The Americans, British and Arab states can debate whatever Mideast peace plan they want. But nothing can change this pre-eminent fact: Israel is entitled to the land it has, and has been for over 3,000 years. It says so in the most historically accurate document in history: the Bible.
The land of Israel was given by God to the descendants of Abraham. In the Book of Genesis, God appeared to Abraham and said: “I will assign this land to your offspring” (Genesis 15:18-21). In this passage, God made a covenant – an agreement or contract – with Abraham. He repeats this covenant is eternal and unconditional throughout the Bible.
The medieval scholar and Bible commentator Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki) asked: “Why, if the Torah is a book of laws for the Jewish people, does it begin with the history of creation and the lives of our Jewish forefathers?”
Rashi’s answer was that there will be a time when nations will claim the Jews “stole the Land of Israel,” and that the land belongs to others and not them.
Rashi explains that the Bible begins with the story of creation first to establish that all the world belongs to God, and only He has the right to apportion it. And according to the stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses, God promised the land of Israel to the nation of Israel.
God in the Bible makes clear that the land of Israel would not be given to the descendants of Abraham’s son Ishmael, but rather Isaac. In Genesis 17:19, God tells Abraham: “Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall name him Isaac; and I will maintain My covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring to come.”
In 17:20-21 God promises to bless Ishmael, the ancestor of the Muslims, and use him to create a great nation, but His covenant to Abraham, which again prominently included the specific promise of land, was to be accomplished through Isaac, not Ishmael, removing any ambiguity.
When people of faith read the Bible, they understand the intrinsic connection between the Jewish people and the land of Israel. In fact, as we note in The Israel Bible, there are over 1,000 verses in the Hebrew Bible connecting the Jewish people with the land of Israel.
But those who question God might also question the historical veracity of the Bible or might incorrectly assume that in a proverbial game of telephone, it could have been altered over the years.
Extensive techniques have been used by Jewish scribes for centuries to make sure the Bible we hold in our hands today is the most historically accurate document from the ancient world. Copying scriptures has always been considered a sacred task and therefore literally thousands of quality-control methods were put into place to ensure reliability.
For instance, the Torah must be written by hand by a scribe, one letter at a time. This process means writing a Torah can take more than three years. And, upon completion, the document is once again checked for accuracy before it can be used.
Further, massive amounts of archeological evidence support the notion that Israel has been in its land for as long as the Bible recounts and that the words of scripture are historically true.
Nearly every archaeological dig in Israel supports the understanding that Jews have had a presence in Israel for thousands of years. Jewish and non-Jewish archaeologists have found coins, pottery and literally full cities that reveal that the Jewish presence in Israel predates any claims that other people in the region may have.
We know that Jews had a presence in the land of Israel until the Romans conquered it. However, the Jews were ultimately driven from the land in two dispersions, in the years 70 and 135.
The Ottoman Turks had control until World War I when they fought against the British on Germany’s side. The British sent troops against the Turks in the Holy Land under the leadership of Bible-believing Christian Gen. Edmund Allenby.
In 1917, Allenby captured Beersheba from the Ottoman Empire and saw himself within striking distance of Jerusalem, hoping to deliver the city as a Christmas present for the British people. The night before the attack against Jerusalem, Allenby prayed that God would allow him to capture the city without damaging its holy places.
That day, Allenby had sent World War I biplanes over Jerusalem on a reconnaissance mission. The Turks had never seen an airplane and when they looked into the sky and saw these planes they did not know what they were and were terrified.
Further, they were told they were going to be opposed by a man named Allenby, whose name in their language means “prophet from God.” The Turks dared not fight against a prophet from God. So the next morning, when Allenby went to take Jerusalem, he captured it without firing a shot.
Not taking the religious significance of his role lightly, when Allenby entered Jaffa Gate on Dec. 11, he dismounted as a sign of respect for the holy city, believing only the Messiah could enter Jerusalem riding on an animal.
It was in those short weeks – 40 days to be precise – between the Battle of Beersheba and the capture of Jerusalem – that the Balfour Declaration was issued by the British government. The declaration was a short letter from British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour sent to prominent British Jew Baron Lionel Walter Rothschild and expressed the British government’s support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
The Balfour Declaration considered the local inhabitants of Palestine. But most of all, it was addressed to the Christians of England.
“England more than anything needed a moral case in advance of Allenby’s taking Jerusalem, not for the Jewish conscience but for the Christian one,” wrote Barbara Tuchman in her classic book, “Bible and Sword: England and Palestine from the Bronze Age to Balfour.”
That case came from the Bible, because the Bible says Israel belongs to the Jews.