The Throne of David
One central theme in British-Israel thought concerns the Throne of David. Many British-Israelite writers believe that throne continued to exist even after the early-6th century B.C.E. when the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar apparently terminated permanently the Davidic dynasty. Those who accept this notion base their conviction on Scriptures which describe the special covenant (agreement) made between God and Israel’s King David.
The Bible certainly says that God made a covenant with David guaranteeing his throne in perpetuity. A host of scriptures support the case: “The word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying, ‘Go and tell my servant David ... When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom ... I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever” (2 Samuel 7:4, 12-13).
This promise was not conditional based on the heir’s behavior: “If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever” (verses 14-16).
This surely cannot be interpreted as a reference to Christ who never sinned. Note also: “Should you not know that the Lord God of Israel gave the dominion over Israel to David forever, to him and his sons, by a covenant of salt [a symbol of permanence]?” (2 Chronicles 13:5).
Psalm 89 adds weight to the case: “If his sons forsake My law And do not walk in My judgments, if they break My statutes and do not keep My commandments, then I will punish their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless My lovingkindness I will not utterly take from him, nor allow My faithfulness to fail. “My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips. Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David: His seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before Me; it shall be established forever like the moon, Even like the faithful witness in the sky” (verses 30-37).
The testimony of the prophet Jeremiah
In this regard, Jeremiah 33 adds: “Behold, the days are coming ... that I will perform that good thing which I have promised to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah: In those days and at that time I will cause to grow up to David a Branch of righteousness; He shall execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell safely. And this is the name by which she will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS ... David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel [emphasis ours]” (verses 14-17).
Shortly before ancient Israel split into two separate kingdoms, God told Jeroboam I, the northern Kingdom’s first monarch: “... Behold, I will tear the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon and will give ten tribes to you (but he shall have one tribe for the sake of My servant David, and for the sake of Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel)...
“However I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand, because I have made him ruler all the days of his life for the sake of My servant David, whom I chose because he kept My commandments and My statutes. But I will take the kingdom out of his son’s hand and give it to you — ten tribes. And to his son I will give one tribe, that My servant David may always have a lamp before Me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen for Myself, to put My name there” (1 Kings 11:31-33, 34-37).
Based on these biblical passages, it is easy to conclude that someone, somewhere — one who can trace a lineage back to David — will be sitting, or eligible to sit on the Davidic throne until Christ returns to claim it for Himself. It is evident, of course, from the Gospel of Luke that Christ is the ultimate claimant: “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David” (Luke 1:32). But Jeremiah suggests that the prophecy cannot be fulfilled with Christ as the only claimant: “In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell safely [hardly true of Jesus’ time] ... For thus says the Lord: ‘David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel ... If you can break My covenant with the day and My covenant with the night, so that there will not be day and night in their season, then My covenant may also be broken with David My servant, so that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne, and with the Levites, the priests, My ministers...
“If My covenant is not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth, then I will cast away the descendants of Jacob and David My servant, so that I will not take any of his descendants to be rulers over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For I will cause their captives to return, and will have mercy on them’” (Jeremiah 33:16-17, 20-21, 25-26.
If there remains a perpetual Davidic throne, how has God fulfilled His promise? British-Israelites usually insist that the Throne of David is to be found in the British Isles, occupied today by the royal family of the House of Windsor. The claim is made that from this family we find a descendant of David ruling over the modern-day House of Israel.
But how could this be? The last reigning king of David’s line mentioned in scripture was Zedekiah. The Babylonians killed his sons before his eyes, after which he was blinded. The Bible records his own death in Babylon: “Then he [Nebuchadnezzar] put out the eyes of Zedekiah; and the king of Babylon bound him in chains, and carried him to Babylon, and put him in prison till the day of his death” (Jeremiah 52:11).
The Jeremiah tradition
Those who believe that David’s throne exists today appeal to the Bible as well as long and persistent set of traditions, and legends which form the backbone of the story of the prophet Jeremiah’s precarious trek from Jerusalem to Egypt (Jeremiah 43:1-7) to Europe. Remember, what is absolutely factual is found in the book of Jeremiah; the rest is considered legend and tradition (which doesn’t mean it isn’t true).
Legends indicate Jeremiah went first to Spain and eventually — around 580 B.C.E. — to the area of Carrickfergus, Ireland near present-day Belfast. According to the accounts, Jeremiah’s company included one Tea-Tephi, the daughter of Zedekiah (Jeremiah 41:10; 43:5-7) through whom the Davidic lineage was to be preserved. Also in the party was Baruch (Jeremiah 32:12-13; 36:4-8, etc.), Jeremiah’s personal scribe. Eventually arriving in Ireland, the party found a colony of Zarahite Jews descended from people who had emigrated from the Middle East. Some British-Israel theorists date their departure around the 10th century B.C.E. and attribute their relocation to dissatisfaction with the establishment of a Davidic monarchy springing out of Judah’s Pharez line.
Herremon, the ruler of this Jewish colony, married the daughter of Zedekiah — the last “Pharez” ruler over the kingdom of Judah. According to the story, this marital union represented far more than a serendipitous turn of fate. Rather it was the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy involving the reunion of descendants of the twin sons of Judah, Pharez and Zarah.
The breach between Zarah and Pharez
The Genesis account of the births of these scions of Judah is pregnant with meaning. It reads: “Now it came to pass, at the time for giving birth, that behold, twins were in [Tamar’s] womb. And so it was, when she was giving birth, that the one put out his hand; and the midwife took a scarlet thread and bound it on his hand, saying, ‘This one came out first.’ Then it happened, as he drew back his hand, that his brother came out unexpectedly; and she said, ‘How did you break through? This breach be on you!’ Therefore his name was called Perez. Afterward his brother came out who had the scarlet thread on his hand. And his name was called Zerah” (Genesis 38:27-30).
Why was this story recorded? Might it be because the “breach” would at some future point be healed? In other words Pharez, who forced himself into the firstborn position, would eventually be reconciled with Zarah. David, Zedekiah, and — through His human descent — Jesus Christ, all were of the Pharez line.
It is suggested that several scriptures found in the Book of Ezekiel (chapter 17 and 21:18-26), foretell of God’s healing the breach. In British-Israel writings, part of the commission which God gave to Jeremiah at the very beginning of his prophetic ministry was to insure a marriage between a ruler of the Zarah branch of Judah and the daughters of King Zedekiah. It is the responsibility alluded to in Jeremiah 1:9: “Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me: ‘Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant.’”
Some see in Ezekiel 21 a three-fold transference of the Davidic throne. This passage forecasts: “Now to you, O profane, wicked prince of Israel, whose day has come, whose iniquity shall end, thus says the Lord God: ‘Remove the turban, and take off the crown; nothing shall remain the same. Exalt the humble, and humble the exalted. Overthrown, overthrown, I will make it overthrown! It shall be no longer, until He comes whose right it is, and I will give it to Him” (Ezekiel 21:25-27).
In Ireland, Jeremiah “planted” the throne through the marriage of one of Zedekiah’s daughters to an heir of the other branch of Judah’s “scepter” family (Genesis 49:10; 1 Chronicles 5:2). Then, through two more “overturns,” the throne migrated from Ireland to Scotland and eventually to England.
The Coronation Stone
A frequently included element in this story associates the British Coronation Stone, until recently housed in Westminster Abbey, with the pillar stone of Jacob (Genesis 28:11, 18).
According to this story, Jeremiah traveled to Ireland with not only the Pharez princesses but also Jacob’s Pillar Stone which had become a physical symbol of the covenants. A still later tradition relates that Fergus I MacErc transported the Stone from Tara in Ireland to the Scottish island of Ionia in around 530 C.E. There the stone remained for over 300 years.
By 843 C.E., Kenneth MacAlpin had united the Picts and the Scots under his own rule. For his coronation, MacAlpin moved the stone to Scone in eastern Scotland near Perth where it remained for over four centuries as the site for crowning of newly ascended Scottish kings.
In 1296, Edward I (1272-1307), king of England removed the Stone from Scone and “took it to Westminster Abbey, London, to form part of Edward the Confessor’s chair, used in English coronation ceremonies” (Treasures of Britain, p. 426; see also Edward Jenks, Edward Plantagenet, pp. 267-268). It should be noted that the coronation chair in the Abbey belongs to the time of Edward I, not Edward the Confessor, whose coronation chair no longer survives.
If British-Israelites are correct in their assumptions, the actual ascension of a Judahite monarch of the House of David over the English did not take place until 1603. In that year on the death of Elizabeth I, Scottish King James VI became James I, King of England.
For those who wish to explore these matters further, one of the best reconstructed lineages from king David to Elizabeth II, is found in W. M. H. Milner’s, Royal House of Britain An Enduring Dynasty.
If the Jeremiah tradition is impossible to verify through hard historical evidence, might it like so many other ancient legends have at its center a core of truth? If it does, the story becomes an important signpost in pointing us to the location of the House of Israel in modern times.
Sidebar: Modern Britain and Ancient Israel-- Linked by Tradition
As the increasingly threatening clouds of World War II were gathering momentum, the British government buried for safekeeping a 300-lb. Stone under the floor of Westminster Abbey in London, with the plans of the exact location sent to the prime minister of Canada.
The wooden inscription, marked “Jacob’s Pillar Stone” was removed. Some old photographs of the stone still carry the inscription, traditionally linking it to the first Israelite in history. Jacob consecrated the stone with oil to commemorate God appearing to him in vision while he rested on this pillar.
But why would the coronation stone used in the crowning of British kings and queens be connected with an event in the Holy Land almost 4,000 years ago and some 2,000 miles from the British Isles? Why the association between London, England and Bethel in ancient Israel?
Consider next the name Britain itself? Hebrew scholars inform us the stem of the word brit is Hebrew, meaning union in the sense of a covenant or pact. The British flag is commonly called the Union Jack to this day, short for Jacob whose name was changed to Israel. (The name James is equally a derivative of Jacob.) Why did the early settlers in Britain, long before the time of Christ, identify themselves with this Hebrew word?
When purchasing a definitive postage stamp in Northern Ireland, you’ll quickly notice the six pointed “star of David” on the stamp. This Hebrew emblem is superimposed on the hand of Ulster and was used as an identifying symbol long before the invention of stamps. Why?
A visit to Westminster Abbey, the only church on earth where kings and queens are still consecrated with sacred oil, chrism, is equally revealing. On entering the coronation church of the British monarchs, one cannot fail but notice the large West Window of stained glass identifying every one of the 12 sons of Jacob by name.
Moses holding the Ten Commandments and Aaron as the high priest alongside the other Israelites had the intention of impressing on society the importance of God’s Law (codified at Mount Sinai) as the foundation of morality and the need to maintain a spiritual dimension among the people.
No wonder Elizabeth I was described by her contemporaries as the “Deborah of Israel.” Not surprising, the Tudor Queen, on a 22-yard-long illustrated scroll made in 1559 (now at Hatfield House north of London) is identified with great leaders of the distant past. King David of Israel is among others mentioned by name. A letter this writer received from the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle, dated 16 of February, 1990, states: “Genealogical tables purporting to trace the descent of the British Royal Family from the House of David have been published from time to time, but there is no such table here. Nor is there any documentary material in the Royal Archives which might serve either to confirm or deny the validity of such tables...”
There is certainly no conclusive contemporary historical evidence that the House of Windsor can be equated with the ancient House of Judah. But charts making that connection exist. Traditions to that effect linger on. No other nation on earth has them. No such claims are registered by any other people. Why are the British Isles alone singled out as the place where, according to traditions, descendants of the 10 tribes have found a new home, ruled over by a royal descendant of the Davidic line, one whose coat of arms is depicted by a lion, symbol of the ancient tribe of Judah? The early Britons wrote no records that have survived, nor did the early Anglo- Saxons see the need to highlight their origin. Tradition maintains that during past periods of economic and political upheavals, Israelites began to leave the Middle East and made their way to the British Isles — centuries before the time of Christ. The prophet Isaiah tells us that the Messiah’s ultimate inheritance will be the throne of King David of Israel (Isaiah 9:5-6). Surely, the validity of this prophecy shows us that the throne of David must exist somewhere. Why not in Shakespeare’s “Sceptred Isle” whose very identifying name, Brit, reveals its Hebrew origin.