Monthly Archives: June 2012

Bethlehem, Hevron and Bet-El

Vayyeze: And Ya’aqov went out from Be’er Sheva, and went toward Haran. And he lighted on a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them under his head, and lay down in that place to sleep. 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 G-d ascending and descending on it. And, behold, the L-rd stood above it, and said, I am the L-rd G-d of Avraham thy father, and the G-d of Yizhaq: the land on which 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, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places to which thou goest, and will bring thee back to the land; for I will not leave thee until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of. And Ya’aqov awoke out of his sleep and he said, Surely the L-rd is in this place; and I knew it not. And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! This is no other than the house of G-d, and this is the gate of heaven. And Ya’aqov rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put under his head, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil on the top of it. And he called that place Bet-El: but the name of that city was called Luz at first.
Ya’aqov (Jacob) had received the blessing of his father, Yizhaq (Isaac), and left Be’er Sheva to stay with Lavan, his mother’s brother, in Paddan-Aram, both to escape the wrath of his brother, Esav (Esau), and to take a wife (both Leah and Rachel, my “namesake”). Serving twenty years for Lavan: six years for the cattle he received, and seven years’ apiece for both Leah and Rachel, he explains to his wives about his dream; I am the G-d of Bet-El, where thou didst anoint a pillar, and where thou didst vow a vow to me. Now arise, get out of this land, and return to the land of thy birth.
Adam and Chavva (Eve)/Shet (et al)/Enosh/Qenan/Mahalal’el/Yered/Hanoch/Metushelah/Lemekh/Noah/Shem/Arpakhshad (and also Aram)/Shelah/Ever (Ivri?)/Peleg/Re’u/Serug/Nahor/Terah/Avram/Yizhaq (and Yishmael and others)/Ya’aqov (and Esav–the “twins;”–“two nations”)/Re’uven, Shim’on, Levi, Yehuda, Yissakhar, Zevulun, daughter Dina (of Leah); Dan, Naftali (of Bilha, maid to Rachel); Gad, Asher (of Zilpa, maid to Leah); Yosef, Binyamin (“Ben-Oni”) (of Rachel): the sons of Ya’aqov are the twelve tribes of Israel (Ya’aqov).
Terach and Avram (with wife Sarai, et al) went from Ur-Kasdim to go into the land of Kena’an and came to Haran and dwelt there. Terah died there. Avram and Sarai (et al) went from Haran –

   …and into the land of Kena’an they came. And Avram passed through the land to the place of Shekhem unto the terebinth of More. And the Kena’ani was then in the land. And the L-rd appeared to Avram and said, To thy seed will I give this land: and there he built an altar to the L-rd, who had appeared to him. And he removed from there to a mountain on the east of Bet-El, and pitched his tent, having Bet-El on the west, and ‘Ay on the east: and there he built an altar to the L-rd, and called upon the name of the L-rd. And Avram journeyed, going on still toward the Negev.
There was famine, and so Avram and Sarai (his wife) went to Egypt, and then afterwards, back to the Negev.
And he went on his journey, from the Negev even to Bet-El, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bet-El and ‘Ay; to the place of the altar which he had made there at the first: and there Avram called on the name of the L-rd.
Avram had to separate from Lot (the son of Haran, begotten also of Terah) as the land could not bear the great substances of each. Lot went east to Sedom and Avram dwelt in the land of Kena’an.
And the L-rd said to Avram, after Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thy eyes, and look from the place where thou art, northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward; for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it to thee. Then Avram removed his tent, and came and dwelt by the terebinths of Mamre, which is in Hevron, and built there an altar to the L-rd.
   (Mamre the Emori, brother of Eshkol, and brother of ‘Aner: and these were confederate with Avram). Here, Avram is called Avram the Hebrew (Avram Ha-Ivri).
Avram begets Yishmael (by Sarai’s maid, Hagar). Thirteen years later, the L-rd speaks to Avram, reiterating the great plans he has for him: that He will hold a covenant with him, make him the father of many nations, change his name to Avraham, change his wife’s name to Sarah, and personally choose the name of his second-born, Yizhaq, whom Sarah will bear, and via whom he will continue his covenant forever through the seed of Yizhaq.
Avraham went back toward the Negev and dwelt between Qadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar, which had a king over it named Avimelech. The two made a pact, and Avraham gave Avimelech sheep and oxen and set aside seven ewes of the flock by themselves, signifying that Avraham dug that well — thereby, he called the place Be’er Sheva (be’er meaning “well,” and sheva meaning “seven”).
The field and cave of Machpelah, in Hevron, was purchased for four hundred shekels of silver by Avraham of the children of Het as a burialplace after Sarah died in Qiryat-Arba (City of Four — likely a reference to the Patriarchs).
Ya’aqov leaves Paddan-Aram after twenty years with Rachel and Leah and his household and goods, sending messengers and presents ahead of his encounter with his brother Esav to the land of Se’ir, the country of Edom (“Red;” as in Esav’s coloring, and as in the red pottage of the exchanged birthright of the first-born). On his way from Paddan-Aram, Ya’aqov pitched his tent in Shalem, on property he purchased for 100 pieces of money from the children of Hamor, the Hivvite prince of the country. Ya’aqov built upon it an altar and called it El-elohe-yisrael.
Hamor’s son, Shekhem, saw Dina; pining with love for her, he took her and defiled her, though he hoped to marry her.
   Though Ya’aqov was aggrieved that this trouble had arisen and that his sons, Shim’on and Levi, slew the men and plundered the city of its wealth and inhabitants, Ya’aqov and his retinue then buried their strange gods and went to Bet-El, as the L-rd enjoined of Ya’aqov to do. Rivka’s nurse, Devora, was buried in Bet-El beneath an oak.
They journeyed a short way onward, when Rachel gave birth to Binyamin (Ben-Oni) and was buried in Bet-Lechem (Bethlehem) on the way to Efrat.
While sending everyone ahead, Ya’aqov wrestles with a man all night, after which he is told that he has contended with G-d and with men and has prevailed, and so he accordingly received the name, Yisrael.
The brothers (Ya’aqov and Esav) then meet, and all is forgiven. So Esav returned to Se’ir, and Ya’aqov built a place in Sukkot.
The sons fed their father, Yizhaq’s, flocks in Shekhem, and Yosef was sent by Yizhaq, wearing the long-sleeved coat especially made for him, from the vale of Hevron to check on them. This was when his brothers cast him into a pit, from which he was retrieved by passing Midyan merchants and sold for twenty pieces of silver to the Yishme’elim, from where he was transported to Mizrayim (Egypt) and sold to Par’o’s (Pharoah’s) chamberlain, Potifar, a captain of the guard.
Yosef is called “the Hebrew” by Par’o’s wife many times and is thrown into prison as an innocent man, accused by Par’o’s wife of going in to her. He is finally released and restored to his previous position overseeing all of Par’o’s things — and in the end, saving both Egypt and his family in Israel from famine.
As you can see, many of the place names written about in the Bible have permeated our consciousness because of what was handed down to us in the original Hebrew (or Aramaic) of the Bible, known as the Tanach, an acronym formed by its root letters: “T” (Torah: the Five Books of Moses — Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy); “N” (Nevi’im — “Prophets”); and “K” (Ketuvim – “Writings”). Ancient scrolls and artifacts, such as bullae (clay seals, usually with writing on them; often used, for instance, by Israel’s kings) continually attest to the veracity of the stories enfolded within the Torah. And yet, the naysayers quote by rote that none of this is factual, despite statistically unimaginable correlations to the contrary.
   Bet-El is among the first holy namesakes given to the land by our forefather, Jacob (Ya’aqov/Israel). Hevron and Bethlehem are two others, and are especially holy as the final resting spots of the tombs of the Patriarchs. Recently, Arabs destroyed the Tomb of Joseph, hoping to continue to obliterate our irrefutable presence since ancient times upon this land.
   The rest of the worldwide community, raging with seething hostility for the apparent “chosenness” assigned us by G-d, demands that people with no traceable historic proof of lineage to this land be deemed the real, indigenous natives of the land, with full title thereof. The Pelishtim, Kena’ani, Yevusi, Emori and all the others of the Bible assimilated, were vanquished, or were just plain eradicated out of history without a trace. Other than fanciful supposition by wishful thinkers hankering to get their hands on a piece of the Holy Land, these people faded into history, much like what had occured to the two “lost” tribes east of the Yarden (the Jordan river), when we were overrun and attacked.
   The Jews didn’t just rage out of the four corners of the earth to usurp a land not their own. Not only the Bible, but continuing sourcebooks written throughout our history and also during long periods of our exile in various lands continue the story where the Bible leaves off at the end of the Old Testament and brings us smack-dab to the present day.
   Outside sources, corroborating their attacks upon us, verify that each external occupier came to attack the Jews/Ivri/Yehuda/B’nai Yisrael/(whatever you want to call us), and that it, indeed, was us (the Jews) they attacked again and again (which means that we were always there). Therefore, it goes without saying that the Land that the L-rd has given us is not free for us to be giving away to others. This gift remains a trust given in perpetuity by the L-rd to his people Israel, the Jews.
   Many people join us there, though some for non-altruistic purposes. Our leaders should not be forcing Jewish people out of their homes and off their lands — we have enough jealous enemies attempting to do so at every turn. If you lost a war any time you waged one and never had to suffer loss of territory, if would behoove you to keep trying. In fact, even when the land you preside over was once a part of the Jewish homeland or meant to be set aside for such and recognized by law as such, what would it matter if you received that portion of the land (Transjordan-cum-Jordan) in an illegal land grab by the Mandatory powers assigned as (temporary) stewards over so-called “Palestine?”
   This is what happened, with the Arabs receiving the Jewish mandate land and renaming it Jordan. They didn’t have any land on the western bank of the Jordan river when they declared independence in 1946, so they conquered that portion of what belonged to Israel in an illegal war they raged against Israel in 1948, basically just after Israel’s own later declaration of independence.
   The Arab states encompassing Israel that were also newly created by declarations of independence in the same decades surrounding Israel’s independence joined together to attack their Jewish neighbor. Most lands supposedly claimed by Arabs were usually parts of Jewish land. Just because “Jordan” came across the river and overran the Old City of Israel due to an illegal, aggressive war and subsequent short, nineteen-year occupation of our land, does not entitle every Omar, Sammy and Mohammad to move into the place forevermore, especially when they lost the territory back to us (smiley face here).
   When the powers that be see Israel gaining ground in a war waged against them, they always put a halt to it when the enemies are prevailing against us. If we win territory back (nothing we hold now is an expansion of our territory; we are a severly truncated nation of our once glorious selves, relegated to a moth-eaten remnant of one of the oldest proven civilizations on earth), we are forced to turn it over without recompense and without concession from our enemies, declared and otherwise.
   The people of Gush Katif formerly held homes and occupations (work) in Gaza. They were forcibly expelled in 2005, their homes and property turned over to Arabs who did nothing to earn them. They still have no homes and have received no compensation for their losses.
   Where is the world outcry over yet more Jewish refugees? What about the 3/4-million or so Jewish refugees who lost their homes and properties fleeing Arab lands and Arab wrath in 1948? Where is the outcry from the world about that? What about the recent expulsion by the Israeli government of Jews living in Migron? And the latest Jewish population areas to be placed upon the chopping blocks include Hevron and Bet-El.
   In Hevron, Jews purchased a building previously owned by Arabs. It seems the Arabs are now saying that the validity of the building’s owner was in question and the sale should be void. Did the Jews get their money back? Did the Arabs put up collateral property to give the Jews in place of this bogus trickery they’re purporting? Did the Jews get their day in court prior to being unfairly evicted without cause? No, no, and no. This is not due process. This is bending over backwards to accommodate abuse. This is the sick, Israeli Left — the people who don’t want the burden of owning the Land of Israel and prefer to present it on a silver platter, along with necks outstretched, to their enemies. Take our heads, please…they seem to intone, to everyone around them.
   Bet-El, Bethlehem, Hevron…..
   These names are Biblical placenames belonging to Israel — part of Judaea and Samaria, for those of you more familiar with those names. These names are what are being referred to as part of the so-called “West Bank.” Where is the disconnect in people’s minds to the Jewish connection with these names? David (of the House of David), son of Yishai, who became King over Israel, was a simple shepherd from Bethlehem. And the people of today somehow insist that this land belongs to Arab “Palestinians,” that country’s name being given to it when it was run as a vassal state by the Romans!
   I, too, had a disconnect…I used to write of all the technical and medical advances which have come out of Israel, still somehow thinking that Israel was an ancient-looking expanse of sand and camels. This was not the reality, although it exists in small part; nor was I disappointed at what I found there — a vibrant land of promise and prophecy.
   However, like vultures around a carcass, or sharks in frenzy-mode, once the smell of blood and decay stirs the senses of the enemy, they come circling to pick clean the bones.
   I once thought that Israel had learned not to worship the golden calf — now this bull is being led by its horns to the slaughterhouse.

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Rose

I’ve existed for more than one hundred years

a topic of much conversation

of princes and kings and diamond dreams

see me in all my sensation

American beauty, known to be found

an object of pure delight

Many spectacular colors abound

red, pink, yellow and white

As good as gold

fragile and bold

bleeding the hand with my clutch

ripped and torn

by evil thorn

the palm that had to touch

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