Why Does Israel Cling onto the Land of Palestine?

There had always been conflicts over the land of Palestine long before the First World War. Why does Israel cling onto the area in the first place? The reason can be found in the Old Testament, the Hebrew Bible.

The Old Testament is the history books that tell the history of the Israelites starting from the Creation, including the story of Adam and Eve (Genesis), Noah’s Ark, and so on. It can be said to be equivalent to kojiki or A Record of Ancient Matters and the Chronicle of Japan. Christianity and Islam also regard the Old Testament as the Holy Scripture, but Judaism refuses to accept those religions that arose later.


The History of Canaan, the Promised Land

Let us give a summary of the story of Israelites that is told in the Old Testament.
About 4000 years ago, Abram (Abraham), a nomad of Babylon, present-day Iraq, traveled to the Promised Land, Canaan, present-day Palestine.

Then, Abram’s grandson, Jacob made a covenant with God and was named “Israel” by God. Jacob’s twelve sons became patriarchs of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, of which ten tribes were lost. The remnants of these Israelites tribes are referred to as Jews.
Jacob and his families moved to Egypt, and as time passed, the Israelites in Egypt grew in population. The pharaoh who felt threatened by the Israelites started to persecute them and treated them as slaves.

Around the 13th century B.C., Moses was born the son of a Jewish slave, but soon after his birth, he was set adrift on the river Nile in a reed basket. Thanks to a quirk of fate, he was discovered by the pharaoh’s daughter and raised in the palace. However, when he reached adulthood, he discovered that he was in fact the child of a Jewish slave. At that time, a huge number of Jewish slaves were toiled, which caused Moses enormous suffering. Then he decided to lead his fellow countrymen out of Egypt and head for Canaan where their ancestors had inhabited.

When Moses led about 600,000 adult men and their families and livestock out of Egypt (the Exodus), many miracles happened before his eyes. One of the miracles was that God split the Red Sea, which enabled the people of Israel to escape from the pharaoh’s army. Another one was that God gave Moses the Ten Commandments on the top of Mt. Sinai, the covenant between God and the Jews.

After 40 years of wandering in the desert, Moses died within the site of the Promised Land. After the death of Moses, Joshua followed his wish and led the people of Israel to Canaan. However, many tribes had already inhabited Canaan, so Joshua-led Israelites attacked and conquered their towns.

Around the 11th century B.C., the Israelites established the United Kingdom of Israel in Canaan, and Jerusalem became the capital of the kingdom during the reign of King David. After his son, Solomon died, the country split into two kingdoms; the kingdom of Israel in the north and the kingdom of Judah in the south. The kingdom of Israel was conquered by the Assyrian Empire, while the kingdom of Judah surrendered to Babylon when a number of Israelites were taken captives. (The Babylonian Captivity)
After the collapse of Babylon, the exiled Jews began to return to the land of Judah.
Thus, the Old Testament tells about the history of the Jewish people who repeated conflicts over the Promised Land that God gave them.


The Birth of Jesus Christ and the Repeated Persecution of the Jews

Several hundred years after the period written in the Old Testament, Jesus Christ was born in Israel. However, the Jews hang Jesus on the cross because his teachings went against the Jewish religious law.

As Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire, the persecution of the Jews began because they put Jesus on the cross, forcing them to scatter all over the world. Some of the Jews were killed in the place where they immigrated, but many Jews achieved success in commercial activities such as money-lending and banking. This has a lot to do with the fact that the Jewish were banned from owning land and that Christians were banned from taking interest.

As time went by, the Jews suffered a major tragedy during the Second World War. The Nazis began to persecute the Jews, and several million Jewish people were killed in the Holocaust. After World War Ⅱ, the Jewish people immigrated to the area of Palestine from all over the world and founded a state of Israel.


The Old Testament Has Two Different Gods: “God of Vengeance” and “God of Love”

If you take a close look at the Old Testament, you will find some God’s words that caused the Jewish to go through various ordeals during their four-thousand-year history. Yahweh, the Heavenly God in Judaism, calls himself a “jealous god,” and commands the Jews to kill those who do not believe in him. Furthermore, he does not accept people other than the Jews and commands his followers to drive out the inhabitants in the land of Canaan. The tragic history of the Jews is not unrelated to the fact that they have confused the words of an “ethnic god of vengeance” with the words of a “God of Love.”

Although Judaism is a monotheistic religion, we get the impression that some of the teachings come from God who is different from Yahweh.
For example, there are teachings that warn people not to use violence and not to kill other people. Also, there is the teaching of love that encourages people to love their neighbors as themselves. In this way, the Old Testament has a mixture of “God of Vengeance” and “God of Love.”

The Voice of God Comes From More Than One God in the Old Testament

The words of “God of Love”

You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Leviticus 19:18)

When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself. (Leviticus 19:34)

I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lams, and goats. (Isaiah 1:11) Stop bringing meaningless offerings! (Isaiah 1:13)

For when I brought your ancestors out of Egypt and spoke to them, I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices. (Jeremiah 7:22)


The words of “God of Vengeance”

Anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord is to be put to death. The entire assembly must stone them. (Leviticus 24:16)

Drive out all the inhabitants of the land before you. Destroy all their carved images and then cast idols, and demolish all their high places. (Number 33:52)

Completely destroy them―the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites as the Lord your God has commanded you. (Deuteronomy 20:17)

When anyone among you brings an offering to the Lord, bring as your offering an animal from either the herd or the flock. (Leviticus 1:2)

Why Does Israel Cling onto the Land of Palestine?
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