Saturday, March 17, 2007

West Bank: It's Importance to Religious Jews Today


 Nadene Goldfoot
Moses, after four hundred years of slavery in Egypt, led the Jewish people out and back into the land of Canaan, from where they had been living before.

The people prospered and decided they needed a king like other countries had. Saul was the first, then David was chosen king. His son, Solomon, followed him. When Solomon died, his land was divided into two parts; Israel in the north and Judah in the south with its capitol being Jerusalem. The capitol of Israel was Shomeron.

Israel/Samaria (North)

What had happened was that Solomon's son, Rehoboam, was ruling the land. Jeroboam revolted against him along with the ten northern tribes, establishing and ruling Israel in the north. Then Jeroboam became Israel's first king. This was similar to the American civil War. The northern ten tribes had much wealth. Rehoboam continued to rule Judah in the south. This was in 928 BCE, or about 3,000 years ago. Omri, the 6th Jewish king of Israel after Jeroboam, bought a hill from Shemer for two talents of silver, and built on it the city which he named Shomeron, or later, Samaria. This was about 884 BCE. Samaria was the new capitol of his kingdom. He lived in Samaria during the last six years of his reign. Omri's son, Achab, married Jezabel, a Sidonian princess, who introduced the worship of Baal. This was against Judaism, yet he allowed a temple to Baal to be created.

Along came the strong Assyrians, who were occupying the territory immediately north which is today's Syria, Iraq and Turkey. They were building an empire and conquered the northern Israel. This was at a time when Israel was weakening spiritually, physically and also militarily.

They conquered Israel and took the people, moved them someplace else, and brought others in to take their place. Decades passed and they didn't remember to rebel anymore. By 575 BCE, the Assyrian Tiglathpileser took over the lands belonging to the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali and exiled them. Then Shalmanaser V, another Assyrian emperor, took over the lands belonging to the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh, and exiled them. Finally, by 556 BCE Sargan II, one of the great emperors of Assyria, finished the job and the whole northern part of the country ceased to exist as a Jewish state. (2 Kings 17:6-7) "The king of Assyria took Samaria and exiled the Israelites to Assyria, and he settled them in Halah at the River Habor, at the river Gozan, and in the cities of Media." Sargon claimed that he carried away 27,290 people from Samaria, the capital of Northern Israel.

The Assyrians brought in people from someplace else and placed them in what was then known as Shomron or Samaria, and they came to be known as Samaritans. They were a people who more or less adopted Judaism, but not completely. These new people worshipped their own gods, but when the area became infested with dangerous wild beasts, they asked the king of Assyria for Israelite priests to teach them on how to worship the "god of that country." They created a syncretistic religion, in which national groups worshipped the one G-d, but they also served their own gods. Because of this, they were never really accepted by the Jewish people, and they were very resentful. They had a long history of animosity towards the Jews. In Jewish consciousness and history, the Samaritans are rarely considered good. Today there are about 6500 Samaritans left and their cult site is in Mount Grizim, which is right next to the city of Shechem, called Nablus in Arabic.

A genetic study concluded the Y-chromosome analysis of men show that Samaritans descend from the Israelites, including Cohen, or priests, which is a very distinctive marker, and the mitochondrial DNA from females shows descent from Assyrians and other foreign women. This showed that Jewish men fathered children with the new immigrant women, and this was the makeup of the new Samaritans.

Meanwhile, the Jewish people of the north making up the 10 tribes who were taken to the Assyrian empire were assimilated and became the ten lost tribes.

Judah (South)

When the Jewish people dispersed from the northern kingdom of Israel, the Assyrians wanted to take over the southern kingdom, but this was not to be easy. They also had competition from the Babylonians which today would be Iraq.

By 132 CE, which was 132 years after Jesus's birth, the Jewish people in Judah revolted against the Roman Emperor Hadrian. He had rebuilt Jerusalem as a Roman City called Aelia Capitolina and sold most of the people into slavery, and then renamed the country that was then called Syria or was part of Syria, belonging to the Assyrians, Palestina. Hadrian had a different way of dealing with the population. He gathered soldiers and civilians from all over the Empire though most of them were from one area and swamped Judea with these new immigrants. He kept the name of the province as Judea and the name of the city remained Jerusalem by the people, but he aimed to de-Judaize the country. Only the new immigrants were allowed to hold government offices or any power and both Hebrew and Aramaic languages were discouraged. Strangely, the immigrants were immersed in the Jewish culture, though their native language was replaced by Romance with a Hebrew/Aramaic accent. This Italian became the language spoken by the majority of the population.

In the late 7th century, which would be about 1,400 years ago, the Islamic Empire came out of Arabia and took over the Middle East. Finally, as with the Jewish Empire after Solomon, the Islamic broke up into rival Caliphates. Then Judea declared its independence and the 3rd Jewish Commonwealth began.

By the 11th century the Crusaders came to liberate the Holy land from the Infidels. Judea, with its military helped by refugees from the falling Khazaria (Jewish people), could not offset the attack as Jerusalem was invaded by them.

During the 16th century the Judeans finally kicked out the Crusader forces to start the 4th Jewish Commonwealth. The Ottomans conquered the Middle East and much of the Balkans. At this time Judah sided with Lebanon. This lasted until 1922 which the 5th Commonwealth began.

Judea and Samaria have become what is now called "The West Bank", but had originally been an integral part of the Jewish land. It fell into the hands of Jordan, and when Jordan attacked along with all the other Arab neighbors, Israel won and regained the area of Judea and Samaria, or West Bank. Now it is to become a new state for the "Palestinians" as soon as they recognize Israel and its right to exist which so far, they refuse to do.

The religious Jews do not want to give up the West Bank. It is an important part of the history of the Jewish people. While Israel is being pressured to give up what it was originally promised, both by G-d and then again by England, the religious Jews have been encouraged to settle in the West Bank as it was part of Israel. Now, like Gaza, many may have to move out of the area. Politicians have forgotten how difficult it is to move once people become attached to the land and improve it. They have been treated like chess players on a board, and they are rebelling at this gambit.

Perhaps they won't have to move as it seems that the prevailing government of the future Palestine state is now imprisoned by Israel for not stopping the attack of Kassam rockets from Gaza. The factions refuse to stop their attacks, making them unlikely neighbors now.
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