By Charles Henderson
Had President Barak Obama, who professes himself a Christian, spent more time in Sunday School and Bible Study, rather than showing up in church for a little face time and ticket punching, he would understand what most Christians and Jews have long known about Israel, and that nation’s position on the disputed territories along the “West Bank” of the Jordan River, which are largely populated by Palestinians. As the very gifted foreign affairs scholar and newsman Arnaud de Borchgrave points out in his latest commentary posted at UPI.com, “Obama’s Gordian Knot,” http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Analysis/de-Borchgrave/2013/03/25/Commentary-Obamas-Gordian-Knot/UPI-19101364209300/ President Obama’s proposal would work if Israel was Belgium and the West Bank was Luxembourg.
Israel’s position in the matter—a dispute with the nation of Jordan, and the Palestinian people, over territory rather than an occupation of conquered lands from the 1969 Six Day War—is drawn from the Tanakh (or Tanach) the Jewish Holy Scriptures, Prophets and Law, written more than three-thousand years ago, and promises made more than five thousand years ago.
The Israeli claims of the West Bank lands, and other adjoining territories, come directly from the Torah, the five books of Moses, and several of the books contained in the Books of the Prophets, Navi or Nevi’im: Yehoshua (Joshua), Shoftim (Judges), Shmuel I and II (I and II Samuel), Melachim I and II (I and II Kings), Yeshayahu (Isaiah), Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah), Yechezkel (Ezekiel) and Zechariah. These are the lands given to Israel by God, for eternity. A claim of land rights that date back more than five-thousand years, when God made His covenant with Abraham, repeated with Isaac and Jacob, and again three thousand years ago when Yehoshua (Joshua) led God’s People across the Jordan into the Promised Land. Among those lands were Canaan, Judea and Samaria—the West Bank territories. A brief description comes in the last book of the Torah, Book of Devarim or D’varim, which is called Deuteronomy in the Christian Bible.
Deuteronomy 1:6-8 (HCSB)
6 ”The LORD our God spoke to us at Horeb: ‘You have stayed at this mountain long enough. 7 Resume your journey and go to the hill country of the Amorites and their neighbors in the Arabah, the hill country, the Judean foothills, the Negev and the sea coast—to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon as far as the Euphrates River. 8 See, I have set the land before you. Enter and take possession of the land the LORD swore to give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and their future descendants.’
In Chapter 15 of the Book of Bereshit (Genesis), God first made His covenant with Abraham, whose descendants grew into the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths.
Abraham had two sons, Ishmael, by his wife, Sarah’s servant, Hagar, and Isaac, by his wife, Sarah. Before Ishmael was born, God had told Hagar:
Genesis 16:12 (HCSB)
12 This man will be like a wild donkey. His hand will be against everyone, and everyone’s hand will be against him; he will live at odds with all his brothers.
God instructed Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael into the wilderness to live, where Ishmael became a hunter and great archer. Ishmael had twelve sons that became twelve tribes in the Arabian lands, and gave birth to Islam.
Isaac had two sons, Esau and Jacob, twins. Esau emerged from Rebekah first, followed by Jacob, who held onto Esau’s heel. Although born second, Jacob won Isaac’s inheritance by scheming and manipulation of a near-blind father and help of a doting mother, Rebekah. But Jacob was chosen by God to be His Nation, and thus God re-named Jacob, Israel. Jacob had twelve sons by three wives, among whom was Joseph, one of two sons born of Rachael, the other being Benjamin. Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt, yet rose to great power. Famine brought Israel (Jacob) and his sons and their families to Egypt, where they lived among the House of Joseph in the land of Goshen.
According to the Book of Shemot (Exodus, Chapter 1), with the death of the King of Egypt, the Pharaoh who knew and held high regard for Joseph, the new King took the Children of Israel and placed them into forced labor. For more than four hundred years, the Children of Israel (the families and descendants of Jacob’s twelve sons—The Twelve Tribes of Israel) suffered under abject poverty and slavery in Egypt.
Moses was a descendent of Jacob, born in the House of Levi, a Hebrew. At the time of Moses’ birth, Pharaoh had decreed that all male children born to Hebrew mothers should be thrown into the Nile, and only the daughters of Hebrews would live. Moses’ mother hid him for three months, but keeping him hidden became impossible, so she made a reed basket, coated it with tar, and set it at the edge of the Nile water. Pharaoh’s daughter found the baby, saw he was beautiful, and sent her slave to find a Hebrew woman to nurse the baby. They found Moses’ mother, and she raised Moses to a weaning age, then he was given to Pharaoh’s daughter as her son. She named him Moses—from the water—because she drew him out of the water.
Moses grew to manhood, and did not like seeing the oppression of the Hebrew people. One day he killed an Egyptian taskmaster. This angered Pharaoh, and he sought to kill Moses. So Moses fled to Midian where he became a shepherd, married and had a son, Gershom. God called Moses from the “burning bush,” and instructed Moses to return to Pharaoh and lead the Children of Israel out of Egypt, to a land that God would give His chosen people, Israel, for the rest of time.
Exodus 6:2-11 (HCSB)
2 Then God spoke to Moses, telling him, “I am Yahweh. 3 I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God Almighty, but I did not reveal My name Yahweh to them. 4 I also established My covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land they lived in as foreigners. 5 Furthermore, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are forcing to work as slaves, and I have remembered My covenant. 6 ”Therefore tell the Israelites: I am Yahweh, and I will deliver you from the forced labor of the Egyptians and free you from slavery to them. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and great acts of judgment. 7 I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. You will know that I am Yahweh your God, who delivered you from the forced labor of the Egyptians. 8 I will bring you to the land that I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you as a possession. I am Yahweh.” 9 Moses told this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their broken spirit and hard labor. 10 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, 11 ”Go and tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the Israelites go from his land.”
Moses led God’s people, the Children of Jacob, who He had named, Israel, out of Egypt to Mount Sinai, where God gave Moses the Law, and instructed Moses on how to build God’s Tabernacle and the Arc of the Covenant. After years of wandering, and forty years of waiting, Yehoshua (Joshua) led the Children of Israel into their Promised Land.
Included in this land was the east bank of the Jordan, which the children of Benjamin occupied, and all of the lands to the west as far as they could see, including Judea and Samaria, which is the West Bank: The lands Israel holds under dispute with the Palestinian state and the King of Jordan.
After World War II, the Jewish people returned to the lands of their birthrights. The lands promised to them by God, promised to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all their decedents for all of time. What the Children of Israel received was a small fraction of that land, and only a partial stake in the Holy City of Jerusalem, the most sacred place on earth for all Christians and Jews.
Thus when Mr. Borchgrave writes in his commentary: “Ending its colonization and military occupation of the West Bank to make room for an independent Palestinian state is anathema to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his new coalition government.” That is no understatement. For Israel, this is the land of Judea and Samaria, given to them by God. And only God can take this land from them.
Today, more and more world powers call for Israel to surrender the West Bank, to give the Palestinian people a homeland there. Within that land is Jerusalem, Zion, the home of David, the Temple to God built by Solomon, the place where Jesus Christ was crucified, and the tomb from where He arose. It is the city that the people of Israel call their capitol. It is within Jerusalem that the very soul of Israel resides. Bethlehem, the place of Christ’s birth, also lies in this disputed land.
For people of Faith in God and in Jesus Christ to surrender this land, given to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob for all time, a Covenant that dates back five-thousand years, is no less than if the nation of Italy decided to kick the Pope out of Vatican City, take it over, and use it for a housing development for Muslims.
Simply put, the West Bank of the Jordan is not an option for a separate nation for the Palestinian people. A less important land, perhaps on the east side of the Jordan River, would do much better.
©Copyright 2013 Charles W. Henderson