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The Prophet Zechariah and Modern Criticism: David Baron

June 26, 2014 1 comment

The book of Zechariah, especially the last few chapters, often is mentioned as being a challenge for non-futurists and non-premillennialists.  A recent online conversation among a group of preterist amillennialists, for example, involved people citing various commentaries in support of various “spiritual” or allegorical ideas not related to the specific text itself.

David Baron’s Zechariah commentary, written nearly 100 years ago, shows that nothing is new in biblical commentary and criticism. Here is a look at this rather interesting issue, the various “interpretations” of higher criticism and the idea that Zechariah chapters 9 through 14 were not authored by Zechariah.

Before the modern liberal thought, 17th century Joseph Mede argued for pre-exilic authorship and attributed chapters 9 through 14: to justify inerrancy of the reference in Matthew 27:9-10, which ascribes a prophecy in Zechariah 11 to Jeremiah. And proceeding from this point of view, he discovered, as he thought, internal proof that these chapters belonged not to Zechariah’s, but to Jeremiah s time. He was followed by Hammond, Kidder, Newcome, etc. Here Baron considers the possibility that the mistake occurred with the transcribers of Matthew’s Gospel – rather than the Jewish Church making a mistake in their canon of scripture.

The more serious, unbelieving criticism came later, in the era of “modern criticism.” Like the claims of a “deutero Isaiah” and other anonymous writers who added to the original prophets’ writings, this comes from the root of naturalism and an anti-supernaturalist presupposition, the idea that it is not possible for a human writer to so well predict the future.

reading the many, and for the most part conflicting opinions of modern writers on this question, one is struck with the truth of Keil’s remarks, that the objections which modern critics offer to the unity of the book (and the same may be said also of much of their criticism of other books of the Bible) do not arise from the nature of these scriptures, but “partly from the dogmatic assumption of the rationalistic and naturalistic critics that the Biblical prophecies are nothing more than the productions of natural divination; and partly from the inability of critics, in consequence of this assumption, to penetrate into the depths of the divine revelation, and to grasp either the substance or form of their historical development so as to appreciate it fully.”

All operating from the same naturalist presupposition, the various writers come up with several different ideas, with their only thing in common their rejection of the obvious, their insistence that it could not have been written by the prophet Zechariah. Some say it was written by someone during the later, post-Zechariah, post-exile time period (anywhere from 500 to 300 B.C.), while others give it a pre-exile date as in reference to the destruction of Jerusalem in Jeremiah’s time. S. Lewis Johnson’s observation so well applies here: “When we lack the will to see things as they really are, there is nothing so mysterious as the obvious. David Baron well points out the problem with the pre-exilic view:

it must be pointed out that the prophecy, had it preceded the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, could not have been earlier than the reign of Jehoiakim, since the mourning for the death of Josiah is spoken of as a proverbial sorrow of the past. But in that case the prophecy which ” anticipates” a miraculous interposition of God for the deliverance of Jerusalem would have been in direct contradiction to Jeremiah, “who for thirty-nine years in one unbroken dirge predicted the evil” which should come upon the city; and the inventive prophet would have been “one of the false prophets who contradicted Jeremiah, who encouraged Zedekiah in his perjury, the punishment whereof Ezekiel solemnly denounced, prophesying his captivity in Babylon as its penalty ; he would have been a political fanatic, one of those who by encouraging rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar brought on the destruction of the city, and in the name of God told lies against God.

It is such an intense paradox that the writing of one convicted by the event of uttering falsehood in the name of God, incorrigible even in the thickening tokens of God s displeasure, should have been inserted among the Hebrew prophets, in times not far removed from those whose events convicted him, that one wonders that any one should have invented it. Great indeed is the credulity of the incredulous!

The full chapter goes into great detail concerning the views of many scholars of that time, and their flawed reasoning. David Baron provides a good summary of those who stand on the shaky ground of human wisdom:

But there is truth in the remark that “Criticism which reels to and fro in a period of nearly 500 years, from the earliest of the prophets to a period a century after Malachi, and this on historical and philological grounds, certainly has come to no definite basis, either as to history or philology. Rather, it has enslaved both to preconceived opinions; and at last, as late a result as any has been, after this weary round, to go back to where it started from, and to suppose these chapters to have been written by the prophet whose name they bear.”

Zechariah, Jude, and the Body of Moses

April 30, 2014 Leave a comment

From David Baron’s commentary on Zechariah, an interesting note concerning the book of Jude: its reference to the body of Moses, and reference to Zechariah 3.

My only previous acquaintance with Jude’s mention of Michael and the devil arguing over the body of Moses (Jude 9), was a passing comment from an online Bible teacher  who noted this passage as possible support for Moses being one of the two witnesses in Revelation 11 (uncertainty concerning whether Moses actually physically died).  But for more in-depth consideration, David Baron addresses Jude 9, its possible meaning and reference to Zechariah 3:1-2:

And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of Jehovah, and Satan standing at his right hand to be his adversary. And Jehovah said unto Satan, Jehovah rebuke thee, O Satan; yea, Jehovah that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee : is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?

Some of the church fathers, including Origen, state that the quotation in Jude is from an apocryphal book, the title of which is “The Ascension,” or “Assumption of Moses.” Yet Baron observes that no such account is to be found in our partial fragments of these works, or any indication that such exists in the parts of the book that are missing, that we no longer have.  Here it is possible that the early writers were thinking of other legendary accounts of contests between Moses himself and the Angel of Death, whom he put to flight when he came to take his soul by striking him with his rod, on which the ineffable name Jehovah was inscribed. In the end (so one legend proceeds) “God Himself, accompanied by Gabriel, Michael, and Zagziel (the former teacher of Moses), descended to take Moses soul.  Gabriel arranged the couch, Michael spread a silken cover over it, and Zagziel put a silken pillow under Moses head. At God s command Moses crossed his hands over his breast and closed his eyes, and God took his soul away with a kiss.”

Another way to understand “the body of Moses,” though, is an allegorical sense — contrasting “the body of Christ” (that is, the Church, the New Testament age believers) with “the body of Moses” (unbelieving Jews).  Support for this view includes the point that by the time Jude was writing, the Jewish church had become quite antagonistic and hostile to the Church of Christ and heavily focused on Moses as its teacher, “a claim which might well be admitted as true in the most real sense of the Jewish Church in the days of Zechariah (C. H. H. Wright).”

Whether the “body of Moses” in Jude is to be taken allegorically or not, David Baron emphasizes that Jude certainly had the passage of Zechariah in mind:

1) the use of the formula ‘The Lord rebuke thee’

2) Jude 23:  “pulling out of the fire” — reference “the brand plucked from the fire” (Zechariah 3:2)

3) “the garment stained by the flesh” — reference the “filthy garments” in which Joshua is first seen.

For further consideration of this question — sources cited by David Baron: 

Dr. C. H. H. Wright, Zechariah and his Prophecies; and Dean (Henry) Alford’s commentary note on the passage in Jude.

Zechariah’s Prophecy: Past Partial Fulfillment, but Future Complete Fulfillment

April 15, 2014 Leave a comment

David Baron’s “The Visions and Prophecies of Zechariah,” (full online text available here) originally published nearly a hundred years ago, shows that indeed some ideas have been around quite a while, including the Preterist/fulfillment approach to Old Testament scripture. Preterism (and the form called “partial preterism”) has enjoyed greater popularity just in the last 15 years or so, after many decades of dominant futurism in American Christianity. But David Baron’s commentary gives answer to the same question raised today — along with proper balance of interesting details concerning the past partial fulfillments of Old Testament prophecy. We can acknowledge that, indeed, a partial fulfillment or foreshadowing has occurred, recognizing what those historical events are, while understanding that the Old Testament promises have a complete fulfillment yet to occur.

But it might be as well, before proceeding further, to pause and inquire if there is any truth in the assertion that this promise has already been fulfilled … and another, who, in an able and elaborate work, which, however, is chiefly a summary of the explanations and speculations of German commentators who, with very rare exceptions, have no place at all in their theological and exegetical schemes for any future for Israel admitting that it is of the earthly Jerusalem that the words were spoken, tells us coolly that : “There is no need to suppose that the prophecy refers to a still future period, as Von Hoffmann imagines. The prophecy was fulfilled by the restoration of the city of Jerusalem under the protection of God even in troublous days.

The 19th century preterist references the details of Jerusalem’s history during the post-exilic period:

 “Though surrounded indeed by walls, Jerusalem grew so fast that a considerable number dwelt in villages outside the walls. Its population continually increased the city was noted for its splendid appearance in the time of Ptolemy Philadelphus. … In the troublous times which intervened between the days of Zechariah and those of our Lord, notwithstanding the disasters which occasionally fell upon the holy city, abundant proof was given that the Lord was not forgetful of His promises, specially to shield and to protect it. The promises,” he proceeds, ” would have been fully accomplished if the people had kept the covenant committed to them, and they were accomplished in a great measure, notwithstanding their many sins.”

Also from David Baron:

A good deal is made of a letter of Aristeas, an Egyptian Jew, to Philocrates, which is referred to by Josephus in the I2th book of his Jewish Antiquities, in which a description of Jerusalem after the restoration is given; also of a fragment of Hecataeus, who lived in the time of Alexander the Great, and who describes the Jews at the time as possessing “many fortresses and towns, moreover one fortified city, by name Jerusalem, fifty stadia in circumference and inhabited by 120,000 men”; and of Josephus’ statement (see his Jewish Wars, v. 4. 2) that at the time of Herod Agrippa, “as the city grew more populous it gradually crept beyond its old limits, and those parts of it that stood northwards of the temple and joined that hill to the city made it considerably larger, and occasioned that hill, which is in number the fourth, and is called Bezetha, to be inhabited also.” All of which, according to these interpreters, show that the glorious prophecy in Zech. 2 has been fulfilled, and has no more reference to a future period.

But to say that this wonderful prophecy was completely fulfilled in that time misses the mark and misses the depth and meaning of the great words of the actual prophecy. Here are the two major reasons why the prophecy (Zechariah 2) cannot be limited to the past event, and speak of a future fulfillment:

1.  Jerusalem is still being “trodden down of the Gentiles,” which has never ceased to be the case from the time of the Babylonian Captivity to this day. The “times of the Gentiles” began with “the withdrawal of Himself from their midst,” and the darkness of the Jewish nation since then, has not ended. That this period did not terminate with the first advent of our Lord is clear from Christ’s own prophetic forecast of future events, in which He says: “And Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”

2.  These beautiful words, “For I, saith Jehovah, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and the glory in the midst of her,” are really an announcement of the return of the Glory of the Personal Presence of Jehovah to Jerusalem, and an amplification of the words in the first vision, “I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies.” David Baron further addressed this issue, of the departure of the Glory of God from Jerusalem (Ezekiel’s vision) and the present-day “Ichabod” period of Israel’s history (reference his work, The Ancient Scriptures and the Modern Jew).

Old Testament Studies: Promise of A New Eden

March 13, 2014 2 comments

In my recent studies in the Old Testament I’ve looked more closely at the theme of return to creation, a return to Eden.  Previous material (reading and sermon teaching) often emphasized the Abrahamic covenant and everything that flows out from it – the Davidic and then the New Covenant – and our salvation which is rooted in the Abrahamic promises.  But as others have pointed out, the promise of redemption starts much earlier even than Abraham, back to the seed promise in Genesis 3; and the concept of covenants pre-dates Abraham, back to Adam and then Noah.

James Hamilton, in God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment, frequently notes the link between the early nation Israel and Eden, the Promised Land described as a new Eden (as in the following, cited in this previous post):

the Promised Land almost becomes a new Eden. The Lord will walk among his people in the land, just as he walked in the garden (Gen. 3:8; Lev. 26:11–12; Deut. 23:15). Like the fertile garden of Eden, the Promised Land will flow with milk and honey. On the way to the Promised Land, the camp of Israel is even described in Edenic terms.

Also this interesting reference, from David Baron’s Israel in the Plan of God, commentary on Isaiah 51:3 (“​​​​​​​For the Lord comforts Zion; he comforts all her waste places and makes her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the Lord.”)

How glorious a transformation! From a state of total barrenness into another Eden, with all its fertility and beauty, and instead of its present condition of utter desolation it shall be like “the garden of Jehovah,” as glorious as if it had been directly planted by Himself for His own joy and delight.

Searching through the Bible for references to Eden, or the garden of the Lord, reveals more of this theme in the prophets, that restored Israel will be “like the garden of Eden”  (Ezekiel 36:35, Isaiah 51:3), like a watered garden (Isaiah 58:11 and Jeremiah 31:12).  The same figure is used in reverse as well, as in Joel 2:3:  “The land is like the garden of Eden before them, but behind them a desolate wilderness, and nothing escapes them.”  Ezekiel and Zechariah’s description of the future restoration of Israel and its temple structure includes a river flowing out, another likeness to the garden of Eden, bringing everything at the end back to the beginning in Eden.

Hamilton further notes the correspondences between Eden and Israel itself.  Compare Numbers 24:6, Balaam’s description of Israel, with Genesis 2.  Both passages mention the Lord God, and the words planted, garden, river, and trees:  Like palm groves that stretch afar, like gardens beside a river, like aloes that the Lord has planted, like cedar trees beside the waters.  Also consider the following correspondences between the description of Eden (Genesis 2-3) and passages about the tabernacle (in the Pentateuch) and the temple (including the description of the future temple):

(From God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment, Table 2.3. Correspondences between Eden and the Tabernacle and Temple.)

Correspondences Eden Tabernacle/Temple
God walking among his people Gen. 3:8 Lev. 26:11–13; Deut. 23:14; 2 Sam. 7:6–7
Holy tree/blooming lampstand Gen. 2:9 Ex. 25:31–40; 1 Chron. 28:15
Gold and precious stones Gen. 2:11–12 Ex. 25:7, 11, etc.
Entered from the east Gen. 3:24 Num. 3:38
Guarded by cherubim Gen. 3:24 Ex. 25:10–22; 26:1; 1 Kings 7:29
Food/bread Gen. 2:9 Ex. 25:30; 1 Kings 7:48
Priest who “works and keeps” Gen. 2:15 Num. 3:7–8; 8:26; 18:5–6
Rivers flowing out Gen. 2:10–14 Ezek. 47:1; Joel 3:18; Zech. 14:8

Israel in the Plan of God: Joseph as a Type of Christ

February 20, 2014 8 comments

Recently I’ve been enjoying David Baron’s Israel in the Plan of God, his exposition and commentary on several Old Testament passages (Deuteronomy 32, Psalms 105 and 106, and Isaiah 51) which relate to God and His dealings with the nation Israel.  I had read a few of Baron’s writings online, especially his work addressing the Ten Lost Tribes error.  In my current reading, I appreciate even more his writing style: easy and straightforward exposition of biblical passages, with so many interesting observations.  I highly recommend his writing, and now especially look forward to reading his lengthier commentary on the book of Zechariah after I complete this shorter collection (about 300 pages total, with commentary on four chapters from different books).

Psalm 105 and 106 are an interesting set of Psalms, as I have noticed in my regular re-readings through the Psalms:  both describe the early history of the nation, the first Psalm from the perspective of what God did for Israel, then the contrast in the next Psalm of the many ways in which Israel went astray and rejected their God.  Expositing Psalm 105 involves analysis of the lives of the patriarchs, including a close look at seven ways in which Joseph’s life parallels that of our Lord. In going through S. Lewis Johnson’s Genesis series several years ago (see this post from 2009).  I learned of several such correspondences between the two, some of which are again presented here, along with more detail from David Baron’s exposition:

1)      Joseph as the specially-beloved son of his father.  Christ:  This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

2)      Joseph, because he was beloved of Jacob (his father), was hated by his brethren.  And it was the unique and peculiar relation of our Lord Jesus also to His heavenly Father, and the fact that He loved righteousness and hated iniquity …  the chief reasons why He was hated of those who were “His own” brethren, but who, as the result of a long process of self-hardening, were estranged in their hearts from God, who they also claimed as their Father.

3)      They hated Joseph yet more because of his dreams and his words – dreams which we realize were divinely sent prophecy from God:  prophetic revelations of his future exaltation.  The parallel in Christ: one chief cause of the ever-growing opposition and hatred on the part of the Scribes and Pharisees to our Lord Jesus was His clear, full, conscious testimony concerning Himself.

4)      Joseph was not only hated by his brethren, but ill-treated and abused, sold into slavery.  Reference “Christ the Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief,” who was sold for 30 shekels of silver, sold into abuse, ill-treatment and the ultimate shame of crucifixion.

5)      For many long years, after they handed him over into the hands of the Midianites, Joseph’s brethren—indeed, Jacob’s whole family—thought and spoke of him as dead. … And even so do the Jews think of Jesus. According to them He is dead.

6)      But while his brethren thought and spoke of Joseph as no more, he was not only alive, but greatly exalted among the Gentiles, as the “Support of Life,” or “Deliverer of the World” before whom all had to “bow the knee” in humble allegiance.  Baron notes also a few possible meanings of Joseph’s Egyptian name “Zaphenath-paneah”: “the support of life,” “deliverer of the world,” or even “the revealer of secrets.” Any of these possible meanings are significant for the role that Joseph played and his similarity to Christ.   Even so is it with our Lord Jesus. Despised and rejected and counted as dead among “His own” people, He is not only alive for evermore, but exalted and extolled, having a Name which is above every name—before whom hundreds of millions in the Gentile world “bow the knee” in humble worship, because He is indeed the true “Support of Life,” being Himself the “Living Bread” which came down from heaven, of which if any man eat he shall live for ever.

7)      The separation and estrangement between Joseph and his brethren did not last forever. In the extremity of their need they were again brought face to face with him, and though at first, while yet unknown to them, he spake and dealt “roughly” with them, so as to awaken their conscience and bring home to them the sense of guilt, his heart was all the time full of yearning love and compassion for them.   Here is a great foreshadowing of what is yet to take place between Christ and the nation Israel.  In the extremity of their need, in “the time of Jacob’s trouble,” the Jewish people will yet be brought face to face with their long-rejected Messiah, and brokenheartedly confess “We are verily guilty concerning our brother”—Jesus—whom we handed over to the Romans to be crucified… And then Jesus will make Himself known to His brethren, and comfort them in their great sorrow, saying: I am Jesus, your Brother, whom you handed over to be crucified, and for so long thought to be dead; and now be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, … for God sent Me before you to preserve life.”

The Song of Moses: David Baron on Deuteronomy 32

February 11, 2014 2 comments

I have mentioned David Baron a few times before, such as this post listing several of his works available online.  A Jewish Christian and classic premillennialist from the early 20th century (1855-1926), his writings include the topic of national Israel in its history and future, as well as interesting observations in the scriptures.  I’m currently reading David Baron’s “Israel in the Plan of God” (originally published as “The History of Israel—Its Spiritual Significance”), a good collection of his expositions on a few key scriptures about God’s relationship to Israel: Deuteronomy 32, Psalm 105, Psalm 106 and Isaiah 51.

Deuteronomy 32 is well known as the Song of Moses, a prophetic section that foretells Israel’s history in a broad view, from their early apostasy to the Last Days and God’s final work on behalf of Israel.  David Baron provides great instruction concerning the six strophes (themes) in the song, along with interesting details concerning apostate Israel in his day, including judgment events more known in his day (the 1920s, many years before the WWII Holocaust events that everyone today thinks of in reference to the Jewish nation).

S. Lewis Johnson taught a similar division of Deuteronomy 32 (see this previous post), though naming seven distinct parts (verses 1-3 as a separate ‘exordium’ followed by verses 4-6 as the theme).

The six strophes (themes):

1.  Verses 1-6:  The absolute perfection of God, His character

He is “the Rock” and His work is perfect. As noted in S. Lewis Johnson’s exposition of the text, this is the First Mention of God described as a Rock.

2.  Verses 7-14:  What God did for His people

It is Jehovah—the everlasting, self-existent God, Who, in his grace and condescension, has made Himself known to you by this covenant name as your Redeemer and Friend—that ye thus requite with ingratitude and rebellion.  Truly “a foolish and unwise” people! For it is not only criminal, but the height of folly, and equivalent to self-destruction, for man to depart from the living God; and the history of the Jews in apostasy has demonstrated to the full that it is not only an evil thing, but “a bitter thing,” to forsake Jehovah, the “Fountain of living waters,” and the only source of blessedness.

3.  Verses 15-18: What Israel did against God; their apostasy

But Jeshurun waxed fat and kicked…  David Baron notes the character of the false gods, that they were 1) “strange” or “foreign,” without sympathy, the very opposite of Jehovah our Maker; and 2) abominations:   “whose worship was often associated not only with orgies of cruelty, but with unspeakable obscenities which had a very debasing effect on the worshippers”.  A key observation here:  “men always rise or sink to the level of the object of their adoration.” The worship of false gods, abominations, has the effect of making men themselves filthy and abominable.  This worship of demons also leads to superstition, and men tormented and haunted by evil spirits.

4.  Verses 19-25:  Judgment upon Israel

Here David Baron’s observations are so timely and relevant:  the peculiar sufferings and judgment upon the Jewish people, observed in his day in events in Russia and eastern Europe — still 20 years before the most well-known event to modern-day readers, the World War II Holocaust.  Baron includes eye-witness descriptions of then-recent killings of Jews, such as the 1923 account of Mr. Isaac Ochberg, a prominent and wealthy Jew from South Africa.

As well noted by David Baron:

the calamities and sufferings of Israel are due in the first instance to God’s retributive anger against His people on account of their sins and apostasies, and are in fulfillment of prophetic forecasts, predictions, and warning some of which were uttered at the very beginning of their national history. … The fact that the sufferings of the Jewish people are all foretold, and that they are due in the first instance to God’s anger against sin–especially the great national sin of the rejection of their Messiah, is no excuse for the Gentile nations for their cruelties and brutalities which they have perpetrated against them.

5.  Verses 26-33:  God’s mercy, and that His judgment is not forever.  The connection is here, too, between how God deals with Israel and how He deals with us individually.

Let us admire the marvelous grace of God and His perseverance with His sinful, rebellious people.  And remember that in His dealings with Israel, we have not only a display of the glorious attributes of His character through which we may learn to know Him more fully, but also a revelation of the principles of His dealings with us …. though Israel deserved that He should make an utter end of them, that “nevertheless for His great mercies’ sake He did not utterly consumer them, nor forsake them, because He is a great and merciful God,” we must humbly confess that the same is true of us also, and that if God had dealt with us after our sins, and rewarded us according to our iniquities, He would have cast us away from His presence.

6.  Verses 34-43:  Apocalyptic, looking at the last events yet in the future: deliverance for His people and judgments upon the enemies of God and of Israel.

the day when the “seals” shall be broken so that the iniquity which the nations have committed may be laid bare, and the successive judgments which have also been “laid up” in God’s treasuries be let loose, is “the day of vengeance of our God,” which synchronises with the commencement of the “year of His redeemed” when Israel’s Redeemer shall be manifested a second time, not as the meek and lowly one to be led as a lamb to the slaughter, but in His power and glory to execute judgments committed to Him by the Father.   …  And it is the extremity of Israel’s need which provokes God’s final interposition on their behalf.

Responding Again To The Ten Lost Tribes Myth

December 14, 2012 6 comments

A recent VeritasDomain post, a devotional exhortation to Christians including teachers, emphasizes the importance of studying and being careful to “investigate everything carefully,”  with the example of the gospel of Luke and Luke’s introduction.

 the Christian ought to study things with care and sharpness if we want to emulate Luke. Can you say with a clear conscience, that your studies have reasonably “investigated everything carefully”? This glorifies God when we do this, knowing that He’s a God of truth. … the Christian ought to present the things he studied with equal care and sharpness (like the way he ought to study)”

The same morning I also had brief conversation with a pastor-teacher on a topic that includes one of the interesting details addressed in Luke’s infancy narrative:  Anna of the tribe of Asher.   When this individual (not for the first time) stated in a group (as though it were a fact),  that the people now living in Israel are only from the two tribes of Judah, and God has yet to gather the (lost) ten tribes, I mentioned a few things regarding this error, as something that has been addressed by many including David Baron, John MacArthur and others, and specifically linked John MacArthur’s sermon on that topic in Luke 2.

The teacher in question dismissed the whole topic as a “long-standing debate” he was familiar with but unconvinced of, even saying that John MacArthur was “quite speculative,” and that he doesn’t support Anglo-Israelism (so as to also discredit David Baron’s detailed work)–and then put forth a few scriptural “proofs” for his position, including his statement that the presence of people migrating from the Northern tribes to the south is something different from gathering all 12 tribes and that God has actually promised to regather the specific people scattered in the Assyrian captivity, thus only those people constitute the ten tribes.

(For additional reference see this previous post, a review of David Barron’s classic work.)

To begin with, the basic issues are the same regardless of whether someone supports the particular Anglo-Israelism addressed by David Baron.  As Baron even pointed out, the idea first began among Muslim Arabs by the 1oth century.  As anyone would know who has read it, Baron’s study covered the whole idea, regardless of the particular form.

Now to the specific scriptural “proofs”:

And it’s not true that the Bible mixes and matches the terms Jew and Israel. Jesus “came to His own” — the Jews who rejected Him. In John 11:54 we read that Jesus no longer walked among the Jews.  But when He sent His apostles out, He told them:  “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” (Matt. 10:5-6)

Regarding John 11:54:  Every reasonable individual who reads this passage understands the context, which is plain enough: “the Jews” referred to the leaders of the Jews.  Furthermore, during and after this time Jesus did walk among many non-leaders of that same group of people, who were following Him.  By this reasoning, the Jewish leaders were true Jews of the tribe of Judah and Benjamin, and the non-leaders were from the other ten tribes. What does this have to do with asserting that the Jews are a different tribal group restricted to only Judah and Benjamin?

Then Matthew 10:5-6:  This claim goes way back within the Lost Tribes group, a verse that David Baron addressed (showing that these ideas are not unique to the Anglo-Israel view).

(a) In Matthew x. we have the record of the choice, and of the first commission given to the apostles. “These twelve,” we read, “Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not; but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Of course, the merest child knows that this journey of the twelve did not extend beyond the limits of Palestine, but the “Jews” dwelling in it are regarded as the house of Israel, although many members of that “house” were also scattered in other lands.

Citation of Ezekiel 36:22-28:  Therefore say to the house of Israel  [Northern Tribes, in distinction from the House of Judah]…”

Response:  This assumes a particular meaning of “house of Israel” as only meaning the specific Northern Tribes population that was scattered in the Assyrian captivity.  But what in this text specifically relates to such an identification in the first place?

Further, as brought out by many expositors, we are to understand from actual history that the deportation to Assyria involved the leaders, the wealthy, the nobility – but not every single individual that lived in the north, and indeed not even the majority of the population.  Such was indeed standard practice amongst conquering nations.  Judgment was upon the nation itself, such that the deportation removed the northern tribes’ political power and influence as a nation; it did not remove even the majority of the people, as evidenced by the later statements in 2 Chronicles of the large population still remaining in that geographical area after the Assyrian exile.

But as to the history and identification of Assyria and Babylon, David Baron further notes:

Jerusalem was finally taken in B.C. 588, by Nebuchadnezzar—just 133 years after the capture of Samaria by the Assyrians. Meanwhile the Babylonian Empire succeeded the Assyrian. But although dynasties had changed, and Babylon, which had sometimes, even under the Assyrian régime, been one of the capitals of the Empire, now took the place of Nineveh, the region over which Nebuchadnezzar now bore rule, was the very same over which Shalmaneser and Sargon reigned before him, only somewhat extended.

Now Babylon stands not only for the city, but also for the whole land, in which the territories of the Assyrian Empire, and the colonies of exiles from the northern kingdom of “Israel” were included. Thus, for instance, we find Ezekiel, who was one of the 10,000 exiles carried off by Nebuchadnezzar with Jehoiachin, by the river Chebar in the district of Gozan—one of the very parts where the exiles of the Ten Tribes were settled by the Assyrians more than a century previously. …

This proclamation, which was in reference to all the people “of the Lord God of heaven,” was issued in the year B.C. 536, two years after the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus, and was, we are told, promulgated “throughout all his kingdom,” which was the same as that over which Nebuchadnezzar and his successors reigned before him, only again somewhat extended, even as the kingdom of Babylon was identical with that of Assyria, as already pointed out. Indeed, Cyrus and Darius I are called indifferently by the sacred historians by the title of “King of Persia” (Ezra iv. 5), “King of Babylon” (Ezra v. 13), and “King of Assyria” (Ezra vi. 22).

Another important point brought out in the prophets, though, and missed by the Lost Tribes advocates, is that God’s purpose in the schism—as a punishment on the House of David—ended with the Babylonian captivity.  As Baron points out, specifically addressing Ezekiel’s prophecies in the section including Ezekiel 36:

The point, however, to be noticed in this and other prophecies is the clear announcement which they contained that the purpose of God in the schism—as a punishment on the House of David—was now at an end, and that henceforth there was but one common hope and one destiny for the whole Israel of the Twelve Tribes—whether they previously belonged to the northern kingdom of the Ten Tribes, or to the southern kingdom of the Two Tribes—and that this common hope and destiny was centred in Him Who is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, and the rightful Heir and descendant of David. In like manner Jeremiah, in his great prophecy of the restoration and future blessing (chaps. 30-31), links the destinies of “Judah” and “Israel,” or Israel and Judah together; and speaks of one common experience from that time on for the whole people.

Daniel’s prophecy also shows this, that the purpose of God in the schism was now over, in that Daniel includes “not only the men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem in his intercessory prayer, but ‘all Israel that are near, or far off, from all the countries whither Thou hast driven them.’

The Ten Lost Tribes Myth: David Baron’s Classic Work

August 31, 2012 7 comments

David Baron’s “The History of the Ten Lost Tribes: Anglo-Israelism Examined” (1915) (available online in several formats, including as listed here) is an easy and relatively short yet informative work about an issue still with us today: the idea that the ten northern tribes were lost at the time of the Assyrian exile, and that the Jews of today only include the two tribes (or generally, Judah, Benjamin and Levi).  Baron provided great background on this overall topic, as well as much detail concerning a specific form of this teaching, that the ten lost tribes are the ancestors of the modern British Anglo-Saxon people.  He also describes the specific claims and “superficial philology” that comes up with such reasoning, including the actual quotes from authors promoting the idea.

I had heard mention of the Anglo-Israeli claim before, but the details are indeed disturbing – and the sort of thing that anyone with a sense of history would wonder that it’s still around.  After all, the descriptions of the Anglo-Israel claims come from the time of British Imperialism, the time of Britain’s rise to prominence as a nation.  Indeed, Baron’s observation from nearly 100 years ago seems almost prophetic today, in light of modern-day Britain:

 Its proud boastful tone, its carnal confidence that Britain, in virtue of its supposed identity with the “lost” tribes, is to take possession of all the “gates” of her “enemies” and become practically mistress of the whole globe, is enough to provoke God’s judgment against the nation, and to make the spiritual believer and every true lover of this much-favoured land tremble.

Yet the Anglo-Israeli idea continued with Herbert Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God cult in the mid-20th century.  And the general idea of the tribes being lost is still with us today, an error I have specifically answered several times in online discussions.  This error is also taught by the teacher at this church.  I often link to the John MacArthur sermon (from the Luke series, about Anna in Luke 2)  and another helpful online article which point out the truth of that “lost ten tribes” myth.

As others have pointed out, the idea of the ten tribes really being the Anglo-Saxon people (or any other people group, other than the Jewish people today) is really the ultimate in replacement theology.  Ironically, though, the error even has its proponents among those who believe in the future restoration of Israel: only, they have redefined the restoration of Israel to mean all those who know they are Jews (meaning the two tribes) – PLUS a number of other people who are descended from the lost tribes, and who don’t know they are of ethnic Israel.

What these online links (above) mention briefly, David Baron’s work describes in full: the remnant of believing Israelites of the other tribes migrated to the southern kingdom as recorded at several points in 2 Chronicles, and were amongst the southern tribes after the return from the Babylonian exile.  Also, that the Assyrians did not carry off every single person of the northern tribes, only their political power and what made them a separate nation.  Baron also cites many texts that show the terms Israel and Jew used interchangeably in the post-exilic as well as New Testament era, including number counts for the two terms:

 I might add the significant fact that in the Book of Ezra this remnant is only called eight times by the name “Jews,” and no less than forty times by the name “Israel.”  In the Book of Nehemiah they are called “Jews” eleven times, and “Israel” twenty-two times. As to those who remained behind in the one hundred and twenty-seven provinces of the Persian Empire, which included all the territories of ancient Assyria, Anglo-Israelites would say they were of the kingdom of “Israel”; but in the Book of Esther, where we get a vivid glimpse of them at a period subsequent to the partial restoration under Zerubbabel and Joshua, they are called forty-five times by the name “Jews,” and not once by the name “Israel”!

In the New Testament the same people who are called “Jews” one hundred and seventy-four times are also called “Israel” no fewer than seventy-five times. Anglo-Israelism asserts that a “Jew” is only a descendant of Judah, and is not an “Israelite”; but Paul says more than once: “I am a man which am a Jew.” Yet he says: “For I also am an Israelite.” “Are they Israelites? so am I”

Going beyond the error itself, Baron also explains well the danger of this error, the important thing to remember regarding this issue:

 It diverts man’s attention from the one thing needful, and from the only means by which he can find acceptance with God. This it does by teaching that “a nation composed of millions of practical unbelievers in Christ, and ripe for apostasy, in virtue of a certain fanciful identity between the mixed race composing that nation and a people carried into captivity two thousand five hundred years ago, is in the enjoyment of God’s special blessing and will enjoy it on the same grounds for ever, thus laying another foundation for acceptance with God beside that which He has laid, even Christ Jesus.” After all, in this dispensation it is a question only as to whether men are “in Christ” or not. If they are Christians, whether Jews or Gentiles, their destiny is not linked either with Palestine or with England, but with that inheritance which is incorruptible and undefiled and which fadeth not away; and if they are not Christians, then, instead of occupying their thoughts with vain speculations as to a supposed identity of the British race with the “lost” Ten Tribes, it is their duty to seek the one and only Saviour whom we must learn to know, not after the flesh, but in the Spirit, and without whom a man, whether an Israelite or not, is undone.

Online Free Resources: David Baron and Adolph Saphir

July 3, 2012 12 comments

David Baron

Following up on past reader recommendations, I recently looked up further details concerning authors David Baron and Adolph Saphir.  Both men were Jewish Christians, Jews who converted to Christianity as young adults, and authors of several Christian books, which are now available in print and other media formats.  See brief biographies here:  Adolph Saphir (1831-1891) and David Baron (1855 – 1926)

Amazon currently lists David Baron’s The History of the Ten “Lost” Tribes: Anglo-Israelism Examined, Kindle version at no charge.  Note that the Kindle for PC (free software download from Amazon) as well as the Amazon Cloud Reader (web-browser Kindle) can be used for any Amazon Kindle title.

Another new online reader I just discovered is Google-Play, a browser program used with your Google account, with some functionality similar to Kindle for PC: viewing page by page, and search feature.  Like Amazon, Google Play has many books available, some free and others for purchase.  The pages are images from actual print books, and so you cannot select and copy-paste actual text.  However, Google Play offers a few free books not available in Kindle format, including David Baron’s “The Scattered nation, nos. 13-28: occasional record of the Hebrew Christian Testimony to Israel,” as well as nos. 45-42 of the same book, and “Types, Psalms and Prophecies: Being a Series of Old Testament Studies.”  Google Play also has a few titles from Saphir.

Archive.org has the largest collection of Saphir books, available in several formats including PDF, web-view, full text file, and Kindle reader format. The Kindle format has its own link, which prompts to save the file or open in the Kindle for PC (already installed on the PC).  It’s possible that the saved file could be transferred to a Kindle device, so if anyone has a Kindle feel free to try and let me know if and how that works.  I have downloaded a few of the Saphir books, now in my “Kindle for PC” library, to begin reading.

Adolph Saphir

Adolph Saphir books from Archive.org:

David Baron books from Archive.org (available in several formats):

Addendum: free online writings of Alfred Edersheim, at the Christian Classics Ethereal Library.  Available in several formats including PDF, browser and plain text.

Another update (7/27):  David Baron Book in Online web format, at Precept Austin site:  The Jewish Problem: Its Solution, or Israel’s Present and Future (1891).