Was King Jeroboam the First Ephraimite?

The Ten Tribes and Replacement Theology in Biblical Times and Today!

Adapted in part from an excerpt from our forthcoming work on the Book of Hosea. 
This book may (or may not) bear the title,              
"Hosea Foresaw It!!"

King Jeroboam and Jacob as the Prototype of Ephraim.
The Bull of Jacob.
Replacement Theology.
Restorationism i.e. Christian Zionism.
British Israelite Beliefs.
The Ephraimites.
Karaites and the Campaign Against Brit-Am.
Dissemination of Anti-Jewish Teachings.
Practical Conclusions.

King Jeroboam and Jacob as the Prototype of Ephraim.

The Prophet Hosea prophesied mainly concerning the Ten Tribes both before their exile by the Assyrians and after it.
The Ten Tribes were destined lose their identity and migrate in stages to the west. The Tribe of Ephraim was the leading Tribe and the name "Ephraim" in Scripture is often used for the Ten Tribes as a whole.
The Ten Tribes lead by Jeroboam son of Nebat from the Tribe of Ephraim had previously seceded from the House of David and Jerusalem.
They set up their own Kingdom which is referred to as the Kingdom of Israel. Jeroboam established the worship of golden bull-calves in Dan and Beth-el. The purpose of Jeroboam was to wean the Israelites away from Jerusalem and to prevent their re-unification with Judah.

1-Kings 12:
25 Then Jeroboam built
Shechem in the mountains of Ephraim, and dwelt there. Also he went out from there and built Penuel.
26 And Jeroboam said in his heart, 'Now the kingdom may return to the house of David: 27 If these people go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will turn back to their lord,
Rehoboam king of Judah, and they will kill me and go back to Rehoboam king of Judah.'
28 Therefore the king asked advice, made two calves of gold, and said to the people, 'It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt!' 29 And he set up one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. 30 Now this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one as far as Dan. 31 He made shrines on the high places, and made priests from every class of people, who were not of the sons of Levi.

The Prophet Hosea (in chapter 12) laments the fact the Ten Tribes would not repent and refused to countenance a re-unification with Judah. Hosea describes the ideological outlook of the Ten Tribes. This has pertinence to our time since the psychological disposition of "Ephraim" remains in some respects as it then was.

In the Hebrew Bible the last verse of Hosea chapter 11 (i.e. Hosea 11:12) as given in English Translations is the first verse of chapter 12!
The Hebrew Bible has its own  section arrangements and these differ from the Chapter Divisions found in English Translations.
Usually differences in chapter arrangements do not matter much but in this case it does.

Hosea 10:9 all the way through to 11:11 is one section and Hosea 11:12-12 (the last verse of Hosea 11) through all chapter 12 to 13:10 is another section.

Hosea 11:12 begins Hosea chapter 12.

Hosea 11:
12  Ephraim has encircled Me with lies,
      And the house of Israel with deceit;
      But Judah still walks with God,
      Even with the holy ones  is faithful.

The word translated as "holy ones" (or in Some versions "Holy One") is "kedoshim" meaning "the sanctified" (plural) and referring to the Forefathers of the Hebrew nations and the Prophets who came after them.

Hosea 12:1]
'Ephraim feeds on the wind,
      And pursues the east wind;
      He daily increases lies and desolation.
      Also they make a covenant with the Assyrians,
      And oil is carried to Egypt.
[Hosea 12:2]
' The LORD also brings a charge against Judah,
      And will punish Jacob according to his ways;
      According to his deeds He will recompense him.

The simple meaning begins with God upbraiding Ephraim and then turning to speak against Judah. This is a recurring pattern in Prophecy. Nevertheless, the Malbim (Rabbi Meir Leibush ben Yehiel Michel Weiser, 1809-1879, Russia) has an alternate explanation which fits the Hebrew text and is worth considering.
This may be translated from the Hebrew as,
And concerning the ALIMIGHTY, he [i.e. Ephraim] has a quarrel with Judah.
The Malbim indeed notes it as meaning,
"And about the Almighty, [Ephraim] quarrels with Judah!"

The Malbim explains this verse as saying:

# "And quarrels about the Almighty with Judah", meaning by this that Ephraim quarrels with Judah which in effect is a quarrel about God because in those days there existed a dispute between Ephraim and Judah. The disagreement came about since Judah worshipped the Almighty and maintained the Temple Service with its sacrifices. Ephraim on the other hand cleaved to the sin of Jeroboam and debated the nature of God. This dispute was conducted with Judah and was the cause of the fall of Ephraim... AND WILL PUNISH JACOB ACCORDING TO HIS WAYS. We see that the Ten Tribes related to themselves by the name of Jacob. Every place in this work where it says "House of Jacob" on its own, it is referring to the Ten Tribes. On the other hand wherever the Bible  has Israel and Judah juxtaposed together, under the name "Israel" the Ten Tribes are intended. #

      [Hosea 12:3] He took his brother by the heel in the womb,
      And in his strength he struggled with God.
       [Hosea 12:4] Yes, he struggled with the Angel and prevailed;
      He wept, and sought favor from Him.
      He found Him in Bethel,
      And there He spoke to us.

The Malbim connects this verse to the two calves that Jeroboam erected, one in Beth-el and the other in Dan. The main one was in Beth-el. Through an analysis of various verses the Malbim comes to the conclusion that this cult was based on the figure of Jacob who was renamed "Israel".  Ephraim identified with "Jacob". The Ten Tribes equated themselves with the figure of Jacob and with what they may have considered to be the "religion" of Israel from before the Time of Moses. Ephraim (representing the northern Ten Tribes in general) wanted to circumvent Judah, to get around the need for the Temple in Jerusalem. This was the reason why Jeroboam had set up the golden bull-calves in the first place.

The Malbim explains the ideology of Ephraim along the following lines:

Just like Jacob overtook [the very name "Jacob" in Hebrew connotes "overtake, replace"] and replaced his brother (Esau) from the womb (Genesis 25:26) so will they displace Judah. Jeroboam dedicated Beth-el to the cult of the bull calves as a replacement for Jerusalem. This is what is meant by "Yes, he struggled with the Angel and prevailed" [Hosea 12:4] (as explained below).  Scripture shows us the solution to Ancient riddles. After Jeroboam became King (2-Kings 12) he built the city of Schechem in Mount Ephraim. From there he went on to built Penuel. The King then took counsel and built two golden bull calves. One he placed in Beth-el, the other he gave to Dan. It should not surprise us that he placed one bull-calf in Dan since the idol of Micah had stood there from early times (Judges 18:30). The place was already considered consecrated to worship of the golden bull calf.
Why, however, did he place the other bull calf in Beth-el?
We have explained elsewhere that for Jeroboam the cult of bull-calf worship at Beth-el had the pre-eminence.

Why did he expressly choose Beth-el?

Why also did he build these two cities, Schechem and Penuel?

All this may be understood once it is realized that the Ten Tribes likened themselves to Jacob and sought to imitate him. He was their role model. When Jeroboam conspired to replace Jerusalem as a religious center he sought out locations that were sacred in the eyes of the Israelites. He followed the pathway of Jacob who had struggled with the angel at Penuel.

[We are told in Genesis 32 how Jacob fled to Laban who became his father-in-law. Later he returned with his wives and children to the Land of Israel. On the way he found himself alone at night and there came a man (later identified as an angel) who wrestled with him till dawn. This struggle, the resulting blessing extracted from the angel, and the subsequent journeying of Jacob were regarded as prototypical messages for his descendants.]
Genesis 32:
24 Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. 25 Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob's hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. 26 And He said, 'Let Me go, for the day breaks.'
But he said, 'I will not let You go unless You bless me!'
27 So He said to him, 'What is your name?'
He said, 'Jacob.'
28 And He said, 'Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.'
29 Then Jacob asked, saying, 'Tell me Your name, I pray.'
And He said, 'Why is it that you ask about My name?' And He blessed him there.
30 So Jacob called the name of the place
Peniel: 'For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.'

From Penuel, Jacob had gone on to Schechem where he built an altar and from there he went to Beth-el where he built another altar and God appeared unto him (Genesis 35:1). This was why King Jeroboam later built up Schechem and Penuel since these were holy sites. Penuel was the place where Jacob had first encountered the Angel of God. Schechem was where Jacob dwelt after that and where he built an altar. Beth-el was the place where the Almighty revealed Himself to Jacob.

The Malbim goes on to quote from a Midrash that he considered to be based on an ancient legend extant in the time of Jerooam:

# The Midrashic narrative tells us that when the Angel asked Jacob to let him go and Jacob asked for a blessing the Angel pleaded that Jacob release him and Jacob did so. Then, when Jacob afterwards came to Beth-el, the Blessing he had asked for was confirmed to him. This account dates back to ancient times. According to this, Jeroboam deduced that the Angel had remained in Beth-el and there he would be revealed to the prophets of the bull-calf and its worshippers.

      He wept, and sought favor from Him.
      He found Him in Bethel,
      And there He spoke to us! [Hosea 12:4]

He spoke to us!
In Hebrew the verb translated as "He Spoke" is in the future tense i.e.
He will speak to us!
Jeroboam, according to the Malbim, was saying that:

# He [the Angel] wept, and sought favor from him [i.e. the Angel sought favor from Jacob, so Jacob let him go]. 
He (Jacob) found him (the angel) in Bethel (and confirmed the Blessing) and there (in Beth-el) he (the angel) will speak to us! #

In other words the Malbim says the story of Jacob was intended to teach the Ten Tribes how to act.
Places that had been important in the life of Jacob were to be considered sacred. Beth-el was where Jacob merited that God appear to him and the Blessing of the Angel be confirmed in him. Beth-el was also the place where the descendants of Jacob could bring to realization the same effects that Jacob had achieved.

In Beth-el the change of name from Jacob to Israel that the angel at Peniel had spoken of was repeated and details of the blessing given. Later when Jacob felt he was about to die and wished to bless the sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh, he spoke of the blessings he had received from the Angel at Beth-el.

Genesis 48: 16
The Angel who has redeemed me from all evil,
Bless the lads;
Let my name be named upon them,
And the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;
And let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.'

The Blessing to Jacob at Beth-el:
A Nation and a Company of nations.

The Bull of Jacob.
It should be mentioned that the identification of Jacob with a bull-calf was not necessarily a new invention.

We spoke of this in the Brit-Am Commentary to Psalm 125.

The expression translated here as THE MIGHTY GOD OF  JACOB in Hebrew is "Abir Yaacov".
The word "GOD" is not expressly mentioned but the translator has assumed it is implied.
"Abir" in Hebrew has several meanings e.g. chief, mighty-one, champion, etc. it can also mean "strong bull".
Instad of THE MIGHTY GOD OF JACOB the expression "Abir Yaacov" could be translated as THE MIGHTY ONE OF JACOB or THE CHAMPION OF JACOB or, alternately, JACOB THE CHAMPION or JACOB THE MIGHTY ONE. Another option is that instead of MIGHTY ONE or CHAMPION we could have STRONG BULL.
"Abir Yaacob" therefore possibly means "Bull of Jacob", or even "Jacob the Bull"!.
See verse 132:5 below.


THE MIGHTY GOD OF  JACOB. In Hebrew is "Abir Yaacov".
ABIR can mean "powerful one" or anything that has power. Abir may also mean "bull".
Abir Yaacov could be translated as "Bull of Jacob"or "Jacob the Bull". Even if such was not the original intention the language employed could at the time have lent itself to such an interpretation.
STRONG BULLS OF BASHAN [Psalms 22:12] in Hebrew: "Abiri Bashan" i.e. The Abiri (strong bulls of) Bashan.
Here we find the word "Abir" used int he sense of "Strong Bull"!
We have here the possibility that "Abir Yaacov" means the Bull of Jacob or that Jacob was identified with the bull. The alternative is that it was another name for God Almighty as associated with Jacob. We need not take all this at face value. The whole subject requires additional examination. 
For our purposes it is enough that whatever the correct interpretation should have been the concept lent itself to the (probably mistaken) equation of the Abir (Strong Bull) with Jacob. This may help explain both the Golden Calf in the Wilderness and the two golden calves that Jeroboam King of Israel set up, one in Bethel and the other in Dan (1-Kings 12:28-29). This ties in with the strong identification of the bull in the cult of Jeroboam with the idealized (and perhaps almost idolized) prototypical figure of Jacob, at least as proposed by the Malbim.
Commentators have suggested in both cases (i.e. of the Golden Calf and of Jeroboam) that the initial intention was not necessarily outright idolatry but rather a means of serving the Almighty. This had not been authorized by Prophecy and degenerated quickly into idolatry.

Cf. The blessing of Jacob to Joseph:
The words translated here as THE MIGHTY GOD OF  JACOB in Hebrew are "Abir Yaacov" which could be interpreted to mean "The Bull of Jacob" as explained above concerning the same expression in Psalm 132.
The Tribe of Ephraim was nicknamed "Aegel" (Jeremiah 31:18) meaning bull-calf and Joseph had been likened to a first-born bull (Deuteronomy 33:17).
Biblical Proofs: Bull-Calf
The Midrash says that the image depicted on the standard of Ephraim was a bull.
Even now, the British nick-name themselves "John Bull".
The word "Aegel" meaning bull-calf and being a diminutive for Ephraim could also be pronounced as "Angle".
The Anglo-Saxon invaders of Britain referred to themselves as "Angli" or as "Aegli'. In Hebrew the two words are different ways of pronouncing the same name. From the name "Angli" is derived the name "England" or "Land of the Angli".
We identify the English with the Tribe of Ephraim.

The Ancient Israelites lived in a Canaanite and pagan Middle Eastern environment. The image of the bull was associated with heathen gods and with supernatural powers. A synthesis in popular belief could easily have caused the association of Jacob with bull-calf  worship to seem desirable and efficacious.
The Ten Tribes were to be exiled because they had copied the pagan ways of the nations around them (2-Kings chapters 17 and 18).

Replacement Theology
The Malbim goes on and has presented his case at greater length than our summarization of it.
What the Malbim says does accord with the Hebrew text. It is worth taking note of.
The Malbim was saying that the northern Israelites sought to develop for themselves a kind of Replacement Theology.
Later the Christians were to claim that they had been saved by belief in their Savior and had become the new Israel.
They pretended to have replaced the "Old Israel", meaning in their eyes the Jews, as the Chosen People. They considered themselves the New Israel.
In the Twentieth Century with the Holocaust and establishment of the State of Israel Replacement Theology was discredited. The Catholic Church has officially discarded it or at least drastically modified their application of it. Elsewhere it fell out of fashion. Replacement Theology has however raised its head in other areas, as discussed below. Let us first consider the growing identification of Christians in the West with the Jewish people and with the State of Israel.

Restorationism i.e. Christian Zionism.

In recent years partly due to the existence of the State of Israel, the Six Day War and a return of the Jewish People to their Biblical heritage many Christian groups and individuals have experienced a change of heart towards the Jewish People. Numerous Christians have began to take an interest in the "Hebrew Roots" of Christianity. This movement encompasses adherents of mainstream churches as well as breakaway fundamentalist groups. The trend is continuing and gaining momentum. One aspect of this is enthusiastic support for the State of Israel by Evangelistic Christians in the USA and elsewhere. This support has had international political repercussions. Members of the US Establishment have been influenced by it or otherwise obliged to give the phenomenon their consideration. It has helped the State of Israel and the Zionist cause. Its importance continues to grow as Israel becomes otherwise more and more isolated and besieged by the raging of idolatrous and heathen elements in the international arena.
Christian support for Zionism and the Jewish State historically goes back for quite some time. It may be traced to the Restorationist Movement in the USA and Western Europe and especially in the British Isles. This movement was in effect parallel to and concomitant with the Zionist Movement amongst the Jews.
Franz Kobler gives an excellent historical description of Restorationism in a little-appreciated but very important work at present available (for free) from the Brit-Am web-site and for some reason only from there (as of now) and no-where else!
"The Vision Was There. A History of the British Movement for the Restoration of the Jews to Palestine" by Franz
Kobler, 1956, London  

British Israelite Beliefs.

Together with the returning of many Christians to their "Hebrew Roots" has gone an increasing interest in the question of the Lost Ten Tribes.
Belief in the Ten Tribes being located in the West dates back for centuries.
The Earliest West European Beliefs in their Israelite Origins.

In some sense this belief may always have existed. It reflects historical reality and Biblical Truth. The present writer believes in it. Our researches are based upon it and come to impart new insights to it.
Early believers in what is termed "British Israel" were on the whole pro-Jewish. Membership and interest could overlap that of the Restorationist Movement working for a return of the Jews to the Promised Land. Later however, partly due to Continental influences and "scientific" racialism, anti-Jewish elements became influential in some branches of British Israel. In the USA the anti-Jewish version took root and became known as Christian Identity. Neo-Nazi groups such as the Aryan Nations adapted Christian Identity to their own beliefs.
Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority of believers in Israelite Identity in Britain and North America were basically pro-Jewish and sympathetic towards the State of Israel. Fundamentalist groups such as those of Herbert W. Armstrong and their offshoots brought the belief to public attention.
In the State of Israel, Yair Davidiy and Brit-Am, Movement of the Ten Tribes, have helped reveal much new evidence and insights confirming the Israelite Ancestry of significant groups amongst Western Peoples. 
Today, most believers and sympathizers may be described as pro-Jewish, pro-Zionist, well-informed, Bible Believers of above average quality [if comparisons are to be made].
Exceptions however do exist and are not difficult to locate.

The Ephraimites
A related movement to both "Hebrew Roots Returning" and British Israelism is known as the "Ephraimites". This term is sometimes applied to all Christian believers in Israelite Identity. Strictly speaking however it should only be used for a portion of them, specifically for those who use the name for themselves. "Ephraimites" may be defined as Christians who belonged to or were somehow once associated with certain Christian activists who broke away from (or otherwise rejected) the "Jews for Jesus" and set up a Christian version of the same.
#1. Who Really Are Ephraimites? Towards a definition.

In general individual "Ephraimites" believe they descend from the Ten Tribes or from Judah. They often have strong feelings about it. Ephraimites in the past expressed great interest in Steven Collins and Yair Davidiy both of whom provide Biblical and historical justifications for belief in Israelite Ancestry.
Some Ephraimites however do not rely on rational explanations but rather on inner inspiration and their own Christian Teachings.
"Ephraimites" are often highly individualistic and independently minded so all descriptions are to be understood only in general terms.

Pseudo-Karaites and the Campaign Against Brit-Am.

Recently reports have reached us that a kind of campaign amongst Ephraimite groups has been waged against Yair Davidiy and Brit-Am, Movement of the Ten Tribes. We are considered too Jewish and too Orthodox. Contact with us has been discouraged. A few Contributors and sympathizers have dropped away. More and more Ephraimites are turning towards what they call the "Karaites". These "Karaites" are a new invention by someone called Nehemiah Gorden. They claim to re-interpret the Law of Moses according to the simple literal meaning. This is what a previous Jewish sect also known as the "Karaites" (and who still exist in small numbers) are said to have done. The new Pseudo-Karaites claim association with the previous Karaites.
Perhaps they deserve each other?

The Ephraimites along with their own varied Christian doctrines now often combine "Karaite" practices and interpretations taught by Nehemiah Gorden.

Dissemination of Anti-Jewish Teachings.

Ephraimites on the whole do not know Hebrew and do not possess the knowledge and necessary learning to decide what the Biblical Laws entail. The Rabbinical explanations in our day have been shown as more strongly in accord with the nicetieis of the Hebrew langauge than all other explanations.
If follows that a preference for "Karaite" interpretations over Rabbinical ones may be attributed to non-rational factors.
Gorden himself is not a Christian though he teaches on Christian subjects. As far as we know Gorden believes neither in Christianity nor in Israelite Identity! As well as misinterpreting the Bible in a fashion deliberately contrary to Rabbinical understanding Gorden spreads slanders against Judaism. Gorden is in fact a Jewish anti-Semite who goes out of his way to interpret Christian teachings in anti-Jewish directions. Calumnies against Judaism and Religious Jews are spread by Gorden and his aficionados. What his agenda is, no-one knows. His father, he asserts, is a Rabbi. Perhaps infantile family issues are involved? Gorden being Jewish seems to provide the Ephraimites with an excuse for adopting the anti-Jewish prejudices that he teaches. The rationale seems to be: How can certain teachings be anti-Jewish if Gorden who is himself Jewish teaches them?
Unfortunately, the reality is that some of the worst propagators of Hatred against Jews are of Jewish origin.
By adopting the teachings of Gorden the Ephraimites are setting themselves against Judah. This is apparently what some of them may want. It may give their leaders a feeling of greater control?
They are setting themselves up as the Rightful Israelites of Ephraim who possess the "real" interpretation of the Law along with a realization of who the true "Messiah" (and according to some of them, God Himself) really is!
This is a new version of Replacement Theology!
The Ephraimites send groups to visit Israel and sojourn in the Land. There is a movement amongst them to actualize the right of re-settlement in Israel. The Jews, due to Pseudo-Karaite propaganda, are being depicted as Believers in superstitious falsehoods and as denying Ephraimites the right to re-settle in Israel. The Ephraimites however have no real proof of their Israelite origin other than that provided by Brit-Am whom they go out of their way to dissociate with.
Perhaps Brit-Am should be grateful?
Maybe People like the Pseudo-Karaites are doing us all a favor?
By drawing worms out of the bad apples we are being shown where the bad apples are.
These is danger however that those apples that otherwise may have been worth something will also be infected.
We wish to stress that NOT ALL Ephraimites hold anti-Jewish beliefs or realize the implications of what "Karaites" are teaching them. The tendency however is there.

We also believe that the Lost Tribes are to be found as recognizable groups amongst Western Peoples.
The "Ephraimites" are therefore correct, in many cases, concerning their Israelite Ancestry but mistaken on other matters.
See our article:
The Two House Doctrine and Ephraimites.

Practical Conclusions.

Ephraimite pro-Karaite and anti-Jewish tendencies jeopardize the efforts of Brit-Am to present the truths of Israelite Identity in a positive light. They are in danger of continuing the sin of Jeroboam who caused the Israelites of "Ephraim" to secede from Judah, worship idols, be exiled and eventually lose consciousness of their Israelite Ancestry.

Our advice to individual Ephraimites who have been (often inadvertently) caught up in this issue is to check everything out for themselves several times over with an open mind and intellectual honesty.

We would also urge them to support Brit-Am much more than they have been doing (if at all) up to now.

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