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Why British-Israelism is Wrong

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Why British-Israelism is Wrong
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LOST TRIBES OF ISRAEL - ARE THEY REALLY IN BRITAIN?

In his book Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler talked of an Aryan super-race that was destined to rule the world.  The Jews were an obstacle to Hitler's 'glorious vision'.  And so followed the extermination of Jews and other minorities of Europe, which was indisputably one of the darkest chapters of human history.

Racism is not confined to the secular world.  Some Christians also believe that there is an Aryan super-race, that God specially blesses the Anglo-Saxons.  Some say that God has cursed the Jews.  Often, these Christians will try to justify their belief from Scripture.  One such justification for racism is called 'British-Israelism', or 'Anglo-Israelism'.

"Various theories, one more far fetched that the other, have been adduced, on the flimsiest of evidence, to identify different peoples with the ten lost tribes"

In about 720 B.C.E., Israel (the ten Northern Hebrew tribes) was defeated and exiled to Assyria (2 Kings 15:29; 16:6).  According to sensationalists, these tribes never returned to Israel but became the 'Ten Lost Tribes'.  Many peoples have, at times, claimed descent from these Lost Tribes.  Among them: the Ethiopians; the Ibos of Nigeria; the Berbers of North Africa; various Armenian, Afgan, and Persian groups of the Black and Caspian Sea regions; the Chiang-Min of Tibet; the Khazars; the Karaites and even the Japanese!  The Encyclopedia Judaica notes that, "Various theories, one more far fetched that the other, have been adduced, on the flimsiest of evidence, to identify different peoples with the ten lost tribes".[1] British-Israelists say that these Lost Tribes became the Anglo-Saxon people, and came to Britain.

The Revival Centres teach British-Israelism.  They state: "We believe the Bible identifies the Anglo-Saxon-Celtic peoples with the nation Israel".[2]

British-Israelism began with the self-styled 'Nephew of the Almighty' Richard Brothers, and his book A Revealed Knowledge of the Prophecies and Times (1794).[3]  Brothers was, as one source puts it, "a Canadian madman".  After being troubled by visions, he was admitted to a mental asylum, where he remained for eleven years.[4]  Brother's taught that the Anglo-Saxons were the 'Ten Lost Tribes of Israel'.  He said that the British, Americans, and other Anglo-Saxons were heirs to the promises given to Israel in Scripture.  Consequentially, an Aboriginal, an African, a tribesman from Papua New Guinea would not be so blessed.[5]

Comments one study paper regarding British-Israelism:

"It saddens us when Christians erroneously justify their racist attitudes through misuse and misunderstanding of the Bible ... In the Church, non-Anglo-Saxons sometimes found fellow Christians looking down on them simply because they were not 'Israelites'" [6]

Some British-Israel churches, like 'Christian Identity' in America, have gone further.  They have forged relationships with groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, who harmonise with their Aryan super-race thinking.  But what appalling damage has been done through the ages because of racism!  We have to pity the bigoted people among us.  From the Ku Klux Klan — with their burning crosses, to the Revival Centre leaders proclaiming Anglo-Saxon supremacy.  Maybe we should pray for these people, that they could 'put on the mind of Christ'!

"God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable"

Did you know, God doesn't care about black or white, the outside?  He looks at the heart!  Peter said about the Lord, "I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him" (Acts 10:34-35).  Praise Be to God — it has nothing to do with race, it has everything to do with grace!  So the British-Israel claims crumble when they come across the grace of God.  Meanwhile, science and history put forward other reasons for showing why British-Israel is wrong.

The Encyclopedia Britannica says, "The theory [of British-Israelism] ... rests on premises which are deemed by scholars — both theological and anthropological — to be utterly unsound".[7]

Morris Silverman, Assistant Professor of History at Yeshiva University, New York, agreed.  In Time magazine, he noted, "The British-Israel theory is complete nonsense, as anyone with the slightest knowledge of history, anthropology or philology can tell".[8]

First, I'll look at racial types.  If the Anglo-Saxons were really lost Israelites, we would expect them to be the same race.  They should look like Israelites, have the same skin colours — basically, there should be a genetic connection.  However, in his book Races of Mankind: their Origin and Migration, Anthropologist Dr. Calvin Kephart, says that while the Anglo-Saxon people are 'Aryans', the Hebrews are from the 'Turanian' racial family.  They are a completely different race!

In a footnote, he wrote: "Since the original Hebrews were Kassites, of typically Turkic build, i.e., with tawny complexion, of medial height and stocky build, with prominent nose, and brachycephalous, all efforts to identify Aryan Nordic people of Europe as descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel are doomed to failure.  A more futile task is inconceivable".[9] In other words, genetically, the early Anglo-Saxons were not the olive-skinned Israelites of the Lost Tribes.

We should also consider language.  If the Anglo-Saxons were really from Israel, then we would expect them to speak a form of Hebrew, wouldn't we?  At least, English should have some connection with Hebrew.  However, The Jewish Encyclopedia says "English is a branch of the Aryan stock of languages, and has no connection with Hebrew".[10]

We will look now at religious opinions.  If the Anglo-Saxons were the Israelites, then they should have worshipped the Lord.  Some British-Israel authors make feeble attempts to show that 'the British Druids were ancient Hebrews', who worshipped the Lord.  Some say that Jesus went to Britain, to preach to the 'lost sheep of Israel' under the Old Covenant.  However, as any British history book will show someone who cares enough to research the matter, "The common God of the English people was Woden, the war-god ...  whom every tribe held to be the first ancestor of its kings".[11]  The early British were not Hebrews, but blue-painted Woden-worshipping barbarians!

We might also have a look at 'manners and customs'.  By reading through a few history books, you will notice the complete difference between the Israelites and Anglo-Saxons on these points.  The Israelites were reputable in battle (Deuteronomy 21:10-13), while "The [Saxon] name became a synonym for piracy and barbarism".[12]  The Israelites were buried at death (Saul the one exception — 1 Samuel 31:8-13), while the Anglo-Saxons used cremation.[13]  The Israelites would not eat pigs (Leviticus 11:4-8; Deuteronomy 14:7-8), while "it is possible that during Anglo-Saxon times pigs greatly outnumbered all other domestic animals and were the basic component of the agricultural economy".[14]  Clearly, some major differences here.

So, if the British are not lost Israelites, then who are they?  I had the opportunity of listening to Adelaide English History lecturer, Marcia Nichol, discuss this.  According to her, the first Celtic people were not Israelites, but could be traced to a group known as the 'Urn-Field People', or 'Proto-Celts'.  They were called 'Urn-Field People' because they cremated their dead and placed them in distinctive urn cemeteries.  They were a Northern European people who began to appear from about 1300 B.C.E., and spoke a form of Celtic.  Their Anglo-Saxon counterparts were descended from a central Asian plains culture who later migrated along the same route as the Beaker people, because of food shortages.  They were around long before Assyrians took the Israelites captive!

But what about the ancient writings?  True, some point to early English legends to show that Israelites came to Britain.  But this is quite deceptive.  The legends contain little, if any, real history.  Sometimes, they are even misquoted to prove the British-Israel viewpoint!  Irish Historian Sean O'Faolain says, "We do not read the literature as it was originally created.  The Christian scribes and the patriotic ficto-historians have freely altered the original records and the traditional lore to suit their own ends ... Myth and history, dreams and facts, are forever inextricably commingled".[15]  Because of this, James Campbell, in his book The Anglo-Saxons, describes the early British legends as "largely romance".[16]  So, these spurious texts cannot prove British-Israelism.

As for the true destiny of the Israelites, the inspired writings are our best source.  British-Israelites distinguish between the 'Jews' and 'Israelites' — and this has some basis.  Before the captivities of the tribes, Israel and Judah were once united.  Saul, in about 1117 B.C.E. ruled over a 'united' kingdom of Israel and Judah (1 Samuel 8:4-9).  But In about 998 B.C.E., the kingdom was split in two after the death of Solomon.  Judah supported King Rehoboam, and Israel supported Jeroboam (1 Kings 11:29-37).

The real fate of many of these Israelites was probably death.  The Lord carried out his promise to destroy many of the faithless Hebrews remaining in Assyria (Deuteronomy 28:15, 36, 48, 61; Amos 9:4, 9, 10).  As the Time magazine states, "there is no mystery about the fate of the Ten Tribes.  Most of those exiled to Media died of harsh treatment; the Assyrians were the Nazis of their day".[17]  However, it appears that a 'remnant' did survive their captivity, and returned to Israel (Isaiah 10:22).  Ezra 1:1-4 tells us that Persian King Cyrus II, in about 530 B.C.E., released many of his Hebrew captives.  The Revival Centres suggest that only Judah (the Southern tribes) returned to Palestine after being released.  According to them, Israel migrated into Europe instead.  However, it is clear from Scripture that Israelites did return to Palestine at this time.  Ezra compiled a list of the events, and he talks specifically of "Israelite people" returning (Ezra 2:2, 59, 70, 3:1, 11 ).  1 Chronicles 9:2 tells us quite plainly that, "the first to live again in their possessions in their towns were the Israelites ... [while] some of the people of Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh lived in Jerusalem" (also Ezra 6:16-17). 

After the captivity, it seems that the Judah and Israel were again united.  Palestine once again became known as "all Israel" (Ezra 2:70; 8:35; 10:5; Nehemiah 12:47).  For this reason, at Pentecost, Peter could address the Hebrews as "Men of Judea", and as "Fellow Israelites" (Acts 2:14, 29).  The apostle Paul could be a "Jew" (Acts 21:29), an "Israelite" (2 Corinthians 11:22), and a "Hebrew" (Philippians 3:5) at the same time.  There was no longer a distinction, and it is clear that physical Israel can be found in Palestine to this day.

British-Israelists also miss an important teaching of Scripture.  We don't need to look for 'Israel' among the nations of the world!  Israel of God is found today in the body of Christ.  In the Old Covenant, fleshy Israel was God's holy nation (Exodus 19:6).  In the New Covenant, the body of Christ is the "chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people" (1 Peter 2:9 ; Romans 9:6).  Galatians 3:13-14, 16, 29 explains that the blessings of Abraham are for this new spiritual Israel, not any particular race of today.  So, the real rock of Israel is not the Lia Fail, but Jesus Christ!

British-Israel it is a dangerous doctrine.  It stems from racism, or elitist thinking, leads to 'King James Bible only' philosophy, and distorted end-time thinking.  It has no place in a Christian assembly.  Perhaps those advocating British-Israelism must heed the Scripture, "not to occupy themselves with myths and endless genealogies that promote speculations rather than the divine training that is known by faith" (1 Timothy 1:4).

So, to summarise what we've been through:

  1. The Anglo-Saxons are not a Semitic race;
  2. The English language is not Semitic, nor does it contain any hints of having a Hebrew heritage;
  3. The Anglo-Saxons and Israelites had completely different customs and religions;
  4. There are no ancient records that indicate Britain has an Israelite history;
  5. In fact, British-Israelism was invented by a madman;
  6. Scripture indicates that the real 'Israel of God' is in the body of Christ;
  7. British-Israelism has very worrying 'Aryan Supremacy' racist overtones;
  8. But, even if the theory was correct, God doesn't care about race or skin colour (Acts 10:34-35)

What must you do to be saved?  "if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" - Romans 10:9.



 
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