The Reuniting of the 12 Tribes of History and the Biblical Cycles of Redemption

Genesis 46:1–7, The reuniting of Jacobs family—the twelve tribes of Israel. These verses recount the move of Jacob and his family to Egypt where they were reunited with Joseph and his family. This prophetically foreshadows a time in the future, which the Jewish sages call the Final Redemption, which is to occur just prior to and at the coming of Messiah Son of David (Yeshua the Messiah) as he comes to establish the Messianic Era (or Millennium) on earth. 

The same Jewish sages also teach us that part of that final redemption includes the reunification of the two houses of Israel (i.e. the Messiah-loving Jews and Torah-loving Christians) into one kingdom under Messiah Son of David. Where do we find this prophesied in the Scriptures? (Read Ezek 37:15–28, which interestingly enough is this week’s Haftorah portion!) This speaks of the family reunification or ­reconciliation of Judah and Ephraim at Messiah’s return. (Hos 5:15–6:4; 1:11; Acts 3:21; Ezek 37:25). This will be a supernatural work of the Set-Apart Spirit of Elohim (Ezek 36:19–32).

After the reunification of the divided family, where did the reunited and reconciled family move to? (Read Gen 46:34.) Goshen was in the Nile River delta area and was and to this day is the prime farm land of Egypt. It was a veritable promised land compared to the arid regions of Canaan. 

Could Goshen be a tiny prophetic picture of the millenial age that will occur after King Messiah defeats the Babylon the Great new world order (a type of end times Egypt) at his second coming? Possibly. As the ancient Jewish sages study the Scriptures, they have a sense that history for the people of Israel is continually repeating itself in cyclical patterns as YHVH works his purposes out among his people. As such, he is constantly endeavoring to reveal his plan of redemption and reconciliation to his people—at least to those who have eyes to see, and he is continually reaching out his loving hand of reconciliation to the next generations of Israelites. Therefore the Israelites settling in Goshen is but one more picture of the cyclical pattern of redemption that we see YHVH working throughout in the pages of Scripture, with all of these cycles pointing toward a final climax at the end of the age where all of the children of Israel will worship YHVH in spirit and in truth (John 4:23) under the rulership of King Yeshua the Messiah, Son of Joseph and Son of David.


End Times Prophecy: On Returning to Elohim

Deuteronomy 30:1, It shall come to pass. This is an end time prophecy concerning the people of YHVH.

Deuteronomy 30:1–5; 31:16, Returning to Elohim. Israel’s departure from her covenantal agreements with YHVH was assured. Moses prophesied it. But repentance (verse 2) was always an option—an open door of return back to right relationship with YHVH. Have you repented of straying from his Torah-commands whether out of ignorance or purposely?

Deuteronomy 30:2, You will return unto YHVH. The word return is shuv/CUA, which means “to come back, turn back.” Bear in mind that one cannot turn back to what one never had in the first place. This prophecy says that those who YHVH has scattered because of their disobedience to his Torah-covenants will return to him. To whom is this referring? In Hosea 3:4–5, we find similar language:

For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek YHVH their Elohim, and David their king; and shall fear YHVH and his goodness in the latter days. (emphasis added)

Relate this to Revelation 18:4 and Malachi 4:4–6 along with Jeremiah 16:19 (read verses 15–21 for context).

Let us not forget that, “Ideal repentance is motivated by the desire to return to [Elohim], not because one seeks to rid oneself of suffering, and benefit from Divine blessings” (The ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash p, 1091).

With all your heart. Moses makes the heart of man a major focal point in this chapter (see also vv. 6, 10, 17. This chapter is about returning to Elohim after having turned away from him, but this can only happen when the heart of man is willing disposed to do so, and not a minute before that. Repentance is all conditional on the heart of each individual person.

This chapter presents the view that if YHVH’s people will return to him with all their heart and soul from the places he has scattered them because of their disobedience and that of their forefathers (v. 2) that he will begin to gather them together in their foreign lands (vv. 3–4). Eventually this will result in his people returning to the promised land of their inheritance (v. 5). In the process, after his people have inclined their hearts to following YHVH, he will respond by circumcising their hearts and that of their children to love him more, so they can walk in harmony with him by keeping his Torah commands, so he can bless them. This is all predicated upon his people making a choice to obey him (v. 19). Once the choice is made, he will pour out his grace upon his people, so they can continue to obey him with all their hearts. 

Deuteronomy 30:3, From all the nations to which YHVH … has scattered you. The Scriptures over and over again record that the house of Israel (Ephraim) would be scattered over the face of the whole earth (Ezek 34:6, 12; 36:19; 37:21; John 11:52), and that YHVH will regather them in the end times and return them to the land of Israel (Deut 30:3–5). Deuteronomy 32:26 says, “I said, I would scatter them into the corners …” The ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash comments, “This refers to the exile of the ten tribes who were scattered to an unknown place where they have never been heard from again.

On the phrase of the same verse, “I would make the remembrance of them to cease from among men. …” the same Chumash states, “This is a reference to the exile of Judah and Benjamin, the Davidic kingdom from which today’s known Jews are descended.” It goes on to say that though nations would seek to destroy Israel entirely, YHVH would never allow Israel to become extinct or disappear. Israel’s perpetual existence is a constant reminder of YHVH’s plan and eventually Israel will thrive and fulfill YHVH’s intention for it” (pp. 1105–1106). 

Nineteenth orthodox Jewish scholar S. R. Hirsch in his commentary on the same verse translates the phrase, “I would scatter them into the corners …” as, “I would relegate them into a corner …,” and then says that the Hebrew here refers to the “extreme end of a surface, the side or corner ….” He, too, relates this fate to the Ten Tribes who would be scattered “to some distant corner of the world, where, left entirely to themselves, they could mature towards serious reflection and ultimate return to Me …” (p. 650). 

Some in the Christians deny that these Scriptures passages pertain to the ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and instead insist that they are speaking about Judah (the Jews) only. They insist that the return of the Jews to the land of Israel starting in 1948 is the fulfillment of these prophecies and the ten tribes of Israel are lost forever. How can this a correct understanding in light of the Scriptures and the Jewish sages interpretations of those scriptures that states again and again that the ten tribes will return at the end of the age to be reunited with the Jews under the reign of Messiah Son of David (Ezek 37:15–28)?

Deuteronomy 30:6, Circumcise your heart.Obedience to YHVH is all about the heart, all about love and relationship between him and us. Are his commandments too difficult to keep? (See verses 11–14.) Ultimately obedience is about our making choices. What are those choices and what are both the long-term and short-term results of those choices? (Compare verses 29:27–28; 30:9, 20 with 30:15–16, and relate this to what Yeshua told the rich, young ruler in Matthew 19:16–19.)

Deuteronomy 30:6, Will circumcise your heart…and of your seed. This is a prophecy concerning the Renewed Covenant, to which Jeremiah makes reference (Jer 31:31, 33) as does Ezekiel (Ezek 36:26–27), and the writer of Hebrews (Heb 8:8).


The Gospel Message in the Names of the 12 Tribes

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Genesis 29:32–35:18, The birth of the Jacob’s twelve sons and the meaning of their names. The Scriptures record that the gospel message was preached not only to the first century believers, but to ancient Israel (Heb 4:2), and to the Patriarchs (Gal 3:8) as well. Here is another example of this in the meanings of the names of the twelve sons of Jacob. His twelve sons were Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph and Benjamin (who was not born until Gen 35:18). The meanings of their names and the statements the Bible attaches to those meanings reveal YHVH’s glorious plan of salvation for mankind. The Scriptures call this message the good news or gospel.

Reuben, Jacob’s first son, means “see or behold a son” (Heb. combination of two words: ra’ah meaning “to see” and ben meaning “son”). At the birth of her first son, Leah proclaimed “surely YHVH has looked upon my affliction” (Gen 29:32). The gospel message here is that YHVH Elohim saw the affliction of sinful man and gave us Yeshua, his Son.

Simeon means “hearing” (Heb. from shama meaning “to hear”). Leah named her second son thusly because “YHVH has heard that I was unloved” and she was hoping to receive her husband’s affection (Gen 29:33). The gospel message in this is that as a sinner, one comes to Yeshua in a lost and unloved state and separated from Elohim, and that when one hears about the Son (Yeshua the Messiah) in the gospel message, it’s at this point they receive the Father’s love.

Levi means “joined” (Heb. from lavah meaning “to join”). Leah named her next son this in the hopes that “now this time will my husband be joined to me” (Gen 29:34). With regard to the gospel, this can infer the union between a redeemed believer and the Father and Son that occurs at the time of one’s salvation. The good news message is the reconciliation and union of man and Elohim through Continue reading


The Spangled Banners of the Twelve Tribes

Numbers 1:52, Standard [or banner]. Each tribe had its own flag or banner. Although the Torah doesn’t tell us what these flags looked like, Jewish oral tradition records this information. According to Numbers Midrash Rabbah, the flag of each tribe was the color of its stone in the high priests breastplate and is described as follows:

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  • Reuben’s stone was ruby and the color of the flag was red with embroidered mandrakes.
  • Simeon was topaz and his flag was green with the town of Shechem embroidered thereon.
  • Levi was smaragd (like an emerald) and the color of his flag was one third each of white, black and red and was embroidered with the urim and thummim.
  • Judah’s was carbuncle and the color of his flag was like the heavens and was embroidered with a lion.
  • Issachar’s was a sapphire and the color of his flag was black and embroidered on it was the sun and moon, which is an allusion to the text in 1 Chronicles 12:33 that the sons of Issachar understood times.
  • Zebulun’s was an emerald and the color of his flag was white with a ship embroidered on it in allusion to the text that Zebulun shall dwell at the shore of the sea (Gen 49:13).
  • Dan’s stone was the jacinth and the color of his flag was similar to sapphire, and embroidered on it was a serpent in allusion to the text that Dan shall be a serpent in the way (Gen 49:17).
  • Gad’s was an agate and the color of his flag was a blend of black and white, and on it was embroidered a camp in allusion to text that says Gad shall be a troop (Gen 49:19).
  • Naphtali was an amethyst and the color of his flag was like clarified wine of not a very deep red, and on it was embroidered a dear in allusion to the text which says that Naphtali will be like a dear let loose (Gen 49:21).
  • Asher was beryl and the color of his flag was like the precious stone with which women adorn themselves, and embroidered with an olive tree in allusion to the text that says that Asher’s bread shall be fat (Gen 49:20).
  • Joseph was an onyx and the color of his flag was jet black and embroidered thereon for both princes, Ephraim and Manasseh, was Egypt because they were born in Egypt.
  • On Ephraim’s flag was embroidered a bullock in allusion to the text that says his firstling would be a bullock (Deut 33:17).
  • On Manasseh’s flag was embroidered a wild ox in allusion to the text which says his horns are that of a wild ox (Deut 33:13), which alludes to Gideon, the Joash, who came from that tribe.
  • Benjamin’s stone was jasper and the color of his flag was combination of all the twelve colors, and embroidered thereon was a wolf in allusion to the text that says that Benjamin is ravenous like a wolf (Gen 49:27).

Now compare this list of precious and semiprecious stones with the list of stones that will comprise the twelve foundations of the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:19–21). There are a lot of similarities.


Additional Comments on Deuteronomy 29:28

Israel to Be Lost Among the Gentiles

Deuteronomy 29:28 states, “And YHVH rooted them out of their land in anger, and in wrath, and in great indignation, and cast them into another land [Heb., eretz acheret], as it is this day.” How did the ancient Jewish sages understand this passage?

Rabbinic Commentary on this Verse

b. Talmud, Yevamot 17a (c. 500 C.E.) (Soncino Talmud, Soncino):

[T]hey had declared them [i.e., the ten tribes of Israel, see rabbinic footnote below]19 to be perfect heathens [or gentiles]; as it is said in the Scriptures, “They have dealt treacherously against YHVH, for they have begotten strange children.20

Rabbinic footnote on this passage states, “(19) The ten tribes; (20) Hos. 5:7.”

The ArtScroll Tanach Series Bereishis/Genesis (an Orthodox Jewish commentary on Genesis) states, regarding Genesis 48:19, Orthodox Jewish sage of the Middle Ages, Ibn Ezra wrote:

Many nations will descend from him [Ephraim]. That is, the word, fullness, melo, connotes “abundance,” the phrase meaning: and his seed will become the  abundance of the nations (Neter; Karnei Or)” (p. 2121). According to Radak [R. Dovid Kimchi Torah scholar in the Middle Ages], “This refers to the Exile when the lands of others will be filled with his scattered descendants. See also Hosea 7:8: Ephraim shall be mingled among the nations (Ibid.).

Eretz Arazreth: Hebrew For Another Land or New World (?) to Which Israel Migrated 

The apocryphal book of 2 Esdras 13:40–45 (elsewhere known as The Fourth Book of Ezra; quoted from Lange’s Commentary; bracketed phrases are from an alternate translation by James H. Charlesworth in his book entitled, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha—Apocalyptic Literature and Testaments); Two Esdras is a Jewish work written near the beginning of the Christian era,

[T]hese are the ten tribes, which were carried [led] away prisoners out of their own land [into captivity] in the time of Josia[h] the king, whom Salmanasar king of Assyria led captive, and carried them over the river, and they were brought over into another land. But they took this counsel [formed this plan] amongst themselves, that they would leave the multitude of the heathen [nations], and go forth into a further country [a more distant region], where mankind never dwelt, that they might there keep their own statutes, which they had not kept in their own land. But they entered into Euphrates by the narrow passages of the river; for the Most High then wrought signs for them, and held still the waves [stopped the channels] of the river, till they had passed over. But through that country there was a long journey to make of a year and a half; and the same region is called Arazreth [Hebrew for “another land”].

Azareth or another land is a reference to the prophecy in Deuteronomy 29:28 that states, “And YHVH rooted them out of their land in anger, and in wrath, and in great indignation, and cast them into another land [eretz acheret], as it is this day.” Acheret in the Hebrew means “another,” but also has the connotation of “new” such as “next year” (or in the new year, Gen 17:21), “another well” (Gen 26:21); “another man” (i.e., a new husband); and so on. Other Hebrew words for new include chodesh or chadashah, which can mean either “brand new” or “renewed” such as in new moon, new heart, or new heaven and new earth. Other Hebrew words found in Scripture referring to something new would be in reference to new wine or new fruits, which are unique Hebrew words which specifically describe those things and nothing else. The only other Hebrew word used in Scripture for new is beriyah and it is used once in Numbers 16:30 to describe the earth opening up to swallow Korah and his malcontents. The point of this brief word study is that Eretz Acheret can justifiably be translated into English as “new earth,” or “new world” “The term New World is a common historical reference to what geographical region? It was there that Scripture would seem to indicate that the Israelites would, in part, at least, be scattered and the Jewish writings of 2 Esdras 13:40-45 make reference to this land or New World.


The Final Redemption of the 12 Tribes

Genesis 47:28, The Jewish sages recognize that this final portion of Genesis chronicles Jacob’s wish to reveal to his sons prophetic understandings pertaining to Israel’s long and numerous exiles, culminating in the final redemption (return of Israel from her exile in “Babylon” at the end of the age prior to the return of Messiah at which time the two houses of Israel will be reunited under Messiah Son of David). Jacob states this in 49:1 when he gives his prophecies relating to what will befall his sons “in the last days.” Prior to the establishment of the Messianic Age (Millennium) all Israel would go into a time of darkness, gloom and exile. The sages teach that this idea is implicated in the fact that the Torah scroll fails to place the customary nine spaces between the last word of the previous parashah and the first word of the present one. There is only a one space gap in Hebrew letters which predicts the “closing in” of Israel as they go into exile and captivity in Egypt.


Here’s an excerpt from a larger, yet unpublished, article on the timing of the return of the 12 tribes to the land of Israel in the last days. This extract deals with the concept of redemption in Israel’s long history, and specifically with the final redemption of the last days.

I hope you enjoy this Shabbat-day study.

The Repeating Paradigm of Israel’s Redemption

Biblically, the concept of the return of exiled and scattered Israel (including Ephraim) to the land of Israel is tied to the idea of redemption. Biblically, the concept of redemption involves a stronger person (the redeemer) intervening on behalf of a weaker person (the enslaved, i.e., the one needing redemption), defeating the captor of the slave thus allowing the enslaved to go free.

The first biblical example of this process occurred when Elohim redeemed Israel out of Egypt. The biblical prophets compared this first exodus to a greater, or second exodus that is yet to occur in the future. In Jewish thought, the exodus out of Egypt is called the first redemption, yet the biblical prophets also speak of Israel going into captivity again — this time not to Egypt, but into the exile of the nations. From this place of exile and spiritual Continue reading