Ye Elders of Israel top

Here are the lyrics from ‘Ye Elders of Israel’ written by Cyrus H. Wheelock:

Ye elders of Israel, come join now with me  And seek out the righteous, where’er they may be:  In desert, on mountain, on land, or on sea,  And bring them to Zion, the pure and the free.

The harvest is great, and the laborers are few;  But if we’re united, we all things can do;  We’ll gather the wheat from the midst of the tares  And bring them from bondage, from sorrows and snares.

We’ll go to the poor, like our Captain of old,  And visit the weary, the hungry, and cold;  We’ll cheer up their hearts with the news that he bore  And point them to Zion and life evermore.


O Babylon, O Babylon, we bid thee farewell;  We’re going to the mountains of Ephraim to dwell.

This is one of the ‘songs of Zion’ that brings back to memory the days of my mission. It was one of the songs that was fairly easy to sing the bass part, even for a tone-deaf soul like me.  We were tasked with finding those who were scattered throughout the world who had the ‘blood of Israel’ in their veins. Here is how Brigham Young characterized the search taken from the Journal of Discourses, Volume 2, page 269:

It is Ephraim that I have been searching for all the days of my preaching, and that is the blood which ran in my veins when I embraced the Gospel. If there are any of the other tribes of Israel mixed with the Gentiles we are also searching for them. Though the Gentiles are cut off, do not suppose that we are not going to preach the Gospel among the Gentile nations, for they are mingled with the house of Israel, and when we send to the nations we do not seek for the Gentiles, because they are disobedient and rebellious. (D&C 64:36) We want the blood of Jacob, and that of his father Isaac and Abraham, which runs in the veins of the people.

Loins of Ephraim

My patriarchal blessing echoed this idea where my lineage was declared as coming from Ephraim, therefore, I was of the house of Israel through Ephraim. But it was several years ago I began to experience some dissonance. I read in the words of Isaiah of the drunkards of Ephraim:

WOE to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine!

Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, which as a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth with the hand.

The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, shall be trodden under feet: (Isaiah 28:1-3)

If being an Ephraim-ite meant that I was a ‘fading flower’ and that the crown of pride would cause me to be ‘trodden under feet,’ I felt I needed to understand the broader picture. I was also concerned by the position of the house of Israel in the context of the last days.  In reading of the vision of the tree of life given to Lehi and Nephi, I came upon the following:

And it came to pass that the angel spake unto me again, saying: Look! And I looked and beheld the Lamb of God, that he was taken by the people; yea, the Son of the everlasting God was judged of the world; and I saw and bear record.

And I, Nephi, saw that he was lifted up upon the cross and slain for the sins of the world.

And after he was slain I saw the multitudes of the earth, that they were gathered together to fight against the apostles of the Lamb; for thus were the twelve called by the angel of the Lord.

And the multitude of the earth was gathered together; and I beheld that they were in a large and spacious building, like unto the building which my father saw.  And the angel of the Lord spake unto me again, saying: Behold the world and the wisdom thereof; yea, behold the house of Israel hath gathered together to fight against the twelve apostles of the Lamb. (1 Nephi 11:32-35)

Does this not imply that the house of Israel occupied and, possibly, still occupies that large and spacious building and were/are fighting against the Gospel of Jesus Christ? It was because of their pride that the gospel was taken from them and extended to the Gentiles. It is similar pride that will be demonstrated by the Gentiles that will cause the Lord to withdraw His Gospel from them and extend it once again to the house of Israel. “The first shall be last and the last shall be first.” (1 Nephi 13:42)

In my last post which contains the presentation at the Sunstone Symposium, I spoke of the Gentiles who were blessed  ‘because of their belief in [Christ], in and of the Holy Ghost, which witnesses unto them of me and of the Father.’ (3 Nephi 16:6) The core question central to this feeble attempt at a post is to answer the question; who am I relative to the warnings of the Book of Mormon? Am I of Ephraim which, outside of the writings of Isaiah, is only represented by the name of a hill in the Book? Am I of the house of Israel that will receive the gospel only after the Gentiles reject it? Or am I a Gentile who can hope that through repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost can be numbered with those of the church?

Is the right answer all of the above? Let’s go back to the blessing that Ephraim received at the hands of his grandfather.

And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them near unto him.

And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn.

And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day.

The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.

And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him: and he held up his father’s hand, to remove it from Ephraim’s head unto Manasseh’s head.

And Joseph said unto his father, Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head.

And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations.

And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh: and he set Ephraim before Manasseh. (Genesis 48:13-20)

So Israel/Jacob had his two grandchildren, Manasseh and Ephraim, brought before him for a blessing. Joseph positioned Manasseh, the elder child on the right side of Israel and Ephraim on the left side. Much to his dismay, Israel crossed his hands and laid his right hand upon Ephraim and his left hand upon Manasseh. Israel persisted and pronounced blessings upon both children. He blessed Manasseh that he would ‘become a people,’ but for the younger son, Ephraim, he blessed to ‘become a multitude of nations.’

Here is where an understanding of the original Hebrew is of benefit, but alas, I am not a Hebrew scholar. What I do have at my disposal is the Interlinear Bible and Strong’s Concordance. The blessing given to Ephraim notes, in the Interlinear Bible, that ‘his seed shall become the fullness of the nations.’ The word used in Genesis, chapter 48, verse 18, for ‘nations’ is ‘goy,’ the same Hebrew word used in many places to denote ‘Gentiles.’ So, in effect, Ephraim was blessed to fill the Gentile nations. The progeny of  Ephraim is both of the house of Israel and identified as the Gentiles. Here is how Joseph Smith treated the topic in the Kirtland Temple dedicatory prayer:

We ask thee to appoint unto Zion other stakes besides this one which thou hast appointed, that the gathering of thy people may roll on in great power and majesty, that thy work may be cut short in righteousness.

Now these words, O Lord, we have spoken before thee, concerning the revelations and commandments which thou hast given unto us, who are identified with the Gentiles. (D&C 109:59-60)

We are the Gentiles, we are those who are of the house of Israel. The challenge comes in that the ‘nations’ no longer remember their roots, nor are they able to link themselves with the house of Israel. When Moses brought the children of Israel out of Egypt, the Lord commanded him to ‘number’ the house of Israel before they could be introduced into their promised land. Each tribe was counted and each member had to be linked to his clan.

These were the numbered of the children of Israel, six hundred thousand and a thousand seven hundred and thirty.

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

Unto these the land shall be divided for an inheritance according to the number of names.

To many thou shalt give the more inheritance, and to few thou shalt give the less inheritance: to every one shall his inheritance be given according to those that were numbered of him.

Notwithstanding the land shall be divided by lot: according to the names of the tribes of their fathers they shall inherit.

According to the lot shall the possession thereof be divided between many and few. (Numbers 26:51-56)

In order to receive an inheritance, each person had to be numbered according to tribe. Those that were not able to link themselves to Israel were not given any place in the land. They were deemed outsiders. The same is true today for those who wish to be part of the kingdom of God. Here is the plea from the Lord to the Gentiles:

Turn, all ye Gentiles, from your wicked ways; and repent of your evil doings, of your lyings and deceivings, and of your whoredoms, and of your secret abominations, and your idolatries, and of your murders, and your priestcrafts, and your envyings, and your strifes, and from all your wickedness and abominations, and come unto me, and be baptized in my name, that ye may receive a remission of your sins, and be filled with the Holy Ghost, that ye may be numbered with my people who are of the house of Israel. (3 Nephi 30:2)

Given that we cannot literally prove of lineage back to the Fathers, we are given an alternative. If we are willing to repent, be baptized, receive a remission of our sins and be filled with the Holy Ghost; we are then promised that we, even as Gentiles, can be ‘numbered’ with the house of Israel.

In the end, though, it really doesn’t matter whether we consider ourselves as coming from the loins of Ephraim or as a Gentile that fought against our mother Gentiles in establishing this land of freedom and bounty.

AND now behold, my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you; for I, Nephi, would not suffer that ye should suppose that ye are more righteous than the Gentiles shall be.  For behold, except ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall all likewise perish; and because of the words which have been spoken ye need not suppose that the Gentiles are utterly destroyed.

For behold, I say unto you that as many of the Gentiles as will repent are the covenant people of the Lord; and as many of the Jews as will not repent shall be cast off; for the Lord covenanteth with none save it be with them that repent and believe in his Son, who is the Holy One of Israel. (2 Nephi 30:1-2)

We should all be rightly concerned about the warnings in the Book of Mormon, not only to the house of Israel, but more importantly, to the Gentiles. We should seek to be numbered among His people. We should seek to receive the same blessing taught by Moroni relative to the church of Christ:

AND now I speak concerning baptism.  Behold, elders, priests, and teachers were baptized; and they were not baptized save they brought forth fruit meet that they were worthy of it.

Neither did they receive any unto baptism save they came forth with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, and witnessed unto the church that they truly repented of all their sins.

And none were received unto baptism save they took upon them the name of Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end.

And after they had been received unto baptism, and were wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost, they were numbered among the people of the church of Christ; and their names were taken, that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith. (Moroni 6:1-4)

Those who bring forth fruit; those who approach God with a broken heart and a contrite spirit; those who have repents of their sins; those who take upon them the name of Christ and are cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost. These are the one who will be numbered ‘among the people of the church of Christ.’

What think ye?


18 Responses to “Ye Elders of Israel Identified with the Gentiles”

  • salemmanofthecloth:

    Yes, goy-im (gentiles) we are notwithstanding our folklorish claims otherwise, and not recognizing it tends to keep us from remembering our identity. 2 Nep 3 state Joseph Smith is a consanguineal (blood direct) descendant from Father Joseph which puts his and our ancestors in the Exodus narrative we think of as Jewish. Nonsense! It’s House of Israel all the way, but they have been wise enough to keep the Sinai covenants all the way down to this day while we have stayed mostly lost. We are the birthright tribe of the House of Israel! We have ironically remained lost in plain sight by not knowing our crucial connection to Israel as you have posted here. We and the Jews think of “gentile” as apart from Judah, but the true meaning is brother/nephew of Judah and son of Jacob through Joseph. In the not-so-far future Ephraim and Judah (the two headliner tribes) will reconcile and great and marvelous will be work. Thanks for your post.

  • Spektator:

    It seems that Isaiah views us as Ephraim while the Book of Mormon identifies us as Gentiles. As I see it, either way we are not meeting the Lord’s expectations.

    I assume the major work ahead is the foundation of New Jerusalem. Here is a quote from 3 Nephi, chapter 21:

    22 But if they [the Gentiles] will repent and hearken unto my words, and harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them, and they shall come in unto the covenant and be numbered among this the remnant of Jacob, unto whom I have given this land for their inheritance;
    23 And they shall assist my people, the remnant of Jacob, and also as many of the house of Israel as shall come, that they may build a city, which shall be called the New Jerusalem.
    24 And then shall they assist my people that they may be gathered in, who are scattered upon all the face of the land, in unto the New Jerusalem.

    As Gentiles, we will have the ‘opportunity’ to assist the remnant of Jacob in the building of the city of the Lord. I don’t think being a headliner tribe is necessarily a good thing. The Lord looks to us to serve and to minister to the remnant and to assist in bringing His people into Zion.

  • salemmanofthecloth:

    As I go through the latter-day ideas of what will be, I can’t get past D&C 133:26-34 which seems to reconcile Ephraim back to its position as headliner tribe. The run up to being restored, however, will be confusing and those predictions that our church will somehow fail utterly are interesting, but untrue. I am not an apologist for what is going on at the COB today, but I am grateful for what we have accomplished so far and look forward to the future even though it will be devastating. I suppose you agree, we are all in this great apostasy together and it will take all of us remaining to set things right again.

    D&C 133
    26 And they who are in the north countries shall come in remembrance before the Lord; and their prophets shall hear his voice, and shall no longer stay themselves; and they shall smite the rocks, and the ice shall flow down at their presence.

    27 And an highway shall be cast up in the midst of the great deep.

    28 Their enemies shall become a prey unto them,

    29 And in the barren deserts there shall come forth pools of living water; and the parched ground shall no longer be a thirsty land.

    30 And they shall bring forth their rich treasures unto the children of Ephraim, my servants.

    31 And the boundaries of the everlasting hills shall tremble at their presence.

    32 And there shall they fall down and be crowned with glory, even in Zion, by the hands of the servants of the Lord, even the children of Ephraim.

    33 And they shall be filled with songs of everlasting joy.

    34 Behold, this is the blessing of the everlasting God upon the tribes of Israel, and the richer blessing upon the head of Ephraim and his fellows.

  • Spektator:

    …whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.(Mark 10:44)

    The revelation twice defines the children of Ephraim as servants. I do not think that there will be any room for pride or an inflated view of self-importance at the time the Lord comes to recover His people. Those of Ephraim that are spoken of here will not be those who are chastised by the Lord for scattering the flock and feeding themselves instead of those for which they are responsible.

    As for gratitude for what has been accomplished, I hope you are not referring to the works of men. What I see as the primary accomplishment is a concerted effort to teach people to trust in the arm of flesh. Yes, the church does teach wholesome principles, but so do many other organizations. What is lacking is a focus on the doctrines which have the power to sanctify.

  • There’s nothing about which to disagree on these subjects. “Follow the brethren,” “don’t steady the ark,” “remember Hiram Page!,” “the prophet cannot lead the church astray,” and more all seem to indicate a slide away from the Lord. Like you, I am grateful for Joseph Smith and for my ancestors who linked me to our church. I am grateful for all the good works performed by members and leaders. I am grateful for the opportunity to live in the United States. I am grateful our Church will be restored again and pulled back from the brink.

  • Spektator:

    I do need a reminder on a regular basis to express gratitude for the things I do have rather than harp on the missing elements. Thanks.

  • James:

    In my mind the House of Israel and “my people” are two different things. First the House of Israel is “chosen,” not because they are more righteous than other people, but because God is giving them special attention. God comes to work amongst them himself. (Jacob 5) Unfortunately, this group of people constantly reject or want to kill God when he comes amongst them. The House of Israel are also the ones that war against the TRUE 12 apostles of the Lamb.

    The people of the House of Israel (this wicked and hard hearted group) that repent and come unto him can then be called “my people.”

    3 Nephi 18:31
    31 But if he repent not he shall not be numbered among my people, that he may not destroy my people, for behold I know my sheep, and they are numbered.

    We could easily swap out “Mormons” for most the references to “Gentiles” in the Book of Mormon. The whole book is trying to warn Mormons to repent and come unto Christ and not reject him like the Jews did.

    Isaiah was definitely referring to Mormons when he talked about the drunkards of Ephraim.

    The remnant of Jacob are true believers. These people are not associated with any particular race.

    God’s church is not currently established on the earth right now. When the One like unto Moses stands up, those that repent and come unto Christ will be numbered amongst these true believers. They will be part of zion or the church of the Firstborn.

    3 Nephi 21:22
    22 But if they will repent and hearken unto my words, and harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them, and they shall come in unto the covenant and be numbered among this the remnant of Jacob, unto whom I have given this land for their inheritance;

    23 And they shall assist my people, the remnant of Jacob, and also as many of the house of Israel as shall come, that they may build a city, which shall be called the New Jerusalem.

    All people will have to leave their religions to come unto Christ. The Jews had to leave their religion to come unto Christ in their day, our day will be the same.

    • Spektator:


      “The remnant of Jacob are true believers. These people are not associated with any particular race.”

      As I went back through the Book of Mormon, I see a consistent reference to the Lamanites/Nephites as being the remnant of Jacob. Not sure how you have come to identify them as you have in this quote.

      I still hold that there are those among the native Americans who would qualify as the remnant of Jacob. Where they are, I don’t know…

      The idea that a Mormon would have to leave their religion to come unto Christ is very interesting given the discussions in the New Testament regarding whether one needed to follow Jewish law in order to be a Christian.

      • James:

        To understand the remnant of Jacob, and that they can be any race, we need to understand the concept of eternal lives. If you have eyes to see it, the BofM talks about it a lot. You’ll notice in these verses that there are promises made according to the FLESH. Jacob understood that his children, although they would die would be restored in the flesh (they would be born and live again). They would be gathered to the land of the inheritance by being born here in the promised land. They would then have one last chance to come unto Christ.

        2 Nephi 10:2

        2 For behold, the promises which we have obtained are promises unto us according to the FLESH; wherefore, as it has been shown unto me that many of our children shall perish in the flesh because of unbelief, nevertheless, God will be merciful unto many; and OUR CHILDREN SHALL BE RESTORED, that they may come to that which will give them the true knowledge of their Redeemer.
        2 Nephi 10:7

        7 But behold, thus saith the Lord God: When the day cometh that they shall believe in me, that I am Christ, then have I covenanted with their fathers that THEY SHALL BE RESTORED IN THE FLESH,restored in the flesh, upon the earth, unto the lands of their inheritance.

      • Spektator:

        Multiple mortal probations puts a twist on any position based on lineage. Who is really a Jew, a Gentile or a remnant of Jacob if the person could be one or all of them at different times? In your scenario, one has to assume that there are multiple probations per dispensation. I have certainly considered the efficacy of MMP but I haven’t considered that it is generally applied within a dispensation.


  • JR:

    “I will establish my church among them” (3 Nephi 21:22), does not refer to the LDS church as is commonly supposed by our brethren and sisters of the 3 hr block.
    Rather, this refers to the Church spoken of by our Lord in D&C 10:67, the church that is joined by repenting and coming unto Christ.
    And how does one repent and come unto Christ?
    Denver Snuffer spent a whole lecture out of his currently on-going series of talks teaching what it really means to repent…repent of our ignorance, repent of our unbelief, repent of our arrogance and foolishness.
    Nephi spent a whole chapter and a half teaching what it means to come unto Christ, in 2 Nephi 31-32:6.
    Thank you Spek, you are helping to lift the mists of darkness.

    • Spektator:

      I agree that the reference in 3 Nephi, chapter 21, best fits a future occurrence of the church. I would think that this, as we have discussed before has reference to the spiritual organization as opposed to the structure that man has developed as an idol.

      Are you going to Phoenix? Hope to see you there.


  • sfort:

    The United Kingdom was where Ephraim was laid. They were a multitude of nations at one point spreading their influence all over the world. Manasseh is the U.S. when Joseph spoke to Heber and Brigham, he said, ” to England, their is Ephraim there”. Gentiles or Israel, the qualifications are the same for all blessings. The Lord is no respector of persons when it comes to salvation, other than Ephraim taking the leadership role in the gathering. That is their fill. Once consigned to partaking of the BFHG, we now tke an active part in fulfilling the end or the Lord.

    • Spektator:

      Given I have Danish and Swedish ancestry, I would have to hope that Ephraim’s posterity liked cold weather. Otherwise, my patriarchal blessing missed the mark.


  • James:


    I’m sorry, I’m not sure about dispensations and MMP. But I do know that most of the Mormons are the same group of people that rejected Jesus. Unfortunately, the scriptures are pretty clear that they are going to do it again. So yes, the Gentiles today were the Jews. It is the same group of people that keep rejecting God.

    God keeps trying to gather these people.

    3 Nephi 10

    4 O ye people of these great cities which have fallen, who are descendants of Jacob, yea, who are of the house of Israel, how oft have I gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and have nourished you.

    5 And again, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, yea, O ye people of the house of Israel, who have fallen; yea, O ye people of the house of Israel, ye that dwell at Jerusalem, as ye that have fallen; yea, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens, and ye would not.

    6 O ye house of Israel whom I have spared, how oft will I gather you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if ye will repent and return unto me with full purpose of heart.

    7 But if not, O house of Israel, the places of your dwellings shall become desolate until the time of the fulfilling of the covenant to your fathers.

  • JR:

    Will be in Phoenix. I have grey beard and very short hair. Would really like to see you. Maybe we could do lunch after the talk.

    MMP is the only way the whole thing makes sense, the only way the scriptures make sense. Takes a lot of getting used to the idea though!

  • Nathan:

    3N 23:1-3 seems to support your position, particularly V2:

    1 And now, behold, I say unto you, that ye ought to search these things. Yea, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah.

    2 For surely he spake as touching all things concerning my people which are of the house of Israel; therefore it must needs be that he must speak also to the Gentiles.

    3 And all things that he spake have been and shall be, even according to the words which he spake.

    If the blood of Israel is intermingled with the Gentiles, then the words of Isaiah, which speak all things concerning the House of Israel, must also apply to the Gentiles.

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