Israel and Judah, when will they be reunited?

Israel and Judah – Life, Hope & Truth
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Life Hope & Truth
Home \ Prophecy \ 12 Tribes

Israel and Judah: When Will They Be Reunited?

The division of Israel and Judah plays a big role in Bible history and prophecy, though this is confusing to many today. When will they be reunited?

After the death of King Solomon of Israel, the 12 tribes of Israel divided into two kingdoms. Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, became king of the southern kingdom of Judah, which was comprised of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin and much of the tribe of Levi, the tribe that served at the temple. Jeroboam, a former servant of King Solomon, became king of the northern kingdom of Israel, which was comprised of the remaining 10 tribes (1 Kings 11 and 12). Even though all the tribes were descendants of Jacob (also called Israel, Genesis 32:28; 35:10) and were known as Israelites under the single nation with this name, these peoples were now separated into two nations.

The Bible reveals that Israel and Judah will eventually be reunited as one nation. Before we look at this prophecy, consider a brief history of what happened to these two groups of people.

What happened to Israel and Judah?

It is important to note the distinction between the peoples of these two nations: Israel and Judah. While all Jews were Israelites because they were descendants of Jacob (Israel), not all Israelites were Jews. Some Israelites came from tribes other than Judah and Benjamin. Reflecting this distinction, the first time the word Jew appears in the King James Version of the Bible, the nations of Israel and Syria are at war with the “Jews” (2 Kings 16:5-6).

Because of disobedience to His laws, God allowed the northern kingdom of Israel to be taken into captivity by the Assyrians in the eighth century B.C. The Assyrians took these Israelites captive in successive deportations and settled them “in the cities of the Medes” (2 Kings 15:29; 18:9-12). Since this time, these people are known in history as the lost 10 tribes of Israel.

Less than 150 years later, during the sixth century B.C., God allowed the nation of Judah, which likewise continued to sin, to fall to the Babylonian Empire. Many Jews, including the prophet Daniel and his three friends, were taken as captives to Babylon. After 70 years, the Jews were given their freedom and allowed to return to Judah and rebuild the city of Jerusalem and the temple. They were still in their land when the Romans conquered Judea in 63 B.C.

Israel and Judah in the first century

Although there had been some mixing of the peoples of Israel and Judah (2 Kings 18:9-13; 2 Chronicles 34:9) during their respective captivities, during the first century it was still understood that these remained distinct groups of people. Since he was of the tribe of Benjamin, Paul told people that he was both a Jew (Acts 21:39) and an Israelite (Philippians 3:5).

When James wrote his general epistle, he addressed it to “the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad” (James 1:1). Writing during this same time period, the Jewish historian Josephus said, “The entire body of the people of Israel remained in that country [Media]; wherefore there are but two tribes [Judah and Benjamin] in Asia and Europe subject to the Romans, while the ten tribes are beyond Euphrates till now, and are an immense multitude, and not to be estimated by numbers” (Antiquities of the Jews, 11.5.2, Complete Works of Flavius Josephus, combined translations of William Whiston, 1867, and the Standard Edition, 1960).

The modern nation of Israel

When the modern nation of Israel was founded in 1948, it was established as a haven for Jews. Some have mistakenly assumed that because its founders chose the name Israel, this nation is now home for all of the descendants of ancient Israel. Several passages in the Bible make it clear that the modern nation of Israel does not represent all of the ancient Israelites.

First, we must realize that the Bible speaks of Abraham’s descendants as being an extremely large number of people—“as the sand of the sea” (Genesis 32:12). With the modern nation of Israel’s population approaching 8 million, compared to the earth’s current population of approximately 7 billion, the belief that the modern nation of Israel represents all of Abraham’s descendants doesn’t adequately respect or do justice to the promise God made to this patriarch.

Furthermore, Abraham’s descendant Ephraim was prophesied to “become a multitude of nations”; and his brother, Manasseh, a “great” nation (Genesis 48:19). Again, the modern nation of Israel has not fulfilled these biblical prophecies.

Israel and Judah reunited

While delivering prophecies to the ancient peoples of Israel and Judah of the upcoming demise of their nations because of their disobedience to God’s law, several prophets also spoke of a time of restoration after Christ returns to establish the Kingdom of God here on earth.

Jeremiah wrote: “‘In those days and in that time,’ says the LORD, ‘the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together; with continual weeping they shall come, and seek the LORD their God. They shall ask the way to Zion, with their faces toward it, saying, “Come and let us join ourselves to the LORD in a perpetual covenant that will not be forgotten”’” (Jeremiah 50:4-5). This prophecy speaks of both Israel and Judah jointly coming to God.

More explicitly via the use of a visual aid, God revealed through Ezekiel His plan to unite the two nations. “‘As for you, son of man, take a stick for yourself and write on it: “For Judah and for the children of Israel, his companions.” Then take another stick and write on it, “For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel, his companions.” Then join them one to another for yourself into one stick, and they will become one in your hand.

“‘And when the children of your people speak to you, saying, “Will you not show us what you mean by these?”—say to them, “Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Surely I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will join them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand.’” … Then say to them, “Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all; they shall no longer be two nations, nor shall they ever be divided into two kingdoms again’”’” (Ezekiel 37:16-19, 21-22).

The descendants of the ancient Israelites who had been part of the ancient nations of Israel and Judah will be reunited. They will once again be one nation.

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Genesis 32:28
28 And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.”


New King James Version (NKJV) The Holy Bible, New King James Version ©1982 by Thomas Nelson35:10
10 And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; your name shall not be called Jacob anymore, but Israel shall be your name.” So He called his name Israel.


New King James Version (NKJV) The Holy Bible, New King James Version ©1982 by Thomas Nelson2 Kings 16:5-6
5 Then Rezin king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, came up to Jerusalem to make war; and they besieged Ahaz but could not overcome him. 6 At that time Rezin king of Syria captured Elath for Syria, and drove the men of Judah from Elath. Then the Edomites went to Elath, and dwell there to this day.


New King James Version (NKJV) The Holy Bible, New King James Version ©1982 by Thomas Nelson2 Kings 15:29
29 In the days of Pekah king of Israel, Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria came and took Ijon, Abel Beth Maachah, Janoah, Kedesh, Hazor, Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali; and he carried them captive to Assyria.


New King James Version (NKJV) The Holy Bible, New King James Version ©1982 by Thomas Nelson18:9-12
9 Now it came to pass in the fourth year of King Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of Hoshea the son of Elah, king of Israel, that Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria and besieged it. 10 And at the end of three years they took it. In the sixth year of Hezekiah, that is, the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel, Samaria was taken. 11 Then the king of Assyria carried Israel away captive to Assyria, and put them in Halah and by the Habor, the River of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes, 12 because they did not obey the voice of the Lord their God, but transgressed His covenant and all that Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded; and they would neither hear nor do them.


New King James Version (NKJV) The Holy Bible, New King James Version ©1982 by Thomas Nelson2 Kings 18:9-13
9 Now it came to pass in the fourth year of King Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of Hoshea the son of Elah, king of Israel, that Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria and besieged it. 10 And at the end of three years they took it. In the sixth year of Hezekiah, that is, the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel, Samaria was taken. 11 Then the king of Assyria carried Israel away captive to Assyria, and put them in Halah and by the Habor, the River of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes, 12 because they did not obey the voice of the Lord their God, but transgressed His covenant and all that Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded; and they would neither hear nor do them. 13 And in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them.


New King James Version (NKJV) The Holy Bible, New King James Version ©1982 by Thomas Nelson2 Chronicles 34:9
9 When they came to Hilkiah the high priest, they delivered the money that was brought into the house of God, which the Levites who kept the doors had gathered from the hand of Manasseh and Ephraim, from all the remnant of Israel, from all Judah and Benjamin, and which they had brought back to Jerusalem.


New King James Version (NKJV) The Holy Bible, New King James Version ©1982 by Thomas NelsonActs 21:39
39 But Paul said, “I am a Jew from Tarsus, in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city; and I implore you, permit me to speak to the people.”


New King James Version (NKJV) The Holy Bible, New King James Version ©1982 by Thomas NelsonPhilippians 3:5
5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee;


New King James Version (NKJV) The Holy Bible, New King James Version ©1982 by Thomas NelsonJames 1:1
Greeting to the Twelve Tribes 1 James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings.


New King James Version (NKJV) The Holy Bible, New King James Version ©1982 by Thomas NelsonGenesis 32:12
12 “For You said, ‘I will surely treat you well, and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.’”


New King James Version (NKJV) The Holy Bible, New King James Version ©1982 by Thomas NelsonGenesis 48:19
19 But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.”


New King James Version (NKJV) The Holy Bible, New King James Version ©1982 by Thomas Nelson

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