Anglo-Israelism, the view that Anglo-Saxons are especially blessed by God and the people of his covenant, is based in the idea of “the lost 10 tribes of Israel.” It begins with the historical fact that the Northern Kingdom of Israel broke away from the Kingdom of Judah shorty after Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, ascended to the throne (1K 11.41-12.24). These two kingdoms lived side by side, sometimes in relative peace but often at war, for about two centuries, until 722 BC, when the Assyrian army invaded the North and exiled its people (2K 17.1-41). After that event, the Northern Kingdom was never re-established; it disappeared as an entity from the pages of history.
It was common in ancient empires to exile people you conquered. The reasoning was simple: a conquered people is always inclined to rise up in rebellion against its conqueror, because nationalism never dies. So what do you do? You pack up the people and scatter them to other locations around your empire. Over time they intermarry with other ethnicities, and they lose their sense of tribal identity. Nebuchadnezzar did the same thing more than a century later, when he conquered the Southern Kingdom of Judah (2K 25.11-12), and the practice is confirmed in archaeological records across the Ancient Near East.
The story told by Anglo-Israelites posits an unexpected outcome of this event:
- When Jacob blessed his sons, the future 12 tribes of Israel, he gave the birthright to Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh (Gen 48.1-22).
- These tribes were exiled in the Assyrian invasion.
- Modern Jews are descended from Judah (as the name demonstrates), who does not hold the birthright. They’re the custodians of the royal line, but not chosen as inheritors of the birthright.
- The Northern Kingdom was taken to Mesopotamia in exile. Eventually escaping, the ten tribes left evidence of their generational path northwestward, eventually to the British Isles.
- The kingly line of Judah arrived in the British Isles as well after the fall of Jerusalem to Babylon in 586 BC, when Jeremiah the prophet secretly escaped with a daughter of King Zedekiah. She established the royal line in Ireland when she married Ireland’s king. That line became the royal line of the UK when James VI of Scotland became James I of Great Britain. Thus the royal line of Judah and the birthright line of Ephraim are united in Britain.
- Many Anglo-Israelites also maintain that Manasseh, the older brother of Ephraim but placed second by Jacob’s decision (Gen 48.14-20), is the ancestor of white Americans, making the US part of Israel as well.
This is quite a claim—or concatenation of claims. There’s a lot to consider here.
Next time we’ll begin to work through these assertions.