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Two basic, but very important, questions will be addressed in this book: “Is God still working with physical Israel during these New Covenant times?” and “Who are the Israelites today?” Chapters 1 through 3 address the first question; chapters 4 through 12 address the second question.
It is easy to get the proverbial “cart before the horse.” Most of us would certainly become excited if we discovered that we were of the physical lineage of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. However, there are those who sincerely believe that God no longer has a plan for physical Israelites; in which case, it really would not matter whether we descended from those early patriarchs or not. Consequently, it must first be demonstrated from the New Testament that God still has a plan for, and is working with, physical Israel today. Once this has been established, we can then address who these Israelites are and are not.
Is God Still Working With Physical Israel
During These New Covenant Times?
God’s plan for the Israelites under the Old Covenant is obvious to anyone who will take the time to read about it. Few, if any, question the fact that God chose Israel for a special task under the Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants of the Old Testament. Deuteronomy 14:2 is one of a multitude of Scriptures which makes this fact clear:
... you are a holy people to YHWH* your God; and YHWH has chosen you** [Israel]*** to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples [nations and races] who are on the face of the earth. (Deuteronomy 14:2)
Where the Tetragrammaton (YHWH) – the four Hebrew characters that represent the personal name of God – has been unlawfully rendered the LORD or GOD in English translations, I have taken the liberty to correct this error by inserting YHWH where appropriate. For a more thorough explanation concerning the use of the names of God, “The Third Commandment” may be read online, or the book Thou shalt not take the name of YHWH thy God in vain may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $4 donation.*
**Emphasis (bold print) in quoted material is made by this author unless otherwise noted.
***Comments within brackets in quoted material are made by this author.
A similar promise was made to Jacob whose name was changed to Israel by God, and who became the progenitor of the Israelites:
Your descendants shall also be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you [Jacob] and in your descendants [the Israelites] shall all the families [nations and races] of the earth be blessed. (Genesis 28:14)
It is non-debatable that God dealt with Israel in a very special way in the Old Testament and that He called them out for a special task. However, it should also be asked: “Is there a plan for Israel under the New Covenant era?” In other words: “Does God still have a plan for the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob today?” or “Did God’s plan for the Israelites cease when the Old Covenant ended and the New Covenant began?”
There are certainly many who would answer that question in the same manner as found in the book Clouds Over America. Therein Leonard C. Lee declared:
God rejected the Israelites as a nation [at the commencement of the New Covenant]....1
The Israelites have now passed off the stage of action....2
Their [the Israelites’] nationality [under the New Covenant] is of no significance in the ultimate purposes of God.3
Is this the correct New Covenant perspective on Israel? Further study in the Old Testament will provide the correct answer to this question, while serious study in the New Testament will disclose the plan God still has for His people Israel.
The New Testament Answer
Let us begin in the New Testament by asking a most important question: “With whom was the New Covenant made?”
This is the question which began my study into Israel’s identity. I have always believed in giving Scriptural answers to Biblical questions, but when I was initially asked this question, I gave an incorrect answer to which no Scriptural verification could be provided. If you are a Christian and this is the first time you have been faced with this same question, I suspect your answer will be very similar to mine and will probably go something like this: “The New Covenant was made with the Church or with those being saved.” If this is how you would respond, you are then required to provide Scriptural support for your position. I will save you the time, for you will search in vain to find such support. So what is the Bible’s answer to this question?
... if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second. For finding fault with them, He says, “Behold, days are coming, says YHWH, when I will effect a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; not like the covenant which I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; for they did not continue in My covenant, and I did not care for them, says YHWH. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says YHWH: I will put my laws into their minds, and I will write them upon their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen, and everyone his brother, saying, ‘Know YHWH,’ for all shall know Me, from the least to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” (Hebrews 8:7-12)
After reading this passage some of you are surely asking: “How could anyone read that and deny that God is still working with Israel?” However, many Christians will respond: “Don’t you understand that God is working with a spiritual Israel today, people from all nationalities and races who have been saved in Yeshua* the Christ. Those who respond to Christ from all nations and races are Israel today.” That is exactly how I had always answered this passage, but that answer does not stand up under the test of Biblical scrutiny. A closer look at this passage will allow the Bible to identify whether those being addressed are a spiritual group or a physical group of Israelites:
*Yeshua (yay-shoo'-ah) is the English transliteration of our Savior’s given Hebrew name. For a more thorough explanation concerning the use of the names of God, “The Third Commandment” may be read online, or the book Thou shalt not take the name of YHWH thy God in vain may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $4 donation.*
Spiritual or Physical?
...days are coming, says YHWH, when I will effect a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. (Hebrews 8:8)
Can spiritualizing the terms “house of Israel” and “house of Judah” be Scripturally justified? Were these terms ever spiritualized in the Bible? No, they were not. These two terms designate the house of Israel comprised of the ten northern tribes, and the house of Judah comprised of the two southern tribes. Both houses were physical groups of people. Commenting on Jeremiah 31:31 (the text from which this passage in Hebrews is quoted), Rabbi Isaac Leeser makes the following valid point:
The parties are stated, not to be the nations of the earth, not a spiritual Israel, but the actual descendants from the line of Jacob, the houses of Israel and Judah. If a spiritual nation were meant, the prophet would not have particularized; for the double family is not applicable to a spiritual symbol, but only, as said, to the nation that was at that time divided into the two contending divisions.4
Nowhere in Scripture were these two terms used to imply spiritual rather than physical groups of people. The terms “house of Israel” and “house of Judah” can not arbitrarily be spiritualized in Hebrews 8 or any other passage, unless justification can be found within each and every passage for doing so. Israel and Judah are described in the Bible as physical groups of people, the progeny of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Some people do not delineate between these two houses but consider them one and the same — addressing either house as simply “Israel.” Yet, in the Old Testament, Israel and Judah are described as sisters, and sisters may be of the same family, but they are not the same person. The difference between the two houses will be covered later in this chapter because it is of utmost importance that this distinction be understood. Not only do the two terms “house of Israel” and “house of Judah” demand that the Israelites of Hebrews 8:8 be recognized as physical people, but so does the context of the entire chapter. Yahweh goes on to say:
Not like the [Mosaic] covenant which I [YHWH] made with their fathers.... (Hebrews 8:9a)
If the people in this passage are Israelites in only a spiritual sense, then it stands to reason that their fathers, who are mentioned in the first half of verse 9, would also have to be spiritual rather than physical. However, let us continue with the rest of the verse:
... on the day when I took them [the Israelites] by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt.... (Hebrews 8:9b)
There is no question that the house of Israel and the house of Judah were physical people since these people, with whom God makes His New Covenant, were and are the descendants of the physical men and women who were led by Moses out of Egypt.
Hebrews 8:8-12 is taken from a prophecy found in Jeremiah 31:31-34. In verses 35 and 36 of Jeremiah 31, we find further evidence that the Israelites mentioned in Hebrews 8 are physical rather than spiritual descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob:
Thus says YHWH, who gives the sun for light by day, and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; YHWH of hosts is His name: “If this fixed order [of the sun, moon and stars] departs from before Me,” declares YHWH, “then the offspring of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before Me forever.” (Jeremiah 31:35-36)
Is the sun still shining for light by day and is the moon still shining for light by night? Then Yahweh is still working with physical Israelites today just as Jeremiah prophesied:
Have the heavens been measured? It may have been tried, but it still stands unaccomplished. Our space-age telescopes and satellites have provided information which estimates the radius of the universe at billions upon billions of light years, and no one can venture a guess as to how much farther it may extend. Have the depths below been searched out? To date, only one percent of the earth’s radius has been explored. The earth’s depths have not been searched out and never will be because Yahweh’s plan is to work with Israel throughout all ages.* It is these Israel people who will never cease from being a nation forever, and it is the offspring of these people with whom YHWH has made His New Covenant. Nonetheless, from Romans 9:27, we know that not all Israel will be saved. Only the remnant of physical Israel who are washed in the blood of Yeshua the Christ will obtain salvation according to God's promises.
Thus says YHWH, “If the heavens above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out below, then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel for all [the evil] that they have done,” declares YHWH. (Jeremiah 31:37)
*Genesis 17:1-7; 2 Samuel 7:23-24; Psalm 105:6-10; Isaiah 45:17; Luke 1:32-33,54-58.
A Second Witness
When we find Biblical testimony such as Hebrews 8, we expect to find a second or third witness in other passages confirming the same thing. One such verification is found in Romans 9:3-4 where the Apostle Paul testifies to the same truth:
... I [the Apostle Paul] could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from [the] Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons and the glory and the covenants.... (Romans 9:3-4)
These verses clearly identify a physical group of people, physical Israelites. Paul confirms that God’s covenants belong to these people and to no other.
Genesis tells us that the Abrahamic Covenant belonged to the Israelites:
... YHWH appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before Me, and be blameless. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will multiply you exceedingly.” And Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him saying, “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I will make you the father of a multitude of nations. And I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come forth from you. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you.” (Genesis 17:1-7)
Exodus tells us that the Mosaic Covenant also belonged to the Israelites:
... Moses went up to God, and YHWH called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself. Now then, if you [Israel] will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel." So Moses came and called the elders of the people, and set before them all these words which YHWH had commanded him. And all the people answered together and said, "All that YHWH has spoken we will do....” (Exodus 19:3-8)
The New Covenant (the Christian Covenant) belongs to the Israelites as well, as already ascertained from Hebrews 8:8.
A Third Witness
... He did so in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,* even us [Israelites], whom He [YHWH] also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. As He says also in Hosea, “I will call those who were not My people, ‘My people,’ and her who was not beloved, ‘Beloved.’ And it shall be that in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ there they shall be called sons of the living God.” (Romans 9:23-26)
*“... I [the Apostle Paul] could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from [the) Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom belongs
the adoption as sons and the glory and the covenants [of YHWH] and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises.” (Romans 9:3-4)
Someone may well ask: “How does Romans 9:23-26 provide a third witness to what we find recorded in Hebrews 8:8-12?” Because most of Christendom have been provided incorrect definitions for the words “Jews” and “Gentiles,” they have arrived at the wrong conclusion regarding Romans 9:23-26. If we have the wrong definitions, we cannot hope to grasp the true meaning of these verses. For example, verse 24 reads:
... even us, whom He [YHWH] also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. (Romans 9:24)
The majority of people reading that passage consider the “Jews” to be all twelve tribes of Israel and the “Gentiles” to be all non-Israelites. Most people blindly accept this idea, not because the Bible identifies them as such, but because this is how the majority of preachers are telling their flocks to interpret these terms. We must remember that the Bible is always its own best commentary. The Bible tells us exactly where to go to understand this passage in Romans, yet most of the time we do not follow its instructions because we have it all figured out or because our pastor told us how to interpret it. Verse 25 of Romans 9 begins with these words:
As He [YHWH] says also in Hosea.... (Romans 9:25)
In other words, the Apostle Paul is telling us that part of verse 24 is the fulfillment of the verses he quoted from Hosea 1 and 2. Far too many people (including myself in the past) never go back and read Hosea 1 and 2, because in their minds it is already settled that those “who were not [God’s] people” and “her who was not beloved” are obviously the non-Israelite peoples of the world. Without going back to the book of Hosea, it is easy to see how this error, with its grave consequences, is made. We will examine Hosea 1 and 2 in order to determine who Paul was referring to when he used the term “Gentiles.” However, before we do, we must first investigate and resolve another misconception.
In addition to misidentifying the “Gentiles” in Romans 9, very few Christians understand who the "Jews” are in this same chapter and throughout the entire Bible. Proof is found in the fact that one often hears preachers and other Christians identifying Abraham, Moses and others as “Jews,” when in actuality they were not. The word “Jew” is not found in the Bible prior to 2 Kings 16:6, which was over 1,000 years after the time of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Misunderstandings exist about the word "Jew" because most theologians erroneously teach that all Israelites are Jews.
In his book God’s Prophetic Word, Foy Wallace, Jr., declared that since “the terms ‘Jews’ and ‘Israel’ are used interchangeably” in the Bible “then they are identical.”5 That glaring error can be compared with the statement: “Since Clydesdales are horses, all horses are Clydesdales.” Labeling all Israelites “Jews” is the same as labeling all Americans “Nebraskans.” We cannot make those two terms synonymous because, while some or even many Nebraskans may be Americans, certainly not all Americans are Nebraskans. The same is true with the terms “Jews” and “Israelites.”
Dr. Alfred M. Lilienthal, a Jew, confirmed and expounded on this very point in his book What Price Israel. His statements leave no doubt that there is a general misunderstanding and misapplication of the word “Jew”:
The Jewish racial myth flows from the fact that the words Hebrew, Israelite, Jew, Judaism, and the Jewish people have been used synonymously to suggest a historic continuity. But this is a misuse. These words refer to different periods in history. Hebrew is a term correctly applied to the period from the beginning of Biblical history to the settling in Canaan. Israelite refers correctly to the members of the twelve tribes of Israel. The name Yehudi or Jew is used in the Old Testament to designate members of the tribe of Judah, descendants of the fourth son of Jacob, as well as to denote citizens of the Kingdom [or house] of Judah, particularly at the time of [the Prophet] Jeremiah and under the Persian [Babylonian] occupation. Centuries later, the same word [Jew] came to be applied to anyone, no matter of what origin, whose religion was Judaism.6
When speaking of the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the term “Jews” refers to only a part of Israel. Not all Israelites were Jews (Judahites), but Jews were a part of the nation of Israel (when speaking of Jews in this context, we are not speaking of the modern-day Jews who have, for the most part, no racial lineage from Abraham as will be discussed in chapter 4). This misunderstanding about the Biblical word “Jew(s)” has caused a blindness to come upon all people who read the Scriptures or who try to historically identify the Jews found in the Scriptures. If we go back to the Bible, we will find that the people known as Jews are easily identified. The nation of Israel consisted of twelve tribes, but it divided into two houses, the house of Judah and the house of Israel. This division is recorded in 1 Kings:
Then Rehoboam [Solomon’s son and successor as king over all twelve tribes of Israel] went to Shechem, for all Israel had come to Shechem to make him king. Now it came about when Jeroboam the son of Nebat heard of it ... that Jeroboam and all the assembly of Israel came and spoke to Rehoboam, saying, “Your father [Solomon] made our yoke hard; therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke which he put on us, and we will serve you.” Then he [Rehoboaml said to them, “Depart for three days, then return to me.” So the people departed.
... King Rehoboam consulted with the elders who had served his father Solomon while he was still alive, saying, “How do you counsel me to answer this people?” Then they spoke to him, saying, “If you will be a servant to this people today, will serve them, grant them their petition, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever.” But he [Rehoboam] forsook the counsel of the elders which they had given him, and consulted with the young men who grew up with him and served him. So he said to them, “What counsel do you give that we may answer this people...?” And the young men who grew up with him spoke to him, saying, “Thus you shall say to this people ...‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins! Whereas my father loaded you with a heavy yoke, I will add to that yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.’”
Then Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam on the third day ... king [Rehoboam] answered the people harshly, for he forsook the advice of the elders which they had given him, and he spoke to them according to the advice of the young men, saying, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions....”
When all Israel saw that the king [Rehoboam] did not listen to them, the people answered the king, saying, “What portion do we have in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse; to your tents, O Israel! Now look after your own house, David!” So Israel departed to their tents. But as for the sons of Israel who lived in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them.... So [the house of] Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David [Judah] to this day. And it came about when all Israel heard that Jeroboam had returned, that they sent and called him to the assembly and made him king over all [the house of] Israel. None but the tribe of Judah followed the house of David [under King Rehoboam].
Now when Rehoboam had come to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin, 180,000 chosen men who were warriors, to fight against the house of Israel to restore the kingdom to Rehoboam the son of Solomon. (1 Kings 12:1-21)
It is imperative that we understand that only the house of Judah became known as Jews. In the broad sense they were called Israelites because they were still members of the original twelve tribes. However, after the Israelites were divided into the house of Israel and the house of Judah, the house of Judah also became known as Judahites, which is translated "Jews" in our English Bibles today.* The first appearance of the word “Jews” is in 2 Kings and it occurs after the two houses separated:
... Rezin king of Syria recovered Elath to Syria, and drave the Jews [Judahites] from Elath; and the Syrians came to Elath, and dwelt there unto this day. (2 Kings 16:6, KJV)
* It was not until shortly after the 1611 Edition of the King James Version that the Hebrew word “Yehuwdiy” and the Greek word “Ioudaios” were regrettably rendered “Jew(s)” in the English translations of our Bibles.
In his book A Partisan History of Judaism, Rabbi Elmer Berger provides confirmation that only those of the house of Judah were called “Jews” in the Scriptures:
It is interesting - and somewhat historically - to know that these tribes [the Israelites entering Canaan land] and their subsequent confederacies were not yet really Jews [Judahites]; that there was no “Jewish” nation. It was not for many years after these earliest origins of these people that we find the word “Jews” in the Biblical texts. Probably the earliest such reference is in the Second Book of Kings, chapter 18, verse 26, in which the language of the people of the southern Kingdom [or house] of Judah is called “the Jews’ language.” This passage is in connection with an incident close to the period of the Babylonian Exile, and the people themselves and their religion are not spoken of, by the Bible, as Jews until after the Exile.7
The people identified as “Jews” in 2 Kings 16:6, 2 Kings 18:26 and in all subsequent passages including Romans 9:24 were the physical descendants of the house of Judah, from the tribes of Judah or Benjamin only.*
*The house of Judah was comprised of the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin. However, most of the priests from the tribe of Levi, as well as a small contingency from some of the other ten tribes (on certain occasions) associated themselves with the Judahites (2 Chronicles 11:13-17; 15:8-9). While this is true, there remained a definite distinction between the two houses. 1 Kings 12:23-24, and other passages too numerous to cite, demonstrates this demarcation.
Additionally, other people from non-Israelite nationalities adopted the religion of Judaism and became known as Jews (Judahites), but in name only - Esther 8:17; Revelation 2:9; 3:9.
The ten northern tribes were known as the house of Israel. It is of major consequence that we understand that the people descended from the house of Israel were known as Israelites, but they were never known as Jews. In a section entitled “The Hebrew Peoples,” Harmsworth History of the World supported this fact. Writing of the time period following the separation of the ten northern tribes from the two southern tribes, this resource described the following:
Since the severance [the division of national Israel], the God of Israel had ceased to be the centre of a national worship, and any traces of such worship, which had been retained in the north from the time of David, were quite insignificant.... In reality the Ten Tribes ... were not, therefore, “Jews.”8
In this same historical work we are again reminded of the distinction between Israelites and Jews (Judahites):
... [this fact] can best be expressed in the phrase, which may sound paradoxical but yet aptly characterizes the true relationship of the two peoples: “The Israelites [the ten northern tribes] were not Jews [Judahites].”9
At a certain point in their history the ten tribes were no longer called Israelites because they were divorced by God. The Prophet Jeremiah documented Yahweh’s divorcement of the house of Israel:
... I saw that for all the adulteries of faithless Israel [the house of Israel], I [YHWH] had sent her away and given her a writ of divorce.... (Jeremiah 3:8)
God also stripped the house of Israel of her name. “Israel” means “ruling with El(ohiym) - Hebrew for God,” which is what the Israelites did while married to Yahweh. However, following her divorce, the house of Israel no longer had the privilege of using that name:
... YHWH said to him, “...I will put an end to the Kingdom of the house of Israel....” And He [YHWH] said, “...you [the house of Israel] are not My people....” (Hosea 1:4-10)
Subsequently, the ten northern tribes of Israel were dispersed among non-Israelite heathen nations as recorded in Hosea:
[The house of] Israel is swallowed up; they are now among the [pagan Gentile] nations like a vessel in which no one delights. (Hosea 8:8)
Often, the ten tribes took on the names of the nations and peoples among whom they lived, as confirmed in The Jewish Encyclopedia under the heading "Tribes, Ten Lost”:
TRIBES, TEN LOST: ... If the Ten Tribes [of the house of Israel] have disappeared, the literal fulfillment of the prophecies would be impossible; if they have not disappeared, obviously they [the house of Israel] must exist under a different name. 10
As time passed and centuries slipped by, the ten tribes of Israel became collectively known as “Gentiles.”
Applying the term “Jews” to Abraham, Moses, or to any Israelite existing before the division of the nation of Israel (with the exception of those descended from the tribe of Judah), and any Israelite descended from the ten northern tribes since that division, totally ignores the historical severance and dispersion of the house of Israel. This inexactness is the result of negligent exegesis. Nowhere in all the books of the Bible is the term “Jews” applied to all twelve tribes of Israel.
There are some who erroneously maintain that the term “Jews” became synonymous with all twelve tribes when a remnant of the house of Judah (two southern tribes) returned from the Babylonian captivity to rebuild Jerusalem under Ezra and Nehemiah. For example, Foy Wallace, Jr., makes the following baseless claim:
After the return to Jerusalem, Ezra commanded a sin offering for every tribe of Israel, and he referred to them as “all Israel.” Ezra 6:16-17 “And the children of Israel, the priests, and the Levites, and the rest of the children of the [Babylonian] captivity kept the dedication of this house with joy, and offered at the dedication of this house of God [the second temple] ... [a] hundred bullocks, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs; and for a sin offering for all Israel, twelve he goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel.” Why offer for “all Israel” if it was only the Jews [Judahites] who returned from Babylon, and not Israel at all, as Anglo-Israelites assert?11
A fair answer would be: “Why not?” My father-in-law has the habit of praying for absent family members during the blessing at meal time. Ezra was doing basically the same thing; he made an offering for all Israel - the two tribes who were present and the remaining ten tribes who were absent. To verify that this was accepted practice, one simply needs to turn to another sacrifice offered approximately 208 years before Ezra’s offering. This sacrifice was offered at a time when there was no question that the house of Judah and the house of Israel were not yet reunited; the majority of the house of Israel was in Assyrian captivity, and the house of Judah had not yet been taken into Babylonian captivity:
King Hezekiah arose early and assembled the princes of the city [Jerusalem] and went up to the house of YHWH. And they brought seven bulls, seven rams, seven lambs, and seven male goats for a sin offering for the kingdom, the sanctuary, and Judah. And he ordered the priests, the sons of Aaron, to offer them on the altar of YHWH.... And the priests slaughtered them and purged the altar with their blood to atone for all Israel [both houses - all twelve tribes], for the king ordered the burnt offering and the sin offering for all Israel. (2 Chronicles 29:20-24)
In this instance, no one can prove or even suggest that all of Israel had returned to Jerusalem, since in fact they had not. It is common practice, even today, to pray for absent family members. Ezra’s sacrifice for all twelve tribes was proper, acceptable, and with precedent, even though all twelve tribes were not present.
There are others who assert that the term “Jews” became synonymous with all twelve tribes even before Ezra and Nehemiah at the time of the two separate captivities. In Kingdom of the Cults, Dr. Walter Ralston Martin quoted Dr. David Baron, who also distorted unmistakable Biblical teaching:
With the captivity (Assyrian and Babylonian) the divisions and rivalry between 'Judah' and 'I srael' were ended....12
The name “Jew” and “Israelite” became synonymous terms from about the time of the [Babylonian] captivity. It is one of the absurd fallacies of Anglo-Israelism to presuppose that the term “Jew” stands for a bodily [physical] descendant of “Judah.” It stands for all those from among the sons of Jacob...."13
I have enough confidence that you, the reader, will decide based on Scriptural evidence, which teachings are “absurd fallacies.” If the reunification of the house of Israel and the house of Judah had occurred anytime before or during the times of Ezra and Nehemiah, it would have made God a liar, and it would have made null and void the following prophecies which tell of the reuniting of the two houses at the time of Yeshua:
...“Thus says the Lord YHWH, ‘Behold, I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations [translated from the Hebrew word “goy,” often rendered “Gentiles”] where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king will be king for all of them; and they will no longer be two nations, and they will no longer be divided into two kingdoms.... And they [reunited Israel] will be My people, and I will be their God [reference to the New Covenant -Jer. 31:31-33]. My servant David [prophetically used for Yeshua the Christ since King David was already dead when this prophecy was made] will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd; and they will walk in My ordinances, and keep My statutes, and observe them.’” (Ezekiel 37:21-24)
... the sons of Judah and the sons of Israel will be gathered together, and they will appoint for themselves one leader [Yeshua].... (Hosea 1:11)
... the sons of Israel will remain for many days without a prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, and without ephod or household idols. Afterward the sons of Israel will return and seek YHWH their God and David their king [prophetically used for Jesus the Christ since King David was already dead when this prophecy was made]; and they [all Israel] will come trembling to YHWH and to His goodness in the last days [from the time of Yeshua’s death, burial and resurrection onward, Acts 2:16-17, Heb. 1:1-2.] (Hosea 3:4-5)
...Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One [Yeshua the Christ - Matt. 2:1-6; Lk. 2:4-71 will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel [over both houses - all twelve tribes]. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity. Therefore, He [YHWH] will give them up [divorce and disperse the house of Israel] until the time when she [Mary, the mother of Yeshua] who is in labor has borne a child. Then the remainder of His brethren [the house of Israel] will return to the sons [nation] of Israel [with Yeshua’s birth, death, burial and resurrection a remnant from the two divided houses were reunited into one nation - Heb. 8:81]. And He [Yeshua] will arise and shepherd His flock.... And this One [Yeshua] will be our [the nation of Israel’s] peace [ending the animosity between the two houses of Israel]. (Micah 5:2-5)
In his book The Pharisees: The Sociological Background of Their Faith, Rabbi Louis Finkelstein, while discussing the return of the Judahites from Babylon to Jerusalem under Ezra, made it clear that there was no reunification of the house of Judah and the house of Israel at that time:
...all hope of reuniting the northern Israelites with the [southern] Judahites disappeared; hereafter they were doomed to be separate, rival, and at times even hostile peoples.14
Rabbi Finkelstein went so far as to declare there was no hope of the Judahites and Israelites ever being reunited. This, of course, was a natural response since the Rabbi was a Jew, and the Jews do not recognize Yeshua as the Messiah. As a consequence, the Rabbi also did not recognize the New Covenant which reunited the house of Judah and the house of Israel under Yeshua the Christ as taught in Hebrews 8:8.
David ben Joseph Kimhi a thirteenth-century Rabbi, who is quoted in The Holy Bible, According to the Authorized Version (A.D. 1611): With An Explanatory and Critical Commentary, recognized that it was only Judah and Benjamin who returned from Babylon, and that the house of Judah and the house of Israel were not reunited at that time. Rabbi Kimhi expounded upon Hosea 1:11:
And this will come to pass in the gathering together of the Captivity in the days of the Messiah, for unto the Second Temple there only went up [with Ezra] Judah and Benjamin who were carried captive to Babylon; and the children of Judah and the children of Israel were not gathered together at that time.15
In Discourses, Argumentative and Devotional, On The Subject of The Jewish Religion, Rabbi Isaac Leeser confirmed that the two houses were not reunited following the Babylonian captivity:
But seventy years [of exile and captivity in Babylon] soon elapsed, and at their ending a small number of Jews [Judahites], now no longer the united Israelites, returned to repossess their land, and again they dwelt therein; but not in that independence and national greatness which had been once theirs.16
By this return of the captives (from Babylon) the Israelitish Nation was not restored, since the Ten Tribes ... were left in banishment; and to this day  the researchers of travelers and wise men have not been able to trace their fate [this Rabbi could not admit differently], and we are unable to tell whether they are living in some remote land as firm adherents of [YHWH] the God of their fathers.17
The book The Circle of Knowledge, in a section entitled “The Book of Nations,” affirmed the separation of Judah and Israel:
Nearly fifty thousand Jews [from the house of Judah], chiefly of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, went to the old home of their race under the command of Zerubbabel and Jeshua.... The ten tribes [from the house of Israel] disappeared at this time from history ....18
Under the heading “Tribes, Lost Ten,” the Jewish Encyclopedia also supports this fact of history:
TRIBES, LOST TEN: ...believers in the literal inspiration of the Scriptures have always labored under a difficulty in regard to the continued existence of the [ten] tribes of Israel, with the exception of those of Judah and Levi (or Benjamin), which returned [from Babylon] with Ezra and Nehemiah.19
Even “Jews” of more recent times, who fallaciously claim to be Israelites,* recognize that the term “Jews” in the Bible is not representative of all twelve tribes of Israel. This is made clear in the following letters authorized by two different Chief Rabbis:
*A fact proven in chapter 4 - “Are Today’s Jews True Israelites?”
OFFICE OF THE CHIEF RABBI*
MULBERRY ST., COMMERCIAL RD., E. 1
LONDON, November 18th, 1918
In reply to your letter of the 15th instant. I am desired by the Chief Rabbi to state:
1. The people known at present as Jews are descendants of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin with a certain number of descendants of the tribe of Levi.
2. As far as is known, there is not any further admixture of other tribes.
3. The ten tribes have been absorbed among the nations of the world. (See II Kings Chap. 17, more especially vv. 22 and 23.)
4. We look forward to the gathering of all the tribes at some future day. (See Isaiah 27,11-12; and Ezekiel 37,15-28.)
With the Chief Rabbi’s cordial greetings,
I am, dear Sir,
Capt. Merton Smith.
Canadian Forestry Corps,
*Rabbi Joseph Herman Hertz was Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew (Jewish) Congregations of the British Commonwealth from 1913 to 1946.
OFFICE OF THE CHIEF RABBI*
MANSION HOUSE 0292/3
4. GREENCHURCH PLACE,
4th July, 1950
I refer to your letter of the 26th ult.
The Jews of today do not represent the whole of the twelve tribes. What happened to the ten tribes who occupied Northern Palestine in Biblical times is not definitely known. Various theories have been propounded. Modern Jewry is considered as being descended from the ancient tribe of Judah, and, to a lesser extent, the tribe of Benjamin.
(J. H. TAYLOR) Secretary.
C. H. L. Ingall, Esq.,
1125, Demesne Road,
*Rabbi Israel Brodie was Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew (Jewish) Congregations of the British Commonwealth from 1948 to 1965.
The “Jews” of this century easily discern between the houses of Judah and Israel. So why is the Christian clergy so slow to catch on? It is not necessary to take the word of Jewish witnesses alone. The Bible is always our best authority, and one needs only to read the books of Ezra and Nehemiah to establish and confirm that Judah and Israel were not reunited at that point in history:
... they [Ezra, the leading priests and the Levites] made a proclamation throughout Judah and Jerusalem to all the exiles [returned from Babylon], that they should assemble at Jerusalem, and that whoever would not come within three days, according to the counsel of the leaders and the elders, all his possessions should be forfeited and he himself excluded from the assembly of the exiles. So all the men of Judah and Benjamin assembled at Jerusalem within the three days.... (Ezra 10:7-9*)
*For further Scriptural proof see Ezra 1:5, 2:1, 4:1.
By stipulating Judah and Benjamin, it is clear that only the house of Judah returned to Jerusalem, and that only those of the house of Judah are referred to as “Jews” throughout the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Nebuchadnezzar took only those from the house of Judah captive into Babylon. Nehemiah tells us who returned from Babylon:
These are the people of the province who came up from the captivity of the [Judahite] exiles whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away, and who returned [from Babylon] to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his city.... (Nehemiah 7:6-7)
While it is true that Ezra and Nehemiah used the terms “Jews” (Judahites) and “Israelites” interchangeably, this usage does not create a problem because the descendants of the house of Judah could be called by either appellation. A close study will reveal that when Nehemiah listed the sons of Judah, Benjamin and Levi who had returned from Babylon, he addressed them in the broad sense as “sons of Israel.” There are no sons listed from any of the ten northern tribes, and thus Nehemiah was speaking exclusively of the two southern tribes of house of Judah.
There are others who mistakenly maintain that it was sometime during the first century A.D. that the term “Jews” became synonymous with all twelve tribes of Israel. Many have incorrectly tried to use the Apostle Paul as proof of their claim. In The Future of the Jews, B.L. Turner drew the following erroneous conclusion:
Before discussing the future of the Jews we should understand that the words “Jew” and “Israelite” since New Testament times have been and remain synonyms. This becomes very clear if we notice how the Apostle Paul used the terms in reference to himself and his kinsmen. Regarding himself he said, “I am a Jew [Judahite], of Tarsus in Cilicia” (Acts 21:39). Yet, he clearly calls himself an Israelite when he says, “I could wish that I myself were anathema [accursed] from Christ for my brethren’s sake, my kinsmen according to the flesh: who are Israelites....”21
This appears to be sound reasonable until one discovers from which tribe the Apostle Paul claims to be a physical descendant:
... I [the Apostle Paul] too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. (Romans 11:1)
Benjamin was one of the two southern tribes of the house of Judah as recorded in 1 Kings:
... when Rehoboam [King over the house of Judah] had come to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin.... (1 Kings 12:21)
As a result, Paul could legitimately call himself
- A Benjaminite since he was a descendant of the tribe of Benjamin.
- A Judahite or Jew since, as a Benjaminite, he was also descended from the house of Judah.
- An Israelite since, as a Judahite, he was also part of the twelve tribes of Israel.
The terms “Israelite” and “Jew” were synonymous, however, only when referring to the descendants of the house of Judah.
In his book The International Jew, Henry Ford, Sr., founder of the Ford Motor Company, owner of the Dearborn Independent newspaper, and a man of keen discernment, boldly declared the truth:
There is a mission for the pulpit to liberate the Church from what the New Testament Scriptures call “the fear of the Jews.” The pulpit has also the mission of liberating the Church from the error that Judah and Israel are synonymous. The reading of the Scriptures which confuse the tribe [house] of Judah with [the house of] Israel, and which interpret every mention of Israel as signifying the Jews, is at the root of more than one-half the confusion and division traceable in Christian doctrinal statements.22
At no time in either the Old or the New Testament was the term “Jews” ever used to refer to all twelve tribes of Israel. Consequently, when the Apostle Paul wrote of the Jews in Romans 9:24, it was only in reference to the descendants of the house of Judah.
What of the Gentiles then? The word “Gentile” comes from the Greek word “ethnos.”* Most of Christendom have incorrectly taken this word to mean exclusively non-Israelite peoples. Anton Darms made this same false assumption:
The term “Gentiles” in the New Testament always refers to people and nations outside of and apart from all the twelve tribes of Israel.23
It can be said positively that IN NO CASE IN THE BIBLE, either in the Old Testament or in the New, DOES THE WORD “GENTILE” REFER OR APPLY TO ANY PART OF ISRAEL.24 (Darms’ emphasis)
*The King James Version occasionally translates the Greek word “helen” as “Gentiles.” It is more properly translated “Greeks” as reflected in the New American Standard Version. However, these two words “ethnos” and “helen” are used interchangeably throughout the New Testament as proven in 1 Corinthians 1:22-24.
These are bold assertions, but totally inaccurate. As we look into the Bible, we find a much broader use than the limited definition suggested by Mr. Darms and most of Christendom.
Many preachers use Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible and Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words as study aids. It is interesting that with these excellent reference works at their disposal, preachers still espouse the mistaken conclusion that when the word “Gentile(s)” is encountered in the New Testament, it always refers exclusively to non-Israelite peoples. Strong’s and Vine’s give the word “Gentile(s)” or its Greek equivalent, a much broader interpretation than is used by most preachers and Christians. If we do not limit the word “ethnos” to non-Israelites, we allow the Bible to say what each inspired writer intended.
Strong’s defines “ethnos” as follows:
eth’nos ... a race (as of the same habit), i.e. a tribe; spec. a foreign (non-Jewish) [non-Israelite] one (usually by impl. pagan): Gentile, heathen, nation, people.25
Vine’s definition of “ethnos” is more exhaustive:
ETHNOS ... ‘heathen,’ denotes, firstly, a multitude or company; then, a multitude of people of the same nature or genus, a nation, people; it is used in the singular, of the Jews [Judahites] ... in the plural of nations ... other than Israel ... occasionally it is used of Gentile converts in distinction from Jews [Judahites] ....26
As can be seen, there is more than one application for “ethnos.” In light of these definitions, let us take a look at four different Biblical applications of the Greek word “ethnos” found in the New Testament. When used in a New Testament passage, the following interpretations of “ethnos” must be considered along with the commonly held interpretation of “non-Israelite.”
1. “Pagans” - in reference to heathens, specifically all nations, races or people not serving Yahweh as God:
You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the dumb idols, however you were led. (1 Corinthians 12:2)
2. “Nation(s)” - in reference to a multitude of people, specifically all mankind:
... He [YHWH] made from one every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times, and the boundaries of their habitations. (Acts 17:26)
3. “Nation” - in reference to the Judahites [Jews], specifically the descendants of the house of Judah, the two southern tribes of Israel:
... when he [the centurion] heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish [Judahite] elders asking Him to come and save the life of his slave. And when they [the Judahite elders] had come to Jesus they earnestly entreated Him, saying, “He [the centurion] is worthy for You to grant this to him; for he loves our [Judahite] nation, and it was he who built us our synagogue.” (Luke 7:3-5)
This one passage alone repudiates the theory that the word “Gentile” (ethnos) always refers to non-Israelite peoples.
4. “Gentiles” - in reference to the Israelites, specifically the descendants of the house of Israel, the ten northern tribes of Israel:
... even us, whom He [YHWH] also called, not from among Jews [Judahites] only, but also from among Gentiles. (Romans 9:24)
This last usage brings us back to the passage we left earlier, Romans 9:23-26. It was previously demonstrated that the Jews in this verse were members of the house of Judah only, from either the tribe of Judah or the tribe of Benjamin. Recognizing that there is more than one application of the word “ethnos” (translated “Gentiles” in this passage), let us re-examine Romans 9:23-26 and see which of the five interpretations (the four listed above or the one which is usually provided) is the correct choice according to the context. It is important for us to do so since some of you will question the interpretation and application of #4 above. It would be foolish, if not dishonest, to randomly pick whichever application suits the reader’s personal doctrinal position - the interpretation must fit the context. So what does the context of Romans 9:23-26 prove?
... even us, whom He [YHWH] also called, not from among Jews [the house of Judah] only, but also from among Gentiles. As He says also in Hosea, “I will call those who were not My people, ‘My people,’ and her who was not beloved, ‘Beloved.’ And it shall be that in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ there they shall be called sons of the living God.” (Romans 9:23-26)
If our reading is limited to just this passage, it is easy to see why most people would presume that the “Jews” represent all Israel, and the “Gentiles” represent all non-Israelites. When reading the Apostle Paul’s quotation from Hosea, the average Christian naturally thinks that the Gentiles have to be non-Israelite people since they were never God’s people and never considered His beloved. However, as is the habit of a good teacher Paul gives his reference, the book of Hosea. The student who is a good disciple will study Hosea 1 and 2, and as a result will then understand whom Paul had in mind when referring to the Gentiles. I challenge any reader to find anything in Hosea 1 and 2 that pertains to non-Israelite people. For the sake of brevity and clarity, only the pertinent information from those two chapters is printed below:
The word of YHWH which came to Hosea.... When YHWH first spoke through Hosea, YHWH said to Hosea, “Go take to yourself a wife of harlotry, and have children of harlotry, for the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking YHWH.” So he went and took Gomer ... and she conceived and bore him a son. And YHWH said to him [Hosea], “Name him Jezreel; for a little while, and I will punish the house of Jehu for the bloodshed of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel....” (Verses 1-5)
Described in the above passage is Yahweh’s divorcement of the house of Israel, the ten northern tribes - Jeremiah 3:8; 2 Kings 17:5-7, 18-23.
... she [Gomer, Hosea’s wife] conceived and gave birth to a daughter. And YHWH said to him [Hosea], “Name her Lo-ruhamah, for I [YHWH] will no longer have compassion on the house of Israel, that I should ever forgive them....” (Verse 6)
The King James Version translates the last half of verse 6 more accurately: “I will utterly take them away....” Additionally, Amos 9:8 declares that God “will not totally destroy the house of Jacob....”
“...I [YHWH] will have compassion on the house of Judah....” (Verse 7)
Note the distinction made between the house of Israel and the house of Judah in these verses and in Zechariah 11:14.
When she [Gomer] had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived and gave birth to a son. And YHWH said [to Hosea], “Name him Lo-Ammi, for you [the house of Israel] are not My people and I am not your God.” (Verses 8-9)
Why? Because Yahweh was planning to divorce the house of Israel. However, in verse 10, Yahweh begins to reveal His plan to renew His relationship with the house of Israel. This confirms that physical Israel would remain part of God’s plan forever.
Yet the number of the sons of Israel will be like the sand of the sea... and it will come about in that place where it is said to them [the house of Israel], “You are not My people....” ... it will be said to them, “You are the sons of the living God.” (Verse 10)
Compare this with Isaiah 7:8-9, 17. “Ephraim” is sometimes used interchangeably with the term “house of Israel” after the division, as illustrated in verses 8 and 9; the capital of the house of Israel was known as Samaria (the capital of the house of Judah was Jerusalem, the city of David).
Especially note that the last phrase of Hosea 1:10, "You are the sons of the “living God,” is part of the quotation used by Paul in Romans 9.
...the sons of Judah and the sons of Israel will be gathered together [reunited into one nation], and they will appoint for themselves one leader.... (Verse 11)
A reunited nation needs only one ruler or leader. For the remnant from both houses of the nation of Israel, that one leader is Yeshua the Christ – Hosea 3:4-5; Ezekiel 37:15-24; Micah 5:2-5.
“Say to your brothers, 'Ammi,' and to your sisters, 'Ruhamah.' Contend with your mother, contend, for she [the house of Israel] is not my wife, and I [YHWH] am not her husband...." (Verses 1-7a)
Why would God say this to the nation he had chosen as his beloved wife? Because God would divorce Israel for all her whoredoms.
“Then she [the divorced house of Israel] will say, ‘I will go back to my first husband [YHWH]....’” (Verse 7b-13)
“Therefore, behold, I [YHWH] will allure her, bring her [the house of Israel] into the wilderness, and speak kindly to her. Then I will give her ... a door of hope....” (Verses 14-15a)
“...it will come about in that day,” declares YHWH, “that you [the house of Israel] will call me Ishi [my husband] ... and I will betroth you to Me [a second time] forever.”(Verses 16-22)
“...I will sow her for myself in the land. I [YHWH] will also have compassion on her [the house of Israel] who had not obtained compassion [Isa. 54:1-81], and I will say to those [the house of Israel] who were not My people, ‘You are My people!’....”(Verse 23)
This last portion is also a part of the quotation used by the Apostle Paul in Romans 9.
As a result, it can be seen that Hosea 1 and 2 describe the divorce of the house of Israel (those whom the Apostle Paul identified as “Gentiles” in Romans 9), her banishment among the heathen nations, the prophecy promising her restoration unto Yahweh, her former husband, and her future reuniting with the house of Judah. By no stretch of the imagination are these passages (Hosea 1, 2 and Romans 9:23-26) speaking of non-Israelite peoples. Yahweh had taken Israel as His wife (Exodus 19:3-8), but when the house of Israel went whoring after other gods and committed adultery, God divorced her for her abominations and sent her out among the pagan peoples of other nations. There, the house of Israel lost her identity and became known by the names of the nations she lived among, loosely and generally referred to as Gentiles. Then, in Romans, she (Israel, now known as “Gentiles”) is rejoined with her former husband (Yahweh) and reunited with the house of Judah in fulfillment of the prophecy found in Hosea 1 and 2.
When one allows the Bible to be its own commentary, it is apparent that the Gentiles spoken of by Paul in Romans 9 are the same people (the house of Israel) spoken of in Hosea 1 and 2.
In Hebrews 8:8 we are told that God has effected a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. Having been provided with the correct definitions for the words “Jews” and “Gentiles,” Romans 9:24 harmonizes perfectly with Hebrews 8:8:
... even us [Israelites], whom He [YHWH] also called [made a new covenant with], not from among Jews [the house of Judah] only, but also from among Gentiles [the divorced and gentilized house of Israel]. (Romans 9:24)
At first glance it may seem confusing to identify the Gentiles in Romans 9:24 as "the house of Israel” because of the contrast made between “Gentiles” and “Israel” in verses 30 and 31 later in the same chapter:
What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. (Romans 9:30-31)
How can the “Gentiles” in Romans 9:24 be the descendants of “the house of Israel” yet, at the same time, be contrasted with “Israel” in Romans 9:30-31? This dilemma is easily reconciled when one understands that at the time the Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans, the people of the divorced and dispersed house of Israel were no longer called “Israel.” This loss of identity was in fulfillment of Hosea 1:9-10, where it was prophesied that the house of Israel would no longer be known as God’s people. Although the ten northern tribes had been formerly known as Israelites (God’s people), they were now (following God’s divorcement of them) collectively referred to as “Gentiles.” Only the descendants of the house of Judah were still known as and called Israel, “ruling with El(ohiym),” at the time the Apostle Paul wrote his epistle to the Romans. The fact that the Judahites were called “Israel” is demonstrated by the Apostle Peter:
... when Peter saw this, he replied to the people [Judahites], “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this.... The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His Servant Jesus the one whom you delivered up, and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him.” (Acts 3:12-13)
These “Men of Israel” addressed by the Apostle Peter, were the Judahite people who delivered up Yeshua the Christ to Pontius Pilate and demanded His crucifixion.
Romans 9:24 can easily be reconciled with Romans 9:30-31 if one recognizes that Paul’s use of the term “Israel” is, in this case, used in reference to the Judahite (Jewish) Israelites, descendants from the. house of Judah. With this knowledge and with the understanding that the descendants of the house of Israel were no longer called “Israel,” Romans 9:30-31 can be properly understood as follows:
What shall we say then? That Gentiles [the divorced and gentilized house of Israel], who did not pursue righteousness [which is exactly what the house of Israel did not do], attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; but Israel [the house of Judah], pursuing a law of righteousness [which is exactly what the faithful among the house of Judah tried to do], did not arrive at that law.27 (Romans 9:30-31)
Consequently, what appears to be a dilemma between Romans 9:24 and Romans 9:30-31, is only a matter of semantics. After examining the use of the word “Gentile” in the New Testament, its primary meaning is found to be: those people descended from the house of Israel, who were at one time divorced by God and dispersed among the heathen non-Israelite nations and who were at a later time called back into a covenant relationship with God.
The word “Greek(s),” often used interchangeably with the word “Gentile(s),” is also used in the New Testament with reference to dispersed Israelites. One such instance is found in the Gospel of John:
The Jews [Judahites] therefore said to one another, “Where does this man [Yeshua] intend to go that we shall not find Him? He is not intending to go to the [Israelite] Dispersion among the Greeks, and teach the [Israelite] Greeks is He?” (John 7:35)
The word “dispersion” (“dispersed” - KJV) is defined in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible as: “Isr. [Israelite] resident[s] in Gentile countries.”28 The Apostle John acknowledged that dispersed Israelites were living among the Greeks, and he recognized them as being Greeks.
In this chapter we focused primarily on four passages: Hebrews 8:8-10, Romans 9:3-4, Romans 9:23-26 and John 7:35. Having provided the correct definitions for the words “Jew(s),” “Gentile(s)” and “Greek(s),” it has been demonstrated from these four Scriptural witnesses alone that God is still working with and has a special plan for physical Israel during these New Covenant times. God’s plans for the Israelites did not end with the change of covenants, but continued from the Old Covenant into the New Covenant, just as God had promised.
1. Leonard C. Lee, Clouds Over America: The Unitd States in Bible Prophecy (Washington, DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1948), p. 71.
2. Lee, p. 71.
3. Lee, p. 74.
4. Rabbi Isaac Leeser, Discourses, Argumentative and Devotional, on the Subject of the Jewish Religion (Philadelphia, PA: Haswell and Fleu, 1836) Vol. II, pp. 256-257
5. Foy Wallace, Jr., God's Prophetic Word (Ft. Worth, TX: E. Wallace Publications, 1946), p. 402
6. Dr. Alfred M. Lilienthal, What Price Israel (Chicago, IL: Henry Regnery Company, 1953), p. 216
7. Rabbi Elmer Berger, A Partisan History of Judaism (New York, NY: The Devin-Adair Company, 1951), p. 32
8. Dr. Hugo Winckler and Leonard William King, "The Hebrew Peoples," Harmsworth History of the World by Arthur Mee, Sir John Alexander Hammerston, and Arthur Donald Innes (London, UK: Carmelite House, 1908), vol. 3, p. 1776.
9. Winckler and King, vol. 3, p. 1781.
10. “Tribes, Lost Ten,” The Jewish Encyclopedia (New York, NY: Funk and Wagnalls Company, 1905), vol. 12, p. 249.
11. Wallace, p. 401.
12. Dr. David Baron, quoted by Dr. Walter Ralston Martin in The Kingdom of the Cults: An Analysis of the Major Cult Systems in the Present Christian Era (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany Fellowships, Inc., 1965), p. 301.
13. Baron, p. 303.
14. Rabbi Louis Finkelstein, The Pharisees: The Sociological Background of Their Faith (Philadelphia, PA: Jewish Publication Soicety of America, 138), p. 555. Rabbi Finkelstein was chosen by the Kehillas (Jewish communities) of the world in 1937 as one of the 120 Jews who best represented “a lamp of Judaism” to the world.
15. Rabbi David ben Joseph Kimhi (Davidis Kimchi), quoted in Frederick Charles Cook, ed., The Holy Bible According to the Authorized Verson (A.D. 1611): With Explanatory and Critical Commentary..., (London, UK: John Murray, 1876), vol. 6, p. 417.
16. Leeser, vol. 1, p. 256.
17. Leeser, vol. 1, p. 185.
18. Henry Woldmar Ruof, The Circle of Knowledge (Boston, MA: The Standard Publishing Company, 1916), p. 360.
19. “Tribes, Lost Ten,” The Jewish Encyclopedia (New York and London: Funk and Wagnlls Company, 1905), vol. 12, 249.
20. Two Chief Rabbis’ letters written in 1918 and 1950, quoted in The People of the Jews (London, UK: Covenant Books, 1991), pp. 12-13. Rabbi Joseph Herman Hertz held the position of Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew [Jewish] Congregations of the British Commonwealth from 1913 to 1946. Rabbi Israel Brodie, who succeeded Rabbi Hertz, held the same position from 1948 to 1965.
21. B.L. Turner, The Future of the Jews, p. 1.
22. Henry Ford, Sr., and The Dearborn Independent, The International Jew: The World's Foremost Problem (Dearborn, MI: The Dearborn Publishing Company, 1922), pp. 25-26, reprinted from a series of articles appearing originally in The Dearborn Independent, 22 May 1920 – 2 October 1920.
23. Anton Darms, The Delusion of British-Israelism: A Comprehensive Treatise (New York, NY: Loizeaux Brothers, Bible Truth Press, 1940), p. 72.
24. Darms, p. 73.
25. James Strong, “Greek Dictionary of the New Testament,” Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 1940), p. 72.
26. William Edwy Vine, “ethnos,” Vine’s Expository DIctionary of the New Testament Words (McLean, VA: MacDonald Publishing Company), p. 484.
27. For a more comprehensive study of Romans, chapters 8-11, listen to the audio series Confusion Dispelled.
28. Strong, p. 23.
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Table of Contents Chapter 2