Who Are the Israelites?

Who are the Israelites?  Are you an Israelite?  Was Abraham an Israelite?  Israel comes from the Hebrew word Yisrael (#3478) which refers to the “symbolic name of Jacob and his posterity”.  In Genesis 32:28 Jacob’s name is changed by God to Israel (from the root words Sara = a Prince or Princess and El = God), “for as a Prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.”  This is the first time we see the word ‘Israel’ in the Scriptures.

So who can the Israelites be?  The Israelites are Jacob and all of his posterity, that make up the 12 Tribes of Israel by descent.  Sometimes, like in I Kings 12:21, Israel refers to just the 10 Northern Tribes that were given to Jeroboam’s rule.

So who were not Israelites?  Isaac, Jacob’s father, was not an Israelite – nor was his other son Esau or his posterity {who are the Edomites}.  Abraham was not an Israelite, nor were any that came before him.  Israel began with Jacob.

It is the Israelites that are God’s Covenant People, or Race {as much as that is politically incorrect, it doesn’t make the truth without effect!}.

Now in relating this to my last post, “Who Are the Hebrews?“, all Israelites are Hebrew, but not all Hebrews are Israelites!  Eber, the first Hebrew, is not an Israelite, nor are the Hebrews Abraham, Ishmael and his posterity, or Isaac and his posterity through Esau.  Only Jacob and his posterity are Israelites {as well as Hebrews}.

How Did the 12 Tribes of Israel Get Split Up and Scattered?

The House of Israel was split into two Kingdoms as prophesied by the Prophet Ahijah {I Kings 11:29-40}.  Why?

Solomon, David’s son with Bathsheba, decided to take unto him “strange” women, meaning Canaanites, who turned his heart to other gods {I Kings 11:1-13}.  As punishment, God told Solomon that he would take the Kingdom away from him, sans one Tribe {two, really ~ Judah and Benjamin}, to honor his father, David.

Solomon made his servant Jeroboam bis successor, and soon after, Ahijah the Prophet, told Jeroboam that he would rend the Kingdom out of the hand of Solomon and give ten tribes to him {Jeroboam}.  In honor of King David {who was still considered to be a man that kept God’s statutes and commandments}, Solomon would be left with one {really two} tribe ~ Judah {+ Benjamin}.  Solomon got wind of this and tried to kill Jeroboam because of it, so he {Jeroboam} fled to Egypt to preserve his life.

After a 40-year reign in Jerusalem, Solomon finally died, and appointed his son Rehoboam to reign in his stead.  After which Jeroboam came back to Jerusalem and plead with Rehoboam to lighten the yoke Solomon, his father, had place upon him and the people.

Rehoboam decided to make their yoke even heavier {for this was the Lord’s will so that the prophecy of Ahijah could be fulfilled}.  At this time, the ten Northern Tribes rebelled against Rehoboam, who they considered unrighteous saying, “What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse; to your tents, O Israel; now see to thine own house, David.”  So Israel departed unto their tents, leaving Rehoboam to reign only over those that dwelt in the cities of Judah.

Israel {the ten Northern Tribes} made Jeroboam their King.  Jeroboam ends up freaking out that the people would one day recognize their folly in rebelling, and go back to Rehoboam, so he made two calves of gold for them to worship and created false priesthoods and counterfeit feasts, thus leading the people astray.

This provokes the Lord to anger to smite Israel {the ten tribes, in this context} “as a reed is shaken in the water, and he shall root up Israel out of this good land, which he gave to their fathers, and shall scatter them beyond the river, because they have made their groves {idol worship}, provoking the Lord to anger.  And he shall give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, who did sin, and who made Israel to sin.” {I Kings 14:15, 16}

It’s a tale as old as time.  God exalted Jeroboam and made him a prince over Israel, giving him the kingdom after rending it from David.  Jeroboam doesn’t have his heart right to do right in the sight of God, exercising evil, creating false priesthoods, and making other gods.  Jeroboam was destroyed and died in his sins.  It’s just as rampant in our day.

Noteworthy is the fact that God preserved the House of Judah to Rehoboam {on David’s behalf} and Christ comes through that lineage.  Rehoboam remained faithful until the end, until finally sleeping with his fathers.

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