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Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem

Chapter FOURTY Part 3 of 6

THE PROPHECIES CONCERNING THE RETURN OF THE ISRAELITES TO THE LAND OF CANAAN

The major prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel all foretold the same exile and predicted the same return.

The prophet Jeremiah predicted the return after seventy years of captivity:


For thus saith the Lord, that after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon will I visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place ...

And I will be found of you, saith the Lord: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord; and I will bring you again into the place whence Icaused you to be carried away captive. (127)

Jeremiah again refers to the return of the Israelites, in several chapters, as follows:


3. For, lo, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah. saith the Lord: and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it.

10. Therefore fear thou not, 0 my servant Jacob, saith the Lord; neither be dismayed, 0 Israel: for, lo, I will save thee from afar, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and shall be in rest, and be quiet, and none shall make him afraid. (128)

8. Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither.

10. Hear the word of the Lord, 0 ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him. as a shepherd doth his flock. (129)

36. And now therefore thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning this city, whereof ye say, It shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence;

37. Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely. (130)

In chapters 11, 36 and 37 of his book, Ezekiel refers to the exile to, and return from, Babylonia. The following are quotations from these chapters:


16. Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord God; Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come.

17. Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord God; I will even gather you from the people and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered and I will give you the land of Israel.

18. And they shall come thither, and they shall take away all the detestable things thereof and all the abominations thereof from thence. (131)

19. And I scattered them among the heathen, and they were dispersed through the countries: according to their way and according to their doings 1 judged them.

24. For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.

21. And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land. (132)

The prophet Isaiah also predicted the exile to and return from Babylonia in chapters 10, 11, 44 and 66. The following are passages from these chapters:


20. And it shall come to pass in that day, that as the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them;

but shall stay upon the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. 21. The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God. (133)

11. And it shall come topass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Efam, and from Shinar, and from Harnath, and from the islands of the sea.

12. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four comers of the earth.

13. The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim.

14. But they shall fly upon the shoulders toward the west; they shall spoil them of the east together: they shall lay their hand upon Edom and Moab; and the children of Ammon shall obey them.

15. And the Lord shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian sea; and with his mighty wind shall he shake his hand over the river, and shall smite in the seven streams, and make men go over dryshod.

16. And there shall be an highslay for the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria; like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt. (134)

28. That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall pertom all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid. (135)

20. And they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the Lord out of all nations upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the Lord, as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the Lord. (136)

THE RETURN OF THE ISRAELITES FROM BABYLONIA AND THE PERSIAN EMPIRE

The return of the Israelites from Babylonia, prophesied by the prophets Jeremiah, Isaiah and Ezekiel, took place under Persian sponsorship in 538 B.C. and thereafter, that is, after seventy years from their exile as predicted by Jeremiah. Ezra records this return led by Zerubbabel of the .Royal House of David in chapter 1 and 2 of his book, and states that the returnees comprised:


The whole congregation together was forty and two thousand three hundred and threescore.

Beside their servants and their maids, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred thirty and seven, and there were among them two hundred singing men and singing women.

Their horses were seven hundred thirty and six; their mules, two hundred forty and five;

Their camels, four hundred thirty and five; their asses, six thousand seven hundred and twenty. (137)

The aforementioned statistics were also given by Nehemiah. (138)

Ezra himself, some 80 years later, in 458 B.C., led a second return of 1,755 male Israelites from the Persian Empire to the land of Canaan. (139) This number was probably greater, for Ezra only enumerates the males of the diverse families who returned, not their female members.

It is very clear that this second return of Israelites from the Persian Empire, which was extensive in size, contained all Israelites who wished to return to the land of Canaan. This is proved in the decree of the Persian Emperor, Artaxerxes I, given to Ezra the Scribe. The text states, inter alia:


I make a decree, that all they of the people of Israel, and of his priests and Levites, in my realm, which are minded of their own free will to go up to Jerusalem, go with thee. (140)

THE NEW COVENANT ABROGATED THE OLD COVENANT AND IS AN EVERLASTING COVENANT

The major and minor prophets of the Old Testament dealt with the Old Covenant between God and the Israelites and the conditions attached thereto. But as the Israelites broke that covenant, God punished them by their exile in Babylonia. The prophets foretold their return, and all those who wished to return to the land of Canaan returned.

The New Covenant was promised before the Babylonian captivity, as Jeremiah in Chapter 31 states:


31. Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:

32. Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord:

33. But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel: After those days. saith the Lord. I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts: and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

34. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying. Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. (141)

It is important to note the phrase "After those days" in Jeremiah 31 :33, which refers to the period after the Israelites' punishment, exile to Babylonia, and their return to the land of Canaan. Jeremiah, chapter 32, states that God will gather them out of all countries to which they were exiled. Verse 40 states, "And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good, but 1 will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me." (142)

In his epistle to the Hebrews, St. Paul refers to the abrogation of the first covenant and establishing a New Covenant through Jesus Christ. He states:


9. Then said he, Lo, 1 come todo thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.

10. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all,

16. This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord I will put my law into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;

17. And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

18. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.

19. Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.

20. By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh. (143)

St. Paul clearly repeats the phrase "after those days" which means after the return of the Israelites from the Babylonian captivity. In verse 17 above, St, Paul states that their sins and iniquities will no longer be rememkred, repeating what is in chapter 31, verse 34 of Jeremiah.

Christ himself had previously stated the same thing about the remission of sins, as recorded in the Gospel of St. Matthew. He stated:


28. For this is my blood of the new testament, of which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (144)

The Gospel of St. Luke describes the appearance of the angel Gabriel to the mother of Christ, and states the following:


29. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

30. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God.

31. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.

32. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:

33. And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. (145)

In his epistle to the Hebrews, St. Paul refers to this new covenant. In chapter 8 thereof he states:


6. But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was eshblished upon better promises.

7. For if that fimt covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second,

8. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:

9. Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day when 1 took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.

10. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their heam: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:

11. And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.

12. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.

13. In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away. (146)

St. Paul explains the abrogation of the old covenant, emphasizing in verse 6 that the mediator is Jesus Christ and that the new covenant is a better covenant. The first covenant has been abrogated because the Israelites forfeited the privileges God gave them collectively, beeause they constantly broke it by worshipping other gods.

Saint Peter confirmed in I Peter that those who believe in Christ are the chosen people. According to the new covenant, the Christians are as living stones building a spiritual house and are the new "chosen generation, a royal priesthood, and an holy nation." Saint Peter states:


4. To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,

5. Ye also, as lively stones. are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

6. Wherefore also it is contained in the Scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief comer stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.

7. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,

8. And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: where unto also they were appointed.

9. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar pcople; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (147)

Saint Paul states in his epistle to the Romans that the new covenant will take away the sins, and that the Deliverer will come out of Sion:


26. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer. and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:

27. For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. (148)

To the Romans Saint Paul referred to the Israelites by stating the following:


Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.

2. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.

3. For they, being ignorant of God's righteousness. and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God,

4. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that belicveth. (149)

Saint Paul made it clear that all the Israelites were not of spiritual Israel:

6. Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel. (150)

In his epistle to the Ephesians Saint Paul said that God blessed all the believers in Jesus Christ with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places and that He has chosen the believers as adopted children and therefore they are neither strangers nor foreigners, but fellow citiiiens with the saints and of the household of God, and that the believers are a holy temple in the Lord, as follows:


3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

4. According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

5. Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

19. Now therefore ye are nomore strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

20. And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief comer stone;

2I. In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord:

22. In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. (151)

This is confirmed in the Book of Revelations, which states that in the New Jerusalem no temple as was built by Solomon and Herod would be necessary because God and Christ are the spiritual temple:


And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. (152)

Christ himself said, according to the Gospel of St. Mark:


I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands. (153)

According to the Gospel of Saint John, Christ himself made it clear that the new temple was His body:


19. Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.

20. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years wa.. this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?

21. But he spake of the temple of his body.

22. When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said. (154)

This proves that according to the new covenant, the old temple of Solomon and Herd is discounted and becomes irrelevant to religious worship.

Saint Paul in his epistle to the Galatians 3: 6-29 summarizes the whole doctrine of the New Covenant as follows:

1. Those who believe in Jesus Christ are the children of Abraham. 2. The heathen will be blessed through faith. 3. All nations who believe in God and Jesus will be blessed through faith. 4. Christ redeemed all people from the curse of the law. 5. The blessing of Abraham will come to the gentiles through Jesus Christ. 6. They will receive the promise of the spirit through faith. 7.The new covenant was confirmed in Jesus Christ. 8. That all men are the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 9. The new covenant means the forgiveness of sins.

Many of the Jews did not accept the new covenant, and by rejecting Christ the Jews became outcasts. The Gospel of Saint John states:


11. He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

12. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. (155)

There is no statement in the Old Testament or in the New Testament which indicates that the Jews, after rejecting Jesus Christ, will be returned physically to Palestine to establish a State or build the temple. Neither Saint Paul, Saint Peter nor Saint James mention anything regarding the earthly restoration of the Jews after the coming of Christ. The new covenant has replaced all old covenants, and the only covenant is the new covenant through Christ.

Pope John Paul II in a homily at his weekly general audience on August 2, 1989, clarified this in language acceptable to all Christians:


The Pope said, "We consider thecoming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost as the fulfillment of the new and everlasting covenant between God and humanity," which was "sealed in the blood of Jesus.''

He said that the Old Testament showed many instances of the Jewish people's "infidelity to God" and that the Prophets were sent "to call the people to conversion, to warn them of their hardness of heart and foretell a new covenant still to come."

"The new covenant foretold by the Prophets was established through Christ's redemptive sacrifice and through the power of the Holy Spirit," he said. "This 'perfect gift from above' descends to fill the heart3 of all people and to gather them into the church, constituting them the People of God of the new and everlasting covenant," (156)

FULFILLMENT OF THE PROMISE OF FUTURE BLESSINGS OF ALL NATIONS

According to the Bible, God changed the name of Abram (meaning literally "the Father is high") to Abraham (meaning literally "father of a multitude"). According to chapter 17 of Genesis, God appeared to Abraham and said to him:

I am the almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.

And I will make my covenant between me and thee and will multiply thee exceedingly ...

Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.

And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations out of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. (157)

Again, in Genesis, chapter 12, God said to Abraham:


And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. (158)

In Genesis, chapter 22, God said to Abraham:


And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blesse& because thou hast obeyed my voice. (159)

The above verses mean that all the nations and all the peoples of the earth will be blessed through Abraham, who is called the "Father of many nations." The Israelites could never exclusively claim the blessing to Abraham, as they were not the only genetic descendants of Abraham. Ishmael was the eldest son of Abraham, and his descendants were also "seed of Abraham.'' God, as reported in Genesis, said:


And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. (160)

Genesis 25 mentions the names of the sons of Ishmael:


And these are the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, according to their generations: the firstborn of Ishmael, Nebajoth; and Kedar, and Adbeel, and Mibsam,

And Mishma, and Dumah, and Massa,

Hadar, and Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah:
These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names, by their towns, and by their castles; twelve princes according to their nations ...

And they dwelt from Havilah unto Shur, that is before Egypt, as thou goest toward Assyria: and he died in the presence of all his brethren. (161)

Many scholars identify Havilah "with Haulan (Khawlan), in the west part of Arabia, north of Yemen." (162)

The Holy Quran states that Abraham and Ishmael (Ismail) rebuilt the Kaabd (which is to&ay the most sacred place of Islam) in Mecca, which indicates that Abraham visited Ishmael in Arabia, It states:


And remember Abraham and Ismail raised The foundations of the House (With this pmyer): ''Our Lord! Accept (this service) from us: For Thou art the All-Hearing, The All-Knowing." (163)

It is noteworthy that Esau, the eldest son of Isaac, and the grandson of Abraham, married Mahalath, a daughter of Ishmaei. (164) Esau, "the father of the Edomites" (165) had many kings among his descendants as enumerated in Genesis, chapter 36, which states:


And these are the kings that reigned in the land of Edom. before there reigned any king over the children of Israel. (166)

The Edomite kingdom was often at war with the Israelites, but the Herodian dynasty in Palestine at the time of the birth of Christ were Momites, descendants of Esau, not Israelites, who were descendants of Jacob. (167)

King David, founder of the Davidic dynasty which ruled the kingdom of Judah for three hundred years, was a descendant of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob to his father Jesse, and, although there is no mention of David's mother in the Old Testament, tradition cited in the Aggadah states that David's mother was a daughter of Ithra, an Ishmaelite . (168)

Since the mother of David was an Ishmelite, and his father was an Israelite, therefore according to the Halacha, David was not an Israelite but an Ishmaelite. Jesus Christ is described in the first verse of Chapter 1 ofthe Gospel of Saint Matthew as "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.'' Therefore Jesus Christ combines the lines of Ishmael and Isaac.

The aforementioned historical facts prove that the promises to Abraham that he would be the "father of many nation^'^ and that "kings shall come out of thee," were thus already fulfilled in Old Testament times.

FULFILLMENT OF THE PROMISE FOR THE SEED OF ABRAHAM

The promise to Abraham is recorded in Genesis 22: 18, namely, "And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth tx blessed.'' In his Epistle to the Galatians, Saint Paul explained the promises to Abraham and his seed. He stated that the seed is Jesus Christ because the promise was made to the seed as one, and not as many. Therefore, all those who believe in Jesus Christ are heirs to the promise.

The following is the full text of the interpretation made by Saint Paul in his Epistle to the Galatians:


6. Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
7. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the ch~ldren of Abraham.
8. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.
9. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
10. For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
11. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
12. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.
13. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
14. That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
15. Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man's covenant, yet if it be confimed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto.
16. Now to Abraham and his seed were the promisesmade. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.
17. And this I say, that the covenant that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.
18. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.
19. Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.
20. Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.
21. Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.
22. But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
23. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterward be revealed.
24. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
25. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
26. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ.
27. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
28. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
29. And if ye be Christ's then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (169)

In his Epistle lo the Romans Saint Paul emphasized the fact that God is also the God of the gentiles. All nations who have faith in Jesus Christ are heirs to the promises to Abraham and his seed. He stated:


28. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
29. Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also. (170)

Saint Paul stated further:


13. For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not 10 Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith,
14. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect:
15. Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.
16. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,
17. (As it is written. I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.
18. Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. (171)

John the Baptist also preached that people can be descendants of Abraham by faith. He stated:


And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham toour father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. (172)

In chapter 8 of the Gospel of Saint John, Jesus replied to those Jews who boasted of their descent from Abraham; and explained who are the true descendants of Abraham, i.e., that the true descendants of Abraham are those who believe in him. He stated:


30. As he spake these words, many believed on him.
31. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32. And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
33. They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?
34. Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.
35. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.
36. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
37. I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.
38. I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.
39. They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham,
40, But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which 1 have heard of God: this did not Abraham.
41. Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.
42. Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me,
43. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.
44. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
45. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. (173)

THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN JESUS CHRIST ARE HEIRS TO THE PROMISE

The following is a comparison of the beliefs of Jews, Christians and Muslims:

GOD

1. Jews: Jews believe in one God, whom, however, they consider their God only and that they are his chosen people. It is stated in the Talmud: "The Most Holy spoke thus to the Israelites: You have recognized me as the only ruler of the world, and for that reason I will recognize you as the only rulers of the world. (174) Arthur Hertzberg stated in a symposium: "The essence of Judaism is the affirmation that the Jews are the chosen people; all else is commentary." (175)

1 . Christians: Christians believe in God. Jesus said, "The Lord our God is one God; and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength." (176) And Jesus stated also: 'Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." (177)

1. Muslims: The Muslims believe in God. As stated in the Quran: "Your God is One God; There is no God but He, Most Gracious, Most Merciful." (178) The Quran further states: "There is no God but He, - the Living, the Self-subsisting, Eternal." (179)

THE PROPHETS

2. Jews: The Jews believe in the prophets of the Old Testament from Abraham to Malachi. The Jews believe in the Old Testament only, and reject the New Testament.

2. Christians: The Christians believe in the Patriarchs and prophets from Abraham through Jesus. The Christians believe in the Old Testament and the New Testament.

2. Muslims: The Muslims believe in the Patriarchs and prophets from Abraham through Jesus, and in Muhammad as "the seal of the prophets." The Quran states: "Say: 'We believe in God, And in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes. and in (the Books) given to Moses, Jesus, and the Prophets, From their Lord: We make no distinction Between one and another Among them, and to God do we Bow our will (in Islam)."' (180)

THE VIRGIN MARY

3. Jews: The Jews called the Virgin Mary a harlot. In the words of Hiyya ben Abba, "If the son of a harlot says to you there are two gods, say to him '1 am He of the Red Sea; I am He of Sinai.'" ( 18)1

3. Christians: The Christians glorify the Virgin Mary; most Christians believe in the Immaculate Conception. Saint Luke relates the message of the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary:


26. And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth.
27. To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.
28. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 29. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
30. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou has found favour with God.
31. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.
32. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
33. And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
34. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
35. And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. (182)

3. Muslims: The Muslims revere the Virgin Mary and believe in the Immaculate Conception. As stated in the Quran:


Behold! the angels said:
"0 Mary! God hath chosen thee
And purified thee -chosen thee
Above the women of all nations."

Behold! the angels said:
'0 Mary! God giveth thee
Glad tidings of a Word
From Him: his name
Will be Christ Jesus,
The son of Mary, held in honor
In this world and the Hereafter
And of (the company of) those
Nearest to God."

She said: "O my Lord!
How shall I have a son
When no man hath touched me?"
He said: "Even so:
God creatcth
What He willeth:
When He hath decreed
A Plan, He but saith
To it, 'Be,' and it is!"(183)

He said: "Nay, I am only
A messenger from thy Lord,
(To announce) to thee
The gift of a holy son."

She said: "How shall I
Have a son, seeing that
No man has touched me,
And I am not unchaste?"
He said: "So (it will be):
Thy Lord saith, 'That is
Easy for Me: and (We
Wish) to appoint him
As a Sign unto men
And a Mercy from Us.'
It is a matter
(So) decreed."
So she conceived him,
And she retired with him
To a remote place (184)

And (remember) her who
Guarded her chastity:
We breathed into her
Of Our Spirit, and We
Made her and her son
A Sign for all peoples. (185)

And Mary the daughter
Of Imran. who guarded
Her chastity; and We
Breathed into (her body)
Of Our spirit; and she
Testified to the truth
Of the words of her Lord
And of his Revelations,
And was one of the
Devout (servants). (186)


JESUS CHRIST

4. Jews: Jews say, "May we produce no son or pupil who disgraces himself like Jesus the Nazarene" (Ber. 17b: Sanh 103a: cf. Dik. Sof. ad loc.) The Talmud also recounts "In one baraita Jesus appears as a sorcerer and enticer who led people astray. 'They hanged Jesus on the eve of Passover. Forty days earlier a proclamation was issued that he was to be stoned for practicing sorcery and for enticing and leading Israel astray."' The Talmud ridicules Christ: "If a man says to you, I am god, he lies; I am the son of man, he shall regret it; I shall rise to heaven, he says but he shall not fulfill it." (TJ, Ta'an. 2:1, 65b: sanh. 106a: Dik. Sof. ad loc). (187)

4. Christians: Christians regard Jesus as the son of God, and some consider him to be God made incarnate. Both Roman Catholics and most Protestants believe Jesus Christ is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. The Gospel of Saint Matthew refers to Jesus as the son of David, the son of Abraham; The Gospel of Saint Mark refers to him as the son of God; Christians believe in the miracles of Jesus, including healing the blind and lepers, and raising Lazarus from the dead.

4. Muslims: Muslims consider that "Christ Jesus the son of Mary was an apostle of God, And his Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a Spirit proceeding From Him: so believe In God and his apostles." (188) Muslims do not believe in the crucifixion, but say that Christ Jesus ascended to Heaven alive and will return on the Day of Judgment. That they said (in boast)


"We killed Christ Jesus
The son of Mary,
The Apostle of Godu;-
But they killed him not: -
Nor crucified him,
But so it was made
To appear to them,
And those who differ
Therein are full of doubts,
With no (certain) knowledge,
But only conjecture to follow,
For of a surety
They killed him not:

Nay, God raised him up
Unto Himself; and God
Is Exalted in Power. Wise;

And there is none
Of the People of the Book
But must believe in him
Before his death;
And on the Day of Judgment
He will be a witness
Against them; (189)


Muslims believe that Christ performed miracles, as stated in the Quran:


And thou healest those
Born blind, and the
Lepers, by my
Leave. And behold!
Thou bringest
Forth the dead
By my leave! (190)


THE GOSPELS

5. Jews: The Gospels according to the Jews are solely an object of ridicule. In a parody of the Gospel of Saint Mark (Shab 116a), a Jewish tannu, or teacher, ridicules the Gospels calling them "Avon Gilyon" or "sinful margin," adisparaging name for "Evangelion," the word for Gospel in Greek. (191)

5. Christians: Christians believe the Gospels to be inspired, the revealed word of God.

5. Muslims: Muslims believe that the Christian Gospels are the revealed word of God. The Quran states:


Let the People of the Gospel Judge by what God hath
revealed Therein. If any do fail to judge by (the light) of what
God hath revealed, they are (no better than) those who rebel.

To thee We sent the Scriptures in Truth, confirming the
scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety. (192)


Saint Paul explained in his epistles that the promises were made to Abraham and his seed, and the seed was Jesus Christ, and therefore all people are children of God by faith in Jesus Christ. He said,


There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor
free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in
Christ Jesus.

And if ye be Christ's then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs
according to the promise.


From the above comparison, it is clear that the Jews reject Jesus Christ and that the Christians and Muslims believe in Jesus Christ, and therefore, the Christians and Muslims are heirs to the promise, and they are blessed through Abraham.

 

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Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem
By Issa Nakhleh

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