February 12, 2007

An encyclopedia vs. the Bible

This post is a response to someone who holds that the proof which he concludes that the Palestinian Arabs have had their land stolen by Israel, can be found in a map in an encyclopedia under "Palestine".

Well, sir, evidently there is confusion and lack of knowledge of the Jewish biblical and modern historical connections to Palestine.

I have a book called the Bible. There are no pictures in it at all, but it is a book about people, places and things, much like your encyclopedia. In the Bible, Gaza is a named region and it's size, shape, region and identifying markers are precisely mentioned and illustrated. In reality, Gaza is but another area of Jewish land that has been stolen from Jews by Arab Muslims.

Historically speaking, I hope your unnamed encyclopedia mentions that during the 3rd century BC, Gaza and Akko were the leading centers of trade and industry. Both cities had numerous Jewish residents, including some very wealthy and influential families. There were Jewish communities in Gaza during the Hasmonean period (166-63 BC). During ancient times, in the taking of tithes, the Gaza area was included in this Jewish religious obligation. Tithing is observed to this day in Jewish settlements located in the Gaza Strip as it was deemed part of ancient Israel. During the 4th century AD, Emperor Constantine attempted to build a church in Gaza but the Jewish population located there was opposed to this. At that time, Gaza was the principal port for trade and commerce for the Jewish population of the Holy Land. A very ancient synagogue was excavated there some time ago.

It is also helpful to note that Mohammed was born circa 570 AD in Mecca. Islam was not invented until several thousand years after the Bible was written. Mohammed died June 8, 632 in Medina. There is no historical connection between Islam and Jerusalem.

During the 7th century AD, when the Arabs spread northward, they encountered the first focus of resistance in the city of Gaza, then occupied by a strong Byzantine garrison under the command of the provincial governor, Sergius. At that time Gaza embraced a substantial Jewish settlement, in fact the most important community in Judea. Jews seem to have fought alongside the Byzantines in the ensuing battle, which ended in Sergius' defeat. Also during this period, "According to the famous grammarian, Jonah ibn Janah, Gaza, too, lost its status as the foremost community in Judea, but it remained a center of learning and well-developed community life."

From 1885 to World War I Jews lived in Gaza. A renewed Jewish community existed in Gaza until the Muslim pogroms against Jews in 1929. Jews were murdered in many communities throughout Palestine, especially Jerusalem, Hebron and Safed - three Jewish holy cities.

I doubt that you would acknowledge this, but Biblically speaking, in 1. Genesis 15 is the area in which Gaza is located and which was included as part of Abraham's inheritance.

In Numbers 34:2-6, the Bible details precisely the northern, southern, eastern and western borders of ancient Israel. Readers should note that in every reference there is a body of water - the Mediterranean Sea, a lake, a river and a wadi (a dry river bed that flows only after an infrequent heavy rain). Bodies of water are permanent markers in most cases.

In Numbers 34:5 with reference to the southern border it states: From Azmon the boundary shall turn towards the Wadi of Egypt (near el-Arish) and terminate at the sea (Mediterranean). This would include the entire present-day Gaza Strip and additional land in the Sinai.

In Joshua 13:2, all the districts of the Philistines, those of the Gerurites, from the Shihon, which is close to Egypt, to the territory of Ekron in the north, are accounted. Canaanite, namely those of the five lords of the Philistines - the Gazities (Gaza), the Ashdodites (Ashdod) etc.

In Joshua 15:47, most Biblical commentators hold that the modern day Gaza Strip was within the territory allotted to the tribe of Judah. Consider in Joshua Chapter 15: This was the portion of the tribe of Judea (15:20); Ekron, with its dependencies and villages (15:45); Ekron, westward, all the towns in the vicinity and Ashdod, with their villages (15:46); Ashdod, its dependencies and its villages, Gaza, its dependencies and its villages, all the way to the Wadi of Egypt and the edge of the Mediterranean Sea (15:47).

In Judges 1:18, Israel captured Gaza and its territory, Ashkelon and its territory, and Ekron and its territory.

In Kings 5:1, Solomon's rule extended over all the kingdoms from the Euphrates to the land of the Philistines and the boundary of Egypt (Wadi of Egypt or to el-Arish).

In Ezekiel 47:19-20 - 47:19, the southern limit shall run: A line from Tamar to the waters of Meriboth-kadesh, along the Wadi (of Egypt and ) the Great Sea (Mediterranean). That is the southern limit.

The following is a list of Jewish communities in the Gaza Strip, some of which no longer exist, because they were misled by the Israeli government into believing that trading land would bring peace with arabs:

Alei Sinai, founded in 1983,
Bedolach, founded in 1986,
Bnei Atzmon (Atzmona), founded in 1979,
Dugit, founded in 1990,
Gadid, founded in 1982,
Gan-Or, founded in 1983,
Ganei Tal, founded in 1979,
Katif, founded in 1986,
Kerem Atzmona, founded in 2000,
Kfar Darom, founded in 1946,
Kfar Yam, founded in 1984,
Morag, founded in 1984,
Netzer Hazani, founded in 1977,
Netzarim, founded in 1984,
Neve Dekalim, founded in 1983,
Nisanit, founded in 1984, Peat - Sadeh, founded in 1989,
Rafiah - Yam, founded in 1986,
Shirat HaYam, founded in 2000,
Tel Katifa, founded in 1992.

I acknowledge the following sources, A Social and Religious History of the Jews, Salo Wittmayer Baron, Vol 1, page 255, (Original copyright 1937), Ibid, Vol 3, page 87, Ibid, page 102 and References to Jewish Connections to Gaza by Anthony David Marks, Israel Hasbara Committee - http://www.infoisrael.net, in compiling this article.