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All Eyes on Israel
Chapter 2 - Is Modern Israel the Israel of Promise?
Page 9 - How Pure was the Jewish "Race?"
(Go Back to Page 8 - God's Rejection of Israel)

How Pure was the Jewish "Race?" Another factor in understanding the identity of the true Israel is the question of race. If the promises were to apply only to ethnically pure Israelites - 100% genetic descendents of Jacob - then any mixing with non-genetic Israelites would be a problem. Some believe that the 144,000 of Revelation chapters 7 and 14 must be genetically-pure Israelites. We will see the unlikelihood of that in the following.

Even before going in to Egypt, there is the question of who the 12 sons of Jacob married. There was only one sister (Dinah) in that family and there is nothing to suggest that she married any of her brothers. Judah through whom the Messiah eventually came had a son Perez from Tamar a Canaanite woman.

So even as the tribe of Israel went into Egypt, the line through which the Messiah would eventually come was only half Israelite.

When the Israelites left Egypt their number included a mixed multitude:

"And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children. And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle." (Exo 12:37-38)

The area of Israel was conquered twice by foreign invaders who killed or took prisoner much of the population. The people were taken from the country and replaced with others from their captor nations. First, the northern kingdom of Israel was ended by the Assyrian invasion in 722 B.C.

"Then the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years. In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes." (2 Kings 17:5-6)

Their grievous sins are listed and finally, because of their rejection of the Lord, He had to reject them (really, He was honouring their rejection of Him):

"Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only. ... For he rent Israel from the house of David; and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king: and Jeroboam drave Israel from following the LORD, and made them sin a great sin. ... Until the LORD removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day. ... And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof." (2 Kings 17:18-24)

Secondly, a century and a half later, Nebuchadnezzar invaded the southern kingdom of Judah and took many people, including Daniel and his three friends, into captivity.

"And he carried away all Jerusalem, and all the princes, and all the mighty men of valour, even ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths: none remained, save the poorest sort of the people of the land." (2 Kings 24:14)
"And all the men of might, even seven thousand, and craftsmen and smiths a thousand, all that were strong and apt for war, even them the king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon." (2 Kings 24:16)
"Now the rest of the people that were left in the city, and the fugitives that fell away to the king of Babylon, with the remnant of the multitude, did Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, carry away. But the captain of the guard left of the poor of the land to be vinedressers and husbandmen." (2 Kings 25:11-12)

Inter-marriage with the Canaanites, against God's directions, further mixed the ethnicity of the people living in Israel. The Jewish race was becoming more "contaminated."

"And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, answered and said unto Ezra, We have trespassed against our God, and have taken strange wives of the people of the land: yet now there is hope in Israel concerning this thing." (Ezra 10:2)
"Shall we then hearken unto you to do all this great evil, to transgress against our God in marrying strange wives?" (Neh 13:27)

Even Solomon the king took strange wives:

"And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods." (1 Kings 11:8)

The ancestral line from Jacob (Israel) to Jesus included at least two foreigners who were not direct descendents of Abraham:

  1. Rahab, the Canaanite harlot from Jericho who became the mother of Boaz.
  2. Ruth, the Moabite who married Boaz (half Israelite) who bore Obed (who was one-quarter Israelite) who was the grandfather of King David, an ancestor of Jesus.

It is significant that Ruth, the Moabitess, was not considered a strange wife - she had become an Israelite by choice:

"And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:" (Ruth 1:16)

This illustrates that being an Israelite was not a matter of race, but of religion. We will see much more evidence, later in this study, that being a true Israelite is more related to free choice than to birth or membership in the Jewish race.

It's apparent that there was no genetically-pure Israelite or Jewish race even hundreds of years before Jesus was born. As time went by, it became even more mixed so that by today there may be no such thing as an ethnically-pure Israelite or member of the Jewish race.

 


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