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

A Righteous Man

300px-Noah_catacombeIn this week’s class, Ross shares some insights from the first two Torah portions of Genesis. He begins with the creation of man and follows the story through the flood of Noah pointing out the great potential of man for both good and bad. Why was man created in the first place? How did man’s story go so quickly from good to bad? What was it that caused God to regret that he made man in the beginning? What led to man’s banishment from Eden? As the story introduces Noah, we read that he was a righteous man, whole in his generation. What was it about Noah, and is righteousness something that can be attained by others? These questions and more are answered in this teaching. You will not want to miss this class.

Click here to listen to this class.

An Old Vision for a New Beginning

Temple_Sinai_Circa1905In this message, drawing partly from Biblical passages, and partly from records of the dedicatory service of Temple Sinai in 1903, Ross shared an old vision for a new beginning for Roots of Faith from the Historic Temple Sinai Synagogue in Saint Francisville, Louisiana. Inspired by the hopes and dreams of Saint Francisville’s former Hebrew citizens, Ross set forth to encourage his listeners to seize their vision and bring it into fruition. You will not want to miss this inspiring message.

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Gleanings from Genesis

Over the years I have come to the view that the books of Genesis, Deuteronomy, and Isaiah are the most fundamental to a summary expression of the Hebrew faith as it unfolded and developed over time, from Moses through the Exiles. Of these three however, Genesis seems to be the most foundational in terms of reflecting the key concepts of the Hebrew view of life. Here are a few basic “gleanings” from just the first eleven chapters, before the narrative picks up with the story of “one man’s family,” namely Abraham and his descendants.

1. That the creation is considered to be good, good, good, good, good, good, and VERY good! There is no sense that this world is a dark place into which we have fallen, but a lovely world of light and life to celebrate.

2. That the sun and the moon are given to mark off our sacred times (appointments), days, months, seasons, and years–and observed sacred calendar visible to the entire world.

3. That human beings are made in the “likeness and image” of Elohim, every bit as much as our children/offspring are in our “likeness and image,” and that male and female TOGETHER make up the ADAM or “Humankind.” The male alone is incomplete, as is the female alone. Thus Elohim is also reflective of male/female qualities. So it is not so much a matter of human making Gods in their own image, as projections of themselves, but that the true God made humans to reflect and carry the divine image on a microcosmic level.

4. The the first commandment is to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth, thus putting a divine blessing on human sexuality, family, and life rather than the negative values of celibacy and deprivation for some future “heavenly world,” as became common in all Western and Eastern religions. L’Chaim! To Life!

5. That humans are put in charge of the stewardship of the good earth, we are all to be good managers, and to dress and keep it, as Adam began to do in his little assigned area in Eden. Here we get the entire foundation of ecology, an area of concern that has just come of age in our own day.

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6. That humans are given the ideal diet of every plant yielding seed and tree bearing fruit whose seed is within–this is the diet Daniel asked to have (Daniel 1:12) as opposed to the Babylonian court diet of his day–it is called there zero’im–of the seeds. Cultures that follow this (see Robbins’ classic book, Diet for a New America, as well as his latest, Healthy at 100) are free from heart disease, strokes, various forms of cancer, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, etc.

7. That the seventh day Sabbath is for all humankind, a memorial of creation, binding us to past, to one another, and to our Creator. Imagine a world (Isa 66!) in which from Sabbath to Sabbath and New Moon to New Moon the entire world focuses upon the Creator and our common human ties through creation.

8. That the “knowledge of good and evil” (coming of age, Deuteronomy 1:39) is a necessary part of our development as beings in the image of the Elohim, but with it comes freedom and responsibility and the full possibilities of choice as God-like beings, not merely children of innocence–the possibility of infinite good, but also tragic evil, as unlimited knowledge can lead to “nothing being impossible for them” in both areas of good and evil.

9. That the ‘Ish (man) needs the ‘Isha (woman) to be complete and is restless and unhappy until the “two become one,” which, combined with “leaving father and mother,” becomes the only definition of “marriage” in the Bible. The ‘Isha is a partner to the ‘Ish, “corresponding to him,” meaning opposite him as a lock to a key, as a glove to a hand.

10. That life outside Eden (innocence) is a life of toil (strain, sorrow, hardship) for both the man and the woman, each in their own spheres. The same word is used (‘itzbon) for both.

11. That jealousy and human self-centeredness can lead quickly to even murder of a brother and the breakup and fracture of families and clans leading to wars and all sorts of cultural divisions and violence.

12. That the children of Cain and the children of Seth went their separate ways and have reflected down through history very separate paths and outcomes and the production of almost opposite cultures.

13. That the children of Seth kept the vision alive and “walked with God,” as evidenced by Enoch and culminating in Noah, who was “righteous in his generations.” I understand this lineage to be the “children of the Elohim” of Genesis 6, contrary to later Jewish tradition that makes these heavenly beings.

14. That human departure from God into the “way of Cain,” led to all kinds of violence (presumably toward animals and other humans) and corruption in the earth, so much so that “every thought of the imagination of the heart was only evil continually,” and the flood was the only solution to try and preserve once again the line of Noah, who was righteous in his generations.

15. That Noah and his sons were given a new covenant, reflected in the later tradition of the “Seven mitzvot of the sons of Noach,” and sealed with the rainbow. The eating of the flesh of animals was allowed provided they were slaughtered properly and the blood removed. The sanctity of life was particularly emphasized.

16. Of the three sons of Noah the line of Ham began to go in a different direction, first with a sexual act with his father and then leading to Nimrod and the building of war machines and great Kingdoms that sought to conquer, culminating in the tower of Babel.

17. Hope remained in the line of Seth through Noah and Shem and down to Abram, in whom God recognized the potential to preserve the world and put things back on track–thus the Plan and the Project implied in Abraham’s calling.

And the rest of the Hebrew Bible, beginning in Genesis 12, is that unfolding story of “one man’s family” and its divine calling to bring all nations back to the knowledge of the Creator…

JDT