Beginning of Israel’s History sample essay
2006 The Lord said to Abraham, “I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:2-3). Such promise was made when Abraham had no son hence it was made in reference to the Jewish nation. Willmington (1985) summarized the early history of Israel this way:
It is generally known that the nation Israel began with the call of Abraham in Genesis 12, that Moses led its people out of Egyptian captivity, and that Joshua brought them into Canaan. After this the nation floundered under the Judges, fluorished under [the father and son kings], David and Solomon, and fragmented again under wicked King Rehoboam. It finally suffered exile at the hands of Assyria and Babylon, only to be returned and restored to the land by God during the days of Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. Israel’s Exiles.
The northern kingdom (Israel) and the southern kingdom (Judah) were exiled to Assyria in 722 B. C. and to Babylon in 587 B. C. , respectively. These exiles definitely entailed great hardships to the people who were forcibly removed from their homeland to settle in a new territory. Lamentations and weeping were not far from their midst, as the psalmist pictures weeping in Babylon, “by the rivers of Babylon, we sat down and wept […]. How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land? If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget her skill” (Psalm 137”1-4).
Going back to the question posted earlier – if Israel is indeed the chosen nation of God, how could such exiles along with the perils of insecurity and uncertainty happen to them? The answer is both political and theological as evidenced in the Biblical accounts of the exile. Politically, the exile was the result of anti-Babylonian policy adapted by the later kings of Judah. Theologically, both Israel and Judah have the tendency to forsake the Lord and adopt the customs of their heathen neighbors.
Such Assyrian and Babylonian captivities that Israel experienced were in line with the prophesy of Moses that if proven disobedient, “the Lord will scatter [Israel] among the people […],” yet, if they would turn to God, He would be merciful to restore them, “for the Lord [their] God is a compassionate God; He will not fail [them] nor destroy [them] nor forget the covenant with [their] fathers which He swore to them” (Deuteronomy 4:27-31). As fulfillment of the Lord’s promise, in 536 B. C. , Cyrus issued a decree that permitted the Babylonian exiles to “rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel” (Ezra 1:1-4).
This action of Cyrus was predicted by Isaiah about 150 years earlier, “Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, […], it is I who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My Shepherd! And He will perform all My desire. ’ And he declares of Jesuralem, ‘She will be built,’ and of the temple, ‘Your foundation will be laid” (Isaiah 44:24-48). It is noteworthy from these Biblical accounts that only the true God can predict the future with total accuracy. Moreover the decree fulfilled Jeremiah’s prophesy, “[…] ‘I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation,’ declares the Lord […]” (Jeremiah 25:12). The Medes and Persians captured Babylon in 539 B. C.
According to the NIV Compact Dictionary of the Bible (1989): The exile served to emphasize the fact that God was in no sense confined to Palestine. He providentially cared for His people in Babylon (cf. Ezekiel 11:16). The experience far away from the land, city and house where the Lord had chosen to dwell, brought to the fore the monotheism of Israel. Their suffering, coupled with face-to-face contact with the realities of false religion, purged the people once and for all of idolatrous desire. Many exiles following the decree of Cyrus remained in the Persian Empire, with the result that in due time Judaism became international in scope.
The chastening of Israel is not only evident in the Old Testament accounts. Willmington (1985) cited that, in Jesus’ time mighty Rome ruled over the Holy Land and, four decades after His ascension, […] On September 8, A. D. 70, by God’s judgment, the Jewish Temple in Israel was burned and destroyed by Titus, the Roman general. On October 6, A. D. 1973, by God’s grace, the Jewish state of Israel was saved from destruction from the Egyptians and Syrians. The following is but the briefest summary of those swift-moving, often sorrowful, and always eventful years between [A. D. 70 and A. D. 1973].
These nineteen centuries can be historically divided into ten main periods: Roman Period (A. D. 70-325); Byzantine Period (325-614); Persian Period (614-634); Arab Period (634-1072); Seljuk Period (1072-1099); Crusaders Period (1099-1291); Mameluke Period (1291-1517); Turkish (Ottoman) Period (1517-1917); British Period (1917-1948); and Independent Period (1948-present day). Israel as a Declared Nation A land, a law, a language, and a Lord was given to the nation of Israel when God chose them. But because of Israel’s disobedience to God, God allowed them to be dispersed among the nations as prophesied in Deuteronomy 28.
But what God promised in Jeremiah 31:10, “[…] He who scattered Israel will gather him and keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock”, He fulfills. After wandering and being dormant and dead for nearly nineteen long centuries, Israel was once again established as a nation in her beloved land in 1948. And at that time, with a population of only 650,000, Israel defended itself against 40 million Arabs in six Arab states that vowed to destroy them. Outnumbered 1001 to 1 in military equipment, Israel won the war, and has won two thereafter.
Some of the key paragraphs in the proclamation of Israel’s freedom read as follows: The land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and national identity was formed. Here they achieved independence and created a culture of national and universal significance. Here they wrote and gave the Bible to the world. […]
Our call goes out to the Jewish people all over the world to rally to our side in the task of immigration and development and to stand by us in the great struggle for the fulfillment of the dream of generations – the redemption of Israel (http://stateofisrael.com/declaration).
Conclusion Today, though much of the south of Israel’s land is desert, it has a fertile plain along the country’s Mediterranean coastline, which makes Israel as one of six nations that produce enough food to feed themselves and others. The Law of the Sabbath is the law of the land for everyone in Israel, though only 5% of the 6,276,883 population estimated in 2005 make-up the God-fearing Orthodox Jew. Furthermore, Hebrew is the official language, the only dead language that has ever been restored to life in the history of mankind.
With a land, a law, and a language revived after two millenia, Israel still has one problem – they still reject the Lord, the very God who has made them as His chosen nation. Perhaps, this fact points out to the primary cause of Israel’s exiles and constant struggle for peaceful coexistence with neighbors dedicated to its destruction. Therefore, the next time someone asks what makes Israel the target of various terrorist organizations, and why is it the most disputed strip of real estate on planet earth, the one who understand the nation of Israel can point the answers to both of Israel’s Biblical narratives and historical texts.
Works Cited Declaration of Israel’s Independence1948. Tel Aviv. 14 May 1948 (5th of Iyar, 5708). 11 March 2006
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