America & Britain in Prophecy:
A Great Mystery of History
|Why this matters ...|
|Arguing forward...||Arguing backward...|
(a) Does God keep His promises?
(b) Were any promises of physical blessings made to the Biblical patriarchs?
(c) Is anyone alive today (regardless of ethnicity, race, language, geographical location, ...) the recipient of promises of physical blessings made to the patriarchs?
(d) If someone is a recipient, are there special responsibilities that go along with those blessings?
(e) If there are special responsibilities, then do we need to discover if we are the ones with those special responsibilities?
(f) If we are the ones with those special responsibilities, should we perform them?
(g) Get to it! Perform those special responsibilities!
(a) As a nation (of all kinds of ethnicities, races, languages, ...), do we have more than our share of physical blessings?
(b) Does God gives us these blessings?
(c) Does God have a reason for giving us these blessings?
(d) Is any part of the reason the promises of physical blessings given to the Biblical patriarchs?
(e) Do God's blessings also come with special responsibilities for those blessed?
(f) Do we have special responsibilities?
(g) Let's get to it! Let's perform those special responsibilities!
In 1840, Wilson concluded that the British Empire was blessed as a result of the promises to the patriarchs, and so had a responsibility to set a Christian example, and evangelize, the whole world. He warned that if the British Empire did not do this, its future was bleak.
They had been amply warned--over centuries of time! In fact, shortly before his death, Moses had given the Israelites a stern warning regarding what would happen to them if they departed from their God and His covenant: "And it shall be, that just as the LORD rejoiced over you to do you good and multiply you, so the LORD will rejoice over you to destroy you and bring you to nothing; and you shall be plucked from off the land which you go to possess. Then the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other" (Deut. 28:63-64)! "I will scatter you among the nations and draw out a sword after you" (Lev. 26:33).
Throughout the entire history of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, God sent many of His prophets to warn the people to reform their ways or else lose their God-given heritage. For example, after the North's very first king, Jeroboam, instituted idolatrous worship in the kingdom, God sent the Prophet Ahijah with a chilling message: "For the LORD will strike Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water. He will uproot Israel from this good land which He gave to their fathers, and will scatter them beyond the [Euphrates] River" (1 Kings 14:15).
In this and the next few chapters, we examine one of the greatest mysteries of the Bible: What happened to the northern Ten Tribes of Israel after they were taken into captivity beyond the Euphrates?
Which Tribes Returned to the Promised Land?
Some historians have held the view that the northern Ten Tribes returned to the Promised Land from the areas of their Assyrian captivity at the same time the Jews returned from their later Babylonian captivity--and that the northern Israelites subsequently intermingled with the Jews, losing their separate national identity. But this just isn't so! The Bible makes it very clear that the overwhelming majority of those who returned to the Holy Land from Babylonian captivity were from the tribes of JUDAH and BENJAMIN, plus part of LEVI.
Many today harbor a common misconception that ALL Twelve Tribes returned to the Promised Land ("Judah" or "Judea") in the late 500s and early 400s B.C. But this can be disproven by two valuable sources: Scripture (especially, the books of Ezra and Nehemiah) and the brilliant Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus (c. 37-100 A.D.).
|Were Millions Just Assimilated?|
Most historians assert that the Ten Tribes in captivity intermarried with other peoples with whom they came into contact, thereby being "swallowed up" by those peoples. To support this opinion, many argue that the population of the Northern Kingdom of Israel was not large enough to maintain its separate identity in captivity-that its population was rather small and subject to easy assimilation. But what was the actual number of people deported to Assyria? How many people are we really talking about?
At the time of the Exodus (c. 1446 B.C.), there were about three million Israelites. Clarke's Commentary and numerous others both offer this estimate based upon the biblical figure of "about six hundred thousand men on foot [who could fight], besides children" (Ex. 12:37). So it is possible, from able-bodied "men of war" figures, to accurately estimate total population-including women, children and elderly men.
About 456 years later (c. 990 B.C.), King David took a military census. Halley's Bible Handbook says, "The census showed a population of about a million and a half of fighting men, exclusive of Levi and Benjamin (1 Chr. 21:5); or a total population of, probably, about SIX TO EIGHT MILLION" (23rd ed., p. 188). In fact, Israel and Judah may have had a combined population of about eight to fifteen million at the time of David's census--the early part of the tenth century B.C. The Ten Tribes alone must have contained at least five to ten million people! Israel's final captivity occurred approximately 270 years afterward, in 721 B.C. Is it logical to suggest that they had decreased to less than 100,000 by that time? No, that's ludicrous! There must still have been millions of Israelites at the time of their deportation, probably close to the same figures given for David's time.
All historical accounts are unanimous in showing that the Northern Kingdom of Israel was far more populous than the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Yet, there are some who would foolishly conclude that the Assyrians took far more captives from Judah than from Israel. Assyrian Emperor Sennacherib invaded Judah in 701 B.C., 20 years after the northern Ten Tribes of Israel were taken into captivity. Despite his failed attempt to destroy the Kingdom of Judah and deport all the Jews, he nevertheless reports taking 200,150 Jewish captives.
"Though the figure of 200,150 captives and the razing of 46 walled cities [in Judah] has been contested... later scholarship has increasingly accepted the possible authenticity of the numbers.... Sennacherib successfully captured the fortified towns of Judah (2 Kgs 18:13; 2 Chr 32:1), exacted spectacular tribute (2 Kgs 18:14-16), and failed to capture Jerusalem though he walled up Hezekiah 'like a caged bird'" ("Hezekiah," Anchor Bible Dictionary, vol. 3, p. 192). "Hezekiah's revolt in 705 BC, crushed by Sennacherib 4 years later, reduced Judah to a shadow of its former self, at least two-thirds of the population perishing or being carried away captive, and a large portion of its territory being lost" ("Judah," Illustrated Bible Dictionary, pt. 2, p. 825). If about 200,000 men constituted two-thirds of Judah, Judah must have had over 300,000 men-meaning there were a few million Jews. And Israel would have been even bigger!
Professor Salo Baron, acclaimed by the London Daily Express as the world's greatest authority on Jewish history, says that, prior to Israel's Assyrian captivity, "there were not less than FOUR HUNDRED SETTLEMENTS classified as towns" (Social and Religious History of the Jews, vol. 1, p. 72). Interestingly, "Tiglath-pileser boasts that he destroyed at this time five hundred and ninety-one cities [!], whose inhabitants were carried away with all their possessions to Assyria" ("Tiglath-pileser," Unger's Bible Dictionary, p. 1,094). We must remember that those nearly 600 cities were all located in the northern part of the Northern Kingdom and in the region across the Jordan-away from the main concentration of the northern tribes! Thus, Israel, in the eighth century B.C., was an extremely populous nation!
When we put all the facts together, it is clear that the population of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, at the time of its captivity, was probably at least five to ten million! What happened to those teeming millions after they went into captivity? Were they assimilated by other peoples? Flavius Josephus said the Ten Tribes of the first century A.D. were "an IMMENSE MULTITUDE, and not to be estimated by numbers." It is unlikely in the extreme that such a multitude just disappeared as an identifiable people from the face of the earth.
Testimony of Ezra: God "stirred up the spirit" of King Cyrus the Great so he would permit the Jews to "build Him [God] a house at Jerusalem which is in JUDAH" (Ezra 1:1-2). But which tribes of Israel returned at that time to help build the Temple at Jerusalem? "Then the heads of the fathers' houses of JUDAH and BENJAMIN, and the priests and the LEVITES... arose to go up and build the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem" (v. 5).
A careful study of the rest of this book clearly reveals that those Israelites who were mentioned were only from the tribes of JUDAH, BENJAMIN and LEVI.
Testimony of Nehemiah: "So I called a great assembly.... And I said to them [the Jews], 'According to our ability we have redeemed our JEWISH BRETHREN'.... Moreover there were at my table one hundred and fifty JEWS and rulers" (Neh. 5:7-8, 17). He also says, "And I found a register of the genealogy of those who had come up in the first return [from Babylonian captivity], and found written in it: 'These are the people who came back from the captivity, of those who had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away captive [to Babylon--NOT whom Shalmaneser or Sargon had carried to Assyria!], and who returned to Jerusalem and Judah [NOT Samaria and northern Israel], everyone to his own city" (7:5-6). Thus the Bible makes it very plain that those who returned were NOT descendants of the northern Ten Tribes who went into Assyrian captivity in the late 700s B.C. Rather, they were descendants of those Jews taken captive eastward to Babylonia in 586 B.C.
Why, then, does verse 73 say, "So the priests, the Levites... and ALL ISRAEL dwelt in their cities"? Some biblical scholars assume that "all Israel" here refers to all Twelve Tribes. But all of the Jews had not even returned--much less all of the ISRAELITES! So is there a different way to look at this? Yes--EVERY descendant of Israel (Jacob) is an ISRAELITE in the broad sense of the word! The JEWS who returned to the land of JUDAH traced their lineage back to the tribes of JUDAH, BENJAMIN and LEVI; therefore they all would have been "ISRAELITES." Clearly, when Nehemiah spoke of "all Israel," he meant all the descendants of Israel that were there at the time--living in the land. And which "Israelites" would they have been? Almost exclusively those of the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi!
Testimony of Flavius Josephus: Writing his history near the end of the first century A.D., Josephus explains, "The entire body of the people [the Ten Tribes] of ISRAEL remained in that country, wherefore there are but Two Tribes [Judah and Benjamin] in Asia and Europe subject to the Romans, while the TEN TRIBES are beyond Euphrates till now [c. 100 A.D.], and are an immense multitude, and not to be estimated by numbers" (Antiquities of the Jews, bk. 11, chap. 5, sec. 2). That should settle the matter! More than 600 years after the return of the Jews to the Promised Land from Babylonian exile, the Ten Tribes had STILL not returned from the lands beyond the Euphrates River to which the Assyrians had deported them!
"The Ten Tribes are beyond Euphrates till now, and are an immense multitude."
Israel's Identity Lost
A Jewish historian, Alfred Edersheim, says, "No notice has been taken of those wanderers of the Ten Tribes, whose trackless footsteps seem as mysterious as their after-fate.... Josephus [cited above] describes them as an innumerable multitude, and vaguely locates them beyond the Euphrates.... Still the great mass of the Ten Tribes was in the days of Christ, as in our own, lost to the Hebrew nation" (Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, pp. 14-16).
Another prominent Jewish historian says, "The kingdom of the Ten Tribes of Israel, had in one day disappeared, leaving no trace behind. The country vomited out the Ten Tribes, as it had vomited out the Canaanitish tribes. What has become of them? They have been looked for and believed to have been discovered in the distant East as well as in the far West.... But there can be no doubt that the Ten Tribes have been irretrievably lost among the nations" (Graetz, History of the Jews, vol. 1, p. 265).
Graetz, though, was only partially correct. Unlike the Jews, the Israelites had lost the laws of God that identified them as His people (such as the Sabbath--Ex. 31:13-17). So when they were put away (Jer. 3:8), cast from God's sight and scattered, the Ten Tribes of Israel, over the course of time, forgot their identity and became the LOST Ten Tribes. As we will later see, Jesus Christ referred to them as the "LOST sheep of the House of Israel" (Matt. 15:24). So they were indeed "lost." But, it is a serious mistake to assume, as did Graetz, that the Ten Tribes have become "irretrievably lost."
Why? Because God's Word tells us otherwise! Before Israel's captivity, the Prophet Amos quoted God as saying, "Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are on the sinful kingdom [Israel], and I will destroy it from the face of the earth" (Amos 9:8). The political entity of the Kingdom of Israel was indeed destroyed. But the prophecy did not end here. The same verse continues, "...yet I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob." Though God would completely destroy their kingdom, He would not wipe out the people of Israel.
Notice what God says He would do next: "For surely I will command, and will SIFT the house of Israel among all nations, as grain is sifted in a sieve" (v. 9). We have already seen this in other prophecies. The people of the Ten Tribes would be scattered and dispersed abroad. So would this be the end of Israel? Would the Israelites be assimilated into other nations and disappear as a people? The rest of the verse answers, "...yet not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground." God would SIFT the Israelites through other nations. But, in doing so, He would preserve them intact as a people. They would NOT be amalgamated with other people. Not one of them would be "irretrievably lost."
This is further borne out by the fact that Bible prophecy identifies Israel as a key player in end-time events. Israel must exist today as "many nations." If we accept the Bible, then we must also accept all of its promises and prophecies regarding the national greatness of Israel, in addition to what it says about Israel's return from a yet future captivity. If, however, the Israelites have become so lost that they can never be found, then the Bible must be completely rejected as untrustworthy!
"For surely I will command, and will sift the house of Israel among all nations, as grain is sifted in a sieve; yet not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground."
The Jewish Encyclopaedia says, "As a large number of prophecies relate to the return of 'Israel' to the Holy Land, believers in the literal inspiration of the Scriptures have always labored under a difficulty in regard to the continued existence of the tribes of Israel, with the exception of those of Judah and Levi (or Benjamin), which returned with Ezra and Nehemiah. If the Ten Tribes have disappeared, the literal fulfillment of the prophecies would be impossible: if they have not disappeared, obviously they must exist under a different name" ("Tribes, Lost Ten," vol. 12, p. 249).
The Jewish Chronicle of May 2, 1897, says, "The Scriptures speak of a future restoration of Israel, which is clearly to include both Judah and Ephraim (or Israel). [See Ezekiel 37:16-22.] The problem, then, is reduced to its simplest form. The Ten Tribes are certainly in existence. All that has to be done is to discover which people represent them"!
To do this, we must understand WHEN, according to the Bible, the prophecies we have seen of "a nation and a company of nations" with awesome national wealth would be fulfilled and WHERE God said they would be!
Where Does God's Word Locate Modern Israel?
The when is the late 1700s (see box: "Birthright Blessings Delayed 2,520 Years!"). But where does God's Word locate the birthright holders of Israel in end-time prophecy? In the book of Jeremiah, God gives instructions to those bearing His message in the end time: "Backsliding Israel hath justified herself more than treacherous Judah. Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the LORD" (3:11-12 KJV).
Israel is clearly differentiated from Judah (the Jews) here and was to be found to the NORTH. As such directions in the Bible are always given from the vantage point of Jerusalem, that was certainly true during the time of the ancient Northern Kingdom. But this prophecy was recorded more than 130 years after Israel's Assyrian deportation.
Notice a few verses later, obviously referring to a yet future time: "In those days the house of Judah shall walk with [KJV margin "to"] 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" (v. 18). As we have seen, this prophesied return has never happened. Israel, then, would be to the north of the Holy Land in the last days.
But some will argue that the areas of northern Mesopotamian and Media to which Israel was anciently deported, although not due north, were, nevertheless, north of the Holy Land. And so they were. They were northeast of the Holy Land. But notice that Hosea 12:1 says, "Ephraim... pursues the east wind." An east wind comes from the east and blows WEST! Hosea also recorded God asking, "How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel?" (11:8). He then states, "I will not again destroy Ephraim.... They shall walk after the LORD.... Then His sons shall come trembling from the WEST" (vv. 9-10). This cannot, then, refer to the ancient Assyrian captivity of Israel.
Where, to the north and west, would Israel be? In a forthcoming publication, we will examine the fascinating promises God made to King David about perpetuating his throne. Jeremiah was commissioned "to root out" the Davidic throne from Jerusalem and "plant" it elsewhere (Jer. 1:10). As our future brochure will reveal, the line of David would continue to reign over those of the House of Israel--even in their new land! God said regarding the dynasty of "David my servant.... I will SET [plant] his hand [authority] also IN THE SEA" (Ps. 89:20, 25 KJV). So Israel, under the Davidic line, would have authority over maritime trade and travel.
Where is this leading us? Look at another prophecy Jeremiah recorded for "the latter days" (Jer. 30:24; 31:1). God says, "You shall be rebuilt, O virgin of Israel!... You shall yet plant vines on the mountains of Samaria.... For there shall be a day when the watchmen will cry on Mount Ephraim, 'Arise, and let us go up to Zion, to the LORD our God'" (vv. 4-6). So this is clearly referring to end-time Israel. God refers to Israel as "Jacob... the chief of the nations" (31:7). Which modern nations have fulfilled such a role?
God then says, "Behold, I will bring them [the Israelites] from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth.... for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn" (vv. 8-9 KJV). The colonization of the earth's coasts pictured here gives further support to Israel's dominance at sea. Then, in the next verse, God makes it even clearer: "Hear the word of the LORD, O nations [Ephraim and Manasseh], and declare it in the isles afar off" (v. 10). Isles? Our search is becoming even more intriguing.
This fascinating prophecy is corroborated in the book of Isaiah. God says, "Keep silence before Me, O coastlands ["islands" KJV].... You, Israel, are My servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the descendants of Abraham My friend. You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest regions ["chief men" KJV]" (Is. 41:1, 8-9). He further confirms this a few chapters later: "Listen, O coastlands ["isles" KJV], to Me, and take heed, you peoples from afar!... You are My servant, O Israel" (Is. 49:1, 3). In verse 12, He states, "Surely these shall come from afar; Look! Those from the north and the west, and these from the land of Sinim."
In the ancient Hebrew language, from which this verse was translated, there was no specific word for "northwest," but that is what was actually meant by "the north and the west." The Latin Vulgate translation gives the word "Sinim" as Australi ("south"). So, not only are the modern Israelite nations specifically NORTHWEST of Jerusalem, they are also spread all over the globe!
|Birthright Blessings delayed 2,520 Years!|
When would the birthright promises be fulfilled? Remember that God had made them UNCONDITIONAL to Abraham's descendants. Thus, God would HAVE to bestow the promised blessings-no matter what. But He would decide the proper time frame. Would God have given the blessings to the newly formed nation of Israel that was headed toward the Promised Land? Yes--IF Israel had met the condition of continued obedience to Him as outlined in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28. (Remember that the blessings themselves were UNconditional--but God was free to attach conditions as to WHEN He would give them.)
But for disobedience, God promised terrible punishments. Sadly, this is what happened repeatedly. Notice what God said to these people who refused to live by His law: "And after all this, IF you do NOT obey Me, then I will punish you SEVEN TIMES MORE for your sins" (Lev. 26:18). The phrase "seven times more" is translated from the Hebrew words, sheba', simply meaning "seven," and yacaph, meaning "to add, increase, do again" (Enhanced Strong's Lexicon, 1992). The sense conveyed is that of "multiplied times seven" or "sevenfold"-here meaning seven times greater intensity of punishment. God then lists some of these increased punishments (which, as we will later see, are dual-applying to both ancient and end-time Israel). And what if they still wouldn't obey? "Then, if you walk contrary to Me, and are not willing to obey Me, I will bring on you SEVEN TIMES MORE PLAGUES, according to your sins" (v. 21). The plagues upon them would be increased seven times yet again!
Yet, despite the terrible punishment God brought on the Israelites, they still failed to heed and obey Him. What did the Eternal say would happen in this case? "And if by these things you are not reformed by Me, but walk contrary to Me, then I also will walk contrary to you, and I will punish you yet SEVEN TIMES for your sins" (vv. 23-24). There is something very important to notice here! The word "more" does not occur after "seven times" as it did above. This is not, then, talking about a sevenfold increase in intensity as before.
The word sheba' ("seven") can also refer to duration, continuation or repetition of an action over some period of time. In Psalm 119:164 and Proverbs 24:16, "seven times" (Heb. sheba') refers to something being repeated seven times. The same is true of the "seven times" of Leviticus 26:24. It is talking about a specific punishment repeated seven times. As it is a repeated punishment, each episode must be of equal duration. Thus, we are talking about seven successive time periods making up one long period of punishment.
Has God ever used "seven times" to correctively punish someone else? In fact, He has-King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon! God, wanting to humble this arrogant world ruler, said that the king would be reduced to eating grass with the cattle for a period of time: "And SEVEN TIMES shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men" (Dan. 4:32). For seven literal years, Nebuchadnezzar was out of his mind, grazing with the oxen. So a biblical "time" equals a year.
We must be careful here though. A "time" is not a 365-day solar year. In the ancient past, a year was considered to be 360 days, based on twelve 30-day months. To demonstrate, the Great Flood of Noah's era was exactly five months--equal to 150 days (Gen. 7:11, 24; 8:4). Thus, each month was exactly 30 days-and 12 months would have been 360 days!
Do we see biblical "times" specifically referring to 360-day years in the Bible? Yes! Revelation 12:14 mentions "a time and times and half a time." A "time" would be a 360-day year. "Times" implies the smallest plural, since it is unspecified. Therefore it refers to TWO years of 360 days each. "Half a time," then, is 180 days. Adding these figures together, we get 360 + (2 x 360) + 180 = 1,260 days (3.5 years, corresponding to 42 months of 30 days each in Revelation 13:5).
A well-known principle among students of Bible prophecy is that "days" can sometimes represent years! That is certainly the case when referring to the Israelites' punishment. This "day-for-a-year principle" was established with them early on.
For their disobedience and lack of faith in failing to enter the Promised Land when God first told them to, He punished them by DELAYING or WITHHOLDING their possession of the land for a definite period of time. Notice: "According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for each day you shall bear your guilt one year, namely forty years, and you shall know My rejection" (Num. 14:34).
Centuries later, the Prophet Ezekiel was told by God to act out an imaginary siege against Israel by lying on his left side for 390 days-and against Judah, by lying on his other side for 40 days. God told Ezekiel, "I have laid on you a day for each year" (Ezek. 4:6). Thus, a day for an individual here represents an entire year for a nation.
With this principle clearly in mind, we can now return to Leviticus 26 and discover what the "seven times" in verse 24 refer to. God was speaking here of seven prophetic "times" or years with 360 days each. Therefore, 7 x 360 days = 2,520 days. Using the day-for-a-year principle, each DAY here represents a YEAR of national punishment-a DELAY in the promised blessings (as in Numbers 14:34). This gives us 2,520 YEARS that the birthright blessings would be WITHHELD!
At the END of 2,520 years, the blessings would finally be bestowed upon Ephraim and Manasseh. How do we know that? The very fact of withholding something for a specific time means that it will no longer be withheld after that time. Does that mean that the Israelites would be righteous or somehow deserving of the birthright at the end of the 2,520 years? No! They would NOT be. In fact, they would still be without the important laws of God, like the Sabbath, which would identify them as God's people if obeyed. Still ignorant of these laws, the Israelites would not know their own identity and, thus, the true reason WHY they were being so greatly blessed.
Why, then, would these blessings come at that time? Because they HAD to in order to fulfill God's promises and prophecies regarding Israel. Since He had nowhere obliged Himself to give the blessings to any particular generation except "in the last days" (Gen. 49:1), He did not violate His promise by offering them conditionally to ancient Israel. However, since ancient Israel did not meet God's conditions, the blessings would have to wait 2,520 years to be given unconditionally.
When would the 2,520 years start? We see that in the next verse of Leviticus 26: "And I will bring a sword against you that will execute the vengeance of My covenant... and you shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy" (v. 25). This terrible consequence came to pass with the Assyrian captivity of Israel in the late 700s B.C.
As we will see in a later chapter, if we count 2,520 years from almost any significant starting point around the time of Israel's captivity, we arrive at a corresponding, significant event in the late 1700s A.D. That should certainly help us to identify modern Israel!
Remember that God had told Jacob this long before: "You shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south" (Gen. 28:14). And of Joseph's descendants, Jacob had prophesied, "His branches run over the wall" (49:22)--i.e. they would colonize beyond their national boundaries. This colonial spirit is explained later in Isaiah 49. God, speaking of the future reign of Jesus Christ over all nations, says to Israel, "The children you will have, AFTER you have lost the others [in global catastrophes soon to strike at the end of this age], will say AGAIN in your ears, 'The place is TOO SMALL for me; give me a place where I may dwell'" (v. 20).
Notice this! Some time after being regathered to the Promised Land, Israel's burgeoning populace in the World Ahead will express a need for new territories in which to expand. Yet this event is described as happening AGAIN--i.e. it is the repeat of a prior episode. When did the Israelites say this the first time? Certainly not while they still lived in the Holy Land. It must have been later--when their settlement in the "Isles" became too cramped.
We now have all the information we need to identify modern "Israel." Which "nation and a company of nations" began their rise to prominence in the late 1700s, later sitting as "chief of the nations" and possessing greater national wealth than any other political entities in human history? Which peoples have come from the "islands" which are "in the sea" far to the northwest of Jerusalem--who, finding these islands "too small," had to branch out and colonize all over the world? Who has possessed the vital sea gates of the world and, for centuries now, has "ruled the waves"? Is the answer not right here before us? Surely there can be NO mistaking this description!
Notice the map below. If we extend a line due northwest of Jerusalem, it crosses the European continent, comes to the sea and then reaches "the isles afar off." Which isles are these? The British Isles! As we will see more closely later, the great single nation that emerged from there--Manasseh--is the United States of America. And the "company of nations"--Ephraim--is clearly the United Kingdom of Great Britain along with the other British-descended nations of the Commonwealth, e.g. Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Amazing! The Puritan founders of America were more right than they knew! There can be no question, now, that when God's holy Word refers to Ephraim and Manasseh in prophecy, it means the English-speaking peoples. There are, however, some questions remaining. Has God simply transferred the names and blessings of His covenant people to different peoples--our peoples? Or, as incredible as it sounds, are our Anglo-Saxon-Celtic peoples the true physical descendants of the actual tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh that were lost with the other northern tribes of Israel? For that to be so, the footsteps of the Lost Ten Tribes must lead to northwestern Europe. But do they? And if so, can we trace them?
Early Israelite Migrations
Before we try to find where the lost Israelites went after their captivity, we should examine where some of the early Israelites were going long before the Assyrian Empire was even in existence--much less a threat.
The historian C.W. Muller noted that, "Hecataeus [of Abdera, Greek historian, 4th century B.C.]... tells us that the Egyptians, formerly being troubled by calamities [the Ten Plagues at the time of the Exodus] in order that the divine wrath might be averted, expelled all the [Israelite] aliens gathered together in Egypt. Of these, some, under their leaders Danuss and Cadmus, migrated into Greece; others into other regions, the greater part into Syria [Canaan]. Their leader is said to have been Moses, a man renowned for wisdom and courage, founder and legislator of the state" (Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum, vol. 2, p. 385).
Diodorus of Sicily (Greek historian, 1st century B.C.) writes, "They say also that those who set forth with Danaus, likewise from Egypt, settled what is practically the oldest city of Greece, Argos, and that the nations of the Colchi in Pontus and that of the Jews, which lies between Arabia and Syria, were founded as COLONIES by certain emigrants from their country; and this is the reason why it is a long-established institution among these two peoples to circumcise their male children... the custom having been brought over from Egypt" (bk. 1, sec. 23, 1-5). Circumcision was the sign of the Abrahamic covenant that God made in Genesis 17.
In recent times, the well-known historical linguist, Dr. Cyrus H. Gordon, has also shown connections between the early Greeks and the Hebrews (Common Background of Greek and Hebrew Civilizations, New York, Norton, 1966). So, too, has Professor Allen H. Jones (Bronze Age Civilization--The Philistines and the Danites). He traces the Danaans, a name that the famed Greek poet Homer often used for all Greeks, back to the Israelite tribe of Dan ("Danaans and Danites--Were the Hebrews Greek?," Biblical Archaeology Review, June 1976).
Other historians have drawn the same conclusion--that the Danites of Israel and the Danaans or Danoi, an ancient people of southern Greece, were one and the same. A well-known 19th century ethnologist, Dr. Robert G. Latham, definitely believed the Greek Danaans were descendants of the tribe of Dan: "Neither do I think that the eponymous [ancestral name] of the [Greek] Danai was other than that of the Israelite tribe of Dan; only we are so used to confining ourselves to the soil of Palestine in our consideration of the history of the Israelites" (Ethnology of Europe, p. 137). "Yet," Dr. Latham concludes, "with Danai [of Greece] and the tribe of Dan this is the case, and no one connects them." He then mentions that the Danites of Palestine must have had close connections with the peoples of southern Greece.
A book entitled Hellenosemitica (1965) goes to great lengths to show that the Greek "Hellenes" and the Israelite "Semites" were closely related. This book mentions two branches of the Danites ("Danunians" and "Danaans"), and shows that these people once occupied the island of Cyprus. It also mentions the Cyprian "tradition of the Danaan migration from the eastern Mediterranean" (pp. 14, 79). That was the very same area which was assigned to the tribe of Dan when Joshua led the 12 tribes of Israel into the Promised Land!
"And already Hecataeus of Abdera represented both the Jewish Exodus and the Greek migration of Danaos and Cadmus as episodes of one and the same event.... Thence the assertion... that the Spartans (whose kings... claimed descent from Danaos) are brothers of the Jews and descend from Abraham's kindred" (p. 98).
This may be surprising. Nevertheless, it is borne out in one historical source after another. According to Josephus, the Lacedemonians (Spartans of southern Greece) were Danites and, therefore, closely related to the Jews. He relates the incredible contents of a letter from Sparta to Judah: "Areus king of the Lacedemonians, to Onias [Jewish High Priest], sendeth greeting; we have met with a certain writing, whereby we have discovered that both the Jews and the Lacedemonians are of one stock, and are derived from the kindred of Abraham.
"It is but just, therefore, that you, who are our brethren, should send to us about any of your concerns as you please. We will also do the same thing, and esteem your concerns as our own: and will look upon our concerns as in common with yours. Demoteles, who brings you this letter, will bring your answer back to us. This letter is foursquare: and the seal is an eagle, with a dragon [snake or serpent] in its claws" (bk. 12, chap. 4, sec. 10, pp. 296-297).
This seal is revealing because the tribal emblem or ensign of the people of Dan included the image of a "snake" ("Flag," The Jewish Encyclopaedia, p. 405). This symbolism was derived from what Jacob had foretold: "Dan shall be a serpent by the way, a viper by the path, that bites the horse's heels so that its rider shall fall backward" (Gen. 49:17). Thus the emblem traditionally associated with Dan is an "adder biting horse heels" (Thomas Fuller, Pisgah Sight of Palestine). However, Aben Ezra, a learned Jewish scholar of the 1600s, said that the emblem of Dan was an "eagle with a dragon in its claws."
Another Jewish High Priest, Jonathan--somewhat later than Onias--wrote the Spartans "concerning the kindred that was between US and YOU... because we were well satisfied about it from the sacred writings.... It is a long time since this relation of ours to you hath been renewed, and when we, upon holy and festival days, offer sacrifices to God, we pray to Him for your preservation and victory" (Josephus, bk. 13, chap. 5, sec. 1, p. 318).
This kinship seems pretty well established. Stephanus Byzantium also wrote that historians Alexander Polyhistor and Claudius Jolaus both affirmed a direct kinship between the ancient Spartans and the Jews (Bryant, Ancient Mythology, vol. 5, pp. 51-52, 60).
And, for biblical support to all of this, the Prophet Ezekiel mentions "Dan also and Javan going to and fro [as mariners] occupied in thy fairs" (Ezek. 27:19 KJV). So we see a close relationship between Dan and Javan (or Yavan)--mentioned in the Table of Nations (Gen. 10) as a son of Japheth. It is common knowledge among biblical historians that "Javan was regarded as the representative of the Greek race" (Smith's Bible Dictionary). NOTE: Though they were in close proximity, we must be careful not to confuse the Danites with the true Greeks descended from Javan. So we see that both the Bible and secular history show that some of the Danites settled among the Greeks.
In a future publication, we will show that some of Judah's descendants, through his grandson "Darda" (1 Chron. 2:6; 1 Kings 4:31), established themselves in Dardania, the region of ancient Troy (northwestern Asia Minor). In fact, the Dardanelles were named after them!
The Danaans of Greece, along with many more from the Promised Land, were not content to settle down for long. Many would emigrate overland while many others would travel in ships. According to the Bible, some of the people of Dan early took to the sea. They were the first tribe mentioned as becoming mariners. How did this come about?
When the Twelve Tribes of Israel actually took possession of the Promised Land (c. 1406 B.C.), the tribe of Dan was allotted its tribal inheritance in the southwestern area of that land. Dan was situated west-northwest of the tribe of Judah; its territory extended westward to the Mediterranean Sea, and included the busy port city of Joppa, next to modern Tel Aviv (Josh. 19:40-48).
The Bible here notes an important characteristic of the Danites when they occupied a place: "The children of Dan went up to fight against Leshem and took it; and they struck it with the edge of the sword, took possession of it, and dwelt in it. They called Leshem, DAN, after the name of Dan their father" (v. 47).
But the geographic location of the Danites' inheritance made it vulnerable to pressure from invading armies whose chariots were effective, lethal weapons against the Israelite infantry on the flat, coastal plain (cf. Judges 1:34). So the Danites decided to look north for new territory: "Then they went up and encamped in Kirjath Jearim in Judah. Therefore they call that place Mahaneh DAN to this day" (Judges 18:12). This is the second instance where we learn that the people of the tribe of Dan had a regular habit of naming places after their ancestral father, Dan.
"So they [the Danites]... went to Laish, to a people quiet and secure; and they struck them with the edge of the sword and burned the city with fire.... So they rebuilt the city and dwelt there. And they called the name of the city DAN, after the name of Dan their father, who was born to Israel" (vv. 27-29).
This northern city of Dan (formerly Laish) was less than 30 miles inland from the ancient Canaanite port city of Tyre. Thus, the Danites must have had frequent contact with its inhabitants--the Phoenicians, a people famed for trade and navigation (Ezek. 27). They built the great cities of Tyre and Sidon (on the modern Lebanese coast) and, as they spread abroad, far-flung outposts like Carthage (in what is now Tunisia in North Africa).
In the early 1200s B.C., in a song commemorating a great Israelite military victory, the Judge Deborah lamented that, during the battle, the men of "Gilead stayed beyond the Jordan [River], and [asked] why did Dan remain on ships?" (Judges 5:17). The Danites were so preoccupied with sea trade that they chose to remain in their ships rather than fight alongside their brethren. So, even before that time, some of the Danites were already engaged in seafaring activities.
"The Ships of Tarshish"
Later, King David and Hiram, the king of Tyre, established a national friendship between Israel and Phoenicia. Then, under Solomon, the relationship grew even more. Notice what happened in those days: "King Solomon also built a fleet of ships at Ezion Geber, which is near Elath on the shore of the Red Sea, in the land of Edom. Then Hiram sent ["him ships by the hand of his servants"--2 Chron. 8:18--and] his servants with the fleet, seamen who knew the sea, to work with the servants of Solomon. And they went to Ophir [possibly India, South Africa or America], and acquired four hundred and twenty talents of gold from there, and brought it to King Solomon" (1 Kings 9:26-28).
During the reign of Solomon and subsequent kings, it is more than likely that a number of Israelite colonists left Israel for other coastlands--just as Phoenician colonists emigrated from their homeland. Where did the Phoenicians colonize? We have already mentioned Carthage in North Africa. They also settled a number of Mediterranean islands, the Ionian coast of southern Italy and also southern Spain. These were places the descendants of Javan--the Greeks--were already settling. So why did the Phoenicians go to these places? Principally for trade, of course.
|"Many linguists believe that the name "España" (Spain) derives from Isephanim, a Phoenician word which means "land of rabbits". The Phoenicians inhabited the Iberian peninsula 3,000 years ago and founded cities which still exist such as "Malaka" ("factory"), today Malaga, and Gadir ("walled enclosure"), today Cadiz. Gades was the Latin name for Cadiz."
Victor Hurtado Oviedo in American Airlines "Nexos" Jan.-March 2002, p.22
The name of Javan's son, Tarshish (Gen. 10:4), can be found in the famous ancient port of southern Spain, Tartessus--the "Tarshish" of Solomon's day. Yet the great "ships of Tarshish," mentioned numerous times in the Old Testament, primarily referred to huge, oceangoing Phoenician and Israelite vessels that would come to Palestine from that far western port. According to 1 Kings 10:22, Solomon "had a fleet of ships of Tarshish at sea with the fleet of Hiram. Once every three years the fleet of ships of Tarshish used to come bringing gold, silver, ivory, apes, and peacocks" (NRSV, cf. 2 Chron. 9:21).
Undoubtedly, the Danites were foremost among the Israelites sailing these vessels. Not only had the coastal Danites been sailing for some time, but even the inland Danites in the north--by virtue of their close contact with Tyre--had probably been sailing with the Phoenicians and their coastal Danite kinsmen who docked there.
Moses had prophesied, "Dan is a lion's whelp; he shall leap from Bashan" (Deut. 33:22). Bashan was the location of the inland Danites! Therefore, a great many of them must have "leapt" from inland Palestine--as probably the majority would later, at the time of the Assyrian invasions of Israel--following their southern Danite brothers to the far-off Mediterranean colonies of the Greeks and Phoenicians.
But was that the extent of their journeys? By no means! The Phoenicians traveled through the Pillars of Hercules (Strait of Gibraltar) and into the Atlantic Ocean. Herodotus, the Greek "father of history," also attributes the circumnavigation of Africa to them. Furthermore, peacocks, which were brought back by the ships of Tarshish, are native only to Southeast Asia and the East Indies. And it is a widely accepted fact that Phoenician traders sailed north from Spain, establishing commerce links with Ireland and Britain. It should be no surprise, then, to realize that the Danites and other Israelites probably did the same thing--even settling in those beautiful islands.
"Lost Tribes... in Ireland"?
All early histories of Ireland mention a people coming there from Greece called the Tuatha de Danaan. From The Annals of Ireland, we read, "The Dan'ans were a highly civilized people, well skilled in architecture and other arts from their long residence in Greece, and their intercourse with the Phoenicians. Their first appearance in Ireland was 1200 B.C., or 85 years after the great victory of Deborah." It seems pretty clear who we're talking about here.
Irish historian Thomas Moore says that one of the earliest resident peoples of Ireland--the Firbolgs--were dispossessed by the Tuatha de Danaan, "who after sojourning for some time in Greece... proceeded from thence to Denmark and Norway" (History of Ireland, vol. 1, p. 59).
Who were the Tuatha de Danaan who migrated up from Greece into Denmark and Norway and then over to Ireland? The word tuath simply means "tribe"--"Tuath... Irish history... A 'TRIBE' or 'people' in Ireland" (New English Dictionary on Historical Principles, vol. 10, pt. 1, p. 441). So they were the tribe of Danaan from Greece. When we consider that the Danaans or Danoi of Greece were Danites of Israel, it is simple logic to conclude that the Tuatha de Danaan was none other than the Israelite tribe of Dan!
Another Irish historian, Geoffrey Keating, mentions that "the Danaans were a people of great learning and wealth; they left Greece after a battle with the Assyrians and went to Ireland; and also to Danmark, and called it 'DAN-mares,' Dan's country" (History of Ireland, vol. 1, pp. 195-199). Evidently, when the Assyrians began to invade Israel in the eighth century B.C., the Danites--not only of the Promised Land, but from Greece as well--must have struck out in their ships to find and dwell with the vanguard of those Israelites who had already been settling Ireland for some time.
Do we have further evidence of the tribe of Dan settling in Northwest Europe and the British Isles? We certainly do! Remember that the Danites had a regular habit of naming places after their ancient ancestor, Dan. Notice this interesting fact: "According to late Danish tradition... Jutland [the mainland of Denmark] was acquired by DAN, the... ancestor of the DANES" from whom their name derives ("Denmark," Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th ed., vol. 8). As the Danites migrated in hopes of finding a secure homeland, they continued their habit of naming places after their ancestral father, Dan!
J.P. Green's Literal Translation of the Bible, which accompanies his Interlinear Bible, renders Genesis 49:17 as, "Let Dan be a serpent on the way." The word "way" can also be "road," "path," "journey" or "direction" (Logos Software, Enhanced Strong's Lexicon). As a snake leaves a visible trail or path behind it, so would the tribe of Dan leave a trail across those lands they journeyed through--by simply following their old habit of naming places after their ancestor. Since Hebrew was written with only consonants and no vowels, Dan would be spelled "Dn"--and any or no vowel could occur between the two consonants (e.g. Dn, Dan, Deen, Din, Don, Dun, etc.).
By Dan's "serpent trail," we can follow the Danites' ancient travels. In addition to their Mediterranean and Atlantic voyages, Danite mariners almost certainly sailed into the Black Sea and up the major rivers of Europe. Moving east to west along the north shore of the Black Sea, we pass by the mouths of the following rivers: Don, Donets, Dnieper, Dniester and Danube. If we follow the Danube River upstream, it takes us into the very heart of Europe, where we find the Rhine and Rhone Rivers--known in Roman times respectively as the Eridanus and Rhodanus Rivers.
Across northern Europe we find: Danzig in Poland; Sweden (Svea-Dan); Odense in Denmark (Dan's Land); Dunkirk and Dinan in France. If you then cross the English Channel to the British Isles, you will find many dozens of cities, towns or rivers containing the name "Dan"--for example in Scotland we notice Dundee, Dunraven, Aberdeen, Duncansby Head and the Don River. But it is in Ireland where such place names are most prominent: Dun Laoghaire, the Dunkellin River, Dundalk, Dans-Laugh, Dan-Sower, Dungarvan, Dundrum, Dunglow, Dingle Bay, Donegal Bay and Dunmore Head. (It is certainly no coincidence that the Irish Gaelic word Dun or Dunn means "Judge," just as Dan does in Hebrew!)
Dan's migrations, then, can be traced. But that doesn't help us in locating the other Israelite tribes does it? After all, hadn't most of the Danites escaped the Assyrian conquest and deportations (migrating into Europe) while the rest of the northern tribes of Israel were dragged away captive to northern Mesopotamia and the Medo-Persian area? Yes, but Jacob prophesied of the last days, "Dan [Heb. "Judge"] shall judge his people as one of the tribes of Israel" (v. 16). Dan's descendants could not do this very well if they were not located among the other tribes.
So, though the Danites may have parted company with the rest of Israel at the time of the Assyrian captivity, they would all rejoin each other later. Therefore, the proclivity of the Danites to name places by the Hebrew word for "Judge," after their father, was a remarkable CLUE which God planted within their very tribal nature to help us today in searching out ALL of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel which would later follow the Danite migrations. What incredibly detailed planning the Almighty God has done!
Once we understand the racial connection between the Tuatha de Danaan
|New York City Mayor Ed Koch|
|"The Ten Lost Tribes of israel we [Jews] believe ended up in Ireland."|
As we've seen, history reveals that at least some early Israelites did end up in the Emerald Isle! But what about the rest of the tribes? Just where did they go after their Assyrian captivity ended? Can we find out anything from Christ and the commission He gave to His apostles?
"The Lost Sheep of the House of Israel"
Christ mentioned "OTHER sheep I have which are not of this fold [of Jews living in Judea]; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be ONE flock and one Shepherd" (John 10:16). The "house of Israel" is repeatedly referred to in the Old Testament as God's SHEEP, the sheep of His pasture (Jer. 23:1-8; Ezek. 34:1-31).
So Christ was clearly referring to the other tribes of Israel. He commissioned His twelve apostles to preach the Gospel to them: "Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans [who sometimes claimed, falsely, to be Israelites]. But go rather to the LOST SHEEP of the HOUSE OF ISRAEL" (Matt. 10:5-6; cf. 15:24)!
Obviously, Christ knew the whereabouts of the Ten Lost Tribes and would have made certain His apostles also knew. Why do we hear absolutely nothing about Peter and the other apostles still being in Jerusalem and Judea during the years immediately preceding the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.?
The twelve apostles knew the Jews had not been totally "lost." So after taking the Gospel to the Jews in Judea, and after preaching to the Jewish communities in the big cities of the Near East, Greece and North Africa, Peter and the apostles then took Christ's Gospel to the dispersed "lost sheep of the house of Israel." Some of these dispersed Israelites were then living around the Black Sea (see box: "The 'Diaspora'"). But by the first century A.D., many of the Ten Lost Tribes had already left Western Asia and had migrated elsewhere. But to where?
Scotland's most treasured document, the Declaration of Arbroath (also called the Scottish Declaration of Independence), was drawn up in 1320 A.D. In it, King Robert the Bruce (1306-1329)--recently popularized in the 1995 box-office hit movie, Braveheart--and his Scottish nobles solemnly appealed to Pope John XXII to persuade the King of England (Edward II) to allow the Scots to live in peace, unmolested by their English tormentors.
The declaration states that the Scots "journeyed from Greater Scythia [present-day southern Russia] by way of the Pillars of Hercules [Gibraltar], and dwelt for a long course of time in Spain.... Thence they came [c. 250 B.C.], twelve hundred years after the people of Israel crossed the Red Sea, to their home in the west where they still live today" (para. 2). Why did the Scots solemnly preserve, as an important milestone in their nation's history, this reference to the crossing of the Red Sea?
The declaration reminds the pope how the Scots received Christianity: "Nor would He [Christ] have them confirmed in that faith by merely anyone but by the most gentle Saint ANDREW, the Blessed Peter's brother" (para. 4). So the Apostle Andrew obeyed Christ's command to go "to the lost sheep of the house of Israel"--some of whom then lived in Scotland!
The Story of Joseph of Arimathea
Many Britons believe that Joseph of Arimathea--the important rich man in Judea who buried Christ and had secretly been His disciple (Matt. 27:57; Mark 15:43; John 19:38)--once lived in what is now Glastonbury, England, using that village as his home base from which to preach the Gospel to many of the British people. "Joseph, Saint, Of Arimathea (fl. c. A.D. 30), a Jew who undertook the burial of Jesus and whom later legend connected with the Holy Grail of Glastonbury.... A mid-thirteenth century interpolation... by William of Malmesbury relates that Joseph went to Glastonbury in England as head of 12 missionaries sent thither by the Apostle Philip" ("Joseph, Saint," Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1970).
Notice how James, the Lord's half-brother, addressed his epistle around A.D. 60: "James, a servant of God and of... Jesus Christ, to the TWELVE TRIBES [not just the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin] which are scattered abroad [Gk. diaspora, "dispersed"]" (1:1). James did not address his epistle to just the Jews. Rather, he addressed his inspired letter to ALL the Israelites-"to the TWELVE TRIBES in the Dispersion" (same verse, NRSV and Moffatt). The English translation of the original Aramaic text is as follows: "James... to the twelve tribes which are scattered among the Gentiles." The Goodspeed Bible renders this verse in a similar way: "James... to the twelve tribes that are scattered over the world."
The dispersed Jews are only part of the diaspora-only a small portion of the Israelite peoples whom God said He would disperse throughout all nations. Of course the diaspora would not be of the same nature for the Jews as for the other Israelites. The Jews were widely dispersed but never "lost," whereas the Ten Tribes of Israel were both dispersed and later "lost" to the world in general!
Where were these Israelites of all Twelve Tribes--including the Ten Lost Tribes--living in New Testament times? The Apostle Peter gives us part of the answer to that question: "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the pilgrims ["strangers" KJV] of the Dispersion [which were then] in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father" (1 Pet. 1:1-2). These areas of dispersed Jews and Israelites were in what is today northern Turkey-showing a westward migration. As we will see in the next chapter, there is abundant historical evidence to prove that many of the Ten Lost Tribes migrated even beyond this point in the centuries preceding Christ; but some of them still lingered here on the southern shores of the Black Sea in the days of Christ and His apostles. This area was immediately west of the Caucasus Mountains and the Caspian Sea--along the land route from western Asia into Europe.
And, through Phoenician-established commerce links, the tin trade between Britain and the Eastern Mediterranean world was quite substantial. Thus, Joseph was probably involved in tin trade between the British Isles and the Near East. In going to Glastonbury in Somerset, he may have been returning to a familiar place, where he could effectively preach the Gospel.
Collier's Encyclopedia says, "Glastonbury Abbey, a ruined abbey in Somersetshire, about 6 miles south of Wells, England. Tradition has it that it was here that Joseph of Arimathea established the first Christian Church in England" (vol. 9, 1959, p. 120). "According to the legends... the first church of Glastonbury was a little wattled building erected by Joseph of Arimathea as the leader of the twelve apostles [i.e. the 12 "missionaries" mentioned above] sent over to Britain from Gaul by St. Philip" ("Glastonbury," Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th ed., vol. 12).
Notice that Philip preached the Gospel to the lost Israelites then living in Gaul (modern France and Belgium)! Some Britons also believe that Peter himself took the Gospel to England.
Can these "legends" be believed? Nearly every English-language encyclopedia contains at least one article attesting to these strong British traditions. There are often kernels of truth in many legends; of course, not every detail of a persistent legend is necessarily true.
But consider this: Britain was an integrated part of the Roman Empire in the first century A.D. To move from Judea, an eastern province of the Empire, to a western location would be just as feasible as moving from New York to California in the 1800s! "Mediterranean traders had been visiting the country from at least as early as the fourth century B.C.... There was a good deal of cross-channel trade and migration in the centuries before the Roman conquest" (T.W. Potter, Roman Britain, British Museum Publications Ltd., 1983, p. 5).
So it seems clear that at least some of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel in the days of Christ and His apostles were in Europe--some having gone even as far as the British Isles. How did they get there? The most widespread people in Europe at this time were the Celts. In fact, the areas of Britain, Ireland, Gaul and even the southern Black Sea region--the areas in which we just located some people from the Ten Tribes--were ALL Celtic at the time.
But surely there couldn't have been very many Israelites among the Celts, could there? After all, the Celts were a European, not Middle Eastern, people, right? Besides that, most of the Celts were later overrun by Germans. Hasn't history pretty well established that Britain and the other Northwest European countries are Germanic nations? English is even a Germanic language! Surely someone couldn't seriously think that some scattered Israelites lost amid the great mass of Celtic and Germanic peoples could possibly constitute the greater part of the Ten Lost Tribes.
America seems an even more unlikely candidate. After all, isn't it just one big "melting pot" of many peoples? In the next chapter, we will examine the roots of the major ethnic groups which make up America and Britain showing where they came from. And you may be very surprised at what you learn!
The Identity Question
A Great Mystery of History
Anglo-American Ethnic Roots
Israel's Post-Captivity Names
The Birthright Finally Realized!
What Is Now Prophesied?
Originally written by Raymond F. McNair and republished in 1996 by the now-defunct Global Church of God.
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