Bnei Menashe vs. the Ephraimites

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From the Times Online:

About 1,700 members of the Bnei Menashe tribe — the Sons of Manasseh, one of the original 12 biblical tribes of Israel — have migrated to Israel, completing what they believe is an extraordinary, 2,700-year exile that took them from the Middle East seven centuries before the Christian era, through Afghanistan, China, Burma and India, before they heard that a new state of Israel had been created 62 years ago.

One of the largest and fastest-growing wings of the very broad spectrum of bodies called “the Messianic Movement” is the Ephraimite, or Two-House, movement. The main claim of Two-House which sets it apart from other Messianic congregations is that its members–no matter what their ancestry–are actually descendents of the “Ten Lost Tribes.” While some of the major Two-House teachers like Monte Judah have backed away from saying that all followers of Yeshua are actually long-lost Israelites, it is nevertheless an article of faith among the Two-House laity that they personally are definitely of the Ten Tribes.

There are a number of things wrong with Two-House theology that will probably be the subject of an article later on. For now, let’s tackle the key point: It dishonors those who have suffered for their Jewish and/or Israelite heritage.

The Bnei Menashe have carefully maintatined a living tradition of their heritage that the rabbis of Israel have found convincing. Nevertheless, having been separated from the life of Israel for so long and having long ago converted to Christianity, it was deemed necessary that the Bnei Menashe complete the same program as any other proselyte to Judaism. This has taken so long because India’s laws forbid changing one’s religion, while Israel’s right-of-return laws do not recognize Christian Jews, let alone Christian ancient Israelites. Nevertheless, the Bnei Menashe have preservered against the odds to be accepted into Israel.

A person with a Jewish ancestor who assimilated into European Christianity a generation or two before is not a Jew, but a Gentile who happens to have a Jewish ancestor. How much more would a person whose Israelite forefather who was assimliated into a completely pagan culture 2700 years ago be considered a Gentile today?

Sadly, after two millennia of erronious teaching about the disciple’s relationship to the Torah, many Messianics still don’t understand what it really means to be grafted in to Israel. They feel they have to justify the love they have for the Torah by finding a Jewish ancestor. Many do manage to find one (or else came to the movement because they wanted to reconnect with what was lost). Others, unable to do so, find solace in a Two-House congregation.

It’s sad because Two-House denys the very promises of Scripture that the Gentiles–not long-lost Israelites, but actual Gentiles–would be welcomed into the House of God:

Then in that day
The nations will resort to the root of Jesse,
Who will stand as a signal for the peoples;
And His resting place will be glorious.
And He will lift up a standard for the nations And assemble the banished ones of Israel,
And will gather the dispersed of Judah
From the four corners of the earth. (Isa. 11:10, 12)

Notice that there are three groups here: The Gentiles, Israel, and Judah.

Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD say,
“The LORD will surely separate me from His people.” . . .“Also the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD,
To minister to Him, and to love the name of the LORD,
To be His servants, every one who keeps from profaning the sabbath
And holds fast My covenant;
Even those I will bring to My holy mountain And make them joyful in My house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar;
For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.” (Isa. 56:3, 6-7)

In that day I will raise up the fallen booth of David,
And wall up its breaches;
I will also raise up its ruins
And rebuild it as in the days of old;

That they may possess the remnant of Adam And all the nations who are called by My name,”
Declares the LORD who does this. (Amos 9:11-12)

So many peoples and mighty nations will come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the LORD.’ Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘In those days ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”’ (Zec. 8:22-23)

Taking hold of the garment of a Jew does not mean clutching at his feet. It means taking hold of and putting on the kippah (yarmulke for the Azkenazi among us) and the talit that are the emblematic garments of a Jew. The Eternal One always prophesied that when Jerusalem was restored, many Christians of Gentile descent would want to taste His blessings–and He has given His blessing to do so.

The article ends with a note of anticipation:

Rabbi Eliyahu Avichail, who has worked closely with the tribe since the early 1980s. He said he believed in the biblical prophecy of a coming apocalypse – one shared by “End of Days” evangelical Christians – in which “all the world is against Israel” in a battle to be decided in Jerusalem.

“I believe we are very close to the time when the Messiah will arrive and we must prepare by making sure that all the Jews are in the Land of Israel. There are more than six million among the lost tribes and they must be brought to Israel as a matter of urgency.”

Amen, Maranatha, and Shalom!

9 Replies to “Bnei Menashe vs. the Ephraimites”

  1. “Taking hold of the garment of a Jew does not mean clutching at his feet. It means taking hold of and putting on the kippah (yarmulke for the Azkenazi among us) and the talit that are the emblematic garments of a Jew.”

    Nice “One-Law” spin – instead of grabbing hold of a Jew as scriptures plainly say, according to you the Gentiles are to dress as Jews (and become defacto-Jews!).


    1. Actually, what the verse in question literally says is, “they shall take hold of the wings/corners (k’naphim) of a Jewish man”–not the man himself, but his k’naphim, where his tzitzit are (cf. Num. 15:38).

      No spin, just simple remez.



      1. Hmm, OK – let’s analyze this in context by going a bit further down that verse, to see if it actually refers to Gentiles acquiring and putting on themselves the “k’naphim,” or simply grabbing hold of an actual Jewish PERSON who is wearing a robe with tzitzit (i.e. to whom these “wings/corners” belong):

        “…And they will say, ‘Please let us walk with YOU, for we have heard that G-d is with YOU.” (Zechariah 8:23 )

        So, who are these Gentiles talking to? Are they talking to the inanimate “wings/corners” that they just got a hold of and have put on themselves (since according to your One-Law theology, Gentiles should dress and live just like Jews!), or a Jew who is actually wearing them?

        I think the context is pretty clear here!


      2. I think you’re trying to parse the phrase a bit more than the Hebrew requires or intends. The phrase in question is, “yachziqu ‘asharah anashim mikol l’sonot hagoyim v’hecheziqu bikh’naph ish y’hudi leymor neilkhem,” which literally means “ten men shall take hold/become strong/bind–out of all the languages of the Gentiles–and they will take hold/strengthen/bind in the wings/corners of a man of Yh’udi to say to him . . .” There’s no particular reason to assume that “say to him” means “say to the k’naph“–however, the key word, hecheziqu is joined directly to bikh’naph, lit. “they shall be strong/be bound fast in the wings of a man of the Jews.”

        Or, “they shall find strength in the corners” . . .

        You can try to argue the Hebrew; you can’t argue that we’re actually seeing before our eyes in our own days men from all the nations who are binding on and finding strength in the corners of a Jewish man, the tzitzit.



      3. “You can try to argue the Hebrew;

        You’re the one arguing the Hebrew – I’m yet to hear any Jew, mainstream or Messianic, translate and reinterpret this verse the way you just did. So, the burden of proof is on you. I showed you the context of the verse, how it specifically speaks of a Jewish person on whom the garment sits.

        “…you can’t argue that we’re actually seeing before our eyes in our own days men from all the nations who are binding on and finding strength in the corners of a Jewish man, the tzitzit.”

        Actually, what I see is Gentile Christians engaging Judaizing other Gentiles and in usurping Jewish identity and heritage, appropriating Mosaic Torah with a smidgen of Jewish customs (chosen at will), primary anti-Judaism at their core, dressing up as Jews, while at the same time looking down on those Gentiles who do not believe that it’s G-d’s will for Gentiles to live as Jews, and trying to force themselves on Messianic Judaism.


      4. “You’re the one arguing the Hebrew – I’m yet to hear any Jew, mainstream or Messianic, translate and reinterpret this verse the way you just did.”

        I’m presenting why the Hebrew doesn’t present a problem for me, in response to your argument that “take hold of” and “say” must refer to the same noun. It’s not exactly rocket-science to work out why you can’t just skip over * bikh’naph* to attach “take hold of” and “a man of the Jews” together.

        And if I were the first to understand this verse to refer to the Messianic movement (and I seriously doubt it), so what? That’s just an appeal to popularity, or lack thereof.

        I wasn’t very clear before, so let me clarify: You had to ignore a whole word of the text to make it fit your conclusion. I’ve drawn my conclusion by carefully weighing every word, which is why I went into (probably too much) detail explaining it. You can try to argue the Hebrew with me; I’m still learning, so perhaps you can show me something I’ve missed. But you would be hard-pressed to show that there are not ten Gentiles joining every born Jew in our Messianic fellowships taking hold of, putting (binding) on, and getting strength in the *tzitzit* at the *kh’naph* of the *talit *at the same time that so many are going up to Jerusalem to seek the Lord.

        Perhaps you see nothing significant in that. I find it fascinating.



      5. “But you would be hard-pressed to show that there are not ten Gentiles joining every born Jew in our Messianic fellowships”

        Between Two-House, One-Law, Sacred-Names, most “messianic” fellowships have hardly any Jews in them at all. Many would qualify as anti-Jewish and replacement-theology proponents. The fact the most of Jewish-led MJ congregations have hardly any Jews in them is both a failure of Messianic Movement to focus on their own people, movement’s overall immaturity and attachment to Christianity, lack of identity standards based on halacha, and movement’s leadership preferring rather to be political correct and financially secure, rather than reaching out to their own Jewish people. It is also evidence of the fact that G-d is yet to do something special among my Jewish people that will have nothing to with Messianic Judaism as it is known today.

        Dressing up as Jews, throwing around Hebrew words, and giving yourself Hebrew names does not Gentile joining a Jew make – it’s offensive to ALL Jews, don’t you see it?! I would bet that your own fellowship has hardly any Jews in it to “hold on to” and that even the leadership wouldn’t qualify as remotely halachic Jews, instead simply being Gentiles who lived as Gentiles from births and then BOOM!!!, they “discovered” their Jewish ancestry!


  2. B’nei Binyamin comprise Kurdish Jews, Afghan-Taliban Jews, Persian Jews, and by extension, Caucasian Jews who speak a Judeo-Persian dialect. Look up “From Kabul to Queens: The Jews of Afghanistan” whose author and her community members have all ready long claimed their lineage to Binyamin bin Rokhel.

    Furthermore, Bene Ephraim from India are well-respected by Kulanu, Shavei Israel, Be’chol Lashon, Asian Jewish Life and other Jewish organizations who support their efforts of Israeli acclimation. Besides B’nei Menashe from Southeast Asian Indochina, Bene Israel are Pakistani-Indo Levites. Stephen Epstein acknowledges “Some (B’nei Menashe) went down the Mekong River into Vietnam, the Philippines, Siam, Thailand and Malaysia, while some of the Israelites moved to Burma and west to India.” Emphasis on B’nei Menashe West and East of Yarden.

    So. Messianic Jews that have made aliyah to Israel are not of B’nei Rachel. Y’all are largely Gingers or Blondies most likely of Shevet GAD v’Shevet Reuven. I have made my case about y’all, so consider moving to Gaza, since Rabbi David Katz of Tzfat asserts that’s where B’nei Gad belong (and I agree with his educated “guess”).

    To reiterate Messianic Jews, who lead Christians, are NOT of B’nei Rachel, or B’nei Bilhah, or B’nei Zilpah or Beis David. Period.

    Y’all are typical of B’nei GAD.

    Messy Maniacs, good luck preparing to goto Gaza.


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