In Genesis chapter 26, we have a story of contentiousness.
Isaac, son of Abraham, moved to Gerar where his father Abraham had previously lived. There he became rich with huge flocks of cattle, sheep and many servants. He also found that all the wells his father’s servants had dug had been stopped up and filled by the Philistines.
The scripture says,
“Isaac dug again the wells of water that had been dug in the days of Abraham.”
When Isaac’s men re-dug the first one, the residents of Gerar “quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen, saying, ‘The water is OURS.’” So Isaac named the well “Esek” meaning “contention.” Then Isaac went some distance and re-dug another well; and…the residents again contended with Isaac. So Isaac named the well “Sitnah,” meaning “enmity.”
Those residents of ancient Gerar would have nothing to do with those wells that Abraham dug. So they stopped them up. Then when son Isaac re-dug them, they showed their enmity again by claiming that the wells were theirs.
Fast Forward to the mid-1800’s: Look at what was going on in Palestine a few decades before the Jews began to return to that land.
- constant feuding between rival local chieftains.
--unceasing attacks by neighboring Bedouin tribes driving many peasants (called fellah) into the hills or out of the country.
- the conquest by the Egyptians in 1831 and the re-conquest of the Turks in 1840
- constant blood-feuds between families, clans and entire villages as to land ownership.
(This is taken from two old history books: Land Ownership in Palestine by Moshe Aumann and Whose Land? by James Parkes. The first book is authored by a Jew and the second by an Anglican clergyman/historian.)
This strife resulted in a sense of insecurity and a decrease in population as people fled elsewhere.
Adding to that, the burden of taxation was responsible for many farmers leaving the land, leaving it without cultivation to become barren.
This situation puts the lie to the claim that the Palestinian rural economy was interrupted by Jewish immigration and settlement. The British writer, H. B. Tristram. (The Land of Israel: A Journal of Travels in Palestine, Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, London, 1865). In 1865, he wrote as follows:
A few years ago, the whole Ghor (Jordan Valley) was in the hands of the fellahim (peasants) and much of it cultivated for corn. Now the whole of it is in the hands of the Bedouin….and with the Bedouin come lawlessness and the uprooting of all Turkish authority…..Both in the north and south (of the Sharon plain), land is going out of cultivation, and whole villages are rapidly disappearing from the face of the earth.
A writer more familiar is Mark Twain who, after visiting Palestine, wrote this dirge-like description:
Of all the lands there are for dismal scenery, I think Palestine must be the prince. The hills are barren…the valleys are unsightly deserts…It is a hopeless, dreary, heartbroken land. Over it brooks the spell of a curse that has withered its fields and fettered its energies. (Mark Twain: The Innocents Abroad, Hartford: The American Publishing Company, Dover Edition, 2003)
A British Christian historian, James Parkes:
In the wars between villages it was far too common a practice to cut down fruit trees and olives and to destroy crops….Bedouins freely destroyed the cisterns….malaria became endemic and the unlucky peasants fled elsewhere or starved in the towns…. (Parkes: Whose Land? 1949, 1970)
On and on goes Parkes’ sad tale and description of Palestine.
Is it any surprise then that when large numbers of Jewish immigrants were entering Palestine in the early 20th century, when they set up business there and when the total population was growing, that the Arab/Palestinians produced turmoil and provoked rioting from time to time? Accusations flew from the mouths of the Arabs: for example, “the Jews are going to take control of our temple mount.” The British Peel Commission, after much investigation, found that Arab complaints about land acquisition were without basis and that the Jewish presence actually resulted in higher wages and an improved standard of living.
I received a report just last week that Gaza’s Ministry of Agriculture, run by Hamas, has been reporting that Israeli authorities have opened water dams to channel wastewater into Palestinian farmlands. This action, they said, was damaging crops, destroying apiaries, causing the death of cows and sheep and causing soil erosion.
But it’s just a part of their war of words. In southern Israel, there are no dams of the type that can be opened. (originally from the Palestinian Information Center, Jan. 5, 2020)
The enmity which brings contention is still there….and is still directed outwards toward many others, but especially towards God’s Chosen People.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Those looking on at the strife today ask: “When will it end?”
Well, let me submit these points:
First of all, as those of you know who read these blogs, I believe that God uses the harassment and persecution of the Jews to unify Israel. They need help to become unified, and lots of it. Why? Because they have a problem with fractiousness/dissension. Religiously, they have everything from the ultra-Orthodox to ultra-liberal. Philosophically, they have everything from socialism to Talmudism. Population wise, they are made up of a number of ethnic groups and colors. And yes, they do have a problem with racism within their ranks.
QUESTION: So, how can they unify? ANSWER: Through their defense. Every young person serves. Thus, the army becomes the force that aids greatly in consolidating the Israeli people into one nation.
Could I be judicious and still make this statement? The Lord has provided, or permitted them to have, sufficient enemies to help unify the nation of Israel?
Furthermore, there is more peace in the land of Israel now that it is controlled by the Jews than there was previous to their return to the land....and since the nations around Israel have given up trying to obliterate it.
Thirdly, those who become the chosen of God can always expect the world’s enmity. That’s just the way it is. They are different because of being the Lord’s.
So, this people--chosen of the Lord, will meet with….well…anti-Semitism. For they are the descendants of Isaac.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.