Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Why Three Areas in Israel Are Such Contested Property

Nadene Goldfoot                                                              

"And Jacob arrived safely [in] the city of Shechem ... and he bought the part of the field where he had pitched his tent from the sons of Hamor.

GENESIS (33:18-19)"1

"The city of Shechem, located in Samaria, is mentioned 60 times in the Bible, and is one of three locations in the Land where an actual land purchase is recorded in the Bible. The other two are Abraham's purchase of the cave in Hebron (Gen. 23:8-17) and King David's purchase of the Temple Mount (II Samuel 24:24). And why are these three areas the most contested in the world today?"1

The Five Books of Moses of which Genesis is the first has verified that our ancestors bought land from the people who lived there first, making it quite legal.  Shechem, today called Nablus, only 30 miles north of Jerusalem, has been taken over by the Palestinian Arabs.  It had been an ancient Canaanite town.  It had been in the territory Jordan had taken in 1948 and kept by them until they lost the 1967 war with Israel.   Nablus as of 2007 had a population of 426,132.  Since 1995, the city has been governed by the Palestinian National Authority.  It's a center of protests, and is not safe for tourists then.  

 It had been under Egyptian control as early as the  period of the 12th dynasty.  It's earliest walls date from about 2,000 BCE.  This is going WAY back since Moses lived from 1391 to 1271 BCE.  Our biblical patriarch of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob camped under its walls.  It was pillaged by 2 of the 12 tribes of Jacob;  Simeon and Levi as told in Gen.34.

Jacob had just arrived at Shechem from Paddan-aram (which is in northern Mesopotamia) , and had camped before the city.  He bought the land from Hamor for 100 kesitahs. (Subsequently, the kesitah was probably a piece of money of a particular weight, cast in the form of a lamb (or unminted of a certain weight, the price of a lamb). Monuments in Egypt show that such weights were used as a form of currency).   Then he set up and altar and proclaimed, G-d, the G-d of Israel.  At this point he hasn't been given the name of Israel as yet, so Israel was also the name of his band of people.

Shechem had 44,000 people in 1967 and had a tiny Samaritan community but is mostly inhabited by Muslims today.  It has for decades been the center of fanatical Arab nationalism.  A small Jewish community used to live there.  Joseph, Jacob's 11th  and favorite son by Rachel, is buried here.   Abimelech, the illegitimate son of Gideon, tried  to establish a monarchy at Shechem in about the 12th century BCE.  He killed his 70 brothers except Jotham, Gideon's youngest son,  and ruled for 3 years in Shechem with the support of the chiefs of that city, and was killed in the ensuing revolt.  (Judg. 9).  Jotham had stood on Mt. Gerizim and uttered a parable rebuking the people of Shechem for electing Abimelech king.
 This goes back to the story of Dinah and Shechem, who was the son of Hamor, the Hivvite, one of the 7 "nations" with princes living in Canaan, who fell for her and they had sex; most likely rape, though a recent movie on TV had it that they fell for each other and it was not rape.  The Bible  does say he fell in love with her and wanted to marry her.  Here, Dinah's father, Jacob, thought that at last he had found the land of Eretz Yisrael  where he would experience tranquility, and his family experienced this moral outrage of rape on his daughter right after they had arrived..  Dinah's brothers, Simeon and Levi,   took revenge for their sister and attacked Shechem's city by killing every male with their sword, found Dinah there and took her home.  Their 10 brothers then plundered the city when they found those killed and took all their livestock and money,  as well as their children and wives as captives.

Jacob was shocked and angry.  He told his sons that now they had made Jacob odious among the natives of the land, the Canaanites and Perizzites.  He was now in mortal danger being they were many and he and his band were few.  They replied that they couldn't let them treat their sister like a harlot (prostitute)  and just rape and kidnap her.   She was one special girl with 12 brothers to protect her.
Esau and Jacob, twins of Isaac
Jacob was told by G-d to leave and go to Beth-el and live there instead and build an altar to G-d.  He reminded him that when he had to flee from his fraternal twin brother, Esau, that is what he had to do, also.  He called the place El-beth-el.  Deborah died here and was buried below Beth-el, below the plateau.  Jacob is now told that his name will change to Israel, and that he should be fruitful and multiply.  A nation and a congregation of nations shall descend from you, and kings shall come from your line.  G-d gave the land that he had given to Abraham and Isaac he now gave to Israel and to your offspring after you.  This place where G-d had spoken to Jacob-Israel was called Beth-el, later to be called Bethlehem.

Jacob continued to use the name of  Jacob  for matters that were physical and the mundane.  He used Israel  for matters of the spiritual concerning himself and his descendants.
Abraham's wife, Sarah, who was also his niece,  died at age 127 in Kiriath-arba in Hebron in Canaan.  Abraham went to the people of Heth telling them that he is an alien but lives among them and asked if he could buy land to bury his wife.  He wished to have the Cave of Machpelah that belonged to Ephron, son of Zohar and lay on the edge of his field.  He said he would pay the full price.  Ephron was among the people of Heth and said he would give it to him.  They argued about giving and paying and Ephron said it was worth 400 silver shekels.  Abraham paid it.  Abraham had bought the field, which was in Machpelah, facing Mamre, the field and the cave within it and all the trees in the field, within all its surrounding boundaries was confikred as Abraham's as a purchase in the view of the people of Heth, among all who came to the gate of his city.  He then buried Sarah in this burial site.

As it turns out, Ephron's public generosity was a sham.  He had no intention of making a gift of the cave.  He hypocritically implied to Abraham that he expected an outrageously high price.


Today, Hebron (al-Khalil)  is the governate of many cities in Area A,B, and in C with the total population of about 563,146 mostly Muslims.

King David was feeling very guilty for the sins he had committed and an angel of death was there destroying with a pestilence in Israel with many people dying, a known 70,000 men, and David begged that the sheep not die because of him.  Gad, a seer of David,  told him to build an altar on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. (The Jebusites lived in the hill region around Jerusalem which they called Jebus.  Joshua had defeated them, but Jerusalem was occupied only in the reign of David (II Sam. 5:6-7)  The last Jebusite king was Araunah.  They remained in the city under David and became tributary under Solomon.  In the course of time, they appear to have been assimilated.)   King Araunah saw the king and his servants coming to him, and Araunah went out and put his face to the ground in supplication and fear.  David told him he wanted buy his threshing floor in order to build an altar to G-d so that the pestilence would end.  Araunah told David to take it and offer whatever is proper in his eyes.  The cattle are available for elevation-offerings, and the threshing tools and the implements of the cattle are available for firewood.  King Araunah  gave all of it to  king David, and Araunah said to David, "May your G-d accept your offerings.  But King David told King Araunah that he wanted to buy it from him for a price and he wasn't about to offer his G-d free offerings.  So David bought the threshing floor and the cattle for money--50 shekels.  David built an altar there to G-d, and he offered elevation-offerings and peace- offerings.  The pestilence then left Israel.    

   This turns out to be today's Temple Mount.  

It's where King David's son, King Solomon, built the first Temple which was a shrine for the Ark, the sacred vessels, and offerings, with a court for worshippers.  It was a hall, shrine and inner sanctum (the holy of holies.)  It was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BCE and rebuilt from 538 to 515 BCE and called the 2nd Temple.  It was destroyed in 70 CE by the Romans who afterwards built a Roman temple on the site.  

Since about  1193 CE, a mosque has stood there which is the Mosque of Omar.  The Mosque of Omar was built in its current shape by the Ayyubid SultanAl-Afdal ibn Salah ad-Din in 1193 in memory of this event. It has a 15 metres (49 ft) high minaret that was built before 1465 and was renovated by Ottoman sultan Abdulmecid I (1839–1860). 

Also called the Dome of the Rock, it is built in the center of the Temple area (al-Harim ash-Sherif) in Jerusalem  and another source said it was built by Caliph Abd al-Malik in about 738 to replace the temporary structure set up by Caliph Omar a century earlier (638.  Mohammad died in 632.)  It is situated on the traditional site of Mt. Moriah.  

Omar was the 2nd caliph who ruled from 634 to 644.  During his reign, several regions with ancient Jewish communities were conquered;  Palestine, Syria and Mesopotamia.  On his orders, Jews were expelled from Northern Arabia.  Omar is said to have made the covenant with Jews and Christians which assured them protection in return for the payment of a special poll-tax, but also put certain restrictions and disabilities on them like prohibition against erecting new houses of worship, had to wear distinctive clothing to let people know who they were, couldn't run for public office, etc.  

These 3 places were bought and paid for, not just part of the property taken by Joshua at the time of the Exodus and when they entered Canaan and had to fight for it.  They were legitimate purchases done on purpose so as to show that legally, this land belonged to the buyers, Abraham, Jacob and King David, the Jewish patriarchs.

Today, King David's purchase is the Temple Mount which is in Jerusalem but is governed by Jordan, a deal made by Moshe  Dayan from the 1967 war.  Jews are not allowed near the mosque and cannot even be seen to move their lips in prayer because of the 1st and 2nd Temples that had stood there in the past.  Politics are now in motion to allow Jews there as well.  It's a site of much contention, and one rabbi was almost killed for trying to promote allowing Jews there.  So far, Jews must be satisfied with the Western Wall  (Wailing Wall) as a place of prayer.

1 Resource:  Israel 365 picture and Biblical line.
The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia
The Tanakh, the Stone Edition
update: 3/12/15 on Mosque of Omar from NSJ Encyclopedia


  1. thanks for this article nadene. thank you for all of them as they highlight what needs to be understood. i have read that temple mount is also known as mount moriah too. the place where abraham offered his son isaac and the Lord gave him a ram in the thicket instead when He saw abraham's obedience and trust. when people are honest in the history they know that the land was bought outright and the legal matter of that time should still stand--the jews have every right to it--and to defend themselves in order to keep it. and though actual blood history is shared, it is bitter envy and hardened hearts taught to blindly hate and perpetuate lies for generations. so here is the truth today caught up in the same shameful cycle to oppress it and disguise it and pretend it never happened. but it did. and it will be explosive when one day everything is brought into the clear. i don't think it is that far out now. i do not know all of course, (that would be God), and with much i still need to know in fact---but with reason and some biblical insight---i have many many thoughts (and prayers to go with in asking for wisdom), i watch this whole issue, that really impacts the entire world, unfold and how this will shake out over the course of the next very few short years. that land and who belongs on it, yes, but as the crowning jewel in the crux of this matter, is temple mount as the single most hotly contested, 12 acres like no other piece of real estate in the world. so how this political 'hot potato' gets handled by the talking-heads, know-nothings, and care-nothings will be so telling. those weighing in against israel (and silence is a vote against) will be sorry that they went against what God has said. what He says goes. when He weighs in, there will be no mistake, for He does not go back on His Word. that land belongs to the jewish people. that land fits them and they fit that land.........

  2. Thanks, so much, Andre. You're absolutely right. Abraham prepared to offer Isaac on a hill in Jerusalem, site of the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite purchased by David on which to build an altar. Later the Temple was erected there, and that hill happened to be Mt. Moriah. The original hill was enlarged in the course of time by embanking. I can't help but think of the lady Palestinian Arab politician who screams that we have no history in Israel. How can anyone be so brainwashed. All one has to do is read the Bible which is full of so much history, geography, etc. Thank goodness these purchases were recorded for history. The 3 patriarchs knew what they were doing.

  3. i went back and realized i should proofread better ;) but i guess you got my drift. this is a subject very dear to my heart, poor sentence structure, punctuation, and all.....

  4. Then I missed something. Your writing was fine; very well said. We're on the same page. It's near my heart, too. Here we have the record of buying land and even as to how much, and we're in a position of having to defend our right to exist. Well, I tell you, sometimes the words come easier than at other times. So does the insight. You have an excellent background, Andre. I'm happy you're reading what I've been writing and that we can discuss it.

  5. well then thank you nadene. i am thankful for everywhere these things are brought forward where the truth does not have to make apology or take a back seat. and glad it came across as i meant it. i read in deuteronomy just this morning: deut 19:14 shall not move your neighbor's landmark, which the men of old have set....basically the problem we have here...and further. the world at large now wants to not only move the landmarks-they are actually removing them. it is because people are devoid of the bible's wisdom and teaching that they will see things from a skewed, and therefore limited, view. that does not make me better that i know this-this only makes me right that i know this-and only because what God says is right and i am going on His authority. as others have had to do, past and present, yes, i'm sticking my neck out perhaps, but so be it! one has nothing to live for if the truth is not bedrock in their hearts. so many are fooled to misunderstand about what...but even more....WHO is right. there is only room for One at the top and He holds all truth, always and always. i cast my lot with what the LORD has said.

  6. So beautifully said that it's awesome! I say, "Ditto!" Preserving boundaries was so important that a paragraph is devoted to it. "You shall not move a boundary of your fellow, which the early ones marked out, in your inheritance that you shall inherit, in the land that Hashem, your G-d, gives you to possess it." It does make me wonder if people in key positions have ever read this and understood the meaning. I doubt it very much.