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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Impressionable Incantations

In deserts, caves, tents, honed structures and modern buildings over 3300 years the same cantillations have been used to express the words of Torah - the book of Jewish ritual and law. Many distinguish the 79,847 words or 304,805 letters of Torah, but four rarely used, unique tunes (tropes) characterize stand out words and phrases. Why these?


Two cantillations known as Yerach ben yomo and Karne Parah appear once each in the entire Torah and once each in the Book of Esther, which was written 1000 years later. Yerach ben Yomo in Numbers 35:5 on the letter “peh” of the word word Alpayim (אלפים, two-thousand) is followed by an equally exclusive Karne Parah on the letter “mem” of the word B'amah (באמה, cubit) in the first of four occurrences of this phrase in the verse.


In the Torah’s weekly reading for Masei (Numbers 35:5) these cantillations are made in the verse that instructs how much land must be set aside for the Levites who were not recipients of tribal land, but were gifted residential land near the temple. The Torah instructs Israel to measure off two thousand cubits outside the town to the east, south, west and north side, with the town in the center:- This will be the Levite’s grazing land. The unique use here may emphasize and remind the nation of the essential nature of this righteous practise at least to the Levites who originated the tunes.


Yerach ben yomo means ‘day old moon’ (think about shape) it looks like a cow’s yoke:

פַּ֪ (peh)

Karnei Parah means ‘cow’s horns’ (think about shape) and looks like the eyes:

(mem) מָּ֟

The chapter in which these verses appear also covers; the 42 journey’s of Israel on their exile from Egypt to Israel; their momentary disobediences and the character of their resulting long term enemies; the land boundaries of Israel; details of leadership and tribal inheritance; the land to be set aside for Levite priests; the requirement of witnesses for murder; the cities of refuge for the protection of accidental homicides and; the recognition of women's rights of inheritance.


In the Book of Esther 7:9 Yerach ben Yomo followed by Karne Parah simply reads, “Behold the gallows made by Haman for Mordecai, who spoke well for the king, were standing in Haman’s house, fifty cubits high!” And the king said, “Hang him (Haman) on it!” Here perhaps the trope highlights that its not over till its over, or the threat can disguise the opportunity or what goes around, comes around.


Unlike the containment to one verse above, the Shalshelet appears four times in four different verses in 4 chapters of Torah, it means chain (continuity) and looks like the spring:
שֶׁ֓
In Genesis 19:16, on the word "VaYitmah'maH" (and he lingered), when Lot was lingering in Sodom as it was marked for destruction, to show Lot's uncertainty. In Genesis 24:12, on the word "VaYomar" (and he said), when Abraham's servant Eliezer was trying to find a woman (other than his own daughter) to marry Abraham's son Isaac. It indicates the hesitation of the servant to pass over his daughter. In Genesis 39:8, on the word "VaY'maen" (and he refused), during Joseph's attempted seduction by Potiphar's wife, to indicate Joseph's struggle against temptation. In Leviticus 8:23, the Shalshelet is used on the word (VaYishlach (and he slaughtered)  when Moses was slaughtering an animal in preparation for the anointment of his brother and nephews as priests, a position he coveted for himself.


Each incident above reflects a moment of self-struggle and each verb is preceded by  “and” as if to say without it the outcomes would have been different. Each highlights a  victory over temptation that would otherwise have surely changed the course of Israel’s dynasty.


Our final tune of note is the Mercha kefula meaning double comma, which appears five times.


Genesis 27:25 - and he brought (ל֦וֹ) to him wine and he drank, when Jacob deceived his father and obtained blessings he traded from his older brother. Exodus 5:15 - why (תַעֲשֶׂ֦ה) do (you) do with your servants this way, when the Israelites complained to Pharaoh who was inflicting them with hard labor. Leviticus 10:1 - strange fire they had (לֹ֦א) not been commanded to bring, when Nadav and brother Avihu elatedly brought offerings in their stupor. Numbers 14:3 - were it not (ט֦וֹב) better for us to return to Egypt, when early in their exile, the spies returned and made a discouraging report about the challenges ahead causing Israel to stay in exile. Numbers 32:42 - and called (לָ֦ה) to it Nobah after his own name, when the tribe of Menashe settled the land on the opposite side of the Jordan River.
Perhaps the acts of deception, punishment, transgression, regression and secession expressed using the Mercha kefula instruct future generations about redemption.


In summary, heralding priestly rights, resisting temptation and the tribulations that slow  redemption are emphasized week after week, year after year in the reading of Torah to Jewish communities the world over. For one reason or another these tunes survived thousands of years to emphasize these words, sentences and verses.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Can bleeding heart Jewish liberals be cured?

Was Jesus a bleeding heart Liberal?
I recently read “Out of the Cave”, a philosophical inquiry into the Dead Sea Scrolls research. It is an example of the extreme ignorance, perhaps antisemitic bias against the Jewish record and the desire by many to ignore the evidence of Jewish significance in Israel as far back as 2600 years ago. 

The late Edna Ullmann-Margalit exposed these biases, which occurred over more than 50 years of academic research into the discoveries at Qumran. Her honest rendition of events also exposed her own biases against her Jewish heritage as influenced by the international consensus that quickly formed to shape what many hoped would be a momentous event for Christianity.


After the discovery of the magnificently preserved collection of scrolls, the predominantly Christian academic fraternity, permitted by the Jordanians quickly characterized the texts and people of Qumran an Essene sect. They did this to support their religious conviction that among other elements celibacy, practiced by the Essenes was a precursor the missing link between Judaism and Christianity. It was only after 1967 when Israel reclaimed its 1948 land west of the Jordan River, that qualified Jewish academics began to obtain access to the records and inject their cultural knowledge to restore sanity to the research.


It turns out, Jewish academics familiar with issues of halacha (Jewish religious law) were able to decipher much more than Christian academics ignorant and blind to the ways of righteous, orthodox, Torah observant communities. They described a priestly scribal community at the Qumran site, people engaged in extensive holy writings. A people who immersed in Mikvah (Jewish ritual bath) each day, especially those involved in writing God’s holy names, a practice that continues among Jewish scribes to this day.


Clearly this community isolated itself from the ravages of Roman influence on the Jerusalem Temple community of Levite priests to the West. Some of the specific rules governing this scribal community also describe the minute details that motivated their departure from other righteous communities in Jerusalem. Greek then Roman insurgence into the region pressurized Jewish life to such a degree that communities with foresight began to question their own devotions, often highlighting differences between the failing branches of Jewish practices and those that would ultimately survive.  


Edna admits to be a proponent of the Essene theory, but as she progresses Out of the Cave, seemingly she recognizes the importance of interpretations by halachic authorities and knowledgeable academics of Jewish life. However she finds their technically proficient interpretations “decidedly unromantic” and hints that the more exciting Essene theory be momentarily permitted to irrationally define her brilliant academic credential. Perhaps this was too much to ask, because deep ignorance of her own culture shattered her academically compromised view, still she refused to submit to its superior logic.  

I once wrote of Winston Churchill's statements on the extreme anti-Israel/Jewish bias that caused him to pass comment. Winston Churchill said "God deals with the nations as they deal with the Jews. Of every fifty officers who come back from the Middle East only one speaks favorably of the Jews. That merely convinces me that I am right." Edna’s remarkable honesty is evidence, a wonderful insight to Jewish people who have drifted far from their cultural practices to a place where in the vacuum, emptiness and self loathing is the expected deeply psychological response. People who have been torn from their indigenous root and modern societies that recognize them and who pay tribute are testament to the long journey home for the Jewish people.

Reconciling the torrential ordeals of their past makes it difficult for many Jews, but with the passage of time they will all fill the void by bleeding their hearts toward the warm, secure comfort offered by indigenous Jewish custom and culture. Jewish healing has well and truly begun and Israel's unique inner source is being restored to shed light on an increasingly desperate world!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Jews - Crawling Out of the Cave!

I recently read “Out of the Cave”, a philosophical inquiry into the Dead Sea Scrolls research. It highlights the extreme ignorance, perhaps anti-semitic bias against the Jewish record and the desire by many to dismiss significant Jewish evidence in Israel as far back as 2600 years ago. 

The late Professor Edna Ullmann-Margalit exposed these biases which occurred over more than 50 years of academic research into the phenomenal discoveries at Qumran. Her honest rendition of events also exposed her own biases against her Jewish heritage as influenced by the international consensus that quickly formed to shape what many hoped would be a momentous event for Christianity.


After the discovery of the magnificently preserved collection of scrolls, the predominantly Christian academic fraternity, permitted by the Jordanians quickly characterized the texts and people of Qumran an Essene sect. They did this to support their religious conviction that among other elements celibacy, practiced by the Essene's was a precursor, the missing link between Judaism and Christianity. It was only after 1967 when Israel reclaimed its 1948 land west of the Jordan River, that qualified Jewish academics began to obtain access to the records and inject their cultural knowledge to restore sanity to the research.


It turns out, Jewish academics familiar with issues of halacha (Jewish religious law) were able to decipher much more than Christian academics ignorant and blind to the ways of righteous, orthodox, Torah observant communities. They described a priestly scribal community at the Qumran site, people engaged in extensive holy writings. A people who immersed in Mikvah (Jewish ritual bath) each day, especially those involved in writing God’s holy names, a practice that continues among Jewish scribes to this day.


Clearly this community isolated itself from the ravages of Roman influence on the Jerusalem Temple community of Levite priests to the West. Some of the specific rules governing this scribal community also describe the minute details that motivated their departure from other righteous communities in Jerusalem. Greek then Roman insurgence into the region pressurized Jewish life to such a degree that communities with foresight began to question their own devotions, often highlighting differences between the failing branches of Jewish practices and those that would ultimately survive.  


Edna admits to be a proponent of the Essene theory, but as she progresses Out of the Cave, seemingly she recognizes the importance of interpretations by halachic authorities and knowledgeable academics of Jewish life. However she finds their technically proficient interpretations “decidedly unromantic” and hints that the more exciting Essene theory be momentarily permitted to irrationally define her brilliant academic credential. Perhaps this is too much to ask, because deep ignorance of her own culture shattered her academically compromised view, still she refused to submit to its superior logic.  

I once wrote of Winston Churchill's statements on the extreme anti-Israel/Jewish bias that caused him to pass comment. Winston Churchill said "God deals with the nations as they deal with the Jews. Of every fifty officers who come back from the Middle East only one speaks favorably of the Jews. That merely convinces me that I am right." Edna’s remarkable honesty is evidence, a wonderful insight to Jewish people who have drifted far from their cultural practices to a place where in the vacuum, emptiness and self loathing is the expected deeply psychological response. People who have been torn from their indigenous root and modern societies that recognize them and who pay tribute are testament to the long journey home for the Jewish people.

Reconciling the torrential ordeals of their past makes it difficult for many Jews, but with the passage of time they will all fill the void with the warm, secure comfort offered by indigenous Jewish custom and culture. Jewish healing has well and truly begun and Israel's unique inner source is being restored to shed light on an increasingly desperate world!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Cyrus, Darius, Xerxes, Mordechai, Binyamin

Modern propaganda can distort historical retrospect. To unravel the mystery one must be sensitive to actors and cultures that influenced people of an ancient time. One such example is the great Xerxes, a Persian King of mythical proportion about whom modern movie going audiences are unlikely to ever restore a real sense. Historical documents, archaeology, anthropology and punctuated moments during his rule are the only tools we have to reconstruct his story. One such source is the Jewish perspective, you see, Xerxes is the Greek name of the well known King Ahasuerus of Susa (Shushan), from the story of Purim.


Shushan housed the palace of Xerxes, an ancient Persian city, close to the the border of modern Iran and Iraq. It was here, some 70 years prior that the Jewish nation had been exiled by the Babylonians shortly before the Babylonians, in Shushan were defeated by Persian King Cyrus The Great.



It was the confidence, displayed by Jewish leaders, in their prophecy that predicted the Jewish exile would be limited to 70 years that bewildered Persian officers and kings. Was the prediction arrogant enough for Jews to dominate the will of the Persian King? As the time approached and the intellectual challenge to Xerxes grew more intense, he strengthened his hand, subjecting the Jews to a battle of wits. He hosted an elaborate feast that lasted 6 months and subjected the pious Jewish community to foods, luxuries and practices they were not accustomed. During the feasts his sorcerers served from the vessels that had been captured and only ever previously used in the temple in Jerusalem.


Rapid assimilation became Xerxes objective. Ultimately, when that did not appear to shake the confidence of the Jewish nation, he empowered his officers who would ensure the Jewish genocide. His leading bureaucrat, known through the Jewish story as Haman is considered to be of the Amalekite bloodline that also became Hitler’s Germany, primed and ready for the final genocide. Haman negotiated with Xerxes and paid to obtain the coveted post and access to the impending Jewish spoils.


Unbeknown to Xerxes, one of his recently isolated harem girls, one whom he is said to have favored, became his Queens’ envy. In a moment of jealousy the Queen challenged Xerxes. He banished her and began a courtship with Hadassah the hidden harem girl who was a relative, some say wife of her Jewish nobleman, uncle Mordechai of the Benjamin tribe. As the seventy year prophecy drew closer and conditions for the Jews became intolerable, Mordechai incensed Haman, by refusing to bow. This became the catalyst that drew the events of the Purim story to a head.


In the miraculous series of events that followed, Hester, which means hidden (Esther) influenced Xerxes to see futility in Haman's plot and the insult to her and her people who had fasted and prayed for three days prior to her approach. Xerxes and his successor integrated the Jews into Persian society, they became loyal servants of the King, they were permitted to return to Jerusalem and rebuild. Although the prophecy of return from exile had in fact come true, the significant majority of exiled Jews never returned. Life in Persia had become comfortable, Xerxes had cleverly integrated them into his society, the Jews would empower his dynasty for many generations into the future.


The small number of returnees to Jerusalem under Nehemiah and Ezra, the head of the Great Assembly eventually restored the destroyed temple and rekindled the age old practices of the Jewish people. Jewish influence was then centered in Jerusalem and Persia. For the millions of Jews entrapped in their Persian exile who did not return, modern day Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey, Russia and Ukraine became places of their later journeys.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to speak to Congress on 13 Adar, the day Jews remember the Fast of Esther is reminiscent of Mordechai’s incite, but when the annihilation of your nation is threatened by Iran, the very nation over which Xerxes ruled one must surely stand firm!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Jewish Ancestral Path

If archaeology revealed the ancestral, holy origin of Jerusalem and the Jewish people would we follow it? 

It's difficult to imagine how an ancient city developed into a modern metropolis especially when archaeological records are confounded by population settlements spanning many cultures over more than 4000 years. However, Jerusalem has an almost perfect record, the origin of which remained untouched and was only recently discovered. From the site of its origin, the city obtained its holy reputation, on the mountain known as Mount Moriah, but one major event in the life of King David left its mark on our modern retrospective.


I watched a video on the Hamas strategy to attack Israel using tunnels built and destroyed during the recent Operation Protective Edge in Gaza. It was not the preemptive intelligence of the Israeli Army or the conviction of politicians that exposed the high-level threat, it was the seemingly unrelated brutal murder of three young Israeli Yeshiva students that instantly unified the nation and transferred their nationwide authority to their defense force who ultimately finished the job. A similar transference took place for King David at a crucial moment in Jewish history.


The City of David, the original Ancient City of Jerusalem exists outside of the walls people know as the Old City of Jerusalem. The walls of this higher elevation Old City, built 500 years ago, during the Ottoman period purposely cut off the Ancient City, disposing it, relegating its lower elevation, to the garbage dump that The City of David  became. In the following image, the Old City walls enclose today’s Temple Mount, Jewish, Armenian, Christian and Muslim quarters.


Click to enlarge
~North⇓


Discovering traces of the first people that lived in the area required a combination of archaeological science, anthropology, cultural narratives and tradition. Each piece had to objectively fit in order that a theory spanning close to 5000 years of occupation could prevail. Remarkably the intact archaeology and narrative of Biblical forefathers seemed to weave into the perfect tale. Its a story of sporadic dwelling, holy attraction, ancestral honor punctuated by invasion, reclamation, growth, unrest, conquest, defeat, occupation, exile and return.  However, without understanding the nationally inspired authority to act, we can’t contextualize the archaeological "bread crumbs".


This historical rewrite dates Jerusalem’s origin to the Early Bronze Age dwelling discovered behind the bedrock of the cliff face of the Upper (High) Ridge, above the Upper Gihon Pool and Spring. The cave dwelling contains 3-4, hollowed stone sleepers and internal family seating around a fire pit. The approximate location can be seen in the brown circle on the green boundary around the City of David in the (above) aerial image of Jerusalem. The simple dwelling, natural pool and worship on the upper ridge (facing East) preceded the later development of the more structured constructions represented in the image below.


Gihon Ridge - before city walls (time of Jacob)
~North ⇗


The preceding archaeology supports the Biblical narrative of Melchizedek, the Righteous King, High Priest of Salem, said to be Noah’s son Shem. Toward the end of his life he was visited by younger relative Abram, who he blessed. Then, in the immediate years after Abraham bound and offered his son Issac as a sacrifice to God at Mount Moriah it became Isaac's home. Remarkably, there exists a most intriguing artifact located on the perfectly preserved Upper Ridge. The monument or matzevah on the bedrock of one of four chambers, I argue was erected by Isaac's son Jacob when he accepted his new name Israel and began developing Beit El (House of God) to fulfill his covenant made at that spot. According to many well known Jewish sources this matzevah was erected on Mount Moriah by Jacob and marks the place of the famous Jacob’s ladder dream. The same sources suggest it was located adjacent to the altar on which father Isaac was offered. According to Jewish Law the altar on which Isaac was bound is the site of Israel’s Temple altar.


Jebusite City - without Palace or Temple (time of Joshua)
~North⇗

After Jacob left Mount Moriah, him and his descendant nation Israel were exiled to Egypt, Jacob never returned. Some 200 years later, his descendant Joshua returned to find the Gihon Spring, Upper Ridge, Pool and new city occupied and protected by buildings and high walls.


Jewish sources tell of the pact Abraham and Isaac entered with the Father or Nation King (Avimelech) not to dispel his peacekeeping descendants from their ancestral land. Despite attempts to do so by Joshua and the tribes of Israel, until the time of King David some 400 year later, Israel was unable to conquer the city from the Jebusite/Emorite descendants of Melchizedek's brother Ham, progenitor of Avimelech.


Archaeological remnants of the walls of the Jebusite City demonstrate they were later reinforced at the time of King David after he and his men were able to penetrate the underwater channel of the Gihon Spring, enter the city, occupy it and live together with Avimelechs’ remaining peacekeeping relatives including their King. From this city - Jerusalem, his ancestral inheritance, King David progressively obtained control, extending the city and building his palace as a symbol of the nations center, but national authority was not easily forthcoming. Toward the end of his life it was a nationwide pandemonium that inspired the essential, momentary transfer of authority. In the time between disaster and resolution, the King identified the site, built an altar at the top of Mount Moriah and designated it the location of the nations future Temple, which his son Solomon would build.


King Solomon's City - with Temple (time of Solomon)
~North⇗

King Solomon followed his father’s extensive plan, extending the city walls north to the top of Mount Moriah where the First Temple was constructed and where the second Temple ultimately followed. The national unity engineered by King David did not last long, immediately following the reign of Solomon, his son Rehoboam was denounced by challenger Jeroboam and the nation, once again divided. In part Jeroboam founded his national support in pluralistic idolatry. Since then, some 2900 years ago, despite many royal attempts the tribes of Israel have never been reunited.


Jacob left this site of his ancestors for Egypt and never returned. Joshua was unable to conquer it, King David declared the pact of his ancestors void, invaded and recovered Jerusalem city from occupiers. It's entirely possible they may have already buried the high ridge of the Gihon during the construction of their walls and citadel. Eli Shukron the lead archaeologist on the Gihon dig revealed that all four chambers of the Upper Ridge including the matzevah had been preserved in softly packed loose earth between two walls. The dirt contained small artifacts dated back to King Hezekiah. Perhaps Hezekiah had revealed it during his major excavation of the tunnel system that carried water from the Gihon Spring into the city's Shiloah Pool at the base of the Kidron Valley.

Inevitably we must answer the question of the Upper Ridge. Whether King David knew of its existence and purposely obfuscated it, declaring the site on the top of the mountain the altar of the temple, is irrelevant. If Jewish law prescribes the site of Isaac’s offering the only place for the Temple’s altar then we must ask - is the Upper Ridge at the Gihon that place and will we return to the forgotten cornerstone of our Jewish ancestral heritage?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Jerusalem's Mysterious Temple Location?

In 1964 King Hussein denied a permit for the Ras Al-Amoud mosque construction because it was on Jewish cemetery land in Jordan. At the end of the Six Day War in 1967, General Moshe Dayan, head of the Israel Defense Force formally approved the construction of the Mosque amid the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives. You can see it circled (with a blue dome) on the right of the image below including in the inset.


Click to Enlarge North,Temple Mount. East, Mount of Olives, West, City of David
The Mosque is built on the apex of the Mount of Olives, marking the point at which the Western face of the mountain turns toward its significant Southern face. Most of the graves on the Mount are less than 400 years old, but its the location of older graves, the original graves, that begins to tell a very interesting story. In fact the apex faces toward the City of David, not The Temple Mount and the oldest graves are built below the neighborhood of Silwan on the slopes facing the ridges above the City's Gihon Spring.

Although the First and Second Temples were built in the area contained by the Temple Mount, before the First Temple the city graves were not oriented in that direction. Instead, on the other side of the Kidron Valley, opposite the City's Gihon Spring graves appear to acknowledge its' holiness by their orientation toward it. Over thousands of years, as grave sites were carved in the bedrock of the opposite slope hugging the Kidron Valley, construction of new graves eventually crept north toward the available, upper sections of the Mount of Olives.

On the high ridge above the Gihon Spring (see double circle, left in above image) one of the most remarkable discoveries has been made. In context, features in the immediate vicinity include the Gihon Pool, which contained water used for ritual immersion and sacrificial purpose, the stepped structures from the pool to the high ridge, the fortress that once protected the water and the cave dwellings that housed the privileged few before a walled city ever existed. On the high ridge are four rooms carved out of bedrock, I have written extensively on these rooms in the past. However, on a recent trip I learned that a containing wall had been removed during the archaeological excavation to provide access. Further that the earth between the walls was soft land fill, as opposed to pottery and rough stones in dirt, common to the fill discovered on the other part of the slopes.

Click to enlarge -High Ridge of the Gihon Spring, rooms carved in bedrock. Two walls containing soft land fill

According to most opinions, the containing walls were built by King Hezekiah when constructing the tunnels that carried water from the Gihon Spring deeper into the City, exclusively to fill the Pool of Siloam. Why did this area merit such careful treatment 2750 years ago? Treatment that ensured its most fragile artifact, the stone monument or matzevah remained erect and intact, when almost nothing else in the City did.

In a short thesis I wrote about the Origin of Jerusalem I maintain the original stepped structures around the Gihon Pool were not designed to protect water as is the common view, but to elevate the sanctity of the holy place at the High Ridge of the Gihon Spring. If indeed the High Ridge is a remnant of the earliest holy site in Jerusalem and the monument turns out, as I believe, to be the one erected by Jacob, then according to Jewish sources and Jewish law, it will also be the location of the holy altar of the Jerusalem's Third Temple.

They say if it walks, quacks and looks like a duck, its a duck! Its not surprising the discovery of loose objects of idolatry in the immediate vicinity were also discovered, but that does not simply render this a Canaanite site. It seems throughout history idolatry was Israel's constant nemesis, its time to look at this holy site and see it for what it is.
  

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Generation 5800

Israel's history suggests a key to peace is a swift end to its aberrant two-state solution and the adoption of the suitable alternative. In proposing such I do not suggest one can trace a biblical lineage to non-Jewish occupiers living between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea, rather a behavioral linkage to the present sorry state of Israel’s Jewish sovereignty.


Abraham’s monotheism unified his mission spiritually and practically. On arrival in the parched land God promised him and his descendants, he could clearly see there was work to do and when he encountered Noah’s son Shem or Melchizedek, he revived knowledge of his cultural descendant's.  But, he did not stay in the land, he traveled further south to Egypt where he negotiated Shem’s territorial rights with Shem’s brother, Egypt’s first pharaoh Khem/Cham or Ham. Hagar, Cham’s daughter was provided to Abraham as pharaoh’s collateral an acknowledgment of Shem’s plea. On Abraham’s return to his promised land, he struck a treaty with Cham’s descendant Avi Melech - The Father King. The two-state deal precluded Abraham banishing Avi Melech’s living relatives from Azah (Gaza), Hevron (in the West Bank) and Salem (Jerusalem).


After Isaac was born to Abraham and Sarah, Sarah’s patience with Hagar, pharaoh’s collateral came to an abrupt end, she kicked her and son Ishmael (to Abraham) out of her camp. While Abraham was prepared to negotiate, a political and diplomatic treaty using the land God promised, Sarah was not, she had no intention of complicating Isaac's right of inheritance any further than Abraham had already done. After Sarah passed away (aged 127) during the moments Abraham offered his son as a sacrifice (Akeidat Yitzchak - the binding of Isaac) at Mount Moriah, he traveled back to Hevron  where he negotiated to buy the plot at Machpela where she was buried. Then Abraham turned his attention to marrying Isaac, making sure his future wife came from the lineage of Sarah’s family. Isaac married Rebecca who filled the tent of her mother in law while he played double down diplomacy, politically extending his fathers two-state covenant of peace to Avi Melech's future descendants.


Rebecca bore son’s Jacob and Esau and struggled hard to maintain and establish Sarah’s progeny. Jacob returned from the land of Sarah’s family, where he married his wives and established his family and fortune. They arrived in Shechem (Nablus), then first traveled back to Mount Moriah. At the site of Akeidat Yitzchak he began to execute a previous covenant he made at the same site. Before he left the Promised Land he promised -"The stone which I have set as a covenant will be the House of God." While attempting to build the House of God,  Rebecca passed away, Jacob abruptly left the site to bury his mother in Hevron, she was 127 years old. Tragically, on the way his first love, wife, Rachel passed away during the birth of their 13th child Benjamin. Years later the family were exiled to Egypt.


Because of Abraham and Isaac's aberrant two-state covenants on the land, Jacob's promise and covenant is yet to be fulfilled. Two previous House of God attempts to build and maintain temples at Temple Mount, the worlds most contested real-estate failed. Finally we live in the generations that are capable of realizing Jacob's dream, however Jewish self inflicted struggle over Sarah’s sovereign view must be rectified. Although Abraham merited a child only because he compassionately prayed that Avi Melech have a child, Jews must not fall victim to the heady Utopian passions of Abraham and Isaac. Instead they must follow the doggedly, determined, materialistic visions of Sarah and Rebecca. If Abraham had simply stayed in the land, things would have been different!


The Hebrew year 5800 is 25 years ahead, this is the right time to realize Jacob's vision. I hold a view that the worlds most hotly contested real-estate may yet hold some surprises, that the first two temples were built in the wrong places, higher up the mountain, but the right place is on its neck. However, the focus for now is Sarah’s sovereign view, whether Jews sell out or stick to her program depends on their constant mindfulness. Jerusalem 5800 proposes and demands It become a World City, one that has been planned during the past four years by more than 40 consultants. Its more than 400 pages are built on the foundation of the Israeli and City government and the bureaucracy’s existing plans.


In the lead up to Israel's next election, the 5800 plan will inspire serious questions about a divided or united Jerusalem by which politicians will be blessed or plagued. But, building the city is part plan that cannot happen until the mental adjustment over Jewish sovereignty is made. Ask yourself whether you are ready to uphold mother Sarahs’ sovereign view and what is the modern context? A modern Jewish nation cannot condone a land that divides people and denies them reasonable representation, but two-states is still being used to divert Jews and those persuaded by aberrant covenants. Meanwhile poverty in Jerusalem is running at 37% while benefactors feed social injustices for the benefit of their brand insurgency. Economic prosperity is Israel’s most advanced anti-terror weapon, but unskilled labor supply remains low and must be accelerated. To rebuild we must be serious about the financial sustainability that ancient Jewish culture provides to industries like tourism.
Democracy is no friend of Jewish sovereignty especially if Israel extends citizenship to all non-Jews living West of the Jordan River. Therefore, it must ensure its Jewish sovereign future ultimately modifying its government structure before it provides all people resident alien status, a path to citizenship and the vote. The 70 elders that once represented the Jewish community prevailed over a hierarchy of community captains of 1000’s, 100’s, 50’s and 10’s. Israel’s national government still incorporates some equivalence to this framework found in the in elected City Rabbi’s that obtain their status through community synagogues and Mayors of cities nationwide. I believe this framework can eventually be elevated by a national referendum to establish a bicameral parliamentary equivalent, Israel’s future senate. At such time in the future a senate of elected Rabbi’s can represent Israel’s community interest by approving the law’s of the country. Once authoritative, they can also obtain the mantle to modify and converge Talmudic law to develop it consistently with Israel’s state law so that only one body of law eventually governs all citizens of the nation.


As the world around Israel implodes Jews must remain focused on Sarah’s vision, she had it right, only one owner, one land.  Through her, Rebecca and Jacob’s wives Leah and Rachel, Israel's Jews remain grounded to achieve their collective destiny. Each must find a way to participate, get involved, sharpen and strengthen their views for the home stretch. One way to do that is to sign up at Jerusalem5800 on Facebook or the web.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Context Spanning Time and Place!

Burial_of_Sarah.png
Woodcut by Gustave Doré depicting
the burial of 
Sarah in the cave
The Bible spans 2500 years, but the first two of its fifty three sections quickly advance through 2000 of those years. A preamble to the story of Israel’s indigenous development, the transition is punctuated by two events that rarely caught the eye of commentators past and which unequivocally identifies Israel with its singular most important place. In contrast to place, back then the perception of time was very different than it is today. No one would have planned anything to the precision of a minute or hour, perhaps a day at best, but place or location was fixed and often associated with deeply spiritual events and meaning.

The Quran leads Muslims to believe an ambiguous contradiction to the much earlier Bible, that Abraham’s son Ishmael (by Hagar) was offered as his child sacrifice. However, the Bible makes it clear, Isaac was bound at the altar and the commentators back it up with ample grammatical, mystical and literary proofs. One such commentary tells that during the sacrificial event known as “Akeidat (the binding of) Yitzchak’ (Isaac), Isaac’s mother Sarah, who was in Kiryat Arba (Hebron) at the time, passed away from the ethereal shock of that moment. Elated Abraham returned home from the site of the binding at Mount Moriah only to buy the cave of Machpelah and bury his wife.

Isaac remained in the vicinity of Mount Moriah and was later betrothed to Rebecca who may have been three when Sarah passed. She eventually gave birth to twins Jacob and Esau who grew up mired in their bitter sibling rivalry. Rebecca is said to have perfectly resembled their grandmother Sarah. Like his father who married into the extended maternal family, Jacob was sent away to be betrothed. On his outward journey, at the site of Isaac’s binding on Mount Moriah Jacob dreamed of a stairway bridging earth to heaven. There he set a monument and made a covenant to return and build a house of God, provided he was blessed to return. Twenty years later, a successful Jacob returned together with his wives Leah, Rachel, their 12 children and significant entourage.

Jacob's Stairway leads to Jacob's Monument (matzevah)
Sarah passing aged 127, during her son's binding at Mount Moriah is not immediately apparent as providential. But, Rebecca passing, during Jacobs return, at the consecration of his new name ‘Israel’ and House of God (BeitEl) construction at the very same Mount Moriah site, invokes an undeniable providential parallel. Some 124 years separated these matriarchal death and burial events at Machpelah; Rebecca would have been 127 years old. These event couples seemed to transcend physical time, yet they established and permanently connected the Mount Moriah site of Akeidat Yitzchak and Jacob’s Beit El (House of God) with Abraham’s Machpelah. These events evoked a physical point known in Jewish liturgy as Tzion, the physical place God’s presence manifests in the world.

On Jacob’s way to Machpelah to bury his mother, the portal to the next world demanded Rachel's soul. While giving birth to Benjamin, Jacob’s 13th child she passed away before arriving at Machpelah. Rachel was buried between Mount Moriah (Jerusalem) and Hebron, outside Bethlehem along the straight line route of Jacob’s journey. On that route, it is said Rachel reminds the Jewish people her tears are the reason they merit the rebuilding of the Jerusalem’s third and final temple, at that very same place on Mount Moriah.

The ignorant are dumbfounded by the intricate logic of the Torah’s grammatical foundation; the chronology, letters, words and phrases that make up Israel’s Bible, instead they berate Israel’s indigenous record. Some honor its chronological construct, cunningly fitting their views to interpretations’ strictly codified rules. Still, some exploited the rules of time and place to further their self-serving ideals and successfully diverted the nations thinking. With the discovery of new archaeological evidence, history is being clarified and references to Salem, Luz, Beit El, Sukkot, Mount Moriah, City of David and Jerusalem become one and the same by time, place and spiritual context.

Finally we are being confronted by the stunning prospect that Jacob’s Beit El (House of God) is presently being excavated at the City of David. Through this lens we are, once again able to grapple our perceptions and misconceptions of Torah’s truth.