LDS – “stick of Joseph” – in America

One of the greatest manifestations of the belief that Native Americans were biblical Hebrews is contained in the Book of Mormon, which depicts the sixth century B.C.E. journey of prophets Lehi and his son Nephi from the Kingdom of Israel to the new Promised Land.

Lehi, Father of Nephi

In the Book of Mormon, a Hebrew prophet who led his family and followers from Jerusalem to a promised land in the western hemisphere about 600 B.C. Lehi was the first prophet among his people in the Book of Mormon.

Lehi fled Jerusalem with his family at the command of the Lord (1 Ne. 2:1–4). He was a descendant of Joseph, who was sold into Egypt (1 Ne. 5:14). The Lord gave him a vision of the tree of life (1 Ne. 8:2–35). Lehi and his sons built a boat and sailed to the western hemisphere (1 Ne. 17–18). He and his descendants became established in a new land (1 Ne. 18:23–25). Before he died, Lehi blessed his sons and taught them of Christ and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon in the latter days (2 Ne. 1:1–4:12).

Book of Lehi

Joseph Smith began with the book of Lehi when he was translating the Book of Mormon. It was a record that Mormon had abridged from the plates of Lehi. After he had 116 pages of manuscript that he had translated from this book, Joseph gave the manuscript to Martin Harris, who had briefly served as Joseph’s scribe in the translation of the Book of Mormon. The pages were then lost. Joseph did not retranslate the book of Lehi to replace the lost manuscript but instead translated other related accounts from the gold plates (see the introductions to D&C 3; 10). These other accounts now are the first six books of the Book of Mormon.

Book of Nephi

Nephi wrote to persuade men to come unto Jesus Christ (see 1 Nephi 6:3–4). While studying 1 Nephi 6–11, seek to understand how Nephi’s writings fulfill this purpose. In particular, note how the vision of the tree of life testifies of the love of God and the mission of the Savior. Nephi received this vision as a result of his righteous desires and willingness to be obedient. As you align your desires and actions with the will of the Lord like Nephi, you can also receive personal revelation “by the power of the Holy Ghost” (1 Nephi 10:19).

The Book of Mormon is sometimes referred to as the “stick of Joseph” (Ezekiel 37:19) or the “stick of Ephraim” (D&C 27:5). Lehi was a descendant of Manasseh (see Alma 10:3) and Ishmael was a descendant of Ephraim. The prophecies of Jacob (see Genesis 48:16; 49:22) were fulfilled as Ishmael’s family (Ephraim) came to the American continent with Lehi (Manasseh).

Elder Erastus Snow (1818–88) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles discussed the importance of Ishmael’s lineage: “Whoever has read the Book of Mormon carefully will have learned that the remnants of the house of Joseph dwelt upon the American continent; and that Lehi learned by searching the records of his fathers that were written upon the plates of brass, that he was of the lineage of Manasseh. The Prophet Joseph informed us that the record of Lehi was contained on the 116 pages that were first translated and subsequently stolen, and of which an abridgment is given us in the first Book of Nephi, which is the record of Nephi individually, he himself being of the lineage of Manasseh; but that Ishmael was of the lineage of Ephraim, and that his sons married into Lehi’s family, and Lehi’s sons married Ishmael’s daughters, thus fulfilling the words of Jacob upon Ephraim and Manasseh in the 48th chapter of Genesis, which says: ‘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 land.’ Thus these descendants of Manasseh and Ephraim grew together upon this American continent” (in Daniel H. Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon [1976], 199).

In the Book of Mormon, Ishmael is the righteous friend of the prophet Lehi in Jerusalem. When Lehi takes his family into the wilderness, Lehi brings Ishmael and his family too. The daughters of Ishmael marry the sons of Lehi, but the sons of Ishmael join Laman and Lemuel in their rebellion against Nephi. Ishmael dies in the wilderness, and is buried at Nahom. (See Archaeology and the Book of Mormon) After their arrival in the Americas, the children of Ishmael side with the Lamanites, except for those daughters who married Sam, Nephi, and Zoram.

Ishmael, a figure in the Tanakh and the Quran, was Abraham’s first son according to Jews, Christians and Muslims. Ishmael was born to Abraham and Sarah’s handmaiden Hagar (Hājar) (Genesis 16:3). According to the Genesis account, he died at the age of 137 (Genesis 25:17). The Book of Genesis and Islamic traditions consider Ishmael to be the ancestor of the Ishmaelites and patriarch of Qaydār. According to Muslim tradition, Ishmael the Patriarch and his mother Hagar are buried next to the Kaaba in Mecca.

Genesis 21:14-21 (KJV)

And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba. And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs. And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bow shot: for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept. And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation. And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink. And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer. And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran: and his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt.

Genesis 48:14-16 (KJV)

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. 

The scriptures suggest that at least one of the promises given to Abraham applies equally to both Ishmael and Isaac. Long before either Ishmael or Isaac was born the Lord promised Abraham: “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing … [to] all families of the earth” (Gen. 12:2–3). Although we accept a specific role for the House of Israel, in a general sense it is true that the descendents of both Ishmael and Isaac have been “great” in population and achievement, a blessing to mankind. The Lord gave Abraham a second promise: “Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them. … So shall thy seed be” (Gen. 15:5). Later, when Hagar conceived Ishmael, an angel echoed Abraham’s promise: “I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude” (Gen. 16:10).

It is interesting that the children of both Isaac and Ishmael have desired to apply the scripture given to Abraham:

“This is my covenant which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised” (Gen. 17:10, 25). Circumcision has been a custom of the Jews (Israelites) as well as of the Arabs (Ishmaelites) since that time.

God further promised Abraham: “And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, … all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession” (Gen. 17:8). Again, this promise has been fulfilled for both Ishmael and Isaac, since both Arabs and Jews have resided there. Indeed, the scriptures prophetically and accurately said, “And he [Ishmael] shall dwell in the presence of his brethren” (Gen. 16:12).

The Lord describes Ishmael’s descendents, the Arabs, in these terms: “And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation” (Gen. 16:12; Gen. 17:20).

In the Old Testament, the second son of Joseph and Asenath (Gen. 41:50–52; 46:20). Contrary to the traditional manner, Ephraim received the birthright blessing instead of Manasseh, who was the elder son (Gen. 48:17–20). Ephraim became the father of the tribe of Ephraim.

The tribe of Ephraim

Ephraim was given the birthright in Israel (1 Chr. 5:1–2; Jer. 31:9). In the last days their privilege and responsibility is to bear the priesthood, take the message of the restored gospel to the world, and raise an ensign to gather scattered Israel (Isa. 11:12–13; 2 Ne. 21:12–13). The children of Ephraim will crown with glory those from the north countries who return in the last days (D&C 133:26–34).

The stick of Ephraim or Joseph

A record of one group from the tribe of Ephraim that was led from Jerusalem to America about 600 B.C. This group’s record is called the stick of Ephraim or Joseph, or the Book of Mormon. It and the stick of Judah (the Bible) form a unified testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ, His Resurrection, and His divine work among these two segments of the house of Israel.

  • A branch of Ephraim will be broken off and will write another testament of Christ, JST, Gen. 50:24–26, 30–31.

  • The stick of Judah and the stick of Joseph will become one, Ezek. 37:15–19.

  • The writings of Judah and of Joseph shall grow together, 2 Ne. 3:12.

  • The Lord speaks to many nations, 2 Ne. 29.

  • The keys of the record of the stick of Ephraim were committed to Moroni, D&C 27:5.

Isaac, the son of Abraham and Sarah, had a son called Jacob, whose name was subsequently changed to Israel. Jacob had four wives, by whom he had twelve sons: from Leah—Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun; from Rachel—Joseph and Benjamin; from Bilhah—Dan and Naphtali; from Zilpah—Gad and Asher. The descendants of these twelve sons have been divided into separate family tribes, each carrying the name of the son of Israel through whom they were born: Reuben, Simeon, etc. Collectively, the descendants of the tribes of Israel are known as the house of Israel and are called Israelites. Obviously, all Israelites (descendants of Jacob) are Hebrews (descendants of Abraham), but not all Hebrews are Israelites.

Additional family names are used for some groups in the house of Israel. The descendants of Judah (the fourth-born son of Jacob), for example, are known as Jews, and the descendants of Ephraim (a son of Joseph) are called Ephraimites. (See Judg. 12:4–6.)

In summary, then, the literal descendants of Abraham (Hebrews) include the descendants of Jacob (Israelites), Judah (Jews), and Ephraim (Ephraimites), all of whom are mentioned extensively in the scriptures. However, the descendants of Abraham also include many additional peoples who would be included in the Lord’s promise to Abraham: “I will multiply thee, and thy seed after thee, like unto these [stars]; and if thou canst count the number of sands, so shall be the number of thy seeds.” (Abr. 3:14.)

The basic conclusion of linguistic study into this subject is that as large groups of ancient Israelites left their homeland—first, following the Assyrian captivity of northern Israel (about 700 B.C.) and the Babylonian captivity of Judah in the south (about 600 B.C.), and second, following the Roman conquest of Palestine (about A.D. 70)—their language influenced the languages of some of the countries to which they migrated.

Arsareth / America

In his book “Origins of the American Indians”, Lee Huddleston details European efforts to reconcile the new discoveries with the accepted religious axioms, especially from the mid-16th century onwards. Spanish scholars first tried to ascribe the origin of the Indians to China, Carthage, the East Indies, the lost continent of Atlantis and even the biblical Solomonic kingdom of Ophir. The first serious claim that they were descendants of the lost Jewish tribes was made in 1567 by the Dutch theologian Joannes Lumnius. In later years the theory spread to Spanish and Portuguese scholars as well. They identified America with the biblical Arsareth mentioned in the New Testament version of the book of Ezra, Esdras, which was ascribed to Columbus as well. To Hebrew speakers, Arsareth sounds like a jumble of Eretz Acheret, which means ‘another country” and is mentioned in the Old Testament as a place of banishment for the sinning Jews.

English and other north European scholars also tackled the question of the origin of Native Americans, but the turning point for many of them came, according to Huddleston, in the wake of testimony offered by a Jew named Aharon Levy who arrived in Amsterdam in 1644. Levy recounted being told by his Indian captors in what is now Ecuador that they were secret Hebrews who would soon drive the Spaniards from their lands. His story was picked up the preeminent Jewish spiritual leader at the time, Rabbi Manasseh Ben Israel, who became the chief proponent of the Indians are Jews theory and wrote a famous book called Hope of Israel about it.

At about the same time, an English cleric named Thomas Thorowgood published Jewes in America: Probabilities that Americans are Jews, which claimed the biblical descent of Indians based on supposedly shared traits and values with Jews, including belief in one God, laws of purity and cannibalism.

“We have reasonable grounds for regarding the Gimirri, or Cimmerians, who first appeared on the confines of Assyria and Media in the seventh century B.C., and the Sacae of the Behistun Rock, nearly two centuries later, as identical with the Beth-Khumree of Samaria, or the Ten Tribes of the House of Israel.” – George Rawlinson, note in his translation of History of Herodotus, Book VII, p. 378

2 Esdras Chapter 13

But they took this counsel among themselves, that they would leave the multitude of the heathen, and go forth into a further country, where never mankind dwelt, That they might there keep their statutes, which they never kept in their own land. And they entered into Euphrates by the narrow places of the river. For the most High then shewed signs for them, and held still the flood, till they were passed over. For through that country there was a great way to go, namely, of a year and a half: and the same region is called Arsareth.


The name of the land beyond the great river, far away from the habitation of man, in which the Ten Tribes of Israel will dwell, observing the laws of Moses, until the time of the restoration, according to IV Esd. xiii. 45. Columbus identified America with this land. (See Kayserling’s “Christopher Columbus,” translated by Dr. C. Gross, p. 15.)

The name, it has been suggested by Schiller-Szinessy, is taken from Deut. xxix. 24-27, “Because they forsook the covenant of the Lord . . . and went and served other gods . . . the Lord rooted them out of their land . . . and cast them into another land [ereẓ aḦeret] as this day.” This passage is made to refer (in Mishnah Sanh. x. 3) to the Ten Tribes (compare Tosef., Sanh. xiii. 12; Bab. ib. 110b; Yer. ib. x. 29c; Ab. R. N., ed. Schechter, A, xxxvi. 108, and Bacher, “Agada der Tannaiten,” i. 143). But different opinions are expressed by Akiba and Eliezer—the traditions are rather confused as to the names—whether the Ten Tribes may be expected to return or not, since this point is not determined in the Scriptural verse. One of them takes the words “as this day” to signify that “as the day goeth, but doth not return, so shall they who are cast off not return”; the other explains the words: “as the day begins with the darkness of the night, but turns into day, so shall the darkness of their banishment be turned into bright daylight” (Mishnah Sanh. l.c.). The fourth Book of Esdras took the latter view, which was adopted also by R. Judah ha-Nasi in the Tosefta (l.c.), who refers to Isa. xxvii. 13.

Old Negev

Old Negev, a language named after the location of the alphabet’s initial discovery in the Sinai. In Australia it has been known for centuries by the name “Panaramitee.” The language and grammar are now understood to be proto-Canaanite and appear to have roots in common with Egyptian and Hebrew. The petroglyphs successfully translate to English using an old Hebrew dialect.

In the late 1990’s, William McGlone, an amateur archaeologist and retired space engineer, discovered the same collection of symbols carved in heavily patinated stones surrounding the Southeast Colorado town of La Junta; dating of the patina corresponded to the same era as the writing found in Harkarkom in Israel. 

It is indisputable evidence that a Canaanite people speaking and writing a Canaanite language and worshipping the God Yahweh found their way to ancient America.

Tribe of Ephraim

According to the Hebrew Bible, the Tribe of Ephraim, was one of the Tribes of Israel. The Tribe of Manasseh together with Ephraim also formed the House of Joseph. It is one of the ten lost tribes. The etymology of the name is disputed.

According to the Bible, the Tribe of Ephraim is descended from a man named Ephraim, who is recorded as the son of Joseph, the son of Jacob, and Asenath, the daughter of Potiphar. The descendants of Joseph formed two of the tribes of Israel, whereas the other sons of Jacob were the founders of one tribe each.

The Bible records that the Tribe of Ephraim entered the land of Canaan during its conquest by Joshua, a descendant of Ephraim himself. However, “almost all” scholars have abandoned the idea that Joshua carried out a conquest of Canaan similar to that described in the Book of Joshua.

From Joshua to the formation of the first Kingdom of Israel, the Tribe of Ephraim was a part of a loose confederation of Israelite tribes. No central government existed, and in times of crisis the people were led by ad hoc leaders known as Judges (see the Book of Judges).

With the growth of the threat from Philistine incursions, the Israelite tribes decided to form a strong centralised monarchy to meet the challenge. The Tribe of Ephraim joined the new kingdom with Saul as the first king. The widely accepted date for Saul’s reign is approximately 1025–1005 BCE. Some scholars dispute this date range and place Saul later, perhaps as late as “the second half of the tenth century B.C.E.”

After the death of Saul, the Bible records all the tribes other than Judah remained loyal to the House of Saul. After the death of Ishbosheth, Saul’s son and successor to the throne of Israel, the Tribe of Ephraim joined the other northern Israelite tribes in making David, who was then the king of Judah, the king of a reunited Kingdom of Israel. According to archaeologist Israel Finkelstein, there is doubt about whether the biblical ordering for the reigns of the early monarchs is reliable, and that the sequence preserved in the Bible, in which David follows Saul as king of Israel, may not be historically accurate.

Solomon was David’s son.

However, on the accession of Rehoboam, David’s grandson, in c. 930 BCE the northern tribes split from the House of David to form the northern Kingdom of Israel. The first king of the northern kingdom was an Ephraimite, Jeroboam, who likely ruled in 931–909 BCE.

The accents of the tribes were distinctive enough even at the time of the confederacy so that when the Israelites of Gilead, under the leadership of Jephthah, fought the Tribe of Ephraim, their pronunciation of shibboleth as sibboleth was considered sufficient evidence to single out individuals from Ephraim, so that they could be subjected to immediate death by the Israelites of Gilead.

Ephraim was a member of the Northern Kingdom until the kingdom was conquered by Assyria in c. 723 BCE and the population deported. From that time, the Tribe of Ephraim has been counted as one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.

Ephraim is often seen as the tribe that embodies the entire Northern Kingdom and the royal house resided in the tribe’s territory (just as Judah is the tribe that embodies the Kingdom of Judah and provided its royal family).

Tribal territory

In the biblical account, following the completion of the conquest of Canaan by the Israelite Joshua allocated the land among the twelve tribes. Kenneth Kitchen, a well-known conservative biblical scholar, dates this event to slightly after 1200 BC. However, the consensus view of modern scholars is that the conquest of Joshua as described in the Book of Joshua never occurred.

As recorded in the Book of Joshua, the territory allocated to the Tribe of Ephraim was at the center of Canaan, west of the Jordan, south of the territory of Manasseh, and north of the Tribe of Benjamin. The region later named Samaria (as distinguished from Judea or Galilee) consisted mostly of Ephraim’s territory. The area was mountainous, giving it protection, and also highly fertile, giving prosperity,

The territory of Ephraim contained the early centers of Israelite religion – Shechem and Shiloh. These factors contributed to making Ephraim the most dominant of the tribes in the Kingdom of Israel, and led to Ephraim becoming a synonym for the entire kingdom.

Joshua 16:1-4 outlines the borders of the lands allocated to the “children of Joseph”, i.e. Ephraim and Manasseh combined, and Joshua 16:5-8 defines the borders of the land allocated to the tribe of Ephraim in more detail.

Bethel was allocated by Joshua to the Tribe of Benjamin. However, even by the time of the prophetess Deborah, Bethel is described as being in the land of the Tribe of Ephraim. (Judges 4:5) Some twenty years after the breakup of the United Monarchy, Abijah, the second king of Kingdom of Judah, defeated Jeroboam of Israel and took back the towns of Bethel, Jeshanah and Ephron, with their surrounding villages. Ephron is believed to be the Ophrah that was also allocated to the Tribe of Benjamin by Joshua.

The riverine gulch, naḥal Ḳanah (Joshua 17:9), divided Ephraim’s territory to the south, and Manasseh’s territory to the north. The modern Israeli town of Karnei Shomron is built near this gulch, which runs in an easterly-westerly direction.

The border of Ephraim extended from the Jordan River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, and incorporated within it the cities of Bethel (now Beitin), ʻAtarot, Beth-Ḥoron the Nether (now Bayt ʻUr), extending as far as Gezer (now Abu Shûsheh, formerly known as Tell el Jezer) and the Mediterranean Sea. Gezer was said to have been inhabited by Canaanites long after Joshua had either killed or expelled the other Canaanites. According to French archaeologist, Charles Clermont-Ganneau, who identified the site in 1871 and later carried out excavations there, Gezer marked the extreme western point of the territory of Ephraim, and was “situated at the actual intersection of the boundaries of Ephraim, Dan and Judah.” This view, however, does not seem to be supported by the Scriptures themselves which place the extent of Ephraim’s border at the sea.

Spanish-Jewish traveller Benjamin of Tudela wrote that the southern-most bounds of the territory of Ephraim extended in a south-westerly direction as far as the town of Ibelin or Jabney.

According to the Torah, the tribe consisted of descendants of Ephraim a son of Joseph, from whom it took its name; however some critical Biblical scholars view this also as postdiction, an eponymous metaphor providing an aetiology of the connectedness of the tribe to others in the Israelite confederation. In the Biblical account, Joseph is one of the two children of Rachel and Jacob, a brother to Benjamin, and father to both Ephraim, and his first son, Manasseh; Ephraim received the blessing of the firstborn, although Manasseh was the eldest, because Jacob foresaw that Ephraim’s descendants would be greater than his brother’s.

Though the biblical descriptions of the geographic boundary of the House of Joseph are fairly consistent, the descriptions of the boundaries between Manasseh and Ephraim are not, and each is portrayed as having exclaves within the territory of the other. Furthermore, in the Blessing of Jacob, and elsewhere ascribed by textual scholars to a similar or earlier time period, Ephraim and Manasseh are treated as a single tribe, with Joseph appearing in their place. From this it is regarded as obvious that originally Ephraim and Manasseh were considered one tribe — that of Joseph. According to several biblical scholars, Benjamin was also originally part of the House of Joseph, but the biblical account of this became lost; Benjamin being differentiated by being that part of Ephraim (House of Joseph) which joined the Kingdom of Judah rather than that of Israel.

A number of biblical scholars suspect that the Joseph tribes (including Benjamin) represent a second migration of Israelites to Israel, later than the main tribes, specifically that it was only the Joseph tribes which went to Egypt and returned, while the main Israelite tribes simply emerged as a subculture from the Canaanites and had remained in Canaan throughout; in the narrative in the Book of Joshua, which concerns the arrival in (and conquest of) Canaan by the Israelites from Egypt, the leader is Joshua, who was a member of the Ephraim tribe. According to this view, the story of Jacob’s visit to Laban to obtain a wife began as a metaphor for the second migration, with Jacob’s new family, possessions, and livestock, obtained from Laban, being representations of the new wave of migrants

In the account of the deuteronomic history, Ephraim is portrayed as domineering, haughty, discontented, and jealous, but in classical rabbinical literature, the biblical founder of the tribe is described as being modest and not selfish. These rabbinical sources allege that it was on account of modesty and selflessness, and a prophetic vision of Joshua, that Jacob gave Ephraim precedence over Manasseh, the elder of the two; in these sources, Jacob is regarded as sufficiently just that God upholds the blessing in his honour, and makes Ephraim the leading tribe. Nevertheless, other classical rabbinical texts mock the tribe for the character it has in the deuteronomic history, claiming that Ephraim, being headstrong, left Egypt 30 years prior to the Exodus, and on arrival in Canaan was subjected to a disastrous battle with the Philistines; in the Midrashic Jasher this is portrayed as a rebellion of Ephraim against God, resulting in the slaying of all but 10, and the bleached bones of the slaughtered being strewn across the roads, so much so that the circuitous route of the Exodus was simply an attempt by God to prevent the Israelites from having to suffer the sight of the remains.

Though from the point of view of an increasing majority of archaeologists, there were always two distinct cultures in Canaan, a strong and prosperous northern kingdom and a weaker and poorer southern one, in the Biblical account the Israelite tribes were initially united in a single kingdom, and only later fractured into the northern and southern kingdoms; this fracture is blamed by the Bible on the jealousy of Ephraim over the growing power of Judah. In the Book of Chronicles, Ephraim’s act of splintering from Judah is denounced as forsaking God, and Ephraim is portrayed as becoming highly irreligious, particularly in their resistance to the reforms enacted by Hezekiah and Josiah.

It was not until the close of the first period of Jewish history that God ‘refused the tabernacle of Joseph (Hebrew Bible), and chose not the tribe of Ephraim, but chose the tribe of Judah, the Mount Zion which he loved’. (Ps 78:67,68) When the Ark was removed from Shiloh to Zion the power of Ephraim was sequestered.

As part of the Kingdom of Israel, the territory of Ephraim was conquered by the Assyrians, and the tribe exiled; the manner of their exile led to their further history being lost. However, several modern day groups claim descent, with varying levels of academic and rabbinical support. The Samaritans claim that some of their adherents are descended from this tribe, and many Persian Jews claim to be descendants of Ephraim. Further afield, in India the Telugu Jews claim descent from Ephraim, and call themselves Bene Ephraim, relating similar traditions to those of the Mizo Jews, whom the modern state of Israel regards as descendants of Manasseh.

Several western Christian groups, in particular those of the Church of God in Christ, claim that the whole UK is the direct descendant of Ephraim, and that the whole United States is the direct descendant of Manasseh, based on the interpretation that Jacob had said these two tribes would become the most supreme nations in the world.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) believes a significant portion of its members to be descended from or adopted into the tribe of Ephraim, believing that they are charged with restoring the lost tribes in the latter days as prophesied by Isaiah, and that the tribes of both Ephraim and Judah will play important leadership roles for covenant Israel in the last days; some believe that this would be the fulfilment of part of the Blessing of Jacob, where it states that Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall (Genesis 49:22, interpreting the “wall” as the ocean).

Arawak / Taíno

The Arawak are a group of indigenous peoples of South America and historically of the Caribbean. Specifically, the term “Arawak” has been applied at various times to the Lokono of South America and the Taíno, who historically lived in the Greater Antilles and northern Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean. All these groups spoke related Arawakan languages. The Arawakan languages may have emerged in the Orinoco River valley. They subsequently spread widely, becoming by far the most extensive language family in South America at the time of European contact, with speakers located in various areas along the Orinoco and Amazonian rivers and their tributaries. The group that self-identified as the Arawak, also known as the Lokono, settled the coastal areas of what is now Guyana, Suriname, Grenada, and parts of the islands of Trinidad and Tobago.


The ethnic expression Boricua describes someone or something native to Boriken, Borique, Boriquén, Borinquén, Boriquí, or Boriquer—all variations of the Arawak name for the island that Christopher Columbus claimed for Spain in 1493 during his “discovery” of the Americas. While the Iberians later christened it Puerto Rico (Rich Port) in the mistaken belief that it was a veritable gold mine, in 1552 the chronicler Francisco López de Gómara referred to it as “San Juan del Boriqua.” Maintaining that the aboriginal population had died out, Spanish colonial authorities made only sporadic use of either Borinquen or Boricua during the next two centuries. Their tallies rarely took into account the undercounting of Tainos by colonists seeking to dodge taxes and import “sturdier” African captives, nor of Tainos who fled into the interior or were reclassified as mestizos. Although some 2,000 “indios” still existed in Puerto Rico at the start of the nineteenth century, Boricuas had undergone a significant ethnogenetic transformation since 1493 as a result of miscegenation with poor, persecuted whites and enslaved Africans who also fled to the mountainous interior.

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