The State of Israel (Medinat Yisraʾel) is a parliamentary Republic headed by an elected President. It is governed by a Prime Minister, who is traditionally the leader of the largest political bloc in the elected 120-member unicameral legislature called Knesset.
Israel is located near the Eastern tip of the Asian continent, just north of Africa, and right in the center of the most volatile region in the world, the Middle East. The country shares it borders with Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Its land area of 20,330 sq. km (about one-tenth the size of Nebraska), makes it the 152nd largest country in the world.
The nation of 7.9 million is the only contemporary Jewish nation in existence, and 76% of its population is of direct Jewish origin. Citizens of Arab ancestry accounts for just a little over 20% of the populace. The CIA Annual World Fact Book estimates that 75.6% of the population is Jewish, while Muslims (16.9%), Christians (2%) and the unitarian Druze (1.7%) are the major minority religions here.
Hebrew and Arabic are the two official languages, although English is widely spoken. Israel's technologically-driven economy is augmented by a vibrant tourism industry - both major sources of valuable foreign exchange. The temperate Mediterranean climate is relatively mild, but can get a little hot and humid during the summer.
Part I. Biblical Summary
Part II. Contemporary History
Part III. The Present
Part IV. Counterclaims
Part I. Biblical Summary
The patriarch of the Jews and Arabs, and the three Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), was born as Abram son of Terach in the ancient city of Ur in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) in 1813BCE. He is believed to be a twentieth generation descendant of Adam.
Abram, born into a prosperous and respected merchant family in the city, had always struggled to fit in and was considered an eccentric figure by the townspeople for his rejection of the pagan worshipping culture practiced there. Abram always felt that there was something bigger and greater, an omniscient and omnipresent Creator that was responsible for all of life and existence.
In due course, his faith was vindicated when the Lord Himself spoke and commanded him to leave the city, to spread His words, and obey his Laws. In return, God promised Abraham that his children, who would number like the stars in the skies, would ultimately inherit His Kingdom in Heaven. Thus the pact was made, and the covenant sealed.
Abram, whom God would later rename Abraham (Father of Many), sired two sons. The first is Ishmael, the progenitor of the Arab race, from his relationship with Hagar, his Egyptian-born second wife and former handmaiden to his first wife, Sarah.
"And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation."
In 1712BCE, Sarah, at the advance age of 91, bore his second son, Isaac (The Mirthful), who would eventually be chosen by God to become the heir to the covenant.
"And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him."
"But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year."
Isaac, and wife Rebecca, produced a pair of twin boys, Esau and Jacob, where the latter became the new heir to the covenant. Jacob was also given a new name, Israel (The Champion of God).
"And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed."
"And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed."
Jacob would later go on to sire twelve sons, which became what is now known as the Twelve Tribes of Israel (Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Joseph, Levi, Judah, Zebulon, Issachar, Simeon, Dan, Reuven and Benyamin.)
In fact, the term 'Jew' is actually a corruption of the Hebrew word Yehudi, which was the term used to identify people from the ancient Kingdom of Judah, a nation whose ancestral lineage is believed to have originated from Jacob's fourth son, Judah.
Socioeconomic circumstances forced the tribes to move to Egypt, but their prodigious growth rate, increasing economic might and growing number of fighting men drew the attention of the Egyptian Pharaoh, who, fearful of this new threat on his rule, unilaterally declared them as slaves. What followed was four hundred and thirty years of persecution, forced labor and institutional slavery, enforced by a tyrannical and violent regime.
Their savior came in the form of one of the most renowned sons of Israel, Moshe Rabbeinu of the Levi tribe - or as he is more popularly known, Charlton Heston. No, no. Moses. Seriously. Moses.
And I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.
Sometime between 1400BCE to 1200BCE, Moses led over six hundred thousand Israelites out of Egypt (the Exodus) and traveled through the desert wasteland in search of the Promised Land. During a stopover at Mt. Sinai, God reaffirmed his covenant with the Israelites, before revealing the Torah to Moses and giving him the Ten Commandments in the form of stone tablets (three in total, after Moses broke the first one.
"And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children."
"Even all they that were numbered were six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty."
"And the Lord spake unto Moses in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye are passed over Jordan into the land of Canaan; Then ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their pictures, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places:
And ye shall dispossess the inhabitants of the land, and dwell therein: for I have given you the land to possess it. And ye shall divide the land by lot for an inheritance among your families: and to the more ye shall give the more inheritance, and to the fewer ye shall give the less inheritance: every man's inheritance shall be in the place where his lot falleth; according to the tribes of your fathers ye shall inherit."
Nevertheless, as foretold, Moses did not survive the 40- year journey, and died peacefully at the age of 120 at the top of Mount Nebo, just east of the Jordan River, in the presence of God. Before dying, God showed him for the first and only time the Promised Land.
Deuteronomy 34: 1-7
"And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the Lord shewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan, and all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea, and the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar.
And the Lord said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither. So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. And He buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day. And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated."
Leadership of the Israelites fell unto the broad shoulders of the warrior-priest, Joshua, who dutifully brought the twelve tribes into the Promise Land of Israel, as per the covenant pledged to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses.
"Now after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord it came to pass, that the Lord spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' minister, saying, Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper withersoever thou goest."
The arrival of the Israelites into the Promised Land (circa 1400-1200 BCE) heralded a new chapter in their chronicle, though it was far from a tranquil one. The new country, situated within the borders of the ancient nation of Canaan - which includes but are not limited to present day Israel, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria - provided the backdrop to some of the most celebrated verses of the Bible. The accounts of David and Goliath, King Solomon, the construction of the first Temple of Jerusalem and the Biblical Judges (including the one-man army, Samson), are some of the most well-known ones.
However, the reign of the children of Israel came to an end at approximately 600 BCE when Jerusalem fell to the Babylon of Nebuchadnezzar.
"And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."
The Babylonians was the first in a long line of foreign powers to conquer the land of Israel, either by force or treatise. The Persian, Greeks, Seleucids, Romans, Byzantine Empire (modern Romania), Muslim Arab (Omar), Seljuq Empire, Crusaders of Europe, Muslim Arab (Salahuddin), Mamluk Sultanate, Ottoman Empire, Russia (under the Treaty of Kucuk Kaynarca with the Ottoman Empire), Egypt, France (under a unilateral recognition by the Ottoman Empire) and British Empire, held dominion of the land of Israel, either part or in whole, over a period over 2,500 years.
This resulted in the dispersion of the Jewish people throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, a phenomenon now universally referred to as the Jewish Diaspora. . Nevertheless, this scattering has miraculously failed to significantly affect the Jewish culture, as evidenced by the fact that modern Jews in Israel maintain the same basic social, judicial, religious and linguistic culture of their ancient forefathers.
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