The Migrations of the 10 Tribes
If Assyria carried the majority of the Northern Kingdom’s population into captivity, where then did those Israelites ultimately go? They were last seen heading Northeast — captives of one of the most feared and war-like people in the ancient Near East. From that point forward in time, these Israelites essentially vanish from recorded history.
Can we find the ten-tribe nation of Israel today? If so, where are we to look for the evidence?
The best place to begin is the Bible itself. The prediction of the prophet Amos expands our understanding of the record in 2 Kings 17:18-23, a passage which indicates that the Eternal removed Israel “out of His sight” with the result that “there was none left but the tribe of Judah only” in the land of the Israelite kingdoms.
This prophet from Tekoa in northern Judea tells us that “the remnant of Joseph” (Amos 5:15) would be scattered, but ultimately not lost entirely from God’s view: “‘Behold, the eyes of the Lord God are on the sinful kingdom [Israel as a political entity], and I will destroy it from the face of the earth; Yet I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob,’ says the Lord. ‘For surely I will command, and will sift the house [family] of Israel among all nations, as grain is sifted in a sieve; yet not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground’” (Amos 9:8-9).
With these passages in mind, we might expect that the migrations of the tribes can be traced by hints in Scripture and biblical prophecies. Such is exactly the case.
Where did the “lost tribes” go?
The Scriptures cited above imply that Israel would be sifted — that they would be participants in a major migratory movement along with scores of other ethnic groups — and then be divinely led to and planted in a permanent home. This being the case, we can deduce from other passages that Israel’s new land would be located to the north and west of the Promised Land.
The most frequently used verse in this regard is found in the Book of Isaiah: “Surely these shall come from afar; Look! Those from the north and the west, and these from the land of Sinim” (Isaiah 49:12;compare verse 20).
Since there was no expression in the Hebrew language corresponding to the English “northwest,” it does no violence to the meaning of Isaiah’s predictions to understand this passage to mean that Israel would migrate in a northwesterly direction. But there are other biblical clues. Other sections of Scripture often cited include Hosea 12:1. “Ephraim feeds on the wind, and pursues the east wind” [i.e., an expression which implies moving to the west].
Jeremiah provides an interesting clue as well: “Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say: ‘Return, backsliding Israel’” (Jeremiah 3:11-12). Still different passages suggest that Israel will ultimately be found in an island setting. “I will set his hand over the sea, and his right hand over the rivers” (Psalm 89:25) and “Listen, O coastlands, to Me, and take heed, you peoples from afar” (Isaiah 49:1). Also, “They shall come with weeping, and with supplications I will lead them. I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters, In a straight way in which they shall not stumble; for I am a Father to Israel, and Ephraim is My firstborn. Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, “He who scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd does his flock” (Jeremiah 31:9-10). Other miscellaneous references to an island location include Jeremiah 31:1-3, 9-10; Isaiah 24:15; 41:1, 5; 51:5; 66:19; and also Psalm 89:25. In addition, Isaiah 23:3 implies that Israel will be a maritime people (compare Ezekiel 17:4-5).
Collectively, all the passages cited above can be used to make the case that the captive Israelites eventually moved from Mesopotamia, ultimately settling in Northwestern Europe.
To the British Isles
The implication is that the descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh, on whom the patriarch Jacob or Israel had specifically named his name (Genesis 48:16), finally settled in the British Isles.
If this use of Scripture seems contrived, there are other no less unusual and surprising applications of God’s Word which were made by Jesus and still later the apostles themselves. Even Roman Catholic theologian Paul Knitter who probes the “scandal of particularity” — the claim that Jesus Christ represents something thoroughly surprising, exceptional and unique in human history — concedes the following: “Both critical Christians and skeptical humanists must be open to the possibility that what they [the Evangelical Christians] are saying may be true” (No Other Name? A Critical Survey of Christian Attitudes Toward the World Religions, pp. 45, 49).
In principle, Knitter’s concession applies similarly to the matter of the identity of Israel in modern times. If the ten-tribes still exists and can be found today among the Anglo-Saxon/Celtic peoples of the world, no amount of eloquent or persuasive theological reasoning to the contrary can confute or alter the plan and purpose of God. If our Biblical reasoning — in scholarly language our hermeneutic — is sound thus far, the historical evidence begins to bear a greater burden of proof.
But how did the Israelites get to Europe?
One of the most conspicuously obscure periods of history lies between Israel’s 8th century B.C.E deportation and the appearance — seemingly from out of nowhere — of Hengist, Horsa, and their Anglo-Saxons compatriots. These people arrived on the Thanet off England’s southeast coast in around 449 C.E. Finding Israel in the post-8th century B.C.E. ancient world is, of course, no mean task. It approximates the proverbial looking for a needle in a haystack. The Anglo-Saxons leave us no record of their past lineage. Like all other inquiries of this nature, the results are restricted by the subjectivity of interpreting the very incomplete historical record of antiquity.
Since records from the distant past are so partial — limited by the ravages of time, war, and the elements, not to mention the intractable difficulty of reconstructing the histories of the largely non-literate populations — a single find in archaeology can literally overturn a whole interpretive paradigm (or specific method of viewing the historical record) in a matter of years.
Because of this factor, the reconstruction of ancient world history is — and until the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:7-9) will remain — subject to criticism and radically different interpretations of the same basic evidence. Such limitations make the search for Israel’s trail particularly challenging.
How then did the lost 10 tribes get from Mesopotamia in the Middle East to Northwestern Europe and the British Isles? This scenario seems unlikely — a unique interpretation of both historical facts and the Word of God. The former leaves us very little to go on — only shards of historical evidence. However, if there is a paucity of primary resource material, the broad contours of the story can be reconstructed from the fragments of history we possess so far.
Sidebar: Post-Captivity Israel and the Extra-biblical Record
The two principal extra-biblical references to post-captivity Israel come from 1st century C.E. Jewish historian, Josephus, and the apocryphal work we know as II Esdras (ca. C.E. 70-135).
In Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus writes that “the entire body of the people of Israel remained in that country [to which the Assyrians deported them]; wherefore there are but two tribes in Asia and Europe subject to the Romans, while the 10 tribes are beyond Euphrates till now, and are an immense multitude, and not to be estimated by numbers” (Book 11, Chapter V, Section 2). It is not known where Josephus got his information.
The account of Esdras reads: “Then you saw him collecting a different company, a peaceful one. They are the 10 tribes which were taken off into exile in the time of King Hoshea, whom Shalmaneser king of Assyria took prisoner. He deported them beyond the [Euphrates] River, and they were taken away into a strange country. But then they resolved to leave the country populated by the Gentiles and go to a distant land never inhabited by man [2 Samuel 7:10], and there at last to be obedient to their laws, which in their own country they had failed to keep [Leviticus 26:18-21]. “As they passed through the narrow passages of the Euphrates, the Most High performed miracles for them, stopping up the channels of the river until they had crossed over [compare the Israelite crossing of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:16, 21-22) and later the Jordan River (Joshua 3:13)].
“Their journey through that region, which is called Arzareth, was long, and took a year and a half. They have lived there ever since, until this final age. Now they are on their way back, and once more the Most High will stop the channels of the river [Isaiah 27:6, 12-13] to let them cross” (2 Esdras 13:39-47, from the Apocrypha). While the records of neither Josephus nor Esdras merit the credibility of inspired and canonized Scripture, there is very likely a core of truth in the accounts that both writers have preserved for us. After all, they wrote about a period less than 700 years earlier.
With particular reference to Esdras’ record, one of the most creative (if subjective) explanations of how Israel’s trek can be demonstrated is found in an article by John Hulley (a.k.a., Yochanan Hevroni Ben David) “Did Any of the Lost Tribes Go North? Is the ‘Sambatyon’ the Bosphorus?,” published in B’Or Ha’Torah, No. 6 (in English), 1987 (pp. 127-133). The author explores the tradition that indicates that the lost tribes are located beyond the “Sambatyon,” a river which is said to have rested — ceased its flow — on the Sabbath day (compare Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 65B; Jerusalem Talmud Sanhedrin 10:6; Lamentations Rabba 2:9; Genesis Rabba 11:5and 73:6; Targum Pseudo-Jonathan to Exodus 34:10; also Nachmanides on Deuteronomy 32:36).
Through the Bosporus
Hulley demonstrates that the narrow strait of the Bosphorus, through which pass the waters of the Black Sea into the Aegean, is likely the “river” about which tradition speaks. “There the current does slow down drastically, stop or even reverse on average about once a week” (p. 128). He offers an explanation of the physical process which produces this unusual phenomenon. The Bosphorus would have been a likely area through which some of the migrating Israelites would have passed on their journey out of Assyrian captivity and on to the European Continent.
Hulley concludes his article with a refreshingly balanced approach by writing, “these pieces of evidence are circumstantial, and the identification can therefore only be conjectural. On the other hand, they are unique, and their combination is exceptional.” There are many other interesting and plausible theories about how Israel made the trek from the Middle East to Northwestern Europe. One such treatment is W. E. Filmer’s article, “Our Scythian Ancestors,” which proposes an Israelite migration well east of the route suggested by Hulley above, and through the Dariel Pass in the Caucasus Mountains. Filmer argues that a network of Scythian tombs dating from the early 6th century B.C.E. through the mid-4th century B.C.E. exists to the northwest of the area and documents the course of Israelite migrations. He believes that these travelers filled the expanse between the Sea of Azov and the Carpathian Mountains.
Based on evidence derived from some similarities in burial practices, Filmer attempts to connect the Israelites/Scythians with the Germanic population which arrived along the coasts of the southern Baltic Sea several centuries later. His argument, as interesting as it may be, falls somewhat short in making an indisputable connection between Israel and the Scythian tombs (see also Raymond F. McNair, “Hard, Physical Evidence,” America and Britain in Prophecy, p. 42).
Evidence of a route through Assyria?
Finally, one of the richest and most detailed descriptions of Israel’s departure from Assyrian territory comes from Major Bertram De W. Weldon (The Origin of the English, 2nd ed., Revelation, 1919, pp. 48-52).
Bringing his military experience to bear, he equates the freeing of the Israelites with the defeat of the Assyrians at the hands of Nabopolassar (626-605 B.C.E.) of Babylon in a sequence of engagements: initially in 612 B.C.E. with the fall of Nineveh; at the first Battle of Carchemish in 609 B.C.E.; and the final knock out blow several years later, again at Carchemish, site of the last remaining Assyrian stronghold (605 B.C.E.).
Drawing from the apocryphal Book of Tobit (ca. 250-175 B.C.E.), Weldon suggests that Tobit, both a leader in the Israelite community and an Assyrian official, believed a return to Palestine would be impractical. Hostile armies blocked the route back home and Egyptian garrisons occupied Judah. Weldon opines: “Between the country of the Carducci and the armies of the Medes a narrow gap lay open. This was the route through the Caucasus... With some dim traditions of their former Exodus to hearten them, with the encouragement given by the more recent prophetic messages that had reached them [allegedly from Jeremiah — p. 48], the tribes left their starting point (probably in the region of Ecbatana), crossed the upper waters of the Euphrates, where their enemies very nearly cut them off [compare II Esdras 13:43-44], and swung North through the Caucasus into Scythia.
“In the Caucasus one of the important passes bears the name of the ‘gates of Israel’ to this day... The flight of Israel, which may be dated 608 B.C.E, the year of the battle of Carchemish [sic.], would bring the tribes across the upper Euphrates, through the passes of the Caucasus, into the vast and barren plains of the Scythian steppes.”
The booklet America and Britain in Prophecy (1996) does a commendable job in presenting the historical evidence documenting Israel’s location and movements in ancient history (see Raymond McNair, “Anglo-American Ethnic Roots,”, pp. 28-44). His work is especially interesting concerning the connections between Israel and the ancient world people known to us as the Celts, Cimmerians, and Scythians.
Mr. McNair’s booklet makes these associations with good cause. Scandinavian scholar Anne Katrine Gade Kristensen includes an argument in favor of identifying the Cimmerians as Israelite in her volume, Who Were the Cimmerians, and Where Did They Come From? Sargon II, the Cimmerians, and Rusa I (see especially chapter 3, pp. 118- 122).
It is significant that other historians have argued that the successive waves of “Germanic” migrants — the Volkeswanderung — into Southeastern and central Europe were essentially comprised of the same ethnic group. The movement itself is a complicated one.
The enigma of Germanic origins
Many twentieth-century historians and sociologists have tried to explain who the Germans were and why they emigrated, but scholars have not had much success at answering these questions. The surviving evidence is primarily archaeological, scanty, and not yet adequately explored.
Why did the Germans emigrate? We do not know. “The cause and nature of the Volkeswanderung challenge the inquirer as much as ever. Scholars are hampered in answering these questions [about who the Germans were] because the Germans, like other wandering tribes, could not write and thus kept no written records before their conversion to Christianity” [generally considered when Frankish King Clovis became Christian in C.E. 498].
Our knowledge of the Germans depends largely on information in records written in the sixth and seventh centuries and projected backward (McKay, et. al., History of Western Society, 3rd ed., pp. 210, 212-214).
Undoubtedly, the groups of Israelites that departed from Mesopotamia, as part of this general movement, left the land of their captivity in sizable but distinct and separate groups. Various respective parties probably followed different routes. Moreover, as implied by the prophecy of Amos 9:9 — that Israel would be sifted “among all nations, like corn is sifted in a sieve” — intermixed with the many other peoples moving northward to escape from harm’s way from the invading armies coming out of the lower Tigris- Euphrates river valley.
With this in mind, we must be careful not to generalize. Not all Scythians, Cimmerians, or Celts were Israelites. Indeed, the term “Scythian” appears to be more a generic name for tribal peoples rather than for a specific ethnic group. Of course, some Israelites no doubt were included among those so designated after the close of the 7th century B.C.E. Scripture itself may include a backhanded allusion to this very fact. Note in Colossians 3:11 the interesting biblical use of the term “Scythian” in juxtaposition to “Barbarian.” This passage legitimately can be understood to imply Israelite versus non-Israelite, just as the similar phraseology “neither Jew nor Greek” in Galatians 3:28 suggests.
If all of these various arguments hold a certain appeal, they fall short of being absolutely conclusive. The trail of Israel out of the upper Mesopotamian river valley is less conspicuous than we would like it to be. Nevertheless, it is not that difficult to deduce how groups of Israelites must have moved slowly and inexorably in a northwesterly direction. British-Israelite literature — with varying degrees of support from historical documentation — typically includes some of the following threads in its rendition of how this migration occurred.
Some interesting possibilities
Some members of Israelitish clans left Israel well before the 8th century B.C.E. deportation began. In particular, a number of Danites departed Israel shortly after the 15th century B.C.E. Exodus from Egypt, going first to Greece but eventually settling in Ireland. During the reign of Solomon and other subsequent kings, it is possible that Israelite colonists left Israel for Britain, Ireland, and northwestern European coastlands.
The Bible tells us that Solomon had a navy which he operated with the Phoenicians (1 Kings 9:26-28; 2 Chronicles 8:18; 9:21). We know the Phoenicians established colonies in North Africa, Spain, and Ireland. At a minimum, some Israelites would have been aware of Phoenician activity in Europe. It is a reasonable possibility that the Israelites also may have been involved in commercial or colonial activity in these same areas.
Sidebar: The Red Hand of Ulster
One of the most fascinating legends in Irish history explains the origin of Ulster’s heraldic symbol, the Red Hand. Although accounts may differ from one source to another, there is general agreement that the symbol is tied to a family named O’Neill. According to legend, there was a boat race between the chieftains of the O’Neill and McDonnell families to determine ownership of the Ulster area. Whoever’s hand reached shore first was to receive the land.
As both boats neared the shoreline, the O’Neill chieftain saw he was going to lose the race. To reverse that outcome, he cut off his right hand and flung it to the shore where it touched dry land before McDonnell could arrive. As a result, O’Neill became the Prince of Ulster. Still today, in memory of this episode of Irish history, the Province of Ulster bears as its symbol the renowned Red Hand. (Note the red lion on the British Royal Standard.)
Those who believe that the throne of David resided in Ireland from the 6th century B.C.E. through 9th century C.E. often make an interesting and quite different connection between the Red Hand of Ulster and the biblical account, about the birth of Judah’s twin sons, Pharez and Zarah (Genesis 38:28-30). The Bible places a special focus on this story and rightly so. As the time of birth drew near, Zarah extended his hand out of his mother’s womb. The attending midwife, wanting to insure that the family knew which child was firstborn, tied a scarlet thread around the baby’s wrist. To everyone’s surprise, the babies repositioned themselves, and Pharez became the first to emerge from Tamar’s body. Thus deprived of primogeniture, Zarah’s descendants eventually sought a better future by migrating to Europe.
Some suggest that Calcol, Zarah’s grandson led the family of Zarah on a migration west temporarily settling in Spain. Calcol finally continued his travels, founding the Kingdom of Ulster near the end of the 17th century B.C.E. The Zaharite presence in the Emerald Isle, British-Israelites would argue, is the real origin of Ulster’s Red Hand.
Whatever one may conclude concerning the historicity of the migrations of Zarah, it is a curious fact of history that until 1920, the official Arms of Northern Ireland included a scarlet thread encircling the heraldic Red Hand.
For additional information, see W. Howard Bennett’s Symbols of Our Celto-Saxon Heritage.
The majority of Israelites, however, remained geographically stationery until the 8th century B.C.E. At that point, the Assyrians under Tiglath-pilesar began taking the Israelites into captivity as early as the 730s, with the final and great deportation from Samaria commencing in 721. The beginning of the end for the Assyrian Empire came in 612 B.C.E. with the destruction of Nineveh.
The final demise came at the Battle of Carchemish (605 B.C.E.) when the Babylonians, Persians, and their Scythian allies dealt Assyria a knockout blow. After that point and perhaps even shortly before, some of the Israelite tribes in captivity south of the Caspian Sea undoubtedly began to free themselves and migrate towards Europe. This migratory process moved in fits and starts, extending over several centuries. The first wave of Israelite people (very likely the Cimmerian or Celtic people) migrated from Assyria through the Caucasus mountains and then into Western Europe. Those people became known to the Greek writers by the name “Celts” (Kelts) but were called Gauls by the Romans. The second wave of Israelites (probably the Scythians) migrated around the eastern side of the Caspian Sea before turning westward. They passed through what is now south Russia into northern Poland and Germany.
They were pressed from the rear by the Samarthians, better know today as the Slavs. The Scythians overspread much of Northwest Europe and Scandinavia, eventually taking on names such as Normans, Danes, Swedes, Franks, Lombards, Scots, Angles, Saxons, Jutes, and other less familiar appellations of the various Germanic tribes. Invariably, British-Israelite literature places the tribe of Joseph in the British Isles. From here the story is not only beyond dispute but relatively clear since no one questions whether the British are Celtic and Anglo-Saxon or that the Unites States was initially settled by people of that same ethnicity.
In subsequent sections of this paper we will explore in greater depth the historical evidence connecting the tribe of Joseph to the Anglo-American peoples. Before we do so, we should examine a different but related tribes-people. If Joseph’s descendants settled finally in the British Isles, what then of his brothers?
Other tribal identities
How can we know where each respective tribe eventually settled? If this question is less important than the story of modern-day Joseph, its answer is quite significant in magnifying our appreciation of how the bequeathing of the birthright blessings eventually occurred in the late-18th and early-19th centuries (the timing of which will be explained in Chapter 6).
An interesting dimension of the question of modern tribal identities relates to a titanic “struggle for the Birthright” (Genesis 25:22) which continued beyond the biblical record. This story, recorded in modern history, provides convincing if subjective evidence of the identity of both modern-day Joseph and his brothers.
As early as the 17th century, we see periodic bids by the Northwestern European and Scandinavian nation-states to dominate the European Continent. Are we witnessing in these struggles for power a picture of sibling rivalry writ large as the expiration of a withholding of the Birthright blessing inexorably drew near? If so, one brother after another — the Swedes, the Dutch, and finally the French — fell short in herculean efforts to usurp the promises made to Joseph and his two sons.
The description of the passing on of the promise to Abraham as recorded in Genesis 48:22 reveals that the descendants of Joseph would have “one portion above his brethren” (compare Deuteronomy 21:15-17, Ezekiel 47:13). We should expect then by implication to find considerable wealth in the hands of the modern-day descendants of the remaining tribes. Such is undeniably the case today among the people of Northwestern Europe and Scandinavia.
Much research has been done by French, Dutch and Scandinavian adherents of the Anglo-Israel movement to link their nations with one or another of the tribes. If such identifications remain somewhat conjectural, there is good circumstantial evidence which gives us confidence in making specific connections, particularly with three of those tribes. Herbert W. Armstrong also explored the question of tribal identities other than Ephraim and Manasseh but largely in a general way. He writes:
“But what about the other tribes of the so-called ‘lost 10 tribes?’ ... The other eight tribes of Israel [excluding Judah, Joseph, Levi, and Benjamin] were also God’s chosen people. They, too, have been blessed with a good measure of material prosperity — but not the dominance of the birthright... The countries of Europe [are] prosperous compared to the teeming illiterate masses [of the world]...
“Suffice it to say here that there is evidence that these other eight tribes, along with elements of the tribe of Benjamin, which were swept up in the Assyrian conquest of most of the biblical land of Israel, have descended into such Northwestern European nations as Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Iceland, northern France, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway and Finland. The political boundaries of Europe, as they exist today, do not necessarily show lines of division between descendants of these original tribes of Israel” (United States and Britain in Prophecy, pp. 104-105, 152-153).
In the case of one tribe outside of Joseph, Herbert Armstrong made a specific and important connection. He believed it possible to locate the descendants of Reuben. He writes, “The tribe of Reuben settled in the country that is France today. They had lost their national identity. But the French have the very characteristics of their ancestor Reuben [Genesis 49:3-4]” (United States and Britain in Prophecy, p. 146 — compare pp. 40, 42, 104-105, 148-149, 152-153). This identification is an important one which the historical record and logical deduction does much to affirm.
Seen from the British-Israel perspective, the long-term Anglo-French rivalry through Western history — an enmity which reached crescendo around the very decades when we would expect Joseph’s sons to be positioning themselves to inherit the Birthright blessings — was in fact a struggle between Jacob’s two firstborns over the colossal inheritance about to be extended.
Remember, once Reuben had illicit relations with Bilhah (Genesis 35:22), the birthright passed directly from Reuben to Joseph.
1 Chronicles 5:1-2 clearly supports this view. Joseph becomes Jacob’s “second firstborn” — indeed the firstborn of the woman he had intended to marry as his first (presumably his only?) wife (Genesis 29:20-30).
The Louisiana Purchase — its crucial importance!
Viewed from this perspective, the history of the turn of the 19th century takes on added importance and significance. The Louisiana Purchase (1803) — Napoleon’s sale of the Louisiana territory on behalf of France to the U.S.A. — becomes a type of the handing of the Birthright from Reuben to Joseph. This grand transition illustrates another interesting feature which is a type of the character of Reuben as described in scripture. The sons of Jacob chafed under the preferential treatment given by the father to his favorite son (Genesis 37:2-4). Their anger slowly simmered over Joseph’s open sharing of his self-flattering dreams (verses 5-10).
Although Reuben liked these circumstances no better than his other brothers (verse 4), his sense of responsibility as the firstborn would not allow him to consent to his younger brother’s death at the hands of his jealous and resentful siblings (verse 21). Indeed, Reuben’s subtle ultimate aim when the hostile brothers expressed their murderous intentions was to “deliver him [Joseph] out of their hands” (verse 22).
On discovering that the other brothers had sold Joseph into slavery, Reuben grieved and tore his clothes (verse 29-30), something which he angrily reminded his brothers about when standing uncomfortably in the presence of the Egyptian prime minister some two decades later (Genesis 42:22). Reuben’s ambivalence toward Joseph is reflected in the story of Anglo-French relationship.
The sale of the Louisiana Territory at the ridiculously low price of five cents an acre (the total sale price amounted to about $15 million for 8.28 million square miles of the world’s richest and most fertile land) prompted Napoleon’s now famous remark, “this accession of territory affirms forever the power of the United States and I have just given England a maritime rival that sooner or later will lay low her pride.”
With one hand France extended untold treasures to one branch of Joseph’s family, and with the other, she reduced in relative but very real material terms the power of the other branch. Napoleon’s intent was to use some of the proceeds of the sale price to prepare for renewed conflict with his adversary across the English Channel.
Was the ambivalent relationship between descendants of Reuben and Joseph inevitable? Certainly Reuben forfeited with great reluctance the premier position to his younger half-brother. Jacob’s words as recorded in Genesis 48:5 implies that Ephraim and Manasseh took the place of Reuben and Simeon, the first two sons born by Leah. This understanding helps us appreciate yet another issue, this one concerning the modern-day identity of Joseph. Where today do we find his sons Ephraim and Manasseh?