Jeremiah 52:7-11 describes the end of Judah's elite at the fall of Jerusalem:
Then the city wall was broken through, and all the men of war fled and went out of the city at night by way of the gate between the two walls, which was by the king's garden, even though the Chaldeans were near the city all around. And they went by way of the plain. But the army of the Chaldeans pursued the king, and they overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho. All his army was scattered from him. So they took the king and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah in the land of Hamath, and he pronounced judgment on him. Then the king of Babylon killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes. And he killed all the princes of Judah in Riblah. He also put out the eyes of Zedekiah; and the king of Babylon bound him in bronze fetters, took him to Babylon, and put him in prison till the day of his death. (See also II Kings 25:4-7.)
Note that the sons of King Zedekiah were killed in front of his eyes, all the princes of Judah were killed, and Zedekiah was imprisoned until the day of his death.
Did the deaths of King Zedekiah, his sons, and Judah's princes mean that God's promises had failed? Had the scepter now departed from Judah (Genesis 49:10)? Had God reneged on His unconditional promise to David, that his house and throne would be established forever (II Samuel 7:16)? Had the house of David come to the point that it lacked "a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel" (Jeremiah 33:17)?
To each of these questions, the answer is a resounding, No! Centuries in advance, God had taken steps to ensure that this royal line would continue. In doing so, He provided more search criteria for identifying the whereabouts of Israel today.
The story begins some 850 years before Zedekiah's time, in the days of Jacob's son, Judah. Genesis 38 relates the sordid affair between Judah and his daughter-in-law Tamar. She was the widow of Er, Judah's firstborn son. The illicit liaison produced twin sons—but with an interesting twist:
Now it came to pass, at the time for giving birth, that behold, twins were in her womb. And so it was, when she was giving birth, that the one put out his hand; and the midwife took a scarlet thread and bound it on his hand, saying, "This one came out first." Then it happened, as he drew back his hand, that his brother came out unexpectedly; and she said, "How did you break through? This breach be upon you!" Therefore his name was called Perez. Afterward his brother came out who had the scarlet thread on his hand. And his name was called Zerah. (Genesis 38:27-30)
Of course, the purpose of the thread was to mark the firstborn son—the one who would receive the birthright. The breach—the potential for estrangement between the brothers—lay in the unexpected reversal of birth order: The baby boy ready to be born, Zerah, as marked by the scarlet thread, became the second born. His older brother was named Perez. David and his dynasty were descendants of Perez, which means that Christ also came through this line (Matthew 1:3-5, 16; Luke 3:23-33).
Whatever happened to Zerah and his descendants?
Cheated of their birthright, many of the descendants of Zerah separated from the children of Israel sometime after the Exodus. Some of the children of Zerah went north to Greece. Others went to Troy, near the Dardanelles (which, by the way, bears the name of Zerah's fifth son, Dara or Darda). After Troy's fall to the Achaeans (Greeks), a group of Zerahites under the leadership of Brutus migrated to Britain via Malta. In England, they founded "New Troy," which the Romans much later renamed Londinium, now London.
Other Zerahites settled down in Ireland, after residing for a time in Spain, where they founded the city of Saragossa (Zaragoza in Spanish—literally, the Stronghold of Zerah). By the time of David, a princely clan of Zerahites was established as Ireland's royal family, ruling a part of the tribe of Dan, the Tuatha Dé Danann (that is, tribe of Dan) of Irish legend, which had also settled there. Therefore, because of the Zerahite monarchy, the scepter did not depart from Judah (Genesis 49:10) with the dethroning of Zedekiah and the death of his sons.
However, this fact in itself does not address the question of David's monarchy, which God said was to be everlasting—Zerah's monarchy was not David's monarchy of the line of Perez. While related, they remained separate monarchies, God having established David's much later than Zerah's. Hence, we cannot claim that God fulfilled His promise of a perpetual throne to David through the Zerahite monarchy.
To resolve this issue, God connected the two monarchies. To see how, we must return to the time of Jerusalem's fall. While none of his sons survived the destruction of Jerusalem, Zedekiah was survived by at least two daughters (Jeremiah 41:10). One of these daughters had recently married an Irish prince of the line of Judah through Zerah. In fact, the marriage took place during (or shortly before) the siege of Jerusalem. Thus, Zedekiah's daughter, who was a descendant of Perez, married a man descended from Zerah. Both had Judah as a common ancestor, and thus the lines of Perez and Zerah were joined. The royal line of Zedekiah thus continued through the union with the royal line of Perez, and the breach was restored.
We will see how this was possible next time.
- Charles Whitaker
The Purpose of Israel
by Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Richard Ritenbaugh recounts the stormy historical events of ancient Israel, cyclically falling into captivity only to need rescuing again. Was ancient Israel a "failed run" at God ruling a people or did their experience serve a more transcendental purpose? Serving as a model, mediatory nation (a bridge between mankind and God), ancient Israel, continually admonished to be separate and pure, gave us the sterling examples of Abraham, Moses, Joseph, David, and ultimately, Jesus Christ. God chose ancient Israel 1) to be separate, 2) to demonstrate His love to them, 3) to keep His promises to Abraham, and 4) to make a covenant with them. Without the heart softener of God's Holy Spirit (the key ingredient of the New Covenant), no nation (no matter how racially pure) could ever keep the Old Covenant. In the resurrection, ancient Israel, having served as a negative example, will finally understand the missing connections.
What Is a False Prophet?
by David C. Grabbe
The Bible warns us that a great False Prophet will soon arise to sway mankind into idolatry. In addition, numerous passages speak of other false prophets and false teachers in the church and in the world. David Grabbe, in exposing the differences between false prophets and true ones, explains what we need to look out for as the end nears.
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