Will all Israel return to the Promised Land?
By Alexander Zephyr
Will there be enough room for all of them?
This is the question that has received many controversial answers. Some scholars say that it will hardly be possible to accommodate a multi- hundred million people from the Ten Tribes of Israel in the ‘tiny’ territory of the ancient Promised Land. They accept the idea that many representatives of all twelve Tribes will settle in the Biblical Land of Israel in their tribal allotments in the Messianic Era, but not all Israelites will return to the Land of their fathers. Is the ancient Biblical Land of Israel really that small? We do not thing so. The expanded Land of Greater Israel from Nile to Euphrates has enough territory to settle all the Israelites together with the strangers among them! There is an opinion that the entire population of the world could be placed in the state of Texas, which consist of 268,820 square miles or 696,200 square kilometers. By comparison, the Biblical Land of Israel is not “tiny” at all. Its borders will include the Eastern part of Egypt, Sinai, Lebanon, Jordan, island of Cyprus, part of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Syria, parts of Iraq and Turkey. It is estimated that the Promised Land is eight times the size of Texas. The population of all the children of Israel is much less than that of the whole world. It would be no problem to accommodate all Israelites on their Land. Especially, as the prophets say, all the Arab and Muslim enemy-nations surrounding Israel will have been defeated and expelled out of the Land. Their lands will be repossessed by Israelites.
“Those who laid you waste depart from you. They that swallowed thee up shall be far away” (Isaiah 49:17, 19).
The Israelites will act according to God’s command:
“They shall devour all the people round about, on the right hand and on the left” (Zechariah 12:6). “Those who harass Judah shall be cut off” (Isaiah 11:12). “With Your hand You drove out the nations and planted our fathers. I will crash his foes before him and strike down his adversaries” (Psalm 44:2; 89:23).
The proponents of the opposite idea put forward a few Biblical verses trying to prove that it was divinely foreseen that a huge portion of the Israelite population will remain in the countries of their present dwellings. They do not realize or ignore the fact that the prophecies, they rely on, are all about the past. They have been fulfilled at other times. They do not directly connect to the prophecies of final reunification, ingathering and redemption on Mountains of Israel.
Here are some examples:
“Thou shall spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south” (Genesis 28:14).
Similarly, God said of Joseph: “Joseph is a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall” (Genesis 49:22).
These verses are quoted as confirmation of their theory that not all Israelites will be resettled in the Promised Land; plus Genesis 48:19 where it is said that Ephraim will be greater than Manasseh, and his seed shall become a multitude (Commonwealth) of nations, whereas Manasseh will become the single most power nation on the earth. The revisionist “scholars” maintain that these prophecies pertain to the future, and, therefore, a large chunk of Israelite population will continue to live in their various countries abroad even in the time of the Messianic Era.
Another so called “proof”, introduced by some theologians, that many Israelites will not return to the Promised Land and will continue live in their “appointed places” outside the Land is found in the verse 2 Samuel 7:10:
“I will appoint a place for My people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. Evil nations will not oppress them as they have done in the past,”
By adding a few key words such as “new appointed place”, Israel’s “future location”, “move no more”, these scholars have argued that there is not enough space to accommodate the vast multitudes of the Twelve Tribes of Israel on the territory of the ancient Promised Land, therefore God appointed them “new” places outside the borders of the Land of Israel, in the countries where the Ten Tribes in exile have been resident, so that they may live in the place of their own and “move no more”.
This interpretation of the Prophecy is wrong. Words were taken out of the contest with intention to change the meaning of the verse. If one were to continue to read the next verse 2 Samuel 7:11, it will have become clear that the previous verse is a continuation of present one, (that is why verses connected not with period, but with comma), and there is no such things as a “new place” and “new future location” for Israel. The intentions of the Prophet’s words are very different from this kind of understanding. The plain meaning of the Prophecy is that God was pleased with King David that he had in heart to build the house for Him. God therefore told David that He has it in His heart to make him a house and establish the place of his own.
“…since the time I appointed Judges over My people Israel. And I will give rest from all your enemies. Also the Lord declares to you that He will make a house for you” (Verse 11).
The difference between verses 10 and 11 is that in the times of the Judges the Israelites were greatly afflicted and suffered from the hands of the evil nations around them; but, now, God declares, He will put an end of it. The land of Canaan will be entirely free of enemies-nations. The Israelites will possess it for themselves, the place of their own. God promises them quietness, peace, prosperity and independence in the Kingdom of Israel under the leadership of Kings David and his son Solomon. That is all.
Another author wrote: “During the Millennium only a small percentage of Israelites actually return to Canaan”. He derives this conclusion from the verse of Jeremiah 3:14 which say:
“I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion.”
It is absolutely not clear how this verse contributes to the conviction that “not all Israelites will return to the Holy Land”? The wordings of this verse do not indicate that above mentioned selection will have taken place among the Jewish or Israelite populations.
One of the best translators and commentators of the Bible, Rabbi David Kimchi (1160-1235, Portugal), explained this verse in this way: “Though there may be but one Jew in a city of the Gentiles, or two only in a nation (“family” in the Scripture connotes country or nation), the Lord will take them from thence.” The authoritative translation of Kimchi finds its support by the contest of the whole Chapter 3 of Jeremiah where the main subject is not selection but:
“Return, faithless sons; I will cure your backsliding. I will restore you health and heal your wounds. –Yes, we will come to You, for You are the Lord, our God.”
Jeremiah 3:14 is an additional proof confirming that all Israelites and Jews will return to the Promised Land when appropriate time will arrive! (Amos 9:9; Ezekiel 36:10; 39:28).
Other “scholars” refer to Zechariah 14:16 as a proof that the majority of Israelites will remain in their “Appointed Places” throughout the Millennium and “go year-to-year to pay homage to their Messiah.”
“And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to warship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles” (Zechariah 14:16).
They “somehow” overlooked the fact that after the destruction of the Gog and Magog hordes, the nations who go year-to-year to Jerusalem to warship the Lord (not the Messiah!) are not the Israelite nations! These kinds of “tricks” do not give a good impression about these people and nullify their argumentation. The Prophet specifically said he was referring to “every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem.” In Ezekiel 38 and 39 and Zechariah 12 and 14 these events are clearly described in detail. Even the names of the nations in dispute are given! (Ezekiel 38: 2, 5, 6). They should have known that during the Wars of Gog and Magog in the time of the beginning of the Messianic Era, the Jews and Israelites will have been reunited under the leadership of the Messiah, son of Joseph, and dwelled in their Ancient Land restored to its Biblical borders. They will live in the Promised Land in peace and security, all of them (Ezekiel 38:8, 11). The attack of Gog will have been against the house of Israel.
Seems, the Prophet Isaiah also speaks of those heathen nations who in the future will come to Israel to beg for forgiveness and learn the ways of the Lord, God of Israel:
“The sons also of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee; and all they that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet; and they shall call thee, The city of the Lord, the Zion of the Holy One in Israel”(Isaiah 60:14).
It is very obvious that the nations mentioned in Zechariah 14:16 and Isaiah 60:14 are not those of Israelite origin and will have had nothing in common with them.
The simple and plain truth of above mentioned prophecies (except Zechariah 14:16 and Isaiah 60:14) is the fact that all of them have been precisely fulfilled in the various times in the past! Yes, the twelve Tribes of Israel and Judah were sent by God to exile in the four corners of the World (Genesis 28:14). Yes, the descendants of Joseph were world colonizing people (Genesis 49:22): Manasseh became single most power nation of America, and Ephraim- very populous Commonwealth of nations as of Great Britain (Genesis 48:19). Yes, the Israelites had the place of their own and lived in peace and prosperity under the great King Solomon (2 Samuel 7:10-11). So what? Where do you see a single prophecy saying that not all Israel would have returned to the Holy Land?
On contrary, after dispersion to the lands of their enemies, the Almighty on a quite a few occasions had reassured His People that He will return them to the Holy Land at the appointed time, all the remnant of Israel.
“Behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places wither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this Land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of” (Genesis 28:15).
There are dozens upon dozens prophecies in the Hebrew Scripture that speak of the same theme of the ingathering of all the remnant of Israel in the God given Land.
“Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own Land; and I will make them one nation upon the Mountains of Israel” (Ezekiel 37:21-22).
If these quoted verses of the Bible still do not satisfy some of our readers that all Twelve Tribes of Israel will return to ancient Promised Land, the following verses definitely nail it:
“Then shall they know that I am the Lord their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I have gathered them unto their own Land, and have left none of them any more there” (Ezekiel 39:28).
Rabbi Shlomo Yitzaki (1040-1105, France), better known by the acronym Rashi, the “father” of all commentaries, said that, according to Ezekiel 39:28, No one will be left in the Exile!
Another famous commentator R. Chaim Dov Rabinovitz (1909-2001, Lithuania), Daat Sofrim, said: “This is the most explicit promise concerning the ingathering of all the outcast of Israel.”
“I will multiply people on you (Mountains of Israel), all the house of Israel, all of it” (Ezekiel 36:10).
It is just amazing how God repeatedly stresses the very point that not only the Ten Tribes of Israel alone will return to the Promised Land, but all the Twelve Tribes together, all of them will return! The Almighty knew precisely that there would be controversies about the Babylonian captivity’s return and the last and Final Exodus. Make no mistake, said the Lord, I will gather all My people from their countries in exile, and will have left none of them any more there. Explicitly clear and understandable.
Every God’s word in the Scripture has its own place, meaning and importance. If Almighty did not want to say that all the house of Jacob will return to the Promised Land, He would have said so. Meanwhile, by using imperatively such a words and expressions as “all the house of Israel”, “all of it”, “I have left none of them any more there”, God has left no room for doubt that He will have gathered all twelve Tribes of His People to the Holy Land.
Here is one more example proving that God will gather all the people of Israel to the Promised Land, no matter how far they are and how difficult for them be to return:
“The Lord will return your captivity and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the people whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee. If any of thine that are dispersed be in the uttermost parts of heaven, from thence will the Lord thy God will bring thee into the Land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shall possess it” (Deuteronomy 30:3-5).
Again and again Gog emphasizes the fact that all His People will return, and He will have left none of them any more there.
In the beginning stage of the process of Ingathering, it seems that there will not be enough room for all the newcomers: “This place is too small for us; give us more space to live in” (Isaiah 49:20; Zechariah 10:10).
God advises His People what to do: “Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes” (Isaiah 54:2). In other words, go ahead, enlarge the curtains of your habitation, bring “the fist of My Judgments” on the enemy-nations round about and establish the boundaries of the Promised Land, according to My Word. Israel will have obeyed perfectly the directives of God and will restore the borders of the Holy Land from the Nile to the Euphrates. As the Lubavitch Rabbi, M.M. Schneerson, said, these Biblical “Occupied Territories” belong to Israel. There will be more than enough space for all the families of Israel together with the strangers living among them.
Regardless of how many nations and countries belonging to Israel exist in their places of exile and how many hundred of millions they may number, after the defeat of Gog and Magog, the Messiah, son of David, will complete the process of the total in gathering of all the Children of Israel to the Holy Land. This will proceed as part of the final redemption of the whole house of Jacob, and they will know their God, all of them.
God will have left none of them any more there. No one member of the remnant Israelite family will be left behind in the countries of their exile.
The Twelve Israelite Tribes will have become one People again, the Kingdom of priests, the light to the World. Through this unified and redeemed nation of Israel all the Divine Blessings of the Bible will come to pass into this world. It will be their Divinely ordained task and destiny to teach and guide the nations to worship one God of the Universe, God of Israel, by demonstrating righteousness, holiness, kindness and God’s love to all inhabitants of the earth in order to merit together the Messianic Era and life in the World to Come.
from the August 2011 Edition of the Jewish Magazine