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Ephraim – Super Power?

By John Hulley

Mevasseret Zion, Israel

The Lost Tribes of Israel have been lost for so long that many have given up waiting for their return. Today, however, we are closer than ever before to identifying at least one or two of them.

The blessings of Jacob and of Moses mention some very distinctive characteristics. For the two sons of Joseph the astonishing prophecy is that Ephraim and to a lesser extent Menasheh are to become world powers:

“He shall gore nations to the ends of the earth”(Deut. 33:17).

To achieve such power the sons of Joseph are to multiply rapidly and become enormously wealthy.

The Lost Tribes are also expected to join Judah in reconquering the land of Israel.

So far we’ve seen Judah return to the land, but where are the others? It’s been a hard struggle and it’s getting harder as the Moslem nations develop nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. Syria, Iraq and Iran already have poison gas. Iraq is believed also to be equipped to launch germ warfare. Iraq and Iran are both within a couple of years having nuclear weapons.

Will the real Ephraim please stand up?

Where is this numerous, wealthy people wielding world power? In search of answers I have been looking at historical evidence on the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. Could any of the great powers in this century be of Israelite descent? I found that some important facts have been discovered by historical and archaeological researchers, which have not yet received much attention.

For instance the royal correspondence (written in clay) of the Assyrian captors of the Ten Tribes reveal that the Assyrians did not call the Ten tribes “Israelites”. The Assyrians called the Ten Tribes Omrii, from the name of Omri, an important ruler in the history of the northern kingdom of Israel. There is nothing unusual in calling a foreign people by a different name, just as Israelis call France “Tsarfat”.

The name Omrii stuck to the captive Israelites, varying to Gimirri in parts of the Assyrian Empire, Kimmeri in Greek and Cimmeri in western Europe. A Danish historian has recently put out a study with some of the evidence. Indeed, sections of the history of the Cimmerians have been known to historians, long before their origins could be identified (see Barbara Tuchman, “Bible and Sword”, pages 5,6,7).

The path of the Cimmerians has been traced around the northern border of the Assyrian Empire into western Turkey. From there they tried repeatedly but fruitlessly to break through to the southeast. Why? Were they seeking a way back to Israel?

Instead, around 600 B.C.E., they were driven out of Turkey northwards across the Bosphorus into Europe. School children in Israel learn about the disappearance of the Lost Tribes across a mysterious river named Sambatyon. According to the Sages this strange river stops on the Sabbath. Thus far no such river has ever been discovered.

Could it be the Bosphorus? This is a narrow strait through which water from the Black Sea flows toward the Aegean. It looks like a river, except that it stops every few days, depending on the winds over those two seas. Did it happen to stop on the Sabbath during the period of the crossing by the lost tribes? And did they so report to Jerusalem? (See my essay “Did Any of the Lost Tribes Go North? Is the ‘Sambatyon’ the Bosphorous?” In B'Or HaTorah, 1987)

The trial of the Cimmerians can be traced in western Europe in the names of peoples, such as Cymru – the Welsh name for themselves; and of places such as the Cimbric peninsula – the former name of Denmark. Folk traditions also recall their wanderings.

Was it pure chance that places where they settled later became the scenes of bloody religious struggle? On one side was the Catholic Church – a religion officially based on the Bible but which did not allow its followers to read it. On the other side were groups of “heretics” striving to get hold of the Bible and live by it.

The Church reaction was the Inquisition, with its torture chambers and public executions by burning. Mere ownership of a Bible could get you to the stake.

The Jews got a taste of it in Spain. When large numbers of them converted to Christianity in order to evade expulsion, they thereby made themselves subject to persecution in case of any heretical behavior. Tens of thousands of Jews were murdered by the Catholic Inquisition.

The inquisition was largely successful for more than three centuries. Why would a non-Jewish people think the Bible worth all that suffering? They did not know they would some day be numerous and wealthy or that they would rise to great power. All they could see ahead was the weapons of papal soldiers and fires of the Inquisition. What gave them the strength to hang on?

Finally, the heretics managed to attract political support which made it possible to fight wars of survival: the Protestants, as they came to be called, struggled against Catholic armies that were sent to exterminate – yes, exterminate – them. The worst of these ferocious battles, the Thirty Years War, is estimated to have taken the lives of about five million Protestants in central Europe, roughly 25% of all the Protestants in existence anywhere at the time. What gave them the courage to persist?

The Bible of the Protestants includes not only the Greek (“New”) Testament but also the Hebrew Bible (what Christians call the "Old" Testament). Could the Bible-reading martyrs have been guided in part by a subconscious recognition of an ancestral heritage? Were they fulfilling the prophecy that, after losing their faith and identity, the Lost Tribes would eventually recover their loyalty to God?[1]

Since Protestantism is based in part on the Hebrew Bible, does it represent the beginnings of such a recovery? Certainly the characteristics prophesied for Ephraim have been manifest among the Protestants – numbers, wealth and power. Once the battles of survival were over, they soon rose to world leadership and have stayed there.

In that position it has been possible for some of them to play an important part in the restoration of Israel. The battles for survival were still going on when Protestant Zionism appeared in England and spread to America. It laid the groundwork for such military and economic support as these two nations have given to the Zionist program.

Being a relatively small people, the Jews needed such support if they were to cope successfully with: the Turkish Empire, which ruled Palestine; the other Moslem peoples living in the area; and the German Nazis who sent armies toward the Near East.

Not all Protestant nations have been helpful, and the degree of helpfulness has varied. Why the differences? To answer this question we need to look more closely at the distinctions between Protestant groups, especially the difference between the Independent and State Churches. Protestant groups can be classified according to degree of attachment to the Bible, ranging from those who believe every word to more liberal readers who don’t. The closer they are to the Bible, the more favorable their attitudes toward Jews and Israel.

The three largest Protestant powers illustrate the difference:

In Germany, at the urging of Luther, tens of thousands of Independent Church (i.e., non-Lutheran State Church) Bible believers were massacred and the rest driven out. Even today, more than four centuries later, Independent Church Protestantism is still weak in Germany. Small wonder that the Jews found so few defenders among the German churches during the years of Nazi persecution.

In Britain, Independent Church (i.e. non-Anglican State Church) Bible-believers were persecuted for a century. After that they were tolerated, even though they never became mainstream. Britain played a crucial role in throwing the Turks out of Palestine and admitting large numbers of Jews.

But many Jews felt that the British were too sympathetic to the objections of the Arab majority there. In 1939 the British promised to restrict Jewish immigration severely in exchange for Arab agreement not to revolt during the coming war with Germany. In 1944, as news of the Nazi genocide against the Jewish People leaked out, some Jews attacked British forces in the Land of Israel (“Palestine”) in an effort to nullify the British promise to the Arabs and to force the British to admit more Jewish refugees.

As for the U.S., Independent Church Bible-believers have always enjoyed favorable conditions and amount to between 35 and 45 percent of the population, depending on the definition. A poll of public opinion by the New York Times (April 26th, 1998) showed that 57% of the American public supports Israel, compared to 10% who support Abdul Rauf el-Codbi el-Husseini (“Yasser Arafat”) – a ratio of more than 5 to 1! Remember that the Jews amount to only about 2% of the population in America. It seems likely that a large proportion of these non-Jewish Israel-supporters are from Bible-believing Independent Church groups.

The amount of American military and economic aid to Israel is establishing world records. The U.S. is virtually the only defender of Israel at the U.N. The Americans, along with the British, are leading international military efforts to block Iraqi development of nuclear. Biological and chemical weapons, which could be used against Israel or other nations.

However, these forms of support generally come on condition that Israel withdraw from liberated territories (Judea, Samaria, Gaza and the Golan). As in the earlier relationship with Britain, many Jews feel that the Americans are too sympathetic to the Arabs.

But this may be all you can hope for from people who feel a vague sympathy for the Jews but are unaware of any kinship with them. Suppose an important part of the American people really is descended from Ephraim, but has not been conscious of it. Wouldn’t you expect their policies toward Israel to be a bit confused and confusing?

Suppose they begin to discover their real identify. Would they support Israel more actively? According to prophecy, the differences between the Lost Tribes and the Jews will be happily resolved, and all of them will settle in an enlarged Israel. In the Messianic Era Israel will no longer be tiny and divided. It will be united and the greatest power on earth.

About the author: Mr. John Hulley is the Chairman of the Center for the Study of Bible-based Societies and Scientific Discovery of the Room & Branch Association.

[1] Editor’s note: Was this the Holy Spirit working in conjunction with “the promised seed”?