In our Jewish Heritage, it has been written that Edom and Yishmael will conspire to un-nation Israel (Tehillim 83). Today’s headlines proclaim as history what our Heritage has taught for millennia.
For example, yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled that Jerusalem was not the capital of Israel (Ari Yashar, “US Supreme Court Backs Obama on ‘Jerusalem Passport’”, Arutz Sheva, June 8, 2015). In a strong 6-3 decision, the Court decided that the President alone—not Congress, or the President with Congress’ approval--has the sole power to decide whether or not the US will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (Mark Joseph Stern, “SCOTUS Invalidates Law Letting American Passports Identify Jerusalem as Part of Israel”, Slate, June 8, 2015); and this President, Barack Hussein Obama—perhaps still one of the most powerful leaders in the world—has determined that he will not recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Indeed, for passport purposes, the US will not even recognize Jerusalem as part of Israel (William Jacobson, “Supreme Court Overturns Congress on Jerusalem Passport Law”, Legal Insurrection, June 8, 2015).
The leader of the modern descendants of Edom has decided that Jerusalem will not be the capital of the Jewish nation—and now his Supreme Court has made his choice the official law of the United States. Almost immediately, the leadership of the Arab-Muslim push to destroy the Jewish Israel—the Palestinian Authority (PA)—has proclaimed that this Supreme Court decision was proof that the Jews were nothing more than occupiers in their Jerusalem (“Supreme Court: President sets US stance on Jerusalem”, Ma’an News Agency, June 8, 2015). Once again, Edom and Yishmael hold hands in agreement to proclaim to the world: the Jews have no legal connection to the holy capital city.
The PA wants to erase Israel. It seeks to cut Israel off from its nationhood (Tehillim, 83). Its goal is that Israel’s name will not be remembered any more (ibid). The US Court decision brings that goal closer to fulfilment because it cuts Jerusalem off from Israel (Jacobson, ibid). It cuts out Israel’s heart. It proclaims to the international community that Jerusalem is not be Jewish.
In the Islamic war to conquer Israel and rename it ‘Palestine’, such assistance from one of the world’s most powerful leaders carries enormous weight. The call, ‘Jerusalem is not Israel’s!’, adds yet another layer of legitimacy to Muslim conquest. On at least one level (US diplomacy), it erases Israel’s name from ‘Jerusalem’.
This US decision follows an unsuccessful PA attempt at the UN to create ‘Palestine’. It follows the acceptance of ‘Palestine’ as a ‘state’ by the International Criminal Court. It follows a declaration from the US President that he may no longer protect Israel at the UN (Pat Dollard, “Muslim war on Israel: Obama Says He Will No Longer Protect Jewish State”, patdollard. Com, March 19, 2015).
It precedes—and now happily anticipates—a new UN effort to make ‘Palestine’ a full Member State in the UN.
Our Heritage teaches that, one day just before our Redemption begins in earnest, one of the world’s most powerful leaders will seek to ‘invade’ Jerusalem. It will be a day when there will be a ‘dividing of spoil’ in Jerusalem (Zechariah, 14:1). There’s some discussion among the Sages as to what exactly that posuk (sentence) means (The Living Nach, The Twelve Prophets, Moznaim Press, Jerusalem, 1995, note for Zechariah, 14:1). But perhaps these new headlines suggest a new meaning: that a world leader will seek to ‘divide’ Jerusalem so that, in turn, ‘spoils’ can be ‘divided’ in Jerusalem (per Radak and Malbim, ibid).
This isn’t exactly an interpretation our Sages foresaw. But it’s an interpretation that is not inconsistent with the text. Do news headlines clarify our Tanach?
This drive to divide Jerusalem will happen because HaShem will instil it into the hearts of the leaders of the nations (ibid, notes for 14:2). During this time, half the city will be taken ‘captive’ (ibid). Obviously, if there is a physical war, these ‘captives’ would be civilians exiled from the city in much the same manner as happened to Jews in 1948.
But could this reference to ‘captives’ have a different meaning? Could it refer to the process already under way to sell or ‘give away’ land in Jerusalem?
In the last several years, Israel has sold (or, perhaps, given) Jerusalem property to both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. David’s Tomb on Mt Zion has been ‘yielded’ to the Vatican. The Vatican has also been interested in properties in Judea, Samaria, Har HaZaitim and Mount of Olives. It would be fair to suggest that the Vatican has a large and growing real estate portfolio in Israel.
Then there’s Jerusalem’s mayor. He seems to favour Arab building over Jewish building in Jerusalem. He appears to encourage a growing expansion of Arab life in Jerusalem. How much of Jerusalem has he been giving away?
Have the enemies of Israel already begun a ‘capture’ of real property in Jerusalem? Is this what ‘captive’ of half the city means?
I once asked a Talmud scholar of growing influence how does one read some of these statements in our Tanach. He paused for a moment before saying, ‘you know, whenever you read Tanach, the first question you must ask is, ‘is what I read fact—or metaphor?’ I asked him how one could answer such a question. ‘Ahh’, he replied. ‘That’s the challenge, isn’t it’.
Perhaps our daily headlines teach us how to read our Tanach. Perhaps the Day of Victory Zechariah describes is closer than we think.