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Anglo-Israelist writers have claimed that the “royal line” of the tribe of Judah of Israel is even in our day in power, with a descendant of king David seated on a throne, somewhere on Earth. Is that true? Does some nation have a descendant of David as their ruler?
This article takes a closer look at that matter, from the biblical and historical viewpoints, and considers what actually happened to the “house of David”, the kingly line of Judah, and how and when the promises which the Lord made to David, were fulfilled or are to be fulfilled.
(This article belongs to a series on what biblical prophecy says about the fate of the ten “lost” tribes of Israel.)
After the reign of king David and that of his son Solomon, the nation Israel became divided into two parts, a southern part which was called “Judah” (Judea), whence the word “Jews”, and had Jerusalem as its capital, and a northern part which was called “Israel” and made after a time Samaria its capital.
That division happened around 975 BCE. The Lord was involved in that matter. Here is one of the passages which refer to that:
1 Kings 11:26 Jeroboam son of Nebat, an Ephraimite of Zeredah, a servant of Solomon, whose mother’s name was Zeruah, a widow, rebelled against the king. 27 The following was the reason he rebelled against the king. Solomon built the Millo, and closed up the gap in the wall of the city of his father David. 28 The man Jeroboam was very able, and when Solomon saw that the young man was industrious he gave him charge over all the forced labor of the house of Joseph. 29 About that time, when Jeroboam was leaving Jerusalem, the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him on the road. Ahijah had clothed himself with a new garment. The two of them were alone in the open country 30 when Ahijah laid hold of the new garment he was wearing and tore it into twelve pieces. 31 He then said to Jeroboam: Take for yourself ten pieces; for thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, “See, I am about to tear the kingdom from the hand of Solomon, and will give you ten tribes. 32 One tribe will remain his, for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, the city that I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel. (NRSV)
Note especially verses 31 and 32.
After Solomon’s death, the division became a fact. David’s kingly line continued in Judah, during several generations after Solomon. The northern tribes of Israel established a separate kingdom with rulers of a different descent.
Later, all of Israel was driven out of their land and taken into captivity; first the northern tribes and then the southern ones. In the days of Ezra, a number of people of the southern tribes (Jews), returned to the land of Israel. The northern tribes never returned; through this, they became the ten “lost” tribes of Israel. Regarding those of the southern tribes who had returned – around year 70 CE, the Roman army killed countless Jews in the land of Israel, some say three million. It is not clear what happened to the survivors. (Concerning the people who since the 1800s have moved to the land of Israel and call themselves Jews, and what their origin might be, see the article nya010.htm.)
Here is an interesting passage, regarding the throne and bloodline of David the king of Israel (this is something the apostle Simon Peter said):
Acts 2:29 “Fellow Israelites, I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would put one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying, ‘He was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh experience corruption.’ 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses. (NRSV, highlighting added)
On that occasion, Simon Peter explained to some Jews that Jesus was the descendant of David who was to come, the one who was to remain on “David’s throne” for ever. (See even Luke 1:30–33. Verse 33, “he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end”, NRSV.)
The last part of Ezekiel 21:27 refers to the same matter, prophetically pointing to Jesus as the one with the right to that throne. There is more on that passage, later in this article.
A number of Anglo-Israelist writers have claimed that the line or house of David “must” be ruling be somewhere here on Earth in our day, in some “royal line”. They have said that the British royalty are descendants of king David of Israel.
What do the Scriptures actually say about this? That is, was there to exist, always and at all times, a mortal ruler on the “throne of David”, somewhere here on Earth? Some bible-passages, if read alone, might give a casual reader that impression. But, one must consider all of the relevant scriptures, and not only some of them.
Such passages as 2 Samuel 7:13 show that the Lord had made a promise regarding king David’s lineage. But, it appears that that promise was conditional – that there was an “if” connected to it. [a] When David was about to die, he spoke to his son Solomon. We read:
1 Kings 2:1 When David’s time to die drew near, he charged his son Solomon, saying: 2 “I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, be courageous, 3 and keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his ordinances, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn. 4 Then the Lord will establish his word that he spoke concerning me: ‘If your heirs take heed to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail you a successor on the throne of Israel.’ NRSV)
Note verse 4, the word “if”. And, as things went, David’s descendants were not faithful to the Lord. That led to what is said in Hosea 3:4, “the Israelites shall remain many days without king or prince” (NRSV).
But, some have written books where it is said that the “line of David” was mysteriously saved, and moved via Egypt to Ireland and then via Scotland to England. They have based that on the word “overturn” which some bible-versions have in Ezekiel 21:27.
a Many translations have in 2 Samuel 7:13 and 16 the phrase “for ever”. The Hebrew text has olam. That word did not really mean “for ever”, the way that expression is used and understood today. The article nca131.htm has some notes on this. And again, as is noted above, it appears that the promise was conditional, that there was an “if” connected to it.
Ezekiel 21 contains some notes on what was to happen to the rule by David’s lineage.
Where the below-quoted RSV has “ruin, ruin, ruin”, some other translations have “overthrown, overthrown, overthrown”, or “overturn, overturn, overturn”. That does not make much difference; the English word “overturn” refers to such things as “turning upside down”, “invalidating”, “destroying”, and, when it is used in connection with rulers, “causing the downfall of”.
But, Anglo-Israelist writers have claimed that Ezekiel 21:27 talks about moving David’s lineage (bloodline), first via Egypt to Ireland and then to Scotland and further to England. – Let us consider that passage.
Ezekiel 21:1 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, set your face toward Jerusalem and preach against the sanctuaries; prophesy against the land of Israel 3 and say to the land of Israel, Thus says the Lord: Behold, I am against you, and will draw forth my sword out of its sheath, and will cut off from you both righteous and wicked. […] 25 And you, O unhallowed wicked one, prince of Israel, whose day has come, the time of your final punishment, 26 thus says the Lord God: Remove the turban, and take off the crown; things shall not remain as they are; exalt that which is low, and abase that which is high. 27 A ruin, ruin, ruin I will make it; there shall not be even a trace of it until he comes whose right it is; and to him I will give it. (RSV, highlighting added)
This was when the king of Babylon was about to come against Jerusalem. In those days, the northern tribes of Israel had already been taken into captivity, and even many people of the southern tribes. But, some few Jews still remained in the southern part of that country, including Jerusalem. The “wicked prince” of verse 25 was Zedekiah whom the king of Babylon had made a ruler in Jerusalem but who then rebelled against Babylon.
In verse 27, the above-quoted RSV has “a ruin, ruin, ruin I will make it; there shall not be even a trace of it until he comes whose right it is”. NLT04 has, “Destruction! Destruction! I will surely destroy the kingdom. And it will not be restored until the one appears who has the right to judge it. Then I will hand it over to him.”
Actually, it can be said that the interruption to the rule by the line of David had become a reality already at the earlier time when the armies of the king of Babylon took most of the Jews into captivity. At that time, the last true king of Judah (Jehoiachin) was taken away. The king of Babylon made Jehoiachin’s uncle Mattaniah a ruler or governor in Judea, and changed his name to Zedekiah. The above-quoted passage in Ezekiel 21 refers to the fact that later, even Zedekiah lost his rulership.
And, that was the end of the rule by the line of David, for a very long time onward – until the coming of him “whose right it is” (Ezekiel 21:27, last part). That is, until Jesus came. And, even though Jesus has a right to that rulership (“throne”), he has not yet begun to rule over the tribes of Israel, here on Earth.
Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. (NKJV, highlighting added)
(Verses 6 and 7, “government” – the Hebrew text has misrah, obviously referring to rulership, kingship.)
Luke 1:30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. 32 “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 “And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” (NKJV, highlighting added)
Jesus was born as the king of the Jews, see Luke 1:30–33, Matthew 2:2. He was called that; see Matthew 21:5, 27:11, John 1:49, 12:13–15. Even when he was crucified, he was called “King of the Jews”, Matthew 27:37. But, he did not reign or rule, here on Earth, in those days. Nor is he doing that today, not through a proxy either. His earthly rule will begin when he returns.
Many Anglo-Israelist writers have claimed that the prophet Jeremiah travelled from Egypt to Ireland and took with him “the daughters of Zedekiah” and in that way “moved” David’s kingly line to that country. They have in a vague and unclear manner referred to some unspecified places in “Irish annals”, as proof for their claims.
But, those annals do not mention the prophet Jeremiah. Consider this: If there existed historical documents that supported the claim that Jeremiah travelled to Ireland, we can be certain that Anglo-Israelist writers and publishers would have produced millions of facsimile copies of them, and spread them to all they could reach. But, they have not done that. Why? Simply because there are no historical documents that would support their claims.
The article nya120.htm sorts out that matter, including the source of the “Jeremiah in Ireland” story. It sorts out even the “stone of destiny” story. See also the article nya111.htm.
Links to the other 14 parts in this series on the tribes of Israel are found in the “recommended reading” section, below.
Please send or mention the address to this site to others. Please also link to this site. The address to the table of contents page is biblepages.net/contents.htm
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
Some notes on bible-translations which make it seem that the Old Covenant was to be “everlasting”. On the word olam in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament. → nca131.htm
Are the rulers and governments of this world appointed by God? The so-called “divine right of kings” – is there such a thing? → nwa021.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
On the meaning of the words “seven times” in Leviticus 26:18, 21, 24 and 28. 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? → nya051.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
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
Ethnic groups which could eventually belong to the “lost” tribes of Israel. → nya151.htm
Regarding Anglo-Israelism: What if it is Russia and her Slavic sisters who are the lost ten tribes of Israel? → nya140.htm
Table of contents – Key-word index – Search function – On the goal and purpose of this site
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