What God had in mind for Israel?
Seven frequented questions about Israel with Biblical Answer to the Children of Abraham: Jews, Christians and Muslims.
By Fr. Labib Kobti
Dec. 12, 8, 2004
www.Al-Bushra.org

1) Did God promised the Holy Land to the Jews?

In the beginning there was no Jews when God had promised the land to Abraham. The denomination Jews came thousands and thousand of years after Abraham In fact Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were Arameans/Chadeans (Dt. 26:5). We read in the Bible "God said also Abram: "I am the Lord, who brought you out of UR of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it" Gen 15: 7; Neh 9:7

The word "Jew" we first find it in Esther (written ca 2nd century of CE) 2:5 "There was in the stronghold of Susa a certain Jew called Mordecai. This the first time that "Yehudi" is mentioned in the Bible.

God promised the land to the people who believes in the one God like Abraham and not for a kind of people or nation, but to the believers (God will speak later about nations and not of one nation) in the One God. These believers in the One God of Abraham will become the descendants of the faith of Abraham: "I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Cannon, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God. As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come." Gen. 17: 7-9

God will promise to make nations from Abram that he call Abra-Haam (means the father of Multitudes): "My covenant with you is this: you are to become the father of a host of nations (not one nation but "Av hamon Goiim"). No longer shall you be called Abram; your name shall be Abraham, for I am making you the father of host of nations (Goiim)" Genesis 17:3-7.

So the land (which would always belong to God ( Ex 19: 5 and Leviticus 25: 23), will become the land of the nations that come from Abraham's faith in the One God. In fact Abraham had a mission to live, to tell and to spread the faith on the One God. He did not have a mission to establish a nation. Read: Gen 12:3; Isaiah 19:24.

2) Are Jews the descendants of Abraham to whom he promised the Land?

Again, the Bible speak about nations (Goiim) and not one nation. The term Jew or Hebrew came thousand of years after Abraham and Isaac.

The first time we hear about the word Israel is when we read about a kind of spiritual fight between God and Jacob the God will call Israel: "What is your name? The man asked. He answered, "Jacob." Then the man said, "You shall no longer be spoken of as Jacob, but as Israel, because you have contended with divine and human being and have prevailed," ...Jacob named the place Peniel, "because I have seen God face to face." Gen 32: 28-31 and Gen 35: 9-13

Jacob and his children (12 children) lived in Canaan Gen 27:1, where they were born and where Isaac was buried Gen 34: 29. They were then Arameans/Chaldeans from the grand father Abraham and Canaanites of birth. In fact many of the children of Isaac, Esau and Jacob married with Canaanites and Adomites women. Gen 26:1-43
 
In today language they are group of peoples that became mixture of peoples but from the same land like anybody of their time.  The difference is their faithfulness to the faith of Abraham and to the convenient of God with Abraham.

God will renew the covenant with Jacob with the same terms with Abraham: "A nation, indeed an assembly of nations (qhal Goiim), shall stem from you...the land I once gave to Abraham and Isaac I now give to you" Gen 35: 11-12. Then again not a nation but many nations. And again the mission of Jacob is not to establish a nation, but to live, to tell and to spread the faith on the One God.

It is a kind of human interpretation that is not in the mind of God who created us all in his image. God is not a real estate agent who at the end will be the reason and source of a lot of sufferings, violence's and wars between his children. Making from God the source divisions cannot help the people who believe in him to tell about God's goodness, love and wisdom. They will hate this kind of God who is a God of one nation, or one people, or a God who prefers some to other.

In fact, God from the very beginning is the God of Love, he is not a God of one people. He is the God of all people. In fact we read that God created humans as his image: "God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them." Genesis 1:27 And then "God blessed them, saying: "Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it..." Genesis 1:28. It is very important that we understand this first point: God created us all equal and to all of us, he gave the whole earth, he blessed us all and asked us to multiply and subdue the earth. He did not give it to some and denied it to others.

The descendants of Abraham are the people who believe in the God of Abraham and the mission of Abraham.
On the other side Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were buried in the land of Canaan, and Abraham purchased filed where he was buried. Gen 50: 13. They did not go there to possess it but to bring God there and live their faith.

3) But the main interpretation speaks about a God who divided. So how God that you call "God of Love," can promise one people a land that belong to others. And because of that God became the source of violence for all the time since the Jews came to that land?

Again, I can say that in God's wisdom, he did not want this and would never want this. This is what some wants to use, as if God is the God of one people and not of all people, they did this to serve their national or political agenda not God's love to the world.

Listen, let us see things as we read together the Bible: In Egypt, the children of Jacob will be called Israelites Gen 46: 1 and Ex 1:1 and 9; although they can be called Egyptians as Ex 1: 1--7. They have married with the local people in Egypt who have been mixtures of different origins. They cannot pretend that they are pure sons of Abraham, but mixture of peoples.

So what made them one under Moses? It is not their pure origin, but their faith in the one God. But many Egyptians and others were also believing on the Unique God. It may be under the influence of the Children of Abraham who knew how to live their faith and tell people about the real God, or it may be because of some who through studies and philosophy and experience came to the conclusion of One God, or One Power. In fact, history tells us that they were not the only people who had this faith in the One God.

The covenant will continue not because of the purity of origin, but because of the faith in the one God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and many others.

They will go to the land of Canaan not because they were from there (We know that they have purchased even the place to bury their fathers, Gen 50: 13) but because of their faith in the one God.

So God in his wisdom wanted to form people/peoples of one faith, the faith in One and Unique God. They came to the land of Canaan so as live their faith and to be in mission to give this One God to the different nations and not to betray the One God of their fathers.

So we cannot speak of a God who divided but a a God who united all people under one faith and called them to love each other and form a good people: read the ten commandments  (Ex 34: 28) and read Dt.6: 4-9 (Smai Ishrael, Adonia....), or Lev 6:2; 19:13.

4) What do you mean in mission to give God? You have repeated the word mission many time!

In God's mind and wisdom of love he wanted the different children of Abraham to give the world the One God who revealed himself to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob as a God of Love and mercy. He wants them to form from the different nations a people/peoples with one faith, one body, one love, sharing, cooperating, growing to be great people/peoples.

In fact God will say to Moses: "...I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians and will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob, I will give it to you as a possession.  I am the Lord." Ex. 6:7-8 "...Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine" Ex 19:5.

Later God will say to them "...If you obey the Lord your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your hearts and with all your soul..." Dt. 30: 10.

But if they will disobey they will be punished "...But if your hearts will turn away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess...." Dt 30: 17-20

You see the mission is not a possession of a land but it is a possession of the One God and a mission to give Him to others. In fact as we said all the earth belongs to God.

And in fact God will say it clearly that the covenant is not a land but a faith in Him:  "The time is coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them," declares the LORD. "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the LORD. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, Know the LORD,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest," declares the LORD. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." This is what the LORD says, he who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar-- the LORD Almighty is his name:"Only if these decrees vanish from my sight," declares the LORD, "will the descendants of Israel ever cease to be a nation before me." Prophet Jeremiah (750-585 before Christ) 31: 31-36. See also Ezekiel 11:19-20

Do you see now what God had in mind for Israel and all the people who believe in the God of Abraham?
Do see that it was not a land that God was speaking about but faith. Land will divide and had divided but faith should unite. Do you see this with me.

In fact, put away the wrong notion of having a land, the Children of Abraham would better work together, in fact many Jews were living in many Arabic Countries before 1948  without problems until the creation of a home land for Israelites.

5) Did the Israelites accomplished this their mission?
Unfortunately, they did not in the past, this is what we read in the Bible and this is why God punished them as He said in Dt 30: 17-20 and also in Hosea 8:1-14, and Hosea 1:1-9. Amos says: "This is what the Lord says: "For three sins of Judah, even for four, I will not turn back. Because they have rejected the law of the Lord and have not kept his decrees, because they have been led astray by false gods, the gods their ancestors followed, I will send fire upon Judah ..." Amos (780-744 before Christ) 2: 1-16

And please read with me what Ezekiel (sixth century before Christ) had said "Son of man, the people living in those ruins in the land of Israel are saying: Abraham was only one man, yet he possessed the land. But we are many; surely the land has been given to us as our possession." There say to them, "This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Since you still ... blood, should you then posses the land? You rely on your sword, you do detestable things, and each of you defies his neighbor's wife. Should you then possess the land? Say this to them: "This is what the Sovereign Lord says: As surely as I live, those who are left in the ruins will fall by the sword, those out in the country I will give to the wild animals to be devoured, and those in strongholds and caves will die of a plague. I will make the land a desolate waste, and her proud strength will come to an end, and the mountains of Israel will become desolate so that no one will cross to them. Then they will know that I am the Lord, when I have made the land a desolate waste because of all the detestable things they have done" Ez 33:23-29 See also Jeremiah 2: 1-9; 5:1-19; Hos 4:12; Lam 3:35

Of course the Lord will punish, they will suffer many wars, many disasters and many exiles 2Sa 15:19; 2Ki 17:23; 2Ki 24:14 1 Ch 6:15.

As the word of the Lord is eternal he looks on what is happening in the today Israel and how Israel is treating the people and the land, God looks to that with the same anger.

The following should help the teachers in and out of Israel and all the religious leaders to correct their teaching and rebuild in them and their people the right mission of Israel), I will name only some: In fact God has asked them in the past, and will ask them today also the same thing:

a) They were asked to be the blessing for the nations of the earth. Gen 12:3; Isaiah 19:24. Read with me this from Prophet Zechariah: "Just as you were a curse among the nations. O house of Judah and house of Israel, so will I save you that may be a blessing" Zec 8:13
Is Israel today a blessing to the world?

b) They are called to treat people kindly: "There shall be one law for the native and for the alien who resides among you" Ex 12:49.  "A curse on him who displaces his neighbor's boundary mark ...A curse on him who tampers with the rights of the stranger, the orphan and the widow..." Dt. 27:19; 24:17; Ez 22:7; Jr 23:3
Do they do that today?

c) The Jubilee year Israel should return everything to the old owner of that property: "The fiftieh year shall be a jubilee for you...in this Year of Jubilee everyone is to return to his own property" Leviticus 25:13, 27,28
Did Israel do that? Or can it do that?

6) But this happened in the past, and they returned after the Babylonian exile, what about today Israel?

Many of the Rabbis and the today teachers in Israel see that the prophecies are not only of the past but of the present. That is why they speak today "wrongly" supported by some Christian Fundamentalists about the return to land to today Israel. They try to apply some verses about the Bible and ignore others. They are only using the word of God for their own political of national purposes.

a) In fact, the word of God is eternal and speaks to all generations. The word of God is not something in the past. If it is really something in the past then we can say, as you put it in your question that they have returned from exile and this thing had been accomplish so not return to Israel today is allowed. In fact, Ezra 1 speaks about the decree of Cyrus to bring back Israel from the exile. Chapter 2 speaks about the familles who returned. So we can say that the prophecies had been accomplished and we cannot speak any more about right of return.

In fact can we say that the prophecy should be accomplished today also, as if the decree of Cyrus had put an indefinite right to return? Can we say, in other words that those who did not return and remained in Babylon can possess an indefinite "right to return" and can return when they want?

In fact not all the Jews retuned from Babylon after the 48 years of exile. They liked to stay there. During the 78 years of the Maccabean Independence the vast majority of the Jews did not chose to return from the different diasporas and live in Palestine.

Should we then say that not returning would allow their descendants for generation and generation to come to have an indefinite "right to return"? And they can choose when to return, when the factor that made it possible to fulfill their dreams to return thousand years ago have ceased and they did not do it any time in the past?

Should those who immigrated of their own will and voluntarily to look for a better life outside of Israel be allowed to have a "right to return" and take the land of others and after thousand of years?

a) Do not the real scholars of the Bible agree that if there is any "right of return," this right cannot be indefinite?
b) That this right should be limited and based on some conditions, I mean considered within a reasonably short time after the factor prohibiting the return or caused the exile had ceased.
c) And pertain only those who had been forced to leave or had been unjustly exiled or prohibited from retuning?
d) And all the others are only people who came for political reason, pushed by the Zionist vision of Great Israel and not based in any word of the Bible
e) That the Christian Fundamentalists are wrong in their propaganda and look to the prophecies from one side that work with the Zionist vision and the Bible was only used for that unjustified Biblical vision.

So today Israel right of return to the Jews is only a political one that had used and use wrongly the Holy Bible and it is not in the mind of God who is love and had created all people at his image and called them all to love each other.

So today Israel is not from God as many Jewish scholars insist and feel ashamed of the falsification of the word of God said through the Bible. They see in today Israel something against the love of God.

7) What you mean by they see in today Israel as "against the love of God"?

They see it against the mission that the Israelites were called to give to the world. I mean a blessing to the world and a people who would bring the nations to the real One God of love.

That is why many Jewish Scholars, Rabbis and Teachers speak today about the right of the Children of Abraham, as a people of faith and not as people of right to a land. They cannot accept the right of return of the Jews and deny it to the Palestinians. They see that betraying the God of the Bible pretending things "IN HIS NAME." They see that the children of Abraham who believe in the One God are the Jews, the Christians and the Muslims, and all should have the same indivisible rights and equal duties in the land where God called them to live in love and be a blessing to each other and to the world and not source of conflict and violence. They are called to live their love to the One God, to tell about Him and to spread the faith on the One God. Read: Gen 12:3; Isaiah 19:24.

In fact,  the original descendants of the  Arameans , Canaanites, Phoenicians, Amorites, Jebusites, Hittites, and Philistins, are identified today by archeologists and historians with the people of the Holy Land.

And the Holy Land was occupied:
a)  by pagans (people who do not believe in the One God) for 800 years: by the Babylonians for 50 years, by the Persians for 204 years, by Alexander the Great for 9 years, by the Ptolemys for 120 years, by the Seleucids for 33 years, by the Romans under various emperors for 205 years.
b) By Jews for 543 years: The Independent kingdoms established by David and Solomon for 424 years, by the Maccabees(Hasmoneans) for 107 years. Jewish revolts against Roman rule occurred 40-37 b.c. (Parthes), the Jewish Revolt 66-70 a.d., and the Bar Kochba revolt 132-614 a.d.

c)  By Christians for 427 years: Romans 300, Byzantines 8, Crusaders 88, British mandate 31.

d) By Muslims for 1193 years: Khailfates-Fatimides 463, Ayoubites 57, Mame- luks 273, Ottoman Turks 400.

So we cannot speak abpout the right of people who occupied Palesine for about 1% of the its history and ignore all the others.

In fact returning to the Bible: "The effect of justice will be peace and the result of justice, quietness and security forever." (Isaiah 32:17.) And "For it is not by strength that man triumphs" 1 Sam: 2:9 but "Your strength is in tranquillity and in complete trust" Is 3):15.

It is clear to see that we need to return to God and not to a land. Retuning to God would bring us to love all those who believe like us in the One God.

 In fact, both Christians and Muslims believe in the Bible and recognize that Jews are their brothers and sisters in the faith of Abraham.

 It is time then that the Jewish Scholars, Rabbis and Teachers in and out of Israel take in hand the situation in the Holy land and HONESTLY call for justice and denounce the injustice and call repair the injustice before the old prophecies ( Ez 33:23-29 See also Jeremiah 2: 1-9; 5:1-19; Hos 4:12; Lam 3:35; Dt. 27:19; 24:17; Ez 22:7; Jr 23:3; 2Sa 15:19; 2Ki 17:23; 2Ki 24:14 1 Ch 6:15) would become a reality to a God who had been patient for a long time waiting for justice and love to come back to the land.