by John & Lorraine Broughton
"I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land" (Joel 3:2).
An Historical meeting occurred in October 1991. In the city of Madrid, Spain, political leaders and negotiators representing Israel and her Arab neighbors met for the purpose of discussing Peace. The meeting was historic because Israels Arab neighbors, with the exception of Egypt, have never accepted her position as a nation, and have actively tried to destroy her both militarily and economically since 1948 when she became a state.
The event was also noteworthy to Christians, because, if successful, it could be interpreted as having prophetic significance: the Middle East and the land of Israel in particular is the focal point of all that is prophesied in Johns Revelation concerning the end of this age. To clearly see and understand the signs of the end, WE MUST be aware of what is happening in Israel and the Middle East.
From the start of this so-called Peace Conference, there was not given much hope of its success by the participants from the Middle East nations. This pessimism is due primarily to the opposing views concerning the land which is called Israel by the Jewish People, and Palestine by the Arabs. The present argument as to the ownership of this patch of land, that is approximately 200 miles long and 50 miles wide has existed since the breakup of the old Ottoman Empire in 1917, and in reality even before that.
In the past few years there has been a great deal of mis-information spread throughout the United States and the rest of the world, concerning the existence of a state named Palestine, with a people known as Palestinians. The result of this pro-Arab perspective has been the gradual erosion of support for Israel in the United States in general, and even in evangelical circles, as Americans are fed a steady died of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism by left-slanted news media.
As we pursue our investigation into the history of Israel/Palestine, we will hopefully shed light again on the Israeli claim to this hot spot of the globe, while exposing the illegitimacy of the worldwide movement on behalf of the "Phantom State of Palestine."
Nearly 500 years after the flood, God called Abram to leave Haran and go "unto a land that I will show thee" (Gen. 12). In verse 7 we hear the Lord tell Abram, "unto thy seed will I give this land."
When a confederation of kings from the northeast attacked Sodom and Gomorrah and captured Lot, Abraham led the counter-attack that freed the captives and gave him room to claim land and tribute from those city-states. Abraham, however, chose only to take a tithe for the Lord and payment for his allies, returning everything else to its rightful owners. Shortly after this incident God promised Abraham that his descendants would be given this land, from the River of Egypt unto the Great River, the River Euphrates (Gen. 15:18).
After the death of his wife, Sarah, Abraham made the first "Jewish" land purchase in the area. He bought from Ephron the Hittite the cave of Machpelah, and the field which surrounded it, to provide a family burial place. The name of the area became known as Hebron which still exists today and is located in the so-called West Bank.
During his wanderings before the purchase at Hebron, Abraham spent time with a king named Abimelech, who lived in the "Land of the Philistines." The Bible lists the Philistines as descendants of Ham (Gen. 10:14) and archaeological accounts refer to them as "strangers from the sea." They lived along the Mediterranean coast on the southern edge of Canaan in the area today called the "Gaza Strip." They may well have been part of the group known by secular historians as Phoenicians, who migrated by sea from North Africa to the coasts of Israel.
Genesis 21:22-24 details a covenant between Abraham and Abimelech which establishes Abrahams ownership of the well at Beersheba. Abraham dug more than one well at Beersheba and evidently dug wells throughout the area (Gen. 26). Isaac grew wealthy as a herdsman and re-opened the many wells his father had dug, which the Philistines had filled with earth. As each well was opened, though, the Philistines would claim it as their own causing Isaac to move on. Again, Abimelech sought and received a covenant of Peace with Isaac as he had with Abraham, for he feared the God of these Patriarchs.
The Palestinians cannot actually trace any claim to land back to Philistine heritage. They got their name from this group of sea-faring Hamites 750 years later when the Roman Emperor Hadrain changed the name of Judea to Syria Palestina, designating this southern most area of the greater Syrian province by the Roman equivalent of its ancient name. The land has been known as Palestine in one form or another since that vindictive move by the Roman Emperor following the Bar Kochba Revolt of 137 AD.
Land Covenant Continued
Some claim that Ishmael was a son of Abraham and therefore the land belongs to him instead of Isaac. But God said, "My Covenant will I establish with Isaac" (Gen. 17).
Then we have the two sons of Isaac, Jacob and Esau two nations in Rebekahs womb, Edom and Israel. Esau (Edom) destroyed any claim to his birthright for a bowl of bean soup from Jacob (Israel).
Esaus selling of his birthright is of utmost importance to the Palestinian question due to the fact his descendants, the Edomites, later named Idumaeans by the Greeks, settled in the southern part of the Trans-Jordan area around Mount Seir. The fact that Esau did not settle in what was called Palestine is evident in the Bible.
As we move on in Genesis 25 we find that Jacob wrestles with God and God changes Jacobs name to Israel [meaning "A Prince with God"]. Here is the proof that Israel (Jacob) was the chosen one. How could anyone steal what was already appointed to him?
By the time the Israelites were ready to leave Egypt, the land of Canaan was almost entirely under the control of the Hittites, with the Philistines controlling the southern coast of the Mediterranean. Joshua 1:4 names the Hittites as the possessors of the land, as does secular history. Again, the Hittites were descendants of Japheth, and were a non-Semite people. They could not have been the ancestors of todays so-called Palestinians.
Following the conquest of Canaan, the land was almost entirely Israelite as they systematically conquered and populated the land. By the time of the reigns of David and Solomon, the area from the Euphrates to Sinai, and from the Arabian Desert to the Mediterranean, was known as Eretz Israel, the land of Israel. Although the boundaries would change as the succeeding kings rebelled against God and grew weaker, the land now known as Israel remained firmly in "Jewish" hands for more than 500 years.
In 722 BC the Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel, deporting the northern 10 tribes of Israel into remote areas of their domain. More than 100 years later the Babylonians conquered the Southern Kingdom of Judah and Philistia and deported their inhabitants as well. At about the same time that the Jews and Philistines were being carted off to Babylon, the southern Arab tribes, descendants of Ishmael, were putting pressure on the Edomites. This pressure resulted in a move of those people from the Mount Seir area into Southern Judea, the area called Palestine.
Upon the return of the Jewish people to rebuild Jerusalem and the land of Israel, the re-located Edomites moved farther south in what was once called Philistia, and into the Negev wilderness, which had once been the home of the Amalekites, also descendants of Esau. By the time Alexander the Greats army conquered the land, this area was known as Idumaea, the Greek equivalent of Edom.
Following the return of the Israelites to their promised land, that land was separated by the Persians into 4 divisions: Galilee in the north, Samaria and Judea in the center, and Idumaea in the south. That division was to remain for more than 600 years, leaving Israel as the undisputed homeland of the Jewish people for nearly 1200 years, with the exception of the 70 year captivity in Babylon. [It was after the Babylonian captivity they became known as "Jews" after the largest tribe, Judah.]
The relationship between the Jews and their conquerors was never peaceful, and often open rebellion broke out. The final rebellion was against the Roman government in 137 AD and was followed by a second, and more complete dispersion than that of the Babylonians. The Bar Kochba revolt resulted in widespread massacre of entire Jewish villages and towns, the selling of tens of thousands of Jews into slavery, the destruction of trees, crops, vineyards, olive groves and the total destruction of most Jewish cities, including Jerusalem. The land of Judea was re-named Syria Palestina, and Syrian and Arab settlers were moved into the new district to re-populate it.
But now let us go ahead with our sequence of events. The Jews that remained in Palestine following the Diaspora of 137 AD were in a minority for the first time in more than 1,000 years. The often peaceful, sometimes violent co-existence between the Jews and Arabs in the land was broken throughout the next 500 years by religious repression from the Christian leadership of the Roman and Byzantine Empires. This repression most often took the form of taxation and restrictive laws.
In 634 AD Palestine was conquered by Arab Muslims. The conquest was soon followed by Arab migration to the coastal land of Palestine, relegating the remaining Jewish people to an even more abject status of minority. The Arabs maintained total control for about 450 years before the Crusaders captured Jerusalem in 1099 AD. Following that capture 20,000 to 30,000 Jews and Arabs were massacred. For the next 200 years there were very few Jews residing in the land as the Crusaders and Arabs fought for supremacy.
In 1291 AD the Mameluke Muslims of Egypt gained total control of Palestine and maintained that control until 1516 AD when the Ottoman Turks, who were also Muslims but from Asia Minor, gained control. During this time the land began to see a large population increase from two different sources. First, the Turks themselves imported Muslim settlers from Albania, Kurdistan and Morocco who were facing persecution and difficulty in those areas. Second, the Diaspora Jews began to respond to the new philosophy named Zionism which was sweeping through Russia, Poland and other parts of Europe and Asia. These Jewish people would, with the help of wealthy Jewish leaders in Europe and America, purchase land in Palestine from the nearly bankrupt Ottoman leadership, and then immigrate to the land. Their purpose was clear: to re-establish Eretz Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people who were spread throughout the world. These Jewish people were seldom welcome upon arrival at their new homes and often faced strong resistance and persecution from their Arab neighbors.
Upon the breaking up of the vast Ottoman Empire following World War I, Britain was given control of the portions of the Middle East that include the modern nations of Iraq, Jordan and Israel. Under the 30-year British occupation of Israel, the question of nationhood became of prime importance to both the Jewish people and the Arabs. Both sides sought to gain the upper hand with their British occupiers. The Jews sought increased freedom for land purchases and immigration, primarily through diplomatic and political means while the Arabs sought to inhibit Jewish immigration, primarily through rioting and terrorism, much as it is today.
During the 30-year occupation by the British, the Jews found favor with them (in the beginning) and at the start of World War II believed they would soon achieve an independent Jewish State. However, the war changed the whole perspective as the Arab nations threatened to swing the balance of power in the Middle East to Germany if Britain did not make concessions.
Following the war, Britain was torn by conflicting factors: No. 1 World-wide recognition of the need for a homeland for the Jewish people following the Holocaust, and No. 2 The fear of alienating the Arab world and its vast oil reserves.
In 1947, with the blessings of the United Nations, Britain announced that it would partition the land, thus creating two separate states to be called Israel and Palestine, and maintaining international control of Jerusalem and its Holy places. On November 29,1947 when the United Nations General Assembly approved the partition plan, the Arab high committee which spoke for the so-called Palestinian Arabs refused the plan and immediately attacked Jewish settlements.
Did you hear what I said? They, the Arabs, turned down the only legal claim to autonomous rule in that land that has existed since the beginning of time.
In 1948, the established Arab nations surrounding Israel joined the battle against Israel. In the process, the nations of Jordan, which had been established east of the Jordan River, occupied the areas on the "West Bank", which had been reserved for the Palestinians, making it a part of Jordan. At the same time, Egypt occupied the Gaza Strip which had also been reserved for the Palestinians.
Never, Never Land
So, the land now in question as the supposed state of Palestine, was never, never Palestine, but rather was annexed by Arab Muslim nations who did not recognize Palestines right to exist as a free nation.
Israel defended the borders of her own homeland and gave full rights of citizenship to all Palestinian Arabs who remained. A great majority of these Arabs fled across the border to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, where they were swiftly put into huge refugee camps by their Arab "brothers". For the next 20 years, Jordan slowly absorbed nearly 50% of the refugees in the West Bank, but the Egyptians made no effort to help the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip; they chose to use them as political pawns against the State of Israel.
In 1967, the Palestinian question once again brought war to the Middle East as Israel responded to repeated aggression from her Arab neighbors by suddenly attacking them in what has become known as "The Six Day War". During that time, Israel gained control of the Gaza Strip and the Sinai from Egypt, the West Bank [Biblically: Judea and Samaria] from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria thus better securing her borders, and gaining total control of the land that was first known as Canaan and then as Eretz Israel.
From this historical background we see that there has never been a state known as Palestine. The ancient land of Canaan is now again "Israel." The so-called nation of Palestine remains, as it has always been, merely a figment of Arab fantasy - "A Phantom Nation". -
Editors Note: The above was taken from their booklet by that name. The entire booklet is available by writing the Broughtons at Focus on Israel, 1601 N. Rhody Drive # 648, Florence, Or. 97439. Please enclose $2 to help them re-print.