The hallmark of two subjects: commentary of the Bible and Jewish history as written by the religious authorities, is that either they are written by muddled minds or deliberately riddled to keep away all but the specialists with ample idle time. But in this time of hardship and internal turmoil, Israel needs sympathy and understanding of the hard choices it is facing.
Israel’s history truly begins with their departure from Egypt to Palestine some 1400 before Christ. There were no Jews in Palestine then, where lived those who had always lived there, since times immemorial: Philistines, Canaanites, Amalekites, Midianites, Ammonites, Jebusites, Moabites, and many others, with Assyrians, Syrians and Babylonians as ancient neighbors making wars and peace between themselves. Israel had to therefore, sink the foundations of its state in a sea of blood whose area covered the areas in between and around the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee.
Around 1000 B.C., kings David and Solomon built the First Temple, organized, developed, and gave the state the shape to look like a kingdom. But, according to Jewish chroniclers, “Solomon makes one serious mistake. In violation of the Torah’s prohibition He takes too many wives. In fact, he has 700 wives and 300 concubines.”
But Jewish history writers on the other hand, blame Solomon for the seeds of breakup after him citing his repressive policies against the labor brought in from the southern provinces. According to the Rabbis, he was punished for his sins: But some sort of mix happened because ultimately it was not Solomon who was punished, but his son. The Bible ends Solomon’s story by asserting that God was angry with him and told him: “Since you are guilty of this, and you have not kept My covenant and My laws … I will tear the kingdom away from you … But I will not do this in your time, for the sake of your father David. Instead, I will tear it away from your son … I will give your son one tribe for the sake of My servant David, and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.” (1 Kings 11:9-13).
To be sure, and according to the Divine Plan, after Solomon’s death, his son and inheritor of the throne, Jeroboam, said nonsense to the complaints of the southern province’s governor, disdainfully remarking, “My father made your yoke heavy; I will make it even heavier” (1 Kings 12:14). The southern territories, inhabited mostly by two of the twelve tribes called Judah and Benjamin, dutifully revolted against the Kingdom of God, and separated out to lay foundations of a new municipality called the Kingdom of Judea.
The two tiny kingdoms: Israel and Judea frequently fought each other, slaughtered each other, and did not hesitate to plunder the Temple. During the struggle, Jerusalem came to be included into the boundaries of Judea. In the northern kingdom Jeroboam installed a Golden Bull on a pedestal in a prominent place to appease and win the loyalty of the southern tribes. Degeneration spread in both the states: Yahweh was ignored, idolatry, Bull-worship, magic, prostitution etc., came in full swing and a temple was built for Baal, a foreign deity. Meanwhile, Philistines (who later plundered Jerusalem), Arameans, Moabites and Ammonites also slipped out of the iron grip of the Kingdom of God. (See the map, but to see the place on a medium-sized atlas, make sure you have a magnifying glass around).
The civil war between Asa of Judea (913-873) and Baasha of Israel (900-877) came to an end when Asa made a pact with the Syrian against Baasha. The Syrians promptly raided the northern kingdom and took control of the territory north of the Sea of Galilee.
According to a witty quote, the current Iranian President is wrong in his remark about wiping out Israel from the map. It had already happened in 722 B.C, when Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom of Israel and drove away majority of its inhabitants. They were dispersed to other nations that Assyria had conquered, assimilated, and eventually lost awareness of their original identity. Those were the famous ten lost tribes. The remaining Israelites assimilated with the people of the Fertile Crescent. The area was governed by an Assyrian governor.
Judea (or Judah) on the other hand fell to the Babylonians but kept rebelling. In 598 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon dealt the death blow. He invaded Jerusalem. The prophet Jeremiah counseled submission to Babylonians. The Jewish ruler held out for three months and then surrendered. He and his entire court, including leading figures of the priesthood such as the future prophet Ezekiel, were deported. Babylon placed Josiah’s third son, Zedekiah, on the throne. Jeremiah, still in Jerusalem, again urged cooperation with the Babylonian power, which he saw as God’s chastising agent for Judah’s sins; but other prophets urged boldness against the foreign enemy (Jer. 28-29). Ten years later, once again the Judeans rebelled and once again Nebuchadnezzar marched to the gates of Jerusalem. The city was taken in July, 586 B.C. The Babylonians set fire to both the Temple and city of Jerusalem. No wall was left standing. Solomon Temple was razed to the ground. The Torah was burned. The king’s sons were put to death before him and then his own eyes pulled out in public. A large portion of the male population was driven away to Babylon to remain in captivity for half a century. Thus ended the royal house of David and the kingdom of Judah.
Fifty years later Persian king Cyrus (550-530 B.C) conquered Babylon and allowed the unassimilated Jews to return to Jerusalem. The Temple was rebuilt in (516), the high‑priest reappointed, the Torah rewritten, scattered Jews recollected. Nevertheless, the ownership of Jerusalem passed from Babylonians to Greeks, to Seleucides, to Jews for a short while (during which they freely cut each others throat), and finally to the Romans some 60 years before the advent of Jesus. It was to remain under the Roman control until the appearance of the Muslim armies at its gates 700 years later.
Struggle against Roman rule was never given up. Angered, in 70 C.E. Titus besieged Jerusalem. Jews were slaughtered in thousands. The city and its walls were razed to the ground. The Second Temple was burned, never to be rebuilt again. In 135 C.E. they again revolted. After crushing the revolt the Romans (not yet Christian) expelled them altogether from Jerusalem. A pagan city on the ruins of Jerusalem was built and Jews forbidden to enter. Romans gradually evicted them from the whole of Palestine, allowing them to enter Jerusalem only for a day a year to weep by a stone supposed to be by the side of the Second Temple. The Jews slowly began shifting to Europe, the history of Jews in Palestine ends there. They had to wait full 500 years before they could enter Jerusalem again: it were the Muslims who allowed them in. By then, perhaps no one knew where the first or the Second Temples stood.
However, at the time we are speaking of, prohibited from living in Palestine, the Jews dispersed to various parts of the world: Ethiopia, Yemen, Hijaz, Egypt, Iraq, India and other South Asian countries (in small numbers) including China, South America. But a large number shifted to Europe.
Living in Europe however was different from living in the East. Europe was Christian, and they had inherited opinions about the Jews from the Romans: Philostratus (3rd Century C.E.) summarized: “For the Jews have long been in revolt against humanity… they have made their life apart and irreconcilable, and cannot share with the rest of mankind the pleasures of the table nor join in their libations or prayers or sacrifices… they are separated from ourselves by a greater gulf than divides us from the most distant Indies.” Hecataeus’ (4th Century C.E.) made the following unsympathetic remark: The Jews “had been expelled (from Egypt),” and “in remembrance of the exile of his people, Moses instituted for them a misanthropic and inhospitable way of life.” John Chrysostom (who died in the early years of 5th century) said: “the Jews (are) most miserable of all men… lustful, rapacious, greedy, perfidious bandits, inveterate murders, destroyers, men possessed by the devil. They know only one thing, to satisfy their gullets, get drunk, to kill and maim one another…”
(Source for the above three quotes: http://www.zionism-israel.com/his/judeophobia10.htm)
In addition, Jewish opinions concerning Jesus, Mary, Christians and Christianity, as not merely in the New Testament, but also Talmudic literature (which is considered holy, sacred, and the final authority by the Jews), could not be kept hidden for long; and they could not have been palatable to the Christians. Talmudic teachings, such as the following, could not create love between the Jews and Christians: “The book Zohar, III, (282), tells us that Jesus died like a beast and was buried in that dirt heap…where they throw the dead bodies of dogs and asses, and where the sons of Esau [the Christians] and of Ismael [the Turks], also Jesus and Mahommed, uncircumcized and unclean like dead dogs, are buried.’” (Source: Judaism’s holiest book Unmasked, The Secret Jewish Rabbinical Teachings Concerning Christians, By Rev. I. B. Pranaitis Roman Catholic Priest; Master of Theology and Professor of the Hebrew Language at the Imperial Ecclesiastical Academy of the Roman Catholic Church in Old St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg Printing office of the Imperial Academy of Sciences 1892).
Or the following: “In the infamous book Toldoth Jeschu, our Savior is blasphemed as follows: ‘And Jesus said: Did not Isaiah and David, my ancestors, prophesy about me? The Lord said to me, thou art my son, today I have begotten thee,18 etc. Likewise in another place: The Lord said to my Lord, sit thou at my right hand19, Now I ascend to my father who is in heaven and will sit at his right hand, which you will see with your own eyes. But you, Judas, will never reach that high20. Then Jesus pronounced the great name of God (IHVH) and continued to do so until a wind came and took him up between earth and sky. Judas also pronounced the name of God and he likewise was taken up by the wind. In this way they both floated around in the air to the amazement of the onlookers. Then Judas, again pronouncing the Divine Name, took hold of Jesus and pushed him down to earth. But Jesus tried to do the same to Judas and thus they fought together. And when Judas saw he could not win out over the works of Jesus he pissed on Jesus, and both thus being unclean they fell to earth; nor could they use the Divine name again until they had washed themselves.’” (Notes: (18) Ps. II, 7. (19) Ps. CX, 1. (20) For it is related that Judas was a competitor of Jesus in the working of miracles – [Source as above]).
Or yet the following: “Sanhedrin 106a, Says Jesus’ mother was a whore: ‘She who was the descendant of princes and governors played the harlot with carpenters.’ Also in footnote #2 to Shabbath 104b it is stated that in the ‘uncensored’ text of the Talmud it is written that Jesus mother, ‘Miriam the hairdresser,’ had sex with many men.” (Source: The Talmud, Judaism’s Holiest Book by Michael A. Hoffman II and Alan R. Critchley. [Ref. Wikipedia for works of Michael A. Hoffman]).
In today’s Western a world which does not believe in any literature as holy, the above will be dismissed as just some peppery fiction. The presence of this kind of material on thousands of Internet sites, does not reduce Christian support for Israel by a penny. But, during those days of ardent belief in Christianity, they were quite insufferable. Therefore, when they arrived in Europe, and as long as remained invisible minorities, the Jews were tolerated. But as they grew in size, became visible and began to flourish, the atmosphere became hot for them. Persecution raised its ugly head. Early in the fifth century as Christianity became the dominant religion in the Roman Empire, large numbers of Jews were forcibly baptized. In 576 C.E., after a mob had destroyed the synagogue in his town, bishop of Clermont-Ferrand said: “If ye be ready to believe as I do, be one flock with us, and I shall be your pastor; but if ye be not ready, depart from this place.” About 500 Jews of Clermont converted. In 614 Emperor Heraclius forbade Judaism in the Byzantine Empire.
During the march of the First Crusade (1096 C.E.) from Europe’s north most territories, down to the Middle East, flourishing communities on the Rhine and the Danube rivers were completely destroyed. During the first Crusade against Muslims, 100,000 Jews were murdered in Austria and Germany. During the Second Crusade (1147 C.E.) the Jews in France were subject to frequent massacres. They were also subjected to attacks by the Shepherds’ Crusades of 1251 and 1320. In 1306 France Jews were ordered to leave the country within a month. 100,000 left. Fichte’s enlightened vision explicitly excluded the Jews: “Give them civil rights? I see no other way of doing this except to cut off all their heads one night and substitute other heads without a single Jewish thought in them. How shall we defend ourselves against them? I see no alternative but to conquer their promised land for them and to dispatch them all there. If they were granted civil rights they would trample on other citizens.” (Source: Judeophobia – Anti-Semitism, Jew-Hate and anti-“Zionism” by Dr. Gustavo Perednik).
The Crusades were followed by expulsions, including, in 1290, the banishing of all English Jews. In 1396, 100,000 Jews were expelled from France; and in 1421 thousands were expelled from Austria. When the Black Death epidemics broke out in Europe in the mid-14th century, wiping out more than a half of the population, the Christians blamed the Jews for causing the disease by deliberately poisoning wells. Tens of thousands Jews were destroyed. Although the Pope announced the innocence of Jews, 900 Jews were burnt alive in Strasbourg (Germany), where the plague had not yet affected the city. Indeed, even in India, the Jews, tolerated by Indians, were persecuted by the Christian missionaries in Goa in 1552. The Portuguese in the South India committed massive atrocities on South Indian Jewry in the 17th Century. In Papal States, Jews were required to live only in specified neighborhoods called ghettos. Until the 1840s, they were required to regularly attend sermons urging their conversion to Christianity. Only Jews were taxed to support state boarding schools for Jewish converts to Christianity.
In England (1279) all Jews in the city were arrested on the charge of desecrating the English coin and later asked to leave. 16,000 left for France and Belgium. Jews were readmitted to England in 1650 after 370 years of absence. France expelled the Jews in 1306 and in 1394; they were not readmitted until 1789 after 400 years of absence. Germany expelled them in 1348. Spain and Portugal (in 1492 and 1497) removed the strongest community of that time (about 300,000 Jews) to remain out for virtually 500 years. They were also evicted from Prague (1744) and Moscow (1891). In Spain more than 700 were burnt at the stake during the end of the 15th century. Many thousand were to follow later. After the expulsion of Muslims from Spain, hundreds of thousands Jews left the country where their families had lived for over one thousand years under the Muslims, flourishing as merchants, astronomers, physicians, philosophers and poets. The Ukrainian patriots led by one Chmielnicky fought Polish domination of their country by killing more than 100,000 Jews during 1648-1649. They were not spared even in Jerusalem, where the Crusaders found them assembled in the synagogues and set them ablaze (1099).
The Jews who took refuge in Spain under Muslim rule (early 8th century) enjoyed peace and tranquility that they were denied for centuries. Freely employed in the administration, universities, laboratories, and research centers while their merchant class had complete freedom to indulge in any trade, they flourished as never before. Fair‑minded Jews have always admitted that their 500 year long stay in Muslim Spain (700-1100 C.E.) can in many respects be considered the golden period of their history. Before the dawn of renaissance, it is the Jews of Muslim Spain who were the vehicles of Muslim thought to Europe. And it was under the Muslim influence, historians acknowledge, that the growing Christian Kingdoms of Europe learned to tolerate Jews. With expulsion from there, once again they spread around, gradually, settling in Europe. They became artisans and tradesmen and profiting from the ban imposed on its adherents by the Christian Church, they took charge of the trade of usury and were soon controlling commerce. Some 300,000 found refuge in Turkey.
Such is the murderous background of Jewish existence that led them to the firm and final opinion that the West will never accommodate them. It was the pan-Europe decision that – as large flourishing communities, controlling their economy – was not wanted in Europe that led many to the conclusion that they better quite. Their conclusion proved true when events unfolded themselves during the first half of the last century.
In 1896 Theodor Herzl, a writer and journalist published a pamphlet, Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State), advocating the establishment of a Jewish state. In 1897 he called for a Zionist congress to meet in Basel, Switzerland to help meet the target. Various territories such as those of Argentina, Kenya and even Nebraska (now in U.S.) were suggested as possible sites. But the extremist core of the Zionists, including Herzl stuck to Palestine. It seemed to be practical too in view of the fact that the Ottoman Empire was cracking up, and European powers were set to divide the broken states among themselves. If the Western leaders agreed, chipping away Palestine from Syrian state creating a Zionist state should be achievable in a few decades. Preparations began. The World Zionist Organization was established to help lay the economic foundation for the proposed state. Palestine was then inhabited by 700,000 people: 92% Arab and 8% Jewish. Of the total land area of 26,320,000 acres, the Jews owned less than 1% at the beginning of the century. Jewish population and lands of their ownership had to be increased.
A delegation of Jews was sent to the Ottoman king Sultan Abdul Hameed II to request him for a piece of land in Palestine. He refused to meet them. Some time later Theodore Hertzl, helped by the mediation of the British Jewish Rotchield family, met Sultan Abdul Hameed for the same purpose. The request was in the form of establishment of Jewish settlements in any part of Palestine and, if the government wished, building houses for Muslims in the very same settlements. In turn, the Jews would facilitate the payments of the Ottoman state’s loans, pay up to build the Ottoman Navy, and 35 million Liras for the prosperity of the Ottoman State. The Sultan declined to accept the offer saying, “My forefathers won the land of Palestine, I will not sell it for money.” He has ever been hated ever since by the Jews and the ruling class of many Muslim countries for saying, “Let the Jews keep their millions.” He knew the dishonest and dishonorable men both in the West as well as within his own empire. He predicted: “The day Khilafah is abolished, they can have Palestine without paying anything for it.”
(To be continued)