manasseh tribe israel

Manasseh, the Double-portion Inheritor

by R. J. H. Allen
Author of Judah Sceptre and Joseph's Birthright, 1902
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The Case Stated

In our former works we have shown that as descendants of Joseph, son of Jacob, the people of these United States of America have for a portion of their inheritance a part in the oath-bound covenant made by Jehovah with Abraham. The lawful heir to the covenant promises and blessings which belonged distinctively to the inheritor of the family birthright must necessarily be a first-born. Joseph fulfilled this condition since he was the firstborn son of Jacob, and Rachel and because of the delinquency of Reuben (the first-born of Jacob, and Leah) inherited the family birthright. Just here it is important to state that the words first-born, birthright, first fruits, and firstling are translated from the same original Hebrew word and the firstling of the herd or flock (that which openeth the matrix among cattle, sheep, horses, etc.) belonged to the Lord as well as the first fruits of the harvest, of vineyard, and field.

By the law of primogeniture the first-born son was the lawful inheritor of certain properties, blessings, and indisputable rights, of which he could not be deprived except by sale, by the commission of crime, or by death. Esau sold his birthright; that is, he sold that which was his by right of birth as the firstborn or birthright son of Isaac and Rebeccah; Reuben the first-born of Jacob, and Leah forfeited his birthright by the commission of crime; but Joseph, the first-born of Jacob, and Rachel neither sold nor forfeited his birthright. Consequently it is written, "But the birthright was Joseph's"

In the King James version (I Chron. 5:2) the word was is in italics which shows it is interpolated by the translators for the omitted verb, but from the context, the historic facts, and also the prophecies concerning the birthright, we know that the interpolated word should be in the present tense and not in the past, as used in the authorized version. Substituting then is for was and comes for the interpolated word came we have the following: "He [Reuben] was the first-born of Israel; but, forasmuch as he defiled his father's bed [See Gen. 35:22], his birthright was given unto the sons of Joseph, the son of Israel: and the genealogy [of Reuben] is not to be reckoned after the birthright. For Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him comes the chief ruler [Margin, "or prince"]; but the birthright is Joseph's." Because Judah is the progenitor of the royal line, he must also be the racial father of the Messiah. It is therefore recorded in the New Testament: "Our Lord sprang out of Juda."

As we are now dealing especially with the birthright, we must call attention to the fact that we have both the statement that the birthright of Reuben was given to the sons of Joseph and that the birthright is Joseph's. While this fact is never again restated in these same words, the Scriptures, both in history and in the prophecies, when referring to the national and racial birthright facts pertaining to Israel, use either the name of Joseph alone, or the name of one or both of his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. For example, we find in Gen. 48:20 the following: "In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh," and again in Deut. 33:16, 17: "Let the blessing come upon the head of Joseph ... His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim and they are the thousands of Manasseh."

Reference is again made to Ephraim and Manasseh. seven hundred and twenty-five years after this last quoted prophecy was written, more than two hundred years after the division of the seed of Jacob-Israel into two kingdoms, and five years before the ten tribes were carried out of their land - Samaria - by Shalmaneser the King of Assyria into the head waters of the Euphrates. At this time, during the first year of the reign of Hezekiah, after he had destroyed the altars of idolatry in Judea, it is written that Hezekiah, sent letters to Judah "and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh. that they should come to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem {the capital of Judah} to keep the passover unto the Lord God of Israel" (II Chron. 30: 1). Judah here stands, as it ever does, as the representative name of the Jews, while the names of Ephraim and Manasseh, the joint holders of the national birthright of the Abrahamic race, stand for the ten tribes - the kingdom of Israel.

Concerning these two birthright sons, it is further written (Joshua 17:14, 17): "And the children of Joseph spake unto Joshua, saying, Why hast thou given me but one lot and one portion to inherit, seeing I am a great people, forasmuch as the Lord hath blessed me hitherto? And Joshua spake unto the house of Joseph even to Ephraim and to Manasseh, saying, Thou are a great people, and hast great power: thou shalt not have one lot only."

It is remarkable that the word "great" as herein used in relation to the two tribes of the birthright house, is never used in holy writ concerning any of the other tribes of Israel; that Ephraim is universally denominated "Great Britain," and that to-day Manasseh. the United States of America is now spoken of among the nations of the world as "A great people," and "A great nation."

The names Ephraim and Manasseh are used interchangeably with the name Israel, all Israel, the kingdom of Israel, etc., because they as the birthright holders are to develop into the multiplicity of seed which was promised to Abraham in the oath-bound covenant and when the division into two kingdoms took place the birthright house was one of these kingdoms and the royal line of Judah the other. Thus, the two houses are dealt with separately in the history and prophecies of the Old Testament Scriptures. So much for the use of the two names of the birthright sons of Joseph as the representatives of the ten tribes or the birthright nation.

The following passage illustrates the use of the name of one of the birthright sons of Joseph "I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my first-born [birthright]. Hear the word of the Lord, O ye nations [the nations of Israel], and declare it in the isles afar off [where the birthright house of Israel are] and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock. For the LORD hath redeemed Jacob" (Jer. 3:9-11). Notice in this quotation that the names Israel, Ephraim and Jacob are used as a synonym of the kingdom or house of Israel (of which Judah is in no sense a part). But the same writer in the same chapter continues: "I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself, thus: Thou [God] hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock, [insignia of the house of Joseph-Israel] unaccustomed to the yoke: turn thou me, and I shall be turned [back to God]; for thou art the Lord my God. Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh [like Jacob 's and as with him this was the symbol of human submission to the divine.]."

In some cases the name Joseph represents the ten tribes in contradistinction to Judah: for example, "I will strengthen the house of Judah and I will save the house of Joseph and I will bring them again to place them ... And they of Ephraim shall be like a mighty man" (Zech. 10:6, 7). Here we find that these names of the birthright family are used as representative names of the Israel of history and prophecy. It is the failure of Biblical teachers and students to note this fact which has caused both the Christian and the secular world to connect the name Israel exclusively with the Jews and to consider only the Jews as the Israel of history and prophecy, and to ignore Joseph, Ephraim, and Manasseh as having a separate and distinctive national and racial importance independent of the Jews - of Jewish Israel.

Elsewhere we have dealt more exhaustively with these two separate and separated peoples. Now it is our purpose to deal with Manasseh, not only joint heir in the national birthright with his brother, but also sole heir to the birthright which came to him as Joseph's first-born. As such he has inherited rights, blessings and promises, which in no sense is shared by his brother, Ephraim, who has been placed before him only in their joint inheritance of the national birthright of the Abrahamic covenant.

For the benefit of those who are not familiar with our other writings in which we have explained, although briefly, that Manasseh has a double inheritance, we will herein give Biblical proofs that as the firstborn he holds the birthright to those blessings, promises, and heritages which belonged to his father, Joseph. Before dying Jacob, the then indisputable holder of the national birthright transferred the Abrahamic racial birthright to the family of Joseph through his two sons, as recorded in Gen. 48:15-18: "And he blessed Joseph and said, God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name (Israel) be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth. And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim it displeased him [Margin: "was evil in his eyes"]: and he held up his father's hand, to remove it from Ephraim's head to Manasseh's head. And Joseph said unto his father, Not so my father: for this is the firstborn" We have previously dealt so fully with the national birthright, which was given to these two "lads" that we have used here only as much of the Scripture as was necessary to bring out the fact that Manasseh is not only a joint inheritor of the Abrahamic birthright but that he is also Joseph's firstborn, inheritor of the family birthright, and, like his father, he has a double-portion. One portion of this he inherited as his father's first-born and the other was divinely bestowed. His double-portion came to him as to his father, i.e., one part by the natural law of primogeniture and one part from the God of his fathers, the God of Israel. Both portions so far as Manasseh. is concerned, are indicated in the above quotation, first when he is made joint heir in the racial birthright with his brother Ephraim and secondly when he is spoken of as the first-born of Joseph.

Both the double-portion of Joseph and that of Manasseh. seem to have a double significance, an earthly and a heavenly or a carnal and a spiritual. For there are some things in the life of Joseph which were typical of those of our Lord. Joseph was the second first-born in the house of his father. Christ Jesus the second Adam is the "first born among many brethren" (Rom. 8:29), but both he and Joseph were the first-born of their mother. Christ is the "firstborn of every creature" (Col. 1: 15), Joseph is the firstborn, the birthright holder of God's chosen race. Joseph was persecuted by his brethren, so was the Lord Jesus. Joseph was sold by his brethren, so was our Lord. Joseph's brethren were brought into deep sorrow because of their treatment of him, the brethren of Jesus must yet mourn in great bitterness for him whom they pierced. Joseph saved his people from famine, - from physical death. Our Lord's name was called Jesus "for he shall save his people from their sins" (Matt. 1:2 1) - from death. Joseph gave his brethren gifts of corn and provision and gold. Jesus gives his brethren the bread of life and gold tried in the fire. Finally there came a time when the brethren of Joseph were terrified at the revelation of himself to them, but it ended in peace and joy, and there will come a time when the Redeemer of Judah will be revealed to them, and they too will be terrified, but all will end with peace and joy.

Again, Joseph ascended to the rulership of Egypt at the time when he was the greatest man in all Egypt except the king on his throne. At this time he was ruler over all his brethren - his nation. This rulership we read, was previously foretold in his God-given, stellar dream, in which typically, his father, mother and brethren were made to bow down to him. Christ also the rejected shall yet rule over the world, of which Egypt was a type. At this time the individual house of Joseph shall be as its progenitor was, next to the throne, with the one on the throne alone superior in authority to that of the exalted house of Joseph.

Furthermore, while so far as the national birthright of Israel is concerned, Ephraim was set before Manasseh, that is, at the transfer of the national birthright the first was made last and the last was made first, yet when it was declared that the seed of Ephraim should be greater than the seed of Manasseh, there is not the slightest hint that the greatness thereof should be along any other line or in any other possible sense, than in the one thing involved, i.e., great in number - in multiplicity - the ten thousands of Ephraim being compared with the thousands of Manasseh. Although Manasseh was an equal heir with Ephraim in the national birthright there is not the slightest intimation that that in any sense lessened or invalidated the glory, exaltation or blessedness of the individual birthright held by Manasseh as his father's inheritor, nor that that honour should in any sense be shared by his brother Ephraim. Ephraim's honours were purely national, those of Manasseh were both national and ancestral. Ephraim's portion was single, Manasseh's double, one by inheritance and the other divinely bestowed.

There is in the divine economy a law of reversal in which the first became last and the last first. Ishmael was Abraham's first son, Isaac was his last, but by this law of reversal Ishmael the first became last and Isaac the last became first. Esau the first-born of twins sold his birthright and became the last, while Jacob the last-born of these first-borns became the first. Reuben also was the first-born of Jacob and Leah, of whom Jacob said, "Thou art my might, the beginning of my strength, the excellency of my dignity and power." But Reuben the first first-born went down and Joseph the last first-born of Jacob (but the first-born of his first love), was placed first and made the inheritor of the national and racial birthright. Also in Joseph's case there is a double reversal, for his mother Rachel was the first love of Jacob, but as a wife came last, and for whom he served the first seven years, but whom he did not get until he had served another seven years. This double reversal may be the foundation or basic law for Joseph's double-portion.

There is also a parallel or witnessing truth to this first becoming last and its consequent law of reversal, in the statement: "First that which is natural and afterward that which is spiritual." Ishmael was wholly natural, - of the flesh only - and was the result of an attempt in the flesh on the part of Sarah and Abraham to bring about that which God had promised to accomplish supernaturally, but Isaac was the child of promise - the spiritual. Esau was wholly natural, earthly, carnal, but Jacob who at first was also all that Esau was, became Israel, i.e., the one who as a prince had prevailed with God - the spiritual. Reuben also, corrupted himself, dishonoured his father's bed, and lost the opportunity to reach his possible best. Joseph the reverse of all this, resisted all temptation to be corrupted, loved and forgave his enemies and persecutors, was faithful even in prison, and said to his repenting brethren "Ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good." Reuben the first was natural, Joseph who afterward succeeded him was spiritual.

All of these were but the foreshadowing of the two, double-portions of the house of Joseph. The first double-portion was the giving of the national and racial birthright to "the two sons of Joseph" instead of to but one. The second double-portion was the inheritance of both the national and family birthrights by the first-born of the family of Joseph-Manasseh.

Now, the very fact that Manasseh was the first-born of Joseph was made last in the national birthright is a prophecy that in the full fruition of his family birthright he shall yet be placed in his rightful place as first - not first in regard to the greatest number of posterity, of the multiplicity of seed, or of becoming the company of nations - no, that is forever settled upon Ephraim. According to the last census Great Britain had over four hundred million subjects in her company of nations, while the population of the United States of America had only one hundred and five million. In regard to number it must ever be the ten thousands of Ephraim and the thousands of Manasseh. But that in which Manasseh is due to become first is in the one thing which made his father first - his spirituality. Because of that he was first in power, influence, ideals, and God-blessedness in the land of Egypt, and for that reason it is written: "And the Lord prospered everything that Joseph did."

Manasseh is now coming into his own as the rightful first-born of his family as the one exalted, righteous, representative nation of his godly father who in the national birthright was made last that, according to the law of divine reversal, he might be made first. Hence the descendants of Joseph through his first-born son, who inherited the birthright shall be recognized ethically as leading the world, before whom his national brethren shall bow down, as their progenitors did before his father when he sat on the throne of Egypt.

Again, Manasseh was placed last in his tribal relations to the race that by the very law of reversal he might eventually be recognized as the one, single, individual first-born tribe; and, as such, take his place as first in moral influence and power among his brother nations. Hence the thirteenth tribe as the last becomes the first, as a world-wide power in the propagation of lofty ideals, of questions of right and wrong, of justice and righteousness, as the spokesman for God, to whom the world gives heed, as also it did to Joseph in Egypt.

"But," questions one, "how is it that Manasseh having been made the last can now rise to the first place, since it is true that neither Ishmael, Esau, nor Reuben did or could rise again to the first after having once been made last?" Our reply to this query is, that in each of these cases there was only one portion - only one birthright, while in the case of Manasseh there was the double-portion - the double birthright, and since his birthright was unforfeited and unsold he was the unimpeachable heir of his father's house, and though he was placed last in the national birthright, it is his due, his inalienable right; now to rise to the fulness of the birthright which is his as his father's first-born, which cannot be affected by the interest in the national birthright shared by his younger brother. Thus there is a reversal to the first order in the case of Manasseh which was not possible in the previous cases. Here is where the double-portion counts, the first not only becoming last but that same last becomes first. And since the inheritance which came first to this double birthright holder was purely natural, we may expect him in fulness of the later inheritance to find in connection with those natural things, by that other law of reversal, the better things, the greater things, the things that are purely spiritual.

Orange Street Congregational Church