The following entry is part of a commentary on Ezekiel 36-39, which is fictionalized in my book, The Last Aliyah – Book 1 of The Time of Jacob’s Trouble trilogy.
Ezekiel 37:15-17 – The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying, Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and [for] all the house of Israel his companions: And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand.
These two verses have been famously misused and misinterpreted by Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormons, in an attempt to prove that the Book of Mormon is one stick and the Bible is the other, and that God is validating the Book of Mormon by this verse, and thus the whole of Scripture must be made up of both the Bible and the Book of Mormon.
This is one of the most-easily disproven interpretations in the Bible because God Himself gives His own explanation of the verse in v19. If God or someone else in the Bible provides an interpretation of a passage, there is no need to re-interpret the passage, especially in this radical of a fashion.
Ezekiel 37:18-19 – And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou [meanest] by these? Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which [is] in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, [even] with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand.
At the end of the reign of King Solomon in about 950 BC, the 12 tribes of Israel (who were collectively the nation of Israel) had a civil war and divided themselves into the 10 northern tribes (who continued to call themselves the nation of Israel) and the 2 southern tribes (Judah and Benjamin) allied together as the nation of Judah.
After the division and the subsequent civil wars, the house of Israel (the 10 northern tribes) went into exile under the Assyrian Empire in 722 BC. Later, the house of Judah went into exile to Babylon in 586 BC.
When Cyrus of the Persian Empire allowed the Jews to return to Israel, a mixture of people and families from each of the 12 tribes returned to the land of Israel. However, Israel was never a sovereign nation again until May 14, 1948, fulfilling the 430 years of punishment of Israel and Judah.