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Scriptural References about Joseph and Judah

Many references to Joseph and Judah appear in Jewish and Mormon scriptures, most of them prophesying Israel’s latter-day restoration and the dynamics of the relationship between these two divisions of the original twelve-tribed kingdom of Israel. They include the patriarch Jacob’s blessings upon his sons before his death, the Hebrew prophets’ predictions of Israel’s gathering and reunification, Book of Mormon predictions of Israel’s scattering and restoration, and revelations received by the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith on the role of the tribe of Ephraim.

The Tribes of Israel


722 years before the birth of Christ, the armies of the Assyrian Empire conquered the Kingdom of Israel (the land of the ten northern tribes) and carried the inhabitants off into captivity. The Kingdom of Judah in the south, was barely spared from the same fate by the strenuous efforts of the prophet Isaiah and their righteous king Hezekiah (and some large-scale, last minute repentance). Little more than 100 years later, the Assyrians, in turn, were conquered by the Babylonians. When their Assyrian overlords were subjugated, however, the Israelite “exiles” did not return as they were, by this time, already lost to history.

Orson Hyde’s Dedicatory Prayer of the Holy Land

In 1840, in Nauvoo, Illinois, the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith sent Orson Hyde, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, to Palestine to dedicate the Holy Land for the return of the Jews. The Jewish return to Palestine and latter-day restoration was a prominent theme in the Book of Mormon and in Joseph Smith’s divine revelations. Orson Hyde’s long and arduous journey from Nauvoo to Palestine included stops in Amsterdam and other European capitals, where he sought to persuade Jewish rabbis that the time had come for Jews to resettle their land.

The Prophet Zenos’ Allegory of the Olive Tree

Written by the ancient Josephite prophet Zenos, as recorded in the Book of Mormon, the following allegory of an olive tree predicts Israel’s division into three branches separated from their mother tree that God would plant in different parts of the world, as well as Israel’s latter-day reunification. The allegory was preserved in a scriptural record kept on brass plates by descendants of Joseph, who carried it out of Jerusalem with a party of Jewish émigrés traveling to the American continent around 600 B.C. It appears in Jacob 5:1–77 in the Book of Mormon.

America in the Prophecy of Isaiah, Part 1

By Avraham Gileadi Ph.D.

Few people may suspect that the great superpower America appears in the prophecies of the Bible, especially in end-time prophecy. Yet there it is in plain sight, and just as prominent as America is in the world today. Where? In the prophecy of Isaiah under the codename of the great superpower of Isaiah’s day: Egypt. The two are a perfect match. We know they are the same because Isaiah’s prophecies have a dual fulfillment, one in his day and one in the end-time. Foretelling “the end from the beginning” (Isaiah 46:10), Isaiah depicts both nations in a single prophecy. The Jews have traditionally taught such dual fulfillment. Only recently, however, has evidence come to light that supports the Jewish tradition.

America in the Prophecy of Isaiah, Part 2

By Avraham Gileadi Ph.D.

America’s place as head of the nations has always been a blessing pertaining to God’s covenant with his people Israel. If God’s people would keep the terms of his covenant, they would be the head of the nations, but if they broke his covenant they would be the tail (Deuteronomy 28:1, 13, 44). When America’s founding fathers established “one nation under God,” they resumed in modern times where ancient Israel left off. Although Israel broke God’s covenant and was exiled from its land, that didn’t mean God’s covenant was annulled. It simply waited for his people dispersed among the nations to again keep its terms and to be blessed of God. America’s extraordinary success and prosperity testify of that.

About the 12 Tribes


The eldest son of Jacob and firstborn of Jacob and Leah, his name means “See, a Son!” and his tribe’s symbol is water or a mandrake plant. Jacob blessed Reuben as his “might and the beginning of his strength, the excellency of dignity and the excellency of power.” Moses blessed the Tribe of Reuben that it might live and that its men might not be few. Its inheritance was east of the Dead Sea. In the Camp of Israel, Reuben’s position was south of the Tabernacle and it was called the Camp of Reuben. When Israel marched, the Tribe of Reuben started after Judah.


The second son of Jacob and Leah, Simeon was a close sibling of Levi and Dinah. His name means “Hearing”—God has heard—and his symbol is a gate or the Gate of Shechem. At Israel’s wilderness wanderings, the Tribe of Simeon camped south of the Tabernacle next to Reuben. It settled beyond the River Jordan with half the Tribe of Manasseh. Rabbinic literature claims that beggars and elementary school teachers came from the Tribe of Simeon, and that many of the “mixed multitude” that came with Israel out of Egypt intermarried with the Tribe of Simeon.


The third son of Jacob and Leah, his name means “Attached” or “Joined,” because Leah believed that by giving birth to another son Jacob would now become attached to her. His tribe’s symbol is the High Priest’s breastplate because from Levi came Israel’s priests, while the work of ministering in the Tabernacle and the Temple belonged to the Levites. The Levites’ role was to assist the priests in o ering sacrifices, performing music, and teaching the Law of Moses. Their inheritance spread throughout forty-eight cities within the borders of Israel’s twelve tribes.


The fourth son of Jacob and Leah, his name means “He Will Praise” and his symbol is a lion. Jacob blessed Judah that his brothers would praise him, that his hand would be on the necks of his enemies, that his siblings would bow before him, and that the scepter would not depart from him nor a lawgiver from between his feet until Shiloh came, to whom would be the gathering of the people. Moses blessed the Tribe of Judah that God would hear Judah’s cry and bring him to his people, that he would defend Judah’s cause and be his help against his enemies.


The eleventh son of Jacob and first son of Jacob and Rachel, his name means “He will increase” and his symbol is a sheaf of grain. Jacob blessed Joseph that he might be as a fruitful bough by a well whose branches run over the wall, that his bow might abide in strength, and that his hands might be made strong by the hands of the Mighty God of Jacob. Jacob blessed him that God would bless him with the blessings of heaven above and of the deep beneath, that his blessings might prevail above the blessings of his progenitors to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills.


The twelfth son of Jacob and second son of Jacob and Rachel, his mother named him Ben-Oni or “Son of My Sorrows” as she lay dying in childbirth. Jacob renamed him Benjamin, “Son of the Right Hand,” and his symbol is a wolf. Jacob said of him, “Benjamin is a ravening wolf. In the morning, he devours the prey, and in the evening he divides the spoil.” Moses blessed the Tribe of Benjamin that God might be a shield to them all the day long. The Benjaminites were skilled as archers and as left-handed warriors, who would attack their enemies unawares.


The seventh son of Jacob and firstborn of Leah’s handmaiden Zilpah, his name means “Good Fortune” and his symbol is a tent or tents, as in a battlefield camp. Gad was himself the father of seven sons. Because of Gad’s great strength, Joseph did not present him to Pharaoh lest he might appoint Gad as one of his guards. Jacob blessed him that although he would be attacked by a band of raiders, he would attack them at their heels. Moses commended the Tribe Gad for carrying out Jehovah’s righteous will and fulfilling his judgments concerning Israel.


The eighth son of Jacob, Gad’s younger brother, his name means “Happiness” and his symbol is a tree. Jacob blessed Asher that his food would be rich and that he would provide delicacies fit for a king. Moses blessed the Tribe of Asher that it might be favored by its fellow-tribes and its feet bathed in oil. Asher’s land was so fertile that in times of scarcity, and especially in the Sabbatical Year, Asher provided all Israel with olive oil. The Asherites were renowned for wisdom and their women were so beautiful that priests and princes sought them in marriage.


The tenth son of Jacob and sixth son of Jacob and Leah, his name means “Dwelling” and his symbol is a ship. Jacob blessed Zebulun that he would live by the seashore and become a haven for ships. Moses blessed the Tribe of Zebulun that it might feast on the abundance of the sea and on treasures hidden in the earth. In the Song of Deborah, Zebulun is described as sending to the battle those who handle the “rod of the scribe”—that is, a stylus used to inscribe clay tablets or to write on papyrus. Those wielding it would have associated with teachers of the Law.


The fifth son of Jacob and firstborn of Rachel’s handmaiden Bilhah, his name means “Judge” and his symbol is a snake, or, alternatively, the scales of justice. Jacob blessed Dan that he would judge his people and be as a snake in the roadside. Moses blessed the Tribe of Dan as a lion’s cub springing from Bashan. Because Dan was identified with idolatry in Israel’s Northern Kingdom, it was looked on a black sheep. A tradition exists that the Antichrist will come from Dan. It is the only tribe not mentioned among God’s 144,000 servants in the Book of Revelation.


The sixth son of Jacob and second son of Jacob and Bilhah, his name means “My Struggle” and his symbol is the doe. Jacob blessed Naphtali that he would be as a hind let loose, which gives birth to beautiful fawns; or, in other words, which sends forth beautiful words of wisdom and counsel. Moses blessed the Tribe of Naphtali that it would be sated with favors and blessings. Naphtali was a swift runner and came first to Jacob with the news that Joseph, whom they had sold as a slave, was still alive when the brothers returned from meeting with Joseph in Egypt.


The ninth son of Jacob and fifth son of Jacob and Leah, his name means “There is a reward” and his symbol is a donkey. Jacob blessed Issachar that he would be as a sturdy donkey when he sees how good the countryside is and how pleasant the land, that he would bend his shoulder to the load and submit himself to hard labor. Moses mentioned the Tribe of Issachar together with the Tribe of Zebulun as those who would feast on the abundance of the seas and on treasures hidden in the earth. The people of this tribe occupied themselves with the study of the Law.

Passover (pesach) - The Feast of Liberation

by Robert Kay

“You shall observe this thing for an ordinance to you and to your sons forever. . . And it shall come to pass when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ that you will say, ‘It is the sacrifice of Jehovah’s Passover, who passed over the homes of the children of Israel in Egypt when he smote the Egyptians and delivered our homes’” (Exodus 12:24, 26-27).

God’s Appointed Times—Spring

Israel’s God Jehovah gave “appointed times” or “feasts” to be observed by all Israel. Spring feasts are (1) Passover (pesach); (2) the feast of Unleavened Bread (hag hamatzah); (3) First Fruits (bikkurim); and (4) Weeks (Shavuot).

Passover (pesach) occurs on the fourteenth day of the first month of Israel’s calendar, the month called Aviv (also Nisan) (Leviticus 23:5).

Unleavened bread (matzah) is eaten for seven days, beginning the first day of Passover (Leviticus 23:6-8)

First Fruits (bikkurim) of the barley harvest is observed during the seven days of unleavened bread on the day following the weekly Sabbath, on the first day of the week, which we call Sunday (Leviticus 23:9-11).

The feast of Weeks (shavuot) is also known as Pentecost, a Greek word that means “fiftieth.” From the feast of First Fruits we count fifty days, called the counting of the omer. The actual feast of Weeks is celebrated on the fiftieth day following the feast of First Fruits (Leviticus 23:15-21) and it marks the conclusion of the Passover season.

The Significance of Passover

Israel’s God Jehovah declared the observance of Passover a permanent ordinance to all house of Israel throughout all their generations. Historically, Passover remembers God’s deliverance of the people of Israel out of bondage in Egypt (mitzrayim), in which Egypt is a type or figure of the world and its systems, with Pharaoh, Egypt’s ruler, being a type of Adversary. The slavery of the people of Israel represents people’s bondage to sin when they follow the systems or ways of the world.

At the first Passover, the people of Israel were instructed to put the blood of a slain unblemished male lamb on the doorposts of their houses (Exodus 12: 2, 6, 13). That night, the angel of Jehovah passed over the firstborn sons of Israel but slew the firstborn sons of the people of Egypt. This prefigured Israel’s Messiah standing in as a Passover lamb for those who believe in him, who are delivered from bondage to sin and from the rule of the Adversary in their lives.

That is why Yeshua (Jesus) is called the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” All who covenant with Israel’s God and observe the covenant’s terms accept Yeshua as Israel’s Messiah and are numbered among the house of Israel. Through “faith” or “loyalty” (emunah) in the blood shed by Yeshua, the Passover lamb, we obtain freedom from the bondage of sin (Galatians 4:3, 2 Peter 2:19).

During Israel’s first Passover, the head of every household was instructed to take a yearling lamb on the tenth day of the first month and set it aside until the fourteenth day. In the evening of the fourteenth day, the lamb was slain and its blood sprinkled on the lintel and doorposts of the house. The lamb was roasted in the fire with bitter herbs and eaten with unleavened bread by the entire household. The Israelites were instructed to eat in haste and to prepare to leave Egypt during the night.

At midnight the angel of death passed throughout the land of Egypt. Any house that didn’t have the token of the blood on the doorposts and lintel suffered God’s judgment. The Hebrew word pesach demonstrates two principles. First, it shows God’s passing over in judgment from sin and death to life in Messiah. Second, it shows that by exercising faith in the atoning sacrifice of Messiah his blood delivers us from the power of the Adversary.

Robert Kay is a convert to the LDS Church of dual Jewish and Christian heritage. Born in Alabama, he served a mission in Quebec, Canada. He has lived in Utah sixteen years and is active in the Association for Torah Observance