The Bible Codes—Divine Pattern or Preposterous Chimera?

In May 1997, a sensational new book titled The Bible Code by Michael Drosnin, was published by Simon & Schuster.  It was announced with a full-page ad in the New York Times and quickly appeared on the covers and editorial pages of major magazines and newspapers worldwide.    Drosnin, a free-lance investigative reporter, who once worked for the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, offered a readable, engrossing, and intriguing account of a hidden code found in the Hebrew Bible (what Christians call the Old Testament), discovered several years ago, with the use of advanced computer programs, by a number of Israeli mathematicians, including Moshe Katz,  Eliyahu Rips, and Doron Witztum.  This code is based on what are called ELS or Equidistant Letter Sequences found in the traditional Masoretic Hebrew text of the Torah or Five Books of Moses.  The idea is a simple one.  According to its supporters there is encoded within the plain text of the Hebrew Torah hidden messages and information.  Imagine the entire 304,805 Hebrew letters of the traditional Torah fed into a computer in perfect sequence, much like the sequenced chemical strand of a DNA double helix.  The computer then looks for meaningful words and phrases occurring at various intervals or equal distant letter skips—say every 50 letters, or 75, or 100 letters—or really any number one chooses to use, forward or backward in the text.

Bible_code_in_Genesis_1,1-4

For example, if you start with Genesis 1:1, go to the first occurrence of the letter Tav (which is at the end of the first word bereshit, “In [the] beginning”), count 49 letters, and you come to the letter Vav (50th letter); count another 49 letters and you arrive at Resh; and 49 letters again and you come to the letter Heh—put these together: Tav, Vav, Resh, Heh and you spell a Hebrew word: TORaH.  It is most interesting that the same thing happens with the first lines of Exodus, the second book of Torah.   If you begin with the first Tav (the end of the second word shemot), count 49 letters, you come to a Vav, another 49 letters to a Resh, and a fourth 49 letters you end up with a Heh—again TORaH in Hebrew.   The third book of the Torah, Leviticus, has a similar pattern, but this time the sacred Name of God (YHVH/Yod, Hey, Vav, Hey) is spelled out every seven letters, beginning with the first Yod.  Numbers and Deuteronomy continue the pattern, but with the word TORaH spelled backwards, every 49 letters.  The sacred Name YHVH also is found at the end each of these five books, also at intervals of 49 letters.  The question is, are we dealing with a phenomenon that can be explained purely by chance and random sequence, or is there some “pattern” that has somehow been inserted by the Author or authors of these texts?  Given the number of letters in Genesis (about 78 thousand), one would expect the letters Tav, Vav, Hey, and Resh, to appear in sequence, at various letter intervals, at least two or three times based on chance distribution alone.  What is interesting here is the way in which these key terms: Torah and YHVH, appear precisely where they do—at the opening and closing of the Five Books of the Torah, and in a balanced sequence of forward and backward spelling—with YHVH opening Leviticus, at a sequence of seven letters.  Such number patterns, of seven and forty-nine, have mystical and historical significance in Hebrew tradition.

TorahCodes

The phenomenon is also found in much more complicated ways.  Prof. Rips, for example, found that in the single section of Genesis 1:29-3:3, one can find encoded, at various letter sequences, not only the names of the seven edible species of seed-bearing fruits in the land of Israel (barley, wheat, vine, date, olive, fig, and pomegranate), but also the names of the twenty-five trees of the Garden of Eden, delineated by tradition (chestnut, acacia, willow, etc.)—again, all hidden at various equal distant letter skips (5, 18, 9, 14, and so forth).  There is no other segment of Genesis of similar length where these words occur at such short intervals (less than 20 letters).

Dosnin’s book goes much beyond such relatively simply patterns.  His book is filled with charts of various grids or sections of the Hebrew text, in which one finds patterns of words at various sequences—moving forward, backward, horizontally, vertically,  and diagonally.   For example, he finds the names Yitzhak Rabin and Amir (Rabin’s convicted killer),  the phrase “name of assassin who will assassinate,” Tel Aviv, and the date on the Hebrew calendar 5756 (1995-96)—all laid out in one portion of the Hebrew Torah at various letter sequences (see pp. 16-17) of his book.  He tells us of his dramatic efforts to warn Rabin of the possibilities of his death, as he discovered these particular “codes” before the assassination in 1995.  He also finds the assassinations of J. F. and Robert Kennedy, clustered with terms such as Dallas, Oswald, Ruby, S. Sirhan, marksman,  respectively.  In the case of Egyptian President Sadat, he finds the phrase “Chaled will shoot Sadat” and even the Hebrew date “8 Tishri” in a relatively small section of the text.  Another section shows many words clustered together related to the 1991 Gulf War, including the words: Saddam Hussein, missile, 3rd of Shevat (Jan 18th), and so forth.   Hardly anything is left out of the book, from Watergate, to Hiroshima, to the Jupiter comet collision.  Drosnin’s book is filled with such examples, including things yet to come—which is part of the controversy, since most of the Israeli scientists who have developed the basic research on the computer code maintain it can not be used reliably to predict the future.  As Prof. Rips put it, when asked about Drosnin’s book: “All attempts to extract messages from Torah codes or to make predictions based on them are futile and of no value.”

The idea that the Torah, as the purest revelation of the God of Israel, was divinely inspired at Sinai and delivered to Moses in a letter-perfect form that we have without error today, is fundamental to traditional Judaism.  Indeed, in Jewish mystical tradition, the Torah contains all knowledge.  As the Vilna Gaon put it in the 18th century: “all that was, is, and will be unto the end of time is included in the Torah.”   The Torah is understood to be the “blueprint” of the universe, a reflection of the perfect mind of God.  Many of these Codes, especially the more simple ones, based on the ELS phenomenon,  had been discovered by various rabbis down through the ages.  It was the brilliant Rabbi Michael Ber Weissmandl, survivor of the Holocaust, who first made a systematic examination of the entire Torah, looking for such patterns.  As a youth he had written out the entire 300 thousand letter text of the traditional Torah on white cards, in 10-by- 10 arrays of letters.  Following the war he lived outside of NY City, sat for hours, Bible in hand, making complicated mathematical calculations on the letters of the Bible, taking copius notes in the margins.  Eventually he established a Yeshiva and gathered a group of faithful students around him.  Unfortunately little of his work was committed to writing, and most is now lost.  For example, the Vilna Gaon had found the name Rambam (Maimonides) encoded in Exodus 11:9 in an acrostic acronym from the first letters of the words: Rabot Moftai B’eretz Mitzraim (“marvels will be multiplied in the land of Egypt”).  Rabbi Weissmandle discovered that if you began with the letter M (Mem), of this acrostic, the words Mishnah and Torah were spelled out at a 50 letter sequence—but with the two words separated by 613 letters.  Those familiar with Jewish tradition will recall that Maimonides’ greatest work was titled Mishnah Torah and it is the most authoritative commentary on the 613 Mitzvot (Commandments) in Judaism.

I first heard of the Torah Bible Code on various visits to the Jewish Quarter of the Old City in the early 1990s.  It was talked about openly among the rabbis and Torah students who lived there.  In fact, in July, 1990 I discussed the phenomenon with the Chief Rabbi of Israel, and he appeared to be quite excited and favorable toward the results that were just beginning to appear from the Israeli scientists.  I can still recall  the example shown to me from Deuteronomy 31:14-18, where Moses is told how Israel will go astray and that God will hide his face from them.  If you begin with the letter Heh, last letter in the name of Moses in verse 14, count 50 letters, you come to Shin, another 50 letters, you come to Vav, and so forth until one finds spelled out: Hey Shin Vav, Alef, Heh—which is in Hebrew is HaShoah—the Holocaust! (see illustration).  I was told at the time that this word, HaShoah, never occurs anywhere else in the Torah in such a pattern.  I still have my Hebrew Bible marked with those letters I circled on that day.   Shortly thereafter I was able to obtain a privately published “manual” on the Torah Codes published by the Orthodox group Arachim.  In 1993 I received a letter from Prof. Paul Eidelberg from Bar-Ilan University, on behalf of his colleague Dr. Moshe Katz asking me for help in getting some of this work published in English.   Prof. Katz was one of the pioneers in the computer examination of the Torah Code possibilities.  Prof. Eidelberg was kind enough to mail me a copy of Prof. Katz’ s book on the Torah Codes in Hebrew, B’Otiyoteiha Nitna Torah (published 1991; subsequently in English as: Computorah: On Hidden Codes in the Torah [1996]).  Over the next few years I continued to hear about the Bible Code and the astonishing claims these Israeli mathematicians were making.  Prof. Eidelberg himself published a fine summary in the Orthodox scientific journal B’Or HaTorah (“Codes in the Torah: A Discussion” No. 9, 1995), and from time to time one would see articles about the codes in the Jewish press.

The first major academic breakthrough involving such research on the Bible Codes was the 1994 publication of an article in the prestigious scholarly journal Statistical Science (Vol 9, No. 3, pp. 429-38) titled “Equidistant Letter Sequences in the Book of Genesis,” by Israeli mathematicians Doron Witztum, Elijahu Rips, and Yoav Rosenberg.   In this very technical article these researchers reported on an experiment in which they claimed to have found, encoded in the book of Genesis, the names, as well as the birth and death dates, of 34 “Great Men of Israel” taken at random from a Jewish Encyclopedia.  Their list included such figures as Rabbi Avraham Ibn-Ezra, Rashi, the Rambam, and so forth.  In October, 1995, the popular magazine Bible Review, published a summary of these findings by researcher Dr. Jeffrey Satinover, titled “Divine Authorship? Computer Reveals Startling Word Patterns.”   The response was overwhelming and gradually the subject of the Bible Codes was working its way into a wider discussion among Biblical scholars (who almost universally scoffed at the idea) and informed lay persons.  Satinover addressed many of the objections and responses in a subsequent issue of Bible Review (February, 1996), but the idea was dismissed by Biblical scholars as preposterous and it never really caught on in the public mind.   A rather technical mathematical discussion has continued on the Web in various Usenet groups since the publication of the Statistical Science article in 1994.  I have attempted all along to follow the discussion as it has developed.

And then Michael Drosnin’s book burst on the scene and the result was like a torrential storm among specialists and non-specialists alike. There are dozens of Web sites on the Internet devoted to a discussion, pro and con, of the validity of the Bible Codes.  Bible Review, perhaps as an act of repentance, published a scathingly critical article on Dosnin’s book in August, 1997 titled “The Bible Code: Cracked and Crumbling,” in which the prestigious Hebrew Bible scholar Ron Hendel and mathematician Shlomo Sternberg pointed out what they consider to be the utter foolishness, problematic nature, and outright fraud embodied in the whole idea.   Australian mathematician Brendan McKay, along with Hebrew University professor Dror Bar-Nathan, are engaged in writing a detailed refutation of what they consider to be the mathematical flaws of the whole idea.  Preliminary versions of their work are already available on the Internet, with replies and responses by Ripps and Witztum, and counter-responses from McKay & Bar-Nathan.  These discussions become extremely abstract and technical and would surely be difficult to follow without a high level of training in the science of mathematical statistics (see http://cs.anu.edu.au/~bdm/dilugim/report1.html).

In the meantime, everyone is jumping into the act.  You can purchase a copy of the Torah Bible Codes program and run it on your own personal computer.  With a little knowledge of Hebrew one can search for his or her own name and any other significant data.  I know of several who have done this.  One friend wrote me recently to report that he had found his name, year of birth, place of birth, and the words “prophet Elijah” are all encoded together!  He is trying to determine if this might be significant for his own role in the future plan of God.   Others are using the codes to reveal all sorts of details about the impending apocalyptic end of the age on or around the turn of the Millennium.  The Christians have also moved quickly into the arena.  Popular evangelical writer Grant Jeffrey has published a best-seller titled The Signature of God, in which he shows how all sorts of information asserting Jesus as the Messiah, his atoning death on the cross, and his role as Savior and Lord, are all encoded in Hebrew Bible using this same ELS code!   For example, he points out that if you begin in Genesis 1:1, take the first Yod in the first word, count forward every 521st letter, you will spell out Yeshua Yakhol, which he translates “Jesus is able.”  (I have not bothered to count this one out, but assume it will work).  He also finds the name of Yeshua, as one might expect, in the prophecy of Isaiah 53 regarding the Suffering Servant.  Jeffrey has no mathematical training of which I am aware, but he assures his readers that the chances this name would appear randomly in this chapter are one in 50 quadrillion!!  What Jeffrey fails to point out or recognize is that any name of three or four common letters can be found millions of times in various letter sequences, in any language, in a book the size of the Hebrew Torah.  The word Yeshua, with its very common Hebrew letters, occurs 600,000 times at various sequences in the Torah—but so does Koresh, Mohammed, Krishna, Buddha, and so forth, including most of the simple first names of anyone reading this article.   One can find Jeffrey’s book at Barnes and Noble and all the popular mass market book chains, including airports, shopping centers, and grocery stores.  It is obvious that the whole Bible Code phenomenon has degenerated to the level of tea leaves and Tarot cards!   The whole subject of mathematical patterns is nothing new.  Over the years I have read of “astounding” claims of improbability with reference to the measurements of pyramids of Egypt, the letters in the Arabic Koran, or even the Greek New Testament (numeric patterns of all types).

In my view one of the most worthwhile discussions of the whole Torah Code phenomenon, on a more popular level, is being carried out by the leaders of Aish HaTorah, a rabbinical school in Jerusalem founded by Noah Weinberg—particularly the work of Rabbi Daniel Mechanic, senior “Codes” lecturer for the organization.  Although these Orthodox Jewish scholars are convinced the Torah Code phenomenon points to the Divine Authorship of the Hebrew Torah, they have responsibly engaged one another and outside colleagues in a discussion that takes into consideration the various objections and excesses of the subject. Jeffrey Satinover, the author of the initial article in Bible Review,  has published a responsible and balanced book called Cracking the Bible Code (William Morrow, 1997), that appears to be the best single source for surveying the question in a comprehensive way—neither with hyper-skepticism nor dubious predisposed belief.

In the end, the notion of the Bible Codes rests on two fundamental pillars: 1) the claim that these word patterns are statistically significant and could not be accounted for by chance; 2) the idea that there is a letter-perfect, inviolate, version of the Torah in Hebrew, without textual variants or alterations.   First, we must be clear on what is meant by “codes.”  Word patterns per se, distributed at various distances, will naturally occur in any text in any alphabetic language, whether the English or Hebrew Bible, the works of Tolstoy or Shakespeare, the morning newspaper, or even this article I am writing.   Such “words” are accounted for purely by chance, and are not properly referred to as “codes.”  Thus to find my name Tabor, or Jesus, or that of anyone reading this article, in any text, is no surprise—especially if the letters of a text are arranged on a grid, and one searches for sequences of one letter skips up to several thousand, in all directions—forwards, backwards, horizontally, and vertically.  The possibilities are endless!   A “code,” on the other hand, implies that an author or the Author has deliberately arranged the text with certain patterns, complex enough and unusual enough that they would not be accounted for by a random chance occurrence.

For example, Prof. McKay took the English text of Moby Dick and has shown how all sorts of “astounding” things can be found at various letter sequences—such as the assassinations of various public figures, with dates and details.   In a more playful mood, Dr. McKay took an English translation of the New Testament book of Revelation and found terms such as Bill Gates, MS-DOS, virtual reality, software,  and even the name Michael Drosin—all on a single page grid!   Other researchers have taken a portion of the Hebrew translation of War and Peace, roughly the size of the Torah in Hebrew, fed it into a computer, and sought to determine what hidden codes might be there as well.   In one short section of the book they found at least 50 words, and even phrases, related to Chanukah—including Hashmonean, temple, lights, Maccabees, sanctuary, month of Kislev, miracles, chanukah, etc.   Not having any advanced mathematical training, and no experience at all in the complex world of statistical analysis, I really can offer little here from my own expertise.  I will continue to read the debate between the mathematicians and follow it to the degree I can.

BHS

As for the inviolate text of the Hebrew Bible, the whole Bible Codes theory faces what I take to be a rather insurmountable problem—especially in dealing with portions of the Hebrew text larger than a section or page.  Drosnin states that the Israeli research is based on the traditional Torah, as printed in the Jerusalem Bible Koren edition, which he tells us is the same in all official copies of the text worldwide.  The problem is that there is no single ancient copy of the Torah that agrees letter perfectly with modern copies found in synagogues today.  The traditional text reprinted in modern editions goes back only to the 16th century and represents a composite text based on various manuscripts of the Masoretic text, put together by the Rabbis.  Even our two oldest copies of the Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible, the Aleppo Codex and the Leningrad Codex (10th century C.E.), do not agree in every word and letter.   Any critical edition of the Hebrew Bible will show these many variations at the bottom of the page (see the latest edition of Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, which is based on the Leningrad Codex but footnotes all the major variants from other manuscripts).  There are also the many hundreds of changes that the Masoretes made in the text and have noted in the margins and their notes.  Over 100 times they change the name of God from YHVH to Adonai, thousands of times they recognize that the text as written needs correction (which they do in the margins).   Now with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and portions of the Torah they contain, we know the Masoretic text is just one textual tradition, and not necessarily the oldest.  As often as not the Dead Sea texts agree with the Greek Septuagint (which was translated from a Hebrew version around 200 B.C.E.!), and the Hebrew text that Josephus used, against the traditional Masoretic text.  This means that any wide search of the Hebrew Bible, involving thousands of letters in dozens of pages, becomes invalid if one assumes that the precise letter sequence in modern copies of the Torah has not changed over the centuries.  Our manuscript evidence simply proves otherwise.  On the other hand, some of the word patterns, such as the two illustrated in this article, involving letter skips of only 49 or 50 letters, in a relatively limited section of Torah, would remain valid subjects of discussion.  What becomes impressive to the non-specialist is when such patterns appear to be superimposed directly within a passage in which the plain meaning of the text corresponds to the “code”—such as the “trees of Eden” mentioned earlier, or the word “holocaust” in Deuteronomy 31:16-19, a passage dealing directly with the subject of the “hiding of the face.”  The mathematical debate will go on and perhaps reach definitive resolution by the scientists.  My own conclusion is that the verdict is still out on the final question: has some author/s or Author/s inserted patterned messages into the text of the Hebrew Bible, or can all the patterns,  so far discovered, be accounted for by statistical factors of chance.

Remembering David Horowitz: When Prophecy Echoed in the White House

A Story stranger than any fiction…

On November 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly voted to recommend the partition of Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state by a vote of 33-13, with 10 abstentions. France, the Soviet Union, and the United States were the major powers that supported the resolution. David Horowitz had worked intensely behind the scenes to help influence crucial Latin American votes needed to pass the partition plan.

Violence in the Holy Land broke out almost immediately after the UN announcement.

The Arabs declared a protest strike and began to instigate riots. By the end of the second week, 93 Arabs, 84 Jews, and 7 Englishmen had been killed and scores were injured. The chairman of the Arab Higher Committee said that the Arabs would “fight for every inch of their country.” Two days later, the jurists of Al-Azhar University in Cairo called on the Muslim world to proclaim a jihad (holy war) against the Jews.

Harry Truman

The United Nations appointed a commission composed of representatives from Denmark, Czechoslovakia, Panama, Bolivia, and the Philippines to implement their resolution. The British gave notice that they would evacuate Palestine by August 1, 1948, although they later decided to terminate the mandate earlier, on May 15.

On April 18, 1948, United Israel World Union held it’s fifth Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, where David Horowitz gave a full report on results of the UN Assembly Special Session on the Palestine imbroglio.

The March-April 1948 edition of the UI Bulletin was released. It included an advertisement for Horowitz’s autobiography entitled “In Quest of God.” It would later be re-named “Thirty-Three Candles.”

As fighting intensified, the State Department convinced President Truman to propose that the partition plan be suspended in favor of a UN trusteeship over Palestine, warning that the longer the violence continued, the angrier the Arab world would become at the United States. This policy shift caused great consternation to world Jewry.

In the spring of 1948, Truman’s public approval rating stood at 36% and the President was nearly universally regarded as incapable of winning the general election. All the polls showed Thomas Dewey far ahead. Truman’s chances for re-election were considered very slim.

It was during this time that David Horowitz met up with an old friend and a luncheon conversation would lead to an engaging new development.

David’s activities would take him to Washington quite often where he usually met for lunch with an official of the Department of Justice, Martin F. Smith, formally associated with the Congress and an old friend of Harry Truman. Mr. Smith, like Mr. Truman, was a deep student of the Bible and prophecy. During their meetings, Horowitz and Smith would almost always discuss prophecy in the light of present-day events as relating to Israel and America.

President Truman had long taken an interest in the history of the Middle East and was well read on ancient history and the events related in the Bible.

During their meeting, the discussion turned to Smith’s friend, Mr. Truman and the Presidential campaign. Both agreed that Truman’s chances for re-election was very poor.

As they spoke about the Bible and prophecy as relating to the Jews returning to Palestine, David told Smith that America’s new policy was contrary to God’s will and for that reason, Truman, as head of the nation, had found disfavor in the sight of God and man.

Then, in a sort of wishful way, David said to Smith: “Possibly if Truman would heed my counsel he might still at this late hour stand a chance of re-election.” Smith, looking serious and taking the statement in earnest, said: “Tell me and I will tell the President.”

Somewhat taken aback by this sudden challenge and realizing that Mr. Smith was serious, David told him: “Truman should know, first of all, that no man or electorate had put him into the White House. He got in through an act of God when Franklin D. Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945 a week or so after it was revealed that Mr. Roosevelt had made certain commitments to Ibn Saud and the Arabs. Hence, it is clear, that God does not want Truman to listen to every dissenting voice, as he has up until now, in matters of State and Foreign Policy. God wants him to do what he thinks is right himself.”

“Moreover,” David continued, “the problem of Palestine is not exclusively a Jewish one. American Christian voters, nurtured on Hebrew tradition as based on the Bible, have always connected the Jew with the Holy Land. When they read in their daily papers that Truman was wavering on this matter, permitting the State Department to play politics that’s not in the interest of the people of the Book, they lost their faith in him. They saw a weak man who changes his mind with every wind. Therefore, unless your friend, Mr. Truman, realizes these facts and rectifies the wrong done the Jews, he will fail history and lose. He will have to convince the American people by doing something spectacular in the matter of the Jews and Palestine so as to electrify the world.”

Mr. Smith listened intently and when they parted he promised he would go to his friend, the President, and press the matter with him.

A week later, in a New York Times dispatch reporting Mr. Truman’s weekly press conference, the President was quoted among other things, as having said: “I don’t care what happens to my own political career personally. I am going to do what I think is right.”

During this press conference reporters seemed to be witnessing a new Truman. He became more “unpredictable.” He began to act more on his own and his ratings in the public eye began to rise.

Fighting in the undeclared war in Palestine gradually escalated. From November 30, 1947 through February 1, 1948, 427 Arabs, 381 Jews, and 46 British were killed and many were wounded. In March alone, 271 Jews and 257 Arabs died in clashes

The UN continued to debate Trusteeship over Palestine, but there seemed to be insufficient support in the UN General Assembly to adopt this change of policy.

The UN partition resolution was never suspended or rescinded and on May 14, 1948, the Zionists declared the independent state of Israel, as the British finally left the country.

Against vigorous opposition from his Secretary of State, George Marshall, President Truman did the unpredictable. He extended immediate recognition to the new state eleven minutes after it declared itself a nation.

Marshall believed the paramount threat to the US was the Soviet Union and feared that Arab oil would be lost to the US in the event of war. He warned Truman that: “the US was playing with fire with nothing to put it out.” There was other opposition in the State Department as well.

Truman had indeed electrified the world by recognizing the State of Israel to the dejection of Israel’s enemies. The General Assembly of the UN went into a tantrum. Not even the American delegation there under Warren Austin had known about Truman’s act.

It seemed that Harry Truman had taken seriously the message conveyed to him by Martin F. Smith, perhaps becoming a modern Cyrus.

David Horowitz was there in the press gallery in Flushing Meadows that late Friday afternoon as a witness when the news of Truman’s recognition of Israel was announced in the General Assembly.

When David met with Martin Smith during their next visit, Smith told him that soon after their previous meeting, he had contacted Truman and told him every word he had heard from David. He said that Truman listened intently and became strangely quiet. “I have seen Mr. Truman many times and in many moods,” Smith said, “but never did I see him so dead earnest and serious as at the close of our meeting this time.”

The 1948 Presidential Election will always be remembered for Harry Truman’s stunning come from behind victory.

The defining image of the campaign came after Election Day, when an ecstatic Truman held aloft the erroneous front page of The Chicago Tribune with a huge headline proclaiming “Dewey Defeats Truman.”

Truman’s inauguration would be the first ever televised nationally.

This is the fourth in the ongoing series “Remembering David Horowitz.” Be sure to read any posts you have missed at our archive here.

RalpBuntynh Buntyn is executive vice president and associate editor of United Israel World Union. A historian and researcher, his many articles and essays have appeared in various media outlets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remembering Christmas 1776: Washington–An American Joshua

This is the time of year celebrated by many as a season of joy, thankfulness and perhaps miracles. One such miracle occurred on Christmas Day 1776 that influenced America’s struggle for independence and perhaps a different outcome for all of us. It was the closest the fledgling Continental Army ever came to disaster.

The year opened with the British evacuating Boston. Then both the American Penobscot Bay Expedition and invasion of Canada failed. General Washington’s Continental Army moved to protect New York, but was routed by superior forces that outmaneuvered them at every engagement. Only by luck and British ineptness was Washington able to keep his forces relatively intact during the long retreat through New Jersey into Pennsylvania.

In mid-December when the weather turned extremely cold, British General Howe made one of the fateful decisions of the war. He suspended military actions until spring, establishing a string of outposts on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River and retired most of his army to New York.

washington_delaware.jpg

Things were drastically different for Washington’s forces across the river from Trenton, a village of a hundred homes, two mills and iron furnaces. Most of the townspeople had fled. Some 2500 Hessians occupied the town. Hessians were mercenary German soldiers supplied to the British army in its fight against America. They were employed by King George III who simply did not have enough soldiers in his own army to supply the needs of his commanders in America. In total, nearly 30,000 German soldiers fought for the British in North America. A stronger outpost was at Brunswick, 20 miles away.

Washington commanded about 6,000 troops. Hundreds fell ill, and all suffered from the cold. The troops had not been paid for months and morale was extremely low. The period of enlistment would expire for more than a third of Washington’s army in January. Congress had fled from Philadelphia and two members had gone over to the enemy. It was reasonable to presume that the war was essentially over and the Americans had lost.

On December 14, Washington told key members of his staff that “a lucky blow against the enemy would most certainly rouse the spirits of the people, which are quite shrunk by our misfortunes.” Later he confirmed plans for an attack on Trenton to begin on Christmas Day.

On Christmas Eve, Washington went over the final details. The army would cross the Delaware and attack at three places, a force of 1,500 would cross downstream and advance on Burlington, and a smaller force would attack directly across the river at Trenton. The largest force of 2,000 led by Washington would cross upstream and come back south.

The first step, crossing the river, would commence at midnight, and all forces were scheduled to arrive at Trenton and attack at six. In spite of deteriorating Christmas Day weather with wind, snow and sleet, the river being up and filled with broken ice, the password was still: “Victory or Death.”

The crossing was made on big flat-bottomed, high-sided boats that could carry 40 men standing up. The troops, with horses and 20 cannon began moving during the afternoon. Washington crossed early and observed the slow process. Near midnight a major storm arrived and temperatures dropped. It was three in the morning before the entire contingent was across.

Downstream both forces encountered so much ice that they were forced to abort their mission. Washington’s forces were behind schedule and the storm grew worse, with rain, sleet, snow and violent hail. They had six miles to get to Trenton and got there about eight in the morning.

The attack began.

The Hessians rushed out of their quarters and attempted to form up. Henry Knox’s cannon scattered them and their commanding officer was killed. Being surrounded, most of the Hessians lay down their arms and surrendered. It was all over in 45 minutes. Twenty-one Hessians were killed, 90 wounded, 900 became prisoners and another 500 escaped.

Only four Americans were wounded, including Lieutenant James Monroe, a future president of the United States. No Americans were killed.

Washington had prophesied that some “lucky blow” would “rouse the spirits of the people” and it had a stunning effect on the morale of the country.

The war for independence would continue, endlessly it would seem for some, for another six and a half years before the Treaty of Paris formally ended the war in 1783.

Practically all of us have seen one of the most-recognized paintings in history: that of Washington crossing the Delaware in an 1851 oil-on-canvas work by Emanuel Leutze, a German-American painter, commemorating the attack by George Washington’s Continental Army on Hessian forces encamped at Trenton, N. J. on Christmas Day, 1776.

In the first issue of the United Israel World Union Bulletin dated July 1944, founder and president David Horowitz wrote an article entitled “Washington and Ezekiel’s Vision”. He opened by saying that very few Americans are aware of the fact that George Washington was a Godly man who had been inspired with visions of truth and there can be no doubt that Jehovah guided him in his actions and deeds. The article gave an account of one of Washington’s visions that he personally related to Anthony Sherman, who in turn related it to Wesley Bradshaw. Following this mysterious experience, a troubled Washington felt that he had seen a vision wherein it had been shown to him the birth, progress and destiny of the United States. It is a remarkable accounting, the majority given in Washington’s own words.

Dr. Ezra Stiles the seventh president of Yale University, often spoke of America as a “modern Israel.” In referring to George Washington, Dr. Stiles made this significant statement: “Whereupon Congress put at the head of the spirited army, the only man on whom the eyes of all Israel were placed. Posterity, incredulous as it may be, will yet acknowledge that this American Joshua was raised up by God for the great work of leading the armies of this American Joseph, now separated from his brethren, and conducting these people to liberty and independence.”

As Americans, we have yet another reason to celebrate the season and to give thanks for the outcome of an event embedded 238 years ago in our nation’s rich history.

BuntynRalph Buntyn is executive vice president and associate editor of United Israel World Union. A historian and researcher, his many articles and essays have appeared in various media outlets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hanukkah Yes, but also Kislev 24–Its Biblical Meaning

It is not entirely correct to say that the marking of the festival of Hanukkah is not found in the Hebrew Bible. Surprisingly it is!

As sundown fell across Israel, Israel, Europe, and the United States last evening, December 16th, millions of Jews and many others who care about the history of Israel lit candles welcoming the advent of Hanukkah, the eight Festival of Dedication. I am in Jerusalem this week and last night went down to the Western Wall to watch the festivities as the chief Rabbis and other dignitaries gathered to light the first lights to inaugurate the festival. There was music, singing, and dancing–a truly festive time.

Hanukkah Dec 16 2014 Western Wall

Often non-Jews who might not know much about Hanukkah refer to it as the “Jewish Christmas,” which it certainly is not. It is often said that Hanukkah is not a “biblical” festival, which is the case, as it originated long after the close of the period of Jewish history represented in the Hebrew Bible. Rather it commemorating the victory of the Maccabees or Hasmoneans over the Syrian-Greek tyrant Antiochus Epiphanes on Kislev 25 in 164 BCE–the “cleansing of the Temple” and the establishment of 200 years of Jewish sovereignty over the Land of Israel–free of foreign domination. Antiochus had erected an image to Zeus, destroyed Torahs, forbidden circumcision, and sought to essentially “outlaw” Jewish faith and practice. One finds the basic story in the book of 1 Maccabees, which is now part of what is called the Apocrypha (included in the LXX or Septuagint/Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible plus additional books and subsequently in the Vulgate or Catholic “Old Testament.”) However, it is not entirely correct to say that the marking of this day is not found in the Hebrew Bible. Surprisingly it is! As it turns out the the feast of Hanukkah itself, is grounded in the importance of Kislev 24–the day before Hanukkah, based on what the Prophet Haggai says. Notice carefully this historical background:

The book of the prophet Haggai comes to us from the 2nd year of the Persian King Darius, late summer, August, 520 BCE. It is one of the most precisely dated books in the Hebrew Bible, much like its sister Zechariah, and its twin Malachi. The three go together, like peas in the pod, both coming from that crucial time of the “restoration” of Judah to the Land following the Babylonian captivity. Collectively they are our LAST WORD from Yehovah in terms of how the redemption is to unfold. It is very likely, based on Haggai 1:12, where the Prophet is called the “messenger of YHVH,” that Haggai is in fact the author of the book we call Malachi, as this book is just named “My Messenger,” and the name of the prophet who wrote it is not given. Both Haggai and Zechariah address their contemporary situation, as one would expect, and are concerned that the Temple be rebuilt and that the constitution of the new state of Judah be ordered according to the Torah. However, if read carefully, both clearly understand that this restoration of Judah is only a preliminary, even symbolic step, to a coming GREAT restoration of Judah and ALL Israel. Even though there is a Priest (Joshua), and a Governor (Zerubbabel) of the Davidic line, there is no anointing of the BRANCH figure of whom both Isaiah and Jeremiah had spoken. One way of putting this is to say that Haggai and Zechariah are working in the tall shadow of JEREMIAH (see especially chapters 30-31), and they know, from his clear and powerful prophecies, that the final days have not come with this tiny little beachhead return of a portion of Judah to the land. But they do believe that this return of Judah is a “sign” of things to come, and a guarantee that the Plan of Yehovah, to fill the earth with justice and righteousness, through Abraham’s seed, is not to fall to the ground.

And that leads us to the curious and fascinating references to the 24th day of the 9th month–Kislev 24 in modern Jewish parlance.

Notice, reading the book of Haggai is sequential, it takes you through the last months of the year. It begins with the Rosh Chodesh of the 6th month (August), takes you through the 21st day of the 7th month (2:1), which is the last day of Sukkoth (October), and then into December–with the 24th day of the 9th month. Haggai’s third and fourth messages come on this very day. It is a short book, and if you skim it through you will see the building sequence.

Kislev 24 is mentioned FOUR times in the second chapters, verses 10, 15, 18 and 20. Twice it is emphasized that “from THIS DAY FORWARD I will bless you,” and twice Haggai gets a special Word from Yehovah, on this very day. You have to read the whole chapter to get the context, but the message is basically that Yehovah will “SHAKE the heavens and the earth and ALL NATIONS,” overthrowing their power, anoint the chosen one (symbolized in that day by Zerubbabel), and essentially make Jerusalem the new world capital. For the DETAILS you need to go back, of course, to Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Micah in particular, as they set forth the entire agenda to which Haggai only briefly alludes.

This message is addressed to the two “messiahs,” the Priest and the “King” or Governor, Joshua and Zerubbabel, respectively (2:4-5). They become “signifiers” of things to come. They are not the final anointed ones, and Zechariah picks this up in his visions, especially chapters 4 and 6. These symbolic figures, as well as the promised presence of the Holy Spirit (see 2:5 and Zech 4:6!), are the guarantee that Yehovah will bring about these promises.

Notice, Zechariah begins getting his visions and messages in the 8th month of that same year (Zech 1:1), or mid-November. He has EIGHT night visions, they are all quite difficult to follow, but prophetically important in forecasting the redemptive future. There is much more detail in Zechariah, but the two, Haggai and Zechariah, should be read in tandem, as one explains the other. Now, note carefully, Kislev 24 is not specifically mentioned in Zechariah, but it is alluded to in chapter 4:8-10. It is the famous “day of small things,” that one might be led to “despise,” because after all, this tiny little remnant of Judah, beginning to lay the foundation of a nondescript temple, under the mighty thumb of the Persian empire, was hardly even worthy of the name of a city-state, much less a world kingdom, and yet had HOPES and DREAMS and promises of world dominion!

Chapters 7-14 of Zechariah, which he gets two years later, are quite different. They are straightforward and fairly plain, laying out, likely in some sequential order, both the preliminary events, and the detailed climax, of the “time of the end.”

So, what about Kislev 24? It seems to have a three-fold meaning. First, in the time of Haggai and Zechariah, it was the day MARKED for the promise that the redemption would ultimately come about, not by power, nor by might, but by the Spirit of Yehovah–but “in its time.” Second, subsequently though history, this day seems to be one upon which key events take place, perhaps only a few of which have been recognized down through history. And finally, it might well turn out that on some Kislev 24 in the future, that date will serve as a “countdown marker” for the unfolding of the mysterious 1260/1290/1335/2300 days of Daniel’s visions, which interested Sir Isaac Newton so much.

During the period of the Maccabees, when Syrian ruler Antiochus IV unleashed his great persecution against the Jews of Judea/Palestine, it was on Kislev 24 that the enemy was defeated and the Temple freed from its desecration. That is why the festival of Chanukah is celebrated beginning at sundown, at the end of Kislev 24. In other words, it is NOT so much Chanukah that is important, as its marker date: Kislev 24. It seems to become a kind of banner date in history that marks any kind of “signal” of future redemption.

Allenby Hanukkah

Fast forward to December 9, 1917. General Allenby, leading the British forces (remember Lawrence of Arabia), liberates Jerusalem for the first time in centuries from Turkish/Muslim rule. The date on the Jewish calendar–you guessed it: Kislev 24! That evening the Jewish soldiers in the British army celebrated Chanukah and went to the Wall in openness and freedom. The Torah reading that week was Mikketz (Gen 41), where JOSEPH is raised to power and saves Judah. And the Haphtorah reading, for the special Sabbath of Chanukah, as it is today, is the fascinating Zechariah 2:14-4:7! Note how it begins: “I have returned to Zion,” which seems to be the essential meaning of THIS DAY.

It is doubtful that Allenby was aware, during the heat of the battle, of even Chanukah, but certainly he knew nothing of Kislev 24.

If we begin checking in history over the past 2520 years (remember that number), there have been numerous times when Kislev 24 has played a large part, and even a smaller more symbolic part, in the unfolding of redemptive history. For example, no matter what one’s view of Yeshua might be, it seems in all likelihood that Yeshua was conceived on this day, nine months before his birth in September 3 BCE.

Some years ago it came to light that the encounter David Horowitz had at the “cave of the Sanhedrin,” with his teacher Moshe Guibbory, as recounted in his autobiography, Thirty-three Candles, was on Friday night, December 16/17, 1927–and again, you guessed it, this was Kislev 24th. The Torah reading was Vayeshev, which begins the Joseph cycle, and the Haphtorah was Amos 2:6-3:8, which seems quite appropriate. Horowitz had no idea of this until over 50 years later when it was pointed out to him by others.
Now, a tiny bit on the numbers. Note, these important visions came in the year 520 BCE. The year 2000/2001 marks 2520 years since that first Kislev 24 vision of Haggai. The number 2520 is interesting, it has several mystical mathematical properties, but one most obvious one is that it is 7 x 360, or seven “prophetic years.” A prophetic year in the Bible is 360 days, thus we get in the books of Daniel and Revelation the period of 1260 days for 3.5 years. There are a number of indications, both in the Torah and Prophets, especially Ezekiel, that a kind of “day for a year” principle applies in Prophecy, and accordingly, the official “Exile” of Joseph and Judah would last 2520 years. Perhaps this is the meaning of the phrase “after two days” and “on the third day” references in Hosea 6. Now Judah was essentially “restored” in type at least, in the year 520, but the full restoration, and the union of things between Judah and Joseph is yet to come, “after two days” according to Hosea (a day is a “thousand years” in these prophetic texts). The point is, based on this chronology, we are “in” the third day, as of the year 2000. And indeed, it does appear we have begun to experience a “shaking of all things.” Whether this is the ultimate upheaval to which Haggai refers remains to be seen.

It is also worth noting, in terms of Kislev 24, that if you add 2300 days (the figure in Daniel 8) to that day, you always, on the Jewish calendar, come to the last day of Unleavened Bread, oddly something like 6.3 years later. In other words, it is sort of a strange figure. And there are then various interesting ways, too complicated to go into here, that the periods of Daniel (1260/1290/1335) fit in, taking one to Shavuot of any given sequence of years. We do know for certain that the 2300 “days” was fulfilled as a “day for a year” running from Alexander’s defeat of Darius in 334 BCE (June 7), to the day, to June 7, 1967–when Jerusalem was liberated by the Israelis in the Six Day War. The point seems to be that Alexander’s march to Jerusalem began a period of 2300 days/years of the trampling of Jerusalem. So what this seems to indicate is that there is a larger (day for a year) fulfillment of these periods, as well as a shorter “day for a day” fulfillment, once the “countdown” begins.

One might conclude then, from these indications, that on some Kislev 24, at some year “on our days and in our time” (whether past or future), people will come to recognize that Haggai’s “shaking” did indeed begin. It does not seem likely that time has quite yet come, but every year at this time one’s thoughts go to this date, given such an important designation by Haggai and Zechariah. On a personal level, it seems it can always be a date of “renewal” for any of us, and a time of new beginnings, looking to both the past and to the future.

2-1 Sale on Copies of Restoring Abrahamic Faith

A Personal Note from Dr. James D. Tabor

Many of our readers have copies of my book Restoring Abrahamic Faith but I wanted folks to be aware of the annual “Holiday” 2-1 sale on this particular book. I was thinking many who appreciate find this book might find it to be an ideal gift for friends and family. Here are the details on the sale and below is a post from 2010 where I describe the book, its history, and how I came to write it. Unfortunately, due to sky high international postage (more than the cost of the book!), this 2-1 sale is only offered to US domestic customers. I hope to have an e-book version out in 2015. Copies are mailed UPSP Priority Mail and shipped the next business day of the order.

Holiday 2-1 SALE through the end of 2014
Order any quantity of copies of Restoring Abrahamic Faith
and your order will be automatically doubled at no extra cost
All Copies are signed by the author
US Domestic Orders Only

Payments by Credit/Debit or Paypal via genesis2000.org or through Amazon.
Payments by Check to: Genesis 2000 mailed to:
Genesis 2000 Press
2124 Crown Centre Drive, Suite 300
Charlotte, NC 28227

RAFShadded

As a professor in a large and thriving Department of Religious Studies in a public/state university I make every effort to keep my personal religious faith and our enterprise as a faculty in the area of the academic study of religion properly separated. There is some debate in our field on this question with arguments on both sides as to what extent one’s implicit religious or political views should become part of the teaching discourse. Although there is no need to avoid matters of religious faith in the classroom, and indeed such matters are part of our study, my position is that personal theology belongs elsewhere–particularly for those in public education.

That said, like Frank Moore Cross and many others in our field who were raised in Christian contexts, I have found myself more personally drawn toward the complex of ideas, concepts, tensions, and even contradictions, reflected in the Hebrew Bible, as I have noted previously in my Blog post “Reflections on the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament.”

Back in 1991 I published a little book titled Restoring Abrahamic Faith with a small non-profit publisher called Genesis 2000. It was more or less in response to questions I was getting from many quarters regarding my own “beliefs.” It was mainly an attempt to save my “breath,” so I could refer it to those who were curious about my own personal faith, or the lack thereof.  Also, in the final chapter of my popular book, The Jesus Dynasty, that was intended for general audiences far beyond my academic arena, I did include, a final “Conclusion” that delved into matters of faith and the consequences of historical Jesus studies–mentioning my view of “Abrahamic Faith.” In 2008 in an expanded, 3rd edition was released.  It is now available either directly from the publisher (http://genesis2000.org) or through Amazon. And yes, alas, it also has a Facebook Fan page! You can read the preface to the book on-line here, as well as several endorsements and reviews.

Remembering David Horowitz: A Biblical Answer to the UN Controversy over Zion

This is Part 3 on the continuing monthly series “Remembering David Horowitz” by our Executive Vice President Ralph Buntyn who is currently working on a biography of David Horowitz’s career during his United Nations years and the first 60 years of United Israel World Union  (1944-2002).

For nearly two years David Horowitz exchanged correspondence with the King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Abdullah Ibn al-Hussein, see “A Dialogue with an Arab King” here. Central to their dialogue was the Palestine Question and the notion of whether the ancient texts of the Bible and Koran could play a role in the resolution of key issues.

In February 1947, the British, succumbing to the problems and pressures from Palestine and at home, announced they were referring the Palestine Mandate question to the United Nations. This spurred a beehive of activity at the UN. David Horowitz, sensing that the timing was right, was about to take his case directly to the big house.

Isaiah Horowitz UN

As a prelude, David spent considerable time discussing and interviewing several Arab and Muslim delegates including Dr. Charles Malik of Lebanon, Dr. Fadhil Jamali of Iraq and M. Asif Ali, a Muslim delegate from India. He posed the same question to all delegates: “Do you think the Bible and the Koran could be used as the basis in solving the Palestine Problem?” Responses were mixed, however, several contended that the impasse included a deeper religious element that the ultimate solution might have to face.

Following these encouraging responses, United Israel World Union sent a letter to the Chairman of the UN’s Political and Security Committee, Lester B. Pearson, suggesting the World Organization consider using the Bible and Koran to help settle the Arab-Israeli dispute over Palestine.

On April 28, 1947, fifty-five nations of the world, representing the greater part of mankind, took seats in the New York City Building at Flushing Meadows, Long Island. They had been summoned in special session to begin deliberations over the vexing and seemingly unsolvable issue of Palestine.

In the May-June, 1947 edition of United Israel Bulletin, David Horowitz authored an article entitled: “Controversy over Zion comes to United Nations.”

In his letter to Pearson, David stated both the purpose and reason for the appeal:

“As an international Anglo-Hebrew Organization, chartered under the laws of the State of New York, we have a deep interest in the fate of Palestine. We wish, therefore, to submit the following for the consideration of the Fact-Finding Commission, which it is the duty of your committee to elect for the study of the seemingly unsolvable Palestine Question.”

David then proceeded to recommend that the Commission give serious and careful consideration to the two historic documents that constitute the life-pattern of the Jewish and Arabic peoples, namely, the Bible and the Koran. After a gentle reminder to the Commission that all other previous approaches to the solution to the problem of Palestine have failed, he stated: “We recommend that your Committee include these world-recognized documents as evidence to be considered in the study.” It seemed incumbent then upon the cousins, the Arabs and the Jews, to recognize fully what is actually inherent in the Palestine question.

The proposal included three main points: 1) that these documents are honored by both peoples and are also recognized by world courts; 2) they establish these peoples statehood status, and 3) they indicate the extent of their historic domain in the Middle East.

On June 2, 1947, United Israel World Union received a reply from the Commission. It expressed thanks for the submission and stated: “that the Committee would give the fullest consideration to every relevant opinion” and then asked the UIWU Organization to submit it’s views regarding Palestine on or before June 26.

Throughout the deliberations, the eleven-nation Special UN Committee had before it a Memorandum which was submitted by United Israel World Union and which was duly acknowledged both by the Chairman of the Special Committee and by Secretary-General Trygve Lie himself. The Memorandum gave the members of the Committee the full opportunity to know what the Bible had to say on this issue.

The four page Memorandum pointed out that legislative bodies and courts recognize the Bible to the extent of having all oaths of fealty and honor sworn by it, giving indisputable logic that this ancient document be given foremost consideration by members of the Special Committee. That its recorded history be examined in the light of genealogy and also, the rights, claims and deeds it has attributed to the peoples linked to the Holy Land, should be properly evaluated.

Carefully laid out and emphasized in the Memorandum were the facts that the Holy Koran, religiously observed by all true Moslems, never invalidated the Bible. That it upholds the Bible as the highest authority and portrays Hebrew leaders such as Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Moses, David and a host of others, as holy prophets whose utterances were accepted as inspired word. That yearly, all true Moslems honor Moses by commemorating the festival Nebi Musa and that it was this same Moses who originally set the biblical borders of the Holy Land for all the tribes of Israel as an everlasting statute.

Definitive statements from the Koran were then set forth that confirmed the Hebrew Scriptures, thus making the biblical injunctions equally as binding upon all true believers to obey.

Scriptural references were given that pertained to the issues of the biblical boundaries of Palestine, land-deeds and inheritances, as well as the covenant blessings given to Ishmael with the Arabian territory defined.

Evidence was submitted that served to prove that the original Mandate looked upon Transjordan as an integral part of Palestine proper. Article 7 of the “Convention between the United States and Britain” regarding “Rights in Palestine” was signed in London on December 3, 1924, and ratified by the President of the United States on March 2, 1925.

The case had been duly presented. The evidence carefully laid out for consideration and it was time for the closing statement.

Reading like an oracle penned from an ancient prophet, David Horowitz made his impassioned closing argument to the committee representatives of the nations:

“All of the above facts are self-explanatory and need no further comment. The picture is clear, and brave men, truthful men, God-fearing men, should know what to do in the sight of an all-seeing God who is known to all mankind from the Bible as The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the Holy One of Israel. He it is who swore to give Palestine to Israel. For nearly two thousand years the wandering Jew has never once ceased hearing the eternal threat: Go back to Jerusalem from whence you came. The Jew has now come to the end of the road and Jerusalem too, has become forbidden ground. The cry of the ancient prophet still rings: Let My People Go!”

 Following an intensive investigation of the many-sided Palestine problem. The special U. N. Committee succeeded in completing its arduous tasks. A decision had been made. On September 1, 1947, Secretary-General Trygve Lie had the Committee’s recommendations on his desk. It was indeed recommended that Palestine be partitioned into a Jewish state and an Arab state. But not according to the ancient blueprint. The efforts of United Israel World Union had failed to influence the Pearson Committee.

On that faithful November 29, 1947, the vote on Israel’s future was held at the UN. The UN vote -33 to 13-favoring the establishment of a Hebrew State in Palestine came between 5:30 and 5:45 PM on Sabbath evening, the 16th day of Kislev, 5708.

The Zionists would accept the partition plan with some reluctance, and the Arab countries, along with the Arabs of Palestine, flatly rejected the plan, but that story will have to wait.

At UIWU’s Fifth meeting held on April 18, 1948, David reported on the results of the UN Assembly Special Committee’s decision. He stated: “As long as the UN fails to follow God’s blueprint for Palestine, it will fail to solve the problem. It will always remain in our official records that we brought to the attention of the United Nations the plan of the Bible for Palestine.”

cropped-HorowitzUN.jpg

Though David Horowitz and UIWU did not achieve the success they were hoping for, he was not deterred. He would soon embark on another campaign that would prove to be highly successful-one that would influence a sitting President and a vote for Israel’s statehood.

Previous entries in this series are archived here.

BuntynRalph Buntyn is executive vice president and associate editor of United Israel World Union. A historian and researcher, his many articles and essays have appeared in various media outlets.

A Town with Pity: Journey to Hell and Back

Towns have personalities too.
Let me tell you the story of one.

A little Bavarian “GroBe Kreisstadt” (Country Town) of 45,000 is located in southeastern Germany. It’s a quiet, dreamy country idyll nestled not far from Munich, the metropolis with over a million inhabitants.

It’s also a town with a long and rich history. The Celts settled the land from the 5th century on and gave the rivers the names that they still bear today: Amper, Wurm and Glonn.

Then came the Romans for a period.

In 805 A.D, the community was made up of a manor, a church, a mill and 6 farms. It was located at the junction of two landscape regions: in the south, a broad area of impenetrable marshland; in the north, wooded, fertile, hilly country. If you go down to the foot of the Old Town today, you can visit the tavern which still bears the name of that ancient mill, marking the start of communal history: The Steinmuhle.

From the 12th century on many Bavarian kings would rule the area. At the death of Count Konrad II in 1182, his possessions passed to the House of Wittelsbach. For over 700 years, the Wittelsbach dukes and electors governed the fate of the market town and its inhabitants-for better and for worse. Between 1558-1573 Duke Albrecht V ruled and built the huge four-winged Renaissance palace in place of the old Gothic fortress. Part of this palace remains today as a superb attraction. Under Maximilian I (1573-1651), the market town experienced its worst time. It was plundered by Swedish troops 4 times within a period of 15 years.

With Napoleon, the little town’s era as the summer residence of the Bavarian princes came to an end. Still, it remained what it actually was: a small town where the farmers came to the cattle market and a town with renowned breweries and comfortable taverns.
Then came an unexpected period of glory of a completely different kind.

The painters arrived.

Only a few painters arrived in the 40’s and 50’s, but then starting around 1870, they stormed into town. Painters had discovered the landscape; they wanted to get away from their studios and out into nature. Hundreds of them made the pilgrimage from Munich, fascinated by the nuances in color of the moor landscape, in love with the rural idyll. There were famous names among them: Carl Spitzweg, Max Liebermann, Lovis Corinth, Ludwig Dill, Adolf Holzel and Arthur Langhammer. It would become the most important German artists’ colony.

A huge powder factory would be built during World War I on what was then the eastern edge of town. Thousands of workers came during the war to manufacture ammunition for the battlefields of Europe. After the war they lost their jobs: The Treaty of Versailles prohibited the manufacture of war materials. It would become a needy community. In 1928, 1,400 of the 7,100 inhabitants were dependent on public welfare, but a strong labor movement was also developing across Germany. What was soon to happen was not destined to bring good to the little town.

dachau_sightseeing

The lovely little Bavarian country town has a name.
The name is Dachau.

The presence of the empty halls of the powder factory was one of the reasons why Heinrich Himmler, the Munich Chief of Police, chose to erect the first Nazi concentration camp in Dachau.

The Nazis seized power on January 30, 1933. The concentration camp became operational on March 22, 1933. This would become the first among other camps throughout Europe to isolate enemies of the National-Socialist regime: political opponents, clergymen, so-called undesirable elements and offer a “final solution to the Jewish question”.

I had the opportunity to visit Dachau in 1993 and witness firsthand the memorial site of this reign of terror. It is an experience one is not likely to forget.

In 1937, the camp originally planned for 5000 persons proved to be too small. The prisoners were forced to build a larger camp, completed in 1938.

Between March 22, 1933 and April 29, 1945, more than 206,000 prisoners were registered in the official records, however, many prisoners were taken to Dachau without being registered. The exact figures are unknown.

Over 32,000 died, through torture, execution, hunger or epidemics. Horrible atrocities took place here. The experimental station of Dr. Rascher was set up in Block 5 where high pressure and exposure experiments were practiced on defenseless prisoners. Professor Schilling had prisoners infected with Malaria agents. Bio-chemical experiments were also carried out. Many of these experiments resulted in death.

The mortality rate among the prisoners increased so rapidly that the crematory constructed outside the compound in 1940 proved to be too small and a larger one had to
be built by the prisoners in 1942.

Upon orders of the SS Economic Administration Main Office in Berlin, a gas chamber was installed. This gas chamber, camouflaged as a shower room, was not used. The prisoners selected for gassing were transported from Dachau to the Hartheim Castle, near Linz (Austria) or to other camps. In Hartheim alone, 3,166 prisoners were gassed between January 1942 and November 1944.

The name Dachau, the lovely 1200 year old town became synonymous the world over for the inhuman terror of the Nazi regime. On the 29th day of April, 1945, American troops liberated the concentration camp. The surviving prisoners in their weakness cheered their liberators and the town too could hope for a new and democratic start.

At the end of our visit, we paused for a moment of silence as my wife Rebecca placed a single red rose beneath the statue of “The Unknown Prisoner” memorial at the former crematorium.

If you were to visit Dachau today, perhaps you would be welcomed, as we were, with a message similar to the one offered by Mayor Dr. Lorenz Reitmeier:

“You have come to Dachau to visit the Memorial Site in the former Concentration Camp.
I should like to welcome you on behalf of the Town of Dachau. Innumerable crimes were committed in the Dachau Concentration Camp. Like you, deeply moved, the citizens of the town of Dachau bow their heads before the victims of this camp.
The horrors of the German concentration camps must never be repeated!
After your visit, you will be horror-stricken. But we sincerely hope you will not transfer your indignation to the ancient 1200 year old Bavarian town of Dachau, which was not consulted when the concentration camp was built and whose citizens voted quite decisively against the rise of National Socialism in 1933. The Dachau Concentration Camp is a part of the overall German responsibility for that time.
I extend a cordial invitation to you to visit the old town of Dachau only a few kilometers from here. We would be happy to greet you within our walls and to welcome you as friends.”

A horrible reality seems burned into the collective conscience.

A little country town with pity.

A village with the knowledge of both good and evil.

Bio PictureRalph Buntyn is executive vice president and associate editor of United Israel World Union. A historian and researcher, his many articles and essays have appeared in various media outlets.

Walking in the Way

sandals-walkIn today’s class Ross teaches on the subject of walking in the Way of Yehovah. He uses several examples from the patriarchal narratives to show that there have always been people, who despite the actions of the majority, have been singled out for their righteous behavior. He cites passages related to Noah, Abraham, and Job. What was it about these men that set them apart? How did their righteous walk affect those around them? While mankind has demonstrated a tendency towards sin, there are those who in every generation have “walked with God.” He appeals to the words of David to make his final point concerning the formation of the thoughts of the heart. You will not want to miss this teaching on walking upright with God in this generation.

Click here to listen to this teaching.

Remembering David Horowitz: Dialogue with an Arab King

This post is part of the new series, “Remembering David Horowitz,” see link here. For a bit of a historical review regarding Israel’s relationship with Jordan since 1948 this article that appeared today in the Jerusalem Post is a good overview.

 January 17, 1945. David Horowitz was moved to write a letter to the Emir of Trans-Jordan, Abdullah Ibn al-Hussein. Copies of United Israel World Union Bulletins were sent along with references made to select articles. Also included was a copy of the UIWU Constitution which stated in part, it’s all-embracing aims and purposes: “peace in wisdom and understanding in the love of our Creator whom all true souls should serve.”

One only has to study the history of the geopolitical entity created in Palestine under the British administration. Known as the “British Mandate of Palestine” it was first carved out of Ottoman Southern Syria after World War I. British civil administration in Palestine operated from 1920 until 1948. The “controversy over Zion” was fast becoming the burdensome stone.

In his letter, David suggested to the Emir that the “Palestine Question” be approached on the basis of the decrees of a higher power. Horowitz stated: “Could it not be solved between brethren if we begin with the premise that Abraham was our common father and that his God was the one true God for all of us?”

The next procedure should then be to take “the words and the works of the prophets of the Bible, including the wisdom of the Koran which upholds the Bible, and base all solutions on what these works promised.”

King Abdullah

Abdullah Ibn al-Hussein (1882-1951), along with his brothers Ali, Feisal and Zeid, had led the Arab forces of the Great Arab Revolt against Ottoman rule. Between 1916-1918, he worked with the British guerrilla leader, T. E. Lawrence (of Lawrence of Arabia fame) playing a key role as architect and planner, while leading guerrilla raids on garrisons of the Ottoman occupational forces.

Trans-Jordan was formed on April 21, 1921 when the British created a protectorate with Abdullah as Emir. Independence was gained on May 25, 1946 as the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan (renamed simply as Jordan in 1949), with Abdullah as king.

To David’s surprise, within two months after sending the letter, he received a lengthy reply from the Emir, dated March 2, 1945. The original letter was written in Arabic with an English translation. The Arabic letter was signed by the Emir in red ink.

Of course, the Emir was sure to look on any Jewish person as being in favor of a Jewish State in Palestine and questioned David’s motives. He also inferred that he did not want Jews settling in Palestine and also differed on David’s proposal that the Arabs and Jews take the bible and the Koran and use it as a basis for adjudicating the Palestine question.

Thus began a nearly two-year long correspondence and dialogue between the two.

It was April and it was active with historical developments.

Harry S. Truman succeeded to the Presidency on April 12, when Franklin D. Roosevelt died suddenly after months of declining health. Truman became our 33rd President.

The second annual assembly of United Israel World Union was held at the Washington, DC home of Associate Ada M. Buxton on April 28.

At the same time, delegates were gathering in San Francisco to hold meetings that would lead to the founding of the United Nations.

On April 30, Adolf Hitler committed suicide along with Eva Braun, his long-term partner, in his bunker in Berlin.

V-E Day on May 8, 1945 marked the end of World War II in Europe.

On May 29th, David answered Abdullah. He began by citing detailed passages from the Koran which confirmed the validity of the Tanach (Torah) and which upheld the laws of Moses. He also pointed out that it was Moses who had first set the historic boundaries of Israel as constituting an eternal heritage of the children of Israel.

He countered the Emir’s belief that the Koran superseded the Tanach in total. He said: “the Koran, as I have noticed, does not add nor does it diminish from the laws of Moses and the prophets. On the contrary, it champions the same.” He then proceeded to offer definitive statements in the Koran confirming the Hebrew Scriptures. Therefore, it follows that the injunctions in the Bible are as binding upon the Arabs as they are upon the Jews and the Christians.

In closing, David would express: “Would not the All-Wise and Just, the One God of all, be mocked unless the definitive statements and plans which He gave in the Bible were given careful study and consideration in the light of all available facts.”

After two months without a response from Abdullah, David sent another letter to Amman dated July 30, 1945. Included was a copy of the newly published July-August 1945 edition of the UI bulletin that contained a story, written by David, on “The Palestine Problem” which appears to have been written with Emir Abdullah in mind.

Two points in the article are worth mentioning: David began by attacking the British for being two-faced and creating disillusionment among both Jews and Arabs in Palestine. The other point was to state that the “twelve tribes” constituting the whole house of Israel, must likewise fully realize that the children of Islam are their full cousins through Abraham and by virtue of their faiths which uphold Moses and the prophets, all must accept Sinai as the mountain of all mountains of truth. All stem from one source. All worship the God of Israel.

September 2, 1945. The Empire of Japan officially surrenders aboard the battleship Missouri bringing the hostilities of World War II to a close.

Later that month a reply from the Emir arrived. David described the letter as being friendlier in tone. The Emir seemed to be agreeing with David that the British were playing a double game in its Palestine policy, stating that: “the politics of the matter has its tricks and snares.” After expressing more of his views, Abdullah closed by quoting Alfatha Sra 1 that God had said in the Holy Koran “Dispute ye not the People of the Book except in a friendly manner, so you are to have good action from us and more.”

David would respond with another lengthy reply on October 9, 1945, continuing the dialogue.

There would be no exchange between the two for almost a year. The Emir was up for a big promotion. He became King of an independent nation on May 25, 1946, becoming one of the first Arab leaders to adopt a system of constitutional monarchy during the newly emerging era of the contemporary Arab World.

October 1946 brought the final exchange between the two.

In his letter of October 5th, King Abdullah remarked: “Personally, I know you and your faith” and expressed his understanding that David was a man “to do according to his faith and national prestige.” He closed with the words: “Please accept my friendship.”

This was to be the last message from the King.

David sent King Abdullah a short note on October 22, saying: “that God would one day re-establish His Kingdom on earth” and “when the Prophet comes he will right all things for all mankind.” David then wished “that peace may come and that we may dwell as brethren again according to the Book.”

In 1949 Abdullah entered secret peace talks with Israel, including at least five with Moshe Dayan. News of the negotiations provoked a strong reaction from other Arab states.

On July 20, 1951, King Abdullah traveled to Jerusalem for his regular Friday prayers with his young grandson, Prince Hussein. The King was assassinated by a lone gunman on the steps of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The conspiracy-backed execution was motivated by fears that the old king would make a separate peace with Israel. Miraculously, a bullet also meant for Hussein, deflected off a medal he was wearing given to him by his grandfather, thus sparing his life.

The young Prince Hussein would later become King Hussein I of Jordan and enter into a peace agreement with his Israeli neighbors. And David Horowitz would live to file the story.

“I’m very happy,” said David. “You know when Abdullah was assassinated by an Arab fanatic, Hussein was a 15 year old boy and saw it happen. He has his memories.”

 

Bio PictureRalph Buntyn is executive vice president and associate editor of United Israel World Union. A historian and researcher, his many articles and essays have appeared in various media outlets.

Remembering John Hulley: 1923-2014

Many of you knew the research of John Hulley on the history and migrations of the northern Tribes of Israel–often popularly referred to as the “Lost Tribes.” Sadly John died this past week at his home in Jerusalem at age 91. He rests from his labors and his works do follow him.

Thanks to our webmaster Brian Jones for helping me to get this new web site: Remembering John Hulley, up so quickly and thanks to Joy Beth Holley for providing such a professional photo of John.

Hulley Portrait RD 3534

Photo credit: Joy Beth Holley