Jacob Report #5.1 – How did Judah (Judea) Become the Occupied Territories?

Author’s Note: For many, this is a “primer,” basic information, but I cannot assume all readers have this necessary background. If it is unduly basic, skim it, or skip it all together. It is necessary to lay the foundation for what will come in later Jacob Reports.

Assume you were to take a poll among the UN delegates from the past two decades since the Cold War ended.  You ask each of them to rank the top ten trouble spots on Earth according to the likelihood the trouble spot could or will lead to World conflict, dragging in at least 80% of the Nation members of the UN.

There is no question the “Middle East” problem would have the majority of the votes.  If you quizzed the delegates further you would hear phrases like, “the Palestinian problem,” “the occupied territories,” and “the West Bank issue.”  So when, exactly, did this little area become the powder keg, the ticking time bomb, such that world leaders are convinced a solution must be found or the peace of the planet is in peril?

Filtering Out the Superfluous, Focusing on the Significant

Truly, we are living in a data-rich world.  All knowledge, information, and facts are so easily available, at the click of a mouse, right in our own home, through our inexpensive, personal computers.  So much data, so much information, is available psychiatrists have come up with the term, “information overload.” The issue for the generation isn’t a lack of information. The issue for this generation: How to determine which data to focus upon?

This is what makes the Bible such an amazing book!  For the One and Only Almighty God has reduced to a single book everything we need to know to make the most important decisions of our brief lives.  Additionally, details of the conclusion of the present age are included for anyone willing to see them, including the relevant history of this small sliver of the earth the world’s leaders are so concerned could ignite and lead to worldwide conflagration!

Let us take a moment to review the history of this most volatile area, in an effort to both understand and find answers regarding the eventual outcome.

The story starts with a man, Abraham, leaving the secure place of his birth with his entire family and everything he owns.  He heads out, not knowing where he is going, and ends up in an area we know today to be Israel.  Although wealthy, Abraham does not have what he wants most, a son and an heir.  Desperate for a child of his own, his wife Sarah, previously unsuccessful at providing Abraham with a son, offers her servant as a surrogate mom.  Hence, Abraham, through his wife’s Egyptian servant, is at last a father.  This, however, is not the plan God has for resolving Abraham’s issue of an heir.  God commits to supernaturally intervening such that Sarah, in her old age, gives birth to Isaac.  In order to prevent struggles between the two sons over succession, God allows Sarah to banish Hagar, her servant and Ishmael, Hagar’s son by Abraham, from the family community.  God, also, informs Abraham that Isaac’s descendants would multiply until they were equivalent in number to the stars of heaven.

The Lord further foretells the departure of Abraham’s offspring to a place where they will start out few in number and grow into a nation.  This is fulfilled when Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, becomes father to twelve sons, two of whom, Joseph and Benjamin, are the sons of the same mother, Rachel.  When Joseph is a teenager, his older brothers, in a fit of jealousy, unbeknownst to Jacob their father, are resigned to arranging Joseph’s death.  At the last minute, they resolve that it is more appropriate, and profitable, to sell him as a slave to passing Ishmaelites.

In turn, the Ishmaelites sell Joseph to an Egyptian.  Time goes by and a famine occurs in the land of Palestine where Jacob and his remaining eleven sons live.  In desperation for food, Jacob sends his sons to Egypt where according to rumor, not only is there food, but an excess, enough food to sell.  Unbeknown to his brothers, Joseph has risen to become the second most powerful person in Egypt.  He, as it turns out, is the one who must hear their request to purchase food.  The brothers do not, however, recognize Joseph, although he does recognize them.  Joseph, still concealing his identity, agrees in behalf of Egypt, to sell food and other provisions to Jacob’s other sons, but also holds one of the bothers as his personal “prisoner” to insure the brothers return with Benjamin, his only full brother.  Lacking other options, even while fearing the tough leader of Egypt, Pharaoh’s representative (their brother Joseph, whom they do not recognize) the brothers return to Egypt, escorting Benjamin, the full brother of Joseph.

Joseph receives his brothers on behalf of the kingdom of Egypt, and prepares a large (diplomatic) reception meal.  Later, Joseph discloses his true identity and reveals that the famine is to continue for seven years total, with five more years remaining.  Joseph then instructs them to return to Palestine and bring all their possessions, as well as his father, Jacob.

Thus, the entire clan of Jacob leaves the land of Palestine and accepts status as honored guests of Pharaoh in Egypt.  Four centuries pass until Moses is born.  His marvelous deliverance from a certain childhood death led to Moses being raised as Pharaoh’s nephew in the palace of Egypt.

As an adult, though, Moses is disturbed because his own relatives, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have, during the 400 years since Jacob’s arrival, become slaves in total subjection to the Egyptians.

Certain acts of Moses in defense of his relatives lead to a charge of treason and then exile of the formerly high-ranking citizen of Egypt.  Thus, Moses flees to the wilderness, away from civilization.  In the wilderness, he is found and confronted by the One True God of the Universe, who confirms He has looked out for and watched over the offspring of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the relatives of Moses.  His intention is to remove the yoke of slavery and lead all of the children of Jacob (a.k.a. children of Israel) away from Egypt into the land HE promised to Abraham centuries before.  In the process of leading them out, they will become a free and independent Nation!  The seventy or so that had moved with Jacob to Egypt had, in 400 years, become almost one million.  This million-person nation was divided by tribes, with each of the twelve sons of Jacob becoming an individual tribe.

In addition, Jacob designated the two sons of Joseph born in Egypt, Manassas and Ephraim, as tribes, one half of a tribe to be exact.  Instead of “a” tribe of Joseph, there was to be a half tribe of Ephraim and a half tribe of Manassas.

When Moses announced to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, that he was taking the million or so Hebrew slaves and leaving to serve God, Pharaoh resisted.  The disagreement provided an opportunity for the God of all the Earth to establish that He had more than enough power to wipe out all of Egypt. Only His restraint stood between Egypt and complete and total annihilation. While demonstrating this power to Egypt, He was introducing Himself to the people He had chosen to deliver.  They were to comprehend the Almighty power possessed by this One True God, a complete contrast to the powerlessness of the idols, myths, and false gods worshipped by the nations (and, sadly, frequently by the Hebrews) prior to this time.  It could be assumed the newly delivered people would be both grateful and respectful to this Almighty God who had chosen them among all the people of the earth to teach about Himself and His ways.  He soon revealed these same Hebrews would learn of, and then teach the other nations of His goodness.  Thereby, the entire world would know the ways of God.

It didn’t work out that way. Soon after departure from Egypt, on the way to the land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and to their descendants forever, the former Hebrew slaves quickly showed themselves to be stubborn, disrespectful and disloyal.  In fact, they proved to be downright treacherous!  The God of the entire Universe was taken aback by the obstinacy and the disloyalty. He even suggested to Moses it would be better if Moses just stood aside and permitted the destruction of the entire multitude.  Moses objected upon the grounds that word would circulate God was a cruel God, and that He was unable to fulfill His promises, so He chose to wipe out the evidence of these people.

The God of the entire Universe could not argue with the logic of Moses, and so He agreed not to wipe out the people completely.  However, the generation which had seen His power in Egypt and so quickly shown such disrespect, ingratitude, and disloyalty would all die in the wilderness without entering the Promised Land.  The only exceptions would be Joshua and Caleb, who had proven their own faith in God by standing up to the rest of the leaders proclaiming God’s ability and competence to complete His promises.

Even Moses proved himself unfit to enter the promise land and died outside the land.

Once Moses and the last of his generation had died in the wilderness, Joshua assumed the leadership of the people under the direct authority of the Lord.  The newly created nation entered the Promised Land at the Jordan River. The first city to be processed was Jericho.  Sometime after entering, lots were drawn to help determine which tribes would get what part of the land.  Judah, the future tribe of David, the tribe of the promised Messiah, was to receive Hebron – the burial place of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Leah.  The land for their burial site was purchased upon the death of Sarah from the family of Heth and is recorded in Genesis chapter 23.  In addition, the city of Bethlehem, birthplace of both David and Yeshua, was part of the territory of Judah.  The majority of the area known today as the “occupied territories” fell to and was a portion of the inheritance of Judah.

During the time in the wilderness before entering the Promised Land, the Lord said He was setting aside one tribe, Levi, for His own.  Levi would provide the priesthood of this new nation.  The head of the priesthood would be the High Priest.  The first High Priest was Moses’ brother, Aaron.  Moses was given specific guidance regarding the clothing of the priests, and particularly of the High Priest.

The High Priest would wear upon his head a turban, distinctive of the High Priest, and a crown of gold (Ex. 29:6).  This was intended to make it clear that the King was the Lord Himself, who would rule through the High Priest.  The God of the entire universe had chosen this people and nation, to reveal His laws and His ways.  He made it clear it was not because the people were stronger, more holy, or in any way superior, but it was strictly His prerogative to use them as a light to the entire world.

The people and the nation demonstrated little willingness to obey the laws of God.  Even the priesthood proved impassionate and compromising.  Then, during the time of Samuel the prophet, the people cried out for a king “like all the other nations.”  Samuel was indigent.  He was also hurt and took it personally but God told him it was God Himself they were rejecting.  From that time, the office of the king and High Priest would no longer be held by the same person, but would be kept separate.  The prophets later predicted the two offices would eventually be united again in one person, the Messiah, who would be the eternal High Priest as well as the King of Kings. Until then, the offices and duties of priest and king were to remain separate.

The reign of Saul, of the tribe of Benjamin, proved to be a failure.  Although he ruled 40 years, soon after he began his rebellious rule, God designated David, the man He identified as a man after His own heart, as the reflection of the King (Messiah) He would provide.  God stated He had chosen David as the line of the Kings of His nation from then on, and David’s tribe and territory, Judah, as the personal property of the God of all the Earth (Zech. 2:12).

David began his rule in the Judean city of Hebron, making the city where Abraham is buried his initial capital.  After seven years, the final opposition for the leadership of the nation of Israel was defeated by David and the twelve tribes were united under David. Soon thereafter, upon the capture of Jerusalem, Jerusalem was declared the capital of Israel and the City of David.

David selected his son Solomon as his successor, and crowned Solomon before his own death.  Solomon, however, revealed himself to be extremely unfaithful, disloyal and particularly treacherous.  He made temples and places of worship to every false and heathen god worshiped by heathens anywhere in the known world. (1 Kings 11:4-9).

Within the temple Solomon built to the God of Israel, he even included the images of twelve oxen, one for each of the tribes of Israel, in recognition of Baal, the cult of calf worship that had plagued his people since they first departed from Egypt.

The complete disloyalty of Solomon was a great insult to the true God, who had selected Israel and provided every good thing to the nation and people.  As a result of Solomon’s far-reaching and downright treachery, the Lord sent the prophet Aliyah to Jeroboam, the servant of Solomon, and made a promise to him that ten of the twelve tribes would be given to Jeroboam upon the death of Solomon.  The Lord additionally promised He was prepared to raise up an eternal house through the heirs of Jeroboam, just as He had promised to David. Jeroboam had only to prove he could be as loyal as David had been, and that he would follow and obey only the one true God.

For David’s sake, however, Solomon’s heir to the throne and son, Rehoboam, would be left with the tribe of Judah.  Judah would always remain as a witness of the promises of God to David and through David.  Jerusalem would remain as the capital of Judah and the city of the Temple, central to the worship of the God of Israel.

As predicted by the prophet, upon Solomon’s death, as a result of Solomon’s great sin and disloyalty, the kingdom and nation of Israel was divided into two nations.  The ten tribes under Jeroboam’s leadership became known as Israel, and the remaining southern portion, under the rule of Rehoboam and the heirs of David, was to become known as Judah.

Jeroboam proved to be extremely treacherous.  He immediately constructed two golden calves for worship. One he established in the northern city of Dan, and one in his southern capital, Bethel.  The Levites and the true worshipers of the God of Israel amongst the ten tribes departed for Judah (2 Chron. 11:14-17). Jeroboam’s descendants were wiped out for his betrayal.  Eventually, after much warning from the prophets of God, the idolatry of Israel became intolerable to the Holy God of Israel. Assyria was raised up to execute final judgment on behalf of the Lord.  Israel, the ten tribes, was carried into exile.  Assyria also threatened Judah, but the Lord, showing mercy, intervened and spared the city of Jerusalem.

Countless warnings were given to the nation of Judah and her kings, the descendants of David.  The entire book of Jeremiah gives details of this prophet’s pleadings to Judah and warnings to Jerusalem and its kings.  At one juncture, the prophets declare a line has been crossed and further resistance is not only futile but would add to the judgment.  Jeremiah was considered a traitor for proclaiming the impending calamity.  He suffered greatly for delivering his unpopular message to those who did not want to hear it.

Eventually, as Jeremiah predicted, the city of Jerusalem and Solomon’s temple were burned to the ground.  The exile and destruction of the Temple was to be a severe warning.  The exile lasted exactly 70 years as prophesied by Jeremiah.

Thereafter, the king of Persia, Cyrus, in 536 BCE, as prophesied by Isaiah, gave permission and commandment for the temple, (the second), to be built as well as permission for the city of Jerusalem to be rebuilt.  Judah was to be resettled.  Whoever of the Jews who so desired was permitted, even encouraged, to return to the land promised to Abraham and to resettle the kingdom and the city!  The land and people of Judah would continue to maintain their separate identity, even sovereignty, though always under the rule of great empires. Subsequent to the Persians, the Greeks controlled the land, and then came the Romans.

Under the Romans, Herod, the designated king of Judah, appointed by the Roman government, rebuilt and remodeled the second temple until it was truly spectacular.  This was its condition when Yeshua walked through with His disciples who showed Him how spectacular the gloriously remodeled Temple had become.  This is how it was when, as Yeshua predicted, the complete destruction of the city and the Temple – for the second time- was accomplished.  This destruction by the Romans in 70 C.E., and the banishment of the Jewish people to the far corners of the Roman Empire, was the end of the Jewish nation, and the sovereignty of the Jewish people of Judah, for almost 2,000 years.


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