There were two separate promises made to Abraham. Most have not understood that God makes a distinction between the promises of prosperity, power and great material and national wealth, relating to “many nations,” which He calls the “birthright”—and the promise of salvation through Christ, which the Bible identifies as the “scepter.”
The Bible is absolutely clear on this two-fold distinction.
Let’s read: “The scepter shall not depart from Judah …” (Gen. 49:10)—“…but the birthright was Joseph’s” (I Chron. 5:2).
Before discussing these terms, we must define them.
“Scepter: A rod or staff held by a sovereign (king or monarch) as a sign of authority.”—Webster’s II Dictionary; “kingly office; royal power; badge of command or sovereignty.”—Standard Dictionary.
“Birthright: A privilege granted to someone by virtue of birth.”—Webster’s II Dictionary; “Native right or privilege.”—Standard Dictionary.
A kingly line was prophesied to descend from Judah through David (to be explained in Chapter Four). Christ was born of Judah and was to eventually become a King bringing salvation—grace—to all people. On the other hand, a birthright has nothing to do with grace—unmerited pardon of sin—but rather comes as one’s right by birth. Fathers generally pass birthright possessions to the firstborn son.
Most scholars have recognized that the scepter did indeed go to Judah, where it was passed down from Jewish king to king. King David was of the tribe of Judah, with David’s dynasty having all succeeding kings also born to the House of David and tribe of Judah. Of course, Christ was born of both Judah and the House of David.
However, almost none have understood that the Jews were only a fraction of the nation of Israel. Of the twelve tribes of Israel, only Benjamin and Levi remained with the Jews. Almost everyone has erroneously associated all Israel with the Jews. This error totally blocks understanding of the birthright—and this separation of tribes will be clearly explained in Chapters 4 and 5.
This absolutely vital distinction must be made clear. Both promises made to Abraham—the gift of grace and right of birth—were made unconditional by God, and were repromised to Isaac and to Jacob.
The promise of grace—the scepter promise of David’s kingly line culminating in Christ—was foretold to be exclusively of Judah, one of Jacob’s sons. But the independent, separate, distinct promises of birthright never pertained to the Jews. The promise of grace through Christ is summarized in John 4:22, where Christ said, “Salvation is of the Jews.” Paul reiterated, “For it [the gospel of Christ] is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Rom. 1:16).
I repeat: This promise, fulfilled in Christ, has nothing whatsoever to do with the birthright.
How sad that so few understand this crucial knowledge, made so clear by God to those who will just believe His plain words. It is sadder still that so few are even willing to explore God’s Word for the facts!
The Bible states that the “birthright was Joseph’s.” Joseph was Jacob’s (Israel’s) second youngest son. While Joseph was Judah’s younger brother—he was not Judah, or of Judah. He was the father of two sons, whose role must be understood to unlock both the fulfillment of the birthright—and the entirety of crucial end-time prophetic events.
All rights of birth are separate from the gift of eternal life, which God, through Christ, freely offers to all who yield to and obey Him. If salvation came by birth, it would not be of grace—God would owe it to people. Christ’s sacrifice, death and resurrection become unnecessary if salvation is by race, by birthright. However, material blessings—possessions of wealth, prosperity and national abundance—can be passed through any number of generations by right of one’s birth. But this much has to be understood: The birthright has nothing to do with spiritual blessings. It is entirely physical and material in nature, of race not grace. The reader must get this straight before proceeding.
Unlike salvation, requiring the believer to meet certain conditions in order to receive it, there are no preconditions to receiving blessings of birthright. Sons do nothing other than pass from the womb to receive this. Of course, a son could certainly disqualify himself from either receiving or keeping his birthright.
The gift of salvation means eternal life in the very Family of God. But God would never give such awesome power to one who has not developed righteous character, and is hostile, rebellious, and defiant to God’s Law. Imagine if God owed, by right, immortality in the kingdom of God (salvation), to an atheist or criminal. Such would bring division and misery—for all eternity—to God’s entire Family.
Qualifying to Receive Grace—and Salvation
When a young rich man approached Christ, inquiring how he might receive eternal life, Christ said, “If you will enter into [eternal] life, keep the commandments” (Matt. 19:17). While this would not earn the young man salvation, it was a qualifier—a precondition—to receiving it. Millions today ignore this requirement, set forth so plainly by Christ. They listen to twisted arguments from law-hating, rebellious ministers and theologians falsely telling them that obedience to God earns salvation, making it no longer of grace, God’s gift. (To learn more about this topic, read our book The Ten Commandments – “Nailed to the Cross” or Required for Salvation?)
But if there are no preconditions to salvation, all could demand it of God! The rich young ruler might have told God, “I demand you give me salvation—it is my right!” God only gives His Spirit to those who obey Him. Speaking of the Holy Spirit, Peter said, “God has given to them that obey Him” (Acts 5:32). Indeed, the Holy Spirit is a gift (“God has given”), but only those who obey Him can receive it. Only Christ’s sacrifice makes this gift possible!
Make no mistake. Salvation cannot be earned—it is a free gift!
Now get this point straight! We must remove all doubt about what brings salvation. It is a free gift from God. There is absolutely nothing that a Christian can do to merit or earn it. The only wage that human beings can earn is death (Rom. 6:23). Recognize that no one can earn eternal life through works.
Salvation is by God’s grace. But what is grace? It is completely unmerited pardon of one’s sin. Salvation means that one is saved from death. Unless God intervenes to apply the blood of Jesus Christ to cover the repentant sinner’s past, there can be no salvation.
What scriptures directly state this? Ephesians 1:5, 7 says, “Jesus Christ…In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:14 states the same thing, verbatim. God gives grace—forgiveness—through Christ’s blood.
But also think of salvation in the following way: A wealthy father approaches his 18-year-old son, heading off to college, with this offer. He states, “Son, upon graduation in four years, I will give you one million dollars if you (1) maintain a B average, (2) abstain from drunkenness, (3) impregnate no girls, and (4) never cut classes.”
Ask these questions: If the young man meets these conditions, will he receive the million dollars? Yes! Has his conduct earned him the million dollars? No! Of course not. He merely did what all young men should do when they go to college. Yet, he would not receive the million dollars if he did not meet the preconditions—the qualifiers!
It is the same with salvation. Of course, God offers far more than a million dollars, but only those who obey Him may receive what He offers. Why cannot millions of Christians understand such basic logic, applicable in every contract and agreement entered into by men?
The Bible says Satan has deceived the whole world (Rev. 12:9), and this matter of how salvation is achieved may be his greatest deception. Do not fall for it!
Salvation is through Christ’s free gift of grace. Yes, it is a gift—but it is one God only gives to those who meet His biblically-prescribed standards. In this way, God insures that no future member of His Family will misuse and abuse such enormous power, conferred on him at the time of salvation.
Take a moment to reflect on this basic knowledge of how the scepter promise of salvation is achieved “of the Jews” (John 4:22) through Christ. While the world has understood that the promises to Abraham involve salvation through Christ, almost complete ignorance reigns within modern, orthodox Christianity regarding when, where and how this happens. These are also subjects for other books.
How the Birthright Is Separate—and Different
Let’s now return to what is known by so few today, the matter of the birthright promised to Abraham. Grasp this. The sheer enormous size of this incredible physical inheritance, passed through the generations of Joseph, staggers the imagination. Material wealth of a size never before seen in history was foretold to occur.
This part of God’s two-fold promise to Abraham actually represents the first phase of what God would do through him. Remember also, that vast material wealth and prosperity, unlike anything the world has ever seen, including a huge population explosion, was conferred unconditionally! Just the involving of many nations and the possession of critical enemy sea gates, insured a position of world prominence—and dominance—unlike any combine of nations the world has ever seen.
Let’s better understand what this birthright blessing entails. A series of scriptures paints the full picture—and you will not misunderstand what God reveals about this mind-boggling promise!
Birthright Goes to Isaac
Recall that right of birth inheritance, generation by generation, almost always goes automatically to a father’s eldest son. Only divine intervention, having occurred three times, brings exception to this rule.
Now also recall that both the scepter and birthright were promised by God to come to Isaac. Even though Ishmael was older, Isaac was Abraham’s lawful firstborn son because Ishmael was born of Sarah’s Egyptian handmaid, Hagar. God had selected Isaac: “Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac” (Gen. 25:5).
But Ishmael was Abraham’s son, and, like any father, Abraham loved him—and wanted him to receive the birthright: “And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before You!” (Gen. 17:18). This was said because Sarah was still childless at this point, with Isaac not yet in sight.
Notice this prophecy explaining God’s purpose for both Isaac and Ishmael: “And God said, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son indeed; and you shall call his name Isaac: and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. But My covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto you at this set time in the next year” (vs. 19-21).
The modern descendants of Ishmael (the Arabic peoples) have, indeed, grown into a great people. But here is how God described them: “And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence [Hebrew: to the east] of all his brethren” (Gen. 16:12). Who would doubt that this is the national proclivity of the modern Arabs?
While Ishmael’s descendants were to become a great nation, the birthright descendants—of Joseph, Isaac’s grandson—were to become much greater. But, for prophecy to be fulfilled, the Arabs must be found living to the east of the greater “nation and company of nations” to derive from Joseph, and the rest of his Israelite brethren.
Briefly consider some points about Abraham and Isaac, and how they parallel God the Father and Christ. Recall that Galatians 3:29 shows that if we are Christ’s, we are Abraham’s children—and Abraham is called the father of the faithful (vs. 7). Next, Abraham, in a clear type of the Father, was required to be willing to sacrifice his only legitimate son, Isaac (Gen. 22:2), in the same manner as the Father was willing to give His only Son, Christ, for the world.
Here is another interesting parallel between Rebekah and the New Testament Church: Just as the Church must be willing to love and marry Jesus Christ before actually seeing Him, Rebekah was required to do this with Isaac. Finally, Christ’s and Isaac’s births are an obvious parallel. Christ was born miraculously of a virgin, and Isaac was born by promise, and also as a miracle from God.
Why Esau Lost His Birthright
Rebekah bore twin sons, Esau and Jacob, to Isaac. The firstborn, Esau, legally held the birthright—but sold it to Jacob because he could not see its true worth. In advance of their birth, God had revealed to Rebekah that Esau and Jacob would father two nations: “And the Lord said unto her, Two nations are in your womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from your bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger” (Gen. 25:23).
God revealed that Esau and Jacob would father two very different kinds of people—two manner of people. It was His purpose that the descendants of the older, Esau, serve those of the younger, Jacob. However, because Rebekah favored Jacob, she convinced him to use deception to take from Esau what God had promised he was to receive anyway.
Here is the story: “And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents. And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob. And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint: and Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray you, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom. And Jacob said, Sell me this day your birthright. And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he swore unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentils; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright” (Gen. 25:27-34).
Verse 30 shows that Esau became known as Edom, meaning “red soup.” Many Bible prophecies reference “Edom,” and they cannot be understood unless one understands that they refer to Esau, those peoples generally inhabiting modern-day Turkey.
How Esau Also Lost His Blessing
Before God converted Jacob, he had glaring character weaknesses, with the use of deception probably the worst. Genesis 27 records how he also deceived Esau, and stole the blessing Isaac still intended for him.
Some background: As Isaac grew old, his eyesight began to fail. Realizing he would not live much longer, he determined to formally confirm the birthright to Esau. He asked Esau to hunt for and prepare venison for him. Rebekah heard the request and intervened, sending Jacob to secure two goat kids, which he prepared in the fashion Isaac loved his venison to be served. Next, she dressed Jacob in Esau’s clothes and, because Jacob was smooth-skinned and Esau was very hairy, she wrapped the skins of the two goat kids around Jacob’s neck, hands and arms.
The deception now complete, Jacob feigned that he was Esau and entered Isaac’s presence. The account reveals Isaac was suspicious, wondering how the venison could be obtained and prepared so quickly. But his suspicion was not sufficient to withhold his blessing: “And Jacob said…I am Esau your firstborn; I have done according as you bid me: arise…eat of my venison, that your soul may bless me. And Isaac said…How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son? And he said, Because the Lord your God brought it to me. And Isaac said unto Jacob, Come near, I pray you, that I may feel you, my son, whether you be my very son Esau or not. And Jacob went near unto Isaac his father; and he felt him, and said, The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau. And he discerned him not, because his hands were hairy, as his brother Esau’s hands: so he blessed him” (Gen. 27:19-23).
The Scope of the Birthright
Examine carefully what was at stake in the all-important account you have just read: “And his father Isaac said unto him, Come near now, and kiss me, my son. And he came near, and kissed him: and he smelled the smell of his raiment, and blessed him, and said, See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field which the Lord has blessed: therefore God give you of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine: let people serve you, and nations bow down to you: be lord over your brethren, and let your mother’s sons bow down to you: cursed be everyone that curses you, and blessed be he that blesses you” (vs. 26-29).
These promises do not have to do with salvation—they are not in any way spiritual in nature. They are all physical, material and national. There is nothing salvation-like or spiritual about rainfall, abundant corn and wine or fatness of the earth (the Hebrew means the “fat places of the earth”).
This is talking about people and nations—“Let people serve you” and “Nations shall bow down to you.” It cannot be “spiritualized” away as applying to Christ.
The next several verses record what happened when Esau returned with venison to Isaac, and both learned of Jacob’s deception. The implications of Jacob having received the birthright are magnified when you consider this prophecy Isaac foretold to Esau: “And Isaac his father answered and said unto him, Behold, your dwelling shall be [Hebrew: away from] the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above; and by your sword shall you live, and shall serve your brother; and it shall come to pass when you shall have the dominion, that you shall break his yoke from off your neck. And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob” (vs. 39-41).
Considering what he lost, no wonder Esau was bitter (vs. 34). Moffatt translates verse 39 this way: “Far from rich soil on earth shall you live, far from the dew of heaven on high.” The Revised Standard Version translates it similarly: “Behold, away from the fatness of the earth shall your dwelling be, and away from the dew of heaven on high.” Obviously, this prophecy was more a cursing than a blessing.
We must remember most of the descendants of Esau—Edom—are of the Turkish people. Several proofs, coupled with the scant facts of history, demonstrate this. Perhaps the greatest proof of this prophecy describing Turkey pertains to Isaac foretelling that they “should have dominion,” later breaking the Israelite yoke from off their neck.
History records that the tribes of Israel rebelled against the true God and were all taken captive and driven from the Holy Land, promised to them. Esau’s descendants have always sought control of the land denied them by Jacob’s deception. Millennia later, fulfilling Isaac’s prophecy, the Turks did come to power (Ottoman Dynasty) and seize the Holy Land in about 1517, occupying it for 400 years until Britain captured it in 1917. Another aspect of God’s remarkable prophecy of Esau has certainly been fulfilled in that the Turks, long known as a brutal, war-like people, have spent their existence living by the sword.
What We Can Learn
A number of lessons come from the story of Jacob’s wrenching the birthright from Esau. Speaking of the Old Testament, Paul writes, “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples [types]: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (I Cor. 10:11).
God intends that His servants learn from Old Testament stories and examples. Whether the example is bad, showing how not to conduct ourselves, or good, demonstrating what our behavior ought to be, much can be learned through study of the Old Testament books of the Bible. Tragically, most ignore what is recorded—and this New Testament admonition—believing the Old Testament was “done away” or “nailed to the cross.”
Consider several points. Rebekah knew that God intended to bless Jacob in place of firstborn Esau. Rather than waiting on God’s timing, she took matters into her own hands to insure that it happened.
Unlike Rebekah and Jacob, the true servants of God should be regularly taking their daily needs to God, in prayer. They then must demonstrate faith in God’s ability to answer their prayers. Sometimes patience must accompany faith, even when we know in advance it is God’s purpose to answer our request. Recognizing that God says, “My ways are not your ways,” we must be willing to let Him do it in His own time, and His own way. Truly, in every aspect of the Christian life, we “walk by faith.”
In the sense that Isaac was a type of Christ, Rebekah is similarly a type of the Church of God. Like the Church, she reflected occasional carnality, sin and weakness.
Jacob could have trusted God to work things out in His own time and way. Jacob means “supplanter.” Literally, he supplanted Esau by taking the blessings his own way. Though the birthright was to eventually come to the descendants of Joseph, this supplanting is one reason that God, we will see later, withheld the birthright for a long period of time.
Yet, we saw that Jacob is listed among the three “fathers” of ancient Israel. In time, he became converted, deeply changed in heart and character. After confessing that he was a supplanter, and after a grueling, all-night wrestling match with the angel of God (Gen. 32:24-29), God improved his name to the more honorable Israel, meaning “prevailer with God” or “overcomer with God.”
Recognize this before continuing. God passed on His promise through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, one man at a time. Prior to the birth of Jacob’s twelve sons, and the subsequent beginning expansion toward prophesied national size and greatness, God’s promise of a great nation from Abraham was, for three generations, what could be called a “one-man nation.”
The next generation began to change this.
How Firstborn Reuben Also Lost the Birthright
We learned that the birthright was to come to Joseph. Like Esau, Reuben, the firstborn son of Jacob and legal heir to the birthright, lost it through misconduct. Joseph was actually the eleventh-born son of Jacob—but was the firstborn of his true love and wife, Rachel.
Here is what the Bible records: “Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel, (for he was the firstborn; but, forasmuch as he defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given unto the sons of Joseph the son of Israel: and the genealogy is not to be reckoned after the birthright. For Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the chief ruler; but the birthright was Joseph’s…)” (I Chron. 5:1-2).
Scepter and Birthright Separate
This verse reveals that it was in the time of Abraham’s great-grandsons—the fourth generation—that the birthright and scepter became separate. One tribe—Joseph’s descendants—carried the birthright, and one tribe—Judah’s descendants—carried the scepter. Therefore, no longer passing from one father to one son, the two aspects of this promise must be tracked separately through history from this point forward. The promise of national greatness, material wealth, prosperity, international prominence and dominance, follows the descendants of Joseph. Similarly, tracing the promised kingly line or scepter is found solely in the tribe or descendants of Judah.
At the outset of this book, it was explained that one-third of the Bible is prophecy, and that much of that third of God’s Holy Word would be unsealed at the time of the end. But mark this well. All who do not understand the vital key—the separation of Joseph’s birthright and Judah’s scepter, towering over virtually all prophecies pertaining to the last days and to Israel—will never understand God’s final purpose among the nations of earth today. At best, like Churchill, they will know some purpose is being worked out—but they will remain in darkness and gross ignorance of what it is!
Most are familiar with the story of how Joseph’s brothers sold him into Egypt, and that Jacob, with his remaining sons, their wives and children (66 people in all), eventually joined him there. When properly understood, Joseph’s function and leadership role in Egypt under Pharaoh was truly prophetic of his descendants’ role throughout history.
There, as prime minister, he supervised the production, storage and distribution of food through seven years of abundance followed by seven years of famine. If you are not familiar with how Jacob and Joseph’s brothers joined him in happy reunion in Egypt, take time to read this truly moving story in Genesis chapters 42 through 45.
The stage is now set to learn how the birthright passed from Joseph to his two sons.
Ephraim and Manasseh Receive the Birthright
How the birthright was passed to Joseph’s sons is another remarkable story. Sometime after elderly Israel (Jacob) arrived in Egypt with his other sons and extended family, Joseph received word that he had fallen ill. Immediately, Joseph took his sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, to their dying grandfather’s side. It was a moving and dramatic scene: “And one told Jacob, and said, Behold, your son Joseph comes unto you: and Israel strengthened himself, and sat upon the bed. And Jacob said unto Joseph, God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessed me, and said unto me, Behold, I will make you fruitful, and multiply you, and I will make of you a multitude of people; and will give this land to your seed after you for an everlasting possession” (Gen. 48:2-4).
Jacob recounts how God had promised to make his seed “fruitful,” to “multiply” them, thus making them a “multitude of people.” These terms all pertain to the promise of birthright. Nothing here suggests anything to do with the “one seed,” and its relationship to Christ and salvation. Notice that this is a specific promise about possession of land.
Now verse 5: “And now your two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto you in the land of Egypt before I came unto you into Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine.” When understood, Jacob is actually adopting Joseph’s two sons as his own, as “mine.” This allowed him to pass the birthright directly to these two young boys—Manasseh as the older, and Ephraim the younger (41:51; 48:1). This last fact is crucial because Jacob specifically mentioned Ephraim before Manasseh.
Jacob then instructs Joseph to “Bring them, I pray you, unto me, and I will bless them. Now the eyes of Israel were dim for age, so that he could not see” (vs. 9-10). We should note again that normally the birthright would pass to the eldest son. Thus, the right hand should be on the son to receive the greatest inheritance since both were to share the birthright blessing. God must intervene to make it otherwise.
Now notice: “And he brought them near unto him; and he kissed them, and embraced them…and Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them near unto him” (vs. 10, 13).
Once again, take note of two facts: (1) Ephraim is blessed with the right hand, putting him above Manasseh in birthright inheritance, but (2) Manasseh also has Jacob’s left hand on him, signifying a shared but lesser birthright inheritance, as well!
Joseph’s Sons Receive Israel’s Name
In the next passage, to signify explicitly that God’s blessing was to be passed to Ephraim above firstborn Manasseh, Jacob crossed his hands. Let’s read: “And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn. And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth” (vs. 14-16).
This will be shown to be an absolutely astounding prophecy, carrying truly staggering implications for all the nations of the world. We have just witnessed, directly from the pages of the Bible, God’s original promise to Abraham being passed directly to Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh! Jacob said, “let my name be named on them” and “let them grow into a multitude.”
Absolutely nothing in this account says anything about Judah. He was neither included nor apparently even present during the proceedings! Why then do countless millions of people who read the Bible not see this—and acknowledge it?
Jacob specifically asked God, with hands on both grandsons, to “Bless the lads.” This was a joint blessing, conferred on both young boys—now get this—having nothing to do with Judah or any of his children. Together, the descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh were promised—actually prophesied—to expand into a great multitude, consisting of the “nation and company of nations” of Genesis 35:11.
I repeatedly urge readers, “Do not believe me unless you can see it in your Bible!” I tell you that now. These verses are most plain!
This account requires no interpretation from me. It contains no symbolism, holding mystery to all but the trained eye. Israel’s name was to be placed on, carried by, the sons of Joseph—not Judah!
Put another way, we now ask: Who does God—not men!—identify as the people who are Israel (nationally and ethnically) today? Again, the answer is Ephraim and Manasseh, not Judah! The modern nation of Israel, home to the Jews who call themselves “Israelis,” is not the nation God has told us actually carries Israel’s name. Yet, the world and virtually all Bible students remain deceived on this point.
The theologians, churchmen, religionists and supposed Bible scholars could know what you have just learned. They could set aside their prejudice and tradition, pick up their Bibles and read these plain verses. But these “leaders” refuse to do this and thereby reject knowledge available to them, with countless millions following them like the “blind leading the blind.”
This need not include you!
Ephraim Above Manasseh
When Jacob crossed his hands, it confused Joseph, who did not understand what was occurring. He tried to get Jacob “straightened out.”
Here is what happened: “And Joseph said unto his father, Not so, my father: for this [Manasseh] is the firstborn; put your right hand upon his head. And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother [Ephraim] shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations. And he blessed them that day, saying, In you shall Israel bless, saying, God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh: and he set Ephraim before Manasseh” (vs. 18-20).
At this juncture, the prophecy takes on a more specific direction. It is not just generally applied to both, but separate blessings are given to each grandson. In other words, the great, wealthy, dominant single “nation,” of Genesis 35:11, would descend and grow from Manasseh. The even greater, wealthier, more dominant “company of nations,” here called a “multitude of nations,” would spring from Ephraim.
I repeat, there is no sense whatsoever trying to find these nations among the descendants of Judah—nor, for that matter—from any other of the twelve tribes of Israel. Also, this cannot be fulfilled through Judah being the single “nation,” and the other twelve tribes the “company of nations.” Even the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh were not prophesied to fulfill this promise anciently, during their pre-captivity history. In fact, this did not happen. Plainly, the promise of great material prosperity, possession of the gates of their enemies, enjoyment of the fatness of the earth and other physical blessings were only to go to Ephraim and Manasseh!
Jacob’s Prophecy for Judah
These promises were not fulfilled anciently. To learn when and how they have been fulfilled, we must examine the period between the close of Bible history and our time. This will be done later.
Any with eyes to see recognize that we are in what the Bible calls the “last days.” We have learned that God’s servants are able to know what lies ahead. God offers many clues in His Word for those with “eyes to see” and “ears to hear.”
Soon after blessing Ephraim and Manasseh, Jacob called his other sons before him. His purpose was to tell each what their descendants should become “in the last days.” At this point, we will focus on just Judah and Joseph. Because Joseph’s descendants split into two tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh, the Bible generally uses these latter terms when referencing them. When God speaks of the tribe of Judah, He uses their name because they never split into two or more tribes.
Let’s now see Jacob’s prophecy for the “last days”: “And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days…Judah, you are he whom your brethren shall praise: your hand shall be in the neck of your enemies; your father’s children shall bow down before you. Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, you are gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver [the margin says “ruler, staff”] from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto Him shall the gathering of the people be” (Gen. 49:1, 8-10).
An explanation of Shiloh is necessary: It means “the Messiah, Prince of Peace, or the one seed of Abraham.” Shiloh is obviously a reference to Christ.
Jacob’s Prophecy for Joseph
Here is what Israel prophesied collectively to Ephraim and Manasseh, Joseph’s sons: “Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches [the margin says “daughters”] run over the wall” (vs. 22).
This prophecy obviously refers to the multitude of people, great nation and company of nations that Joseph would become—having daughters (descendants) that would “run over the wall.” A wall is typically a boundary, in this case undoubtedly a national boundary, with the descendants of Joseph characterized as a colonizing people. Recall that Ephraim and Manasseh were to “grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth” (Gen. 48:14, 16). These are a people who would know almost no bounds in their expansion around the world. Since the earth is round, the “midst” of it means that they would be everywhere.
The prophecy for Joseph in the last days continues: “…the God of your father…shall help you…the Almighty…shall bless you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb: the blessings of your father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from [margin reads “is prince among”] his brethren” (vs. 25-26).
These verses describe phenomenal birthright promises of nations consisting of vast numbers of people colonizing around the world. Abraham was promised that he would expand to the “north and the south, and the east and the west…possessing the gates of his enemies.” And yet, none of the twelve tribes ever returned to Jerusalem from Assyrian captivity to reunite with the Jewish people.
Neither the Church, nor the Jews, nor the American Indians, nor any other humanly-devised, Bible-rejecting explanation accounts for the promises revealed in these astonishing prophecies. But, if the Bible is the authoritative Word of God, they had to be fulfilled!