Does the wording in the Hebrew text mean ‘seven times more’ or ‘sevenfold’ as many translations have it, or ‘2520 years’ as some writers have claimed?
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This article belongs to a series on what biblical prophecy says about the fate of the ten “lost” tribes of Israel. This present part has some notes on the Anglo-Israelist dogma regarding “delayed blessings”. This has to do with Leviticus 26 where verses 18, 21, 24 and 28 contain such expressions as “seven times more” or “sevenfold”, depending on the translation.
Some Anglo-Israelist writers have claimed those verses to mean that the ten “lost” tribes of Israel were to be “punished for 2520 years”, and that after this they were to be restored and receive back the blessings which were promised to the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They have claimed that the phrase “seven times” [a] which some bible-translations have in those four verses, refers to “7 years of 360 days, summing up to 2520 days”. And then, they have counted a day as a year. In that way, they have interpreted the phrase “seven times” as referring to 2520 years.
According to those writers, that chapter contains a prophecy regarding “blessings withheld for 2520 years”, or blessings “delayed” for such a period of time. They have claimed that the ten “lost” tribes of Israel, 2520 years after their exile from the Promised Land, were to suddenly emerge as a nation again, with a large population and great blessings and power – and that, not in the Promised Land which the Bible talks about but in such places as the British isles and North America. [b] They have said that the Anglo-Saxon people in the USA are “the tribe of Manasseh” [c] and through that recipients of the “promised blessings”, and that those blessings had been “withheld” but were restored circa 1800 to 1803 (USA’s “Louisiana purchase”).
a In the four verses in question, a number of bible-versions have “sevenfold”, “seven times” or “seven times more”. The Hebrew text has sheba, “seven(fold)”, without any word for “times”. There is more on this, below.
b Anglo-Israelist writers have claimed that the ten “lost” tribes of Israel moved to western Europe, and that a part of them later moved to North America. The article nya090.htm sorts out that matter. See even the article nya010.htm.
c Manasseh and his brother Ephraim were sons of Joseph who in his turn was a son of the patriarch Jacob whose other name was Israel. The descendants of Jacob’s grandson Manasseh formed “the tribe of Manasseh”, and the descendants of Manasseh’s brother Ephraim formed “the tribe of Ephraim”. (This is something that happened in Old Testament times.)
Leviticus 26:14–39 records how the Lord through Moses gave a warning to the Israelites. This was when they still were in the Arabian desert, before they had entered the Promised Land. He let them know that if they were not faithful to him, they would be subjected to five consecutive rounds of punishment, where each of rounds two to five would be seven times harder than the preceding one. The first round is described in Leviticus 26:14–17, the second one in verses 18–20, the third in verses 21–22, the fourth in verses 23–26, and the fifth and final round in verses 27–39. There is more on this, later in this article.
In the Hebrew text of Leviticus 26, the word in question is sheba, used in the meaning “sevenfold” or “seven times (more)”. This had to do with the escalating hardness of the five rounds of punishment of which the Lord warned the Israelites. In verses 18 and 21, sheba is coupled by the verb yacaph which refers to increasing – “seven times more” (sevenfold harder). Even in the case of verses 24 and 28, the obvious meaning is “seven times more”, referring to the step by step increasing intensity of those rounds of punishment.
As things turned out, the Israelites were not faithful to the Lord, and so, the punishments which he had warned them about, did come upon them. The fifth and final round of punishment, see verses 27–39, led to that the towns of ancient Israel became “desolate” and “waste” – empty, without inhabitants – because one of the things included in that last round was that the Israelites were taken away from the Promised Land, into exile, dispersion among other nations.
In such Old Testament passages which actually refer to “seven days” or “seven years”, for instance Genesis 7:4, 29:20, 41:29 and 50:10 and Numbers 13:22, the word sheba is accompanied by such words as yowm, “day”, or shaneh, “year”, but that is not the case in Leviticus 26.
The book of Daniel contains some passages where “times” refers to “years”, but in those cases the original language text contains special words for that, such as the Aramaic iddan in Daniel 4:16 and the Hebrew mowed in Daniel 12:7.
Leviticus 26 records how the Lord, through Moses, gave warnings to the ancient Israelites, a long time in advance, already when they were still in the Arabian desert and had not yet entered the Promised Land. He told them that if they did not remain faithful to him and their covenant with him, they would be severely punished. He let them know that in such a case, there were to come five consecutive rounds of punishment. Each of rounds two to five were to be sevenfold harder than the preceding one.
Here is the warning regarding the first round (again, this was the Lord speaking to the ancient Israelites, through Moses):
Leviticus 26:13 I am Jehovah your God, who brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen; and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you walk upright. 14 But if ye hearken not unto me, and do not all these commandments, 15 and if ye shall despise my statutes, and if your soul shall abhor mine ordinances, so that ye do not all my commandments, that ye break my covenant, 16 I also will do this unto you—I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and fever, which shall cause the eyes to fail, and the soul to waste away; and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. 17 And I will set my face against you, that ye may be routed before your enemies; they that hate you shall have dominion over you; and ye shall flee when none pursueth you. (DBY)
Those things belonged to the first “round” of punishment which was to come upon the Israelites, if they were not faithful to the Lord. And, if that did not bring home the message, there was to come a second round:
Leviticus 26:18 And if for this ye hearken not unto me, I will punish you sevenfold more for your sins, [d] 19 and I will break the arrogance of your power; [e] and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as bronze, 20 and your strength shall be spent in vain, and your land shall not yield its produce; and the trees of the land shall not yield their fruit. (DBY, highlighting and note signs added)
d Verse 18: “I will punish you sevenfold more” or “I will punish you seven times more” as some translations have it – the obvious meaning is that the punishment was to be sevenfold harder than the preceding one.
e Verse 19: Please note that the warning prophecy regarding the Israelites’ arrogance or pride was then fulfilled, so that their “pride of power” was broken, already in that second round of punishment. This was when they lived in the Promised Land. The article nya021.htm has more on this.
The Lord warned the Israelites that if they after that second round did not repent and turn back to the Lord, a third round was to come:
Leviticus 26:21 And if ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me, I will bring sevenfold more plagues upon you according to your sins. 22 And I will send the beasts of the field among you, that they may rob you of your children, and cut off your cattle, and make you few in number; and your streets shall be desolate. (DBY, highlighting added)
And, if they did not turn to the Lord after that either, then there was to come a fourth round of punishment, sevenfold worse than the preceding one. We read:
Leviticus 26:23 And if ye will not be disciplined by me through these, but walk contrary unto me, 24 then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will smite you, even I, sevenfold for your sins. 25 And I will bring a sword upon you that avengeth with the vengeance of the covenant, and ye shall be gathered together into your cities, and I will send the pestilence among you; and ye shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy. 26 When I break the staff of your bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and shall deliver you the bread again by weight; and ye shall eat, and not be satisfied. (DBY, highlighting added)
If they even after that were stiff-necked and did not turn back to the Lord, there was to come a fifth and final round of punishment, seven times worse than the preceding one. Here is a record of the warning regarding the nature of that final round:
Leviticus 26:27 And if for this ye hearken not to me, but walk contrary unto me, 28 then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven-fold for your sins. 29 And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat. 30 And I will lay waste your high places, and cut down your sun-pillars, and cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols; and my soul shall abhor you. 31 And I will lay waste your cities and desolate your sanctuaries; and I will not smell your sweet odours. 32 And I will bring the land into desolation; that your enemies who dwell there in may be astonished at it. 33 And I will scatter you among the nations, and will draw out the sword after you; and your land shall be desolation, and your cities waste. 34 Then shall the land enjoy its sabbaths all the days of the desolation, when ye are in your enemies’ land; then shall the land rest, and enjoy its sabbaths. 35 All the days of the desolation it shall rest, the days in which it did not rest on your sabbaths, when ye dwelt therein. 36 And as to those that remain of you—I will send faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies, that the sound of a driven leaf shall chase them, and they shall flee, as fleeing from a sword; and they shall fall when none pursueth; 37 and they shall stumble one over another, as it were before a sword, when none pursueth; and ye shall have no power to stand before your enemies. 38 And ye shall perish among the nations, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up. 39 And they that remain of you shall waste away through their iniquity in your enemies’ lands; and also through the iniquities of their fathers shall they waste away with them. (DBY, highlighting added)
In each case, verses 18, 21, 24 and 28, the Hebrew word in question is sheba which meant “seven”, in the meaning “sevenfold”, “seven times more”. (Again, each of punishment rounds two to five were to be harder than the preceding one.)
And again, as things went, when the Israelites had settled in the Promised Land, they did not take heed of that warning. They turned their backs on the Lord, and so, in due time all those punishments came upon them. Those things took place in the ancient past. The fulfilment of that warning prophecy is recorded in the Old Testament.
In short: Leviticus 26 has nothing to do with our day and age, or with “2520 years”.
A note regarding verse 35, the words “all the days of the desolation it shall rest”: When all of Israel had been taken into captivity (first the ten northern tribes, and the southern tribes), the Promised Land lay desolate and waste (empty, without inhabitants), for seventy years (see Daniel 9:2). After this, a number of people of the southern tribes of Israel (Jews) returned to the Promised Land. But, the ten northern tribes never returned. Through this, they became the ten “lost” tribes of Israel.
This point is included here, for clarity, because some Anglo-Israelist writers have “re-cycled” prophecies which were fulfilled in Old Testament times, and caused people to think that those prophecies point to some still future events.
Again, the Lord told the ancient Israelites what would happen to them if they were not faithful to him. Here is a part of the description of the fifth and last round of punishment which, among other things, led to that the land of Israel and its towns became desolate and waste (empty, uninhabited):
Leviticus 26: […] 32 And I will bring the land into desolation; that your enemies who dwell there in may be astonished at it. 33 And I will scatter you among the nations, and will draw out the sword after you; and your land shall be desolation, [f] and your cities waste. [f] (DBY, note signs added)
f Verse 33, “desolation” and “waste” – that is: The land of Israel and its towns were to become empty, without inhabitants. This is also what then happened, when the Israelites were forcibly taken away from the Promised Land, into captivity. Please note that Leviticus 26:34 refers to the Promised Land. That is the land whose towns were to become “waste” (empty, without inhabitants), and not some other land or lands as Anglo-Israelist writers have caused people to believe. (There is only one earthly Promised Land, the land of Canaan.)
The fulfilment of that warning prophecy is recorded in the Old Testament. The northern tribes of Israel were taken into captivity in two major “waves”, circa 734 and 722 BCE. The southern tribes (the Jews) were taken into exile in several “waves”, circa 605, 597 and 586 BCE. After this, the land of Israel lay desolate and waste – empty, without inhabitants. (Daniel 9:2 mentions seventy years, but it is not fully clear exactly what the beginning and end of those years was.) After that, some Jews, people of the southern tribes, returned to that land.
The ten northern, “lost” tribes of Israel still remain in the dispersion which was caused by the last of the five consecutive rounds of punishment. They are not a nation. They are dispersed among other nations and do not have a country of their own. They have not been restored yet. The article nya010.htm has some notes on this.
As to the southern tribes (the Jews) – in the days of Ezra, a part of them returned from the captivity in Babylon, back to the land of Israel, but in the first century, around year 70, the Roman army killed a great number of Jews in that land, some say three million. It is not clear what happened to the remainder. Regarding the people who since the 1800s have moved to the land of Israel and call themselves Jews, what their origin might be, see the article nya010.htm.
Links to the other 14 parts in this series on the tribes of Israel are found in the “recommended reading” section, below.
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Recommended reading here at the Bible Pages, on related as well as other matters
An explanation of the short names for the bible-translations that are quoted or mentioned at this site. → nsa091.htm
On the words “gentiles”, “pagans” and “heathen” and what they actually mean and refer to. → nga011.htm
The other parts in the ‘tribes’ series:
The lost ten tribes of Israel in prophecy. → nya010.htm
Leviticus 26:19, “and I will break the pride of your power”. How and when was the Israelites’ pride broken? → nya021.htm
On the meaning of Genesis 22:17, the words “and your seed shall possess the gate of his enemies”. → nya031.htm
Jacob’s birthright, and that of his son Joseph. On what the concept “birthright” meant and referred to, in regard to inheritance, in ancient times. → nya041.htm
Jeremiah 30:7, “the time of Jacob’s trouble”. On what chapter 30 in the book of Jeremiah means and refers to. → nya061.htm
On the prophet Ezekiel and his mission, and the “Ezekiel message” dogma. → nya071.htm
The lost sheep of the house of Israel of Matthew 10:6 – who were they, and where? Also: Where did the apostles go? → nya081.htm
Did the ten lost tribes of Israel move to Europe? Are the white north-west Europeans Israelites, as some say? → nya090.htm
Is the line of David the king of Israel still ruling somewhere on Earth? → nya100.htm
The meaning of the words “branch” and “twig” in Ezekiel 17:22. Some notes on Anglo-Israelist dogmas regarding king Zedekiah’s daughters. → nya111.htm
The prophet Jeremiah – where did he die? Did he go to Ireland, as some have claimed? Also, what about the “stone of destiny” which some writers talk about? → nya120.htm
Did people of the ten “lost” tribes of Israel travel to Greece, Denmark and Ireland? Some notes on certain Anglo-Israelist dogmas. → nya131.htm
Regarding Anglo-Israelism: What if it is Russia and her Slavic sisters who are the lost ten tribes of Israel? → nya140.htm
Ethnic groups which could eventually belong to the “lost” tribes of Israel. → nya151.htm
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