Monday, July 11, 2016

Sent Away

If you follow Jewish news, it would be hard not to notice the growing number of reports about increasing anti-Semitism. It is an upsetting fact that anti-Semitism has never really had a rational source, although many reasons are given.

Researching the history of anti-Semitism, it is not uncommon to find instances where Jews have bent over backward to accommodate others, in order to prove that they are no threat. But these efforts have rarely made a difference.

It is interesting to note that even that pattern of attempting to assuage their enemies has a biblical parallel. As the Israelites approached the Promised Land, they sought passage through the land of Edom. Before entering the kingdom, Moses sent messengers who first identified the Israelites as the nation brought out of servitude by God and then made their specific request. “Let us pass, please, through your land. We will not pass through field or through vineyard, neither will we drink of the water of the wells. We will go along the king’s highway, we will not turn aside to the right or to the left, until we have passed your border (20:17). Edom said no, threatening the Israelites with the sword even when the Israelites offered payment.

Refused passage, the Israelites changed course until they came to the border of the Amorite kingdom and sent a similar message to their king, Sichon. Rather than just say no, Sichon gathered his armies at the border where the Israelites were camped.

The Israelites made no threats and asked for no favors. They wanted only to pass without harm, yet they were cast back into the wilderness and attacked. Through it all, despite their enemies irrational focus and hatred in generation after generation, the Children of Israel not only survive, but are victorious, because God is always there to help.

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