Jews Dwelling in the Tents of Shem--Part 2
Sep 16, 2009
Noah's prophecy in Gen. 9:27 can be looked at racially, religiously, spiritually, or legally. Don't let all of these viewpoints scare you, but people do have different perspectives on virtually everything.
While I was growing up in a Christian family, I was taught that the Jews were the chosen people because of their genealogy to Abraham, and that they were also the "purest race in the world." It was only later that I realized that there were Jews of every race and color on the face of the earth. Only then did I realize that "who is a Jew" is still an ongoing debate even within Judaism itself. Some say that being Jewish is a matter of genealogy; others say it is a matter of religion. Still others are content to say it is merely a matter of culture--as in cultural Jews who do not practice religion at all.
When I learned about Jewish converts to Judaism, I began to see that not all Jews are descended from Abraham. The conversion of Idumea to Judaism in 126 B.C. united Esau's descendants with the Judeans. These converted Edomites became some of the most rabidly nationalistic Jews in the fight against the Romans in 70 A.D.
Did this conversion make Edom "chosen"?? Did Esau obtain "chosen" status by conversion to Judaism?
Many centuries later, as I have already shown, the Khazars (or Chazars) were converted to Judaism, this time in a peaceful manner. Did this make them "chosen"? Did this Turkish tribe obtain "chosen" status by conversion to Judaism?
Did it matter whether they were converted by conquest or by evangelism?
Likewise, when we factor in the hundreds of thousands of Falasha Jews (who are black), Chinese Jews (who look like other Chinese), etc., all of whom have been given the "right of return" by the Israeli government, it is apparent that being a Jew is not dependent upon being racially pure or even the claim of descent from Abraham.
Hence, we see the argument that Jews are a religion, not a race. Some Christians have thus converted to Judaism, secretly taking Jesus with them, hoping to cash in on this "chosen" status with God. But it seems to me that there is something fraudulent about that. And joining with those who reject and even hate Jesus does not make anyone "chosen."
So what about the Khazars? Are they "chosen" in the sight of God? Do they have a "right of return" to Palestine, based on their conversion to Judaism in 740 A.D.? Some have applied Rev. 2:9 to the Khazars, where John speaks of "those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan." But John was not prophesying about a conversion of Khazars in the future. He was commenting on an existing situation.
John was referring to the controversy that Paul mentioned in Romans 2:28, 29,
(28) For he is NOT a Jew [ioudeos, "Judean"] who is one outwardly; neither is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. (29) But he IS a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit. . ."
Here Paul defines a Jew in both ways. He tells us who IS and who is NOT a Jew. Those who claim to be Jews by virtue of their fleshly circumcision are not Jews in the eyes of God. They are only Jews in their own eyes. Without heart circumcision, one is "not a Jew," Paul says. And John then tells us that there are many who claim to be Jews, but are not.
In other words, only Christians are "Jews," that is, of the tribe of Judah. One must be a follower of the rightful Heir to the throne of Judah in order to claim status in the tribe. The "tribeship" resides in the King, and anyone who separates himself from the King forfeits his position in the tribe.
For this reason, I see one's status as a tribal member to be a matter of legal citizenship, rather than of race. The law of Moses warns many times of certain sins (crimes) that would result in the person being "cut off from among his people." That could be either death or exile. Either way, even a descendant of Abraham could lose his position in the Israelite tribe.
Likewise, people could join a tribe by converting to the God of the Bible. Here is where Judaism and (true) Christianity differ. Christianity says that Jesus Christ is the God of the Bible, the Yahweh of the Old Testament. Judaism denies this. This, then, is the origin of the dispute over who is a Jew and who is not a Jew. Paul says that only Christians are Jews; others say that one must reject Jesus and follow the Old Testament God (someone other than Jesus) to be a Jew.
So when the Khazars were converted to Judaism, did they become Jews? In the eyes of Judaism, yes; in the eyes of Christianity, no. In my view, one cannot become a Jew in the eyes of God by converting to a religion that rejects the New Covenant and its Mediator. One cannot become a Jew (in God's eyes) by outward circumcision.
Those who followed King Jesus remained in the tribe, and many others joined the tribe of Judah later by conversion. This tribe was later called "the church," but it is actually the tribe of Judah, or the "congregation" (church) of Judah.
And so, when we consider the prophecy of Noah in Gen. 9:27, about Japheth dwelling in the tents of Shem, what is the divine intent of the prophecy? Was it designed to bring a curse upon Japheth, or a blessing? Obviously, it was a blessing. So how does one obtain the blessing of God in this matter? Is it by converting to Judaism and by joining a group that Paul says is "not a Jew"?? Or is it by joining a group that Paul says "is a Jew"?
The Khazars converted to a religion that called itself Jewish, but in the eyes of God was not Jewish at all--in the sense of being of the tribe of Judah and/or the Kingdom of God.
As for the Edomites, we have no record of any of them accepting Jesus Christ. It is likely that some did, but in such few numbers that it was not noteworthy. It is likely that a few came to accept Jesus Christ, and these joined the real tribe of Judah, headed by King Jesus. The rest remained with the pseudo tribe of Judah.
If the Khazars were from Gomer and of his sons: Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah, etc., then they could be considered to be of Japheth (Gen. 10:3). Their conversion to Judaism would then be a unification of Shem and Japheth on a racial and religious level, but not on a spiritual or legal level. In other words, if the physical descendants of Japheth converted to Judaism, they would "dwell in the tents of Shem." The Ashkenazim joined with the Sephardic Jews, who were Semitic (both Judah and Edom).
However, this unification would not confer any blessings upon these Gomerites of Japheth. In fact, by converting to Judaism, they were taking upon themselves the same curse that brought the judgment of God upon their heads in 70 A.D. Thus, the Khazars took upon themselves a curse, rather than a blessing, and though they adopted physical circumcision, they still did not become "chosen" in the eyes of God, as Paul tells us.
There was, I have already shown, a different blessing upon Japheth that was prophesied by Noah. That blessing was the unification of another branch of Gomer-Japheth with Gomer-Israel, as the Israelites immigrated into Europe from the land of their captivity (Assyria). That physical unification in itself was not the blessing, but the means to it. The blessing came with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which was preached to these people in Europe in the early centuries of the Church.
In this way, they were united in Christ, having "one head" (Hos. 1:11). In this way they were able to join the real tribe of Judah--the body of people who recognized Jesus as the rightful Heir to the throne of Judah.
This is the final part of a series titled "Jews Dwelling in the Tents of Shem." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones