Judeans & The Bnei Menashe

My TJCII UK colleague, Jonathan Allen, posted the following in his blog last month (see http://www.messianictrust.org.uk/frothing/index.php?art=15-06-26):

Conflict and Identity in Romans: The Social Setting of Paul’s Letter,
Philip F. Esler, Fortress Press, 2003, page 66

Supporting Hodge’s arguments, Philip Esler affirms that

before the destruction of the temple in 70 CE the law and the temple were twin foci of the Judeans … separating the two is not easy.

Making the good point that one of the essential differences between those living in Judea and those living in the Diaspora was that the former had the temple on their doorstep, so to speak, whereas the latter group had to work much harder to maintain their individual and community identity, he concludes:

The major problem is that to translate Ioudaioi as “Jews” removes from the designation of this ethnic group the reference to Judea, to its temple and the cult practiced there, that both insiders and outsiders regarded as fundamental to its meaning and that accorded with the almost universal practice of naming ethnic groups after their territories.

 

At the same time I was struck with this report in my newsfeed from Israel regarding returnees from the sub-continent of India and their visit to the Tomb of Joseph.

http://www.michaelfreund.org/17505/bnei-menashe-joseph-tomb

The Bnei Menashe (Sons of Manasseh) are clearly not technically Jews, or Judeans, but returnees from the northern Kingdom of Israel taken into exile by the Assyrians in the 8th century BCE. Their return is fulfilling the prophecy of Ezekiel 37:15ff as they become the one tree / one nation and they have carried this longing for centuries and rehearsed / preserved it in a song in their language of exile.  

The other thing of note in Michael Freund’s article, as Rabbi Allen subsequently observed, is the first sentence where he talks about “Palestinian-occupied Shechem”. Allen states

Clearly, given his known position, this is deliberate, but it is a point of view that is entirely missed by the West.  While from an activist’s perspective, at least the West Bank (if not all Israel, but that’s a larger story) is Israeli-occupied territory, from a serious Jewish place, Shechem is Palestinian-occupied territory.  This is connection between the Jews and the Land.

Everything that God does on planet earth is, and will continue to be, controversial until the day when “the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15). And until that day we will continue to work and pray for the prophetic scriptures to be fulfilled in the restoration of all Israel, Judeans and Israelites alike, to the Land, and the restoration and reconciliation of all those who own the name of Yeshua into one body.

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