The deadly shooting last week at a kosher grocery store in Jersey City, New Jersey brought the anti-Semitic theology of the Black Hebrew Israelites movement to international prominence. In a story recently published by the Associated Press, journalist Michael Kunzelman quoted Oren Segal of the Anti-Defamation League. Segal explained the anti-Semitic theology of some members of the Black Hebrew Israelites movement in this way:
“Those followers view themselves as the true ‘chosen people’ and believe that blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans are the true descendants of the 12 Tribes of Israel. They view white people as agents of Satan.”
They also believe that “Jews are liars and false worshipers of God.They view blacks as the true Israelites and not the impostor Jews.”
In other words, in opposition to hundreds of Biblical verses that say otherwise, and the daily miracles with which God blesses the Jewish people in the Land of Israel, followers of the Black Hebrew Israelites movement believe that they have replaced the Jewish people in the Eyes of God.
The Black Hebrew Israelites claim that the Jews are not the true partners in God’s covenant with Abraham as described in Genesis.
I will maintain My covenant between Me and you, and your offspring to come, as an everlasting covenant throughout the ages, to be Hashem to you and to your offspring to come. Genesis 17:7
At its core, this particularly nasty form of replacement theology resulted in the murder of Jews in America.
Replacement Theology Among Ephraimites
A similar, though less violent, replacement theology claim is made by some people who identify as Ephraimites, Ephraimites are individuals who were raised as Christians and who believe they are the physical descendants of the residents of the Northern Kingdom, were exiled from Israel by the Assyrians in the 8th century BCE.
Although not all who identify as Ephraimites believe they have replaced the Jewish people, there is a faction that believes that they are “the true physical Israel” and that “Ephraim is the heir of promises for all Israel.”
Ignoring the traditional Jewish understanding of the verse, these Ephraimites use I Chronicles 5:1 to bolster their case that the descendants of Joseph (including Ephraim and, by extension, themselves) are the true heirs of the promises God made to the Jewish people throughout the Hebrew Scriptures.
The sons of Reuven the first-born of Yisrael. (He was the first-born; but when he defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given to the sons of Yosef son of Yisrael, so he is not reckoned as first-born in the genealogy; 1 Chronicles 5:1
Mainstream Christians have their own reasons to question the more dangerous claims of the Ephraimites. Malcolm Hedding, former Executive Director of the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem (ICEJ) wrote about this in an article called “The Ephraimite Fable: A Speculative and Divisive Theology.”
Hedding asserted that some Ephraimites teach that most Christians are actually Ephraimites when he wrote, “These Ten Tribes are deemed to be lost but now rediscovered in the Church!”
He also calls them to task for an alternate form of replacement theology. In his words, they claim that, “Ephraim was lost without recovery and has been replaced by them! In other words, they exist ‘instead of’ the original tribe.”
Tribulations Are Preparation for Redemption
Seen through a spiritual lens, the proliferation of anti-Semitic forms of replacement theology can be understood as an additional sign that redemption is near.
In his book The Ishmaelite Exile, which is all about Biblical prophecy and the End of Days, Rabbi Yechiel Weitzman quotes the influential 19th century rabbi known as the Chofetz Chaim.
“Before the coming of Moshiach (Messiah)… the troubles and persecutions [of the Jewish people] will follow each other so closely that there will be no space between them. Just as for an expectant woman who is about to give birth, the closer she comes to the moment of birth, the more intense her contractions and her pain, and this is her most reliable indication that the birth is nearing, so too, the wheels of the era will turn faster at the time of the birth pangs of Moshiach.”
CAUTION: Not All Ephraimites Are The Same
It’s crucial to understand that there are groups of Ephraimites who do not subscribe to the doctrine of replacement theology and who work in cooperation with the Jewish people toward the restoration of the greater House of Israel.
Pete Rambo, co-founder of the Ephraimite organization Ani Yosef, told Breaking Israel News, “Our job, as brothers, is to ‘draw near’, not to eliminate or replace each other.
Bring them close to each other, so that they become one stick, joined together in your hand. Ezekiel 37:17
“Ani Yosef believes we can best facilitate this by loving and valuing Judah (the Jewish people), serving the people and the Land, while patiently waiting for Hashem (God) to work out the details.”
Speaking personally, Rambo added, “I stand against anyone who claims to replace or do away with Judah or Ephraim. We must learn to accept and walk at peace with each other, seeking ways to help and benefit the other for the purpose of paving the way for Messiah!”
Al McCarn and John Conrad are Ephraimites from B’Ney Yosef North America (BYNA). McCarn told Breaking Israel News, “BYNA’s position regarding the Jewish people is that they are the only clearly identifiable remnant of the ancient covenant nation of Israel. We understand them to be the physical descendants of the southern kingdom of Judah, and heirs to the eternal promises God spoke to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
More pointedly, John Conrad elaborated, “BYNA’s position is that we are called to come alongside the Jews and be a blessing. We do believe our prophetic destiny is linked with those of the Northern Kingdom that scripture calls variously, ‘lost,’ ‘banished,’ ‘not loved,’ and ‘not my people.’
Then He said, “Name him Lo-ammi; for you are not My people, and I will not be your [Hashem].” Hosea 1:9
“Isaiah prophesies that Ephraim’s jealousy will end. Obviously that hasn’t been totally fulfilled yet.” Conrad concluded by saying, “We apologize for the bad behavior of our family. We have 2000 years of bad behavior to overcome.”