by Charles Whitaker (1944-2021)
For centuries, the two tribes of Joseph dwelt together, the folk of Manasseh living with those of Ephraim in the British Isles. In the early 1600s of this era, God took action to separate Manasseh from Ephraim. It was people of Manasseh who moved from England to "the coastlands" (Isaiah 41:1) of Jamestown in AD 1607. Fleeing religious persecution, others followed, founding Plymouth thirteen years later. More and more came to "the coastlands" of the New World. The colonies they founded, eventually thirteen in all, grew into independence from England by the end of the 1700s. These early Manassite settlers and their descendants became the "great" (Genesis 48:19) peoples of the early United States of America. Over a period of time, the United States grew to become the single "nation" God promised in Genesis 35:11 that would descend from Jacob.
Through Moses, God prophesied that Joseph would "push the peoples to the end of the earth" (Deuteronomy 33:17). Last month, we saw how Ephraim (Britain) pushed. In her own way, so did America. Rallying to the cry of "manifest destiny," the Americans did what Israelites have been doing for centuries: They moved west. Her peoples pushed the French back,1 the Spaniards out,2 and the Russians3 and the Dutch4 away. They pushed the Ephraimites, who did not want to lose control of this rich land, back to their island confines and north into Canada; and they pushed the native Indians onto reservations. They pushed west, past the Appalachians, across the Mississippi River, over the Rockies, beyond the Pacific, all the way to the Hawaiian Islands and Alaska, then the Philippine Islands, then the Japanese Islands. Like her brother Ephraim, America developed a thalassocracy, her vast naval power enforcing her economic interests as far as the Arabian Desert. America now has a greater military presence in Arabia than Solomon ever did!
To the early American settlers, the land seemed a never-ending, multicolored tapestry. A green land, with ridge after ridge of hills blanketed by thick primeval forests5 wherein dwelt fur-bearing animals of every ilk—otter, mink, sable, and beaver. A black land, much of it covered with a rich humus suitable for farming and cattle-grazing. A blue land, filled everywhere with lakes and rivers and streams teeming with all manner of fish.6 A golden land, capable of supporting miles and miles of wheat, barley, oats, and other grains.7 A glimmering land, abounding with gold, silver, copper, iron, coal, and oil. What a big, magnificent land it was!
Using the various resources that God provided them, the folk of Manasseh put mind and muscle to work and built the American phenomenon, a rich, powerful nation, greater in scope—if not in wealth—than even Solomon's Kingdom. And that by almost any measure.
For example, consider steel manufacturing, which became the measure of American industrial strength by the late 1800s. Just before the turn of the last century, one American company, Carnegie Steel, by "itself produced more steel than Britain, France, and Germany combined."8
Alternatively, consider a modern European's assessment of Manasseh's wealth. The late French politician Jean Jacques Servan-Schreiber puts the stature of the United States in clear perspective:
American industry produces twice the goods and services of all European industry combined—including both Britain and the Common Market—and two and a half times more than the Soviet Union, which has a greater population than the United States. It produces a third of the total production of all countries in the world. The Americans have achieved this with only 7 percent of the surface of the globe and 6 percent of its population. . . .
All by themselves, the Americans consume a third of the total world production of energy, and have one third of all the world's highways. Half the passenger miles flown every year are by American airlines. Two trucks of every five on the road are American-made and American-based. Americans own three out of every five automobiles in the world.
Advanced technology and management skills have raised per capita production in the United States to a level 40 percent above that of Sweden (next highest), 60 percent above Germany, 70 percent above France and 80 percent above Britain. . . . The combined profits of the ten biggest firms in France, Britain and Germany (30 in all) are $2 billion. The profits of General Motors alone are $2.25 billion. To equal the profits of General Motors, you would have to add the ten leading Japanese firms to the European total. These firms employ 3.5 million people, while General Motors employs 730,000—or about a fifth.9
Servan-Schreiber uses 1965 figures, a bit dated now. American power is now measured less in steel manufacturing and more in her predominant role in the Information Age. That is part of the marvel of Manasseh; the birthright blessings are multifaceted. The vast diversity of America's wealth resonates with the words of Moses in Deuteronomy 33:13-16. Joseph was blessed
with the precious things of heaven, with the dew, and the deep lying beneath, with the precious fruits of the sun, with the precious produce of the months, with the best things of the ancient mountains, with the precious things of the everlasting hills, with the precious things of the earth and its fullness. . . .
The present-day magnitude of America's power frequently invites comparison with the Roman Empire. One writer, however, puts that comparison in its proper perspective.
That comparison actually understates the current level of U.S. advantage. For the Roman world coexisted with the great civilizations of China and India, which were hardly touched by it, and the rival empire of Parthia (roughly the contemporary area centered on Iran and Iraq), which was never subdued. The U.S. sphere of cultural influence has no predecessor in its global reach.10
Why did God choose to bestow the birthright blessing to Joseph? Deuteronomy 33:16 provides the key to the answer. Moses writes, "Let the blessing come on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him who was separate from his brothers."
God honored Joseph because he "was separate from his brothers." He was separate in that he alone remained faithful to his God. Conspicuous by their absence are the names of Joseph's brothers from the Faith Chapter. Hebrews 11 does not mention Reuben, Judah, Dan, Gad, or any other of Jacob's sons. Verse 22 emphasizes Joseph's faithfulness: "By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones."11
Allaying his brothers' fears of retribution and revenge, Joseph explained his understanding that God had placed him in power in Egypt "to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance" (Genesis 45:7). To his dying day, he never broke faith with his brothers: As recorded in Genesis 50:20-21, he reassures them of their well-being after their father's death:
But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.
Nor did he ever break faith with his God. Dying, he reminded his brothers that God would bring their posterity out of Egypt, restoring them "to the land of which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob" (Genesis 50:24).
The two sons of Joseph received the birthright blessings because their father was separate, ethically and morally, from his perfidious, scheming brothers. His brothers exhibited few scruples concerning killing Joseph, forswearing murder only when they saw the opportunity to profit from selling him into slavery. Compounding their despicable and abject turpitude, they darkened their father's days by sustaining the ruse of Joseph's death for more than a decade.12
What a paradox! Ephraim and Manasseh have used the wealth and influence God gave them because of Joseph's faithfulness to push on Gentile nations a way of life totally contrary to God's way. Rather than separating from the ways of this world, as their father Joseph did, modern-day Ephraim and Manasseh push globalism, another term for the Babylonian system of "get," on the whole world. Sifted among the nations, Joseph subverts those around him rather than serving as an example of godliness to the Gentiles.
Next month, we will conclude this series by addressing the question, "Why do modern-day Israelites not know who they are?"
1 The French, once strong contenders for control of the continent, are now largely isolated to limited areas of Canada. There they still raise the jingoistic cry of separatism. The American President Thomas Jefferson bought out the French interests further south, in mid-continent, through the Louisiana Purchase of AD 1803.
2 America pushed the Spanish out, not just from Texas, but even further westward—"to the ends of the earth"—from Manila!
3 The Russians held certain trading posts along the Pacific "coastland" as far south as central California (Fort Ross). These settlements were largely in support of Russia's fur-trading activities.
4 The Dutch colonized Manhattan in AD 1624, buying it from the natives there two years later and naming it New Amsterdam. The town administered a larger Dutch area called New Netherland. In 1664, Charles II of England issued a land grant to his brother, the Duke of York (later King James II). The grant included New Netherland. A fleet of English warships seized New Amsterdam that year; the settlement was renamed New York. The town was retaken by the Dutch in 1673, but a year later they ceded it back to the obviously ascendant England.
5 By one estimate, less than 5% of that original forest remains standing, yet America is more heavily forested now than then.
6 One group of explorers took a route somewhat to the north of the one blazed by Lewis and Clark. These explorers actually crossed the continent by canoe, having to carry their conveyance only about 25 miles during the entire trip. Indeed, America was well-watered.
7 California gained the appellation "the Golden State" because of its wheat fields overspreading the San Joaquin and Sacramento Valleys, not because of its fabulous gold resources. It was California's wheat that fed the Union armies fighting the Civil War, and its cotton that clothed them!
8 Madrick, Jeffrey, The End of Affluence: The Causes and Consequences of America's Economic Dilemma, Random House, NY, p,. 48.
9 The American Challenge, Scribner, 1968.
10 Bell, Coral, "American Ascendancy and the Pretence of Concert," The National Interest, Fall 1999, p. 55.
11 See Genesis 50:22-26 for the story.
12 See Genesis 34 for a fine example of cunning deception, ruthless murder, and rapacious greed on the part of Simeon and Levi in the affair of their sister Dinah with Shechem, a Hivite prince living in Canaan at that time.
Inset: The Ephraim-Manasseh Nexus
For purposes of inheritance, Jacob (Israel) adopted Joseph's sons, claiming them as his own. Genesis 48:5 records how he tells Joseph, "Your two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh . . . are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine." In verse 16, Jacob asserts, "Let my name be named upon them. . . ." Jacob, in effect, subdivided the tribe of Joseph into two parts: In verse 22, he tells Joseph, "I have given to you one portion above your brothers. . . ." Joseph received two portions, his own and another "above" his brothers.
Joshua 14:4 states the consequence of this arrangement: "The children of Joseph were two tribes: Manasseh and Ephraim." When it came time to divide Canaan among the tribes, Joshua understood that the tribe of Joseph was to receive a double inheritance: one for Manasseh, another for Ephraim.
For all that, as often as not, we say the names Ephraim and Manasseh in one breath. The Scriptures regularly treat Ephraim and Manasseh—whether as two brothers or as two tribes—as if they were connected at the hip, that is, in a two-in-one arrangement. So it is today: England and America are separate nations that enjoy a lot in common. They share a common language, similar traditions, laws, and culture, as well as political and economic institutions. For decades, Britain has been "America's truest and most important ally" (Conrad Black, "Britain's Atlantic Option," The National Interest, Spring 1999, p. 15.) The two nations act in concert more often than not. Together, they collaborate as the leaders of Western civilization.
Consider for a minute the global economic impact of Ephraim and Manasseh together. Much of this planet's transportation and education systems, food-processing techniques, medical technology, and drugs—legitimate and illegitimate—have been pushed on the world by American and British business interests. London and New York remain key financial centers to this day. America and Britain have developed our modern instruments of war, which they sell to whomever they will. America and Britain push their own form of government and economics (various interpretations of democracy and capitalism) on as many nations as will have them, even forcing them on some peoples. Finally, the world receives most of its information (e.g., news and documentaries) and entertainment (e.g., rock music, movies, and television) from American and British sources. The primary telecommunication companies—the BBC, NBC, CNN, CBS, ABC, and FOX—are all owned and operated by Ephraimite and Manassite interests.
In short, the modern-day tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim generally recognize common national interests. The two have traditionally acted separately, yet in concert, to push their culture and their lifestyle on "the peoples to the ends of the earth."
While this world's scholars fail to recognize the British and American peoples to be descendants of Israel's adopted sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, they do recognize the deeply-rooted nexus between the British and American nations. One writer, decrying the artificial nature of the European Union as an agglomeration of nations that really have little (or nothing) in common, suggests that the most successful course of action for America and Britain is to forge ever-deepening relationships. "If we seek something better" than the "obsolete and premature" European Union, he asserts,
it seems sensible to turn to a grouping [of nations] that would be natural rather than artificial, going with the cultural grain rather than cutting across it. It hardly needs saying that what comes to mind is some form of unity between countries of the same legal and political—and linguistic and cultural—traditions; which is to say an Association of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand . . . . For within the West, it is above all the English-speaking community that has over the centuries pioneered and then maintained the middle way between anarchy and despotism. (Robert Conquest, "Toward an English-Speaking Union," The National Interest, Fall 1999, p. 64.)
Simon Jenkins, writing in the op-ed section of the Times of London, November 19, 2003, recognizes this connection between America and Britain, at the same time stressing the differences between England and continental Europe. His comment is worth extended quotation:
The French economist, Michel Albert, was right when he drew the great capitalist divide not down the Atlantic but down the English Channel, between the "neo-Americans" and the "Rhine model." Though his divide was between the collectivist corporatism of Continental Europe and the individualism of Anglo-America, it was also cultural. Mr. Blair's ambition to be "the bridge between Europe and America" is absurd. He is an "American," leading a country which may not be a 51st state but which has always been part of a centuries-old confederacy. . . .
Britons still comprise the largest category of legal immigrants into America each year. There are 35,000 Americans living in London and 35,000 Britons living in New York. These two most dynamic world cities are Siamese twins. Their economies depend on the same industries of finance and leisure, rising and falling in unison and largely independent of their hinterlands. They are both global people-magnets. New York's greed is London's greed; London's art is New York's art.
I cannot turn on a radio station and not hear an American voice. Britain and America enjoy a shared cadre of novelists, playwrights, architects and musicians. . . . Today's most dynamic art form, cinema, depends on a single transatlantic talent pool, as does most popular entertainment. . . . Continental Europe, rich though it is, might be on another planet.
James Bennett has coined the word Anglosphere to denote what he sees as a "civilizational network" of English-speaking nations, led primarily by the United States and Britain. He reports that a survey by the pro-EU organ, the Economist, "showed that more Britons felt represented by the American flag than by the EU one, and far more of them identified with the United States than Europe as Britain's most likely source of help ("Networking Nation-States: The Coming Info-National Order," The National Interest, Winter 2003/04, p. 17.)
Bennett believes that this network of English-speaking nations is far from declining, but is, contrariwise, "emerging." If this be true, the phenomenon should have readily visible implications for students of prophecy. For, unrecognized by Bennett, the Anglosphere is made up of the Joseph nations: Britain, America, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand (with a few others). Historically, Joseph was betrayed by his jealous brothers; it was a family feud. It may be that the non-Joseph (and non-English speaking) Israelite nations of Europe, such as France (principally) and Belgium, will—repeating history—sell the English-speaking Israelite nations into slavery out of sheer jealousy. Many non-English speaking Israelite nations in continental Europe feel far closer to the EU than to their brothers Ephraim and Manasseh. Some, such as France and the Netherlands, are just plain hostile to America.
Watch for an increasingly acrimonious division between Israelite nations along the fault-line of language: English-speaking Israelite nations contra non-English-speaking ones. A divided Israel will not long stand!