It’s incredibly sad that we have so many people jockeying needlessly for position in the Kingdom – claiming that the Ashkenazi Jews are not really Jews and that some other group is. The argument goes against the evidence of the Scriptures in telling us exactly who the members of the Tribes of Israel are because Scripture tells us that membership is not merely genetic in nature.
In the Exodus out of Egypt, we see 14 distinct groupings of people: thirteen Tribes descended from Jacob – the children of Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Gad, Asher, Dan, Naphtali, Benjamin, Ephraim and Manasseh – and the mixed multitude of foreign slaves and former citizens of Egypt who followed after the God YHVH who demolished and dishonored the pantheon of gods in Egypt. So we see native-born sons of Jacob and what Scripture calls “sojourners” – foreigners who have joined themselves to the nation in order to worship and serve YHVH. We see from numerous passages that the laws are the same for the native-born and the sojourner and that they are treated the same in every respect except for the eating of the Passover, for which one must be circumcised. Other than that, the sojourners were expected and entitled to live the same lives as the Israelites in every respect – and still are.
In Joshua, we see the Nation of Israel entering into the Land but something strange has happened – we never see a reference to a sojourner again! In Joshua 5:5 everyone gets circumcised and then they all go to war and then every man’s family inherits land – but no more sojourners. Where did they go? Were they kicked out? Were they killed off? They were still there, but their children (remember that the generation who had refused to go into the Land had to die off?) were no longer considered sojourners, but native-born. Ezekiel 47 is our proof text for what happened:
21 So shall ye divide this land unto you according to the tribes of Israel.
22 And it shall come to pass, that ye shall divide it by lot for an inheritance unto you, and to the strangers that sojourn among you, which shall beget children among you: and they shall be unto you as born in the country among the children of Israel; they shall have inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel.
23 And it shall come to pass, that in what tribe the stranger sojourneth, there shall ye give him his inheritance, saith the Lord God.
The mixed multitude was a mixed multitude no longer – they were now indistinguishable in inheritance and lifestyle from the children of Israel and so they became full inheritors of the covenants of promise, including the Covenantal Land Grant to the children of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob. Caleb, a Kennizite, was counted among the children of Judah and indeed his descendants today would be indistinguishable from Jews – because to be a Jew is not about bloodlines, it is about who you worship and which tribe you sojourn with, When people say that the Ashkenazi Jews are not truly Jews, then they are calling into question the legitimacy of Caleb as a member of the Tribe of Judah and probably at least a million of the men, women and children who crossed over the Jordan into the Land along with him – people who became indistinguishable from the children of Jacob.
Being a Jew has never been primarily about genealogy (even though many on both sides of the equation would like to boil it down to just that) but about allegiance. When a person commits their life to living as a Jew and worshiping the Jewish God – how can they not be considered a Jew, regardless of lineage? Rabbi Akiva, one of the greatest Jewish Rabbis in history, was born a Gentile but chose to sojourn with the Jews and is counted as a Jew. But there are people who, for their own reasons, want to discount and discredit the legitimacy of the Ashkenazi. I ask, who are we to raise a bar higher than the one God Himself put into place – are they not living as Jews? Are they not keeping the Sabbath, and the Feasts, and the food laws? Are they not doing the righteous and just acts of charity towards the poor, widowed, orphaned and oppressed? Are they not praying to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? How then, can they not be exactly who they claim to be? Is a Jew not one who lives as a Jew? Must genetics be factored in? What on earth do we gain by calling their claim to be Jews into question? And how dare we, who are grafted in, start speaking of genetic legitimacy? – Many of us who probably have no genetic legitimacy in the family of God whatsoever!
The Scriptures are plain, and when we take adoption into account the argument becomes even stronger. The Ashkenazi prove who they are by doing what the Jews were called to do – worshiping the One God exclusively and by keeping the commandments and circumcising their sons on the eighth day. Yes, most keep the commandments according to the traditions of the Oral Law, but they still do a better job of keeping the commandments than most of those who would speak ill of their hereditary claims.
Our identity as sojourners is in no way inferior to that of the native-born, and it is my belief that the people pushing these arguments are doing so because they do not feel like they are enough somehow. But native-born or sojourner (and of course sojourner can become native-born at any time through circumcision), we are called the sons of God – do we also really, truly need to be Jews? Is being a Jew better than being called the sons of God? How can it be so? How can anything be greater than being called a son of God? Do we have to pull someone else down in order to be raised higher?
The Constitutional Law of the Kingdom of God (the Torah), Joshua and Ezekiel are all in agreement – the children of the sojourners are as the native-born and they are counted as being native-born among the Tribe with which they sojourn. Even if the Ashkenazi Jews were at one point not physical, genetic descendants of the Jews of Yeshua’s day (and I, for one, having looked at the “evidence” am in no way persuaded that they are not the actual descendants of the Jews – I believe that indeed they are genetically Jews) – they are most certainly, by Biblical law, Jews now, and have been for a very long time. They are Jews just as my adopted sons, and their future children, are Rosenquists. Anyone who says they aren’t, has me to deal with – and I have no doubt that anyone who wants to de-legitimize the Ashkenazi Jews will have God to deal with. Any clever arguments that can be used to disinherit and discredit the descendants of the Ashkenazi can also be used to disinherit and discredit the ingrafted Gentiles as well, and that is one place I am not willing to tread because I am far too grateful to simply have been included in the family of God to so casually speak my opinions about who does not belong in that same family. It isn’t my decision – it’s the decision of the Father.