6. The Twelve Tribes – Ephraim and Manasseh

By John Thiel

The sealing of the one hundred and forty four thousand pertains to people living now.

Revelation 7:1 And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. 2 And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, 3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. 4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: [and there were] sealed an hundred [and] forty [and] four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.

We recall from our past studies in this series that the time and beginning of this message was 1848. War was about to break forth in Europe and it was stopped. The angels held back the winds of strife. We are living ever since that time, preparing to meet God. We must go through Character changes.

Revelation 21:2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

Revelation 19:7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. 8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.

In what way is this city being prepared? The city is being covered in a white garment – the righteousness of the saints. Gods’ people are preparing themselves to enter that city. It is to do with character building.

Revelation 21:12 And had a wall great and high, [and] had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are [the names] of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: 21 And the twelve gates [were] twelve pearls: every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city [was] pure gold, as it were transparent glass.

Here are the tribes, what are these gates made off?

Revelation 21:21 And the twelve gates [were] twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city [was] pure gold, as it were transparent glass.

Where do pearls come from? How are they formed? Through tribulation, an irritation. Pearls are a representation of character. Each tribe has a name on each gate.  Out of Ephraim and Manasseh only one has a gate. One has a character that is not refined. The other has refined his. We now ask the question, why were Ephraim and Manasseh given an opportunity to be part of the twelve tribes? They were not the sons of Jacob. Whose children were they?

Genesis 48:8 And Israel beheld Joseph’s sons, and said, Who [are] these? 9 And Joseph said unto his father, They [are] my sons, whom God hath given me in this [place]. And he said, Bring them, I pray thee, unto me, and I will bless them.

Genesis 48:5 And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, [are] mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine.

Ephraim and Manasseh were Josephs sons. What does Jacob say? They are my sons like Rueben and Simeon. He declares these children who were not born to him are to be brought into Israel but their source of their birthright was different. Although different, yet given this opportunity to be part of the tribes. Who was the mother of these two children?

These youths were connected, through their mother, with the highest order of the Egyptian priesthood; and the position of their father opened to them the avenues to wealth and distinction, should they choose to connect themselves with the Egyptians. It was Joseph’s desire, however, that they should unite with their own people. Patriarchs & Prophets page 234.

They were born to a royal beginning and pagan priest hood. Like us gentiles were not born into the birth of the twelve tribes, they came of pagan motherhood but they had a privilege given to them. Which of the two will benefit. One lost, one gained. What a privilege we have to be among the tribes. Are we going to make it or lose it?

Genesis 48:14 And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid [it] upon Ephraim’s head, who [was] the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh [was] the firstborn. 15 And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, 16 The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.

Jacob crossed his hands as he blessed Ephraim and Manasseh. Joseph tried to stop his father as Manasseh was the first born. His name would be upon them, that was still the blessing. They received the same kind of blessing.  But what special blessing did Ephraim receive? Ephraim’s seed became a multitude of nations. Ephraim was especially blessed, he was going to be greater than Manasseh. He would have larger numbers.  When Moses was blessing tribes he mentions Ephraim. We see a repetition of the blessing. Ephraim was prominent by numbers.

Deuteronomy 33:17 …and they [are] the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they [are] the thousands of Manasseh.

However, does being blessed by numbers carry any spiritual benefit? Many people look at numbers as a blessing of the Lord.

Not in our learning, not in our position, not in our numbers or entrusted talents, not in the will of man, is to be found the secret of success. Feeling our inefficiency we are to contemplate Christ, and through Him who is the strength of all strength, the thought of all thought, the willing and obedient will gain victory after victory. COL page 404.

Feeling our inefficiency, contemplate Christ. Willing and obedient he gained the victory. To enter in through the gates, there lies real power. It is quality of truth in the heart. What characteristic marks Ephraim’s legacy? Lets observe the character of Ephraim.  Not much has been written about their youth, but only through the tribes do we find out. One opportunity of recognizing is by observing Gideon. Gideon went forth to fight. Watch how the character of Ephraim begins to reveal itself.

Judges 7:24 And Gideon sent messengers throughout all mount Ephraim, saying, Come down against the Midianites, and take before them the waters unto Bethbarah and Jordan. Then all the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and took the waters unto Bethbarah and Jordan. 25 And they took two princes of the Midianites, Oreb and Zeeb; and they slew Oreb upon the rock Oreb, and Zeeb they slew at the winepress of Zeeb, and pursued Midian, and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon on the other side Jordan.

Ephraim’s Attitude

Judges 8:1 And the men of Ephraim said unto him, Why hast thou served us thus, that thou calledst us not, when thou wentest to fight with the Midianites? And they did chide with him sharply. 2 And he said unto them, What have I done now in comparison of you? [Is] not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer? 3 God hath delivered into your hands the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb: and what was I able to do in comparison of you? Then their anger was abated toward him, when he had said that.

The men of Ephraim chided with Gideon that they were originally not invited to partake in the battle and were jealous of Gideons victory and that they weren’t instrumental in it. Although Ephraim helped to attack Oreb and Zeeb, they were still envious. They were an envious tribe. Here is a lamentation expression of God. God is perplexed about this tribe.

Jeremiah 31:20. Is] Ephraim my dear son? [is he] a pleasant child? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still: therefore my bowels are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the LORD.

Isaiah 11:13 The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim.

What was characteristic about Ephraim? God is perplexed about this tribe. God did not know what to do with this tribe.  How serious is envy?

Never can the love of Jesus be received and shed abroad in the heart until envious feelings, hatred, jealousies, and evil surmisings are put away. Sons & Daughters page 49.

Gideon had to palliate the envy of Ephraim. It presented a war if he didn’t. There was no Jesus in this. Although Ephraim was blessed, he did not benefit from it. The negative traits of his character began to cement itself. Jeroboam was the son of Solomon and he became king of the ten tribes.  Who was Jeroboam reference to Ephraim?

1 Kings 11:26. And Jeraboaim the son of Nebat, an Ephrathite of Zereda, Solomon’s servant, whose mother’s name [was] Zeruah, a widow woman, even he lifted up [his] hand against the king.

He raised his hand against the king Rehoboam. A feud started as we look in chapter twelve. Because of Solomon’s sin, the kingdom was split in two. Jeroboam was raising his hand against Rehoboam.

1 Kings 12:16 So when all Israel saw that the king hearkened not unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? neither [have we] inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David. So Israel departed unto their tents. 17 But [as for] the children of Israel which dwelt in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them. 18 Then king Rehoboam sent Adoram, who [was] over the tribute; and all Israel stoned him with stones, that he died. Therefore king Rehoboam made speed to get him up to his chariot, to flee to Jerusalem. 19 So Israel rebelled against the house of David unto this day. 20 And it came to pass, when all Israel heard that Jeroboam was come again, that they sent and called him unto the congregation, and made him king over all Israel: there was none that followed the house of David, but the tribe of Judah only. 21 And when Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah, with the tribe of Benjamin, an hundred and fourscore thousand chosen men, which were warriors, to fight against the house of Israel, to bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam the son of Solomon. 22 But the word of God came unto Shemaiah the man of God, saying, 23 Speak unto Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and unto all the house of Judah and Benjamin, and to the remnant of the people, saying, 24 Thus saith the LORD, Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren the children of Israel: return every man to his house; for this thing is from me. They hearkened therefore to the word of the LORD, and returned to depart, according to the word of the LORD. 25 Then Jeroboam built Shechem in mount Ephraim, and dwelt therein; and went out from thence, and built Penuel. 26 And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David: 27 If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, [even] unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah. 28 Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves [of] gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. 29 And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan. 30 And this thing became a sin: for the people went [to worship] before the one, [even] unto Dan. 31 And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi. 32 And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that [is] in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made. 33 So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Bethel the fifteenth day of the eighth month, [even] in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense.

We see in the story of Rehoboam and Israel tension taking place. Conflict was arising between two men. So God told Jeroboam to go home.

1 Kings 12:25. Then Jeroboam built Shechem in mount Ephraim, and dwelt therein; and went out from thence, and built Penuel.

What does he do? He begins to build a separate place of worship. The ten tribes develop pagan worship.

Placed on the throne by the ten tribes of Israel who had rebelled against the house of David, Jeroboam, the former servant of Solomon, was in a position to bring about wise reforms in both civil and religious affairs. Under the rulership of Solomon he had shown aptitude and sound judgment; and the knowledge he had gained during years of faithful service fitted him to rule with discretion. But Jeroboam failed to make God his trust. So strong was Jeroboam’s desire to keep the ten tribes away from Jerusalem that he lost sight of the fundamental weakness of his plan. He failed to take into consideration the great peril to which he was exposing the Israelites by setting before them the idolatrous symbol of the deity with which their ancestors had been so familiar during the centuries of Egyptian bondage. Jeroboam’s recent residence in Egypt should have taught him the folly of placing before the people such heathen representations. But his set purpose of inducing the northern tribes to discontinue their annual visits to the Holy City led him to adopt the most imprudent of measures. Prophets and Kings page 99-100.

Proverbs 27:4. Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.

If envy takes root, what results does it bring? How strong is envy? Its worse than anger!

Proverbs 14:30. A sound heart [is] the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.

It began with Satan wanting to ascend to the throne of God. The envious man diffuses poison. With that characteristic, it was closing on Jeraboam. Ephraim would shrivel away.

Hosea 7:8 Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people; Ephraim is a cake not turned. 9 Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth [it] not: yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth not. 10 And the pride of Israel testifieth to his face: and they do not return to the LORD their God, nor seek him for all this.

He doesn’t know it, but he keeps drifting down and down. Did God stand back and say, I can’t change him now?

Hosea 11:3 I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms; but they knew not that I healed them. 4 I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them. 5 He shall not return into the land of Egypt, but the Assyrian shall be his king, because they refused to return. 6 And the sword shall abide on his cities, and shall consume his branches, and devour [them], because of their own counsels. 7 And my people are bent to backsliding from me: though they called them to the most High, none at all would exalt [him]. 8 How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? [how] shall I deliver thee, Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah? [how] shall I set thee as Zeboim? mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together. 9 I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I [am] God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city.

God is working hard on Ephraim just like he does on us. What was the final cry in regards to Ephraim?

Psalms 78:9 The children of Ephraim, [being] armed, [and] carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle. 10 They kept not the covenant of God, and refused to walk in his law; 11 And forgat his works, and his wonders that he had showed them.

They turned back.

Hosea 9:11 [As for] Ephraim, their glory shall fly away like a bird, from the birth, and from the womb, and from the conception. 12 Though they bring up their children, yet will I bereave them, [that there shall] not [be] a man [left]: yea, woe also to them when I depart from them!

Hosea 9:16 Ephraim is smitten, their root is dried up, they shall bear no fruit: yea, though they bring forth, yet will I slay [even] the beloved [fruit] of their womb. 17 My God will cast them away, because they did not hearken unto him: and they shall be wanderers among the nations.

Hosea 4:17 Ephraim [is] joined to idols: let him alone.

This characteristic diminished souls. Look at the tribes of the one hundred and forty four thousand, Ephraim is not there. When King Hezekiah called for the tribes to come and worship at Jerusalem, look at who responded.


2 Chronicles 30:1 And Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, to keep the passover unto the LORD God of Israel. 10 So the posts passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh even unto Zebulun: but they laughed them to scorn, and mocked them. 11 Nevertheless divers of Asher and Manasseh and of Zebulun humbled themselves, and came to Jerusalem.

The posts passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh even unto Zebulun: but they laughed them to scorn, and mocked them. Nevertheless divers of Asher and Manasseh and of Zebulun humbled themselves, and came to Jerusalem.  Some humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem to keep the pass over. But not Ephraim. The joining of these two tribes to Israelites relished joy.  If we are of a particular character, let’s be like Manasseh and not Ephraim.

Romans 11:18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.

Romans 11:20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: 21 For if God spared not the natural branches, [take heed] lest he also spare not thee. 22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in [his] goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. 23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again. 24 For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural [branches], be grafted into their own olive tree? 25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

If you have been grafted into the vine of Israel, then do not be sure of yourself. Dan was removed and Ephraim could have taken his place. It is the humbling of oneself that God wants to achieve – perfection of our character. Cling to his mercy. We all come from odd beginnings.



Comparing Dan and Naphtali – http://sabbathsermons.com/2009/09/05/5-the-twelve-tribes-dan-and-naphtali/

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Posted on 05/09/2009, in The Twelve Tribes of the 144,000 (2002 Conference) and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Dear brethren,

    I really enjoy the studies on the 12 tribus by John Thiel. Can I come to know about the author by reading his biography ? I’ve found the name John E. Thiel, is it the same author ?

    Blessings in the name of Jesus,

    Viviane Lam

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