The following is a two part article that appeared in the April/May 1979 and June 1979 issues of Biblical Research Monthly. You'll find it is a little dated in references to Armstrong and the World Wide Church of God, but otherwise, it is still accurate.
That the ten tribes were distinct and maintained their identity after the Assyrian captivity is an old idea. It goes back to at least the second century B.C.
ANOTHER QUEST FOR THE "TEN LOST TRIBES"
The romance of the ten northern tribes of Israel, apparently lost from the pages of history, has caught the fancy of numerous speculators. The same school of thought which imagined that the wandering Israelites turned into the Afgans, the Nestorians, the Japanese or the Indians of North America has given rise to the British-Israelite theory. They propose that the Anglo-Saxons are the physical descendants of the Israelites and that Great Britain with her daughter America has inherited all the covenant blessings given to Abraham.
A great conglomeration of Biblical passages, ancient texts, philological arguments and legends are offered as proof. As this study will show, British Israelism is like a mirage: from a distance it appears solid, but when it is approached and examined it disappears like a vapor.
What is offered in support of British Israelism? On the basis of 2 Kings 17:18, its proponents insist that when the Northern Kingdom was destroyed in 721 B.C. ALL the people of the ten tribes were taken to Assyria. Only Judah, that is the Jews, were left in Palestine. Later Judah was exiled too. When, after seventy years, she returned to rebuild the temple, ONLY the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi came back. Additional proof for the disappearance of the Northern tribes is supposedly found in 2 Esdras 13 and in Josephus' Antiquities.
What became of Israel? According to Worth Smith, a British Israel writer, the ten tribes remained captive in Assyria less than one hundred years. Becoming too numerous for their captors to control, they moved out of bondage about 661 B.C. and headed north toward southeastern Europe. Originally calling themselves "the Sons of Isaac," they ultimately became known as the Saxons and later invaded England.
One of the major proponents of British Israelism today is Herbert W. Armstrong, the leader of the cultic World- wide Church of God. He claims that there are many verses in the Bible which support Worth Smith's contention that Israel would move north to occupy a new promised land. According to him, Amos 9:8,9 indicates Israel will be sifted among the nations; Hos. 3:4 predicts that Israel will abide many days without a king; and 2 Sam. 7:10 and 1 Chron. 17:9 foretell that Israel will dwell in a permanent place of her own.
Taking off from these four passages Armstrong argues, "Notice carefully how all these prophecies fit together! After being removed from the Holy Land, after being sifted among all nations, abiding many days without a king, losing their identity, they are to be 'planted' in a far-away, strange land now to become their own. And . . . they are to moue no more!" Using an amalgamation of verses, Armstrong then tries to prove that the "faraway strange land" is England, and that "our white, English- speaking peoples today—Britain and America—are actually and truly the Birthright tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh of the 'lost' House of Israel. . . ."
Proof is supposedly offered by Gen. 17:4 which indicates Abraham was to be the father of many nations (obviously Britain and America) and by Gen. 28:14 which records his seed was to spread in all directions. British Israelites go on to declare that the promises to Abraham were twofold:
• First, there were the kingly and spiritual promises, consisting of the promised royal line and the promised Messiah. These are called the "scepter" promises; they went to Judah (Gen. 49:10). These promises which culminated in Christ are acquired by grace.
• Second, there were the material and national promises consisting of wealth, prosperity and power which are called the "birthright" promises. Birthright "has to do with RACE, not grace," according to Armstrong; it is acquired simply by being born. The right of the firstborn was never given to Judah (the Jews)—it was given to Joseph (1 Chron. 5:2)—therefore, according to the British-Israelite position, Judah was to receive none of the material promises. Joseph — who became Britain and America — received them all.
Other Biblical promises and blessings: Verses are presented which are intended to show the "obvious" parallels between Israel's promises and the blessings now upon the Anglo-Saxon peoples. Based on Gen. 22:17, British Israelites see that the descendants of Abraham clearly must possess the gate of their enemies. What is a gate? Armstrong explains that it is "a narrow passage of entrance or exit. When speaking nationally, a 'gate' would be such a pass as the Panama Canal, the Suez Canal, or the Strait of Gibraltar." To British Israelites, Gen. 28:13,14 indicates Israel will spread worldwide; Gen. 26:1-5 promises Israel "all these countries"; Micah 4:7 predicts Israel will become a powerful nation; Isaiah 24:15 foretells Israel will be an island or coast people; and Hosea 2:6 states that Israel will be blind to their origins. Therefore, to what could all these Scriptures refer but Britain and America?
Extra-Biblical materials are used by British Israelism to help shore up the contention that Britain is Israel.
• Philological "evidence" is offered: according to British- Israel adherents, the word British is derived from the Hebrew words Brit, covenant, and ish, man. Thus the word British means covenant man. In a similar way, the word Saxon is shown to have a hidden significance. Armstrong writes, "The name 'Isaac' is the English form of the Hebrew word more exactly transliterated Yishaq. How . . . [easy] for the . . . unstable, semi- vowel 'y' to drop, leaving Shaq or Saac. ... Is it only coincidence that 'Saxon' sounds the same as 'Saac's sons' -- sons of Isaac?"
• Tea Tephi: Another interesting "substantiation" of British Israelism is the legendary Tea-Tephi of Ireland, who is supposed to be the daughter of the last king of Judah. Jeremiah was responsible for getting her to Ireland, where she ultimately became the ancestor of the British Royal family.
• The coronation stone of England, the legendary Stone of Scone, is purported to be the stone Jacob used as his pillow. It was supposedly brought to Ireland by Jeremiah and is equated with the Lia Faif of Irish myth. Edward Hine explains that, "Tephi, herself, who became the Queen . . . was crowned upon it; so were all the monarchs to Fergus the First of Scotland, who had the stone taken there, and so were all the monarchs from Fergus to James the First, and from James the First to Victoria. ..."
Tradition: That the ten tribes were distinct and maintained their identity after the Assyrian captivity is an old idea. It goes back to at least the second century B.C., the date of composition given to an apocryphal book called Tobit. The story in this book centers around Tobit, a member of the tribe of Naphtali, "who in the days of Shalmaneser, king of the Assyrians, was taken into captivity from Thisbe. ..." The action of the drama takes place primarily in Nineveh.
In the pseudepigraphal 2 Baruch, a composite work produced in the latter half of the first century A.D., the author claims to be Baruch, the secretary of Jeremiah (cf. Jer. 36:4). In 2 Baruch 78:1 the author begins a letter "to the nine and a half tribes, which were across the river Euphrates. ..."
In the apocryphal work 2 Esdras, composed toward the end of the first century A.D., there is mention of the ten tribes in 13:39-45: "These are the ten tribes which were led away from their own land into captivity in the days of King Hoshea, whom Shalmaneser the king of the Assyrians led captive; he took them across the river, and they were taken into another land. But they formed this plan . . . that they would ... go to a more distant region, where mankind had never lived . . . [to] Azareth."
According to A. Cohen, it was generally believed by the rabbis of the Talmud that the ten tribes would come back and be united with the rest of Israel, usually through the work of the Messiah. There were a few rabbis, though —for example Tosifta (in Sanhedrin XIII. 12)—who stated that "The ten tribes will have no share in the World to Come." According to Jacob Meyers, writing in the Anchor Bible, 2 Esdras 13:45 evidenced the attitude of the Jewish people at the time of its composition, that the ten tribes were in a remote place, since for many years there had been no contact with them. The Mishna, in Sanhedrin 10:3, also expressed this idea.
Rabbi Louis Isaac Rabinowitz mentions the interesting old legend (also in the Talmud and in Ginzberg's series, the Legends of the Jews, Vol. 4) of why the ten tribes were unable to rejoin their fellow Israelites: they were exiled beyond the river Sambatyon. During the six days of the week the water was rough and impassable. On the Sabbath, the water was quiet, but the laws of the Sabbath made it impossible for Israel to cross then.
Josephus (first century A.D.) also mentions the ten tribes in his Antiquities: "Wherefore there are but two tribes in Asia and Europe subject to the Romans, while the ten tribes are beyond the Euphrates till now, and are an immense multitude, and not to be estimated by numbers" (XI, V, 2), Jerome, writing in the fifth century A.D., believed the ten tribes were still in the land of their captivity.
Why England? It is clear, therefore, that the belief in ten lost tribes has a long tradition behind it. Since the Middle Ages many works have been written "locating" the lost tribes among various peoples. But where exactly did the theory that the lost tribes are in England originate? Anton Damns writes that British Israelism can be traced back to a Protestant apologist, Dr. Abadie of Amsterdam who, in 1723, is quoted as stating: "Unless the ten tribes have flown into the air or have been plunged into the center of the earth, they must be sought for in the north and west, and in the British Isles."
Founders of the movement: Generally though, the British-Israel theory itself is traced back to Richard Brothers, born in 1757. Brothers was a lieutenant in the British navy for awhile, but quit the service in 1789. Because he refused to accept his half-pay on account of religious scruples, he found he was forever short of money; ultimately he was forced to labor in a workhouse.
In 1790 Brothers says he received his first call from God. On May 12, 1792, he sent letters to the King of England, the ministers of state, and the Speaker of the House of Commons. In these letters he warned them that on May 17 he would declare the imminent fulfillment of Daniel 7. Sometime later Brothers proclaimed that the king would die and that the crown would be given to him, "the nephew of the Almighty, and prince of the Hebrews, appointed to lead them to the land of Canaan."
Soon after predicting the king's death he was committed to Newgate, where he claimed to have received poor treatment. He did not remain there long, and the experience did not seem to hurt his career. He wrote fifteen books, most arguing for an Israelite ancestry for the English, including A Correct Account of the Invasion and Conquest of This Island by the Saxons. Because he made a series of political predictions, some of which came true, he was able to attract numerous followers. These he talked into selling their property so they could accompany him to his New Jerusalem, which he planned to build on both sides of the Jordan River beginning in 1795. Though his followers included mainly the poor and ignorant, he did attract a few educated and respectable people, such as Nathanial Brassey Halhed, the orientalist; a member of Parliament from Lymington; and Sharp, an engraver.
Things did not continue to go well for Brothers, for by order of the government he was finally committed to Bedlam as a dangerous lunatic. Released in 1806, he lived for nearly two more decades, but when he died in 1824 his New Jerusalem was still unbuilt.
In 1840, following the path blazed by Brothers, John Wilson of England published Lectures on Our Israehtish Origin. Apparently fairly popular, the book went through several editions, the fifth being issued in 1876.
Five years before Wilson's fifth edition appeared, Edward Hine published his Identity of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel With the Anglo-Celto-Saxons, in which he expounded the basic tenets of British Israelism. Hine's book was very successful, selling more than 250,000 copies. Like Brothers, he occasionally got carried away with his own importance. While he was editor of a magazine called The Banner of Israel, a peculiar statement appeared on its pages: the reference in Isa. 60 which indicates a deliverer would come out of Zion to bring the glory of the Lord to Israel was applied to Hine himself—a rather strange exegesis of the Scripture, to say the least.
Today there are many groups and individuals promoting British Israelism.
• One of the foremost proponents is Herbert W. Armstrong and his Worldwide Church of God. Armstrong's presentation is different from that of most teachers of the doctrine, as he is the head of a cult, and British Israelism is simply one part of his mixed-up theology. Therefore, some other peculiar doctrines are added to the standard British-Israel message. Armstrong's teachings are propagated through the Plain Truth magazine and on The World Tomorrow broadcast. His book, The United States and British Commonwealth in Prophecy contains the major elements of British Israelism as preached by Armstrong.
• Bertrand Comparet, a British Israelite who lives in San Diego, has a radio program and has written some literature on the subject of British Israelism.
• Howard Rand, head of Destiny Publishers, a firm that specializes in printing literature dealing with British Israelism, has written some literature on the subject.
British Israelism is not a sect nor is it a cult in the normal sense of the term. The movement is interdenominational and normally does not try to persuade its members to abandon other beliefs. The movement is loosely organized, being divided into widely scattered groups, therefore there is generally little control over the members. According to John Wilson, British Israelism is "an appendage to orthodoxy, existing on the periphery of what is normally believed. , . ." Not too surprisingly, therefore, British Israelites will often remain members of orthodox churches.
An examination of British Israelism and its dangerous errors will be made in the next issue.
Armstrong, Herbert W., The United States and British Commonwealth in Prophecy. Pasadena: Ambassador College Press, 1972 pp.125-35; 1975, pp. 20-24, 37-39.
Hine, Edward. Identity of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel With the Anglo-Celto-Saxons (abridged). New York: Maranatha Publ., nd pp 15; 44-45.
————. England's Coming Glories. New York: James Huggins, publ. 1880, p. 203.
Houghton, Henry D. The New World Coming. Toronto: Commonwealth Publ,, Ltd., 1941, pp. 106-10.
Smith, Worth. The House of Glory. New York: Wise & Co 1939 pp. 70-72.
Darms, Anton. The Delusion of British Israelism: A Comprehensive Treatise. New York: Our Hope, n.d., pp. 15, 16; 157,58.
Kellogg, Howard W. British-Israel Identity. Los Angeles: American Prophetic League, n.d., pp. 9, 10, 21.
May, H.G. "The Ten Lost Tribes," Biblical Archaeologist no. 16, Sept. 1943, pp. 55-60.
McQuaid, Elwood. "Who Is a Jew? British-Israelism versus the Bible", Israel My Glory, Dec./Jan. 1977-78, p. 35.
Wilson, John. "The Relation Between Ideology and Organization in a Small Religious Group: The British Israelites," The Review of Religious Research, Fall, 1968, pp. 51-60.
Charles, R.H., ed. The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English, vol. 2. 1913; rpt. London: Oxford University Press, 1963, pp. 470, 521.
Cohen, A. Everyman's Talmud. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1949 p. 354 Jacobs, Joseph. "Tribes, Lost Ten," The Jewish Encyclopedia, vol 12 New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1916, p. 250.
Josephus, Flavius. The Complete Works: Antiquities of the Jews XI V,2. Philadelphia: John E. Potter & Co., n.d.
Keil, C.F. The Book of Kings: Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publ Co 1950 p. 421.
McClintock, John and Strong, James. Cyclopaedia of Biblical. Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. New York- Harper & Bros 1890, p. 897.
Metzger, Bruce M., ed. The Oxford Annotated Apocrypha. New York: Oxford University Press, 1965, pp. 55, 63.
Meyers. Jacob M.,trans. 1 & 2 Esdras: The Anchor Bible. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., 1974, p. 312.
Peck, H.T., ed. The International Cyclopaedia, vol 3 New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1894, pp. 101,2.
Rabinowitz, Louis Isaac. "Ten Lost Tribes," Encyclopaedia Judaica, vol. 15. Jerusalem: Keter Publ. Hse., 1971, p. 1006.
Thorne, J.O. Chamber's Biographical Dictionary, new ed New York: St. Martin's Press, 1961,62, p. 179.
One of its most persistent dangers is the ease with which British Israelism justifies and fosters racial pride and prejudice.
ITS FOUNDATION AND EDIFICE
British Israelites make a number of claims and offer a substantial amount of "proof" for them. The foundation of their belief is found in their insistence that Israel was removed from the land in 721 B.C.; that only the tribe of Judah—the Jews—was left. However, we find that the Biblical record precludes any possibility of the other tribes being lost. Thus a close examination will reveal their beliefs to be without basis.
A Scripture often used by British Israelites to support their claim that all Israel was taken captive is 2 Kings 17:18: "Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only." At first glance, this plain statement of Scripture might indeed seem to indicate that no one was left except the tribe of Judah. However, it must be remembered that Levi and Benjamin were also left behind, as clearly indicated by such passages as 2 Chron. 34:30,32. Even some British Israelites admit to this fact. Therefore, 2 Kings 17:18 must be interpreted as referring to Judah as a kingdom and to the end of the Northern Kingdom as a separate entity.
Scripture refutations: The end of the Northern Kingdom did not mean an end to the ten tribes, as a brief review of Israel's history will show. In the ninth year of Hoshea's reign the people of Israel were exiled to Assyria (2 Kings 17:6). This corresponds to the sixth year of the reign of Judah's King Hezekiah (18:9-11). Hezekiah was then followed by Manasseh (20:21-21:18), Amon (21:19-23) and Josiah (21:24).
Beginning in the twelfth year of Josiah's reign, the Bible records the following: "And he [Josiah] burned the bones of the priests upon their altars, and cleansed Judah and Jerusalem. And so did he in the cities of Manasseh, and Ephraim, and Simeon, even unto Naphtali, with their mattocks [in their ruins] round about. . . . Now in the eighteenth year of his reign ... he sent Shaphan . . . Maaseiah . . . and Joah. . . . They delivered the money that was brought into the house of God, which the Levites that kept the doors had gathered of the hand of Manasseh and Ephraim, and of all the remnant of Israel, and of all Judah and Benjamin; and they returned to Jerusalem" (2 Chron. 34:5-9). It is very clear from this passage that Judah was not alone. Here, more than ninety years after the fall of the Northern Kingdom, the Levites were able to collect money from Manasseh, Ephraim and the remnant of Israel.
King Josiah was determined to keep the Passover as it should be kept. In 35:18 we are told that "Neither did all the kings of Israel keep such a Passover as Josiah kept, and the priests, and the Levites, and all Judah and Israel that were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem." Obviously, then, Judah was not alone in keeping the Passover either. People from the Northern Kingdom kept it as well. Historical records from the time also indicate a large number of the ten tribes remained in the land.
In ancient Near-Eastern texts Sargon's record of the conquest of Samaria makes it clear that most of the Israelite people were not taken to Assyria: "I besieged and conquered Samaria [Sa-me-ri-na], led away as booty 27,290 inhabitants of it. I formed from among them a contingent of fifty chariots and made remaining [inhabitants] assume their [social] positions."
Archaeological evidence indicates that the "remnant" mentioned in 2 Chron. 34:9 was not a small group. According to recent archaeological findings, as the Northern Kingdom fell, thousands of refugees fled south to Judah in order to escape the Assyrians. From the death of Solomon until the end of the eighth century B.C. the city of Jerusalem grew very little. But suddenly, around the end of the eighth century, the population exploded, expanding three or four times its original size, growing from 7,500 to about 24,000. The evidence for an influx of refugees is not confined to Jerusalem. Numerous settlements in the Judean hills around Jerusalem, in the Negev, in the Judean desert and along the Dead Sea were heavily settled for the first time in the eighth century B.C. Therefore the lost tribes are found where the Assyrians left them: in the land of Palestine.
But what about 2 Esdras 13 and Josephus' Antiquities which are both cited by British Israelites as proof of their theory? So far as 2 Esdras is concerned, its reliability is open to considerable doubt. A composite work in three parts composed at different times from the 1st century to mid-2nd century A.D., the book is known only from translations. Both the Semitic original and almost all the Greek texts are lost.
There are also historical inaccuracies in the text. For example, 3:1 records that "In the thirtieth year after the destruction of our city, I Salathiel, who am called Ezra, was in Babylon. ..." The problem with this verse is that thirty years after the destruction of Jerusalem in 585 B.C., Ezra had not yet been born and would not appear on the scene for another hundred years when he led a group back in 458 B.C. So the historical accuracy of anything in the book is open to serious question.
Even if the statement in 2 Esdras 13, so often quoted by British Israelites, that "the ten tribes...formed this plan...that they would leave the multitude of nations ;and go to a more distant region" is accepted, it offers little if any real support. After the movements of the ten tribes to a distant land are described, we read in 13:46: "Then they dwelt there until the last times; and now, when they are about to come again, the Most High will stop the channels of the river again, so that they may be able to pass over." This verse seems to indicate that the tribes were about to come back, supposedly in the time of Ezra; this conflicts with British Israelism, which sees the ten tribes as remaining in a distant land.
Josephus also proves to be of little help to their cause for the ten tribes mentioned in his Antiquities are certainly not lost, as a reading of the entire passage and especially the following lines makes clear: "So when Esdras had delivered these things to the priests, he gave to God, as the appointed sacrifices of the whole burnt offerings, twelve bulls on account of the common preservation of the people." Josephus speaks of the "common preservation of the people." Again, there is no indication that the ten tribes were lost. Thus British Israelism is seen to lack a foundation. What, then, will happen to the ediface built upon this non-existent foundation when we examine it closely?
Abraham, father of many nations: According to British-Israel teaching, Israel moved north after her exile in Assyria. The verses used as proof, upon examination, are seen to be wrenched from their context and it is a wonder that those of the British-Israel persuasion can find any support in them.
Abraham, according to Gen. 17:4, was to be the father of many nations. British Israelites think they see Britain and America here, forgetting that Abraham had several sons. Not only was there Isaac, but there was also Ishmael, Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah. And these many sons, with their sons, were to become the progenitors of many nations. However, those "many nations" do not include Britain or the United States.
Biblical "proofs" examined: Many Scripture verses are given by British Israelites to support their contention that Great Britain is Israel. Basing the argument on passages which promise certain blessings to Israel, they claim Britain has been blessed in the same way so Britain must be Israel! However, the verses upon examination are found to be Millennial promises-to be fulfilled when Messiah reigns, not in this Christian dispensation.
British Israelism divides "scepter" promises from "birth- right" promises, with the scepter promises of the Throne of David and Messiah reserved to Judah, while the birth- right promises of material blessings are reserved to Joseph. However, a quick look at Deut. 27-30 is enough to dispel this myth.
Not only is all of Israel promised material blessings (28:1-14), but all twelve tribes are also promised cursings (28:15-68)—not just Judah, as some in British Israelism try to claim. Furthermore, there will be no restoration of blessings until Israel returns to the promised land, which is the land of Palestine alone (30:1-5; cf. Gen. 15:18-21; 17:7,8: Ezek. 37). Even if the people of Britain and America were the Israelites they could not have the blessing of God until they were back in the land of Canaan.
Unsupported by word studies: British Israelites look for some extra-Biblical proofs of their beliefs, attempting to make use of philology—the study of languages.
• "Saxon" is said to mean Saq's sons—Isaac's sons. However, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, "Saxon" is from the old English Saexan, the old High German Sahsun and the Greek Saxones; the name may be derived from Saho, the name of the weapon used by the Saxons. One thing is certain, "Saxon" is not related to the Hebrew Yits-haq, which sounds nothing like Sax. In Hebrew the word for son is ben, as in Benjamin. The form "sons of Isaac" would be expressed in Hebrew as ben-ei Yits-haq (cf. "sons of Jacob" ben-ei Ya-acov, Gen 34:27)—certainly not "Saq's sons."
• "British," according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is nothing at all like the "covenant man" British Israelism tries to make of it. The word British is divided into two parts- 1) Brit comes from the Old English Bret-a Briton. which is derived from the old Celtic and Latin Britto: 2) the ending ish is a suffix formed from the Gothic isles and from the old High German, old Saxon, Icelandic and Dutch isch, a cognate of the Greek isk-os. British, therefore is not from Hebrew. If it were, to form the phrase covenant man in Hebrew the word order would have to be changed and the definite article added, forming Ish-Habrit, which is not anything like British.
The history of England, like the history of Israel, lends no support to the view that the descendants of Abraham invaded the island. Arthur Cross tells us that the Celts, one of the earliest groups that invaded Britain, first arrived 1,000 years before Christ was born and more than 200 years before the Northern Kingdom fell. Not only that, but from the history of the English language itself it is clear that there is no relation between it and Hebrew, or the English people and the Israelites. Roland G. Kent writes, "The English language, despite its present simplicity and grammatical structure, is of an almost unbelievable complexity in its origins, in fact of a complexity quite unrivaled by any of the better known languages of any period."
In the fourth century, A.D., the Angles and Saxons began raids on Britain, bothering the Romans who were already there. When the Romans finally abandoned Britain the Angles, Saxons and Jutes moved in. They soon became the masters of the island, driving out or enslaving the Celts who were already there. They remained the masters until 1066 when the Normans arrived and subjugated the Angles and Saxons. It is clear, therefore, that the people of Great Britain are not from any one stock of ancestors but are as much a mixture as their language.
So far as the legends associated with Tea-Tephi and the Stone of Scone are concerned, there is no historical basis for any of the claims British Israelism attributes to them. Tea-Tephi is a composite of the names of a mythical queen of Ireland and a mythical queen of England. Despite the claims of British Israelism that the Stone of Scone or Stone of Destiny was Jacob's pillar, the stone did not originate in Palestine at all, nor is the Stone of Scone the Lia-Fail of Ireland. It is just a piece of sandstone from Scotland.
While British Israelism is untrue, it is not without peril. One of its most persistent dangers is the ease with which it justifies and fosters racial pride and prejudice.
The supposed supremacy of the Anglo-Saxon race is used as further proof that they are the lost ten tribes—a chosen people. A rather horrible example of this racism is found in W.A. Redding's book, The Millennial Kingdom:
I shall therefore take a shorter route through the subject by calling your attention to some facts, as they exist, which will convince you, without history, that the Anglo-Saxons are the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel. Go over the earth and collect together all the Anglo-Saxon people and put them in a bunch to themselves; then collect together all the other races of people, such as the Chinese, Japanese, Egyptians, Hindoos, Malays, Negroes, Indians, Arabians and many other kinds of human beings, and put them all together in a bunch to themselves. Then compare the one congregation with the other. In the Anglo-Saxon bunch you will see high foreheads, long, slim, intellectual noses, brilliant eyes, fine texture of the skin, well-proportioned physical frames and fine, smooth hair. Turn to the other group of races. There you will see the low, flat foreheads, heavy, short, thick noses, vicious eyes, coarse hair, and uncomely features.
Anti-Semitism: Along these same lines British Israel- ism has sometimes led to, or has been used as justification for, anti-Semitism. Normally it is the relatively mild form of blaming the Jews for the crucifixion of Christ, who thereby forfeited blessing and incurred cursing. Occasionally anti-Semitism becomes quite blatant, as in the book by Worth Smith:
The Jews are still a part of the major House of Glory, altho of the separate House of Judah also. Be it carefully and distinctly noted here, however, that there are two kinds of Jews in the world to-day. One of them is the Sephardim Jew who is of the ancient and eminent stock of old; the other is the Ashkenazim Jew who is Jewish by religion only but who has very little, if indeed any at all, of the Mood or talents of ancient Judah. It is this Ashkenazim Jew, and he alone, who has spawned Communism and the other deplorable features of the Anti-Christ and who has foisted them on an undiscerning world to its great detriment. The Ashkenazim is vastly inferior to the Sephardim Jew, to whom he is no blood relation in most cases, inferior in stock, mentality, spirituality and works.
The worst anti-Semitism, though, is to be found in Mr. Redding's previously cited Millennial Kingdom:
God designated one part as Israel and the other part as Judah, and this part called Judah are the Jews we see on our streets to-day, and we can pick them out by their looks, as the Bible tells us that God marked their faces so we can tell them anywhere, so that they can be persecuted for killing Christ.
Although not all British Israelites would accept the positions taken by these authors, such racism is very common and runs far and wide through the whole movement.
A false view of salvation is another danger that often arises. Walter Martin notes that British Israelism some- times leads its proponents to teach, at least by implication, salvation by race as well as by grace.
The tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel were never lost to begin with, so the whole foundation of British Israelism is removed. But then, when examination is made of the system constructed upon this nonexistent base—whether history, philology, the Bible or science is researched -—nothing is found to support British Israelism and everything is found to be against it. Though it is easy to laugh at this belief system, it must never be forgotten that a very ugly and a very dangerous thing can grow from it. British Israelism often appeals to those who wish some justification for their racial prejudice; and when it comes to prejudice, facts do not seem to matter at all.
Armstrong, Herbert W. The United States and British Commonwealth in Prophecy. Pasadena: Ambassador College Press, 1975, pp. 21-23, 37, 39.
Harris, Reader. The Lost Ten Tribes. 2nd ed. London: S.W. Partridge and Co., 1908, pp. 13, 14.
Rand, Howard B. Behold He Cometh. Haverhill, Mass.: Destiny Publ.. 1955, pp. 8, 13, 14.
Redding, William A. The Millennial Kingdom: A Book of Surprises. New York: Ernest Loomis, 1894, pp. 45-48.
Smith, Worth. The House of Glory. New York: Wise & Co., 1939, pp. 113, 114.
DeHann, Richard W. British-Israelism. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Radio Bible Class, 1969, pp. 17, 19.
May, H.G. "The Ten Lost Tribes," Biblical Archaeologist, VI (Sept., 1943), pp. 56, 57.
Martin, Walter. The Kingdom of the Cults. Minneapolis, Minn.: Bethany Fellowship, 1977, p. 297.
Tapscott, Fred T. British Israel Axioms. Vancouver, B.C.: Lumberman Printing Co., Ltd., n.d.
Biblical Archaeology Review. "Part of Ten Lost Tribes Located " Sept 1975, pp. 27, 32.
Cross, Arthur Lyon. A Shorter History of England and Greater Britain. New York: The Macmillan Co., 1924, p, 9.
Durant, Will and Ariel. The Lessons of History. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1968, p. 30.
Josephus, Flavius. The Complete Works. Philadelphia: John E. Potter and Co., n.d.
Kent, Roland G. Language and Philology. New York: Longmans, Green & Co., 1932, pp. 26, 27.
Leach, Maria and Fried, Jerome, eds. Funk and Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore and Legend. Vol. 2. New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1950, p. 617.
Mayer, F.E. The Religious Bodies of America. St. Louis, Missouri: Concordia Publ. House, 1961.
Metzger, BruceM., ed. The Oxford Annotated Apocrypha. New York: Oxford University Press. 1965, pp. 23, 27, 55.
Meyers, Jacob M., trans. 1 and 2 Esdras, The Anchor Bible. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Co., Inc. 1974, p. 108.
The New Encyclopaedia Britannica. Micropaedia. vol. VIII, 15th ed., Chicago, et al.: Helen Hemingway Benton, Pub., 1974, p. 988.
The Oxford English Dictionary. 1933; rept. London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1961.
Pritchard, James B. Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, 2nd ed. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Univ. Press, 1955, pp. 284, 85.
Wood, Leon T. A Survey of Israel's History. Grand Rapids. Michigan: Zondervan Publ. House. 1970. p. 392.
Copyright © Quartz Hill School of Theology. All Rights Reserved.