“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, ‘I am God Almighty, walk before me and be blameless. And I will make my covenant between me and you and will make you exceedingly numerous…And I will give to you and your offspring after you the land where you are now an alien, all the land of Canaan for a perpetual holding; and I will be their God.” (Genesis 17:1-2, 8 NRSV)
QUESTION: What disagreement about land is the most publicized in the whole world?
SOME HISTORY: When planning to pick up and travel to a land that God had promised him, the patriarch Abram decided to take his nephew. He and Sarah had no children, so Lot was picked to inherit the land. Uh-oh. Taking a family relative complicated matters for Abraham.
A DUST-UP: After settling in the land of Canaan, the herdsmen of Lot and the herdsmen of Abraham quarreled about who was getting the best tracts of land for cattle grazing.
Look at that! Very soon after arriving in the Promised Land, fights over the land! Abram had been directed there by the Lord God (Yahweh). He went there in response to the promise…in faith.
But Abram “kept his cool” and let Lot choose which part of the land he wanted. Lot, without trying to be evenhanded, chose the most productive tract. Kind Abram—selfish Lot.
Slice—slice—slice up the Land.
The territory Lot took was not only fertile--it included the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. People. Society. Pleasure. But Lot and family were soon to be forcefully taken out of the city by two angels before disaster struck.
Reflecting the sexual promiscuity of being brought up in Sodom, his two daughters made their father drunk on two successive nights, each of them laying with him and becoming pregnant.
The two sons of those incestuous relations were Moab and Ammon. From them came two idolatrous nations that sought to issue a curse upon Israel. Later, the Israelites yielded to the temptation to worship the gods of Moab and Ammon and indulge in promiscuous sexuality.
This all began with Abram’s choice to take Lot with him to the Land.
And Lot’s choice of the most fertile land and the two exciting cities.
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In the late 19th century, yearning for the land prompted many European Jews to make their dreams come true by boldly heading for Palestine. Two main movements, called alijahs, happened before the conclusion of World War I. Then, by the Providence of God, the British who had been among the conquerors over the Ottoman Empire, set forth the Balfour Declaration which specified that all of Palestine should be the homeland of the Jewish people after nearly two thousand years of being kept out byGentile empires. The League of Nations ratified this action in “The Palestine Mandate.”
But the British, who were overseeing Palestine, cut it up--not once, but again and again. To please an indolent Arab leader, 80 per cent of the land was handed over by the British to Abdullah I bin al-Hussein, second of three sons of the Sharif of Mecca. That land is now Jordan.
Since then, no Jews have been permitted to own land there. (apartheid)
Then in 1936 the Palestinians made war against the Jewish community. What did the Brits do? You guessed it: to pacify the Arabs, their plan was to slice up the little land yet again into a truly tiny sector—only 5,000 square kilometers for the Jews. The land as set aside for a Jewish homeland under the Palestine Mandate had been 116,700 square kilometers! (1)
But the Arabs refused even this. To them, a treaty was the same as surrender. Today, the Peace Process is almost universally accepted as the way to apportion the Land. Every stage of the modern “Peace Process” is consumed with the issue of who gets what slice of “The Land.”
It is assumed by most observers that Israel will again have to give up land “taken” by the Israel Defense Force during the Six-Day War of 1967 when combined Arab nationsvowed to throw the Jews into the sea—land known as “the West Bank,” but is in fact Samaria and Galilee.
Over and over again throughout history, the Land has been divided and apportioned out, most often by those who have no appreciation for its original Giver.
NOTE: Today, the maps of the Middle East, published by the Arabs, completely omit the name of Israel and all references to it. The Land is unnamed or improperly named.
You see, from Abraham’s time to the present, dividing the Promise Land has been a situation for the world to watch.
NOTE: Today, the Jihadists and much of the rest of Middle East Arab Muslims want ALL the land of Israel. Why? Because they lack sufficient land in which to live? Obviously not. They believe that once a land is Allah’s, they have a solemn obligation to keep it, and that it is Allah’s will that they use any means necessary to recover it—lies, theft, murder, war—anything.
QUESTION: What was the condition of the land of Palestine before the Jews began to immigrate there a little over a century ago? ANSWER: Nearly all of it was swampy and barren under Muslim/Ottoman rule.
NOTE: ONCE THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, ISAAC AND JACOB ASSIGNED THAT LAND TO ISRAEL, IT COULD NEVER PROSPER UNDER ANY OTHER OWNERSHIP.
QUESTION: What slicing plan will come next? (1) Mitchell Bard, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Middle East Conflict. (Indianapolis: Alpha Books, Macmillan USA, Inc., 1999), 119.
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NOTE: For a captivating and more complete account of the Promised Land, see Chapter 4, “The Land” in Everest’s recent book, Israel the Chosen: Her Identity, Land, Enemies, Religion and Messiah.