With the coronation of King Charles III this coming spring, the world will again be focused on the British monarchy—shortly after the widespread attention that accompanied the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II. What is behind the past and continuing prominence of the royal family of the United Kingdom? It will surprise many to learn that the answer lies in the pages of the Holy Bible—in its promises and prophecies concerning the Israelite dynasty of King David.
Part 1 of this two-part article series in this issue of Beyond Today laid the groundwork, presenting how the throne of David was foretold to endure. (It’s recommended that you read that article, before proceeding to this one.) God, we saw there, made an unbreakable promise to David of an unbreakable dynasty, stating that his throne would continue through all generations until the coming reign of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. He must return to a great monarchy that still exists. And God has ensured that it will.
In fact, God specifically foretold what would happen— that the throne would be transplanted elsewhere in a series of overturns. What followed is a remarkable story, with elements found in Scripture and history and to some degree in legend (though our focus is mainly on what’s stated in the Bible). Here we find the connection to the British monarchy.
Having seen in part 1 how the throne of David was foretold to last, we now explore in part 2 how that throne was transferred, where it is now and where it will ultimately be forever.
Jeremiah’s commission and the king’s daughters
We pick up where we left off, with the fall of Jerusalem to Babylon in the 6th century B.C. How did the monarchy continue beyond the fall of the kingdom of Judah at that time—as it must have, given all God had promised?
The prophet Jeremiah lived at that time, and we’ve already seen his prophecy of David’s throne enduring just as certainly as the cycle of day and night—with a plurality of rulers of David’s line to come and not just the ultimate Messiah (Jeremiah 33:17-26).
Jeremiah’s ministry began with an important yet mysterious commission, God telling him, “See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant” (Jeremiah 1:10).
We gain a partial sense of what this means through the fact that Jeremiah was in the land of Judah, preaching to the nation and its leaders through the destruction and deportations that came. He told the people to submit to the Babylonian conquest and go with them to be planted in a new land. This was an uprooting of the nation—and of the monarchy.
Jeremiah’s work began at the time of Josiah, a righteous king. Josiah died and was briefly succeeded by his son Jehoahaz, who was soon deposed by the Egyptians and taken to Egypt, where he died. The Egyptians appointed another son of Josiah to replace him—renaming him Jehoiakim. This wicked ruler was killed by the Babylonians and briefly replaced by his son Jehoiachin or Jeconiah.
The Babylonian ruler Nebuchadnezzar deposed Jeconiah shortly afterward and had him taken captive to Babylon. His uncle, another son of Josiah renamed Zedekiah, succeeded him. Zedekiah, who also turned out to be an evil ruler, was later captured while trying to flee from Babylonian invasion, and his sons were killed in front of him before he was blinded and hauled away to Babylon where he died. This was the end of the Jewish monarchy in Judah.
Some pinned hopes on dynastic succession through Jeconiah (also known as Coniah), who remained alive for some time in Babylon and did have important descendants. But God had declared him childless in regard to the throne, stating that none of his descendants would sit on the throne of David, ruling anymore in Judah (Jeremiah 22:30).
In fact, Jesus’ adoptive father Joseph was a descendant of Jeconiah (Matthew 1:11, 16). Jesus thus had legal inheritance in this lineage, but if He had been the biological son of Joseph, He would have been disqualified from reigning on David’s throne. Jesus was in fact by divine miracle the son of Mary, who was descended from David by a different line of descent (as the genealogy in Luke 3:23-31 is commonly understood to show).
So, did the killing of Zedekiah’s sons truly mark the end of the Davidic dynasty? It might have seemed so—even to Nebuchadnezzar, as he sought to eliminate further national uprising among the Jewish people. Yet perhaps unknown to him there was evidently another way the royal line could continue. We’re told in Jeremiah 41:10 that a remnant of Judah in the land included “the king’s daughters.” They would have been young, possibly in their teens, as Zedekiah their father was only 32 when he died (see 2 Chronicles 36:11), and this was a few years after that.
We’re further told in Jeremiah 42 and 43 that a group among the national remnant decided to leave the country to take refuge in Egypt in defiance of what God commanded them through Jeremiah. They took with them the king’s daughters, as well as Jeremiah and his scribe Baruch against their will (Jeremiah 43:4-9).
They went to “Pharaoh’s house” at Tahpanhes, or Daphne in Greek, a palace fortress on an eastern branch of the Nile River, where according to history Pharaoh Hophra had Greek and Carian mercenaries stationed from southwestern Turkey. It appears Hophra was providing asylum to the royal daughters of his late ally Zedekiah as part of his opposition to Nebuchadnezzar.
But to what avail? Could daughters inherit monarchy? Evidently so. We’re told in Numbers 27:1-11 of the daughters of Zelophehad who came to Moses making the case that inheritance should pass to them since there were no sons to inherit, and God affirmed that they were right. And inheritance would then pass to their children. It seems this would also apply to the throne, and indeed it must for, as mentioned earlier, Christ is shown in Luke 3 to be an heir to the Davidic line through Mary, His mother.
All of this is significant in light of Jeremiah’s commission to uproot and replant elsewhere and being appointed over nations and kingdoms. Is it mere coincidence that at the time of the destruction of Judah and its monarchy Jeremiah, who has this special commission, is sent out of the country with the king’s daughters who were spared the killing of Zedekiah’s family? No, this is highly significant, especially in light of other prophecies and historical factors.
Ezekiel’s prophecy of transplanting the throne from Judah to Israel
Through the prophet Ezekiel, who was contemporary with Jeremiah, God fills in more details. Ezekiel was not in Jerusalem when it fell, but rather lived among the Jews who had been taken captive to Babylon a decade earlier. He specifically prophesied of the throne of Judah being transferred.
We find this in Ezekiel 17, where God through the prophet posed a riddle and parable to the house of Israel (verse 2)—not Judah—which He afterward explained. The people of the northern kingdom of Israel had been taken captive a century and a half before Judah, but the events being foretold were important to their future.
We’ll just go through a few verses here, but you can find a more comprehensive explanation of this chapter in our online Bible commentary.
Note the symbolism of verse 3: “A great eagle . . . came to Lebanon and took from the cedar the highest branch” (verse 3). Lebanon was a reference to the whole area of the Holy Land, called “this Lebanon” in Joshua 1:4, and not just the country bearing that name today. It especially designated the tall Lebanon cedars mentioned here, which were used in the royal buildings of Jerusalem. Thus Lebanon and the cedar here signify the land of Judah and its leaders in Jerusalem. We see the interpretation given in verse 12: “The king of Babylon went to Jerusalem and took its kings and princes.”
Verse 4 states, “He cropped off the top of his young twigs” (King James Version). The meaning? “And he took of the king’s offspring” (verse 13). Verse 4 shows the seed of the land, the people of Judah, being planted elsewhere to prosper.
Having explained the various symbols, God through the prophet then gave the following clear parable in verses 22-24: “I [God this time, not Nebuchadnezzar] will take also [a sprig, NRSV] of the highest branches [Zedekiah and the princes] of the high cedar [Judah] and set it out. I will crop off from the topmost of its young twigs [Zedekiah’s children] a tender one [of the daughters as the only survivors, the sons having been killed], and will plant it on a high and prominent mountain [a great kingdom or nation, as mountains often signify in prophecy].
“On the mountain height [the top of the kingdom, the throne] of Israel [not Judah!] I will plant it; and it will bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a majestic cedar. Under it will dwell birds of every sort [all manner of peoples] . . . And all the trees of the field [nations of the earth] shall know that I, the Lord, have brought down the high tree [Judah] and exalted the low tree [Israel]” (emphasis added throughout).
Nebuchadnezzar was transplanting the people of Judah to Babylon, but God was transplanting what remained of Judah’s royalty family to Israel. And the nation of Israel here was no longer in the Holy Land, but its people were ranging far abroad.
In parallel to this we should read again something earlier noted from Jeremiah. He foretold in Jeremiah 33:17 that from that time on, “David shall never lack a man [a person] to sit on the throne of the house of Israel”—again, the house of Israel, not the house of Judah. Since the split in the kingdom under Solomon’s son Rehoboam, the Davidic kings had been ruling over the house of Judah. But now it’s stated that they will be reigning perpetually over the house of Israel. This lines up precisely with the prophecy of the throne being transplanted to the mountain or nation of Israel in Ezekiel 17, giving a double confirmation.
Historical transfer: legends in perspective
Putting these prophecies together with the commission Jeremiah was given of pulling down and replanting and rebuilding, along with the fact that the last we see of him is being outside the country with the king’s daughters, we can see what was happening—even if we don’t know exactly how. Jeremiah was conducting the transfer of the Davidic monarchy from Judah to Israel, as God had declared would happen.
But where were the far-ranging Israelites at this time? As explained in our free study guide The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy, the northern tribes carried away by the Assyrians were at this later time in the process of migrating out of the Middle East and moving westward across Europe. And some early migrations by ship had already brought many Israelites to the western Mediterranean and around to the British Isles. In our next section we’ll show why Ireland must be the place to which the Davidic dynasty was transplanted at the time of Jeremiah.
It appears further that the transfer of the throne would have involved intermarriage between one of the king’s daughters of the Davidic line and a ruler among the northern tribes. But given that the scepter was to remain with Judah and not be predominantly of another tribe, it makes sense that the royalty among the scattered Israelites the king’s daughter would marry into was also Jewish, yet not thus far of the line of David.
Note again the issue mentioned earlier of the scarlet thread on the hand of Judah’s son Zarah yet Pharez being born first. Zarah’s descendants are barely mentioned in the Bible. The Jews in the Holy Land were mostly of Pharez. The Zarhites evidently migrated elsewhere. As presented in our online e-book The Throne of Britain: Its Biblical Origin and Future, there is evidence of people of Judah among the early Cretans, Greeks and Trojans, along with people of the tribe of Dan—the Danites sailing in ships early on along with the people of Javan or Greece (see Judges 5:17; Ezekiel 27:19).
Early Irish histories mention the Tuatha de Danaan as early settlers (the tribe of Dan). And there was later a takeover of Ireland by people called the Milesians, who came through Spain, these being traced back to the Greek/Carian city state of Miletus. (These were the same people who were in Daphne in Egypt guarding the Jewish king’s daughters for the pharaoh.) If the Milesians are traced back to Miletus, then their entry into Ireland would be in the 500s B.C.—when this city-state was historically a colonizing power.
Note also that the Milesians who came to Ireland bore an emblem later known as the Red Hand of Ulster, in some imagery surrounded by a red cord. This seems very closely related to the scarlet thread of Zarah. And here would be a way of healing the breach between Zarah and Pharez—an intermarriage between the Pharez and Zarah dynasties.
We also have many other legends about various people in the transfer of the monarchy. The Irish have stories of an old prophet or king coming with a scribe and a royal daughter from the east—variously called Tamar or Tea Tephi, along with the Lia Fail or Stone of Destiny.
The Scots, who came from Ireland, claim their royalty descended from a daughter of a pharaoh named Scota (which is maybe not an actual name but an eponym, a supposed founder of a people with the people’s name applied to him or her). We can perhaps see some confusion here with an eastern ruler’s daughter under a pharaoh’s protection being called a pharaoh’s daughter.
Our Throne of Britain e-book goes through various possibilities, and there are a number of ways this could have worked out. But we must be cautious in this. The records seem a jumble, and people in the story do not always fit together in time or role in the genealogical histories. This material is not reliable in many cases.
Consider the following quote from an anthropology professor in Archaeology magazine: “One of the compelling things about doing archaeological work in Ireland is that the early medieval manuscripts preserve so many tales surrounding these sites. Some stories are clearly mythological, others are pseudohistory—medieval invention—and it isn’t always easy to tell them apart . . .
“The study of Irish mythology and ancient manuscripts has been limited by a number of circumstances, beginning with a prohibition against owning Old Irish manuscripts during the Reformation in the early seventeenth century. Book burnings were common and nearly all of the early Irish material was lost. There was no scholarship conducted until the 1830s, when some manuscripts that hadn’t been destroyed began to come to light.
“Over the years, only a very few researchers could read Old Irish, and there are still relatively few today who can. In addition, the scholars and scribes who wrote the manuscripts often used an even earlier form of the Irish language, so translations can differ. Nonetheless, the manuscripts are crucial to any understanding of pre-Christian sites in Ireland” (Ronald Hicks, “The Sacred Landscape of Ancient Ireland,” May-June 2011, pp. 40-41).
And we might add that proper perspective about the limited trustworthiness of such source material is crucial in putting together this transfer history.
The main thing to realize is that we actually don’t need all this to see that the transfer happened, as the Bible tells us it must have. Still, the fact that such information can highlight a variety of ways the specifics might have worked out is supportive of the overall conclusion.
What’s actually necessary in grasping this conclusion is knowing these prophecies about the throne transfer from Judah to Israel as well as the prophecies about where Israel would be, the foremost Israelite nations in the end time, and putting together from the world scene who these nations are today. Whichever of these has a prominent monarchy, the most prominent, that was transferred in from elsewhere, is the one with the monarchy of David.
And we can see that—very clearly. As our study guide lays out, the British and American peoples have inherited the birthright blessings of national greatness in the end time that were promised to Ephraim and Manasseh. If they haven’t inherited these promises, who has?
And Britain has an ancient and enduring monarchy that for centuries has been the most prominent monarchy in the world. Queen Victoria ruled over a quarter of the earth, the British Empire being the greatest empire the world has ever seen!
And what of this monarchy being transferred in?
Ezekiel’s prophecy of three overturns and a final one
Was the British monarchy transferred from elsewhere? Yes, from Scotland. King James VI of Scotland became James I of England, the first to style himself King of Great Britain. And the monarchy of Scotland was earlier transferred in from Ireland—by means of the overlapping Gaelic kingdom of Dal Riada, which stretched from northeastern Ireland to southwestern Scotland. And the Irish histories show that the Irish high kingship was transferred in by the Milesians, as mentioned earlier, evidently at the time of Jeremiah.
That fits well with another prophecy in Ezekiel, talking about the end of the monarchy in Judah under Zedekiah. In Ezekiel 21:26-27, God says to declare to the king (quoting the King James Version):
“Remove the diadem and take off the crown: This shall not be the same [a change or transfer was occurring]; exalt him that is low [the ruler in Israel, perhaps of the Jewish line of Zarah] and abase him that is high [Zedekiah of the line of Pharez through David, in line with the reversed positions we earlier saw in Ezekiel 17:24]. I will overturn, overturn, overturn it [the crown, that is, the throne]; and it shall be no more [overturned] until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him [Christ].”
The New King James Version here says “overthrown, overthrown, overthrown,” and that it “shall be no more,” meaning no longer exist until He come whose right it is. But that doesn’t make any sense. If it’s totally overthrown and doesn’t exist, how could it be given to anybody? It would be gone, especially if it were nonexistent for hundreds of years.
The Hebrew word translated “overthrown,” avvah, occurs only here. Some see the meaning as ruined or perverted, but the literal sense is likely derived from avah, meaning to turn or bend. It could conceivably concern distortion or displacement, fitting with the throne being moved or displaced from where it was supposed to be in the Holy Land and then further displaced.
It might alternatively concern the reversal of positions that comes with each transfer—abasement and exaltation, as we see in Ezekiel 17. In any case, being made overturned fits well with other related prophecies of uprooting and transplanting.
Assuming the reference is to three transfers, that fits what we know of the throne’s relocations. Working backward, the third overturn was from Scotland to England, where it still remains. The second overturn was from Ireland to Scotland. The first, then, would necessarily have been from Judah to Ireland. Yet this was probably not instant. The dynastic gap here could have been many years, as long as the throne was reestablished within a generation.
And again, rather than the verse saying the throne would be no more or not exist, it appears instead to say that the throne would be no more overturned until He comes whose right it is. This fits with Christ claiming the scepter at His return according to the scepter promise.
And no more overturns until this point actually gives us a fourth overturn here—from England back to Jerusalem. And that may well include a gap in the monarchy due to—sad to say—the end-time prophesied Beast power, a coming revived Roman Empire, conquering Britain and toppling its government.
But if the monarchy collapses at that time, it will be restored a short time later by the return of Christ to rule.
Christ’s return to reign and share rule with His followers
The rightful heir to the throne will then return to claim it—this One whose throne it was to begin with will come as the Son of David and Son of God to reign over Jacob and all the world. That is the astounding future of the throne of Great Britain—as it is in truth the Israelite throne of David.
Yet Jesus will not reign on that throne alone. For as He promises His followers of this age, “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne” (Revelation 3:21). He was given that coregency with the Father, but He will share that with us.
We’re told specifically that King David himself will be resurrected to reign over the Israelites (Jeremiah 30:8-9; Ezekiel 37:24-28). And Jesus further revealed that His 12 apostles “will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matthew 19:28).
So they’ll reign under David, who will reign under Christ. Revelation 20:4 refers to multiple thrones for the saints, yet these are all as part or extensions of Christ’s throne in Jerusalem. “At that time Jerusalem shall be called The Throne of the Lord, and all the nations shall be gathered to it” (Jeremiah 3:17).
The Jewish people have been without a king for all this time, but they will see the Messiah returning and will at last accept Him in heartfelt repentance. God’s Spirit will then be poured out on the remaining physical descendants of the house of David, the royal family, so they will then be converted (Zechariah 12:7–13:1). We see a lot of problems in the house of David today. But beyond the trials of this age God will bring redemption and restoration, leading us all to the future He has planned for us.
Amazingly, all of us who follow Jesus Christ are destined to be kings, to reign with Him in the Kingdom of God as the immortal family of God, the family of Israel in glory, on the throne of David—forever!
Is Recognizing Israelite National Identity Racist?
Although not commonly understood, the United States, Britain and other nations of northwest European heritage are in large measure descended from the ancient Israelites of the Bible. Yet many view this identification with contempt as racist. It’s true that some believers in certain forms of what is termed British Israelism have been racially bigoted, the worst examples being those in the misnamed “Christian Identity” movement, which is heinously white supremacist and anti-Semitic. But the actual biblical teaching concerning the identity of Israel is in fact anti-racist.
The national blessings and position God has granted to the English-speaking peoples should be understood as a matter not of racial supremacy, but of family inheritance and responsibility. Nations began fundamentally as families grown large. And God says He intends to bless all peoples through the Israelites. Many Marxist agitators today seek to eradicate familial inheritance from society. But inheriting within a family, indeed the family of Israel, is at the very core of the purpose and plan of God for mankind.
It is a fact that God chose a particular man, the patriarch Abraham, and his descendants to fulfill a special role in the world. The Creator God has every right to grant blessings and assign duties to whomever He chooses. To Abraham and his son Isaac and grandson Jacob, who was renamed Israel, God made particular promises in these regards. This did not mean that they or their descendants were inherently superior to other people (Deuteronomy 7:7-8; 9:6). In fact, God is far more critical of the Israelites throughout the Scriptures than He is of other people groups, since they are judged according to their heritage of understanding and blessings. As Jesus stated, “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required” (Luke 12:48).
Israelite ethnic heritage is not a cause for prideful boasting, though some have treated it as such. One of the primary purposes for the nation of Israel was to serve as an example for the rest of the world of what happens to a society that honors or rejects God. A number of prophecies concern Israel’s great national blessings in this age and the age to come. But many others warn of terrible consequences to come on the Israelites as judgment for flagrant sin and rebellion against God.
It is not reasonable to label the directing of such biblical warnings to the intended recipients as racist. Nor is it racist to express appreciation for the positive aspects of national heritage. Rather, it is right and appropriate to focus on examples of virtue (Philippians 4:8), realizing that all human beings except for Jesus are terribly flawed.
The biblical record presents Israel’s story in both its moral triumphs and tragedies, and we see the same in post-biblical history and in prophecy yet to be fulfilled. One important observation is that God selecting a particular people group for His holy purposes does not assure privileged ease for them—far from it! In the musical Fiddler on the Roof, the main character Tevye, reflecting a common Jewish sentiment in the wake of persecution, implores God, “Can’t you choose someone else for a while!”
No follower of Jesus Christ should ever embrace or promote racism. God calls people out of “all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues” (Revelation 7:9). The Bible states that people of every ethnic background are the “offspring of God” (Acts 17:29), all with the potential of becoming glorified children in the divine family.
The apostle John wrote that God’s love for the whole world motivated the sending of Jesus to die for people’s sins (John 3:16). Moreover, God led the apostle Peter to declare: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him” (Acts 10:34-35, emphasis added). God does not judge us individually by our ancestry or the color of our skin but by who we are on the inside: “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
The Bible reveals that racial harmony will prevail when Christ rules the world in the Kingdom of God, with ancient enmity healed: “In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria—a blessing in the midst of the land, whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, ‘Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance’” (Isaiah 19:24). Yet that does not make physical lineage irrelevant. Note that distinct ethnic nationalities will still exist during Christ’s coming reign.
Paul, the apostle to the gentiles, saw significance in his own ethnic lineage: “For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin” (Romans 11:1). Of course, our most important lineage is spiritual, having God as our Father through the Holy Spirit. Yet remarkably this is equated in Scripture with becoming a true Israelite. As Paul explained, Jesus Christ is the perfect Seed of Abraham, with all others disqualified from ultimate inheritance through sin—yet all who repent and are joined to Christ through receiving the Holy Spirit become Abraham’s seed and coheirs with Christ as Israel, including those who are physically gentiles (Galatians 3; 6:16; Romans 2:28-29; 8:14-17; 9:1-8; 11; Ephesians 2:11-22).
It’s important to understand that people of all nations must become Israelites to be saved. The divine family is in the end Israel in glory, the gates of the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21-22 bearing the names of the 12 tribes. Yet while that gives us the ultimate picture of the world blessed through Israel into eternity, we should see that God has blessed the world of this age in many ways through Abraham’s progeny—principally through Jesus Christ but also through great benefits God has brought to the world through the family He has chosen. All this, from one end of the Bible to the other, shows that Israelite national inheritance is central to God’s plan for humanity.
No, proclaiming who the Israelite peoples are today is not racist—as it recognizes what God has been doing over the centuries in working out His great plan to bless all peoples through Israel.