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)
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.