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Mary Pinkney Parnell
Isaiah 11.11 "It shall come to pass in that day that the LORD shall set HIS hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people who are left, from Assyria and Egypt, from Pathros and Cush, from Elan and Sinar, from Hamath and the islands of the sea."
12. "He will set up a banner for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth."
I just returned from my third trip to Israel and was privileged to visit the brave pioneers in Judea and Samaria. They are brave, first, to have settled in a barren and inhospitable land. They are brave, secondly, because as Israel continues to make concessions for peace, they may be expelled and their homes bull-dozed.
I remember Tamar Yonah's remark as we drank refreshments in her home in Samaria, very humble by Western standards. She was telling us that when she and her husband first settled there about 18 years ago, they were sitting outside when they remarked to each other that something was missing. Almost immediately they hit upon it, there was no bird song! Now after sweat, tears, and terrorism there is bird song. The birds arrived after the planting of vineyards and trees. I couldn't help but notice the beauty of the purple morning glories that covered the entrance to their home--beauty in the midst of barrenness.
What is Biblical Samaria, precisely? It is what the TaNaCH calls the "Mountains of Israel" and it closely corresponds to the area today known as the West Bank. A little background is in order.
Israel's war for independence was fought in 1948 when five Arab states invaded the fragile country. No sooner had Ben-Gurion made the announcement of a new nation, when Israel found herself in a war she was little prepared to fight. But the Lord of Tzva'ot (translated, The G-d of Heavenly Armies) fought for her, as in days of old.
With G-d's help, Israel prevailed and an armistice ended the brutal fighting. Jerusalem was to be an international city and Samaria and Judea were as yet undetermined. Then in 1950, Samaria and Judea were annexed by Trans-Jordan. Interestingly, there was no Jordan until Great Britain made a partition of the territory known as Palestine, not a nation, but a geographical area. Seventy seven percent east of the Jordan river was designated as Trans-Jordan given to the Arab populations and 22 percent was to become Israel, a home for the persecuted, dispersed Jew.
Abdullah, from the Hashemite family in Saudi Arabia, would become king of this new Jordan. Then in 1950 King Abdullah annexed Judea and Samaria. To avoid any association with Eretz Israel, he renamed it the West Bank. Therefore, It is incorrect to call the West Bank "occupied territory" as only one nation recognized Abdullah's annexation. "Disputed territory" is more correct under international law but according to Ezekiel, this land belongs to Israel. Israel gained possession of the West Bank in 1967 when the identical armies invaded her again. The Six Day War was another victory for the Lord of Tzva'ot .
When hearing the term, West Bank, the uninformed may visualize, as I did, a strip of land along a river bank no more than a few feet wide on the West of the Jordan. Take a look at your Bible maps and you will see that Judea and Samaria is a large territory nearly conforming to that area now called the West Bank. It is truly the heart of Biblical history and geography.
As I rode along in the armored bus, I could still hear Tamar Yonah say, "Israel is a small country but a vast land." I could see with my own eyes miles and miles of mountains near Biblical Shechem where Abraham walked, where Joseph was sold in slavery, where stand the mountains of blessing or curse, and where Joseph and Gideon are buried. And, these mountains are barren. I could see on the parched hill tops only desolation except for rare Jewish settlements or Arab villages. Nablus is a thriving Arab village near Shechem. Tours could no longer visit the ancient site of Shechem as it is under Palestinian control. I was saddened that we could not visit Joseph's grave. A couple of years earlier that grave had been broken into and desecrated.
I learned that these Jewish "settlements" were largely unprotected. Terrorists would sometimes invade a Jewish home at night. Such an event happened in Itamar when a family preparing for the Sabbath was riddled with bullets. Just the week before my visit, a school in Karnei Shomron had been fired on by Kassam rockets. Praise to G_d the children were playing outside and were delayed from entering their school because the janitor had forgotten to open the door. So, self-protection is the order of the day. Even the Rabbi who was showing us around looked comfortable with the Uzi strapped on his shoulder.
I knew now that I could sort out the rhetoric concerning these settlements because these mountains had room for all of the Jews who wished to make Aliyah, and for all the Arabs who wished to settle there also. No Arab village had been stolen by Jews or destroyed. In fact, they now tend to form around the new Jewish settlements where Jewish ingenuity makes life possible. It makes no sense to me, even if a Palestinian State were to emerge, that Jews should be banned from the area. What international state has only one nationality living in it? Furthermore, Arabs comprise 20 percent of the population of Israel. Also, these settlements are not just "outposts" or a handful of people. They have between 800-1000 families living in them. Ariel, the largest settlement, has a population of 13,000 and a university that enrolls Arabs as well as Jews.
However, such a notion of Jews and Arabs living peacefully side by side now is pure idealism. The only solution is for the hills of Samaria to be completely populated by Jews. Dismantling settlements in Samaria, Judea and Gaza only weakens Eretz Israel. It is time for Israel to take seriously how precarious her existence is. It is time for her eye to be single. It is time for Jews to return to HaShem for protection, to call out and say:
"From Whence cometh my Help?"
The answer: “My help cometh from the Lord which made heaven and earth. . . “Behold, He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep."
However there are plenty who are sleeping. To whom I can only say, "Awake O Israel!"
The United Nations is not on your side; the State Department is not on your side. With the exception of a handful, you stand alone. You are fighting Amalek. There are well armed giants coming against you: giants of terrorism, giants of political appeasement, giants of world opinion, giants of secularism. But G_d is on your side. Like Joshua and Caleb you must take your land away from these giants. For though you are small, you can still be mighty. For the word of the Lord in Ezekiel 35, 36, and 37 is still up to date and alive:
5) Therefore thus says the Lord G-d: "Surely I have spoken in My burning jealousy against the rest of the nations and against all Edom who gave My land to themselves as a possession, with whole-hearted joy and spiteful minds, in order to plunder its open country.
7) "Therefore thus says the Lord G-d: "I have raised MY hand in an oath that surely the nations that are around you shall bear their own shame.
8) "But you, O mountains of Israel, you shall shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit to My people Israel, for they are about to come, 9) "For indeed I am for you, and I will turn to you and you shall be tilled and sown. 10) " I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, all of it; and the cities shall be inhabited and the ruins rebuilt."
Jews have the moral right to Israel, Biblically for sure. But also through custodianship. Under Arab, Turkish and Crusader rule, the sweet land of Israel beccame desolate. Only through the Zionist movement was the land reclaimed and made livable again. These settlers of the West Bank are simply rebuilding the waste places.
G-d's promise to Israel is clearly stated: you will be tilled and sown. I was literally seeing Ezekiel's prophecy fulfilled before my eyes. Yes, those brave settlers are passionate about the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They know their call to settle is in fulfillment of His words. Many more must follow their example. Do not be afraid to take the land, for Samaria is also graven on the palm of His hand.
Dolan, David. Holy War for The Promised Land. Nashville: Broadman, 1998, p.99.
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