Judah and Joseph:

Different Roles But the Same Destiny!!

Part One. Alex Zephyr: Three Oaths and Coming to Live in Israel in Our Time
Part Two: Brit-Am Reply.


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The Ten Tribes are amongst Western Peoples. Judah is mainly amongst the Jews.
Each different group of Israelites had its own tasks and roles to play, see:

The Blessings and Tasks of Joseph.

by  Steven Collins and
Yair Davidiy

In the Talmud it mentions that Judah when going into Exile took Two Oaths while the Gentile nations amongst whom Judah was destined to dwell took one (Ketubot 111a).
These together are known as the Three Oaths.

The Jews swore that:

They would not as one great massed community forcibly return to the Land of Israel.

They would not rebel against the nations of the world.

The Gentiles for their part vowed that they would not oppress Israel too much.

These oaths may never have been valid since their correct application and interpretation is disputed. Jews are only obligated to obey the Talmud when there exists Rabbinical consensus as to what the Talmud actually intended. The Talmud may contain material that is allegorical, advisory, anecdotal, and in some (but not all) cases legally binding. This is a subject that Religious Orthodox Jews who have learnt much and studied hard may consider amongst themselves. It does not really apply to others.

Nevertheless there are some Jews who took the Three Oaths seriously. Even if the Three Oaths are to be considered as binding, the Jewish People by creating the State of Israel never transgressed them.
They did not come up to Israel altogethers as one community but in bits and pieces.
They did not conquer the Land of Israel by force.
The area of "Palestine" was given to the British as a Mandate to develop a Jewish State. This is what the British did. They received the Mandate from the League of Nations in 1920. The League of Nations at that time represented the overall majority of the Gentile Peoples. Later the British left and the Jews fought for their very existence against invading Arabs whom they defeated. The State of Israel declared its independence in 1948. Consequently most major nations (Russia, USA, UK, etc) officially recognized it. In 1949 the United Nations (successor to the League of Nations) voted overwhelmingly to accept the State of Israel as a member nation. Technically speaking the Jews had returned to the Land and set up their own polity with the permission of most Gentile nations.
Once they had done this they were no longer bound to anybody.
All this is without taking into account that even if the Oaths were binding once the Gentiles had broken their side of the bargain (by persecuting and trying to exterminate the Jews) then neither would the Jews have been bound either.

Religious Zionism, Jewish anti-Zionism, and the Lost Ten Tribes Today.

Alex Zephyr in his note below takes issue with the Three Oaths and considers them not Biblical.
Following the note by Alex Zephyr we return once more to the issue at hand

Part One:
 Alex Zephyr: Three Oaths and Coming to Live in Israel in Our Time

Henry Rhea:
The Need for Divine Sanction and Biblical Truth and Brit-Am Reply.

    Hello Yair,
Recently it come to my attention remarks of one of your readers, Henry Rhea, on a subject of the Three Oaths and Talmud. Basically, you answered on all problems he raised in his letter. What strikes me is a question of correlation of the Talmudic interpretation by the Sages of blessed memory verses of the Song of Songs related to the Three Prohibition Oaths with the verses of the Torah and Tanach. They are very contradictory.
This raises legitimate questions like those of Henry Rhea. In my opinion, the simple Answer of Scripture should prevail.

Many students of the Bible wonder how it was possible from the simple words,
"Do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases", to come up unexpectedly with the Three Prohibition Oaths?
They say that such rendering of the verses of Song of Songs goes against the literal meaning of the Bible. In a few instances throughout the Scripture God has encouraged His People to end the exile, to lead them to the Promised Land  "en masse" and establish their own kingdom.

"Set up road signs; put up guideposts. Remember the highway, the road on which you traveled. Return, O Virgin Israel, return to your towns. How long will you wander, O unfaithful daughter" (Jeremiah 31:21-22).

Where do you see prohibitions here? On the contrary, God exhorts and pleads with His People to return to Him and His Land. As a loving father, with broken heart He begs the children of Israel listen to Him and return home because "The Lord has redeemed His servant Jacob" (Isaiah 48:20). It is up to the house of Israel to make her own decision whether to repent, end the exile and return to the Promised Land and be faithful to God or not.

 "Awake, awake, put on your strength, O Zion! Shake off your dust; rise up, O Jerusalem; free yourself from the chains of the bondage from your neck, O captive daughter of Zion" (Isaiah 52:1-2).

          Seems, this is a direct command to Judah (Jerusalem, Zion) to end the imprisonment of the exile, to break the chains of slavery from her neck, be delivered from bondage and proclaim liberty.

          God unconditionally, whether they repent or not, tells  the Israelites that the time of the exile is ended and the Divine Decree is no more in force.

"The punishment of your iniquity is finished daughter of Zion; He will no longer carry you away into captivity" (Lamentations 4:22).

The motives of these verses are not  compatible with the prohibition of the Three Oaths.

"Turn, O backsliding children, for I am married unto you. Return, faithless people, and I will heal your backsliding. Behold, we come unto Thee; for Thou art the Lord our God"  (Jeremiah 3:14, 22).

These verses definitely do not speak of any prohibition against ending the exile and returning to the Promised Land. Quite the opposite, they are encouraging, pleading, supplicating, even demanding that all the house of Israel do so.

Part Two: Brit-Am Reply.

The verses quoted by Alex Zephyr above apply in part to the Ten Tribes and in part to Judah.
The two are not the same and neither does Scripture relate to them in the same way.

The calls to return are prefaced by calls to repent. To what degree the one is dependent on the other is a separate matter.

Jeremiah 31 refers primarily to the Ten Tribes.
Jeremiah 31:18 does speak of Judah and the Ten Tribes together. It speaks of Judah going to bring the Ten Tribes back but according to our understanding this will happen AFTER much of Judah has already returned to the Land and prepared the way for the others.
 "In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given as an inheritance to your fathers.

A similar explanation applies to Jeremiah 3 and to most of Isaiah 48.
See the Brit-Am Biblical Commentaries to these chapters.

Jeremiah 31:21 is preceded by Jeremiah 31:20 which says:
Is Ephraim My dear son?
      Is he a pleasant child?
      For though I spoke against him,
      I earnestly remember him still;
      Therefore My heart yearns for him;
      I will surely have mercy on him, says the LORD.

It then continues to say:

"Set up road signs; put up guideposts. Remember the highway, the road on which you traveled. Return, O Virgin Israel, return to your towns. How long will you wander, O unfaithful daughter" (Jeremiah 31:21-22).

Verses dealing with the future return of Israelites need to be considered in their context, within the projected time frame, and according to whom is addressed.
Correct understanding of the verses requires us first to determine:
Is Scripture speaking of Judah alone?
Does the Bible refer to "Israel" in terms of the Ten Tribes only
of Israel as encompassing both Judah and Israel i.e. of all 12 tribes?

As to taking the Oaths literally,
We gave our own opinions in the quoted article:

The following points also need to be noted:

# The Sages would often express an opinion or ruling and quote a Biblical Verse in connection to it.
This does not mean that they were necessarily saying that this is what the verse meant.
Often they used the verse as expressing a principle or even just as a mnemonic (memory-helper) device.
Everything needs to be considered in the correct context.

See also:
The Literal Meaning of Prophecy

# Nachmanides and others considered coming to live in the Land of Israel as a Positive injunction that every Israelite is commanded to do.
On the other hand this would apply to Israelites who are clearly obligated by the Law (i.e. Jews) and not to others whose Israelite Ancestry at the private level for the moment has not been confirmed.

# The Three Oaths applied to Judah, not the Ten Tribes. One of the Oaths was an injunction to Judah NOT to come up as a group in one body. This was what Judah did not do.

Religious Zionism, Jewish anti-Zionism, and the Lost Ten Tribes Today.

# What are these Three Oaths?
One, that Israel should not storm the wall (
Rashi: forcibly return to the Land of Israel).
(Other say come up as one community altogether as one mass of people).

Two, the Holy One made Israel take an oath not to rebel against the nations of the world.

Three, the Holy one made the nations vow that they would not oppress Israel too much. #

Ketubot 111a).

The oaths may not have even been valid since they had no legal standing.
Even if the Oaths were valid they were almost certainly contingent on each other:
Once the Gentiles (as in the Holocaust) transgressed their obligation not to overduly oppress the Jews then the Jews would no longer be bound to keep by the other obligations.

Even assuming that after the Holcaust etc the oath was still valid Judah did not transgress it. The aliyah to Israel by the Jews was mainly in bits and drabs as individual emigrants or in small groups and not as one whole community altogether.

# The oaths applied ONLY to Judah. Judah was to return first to the Land and prepare the way for the other Tribes both in the spiritual and physical sense. The Oaths concern Judah and how he was to return.
The Oaths are an internal matter for Judah to work out amongst himself.
The whole subject should not really concern anyone else.
They do not apply to Joseph. The situation with Joseph was just the opposite!

# The situation with Joseph will be different!
Indications are that when Joseph returns they will come as one body under a leader of their own i.e. Messiah son of Joseph.
They will also, it seems, go first to areas on the Periphery of the Borders of the Promised Land i.e. Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan
Zecharian 10:10, Micah 7:14).
In a sense the US presence in Iraq may be considered a beginning or foreshadowing of this process.
The Return of Ephraim

# Today anyone who wants to help Joseph and the Ten Tribes should help Brit-Am!
We need to emphasize Israelite Ancestry and learning the Hebrew Bible.
Spreading Brit-Am knowledge and Bible learning can do more good than anything else.
We are not saying this is necessarily a permanent solution or the only thing we should do.
We are saying what the situation at present most requires!


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