18) DIVISION IN EARTH: How does membership in the house of Israel influence where individuals are born and the nationalities to which they belong?

Prophetic Statements

Joseph Fielding Smith


“The great majority of those who become members of the Church are literal descendants of Abraham through Ephraim, son of Joseph.” 1


Question: “My companion and I were discussing the lineage of the Israelites. I am a full blood Chinese, and have thought much of my lineage as mentioned in my patriarchal blessing. When I told my companion that my blessing said ‘You are of the lineage of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Ephraim,’ he commented that I must not be pure Chinese. Since he has made such a statement, I have thought much about what is mentioned in the blessing. I will be grateful if you will inform me as to the relationship between races: Chinese, French, German, and others. I am particularly interested in this because I interpret the lineage literally and not as an adoption.”

[Part of President Smith’s answer was as follows]  All of this was to come on Israel as a punishment for their wickedness. However, the Lord never punishes his people without turning that punishment into some blessing in the end. The scattering of Israel became a blessing to the Gentile peoples among whom they were dispersed, for the Israelites mixed with the people thus bringing the Gentiles into the benefits of the blessings that had been promised to Abraham and his seed after him. . . . Nearly all of the Latter-day Saints are of Gentile ancestry as well as being of the house of Israel. . . . Therefore we find in China, Japan, India, and in all other countries that are inhabited by the Gentiles that the blood of Israel was scattered, or “grafted,” among them. Therefore in this day of gathering the Lord is fulfilling his purposes and is calling back into the fold of the True Shepherd, the children of Abraham. They are largely of the tribe of Ephraim, for Ephraim was given the blessing of standing at the head in the last days:

And they, [that is, returning Israel,] shall bring forth their rich treasures unto the children of Ephraim, my servants.

And the boundaries of the everlasting hills, shall tremble at their presence.

And there shall they fall down and be crowned with glory, even in Zion, by the hands of the servants of the Lord, even the children of Ephraim. (D. & C. 133:31-33.) 2

Howard W. Hunter


The words “hath made of one blood all nations of men” refer to Adam, the mortal father of the nations of men. All human beings descend from one man. Paul said that by divine plan, Adam’s offspring were scattered over the earth at “the times before appointed”—that is, the period fixed by God for the several families to go into the countries where he decreed they should dwell. Not only did God determine the times when they should go, but also the “bounds of their habitation”—in other words, the countries where they should dwell so that their posterity might carry out the Lord’s divine purposes.

The second passage of scripture is from the Book of Deuteronomy: “When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.” (Deut. 32:8.) This indicates that the Lord separated Adam’s offspring into nations and at the same time provided an inheritance for the children of Jacob.

A third passage is this statement made by Peter to Cornelius and his friends: “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.” (Acts 10:34-35.)

Peter had been of the opinion that only Jews were in the favor of the Lord and that Gentiles were not as acceptable. Before he had even met Cornelius, though, a vision was shown him, and he saw plainly that God was not partial. No nation or people or individual could expect to be favored above another.

From those passages of scripture we learn these basic principles:

First, all people on earth are of one blood—we stem from common ancestors, Adam and Eve.

Second, God, our Father, in his omniscient wisdom, determined premortally the nation in which we were to live.

Third, nationalities are apparently circumscribed in relation to the House of Israel.

Fourth, our Father does not favor one people over another, but accepts all those of every nation who fear him and work righteousness. 3


Deuteronomy 32:7-9

Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee.

When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.

For the Lord’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.

Acts 17: 24, 26

God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, . . . hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;

  1. Doctrines of Salvation, 3:246
  2. Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 5 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1957-1966], 4: 36-40.
  3. Howard W. Hunter, That We Might Have Joy [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994], 69
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