Book: America & Britain

As brought out in the Introduction to this book, “cherry-picking” passages to “prove” one’s point is being unfaithful to the Word of God, and only serves to discredit one’s writing. A good example can be found in how Ezekiel 21:27 has been misapplied by virtually all who write on the subject of the preservation of the Davidic “throne.” Relying primarily on the KJV, the traditional view is that the three “overturns” of this passage refer to three occasions when the “throne” of David was transferred to new locations. In the KJV, the verse reads: “I will overturn, overturn, overturn it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it [to] him.” The meaning “read into” the passage is: “I will overturn, overturn, overturn the throne; and it shall be no more overturned until he comes whose right it is; and I will then give it to him.”

The first “overturn” is said to have occurred when the throne was relocated from the land of Judah to Ireland; the second took place when the throne was later moved from Ireland to Scotland; and the final “overturn” refers to when the throne was moved to England. Accordingly, the throne is to remain in England—“be no more overturned”—until it is finally relocated to Jerusalem under the Messiah.

Indeed, the throne of David was reestablished in Ireland soon after the fall of Jerusalem (see Chapters 11 and 12). Moreover, it is true that the British monarchy—including the present Queen of England—is descended from the kings of Ireland by way of Scotland. These facts do suggest some kind of “movement” of the throne.1

But is Ezekiel 21:27 a prophecy of three “relocations” of the Davidic throne, or has this passage been conveniently “cherry-picked” as a prooftext? Is it possible that this popular “interpretation” has been carelessly “read into” the text and that this passage actually has an entirely different meaning? We can only arrive at the truth if we examine the passage 1) in context; 2) without preconceived notions; and 3) by being completely honest with the Hebrew.

Ezekiel begins by stating that Zedekiah’s wicked rule was coming to an end—emphasized by God’s command to remove the diadem and the crown (verses 25-26). In the middle of verse 26 is a key statement, one that helps to establish the context or overall tone of the passage: “this shall not be the same” (KJV). The Hebrew literally reads “this, not this”—i.e., things would not remain as they had been. Radical change was coming, things were going to be turned “upside-down.” The ensuing upheaval would be unprecedented and result in the abasement of what had been lofty or high, and the exalting of what had been lowly or humbled.

Verse 27 is somewhat complicated, and many translators admit that its meaning is vague. Some translations render the opening phrase as “I will overturn, overturn, overturn it” (KJV, etc.); others use the term overthrow or ruin (“I will make it a ruin, a ruin, a ruin”); a few prefer the more literal meaning of the Hebrew, perverted. It is apparent that the Davidic throne is being discussed—but exactly what was to happen to the throne? Was it to be “overturned,” “overthrown,” or “ruined” in the sense of being destroyed? Was it to be “overturned” in the sense of being transferred elsewhere? Or is there yet another answer that makes better sense?

The Hebrew word translated “overturn” is avvah—and occurs only here in Ezekiel 21:27. According to Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon, avvah (a noun) is the intensive form of the verb avah, which means to bend, twist, distort or pervert something in the sense that it is no longer what it should be.2 The verb avah is used in 17 places in the Old Testament and never means to destroy or transfer. In every place where avah is used, the meaning is clear that a distortion or perversion has occurred—a deviation from what had been considered the norm.

The first thing we should note is that avvah, as used by Ezekiel, is a noun. However, the KJV (etc.) renders avvah as if it was a verb—“I will overturn, overturn, overturn it.” This not only violates the Hebrew text, it suggests an unintended meaning—repetitive action, that three “overturns” are to occur. Most modern translations correctly render the term as a noun.

Moreover, because the KJV incorrectly renders avvah as a verb, it ignores the only verb actually used in the clause, the Hebrew suwm—“(I) will make”—which is used throughout the Old Testament as make, set, appoint, ordain, establish, etc. Correctly translated, there should be three nouns followed by a single verb: “A ruin, ruin, ruin I will make it!” Clearly, this verse cannot point to repetitive action, as in “three sequential overturns.” Rather, the passage shows that God was going to bring the throne itself into a condition or state completely contrary to what was originally intended—hence, the Hebrew avvah. Indeed, the entire tone of the passage is negative, adverse. After all, to remove the throne from the land of Judah would be a perversion or a deviation from what God had originally planned. The triple use of avvah is understood by scholars (Bullinger, etc.) as being a literary form of emphasis, as employed in numerous biblical passages (see Isa. 6:3; Jer. 7:4; 22:29; etc.).3

The idea that avvah can mean “overturn” in the sense of bringing about a “transfer” is contrary to how its verb root, avah, is used. Remember, avvah is used only here in Ezekiel 21; thus, we can best understand its meaning by looking at how its verbal root, avah, is used. In the 17 places where the root is used—rendered variously in the KJV as iniquity, perverse, perversely, perverted, amiss, turn, crooked, bowed down, troubled, wickedly, and wrong—the meaning is clear that a distortion or perversion has occurred. Moreover, there are Hebrew words that already have the meaning of “transfer.” One in particular, abar, is rendered “translate” (KJV) in II Samuel 3:10 in reference to the transfer (NIV, NKJV) of the kingdom and throne from Saul to David.

Likewise, avvah cannot mean “ruin” or “overthrow” in the sense of destroy (as per some translations). Several Hebrew words are used widely with this meaning. And as we have seen, God has unequivocally promised that David’s throne would not be destroyed, but would be active across all generations.

In short, the Hebrew avvah or avah do not mean that David’s throne was to be “transplanted” elsewhere or destroyed. Rather, what is indicated, using repetition for intensity, is a massive deviation from what God had originally planned—for what was to happen to the throne was a tragic perversion of what God had intended for David and the nation of Judah from the beginning.

Properly rendered, the next clause tells us that the upheaval would be unprecedented in the history of Judah. The KJV rendering—“and it shall be no more”—is markedly vague. As previously noted, it is taken to mean that the throne would “be no more overturned” until the Messiah comes. But this connotation is clearly not supported by the Hebrew. The phrase in Hebrew is composed of three parts: 1) a construct meaning “even this” or “indeed this”—used for emphasis; 2) the negative particle lo, meaning not or never; and 3) the verb hayah, meaning to come to pass or to take place. Here, hayah is in the perfect mood, which relates to past action. Thus, the simple meaning is, “Indeed, this has never happened!”

Based on the text’s structure, the phrase is actually a parenthetical statement—an exclamation of sorts, obviously designed to add an element of gravity or to reflect emotion on God’s part. If we omit the phrase, the verse could sensibly be rendered: “I will make it a ruin, a ruin, a ruin—until He comes whose right it is; then I will give it to Him.” But when the phrase is parenthetically added in, it echoes the statement in verse 26 that radical change was coming: “I will make it a ruin, a ruin, a ruin—indeed, such has never occurred!—until He comes whose right it is; then I will give it to Him.”

The final clause of Ezekiel’s prophecy—“until He comes to whom it rightfully belongs; to Him I will give it” (NIV)—is clearly messianic and reminiscent of Genesis 49:10. Thus, the throne would be removed from the land of Judah, but would never be removed from the tribe of Judah.

Below is a paraphrased rendering that accurately captures the intent of Ezekiel’s prophecy:

“Remove the turban and the crown from Zedekiah! From this time on, nothing will remain the same! I will exalt that which has been humbled, and abase that which was exalted. As for the throne, I will make it a ruin, tarnished, disgraced— indeed, such has never occurred!—until He comes Who has the right to it; then I will give it to Him.”4

Admittedly, “ruin” is not the best translation for avvah. But its root meaning—to pervert or distort—works poorly in English as well. David’s throne was not utterly ruined or perverted; by using avvah, God was trying to express the harsh reality that circumstances concerning the throne were about to radically change—in a way that was completely contrary to what He had originally planned or intended. In short, a major deviation was to occur—hence, avvah.

Because of sin, the throne had long ceased to reflect the glory of God or the glory of the kingdom under David and Solomon. Shame, disgrace, and dishonor had become attached to it. And now, the “throne” would go into a sort of “exile.” There would be an extended suspension of the throne in Judah—something utterly unheard of.

But consider that there was (and is) a divine plan at work. The nation of Judah would go into captivity—and return some 70 years later without a king. Subsequently, for most of the Jews’ turbulent history, they would be subjugated by Gentile nations. What would have happened to the Davidic throne if it had been restored after the Jews returned from Babylon? Could the throne have survived under the Persians? The Syrians? The Romans? What kind of persecution would the Davidic throne suffer today if it were openly and apparently functioning in Jerusalem? Would it even be possible?

It would seem that sending the “throne” into “exile” was the one sure way to preserve the throne and the royal line—by keeping it “hidden” (in plain sight) from the world. Today, the British monarchy enjoys a great deal of national and international attention. But the world does not know that the British throne is actually David’s throne. Most Brits do not know. Again, what kind of persecution might result if the world knew the truth concerning David’s throne?

Indeed, the Davidic “throne” was transferred to another location (the British Isles) for preservation and safekeeping—where it would actively rule over a portion of modern Israel. Ezekiel 21 hints at this transfer—but only because of its reference to “exalting” and “abasing.” However, a three-step “relocation” process is simply not supported by the Hebrew. Clearly, the purpose of the passage is to express the tragic fate of the throne in relation to Judah—to proclaim that the throne was coming to an end in the land of Judah and that it would be returned to Jerusalem only when it was to be claimed by its rightful heir.

Still, history does indicate that whereas the Davidic throne was first resettled in Ireland, it now stands in London. But Ezekiel 21 cannot be used to demonstrate how it got there. Frankly, the details of how the throne ended up in England are sketchy, often contradictory, and subject to interpretation. Moreover, the entire history of the Davidic throne in the Isles is linked to a mysterious, yet biblically significant, “coronation stone” (see Appendix 5). In the end, our focus should be on what we can prove—that God has, true to His promises, preserved the Davidic throne and royal linage; that the throne has been, for now, delivered to the British Isles for safekeeping; and that David’s throne will soon be reestablished in Jerusalem under the Messiah.


1. Following the establishment of the first Davidic king in Ireland (see Chapter 12), a succession of Jewish-Irish kings continued for about a thousand years. Around 500 AD, the Irish prince Fergus Mor McEre (Fergus the Great) was highly successful in his military efforts to annex parts of western Scotland. Fergus soon established a significant kingdom and was proclaimed “King of Scotland.” This was the second of the so-called “overturns” or transfers of the Davidic throne. While this event may well signify “movement” of the throne toward England, it was not a literal “overturn” of the throne. Remember, the throne of David came to an end in Judah as it was relocated to Ireland; but the Davidic throne in Ireland did not come to an end as a result of Fergus’ occupation of Scotland—it continued under his brother, Muircheartach, King of Ireland. As E. Raymond Capt writes, Fergus had “proposed to style himself king of Scotland” (Jacob’s Pillar, p. 43). Fergus’ actions hardly constitute an actual “overturn” of the Davidic throne. In reality, his new Scottish realm was but an expansion of Irish dominance. Much later, in 843 AD, King Kenneth MacAlpin completed the Irish conquest of Scotland. The third so-called “overturn” ostensibly occurred in 1296 AD when King Edward I of England conquered the Scots and became “overlord” of Scotland. However, after major military defeats and pressure from the Pope, England renounced its claim on Scotland in 1327. Scotland continued its independence for 276 more years until the two kingdoms were united in 1603. That year, James VI of Scotland was crowned in Westminster Abbey, London, becoming King James I of England (Queen Elizabeth is his descendant). Essentially, England’s expansion into Scotland brought the Scottish throne to an “end” in that it became “joined” to the English throne. While the idea of three distinct “transfers” of the Davidic throne remains historically vague, the relationship between the Irish, Scottish, and English thrones is highly significant—and the present British monarchy clearly springs from the ancient Irish dynasty to which the Davidic throne was first entrusted.

2. Dr. William Gesenius, Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon; entries for Strong’s no. 5754 (avvah) and 5753 (avah)

3. Bullinger says that such triple repetition of a word or phrase is a figure of speech “for great emphasis” (E. W. Bullinger, The Companion Bible; “Ezekiel 21:27”). Moreover, the number three is said to point to completeness and to express the certainty of a matter (Bullinger, Number in Scripture, p. 107).

4. The following translations do a better-than-average job of rendering Ezekiel 21:27 according to the original Hebrew:
“Remove the turban, take off the crown; things shall not remain as they are. Exalt that which is low, abase that which is high. A ruin, a ruin, a ruin—I will make it! (Such has never occurred.) Until he comes whose right it is; to him I will give it.”—New Revised Standard Version
“Off with the diadem! Away with the crown! All is overturned; raise the low and bring down the high. Ruin! Ruin! I shall bring about such ruin as never was, until one comes who is the rightful ruler; and I shall install him.”—Revised English Bible
“They will take away your diadem and remove your crown. Everything will be changed; the low will be raised and the high brought low! Ruin! Ruin! I shall bring such ruin as never was before, until the rightful ruler comes, on whom I shall bestow it.”—New Jerusalem Bible