Appendix E: Ezekiel’s Prophecy of this Work

    One of the most memorable prophecies in the Book of Ezekiel is the famous “Two Sticks” Prophecy of Ezekiel 37, which reads as follows in the King James Version:

    The word of the lord came again unto me, saying, Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these? Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord god; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand. And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes. (Ezek. 37:15–20, emphasis added)

    We learn several things from these verses. To begin with, the obvious Pashat (plain, simple) meaning is that of a promised reunion of the two divisions of Israel. But there is more. On the Remez level (implied, hinted), we see that the stick of Joseph is “in the hand of Ephraim” but is also called the “stick of Ephraim” earlier in the passage. If the stick of Joseph simply represents Ephraim (the House of Israel), then how can Ephraim be in the hand of Ephraim? This implies that there must be a deeper meaning to the phrase “stick of Joseph” than simply a reference to the House of Israel (although that is its Pashat, or plain, simple meaning).

    The next level of understanding, the Drash (allegorical, homiletical understanding), can be found in the Targum on Ezekiel 37. The Targums are Aramaic paraphrases of the books of the Tanakh that were anciently read in the Synagogues, alongside the Hebrew readings from the Torah and the Prophets. The Targums explained, in Aramaic, what the Hebrew was understood to mean. Therefore, the Targums were highly interpretive and “Midrashic.”

    The official Targum of the Prophets was composed some 2000 years ago by Jonathan ben Uzziel, who was a talmid (student) of Hillel. (Hillel taught as an old man when Yeshua was a small child, so this was one or two generations before Yeshua.) The Talmud describes this Targum as follows:

    The Targum of the Prophets was composed by Jonathan ben Uzziel under the guidance of [traditions handed down from] Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi, and the land of Israel [thereupon] quaked over an area of four hundred parasangs by four hundred parasangs, and a Bath Kol [voice from heaven] came forth and exclaimed, Who is this that has revealed My secrets to mankind? Jonathan b. Uzziel thereupon arose and said, It is I who have revealed Thy secrets to mankind. It is fully known to Thee that I have not done this for my own honour or for the honour of my father’s house, but for Thy honour l have done it, that dissension may not increase in Israel. (b.Megillah 3a)

    By examining how the Targum Jonathan paraphrases this prophecy in Ezekiel 37, we learn how this prophecy was understood by the ancients.

    And it came to pass a sentence came upon me from before yhwh saying: And you son of man, take you one plate and write upon it for the tribes of Judah, and to the sons of Israel, their brothers. And take one plate and write upon it for the tribe of Joseph which is the tribe of Ephraim, and all the House of Israel their brothers. And join the plates one to another, and they shall become one in your hand. And when the children of your people shall speak to you saying: “Will you not show us what these are?” I prophesied to them thus says yhwh Elohim, behold I shall join the tribe of Joseph which is the tribe of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel their brothers, and I will cause them to have fellowship with the tribe of Judah and I will make them one people and they shall be one before me. And the plates which were written upon will be in your hand to their eyes. (Ezek. 37:15–20 Targum Jonathan, emphasis added.)

    The Targum paraphrases the Hebrew word meaning “stick” with the Aramaic word “lucha,” which means a plate or tablet that is inscribed or engraved. The same word in Hebrew is luach (לוח Strong’s 3871, plural luchot), which is the very word used in Exodus for the inscribed stone tablets of the Torah (see Ex. 24:12). The Targum reveals to us a deeper layer of meaning, said to be handed down from the prophets themselves, identifying the two “sticks” as two records, or two inscribed sets of plates, which are united into one record.

    The Targum is in total agreement with The Stick of Joseph, which alludes to Ezekiel’s prophecy saying:

    Wherefore, the fruit of your loins shall write, and the fruit of the loins of Y’hudah shall write. And that which shall be written by the fruit of your loins, and also that which shall be written by the fruit of the loins of Y’hudah, shall grow together unto the confounding of false doctrines, and laying down of contentions, and establishing shalom among the fruit of your loins, and bringing them to the knowledge of their fathers in the latter days, and also to the knowledge of my covenants, says yhwh. And out of weakness he shall be made strong, in that day when my work shall commence among all my people, unto the restoring you, oh house of Isra’el, says yhwh. (2 Nefi 2:4 emphasis added)

    The two sets of plates are the “stick of Judah” (represented by the Plates of Brass) and the stick of Joseph, which was inscribed on the Plates of M’raman (see Appendix B: Source Documents and Groups).

    There is yet much more we can learn about these two “sticks” or records. Let us consider the above passage of Nefi on the Remez (hinted, implied) level. Notice that Nefi says that the two sticks will “grow together.” How do two “sticks” grow together? What does this imply?

    At this point, it is helpful to know that the Hebrew word for “stick” in Ezekiel 37 is ets (עץ Strong’s 6086), which can mean “stick,” but it can also mean “wood” or “tree.” So here we have, to the Hebrew mind, not only a prophecy of two “sticks” but also of two “trees.”

    This brings us to Paul’s parable of the two trees in Romans 11—a tame, cultivated olive tree and a wild olive tree. The wild olive tree represents the “House of Israel” who are counted among the Gentiles, and the cultivated, or tame, olive tree represents the house of Judah. Notice also that this parable speaks of branches from the wild olive tree, “Ephraim,” being grafted into the natural olive tree, “Judah,” just as Ezekiel’s prophecy predicts.

    The prophet Lechi also recounted this parable in The Stick of Joseph, as recorded by Nefi:

    Yes, even my father spoke much concerning the Goyim, and also concerning the house of Isra’el, that they should be compared like unto an olive tree whose branches should be broken off and should be scattered upon all the face of the earth. Wherefore, he said it must necessarily be that we should be led with one accord into the land of promise, unto the fulfilling of the word of yhwh that we should be scattered upon all the face of the earth. And after the house of Isra’el should be scattered, they should be gathered together again, or in short, after the Goyim had received the fulness of the besorah, the natural branches of the olive tree — or the remnants of the house of Isra’el — should be grafted in, or come to the knowledge of the true Mashiach, their Adon and their Redeemer. (1 Nefi 3:4 emphasis added)

    The use of this parable by both Lechi and Paul points to an earlier source yet. That earlier, and much longer, version comes to us from the prophet Zenos—as recorded in the Plates of Brass of the stick of Judah. This more fulsome version is quoted at length in The Stick of Joseph in Ya’akov chapter 3 and outlines the entire history of the House of Israel, from its founding to its eventual glorious reunification.

    In summary, Ezekiel’s prophecy of two sticks carried the following two meanings in documented, ancient Jewish sources:

    First, the two “sticks” are two luchot, which are inscribed tablets or plates, and are understood to refer to two records—one for Joseph and one for Judah. The prophecy predicts the record of Joseph will be added to the record of Judah in the last days, and the two records will become one in uniting scattered Israel. This will be done “before their eyes” or publicly and openly, before “all the House of Israel.”

    Second, the two “trees” are two olive trees, representing Judah and Joseph, the Southern kingdom and the Northern kingdom, or the Jews and those “Gentiles” among the gentiles, who are actually scattered Israel. Lengthy prophecies discuss the return and “grafting” back in of the scattered branches of Israel—representing not only a return to, and gathering within, the land of Israel, but also a return to the covenants and favor of yhwh.

    Considered in its fulness, the scope of yhwh’s prophecy, given through Ezekiel, is sweeping and magnificent. Chapter 37 begins with the vision of the dry bones, representing Israel in its scattered and fallen condition, separated from yhwh and bereft of life. The themes of the vision proceed as follows:

    1. yhwh re-assembles the dry bones and restores them as complete bodies.
    2. The spirit breathes life into them, making them alive and whole again—a vast army of Israel that is restored, remembered, and raised again by yhwh.
    3. Two records are joined together: The Stick of Judah and The Stick of Joseph. The joining of these two records is the key to what follows.
    4. Scattered Israel returns and gathers into their own lands, no longer divided into two kingdoms but united as a single people under a single king, who is called David.
    5. yhwh cleanses and restores Israel to His true faith, and they no longer defile themselves with idolatry or apostasy.
    6. The Temple is rebuilt, and yhwh comes to dwell in shalom with His people.

    Ezekiel’s prophecy is unfolding now, in our day and before our eyes, exactly as yhwh said it would. The nation of Israel has been established, and all of scattered Israel now has homelands to which they can return and dwell. The second record, preserved for over 2500 years and prepared by yhwh for this purpose, has come forth to remind Israel of God’s covenants with their fathers and to teach them of Mashiach. It is here to destroy idolatry, establish truth, and gather all of Israel home to their Redeemer.

    You are holding that record in your hand. It is real, it is true, and it is absolutely what it purports to be. How you respond to what you read in this book will determine whether you participate in the rest of Ezekiel’s prophecy, yet to unfold in this generation. yhwh decreed the prophecy, and His word must be fulfilled. All that was prophesied will unavoidably happen, and this record is the sign it is happening now. Look to Mashiach, and live.