Hine’s Eighteenth-Identification

Though not the Cambridge scholar as the Rt. Rev. Jon Holt Titcomb, Mr. Edward Hine was likely the greatest Victorian exponent of British Israelism, popularizing Identity teachings to large audiences and societies both in England and touring extensively in the States. Note: Hine’s Forty-seven Identifications of the British Nation with the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel (1874) is an exhaustive example of the Evidental method later used by Titcomb.

Evidently, among some Identitarians and neo-reactionaries there’s a wish to return America, or the United States, to a political (rather than merely cultural and emotional) Union with Britain. In other words, these critics would abandon, if not disparage, American Patriotism. Countering such criticisms, Hine viewed America’s continued Independence as necessary to the Identity account of Anglo-Saxon history, fulfilling Bible prophecies given to Manasseh. Defending the importance of America’ s Republicanism and her Sovereignty, Hine asserts the gravity of this particular identifier,

It would be impossible to find Israel unless we found a great nation having sprung from her that had become independent of her. This will be a sure clue in the identification of Israel; and, in order to see this, we must impress upon the mind of the reader the fact that there can only be ‘twelve tribes of Israel’.”

Hine counts the existence of 12-tribes at the ‘sealing’ or Last Day given in Rev. 8.8, noting the House of Joseph is included and therefore far from Extinct. However, though Joseph is reckoned as a single tribe, it’s composed of two distinct nations. Manasseh is sometimes called a ‘thirteenth tribe’, and distinct within Joseph, while Ephraim inherits his father’s style, consolidating the remaining Ten tribes under him, so is interchangeably referred to as “Joseph” . Yet, “we have in these two boys the creation of two distinct nationalities, yet both of the same stock” (p. 23).

It’s by their blessings a difference arises between Manasseh and Ephraim. Ephraim is given the presidency over a confederacy or company of nations while Manasseh is singularly a ‘people, and he also shall be great’ (Gen. 48.19)– i.e., a great nation. Hine adds a proof text from Isaiah (ch. 49, v. 20), arguing the “Lost of the Other” is equivalent to political Independence and descriptive of the American revolution:

“Who is the ‘other’ but Manasseh? who had raised the cry of ‘the place is too strait for me; give place to me that I may dwell;’ and who found a large colony, and had gone forth to it, and had become strong, and had declared her independence of Israel, and had become a distinct nationality, and so become ‘lost’ to Israel. Thus we are told that, even after this ‘declaration of Independence’ on the part of Manasseh, Israel would still continue to multiply, because ‘the children which thou shalt have, after thou hast Lost the Other, shall say again in thine ears, The place is too strait for me.” (p. 23-4)

Making the positive Identification with America, Hine presses the significance of Manasseh’s greatness, naturally tied into her Independence, as advancing Biblical veracity and prophetic fulfillment. He also gives something of a rationale as to why we ought, with renewed vigor, celebrate our Independence:

“The Identity is substantial and plain. There is much reason to thank God that America can celebrate year by year her ‘Declaration of Independence’. Truly she is from us, though quite independent of us; and quite true it is that she is ‘a great people’, and must continue so  until the end of time. This is a remarkable Identity, causing the Nation of America to stand forth as a brilliant witness to the truth of God’s ‘sure word’. How marvelously this view shows the Word of God to be inspired. What a power it gives to the Bible. For of what value would God’s promises be, to intelligent thinking minds, if they could never be traced as having real fulfillment?’ (P. 24)

Some conclusions:
Is it ironic that Americanized Identity tends to casually treat our Independence often to the neglect of our Britishness or ‘common stock’? Americanized Identity (aka. Christian Identity in contrast to British Israelism) at best glosses over the blessings and distinctiveness of Ephraim. This usually amounts to a downplay or ignorance of the commonwealth as well as the Davidic person of the Crown. Contemporary teachers have gone so far as to claim America is Ephraim! By conflating, or simply ignoring, Ephraim, relatedness between kindred is missed, and the result is a degradation of both. ‘Whiteness’ is often spoken of rather than a more specific “Anglo-Saxony”. Oddly, there’s also less appreciation of our Republican form of government.

Furthermore, in Hine’s opinion the distinct blessings of two nations actually vindicates Bible prophecy and truth in our unbelieving Era. In other words, America’s Independence– as much as Britain’s Commonwealth– are crucial markers of the Identity message, so, without affirming both political realities, scripture’s scope and reliability (according to the BI view) is weakened. America must be Independent, or a thirteenth tribe that followed Ephraim was never lost. And, without the Identity of the lesser sibling, the mark of greater one is obscured. Hine ends this section showing how much of his interpretation leans on Isa. 49.20-21:

“Look at this Identity. The Americans are of our stock, they came with us from Media, settled with us in these North west Isles, found ‘the place too narrow’ for them; and from these Isles went forth, colonized the United States, declared their independence, and in this sense became ‘lost’ to us” (p. 24).

*It is unfortunate so many of Hine’s identifiers have been forgotten. Anyhow, Hine’s essay is a hearty example of the Evidental method which Titcomb relies upon in his Message.

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Hine’s Eighteenth-Identification

2 thoughts on “Hine’s Eighteenth-Identification

  1. My main go-to-sources for scripture commentary are the late-18th century evangelical Anglicans and Methodists, namely, Thomas Scott for the former and Benson & Clark for the latter. Looking at Isa. 49.20-21, the KJV reads
    “The children which thou shalt have, after thou hast lost the other, shall say again in thine ears, The place is too strait for me: give place to me that I may dwell. Then shalt thou say in thine heart, Who hat begotten me these, seeing I have lost my children and am desolate, a captive, and removing to and fro? and who hath brought up these? Behold, I was left alone; these, where had they been?”

    Scott says,

    “So, that, after Zion’s former desolations, her children should be so numerous, that they would earnestly demand more room.– The destruction of the Jews by the Chaldeans, and afterwards by the Romans, and the rejection of the nation for unbelief, were to that church as the loss of children: the state of the Jews during the captivity, and that of the Christian church during the reign of Antichrist; and especially that of the nation of Israel for almost eighteen hundred years, has resembled a desolate widow in captivity, wandering from place to place, without prospect of having or bringing up children: and the replenishing of the church after these desolations, might seem as the resurrection of her children from the dead, or their return to her after they had been supposed dead.”
    “After the captivity, the Jews were very much increased: they not only filled the land of Judah, but multitudes inhabited the adjacent cities and countries; and many were proselytid to their religion, and became Zion’s adopted children. Yet, the context and the expressions lead us rather to interpret the prophecy of the enlargement of the church, by the breaking down of the partition wall, and by the conversion of the Gentiles to Christ; which has already diffused the worship of the true God far more widely than of old; and which, after the recall of the Jews into the church, shall at length fill the whole earth with knowledge of his glory. The restoration of Israel, and the reunion of Judah and Israel, may be included in these general terms; but cannot be exhaustively predicted“.

    Benson says much the same, adding,

    “He alludes to the land of Judea lying waste during the Babylionish captivity. Thus the church of God was in a waste, desolate, and barren state, till the coming of the Messiah, the introduction of the gospel, and the conversion of the Gentiles; and the land of thy destruction– Or thy land of destruction. He still alludes to Judea, thus characterized, because it was devoted, and should be exposed to destruction, first by the Chaldeans, and again by the Romans, a lively emblem of the ruined state of their church”
    “The children of thy barren state– Those children which thou shalt have when thou art past the ordinary age and state of childbearing, as Sarah in her old age was made the mother of a most numerous posterity; to which he seems to allude: those children which shall be begotten to thee by the gospel when thou shalt be deprived of thine own natural children, or when thou shalt become barren as to the conversion of natural Jews; when the generality of the Jews shall cut themselves off from God and his true church, by their apostasy from him, and by their unbelief and rejection of their Messiah; shall they again– Or rather, shall yet say, though for the present it be far otherwise, The place is too strait for us– This is figuratively spoken, merely to signify the great enlargement of the church by the accession of the Gentiles.”

    The 18th century commentators make no reference to ‘children lost to us’ as being the American colonialists nor the British Empire. Obviously, these were before their time, yet Victorian commentators would likely still refrain from such speculation. However, notice two things: the passage immediately speaks of the return to Judea after Babylonian captivity. Yet, there is another, greater sense it speaks of the desolation of Jerusalem by the Roman siege and consequent growth of the Church by Gentile large-scale conversion. While this seems fairly obvious in retrospect, it was not ‘exhaustively predicted’ at the time of the disciples. Likewise, we cannot exhaustively predict how Israel and Judah will be joined under the unity of faith in Christ, but as the Last Day is approached, it surely will become evident. Because these texts admittedly allude to future events from the time of their writing– either the destruction of Jerusalem or the Roman Antichrist in the Church– there is room for interpretation. An application similarly relevant for our time (or from a BI or post-Victorian view) might be the desolation of the Mother Anglican church by her dissenting sons in the colonies (say, Americans or Methodists), ‘They are lost to us’. However, upon the later growth of the Empire and expansion of a worldwide Commonwealth, the fullness of Gentiles is naturally obtained (i.e. evangelical mission abroad) with her lost children returning along with many adopted sons.

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  2. Bishop William Lowth gives this verse [Is. 49:20] by a latter-day sense, therefore, indicating the growth of the Church after the commission of Christ but not excluding (in my opinion) the growth of its Protestant branch, toward the end of this epoch, by the rise of the British Empire, establishing Christianity as truly ‘catholic’ or ‘universal’ church among men. Though Lowth predates the rise of Empire (unlike Victorian evangelicals), the latter-day sense is signified where he speaks of the ‘fulness of Jews and Gentiles’. Accordingly,
    Verse 20. The Children thou shalt have, after thou hast lost the other.] Those which thou shalt have after thou hast been for some time in a desolate Condition. See ch. 54.1

    Isa 54.1Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear] Or, that hast not born children a great while: The Prophet had described Jerusalem during the captivity, as a desolate woman, forsaken of her Husband, and bereaved of her children, ch. xlix. 21. Compare ch. lxii.4. Here he bids her rejoice and comfort herself after her affliction, because her children should be much more numerous than they were in her most flourishing condition. This cannot be literally true of the jewish nation, who never made such a figure after the captivity, as they did in the days of David and Solomon, and consequently can be only imperfectly understood of Jerusalem, as she was a type of the Christian church, according to St. Paul’s exposition of the text, Gal. iv.27. Expounding the words of this Sense, they import, that the church, after her spouse, Jesus Christ, was taken from her by Death, and she left in a disconsolate, forlorn condition, and her children orphans; see Job. xiv.18. desponding and comfortless, Luke xxiv.21. from such mean and contemptible beginnings, should spread herself over the world, and will still receive a further Enlargement, when the fullnesss of the Jews and Gentiles come in.”

    Lowth continues in v. 3, same chapter, respecting the same latter-day fullness of whose enlargement was obviously more complete by the British Empire: “Thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left. Thy people shall become so numerous, that thou shalt be forced to seek out new Habitations for them. ibid. And thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited] This may be understood in a lower sense, of the Jews enlarging their borders by the conquests of Judas Maccabeus over their neighboring countries, see 1 maccab. v. and their inhabiting those cities in Judea, which had been left desolate, it may be, ever since the captivity of the ten tribes; but the words do plainly imply the enlargement of the church, by admitting the gentiles within her territories, and that the minds of rude and barbarous nations should be cultivated with the knowledge of the true God. See the note on ch. 49.8″

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