The Legend Of British-Israel
C.T. Dimont, D.D.
Principal Of Salisbury Theological College
Chancellor And Canon Of Salisbury Cathedral
London: SPCK, 1933. Pbk.
The movement bearing this name is so called because it maintains the theory that the British people are the descendants of the Ten Northern Tribes of Israel, commonly referred to as the Lost Ten Tribes. This theory has of late years increased the number of its adherents. At first sight it might be considered a waste of time to deal with the strange arguments on which it is based. But it is becoming plain that where they are accepted certain quite definite results follow. The British-Israelite believes that the Old Testament promises that Israel - that is, Britain - is to possess the earth. He therefore, as I shall show later by quotations from British Israel publications, opposes the League of Nations and other peace movements. What has been hitherto a comparatively harmless fad now threatens to become a minor heresy. It is therefore worth while to pay some attention to the allegations on which it rests.
History Of The Movement
The first hint of this movement occurred in 1649, when one John Sadler published a book called the Rights of the Kingdom, in which he traced resemblances between Hebrew and English law and custom. Britain as a name he derived from Berat Anak, the field of tin and lead, and he supposed that the Phoenician traders had originated this name. But the modern movement started with Richard Brothers (1757-1824), a half-pay officer of the Navy. He published fifteen volumes on the subject. He claimed to be descended from David, and to be the nephew of the Almighty. It is not surprising that he ended in a lunatic asylum.
In 1840 John Wilson adopted the theory and devoted himself to propagating it. Others followed. Among them was C. Piazzi Smyth, the Astronomer-Royal for Scotland, who introduced a novelty by measuring the dimensions of the Great Pyramid, and finding in the measurements prophecies of the future prosperity of the English. This suggestion has since given rise to astonishing and copious speculations (cp. Enc. Rel. Eth., art. Anglo-Israelism).
The British-Israelites - to give them their present name, which seems to have replaced the former title of Anglo-Israelites-are now sufficiently numerous to put out a great amount of literature, run a weekly magazine, and even to contemplate the founding of a new theological college, on the ground that no existing college is faithful in its interpretation of Scripture.
For material we turn to British-Israel writings the official handbook called British-Israel Truth, edited by the late Archdeacon Hanan and H. Aldersmith, The Case for British Israel by A. N. Denny, The National Messenger (the weekly organ of the movement), and various other publications and manifestos.
The Ten Tribes Were Never Lost
First, then, we may state a fact which if we were so disposed might dispense us from further troubling about the matter. The British cannot be the descendants of the Lost Ten Tribes, because no such body of lost tribes exists or ever has existed. The assertion that all the Ten Northern Tribes were carried away to Assyria is contrary to Scripture and to the testimony of the monuments. Sargon, the King of Assyria, says that he carried away from Israel 27,290 captives. It is quite obvious that this was but a fragment of the whole population of the Northern Kingdom (cp. 2 Sam. xxiv. 9, which puts the men of military age in North Israel at 800,000). From the account in 2 Kings xvii. 6 and xviii.11 they appear to have been deported in two groups, one of which was placed in Western Mesopotamia, and the other in the far eastern parts of the Assyrian Empire. And this, as Dr. McCurdy says in his book, History, Prophecy and the Monuments (sec. 363), "is the whole story of the famous 'Dispersion of the Ten Tribes.' " The number stated by Sargon is not likely to have been put too low. Assyrian kings were not in the habit of minimising their exploits. Yet it comes to no more than the present population of Salisbury. A few years later more than seven times this number were carried away from Judah without destroying the southern and smaller kingdom.
Those deported were doubtless the most influential men and their families. The rest of the mass of the population remained in Israel. The religion of Jehovah continued there, blended no doubt to some extent with the cults of the heathen settlers who came amongst the natives of the land. But the Samaritans retained the Pentateuch, and, in spite of the late hostility of the Jews, were not regarded as Gentiles.
Some time after the fall of Samaria Hezekiah held a great Passover at Jerusalem. According to 2 Chron. xxx. he sent invitations to Northern Israel as well as to Judah. A "multitude" from the North responded by attending. Five of the Northern Tribes are mentioned by name. It is quite clear from this passage that the greater part of the inhabitants of the Northern Kingdom had not been carried away to Assyria.
A century later another king of Judah, Josiah, when he repaired the Temple, received money for this purpose from "Manasseh and Ephraim, and all the remnant of Israel" (2 Chron. xxxiv. 9). This second passage strengthens the inference which we have drawn from the first, that there had been no wholesale deportation of the Ten Tribes.
This is now the generally accepted conclusion among Biblical scholars. It may be seen in such books as Israel in World History, by Dr. Blunt, Bishop of Bradford, or The Decline and Fall of the Hebrew Kingdoms in the Clarendon Bible.
In the New Testament it is assumed that the Twelve Tribes are still in existence and form one nation. St. Paul speaks of "our Twelve Tribes" (Acts xxvi. 7) as united in common worship. St. James addresses his letter to the Twelve Tribes of the Dispersion. Even if we give this address a figurative interpretation, it would have been singularly meaningless if Ten Tribes had been utterly lost.
Again in the Apocalypse the I44,000 are drawn from all the tribes of Israel. There is no consciousness of separation between Ten Elect Tribes and two others rejected by God, as British-Israel alleges. It may be noted that the same assumption underlies the Apocalyptic book called the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs. Dr. Box shows that the division into two groups of ten tribes and two tribes respectively was of gradual growth, and that only in later Jewish traditions do we come to the conception of a distant land in which the Ten Tribes remain, awaiting the moment of return to the Holy Land (Box, Ezra Apocalypse, p. 300).
Did Hebrews Turn Into Scythians And Kimmerians?
But let us waive the objection, vital as it is, that the Ten Tribes were never lost, and proceed to examine the supposed proofs that these tribes are today represented by the British. The first step is to get them into Europe. This is effected with the aid of a passage in 2 Esdras xiii. 40, in which it is declared that the Ten Tribes had separated from the heathen of the land to which they were carried, and had passed into a land called Arzareth. Scholars point out that this name is evidently a representation of erets achareth, "another land," and a manifest reference to Deut. xxix. 24-28 (vide R.V. marg.). But British Israel Truth (p. 115) divides the word by taking Ar as one component, meaning "a city or hill," and finding in zareth a concealed reference to the river Sereth. This is a tributary of the Danube. Hence it is argued that the Ten Tribes crossed from Assyria to the Danube region, and the date of their migration is fixed at 650 B.C. No proof is given for this date, and it involves the assumption that the Ten Tribes managed this exploit within seventy years after the fall of Samaria, and while Assyria was still in the plenitude of its power.
But the reason for this arbitrary dating soon appears. It was in 650 that the Scythians are said by Herodotus to have appeared in the region of the Black Sea. British-Israel at once declares that this is the date when the Ten Tribes arrived in Europe, being in fact no other than the Scythians. For this identification there is not a shred of evidence. The Scythians were not Semites. Formerly it was suggested that they were of Mongolian origin. But the present trend of opinion is towards regarding them as Aryans.
According to Herodotus they were not a pleasant people. In war they were scalp-hunters. In religion they were polytheists, but used neither temple nor altar. When their king died they celebrated his funeral by killing fifty youths and fifty horses, and setting up their stuffed bodies round his tomb. Could there be a greater contrast than between such people and the Hebrews?
If British-Israel does not believe this, it may yet perhaps consider the absurdity of its own theory in the light of Bible texts. The opening prophecies of Jeremiah refer to what is undoubtedly a threatened invasion of the Scythians into the Palestinian lands. Are we to understand the prophet to mean that the Ten Tribes are about to issue from Assyria to destroy Judah? Again, in the New Testament we hear St. Paul reciting the list of all the separated elements which shall be brought into one in Christ, Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondmen, freemen (Col. iii. 11). Who on reading this would ever suspect that the Apostle understood Scythians to be members of his own nation?
It is not surprising that Professor Tylor was moved to refer to this identification as "abject nonsense " (Chambs. Enc. art. Scythians). Nor is our surprise lessened when we note that it starts from a passage in 2 Esdras. The supporters of British-Israel are for the most part of Protestant leanings, and traditionally averse to allowing any credit at all to the books of the Apocrypha. But they do not on that account refuse here to pick a text out of one of the books of the Apocrypha, written eight hundred years after the fall of Samaria, mistranslate it, and make it the starting-point of an identification on which their whole case rests.
But we pass on to further identifications. When the Scythians arrived in what is now South Russia, they drove out another race called Kimmerians. British-Israel finds in these also some of the Lost Tribes, and proceeds to see in them the ancestors of the Welsh, Cymry. Welsh, it is alleged, is largely derived from Hebrew, and the Druids spoke Hebrew. This theory certainly presents us with a curious historical situation. Apparently one section of the Ten Tribes, the Kimmerians, had no sooner found a new home and settled down comfortably than they were thrust out by others of their brethren who followed them, and who for some strange reason preferred to be called Scythians. In its attempt to find a Hebrew origin for the Kimmerians British-Israel has contradicted the Bible. In the Old Testament the Kimmerians are referred to as Gotner. Now in I Chron. i. 24 Abraham and Israel are said to have been descendants of Shem. But in v. 5 of the same chapter Gomer is said to be descended from Japheth. Any attempt to make Kimmerians into Semites must ignore this passage.
Scythians Are Not Saxons, Nor Kimmerians Welsh
Those who are familiar with both Hebrew and Welsh assure us that the derivation of the second of these from the first is a vain imagination, and that there is no connection between the two languages. Equally unhappy is the suggestion that the name British is compounded of the Hebrew words berith and ish, meaning "man of the covenant." A glance at any philological dictionary will be enough to dispose of this absurdity. As regards the name Saxon we are given a choice in British-Israel manuals between finding the source of it either in Isaac, or in the Sacæ, an obscure race, who seem to have drifted about in Asia. It seems to be only necessary to find two words which have two letters alike to declare them to be cognate. Ordinary textbooks inform us that Saxon is derived from a word meaning a dagger.
It will be observed that in the present form of the British-Israel doctrine both Saxons and British are said to be descended from. the Ten Tribes. It might be supposed to be common knowledge that these two types do not belong to the same stock. But British-Israel is not dismayed by this difficulty, and boldly declares that the distinction between Celt and Teuton is altogether erroneous. What is quite certain is that neither Celt nor Teuton was a Semite. A little difficulty which attends British-Israel here is the kinship between the English and the German races. But as it would upset the whole case if Germans were admitted among the representatives of the tribes, it suffices to rake up a few hasty assertions made in the heat of wartime to the effect that there could be no kinship between England and Germany, and on the strength of these to exclude Germany from the blessings awaiting the descendants of Israel (B.I. Truth, p. 107).
In the light of modern knowledge it is evident that any attempt such as that of British-Israel to find all the ancestors of the British in one race is much too simple to be anywhere near the truth. The real state of the case is summed up by expert authority, thus: "As so many stocks have come into the country at various times, a general mingling of peoples must have taken place in this small island, which renders the task of disentangling them a peculiarly difficult one" (Haddon, The Races of Man, p. 77). But one thing can be affirmed with certainty. No men of Hebrew descent were to be found either among the Celts who came in successive waves of immigration in the last millennium B.C., or among the Nordic peoples who began to invade the land in the fifth century A.D.
Is Our Royal Family Descended From David?
Worked in with these fallacies about the nations is the collection of fables by which it is sought to prove that the present Royal Family of England is descended from King David. We begin with the prophecy of Jeremiah xxxiii. that David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel. Israel, says the handbook (p. 181), cannot mean Judah, because Jeremiah never uses the name so. A minute with a Concordance will show the futility of this allegation. Jeremiah ii., e.g., addresses a prophecy to Israel which is expressly applied to Jerusalem. But it appears that Jeremiah did not content himself with prophesying about this; he took steps to see that it should be fulfilled. The Bible tells us that he was carried down into Egypt after the murder of Gedaliah. That is all that Scripture has to say about the end of his life. But British-Israel knows more. Here it may be remarked that the Mediaeval Church, which is frequently charged with exaggerating the value of tradition as compared with Scripture, can be set down as a mere amateur in the light of the exploits of British-Israel in handling and garnishing traditions suitable for its use. There flourished then in Ireland about the year 580 B.C. a lawgiver with a prophetic reputation called Ollam Fola. Now Ollam, says B.I. Truth (p. 184), is clearly the Hebrew word for eternity. It is true that it has two "I's " where the Hebrew has one, but that is a small matter. The learned will note that Ollam's date is also that of Jeremiah, and as Ireland seems to retain reminiscences of Jeremiah (we are not favoured with any details about these), Ollam and Jeremiah must be the same. This is confirmed by the fact that Ollam lived at Tara, which is said to be a slightly altered form of the Hebrew word for the Law, Torah (p. 184). Jeremiah was not the first Israelite to arrive in Ireland. There was a settlement there some time earlier made by the Tuatha de Danann. Here is manifestly a trace of the tribe of Dan. The connection was not direct. It came through the Argive Danai, and some British-Israelites here introduce the story of the daughters of Danaus, so that profane, not to say pagan, history has its contribution to make to this narrative. In reality the name has nothing to do with either Dan or Danaus. It is derived iron. the name of the Irish goddess, Danu.
But to return to Jeremiah. The male issue of the royal line of Judah had failed with the death of the sons of Zedekiah. So Jeremiah set sail for Ireland with the daughter of Zedekiah. At any rate, the Irish tradition associated with Ollam a lady called Tephi, alleged to be of Eastern origin. Who else can this be but Zedekiah's daughter? The Irish legend says she had a tomb sixty feet long - which to any but a British-Israelite would suggest a descendant, not of David, but of Og the King of Bashan. Princess Tephi married an Irish prince whose descendants afterwards made their way to Scotland and so through James VI. and I. (was he not also known as "Solomon"?) became the ancestors of our Royal Family. Jeremiah carried with him the stone on which Jacob slept at Bethel, and this is now the stone in our Coronation chair. (Antiquaries who have not been enlightened by these revelations declare that this stone was quarried at Scone in Scotland.)
As if this collection of romances were not sufficiently ridiculous, a second line has been found to connect our King with David. The Tudor kings, it is alleged (B.I. Truth, p. 189), were descended through Welsh princes from Anna, cousin of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and daughter of Joseph of Arimathea. The present King is assured by the purveyors of this rubbish that he is in the hundredth generation from King David. It should be noted that in these fantastic genealogies the Ten Tribes have been entirely forgotten, as it is the royal house of Judah which is in question.
To bring out the full value of these methods let us apply them locally and suggest to British-Israelites that Salisbury is so named as being the burial place of King Saul, who no doubt brought David with him when he came here, and that Harnham must be a shortened form of Har-Nahum, the Hill of Nahum: for that Nahum knew Salisbury is highly probable from his reference to a "City among the rivers," seeing that no other city so nearly answers this description, and it is further noteworthy that the R.V. margin here reads "canals," a manifest allusion to one of our chief streets called "The Canal." Hence we may conclude that at least one of the names of the local rivers is Hebrew - the Nadder, derived from Nadar, a vow, as it is well known that rivers were often invoked in ancient oaths. And what can Nunton be but the British residence of the family of Joshua, son of Nun? We can at least claim that these derivations are no more absurd than most of those invented by British-Israel.
It may be asked whether the tribe of Judah is to partake in the blessings promised to Israel. British-Israelites reply with an emphatic negative. The Jews are all under a curse (B.I. Truth, p. 150). That is to say, that portion of Israel which preserved the worship of God, kept alive the hope of Israel, and has bequeathed to us many of the most beautiful utterances in the Psalms, is to lie under a curse, while Northern Israel, which, according to the testimony of its own prophets, declined into a state hardly distinguishable from degraded paganism, is to inherit all the promises set forth in the Old Covenant. This is flatly contrary to Scripture. For St. Paul (Rom. ix.) refers to Israelites, "Whose are the promises," and immediately adds, "of whom is Christ as concerning the flesh." Even British-Israel will scarcely have the hardihood to deny that the reference here is to Judah. This attitude towards Judah has led some British-Israelites to express satisfaction at the persecution which has befallen the Jews, a piece of fanaticism which is justly denounced in the Jewish Encyclopædia (art. Anglo-Israel).
The tribe of Benjamin occasions some difficulty to British-Israel, being by rights one of the Ten Tribes, and at the same time connected with Jerusalem. However, on the strength of a gross perversion of I Kings xi. 36, which refers to Judah, not to Benjamin, the latter tribe is said to have been lent (by whom is not stated) to Judah for 800 years. It then cast off this undesirable connection and has since turned up as the Normans, thus assisting to form the British nation. Any old family claiming Norman descent may be expected to ravin as a wolf (Gen. xlix. 27). Manasseh, we learn, is the ancestor of the Americans. The eagle of the U.S.A. flag has arrows in its left claw, and the tribe of Manasseh was known as the bowmen of Israel (Steele, Bible Basis of British Israel Truth, p. 28). Certainly no one will deny the skill of the Yankee in using the long bow.
The Pyramid Superstition
The promises recorded in the Old Testament are then to be fulfilled in Britain. But when? In order to answer this question British-Israel turns not only to Scripture, but also to another authority, the Great Pyramid. In the National Message, the magazine of this movement, a series of articles appeared on this subject in 1932, and it is idle for British-Israelites to deny that it is part of their doctrine. God's plan, we read (National Message, June, 1932), is "clearly outlined in the prophetic Scriptures and the Great Pyramid," the two being apparently of equal authority. But even this profanity is outdone by the assertion of another writer (Mr. Morton Edgar) that "the real Architect" (of the Pyramid) "was God Himself." The erection of this was, according to Mr. Hew Colquhoun (Our Descent from Israel Proved, p. 59), a fulfilment of the prophecy that there shall be a pillar in the border of Egypt (Isa. xix. 19), although every student knows that the word there used, massebah, means a single stone pillar, and has nothing at all to do with pyramids. The Pyramid was built by Egyptians skilled in mathematical measurements, and was intended, according to Professor Breasted, to be not only a tomb but also the symbol of the Sun God. But British-Israel takes the number of inches in this and that part of the Pyramid to be mystical prophecies of the dates of events in the history of the British Empire, and finally of the Millennium. Whole books are filled with wild calculations on this basis, and we are asked to believe that the will of the All Holy God is revealed to us in the dimensions of a structure erected by pagan builders to honour the Sun God. Such a combination of the more outlandish forms of Apocalypse with the astrology of the Dark Ages must be unique. Well might our Reformers deliver themselves of the opinion that "they that go about to renew the fable of hereticks called Millenarii, be repugnant to Holy Scripture, and cast themselves headlong into a Jewish dotage" (Art. xli. of 1553). The wildest speculations of the Anabaptists cannot have surpassed these attempts to arrive at a revelation from God by stretching a measuring tape along the corridors of a pyramid. To seek it there is as profane as it would be to search for it in the number of square feet in the roof of the Crystal Palace.
Professor Flinders Petrie, the eminent Egyptologist, has shown that the methods used by British-Israelites in measuring the Pyramid are entirely erroneous. He adds that "it is useless to state the real truth of the matter, as it has no effect on those who are subject to this type of hallucination. They can but be left with the flat earth believers and other such people to whom a theory is dearer than a fact." He describes the amusement caused to himself and other experts by the sight of one of these theorists trying to file down a granite boss in the antechamber of the Pyramid to the size required for the theory (Seventy Years in Archaeology, pp. 26 and 35).
A detailed examination of the absurdities of these Pyramid doctrines, and an exposure of the extent to which those who proclaim them contradict one another, may be seen in the booklet published by S.P.C.K. called The Secret of the Great Pyramid, by M. D. R. Willink.
The Perversion Of Prophecy
We need not follow further the exposition of British-Israel doctrine. The specimens already given are typical of the whole. But let us conclude by pointing out in summary the evils which spring from it. It rests upon a method of interpreting prophecy which reduces the Scripture to the level of a cross-word puzzle. Texts are torn from their context, and misapplied without the slightest regard to their original meaning. British-Israel constantly boasts itself that it sticks to the plaid literal meaning of Scripture. But this is the one thing which it does not do. For example, the beautiful passage in Isa. xlix. is a message of comfort to the people returning from exile. The Lord has redeemed His people, and soon the wanderers will be together again in Zion. It is a word of immediate encouragement to strengthen them in the task of rebuilding Zion. But in the hands of British-Israel (B.I. Truth, pp. 91 ff.) it becomes nothing but a forecast of the glories of England, and a prediction that the British flag will fly in every port of the world. Thus God is made to mock His afflicted people by telling them that their only comfort is to know that in 2,000 years vast prosperity will be granted to the inhabitants of a land 2,000 miles away. It is as though some modern prophet were to seek to lighten our present economic depression by assuring us that in A.D. 3900 Hongkong will be the most prosperous city in the world. Such interpretations make the Word of God of none effect.
The Covenant And The Kingdom
Great play is made by British-Israelites with the word Covenant. They assert that the covenant which God made with Abraham was to be fulfilled in Israel, which on their view means the Ten Tribes. Since that fulfilment did not come owing to the disobedience of Israel to God's law, it is still to be expected, and will be granted to the British as representatives of the Ten Tribes. British-Israel stakes the whole truth of religion on this argument, alleging that if it is an error we cannot trust God to keep any of His promises. But what was the promise made to Abraham? It was simply that he should be the father of a multitude of nations, and that in his seed all the families of the earth should be blessed. The multitude of nations included others besides Israel - for example, Midian - who were also descended from Abraham. In Gen. xv. 18 the promise is given in detail that Abraham's seed should inherit the land between the river of Egypt and the Euphrates. This was fulfilled in the reign of Solomon. The further promise that all nations should be blessed in Abraham (Gen. xxii. 18) has been fulfilled in Christ (St. John viii. 56). This is the plain teaching of the Bible (Acts iii. 25). St. Paul says expressly that the promise is accomplished in the preaching of the Gospel to the Gentiles (Gal. iii. 8). The statement that the carrying out of the promise depends upon the continued existence somewhere of the Ten Tribes of Northern Israel is a fiction repugnant to Scripture and dangerous to faith. The British-Israel treatment of the New Testament conception of the Kingdom is equally erroneous.
A distinction is drawn between the Gospel of the Kingdom and the Gospel of Salvation. It is argued that while salvation is offered to all nations the Kingdom is not, but is confined to Israel-that is, the British (Waddington, Israel and Orthodoxy, chap. xiii.). Such a view empties the Gospel teaching about the Kingdom of all meaning. The Gospel begins with the declaration that the Kingdom of God is at hand. It promises entrance into it to all those who will become as little children. The "little flock" who were assured that it was the Father's good pleasure to give them the Kingdom (Luke xii. 42) were Jews, and the forerunners of all those from every nation who should believe in Jesus.
What Does The New Testament Mean By Israel?
According to British-Israel the name still refers to the Ten Tribes and excludes Judah. A phrase repeatedly cited in this sense is "the lost sheep of the house of Israel." This text, it is asserted, refers in Matt. x. 6 and xv. 24 neither to Jews nor Gentiles, but only to members of the Ten Tribes (B.I. Truth, p. 70). On this interpretation our Lord commissioned His Apostles in Matt. x. 6 to go to Scythia, or to whatever remote spot the Ten Tribes are supposed by British-Israel to have then reached, and to preach there. The present writer has heard this explanation actually given at a meeting of British-Israelites. The same idea is read into Matt. xv. 24, where the Lord said that He was not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Were not such suggestions in print before us it would be difficult to believe that anyone could ever have made them. The correct meaning of "lost sheep" may be found in Matt. ix. 36, where the words refer to the Jewish multitude there described as moving the Lord to pity, because they were as sheep having no shepherd.
St. Paul, it is alleged by British-Israel, also means the Ten Tribes, and nothing else, when he speaks of Israel. This assertion is supported by such wild conjectures as that the Galatians were but disguised members of the Ten Tribes (B.I. Truth, p. 67). The failure of Bishop Lightfoot and other learned men to discover this remarkable fact has no weight with British-Israel, to whom here, as often, experts who differ from them are merely "deluded," or "careless," or "blind." But here British-Israel flatly contradicts St. Paul in some of the very essentials of his teaching. When St. Paul says Israel he means the whole nation, including Jews (Rom. ix. 4, 5). When he speaks of the Israel of God (Gal. vi. 16) he means all, whether Jews or Gentiles, who believe in God through Christ (cp. Rom. iv. I6). The doctrine of British-Israel that the enjoyment of God's promises is connected with physical descent from Abraham is precisely that which St. Paul most strenuously resisted, and for the denial of which he suffered bitter persecution.
A Narrow Nationalism
It must be said quite clearly that British-Israel turns the Bible into a handbook of national megalomania, and that it is a determined foe to the League of Nations and all efforts for world peace. The two great perils to the world today are Nationalism and Bolshevism. To the first of these British-Israel is a servant. This statement can be abundantly justified by quotations from recent literature of the movement. In B.I. Truth (p. 94) we are told that England is the Lord's battleaxe and weapons of war, as prophesied in Jer. li. 20, a statement repeated in a pamphlet called Disarmament, a Divine Condemnation. The blessings foretold by the prophets are "exclusive" to the British (B.I. Truth, p. 5). Consequently there must be no acceptance of any peace which will interfere with the aggrandisement of Britain. During the summer of 1932 the following assertions appeared in the National Message, the magazine of British-Israel: "The madness of supposing that the welter of races in India can carry on and administer for all India the balanced system of the Common Law is of a piece with those who set up the League of Nations." Ezekiel xxxiii. 3 is expounded thus: "No sick sentimentality here. No gushing assurance that war between Christian nations was unthinkable: that we were too civilised to fight." The British are to overrun the world, and if they accept the challenge of the Gospel of the Kingdom, another writer tells us," all the material things after which the Gentile nations so feverishly seek would be automatically added to us as a Race and People." One British-Israelite has the hardihood to distort some words of an eminent supporter of the League of Nations, Sir Oliver Lodge, into an advocacy of these claims (vide Our Descent from Israel Proved, p. 63). I have the authority of Sir Oliver himself for saying that the passage quoted contains no such meaning.
Thus from unscriptural theology we pass to unchristian politics, and find ourselves confronted by the spirit, not of the true prophet, but rather of Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah, whose notion of revealing God's will was to fashion horns of iron, and proclaim that with them the enemy should be pushed until he was consumed. It is not surprising that militarists have been quick to see the opportunity offered them by British-Israel. But patriotism and nationalism are not the same things, nor is one compatible with the other. We believe wholeheartedly that God has commissioned the British race to per form certain definite tasks. But our belief in this does not depend upon fantastic myths providing us with Hebrew ancestors, nor does it imply that other nations are excluded from sharing with us the promises of God.
We are aware that many truly pious people have been persuaded to accept British-Israel doctrine. If they are impressed by its apparent learning we would ask them to consider the fact that its claims are entirely rejected by teachers of theology and ethnology in our Universities. It is one of those great delusions which appear from time to time and claim as their victims those who have a zeal which is not according to knowledge. It cannot stand against a careful study of the Bible and of history.
This document is Public Domain.