By Ben Cohen
The reason we are here is we’re trying to stick together as one tribe, as one family. We can each contribute what we have to say and what we feel.
When we are talking about Judah and Ephraim, there are a few approaches that we could take. What we want to concentrate on, is to try to see Judah and Ephraim as one family. Though we have had a family feud, we’re trying to bridge that now. It’s a family. We’re all familiar with our families back home, and we do know that we have a few disputes here and there and we try to bridge them somehow.
Judah is represented by the tribe of Judah, the tribe of Benjamin and most of the tribe of Levi. The rest of the tribes were led by Ephraim. Where are they now is what we want to know.
Ben Reads from his Hebrew Bible
I would like for you to turn to Jeremiah 31. Jeremiah is talking very clearly about the regathering of Ephraim into Judah, and it really is assorted conversation between God and the people of Israel. God comments, “This people that survived the sword found favor in the wilderness. . . Among them will be the blind, the lame, the pregnant and the birthing together. A great congregation will return there. With weeping they will come and through supplication I will bring them. I will guide them along the streams of water in direct paths in which they will not stumble. For I have been a Father to Israel” (vs. 1, 7 & 8).
Esau and Jacob were twins. Esau, the first to come out, represents basically the pagan nations of this world. They also come and claim that the covenant goes through them, but God gave the firstborn rights to Jacob, who is the youngest.
If you look at the tribes, you see that the first was Reuben. Judah was the fourth to be born, but Judah took a leading role, at least in Judaism, as a firstborn. Then when we come to Ephraim and Manasseh, Ephraim is identified as the firstborn – He has the right of the firstborn.
Let’s go on with Jeremiah 31 and maybe we can understand what Ephraim is all about. In verse 14, “Thus said HaShem: a voice is heard on high where is bitter weeping. Rachel weeps for her children. She refuses to be consoled for her children for they are gone.” Here is a key to the situation we are considering today. Rachel, the mother of Benjamin and Joseph, is the grandmother of Ephraim and Manasseh. She looks down from heaven and she doesn’t see them. The northern part of Israel is people who are gone. They disappeared completely as a part of Israel. She cannot identify them. She cannot see clearly who they are. “Where are they?” she asks.
And what does God say to her? “Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears.” Don’t cry, don’t worry about it. “For there is a reward for your accomplishments [reward of HaShem] and they will return from the enemy’s land.” Not only are they going to return, but where are they going to return from? From the enemy’s land. On this there is an interpretation that actually the children of Rachel, Ephraim/Joseph, are not only coming from the enemy’s land, but they represented the enemy of Israel for many generations.
So we see that the family feud is much deeper than we think it is. Really the picture is composed of black and white elements and that creates the picture. The black and the white, the conflict and contrast between the two colors, is what creates the picture and the balance that we can visualize with our eyes like in a movie. The picture is there and it evolves and continues on. The question is where do we want to be in this? We cannot, as one person, or in a small group, change the script of the movie. However, there are a couple of scenes from that movie that could be modified, as God explains in the Scripture. We’re going to get into it in a minute.
The main thing, like when you go to a movie, you want to learn something. You come out of the movie and say, “Hey, look, we got a little smarter.” We learned something in this movie. It’s a human thing, a story built on something. But what is the lesson of this movie we’re talking about? It starts in Genesis and I guess it ends in Revelation. Everything God said is going to take place. But right now we are at a turning point where we have to get back the family we constructed, BECAUSE we are facing this Messianic Age, and as a part of the Messianic Age the Bible is saying that Judah and Ephraim have to get together. Those two sticks have to come together into one tree.
Foreign to Many Christians
Now, I know that for most of Christianity this notion of Judah and Ephraim is very, very poor. It is completely out of it. But we are not here to change the world. We cannot. Only God has the time for its fulfillment. So this is like a very deep, very unusual commitment for us.
It doesn’t hold up in a democratic group. For in a democracy, how can somebody commit himself for a people that are not even alive yet and hasn’t been asked if they are willing? We were not asked either – but what happened is that our great, great grandparents – our fathers – did make that commitment. That’s what they were asked to do in return for inheriting the land. It was basically the greatest real estate deal on the face of the earth. It was land for certain statutes, for certain commitments. The deal was made, and it was signed in blood.
Here’s An Illustration
The father and the son share the same house. The father is the one who is making the rules of the house. The son and the rest of the family are asked by the father to please adhere to the rules. “You cannot do what you want,” he says. “This is the house I have set up, and I will keep death away.”
The father, at one point, will kick his son out of the house. Why would he do that? That’s because he really loves his son. He wants him to understand and appreciate what the home is all about. Because the son has gotten used to having everything granted to him, he is rebellious and kicks to the left and to the right. Now the lesson for him is to be without a land, without a house, so many years and he is open to all kinds of attacks from animals, from other people.
This is what Jews went through from the nations. They were kicked out of the land, and they had to experience hardship. The Holocaust about 60 years ago was probably the top of the bad experiences that took place. This is because we did not have a land of our own for so many years. For a long time we were away from that land. We were punished.
You have to understand very clearly, that with all the compassion you Christian people have for the Jewish people, the fact remains that the rules of the house were not kept, and that’s why it all happened. So when a son goes out and he has no place to stay, he stays in the cold weather, rain, snow, outside without a sweater on, without protection from God, because God says, “I’m going to hide my face from you for all this time.”
In other words, God wants us to go through the experience of not having a father, being fatherless, being Godless, so many years. He’s saying, “Hey, look, let’s try it. You go out and see what happens to you outside of the home that I gave you without my intervention. I’m not doing good or bad for you. I’m just going to leave you and let’s see what happens to you.” And indeed when we look back we see all the cruel, every kind of holocaust taking place for the last 2,000 years.
Are we going to learn from this experience? And if so, what is the lesson that needs to be learned here? How are we going to change our ways to come into compliance with God? Should we do it in a business way, a family way, or take another approach?
Let’s take an approach as a husband and wife. The husband provides for his wife, working for her, giving her everything she needs, – and then she goes to other men. She leaves her first husband, as we see in Hosea, and she harlots with other people. She forgot the goodness of what the first man gave to her. So now she is at a point where she’s not attractive anymore. She had new men along the way, but they’re gone now. She has nothing. She’s on her own completely. No man is looking at her anymore after all these years.
We turn to Hosea, to try to understand it a little better. Hosea 2 starts with a very good announcement.
“If the number of the Children of Israel would be like the sand of the sea which can neither be measured nor counted, it will happen that in the place of their exile where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people.’ It will be said to them, ‘Children of the Living God, the Children of Judah and the Children of Israel will be assembled together and they will appoint for themselves one head, and ascend from the land, for the day of Jezreel is great.’
“Say to your brothers, ‘Ami’ (my People) and your sister, Ruhamah (pitied), ‘Contend with your mother. Contend: for she is not my wife, and I’m not her husband. And have her remove her harlotries from her face, and her idolatries from between her breasts, lest I stripped her bare, and set her as on the day she was born, and make her like a wilderness, and render her like a parched land, and cause her to die of thirst.’
“And upon her children I will have no mercy, for they are children of harlotry. For their mother has committed harlotry; she who conceived them hath shamed herself; for she said, ‘I will go after my paramours, those who provide my bread and my water, my wool, and my linen, my oil and my drink.’
“Therefore, behold, I will hedge your way with thorns, and I will hem her in with a fence and she will not find her paths. And she will pursue her paramours, but not reach them. She will seek them but not find them.
“Then she will say, ‘I will go and return to my first husband, for it was better for me there than it is now.’ For she did not realize that it was I who gave her the grain and the wine and the oil. I lavished silver and gold upon her, but she used it for Baal.
“Therefore I will return and take my grain in its time and my wine in its season, and I will remove my wool and my linen of protection that I gave her to cover her nakedness. And now I will reveal her repulsiveness before the eyes of the paramours, and no man will save her from my hand. I will terminate her every rejoicing, her festivals, her New Moon, her Sabbaths, and her every appointed season.
“I will lay waste her vines and her fig trees, of which she said, ‘These are payment for me that my paramours have given me.’ And I will make them like a forest, and the beasts of the field will devour them. And I will repay her for all the days of the Baalim, to which she burned incense and she adorned herself with her earrings and her jewelry, and followed after her paramours, but me she forgot – the word of HaShem” (Hosea 2:1-15). -
Legend: Circle represents countries Funding Terrorist Groups, Square represents countries Hosting Terrorist Groups Within Borders, Triangle represents countries Sponsoring Terrorism.
When the Towers Fell
Palestinians cheered the terror strikes while marching through the streets, firing weapons in the air in glee and passing out candy. In the West Bank town of Nablus, crowds of Palestinians gathered in celebration chanting “Beloved bin-Laden, strike Tel Aviv!”
Foreign journalists accused the PA of making “direct threats” against them and failing to stop gunmen from preventing camera crews from recording the jubilant scenes.
– Source: AIPAC’s Near East Report