At 08:29 AM, Saturday, 10/26/02, Noel Bennion wrote:

Perhaps you could help me out a little here with the answers to several

1) Who are the Gentiles?

2) Who is the house of Israel?

3) What does the fulness of the Gentiles mean?
Well, that is really the problem. Each of these terms has more than one meaning depending on how it is used. For an example, a Gentile could be anyone who isn't descended from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Or it could be anyone who lives in one of the Gentile nations. The Gentile nations are the Christian nations of Europe. The Book of Mormon uses this last meaning for the most part. It says that the gospel will go first to the Gentiles and then to the Jews. Well, it came first to Joseph Smith and other white, Anglo-Saxon Mormons. So they must be the Gentiles referred to the in the Book of Mormon. But Joseph Smith said that he was a pure Ephraimite, and most Church members are of the half tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. So in one sense they are the children of Israel, and in another they are Gentile because they can trace their lineages back to the Gentile nations of Christian Europe.

The House of Israel today means one thing to Mormons, and another thing to non-Mormons who consider our Bible the Word of God. Mormons generally believe that anyone descended from Jacob whose name was changed to Israel is the House of Israel. But in the rest of the world, the term House of Israel is synonymous with the term Jew. While not all Jews are of the tribe of Judah, only the Jewish people have kept their tribal affiliation since ancient times. The the only House of Israel they know of are the Jews. We Mormon believe that we are of the House of Israel and the Jews are too. The rest of the world believes that Jews are the House of Israel.

Complicating this further, the Book of Mormon refers to the descendents of Lehi as "Jews." And they were of the tribes of Ephraim (Lehi) and Manasseh (Ishmael). And since the descendents of Lehi are Jews, and the modern day Lamanites are descendent of Lehi, they must be Jews also. So perhaps that prophecy is fulfilled that the gospel will be taken first to the Gentiles (European-Americans) and then to the Jews (Lamanites).

A few years back there was a controversy over all of this. An article in the Ensign written by Daniel Ludlow said that Church members were House of Israel and not Gentiles. Avraham Gileadi, on the other hand, said that by the usage in the Book of Mormon, members of the Church descended from European ancestors were Gentiles. Who was right? Well, as I have studied it out in my mind, Church members are either House of Israel or Gentiles depending on the usage. In other words, I lean toward Gileadi and away from Ludlow.

For what it is worth, because I am descended from Ephraim according to my Patriarchal Blessing, I am House of Israel and therefore a Jew. The term Jew does not refer only to those descended from the tribe of Judah, but all those descended from Jerusalem, or the Kingdom of Judah, or those who practice Judaism or the Law of Moses. I consider all those members who are descended from Ephraim or Mannaseh to be Jews. Of course this is really distressing to those few Mormons who are anti-Semites, ooops, I mean anti-Jewish.

You got that now? It is as clear as mud. <grin> You have to know how the word is used to determine which meaning to attach to it.

"I don't think I'm alone when I say I'd like to see more
and more planets fall under the ruthless domination of
our solar system." --Jack Handy
All my opinions are tentative pending further data. --JWR

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