Are We of Israel? by George Reynolds, just released on Project Gutenberg, offers a deeper look at the twelve tribes and the circumstances surrounding the scattering of the ten. Originally intended for use as a Sunday School manual, Reynolds’ book speaks with clarity and ease. Readers will learn of the historical implications of the scattering of Israel, as well gain a new appreciation for blessings promised to those of the House of Israel, a virtue of the Abrahamic covenant. Reynolds also discusses various speculative theories on the relationship between various European peoples and the lost tribes.
According to the Old Testament, the prophet Jacob had twelve sons, each of whose posterity became known as the one of the twelve tribes of Israel. As the grandson of Abraham, Jacob entered into a covenant with God that promised to bless the people, conditional upon their willingness to obey the commandments of God. Due to the rebellion and disobedience of ten of the tribes, these people were carried up into the “north countries” and lost until a later date.
In the Book of Abraham (which Reynolds quotes) it reads, “My name is Jehovah, and I know the end from beginning; therefore my hand shall be over thee [Abraham] and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee above measure … for I give unto thee a promise that this right shall continue in thee, and in thy seed after thee (that is to say, the literal seed, or the seed of the body) shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal.”
And so one will come to understand the meaning and significance of belonging to the House of Israel and the “blessings of the gospel” in this succinct yet engaging read. It’s valuable both from a doctrinal perspective and as an example of late 19th century Church understanding of Israel-related historical issues.
Margaret Willden, one of our summer 2015 BYU editing interns, proofread and produced Are We of Israel? and contributed to this blog post.