Book: America & Britain

As Jacob neared death, it was time to pass on the birthright. Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn by his first wife, Leah, had become disqualified through sin (Gen. 35:22), thus the birthright passed to Joseph, Jacob’s firstborn son by Rachel (verse 24). Notice:

“And the sons of Reuben, the firstborn of Israel—for he was the firstborn; but since he defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph, the son of Israel, and the genealogy is [therefore] not to be reckoned according to the [original] birthright. [Moreover,] Judah prevailed among his brothers, and from him came the chief ruler, but the birthright was Joseph’s” (I Chron. 5:1-2).

Normally, the birthright is passed directly to the firstborn son— which, in this case, would be Joseph because of Reuben’s disqualification. As the story unfolds, however, we see the guiding hand of divine intervention. God had already determined that on a national level the Abrahamic promises would take the shape of “a nation” and “a company of nations.” This would be achieved by actually conferring the birthright blessings directly onto Joseph’s two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim.

Joseph—Two National Identities

Each of the twelve tribes of Israel was identified by its ancient tribal name—except Joseph. Throughout the Old Testament, the tribe of Joseph is referred to as though it were actually two tribes—Manasseh and Ephraim. No other tribe is presented as such. This all came about because Jacob—the father of the tribes of Israel—passed the birthright directly to Joseph’s sons. The prophetic implications of Jacob’s maneuver will in time become obvious.

“And it came to pass after these things, that one told Joseph, ‘Behold, your father is sick.’ And he [Joseph] took with him [to visit Jacob] his two sons, Manasseh [his firstborn] and Ephraim. And one spoke to Jacob, and said, ‘Behold, your son Joseph comes to you.’ And Israel strengthened himself and sat upon the bed.

“And Jacob said to Joseph, ‘God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me. And He said to 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.” And now your two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, who [were] born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine. Like Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine’ ” (Gen. 48:1-5).

Jacob essentially adopts Joseph’s two sons. In so doing, he made the two boys legally his sons. Jacob did this so that the birthright could be passed to them directly. Remember, the birthright belongs legally to the firstborn—unless God intervenes to do otherwise.

Notice that Manasseh is mentioned first in verse one, as he was the firstborn. Later, in verse five, Jacob mentions Ephraim first—showing that he was about to favor him with the greater portion of the blessings.

“And Israel beheld Joseph’s sons, and said, ‘Who are these?’ And Joseph said to his father, ‘They are my sons, whom God has given me in this place.’ And [Israel] said, ‘Please bring them to me, and I will bless them.’

“And the eyes of Israel were dim for age; he could not see. And [Joseph] brought [the boys] near him, and he kissed them and embraced them. And Israel said to Joseph, ‘I had not thought I would see your face, and, lo, God showed me also your offspring.’ And Joseph brought them out from between his father’s knees, and he bowed his face to the earth. And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel’s left, and Manasseh in his left toward Israel’s right hand. And he brought them near to him” (verses 8-13).

Jacob was practically blind—but he knew how Joseph would present the boys. Manasseh, as the oldest of the two and the firstborn of Joseph, was placed at Jacob’s right hand where he would have typically received the full birthright blessing (verse 13). Ephraim, the younger of the boys, was positioned so that Jacob’s left hand would have been on his head—denoting a lesser blessing.

Notice the divine intervention. Under God’s direction, Jacob crossed his hands deliberately so that the greater of the blessings went not to the older Manasseh, but to Ephraim, the younger lad.

“And Israel [Jacob] stretched out his right hand and laid it upon Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left upon Manasseh’s head, crossing his hands, for Manasseh was the firstborn. And he blessed Joseph and said, ‘May God, before Whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God Who fed me all my life to this day, the Angel Who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads. And let my name be perpetuated in them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.’

“And Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, and it displeased him. And he held up his father’s hand to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. And Joseph said to his father, ‘Not so, my father, for this 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 [Manasseh] 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 [a company, or commonwealth] of nations.’ And he blessed them that day, saying, ‘In you shall Israel bless, saying, “God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh.” ’ And [thus] he put Ephraim before [ahead of] Manasseh” (verses 14-20).

Back in Genesis 35:11, God had promised Jacob that his descendants would grow into “a nation” and “a company of nations.” Now it was clear that this would be accomplished through Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. Note that the birthright blessings went to them jointly—“bless the lads. And let my name be perpetuated in them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”

But notice also that Jacob passed the greater portion of the birthright blessing—which was normally reserved for the firstborn, the oldest—on to Ephraim, the younger of the two. Thus, as noted in verse 20, Jacob “put Ephraim before Manasseh”—that is, Ephraim was placed ahead of or in preference to Manasseh in terms of blessings. Also, as history would go on to prove, Ephraim would grow into the promised “company of nations” first; Manasseh would follow some time later, developing into a single great nation.

Again, ancient Israel has in no way fulfilled this prophetic promise. Ephraim was unquestionably the dominant tribe of the northern kingdom— but was always only one tribe, not a “company” of tribes, let alone a company of nations. Neither has this prophecy been fulfilled by the Jews.

As we search for the modern descendants of the “lost” tribes of Israel, we must look for a company or commonwealth of nations—one which is closely related to a single great nation. This is the key to identifying modern Israel today.

“May They Be Called by My Name”

When it comes to understanding biblical prophecy, it is imperative to know just who is Israel. What nation or nations qualify today as Israel—by God’s definition? The answer is quite astonishing.

Notice in Jacob’s blessing of Ephraim and Manasseh that he passed on something else to the boys, something quite profound—his very name. In Genesis 48:16, Jacob said, “let my name be named on them” (KJV). In other words, “may they be called by my name.” Jacob’s name had been changed, by God, to Israel. Thus, Ephraim and Manasseh inherited the name Israel.

Now we see why Jacob adopted Joseph’s boys. The name Israel could not be legally conferred to Ephraim and Manasseh by Joseph himself; thus, Jacob “adopted” the boys in order to pass his name directly to them. The name Israel would be indelibly stamped on Ephraim and Manasseh.

The fact is, the modern descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh— whoever and wherever they may be today—are biblical Israel. They alone carry the name Israel—not the Jews, who are but a remnant of the ancient tribal nation of Judah. Indeed, Jacob’s prophecies about Joseph’s two sons had nothing to do with the Jews—for Judah was not even present at the time. While there are actually several modern-day nations that can trace their origins to the various “lost” tribes of Israel (such as the French being descendants of the tribe of Reuben), only the descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh prophetically carry the name Israel.

This is profound knowledge—the master key to understanding Bible prophecy—overlooked by theologians and scholars. Hundreds of prophetic references to Jacob or Israel—which have long been assumed to refer to the Jews—apply first and foremost to the modern descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh (especially those prophecies relating to the latter days).

Who then, according to Scripture, is the real Israel? Who has the right to the name Jacob or Israel? Only Ephraim and Manasseh—who were to develop into a great company of nations and a single great nation.

But who and where are they today?

A Key Prophecy for the Latter Days

As demonstrated, the Abrahamic birthright promises were passed on to Joseph (I Chron. 5:2)—specifically to his sons Ephraim and Manasseh. Shortly after Jacob blessed Joseph’s sons, the aged patriarch asked to see all twelve of his sons—the fathers of the tribes of Israel. Under divine inspiration, Jacob was to give his sons a prophetic glimpse into the future, into the “latter days.” In so doing, Jacob describes certain key attributes of Joseph that can help us to determine the modern-day identities of his sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. Jacob’s key prophecy is found in Genesis 49; he begins thus: “Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you what will happen to you in days to come. Gather yourselves together and hear, sons of Jacob, and listen to Israel your father” (verses 1-2; author’s paraphrase throughout Gen. 49). Starting in verse 22, Jacob addresses Joseph, saying:

“Joseph is like a fruitful vine, a prolific vine watered by a spring, whose branches grow and run over the walls.”

Ephraim and Manasseh, who inherited Joseph’s blessings, were destined to become notably fruitful—like a well-watered plant whose vines or branches extend far beyond their natural borders. This points not only to rich agricultural blessings, but also to the large populations promised to Abraham. That Joseph’s vines or branches run over the wall points to colonization (we have already seen in Genesis 28:14 that Abraham’s descendants were to “spread abroad” in all directions). Thus, Joseph’s offspring would become prosperous, well populated, and highly productive nations—spreading around the world through the establishment of colonies.

“With bitterness and hatred [Joseph’s] enemies have attacked him, but his arms have remained strong and quick as he aims his bow accurately—because his power comes from the Mighty One of Jacob, the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel” (verses 23-24).

These two verses indicate that Joseph’s descendants, Ephraim and Manasseh, would be unjustly attacked and provoked—resulting in their involvement in major military conflicts. Yet they would be victorious by God’s help. What nation and company of nations does this suggest?

“Indeed, your father’s God, the Almighty, has helped you and blessed you with the blessings of the heavens above, with the blessings of the deep that are hidden below, and with the blessings of the breast and womb. The blessings I proclaim for you are as certain as the ancient mountains, as sure as the age-old hills. Let all these blessings rest on the head of Joseph, on the one most distinguished among his brothers” (verses 25- 26).

These material blessings are obvious: blessings of heaven refers to rich agricultural abundance—produce, grain crops, orchards, etc.—made possible by plentiful rainfall in due season; blessings of the deep refers to rich natural resources such as oil, coal, minerals—all that lies beneath (including beneath the seas). Of course, blessings of the breasts and of the womb refer to large, growing populations (recall the earlier promise to Rebekah, that her and Isaac’s seed would grow into an incalculable multitude).

We find a similar prophecy in Deuteronomy chapter 33. Here, Moses pronounces special blessings—which are highly descriptive—on each of the tribes of Israel. Of Joseph, he says:

“May the LORD bless your land with the precious rain of heaven above [abundant crops and produce from rain in due season] and with the deep waters that lie below [the abundance from the seas]. May He bless you with the best produce the sun brings forth and the finest fruits the months yield [produce in its season]; with the choicest treasures of the ancient mountains and the precious resources of the everlasting hills; with the very best gifts the earth can offer [abundant mineral resources]—and may you delight in the favor of Him Who once dwelt in the burning bush. Let all these blessings rest on the head of Joseph, on the one preeminent among his brothers.

“Joseph’s glory is like that of a firstborn bull—but with the strong horns [symbolic of power and influence] of a wild ox! He uses them to push at the nations, even those at the ends of the earth. Thus describes the multitudes of Ephraim, and the host of Manasseh” (verses 13-17; author’s paraphrase).

Again, these passages portray great national wealth, abundance, fruitfulness, large populations, along with global influence and prestige. The middle part of verse 17—Joseph using his “horns” to push at the nations, even those at ends of the earth—clearly suggests worldwide influence and military reach.

God’s promises to Abraham have been fulfilled—on one level—in that the ancient Kingdom of Israel, as a great nation, possessed the “Promised Land” in the time of Solomon (Deut. 1:10; I Kings 4:20-21, 24-25). But the promises were to be multiplied many times over—“May the LORD, the God of your fathers, make you a thousand times more than you are, and bless you as He has promised you!” (Deut. 1:11). As we have seen, God continued to expand on His promises to Abraham through each succeeding generation as they were passed on to Ephraim and Manasseh. In those two tribes—who alone carry the name Israel—the birthright promises were to reach their zenith.

Indeed, the Abrahamic promises clearly describe a “company” (or commonwealth) of nations and a single “great” nation; together, they are a highly productive, populous people who have expanded their territories by colonization—and even possess their enemies’ sea gates. With favorable climates, rich soil, abundant rainfall, and vast natural resources (oil, coal, timber, minerals, etc.), they have inherited the choicest parts of the earth. Their economic stature and military might give them superpower status, allowing them great international influence—politically, economically, and culturally.

Without question, these amazing promises must be fulfilled exactly as described or the Bible is a fraud. In all of history, what nations fully and accurately match the highly detailed descriptions we have seen here in the Abrahamic promises?

When we put all of the evidence together, the answer is clear: Great Britain and the United States of America fulfill the covenant promises God made to Abraham! Ephraim was to become a “company” of nations— fulfilled through the British Empire; Manasseh was to become a single great nation—fulfilled through America. Astonishingly, these English-speaking nations are none other than the modern-day descendants of Joseph—and they alone carry the prophetic name Israel!