Question: In A Cup of Trembling you mention “Jew” as if Jews were “all of Israel.” But the word “Jew” only describes Judeans. When the Bible means all 12 tribes it calls them “Israel.” You also stated that Jesus was a Jew;...but the Bible doesn’t specifically say he was. You assert that the biblical land of Palestine was promised to the “Jewish people.” You are mistaken, it was promised to all 12 tribes. The Jews of Jesus’ day were not all Israelites, but Edomites, Hittites, Hivites, Canaanites, etc. None of the 10 tribes returned from the Assyrian captivity. You will have to show yourself a Berean. Enclosed is a concise list [of reference books] to get you started.
Response: Thank you for your letter. It is not necessary to consult the many sources you listed. The Bible is sufficient. If those recognized as Jews around the world do not represent the 12 tribes of Israel, then God is a liar. He promised that Israel would “not cease from being a nation for ever” (Jer:31:35-36); that He would “bring again the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel (Ez 39:25); and that one day the Messiah would reign over the “house of Jacob [Israel]” (Isa:2:1- 5; Lk 1:33, etc.). Christ himself promised that His disciples would reign “on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Mt 19:28; Lk 22:30, etc.). If those called Jews do not include all 12 tribes today, then these promises cannot be fulfilled, for there is no other people who have been preserved as a single ethnic group who could possibly be the “real Jews” or even the 10 allegedly lost tribes.
In 1 Chronicles 34 and 35 we have the revival under Josiah 100 years after the 10 tribes were carried into Assyria; and we find these same 10 tribes of Israel dwelling in their cities and worshiping the Lord. Jeremiah:2:4, Micah:3:1, etc. give the word of the Lord to the “house of Israel.” Indeed, James writes his epistle “to the twelve tribes scattered abroad” (1:1); and Paul declares that in his day “our twelve tribes [were] serving God” (Acts:26:7). I’ll accept what the Bible says above the historians, liberal or otherwise.
The usage of the word “Jew” in the Bible proves that after the return from Babylon all Israelites were called Jews. Over and over we have the statement that all men are either Jews or Gentiles (Rom:2:9; 1 Cor:10:32; Gal:3:28; Eph:2:11-18, etc.). There is no third category for the 10 “lost tribes” or for any other descendants of Israel. The Jews must be it! Jesus was called “king of the Jews” and didn’t deny it. And He was of the tribe of Judah, so of course, as the Messiah, He was a Jew even in the narrowest sense, and had to be.