Joseph/Ephraim and His Return to the Land
Introduction by Batya Wootten
Articles by both Ephraim and Rimona Frank
Almost thirty years ago I tried to explain the idea of “both the houses of Israel” (Isa 8:14) to my friend and author, David Bivin (“Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus”). Later, Angus and I were planning a trip to Israel and wanted to visit with David while there. At the time he said he had some friends that he wanted us to meet, because he thought they were “trying to explain the same thing to him.” After meeting with David in Jerusalem, he took us to meet Ephraim and Rimona Frank – and the four of us absolutely could not stop talking. It was so awesome to be with Believers who understood about Ephraim and Judah and their coming reunion. It was refreshing, inspiring, encouraging to hear their insights into the idea of “the seed” (Ephraim has a background in botany) and Rimona’s insights into Hebrew, both as a Sabra (a native Israeli) and as an Editor of Hebrew.
To be honest, I felt that between the two couples, Angus and I had drawn the “shorter straw” in divine assignments: They were clearly called to minister in the Land, and Angus and I felt that Ephraim was to be “instructed in the west,” so we were not to think in terms of our return, but in terms of blooming where we were planted. We were to focus on helping Ephraim to come to know the truth about himself. Several verses led me to feel that way. For example, Jeremiah 31:19, Hosea 11:10, and Zechariah 9:13-16.
In Jeremiah Ephraim says, “After I turned back, I repented; and after I was instructed [or, “after I came to know myself”], I smote on my thigh; I was ashamed and also humiliated because I bore the reproach of my youth.” In Hosea, YHVH says of Ephraim, “They will walk after the LORD, He will roar like a lion; Indeed He will roar and His sons will come trembling from the west.” In Zechariah He says of Ephraim and Judah: “I will bend Judah as My bow, I will fill the bow with Ephraim. And I will stir up your sons, O Zion, against your sons, O Greece; And I will make you like a warrior’s sword. Then the LORD will appear over them, and His arrow will go forth like lightning; and the Lord GOD will blow the trumpet, and will march in the storm winds of the south. The LORD of hosts will defend them. And they will devour and trample on the sling stones; and they will drink and be boisterous as with wine; and they will be filled like a sacrificial basin, drenched like the corners of the altar. And the LORD their God will save them in that day as the flock of His people; for they are as the stones of a crown, sparkling in His land.”
I took these and many other verses to mean that, while in the West, while still in his Dispersion from the East (Hosea 13:15), Ephraim needed to first understand the truth about his own inheritance as part of the people of Israel; he needed to be brought to true repentance, then be rejoined with his brother, Judah, and ultimately return to the Land in the power of the Holy Spirit (Isa 60; Micah 3).
I realize that this scenario is but a sketchy overview and I do not suggest certain timelines about when these events might occur. I am far more interested in what I think is the heart of the matter, which has much to do with the heart attitude of Ephraim. For, these things will only happen when our hearts are right before the Father. If we want to see Israel’s Kingdom reunited and restored, each one of us must sincerely pray David’s prayer: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right and steadfast spirit within me” (Psa 51:10). To ask about about dates and timelines for this reunion is to ask the wrong question. The more important question is, when Messiah Yeshua returns, will He find us walking in, actually exhibiting, the faith that He once delivered unto us? (Luke 18:8; Jude 1:3). That is what we first need to be concerned with. Everything else will take care of itself.
With that said, of late I have begun to feel that it is time for us to put more emphasis on the requirements for our return to the Land. Angus and I feel that we have essentially taught what we needed to teach about both houses of Israel, and that our books are in print and available for the myriads yet to come to an understanding of the whole house of Israel.
Having seen the truth about Israel’s restoration, many have begun to set their sights on being reunited with Judah, and possibly even returning to the Land. To know how to walk in that way, in my opinion, there is no finer book of instruction than the life story of my friends, Ephraim and Rimona. It is an incredible book that reads like a novel, even like an inspiring love story, written by a man: Ephraim Frank. The title is, Return to the Land – An Ephraimite’s Journey Home.
Presently, Ephraim and Rimona are making plans to host a B’ney Yosef National Congress in Israel. We feel in our spirits that the event will mark a momentous occasion. An Invitation from them is reproduced below. As is a recent post by them, plus a touching review of my new book by Ephraim.
To present that Invitation, I first want to set the stage as I see it. Again, I said that I think the event will mark a “momentous occasion.” Let me qualify that statement with the fact that momentous occasions are not always recognized in the moment. Sometimes we realize their importance after the fact. Another thing about them is that our God is often “multi-tasking” while performing His wonders. Let me explain.
Many years ago, I wanted to better understand what happened during Martin Luther’s Reformation, so I looked up the subject in our Encyclopedia Britannica – which is not necessarily a “religious” book. While reading about it, I felt the Lord showing me that He used many people with their different reasons, His wonders to perform. What I mean is, I mistakenly thought the reformation primarily had to do with Luther’s efforts, when in fact, most people involved seem to have been angry over the power of the Pope. In different ways they were all working toward a similar goal. That is what I think will be happening with the Congress now being called by the Franks: many of us will be serving different purposes, and Abba will hopefully be able to use all of us to work toward His goal – which is the final restoration of the Kingdom of Israel.
Our Father has been at work on this project from the beginning of time using various ministries with particular purposes. We believe that we need to see this Invitation as an important part of a tapestry of Restoration that He is personally weaving together. In other words, not everyone involved is going to see things exactly as we might see them, not all of us will be doing the same thing, or have the same vision and purpose, but the greater goal is greater than our individual visions, greater than the individual parts that any one of us can play.
At this time, I think the point is to have Ephraim present on the scene in this hour of Israel’s restoration. But, that cannot and will not happen if Ephraim is in any way rude or insensitive to the role the Father has given to brother Judah. YHVH is not asleep at the switch. He is wide awake and knows very well that He has placed Judah in control of His Promised Land at this time. We who wish to be allowed to return must see it much like Yeshua’s parable about a dinner party:
“He began speaking a parable to the invited guests when He noticed how they had been picking out the places of honor at the table, saying to them, ‘When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, “Give your place to this man,” and then in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last place. But when you are invited, go and recline at the last place, so that when the one who has invited you comes, he may say to you, “Friend, move up higher”; then you will have honor in the sight of all who are at the table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.'”
Messiah Yeshua then gave advice that Judah would do well to heed at this time: “He also went on to say to the one who had invited Him, ‘When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment. But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous'”(Luke 14:7-14). Judah would do well to invite in the Ephraimites who truly wish to serve the greater cause of Israel’s restoration.
May it be so. May it be that we are allowed to take part in that which the God of Israel wants to do in this hour.
After presenting the Invitation, we will offer a further explanatory posting from the Franks, followed by their tribute/review of my latest book.
This is a long, but important collection of Newsletter articles and I pray that you will read and be encouraged by every word.
Blessings in Messiah,
B’ney Yosef National Congress Letter
Dear Friend and Colleague, Shalom,
“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord and that He may send Messiah Yeshua, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which Elohim has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:19-21 emphasis added).
Over the past 150 years the world has seen an ongoing and accelerated fulfillment of those “things, which Elohim has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets.” It seems that most of the prophecies and promises preceding the formation of Elohim’s Kingdom in the House of Jacob have already come to pass. Yet this Kingdom cannot be established without the re-gathering of all Israel, which started with His people (Jews) and nation of Judah, and is now continuing with His people and nation of Ephraim (generic term for the lost tribes of Israel), and the coming heart transformation and eventual union of both under Messiah King Son of David. This expectancy is at the forefront of our vision, and is the inspiration for the call to gather in Samaria, for a National Congress immediately following Shavuot of 2015.
For some weeks now in the weekly letters reference has been made to this event, and some of you have already expressed your interest. Before articulating the objectives and details, it must be stated that this is not about creating another organization. Instead, we are hoping to examine possibilities of the prophetic Word ‘transitioning’ into action on various levels in our day and in days to come.
There are already many organizations and ministries devoted to this restoration. Having such a Congress in Israel will also afford an opportunity for meeting one another, for discussions, sharing ideas, and pooling resources.
Although present circumstances are vastly different from 1897, when the first Jewish Zionist Congress convened in Basel Switzerland, the ingathering of the Jewish nation and the accomplishments by our brothers and sisters of Judah are a source of inspiration for us. Even though many of them may have not recognized or acknowledged the involvement of the Elohim of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in their path toward nationhood, we can see His Hand at work in their journey, and we can learn much from their example.
The founders of the Zionist Movement lived in a world of rapidly changing global events and circumstances. Today we, the scattered non-Jewish Israelite people, witness changes that are occurring even more rapidly and with greater upheaval. We must consider how to prepare and be ready when the opportunity arises for the return to the land of our forefathers. This is something our Jewish brethren took into consideration and acted upon when the Diaspora was their only home. However, having never lost their identity, some sense of national unity bound the Jews together even while being scattered around the globe. That is not the case for us from the House of Joseph whose identity has only recently been coming to the fore. We have a lot of catching up to do, especially in the area of defining this national identity, not only theoretically, but in practical terms. We must proactively embrace our Israelite national identity so that we may be propelled further, both in the near term and in years to come.
With this in mind, the takeoff point of the Congress will be a broad and widely acceptable definition of the Nationhood. This definition will be the cornerstone and benchmark from which to proceed. The definition must be Biblically based, although it is not the intention of the Congress to discuss, dissect and argue theological issues, as there are many other forums and venues for this type of activity.
Some short range topics for discussion and implementation:
- Identifying necessary elements/components conducive to enhancing the cohesion of a people group, such as creating local communities or communes in the various localities.
- Mechanisms and teaching tools for enhancing national consciousness and for practical preparation in anticipation of potential changes in the global system as they manifest locally, nationally, and internationally.
- Activities in the respective lands where the sons of Jacob reside: relevant studies, courses, camps, training, plans on an individual level (such as specific and ‘useful’ careers and vocations, especially for young people).
- Creating and maintaining a global network of the House of Joseph.
- Encouraging vibrant and consistent relationships with local Jewish communities.
- Connecting with Israel through tours, study programs, volunteering, maintaining relationships with various ‘relevant bodies’ or organizations in the Land. (There is a dual purpose in these connections: to foster individual and corporate relationships with our Jewish brethren and be exposed to Jewish culture and the Hebrew language, while simultaneously exposing Judah to the emerging House of Joseph.)
- Developing media tools to ‘get the word out’ to the general public.
Long Term Goals:
- Formulating, adopting and implementing governmental principles.
- Establishing and administrating a National Fund.
- Establishing and maintaining an Embassy in Israel.
- Creating and maintaining administrative committees as necessary for governmental functions.
None of the above are intended to take away from or diminish the activities in which you are now involved, nor from the ministry to which you have been called.
Along with the above topics, there may be other issues of concern that in your opinion are of great importance for reaching the goals ahead of us. The skills and giftings with which you have been blessed are imperative for implementation of these action points. Any input in that regard prior to the convening of the Congress would be most appreciated. We are confident that your input and participation before, during, and after the Congress will prove to serve and be of benefit to you, your community, organization, or ministry.
In closing, we note Yeshua’s admonition in Yochanan (John) 15:5, that without Him we can do nothing. We are fully trusting the Spirit of Elohim to direct, lead and guide this event. The details presented here convey the message that the agenda of the Congress will differ quite a bit from the Messianic conferences that we have all attended and loved. The idea is to be about our Father’s business in a literal sense of the word, with pragmatic and business-like sessions, presentations, discussions and decision-making processes. The preceding Shabbat and Feast Day will afford us the time to come together in prayer, praise, worship, study and fellowship so that we can segue smoothly, as it were, into the Congress objectives.
Hopefully fellowships, congregations, organizations etc. will pool their resources so as to alleviate financial burdens, allowing their leaders, members or affiliates to come, all are welcome who share this vision and have a right heart before the Elohim of Israel.
The Phenomenon of non-Jews Identifying Themselves as Israel
This is a report on a recently held workshop about the phenomenon of non- Jews affiliating with Israel and with the Jewish people, and how some of the observations and conclusions reached may affect the future of the Restoration Movement.
In recent years the Jewish world has been forced to face unprecedented interest of many groups and individuals from many different backgrounds expressing a desire to either become Jewish, or to “return” to their Jewishness, or to be aligned to Judaism in some other way. A number of these parties are already converts to Judaism, while others are looking to pursue that path, hailing from a totally “foreign stock” or from the “seed of Israel” (to use rabbinic terminology), even though until conversion they cannot be recognized as bona fide Jews. Then there are those who are creating their own version of Judaism, which is not officially recognized by the mainline Jewish bodies (and its members are therefore not eligible for immigration, Aliyah, to Israel). The latter’s form of Jewishness is termed “alternative Judaism.”
There are many and varied explanations to this awakening; descendants of hidden Jews who were subject to the Inquisition’s forced conversions or to other forms of persecution, descendants of Nazis and their collaborators who have deep feelings of guilt, individuals in the now alienated and spirit-less western societies who are looking for identity and group belonging, Messianic aspirations on the part of some (primarily Christians) etc. In addition, there is a plethora of groups in Africa and Asia, being largely disadvantaged and hence propelled by a need to be liberated from an inferior social and/or economic status, who for centuries have been creating their own narrative (of their association to Israel). Incidentally, this explanation for the latter’s perception of themselves is proposed by the Academia, whereas there may be an altogether different explanation/s for their choices. In years past missionaries were at times (unintentionally) the agents for this type of identity switch, and thus in many cases this phenomenon is defined as a “Christian construct.” Historically, different groups have affiliated themselves with Israel or with the Jews ever since the very first dispersions of the Israelites. For a brief overview of this phenomenon check?out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groups_claiming_affiliation_with_Israelites
Yet in spite of this phenomenon not being new (as is evidenced even in the New Covenant books), what is happening and coming to light in our day and age, mainly because of limitless communication possibilities and travel, seems to be of much greater proportions than ever before.
On November 4th of this year the Van Leer Institute of Jerusalem, described as “an intellectual center for the interdisciplinary study and discussion of issues related to philosophy, society, culture and education,” hosted a research study workshop titled: “Converts, Returnees, and Adherents: New Ways of Joining the Jewish People.” This topic certainly has some relevance to and a bearing upon the reemerging body of Beit Yoseph/Ephraim, who are making their way back to their ancient roots and “ethnicity.” Granted, the members of the “stick of Yoseph in the hand of Ephraim and all the tribes of Israel his companions” are not claiming or aspiring to integrate or assimilate within the Jewish Nation and/or religion, but yet should take an interest in other groups who have aspired to do so, or are viewing themselves as being “Jewish,” albeit of the ‘non conventional’ sort. Of special interest is the response and reaction of ‘mainline’ Jews and Israelis to this phenomenon.
The following is the introduction to the workshop that was posted on the Van Leer Institute’s site: “In recent decades we have witnessed a new global phenomenon: Tens of thousands of individuals have chosen to become part of the Jewish people, most of them not through religious conversion of any kind. Some children of intermarried families in the United States are adopting the Jewish way of life of their families; in Eastern Europe, individuals of Jewish descent are returning to the roots they have hidden since World War II; in Asia there are groups that see themselves as the descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes and are seeking a path to Judaism; in Latin America, Spain, and Portugal, thousands now openly express the formerly hidden traditions of families that were forced to convert to Catholicism (anusim); in Israel, immigrants who are not halakhic Jews are becoming part of Jewish society and gradually becoming Israeli Jews. This phenomenon marks a fascinating change in the history of the Jewish people. For thousands of years people who were not Jews had no interest in becoming part of the Jewish people, whereas since the end of the twentieth century the trend toward joining has increased. The aim of this research workshop is to examine the phenomenon in both global and local contexts.” End of quote.
Since this phenomenon has been so prevalent and is obviously not viewed as spiritually inspired, the current surfacing of the “Ephraimites/Israelites” will most likely be examined solely through sociological or anthropological lenses, and be relegated to a mere marginal “would-be” or “wanna-be” religious group, one out of many, whose alleged affiliation to the lost tribes is likely to be dismissed, for example by words such as were expressed by the most renowned expert on the topic of judaisation (as it is called) and groups’ affiliations with Israel, when referring to a certain group’s claims to be of the “ten lost tribes”: “nonsense.”
The head of the Van Leer Institute,Prof. Gavriel Motzkin,who opened up the workshop made some very remarkable statements in regards to the groups discussed, saying that “we could be on the eve ofmajor changes in Jewish life, and a change in dialectics of the Jewish story,” adding that, “the new Jews upset our story of the Diaspora and Israel,” as they do not fit the traditional narrative. Those who are joining the Jewish people are affecting “a change in the fixed paradigms.” Prof. Motzkin was not the only one with a broader view on the topic. Some of the other, secular, speakers expressed similar positive approaches as far as the possible inclusion of “affiliates” into Jewish/Israeli society.
But even though such an approach may be paving the way to the eventual acceptance of members of the Restoration Movement, yet as cited above, the scholarly analyses may take a less favorable position toward a group such as the Ephraimites/Israelites and their demand to become a recognizable and viable people group with ‘rights to self determination’ and repatriation in the Land of Israel. Aside from the discussions at the workshops, generally in Israel the “ten lost tribes” issue is often viewed, especially in secular circles, as part of folklore. In fact, some years ago the renowned Diaspora Museum of Tel Aviv put on an exhibition on the “myth of the ten lost tribes.” As far as the religious speakers in the workshop were concerned, any connection to what they would term as “Christianity” (that is faith in Messiah Yeshua) bars any real connection to and with the people of “Judah,” while the more secular scholars would most likely require a “scientific” (cultural, historical, ethnic, sociological, perhaps DNA testing) connection in order to give legitimacy to such a group.
So where does all of this put the current Ephraim-Sons of Israel/Joseph movement, a movement whose members have no common culture or even a shared recent history? One major difference between this movement and all the other past and present groups on the one hand, and random individuals on the other, is its non affiliation with any particular and given ethnicity, but instead being a globally wide-spread spontaneous occurrence, while its adherents are usually in group settings (unlike the persons who are finding their way to Judaism individually for any number of reasons).
Secondly, the restored sons of Israel will certainly not have YHVH “on their side” if they try to reassert their identity without a renewed heart. We would all agree that if these “sons” are to be back in their inheritance, only establishing the “Kingdom of Elohim” will do. This, of course, at this point in time is not a communicable topic that can be presented to any of the worldly factors to whom we may want to introduce ourselves. What’s more, as already mentioned, without “worldly” cultural and historical commonality it would be even more difficult to convince anyone that such a body of people has any legitimacy, and will therefore be perceived as some kind of “religious fanaticism.” But these obstacles should not deter us, although we are stepping on a suspended bridge, or even a tight robe, between the natural world view and its processes (which should not be ignored), and a genuine Yah-led spiritual restoration. Only by His guidance and wisdom will we be able to cross this bridge without stumbling!
In light of the above short survey, it appears that this move of the Spirit, which hardly fits comfortably into any of the other affiliations described, could potentially face much opposition and animosity, and may not receive ready acceptability. The one “ally” that this movement does have is the Elohim of Israel, if we truly bind ourselves to His ways, Word, and also to each other! Differences of opinions and plurality He can handle easily, but not internal animosity and divisiveness. In order to move on we must present a strong united front of faith, hope and love, and readiness to act as He leads.
Shalom Fellow Israelites,
In this week’s letter I would like to pay tribute to a couple that have given many years of their life to the restoration of B’ney Yosef, more commonly known as “Ephraim.” This husband and wife team has worked diligently, never losing heart, in spite of having to deal, at times, with lashon harah, betrayals, rejection, and opposition of every kind.
We met Batya and Angus Wootten in Israel 30 years ago. Prior to that meeting we had been asking Abba, for almost two years, for confirmation of the “two houses of Israel” revelation, which none of our then-contacts appeared to endorse. Meeting them and discussing this topic was therefore like refreshing water to us, as they confirmed what we were being shown from the Scriptures.
I have just finished reading Batya’s recent book, “A Door of Hope for the Last Days,” into which she pours out her mother’s-heart, soul, mind, and strength. In my opinion this piece of writing is more than “just” a book – containing, as it does, components that single it out from her previous writings (good as they may be). In “A Door of Hope” deep is calling to deep, perhaps much like the weeping of Rachel for her children, longing for them to return to the ways of righteousness, so that they may experience the fullness of their redemption and restoration.
“A Door of Hope” is the product of many years of study, devotion, listening, arguing, dialoging, and discussing the Scriptures. But more so, it is the fruit of the many times Batya and Angus cried out together to their Heavenly Father for the strength and wisdom to continue. “A Door of Hope,” I believe, sums up those years in its candid exhortations to repent and return to obedience and to seek present truth. As the Almighty’s right arm is being stretched out over the surrounding nations of Israel, gathering them together for war, Judah is looking for the arrows of Ephraim. “A Door of Hope” is like a grinding wheel that can help sharpen those arrows. If you step in, go through the ‘door’ and over the ‘threshhold,’ even if you don’t agree with everything written in this book, you may find a new perspective on what you do believe.
May Abba continue to bless you, Angus and Batya, with many more years of strength and health in service to the King.
Ephraim and Rimona
A Door of Hope for the Last Days
by Batya Ruth Wootten
Foreword by Angus Wootten
Paper, 288 pages, $15.95 plus shipping