Beyond the Cusp

July 25, 2013

The Israel I Learned in Bible Class in my Youth

Over the years we covered the stories in the Old Testament, also called the Jewish Bible, and were taught many stories about the ancient Hebrews and Israelites as they were known depending on which period of ancient Jewish history you are talking about. There were also the biblical figures whose nationality was left unstated or other than one of the ancient names used by the earliest Jews. One well known example being Noah who while being a believer and obedient follower of G0d was not Jewish as he predates Abraham who is the father of the Jewish religion. We were also taught that in many ways the real originator of Judaism as we know it today was Moses who is referred to as the law-giver as he gave the Jews the Ten Commandments and the Torah in which are contained the laws which Jews are to observe. What fascinated me were the stories of the Israelites once they had settled in the Promised Lands and their struggles and how they seemed to be constantly falling away from following their Commandments only to face hardships which often took the form of outside civilizations invading their lands and how when facing defeat or other hardships they would find their way back to following the path laid out for them by G0d through His Laws. As with any young boy, I was always most interested in their battles and the tactics and maneuvers they used to repel or defend against these invaders.

 

There was one feature of almost all of these battles which strikes me as being of paramount importance to modern times and the problems concerning Israel and the constant demands that they surrender lands to the Arabs, Bedouins, Palestinians or whomever. The one constant in these battles were the Judean Hills which the ancient Israelites used to great advantage as it seemed that everybody who invaded used chariots and heavily armored infantry while the Israelites utilized archers, slingers, and mostly light infantry. When your strength is mobility and speed and the other army uses brute force and heavy equipment, then you pick the worst terrain you can find in which to confront them. The other tactical weapon the ancient Israelites would use was to try fight holding the invaders off and not directly engaging them until the seasons of rain were upon the lands making chariots next to useless. Apparently their lands had a tendency to become swamp-like which made the use of even horses difficult and often defeated every advantage the invaders normally enjoyed.

 

Then there was the most famous stronghold, Jerusalem. Jerusalem was a great walled city that had the most wonderful secret that enabled it to hold out against sieges, a culvert that was dug, concealed underground, which brought fresh spring waters into the city supplying the one absolute necessity, water. This not only provided drinking water but water for all purposes and apparently Jerusalem had enormous stores of grains and foods kept by the Priests within the Temple complex. Jerusalem also had tunnels that allowed raids to be loosed on any siege force which would come seemingly out of nowhere, strike, and disappear almost as fast as they had appeared never leaving any traceable signs. It is little wonder that Jerusalem was not conquered as frequently as most other cities. Add to the mystique that is the history of Jerusalem the fascinating tale of how King David as a warrior led a small band into the city by the very channel which supplied water to conquer the prize that became the eternal Capital City for the Jewish People from that day forward. Jerusalem was far more than just the Capital City and fortress of last resort, Jerusalem was the cultural and religious center of the Israelites. It was the central hub that wed the twelve tribes into one peoples. This was where three times every year every Jew would make their pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the three Jewish pilgrimage holidays, Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot. Much of Jewish life, customs, and religious observance in the ancient times revolved around the Temple in Jerusalem. There are many of the six-hundred-thirteen commandments which are at the core of Jewish belief which pertain solely to the Temple and the rituals which must be carried out in the holy place. Some pertain to daily, weekly, or monthly observances and others to particular services attached to certain holidays. Until the Jews are permitted to erect the Third Temple these commandments go unfulfilled.

 

There is one story which I found particularly unusual and it has to do with the initial conquest of the lands from the Canaanites at the beginning of Israelite history after the Exodus from slavery in ancient Egypt, and it pertains to right before they received their last instructions from Moses, as he would not cross the Jordan with them, and before Joshua as Moses’s successor led them against the walled fortress of Jericho. Two of the Tribes of Israelites, Dan and Rueben, who were made up of herders found the lands east of the Jordan River to be favorable for grazing their herds and approached Moses with a request to settle these lands. Moses was less than receptive to their request and admonished them for attempting to forgo their obligation to conquer the lands as commanded and instead leave all of the warfare to the other tribes to go alone. They replied that not only would they assist with the conquering of the Promised Lands but that they would take the lead in every battle and not take up their flocks until every tribe had received their lands. They asked only that they be allowed to build pens to hold their flocks and a defendable city to hold their women and children in safety. This too enraged Moses who reprimanded them for their placing the safety and security of their flocks ahead of that of their women and children. After Moses had sufficiently cowed them he allowed for them to proceed and reminded them of their promise and had them restate their intent to make honest on their promise to the other tribes.

 

What does all of this have to do with modern times? Well, the Israelites of today have not requested to have those lands the tribes of Dan and Rueben settled east of the Jordan River despite these lands being well described in the historical record of the early Jewish tribes, the Bible. The debate the world has forced upon the Jews is for them to sacrifice some of the lands where much of their most important events throughout their history took place. The world is demanding that the Jews surrender half of the city which has been at the heart of their world for over three-thousand years. The Jewish tribes had a civilization centered around Jerusalem before either Confucius or Buddha was preaching their philosophies and religious beliefs. There are demands that Israel allow the descendants of the Arabs who were displaced largely due to their own fleeing the oncoming warfare under the promise given them by the Mufti of Jerusalem that once the Jews had been eradicated they would be allowed to take from the spoils and have possession of all the land. Something of a miracle came to pass and Israel survived and even could be said to have thrived. Despite the constant claims for these Arab refugees who have been imprisoned by their brethren, nobody has bothered to demand restitution or the return to their lands of the over three-quarters of a million Jews who were forced through persecutions to flee much of the Arab and Muslim world after the formation of Israel. The majority of these Jews made what could be called a second exodus to Israel where they were welcomed and absorbed into the society and not placed in squalid camps for the next sixty-five plus years. What was nothing more than an exchange of populations similar to numerous other such exchanges that have taken place through recent history, this one is treated as something different, something other than ordinary. Nobody is demanding that restitution be made or a return forced for the Hindus and Buddhists who migrated in one direction and the Muslims who migrated in the other direction when India and Pakistan became separate entities. Similar comparisons can be made with the lands that were taken from Germany after the World War and presented to France and Poland. Furthermore, when after the War of Israeli Independence when Jordan claimed the areas of Judea and Samaria and renamed them the West Bank and made the Jews depart from lands they owned and gave the Arabs citizenship and divided the Jewish lands presenting them to those who were owed favor, the entire world including the Arab and Muslim nations with the exception of Britain and Pakistan refused to recognize the Jordanian claims. Here is a question, who exactly did the world believe that land belonged to that they refused to recognize the Jordanian annexation? There were no such peoples invented as of yet called Palestinians as when people referred to Palestinians at that time and before 1948 they meant the Jews living under the British rule. The British even had a Palestine Brigade fighting in the Sinai and North Africa during World War II which was made up entirely of Jews from the British Mandate Lands. There were no Arabs as they mostly fought on the side of the German Nazis during World War II and hated the British. So, the lands that the Jordanians called the West Bank and the rest of history called Judea and Samaria should belong to whoever was believed to have been the rightful owners while the world condemned and refused to recognize Jordanian ownership. A small hint, they believed it rightfully belonged to Israel, surprise.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

1 Comment »

  1. Reblogged this on Oyia Brown.

    Like

    Comment by OyiaBrown — July 25, 2013 @ 8:27 AM | Reply


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