King's Business - 1962-01

continents there are of necessity sea-coasts, but neither statement gives us light as to whether “ isles” or “ sea- coasts” is intended in Gen. 10:5. Genesis 10:5 is clearly a summary statement giving the general dwelling places of all the sons of Japheth. This is what others see in the passage: “ The isles of the Gentiles’ — a phrase by which the Hebrews described all countries which were accessible by sea( Isa. 11:11; 20:6; Jer. 25:22). Such in relation to them were the countries of Europe, the peninsula of Lesser Asia, and the region on the coast of the Euxine. Accordingly, it was in these quarters the early descendants of Japheth had their settlements.” (Jamieson, Fausset and Brown on Gen. 10:5.) “ The posterity of Japheth were allotted to the isles of the Gentiles (v. 5), which were solemn­ ly, by lot, after a survey, divided among them, and probably this island of ours among the rest; all places beyond the sea from Judea are called isles (Jer. 42:4, the isles shall wait for his law, [italics in original] of the conversion of the Gen­ tiles to the faith of Christ.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Gen. 10:5.) No doubt, as Matthew Henry suggests, islands were included among the lands allotted to the sons of Japheth, but certainly their habitations were not limited to is­ lands. There is no more proof in Gen. 10:5 that Tarshish settled on an island than there is that Gomer settled on one. It should be noted also that if the passage refers exclusively to islands, then all the sons of Japheth are island people — a conclusion that no one upholds. The next argument is that Tarshish is always as­ sociated with maritime conditions. This is true but, of course, only proves that Tarshish could be any maritime people or commercial people trading by sea. The refer­ ence (I Kings 22:48) is mentioned to show that Jehosha- phat hired 'a navy of Tarshish to go to Ophir for gold, but the parallel account in 2 Chron. 20:35-37 makes it clear that Jehoshaphat and Ahaziah built the ships in a Red Sea port. It was an ill fated navy belonging to Judah and Israel, not to another nation. Why then are the ships evidently built by Israelites called “ ships of Tarsh­ ish?” This seems to answer the question: “Ships of Tarshish were originally ships trading to and from Tarshish, but ultimately ships of first-rate magnitude to whatever place their voy­ ages may have been made (Ps. 48:7; Isa. 2:16; 23:1, 14; 60:9; Ezek. 27:25). Such vessels, built by Jehoshaphat to go to Ophir, lay in the harbor at Ezion-geber on the Red Sea (I Kings 22:48).” (Dictionary of the Bible, John D. Davis, article on Tarshish.) This explains why Tarshish is always associated with maritime conditions. The name came to be associated with large ships regardless of what nation the ships be­ longed to. However, it should be remembered that the argument that Tarshish refers to a maritime people proves only that Tarshish was a maritime people, not that Tarshish was Great Britain. The third argument is that the metals mentioned in Ezek. 27:12 are found in Great Britain. But these metals are also found in other lands. Besides the passage refers to metals traded in the fairs of Tyre, but makes no state­ ment as to where they came from. That they were brought by the merchants of Tarshish does not prove they came from Tarshish, and eyen if the articles came from Tarshish, that does not prove that Tarshish is Great Britain.

This verse is in a context which speaks of the future restoration of Israel. Mr. Lamb sees this prophecy. in actual fulfillment through Great Britain’s friendship to the Jews and the Balfour declaration. Ezekiel 38:13 speaks of “ the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof.” The young lions are said to be the nations that have come out of Britain; Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States. Before examining the Tarshish-Britain theory an­ other statement of it by Dr. David L. Cooper will be noted: “ To what does the expression ‘merchants of Tar­ shish’ refer? Some scholars have thought that Tarshish was an ancient name for Spain where­ as others see in it a reference to England. When all the historical statements are examined thor­ oughly, it seems that the evidence is in favor of identifying Tarshish as England. This conclu­ sion is confirmed by statements which speak of the ships of Tarshish in a number of prophetic utterances. Tarshish, therefore, appears to be the leading maritime power in the end of the age. England has held for decades and still retains the balance of sea power. We are thus led to conclude that Tarshish of this passage in all probability refers to England . . . Since it is evident from the context of Ezekiel 38:13 that the young lions are used symbolically, we know that they refer to nations which will be working in close conjunction with Great Britain. What countries can, therefore, be indicated by this prophecy? The answer in all probability is that the democracies of the Western World are meant. This, of course, includes the United States of America, since she developed out of English colonization in the New World. Of course, all of those nations that are included in the British Empire or the British Commonwealth of Nations are referred to in this passage.” ( When God’s Armies M eet the Almighty, pp. 17, 18.) Dr. Cooper presents his identification of England and the Western Democracies as a strong probability, but later he assumes quite definitely that the identification has been established: “When the powers of the Northeastern Confed­ eracy send their armies into Palestine, the gov­ ernments of Sheba, Dedan, the Tarshish (Eng­ land) together with the young lions thereof (the younger Western Democracies) issue a protest; for they say, ‘Art thou come to take the spoil? hast thou assembled thy company to take the prey?’ The language of Ezekiel 38:13 indicates clearly that these Western Democracies send only a protest — a very mild one. It comes in the form of a question.” (Ibid., p. 37.) In this statement Dr. Cooper sees the Democracies issuing only a mild protest against the invasion of the northern armies. In contrast Mr. Lamb sees the Tarshish peoples actually standing up and defending the returned Jews. (Signs, p. 79.) This matter will appear of interest later. The arguments presented to establish the Tarshish- Britain theory will be examined in order. The first is that Gen. 10:4, 5 teaches that Tarshish was among those who settled in the isles, and this would indicate an island people such as the British. Mr. Lamb admits that the Hebrew word for isle means also “ sea- coast,” but he counters with the statement that where there are islands there are of necessity coast-lands. One could answer with the observation that where there are



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