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Date Posted:16/04/2008 7:52 AMCopy HTML

British Israel

Introduction and overview

British Israel (BI, National Israel, Anglo-Israel) has been a core doctrine and belief of the Revival groups since their inception, and actually forms part of the RCI 'articles of faith'. BI profoundly influences Revivalists interpretation and application of the Bible. It has been said by supporters of BI, that if you don't understand its principles, then you cannot understand three quarters of the Bible. This is a significant statement.

The study and rebuttal of British Israelism is an onerous task, even at best of times. The BI theory seems to have been around in one form or another for at least 200 years and has developed many (often opposing) theories. It really has evolved into its own form of Hydra[1]. When putting together the articles to highlight what I would consider BI errors, it was difficult to workout the best way to present them, while trying to maintain some form of coherence. With this in mind, I have written the following overview summary with links to the more detailed relevant articles. Consider it a narrative style contents page. As a number of the articles are currently under review, some of the links may not be active at present.

The intent of these articles

The British Israel theory is based around the belief that the 'ten lost tribes' of Israel migrated to the British Isles. These people later also spread around the world to places such as America, Australia, Canada etc.

Further, these tribes of Israel are said to be generally ruled by Queen Elizabeth who is supposed to be a direct descendant of King David of the Old Testament. QEII is said to be now siting on the Throne of David (see the RCI & RF websites for more detail). My concern is not so much that  British Israelites insist these things took place, but rather, the issue is that they say the Scriptures both require and support their views. The intent of this site and the articles therefore, is not to try and prove that none of the ancient Israelites went to Britain, or that Queen Elizabeth is not a descendant of King David, to do so would be like battling the previously mentioned mythical Hydra, every time you cut one head off another one will rise in its place (this occurs of course because so much of the modern 'proofs' offered in support of BI are so subjective, they can be applied in a myriad of ways to a myriad of countries, both BI & non-BI). What I do hope to show however, is that from a Scriptural perspective, the fundamental tenets of BI are not found in the Bible and indeed they run contrary to the intent of the Scriptures. They are, in short, anti-scriptural.

If the root is bad, then the tree and its fruit must follow.

An overview of the problems with British Israelism

Central to the British Israel theory is the claim that God made an 'unconditional' promise that there would always be a descendant of David ruling over the physical  nation of Israel until Christs second advent. The problem is, the aspect a natural seed of David always being on the Throne was never unconditional. The Scriptures repeatedly state that this aspect of the Throne was totally conditional (see article on the Throne).

The ultimate aspect of the unconditional Kingship was and has been accomplished through Christ. On the day of Pentecost, Peter makes it perfectly clear, that Christ was the fulfillment of the promise. There is not one single mention in the NT text of the continuation of the natural Throne. Peter also indicates that this was how King David also understood the promise (see article on Peter & the Throne and the separate article on Pentecost).

BI (especially the Revivalist version) seem to pin their hopes on the throne transfer on a daughter of the last King Zedekiah. Amongst Revivalists, she is known as Tea-Tephi. However, several significant (insurmountable?) problems exist with this theory. Firstly, even the British Israel World Federation admit, in one form or another, that Tea-Tephi never existed, not in any documented form anyhow. The Irish Annals that supposedly proved she did, contain no such information (see article). Indeed with the information currently at hand, it would seem the name Tea-Tephi was a fabrication. Secondly, whoever Zedekiah's daughter was is irrelevant, as Zedekiah and his house were part of the cursed bad figs who were good for nothing and we to be tossed out, Zedekiah of course being the chief 'bad fig' (see article). To seek any form of throne continuation through this line is just not feasible. As further proof of this, the book of Jeremiah gives clear indication, that not just Zedekiah's house, but all the ruling houses of that time were to be removed by God. God's singular intent was to bring an end to the natural seed of David ruling in Israel. This is very clear and leaves no room for escape (see article).

Interestingly, a number of British Israelists realized the problems trying to link the throne through Zedekiah's daughter and openly admitted the general BI Zedekiah/daughter theory was wrong. They then came up with a rather elaborate story that the women who accompanied Jeremiah to Egypt then to Ireland were actually the daughters of a previous King. This story is simply not viable as the context of the daughters in Jeremiah is clearly those of Zedekiah and the book of Josephus also states they were Zedekiah's daughter (a point totally over looked by the BI defenders concerned).

Of course another problem with Jeremiah and the girls going to Ireland is that it flies in the face of all the warnings given to Jeremiah and the people of where they should and should not go. Also, as a token of his commitment to the land of Israel (the Cannan version) Jeremiah purchased a block of land there as sign of good will (see article). If Jeremiah would have gone anywhere, it would have been back to the Israel of Cannan.

Another fundamental aspect of Revivalist BI is that of the nature and location of the tribes after the captivities. There are a number of versions around the place, but essentially, after the ten northern tribes were taken captive around 740 - 721BC, they never returned to Israel and made their way to Britain. The same is also maintained for the tribe of Judah after their captivity around 600 - 586BC. The RCI are even so bold to state that Cannan became an 'Israelite free zone' (see their article). They often maintain that the people found in Jerusalem at the time of Christ were not true Israelites as such but a mixture known as Idumean Jews.

Sadly, as is the case with much BI doctrine, only a very small picture is presented to the people. The facts are, that both before, during and after the captivities of the ten northern tribes, significant numbers of them moved to, and integrated with, the people in the Judah region. The terms for Jew and Israel became virtually interchangeable toward the end of the OT, and especially in the NT. Even after the return from Babylon from the prophesied 70 year captivity, representatives from all of Israel are mentioned and Ephraim and Manasseh come in for special attention in the return to the land (see article). It should also be noted, that the book of Ezekiel (written around 580BC) has a significant portion of its writings to the ten tribes then in exile in the local region (see article).

Moving on.

British Israelites reason that because Israel was prophesied to become like the dust, sand and stars in number (amongst many other 'signs'), this must apply to the British Commonwealth and the USA because of their large population (see RCI article). Now besides the fact there are other countries with a greater population than the BI countries, the Bible clearly shows these type of 'signs' were easily attributed to Israel of the Old Testament (see article) which the Bible does. In other BI literature, Israel of the later age is described as a place where there would be 'cities without walls'. Now this 'sign' could be applied to literally hundreds of non-BI locations on the planet, and it should also be remember that at various times through Britains history, she was actually famous for her city walls and fortified dwellings. In general, the 'signs' offered as proof by BI are very subjective and prove nothing.

BI base a lot of their time frame understandings on the 'seven times' punishment described in Leviticus 26. BI reasons this seven times is actually 7 x 360 or 2520 years. From this they then try to form links between historical events of modern Britain and old Israel. The problem with this theory is simply that the 'seven times' of Leviticus 26 was not a time frame and it is impossible, from the scriptural perspective, to reason it as such (see article). In the same manner, BI also present, as prime evidence, the fact that Jerusalem was set free in 1917AD, which was 2520 years after the initial capture in 604BC. Because Britain did the freeing, and because the 2520 year time frame is involved, BI see it as a significant confirmation sign. However when we look at the facts regarding the flexibility in both the dates and time frame used, the status of 1917 as a 'sign' soon fades from view. The odds are actually not nearly as high as first presented (see article).

Probably the most famous BI Scripture is that of 2 Sam 7. It would seem that BI is prepared to overlook a host of opposing Scriptures and run with a very slim number of Isolated texts to try and support their ideas. However, even the Scriptures in 2 Sam 7, when viewed in their context and balanced up with other portions of Scripture, do not say what the Revivalists and BI want them to say (see article).

As mentioned, in the NT there is simply no mention of the BI style of doctrine that dominates Revivalist books stores. At the end of the day, when the BI doctrines are put under the spotlight, they offer little if any substance.

As mentioned at the start of this article, some in BI claim that to miss BI is to miss three quarters of the Bible. In recent years it has become my firm belief, that anyone that adheres to the tenets of BI actually runs a serious risk of totally misunderstanding three quarters of the Bible and has failed to understand many of the principles that form the basis of the work of Christ in the salvation of 'Israel'.

It is the opinion of the authors of this site, that the preaching of the British Israel doctrine can seriously undermine the very work and person of Christ and the Holy Spirit.

[1]    Hydra, also called the serpent of Lerna, was a beast with the body of a hound and 100 serpentine heads. It also had poisonous breath and it was so hideous that it caused most people to die of fear from simply seeing it. One of Hercules' great tasks was to kill this monster. When he started to fight it, he discovered that every time he cut off one of the heads, three grew back in place of it. Seeing this was getting him nowhere, he had his charioteer, Iolus, burn the stump after each time he cut off a head, which prevented the unfortunate regeneration. The last head was immortal, however, so after cutting it off, they trapped it under a rock.

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