One of the more bizarre belief sets of the Messianics is the completely lunatic Two House doctrine. The Two House doctrine was invented supposedly by Batya Wooten, and quickly championed by a number of Messianics. The whole doctrinal stand arose so quickly that within a few years, almost every major Messianic organization all had to issue papers detailing their doctrinal stands on the Two House belief set.
The Two House theory has undergone a number of monikers since its inception – Two Stick, Messianic Israel, Two House, Ephraim-Judah, and I suppose even Gilbert-Sullivan. Well, maybe not the last one.
What does the doctrine teach?
The doctrine claims that the “Ten lost tribes” of Israel disappeared in the first captivity into Babylon, and that they in the few short years between the First Captivity and the Second, totally Assimilated (you’ll discover eventually Messianic Judaism’s obsession with the word assimilated) into the Babylonian peoples, never to be seen again.
The doctrine then goes through all kinds of mental gymnastics and gyrations, stretching every verse out of context that contains the word “Ephraim” or “Israel”. Batya Wooten (a gentile) makes the gross error at this point of concluding that the name Israel (for the northern Kingdom) and the tribe of Ephraim are synonymous.
She also makes the mistake of assuming that Ephraim is now Gentile, and searches for every use of the Hebrew word “Goy” in her Strongs until she’s taken all of the verses out of context. Now in her mind, the words Israel, Gentile and Ephraim all are synonymous. Which is really confusing as Israel also happens to mean “The Jewish People” – who are NOT gentiles!
Reading through her books incidentally is like wading through a punctuation factory – she is addicted to the exclamation point!!!! Most of her sentences, when she’s got a point she wants you to swallow without thinking about it too much, all end in FOUR EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!! IF NOT MORE!!!!! And a overly free, liberal policy of SENTENCES IN ALL CAPS!!!!!!
Just in case I myself haven’t used a lot of exclamation points this morning.
Literally, Wooten makes a point in one of her books (I haven’t noticed anyone else comment on this point, so I’m wondering if she removed it from later editions) was her dragging “The elder shall serve the Younger” verse out of context, in that Manasseh suddenly becomes Judah – and now in her theology the Jews must serve the Gentiles, who are now the new Israel, while the plain old Jews are just the Jews. but Israel are the believing Jews, because they are Gentiles, and thus are more Jewish than Jews, because they’re Israel, and thus physically Jews and spiritually Jews, while Jews are just the Jews, but being believing Jews doesn’t get them any brownie points, because “All it takes is one lying grandmother”.
I no longer have the books, so I can’t quote editions and page numbers, but reading through the Two Stick book will reveal that quote. Yes, she really casts doubts about the legitimacy of Jews being Jews, because “All it takes is one lying grandmother.”
If that’s the case, then… all it takes to invalidate the claims of the “Ephraimites” is… one lying grandmother!
You REALLY can’t have it both ways.
If all this sounds familiar, you’re right. It’s British Israelitism, first concocted by the Mormons, was picked up on by the Seventh Day Adventists, and (if you’ve ever read my pages on the Word Faith movement) spread far and wide by one Frank Sandford of Shiloh, Maine, where it spread to Charles Parham, to Azuza Street, where it slid down to the Assemblies of God, existing today only in the vague Replacement Theology of the “Kingdom Now!” dominionism. The same teachings of the Seventh Day Adventists who came up with this British Israelites theory was discovered by Herbert W.Armstrong. Incidentally, it was the first doctrine examined by Joseph Tkach after Armstrong died, and led ultimately to the Worldwide Church of Tomorrow!!! becoming… well, Christians.
The slant placed by Wooten on the whole confusing, deranged theology is this – Ephraim is now Gentile, and not only can one not prove they are Ephraim, but nobody can prove they are not!!!!!!! And if that’s the case, all the prophecies about faith, or belief, or New Covenant/Renewed Covenant, then apply to Ephraim, who are the Gentiles, and thus are the real Israel based upon faith. Literal, physical descendants of Israel by blood – because they are showing the evidence of it by having faith in Jesus Christ.
Well, I suppose it makes a lot more sense than saying “Well, London has a Fish market gate, and so did Jerusalem, so Britain is Israel and America is Judah…”
If the whole belief system sounds like incoherent lunacy… good job! You’ve been paying atttention!
It’s always this way when you’ve got some oddball theology – strip it into its basic belief system, and see if it sounds like rantings and ravings. If it sounds like the ramblings of a wide eyed saliva flecked mouth of a homeless doomsday preacher, its’ usually nonsense.
Too bad it has MILLIONS of adherents! Both the MJMI and Jew for Jesus all have issued papers refuting this nonsense.
The only twist is (and Wooten even admits it sounds like British Israelitism) Wooten ties it to faith and belief. The Gentile, upon being saved, now becomes Messianic Israel. The Jew remains the Jew, but will serve the younger (Ephraim) in some undisclosed way in the Eternal State.
Quick Question: how is this not Replacement Theology? Replacement Theology, for those of you who’ve never heard of it, is that as of the rejection of Jesus by the Jews as their Messiah, the Church now is Israel, and inherits all the blessings of Israel. It holds such adherents as John Piper and R. C. Sproul.
Batya Wooten defends it by saying, well, Ephraim doesn’t replace Judah – after all, Ephraim still needs slaves in the Coming Kingdom, and the Jews will do nicely – Ephraim is physically Israel, while those old dirty Jews are just, well, Jews.
The entire Two House belief system is simply British Israelitism mixed with Replacement Theology and Anti-Semitism. And the most amazing thing is, many, many Messianics adhere to it – mostly Gentiles who rejoice, “Yes! i’m now part of Israel physically, due to my faith in Jesus Christ! I’m better than those old Jews!”
To be completely honest – I think the anti-Semitic elements of Wooten’s theory somehow escape most Two House believers. I think most of them never connected the dots and realized Wooten was claiming that if the elder had to serve the younger, and if Judah is the elder and Ephraim is the younger…
And I think most of the adherents never seemed to notice that her books champion Ephraim in glowing terms, but dismiss Judah (the Jews) in an offhand, almost contemptuous fashion.
Except me. The books were recommended to me when they first came out, and a good friend let me borrow both of them because I simply didn’t have the money to purchase them.
I returned them to her in a month and told her what they said. She looked it up, realized with some discomfort I was right, but loved the basic doctrine too much to give it up.
Okay, lets’ look at it from the Bible (hey, remember that thing you’re supposed to be reading???)
5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. 6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. 7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? 8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? 9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, 10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. 12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Acts 2:5-12 (KJV)
Interestingly, the Bible only refers to Judeans and Israelites during the divided kingdom period. While in captivity, and afterwards up to the present day and including the Tribulation, they are all called Jews. You know, the very thing that Wooten preaches against.
17 Then said Jeremiah unto Zedekiah, Thus saith the LORD, the God of hosts, the God of Israel; If thou wilt assuredly go forth unto the king of Babylon’s princes, then thy soul shall live, and this city shall not be burned with fire; and thou shalt live, and thine house: 18 But if thou wilt not go forth to the king of Babylon’s princes, then shall this city be given into the hand of the Chaldeans, and they shall burn it with fire, and thou shalt not escape out of their hand. 19 And Zedekiah the king said unto Jeremiah, I am afraid of the Jews that are fallen to the Chaldeans, lest they deliver me into their hand, and they mock me. 20 But Jeremiah said, They shall not deliver thee. Obey, I beseech thee, the voice of the LORD, which I speak unto thee: so it shall be well unto thee, and thy soul shall live. Jeremiah 38:17-20 (KJV)
“The Jews that have fallen to the Chaldeans…” that’s the Northern tribes. You know, Ephraim. At this time, have they become Gentiles? Nope, still Jewish.
Well, what about the supposed disappearance of the Ten Tribes?
36 And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; 37 And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. Luke 2:36-37 (KJV)
Uh… that’s not Judah or Levi. Thats Asher. That’s the Northeastern most territory of the Northern Kingdom. Anna should have disappeared, according to Wooten’s “ten lost tribe” theories. And yet, the bible depicts her as being in Jerusalem in the days of the Lord Jesus Christ.
so… maybe the ten lost tribes weren’t lost after all!
1 I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. Romans 11:1 (KJV)
Paul here is claiming to be both of the tribe of Benjamin, one of the “Ten lost tribes”, and also a…Jew. AND an Israelite.
So, if Paul is claiming to be A). one of the ten “lost” tribes, B). Jewish and C). of the nation and people of Israel…. then there’s HUGE flaws with Wooten’s theory!
Much of her theory is based upon the presupposition that the ten tribes are “lost”.
OK, let’s start examing her claims in detail. Wooten makes much of every use of the word “goy” or “goyim” as meaning “Gentiles” – which when lifted out of its context would seem to be logical. However, it’s not the case Biblically.
17 And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him: and he held up his father’s hand, to remove it from Ephraim’s head unto Manasseh’s head. 18 And Joseph said unto his father, Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head. 19 And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations. 20 And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh: and he set Ephraim before Manasseh. 21 And Israel said unto Joseph, Behold, I die: but God shall be with you, and bring you again unto the land of your fathers. 22 Moreover I have given to thee one portion above thy brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow. Genesis 48:17-22 (KJV)
The problem is, the Wootens show themselves incapable of understanding hyperbolic language. Ephraim was to become a multitude, a great peoples, vast in number.
The problem is, the verse uses the phrase “nation”. The Hebrew word for Nation is “goyim”. yes, it means Gentile, but it also means nations. When referring to the nations of people at large, yes, Goyim means “Gentiles”, as we would be differentiating between Israel (the Jews) and all the other nations (gentiles).
When speaking of peoples WITHIN Israel, “Goyim” can be synonymous with tribes, or it can refer to vasts numbers of peoples.
5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: 6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. Exodus 19:5-6 (KJV)
v’goy qadosh… And a Holy nation. The word “goy” is attributed to Israel as a NATION. a large people group. Does this mean that the Jews became Gentiles in Exodus 19? Biblically, this can’t be, as we see them referred to as Jews in Jesus’s day.
23 And what one nation in the earth is like thy people, even like Israel, whom God went to redeem for a people to himself, and to make him a name, and to do for you great things and terrible, for thy land, before thy people, which thou redeemedst to thee from Egypt, from the nations and their gods? 2 Samuel 7:23 (KJV)
26 I said, I would scatter them into corners, I would make the remembrance of them to cease from among men: 27 Were it not that I feared the wrath of the enemy, lest their adversaries should behave themselves strangely, and lest they should say, Our hand is high, and the LORD hath not done all this. 28 For they are a nation void of counsel, neither is there any understanding in them. 29 O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end! Deuteronomy 32:26-29 (KJV)
12 Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. 13 And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day. Joshua 10:12-13 (KJV)
All three of these verses refer to Israel as “Goy”. And yet, we see Israel referred to as “Jews” over and over again. So the obvious understanding would be, either the Jewish people became Gentiles prior to the giving of the 10 commandments (which cannot be, as the Bible uses the words “Jew” and “Israel” interchangeably)… or it must mean “nation” or “people”, depending on context.
2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. 3 The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. 4 Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. Isaiah 1:2-4 (KJV)
Who is this talking about? The Jewish people, the nation of Israel. What’s the word used for nation? Goy.
So, I think I’ve made my point that the starting two assumptions of Wooten are flawed to the core.
If the ten tribes are not missing, her entire theory goes right in the trash can.
If the word “Goy” or “Goyim” does not always mean “gentile”, then her entire theory is busted from the start – as she plays very fast and very loose with many prooftexts she has found, to make a contention that “Goy” always means Gentiles”, and the presence of that word so many times in conjunction with Israel and with Ephraim must mean that the Jews would become Gentiles, and thus any Gentile who gets born again both prophetically and physically must be a Jew!!!! But… better than Jews, because the Jews aren’t as important as Ephraim!
There’s a reason that it is called the “Ephraim-Judah” theory, and not the other way around. Wooten makes a great deal of emphasis that most readers miss about how important the Gentiles are, and how they supplant the Jews as Israel. I find myself wondering why I was the only person who caught the “elder must serve the younger” phrase she used!
We’ll examine more on this tomorrow!