Category Archives: The Land of Israel

Boundaries of the Land of Israel – as set by God

INTRODUCTION: UN Security Council’s Resolution #2334 which passed Friday, December 23, 2016 separates the God of Israel from the people of Israel and the Land of Israel and Christians need to be clear what the word of God says concerning the land of Israel and the people of Israel. This is not a “some-day” eschatological issue — but a very real for the truth of God that is playing itself out in our day and our time.


UN Security Council’s Resolution #2334 (December 23, 2016) declared, among other things, that the Western Wall of the Jewish Temple (the Kotel) and all of Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, is “illegally occupied Palestinian territory”. 

This resolution Hebron — where Abraham buried Sarah and where David was first crowned king not Israel.

According to this resolution, Bethlehem of Judea (Matthew 2:1), the place of Jesus’ birth is not Israel. That is, the place of the birth of the King of the Jews is not in the land of the Jews.

This is not a political matter — one that can be determined by the UN. It is a battle for truth for what God has said in Scripture concerning the Land of Israel, and the people of Israel.


The Covenant Ratified by God Alone

 A covenant is an agreement between at least two parties, where the terms of the agreement are set out and both parties accept them. The killing of an animal in making a covenant signified that those that entered into the covenant could expect the same fate if he violated his oath. The slaughtered animal(s) was both a ratifying sacrifice and symbolic of the curse for violating the covenant. This enactment of the oath made any verbal declaration unnecessary.

When God made a covenant with Abraham (Genesis 15:9-21), God asks Abram to bring Him three specific animals, split them down the middle and lay them opposite one another. He told Abram that his descendants would be slaves in Egypt but would be delivered after 400 years, would leave with many possessions and then return to this land that God had given them. Then God alone ratified the covenant. Abraham did not have to walk through the cut pieces of animals, as is normally the case with “cutting a covenant” — God alone did. God alone ratified the covenant and by doing so, God was saying, that if He broke this covenant with Abraham, He Himself would die!


The Land – eternal possession of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their descendants

This is what God has said concerning the land of Israel and the people of Israel:

At the very beginning of Genesis 17, God appears to Abraham when he was 99 years old and reiterates the everlasting covenant He made with him when He passed through the animal parts including the certainly of the Land as an eternal possession that He was giving to Abraham’s descendants through Isaac (and then through Jacob, Isaac’s son).

“I am God Almighty. Live in My presence and be blameless. I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will multiply you greatly.”

Then Abram fell face-down and God spoke with him: “As for Me, My covenant is with you: you will become the father of many nations. Your name will no longer be Abram, but your name will be Abraham, for I will make you the father of many nations. I will make you extremely fruitful and will make nations and kings come from you. I will keep My covenant between Me and you, and your future offspring throughout their generations, as an everlasting covenant to be your God and the God of your offspring after you. And to you and your future offspring I will give the land where you are residing—all the land of Canaan—as an eternal possession, and I will be their God.”

Genesis 17:1-8

Later, God reaffirms the covenant He made with Abraham to Isaac, himself;

“There was another famine in the land in addition to the one that had occurred in Abraham’s time. And Isaac went to Abimelech, king of the Philistines, at Gerar. The Lord appeared to him and said, “Do not go down to Egypt. Live in the land that I tell you about; stay in this land as a foreigner, and I will be with you and bless you. For I will give all these lands to you and your offspring, and I will confirm the oath that I swore to your father Abraham. I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of the sky, I will give your offspring all these lands, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed by your offspring, because Abraham listened to My voice and kept My mandate, My commands, My statutes, and My instructions.”

Genesis 26:1-5

God also reconfirmed the covenant He made with Abraham to Jacob, Isaac’s heir;

I am Yahweh, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your offspring the land that you are now sleeping on. Your offspring will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out toward the west, the east, the north, and the south. All the peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. Look, I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go. I will bring you back to this land, for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

Genesis 28 13-15

God also reconfirmed the covenant to Jacob as second time, when He renamed him “Israel“, saying He will give the land to Jacob and his future descendants.

“God appeared to Jacob again after he returned from Paddan-aram, and He blessed him. God said to him:

Your name is Jacob;
you will no longer be named Jacob,
but your name will be Israel.
So He named him Israel. God also said to him:

I am God Almighty.
Be fruitful and multiply.
A nation, indeed an assembly of nations,
will come from you,
and kings will descend from you.
I will give to you the land
that I gave to Abraham and Isaac.
And I will give the land
to your future descendants.

Genesis 35:9-12

This is what God has said concerning the land of Israel and the people of Israel.


The Boundaries of the Land of Israel — according to God

To be clear, the Land given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their descendants (the Jews) as an eternal possession and illustrated on the map below includes;
  •  all the land on the west bank of the Jordan River (including Judea and Samaria (what is  referred to as “the West Bank” as it is on the west bank of the Jordan River)
  • an area on the east bank of the Jordan River (where southern Jordan now stands)
  • the southern tip of Lebanon
  • part of Southern Syria

 

  • 12 Tribes with current country names

 

The boundaries of the land of Israel is specified in Numbers 34:1-12;

The Lord spoke to Moses, “Command the Israelites and say to them: When you enter the land of Canaan, it will be allotted to you as an inheritance with these borders:

Your southern side will be from the Wilderness of Zin along the boundary of Edom. Your southern border on the east will begin at the east end of the Dead Sea. Your border will turn south of the Ascent of Akrabbim, proceed to Zin, and end south of Kadesh-barnea. It will go to Hazar-addar and proceed to Azmon. The border will turn from Azmon to the Brook of Egypt, where it will end at the Mediterranean Sea.

Your western border will be the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea; this will be your western border.

This will be your northern border: From the Mediterranean Sea draw a line to Mount Hor; from Mount Hor draw a line to the entrance of Hamath, and the border will reach Zedad.  Then the border will go to Ziphron and end at Hazar-enan. This will be your northern border.

For your eastern border, draw a line from Hazar-enan to Shepham. The border will go down from Shepham to Riblah east of Ain. It will continue down and reach the eastern slope of the Sea of Chinnereth. Then the border will go down to the Jordan and end at the Dead Sea. This will be your land defined by its borders on all sides.”

So Moses commanded the Israelites, “This is the land you are to receive by lot as an inheritance, which the Lord commanded to be given to the nine and a half tribes.  For the tribe of the Reubenites and the tribe of the Gadites have received their inheritance according to their ancestral houses, and half the tribe of Manasseh has received its inheritance. The two and a half tribes have received their inheritance across the Jordan from Jericho, eastward toward the sunrise.”

Numbers 34:1-12

The land on the west side of the Jordan is allocated to nine and half tribes with the other two and a half tribes inheriting land on the east side of the Jordan (half the tribe of Manasseh, Reuben, Gad).

“So Moses commanded the Israelites, “This is the land you are to receive by lot as an inheritance, which the Lord commanded to be given to the nine and a half tribes.  For the tribe of the Reubenites and the tribe of the Gadites have received their inheritance according to their ancestral houses, and half the tribe of Manasseh has received its inheritance. The two and a half tribes have received their inheritance across the Jordan from Jericho, eastward toward the sunrise.”

Numbers 34:13-15

That is, the land God gave to half the tribe of Manasseh (East Manasseh), Gad and Reuben lies where southern Jordan is now.

Future Boundaries

In Ezekiel 47, God reveals the future boundaries of the 12 tribes of Israel — believed this will be the boundaries of the land during the earthly rule of Messiah from Jerusalem.

Current Israel Biblical borders

This is what God has said concerning the land of Israel and the people of Israel.

Final thoughts…

These words are worth reflecting on:

“The U.N. has placed itself in flagrant violation of God’s word and its rulings here have no divine validity. The Resolution separates the God of Israel from the people of Israel and the Land of Israel. The stage is set for a showdown between the nations and the God of Jacob.”

Avner Boskey

God has said that the land  with the boundaries that He has set is the eternal possession of the Jewish people, the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 

May Christians be prepared to take a stand according to what God has said His word, concerning the Jewish people and the land of Israel.

UNESCO Resolution Erases Jews Connection to Temple Mount

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) who are responsible to institute and administer “education programs” in Arab-controlled parts of Israel (including Gaza, and Judea & Samaria – on the Western Bank of the Jordan River) passed a resolution which denies Israel’s historic connection to the Temple Mount and Western Wall.

Meeting in Paris yesterday, UNESCO passed a resolution which referred to the Al-Asqa Mosque and the Temple Mount by its Arabic term Al-Haram Al-Sharif — giving preeminence to the Dome of the Rock  Mosque which was built on the site where the First and Second Jewish Temples once stood.

As we briefly outline below, the First Temple was built in 833 – 827 BCE and the Second Temple was built between 353 and 349 BCE. To put the claims of the UNESCO resolution in context, the Al-Asqa Mosque was built in 705 CE and the Dome of the Rock  Mosque (Qubbat As-Sakhrah) was built in 691 CE on the site of the First and Second Jewish Temples.  How outrageous, that United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)  — who are responsible to institute and administer “education programs”, would so blatantly deny history.

UNESCO’s resolution referred to the Western Wall only in quotation marks and only after using the Arabic term Al-Buraq Plaza and accused Israel of planting “fake Jewish graves” in Eastern Jerusalem; a claim which is especially grievous given that the old Jewish cemetery on Mount Olives was desecrated by the Jordanians prior to 1967, using its tombstones to pave roads.

UNESCO is not only rewriting history, it is ignoring connection of Judaism to the Temple Mount; where the two Temples stood for a thousand years. While Jews can ascend to the Temple Mount area, they are forbidden to pray and Jewish visitors are frequently arrested by the ‘Temple police’ if it is even thought the they uttered a silent prayer before sipping from their water bottle.

The First Temple ( Solomon’s Temple)

The First Temple was constructed by King Solomon, based on detailed plans that God had given to his father, King David through the prophet Nathan. King David had wanted to build it himself, but was told that his son would be the one to do it. Solomon began building the Temple in 833 BCE and it was completed in 827 BCE. The site was on Mount Moriah — the same location where Abraham was prepared to offer up his son Isaac.  The First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians 470 years after it was built.

Return from Captivity

The different stages of the return to Zion from Babylon are documented in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah and are as follows;

  1. In 538 BCE, approximately 1,000 Jews returned under a man known as Sheshbazzar out of the notion to redeem the land of Israel from its ruins and to re-establish the Temple.
  2. The second wave of return was led by Zerubbabel, the grandson of Jeconiah, king of Judah who was a descendant of the house of David.  It was these that completed the construction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 516 BCE.
  3. The third wave of return was led by Ezra in 458 BCE with official approval of the Persian government and permission to take money from exiled Jews to the Temple and Jews living in Israel. Around 5,000 Jews were in this wave of Zion returnees. Ezra appointed magistrates and judges and to teach the law of God to the people of Israel.
  4. The fourth wave of return was led by Nehemiah in 445 BCE. It is not clear how many Zion returnees joined him, but the Book of Nehemiah depicts a strong army escort supplied by the king.

Building of the Second Temple

In 353 BCE, exactly seventy years after the destruction of the First Temple, the Jews began building again—at first independently, but King Darius soon ratified their effort. The Second Temple was completed in 349 BCE. In 66 CE, after the Jews protested excessive Roman taxation, the Romans plundered the Second Temple and killed 6,000 Jews.  This was the start of the Jewish-Roman war (66-73 CE) and was led by the future Emperor Titus. Titus ordered the burning of the Second Temple which was built after the return of the captives of Babylon to Zion and which was only ~ 90 years old at the time.  Although this seemed to be natural events of history, these events had been prophesied by Jesus in Matt 24:1-25 & 46, Mark 13:1-37 and Luke 21:5-36. With the ‘siege of Jerusalem’ in 70 CE and the destruction of the Temple, the Jews including those of the Early Church fled Jerusalem.

Josephus documents that 1.1 million people were killed during the siege of which the majority were Jewish and 97,000 were captured and enslaved and many fled to areas around the Mediterranean. The Jewish state came to an end in 70 CE and the Second Jewish Diaspora began.

UNESCO’s Resolution

UNESCO  resolution was submitted by Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Sudan and France, Spain, Sweden, Russia and Slovenia were among the non-Arab nations who supported it. In all, it was approved by 33 states.

Only six countries voted against the resolution,  including the United States, Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

Seventeen countries abstained.

Some Thoughts…

UNESCO prides itself on promoting tolerance, interfaith and inter-cultural dialogue,  yet it passed a resolution which attempts to erase the Jewish people from history. This resolution makes UNESCO an accomplice to the spreading of anti-Jewish propaganda and to the perpetuating of racial discrimination of Jews in their historical homeland. Furthermore, this resolution serves to fan the flames of terrorism against Jews in Israel — simply for being there. Instead of promoting tolerance they are promoting terrorism.

France,  Spain, Sweden, Russia and Slovenia certainly need to be held to account for supporting this resolution as do Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Sudan for submitting it.

The Abrahamic Covenant and the 12 Tribes of Israel

Introduction: We’ve heard people say that since the land of Israel belongs to both the descendants of Isaac and Ishmael and that the solution to the tension in the region is to divide the land between them. But few people realize that the land of the 12 Tribes of Ishmael is the northern part of Saudi Arabia to the very south-eastern part of Assyria (Iraq) — far from the Tribes of Israel! In this article (Part 1 of 2) we outline from Scripture who are the people and where is the land belonging to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.


Any discussion of land inheritance needs to start with Abraham.

In Genesis Chapter 12, God called Abraham to leave Ur of the Chaldeans, leave his relatives (Gen.12:1) and go to the land God would show him.

Go out from your land,
your relatives,
and your father’s house
to the land that I will show you.
I will make you into a great nation,
I will bless you,
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
I will curse those who treat you with contempt,
and all the peoples on earth
will be blessed through you”

Genesis 12:1-3

God says that He will bring Abram “to the land that I will show you“, that He will “make Abram into a great nation“. Here God is speaking about a specific nation, but it is not yet revealed who that nation is.

“He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated, and the people he had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan. When they came to the land of Canaan, Abram passed through the land to the site of Shechem, at the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “I will give this land to your offspring.”

Genesis 12:5-7

God is speaking about a specific land (i.e. “this” land) and He says that He will give it “to your offspring” (also translated “seed”) לְזַרְעֲךָ — this is a plural singularity. It is a specific land and the use of the plural singularity speaks of many descendants from a single person. This tense is also use in Exodus where it says God will bring a plague of frogs on Egypt. Translated literally it is “God brought a frog on Egypt” when it obviously wasn’t one giant frog — but many frogs on a single land; Egypt.

Abram sets out but makes a detour to Egypt because of the famine and then in Chapter 13 it says that he went up from Egypt to the Negev “he, his wife, and all he had, and Lot with him “.

Things were getting tense. Abram realized that the land couldn’t support both him and Lot (:6) and Lot’s herdsmen were arguing with Abram’s herdsmen (:7), so Abraham comes up with a solution to the problem (verse 8 & 9);

“Please, let’s not have quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and my herdsmen, since we are relatives. Isn’t the whole land before you? Separate from me: if you go to the left, I will go to the right; if you go to the right, I will go to the left.

Genesis 12:8-9

Verses 10 and 11 say that Lot looked out and saw that the entire Jordan Valley as far as Zoar was well watered everywhere like the Lord’s garden and the land of Egypt…so Lot chose the entire Jordan Valley for himself. Lot journeyed eastward and he and his descendants settled the Jordan valley.

Then it says that after Lot had separated from Abram, God said to Abram to look as far as he could see, looking north, south, east and west for He was going to give Abram and his offspring (“seed”, singular – וּֽלְזַרְעֲךָ) all the land that he sees forever.

After Lot had separated from him, the Lord said to Abram, “Look from the place where you are. Look north and south, east and west, for I will give you and your offspring forever all the land that you see. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust of the earth, then your offspring could be counted. Get up and walk around the land, through its length and width, for I will give it to you.”

Genesis 13: 14-17

In Chapter 14, we learn that Lot had been taken prisoner when kings of various areas came against the valley near the dead sea where Lot was living. Abram was sent a message by one of the survivors of the battle and assembled an army of trained men, born in his household to rescue Lot. They brought back (:16) “all the goods and also his relative Lot and his goods, as well as the women and the other people”.

Then, at the beginning of Chapter 15 of Genesis it says “After these events, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision“.

God says to Abram;

Do not be afraid, Abram.
I am your shield;
your reward will be very great.”

Genesis 15:1

This frustrated Abram because anything which God would give him would only be for his lifetime, because he didn’t have a direct heir. Everything he had at that point, or would receive from God in the future would become the property of his head servant, Eliezer. Abram complains to God (:3);

“But Abram said, “Lord God, what can You give me, since I am childless and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” Abram continued, “Look, You have given me no offspring, so a slave born in my house will be my heir.”

Genesis 15: 2-3

The Lord answered Abram clearly and said that Eliezer will not be his heir but one who comes from his own body will be his heir.

God is quite emphatic that there is a physical inheritor of this land and specifically the inheritor is “one who comes from Abram’s own body“.]

“This one will not be your heir; instead, one who comes from your own body will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look at the sky and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then He said to him, “Your offspring will be that numerous.”

Genesis 15:4-5

Then God took Abram outside and said to him (:5);

“Look at the sky and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then He said to him, “Your offspring will be that numerous.”

Genesis 15:5

Abram’s response is interesting.

When it came to having physical descendants, Abram believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness (:6) but when God spoke to him about the physical land he would inherit, Abraham wanted proof (:7)!

“Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness.

He also said to him, “I am Yahweh who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.

”But he said, “Lord God, how can I know that I will possess it?

Genesis 15:6-8

God’s response is not to be missed!

He asks Abram to bring Him specific animals, split them down the middle and lay them opposite one another.

This act is how covenants were made and the term in Hebrew for making a covenant is literally “to cut a covenant” (וַיִּכְרְתוּ בְרִית).

God’s Covenant with Abraham

A covenant is an agreement between at least two parties where the terms of the agreement are set out and both parties accept them.

In this case the covenant is made between YHVH and Abram but looking at another example of the covenant cut between Zedekiah and the people of Judah (Jeremiah 34:8–22) — in both cases at least one animal was killed, cut into two pieces and someone passed between the divided pieces.

Historical sources provide understanding that the killing of an animal in making a covenant signified that those that entered into the covenant could expect the same fate if he violated his oath. The slaughtered animal(s) was both a ratifying sacrifice and symbolic of the curse for violating the covenant. This enactment of the oath made any verbal declaration unnecessary.

God asks Abram to bring Him three specific animals, split them down the middle and lay them opposite one another.

“He said to him, “Bring Me a three-year-old cow, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.”

So he brought all these to Him, split them down the middle, and laid the pieces opposite each other, but he did not cut up the birds. Birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away. As the sun was setting, a deep sleep fell on Abram, and suddenly great terror and darkness descended on him.

Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know this for certain: Your offspring will be foreigners in a land that does not belong to them; they will be enslaved and oppressed 400 years. However, I will judge the nation they serve, and afterward they will go out with many possessions. But you will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a ripe old age. In the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”

When the sun had set and it was dark, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch appeared and passed between the divided animals. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “I give this land to your offspring, from the brook of Egypt to the Euphrates River: the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaim, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites.”

Genesis 15:9-21

God told Abram that his descendants would be slaves in Egypt but would be delivered after 400 years and leave with many possessions and return to this land God had given them. We know that He was speaking of Israel’s captivity in Egypt (i.e that here He is speaking of the descendants of Abraham’s descendants through Isaac and Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel).

Then get this…God alone ratified the covenant!

Abram did not have to walk through the cut pieces of animals, as is normally the case with “cutting a covenant” — God alone did and He alone ratified it. By doing so, God was saying, that if He broke this covenant with Abram He Himself would die!

God’s presence here was “a smoking firepot and burning torch” which passed between the cut pieces of animals. His choice of symbols made sense since God was just telling Abram that his descendants would be slaves in Egypt and in Exodus 13:21–22, when God leads the people out, He leads them by means of the cloud and pillar of fire.

This was God’s unconditional promise, ratified by Him alone;

Most of us know what happened next.

Abraham was getting old and Sarai was resolved it wasn’t going to happen, so she tells Abram to sleep with her handmaiden, Hagar so that he would have an heir to the promise of ‘the land’ and to bring forth ‘a great nation’ (Genesis 16:1-4).

Hagar conceives and bears a son, named Ishmael [see next post on the 12 Tribes of Ishmael], yet after Ishmael’s birth, at the very beginning of Genesis 17, God appears to Abram when he was 99 years old and reiterates the everlasting covenant he made with him when He passed through the animal parts — including the certainly of the Land as an eternal possession that He was giving to Abraham’s descendants through Isaac (and then through Jacob, Isaac’s son).

“I am God Almighty. Live in My presence and be blameless. I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will multiply you greatly.”

Then Abram fell face-down and God spoke with him: “As for Me, My covenant is with you: you will become the father of many nations. Your name will no longer be Abram, but your name will be Abraham, for I will make you the father of many nations. I will make you extremely fruitful and will make nations and kings come from you. I will keep My covenant between Me and you, and your future offspring throughout their generations, as an everlasting covenant to be your God and the God of your offspring after you. And to you and your future offspring I will give the land where you are residing—all the land of Canaan—as an eternal possession, and I will be their God.”

Genesis 17:1-8

Then God does exactly what He said He would do from the beginning and provides Abraham a son through Sarai, his wife (whose name He also renames Sarah).

God said to Abraham, “As for your wife Sarai, do not call her Sarai, for Sarah will be her name. I will bless her; indeed, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she will produce nations; kings of peoples will come from her.”

Abraham fell face-down. Then he laughed and said to himself, “Can a child be born to a hundred-year-old man? Can Sarah, a ninety-year-old woman, give birth?” So Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael were acceptable to You!”

But God said, “No. Your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will name him Isaac. I will confirm My covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his future offspring. As for Ishmael, I have heard you. I will certainly bless him; I will make him fruitful and will multiply him greatly. He will father tribal leaders, and I will make him into a great nation. But I will confirm My covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this time next year.” When He finished talking with him, God withdrew from Abraham.

Genesis 17:15-22

Abraham was hoping God would simply recognize Ishmael as the heir to the covenant and the son of promise, saying to God “If only Ishmael were acceptable to you”.

God answers Abram saying “No, your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will name him Isaac but I will confirm My covenant with him [Isaac] — that is, the everlasting covenant, including the everlasting possession of the Land, as an inheritance.

Then God adds what will be Ishmael’s;

As for Ishmael, I have heard you. I will certainly bless him; I will make him fruitful and will multiply him greatly. He will father tribal leaders, and I will make him into a great nation. But I will confirm My covenant with Isaac“.

Genesis 17:20


Abrahamic Covenant Confirmed to Isaac

God said He would confirm the covenant He made with Abraham to Isaac and He did;

Just as Abraham was prepared to sacrifice Issac on Mount Moriah, the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven telling him not to lay a hand on Isaac or do anything to him (Genesis 22:12). The He adds;

“Then the Angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven and said, “By Myself I have sworn,” this is the Lord’s declaration: “Because you have done this thing and have not withheld your only son, I will indeed bless you and make your offspring as numerous as the stars of the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your offspring will possess the gates of their enemies. And all the nations of the earth will be blessed by your offspring because you have obeyed My command.”

Genesis 22:15-18

A few things to note here, as mentioned above, the Angel of the Lord is not just any angel (term here is מַלְאַךְ יְהוָה — using the unspeakable Name of God (YHVH).

Secondly, God swears by Himself to give Isaac the land and to make his descendants into a great nation. When God made the covenant with Abraham, He alone ratified it when He passed between the cut part and here He is swearing by Himself to uphold that covenant with Isaac.

Later, God reaffirms the covenant He made with Abraham to Isaac, himself;

“There was another famine in the land in addition to the one that had occurred in Abraham’s time. And Isaac went to Abimelech, king of the Philistines, at Gerar. The Lord appeared to him and said, “Do not go down to Egypt. Live in the land that I tell you about; stay in this land as a foreigner, and I will be with you and bless you. For I will give all these lands to you and your offspring, and I will confirm the oath that I swore to your father Abraham. I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of the sky, I will give your offspring all these lands, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed by your offspring, because Abraham listened to My voice and kept My mandate, My commands, My statutes, and My instructions.”

Genesis 26:1-5


Abrahamic Covenant Confirmed to Jacob

God also reconfirmed the covenant He made with Abraham to Jacob, Isaac’s heir;

I am Yahweh, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your offspring the land that you are now sleeping on. Your offspring will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out toward the west, the east, the north, and the south. All the peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. Look, I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go. I will bring you back to this land, for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

Genesis 28 13-15

God also reconfirmed the covenant to Jacob as second time, when He renamed him “Israel“, saying He will give the land to Jacob and his future descendants.

“God appeared to Jacob again after he returned from Paddan-aram, and He blessed him. God said to him:

Your name is Jacob;
you will no longer be named Jacob,
but your name will be Israel.
So He named him Israel. God also said to him:

I am God Almighty.
Be fruitful and multiply.
A nation, indeed an assembly of nations,
will come from you,
and kings will descend from you.
I will give to you the land
that I gave to Abraham and Isaac.
And I will give the land
to your future descendants.

Genesis 35:9-12


Jacob’s sons – the 12 Tribes of Israel

Jacob (renamed “Israel” by God) had 12 sons and each became the patriarch of the 12 Tribes of Israel, named after them. The sons of Jacob were;

  1. Reuben
  2. Simeon
  3. Levi
  4. Judah
  5. Dan
  6. Naphtali
  7. Gad
  8. Asher
  9. Issachar
  10. Zebulun
  11. Joseph
  12. Benjamin

In Genesis 48, Jacob tells his son Joseph that the two sons born to Joseph while he was in Egypt (Ephraim and Manasseh) are now his and as such, will share in the inheritance of the land and will become a people i.e. will become two tribes, just as Jacob’s other 11 sons. So instead of Joseph becoming a tribe, his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh became two tribes. This is what is called receiving a “double portion“. Normally, Jacob would have given that double portion to his firstborn son, Reuben but instead he gave the double portion to his second-to-youngest son, Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. Further, Jacob gives the larger portion to Ephraim, the younger of Joseph’s two sons, with the larger portion — again, giving the blessing to the younger instead of the older.

We see much later in the biblical history of Israel, that the tribe of Ephraim became the dominant tribe in Israel after the tribe of Judah. When the kingdom split, the Northern Kingdom of ten tribes are referred to in Scripture as either Israel or Ephraim and the Southern Kingdom is referred to as Judah.

Twelve Tribes o f Israel
  1. Ephraim– – Joseph’s sons
  2. Manasseh – Joseph’s sons
  3. Reuben
  4. Simeon
  5. Judah
  6. Dan
  7. Naphtali
  8. Gad
  9. Asher
  10. Issachar
  11. Zebulun
  12. Benjamin

What about Levi?

As the priestly Tribe, Levi was given no land. [Num 18.20, 18.24] Instead of land, God gave Levi the tithes of the people of Israel.

The land allocations of Joseph and Levi were given instead to Ephraim and Manasseh, preserving the number of Tribes of Israel to twelve.

The Promised Land includes all the land on the west bank of the Jordan River (including Judea and Samaria — what is currently referred to as “the West Bank”, plus an area on the east bank of the Jordan River (where southern Jordan now stands), the southern tip of Lebanon, and part of Southern Syria, and as illustrated on the map, below.

12 Tribes with current country names

Even though Abraham fathered Ishmael with Hagar, God’s promise to Abraham remained through the son of promise, Isaac.

God revealed to Abraham that the promises He made concerning the land of Canaan applied to Isaac and not Ishmael and that it is through Isaac that Abraham’s descendants would be counted (Genesis 21:12-13)

The Promised Land is reckoned to Isaac and his descendants, the 12 Tribes of Israel, however because Ishmael is a son of Abraham, God promises to make a great nation of him, as well.  The land Ishmael’s descendants, the 12 Tribes of Ishmael settle is an entirely different land [see next article on the 12 Tribes of Ishmael and Their Land].

The promises Jacob inherited from Abraham through Isaac include the physical land of Canaan, whose boundaries God specified and is mentioned in Genesis 13:14-15, 15:18-21, 17:8, 22:17, 24:7, 26:3, 28:15, 35:12, 48:4, 50:24-25). The physical boundaries of that land are set out in in Numbers 34:1-12 and the future boundaries are set out in Ezekiel 47:13-20.

God gave the Land of Israel to the Jews as an everlasting possession (Genesis 17:7-8).

The Boundaries of the Land Givenby God to Israel

The boundaries of the land given by God to Israel are specified in Numbers 34:1-12;

The Lord spoke to Moses, “Command the Israelites and say to them: When you enter the land of Canaan, it will be allotted to you as an inheritance[a] with these borders:

Your southern side will be from the Wilderness of Zin along the boundary of Edom. Your southern border on the east will begin at the east end of the Dead Sea. Your border will turn south of the Ascent of Akrabbim, proceed to Zin, and end south of Kadesh-barnea. It will go to Hazar-addar and proceed to Azmon. The border will turn from Azmon to the Brook of Egypt, where it will end at the Mediterranean Sea.

Your western border will be the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea; this will be your western border.

This will be your northern border: From the Mediterranean Sea draw a line to Mount Hor; from Mount Hor draw a line to the entrance of Hamath, and the border will reach Zedad. Then the border will go to Ziphron and end at Hazar-enan. This will be your northern border.

For your eastern border, draw a line from Hazar-enan to Shepham. The border will go down from Shepham to Riblah east of Ain. It will continue down and reach the eastern slope of the Sea of Chinnereth. Then the border will go down to the Jordan and end at the Dead Sea. This will be your land defined by its borders on all sides.”

So Moses commanded the Israelites, “This is the land you are to receive by lot as an inheritance, which the Lord commanded to be given to the nine and a half tribes. For the tribe of the Reubenites and the tribe of the Gadites have received their inheritance according to their ancestral houses, and half the tribe of Manasseh has received its inheritance. The two and a half tribes have received their inheritance across the Jordan from Jericho, eastward toward the sunrise.”

Numbers 34:1-12

In Ezekiel 47, God reveals the future boundaries of the 12 tribes of Israel. It is believed this will be the boundaries of the land during the earthly rule of Messiah from Jerusalem.

Current Israel Biblical borders

Distribution of the Land to the 12 Tribes of Israel

Notice that the land on the west side of the Jordan is allocated to nine and half tribes with the other two and a half tribes inheriting land on the east side of the Jordan (half the tribe of Manasseh, Reuben, Gad).

“So Moses commanded the Israelites, “This is the land you are to receive by lot as an inheritance, which the Lord commanded to be given to the nine and a half tribes. For the tribe of the Reubenites and the tribe of the Gadites have received their inheritance according to their ancestral houses, and half the tribe of Manasseh has received its inheritance. The two and a half tribes have received their inheritance across the Jordan from Jericho, eastward toward the sunrise.”

Numbers 34:13-15

12 Tribes with current country names

The promises that God made with Abraham through Isaac and Jacob was an everlasting covenant and the land God gave their descendants was an everlasting possession and based on Scripture, that land includes present-day Israel including the  so-called “West Bank” of the Jordan River (Judea and Samaria), western Jordansouth-western Syria, the southern tip of Lebanon, and all of the Golan Heights (east Manasseh).

As we will outline in the next article, the land of the 12 Tribes of Ishmael is the northern part of Saudi Arabia, south eastern Jordan, southern Assyria (specifically Southern Iraq) and Kuwait.

Everlasting Possession

It is abundantly clear from Scripture that the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob could not ‘lose’ the right to the land for disobedience, even apostasy, a subject of another article titled “The Promise of the Land to the Jews — everlasting or conditional”.

[http://www.jewishrootsofchristianity.ca/the-promise-of-the-land-to-the-jews-everlasting-or-conditional/]

 

 

 

 

The 12 Tribes of Ishmael and Their Land

Introduction: We’ve heard people say that since the land of Israel belongs to both the descendants of Isaac and Ishmael and that the solution to the tension in the region is to divide the land between them.  But few people realize that the land of the 12 Tribes of Ishmael  is far from the land given to the 12 Tribes of Israel.

The introduction to this article on the Abrahamic Covenant and the 12 Tribes of Israel, we outline who are the people and where is the land belonging to the 12 Tribes of Israel [http://www.jewishrootsofchristianity.ca/the-abrahamic-covenant-and-the-12-tribes-of-israel/] .

In this article we outline from Scripture who are the people and where is the land belonging to the descendants of Ishmael.


Abraham was getting old and Sarai was resigned that she wasn’t going to bear a child herself,  so she tells Abram to sleep with her handmaiden, Hagar so that he would have an heir to the promise of ‘the land’ and to bring forth ‘a great nation’ (Genesis 16:1-4).

Hagar conceives but Sarai mistreats her so much that Hagar runs away from her (:6). The Angel of the Lord tells her she must go back to Sarai and submit to her and promises her;

“I will greatly multiply your offspring, and they will be too many to count.”

Genesis 16:10

Now, in English this seems like it could be any angel, but in Hebrew it is unmistakable, this Angel is called  מַלְאַךְ יְהוָה, that is by God’s actual Name (יְהוָה), the tetragrammaton, YHVH.

In beginning in verse 11, this Angel who bears the very Name of God says to Hagar;

Then the Angel of the Lord said to her:

You have conceived and will have a son.
You will name him Ishmael,
for the Lord has heard your cry of affliction.
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.
So she called the Lord who spoke to her: The God Who Sees,[h] for she said, “In this place, have I actually seen the One who sees me?”

Genesis 16:11-13

“So Hagar gave birth to Abram’s son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son Hagar had. Abram was 86 years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to him.

Genesis 16:15-16

We see something about the character of Ishmael here and an understanding that what we see played out in the Middle East was foreseen by God;

“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”.

Genesis 16:12


The Boundaries of the Land of Israel

The boundaries of the land of Israel is specified in Numbers 34:1-12;

The Lord spoke to Moses, “Command the Israelites and say to them: When you enter the land of Canaan, it will be allotted to you as an inheritance[a] with these borders:

Your southern side will be from the Wilderness of Zin along the boundary of Edom. Your southern border on the east will begin at the east end of the Dead Sea. Your border will turn south of the Ascent of Akrabbim, proceed to Zin, and end south of Kadesh-barnea. It will go to Hazar-addar and proceed to Azmon. The border will turn from Azmon to the Brook of Egypt, where it will end at the Mediterranean Sea.

Your western border will be the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea; this will be your western border.

This will be your northern border: From the Mediterranean Sea draw a line to Mount Hor; from Mount Hor draw a line to the entrance of Hamath, and the border will reach Zedad.  Then the border will go to Ziphron and end at Hazar-enan. This will be your northern border.

For your eastern border, draw a line from Hazar-enan to Shepham. The border will go down from Shepham to Riblah east of Ain. It will continue down and reach the eastern slope of the Sea of Chinnereth. Then the border will go down to the Jordan and end at the Dead Sea. This will be your land defined by its borders on all sides.”

So Moses commanded the Israelites, “This is the land you are to receive by lot as an inheritance, which the Lord commanded to be given to the nine and a half tribes.  For the tribe of the Reubenites and the tribe of the Gadites have received their inheritance according to their ancestral houses, and half the tribe of Manasseh has received its inheritance. The two and a half tribes have received their inheritance across the Jordan from Jericho, eastward toward the sunrise.”

Numbers 34:1-12

In Ezekiel 47, God reveals the future boundaries of the 12 tribes of Israel. It is believed this will be the boundaries of the land during the earthly rule of Messiah from Jerusalem.

Current Israel Biblical borders

Distribution of the Land to the 12 Tribes of Israel

Notice that the land on the west side of the Jordan is allocated to nine and half tribes with the other two and a half tribes inheriting land on the east side of the Jordan (half the tribe of Manasseh, Reuben, Gad).

“So Moses commanded the Israelites, “This is the land you are to receive by lot as an inheritance, which the Lord commanded to be given to the nine and a half tribes.  For the tribe of the Reubenites and the tribe of the Gadites have received their inheritance according to their ancestral houses, and half the tribe of Manasseh has received its inheritance. The two and a half tribes have received their inheritance across the Jordan from Jericho, eastward toward the sunrise.”

Numbers 34:13-15

12 Tribes with current country names

The land God gave to half the tribe of Manasseh (East Manasseh), Gad and Reuben lie where southern Jordan is now.

 


The People and Land of Ishmael and His Descendants

When Abraham fathered a child with Hagar (Sarah’s handmaiden) Ishmael and his descendants were also given a people and a land.

The people:

The people descended from Ishmael became the twelve Ishmaelite tribes (Genesis 17:20; 25:13-18). The Ishmaelites are part of what is today called the Arab nation but there are many Arab nations that are not descendant from Ishmael (or even Abraham, for that matter).  More on that below.

The Land:

Scripture specifies the land of the Ishmaelites;

“from Havilah to Shur, near the eastern border of Egypt, as you go toward Assyria”

Genesis 25:18

This is the area between the Sinai desert, the Great Syrian Desert, the Hejaz and modern Mosul in northern Iraq.

Scripture says that after being put away by Abraham (Genesis 21:10-13), Ishmael and his mother, Hagar settled in the wilderness (or desert) of Paran which is an area near the Sinai Peninsula. When he grew up, Hagar found him a wife from the land of Egypt (Genesis 21:17-21).

“God was with the boy, and he grew; he settled in the wilderness and became an archer.  He settled in the Wilderness of Paran, and his mother got a wife for him from the land of Egypt.”

Genesis 21:20-21

Ishmael and his wife had twelve sons who each became the head of one of the Ishmaelite tribes that settled throughout the regions from Havilah to Shur (from Assyria to the border of Egypt).

“These are the family records of Abraham’s son Ishmael, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s slave, bore to Abraham. These are the names of Ishmael’s sons; their names according to the family records are: Nebaioth, Ishmael’s firstborn, then Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah. These are Ishmael’s sons, and these are their names by their villages and encampments: 12 leaders of their clans. This is the length of Ishmael’s life: 137 years. He took his last breath and died, and was gathered to his people.  And they settled from Havilah to Shur, which is opposite Egypt as you go toward Asshur. He lived in opposition to all his brothers.

Genesis 25:12-18

The land belonging to the descendants of Ishmael was from Havilah to Shur, which is opposite Egypt –from the northern part of Saudi Arabia to the very south-eastern part of Assyria (Iraq)

Looking on a present day map, the land belonging to the tribes of Ishmael include the northern part of Saudi Arabia, south eastern Jordan, southern Assyria (specifically Southern Iraq) and Kuwait.

12 Tribes of Israel & Ishmelites


Neither Jews nor Ishmaelites

There are those that are neither Jews (a descendant of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob) nor Ishamelites (descendants of Abraham through Ishmael) but who live in the region. These people groups do not fall under the blessing of the Abrahamic Covenant.

i.      Descendants of Esau: Some people that are called “Arabs” are descended from Esau (and therefore are children of Abraham) but they are not part of the promises to the Jews (through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) nor do they fall under the promises inherited by Ishmael’s descendants (Abraham through Ishmael) .

The descendants of Esau are listed in great detail in Genesis 36. Genesis 36:6 says that Esau moved some distance away from his brother Jacob, to another land called Se’ir (which is southern Jordan today, known as Edom or Idumea is the past).

ii.      Descendants of Keturah: The are descendants of Abraham that were born to him after Sarah’s death: In Genesis 25:1-4 other Arab tribes are also mentioned who are not descended from Ishmael, but claim Keturah as their matriarch. Keturah bore Abraham six sons, Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah.

iii.    No ethnic connection to Abraham: There are many that call themselves Arabs but have no ethnic connection to Abraham.  Some of the Arab nation are descendants of Shem, Aram, Eber, Joktan and his progeny and all of them are Arab peoples who lived before Abraham.

* one of Shem’s sons was Aram (perhaps the father of the Arameans) and another was Arphaxad (whose grandson was Eber). Eber had two children – Peleg and Joktan. Joktan is described as the patriarch of many Arab tribes, many of whom can be traced to the Saudi Arabian Hejaz and Hadramaut.

[Note: the section above on the descendants of Esau is from the book, Israel, The Key to World Revival by Avner Boskey)

…so Who are the Arabs?

People often use the term “Arab’ to describe non-Jewish people of Middle Eastern descent, including those that define themselves as ‘Palestinian’.  But are they Arabs?

The boundaries of land outlined in Scripture are categorized based on the two physical descendants of Abraham; Ishmael and Isaac, so let’s look at ‘Arab’ in those terms.

Some Arabs are descended from Esau (Jacob’s brother) and therefore don’t fall under either the promises made to Ishmael or to Isaac..

Some Arabs were born to Keturah (Abraham’s wife after Sarah’s death), so while these are ‘descendants of Abraham’ they are not through either Sarah (Abraham’s first wife) or Hagar (Sarah’s handmaiden, mother of Ishmael) as specified in Scripture. As such they do not inherit the land specified to descendants of Abraham though Isaac and Jacob (the Jews) nor to Abraham through Ishmael (the Ishmaelites).


Different Lands for the Descendants of Isaac and Ishmael

Based on Scripture, the land God gave to the Jewish people — to Abraham and his descendant through Isaac and Jacob (Israel) — and to the 12 Tribes of Israel, includes present-day Israel including the  so-called “West Bank” of the Jordan River (Judea and Samaria), western Jordansouth-western Syria, the southern tip of Lebanon, and all of the Golan Heights (east Manasseh).

The land of the 12 Tribes of Ishmael is the northern part of Saudi Arabia, south eastern Jordan, southern Assyria (specifically Southern Iraq) and Kuwait.

Based on Scripture, the land of the Jews and the land of the Ishmaelites are entirely different lands.

There isn’t even any overlap.

12 Tribes of Israel & Ishmelites

 

1948 – Fullfillment of the Second Gathering of the Jews to the Land

child-jewish-quarter-jerusalem

We’ve heard it said by some that they don’t care about the Israel of today because the Jews broke their covenant with God and lost the right to their land — that the Israel of today has no relationship to the Biblical nation. Is that true? What is to be done with the fact  that the Jews were returned to the Land of Israel not once, but twice — with the most recent time was in 1948?

The First Scattering

Before addressing the present-day situation, let’s first look at how God dealt with the people of Israel with respect to the Land in the past when she was unfaithful.

When the Hebrews asked for a king in the book of Judges, they were told that only God was their king and when they approached Samuel the Prophet, he told them that their desire for a king was an act of disobedience and that there would be serious consequences if they established a monarchy. The history told in the book of Kings, bears out Samuel’s warning.

Saul was Israel’s first king (1050-1010 BCE), then David (1010-970 BCE) then Solomon (970-930 BCE). The building of King Solomon’s Temple came at a huge financial cost resulting in land being given away and people being sent into forced labour in the north in Tyre. When Solomon died, those in the north refused to submit to Solomon’s son Rehoboam and those ten tribes seceded (split), resulting in two kingdoms;  Israel with Samaria as the capital in the north and Judah with Jerusalem as its capital in the south.

Israel, in the north with Samaria as its capital was ruled by a series of wicked kings (930-723 BCE) at which time Samaria, the capital fell to the Assyrians and the Israelites (the people of the northern ten tribes) were taken captive in Assyria. In order to assure that conquered territory remained under their control, the Assyrians did as was their practice and forced the inhabitants of the Northern Kingdom to relocate to other parts of the Assyrian Empire.  These Israelites effectively disappear from history and are what is referred to as “the lost tribes of Israel”.

Judah in the south with Jerusalem as its capital was ruled by series of kings (930 BCE-597 BCE); a few of them good and some extremely wicked, at which time Jerusalem falls at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar captured Judah’s king Jehoiachin, took him as prisoner to Babylon and sets up king Zedekiah as a puppet king over Judah until 597 BCE when Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem, destroying the city and the First Temple and taking the Jews (people of the two southern tribes) captive.

The Babylonians (also called Chaldeans) also relocated the local population but unlike the Assyrians, they did not scatter them all over their Empire, but to a single location which enabled the Jews to maintain their separate community and retain their religion and identity. The Babylonian exile, as documented in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah ended in 538 BCE, when the Persians conquered Babylonia and Cyrus the Great gave the Jews permission to return to the land. How does the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities tie into how we view the current nation of Israel?

God was very clear in the Law as to what would happen if they obeyed His commands and what would happened if they didn’t. Leviticus 26:1-13 spells out what God would do if the people obeyed His commands especially with regards to the Land;

I will give you rain at the right time, and the land will yield its produce, and the trees of the field will bear their fruit. Your threshing will continue until grape harvest, and the grape harvest will continue until sowing time; you will have plenty of food to eat and live securely in your land. I will give peace to the land, and you will lie down with nothing to frighten you.” 

~Leviticus 26: 4-6

In addition, the Law in Leviticus 26:14-33 also spelled out what God would do if the people did not obey His commands especially with regards to the Land;

“I will reject you. I will reduce your cities to ruins and devastate your sanctuaries. I will not smell the pleasing aroma of your sacrifices. I also will devastate the land, so that your enemies who come to live there will be appalled by it. But I will scatter you among the nations, and I will draw a sword to chase after you. So your land will become desolate, and your cities will become ruins.

~Leviticus 26: 30-33

The Assyrian and Babylonian captivities should have come as no surprise to the people of God because the Law of Moses clearly spelled out what would happen if they disobeyed. True to His word, God judged the people for their apostasy by scattering them just as He said He would do.

This was the First Jewish Diaspora (from Greek διασπορά, meaning “scattering, dispersion”).

The First Return – an Act in 4 Parts then a 5th

The return to Zion from captivity (known as aliyah, in Hebrew) occurred initially in four stages with only a handful of Jews returning to the land of Israel following the decree of the Persian ruler Cyrus the Great in 538 BCE.  Most of the Jews still remained in Babylon. In the subsequent stages, many Jews returned from captivity, although some remained there for 2,600 years (more below).

The different stages of the return to Zion are documented in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah and are as follows;

  1. In 538 BCE, approximately 1,000 Jews returned under a man known as Sheshbazzar out of the notion to redeem the land of Israel from its ruins and to re-establish the Temple.
  2. The second wave of return was led by Zerubbabel, the grandson of Jeconiah, king of Judah who was a descendant of the house of David.  It was these that completed the construction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 516 BCE.
  3. The third wave of return was led by Ezra in 458 BCE with official approval of the Persian government and permission to take money from exiled Jews to the Temple and Jews living in Israel. Around 5,000 Jews were in this wave of Zion returnees. Ezra appointed magistrates and judges and to teach the law of God to the people of Israel.
  4. The fourth wave of return was led by Nehemiah in 445 BCE. It is not clear how many Zion returnees joined him, but the Book of Nehemiah depicts a strong army escort supplied by the king.

Despite the ability for the Jews to return to the Land, many chose to remain in Babylon and there was a Jewish presence there and in what became modern day Iraq until June of 1941 when the Farhud (“violent dispossession”) took place. This became the final gathering of the captives back to the Land; completed some 2,600 years later.

The Second Scattering

In 66 CE, after the Jews protested excessive Roman taxation, the Romans plundered the Second Temple and killed 6,000 Jews.  This was the start of the Jewish-Roman war (66-73 CE) and was led by the future Emperor Titus. The Early Church, referred to as the Nazarenes by the Romans were seen as a sect of Judaism and fared no better than non-believing Jews.

Titus ordered the burning of the Second Temple which was built after the return of the captives of Babylon to Zion and which was only ~ 90 years old at the time.  Although this seemed to be natural events of history, these events had been prophesied by Jesus in Matt 24:1-25 & 46, Mark 13:1-37 and Luke 21:5-36.

With the ‘siege of Jerusalem’ in 70 CE and the destruction of the Temple, the Jews including those of the Early Church fled Jerusalem. Josephus documents that 1.1 million people were killed during the siege of which the majority were Jewish and 97,000 were captured and enslaved and many fled to areas around the Mediterranean. The Jewish state came to an end in 70 CE and the Second Jewish Diaspora began.

The Holocaust, Liberation and the Second Return to Zion

At the end of World War II, as Allied troops moved across Europe in a series of offensives against Nazi Germany, they began to encounter tens of thousands of concentration camp prisoners. Many of these had survived forced marches into the interior of Germany from camps in occupied Poland and were suffering from starvation and disease.  The Soviets arrived at the remains of the Nazi concentration camp of Majdanek near Lublin, Poland in July 1944 and while the Germans tried to hide the evidence of mass murder by demolishing the camp and by setting fire to the large crematorium used to burn bodies of murdered Jews, in the hasty evacuation the gas chambers were left standing; evidence of what had gone on before.

By the summer of 1944 the Soviets arrived at the concentration camps of Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka but it was too late. The Germans already dismantled these camps in 1943 after most of the Jews of Poland had already been killed.

Seventy years ago this year, in January 1945 the Soviets liberated Auschwitz, the largest concentration camp and Jewish extermination center. By the time they arrived, there were only a few thousand emaciated prisoners left alive as the Nazis had already murdered the rest

After Liberation, many Jewish survivors feared to return to their former homes in Europe because of anti-Semitism and the horrendous trauma they had suffered. Some who returned home in Europe and faced pogroms (violent anti-Jewish riots); where Jews continued to be killed (e.g. Kielce, Poland 1946).

With few possibilities for emigration, tens of thousands of homeless Jewish holocaust survivors migrated westward to other European territories liberated by the western Allies where they were housed in UN-administered refugee centers and displaced persons camps such as Bergen-Belsen in Germany.  In 1947, the Jewish displaced person population of these camps was ~250,000 people.

With the United States heavily restricting the number of refugees permitted to enter and many countries around the world having closed their borders to Jewish immigration, the Jews looked to the land of Palestine which was under British rule since the end of WWI. however the British restricted Jewish immigration to Palestine because of the armed Arab revolts. The British at first tried to maintain order but as the crisis escalated, they turned the matter of the Arabs in Jewish Palestine over the United Nations (UN). In a special session, the UN General Assembly voted in UN Resolution 181 on November 29, 1947 to partition the remaining 25% of Jewish Palestine into two states (again); one Jewish and the other Arab; a recommendation that Jewish leaders accepted and the Arabs rejected. The Arabs didn’t want part of Jewish Palestine; they wanted all of it. Resolution 181 allocated 43% of Jewish Palestine to this second Arab state within Jewish Palestine. The Jews accepted to allocate 43% of their land in exchange for peace with the Arabs, but the Arabs rejected it, wanting all of the Jewish homeland as theirs. The British began their withdrawal of military forces from Palestine in early April 1948 and on May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion, the chairman of the Jewish Agency for Palestine announced the formation of the state of Israel. Holocaust survivors from the refugee centers and displaced persons camps across Europe were welcomed into the Jewish homeland.

The First and Second Return to Zion – Political Decree or God’s Hand?

On the surface, the first return to Zion was simply a result of the political decree of the Persian ruler Cyrus the Great in 538 BCE and the second return to Zion was no more than the result of a political decree of the British in 1922 when they established Palestine to be the Jewish homeland and of the United Nations when they gave the land to the Jews in 1948.

Is that all that is going on?

In fact, the 70 year captivity of the Jews in Babylon was spoken of beforehand in Jeremiah 25:9-12, Jeremiah 29:10) and happened just as He said (see 2 Chronicles 36:20-23).  It wasn’t just Jeremiah that prophesied about the first captivity. The prophet Ezekiel was also given a prophetic message to speak to Jews in Judea and later to the Jewish exiles in Babylon, a people who were mostly in a state of rebellion (Ezekiel 2:3-7). He was given prophecies to speak about judgment against Israel for their idolatry (Ezekiel 6:1-4) and the destruction of Jerusalem (Ezekiel Chapter 9), yet even in the midst of this, God promises that He will leave a remnant;

“Yet I will leave a remnant when you are scattered among the nations, for throughout the countries there will be some of you who will escape the sword.”

~Ezekiel 6: 8

God promised Ezekiel in chapter 11 that He would gather the Jewish people from the countries where they had been scattered and will give them once again, the land of Israel. Then He says He will “give them one heart and put a new spirit within them; I will remove their heart of stone from their bodies and give them a heart of flesh so they may follow My statutes, keep My ordinances, and practice them“.   Some would say this was fulfilled when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Jews of the Early Church whereas others would say this is a foreshadowing of what is yet to come.  In Ezekiel Chapter 16, God describes in vivid detail the sins of Israel; likening her behaviors to that of an adulterous wife and describes His judgement against Israel for serving gods other than Him yet He promises that He will make a new covenant with them and make atonement for their sins. This occurred when the New Covenant was established by Jesus in accordance with the prophecy of Jeremiah 31: 31-34. Ezekiel’s prophesies up until this point can certainly refer to the time after the return of the Jews from exile in Babylon but in Ezekiel Chapter 20:1-31, God tells Ezekiel that a last days scenario would take place that clearly hasn’t happened yet.

God says that after Israel has served idols instead of Him and defiled His Holy Name, He will bring them back to the Land and there, in the Land, the nation of Israel will repent for their sins. He says He will forgive them and the entire nation will serve Him and He will demonstrate His holiness through Israel in the sight of all the nations.

“As for you, house of Israel, this is what the Lord God says: Go and serve your idols, each of you. But afterward you will surely listen to Me, and you will no longer defile My holy name with your gifts and idols. For on My holy mountain, Israel’s high mountain”—the declaration of the Lord God—“there the entire house of Israel, all of them, will serve Me in the land. There I will accept them and will require your contributions and choicest gifts, all your holy offerings. When I bring you from the peoples and gather you from the countries where you have been scattered, I will accept you as a pleasing aroma.  And I will demonstrate My holiness through you in the sight of the nations. When I lead you into the land of Israel, the land I swore to give your fathers, you will know that I am Yahweh. There you will remember your ways and all your deeds that you have defiled yourselves with, and you will loathe yourselves for all the evil things you have done. You will know that I am Yahweh, house of Israel, when I have dealt with you because of My name rather than according to your evil ways and corrupt acts.” This is the declaration of the Lord God.”

~Ezekiel 20:1-31

It is in the land, that the Jews repent.  God brings them back to the land in their apostasy.

The Jews returned to the land of Israel after exile in Babylon and some could say that God “demonstrated His holiness in the sight of the nations” by the coming of Jesus… but not all of this prophecy has been fulfilled yet.

We cannot (a) point to a time where “the entire house of Israel, all of them have served God in the land” and we cannot (b) point to a time where the nation of Israel repents for their sins after being brought back into the land.  This is a future event; referring to the second gathering to Zion after the scattering of 70 AD.

And if that isn’t clear enough, the prophet Isaiah speaks of a day when God will gather the remnant a second time. 

“On that day the root of Jesse
will stand as a banner for the peoples.
The nations will seek Him,
and His resting place will be glorious.
On that day the Lord will extend His hand a second time to recover—from Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, and the coasts and islands of the west—the remnant of His people who survive.

He will lift up a banner for the nations
and gather the dispersed of Israel;
He will collect the scattered of Judah
from the four corners of the earth.”

~Isaiah  11:11-12

The context can’t be missed; this prophesy is clearly after the coming of Jesus, the root of Jesse and He says very clearly that this is a second gathering of the Jews from exile.

In 1948, God brought the nation of Israel back to the land in preparation for the day of restoration that He has spoken of, yet to come when the “times of the Gentiles are fulfilled”. Just as He said He would when He scattered us the second time, He preserved a remnant of 250,000 when 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust and as He said through the prophet Isaiah, He extended His hand a second time to recover the remnant of His people who survived.  God is faithful to His Word.

The Second Return – Act 1

The first return from exile in Babylon took place in 5 stages — with the final stage of return not having even begun until 1941 — just before the second return of exiles began.

The first return from exile occurred in stages and it seems apparent that the second return to the Land will also take place in stages — with the first act having taken place in 1948, with the creation of the Jewish state of Israel.

While Jews can return to the land, many Jews still live in the Diaspora, throughout the Western world.  Without getting into the what the Scriptures seem to indicate will happen between the present day and the time when the Jews as a people will return to the Land, there is a day spoken of in Scripture that will come and that is the day when the Jewish people, as a whole will have their eyes opened by God, and national repentance will occur.  Zechariah speaks of this day:

“Then I will pour out a spirit of grace and prayer on the house of David [the Jews] and the residents of Jerusalem and they will look upon Me whom they pierced. They will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child and weep bitterly for Him as one weeps for a firstborn.

~Zechariah 12:10

As mentioned in an earlier note, this translates literally; ‘they will look upon Me, Elohim their God whom they have pierced and mourn for Him, my Son’. When the “times of the Gentiles has been fulfilled” (Romans 11:25), the nation as a whole will see the One whom we have pierced and mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child.

The restoration of the Jews to the land in 1948 is not a fluke or nothing more than the result of secular laws passed by the British and UN. It is the first act in a series of stages of God bringing the Jews back to the land and ultimately to repentance and salvation — just as He spoke long beforehand through the prophets.

When all these things happen to you—the blessings and curses I have set before you—and you come to your senses while you are in all the nations where the Lord your God has driven you, and you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey Him with all your heart and all your soul by doing[a] everything I am giving you today,  then He will restore your fortunes,[b] have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you. Even if your exiles are at the ends of the earth, He will gather you and bring you back from there. The Lord your God will bring you into the land your fathers possessed, and you will take possession of it. He will cause you to prosper and multiply you more than He did your fathers.

~ Deuteronomy 30:1-5


I will bring your descendants from the east,
and gather you from the west.
I will say to the north: Give them up!
and to the south: Do not hold them back!
Bring My sons from far away,
and My daughters from the ends of the earth—
everyone called by My name
and created for My glory. 

Isaiah 43:5-6

 

[photo by Noam Chen]