In our last look at Zechariah 10, we saw that Adonai starts to mention that His intention is to expand His restorative process to the northern tribes, the ancient kingdom of Israel, now referred to as the House of Joseph. Because of the honored place of Joseph, his descendants were promised a leading role in the Promised Land (Genesis 49). As was so often the pattern with the Lord’s promises, Joseph’s younger son, Ephraim, would have ascendancy over his older brother, Manasseh. This was not to diminish Manasseh, but, was consistent in the pattern of Jacob over Esau, Solomon over his brothers, David over his brothers, etcetera. References to the northern tribes frequently were made using Ephraim or Joseph’s name, Ephraim being the leading tribe of the northern confederation, just as Judah referred to the juncture of that tribe with Simeon.
The northern kingdom had never been faithful since its initial rebellion against David’s House after Solomon’s death and succession to the throne. Jeroboam I, fearing that allowing his people to continue to go to Jerusalem to worship would cause them to rethink their loyalty to him, erected golden calves with their related shrines and priesthoods to keep everyone “home”. Thereafter, every northern king was described as doing evil in the Lord’s sight. While 60% of the southern kings were righteous, not one of the northern rulers received the same description by the Scriptures. The resultant evil of the North led to the judgment of God through Assyria’s conquest and destruction of the capital, Samaria, in 722-721 B.C.E.
I might add that this has led to a misunderstanding resulting in historical and doctrinal error-that there were 10 lost tribes. This is a myth. No tribes were ever lost. While most of the people of Israel, including Judah, initially remained where they were, some of all tribes returned home. New Covenant examples are Paul being from Benjamin and Anna from the tribe of Asher appearing in Luke 2. Cultic systems have arisen around this legend, finding mysterious existences of these tribes in Europe, the British royal family, even the mainstream Church. This has often led to a legalistic system calling itself Two House, Ephraimitism, even “Hebrew Roots”. There is no Biblical basis for these aberrations.
What God does do here is broaden His restoration to the North. Verse 7 here states, ”The Ephraimites will be like a warrior. Their hearts will be glad as with wine. Their children will see and be glad. Their hearts will rejoice in Adonai. Verse 8 -I will signal for them and gather them. Surely, I will redeem them and they will be as numerous as before. Verse 9-Though I scatter them among the peoples, they will remember Me in distant places. They and their children will survive and return…Verse 12-So, I will strengthen them in Adonai and they will walk in His Name. It is a declaration of Adonai.”
The entire expanse of the Jewish galaxy will be redeemed nationally and spiritually. What a wonderful God!
Rabbi Jeffrey A. Adler
Rabbi Jeffrey Adler is on the Board of HaShomer and also Rabbi of Sha’arey Yeshua in Indianapolis, IN.