alien: for thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God." It was perfectly legal for Gentiles to consume non-kosher foods in the Old Testament even within the borders of Israel. This is one of the earliest forms of legalism to hit the Church…maybe the first one.
Back to our subject…why did the Elders in Jerusalem send emissaries to the Galatians and impose far greater restrictions on them? If the Galatians were true Gentiles only the four restrictions mentioned above would have applied. But that was not the case. The Galatians were given far more requirements and restrictions than other “Gentiles.” They were being instructed by the Rabbis to return to the Sacrificial Law of Moses. They were being instructed to return to the practice of circumcision. They had already correctly returned to keeping the Sabbath and other Old Testament feast days.
There must be a reason, an explanation, why the Galatians had a propensity to follow the Law. The answer is that the Galatians were (a portion of) the northern kingdom. They were Israelites in exile. Peter said that by accepting the Gospel and becoming Christians, they fulfilled the prophecies in Hosea 1. This chapter makes it explicitly clear that the house of Israel, while in exile, would be Christianized and then be joined with the house of Judah and return to the land of Israel at the onset of the Millennium.
In his article The Use of the Term Israel in the New Testament, Arnold Fruchtenbaum wrote: “The Book of Galatians is concerned with Gentiles who were attempting to attain salvation through the law. The ones deceiving them were Judaizers, who were Jews demanding adherence to the Law of Moses. To them, a Gentile had to convert to Judaism before he qualified for salvation through Christ.”
This statement is incorrect on a number of points: First, the Galatians were not Gentiles and second, "Judaizers" were not targeting Gentiles for legalism, they were targeting expatriated Israelites for legalism. Fruchtenbaum’s comment totally contradicts Acts 21:25 quoted above. According to this verse legalism was virtually non-existent for Gentile Believers. So why were the Galatians, supposedly Gentiles, being hammered with legalism when Acts 21:25 should have exempted them?
Are there any other clues in Galatians that indicates they were Israelites? The following verse has caused much controversy in Christian circles:
“And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16).
Where Paul wrote “the Israel of God” was he referring of ethnic Israel -- the Church or the Galatians, i.e., “Gentiles.”? Some believe he was addressing Jews that may have been with the Galatians.
However, there was no need for Jews to be with the Galatians in order for Paul to use this term because the Galatians were expatriated Israelites. They, as well as the Jews, represent “the Israel of God.” For some, this is where the controversy comes into play: This is the only place in the New Testament where the word “Israel” was not used in conjunction with ethnic Israel, i.e., Jews, but a supposedly Gentile Congregation. Because many don’t understand that the Galatians were expatriated Israelites they don’t understand why Paul used this terminology.
According to Replacement Theology, Paul was addressing Galatians; the Galatians were Gentiles who converted to Christianity, therefore Gentiles who convert to Christianity are “the Israel of God,” i.e., “The New Israel.” Replacement Theologians don’t understand who the Galatians were. If you study Replacement Theology you’ll find that they base their beliefs on Galatians 6:16 and, quite frankly, not much else. Their theology is built upon the foundation of an erroneous understanding of who the Galatians were.
In his article The Israel of God Thomas Ice wrote:
“A while back I was talking to a friend of mine about the modern state of Israel. This friend, born and raised in Damascus, Syria, is a Muslim. He is a well-educated man, who has lived in our country for about 40 years. As our conversation developed, I was taken aback when he told me that the Jewish people of today had no claim to the land of Israel because the church has replaced Israel. He then cited Galatians 6:16. I was amazed that a Muslim has such a grasp of the Christian false teaching called replacement theology. It is not surprising to hear this from certain segments of Christendom, but to realize that this errant viewpoint had penetrated into the American Muslim community was amazing to me.”
If you Google Galatians 6:16 you’ll find dozens of articles debating the interpretation. Did anyone ever stop, just once, and consider the possibility that the Galatians might be expatriated Israelites? Did it ever occur to these people that 95% of Judah chose to remain in Babylon and not follow Ezra? And that all of the northern kingdom was still in exile when Paul wrote this? Both groups can be rightfully called “the Israel of God.” There’s no controversy surrounding Galatians 6:16, only ignorance over who the Galatians were.
Stop and think about this for a minute: When the Messiah was preaching the Gospel about 98% of Israel was not there to hear him. The entire house of Israel was expatriated and 95% of the house of Judah was still in Babylon. However, the Gospel was delivered to the expatriated Jews in Babylon and a church was started there. “The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus my son” (I Peter 5:13). Here, Peter is telling the house of Israel in Asia Minor that the house of Judah in Babylon sends their regards.
Note: between 1950-51, about 95% of the Iraqi/Babylonian Jews immigrated back to Israel.
The book of Isaiah, starting at chapter 41 to the end, deals primarily with the northern kingdom. From 41 to the end Judah is mentioned 4 times -- Israel, 44 times. Chapter 53, one of the great chapters in the Old Testament dealing with the Messiah asks, “Who hath believed our report…” followed by chapter 54: “Sing O barren…” this speaks of the northern kingdom. Isaiah 54 corresponds with Hosea 1, Jeremiah 31, Ezekiel 37. Who rejected the report? Answer: According to John 1:11 and Zechariah 12:10, Judah.
The entire 54th chapter of Isaiah deals with the northern kingdom’s response to the Gospel, it was addressed to them. When Paul delivered the Gospel to the Galatians, he wrote, “And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me As an angel of God even as Jesus Christ. Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me” (Galatians 4:14-15). The Galatians were ecstatic when Paul showed up with the Gospel, they responded pretty much the way Isaiah 54 said Israel would.
Side note: some Christians believe that Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was an eye problem because he mentioned that the Galatians would have plucked out their own eyes and given them to him. Fact is this is a figure of speech that’s still used in the Middle East today.
Chapter 55 opens up with “…everyone that thirsteth.” The Gospel goes first to Israel, then to the rest of the world just as the Messiah commanded his disciples. “But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:6).
-- Edited By John D. Keyser.
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Preparing the Way for the Return of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah!
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