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(House of Study)

Israel and Judah: One Kingdom or Two?

The question concerning whether or not there are two houses of Israel has caused much confusion. On the surface, it may not seem to be a matter of great importance. However, we find in Isaiah 49:5-6 that one of the purposes of forming the Messiah from the womb was to restore the tribes of Jacob. Without understanding the two houses of Israel, we would be teaching an incomplete gospel message. Much in the Messianic Scriptures is misunderstood and incorrectly taught, because the two houses of Israel are overlooked and considered a small thing. However, you will discover that understanding this subject is extremely important, especially when studying the writings of Paul.

Let’s now begin our journey through the Scriptures that will teach us about the two houses of Israel: the house of Judah (the southern kingdom) and the house of Israel (the northern kingdom).

In Isaiah 49:5-6,“And now, says YHVH who formed Me from the womb, His servant, to bring Jacob back to Him: Though Israel is not gathered, yet I am honored in the eye of YHVH, and Elohay (My El) is My strength. And He said, ‘It is little that You should be My servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You for a light of the nations, that (You may be) My salvation to the end of the earth.’ ”

And, in Isaiah 8:14, the Word says, “He shall become a sanctuary and a stone of stumbling and a rock of falling to both houses of Israel . . .” Since Isaiah was a prophet to Israel from 740-680 BCE and the northern kingdom was still in the Land until 722 BCE, Isaiah knew firsthand about the two houses of Israel.

What sequence of events did YHVH use to establish, in advance, the two houses?

Firstly, because Reuben defiled his father’s bed (with his father’s concubine), he lost his birthright: “ . . . The sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel (for he was the firstborn; but since he defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph, the son of Israel; and the genealogy is not to be counted according to the birthright; for Judah prevailed among his brothers, and from him was the chief ruler, but the birthright was Joseph’s . . .).” 1 Chronicles 5:1-2.

We see in Genesis 48:15 that “ . . .he (Jacob) blessed Joseph” by adopting his two sons as his own, equal to Reuben and Simeon, his first and second-born sons. Ref. Genesis 48:5.

We need to keep in mind the blessing Jacob said over both Ephraim and Manasseh “. . . May they like the fishes increase into a multitude in the midst of the earth.” Genesis 48:16b. When fish spawn, their eggs are in the millions!

But the blessing over Ephraim is even greater: “. . .His seed shall become a multitude of nations.” Genesis 48:19b. This phrase, a multitude of nations, in Hebrew is MELO GOYIM, meaning the fullness of the gentiles.” This is the Scripture Paul was referencing when he said, “. . . Hardening in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the nations (gentiles) comes in; and so all Israel will be saved . . .” Ref. Romans 11:25-26.

Advancing in time to the reign of King Solomon: It was because of his sin that YHVH divided the nation of Israel into two kingdoms. “And King Solomon loved many foreign women . . . And it happened, at the time that Solomon was old, his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not perfect with YHVH Elohah (his El), like the heart of his father David.” 1 Kings 11:1a, 4.

“Therefore YHVH said to Solomon, ‘Because you have done this, and have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to your servant. Nevertheless, I will not do it in your days, for the sake of your father David, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son. However I will not tear away the whole kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son for the sake of my servant David, and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen.” 1 Kings 11:11-13.

In 1 Kings 11:26-39, YHVH promised Jeroboam ten tribes, which became the northern kingdom (also called Ephraim), YHVH left only one tribe in the hands of David’s seed, Rehoboam, the son of Solomon. As stated above, this division came about because of Solomon’s disobedience, but in verse 39 YHVH says, “And for this I will humble the seed of David; but not forever.”

Rehoboam spoke harsh words to the people of Ephraim (northern kingdom), and did not listen to them, for the turn of events was from YHVH, in order to lift up His Word that YHVH spoke by the hand of Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat. Ref. 1 Kings 12:15.

In spite of the promises made to him by YHVH, Jeroboam “did his own thing” instead of trusting in YHVH. Besides all his other sins, “Jeroboam instituted a feast on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, like the feast that was in Judah, and offered sacrifices on the altar. So he did at Bethel, sacrificing to the calves that he had made. And at Bethel he installed the priests of the high places which he had made. So he made offerings on the altar which he had made at Bethel on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, in the month which he had devised in his own heart. And he instituted a feast for the children of Israel, and offered sacrifices on the altar and burned incense.” 1 Kings 12:32-33.

We cannot change what YHVH has commanded. The appointed time for the Feast of Sukkot is the fifteenth day of the seventh month, not the eighth month.

And what did YHVH say to Jeroboam, who did things his own way? “Go tell Jeroboam,‘Thus says YHVH, Elohay of Israel:'Because I exalted you from among the people, and made you ruler over My people Israel, and tore the kingdom away from the house of David, and gave it to you; and yet you have not been as My servant David who kept My commandments and who followed Me with all his heart, to do only what was right in My eyes; but you have done more evil than all who were before you. For YHVH will strike Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water. He will uproot Israel from this good land which He gave to their fathers, and will scatter them beyond the River, because they have made their Asherim, provoking YHVH to anger. And He will give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, who sinned and who made Israel sin.' ”1 Kings 14:7-9a, 15-16.

We have two choices: We can do things the way YHVH instructed us to do them; or we can do things the way we choose to do them. We have been given free will, so the path we follow will always be the one of our own choosing, whether in obedience or disobedience.

Praise, YHVH! This is not the end of the story, for YHVH has promised that the two houses will become one nation again in the end of days, never to be divided again!

The entire Book of Hosea is an excellent place to start, where YHVH instructed Hosea to marry Gomer, a harlot, symbolizing the harlotry -- the spiritual adultery -- of the house of Israel. Gomer bore three children: a son, Jezreel, which means, “Elohim will sow.” This prophesied about the scattering of the house of Israel throughout all the other nations of the world. Her second child was a daughter, Lo-Ruhamah, which means, ‘No Mercy,” for YHVH said He would no longer have mercy on the house of Israel. The third child, another son, named Lo-Ammi, “Not My people,” for YHVH said they were not His people and He would not be Elohahem (their El) because of their disobedience. Yet, by His great mercy, YHVH speaks of the future restoration of the house of Israel when He would say to them, “. . . And I will betroth you to Me forever. Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in mercy, and in compassion. I will even betroth you to Me in faithfulness. And you shall know YHVH. And it shall be in that day, I will answer, says, YHVH. I will answer the heavens, and they shall answer the earth, and the earth shall hear the grain, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel (El will sow). And I will sow her to Me in the earth. And I will have mercy on No Mercy. And I will say to Not My People, You are My people! And they shall say, Elohay (my El)!” Hosea 2:19-23. “. . . And it shall be, in the place where it is said to them, You are not My people, it shall be said to them, Sons of the Ale-ha (Living El).” Hosea 1:10b.

And in 1 Peter 2:10, which was written to the believing Israelites in the Diaspora, Peter identifies them as those “who once were not a people but are now the sons of the Ale-ha (Living El), who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” And Paul said, in Romans 9:26, “As He says also in Hosea: ‘I will call them My people, who were not My people, and her beloved, who was not beloved. And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, You are not My people, there they shall be called sons of the Ale-ha (Living El).”

Note: Peter 2:10 and Romans 9:26 are quoting Hosea 1:10b.

When our eyes have been opened wide, it is easy to see that Matthew 15:24 is speaking about the scattered tribes of the northern kingdom of Israel: “But answering, He (the Messiah) said, I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” That is why Paul, a rabbi of rabbis, was sent to the gentiles. In order to reach the lost sheep of the house of Israel, salvation became available to all. In his words, “I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them (the house of Israel) to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles.” Romans 11:11.

Further, Luke 15:11-32, the parable of the prodigal son, tells of the house of Israel being lost and returning home once again. The wasteful son represents Ephraim (the house of Israel), and the son who stayed home represents Judah (the house of Judah).

We have seen much about the disobedience of the two houses, which caused their scattering and dispersion, but Ezekiel 36 and 37 give a very vivid picture of the return of both houses in the end of days.

The first fourteen verses in Chapter 37, about the dry bones, describe the house of Israel being raised up out of their graves (the nations), and YHVH giving them life again. Especially interesting is the word dry in verses 2. 4 and 11. The first two simply mean exactly what they say, dry; but verse 11 is a different word -- one of its meanings is ashamed! Today, we see the house of Israel awakening and becoming ashamed of living like the sinful nations! They are beginning to return to YHVH in repentance and faithfulness, just as He said they would in the end of days. They were lost to everyone else, but not to YHVH, for He said, “I will shake the house of Israel among all the nations, as one shakes with a sieve, yet not a grain shall fall to the ground.” Amos 9:9. The whereabouts of a single descendant of His people is never lost to Him -- He keeps track of each and every one of them!

What a beautiful plan! He knows who possesses DNA from any of the sons of Jacob, but we don’t; so whether or not we are part of the returning ones, or one who has chosen to join with them -- only YHVH knows. That way there is never the feeling that anyone is any less than anyone else: YHVH has no second-class citizens! Either way, they are all part of the house of Israel, beloved of YHVH!

Still in the future, the last fourteen verses describe how the house of Judah and the house of Israel are going to be joined together, never to become two nations again -- ever! Ref. Ezekiel 37:22. “And the Word of YHVH was to me, saying, ‘And you, son of man, take one stick to yourself and write on it, “For Judah, and for his companions, the sons of Israel.” And take another stick and write on it, “For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and all the house of Israel, his companions.” And draw them one to one for yourself into one stick. And they shall become for one in your hand.’ ” Ezekiel 37:15-17.

“And He shall lift up a banner for the nations, and shall gather the outcasts of Israel, and gather those dispersed from Judah, from the four wings of the earth. And the envy of Ephraim shall turn off; and Judah’s foes shall be cut off. Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not trouble Ephraim.” Isaiah 11:12-13.

And in that day, “. . .My Servant David, shall be King over them. And there shall be one Shepherd to all of them. And they shall walk in My judgments and keep My statutes, and do them.” Ezekiel 37:24.

YHVH has never had different laws for different people, but He has always had only one Law (one Torah -- one set of instructions) for all. One of the places where He tells us this is in Leviticus 24:22, “You shall have the same law for the stranger and one from your own country; for I am YHVH Elohekka (your El).” The Torah of YHVH, His instructions for having life, were given to His people so that the rest of the world might see Him in them and choose to partake of the adoption, the glory, the covenants and the promises, so everyone would have the opportunity to become a member of the commonwealth of Israel.

YHVH renewed His covenant with the house of Judah and the house of Israel (Jeremiah 31:31) when He gave them His Anointed, Y’hoshua, the Torah made flesh, the One who fulfilled the prophecies written about Himself in the Torah, the Prophets and the Psalms. This is not the Messiah taught by Christianity, the one who did away with the Torah, but the One who said,“. . . Blessed are those hearing the Word of YHVH, and keeping it.” Luke 11:28.

“And beginning from Moses, and from all the prophets, He explained to them the things about Himself in all the Scriptures.” Luke 24:27. And, “. . .He said to them, ‘These are the Words which I spoke to you yet being with you, that all the things must be fulfilled having been written in the Law (the Torah) of Moses, and the Prophets, and the Psalms, concerning Me.’ Then He opened up their mind to understand the Scriptures.”Luke 24:44-45. He will do the same for you.

Whether you are from the house of Judah, the house of Israel, or a gentile, it is there -- in the five Books of Moses, and all the Prophets, and the Psalms, that you will meet the Messiah Y’hoshua, the One whose name means, YAH is Deliverer; and it is there that you will learn to know the only true Elohim and His Anointed -- which is everlasting life. Ref. John 17:3.

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Psalm 122:6,7
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May they prosper who love you.
May peace be within your walls, and prosperity within your palaces.