Why God Wanted Prophet Abraham To Share The Land Of Canaan – OpEd


On October 6, 1973 the armies of Egypt and Syria staged a surprise attack on Israel that started the Yom Kippur War. Now 50 years and one day later; on October 7, 2,500 Hamas terrorists broke through the border fence into Israel in a multi-pronged, devastating onslaught. 

At least 1,400 people were killed, including over 1,000 civilians, and 220+ people were abducted to Gaza as hostages. By 16 days later Gaza terror groups had fired more than 7,400 rockets towards Israel. 

The Israeli Iron Dome anti missile missile intercepted over 1,100 of the rockets which were going to hit Israeli targets, about 550 rockets misfired and fell inside Gaza, including one that fell next to a hospital, and missed 400+ rockets which did hit Israeli targets. The rest of Hamas rockets hit empty areas.

More than 150 major American corporations have released statements condemning the initial attack by Hamas, according to Yale University Professor of Management Jeffrey Sonnenfeld.

The list of companies includes top firms such as Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan Chase, Verizon and Tesla and 7 in 10 Americans — including 81 percent of Republicans and 74 percent of Democrats — support providing aid to Israel. 

And several Harvard Business School alumni including US Senator Mitt Romney and hedge fund manager Seth Klarman accused Harvard University of ignoring the safety of Jewish students amid pro-Palestinian protests on campus, and urged Harvard to “restate and enforce the university’s existing moral code of conduct” required of students, employees and faculty.

Larry Summers, a former Harvard president, said he was outraged by Harvard’s initial silence after more than 30 student groups issued a statement blaming Israel for the Hamas attack on Israel.

The Yom Kippur War was followed six years later by a Peace Treaty between Egypt and Israel. Could the same process follow the defeat of Hamas in the Gaza-Israel War?

That would be a modern miracle: but the Land of Israel has often been the Holy Land of miracles; and the only possible destiny for the Palestinians is to share the land with Israel; unless they want to end up like the civil war in Syria which has killed half a million people and left half of Syria’s pre war population of 23 million displaced by the conflict, including 5 million+ who are now refugees.

In Genesis 12, we are told that God commanded Prophet Abraham Genesis 12:1 “…Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you…Abram took his wife Sarai and his brother’s son Lot, and all the possessions that they had gathered, and the persons (converts to monotheism) whom they (Abraham and Sarah) had acquired in Haran; and they set forth to go to the land of Canaan; and they came to the land of Canaan.

Thus begins the 3500 year long interaction of Abram and his descendants, the future People of Israel, with the Land of Canaan, the future Land of Israel. Sometime after his arrival in the land of Canaan Prophet Abraham has a vision of God, telling him of his (Abraham’s future) descendants’ slavery and release (from Egypt), that ending with Genesis 15:18 

“On that day God made a covenant with (Prophet) Abraham, saying: To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt (a wadi near the border of the Sinai desert) to the great river, the river Euphrates; 15:19 the land of (10 idol worshiping polytheists) the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, 15:20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 15:21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.

So, who are the Canaanites? In spite of the fact that all these “nations” (tribes) of Canaan are listed about twenty times in the Bible, we do not know because the lists often differ from each other. Indeed, if we compare all of the lists that are scattered throughout the Hebrew Bible we find a total of fourteen different names, which usually appear in mystical numerical groups of six or seven.

Even ten centuries after the time of Prophet Abraham, when Prophet Ezekiel describes the origins of Jerusalem, he uses three names: Ezekiel 16:3 “Thus says the Lord God to Jerusalem: Your origin and your birth were in the land of the Canaanites; your father was an Amorite, and your mother a Hittite.”  So the land was inhabited by the “Canaanites,” who were composed of several different tribal or ethnic groups; “the Canaanites”, “Amorites”, “Hittites” and many others. So why can it be impossible for Israel and the Palestinians to share the Land of Israel and Canaan?

Perhaps God sent Prophet Abraham over hundreds of miles to the Land of Canaan/Israel in order to teach us that we all should learn to share a land that would someday be a holy land to half the people on Planet Earth. 

The Qur’an refers to Prophet Abraham as a community or a nation: “Abraham was a nation/community [Ummah]; dutiful to God, a monotheist [hanif], not one of the polytheists.” (16:120) If Prophet Abraham is an Ummah; then fighting between the descendants of Prophets Ishmael and Isaac is a civil war and should always be avoided. And prior to the 20th century Arabs and Jews never did make war with each other.

If all Arabs and Jews can live up to the ideal that ‘the descendants of Abraham’s sons should never make war against each other’ is the will of God; we will help fulfill the 2700 year old vision of Prophet Isaiah: “In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egypt, and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. In that day Israel  will join a three-party alliance with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing upon the heart. The LORD of Hosts will bless them saying, “Blessed be Egypt My people, Assyria My handiwork, and Israel My inheritance.”…(Isaiah 19:23-5)

Then “Lo yisa goy el goy kherev velo yilmedu od milkhama” “Nation shall not lift sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. (Isaiah 2:4)

Rabbi Allen S. Maller

Allen Maller retired in 2006 after 39 years as Rabbi of Temple Akiba in Culver City, Calif. He is the author of an introduction to Jewish mysticism. God. Sex and Kabbalah and editor of the Tikun series of High Holy Day prayerbooks.

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