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Who is an Israelite?

This 60-page book is a natural sequel to the book, "Who is a Jew?" It traces the natural Israelites (i.e., ex-Israelites of the dispersion) from Israel to Assyria and on into Europe and other parts of the world. However, it also shows that being an Israelite is a matter of lawful citizenship. To become a citizen of Israel requires accepting Jesus Christ as the Birthright Holder of Joseph in His second coming. In other words, one must be an overcomer to be an Israelite. This was how Jacob received the name "Israel" at the beginning.

Category - Short Book

Chapter 4

Divorce and Dispersion

The prophets treat God’s covenant with Israel and Judah as a marriage covenant. It was, of course, an Old Covenant marriage, not a New Covenant marriage. An Old Covenant marriage is one where the wife is a bondwoman, called to obedience as a good servant to her husband. This was the nature of the marriage covenant made at Mount Sinai, where Israel swore obedience to God (Jesus in His pre-incarnate form), and God promised to bless her if she remained obedient (Exodus. 19:5, 6).

Israel was unfaithful to God for many centuries, so God finally gave her a bill of divorce, according to the law. This is recorded in Jer. 3:8,

8 And I saw that for all the adulteries of faithless Israel, I had sent her away and given her a writ of divorce, yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear; but she went and was a harlot also.

If God had not been married to Israel, there would have been no need for a writ of divorce. But God was following His own lawful procedure here that He had set forth in Deut. 24:1-4. We quote here from Rotherham’s The Emphasized Bible,

1 When a man taketh a wife and marrieth her, then shall it be if she find not favour in his eyes, because he hath found in her some matter of shame, that he shall write her a scroll of divorcement, and put it into her hand, and shall send her forth out of his house.

The law is prophetic, because it shows us how God deals with nations. In this case, the law prophesied of the way God would handle His marriage with the House of Israel. The law did not allow Him to send Israel into captivity (“out of his house”) until He had first given her a writ of divorce, or a “scroll of divorcement.” The divorce is what makes it lawful to send the wife out of the house.

Jeremiah tells us that He did this with Israel through the written word of the prophets. First God divorced Israel, and then He sent her out of His house into what has been called “the dispersion.” God’s divorce made the dispersion lawful.

The Law of Divorce and Remarriage

Deut. 24:2 proves that divorce really is divorce and is not merely a legal separation. Divorce ends the marriage relationship in the eyes of God and makes it lawful for the divorced wife to be married to another man. The law says,

2 And when she cometh forth out of his house, then may she go her way and become another man’s.

Once lawfully divorced, she is free to remarry. This law sounds as if it contradicts Jesus’ words in Matt. 5:32, but the problem is in the translation of Jesus’ words—not that Jesus was putting away the law. The NASB translates Matt. 5:31, 32 like this,

31 And it was said, Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of dismissal; 32 but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the cause of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

The NASB is usually a good translation of the Scripture, but it does make some key errors according to the bias of the translators. This, however, is a blatant mistranslation that makes Jesus put away the law, even after He said earlier in verses 18 and 19,

17 Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished. 19 Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and so teaches others, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven. . . .

How then can these translators tell us that Jesus abolished one of these laws? Have either heaven or earth passed away yet? More importantly, are these translators trying to qualify as the least in the kingdom? Jesus was not destroying or changing even the least of the commandments. He was instead explaining the true meaning of this law, because it was being abused, destroyed, and put away through men’s traditions.

The Greek word for “divorce” is apostasion. It appears in Matt. 5:31, but not in 5:32. Here is how these verses actually read in the Greek:

31 And it was said, Whoever shall release [apolue, “put away; send away”] his wife, let him give her a writ of divorce [apostasion, “divorce”].

Apolue describes the act of sending away. Apostasion is the divorce itself. These two words are not the same, and they do not have the same meaning. The law mandates that divorce must take place before it is lawful to send away one’s wife. In other words, it is unlawful to send her away without divorce papers.

The ten lost tribes of Israel were sent out of God’s house after being given a writ of divorce. The divorce is the legal paperwork that makes it lawful to send her away. There is a difference between the divorce and the act of sending her away. Failure to make that distinction has been the cause of much confusion and lawlessness. Matt. 5:32 continues,

32 but I say to you that everyone who releases [apolue] his wife, except on account of fornication, causes her to commit adultery; and he who marries the released one [apoluo] commits adultery.

Take note that the word “divorce” does not even appear in this verse. Jesus was talking about releasing, putting away, or sending away one’s wife without proper divorce papers. If a man sends his wife out of the house in violation of the divine law—without giving her a writ of divorce—then he causes her to commit adultery. Why? Because she will probably have to find someone else to marry in order to survive, and if she cannot find anyone, she will probably resort to becoming a harlot.

If she were to marry someone else without having lawful divorce papers, then she would be committing adultery. Take note that if she had been properly divorced, then even if she became a harlot, she would not be committing adultery. It would be fornication, but not adultery. One must be still married to commit adultery. And that is why the one who marries one who has been sent away without divorce papers commits adultery as well.

Now let us consider why Jesus said, “except on account of fornication.” He implies that it is lawful to merely put away one’s wife if the relationship is one of fornication—that is, an unlawful union that God does not recognize as a lawful marriage. Examples of fornication include not only whoredom, but also incest (1 Cor. 5:1) and homosexual relationships (Jude 7). While man’s laws may recognize such relationships as lawful marriages, God does not.

For this reason, divorce papers are not required in such cases. Separation or “putting away” is the solution. A man does not need to give divorce papers to a harlot. A man having sexual relations with his mother, as Paul describes, does not need to give her a writ of divorce, but merely to separate from her—quit the relationship immediately. Homosexual “partners” do not need divorce papers, but must separate.

And so, putting all this together, we can paraphrase Jesus’ words as follows:

“But I say to you that everyone who simply puts away his wife without divorce papers (except for fornication, where this IS the solution) causes her to commit adultery. And whoever marries such a woman who has been merely put away commits adultery.”

The verse now makes perfect sense and does not make Jesus contradict the law. For a more complete study on this question, see my books, Old and New Covenant Marriage and The Bible Says: Divorce and Remarriage is NOT Adultery.

The point of this is to show that when God divorced the House of Israel, He did so in a lawful manner. He gave her a bill of divorcement, as Jer. 3:8 tells us. Hosea confirms this in Hosea 2:2, where God says,

2 Contend with your mother [Israel], contend, for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband.

Only after God gave Israel a bill of divorcement did He send her out of His house. Divorce came first—then came the dispersion, or the “putting away.” Israel’s divorce ended her marriage relationship with Jesus that had been established by the vows of the Old Covenant. Israel’s dispersion was the act of sending her out of His house.

Divorce really is divorce, not merely an unlawful separation as many Churches have taught. God had to divorce Israel in order to end the Old Covenant and bring in a New Covenant. If divorce were unlawful, then Christians have no right to claim a New Covenant, for we would all have to seek to marry God in an Old Covenant marriage. That would make us all as Hagar, rather than as Sarah, and we would have to remain in bondage forever.

We can thank God for providing for divorce in the law, so that He would be able to lawfully divorce Israel and provide for remarriage under the New Covenant.

Israel Repents in the Wilderness

Hosea was told to marry a woman named Gomer. She was either already a harlot or she became a harlot later. Scholars have debated the question, but if she truly represented the House of Israel, we know that Israel did not become a harlot until after she had married Jesus Christ at Mount Sinai. So this was probably the case also with Gomer.

When they had children, they were named prophetically to indicate what God was going to do with the House of Israel. Gomer committed adultery with other men, even as Israel had committed adultery with other gods. And so Hosea’s son was named Jezreel, or Yezreel, which is almost the same name as Yisrael, or Israel. The name means “God scatters,” because God intended to scatter the House of Israel by sending her out of His house.

Hosea and Gomer then had a girl, who was named Lo-ruhamah, “not pitied.” Next came a son named Lo-ammi, “not my people,” because God was divorcing the House of Israel. And yet, Hosea 1:10 says that the population of Israel would increase as the sand of the sea even in their captivity. There is no word here about Israel being lost to God. In fact, He says that in their scattered state, they would be called “the sons of the living God.” We can gather from this that Israel would become a Christian people during the time of their dispersion.

In fact, as we will see, no one—Israelite or otherwise—can become a manifested son of God apart from Jesus Christ. Hence, we can say that only those dispersed Israelites who would come to accept and know Jesus Christ can fulfill this prophecy, along with many non-Israelites who would come to know Christ.

Hosea 2:7 alludes to this conversion to Christ also, saying,

7 And she will pursue her lovers, but she will not overtake them; and she will seek them, but will not find them. Then she will say, ‘I will go back to my first husband, for it was better for me then than now!’

Israel actually had many lovers and many husbands. But the prophet puts words in the mouth of Israel, making her think to herself, “I will go back to my FIRST husband.” In speaking of God as her first husband, it is plain that Israel had been divorced and that she had remarried at least one other husband during her exile.

This is one of the prophecies that is mistakenly applied to the Jews today. Bible teachers mistakenly identify Israel with Judah and fail to recognize that Hosea’s prophecy was addressed specifically to the lost ten tribes of the House of Israel—not to Judah. For this reason, they have given evangelical Christians the false hope of a soon-coming mass conversion of Jews to Christ. They are mistaken.

Israel was to seek her first Husband, Jesus Christ, while in the wilderness—not after returning to God’s house. The Zionist state simply does not fit this prophecy. To end a Jewish dispersion and bring the Jews back to Palestine—without their turning to Christ first and being married to Him—is morally unacceptable to God and to His law.

The Second Betrothal

Hosea then gives Israel hope even during her exile, saying God will betroth her once again in preparation for the great remarriage:

14 Therefore, behold, I will allure her, bring her into the wilderness, and speak kindly to her. . . 19 And I will betroth you to Me forever; yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in loving kindness and in compassion, 20 And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the Lord. . . 23 And I will sow her for Myself in the land. I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion, and I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people!’ And they will say, ‘Thou art my God!’

Hosea says that God will betroth Israel to Himself even after having divorced her. This prophecy is remarkable, because it appears to violate the law in Deut. 24:3, 4 (Rotherham’s The Emphasized Bible),

3 But if the latter husband hate her and write her a scroll of divorcement, and put it into her hand and send her away out of his house, or if the latter husband die, who had taken her to him to wife, 4 then may her first husband who sent her away NOT again take her to become his wife, after that she hath been defiled, for that were an abomination before Yahweh—lest thou bring sin upon the land which Yahweh thy God is giving unto thee for an inheritance.

Israel had remarried other gods. Thus, Hosea’s prophecy that God would betroth her again in righteousness was debated in rabbinic writings. How could God remarry His divorced wife without violating His own law? They did not even remotely consider the fact that God might come to earth as the Messiah, that He would die, and that He would be raised again as a New Creature—a different Person in the eyes of the law.

Jesus’ death and resurrection made Him eligible as a New Creature to remarry the House of Israel. This is how His death freed him from the law that forbids a man to remarry a former spouse after she has been remarried. Being free from the law does not mean we are free to sin that grace that may abound. We are never free to be lawless. But Jesus’ death did free Him from the law forbidding Him to remarry Israel.

Yet this remarriage could not take place while Israel was still married to false gods, for God would not marry a woman who was already married. When Jesus died and rose again, He became an eligible bachelor. But Israel was not an eligible woman. Israel was still worshipping other gods and was dispersed among the nations.

The old land represented the original house of God—the place where He placed His name. Israel had been put away, sent out of His house. God could not lawfully bring a woman into His house that He had divorced and who had remarried other gods. It was not lawful for God to allow Israel to co-habit with Him outside of the bond of marriage.

Israel Did Not Return with Judah

Judah’s return from Babylon was only lawful because God had not divorced Judah. It was a temporary separation, after which time Judah returned to God’s “house” in the old land. But Israel had been divorced, and so it was not lawful for her to return with Judah at that time. Those who insist that Israel reunited with Judah and returned with them to the old land simply do not understand the divine law that barred such a thing. Jesus could not take back His first wife along with Judah—not until He had died on the cross, for that made Him a “New Creature,” eligible in the eyes of the law to remarry her.

The fact that Israel did not return with Judah is well known to virtually all historians and to the Jews themselves. The Jewish Quarterly Review, 1888 (Vol. 1) ran an article by Dr. A. Neubauer, saying on page15,

“The captives of Israel exiled beyond the Euphrates did not return as a whole to Palestine along with the brethren the captives of Judah; at least there is no mention made of this event in the documents at our disposal.”

The Jewish Encyclopedia (online) says under the heading, “Tribes, Lost Ten,”

“As a large number of prophecies relate to the return of "Israel" to the Holy Land, believers in the literal inspiration of the Scriptures have always labored under a difficulty in regard to the continued existence of the tribes of Israel, with the exception of those of Judah and Levi (or Benjamin), which returned with Ezra and Nehemiah. If the Ten Tribes have disappeared, the literal fulfilment of the prophecies would be impossible; if they have not disappeared, obviously they must exist under a different name.”

This tells us that they recognize the prophecies of “Israel” to be referring to the so-called “lost tribes of Israel,” and not to the Jews themselves.

And so, to apply these prophecies of Israel to the Jewish people is not supported by Jewish historians. Either they disappeared and the birthright was lost—or they did not disappear, but “exist under a different name.” As we will see in our next section, they do indeed exist under different names. The lost birthright of Joseph is not really lost, but only temporarily hidden by divine intent until the Joseph is found. When they are revealed to the world, then the Zionist state will have to give up its name Israel.

Israel was NOT incorporated into Jewry at the end of the Babylonian captivity, as some have claimed. Israel did NOT return with Judah to form one nation again. So their teaching that the Jews are Israel is false. And thus, their claims that the Zionists are fulfilling the prophecies of the regathered House of Israel are equally false.

Worse yet, many Christians have been induced to support the Zionist state in their attempt to return to God’s house without accepting Jesus Christ as their Husband. Will Jesus agree to live with a woman outside of the bonds of matrimony? No, this counterfeit Israel is a harlot, biblically speaking. It is trying to live in God’s old house without first being married to Him—that is, without accepting Jesus Christ. That is harlotry.

Modern prophecy teachers are in great error in this when they teach that “Israel” has returned to the land (God’s house) apart from the bonds of marriage with Jesus Christ. That teaching is now manifested in our culture, for since 1948 it has become legally acceptable for men and women to live together without being married. The promiscuous laws of the Western nations have been conformed to the promiscuous prophetic teachings of the Church in regard to Zionism and the Israeli state.

Once again, that state is a counterfeit. It is NOT the betrothal “in righteousness” that Hosea prophesied. It is an unrighteous counterfeit in violation of the divine law. It is the moral equivalent of premarital sex.

The New Testament speaks of the “marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:7-9) after the Bride has made herself ready. The marriage cannot take place before the Bride has put on her white robes of righteousness. Though Jesus is eligible to remarry her, she is not eligible until she is “ready.” This is why the marriage has not yet taken place. Up to now, she has not been ready, and Jesus Christ will not marry her before she is ready.

So if natural Israel did not return with Judah after the Babylonian captivity, where did all those Israelites go? How were they lost? Can they be found?

Natural Israel: Lost and Found

The term “natural Israel” is usually applied to the Jews today. It is common to hear men say, “The Jews are natural Israel.” However, this is contrary to Scripture. Israel is not Judah. They were two separate nations. There are natural Jews and natural Israelites, but they are not the same people. So it is necessary for us to explain the difference.

The tribes of Israel were lost because they lost their name Israel. When their nation was destroyed, and the people deported, their genealogical records were destroyed, and their captors called them by other names. But the people themselves were not all killed, nor were all of them simply assimilated by other nations. A closer look at the archeological records of those nations tell us clearly who the Israelites were in the land of their captivity.

The most important key is in knowing that only Israel called itself Israel. The other nations called Israel by other names. The most important name for Israel was the House of Omri, because Omri was one of Israel’s greatest kings (1 Kings 16:23-28).

The Black Obelisk of Shalmanezer is one of the most well-known of all the Assyrian monuments. Every historian knows about it, and even history books written by evangelical Christians are fully aware of this monument. It pictures King Jehu of Israel giving tribute to Shalmanezer of Assyria.

In this monument, Israel is called “the House of Omri,” or literally Beth-Khumri. It is sometimes spelled Beth-Ghomri, Bit-Khumri, or Beth-Humria. Merrill Unger’s book, Archeology and the Old Testament, p. 243 says,

“. . . The initial contact between Israel and Assyria evidently occurred during Omri’s day, for from that time on Israel appears in cuneiform records as Bit-Humri (‘House of Omri’). This official appellation was applied to Samaria, the capital city. Moreover, the designation of an Israelite King became Mar Humri (‘son,’ i.e., ‘royal successor of Omri’). Tiglath Pileser III’s reference to the land of Israel over a century later by its official name Bit Humria evidences the significance of Omri as a ruler in the history of Israel.”

Omri, or Humri, was originally pronounced Ghomri, or Gomer. It is the same as the name of Hosea’s wife, Gomer, who prophetically represented the House of Israel. This is shown in The Old Testament in the Light of the Historical Records and Legends of Assyria and Babylonia, by Theophilus G. Pinches (1902),

“It is noteworthy that the Assyrian form of the name Yaua (‘Jehu’) shows that the unpronounced aleph at the end was at that time sounded, so that the Hebrews must have called him Yahua (‘Hehua’). Omri was likewise pronounced in accordance with the older system, before the ghain became ayin. Humri shows that they said at the time Ghomri.”

Israel was lost because they lost their name. They lost their name because the other nations did not call them by the name Israel. To find lost Israel is simply a matter of tracing the Beth-Khumri, or Ghomri. And when we do that, it becomes readily evident that the Beth-Khumri migrated into Europe to become the Celtic people.

The fact that Israel was known as Gomer has been one of the keys to how Israel was lost, because there are two Gomers in the Bible. The first was a son of Japheth listed in Genesis 10:2; the second was the wife of Hosea who represented Israel. Dr. Bullinger’s notes for Genesis 10:2 reflects this mixup when he comments on Gomer, the son of Japheth, saying,

“Gomer. In Assyrian, Gimirra (the Kimmerians of Herodotus). Progenitor of the Celts.”

Dr. Bullinger would have been accurate if he had put this note in Hosea, rather than in Genesis 10:2. But he, like so many others, was confused over the two Gomers, and so he identified the Gimirra with Gomer, the son of Japheth, rather than with the Israelite King Omri (Ghomri), after whom Israel was named.

This simple case of mistaken identity is how God caused the House of Israel to become lost to historians. God’s plan was truly brilliant! Who else would have thought of such a way to strip Israel of its birthright name after the great divorce? The tribes of Joseph had to be lost even as their forefather had to be lost. Joseph’s identity was not revealed even after he was elevated to power, because Pharaoh changed Joseph’s name to Zaphnath-paaneah (Gen. 41:45). Likewise, Israel’s identity remained lost as well, because their name had changed to Beth-Khumree.

The Assyrian records call the nation Ghomri, the people Gimirra, and their territory the land of Gamir. Virtually all historians, Christian and nonchristian alike, recognize that the Gimirra migrated into Europe and became known as Celts. Dr. Bullinger recognizes that as well. This is why so many prophecy books tell us that Germany is the Gomer of Bible prophecy. Germany (and most of Europe) contain many Celtic people, but they are NOT descended from Gomer, son of Japheth, but from Gomer-Israel.

This is also proven positively by the Moabite Stone. The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia (1970 edition) under “Omri,” says on page 1471,

“According to the Moabite Stone, he [Omri] subdued Moab. The Assyrians called the kingdom of Israel by his name for the rest of its existence.”

The big secret that no one wants to put into print is the fact that the Assyrians continued to call Israel by the name of Omri (Ghomri) even after the nation was destroyed and the Israelites deported to Assyria. This name did not disappear from history, nor did the people of Israel. They were simply given a new name.

In fact, the last king of Israel was Hoshea. Thus, Hosea’s marriage to Gomer pictured Hoshea’s “marriage” relationship with Israel—the king married to his kingdom. It is remarkable that the name of the prophet Hosea would foreshadow the name of the last king of Israel, and that his harlot bride, Gomer, would be the very name that the nations historically called Israel.

Hosea is the main prophet of the lost House of Israel, and his marriage with Gomer provides us with the key to finding the lost House of natural Israel. Europe was primarily populated by Gimirra-Israelites migrating from the land of Assyria through the Caucasus Mountains, through the Crimean peninsula, and into Europe.

Another group of natural Israelites were called the Sakka, or Beth-Sak (“house of Isaac”). The Behistun Rock is the tomb of Darius the Persian, and it contains an inscription of 23 ethnic groups that Darius ruled. They are each listed three times in three languages. In the Babylonian language the list reads “Matu Gimiri,” or “land of the Gimiri.” These same people are called in the Persian language Saka, and in the Susian language Sakka. They lived in what is now modern Armenia, but in those days it was called Sacasene. It was just south of the Caucasus Mountains, where the Assyrians had placed the deported Israelites. This proves that the Saka and Sakka were the same people as the Gimiri (or Gimirra).

The Sakka became known to the Roman historians as Saxons and to others as Sacae and Skuths (Scots) or Scythians. They were all the same people and became an immense multitude as Hosea had prophesied. When these ex-Israelites migrated from Assyria through the Caucasus Mountains, they became known to historians as Caucasians. As they settled the dense forests of Europe, they became the first major population to settle in Europe, other than the settlements on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.

In other words, the lost sheep of the House of Israel became the European nations in the modern world. Ethnically speaking, they are called Caucasian, because so many of them crossed the Caucasus Mountains as they migrated from Sacasene into Europe. From there they spread to America, Canada, Australia, and other places around the world.

This is the story of natural Israel. All of this is simply a matter of historical record and has been proven by archeology in the past two centuries. There are many books that specialize in the history of the wanderings of natural Israel from Assyria to Europe and elsewhere. Such writings are, of necessity, full of strange-sounding names that are difficult for most people to remember. But all of the history of the lost sheep of the House of Israel can be reduced to the few simple facts that we have shown here. These facts are well known to all historians and are beyond dispute.

It is evident that natural Israel is not to be found in the people called “Jews” today, who have done everything in their power to remain separate and distinct from Caucasian natural Israelites. In fact, their desire for separation has largely been based on the fact that natural Israel became Christian in one form or another. So it was a separation based upon religion.

If anyone had the right to call themselves Israel, it would have been the Caucasian nations. They did not do so, however, because God stripped them of their name when he divorced them. And no Israelite or ex-Israelite will have the right to take that name again until they fulfill the conditions that God requires for remarriage. They can only become Israel again by accepting Christ as King of Judah and as King of Joseph-Israel.

They must first become citizens of Judah by faith in Jesus in the work He did in His first appearance. Then they are eligible to begin moving into Sonship, the second work of Christ that is accomplished through the calling of Joseph-Israel. Not every Christian has that vision or desire, however. Some are content to be true “Jews.” But those who desire to go all the way into Sonship are those who will have the right to the name Israel.

The Dispersion in the New Testament Era

Jesus Christ—the God and King of Israel—divorced the House of Israel and then sent her out of His house from 745-721 B.C. But He promised through Hosea and other prophets that she would be betrothed to Him once again (Hos. 2:19, 20) with a view toward remarrying her. As we have seen, this could only take place if Israel’s former Husband would die and come back to life. Jesus Christ did this.

He then sent His disciples into the world to preach the Gospel to every creature. This included the scattered House of Israel, who by this time were dominant in northern and eastern Asia Minor (modern Turkey). Great numbers of them were still living in “Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,” as we read in 1 Peter 1:1. Peter addressed his letter to these Israelites, saying (The Emphatic Diaglott),

1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the sojourners of the Dispersion of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 chosen, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of Spirit. . .

This was NOT the dispersion of Judah, for this was written before Judah was dispersed. Hence, Peter was not addressing “Jews” living in those areas, but Israelites of an earlier dispersion. Later, in 1 Peter 2:9, 10 he says to these Israelites,

9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Peter quotes Hosea, reminding them of their past. Hosea’s son, Lo-ammi, meant “not my people,” and his daughter’s name, Lo-ruhamah, meant “no mercy, or not pitied.” Thus Peter specifically identifies them as ex-Israelites of the dispersion. How did Peter know where those ex-Israelites were located? The Jewish historian, Josephus, who lived at the same time as Peter, wrote in his Antiquities of the Jews, XI, v, 2,

“Wherefore there are but two tribes in Asia and Europe subject to the Romans; while the ten tribes are beyond Euphrates till now; and are an immense multitude, and not to be estimated by numbers.”

Peter sent his letter to Christians in those regions. That is, they were converts to Christ from the lost tribes of Israel. And so, on that basis, Peter was able to call them “chosen” once again. He could tell them that they had now become God’s people again. He could tell them that they had obtained mercy through Christ’s death on the cross. Peter’s goal was, of course, to bring all of these ex-Israelites into the knowledge of Jesus Christ, for only in that way could they be married to Him and be “chosen” once again.

Likewise, the Apostle James also wrote his letter “to the twelve tribes in the dispersion” (James 1:1). He was not specifically addressing the Judeans, but all the tribes. His letter included those Judeans who were already dispersed, not by the Roman war in 70 A.D. but by moving to other lands.

These letters show us how the ex-Israelites of the dispersion may once again become God’s people, Israel. With them are gathered many others, as the prophets wrote.