Thoughts on: “Whose LAND is it?”
In previous blogs, I have attempted to lay a Biblical, that is, Torah and the Prophets, foundation for my understanding of the LORD’s regathering of His people to His LAND; hence my belief in their unquestioned right to be there and develop the land in security and without harassment from the immediately surrounding nations and the nations of the wider world. But, since many people do not give credence to the Biblical narrative, I will look at extra Biblical sources today.
John Kerry’s misguided attempt to make a name for himself, and to make the world think that the USA is still a viable world power relevant in the Middle East, is becoming ever more obviously ludicrous. They need to re-read history to identify the error of their position and re-establish a role of genuine support for Israel, the only democracy, and the only partner for peace they have in the whole Middle East.
Let's begin with the ancient records, archaeology. Although I am no expert in archaeology, I think it is fair to say that there are multiple examples of archaeological sites in Israel that provide indisputable evidence supporting the claim of the Hebrew Scriptures that Israel is, indeed, the ancient homeland of the Jews; it is ancient Israel reborn. And, on the other side, there are no examples that could be construed to suggest that this is not ancient Israel.
The Hazor site, pictured below, confirms construction by Kings Solomon and Ahab who, according to the Bible, both built fortresses at this place. However, even more ancient evidence of Joshua’s sacking and burning of this city in the early stages of Israel’s conquest of the land has come to light. Although not all archaeologists are agreed, there is a layer of Hazor that suggests a massive conflagration of both upper and lower Hazor, corresponding to the time of Joshua, which seems to be evidence supporting the Bible’s Joshua narrative.
Excavations at Tel Dan in the north, known as the city of Laish which was captured by the Tribe of Dan when they migrated north, also confirm Israelite presence. Their move was necessitated by continued harassment from the Philistines along the coast who lived near their original allotment. The Biblical text, in fact, uses the expression “from Dan to Beer Sheva” to refer to the “whole land” belonging to Israel. Below is the Israelite gate to the city.
Megiddo, a popular site that most tourists visit, displays significant evidence of King Solomon’s building projects and his use of the site as a major fortress with extensive stables. Of course, like all of the sites I reference, this one has plenty of evidence of more ancient Canaanite occupation. However, all of the Canaanite peoples have long since disappeared, while the Israelites have returned to their former home to become a flourishing civilization once more.
(I am aware that there are some people, and I have email evidence, who would still attempt to uphold the Yasser Arafat claim that the “Palestinians” are descendants of these Canaanites; even though Arafat himself immediately thought better of it and renounced such a claim. Today, Saeb Erekat, the official negotiator for the PA, is still saying that his ancestors were in Jericho when Joshua destroyed it; even though no historian agrees that such a claim has any validity).
Shiloh, mentioned last week, offers clear identification of the ridge on which the Tabernacle stood for almost 400 years.
Jerusalem is probably the most prolific producer of ancient artifacts that attest to the Israelite presence there over the millennia; the evidence may soon be in to confirm the location of King David’s house; many already think the evidence for such an identification to be strong. Climbing the ancient steps to what was the original entrance to the Temple mount sends shivers of awe up one’s back; as does a walk in the tunnel dig along the length of the Western Wall of the Temple mount. Although for the time being, non-Muslims are often not allowed on the top of the Mount at all, let alone to pray there, the Hebrew Prophets, whom we have described as having many of their prophesies already fulfilled, tell us that a time is coming when the LORD will restore His Temple on its chosen location. But, I am slipping back into the BOOK, and I set out to look at Archaeology rather than the Biblical story; please forgive me, the two are very closely intertwined sometimes. The image below shows a medallion that Jerusalem archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar discovered in the dig at the base of the Temple Mount and describes as "a breathtaking, once-in-a-lifetime discovery". It was part of the "Ophel cache" and is dated 7th Century AD, abandoned at the time of the Persian conquest of Jerusalem in AD 614. The menorah, as we know, has been a symbol of Israel that was taken from the Menorahs built for King Solomon's Temple. The shofar and the Torah scroll add two other significant elements of the life of Israel.
So, when we now look at more recent history, it is no wonder that Lord Balfour spoke of the “re-constitution” of Israel; he and the other leaders at the San Remo Conference (1920) had no illusions about the antiquity of the Jews’ claim to the land.
However, the British, who were placed in charge of the “Palestine Mandate” (1920) to ensure that the former Ottoman land designated as the “homeland for the Jews” would become exactly that, were no longer sure they could follow through with their promise to the Jews, and already in 1921 lopped off about 80% of the Mandate land, called it Trans-Jordan, and gave it, amidst a great deal of controversy, to a Hashemite Prince from Arabia in an attempt to ward off the Arab threats coming their way. (Perhaps the threats were justified in that the British had made other fear based promises to the Arabs in return for Arab help in another theater of war). At any rate, they were more in tune with pleasing Arab demands in the pursuit of their own safety, than in the Biblical warning of the LORD to refrain from “dividing the land”.
Somehow the LORD seems to think that this land belongs to Him, and that no one, not even the Israelis, have a right to divide the land. Although that refers back to the Biblical text, it is in line with what many legal authorities say; the Levy Report, one of the most recent legal studies, among them.
I’ll just list a few of these “legal authorities”: Joan Peters in her 1984 book From Time Immemorial; Howard Grief in his 2008 book The Legal Foundation and Borders of Israel under International Law; and Dr. C. D. Wallace in her 2011 edition of Foundations of the International Legal Rights of the Jewish People & the State of Israel: Implications for the Current Debate.
I have not delved into detail here, but for anyone interested, details are readily available in books, for anyone still using Libraries and Bookstores, on-line and, of course, Google.