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Who are modern Ephraim and Manasseh?, part 1

Jul 30, 2013

Those who receive our free (see note below) monthly monograph, Feed My Sheep (FMS), have read in a recent issue my thoughts concerning the modern identities of the descendants of Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh—Jacob-Israel’s grandsons. Since, by design, I do not post recent issues of FMS online, I thought it might be edifying to share this particular issue (#173) with a wider audience, along with many more insights on the same subject from our friend, Ron Oja. So first—and over the next several blog entries—I will reproduce the text of my June 2013 issue of FMS, and then follow it with Ron’s additional insights. Here then is FMS #173, with a few additions, modifications, etc:

A thought occurred to me many years ago concerning our biblical identity as Israel. Sharing it will consume this issue and more, because before I share it, I must set the stage.

In the preceding issue (Feed My Sheep #172, May 2013), we quoted a Bible passage which is among the most famous in all the Bible to those of us who believe the Christian-Israel-Kingdom-Identity message of the Scriptures. That passage is found in Genesis 48, especially verses 13-20.

It is the scene where the patriarch, Jacob-Israel, is nearing his death and he calls for Joseph to bring his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, to him so that he may “bless” them. This blessing was a long-range prophecy and its fulfillment has had global reverberations and manifestations for centuries now!

Among kingdom believers—whether they be of the old British-Israel (BI) persuasion, or its offspring, the Christian-Israel-Identity persuasion—it has been very widely accepted to interpret the preceding verse in this manner: Ephraim became Great Britain and Manasseh became the USA. Here are some examples.

The first is from the Rev. C. R. Dickey’s classic work, One Man’s Destiny: Note: Christina Dickey used only her initials because she was a woman—and a Congregationalist minister at that! And at the time in which she ministered, many potential readers would have been reluctant to give a hearing to what a woman would have to say about theology. Their loss. I greatly admire her scholarship. She wrote:

“Israel was also to become ‘a nation and a company of nations.’ The Jews are comparatively few in number; they are neither a nation nor a company of nations.”

Keep in mind that Rev. Dickey wrote that in 1942, six years before the founding of the single-nation Israeli state. Dickey is certainly correct that the Jews are not a company of nations and, after all these millennia, they still do not have the population to become a company of nations. She continues:

“The nation and the company of nations promised to Jacob were to evolve from an unprecedented expansion of the house of Joseph. Manasseh was to become a nation of great people: Ephraim was to become a multitude of nations. Can we not see the Manasseh nation in the people of the United States, and the company of nations in the British Commonwealth of Nations?

In fact all the prophecies and promises concerning Joseph have been actually fulfilled in the United States and Great Britain—and never before by any other people or nation. By no stretch of the imagination can the Jews be fitted into this plan. Besides having no semblance of the national qualifications, they are not the descendants of Joseph.”

Many other writers of our biblical national identity echo C. R. Dickey’s interpretation, and indeed Dickey was echoing earlier writers. Dr. Howard Rand (a personal friend of Christina Dickey) was one of the most prolific expositors of the Israel-Identity message, and so allow me to quote from his book, Primogenesis, which is an outstanding work, and yet like all works of men (and women), it has some flaws.

“The importance of this blessing of Ephraim and Manasseh cannot be overstressed if we are to understand God’s dealings with the nations today. As a result, they became tribal heads in Israel. To Joseph, through his two sons, Jacob gave one portion above that which he gave to his other sons. …

“While Ephraim and Manasseh were joint recipients of the birthright, because together they inherited Joseph’s double portion, it is made emphatic by Jacob’s action that to Ephraim went the birthright headship.

Great Britain, and no other branch of the Anglo-Saxon-Celtic peoples, fulfills in every respect the marks identifying Ephraim in the world today. The United Kingdom is a commonwealth of nations, a fact recognized and taught from the inception of the propagation of the knowledge of its identity with the northern ten-tribed Kingdom of Israel.

“The descendants of Manasseh, of whom Jacob said, ‘He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great,’ became the United States of America, this separation of Ephraim and Manasseh being brought about in the latter days so that each might fulfill his specific part of the joint hegemony.

“For many decades Great Britain has been recognized as a company of nations and the United States of America as a great people, this being so stated in secular history—the very designation by which Jacob declared the posterity of Joseph would be known in the latter days…

“When the throne and the Kingdom moved westward, Ephraim and Manasseh, being joint recipients of the birthright, must of necessity have been predominant in the migrations from the East toward the West, for dominion belonged to them. Numerical superiority was promised to Ephraim and this has been so ever since his descendants became a commonwealth of nations. …” [Emphasis mine—JWB]

A bit further on, Dr. Rand concludes that “The blessings given to these two boys can never be fulfilled in the Jews. In the first place, the Jews are not the descendants of either Ephraim or Manasseh. The genealogical tables and history of the tribes, peoples and races of the Bible prove this to be a fact beyond any question of doubt.

“The Jew has his part, but that part is not the inheritance of the birthright. It is foolish to look for fulfillment of these promises of a nation and company of nations in the descendants of Judah. These blessings were given to Ephraim and Manasseh and the recognition of this fact is important if we are to understand the story the Bible tells.”

As I said, there are numerous other writers of the Israel message which all identify Great Britain as the “company of nations” of Ephraim, and the United States of America as the great nation of Manasseh. While I agree on the whole with both Rev. Christina Dickey and Dr. Rand, may I respectfully disagree on this particular?

In so doing, I ask you to understand that I have no axe to grind genealogically. After all, I am of English descent, as well as German and Dutch. Furthermore, I am not being dogmatic about this. I could be wrong. Furthermore, this is not an issue concerning personal salvation, nor does it rise to the level of heresy vs. Bible truth.

It is simply a matter of trying to understand how the ancient Bible prophecy has been fulfilled. So that even if some readers are not persuaded by the time I finish this blog series and we still disagree on the modern identities of Ephraim and Manasseh, that is okay with me. I still view you as my friends and my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Nor does this even come close to being an issue over which one should break fellowship. It is simply that for many years I have held an opinion, an understanding, an interpretation which is contrary to what I have read and heard expounded in BI and Christian-Israel/Kingdom Identity circles all my life.

It is a subject that interests me and I simply want to get it out on the table and share this alternative interpretation with you. Years ago the thought came to me that maybe they got it backwards. To help clarify, let me re-state the pertinent verse, substituting the names of the boys for the pronouns in the verse.

Genesis 48:19 And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: Manasseh also shall become a people, and Manasseh also shall be great: but truly his younger brother Ephraim shall be greater than Manasseh, and Ephraim’s seed shall become a multitude [company] of nations.

So if we look again at the prophecy for what it actually says, it refers to Manasseh as being “great,” not Ephraim. Ephraim is prophesied to be “greater.” So technically, Manasseh is the nation which should have the word “great” as part of its name. “Great” Britain is the only nation ever to be called “Great” as part of its official, legal name. It is not called “Greater Britain.” (Even in our Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson refers to “Great Britain.”)

Moreover, previous expositors say that Ephraim has to be Great Britain because Ephraim’s seed became a multitude or company of nations, as fulfilled in the British Commonwealth of Nations.

Well, not so fast there, please. We will suspend our discussion of the name “Great” for the moment as we take a look at the British Commonwealth. (To be continued.)

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One Man’s Destiny

“For many of our readers, this is our family history!” – Dr. James W. Bruggeman

This is the story of the people of the Book. The people? Israel. And the Book? The Bible! Until one becomes familiar with these peoples and can identify them in the world today, much of the Bible is a closed book. Here is pre­sented the factual story of the people of the Book that sets this book apart from the many books dealing with the identity of the nation Israel. The key to understanding God’s Great Plan is found in recognizing the identity, responsibility and destiny of the people of the Book.

Surprising as it may seem, the Bible uses only the brief space of its first eleven chapters to narrate the mighty processes of creation—plus approximately two thou­sand years of history which in­cludes such tremendous events as paradise lost, the rise and fall of empires, and the deluge of Noah.

Beginning then with Genesis 12, it requires 1,178 chapters to record one man’s destiny—the story of Abraham and his family. It is true that other peoples are mentioned in the Bible, not for the purpose of giving their his­tory, let it be noted, but only as they deal with, oppose, or influ­ence this one man’s family. Here, then, is the biography of the family whose remarkable destiny the world has yet to un­derstand and to reckon with. These are the people who com­prise the determinative ingredient in that greatest of all romances, the world drama of history.

In the hands of this devoted author, C. R. Dickey, the people of the Book live through the pages of ONE MAN’S DESTINY with clearness: from Abraham, Isaac, Israel, then for­ward through the intervening centuries to you, here in America. And the centuries do not blend and blur, but take their positions in their foreordained and pre­viously recorded pattern all the way to Israel’s position in the world of today and tomorrow. It is the story behind the story of America. It is the national story of the Bible of which most are unaware, but which is so desperately needed to be known in these critical days.

One Man’s Destiny by C. R. Dickey Hardback • 334 pgs. (C. R. Dickey was Christina R. Dickey, a Congregationalist minister, who wrote this excellent work in 1942. This is the third edition, printed in 1995.)

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Category: Teaching