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FICTITIOUS HISTORIES OF THE TRIBES.


Let me give you one or two more samples of Anglo-Israel perversion of Scripture and history:—

"The tribe of Benjamin has a singular special place in the history of Israel and Judah. Neither Old or New Testament can be well understood unless one understands the place of this tribe in Providence. They were always counted one of the Ten Tribes, and reckoned with them in the prophetic visions. They were only loaned to Judah about 800 years (read 1 Kings xi.). They were to be a light for David in Jerusalem. God, foreseeing that the Jews would reject Christ, kept back this one Tribe to be in readiness to receive Him; and so they did. At the destruction of Jerusalem they escaped, and after centuries of wanderings turn up as the proud and haughty Normans. Finally, they unite with the other Tribes under William the Conqueror. A proper insight into the work and mission of Benjamin will greatly aid one in interpreting the New Testament. He was set apart as a missionary Tribe, and at once set to work to spread the Gospel of Jesus. Most of the disciples were Benjaminites. Then, after 800 years of fellowship with Judah, they were cut loose and sent after their brethren of the House of Israel. It was needful that the Lion and the Unicorn should unite."

Again:—

"God said to Abraham, 'In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed'; and more, 'and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.' Israel, being scattered and cast off, became a blessing to the world. They gave to the surrounding nations the only true idea of God, for in their lowest condition and idolatry they preserved the name and knowledge of Jehovah, and Christ sent His disciples after them through one of their own tribe—namely, Benjamin—telling them not to go into the way of the Gentiles, nor into the cities of the Samaritans, 'but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.' To these sheep Christ declares He was sent. Where were these sheep? They were scattered about in Central Asia—in Scriptural language, in Cappadocia, Galatia, Pamphylia, Lydia, Bithynia, and round about Illyricum. From these very regions came the Saxons; from here they spread abroad North and West, being the most Christian of any people on the face of the earth then, as now."[1]

It is difficult to characterise statements like these given out by Anglo-Israel writers in ex cathedra style for the consumption of the ignorant and credulous. But—

I. This "history" of the tribe of Benjamin (which may be taken also as a fair sample of their "histories" of Dan, Manasseh, etc.) is entirely the product of the perverted fancy of the writers, and is without a vestige of historic basis for its support. The only reference given in the first extract is 1 Kings xi. Now that chapter gives the account of God's warning to Solomon, and of the announcement that in the reign of his immediate successor the kingdom would be rent from the house of David. "Howbeit," we read, "I will not rend away all the kingdom, but will give one tribe to thy son (i.e., Rehoboam) for David My servant's sake, and for Jerusalem's sake, . . . that David My servant may have a lamp alway before Me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen to put My Name there."[2]

The "one tribe" which during the time of the schism would be left to the house of David is, of course, not Benjamin, as the writer of the above extract supposes, but Judah, "with which Benjamin was indissolubly united by the very position of the capital on its frontier." This is seen from verses 31, 32 of the same chapter, where the Ten Tribes "are given to Jeroboam," and the remaining two of the twelve are called "one tribe."

It is, of course, a pure invention also, of the fairytale type, that Benjamin as a tribe received Christ while the Jews rejected Him, or that Benjamin became "the missionary tribe," or that "most of the disciples were Benjamites." Not one single tribe as a tribe, or even one local community as a community, received Christ; but the "as many" of His own "as received Him" were "Jews," which, as we shall see farther on, were the representatives of the Israel of the whole "Twelve Tribes scattered abroad," and the Twelve Apostles (though Paul, indeed, was a Benjamite) were in a way representative of all the Twelve Tribes of Israel.

II. Then note the absurdities and contradictions of Anglo-Israel assertions. "Israel," you are told—by which is meant the Ten Tribes—while themselves idolaters and sunk so low as not only to forget their origin, but, as another exponent of the theory has it, lapsed "into a state of semi-barbarism like the first pioneer settlers in North America"; and, being without records, in a brief period lost all memory of their former name and condition[3]—became, while in such a condition, "a blessing to the world, and gave to the surrounding nations the only true idea of God"!

And what shall be said of the terrible perversion of such a plain and beautiful Scripture as Matt. x. 5, 6? In the introduction to that chapter (Matt. ix. 36–38) we read how our Lord Jesus, beholding the multitudes which were pressing around Him, was moved with compassion for them because they fainted (or rather, according to the now accepted reading, "were harassed," "plagued"), "and were scattered abroad as sheep having no shepherd." Then, after saying to His disciples that the harvest truly is plenteous but the labourers are few, and commanding them to pray the Lord of the harvest that He may send, or thrust forth, labourers into His harvest, He calls the twelve individual Jewish disciples, and commissions and empowers them to go forth on the definite mission of mercy to their countrymen, warning them not to go beyond the bounds of the land "into the way of the Gentiles," nor even within the bounds of Palestine to visit "the cities of the Samaritans," but to confine themselves exclusively "to the lost sheep of the House of Israel"—that is, to their own Jewish people, who (as we shall see) are throughout the New Testament called alternately "Jews" and "Israel." This is all plain and obvious; and we know, as a matter of fact and history, that the ministry of John the Baptist, and of our Lord Jesus, and of the Twelve Apostles, until after His ascension, was confined to the "Jews" in Palestine. Anglo-Israelism, however, is able by some fiction to transform the Twelve Disciples into the tribe of Benjamin, and "the lost sheep of the House of Israel" into a medley of Gentile nations located "in Central Asia," and other specified regions, who, though unknown to themselves to be Israelites in origin, and mistaken by the Apostles in their subsequent missionary journeys for 'Gentiles," were really the "lost Ten Tribes," alias "the Saxons," and progenitors of the English! And these are only a few typical samples of the so-called "historical proofs" and Bible interpretations on which the whole theory rests. I must now pass on to another part of the subject, but let me, before doing so, earnestly commend to you whenever you come across Anglo-Israel literature to keep in mind the good advice of a well-known Bishop to his clergy—"Always verify your references"—and I would add, "study the context"—and you will find that the Scriptures quoted in them are either misapplications or perversions of the true meaning of the text. In fact, there is not a Scripture, however sublime and glorious its import, and however plain and obvious its meaning, which does not become distorted and perverted in Anglo-Israel hands.[4]

Here are one or two samples. Anglo-Israelism is based for the most part on the false supposition of a separate calling and destiny of the Ten Tribes from that of Judah:—

"The natural seed of Abraham," we are told, "is divided in the Bible, the word Israel standing generally for the Ten Tribes, and Judah for Two Tribes. These divisions have separate paths appointed them to walk in through the centuries. 'All the House of Israel wholly,' 'the whole House of Israel,' 'all the House of Israel,' have a special work. The Ten Tribes are especially called in the Scriptures the seed of Abraham. Sometimes 'My chosen'; again, 'Mine inheritance,' and 'My servant.' God, in referring to them in their scattered state, and of His gathering them together, says (Isaiah xli. 8): 'But thou, Israel, art My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen; the seed of Abraham My friend—thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art My servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away."[5]

I shall show later on that it is not true to say that the word Israel stands "generally" for the Ten Tribes, and Judah for the Two Tribes. "Generally," the name Israel stands for all the descendants of Jacob, whose name was changed by God Himself to "Israel," though in the historical books, especially in 1 and 2 Kings, and 2 Chronicles, and in a few passages in the Prophets, it is used to describe the northern kingdom of the Ten Tribes in contradistinction to the southern kingdom of Judah. But its use in the more limited and temporary sense as applied to the Ten Tribes can always be clearly discerned from the context. But in order to support the assertion that "these two divisions have separate paths appointed them to walk through the centuries," it is affirmed that the designations "All the House of Israel wholly," "the whole House of Israel," "My chosen," "Mine inheritance," and "My servant," are especially applied in the Scriptures to the "Ten Tribes" in contradistinction to Judah. Now this is utterly baseless, as any intelligent Bible-reader will find if he takes the trouble to look up all the passages where these expressions are used.[6]


  1. Both these extracts are taken from "The Lost Ten Tribes"—the book referred to in a previous note—by Joseph Wild.
  2. 1 Kings xi. 13–36.
  3. "Israel in Britain," by Colonel Garnier, page 6.
  4. See samples in Note i. of Part III.
  5. "The Ten Lost Tribes," page 12.
  6. "All the House of Israel wholly" is found in Ezek. xi. 27, and is used of those of the southern kingdom who were already in captivity, as contrasted with those who were still with Zedekiah in Jerusalem and Palestine. The parallel to Ezek. xi. is Jeremiah xxiv., where the two parts of the nation—those already in captivity and those still in the land—are also contrasted under the symbol of the two baskets of figs, one of which was "very good" and the other "very evil." When Peter, for instance, said, "Let all the House of Israel know assuredly that God hath made this same Jesus both Lord and Christ," he addressed the "Jews" in Palestine, as every one knows. "My chosen," or "Whom I have chosen," apart from its use as applied to the priests and Levites, is used sixteen times of Zion and Jerusalem, and just as many times of the whole nation. Deut. vii. 6; xiv. 2; Psalm xxxiii. 12; Isaiah xli. 8, 9—may be turned up as examples. "My servant" is used seventeen or eighteen times in the second half of Isaiah, and when not directly applied to the Messiah, as in xlii. 1; xlix. 3–7; lii. 13; and liii. 11—is a designation of the whole people; and it must be remembered that Isaiah prophesied primarily "concerning Judah and Jerusalem." The term as a designation of the people is also used five times by Jeremiah in the same inclusive sense, i.e., of the whole nation.