‛Land I give unto thee’
I have been treated by watching a documentary on CNN about Jerusalem and the epic struggles and six big battles it has faced over a period of 3,000 years as a city venerated by three major religions. There is known truth when it comes to the history of various people — that often the history of persons has been written by their conquerors and rarely is there an account that shows all sides.
The ability to control the narrative goes hand in hand with having the power of preserving history and then whose story gets told. Even then, a story told often changes from one person to another. Words also change; words used 2,000 years ago have one meaning and used today can have a completely different meaning.
The Judaic people, whom we call Jews, have an interesting history of 3,000-plus years, of which for the most part they were scattered all over the Middle East, Africa, Europe and even Asia. There have been debates over whether their true identity is a religion, a nationality or a genetic pool.
Abraham is the patron father of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The descendants of Abraham are both Jew and Arab, as well as others. Not only that, the lost 12 tribes invariably consist of more than just the line of David. Many of the Palestinians are also descendants of Abraham and part of the lost tribe of Israel.
If we can recall, it was Jesus who said he came to find the lost sheep (Tribes). The Jewishness of Jesus (Yehshua) has been established by the best historians on the planet. Yet it would have been a failed mission of his to come and preach only to the already established temple.
The proverbial tyres met the road when his message extended beyond the walls of the temple. During his entire life he did not deviate from his Judaic roots. Just that he belonged to a group of men who were extreme in their way of life and the way they sacrificed all their worldly possessions for the love of God and favour to other humans. It was a tall order to give up everything to follow the will of God.
He became a source of embarrassment to the priestly class who would show off their splendid garments and recite religious commandments and passages to the poor, struggling believers. So, to the priestly, Jesus was just a heretic like his cousin, John the Baptist, who hung out at the River Jordan baptising people and exhorting them to repent from living ungodly lives.
Both Jesus and John are scarcely mentioned in any Jewish historical literature. It's Josephus, the Romano-Jewish historian, who wrote for the Romans that provides independent verification other than religious text — that Jesus as described by him as the brother of James, who was the first leader of the Church, which at that time was a Jewish assembly that became labelled as Christian sometime after the Crucifixion.
The generic or innate problem for Judaism was not the Torah, which is the binding factor that sustains the identity of the Jews as the “People of the Book”. It was their misunderstandings of the messages of being “chosen people” and “the land I give unto thee”. Many of them somehow took the meaning that they alone would be blessed above all others by virtue of being chosen people. When understood properly, they were chosen to sacrifice their life for God for the benefit of others so as the others would also celebrate and praise God.
So it was not a DNA thing, it was a character thing. As for “the land I give unto thee”, we should take the clear example from Abraham, who paid the full value for the land in Hebron that he purchased to bury his wife, Sarah — the very land talked of as having been given. In short, he did not understand it as given by order by God to take the land and kill the inhabitants or, by divine right, any means necessary. He paid the owners the full value.
Today the same equation exists. If we claim Abraham as the father, then the house he builds is meant for everyone, and that would not matter whether the name was Jerusalem or Mecca. Should a Messiah emerge they would say, “Don't repeat the mistakes of David or Solomon or Herod.”
If a temple of God in Jerusalem is meant to be symbolic, then it is not meant for a specific DNA. God is not the author of racism, rather the author of humanity and the best of those in God’s sight is seen in their character. This challenge is for everyone. The path of the true Jew is a kind of faith and purpose to be vulnerable, not mighty.
Love your neighbour, take care of the needy, the homeless and oppressed wherever they are or may be. If Israel took that path as a claim on spiritual authority, it would not need to worry about the rhetoric of an Iranian leader or anyone because something inside the whole world of humanity would come to that side because you behaved like a chosen spiritual people, which they will innately recognise, and not see oligarchs or insensitive rulers.
Expediency is not enduring, for in the scheme of life, 100 or two years is a relatively short period. Truth will ultimately prevail and structures built with improper motive will crumble. This has played out in history; the template has already been set.