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12Apr/081

Musings on the Two-House teaching found in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy

I realize J.R.R. Tolkien may or may not have had an understanding of the Two House Reality, but knowing the time he lived and the prevalence of the Two-House understanding in much of the English court system (because of British-Israelism)... he likely did have some understanding in the realities of and differences in "Joseph/Ephraim" and "Judah" (the Jews).

What follows are simply my own observations and though I think Tolkien may have had some deliberation in these things, he repeatedly and adamantly insisted during his life that he didn't inject any such comparisons or parallels into his Legendarium. Even so... I'm certain I'm not the first to see what follows.

  • Two kingdoms of men: Gondor (to the south) and Rohan (in the north). Parallel: Kingdom of Judah in the south and Kingdom of Israel (Joseph) in the north.
  • Gondor's line of Kings is lost. Parallel: Judah has lost its Davidic line of Kings
  • Gondor's capital is a White City on a mountain called Minas Tirith. It is also called "the City of Kings". Minas Tirith has a dead tree at it's summit which is a symbol of her Kings. The tree blooms just before the King is restored. Parallel: Judah has a city which is called the Light of the Nations which is on a mountain. It too is the City of Kings and is prophesied to be "the City of the Great King". In prophecy, the Messiah Son of David is depicted as a tender sprout (Hebrew: Yoneq) and as a BRANCH (Hebrew: Netzer) which will come up from a tree long since dead.
  • Gondor had it's first capital city at Osgiliath. Minas Tirith later replaced it. Parallel: Shiloh was the first capital city of Ancient Israel. Jerusalem later replaced it.
  • Rohan is a realm of men known for their skilled horsemen, the Rohirrim. Parallel: The Northern Kingdom of Israel (10-Tribes) was identified by Flavius Josephus in a land east of the Euphrates River as a great multitude in a region famous for their warrior horsemen (i.e. Parthian Cataphract and Scythian Horsearchers). I believe Parthian-Saka-Scythian-related peoples are one of the major representations of 10-Tribe Israel.
  • At the northwestern border of Rohan is a great forest known as the Fangorn. Parallel: At the northwest border of the Northern Kingdom of Israel was ancient Phoenicia (Tyre and Sidon), known to us as Lebanon. The region of Lebanon is known for its great trees, even in antiquity. Not surprisingly, the modern flag of Lebanon has nothing else but two red stripes and a great tree on it.
  • Frodo Baggins is a Hobbit given the mission to destroy the "One Ring" in the fires of Mount Doom. On his journey, Frodo is accompanied by a loyal friend and gardener, named Samwise Gamgee and a guide named Gollum (previously a Hobbit-like creature named Speagol before the Ring poisoned him). Parallel: I see the realm of the Hobbits and the realm of Men as overlapping tales of the same people. Frodo could depict the Messiah Yeshua coming to destroy Evil or the Power of Sin and Death as nothing but a tender Hobbit. I think of Sam as depicting another layer of Judah, the Jews... while considering Gollum a depiction of the dark Lost Ten Tribes of Israel. The Hebrew word for "exile" is "Galut" and has a very similar sound as "Gollum" or "Gallum". "Galatia" and "Galatians" would probably mean more to Christians if they realized that is one of the regions of "the exiles" of Israel.
  • There is much debate on what the "One Ring" represents, but few would disparage its parallel with some form of evil. Some say the Ring represents atomic weapons, or lust for power/authority, or sin and iniquity, or all forms of evil wrapped into one thing. I would agree more with the latter, that it is all evil: "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life" (1 John 2:16).
  • There is a race of living-dead men (Dead Men of Dunharrow) who abandoned an earlier King of Gondor (Isildur), but they ultimately fight for the new King Aragorn at the battle for Minas Tirith. Parallel: In my mind, these depict the Northern Kingdom tribes who abandoned the King of Judah (Rehoboam). They are also reminscent of the dry, dead bones of 10-Tribe Israel coming back to life as indicated in Ezekiel 37. It of course isn't a perfect parallel, but I'm compelled to believe the Ezekiel 37 prophecy influenced Tolkien's imagination here.

If the parallels weren't intended by Tolkien, then there is no reason to insist on a perfect parallel. But where the parallels do seem obvious, it is difficult for me to thumb my nose at them as if they are some accidental and/or trivial thing. Whatever the original intention, I find them all intriguing and a good teaching tool for those ignorant of the Two House reality.

If you have any added thoughts regarding this, please comment. Yet, please don't just criticize where the parallels breakdown. We all should know no parallel is going to fit perfectly, especially since none were "officially" intended.

Defining the Two-House Reality:

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  1. I see Aragorn as being the personification of the Ten Tribes, with the ghosts of the cursed mountain being a parallel of the Jews of today, who have been cursed never to ‘rest’ or find peace because they rejected their king and messiah. Aragorn is known as being “from the north”, an exile, in a sense, who lived outside of his kingdom with Elves, but who has been intended to return to Minas Tirith (Jerusalem) at the end of time. There is a similar parallel to this biblical truth in CS Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, with the 4 children returning to rule at Cair Paravel at precisely the time Aslan (Jesus) returns. He awaits them at the stone table, like Jesus will await the exiled northern tribes and their brothers the Jews, at Jerusalem. You could draw a myriad of parallels.


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