In Genesis 49, besides Judah, one other tribe is given prominence over his brothers—Joseph. Because the prophecies about Judah point to the Western democracies, then the last part of Genesis 49:26 becomes a major clue: “because you are the leader of your brothers” (Contemporary English Version).
This prophecy is about Joseph, but applies to both his sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. Jacob says in Genesis 48:5: “And now your two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine.”
In his commentary, John Gill comments on this verse:
. . . they shall be mine; that is, by adoption; should be reckoned not as his grandchildren, but as his children, even as his two eldest sons, Reuben and Simeon; and so should be distinct tribes or heads of them, as his sons would be, and have a distinct part and portion in the land of Canaan; and thus the birthright was transferred from Reuben, because of his incest, to Joseph, who in his posterity had a double portion assigned him.
So, if the Western democracies are the fertile ground to search for the tribes of Israel, have there been two brother nations that have consistently led other nations over the last century or so? If such a pair exists, would they lead at the same time or would one follow the other? The Bible has the answer.
In the blessings that Jacob pronounced on Manasseh and Ephraim recorded in Genesis 48, the last part of verse 20 reads, “And thus he set Ephraim before Manasseh.” Here, God establishes the order, the younger, Ephraim, first and then the elder, Manasseh. In verse 19, Jacob says of Ephraim, “His descendants shall become a multitude of nations.”
Remember, these prophecies are about the last days—now. According to God, at this time, descendants of Ephraim should exist who have become a multitude of nations. If we see one such nation, and no other, based on the inerrancy of the Bible, we know that we are looking at Ephraim. Of Ephraim's older brother Manasseh, Jacob says in the same verse, “He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great.”
Therefore, if two brother nations exist today, leading the Western democracies, first one becoming a multitude of nations and later the other brother nation becoming a single great nation, according to God through Jacob, that profile fits Ephraim and Manasseh, respectively.
The Nation of Israel—Biblical Israel? (Part Two)
Jacob devotes quite a few words to Joseph, "who was separate from his brothers." He will become "a fruitful bough by a well; his branches run over the wall." Although he would be "bitterly grieved" in war, his strength would be made strong "by the hands of the Mighty God of Jacob." Joseph would be blessed "up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills."
Searching for Israel (Part Two): Blessings in Faith
Probably the easiest peoples to identify are those descended from the tribe of Joseph, that is, the peoples of Ephraim and Manasseh. The reason is their wealth. Remember, God chose Ephraim and Manasseh to be the recipients of the birthright blessing, as recorded in Genesis 48. As the "birthright" tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh eventually received the great physical blessings God mentions through Jacob in Genesis 49:22-26 and through Moses in Deuteronomy 33:13-17.
Ephraim, basically the Angles and Saxons, roamed around in Northern Europe, eventually invading England in AD 449. In the course of time, some Ephraimites migrated to Canada, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and other nations of the now-defunct British Empire. Ephraim grew to become that "company of nations" God promised would descend from Jacob (Genesis 35:11); more particularly, the British peoples became that "multitude of nations" Jacob prophesied would descend from Ephraim (Genesis 48:19). The peoples of the British Empire (and, later, the Commonwealth) are the "ten thousands of Ephraim" who Moses, speaking of Ephraim and Manasseh together, said would "push the peoples to the ends of the earth" (Deuteronomy 33:17).
Britain grew slowly, protected by her geography and by the hand of God, who, more than once miraculously saved her from destruction. Her power grew slowly, as if by fits and starts. All that changed, however, in the early 1800s, when the 2,520-year punishment had reached its term. God was now prepared to bestow the birthright blessings on Ephraim. After defeating the French dictator Napoleon at Waterloo in AD 1815, Britain virtually redrew the boundaries of Europe. Never before had a European nation wielded such unquestioned control over the Continent as a whole—and got away with it for so long.
Moses prophesied that Joseph would "push the peoples to the ends of the earth" (Deuteronomy 33:17). Push is exactly what England did, for the birthright blessings included far more than domination over Europe. They included economic (and in some cases, political and military) dominance over much of the world. Answering the call of the "white man's burden," the British, through its maritime supremacy, created a worldwide Empire an order of magnitude larger than that of Rome. Her folk pushed to India, Africa, North (and, to a lesser degree, South) America, China, Australia, New Zealand, and various islands around the globe.
Britain's Empire came to include a number of African nations, some South American ones, many Caribbean islands, as well as many of the islands of Oceania—and, of course, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and India! Moreover, Britain maintained a heavy economic influence over China for years. It was a fact—the sun never set on the British Empire.
As time went by, Britain assumed control of a large number of "gates" located in or near her enemies' territories, this in fulfillment of Genesis 22:17 and 24:60. These strategic positions placed her, geopolitically, on the "top of the world," ensuring her of military and commercial hegemony. Here is a partial list of these valuable gates:
» The Suez Canal
» The Straits of Hormuz (below Iran)
» The Straits of Gibraltar
» The Straits of Malacca and the Singapore Strait (off the Malay Peninsula)
» The Falkland Islands (off Argentina)
» The Cape of Good Hope (at the southern tip of Africa)
» The Kabul Pass (a land gate in Afghanistan)
» The island nation of Malta (in the Mediterranean Sea)
Finally, Britain is ruled by a descendant of the Davidic monarchy. The throne of David, according to the prophet Jeremiah, would rule over the "house of Israel" (Jeremiah 33:17), not over some Gentile peoples. David's throne—overthrown (Ezekiel 21:27) from Jerusalem to Ireland and later to Scotland—now resides in England. Since God states that "the scepter shall not depart from Judah" (Genesis 49:10), sitting on that throne is a monarch who is of the lineage of David. That monarch rules over Israelites, not Gentiles.
Searching for Israel (Part Ten): Clues and Answers
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Genesis 49:26:
2 Samuel 7:11-16