David Ben-Gurion on Israel and the Bible - Peter Myers, November 1, 2001; update April 19, 2010. My comments within the text are shown {thus}.

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Although Ben-Gurion says he is not a scholar, his status as a messianic figure for Jews renders his view of the Bible important. The creators of modern Israel have been no more invasive than were the Christian invaders of the New World, yet Jewish Internationalism proclaimed itself the bearer of a universal standard - superior to the Christian - which it has repeatedly violated by its own particularism. In much the same way, the Christian invaders were troubled by their teaching that they were bringing a God of Love to the heathen they were conquering.

It is not my purpose, then, to portray Zionism or Jewish Communism as less principled than White Christianity; rather, to portray the hypocrisies of each side by side.

I am a respecter of Jewish intellect - true intellectuals do not try to prevent debate or suppress information; like Socrates, they engage their adversaries rather than treating them as pariahs beyond I/Thou dialogue. In particular I commend the trait espoused by Rabbi Harry Waton, in his book A Program For the Jews, of being able to praise one's adversaries to the extent possible:

"{p. 54} Of all anti-Semites that ever lived, Balaam was the greatest ... the greatness of Balaam appears in the method he used for the purposes of destroying the Jews ... {p. 55} Balaam delivered four addresses; but, instead of cursing the Jews, he rather praised them ..."

If, as Waton says, Nazism is like Judaism, it is because both have a tribal mentality, cultivating a "group soul". No philosopher in the mould of Socrates and his Cynic followers - and I do not mean Socrates as Plato's mouthpiece for his own fascist society - no such philosopher seeks to cultivate a "group soul". On the contrary, every such philosopher - which I aspire to be like - insists that each individual, on achieving maturity, make up his & her own mind about the nature of reality and what values to follow. I support Multiculturalism in that it allows the individual to meet many value systems side-by-side, the better to choose; what I oppose is secular Monotheism - the imposition of a single value-system - in the guise of Multiculturalism. But unlike the "gay marriage" lobby, I believe there is such a thing as human nature: there are limits to the extent to which "man makes himself", as V. Gordon Childe put it. Let it not be said, then, that I am a Nazi.

I have no interest in destroying Jews; my target is Judaism - in particular, its cultural revolution against "paganism", i.e. against all civilisations but its own. I seek to meet it on its chosen ground - Intellect - and that ground only, using the pen not the sword. You cannot kill a philosophy: you can only debate it. The task of the philosopher in the Socratic-Cynic-Taoist mould is not to provide final answers - an all-encompassing casuistry - but to articulate the difficult questions of the time. We are not gods - final answers are beyond us - let debate flourish.

In that context I will begin by saying some nice things about Ben-Gurion.

Ben-Gurion, commendably, admits that the Bible unfairly belittles the great achievements of Ancient Egypt (p. 5). And although an admirer of the cultural creativity of Ancient Athens, he devotes a whole, admiring, chapter to Cyrus, Emperor of the First Persian Empire (pp. 264-272). The favourable Jewish view of that Empire contrasts with the deprecating view presented by "classical" scholars.

I support Martin Bernal - a Jewish scholar - in his assault on "classicism", depicting it as a kind of Aryanism. Denying Athens' debt to Egypt, India etc, making it the original creative civilisation, they inadvertently undermine Athens' achievements by taking them out of context.

Although I find nothing of value in Ancient Israel, I think that Ben-Gurian's view of Persia is more balanced than that presented by most "classical" scholars, and by apologists for the British Empire hawking it as a modern-day Athens, such as Lionel Curtis.

Finally, judging by the photo on the dust-jacket, Ben-Gurion was a good-looking man (unlike Ariel Sharon). I can understand Jews rallying behind him, and surrounding his name with mystique.





{p. 0} Translator's Note

This collection of addresses in essay form by the former Prime Minister of Israel was first published in Hebrew in 1969. They were presented before a select group of students of the Bible who met regularly, and were called the "Prime Minister's Bible Study Circle." Many prominent Bible scholars of Israel were members of the study group. Among them were: Professor Ezekiel Kaufman, author of A History of the Israelite Faith; Abraham Kariv, author of The Seven Pillars of the Bible; Professors P. Meltzer and B. Dinur; Dr. Haim Gevaryahu, Chairman of the World Jewish Bible Society; His Excellency Zalman Shazar, President of the State of Israel; and many others. In accordance with the wishes of Mr. Ben-Gurion, this translation has adhered as closely as possible to the original Hebrew text.


{p. 1} CHAPTER ONE Uniqueness and Destiny

The army has the duty to carry out organizational, managerial, and supply roles. These duties are imposed upon particular soldiers or upon special branches at staff headquarters. But, there is one general function which is assigned to every army commander, from the lowest rank to the highest, and in every branch of the military, without exception - on land, on sea, and in the air - namely education. In part, it is technical education: training the soldier to use defensive and offensive weapons; and, in part, it is education in a personal, physical and spiritual sense: training the soldier in orderliness, cleanliness, punctuality, endurance, responsibility, economy, orientation, discipline, camaraderie, coordination, courage, fearlessness.

This responsibility for education is common to all armies in the world. But, the Israeli army has a special educational role which has no place, and is unnecessary, in other armies. The Israeli army cannot be satisfied with the calibre of education which is offered in any army - and I'm referring to superior modern education - but requires additional, special instruction because of the historical uniqueness of its people, and because of the destiny of the age in which we are living.

By historical uniqueness, I mean the intellectual-moral struggle which our people has engaged in with its neighbors since it became

{footnote} From a lecture on the education of the army and the nation, delivered before the High Command of the Israeli army (19 Nissan, 5700 - April 6, 1950). {end footnote}

{p. 2} a nation, and continues until this very day; and, also the messianic vision which was kept alive in the heart of the people throughout the generations.

By the "destiny" of the age, I mean the ingathering of exiles. This is the central event of our times and is unparalleled in world history - even in our own history - and has consequences for the future of our people, for our security, for our national and international posture and, perhaps, in no small measure, for the future of humanity.

In the history of nations, until this very day, there has always been a political struggle, and this struggle has degenerated from time to time into a physical confrontation between nations - that is, an armed struggle.

As has been the case with other nations, the Jewish people has also been engaged in political struggles with its neighbors and, more than once, has been engaged in battle. So it was in the days of the judges, so it was in the period of the monarchy in the days of the First Temple, so it was in the days of the Second Temple.

After scores of generations, we have returned to become an independent nation. And even before the State was established, war was declared on us, and the State of Israel was founded and built in the whirlwind of war. Even after the armed struggle ceased for a while, the political struggle remained, and no one knows how long it will continue, and whether it might not turn once again into a military conflict.

A pre-condition to our ability to prevail in the struggle, be it political or military, demands an assessment of ourselves and our situation; an assessment of the circumstances and conditions of our existence, an assessment of the basic and permanent factors whicll have long-range effect, as well as of factors which are in constant flux, and which determine our existence and the scope of our overall activity.

We will not see our situation as it really is, and many of the central visions of our history (not only of the past, but of the present and future as well) will not be understood, and we will not be prepared and equipped - and the decisive "equipment" is the spiritual equipment - either for a political struggle or a military struggle, if we do not grasp fully, and recognize the moral and intellectual struggle which transpires in human history. In such a case, we will not understand our place in this struggle.

In order to see into the ideological struggle, and to understand its place in the upheaval of history, there is no need to clarify and prove through philosophical debate whether an ideological strug-

{p. 3} gle stems from economic, social or political problems, or whether it creates them; or if the economic and intellectual contradictions are bound up in each other, and one cannot differentiate between them. There is no practical value to such an abstract debate, just as there is no practical value in ascertaining if the chicken came before the egg or the egg before the chicken. It is obvious that one is impossible without the other: there is no way to raise chickens without hatching eggs, and there is no way to get eggs except by raising chickens.

We have seen ideologies in history which have altered regimes - politically and economically - and we have seen regimes which have introduced ideologies and implemented them. People fight for their views no less than for their government and their possessions; thus, from the day man learned to reason, intellectual struggle has not ceased. In the annals of our people this struggle occupies a more central position than, perhaps, in the annals of any other nation. There has hardly been a struggle in our history - political or military - which has not been bound up with an ideological struggle.

We are presently involved not only in a conflict with our Arab neighbors, but, to some extent, with most of mankind as it is organized in the United Nations - because of Jerusalem. Only a blind man does not see that the sources of this conflict are not political, economic or military alone, but also ideological.

When the Syrians, the Iraqis, and the Egyptians enthusiastically support the internationalization of Jerusalem, their motives are clear: It is better that the Mosque of Omar {Al Aqsa mosque, next to the Dome of the Rock} be under a Christian government than that a large part of Jerusalem be under a Jewish government. But, it is difficult to explain in mere political terms the stand of several nations in South America which generally have stood by our side in the United Nations in our political struggle, and which have turned against us on the question of Jerusalem. One cannot explain, in political terms, the position of France which had an important political and miiltary stake in helping us, and did help us quite a bit, not only in the General Assembly of the U.N., but in much more practical, productive matters. And such is the case with Czechoslovakia. Nevertheless, these nations came out against us on the question of Jerusalem.

We cannot ignore the fact that there is also an ideological struggle going on in the world.

On the question of Jerusalem we saw a very strange and mystifying combination. On one side there was arrayed, not the entire Christian world, but the largest bloc in the Christian world - the

{p. 4} Catholic bloc. On another side stood the Moslem bloc. On the third side, the Communist bloc.

There is no doubt that each one of these blocs had its own motives. And there is no doubt that even if not related, all three blocs had one thing in common. What unites all blocs is not just political interests, but also an ideology. There is an ideology in Islam, and there is an ideology in Catholicism. There is an ideology in Communism. And again, it doesn't matter, in order to understand our problem, if the ideology sets the policy, or if the policy sets the ideology; they both, jointly, stem from one source. To disregard ideology is to disregard one of the obviously central factors in human history.

The Jewish nation is not only a national and political entity. It incorporates within itself a moral will, and has borne an historic vision ever since it appeared on the stage of history; and the will and vision of the Hebrew nation have nothing in common with even one of the three great world-views which joined together in the General Assembly of the United Nations over the question of Jerusalem - not with the Christian-Catholic, not with the Moslem, not with the Communist, and not even with the other world-views that have contended for world domination in the chronicles of mankind from early times until today.

It is impossible to understand Jewish history, the struggle for survival of the Jewish people, the steadfastness of the people in all periods and in all lands - both as a people rooted in its own soil, more or less under its own control, and as a scattered, wandering people in exile - if we do not see the ideological uniqueness of the Jewish people and the stubborn struggle (not only the physical, economic, political and military struggle, but also the spiritual, moral and intellectual struggle) which the Jewish people faced and continues to face to the present. And it will face this struggle until the end of time; until the coming of the messianic age.

This struggle began in the earliest period of our history, as far back as authentic, recorded history will take us. One constant physical fact is permanent in our history, and from it flows many of the resulting phenomena of our history - both then and now: We have always been, and we remain, a quantitatively small nation. There is no doubt that it is our destiny to continue to be a small nation in the future as well - small in relation to our neighbors, and small in relation to the nations with whom we are involved. This physical-mathematical fact has many consequences for our destiny - both negatively and positively.

In days of old our neighbors were Egypt and Babylon. These

{p. 5} two nations were not only superior to Israel in number, in wealth, in military strength, and in the scope of their political power, but also in many spiritual attainments and scientific accomplishments.

The idea which we have about Egypt from the Book of Genesis and the Book of Exodus is one-sided. According to what we learned in school, Egypt was a slave-camp in which our forefathers did back-breaking work; and the exodus from Egypt is accepted to this very day in Israel as an exodus from slavery to freedom. But in fact, ancient Egypt was one of the few nations in the world which created an original, advanced culture.

More than 5,000 years ago, in the days of Pharaoh Sneferu this land attained a lofty, cultural level and laid the foundation for several branches of science: arithmetic, engineering, chemistry and medicine; and, in the course of thousands of years, created a varied and rich literature in the fields of religion, history, morality, science, and works of poetry and prose, little of which has been preserved or discovered thus far. But the small remnant that is available testifies to great intellectual activity and cultural originality.

In one of the preserved stories about two brothers, we find the theme of Joseph and the wife of Potifar. And the love songs remind us of Solomon's Song of Songs. There are also hymns which resemble our Psalms, somewhat. The Egyptians were also great architects, as can be seen from the pyramids, and they also excelled in the art of sculpture and painting.

And the same was the case in Babylonia. Babylonia was superior to Egypt in its rich literature. The great Gilgamesh Epic (translated into Hebrew by S. Tchernichovsky), stories of creation, the Song of Ishtar, dirges, prayers, books on morality and wisdom, hymns and historical writings have all been preserved for us. Babylonia developed the science of measurement, medicine and engineering, and improved its system of jurisprudence long before other nations. The language of Babylonia was for a long time the international, diplomatic language in all the lands of the Bible which are today known collectively as the Near East.

{Given the greatness of those two Afro-Asiatic cultures, why struggle to destroy them? Has not Judaism been as anti-semitic as Aryanism?}

The struggle of the Jewish people with these two mighty neighbors was not just political and military, but also cultural and spiritual. The work of the prophets of Israel was directed, principally, against the spiritual influence of neighboring nations on the religious and moral outlook of the Children of Israel as well as on its social fabric. The debate over orientations, which some think was originated in our day, is an old debate in our history. In the Book of Jeremiah we find clear expression given to this

{p. 6} debate. The generals, and at their head, Jochanan son of Kareach, and Jezaniah son of Hoshaiah, were both oriented towards Egypt and not Babylonia. But Jeremiah was concerned with Israel and the God of Israel, and he said to the generals in prophetic anger: "If you are bent on going to Egypt . . . then the sword you fear will overtake you in Egypt, and the famine you dread will still be with you even in Egypt, and you will die there.... If you will stay in this land, then I will build you up and not destroy you, I will plant you, and not uproot you.... Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon whom you now fear. Do not be afraid of him, says the Lord; for I am with you, to save you and deliver you from his power" (Jeremiah 42).

This debate, without a doubt, did not originate in the days of Jeremiah, but had gone on for a long time, and the entire history of Israel in the days of the First Temple is filled with struggles between the different foreign influences emanating from Israel's neighbors, and the spiritual side of the nation that was personified in the prophets of Israel. It is not coincidental that political views and outlooks dealing with relations between neighboring nations were combined with social and moral utterantes and messianic prophecies. The small nation surrounded by mighty neighbors and rulers of the world (the "world" that was known to our people at that time) was continuously under double pressure: political and military, on the one hand, and cultural-spiritual, on the other hand. These mighty neighbors not only cast fear, but also lured and attracted the people by their lofty culture. This attraction is the source of the internal struggle which went on in the life of the nation from its beginning until the Babylonian Exile, and from the Babylonian Exile until this day.

Faint overtones of this internal struggle reach us in the encounter between the false prophets and the true prophets. The words of the false prophets have not been preserved, and we do not know their content or intent, but everything which remains from the true prophets points to great spiritual efforts not only to stand up against foreign rule, but also to stand up against the foreign spiritual influence which these powerful neighbors imposed upon a nation that was small and weak, politically and militarily, but exceptionally gifted in terms of spiritual strength and moral independence.

The Israeli nation, of which we are the inheritors, was not the only people in the land of Israel and its environs which was faced with this double pressure. Several Semitic nations whose language was Hebrew (as can be seen clearly from Canaanite Phoenician

{p. 7} writings and from the writing of Mesha, king of Moab) lived in Israel. But not a trace remains of all these people because they were unable to stand up to the cultural pressure of their mighty neighbors, and thus were absorbed by them without leaving footprints.

The Jewish people battled and was victorious, and it makes its appearance once again as a liberated nation, in a corner of the world where it first stepped on the stage of history four thousand years ago. The entire ethnic, political and cultural environment of the ancient, biblical world underwent a drastic change. The line of development of the ancient nations was completely severed: their language, their religion, their culture, their tradition, and their name - all vanished from off the face of the earth; and the Jewish people - though it was physically uprooted from its birthplace more than 2,000 years ago - is the only nation which continues its ancient tradition, its own language and culture, as if there had been no break in its historical continuity.

As if! But, it is obvious that the Jewish people of today is not like the Jewish people in the days of the First Temple or even of the Second Temple. The entire world has since changed, and it is only natural that the Jewish people has also changed. It is neither our intention nor our desire to return to that stage in which the existence of the kingdom of Judah was interrupted by Babylonia, or the government of Bar Kochba by the Romans. In the Babylonian captivity, and in everything that happened from then until now, our people absorbed new doctrines, principles and practices from the nations it met, and was influenced by, and also from, the surge of change which developed in the living conditions of society at large. The ancient Jewish outlook was intuitive and theocratic. In the Middle Ages, from the days of Saadya Gaon onward, attempts were made by Jewish scholars to combine Jewish theocratic thought with the Greek philosophical view which predominated among the educated at that time. And in the modern period, from the time of Spinoza onward - as was the case with all modern cultured peoples - the scientific, experimental approach became stronger and deeper within us.

Jews played a substantial and significant part in the advancement of science in the last 150 years - perhaps out of all proportion to their numbers - and have been full partners in the unraveling of the secrets of nature, and in the great intellectual revolution which has taken place in the world. Nevertheless, all of the changes which have taken place - both materially and spiritually - in our political and social condition, that occurred during the thousands of years of our existence, did not sap or weaken the vital inner

{p. 8} strength which has preserved our people throughout all of the ravages of time. Nor did it negate its national uniqueness as happened to many of our historical counterparts in other countries. An amazing vitamin is stored up in this nation which preserves its existence and independence, and gives it the strength to face any foreign infiuence which threatens its national being and moral quality.

Quite obviously, not every Jew was favored with this miraculous quality. In the course of time many have defected: individuals, groups, tribes, and entire communities. In every generation and in every land - even in the birthplace of the nation - there have been Jews unable to stand up under foreign pressure - physical or spiritual - and were destroyed or converted. But, the backbone of the nation stood the test - it struggled and it prevailed. The history of our people is the history of this mighty struggle. And it has not yet abated, even after the establishment of the State of Israel.

We know very little about the history of our people during the period of Persian rule, from the return to Zion in the days of Zerubabel, Ezra and Nehemiah, up to the appearance of Alexander the Great. This was perhaps the only period in the life of the Jewish people in its own land when it was not under heavy external pressure, and did not have to struggle for its political or cultural existence. Generally speaking, Persian rule was based on tolerance and autonomy, and it permitted every nation to follow its own practices and beliefs, and to maintain a high degree of internal self-rule.

Although there were also instances of persecution and pressure, as can be gleaned from the Scroll of Esther and from a historical hint dropped by a Greek writer (Hecataeus of Abdera), it can be generally said that the Persian period - which lasted over 200 years - was a period of internal consolidation in Judaism, and the spiritual image of the Jewish people was molded and refined in this period perhaps more so than at any other time, although even then the Jews could not avoid the Persian influence which was subconsciously absorbed by Judaism.

{how few Jewish writers admit this Zoroastrian influence on the development of Judaism, as how few Classicists admit Athens' cultural borrowing}

With the conquest of the East (including the Persian kingdom) by Alexander the Great (331 B.C.), the Greek period begins in which we witness a desperate struggle between Judaism and a rich culture unparalleled in human history until then; a culture which influenced human society more than any other to this day, and which bequeathed to the world spiritual treasures in poetry, literature, philosophy, science, sculpture, painting and other branches

{p. 9} of the arts which represent the ultimate in human creativity throughout the generations.

{note how Ben-Gurion pays tribute to his adversaries - this is the mark of true intellect}

The struggle between the Hasmoneans and the Greek rulers was not just the political and military struggle of an oppressed people fighting against foreign rulers and oppressors. It was principally a cultural struggle - one of the most dramatic struggles in human history - between two outstanding nations who differed fundamentally in their material way of living, in their approach to political power, and in their concept of the world, but were like one another in their spiritual greatness, though each in its own way.

The Jewish nation was small, poor, confined within narrow borders of a portion of its ancient land, and enjoying only internal self-rule; while the Greek nation looked out upon the entire world on those parts of Europe, Asia and then known Africa, with its language and culture spread among all ancient nations, from the outer reaches of the western Mediterranean, to India in Asia and the banks of the Nile in Egypt. The Greeks conquered not only by their sword, but also through their rich and superior culture, and when the Greek government that succeeded Alexander became established in Egypt and Syria, and when Alexandria and Antioch became Greek cultural centers, it was impossible that small and weak Judah would not be influenced by this superior culture, even in its tainted form during the hellenistic period. (The Hellenists who arose in Israel were only "backscratchers" who flattered foreign rulers.) The appearance of Greece on the stage of world history was unlike that of Rome at a later date - which had only military and administrative power to its credit. Greece offered a powerful, cultural presence that opened a new spiritual era for mankind, and enriched the treasury of human culture more than any other nation.

Only the words of those who opposed the Hellenists and fought against them remain in our literature, and the picture received from them is not altogether objective and complete. Without doubt, this encounter enriched and elevated the Jewish spirit and left quite an impression on Hebrew literature which emerged after the appearance of Alexander the Great, and gave birth to a broad and rich Judeo-Hellenistic literature - historical, liturgical, exegetic and philosophical.

But, despite this awesome culture, the Greeks were unable to assimilate the Jewish people as it had absorbed many nations in the East. The Jewish people met the challenge and was victorious.

{p. 10} Not only did it preserve its uniqueness and independence, but it even strengthened and deepened them.

The entire Jewish nation was not victorious. We do not know how many Jews were lost in this struggle - both through physical annihilation and through assimilation. But the nation as a whole was victorious, and the Hasmonean period will always be one of the most marvelous political, military and spiritual trials in our history in which the few prevailed over the many, the poor over the rich; all this, only because of the mighty spiritual powers which propelled the elite of the nation and the masses - even if it did not touch the privileged and the ruling circles.

The most difficult and prolonged test in the struggle of the Hebrew nation came with the rise of Christianity. The cultures of Egypt and Babylonia, and later the culture of Greece (and Rome) were alien to Judaism. Not so Christianity. It was developed on the lap of Judaism and emerged from within it. The person on whom the new religion was dependent was a whole Jew, and his religious and moral outlook did not differ from the Jewish outlook of his day. Even the special emphasis of Jesus was not different in essence from the things which were commonplace among the different contending groups in Israel in the period before the destruction of the Temple. Like other contemporary Jews, Jesus refused "to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs," and when he was asked to help a Canaanite woman, answered: "I was only sent to gather the sheep lost to the House of Israel."

The anti-Jewish direction was given to this new religion by Saul of Tarsus, the principal exponent and perhaps the main creator of "the new covenant," {the marking of Paul is a constant feature of Jewish & pro-Jewish writers, from Frederick Engels to Karl Kautsky to Hyam Maccoby to Robert Eisenman} as contrasted to the ancient covenant, the Hebrew covenant. Saul of Tarsus, the son of an expatriated Roman citizen, was also raised on Judaism. He was a student of Rabbi Gamaliel and, like all the other students, was an ardent Pharisee. But he was a Jew from the diaspora, and he absorbed from it part of the Greek culture. Initially, he was among the ardent opponents of the Christian sect which was organized in Jerusalem. But after "he saw the light" on his way to Damascus, and turned into one of those who believed that Jesus was the son of God, he gave new direction to the new sect. In contrast to Jesus' disciples who lived in the land of Israel, and who considered themselves full Jews, Saul of Tarsus (called Paul) saw the thrust of his mission as directed toward the heathens, and he turned the new sect into a religion and a church, which was contrary to all the principles of Judaism as a people, as a religion and as an ideal.

While it was said in the name of Jesus: "Do not suppose that

{p. 11} I have come to abolish the Law and the Prophets, I did not come to abolish, but to complete. I tell you this: So long as heaven and earth endure, not a letter, not one iota will disappear from the Law until all that must happen has happened" (Matthew 5:17-18) . Saul (Paul) worked hard at uprooting the Law and its precepts and at eliminating Judaism as a national entity oriented toward a messianic vision. Saul was perhaps the greatest of all the assimilationists who ever arose among the Jewish people. He negated all of the positive commandments which were, in essence, the entire foundation of Judaism, and set up, contrary to the Torah of Israel, an entire religion based on faith alone. He recognized the individual only, and not the people, and tried to uproot the faith of the Jewish people and its hope for national redemption. In place of the messianic vision of the prophets of Israel which looks to the future, and which links the redemption of the nation with the redemption of the world - to the rule of peace and justice in all nations - Saul of Tarsus predicated Christianity on faith in a heavenly redemption, by a messiah who had already arrived.

The growth of Christianity and its expansion took place during the period when Israel's independence was being undermined - during the fierce and hopeless wars which Jews fought against their Roman oppressors, from the days of Judah of Galilee and Zadok, until Simeon Bar Kochba and Rabbi Akiba - wars which ended in defeat for the Jewish people and in the loss of their independence. The nation experienced an intense and unprecedented spiritual, social and political upheaval. The zealous, daring warriors fell in battle or were taken captive. The nation's freedom was destroyed. The Temple was burned. The greater part of the homeland was devastated. Jerusalem was destroyed, and even its name was changed. It appeared as if Judah was utterly and finally destroyed and all the Jewish people would be completely obliterated.

Only the faith of the Jews remained; and even that was put to a bitter test - and not only through external decrees! Emperor Hadrian, who subdued Bar Kochba, prohibited circumcision, Sabbath observance, and the study of the Torah in the schools, and these decrees were carried out with great cruelty. The great leaders of Israel risked their lives to teach the Torah, and were put to death (the Ten Martyrs); among them was Rabbi Akiba who was the living spirit behind the war of Bar Kochba. However, the more dangerous encounter for Judaism came from within, from the doctrine of Christianity which initially grew out of Judaism, and pretended to rest on the words of the prophets, on beliefs, views and hopes which had become rooted in Judaism in the days of the

{p. 12} Second Temple {the very Second-Temple Judaism condemned by Nietzsche}. It rested, in particular, on a belief in the messiah and the resurrection of the dead.

Jesus' first disciples lived for a long time as full Jews and adhered to all the precepts ol the Torah and the customs of Judaism, but they did not believe in the national revival of the Jewish people, and in its future redemption, for they believed that the messiah had already come. The attraction to it of Jews from the diaspora - whose knowledge of Judaism and whose links with the Jewish people were flimsy - and the acceptance of the new religion by Greeks and others from idol-worshipping nations (especially through the missionary work of Saul of Tarsus), accentuated the differences between Judaism and the new religion.

{the jibe at "idol-worshippers" is ironic given the current Jewish promotion of "Tolerance"}

The Christian-Jews did not participate in the national struggle of the Jews against Rome. They even publicly acknowledged to the Roman authorities that they had no connection whatsoever with the Jews who were rebelling against the empire; and Saul of Tarsus ordered his disciples to submit to the authorities and accept its rule. It had already been said, also in the name of Jesus: "Then give to Caesar what is due to Caesar, and to God what is due to God" (Matthew 22:21). But Saul of Tarsus went further. "Every person," Saul taught in one of his Epistles, "must submit to the supreme authorities. There is no authority but by act of God, and the existing authorities are instituted by him; consequently, anyone who rebels against authority is resisting a divine institution ... " (Romans 13:1-2).

The serious and dreadful losses which the Jews suffered in the wars of Vespasian and Titus, and later in the days of Hadrian, and the bitter disappointments which came in their wake, paved the way for these doctrines of Christianity. Thus, many of the Jews living in Israel, and even more among the Jews in the diaspora of the Roman empire, were captivated by the new religion. In the course of time, less than 200 years after the fall of Bar Kochba, the Christian religion became the dominant religion of the Roman Empire, and was forcibly imposed on the peoples of the Greco-Roman world of Europe, Inner Asia and North Africa. Only the Jewish people's rebellion persisted - though not without numerous and continued losses - and it preserved its uniqueness.

The nation which was first to bring tidings of the vision of universal redemption - a vision of peace, freedom and justice for all peoples of the universe - which based its teachings on one central precept: "Love thy neighbor as thyself" - was not led astray by the new religion which donned universal garb and preached that one should not strike back against another who intends to harm him.

{Which is the central precept, "Love thy neighbor as thyself" or "an eye for an eye"?}

{p. 13} And when the power to rule fell into its hands, it oppressed and persecuted anyone that didn't submit to it.

{Did not Christian intolerance arise from its Jewish roots - from Judaism's intolerance of paganism?}

Dominant Christianity, which had under its control the entire world that was subject to Rome and its successors, would not forgive the Jewish people for its stubbornness, and in the name of the religion of love the Jews were viciously persecuted, and entire communities gave their lives for the sanctification of God's name. The Jewish people did not submit, and stood alone for hundreds of years in this historical struggle - and it prevailed. There are forces in Christianity which to this very day are unable to forgive us for our "rebelliousness."

About 500 years after the fall of Bar Kochba, the land of Israel was conquered by the Arabs. This invader, unlike most of the earlier conquerors, did not come with military might alone, but was armed with a new idea and a new doctrine: the doctrine of Mohammed. This doctrine was not created in Israel and did not grow out of Judaism, although it was substantially influenced by Judaism, since the prophet of Islam had contact with it through trade and also in a spiritual sense. The conquests of Mohammed and his disciples were quicker and more amazing than the conquests of Christianity. The spread of the doctrine of Mohammed among the Arabian tribes in the seventh century, and shortly thereafter throughout Asia and Africa, was unique in its awesome scope, its amazing speed and its profound cultural and linguistic influence. In a short while, most of the Mediterranean basin turned into an Arab-Moslem empire, and the language of Arabia became the spoken language among the nations of Syria, Assyria, all of North Africa, and the Iberian Peninsula. All the nations of the Middle East and North Africa accepted the new religion - some willingly and others unwillingly. The only ones to defy this mighty surge was the Jewish people.

Jews lived in the Arabian Peninsula from ancient times. Among Yemenite Jews there is a widespread tradition that their settlement in Yemen began in the days of King Solomon. But, there is no doubt that as far back as the days of the Second Temple Jewish merchants came to the edges of Arabia - to the south and to the north. King Herod sent a Jewish regiment of 500 men to South Arabia to aid the legions of Caesar Augustus in the conquest of South Arabia. Jews also came to Arabia from Babylonia and Persia. In the course of excavations at Beit Shearim, an ancient cemetery was uncovered containing the grave of a Jewish family from Himyar in Arabia dating back to the second or third century of this era. At the end of the fourth century, Abu Karib Assad, the king of

{p. 14} Yemen, converted to Judaism and propagated the faith of Israel in his country. The tragic fate of the Jewish king, Dhu Nawas, who ruled in Himyar at the end of the first quarter of the sixth century, and was overthrown by the Christian armies of Ethiopia, is well known. Many Jews who were persecuted by Christian Ethiopians fled to North Arabia and most of them settled in the City of Yathrib (Medina) and the surrounding areas.

In the days of Mohammed (570-632), many Jews lived in the Arabian Peninsula, and many of them worked the soil and raised sheep and cattle. The prophet of Islam would often meet with them during his business travels, and would hear them tell stories from the Bible about the patriarchs of the nation, the oneness of God, and the holiness of Jerusalem. During the first period of his prophetic mission, Mohammed instructed his believers that when at prayer they should face Jerusalem. He thereby hoped to win over the hearts of the Jews to his prophetic mission. Only after the Jews refused to accept his doctrine did he retract and give the order to face Mecca, his birthplace, at prayer-time. Thus did the new doctrine assume an Arab national character.

His hatred for the Jews grew, and he pursued them with his sword, and he demanded that they accept his doctrine. The Jews would not submit, though their resistance to this new force was costly. The Jews of Arabia - with the exception of their brothers in Yemen - were expelled or put to the sword. What remained of the Jewish settlement in Israel, especially the rural settlement, was likewise unable to stand up to the new conquerors. Some of them were assimilated among the conquerors, and some left the country. But the Jewish people in general survived, although the persecution was renewed from time to time. As far back as the twelfth century, more than 550 years after Mohammed, Maimonides had to send a letter to the Jews of Yemen to encourage them to stand up to the violent decrees, persecution, and rapacious actions of Islam.

{is this like The Letter of the Jews of Arles (or, in some versions, of Spain) and The Reply of the Jews of Constantinople, encouraging Marranism? I discuss them at hiding.html}

A new ideological wave that opposed the existence of the Jewish people and its national uniqueness and moral independence emerged with the great revolutions of modern times: the French Revolution at the end of the eighteenth century and the Russian Revolution at the beginning of the twentieth century.

The French Revolution, that held aloft the vision of liberty, equality and fraternity was not limited to its own country, but had repercussions throughout Europe. It undermined the institutions of monarchical despotism and of feudal regimes, and also was the initial impetus in the drive for the emancipation and equality of

{p. 15} Jews in Western countries. But it was not mere accident that this revolution demanded of the Jews a denial of national identity. Many Western Jews accepted this demand willingly, and that is how an assimilation movement arose that threatened to engulf the entire Jewish people. "It appears as if this old man among the nations, which fought for its existence for thousands of years and withstood the storms of history all over the world, cannot withstand the surge of the nineteenth century, but has succumbed and has denied its very being, and has reduced itself to the rank of a religious sect, an appendage of other peoples" (Dubnov); and quite a few were the victims of the assimilation, not only in the West but also in the East.

But, the determined historical will of the Jewish people also overcame this mighty surge, and emancipation led, not to assimilation, but to a new expression of its national uniqueness and its messianic yearnings. For the most part, Judaism shed its theocratic garb, and took on a secular form, but its attachment to its historical sources and its ancient birthplace increased. Its national language was reawakened, a secular Hebrew literature was created, and the "Lovers of Zion" and Zionist movements arose. The emancipation which came from without turned into auto-emancipation - a movement for independence from the shackles of foreign domination and influence, and the first foundations were laid for the renewal of national independence in the ancient homeland.

Just as with the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution was also not confined to the limits of the country, but had, and continues to have, repercussions throughout the world. Again, the Jewish people faced an ideological struggle and an historical trial - no less serious than any that had come before.

In 1917 the Balfour Declaration was issued. For the first time since the destruction of the Temple the Jews were recognized by a world power as a special people, and were promised the right to return to their land. The League of Nations, which was established at the end of World War I, gave international sanction to the Balfour Declaration and recognized the representation of the Jewish people as a body certified by international law.

In this same year, 1917, the Russian Revolution succeeded, and the new regime, which promised liberation to all, delivered a severe blow to the Jewish people. Russian Jewry, the largest and most fruitful Jewish community in the world, was forcibly cut off from the Jewish people and from its revived birthplace.

The Russian Revolution heralded national equaliLy for all the peoples of Russia and her minority groups, and also kept its prom-

{p. 16} ise, in its own way: under the new regime, national autonomy was given all peoples, races and minority groups who resided within the empire of the Russian czars. The Soviet Union was planned as a federation of equal peoples - each in the autonomous national region in which it lives. As with all arrangements in the Soviet Union, this autonomy was subject to the absolute dictatorship of the Bolshevik party which is based in Moscow. And the central government determines the entire economic, civil, cultural and political order which prevails throughout the giant republic. But under the Bolshevik dictatorship, the rights of all nationalities - large and small - were made equal, and the culture, language and economy of every nationality and tribe, to the degree that they were independent, were free to develop.

Only one national entity in the Soviet Union - the Jewish people - was in effect sentenced to national and spiritual extinction {and this not under Lenin or Trotsky, but from Stalin's full attainment of power about 1928}; not because of any particular negative attitude toward the Jews on the part of the Bolshevik government, but because of the objective reality of a scattered people, without a homeland, which this government did not take into consideration. The other nationalities in the Soviet Union, which are concentrated in their own areas, received national territorial autonomy under the Bolshevik dictatorship, and their language, culture, education and economy, in large part, are under their own control; and they sponsor schools, a press, and a literature in their own language. Not only is the national tradition of every people not disturbed, on the contrary, it is encouraged and abetted as it never was in czarist Russia. But, the language of the Jewish people, its education, its literature, and its connection with its national past were paralyzed, smashed and strangled.

{excursus - by Peter M.

Ben-Gurion omits to mention the Jewish domination in the early USSR: ginsberg.html, and that until about 1928, Judaism flourished while Christianity was being demolished: lenin-trotsky.html.

Nahum Goldmann, Israel's "ambassador to the world", wrote in The Jewish Paradox (London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1978):

"After the Revolution of 1917 there was a very intense Jewish cultural life in Russia, both in Yiddish and in Hebrew. It should not be forgotten that Israel's present national theatre, Habima, was created in Russia. All that intellectual activity, fed by newspapers and books in Yiddish, only disappeared when Stalin became a half-mad dictator haunted by the menace of an international Jewish conspiracy. And a Jewish life goes on in various other Communist countries. In Romania, for example, where there are eighty thousand Jews, there are synagogues, a Yiddish theatre and ritual foodstuffs. The ritual slaughterers in Romania have some trouble in emigrating to Israel because the rabbis need them where they are, and the authorities persuade them that it is their duty to provide kosher meat for the Romanian Jewish community. ... " (p. 167).

Further, "Before the war, most Russian diplomats were Jews." (p. 171).

Isaac Deutscher wrote in his book The non-Jewish Jew and other essays, ed. Tamara Deutscher (OUP, London 1968):

"In the Lenin era ... The Jews were allowed, and even encouraged, to publish their newspapers and their literature in Yiddish, and to develop their theatre - and the Yiddish theatre was one of the best I have known. It is now probably forgotten that the first great Hebrew theatre in history, the Habima, was founded in Russia on the initiative of the Commissar of Education, A. V. Lunacharsky. (Incidentally, the Habima soon left Russia for Palestine.)" (p. 71).

end excursus. Ben-Gurion now continues.}

In addition, contact by Jews of the Soviet Union with the Jewish people, and with the homeland of the Jewish people, was banned {only after WWII, and in particular after the Jewish Antifascist Committee's plan for a Jewish Crimea and the 1946 Baruch Plan for World Government}. The oldest of all the cultures in the Soviet Union was robbed of its historical inheritance. The Hebrew book was driven underground. All the Hebrew schools were closed. Silence, orphanhood and national bereavement were decreed on a Jewish community numbering in the millions, which for generations had led the national creativity of its people.

The Jewish people had not received as severe a blow as this since the Bar Kochba-Hadrian war. The paralysis and isolation of Russian Jewry not only affected the millions of Jewish inhabitants of the Soviet Union, but was also a serious blow to the entire Jewish people in all parts of the world. {for which Stalin was later murdered}

In order to have some idea of the terrible and colossal loss which the Jewish people has suffered since 1917, we have to ask

{p. 17} ourselves what we would have lost had the thing which happened in Russia, in 1917, occurred in 1880. Had Russian Jewry been isolated and paralyzed at that time, we would have lost the Bilu immigration, the new Hebrew literature (Mendeli, Ahad Ha'am Bialik and their group), the Zionist movement, the Jewish Workers' Movement, the Second Aliya, the founders of the kibbutz and "Hashomer," the builders of the workers' settlement and the founders of Tel Aviv - all the personalities who were at the head of the Zionist movement and the Yishuv for a period of 40 years, and all the assistance which Russian Jewry contributed toward the building of the land. We also would have lost the Jewish workers' movement in the United States, and all the creativity of Russian Jews in all countries.

The defeats and victories of the Bolsheviks during their first years of rule - defeats in the international sphere and victories and conquests in Russian territory - caused profound changes to be effected in the goals of the new regime. Starting as a government that seized power by force, it became a government that ruled by force; and dictatorial rule was converted from a temporary measure to a permanent policy.

The new doctrine of "one-country socialism," {i.e. Stalinism} practically speaking, turned into a nationalistic striving, putting the interests of one particular country above international socialism {i.e. Trotskyism, which Ben-Gurion supports}. Instead of depending upon the working class of the world to be a liberating force in every nation and state {as Trotskyism has it}, the only dependence was on the Soviet Union and its military power {and for this rerason, perhaps, the USSR under Gorbachev was persuaded to submit to the New World Order}. It was not socialist attainment in their own individual countries, according to the particular needs and historical circumstances of each country - as Marx had taught {Ben-Gurion applauds Marx, while opposing Stalin} - that was required of the workers' movement in every country outside of Russia, but absolute loyalty to the internal and international needs of the Soviet Union as they were interpreted from time to time by the heads of the ruling party.

Naturally, this same undivided discipline is demanded of all citizens of the Soviet Union - from the masses of the workers, farmers and intelligensia. And the duty of obedience is applied not only to social and political questions, but also to scientific and cultural questions; to questions of literature, fine arts, history, language, family life and personal conduct. From the time of the founding of the Catholic Church in Rome, and the establishment of the universal rule of the Popes, no power appeared on the world scene which claimed absolute international authority such as did the leaders of the Bolshevik party. And this claim, which in fact relies on the awesome military power of the Soviet Union, pre-

{p. 18} sumably professes the theory of revolutionary socialism, and declares its aspiration for perfecting the world and the redemption of humanity.

Without a doubt, the heads of the ruling party believe that whatever is good for their country is automatically good for the rest of the countries, and that their country is bringing redemption to the world. But, there is nothing at all new in this very faith - not in Russian history nor in world history.

The Jewish people, which never submitted to superior physical force, and which guarded its moral and intellectual independence even when it was not in a position to maintain its political and economic independence, has been confronted - more than any other nation in the world - with a severe and cruel test. There has been no people for which the vision of the redemption of the world has player a greater and more continuous role in its life, its history, and spiritual development than the Jewish people. No other people has yearned for peace among the nations, and for the oneness of humanity, more than the Jewish people which is scattered all over the world. The great personalities of the Jewish people in the last few generations have been those who have delved into the theories of the social revolution and given them a scientific foundation {once again, Ben-Gurion is supporting Marx, Lenin & Trotsky} based on an analysis of the contradictions of the existing regime. The best of Jewish youth, throughout all the countries of the diaspora, stood in the vanguard of the wars of liberation. And more than anyone else, this is true of Jewish youth in czarist Russia. The hearts of almost all of Russian Jewry were with those who strove to crush the tyranny of the Russian Czars; and Jewish fighters stood in the front lines of the Russian Revolution.

{but Ben-Gurion refuses to admit Jewish domination of the new regime}

The terror of the pogroms, which threatened the Jews in Russia for decades, disappeared only with the victory of the Bolsheviks. Millions of Russian Jews knew that under this government pogroms against the Jews could not happen. Lenin, the prophet, legislator and commander of the Bolshevik revolution, had several Jewish friends and disciples; and even after almost all of the Jewish members of Lenin's group were liquidated one by one, no one saw this as an anti-Semitic action. The memory of the troubles, persecutions and insults which the Jews suffered in the days of the Czars did not leave the Jews of Russia and Jews of the world for a long time. Even many of those who were unable to reconcile the socialist slogans of the Bolshevik party with the reality of its rule, did not want to deny the change which occurred in the legal status of the Jews after the destruction of the czarist regime.

The new regime abolished all traces of czarist discrimination

{p. 19} against the Jews. The rights of the individual Jew were made completely equal to the rights of the non-Jew. But, the Jewish community was severely hurt by the Bolshevik regime and its totalitarian demands, because of the harm it did to Judaism itself. Not only was the Jewish community in the Soviet Union hurt, but the Jewish people throughout the world was hurt as well.

The agony of Russian Jewry for more than 30 years (since the establishment of the new regime) has proven that even the steel roller of the Bolshevik dictatorship could not completely crush the Jewish people. Yet, despite the fact that many prominent Russian Jews devoted themselves wholeheartedly to the new order, and accepted it completely - willingly or unwillingly - the spark of spiritual independence was not extinguished even among the masses of Russian Jews, and their deep spiritual connection with the Jewish people and its homeland was not severed.

Evidence of humiliation, degradation and spiritual servitude among the Jewish supporters of the Russian revolutionary movement was not lacking even long before the appearance of the Bolshevik party. It is known that even in the days of the Czars Jewish revolutionaries gave their blessing to the pogroms against the Jews, since they saw in the anti-Jewish pogroms the revolt of the Russian farmer against the land-owner, and to them Jewish blood was the lubricating oil for the wheels of the Russian revolution.

The initiators of the attacks on the Hebrew language and the Zionist movement were members of the Jewish department of the Bolshevik party (Yevskazya), whose hate for Zion and the Hebrew language was even greater than their communist orthodoxy. The personal intervention of Lenin was needed to permit the existence of the Hebrew theater, Habimah, in Moscow. And when the workers' alliance requested permission to participate in the World Agricultural Exposition which was held in Moscow in 1923, it was these members of Yevskazya who opposed their coming. But, the authorities did not accept the view of their Jewish advisors.

Nevertheless, it was this very same Russian Jewry, even after the Russian Bolshevik government took complete control, that gave the country some of its best pioneering youth; and the deeds of these young people in Israel testify to the ability latent within the Jews of Russia, and to the secret desires which they crave in their inner being. And all the oppression, physical and moral, cannot contain them or destroy them. ...

{p. 23} One cannot read our

{p. 24} Book of Books without listening to the early echoes of the great cultured nations which surrounded our people: Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, Syria, Persia and Greece. Along with our great pride in the tremendous ability of our people to stand up to the mighty pressure of great and rich cultures like the Greek culture in the Hasmonean period, there are times when we regret the inability of the great past leaders of our people to differentiate between the dross and trash of the Hellenistic culture during the period of decline in the days of Alexander's successors, and the splendid spiritual riches of the Greek genius in its heyday - after the return from Babylonia in the days of the Great Assembly.

Perhaps many things would have been different in our history and in the history of the civilized world, had only those of our scholars who knew Greek translated the works of Sophocles, Thucydides, Plato and the other great scholars of Greece at the same time that our holy books were being translated into Greek; and had they learned the art of warfare and government from the Greeks and the Romans.

After our long adventure on the stage of world history for 4,000 years in all countries ot the world, we returned to the point of our origin and founded the third government of Israel - and we will not divest ourselves of the vast and rich international experience which we have accumulated. We will not lock ourselves up in our shell. Rather, we will open windows to all civilized corners of the world, and we will bequeath unto ourselves all the conquests of spirit and knowledge of our day. We will learn from all who would teach us, but we will preserve our independence. We will not isolate ourselves; we will maintain our concern for the world-at-large. We will be concerned, but will not accept an external authority; not enslavement in any shape or form. Independence is enshrined in the heart, in the soul, in the will of the nation; and only through inner independence does one reach and maintain outer independence. The most dangerous form of enslavement is enslavement of spirit, of thought.

The test of spiritual and moral independence is freedom of judgment and conscience. We are only free and in control of ourselves if we ourselves judge and decide what is good and what is bad {surely this is what everyone wants, yet secular Monotheism - the imposition of a single set of values - threatens it; why should the UN be able to override any government which outlaws sodomy, for example?} - what is good for us and what is bad for us. Anyone who at the outset accepts the jurisdiction of a foreign power forsakes his inner freedom and his personal independence.

The very essence of the spiritual struggle of the Jewish people ever since it became a nation, and to this very day, was its refusal to

{p. 25} accept foreign rule which ran contrary to its conscience, even when confronted by superior physical force.

The Jewish people do not believe in physical superiority, in the superiority of physical power. But, the denial of the superiority of physical power does not imply a denial of its value. We would be rejecting Jewish history - from the days of Joshua son of Nun, up to, and including, the Israeli army of today - if we were to assign little value to the importance of physical power. A denial of physical power is a denial of this world, a denial of life. This type of denial has always been foreign to the spirit of the Jewish people. In this lies one of the basic differences between Judaism and Christianity.

The Jewish genius, from the days of the prophets until Einstein, has never recognized the dualism of matter and spirit, a dualism which several of the world's thinkers, from the Greeks and the Persians to Descartes and his disciples, have subscribed to. Jewish intuition, both religious and scientific, has always stressed the unity of the universe and existence, despite the multiplicity of these other manifestations and phenomena. Even though the Jewish people's most able sons: its prophets, scholars and teachers, have always seen Israel's higher destiny to be in the spiritual realm, they have never looked disparagingly at the physical body and the body's needs, because there is no soul without a body, and there is no universal human destiny without existence as a nation.

The victory of Jewish armaments over Arab armaments played an important and decisive role in the establishment of the Jewish state. The source of this victory lay in the moral and spiritual superiority of the Hebrew nation, and it was the Jewish spirit which bestowed victory upon the Jewish armaments. The belief in, and devotion to, the superiority of the spirit has accompanied the Jewish people on its long historical trek, from the revelation on Mount Sinai to Israel's war today. This faith was the bequest of all those same people who molded the Jewish people from its inception until today; who conceived and cultivated its Torah, its poetry, its prophecy, its literature, its jurisprudence, its messianic vision, and its messianic faith; who fought for its national and world uniqueness and destiny; who conducted the wars of its political and military independence; who sanctified God's name in the slaughter of the communities of Israel during the Crusades, in the flames of the Inquisition, in the pogroms of Chmielnitzki, and the Nazi massacre; and who conceived, built and cultivated the program of settlement which lead to the State of Israel.

The devotion of the Jewish people to the superiority of the

{p. 26} spirit has been linked to its faith in the value of man who, according to the faith of the Jew, was created in the image of God {why, then, does the Jewish Bible present God as commanding Joshua & co to wipe out the Canaanites? This blindness to the fate of "pagans" gives the lie to the universalism of Judaism and its progeny}. No deeper, loftier, and more penetrating expression of the greatness and value and dignity of man is possible than this expression. The concept of God in Judaism symbolizes the epitome of good, beauty, justice and truth. The life of man has, in the eyes of the Jewish people, been dear and holy. Human beings who were created in the image of God all have equal rights, and are an end in themselves - not a means. The "image" demands it. It is no wonder that the scholars of this people based the Torah on one great principle: "Love thy neighbor as thyself." {why then did they ban intermarriage with non-Jews?} Love of one's neighbor is not to be for the Jewish citizen alone: "The alien that lives with you shall be treated as a native born among you, and you shall love him as a man, like yourself; because you were aliens in Egypt" (Leviticus 19:34).

At an early period in Judaism, a universal, all-embracing concept of humanity already predominated, and the echoes of this outlook reach us in the prayer of King Solomon at the dedication of the Temple. After the king prayed on behalf of his people, he added a universal prayer: "The foreigner too, who does not belong to thy people, Israel, but who has come from a distant land because of thy fame . . . when he comes and prays toward thy house, hear in heaven, Thy dwelling, and respond to the call which the foreigner makes to Thee . . ." (I Kings 8:41-43).

A complete book of the Bible, Jonah, is dedicated to the idea that the mercy of God is given in equal measure to all peoples, to the idol-worshipping peoples, as to the Jewish people. When the prophet complained to God for having pitied the city of Nineveh, God said to him: "You are sorry for the gourd, though you did not go through the trouble of growing it; a plant which came up in one night and withered in one night! Should I not be sorry for the great city of Nineveh, with its 120,000 people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and cattle without number?" (Jonah 4:10-11).

The third thing which was tied up with the faith of the Jewish people as it relates to the superiority of the spirit was its messianic vision, out of which grew the messianic faith, and yearnings for national and universal redemption.

It was at an early stage that the Jewish people distinguished itself for its original historical outlook, not paralleled by any of the nations of the East or West; not by Egypt, Babylonia, India and China; and not by Greece or Rome or any of their successors in Europe, even until modern times. Our people did not look back,

{p. 27} as did the other ancient nations, to the legendary Golden Age of the past which was gone and would not return, but directed its vision to the future, to the messianic age, to the time when "the world would be filled with knowledge as waters cover the sea," and "nations would beat their spears into pruning hooks; nation would not bear arms against nation, and would learn war no more."

{Judaism is a religion of the future; but probably based on a past largely invented by literary figures like Ezra. "Ending war" means World Government; it always amazes me that H. G. Wells, an advocate of both these goals, was able to reconcile this would-be pacifism with the slogan "the War to End War", which he invented to motivate the British to win the First World War.}

Not useless yearnings for the splendor of a past that is no more, but hope for the realization of the vision of a more perfect future; a vision of the reign of justice and peace among all the nations of the world, for the good of peoples in all countries - this was the historical philosophy which the prophets of Israel bequeathed to their people. This expectation and faith in the future stood our people in good stead in the days of hardship and suffering in its long history, and it was this which brought it to this juncture, to the beginning of its national redemption, which also harbors the first sparks of overall human redemption.

This nation, which is faithful to itself, will not depend upon the direction that the strong and mighty may seek to impose upon it simply by virtue of their strength and power. It will choose for itself its own path towards an improved life and towards the reign of justice.

For a long time the Jewish people viewed itself as a chosen people, and it had sufficient basis for this view, so long as the sole criterion of the Jewish people was religio-moral consciousness. Modern Jews can no longer ignore the large role which other nations have played, in ancient times as well as modern times, in a civilization which is so interwoven and interrelated through thought, poetry, science, the arts, technology, geographic discoveries, and in social progress. We respect the great deeds and blessed creations of all nations, but we will not belittle ourselves; we will not be enslaved, and will not accept any form of spiritual servitude, intellectually or morally, just as we will not seek for ourselves dominion over others. In keeping with our conscience, we will follow our own special path.

In our own day, the Jewish people has had to do its own spadework: the cultivation of a desolate land and the ingathering of exiles; and this work will not be accomplished unless all of the resources of civilization, together with its positive values, are in full possession of the Jewish people. No development made by the civilized world will be foreign to it. There will be no need for the Jewish people to consider itself the best of all nations, but there is no reason for it to consider itself inferior. It is not inferior

{p. 28} to any nation in its ability or in special talents. It miist learn much from the advanced nations in the areas of economic performance, government organization, scientific research and technological capability. The difference between good and evil will be drawn from the moral genius which illumined the Jewish people since its inception, and did not diminish or fade. The true road to freedom, to justice and brotherhood will pave itself, through absolute intelectual and moral independence - without enslavement and without imitation.

Through mastery of the instruments of physical and social science and technology, and through the pioneering enthusiasm of those who are realizing a dream - national and universal - the Jewish people will create the image of a model people in its revived homeland, which will not disgrace the legacy of its prophets, its scholars and its leaders from ancient times to this day.

The maintenance of this moral and intellectual independence of the Jewish people requires no less a continuous spiritual effort than the maintenance of our political and economic independence, because our spiritual independence is threatened no less than our material independence. Moreover, the forces which face us in the ideological struggle are inestimably greater and more numerous than those confronting us on other fronts. But let us not panic. An intellectual struggle has never been decided by armies and by might, but by spirit. And the spirit of Israel will not forsake us. Our 4,000 years of history testifies to this.

The main subject of discussion in the education of the army, the young people, and the nation in general, is our national uniqueness - from a political and economic, as well as from a moral and intellectual point of view. National uniqueness is both an end and a means. An end, in that this uniqueness is a natural and historical right; and a means, in that it is necessary that we fulfill our destiny. It is the natural and historical right of every people to be the master of its own destiny, to go its own way and to mold its life and image in accordance with its own characteristics, needs, wishes and special conditions. And no nation has the authority to renounce this right, because a nation is subject to claims and has a responsibility which destiny has imposed upon it. Only through inner freedom and faithfulness to itself will it be within its power to fulfill its destiny and carry out the missions which history has imposed upon it.

The destiny of the Jewish people in our era, the destiny which

{p. 29} characterizes this period in the history of the nation, is the repatriation of the Jewish people, the ingathering of exiles.

We have just experienced two marvelous revolutionary happenings in our history: the revival of the State of Israel and the victories of the Israeli army. But the revolutionary zeal of the modern period was not exhausted by these events; they served only as prologue and preparation for the crucial matter, and that is the repatriation of the Jewish people.

This is not the first time that Jews are returning to their land and renewing their independence as a State. Such a thing happened 2,500 years ago, in the days of Zerubabel, Ezra and Nehemiah when the exiles of Zion returned from Babylonia during the reign of the Persian kings, and laid the foundation of the Second Temple. ...

The whole idea of a Jewish diaspora, in general, is ancient, and predated the destruction of the Second Temple and even the destruction of the First Temple. As far back as the seventh century B.C. we find Jews in Egypt. It is possible that they were exiled there after King Josiah was killed in his war against Pharaoh Necho. In any case, it is clear that the Jews who went down to Egypt in the days of Jeremiah already found Jewish settlements in the Egyptian cities of Tahpanhes, Noph, Migdol and Pathros. In Elephantine, at the gateway to the south of Egypt, there was a Jewish military colony in

{p. 30} the sixth century B.C., which was joined by Jochanan, son of Kareach, and "all the captains of the armed bands and other Judeans" who didn't want to heed the voice of Jeremiah, and went down to Egypt.

With the destruction of the kingdom of Judah, a large center of Jewish life was established in Babylonia, of which only a part returned to Israel after the edict of Cyrus, king of Persia, who issued a proclamation throughout his kingdom, and also stated in writing: "Whosoever among his people, may God be with him, let him go up to Jerusalem, that is in Judah, and let him build the House of God, the Lord of Israel."

Only about 50,000 people answered this call and the Babylonian Exile was not liquidated, but rather continued to our times.

Egypt and Babylonia were not the only dispersions in ancient times. In the days of the Second Temple, the diaspora expanded and spread to many countries. In Syria and Asia Minor there were Jews even before the Hasmonean period and the Delphic inscriptions, in Greece, tell of the emancipation of Jewish slaves at the time of the Hasmonean rebellion (150-170). Even a little before that, the prophet, Joel, inveighs against Tyre, Sidon and the territories of Philistia for selling the people of Judah and Jerusalem "to the Greeks, and removed them far beyond their frontiers" (Joel 3:6).

In Isaiah, there is also a verse about Jews scattered across the sea: "On that day the Lord will make his powers more glorious by recovering the remnant of his people, those who are still left, from Assyria and Egypt, from Pathros, from Cush and Elam, from Shinar, Hamath and the islands of the sea" (Isaiah 11:11).

The Greek geographer, Strabo, who lived in the days of Herod the First, tells that "the Jewish people reached every city and province, and it is not easy to find a place in the settled world which has not absorbed people of this nation or was not influenced by them." And Philo of Alexandria, who was born 90 years before the destruction of the Second Temple, says in his book Adversus Flaccum: "One country cannot absorb all of the Jews, so great is their number. Consequently, they scout around for a livelihood in most of the prosperous cities of Europe, Asia, and in the islands of the sea, and on land. They consider their origin to be the Holy City on whose heights sits the Temple dedicated to Almighty God. They love the lands in which their fathers and grandfathers settled generations ago as their own birthplace, for they were born and raised in them."

The Jewish diaspora grew after the destruction of the Second

{p. 31} Temple in all parts of the Old World, and reached all the countries in Europe, Asia and Africa; and with the discovery of the New World - America and Australia - it spread there as well. And after the terrible massacre of the Jews of Europe by the Nazis in our own time, the population center of diaspora Jewry was shifted to the United States.

There is no people that is scattered among the nations of the world as the Jews {on the contrary, many tribal peoples are more scattered, and many peoples from the past have assimilated into melting-pots; where are all the other peoples & tribes of 3000 years ago or 2000 years ago, those that made up the Roman Empire, for example? Most have fragmented or amalgamated into other groupings}. The terrible, bitter curse in the Torah was fulfilled: "The Lord will scatter you among all peoples from one end of the earth to the other.... Among those nations you will find no peace, no rest for the sole of your foot. Then the Lord will give you an unquiet mind, dim eyes and despondent spirit. Your life will hang continually in suspense, fear will beset you night and day, and you will find no security your whole life long . . ." (Deuteronomy 28:64-67).

All attempts to return to the homeland - and such attempts never ceased from the time that our people went into exile - were limited and, generally speaking, doomed to failure as long as foreigners ruled our country. And here, 1813 years after Israel last lost its independence, in the days of Bar Kochba and Rabbi Akiba, the State of Israel was established anew, and the gates of the homeland were opened wide to all our scattered people.

It is difficult, almost impossible, to pinpoint the beginning of events. Who can single out the first "wave" of immigrants responsible for the establishment of the state? The first foundations of our renewed agricultural settlement were laid with the establishment of Mikve Israel and Petach Tikvah; but Jewish immigration predated these attempts at settlement, and there are natives in the country going back five generations and more.

Before World War I, the Jewish community in Israel did not total even 100,000 people. During the war years it decreased in size substantially, and at the end of the war there were less than 60,000 Jews in the country. By the Second World War their number increased tenfold, and when the state was proclaimed in May, 1948, we reached approximately 650,000 Jews. But, in these last two years, more than 400,000 Jews immigrated to Israel. Not only did the numerical pace change, but a fundamental change took place in the nature and character of the immigration. Entire national blocs of people were uprooted, almost at one time, from the bulging exile and were transported to their liberated homeland: from Bulgaria and from Yemen, from Yugoslavia and from Morocco, from Germany and from Algeria, from Austria and from ...

{But Ben-Gurion says nothing of the displaced Palestinians, despite Jewish sponsorship of many "native rights" movements in the New World}

{p. 36} The Israeli army is obliged to become the creative force of the nation's pioneers, and the cultural instrument for the assimilation of returnees; for their integration and their cultural advancement. The insipid prattle of the critics of the military - that by its very nature is an instrument which breeds stupidity, careerism, idleness, arrogance, etc. - let that not disturb us. The nature and character of the army, as of other institutions, depends on the content which we put into it; and we have to fill this institution with

{p. 37} pioneering and cultural ingredients which contain what is needed to build a nation and create a homeland.

It is incumbent upon the army to implant within the youth under its influence - from the Youth Brigade and upward - the basic values of cleanliness - physical and moral, a knowledge of the language and the country, physical and mental dexterity, love of the homeland and fraternal loyalty, bravery and creative initiative, discipline and order, fitness for work and a pioneering drive {all qualities which the New Left condemn in the West, as "authoritarian" and "fascist"} - these in addition to the military and professional qualities which are needed for security in the most narrow sense.

The Israeli army is only two years old. However, this young army is but an offshoot of ancient military stock; one of the oldest armies in the world. Jewish military history is as old as the Jewish people - some 4,000 years. Abram, the first Hebrew, fought with Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam and Tidal king of Goyim, to rescue his relatives who fell captive in the War of the Nine Kings in the valley of Siddim (Genesis 14). The first war of the Jewish people came immediately after the exodus from Egypt - war with the traditional enemy of Israel, Amalek; and it was conducted by the first military commander in Israel, Joshua, son of Nun. The battle took place at Refidim, in the same area where the last battle of the Israeli army was conducted in our times - the battle to liberate the Negev from the Egyptians at the end of 1948.

After the battle of Refidim, the armies of Israel fought with the Canaanites and the Amorites, with Moab and Edom, with Philistia and Aram, with Egypt, with Assyria, with Babylonia and with Arabia, with Greece and with Rome. And its military history did not end with the destruction of the Temple, nor with the defeat of Bar Kochba.

As late as the seventh century, the Jewish army fought in alliance with Persia against the Byzantine army under the commander, Benjamin of Tiberius; and at the end of the eleventh century, in the year 1100, Jewish Haifa battled the Crusaders. Only after the Venetian fleet attacked Haifa from the sea, and the army of Tancred surrounded it by land, did Jewish Haifa fall after a desperate two-week battle.

The Jewish army, with a few exceptions, has always been a popular army. The Jewish fighters in the days of Joshua were those who settled the country and built it up. It was a fighting nation that conquered the land, and not mercenaries who were out for personal gain.

{p. 38} The laws of recruitment which Moses established also prove that the army of Israel was a citizens' army.

{p. 39} ... strict discipline was maintained in the army, and stern measures were taken against deserters from the battlefield "because the beginning of defeat is flight." As a result, they used to station, in front of the troops and behind them, "sentries armed with iron sledgehammers, authorized to beat anyone wanting to turn back."

{a technique Trotsky instituted in the Red Army: troops in the rear with orders to kill deserters and front-line soldiers trying to retreat}

Exemptions from the people's army for economic or family reasons were permitted only during an offensive war, but during defensive wars, when the people of Israel were attacked, "everyone went, including the groom from his bridal-chamber and the bride from her wedding canopy," because the obligation of defending the nation from outside attack fell on every man and woman without exception.

Up to the period of the monarchy, there was no regular army in Israel. Saul was the first one to establish a regular army of 3,000 men: "And two thousand were with Saul in Michmash and the hill country of Bethel, and 1,000 with Jonathan at Givat Binyamin; and he sent the rest of the people home" (I Samuel 13:2). King Solomon also established an equestrian army of 12,000 men.

The army reached its peak of perfection in the days of the First Temple, during the reign of the greatest of the kings of Judah, Uziahu (Azariah) son of Amaziah, who ruled in the middle of the eighth century B.C. and was a contemporary of Teroboam the Second, son of Joash. These two kings expanded the boundary of Israel to an extent not reached after the division of the kingdom following the death of Solomon. Jeroboam expanded the boundary of Israel in the north, and returned Damascus and Hamath to Israel, and Uziahu, king of Judah, expanded the boundary of his kingdom in the south. He battled the Philistines at Gath, Yavneh

{p. 40} and Ashdod in the west of Israel, and the Arabs who lived at Gur Baal, and the Maonites in the eastern part of the country. He not only expanded the boundaries, but also developed the land, built new cities in the territories which he conquered, expanded the agricultural area, set up irrigation in the wasteland of the south, and promoted the raising of sheep and cattle as well as the planting of groves in the hills. "And he built towers in the wilderness and dug many cisterns, for he had large herds in the lowlands and in the plains. He also had farmers and vine-dressers in the hill-country and in the fertile lands, for he loved the soil" (II Chronicles 26:10).

One of his chief projects was the building up of Eilat. Solomon had already appreciated the great importance of the gulf of the Red Sea for both the economy and the status of his kingdom. He developed and exploited the copper mines in the Arava, and set up a factory for smelting the copper at Etzion Gever, adjacent to Eilat. (This factory was discovered several years ago in the course of the excavations of the American Jewish archeologist, Nelson Glueck.)

Solomon also appreciated the importance of the sea and navigation. "King Solomon built a fleet of ships at Etzion Gever, near Eloth on the shore of the Red Sea, in Edom" (I Kings 9:26). But there were no sailors in Israel then, and Solomon was compelled to make use of the Canaanite sailors of his ally, Hiram, king of Tyre. But Eilat did not remain for long in the hands of the Jews. In the days of Joram, son of Jehoshafat "Edom revolted against Judah and set up its own king" (II Kings 8:20), and Edom reverted to be an Edomite city. Only after King Amaziah, son of Joash, "defeated ten thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt, and captured Selah . . ." (II Kings 14:7), was his son Uziahu able to reach the edge of the Arava in the south. He built Eilat and returned it to Judah.

Along with the settlement and development projects, and the expansion of the boundaries, this great king gave his attention to the fortification of the capital of his kingdom. "And Uziahu built towers in Jerusalem at the Corner Gate, at the Valley Gate, and at the slope, and he fortified them" (II Chronicles 26:9). But, the main activity of this king was the reinforcement of the army from the point of view of organization and armament. There was no king in Israel before him who did such wonders in strengthening the security forces and in increasing their battle capacity. In the days of Saul there was not one blacksmith in the entire land of Israel "for the Philistines were determined to prevent the Hebrews

{p. 41} from making swords and spears.... And when war broke out, none of the followers of Saul and Jonathan had either sword or spear . . ." (I Samuel 13:19-22). King Uziahu saw to it that his army would have at its disposal every type of weapon that was then known to Egypt, Assyria, Aram and all the surrounding nations. He also perfected new types of weapons and set up the first artillery in the history of Israel: "In Jerusalem he had machines designed by engineers for use upon towers and bastions, made to discharge arrows and large stones. His fame spread far and wide, for he was so wonderfully gifted and he became very powerful" (II Chronicles 26: 15).

The author of the Book of Chronicles gives the size of the army of Uziahu as "three hundred and seven thousand, five hundred, a powerful fighting force to aid the king against his enemies" (II Chronicles 26:13). It is possible that this number was exaggerated. The second number given in the same place seems more probable: "The total number of heads of families which supplied seasoned warriors was two thousand six hundred." But, from Uziahu's feats of strength and expansion in the land of the Philistines to the west, in the Arabian section to the east, and in Edom in the south, it is clear that he had a large army, and the strength of the army lay not only in its numbers, but also in its perfected equipment. "Uziahu prepared for the whole army shields, spears, helmets, coats of mail, bows and sling-stones" (II Chronicles 26:14). All these were the kinds of offensive and defensive weapons which existed at that time and for a long time afterward.

The special greatness of King Uziahu lies in the fact that he knew how to integrate settlement, development and irrigation projects with military and war activities. It is no wonder that he merited having his full biography ("The Other Events of Uziahu's Reign, from First to Last") written by Isaiah, son of Amoz, the prophet {an advocate, we are told, of the beating of swords into plough-shares}. However, this book, as with all of the books of the kings of Judah and Israel, did not come down to us.

The classic example in our history of the joining of work projects and defense occurred during the first return to Zion in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah. The first returnees from Babylonia found that "the wall of Jerusalem was broken down and its gates destroyed by fire" (Nehemiah 1:3), and they began to build the walls of the capital and its gates under the leadership of Nehemiah, son of Hacaliah. ...

{p. 42} Not all immigrants will be accommodated within the military, but the civilian community is also not exempt from the central mission of our generation: the material and spiritual absorption of immigrants. All of the modes of settlement, rural and urban: the kibbutz, the moshav, the moshava, cooperatives, business concerns, labor unions, artisans' guilds, farmers' and industrial associations, professional associations, local towns and councils and every man and woman in the country: workers, clerks, doctors, teachers, writers, contractors, store and factory owners, merchants and businessmen - all are called upon to extend a faithful, helping hand

{p. 43} for the absorption of immigrants, for their guidance and education, and to help them get settled and to strike roots in the country. These efforts will not be demanded of us for only a year or two, but forever, and tirelessly, with increasing urgency. This is the noble destiny of our era. The admixture of people which flows in from foreign exiles will be cleansed, refined and purified from harmful, foreign dross in the melting pot of Jewish brotherhood and through military discipline. The barriers between communities will be torn down and true unity of a new nation reviving its youth will be forged which will draw from an ancient past saturated with struggle and experience, built and glorified through pioneering work and a struggle for freedom, aided by a spirit of bravery, heroism and strength, and bound to a messianic vision whose time has come. {end of Chapter One}

{p. 45} The Bible, you know, is not a book, but an entire literature which contains legend (others would say "mythology"), stories, history, laws and statutes, rebuke and elegy, poetry and meditation, words of wisdom and prophecy. In order to evaluate this literature, one must be not only well-versed in the Bible, but also a poet and a philosopher, a critic and a prophet, a historian and an archeologist, a linguist and an expert in the history of ancient religion, thought and literature. I do not possess even one of the mentioned qualifications, and I would not venture to appear at a gathering of writers, or at any gathering, and attempt to evaluate these immortal books. I spoke at the Club as an average reader of the Bible. I admit that I read the Bible with great love and deep admiration. I appealed to the association of writers and artists that they might bring the Bible to our generation, using all of the artistic means and spiritual capability at their disposal: as writers, artists, sculptors, musicians, theatrical people, philosophers and educators. Our generation is not acquainted with the Bible, the greatest master-

{p. 46} piece of the Hebrew people up to this very day.

{to remedy this, Ben-Gurion instituted compulsory religious courses - in the Jewish religion - for Jews in Israel, thus founding the power of the fundamentalist rabbis in Israel today}

{p. 48} The ideas of Einstein and Newton, the plays of Shakespeare and Sophocles, the dialogues of Plato and Buddha are not the products of a blind game of atoms and electrons running to and fro, but a living expression of something great and mysterious called "spirit," and this spirit is a part of the awesome and infinite being, no less than are the organs of man part of the human being {an idea reminiscent of the monism of Spinoza, and implying a group mind or soul; Ben-Gurion pays tribute to Spinoza on p. 7 above, and p. 111 & p. 287 below}. We stand before a great and awesome mystery which no one is able to solve. There are those who call it by the name "God." I do not believe that by merely giving something a name we clarify and explain what does not lend itself to clarification and explanation.

{Ben-Gurion then, was not a theist, but belonged to the religious non-theists; yet although not a theist, he accepts the Biblical revelation of a Chosen People & a Promised Land, based on the Bible's theistic accounts}

From the Bible I know what our forefathers thought about this great mystery. More than this I do not know. The mystery itself remains a mystery. And it is both the mystery of "spirit" and the mystery of "matter." Spirit and matter are the manifestations of a higher unity.

I am a great believer in the capacity of the human spirit; both in its intellectual capacity and its moral capacity. Many, many things which we do not know and understand today will be known and understood by the coming generations; a great deal of what has been spoiled until now, will be fixed in the future. "The spirit of man travels upward," despite the doubts of Ecclesiastes. But I do not know whether in the end of days man will attain an understanding of the infinite, and will fully know the "one and all."

{p. 49} And I do not know if we will ever attain ultimate perfection in the life of man.

The Bible, in my humble opinion, is the creation of the Jewish people, and did not come to it from outside. I also do not accept the explanation that Job was translated from another language. Without a doubt, the Bible was one of the chief factors in the molding of the image of our people; but this factor came from within from within the people. The greatness of the Bible is the greatness of the spirit of the Jewish people; it is the fruit of its spirit, the fruit of the great men of our people.

Of course, you can ask: From where did this spirit come? Just as you can ask: What is the source of the spirit of Greece as revealed in the epics of Homer, the tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, the dialogues of Plato and the books of Aristotle, etc.? And, in general, where did man's spirit come from? And his body? From dust! All right. But from where did the dust come? It is part of the world! From where did the world come? Neither the Bible nor any other single book in the world has given - and I am afraid, will ever give - the answer to these eternal questions. The only answer which the Bible gave is what our forefathers thought and believed about this question - the answer that they gave to themselves. This answer left its mark on the history of the Jewish people, just as other answers - and they are not many, and not too different - left their marks on the history of other nations.

At the end of the great and moving poem attributed to Job there is the answer of God out of the storm. Even in this reply only questions are posed, eternal questions with which the human spirit has struggled since the day it matured. But there is no answer to these questions.

In addition to its other great virtues, the Bible contains one more powerful feature. I do not find in the Bible what I find in Greek books and in the midrashic literature: two separate worlds - a separate material world and a separate spiritual world; in other words, a "now" and a "hereafter."

One of the first things that Moses heard from the mouth of his God, after the exodus from Egypt, was that the Jewish people would be "a people more treasured than any other, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." And all of the blessings which Moses heard from the mouth of God - provided that the Israelites would obey the voice of God - were the blessing of the field and the city the blessing of the womb and the earth, the offspring of cattle and sheep, the blessing of fruit baskets and kneading troughs, ...

{p. 59} I do not doubt the basic fact that the people of Israel, from then until today, throughout the generations, was a nation different in its nature, spirit and destiny from all other nations on the face of the earth; and that this difference also existed in the early

{p. 60} history of the people, through the years of the First Temple, the Second Temple and in the 2,000 years of exile.

{p. 68} However, when we attempt to understand historical events as they really occurred, we are not bound by the manner of speech of the authors of the Bible, because we certainly cannot attribute speech to the godhead and conceive of God in the image of man. One cannot take these things literally, as if God came to Abraham and said to him as one man talks to another: "Leave your country ..." but there are, as Maimonides explains, people who are superior by virtue of their intellectual, spiritual and moral traits (Guide for the Perplexed, Part II, Chapters 40-41), and they hear God's voice in their heart or in a dream, and they act in accordance with this inner voice {what of Freud's depicting of religion as a mental illness?}. This is how I understand what is written in chapter 12 of Genesis, and this is how I interpret it to myself: Abraham, who attained a faith in one God by himself, and in opposition to the members of his people, knew of the existence of a Hebrew nation which believed in this one God - a people located in the land of Canaan; and an inner voice told him to go and join up with this nation which believed as he did in an Almighty God, Creator of heaven and earth. He left his land, his birthplace, and his father's home where they believed in many gods. He was unable to live with them because of his belief, and he went to the land of Canaan. Finally, he came to Shechem, to the oak of Moreh (this oak is the same tree that was found in the days of Jacob and the days of Joshua). There, the first thing he did was to build an altar to the Lord who appeared to him, because this city, Shechem, was the political or spiritual center of the Hebrew people, which believed in one God.

I am saying that the Hebrew people preceded Abraham. I know the difficulty with this theory, since almost everywhere - in the Torah and also in the Book of Joshua - this land is called the land of Canaan, because the various Canaanite peoples fought over it ... But, in the Torah and in the Prophets, we find early allusions to the "land of the Hebrews," and in the Bible they use the term "Hebrews" when they want to indicate their special faith and the difference between them and other peoples. The word Hebrew designates not only a certain identity, but a separation from others. And there is one very strange verse: Joseph says about himself in Egypt, "By force I was stolen from the land of the Hebrews" (Genesis 40:15). Where was the land of the Hebrews located? Even in the first divine revelation to Moses from

{p. 69} the midst of the bush at Horeb, it was said to him, among other things: "And you and the elders of Israel must go to the king of Egypt and say to him: 'The Lord, God of the Hebrews, has met with us . . .' " (Exodus 3:18). Where did Hebrews suddenly come from? And again it is said to him: "Say to him, 'The Lord, God of the Hebrews sent me to you . . .'" (Exodus 7:15). The name Hebrew (in its masculine, feminine and plural forms) is found in the Bible wherever the intention is to specify a Jew, and to distinguish between him and a non-Jew. In Jeremiah, we find an identity between the name Hebrew and the name Jew. When Jeremiah commands, in the name of God, "that every man free his male and female Hebrew servants [to distinguish from non-Hebrew servants] so as not to keep their fellow Jews in servitude" (Jeremiah 34:9), Jew and Hebrew are identical. Abraham, who abandoned the faith of the gods of his people and left his father's house, and arrived at a belief in one God, left his country and went to the Hebrew people who professed this religion, and became a "prince of God" in their midst.

Here, it appears to me, is the key to the entire history of the Jewish people. Because the question is asked: Why did Abraham go from a rich and fertile land, with an advanced culture, to a poor and backward land in every respect? Two countries were the birthplace of human civilization: Egypt and Mesopotamia. Abraham was born in Mesopotamia, which was a rich land. Canaan was a poor country. What motivated Abraham to leave this rich and cultured land and go to a poor and backward land? Why did he go to Shechem and build an altar to God? And why did God's voice speak within him there saying that the land would be given to his offspring? Abraham went there because a people existed there which believed, as he did, in one God. He could not have stayed in a land which worshipped idols.

The answers which I will attempt to give to these questions and to the earlier perplexities, as well, are not, as I said at the outset of my remarks, any more than a theory. There are refutations in the Bible to my theory. You can find contradictions to it as in the story about the spies who came to the land of Canaan and saw strong and mighty nations who were unconquerable. And there is not even a mention of the existence of a Hebrew people, of the existence of Hebrews. Even so, it is difficult to understand the evolution of our history from the days of Abraham until the judges unless we proceed along the general lines of this hypothesis which possibly, here and there, does not hit the target. ...

{p. 78} They received the Torah on Mt. Sinai. They all died together in the desert. The others were all born in the desert.

What is told in the Torah about the tribes resembles the same division by which they divided the brigades before the establishment of the modern Israeli army: the Golani Brigade, the Alexandroni Brigade, etc. There was no common feeling. According to the Torah, at the outset there were no tribes; tribes were not formed with special leaders and with a special character which were later molded into a nation. There was, as has been said, one family which multiplied to two or three million people. They all left Egypt together; they all received one Torah; they had one leader; they fought together. Part of this nation conquered areas on the eastern side of the Jordan. The leader stipulated a condition to them: Even though you occupy territory here, you must cross the Jordan and help the rest of the nation in its war. There was no tribal character whatsoever. There was no separation. There was no difference at all between tribes. We know who was the father, and who his sons were, and also the sons of his sons, and the sons of the sons of his sons. We know how they all lived in bondage and servitude. They all went free. They all saw the miracles.

How did the tribes live? There was no special tribal character. They all conquered the land together under one leader. And here the leader died, and tribes arose. Some fought and some did not fight, as the words of the Song of Deborah testify. And so 400 years passed from the time of Joshua until Eli the priest. (President Y. Ben-Zvi: Until King David, 480 years.) From Kushan Rishatayim until Eli more than 400 years passed, according to the Bible. (Professor P. Meltzer: The question is whether every judge judged alone, or whether there were periods in which there were two or three judges together.)

Until the death of Joshua there was one people, one language, one faith, one leader. They all saw the miracles, they all came to the land. How is it that they suddenly fell apart after having been one people for such a long period? They lived in Egypt for 430 years, they wandered in the desert for 40 years - all told 470. It's difficult to ascertain how long the conquest went on. (President Y. Ben-Zvi: Twenty years.) For some 50 years they were one unified people, without any tribal diEerences, except that this one was called this, and that one, that (just as today in our army we have Brigade 7, Brigade 8, Brigade 15. Is there a difference between them? Tomorrow they can take a regiment from Brigade 7 and insert it into Brigade 15 ...

{110} CHAPTER FOUR Messianic Vision

The Jewish people is an eternal people. And though its cradle was located in the land of Israel, its great forefathers and teachers came from other places. The first Hebrew, the patriarch Abraham,

{footnote} Presented to the third World Congress for the Study of Judaism. Jerusalem, 12 Ab, 5721 - July 25, 1961. {end footnote}

{p. 111} was a native of Mesopotamia, and the greatest of the prophets and leaders of Israel, Moses our teacher, was a native of North Africa, in the Nile Valley. The great Jewish scientists and philosophers of the last few generations - Spinoza, Einstein, Freud, Robert Oppenheimer and others - were natives of Europe and America.

{Those "men of science" show up again on p. 287: "from the days of Spinoza to Marx, Freud, Einstein and the rest of the great Jewish scientists"; and in Ben-Gurion's article in LOOK magazine of January 16, 1962, envisaging a World Government ... "the increasing influence of the workers and farmers, and the rising political importance of men of science, may transform the United States into a welfare state with a planned economy".

Ben Gurion, upholding Marxism of the Trotskyist kind but rejecting Stalinism, was advocating Convergence between the U.S. & the U.S.S.R.: convergence.html}

As one of the dabblers in Jewish scholarship, I am full of appreciation and respect for those involved in it, whether they are from my people or another. And I am gratified at the proliferation of sessions on Jewish scholarship which will be dealt with at this Congress, beginning with the Bible, and including modern Hebrew literature, folklore and popular art forms.

If it is permissible for a layman to make a request before his teachers and masters, I would hope that at the next Congress a special session be devoted to the investigation of a central topic which is perhaps the soul of Judaism and the source of its strength, something from which our nation has drawn the will and capacity to renew the kingdom of Israel in our day. And that is the messianic vision of the prophets of Israel concerning the redemption of their people and all the peoples of the world; that is, the vision of Jewish and universal redemption.

The Jewish vision of redemption has two aspects: the ingathering of exiles and the continuation of the Jewish people in its land as a chosen people, and as a light to the nations. And the universal vision of redemption also has two aspects: peace among nations, and the reign of justice and brotherhood between men and between nations.

This double messianic vision is really one, because the redemption of one nation is inconceivable without the redemption of all of humanity, and all of humanity will not be redeemed if every one of its members is not redeemed. The belief in this messianic vision was the principal strength which kept our people alive through all the years of its wandering and suffering, reaching a peak with the horrible Nazi Holocaust that killed six million European Jews - men, women, old people and children. This faith provided us with the strength and will to rebuild the ruins of our land and to lay the first foundations for the renewal of the kingdom of Israel 13 years ago.

I know that many scholars from Israel and from the nations of the world have dealt with this subject in Hebrew, Italian, English, French and German, but as yet no exhaustive study has been made of the messianic vision in all of its manifestations as found in the Bible, the Apocrypha, the Talmud, the and later more modern literature. What is primarily lacking is a full and comprehensive

{p. 112} description of the revelations of this vision and its function throughout all of the generations: the full range of the messianic movements in ancient times, in the Middle Ages, and in modern times which led to the revival of the State of Israel in our day, and to the first indication that the messianic prophecy concerning the ingathering of exiles and our being a chosen people would be realized. And also lacking are insights into the world-wide phenomena of the rising up of enslaved peoples in Asia and Africa, and the increased yearning all over the world to insure the perpetuation of the declaration of Isaiah, son of Amoz, that "nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore."

{yet, Ben-Gurion says on p. 41 above, of this same Isaiah, son of Amoz, "The special greatness of King Uziahu lies in the fact that he knew how to integrate settlement, development and irrigation projects with military and war activities. It is no wonder that he merited having his full biography ... written by Isaiah, son of Amoz, the prophet" (p. 41, above)}

In the international realm as well, there is hope for human redemption. For the first time, despite the fact that mankind is still divided and embroiled in conflict, the human race is coming closer and closer together. Mutual dependence of nations, large and small, is increasing, and the desire in the world to insure international peace and the reign of human brotherhood is becoming stronger - that is to say, social government built on the Jewish precept: "Love thy neighbor as thyself."

Jewish scholarship cannot be complete and truthful if it is not based on a messianic belief; on the Jewish and universal vision of redemption.

My wish to the Congress is that it increase and deepen this research and that it may help convert the messianic vision into a Jewish and international reality. {end of Chapter Four}

{p. 124} If my hypothesis is correct - that with the exception of Joseph's family, the Hebrew people lived in the land continuously from the days of Abraham - then there is no doubt that the number of Hebrews believing in one God, who remained in the land, was several times larger than the number of those who left Egypt and returned to the land. This hypothesis is based on the Bible stories about Abraham's 318 charges with whose aid he was able to fight with the four kings (Genesis 14:8-16). The charges were born in Abraham's house, and all of them were circumcised, and without doubt adhered to Abraham's belief in one God. These 318 soldiers of Abraham had wives, brothers, and sisters who did not go down to Egypt. Consider, also that from Abraham's generation to that of Joshua eight generations passed (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Levi, Kohatll, Amram, Moses and Joshua). It is natural that their number, in the course of eight generations, was several times larger than the number of grandchildren of Jacob's sons from whose lifetime until the entrance into the land a period of only three generations elapsed (Amram, Moses and Joshua).

If Jacob's 50 grandchildren (100, including their wives) amounted to 600 in two generations (this means that they increased sixfold), then Abraham's 318 charges must have reached approximately 400,000 in eight generations, though this figure seems exaggerated to me in view of the sparse population in those days. It is possible that this was close to the number of Hebrews who

{p. 125} had been in the land when those who left Egypt returned. This explains several of the questions which I posed at the outset of my remarks, and this fits in with what was said to Abraham during Abraham's Covenant: "In the fourth generation they shall return here." But, whereas Rashi begins to count from the generation of the children of Jacob - and comes to the conclusion that only one generation was born in Egypt - I am of the opinion that the count should begin with the grandchildren of Jacob who went down to Egypt such as Kohatll, his son Amram, his son Aaron, and his son Eleazar who entered the land. For, as I have shown, two generations were born to the grandchildren of Jacob in Egypt, and only in two exceptional cases (Hezron, son of Perez, son of Judah, and Chever, son of Beriah, son of Asher) was one generation born in Egypt.

If the number of those who left Egypt was only 600, or even several hundred more - and in this early period this was not a small figure - then we can explain their wanderings in the desert, their entrance into the land, and their eating from the produce of the land immediately after arriving there. They had returned to their countrymen who had always lived in the land along with several of the Canaanite nations. For even before Joseph went down to Egypt, a "land of the Hebrews" existed, as Joseph said to the chief cupbearer: "I was kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews" (Genesis 40:15). There is additional evidence testifying to the existence of Hebrews in the land of Canaan, such as the existence of Malkitzedek, king of Shalem (the Rabbis said that he was Shem, son of Noah - Nedarim 32), who was a priest to Almighty God and believed (as did Abraham) in Almighty God, Creator of heaven and earth (Genesis 14:19). Further, there was a sanctuary to the Lord in Shechem, which was a holy place to the Hebrews in the days of Abraham, Jacob, Joseph and Joshua, and where Joshua wrote the book of the Torah of the Lord (Joshua 24:26), and made a covenant witll the people of Israel ("He set them up a statute and an ordinance in Shechem" - Joshua 24:26). All of the tribes of Israel came to Shechem to crown Rehoboam, son of Solomon, though Jerusalem was already the capital of Israel, and a Temple had already been built there (I Kings 12:1).

The descent to Egypt and the exodus from it was limited to one large privileged family with many children, and the importance of the exodus from Egypt centers about the story of Moses and the giving of the Torah to the nation. Moses was the greatest figure who had arisen in Israel through the generations, and yet he was born outside of the country and was not privileged to enter the land. ...

{p. 166} I came here during Pass-

{p. 167} over, 1934. I made up my mind to meet with one man whom I knew and respected, and who I knew would understand the importance of the situation, Louis Brandeis - a member of the Supreme Court of the United States. I went to him and presented him with a memorandum on the importance of the Negev and the future of Eilat. Among other things, I wrote in this memorandum:

{quote} In the near future, Eilat will fill a political and economic role greater than the one which it played during the biblical period. The Suez Canal, which served as a main artery of the British Empire, may easily lose its importance. England sooner or later, will leave Egypt. The Suez Canal is too narrow for large boats, and in wartime can easily be blockaded. It is enough to sink just one boat in order to tie up the whole canal. There is no other way to India unless one uses the Red Sea, going from Haifa via Eilat. Because of this, these two places take on additional importance. Through the Gulf of Eilat and the Red Sea we have an open water-route to the Indian Ocean, and to the largest continent in the world which contains more than half of the human race. It is important that we stake a claim on this place; that we establish a pioneering Jewish settlement here. It will not bring a profit, and it might cost $100,000. {endquote}

Brandeis had no sooner finished reading the memorandum when he said: "Here's $100,000."

I said, "Mr. Justice, I didn't come to ask you for money, I came to get moral support for this matter."

"I want the privilege of being the first to help stake a claim on this important spot," replied Brandeis.

I couldn't refuse him and I took the money and passed it on to the two people who handled the acquisition of lands: Joshua Henkin and Dr. Joshua Thon, so that they might buy land here.

This was in the summer of 1935. They promised me to do whatever necessary to acquire that land, but apparently they did not attach great importance to it; no real urgency. Years passed in the negotiations with the Arab governor of Beersheba, Ahraf al-Ahraf, until the issuance of the 1939 White Paper of Nevil Chamberlain and Malcolm McDonald which shut us out from the Negev. And nothing came at that time of all my dreams.

In the meantime, the disturbances of 1947 came. The General Assembly of the United Nations decided on November 29, 1947, to partition Palestine, and to set up a Jewish state in one part, and ...

{p. 264} CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Image of King Cyrus

Mr. Chairman, Bible devotees, ladies and gentlemen:

Before I get to the essence of my discussion, first I wish to wecome you in the name of the govermnent of Israel. It seems to me that I will not be detracting from my remarks, if I say that the force which has kept us alive since the Proclamation of Cyrus (for some 2,500 years), and which brought us here, was not that we had been persecuted (there were persecutions, and I do not deny their part in the return to Zion, both then and today), but the Book of Books - which for the ninth time we have gathered to study together. It seems to me that only in the land of its birth, through the regeneration of our independence, can we penetrate that very special atmosphere and environment in which the Bible appeared and which the Bible helped create.

But let us not pretend - even as the third generation to return to Zion - that we will conclude this work. As in science, where there more it discovers the secrets of nature, the more it reveals to us the riddles of nature, so, the more we delve into the Bible and begin to understand it, all the more are the new problems that confront us. I am sure that this generation which has only now returned to the task of tilling the soil of the homeland and to vestigate its spiritual greatness - which is the Bible - and to understand it, will also leave for the coming generations problems to be studied in the Bible. This study has no end. This gathering

{footnote} Delivered at the Ninth National Bible Conference, April, 1951 (Nisan, 5711). {end footnote}

{p. 265} will be a success if it brings us a little closer to an understanding of the eternal book from which we draw the secret of our existence. And now to the matter assigned to me for this session.

The Bible, as it has come down to us, ends with these two very significant verses: "Now in the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, so that the word of the Lord spoken through Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, king of Persia; and he issued a proclamation throughout his kingdom both by word of mouth and in writing, to this effect: 'This is the word of Cyrus, king of Persia: The Lord God of heaven has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has given me the task of building a house for him in Jerusalem, in Judah. To every man of his people now among you I say, the Lord his God be with him and let him go up'" (II Chronicles 36:22-23).

This was a unique privilege to be merited by a non-Jewish ruler; to complete the Book of Books, and to complete it with a word which even today has fateful significance for all of the Jewish people, for both those who live in Israel, and those who live in the diaspora. The word is, vayaal (let him go up). There was no other non-Jewish ruler who merited praise from the greatest prophets of Israel as did Cyrus from the prophet Isaiah, whom Bible critics call by the name of Isaiah the Second: "I say to Cyrus: 'You shall be My shepherd and carry out My purpose, so that Jerusalem may be rebuilt and the foundations of the temple may be laid.' Thus says the Lord to Cyrus His anointed, Cyrus whose right hand I have strengthened to subdue nations before him and loosen the loins of kings; before whom gates shall be opened and no doors be shut. I shall go before you and level the uneven hills; I will break down doors of brass and hack through bars of iron. I will give you treasures from dark vaults, and hidden treasures of secret places" (Isaiah 44:28; 45:1-3).

Without a doubt, Cyrus deserved this praise, not merely because of his proclamation and the permission which he gave the Babylonian exiles to return to their land and to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. Cyrus was also one of the greatest figures, from a general historical point of view. He was one of the greatest military men in the history of nations, one of the greatest politicians of all time and, in addition, a merciful and big-hearted man at a time when there were few exceptional individuals among the great conquerors.

Cyrus' rise from governor of a small principality by the name of Anshan in Elam, to the founder of the largest empire to arise

{p. 266} in the world until that time, is by itself one of the most marvelous events in the history of nations. But this phenomenon takes on additional importance because of four very important facts: 1) This great empire of Cyrus was established within a very short period of time: in the 11 years which passed from the conquest of Achmetah, capital of Media, in the year 550 B.C., to the conquest of Babylonia in 539. 2) The Persian empire endured for 200 years under the rule of the Cyrus dynasty, while the empire of Alexander the Great, which was, as is known, the inheritor of the Persian empire, survived only during his lifetime, and fell apart immediately after he died. 3) Cyrus exhibited a compassionate spirit toward his enemies and a unique tolerance toward all religions; 4) He played a decisive role in the first return to Zion.

We have information about Cyrus the Great from ancient Babylonian writings, in the books of the Bible (Isaiah, Daniel, Ezra, Chronicles), and a great deal more in Greek literature. The great dramatist Aeschylus, who was born four or five years (525) after the death of Cyrus (529), wrote these words of praise in the play, The Persians, in which he described the Persian war with Greece: "Cyrus, blessed with good fortune, promised peace to all his friends. He took in the peoples of Lydia and Phrygia, and conquered all of the land of the Greeks through his might. God loved him for he was full of understanding."

Many Greek authors wrote about his life, including Heron, Dionysius, Herodotus, and others. Xenephon, who was born 100 years after the death of Cyrus, wrote an entire book dedicated to the life of Cyrus. It was called, Kuro Phediae, meaning, the education of Cyrus, but the author did not limit himself to the story of Cyrus' education. He covered all aspects of his life. The truth of the matter is that this isn't history, but a historical novel, though without a doubt there is factual material here and there.

We have contradictory information about Cyrus' childhood and teenage years. It is replete with legends and falsehoods taken from Greek literature (which apparently took them from lost Persian sources). There are those who say that he was the son of a robber, and some say that he was the son of a Persian shepherd from Pasargadae. Horodotus himself heard four different versions of the early years of Cyrus' life. It is conceivable that Cyrus stemmed from a family of governors of a small Persian principality by the name of Anshan, part of the kingdom of Elam. As far back as the sixth century, we find hints in Ezekiel of a Persian army in Tyre. In chapter 27:10 he says: "Men of Persia, Lydia and Put served as

{p. 267} warriors in your army. They hung shield and helmet around and it was they who gave you glory."

In 38:5, Ezekiel foresaw that Persia would be included in the army of Gog, king of Magog: "Persia, Cush [in the place of Lydia, there it is Cush], and Put with them, all of them with shield and helmet." Both Jeremiah and Ezekiel propllesied about the destruction of Elam. Jeremiah said (49:35) in the year 597: "Thus says the Lord of hosts: 'I will break the bow of Elam the chief weapon of their might.'" And Ezekiel (32:24) says (in the year 588): "There is Elam, with all her hordes buried around her, all of them slain, fallen by the sword; they have gone down without strength to the nether world, men who struck terror in the land of the living, but now share the disgrace of those that descend to the abyss."

We have knowledge of three kings of Anshan who lived before Cyrus: "Tysfais (Sheshphesh), Cyrus (this Cyrus was the grandfather of our Cyrus the Great), and Cambyses. Cyrus II, (our Cyrus) the son of Cambyses - Cyrus the Great - was king of Anshan in 559 or 558, and died 30 years later (in 529) in a war with one of the tribes in East Persia on the Indian border, after building a gigantic empire which stretched from the remote areas of India from the western side to the eastern Mediterranean.

Xenophon who lived in the fourth century B C. (he was born at the end of the fifth century), more than 100 years after the death of Cyrus the Great, tells that while he was still alive, stories and legends about Cyrus abounded among all the nations of the East. And Antistenus who lived in the middle of the fourth century, composed a dialogue entitled: "Cyrus, or the Kingdom."

Cyrus' first conquest was the kingdom of Media, ruled by Ishtovega (in Greek Astyages), who, according to several sources, was Cyrus' grandfather. He gave his daughter, Mandana, to Cambyses for a wife, and she was Cyrus' mother. Astyages, the last king of Media, was not particularly acceptable to his army.

According to one legend, Astyages ordered his chief officer, Harpagos, to kill the child Cyrus, but he didn't carry out the king's command. When, ten vears later, it became known to the king that Cyrus was alive, and was living with a certain shepherd, he invited Harpagos to a feast at his palace and fed him the flesh of his son. This chief officer, who betrayed the king, was of great help to Cyrus in his wars against Astyages, Media and Persia - all of which were mixed racially, and merged into one kingdom under Cyrus. This was the first step in the establishment of the great empire.

{Ben-Gurion laments that Jews are uniquely badly-treated by history, overlooking the many peoples who have had to "melt" into bigger entities, as in the above case which he approves of}

{p. 268} When Cyrus took his enemy Astyages captive, he treated him kindly, as was his way; and he did him no harm. It is interesting that at least five times Media and Persia are mentioned in the Bible as one kingdom, and there is no doubt that these tribes were close to each other. In Isaiah 21: 2, Elam is mentioned together with Media, and Darius, a descendant of Cyrus the Great, is called Madaah or Ha-Madi (i.e., of Media) in Aramaic (Daniel 6:1; 11:1).

Four years after conquering Media, Cyrus fought with Croesus, king of Lydia. The oracle of Delphi, that Croesus visited before his war with Cyrus, is famous. The priest of Delphi said: "If he crosses the river Helos, which divides him from the countries east of him, he will destroy a great power"; and Croesus was certain that the allusion was to the destruction of Cyrus' great power. Croesus had reason for his belief because he had powerful allies: Egypt, Babylon and Sparta. But when Cyrus lost no time in attacking Croesus' army, his allies didn't come to his aid and, in 546, Cyrus conquered Sardis, capital of Lydia, and gained control over all the Greeks in Asia Minor. And then came Babylonia's turn which, like Media, also had a king who wasn't particularly loved. And especially hated by the Babylonia priesthood was Nabonidus, the last king of Babylonia.

In Tishrei [September] of 540 Cyrus' army entered Babylonia, and on the third of Heshvan [month after Tishrei], King Cyrus entered the Babylonian capital city. The priests, who didn't like the Babylonian king because of his religious aberrations, apparently opened the gates to Cyrus.

A great Jewish prophet who arose at the time of the decline of Babylonia's glory - and whose prophecy became part of the Book of Isaiah - prophesied in the "Prophecy Concerning Babylon" (Isaiah 13:17-19): "I will stir up against them the Medes who care nothing for silver, and are not tempted by gold . . . and Babylon, fairest of kingdoms, proud beauty of the Chaldees, shall be like Sodom and Gomorrah." This prophet linked the fall of Babylonia with the revival of the Jewish people and the return to Zion: "The Lord will show compassion for Jacob and will once again make Israel his choice. He will settle them on their own soil, and strangers will come to join them and attach themselves to Jacob. Many nations shall escort Israel to her place in the land of the Lord ... " (14: 1-2). ...

{p. 269} In chapter 45 of Isaiah, the prophet calls Cyrus the "Messiah of God." The word "messiah" cannot be understood here in its later eschatological sense of "redeemer of Israel and the world."

{Ben-Gurion here unwittingly alludes to Jewish borrowing of the concept of "messiah" from the Persian Empire & its Zoroastrian religion}

{p. 270} Rather, it must be understood in its biblical and historical sense: "anointed for the throne."

In the Cyrus Cylinder (inscription) discovered in Babylonia in 1879, or in shorter inscriptions discovered in Babylonia in 1850, there is no mention whatsoever of Jews in Cyrus' life. His relationship to the Jews is also not mentioned in the Greek literature on Cyrus. We only know of Cyrus' connection with the exiles of Babylonia and the return to Zion, from biblical sources. In addition to the prophecies in the Book of Isaiah, historical narratives are found in Ezra, Nehemiah and Second Chronicles. In Ezra it says: "Now in the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia ["first" here refers to his reign in Babylonia - 539 or 538 B.C.] so that the word of the Lord spoken through Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the heart of Cyrus, king of Persia; and he issued a proclamation throughout his kingdom, both by word of mouth and in writing, to this effect: 'This is the word of Cyrus, king of Persia: The Lord God of heaven has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and He himself has charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem which is in Judah. To every man of his people, now among you, I say, God be with him, and let him go Up to Jerusalem in Judah and rebuild the house of the Lord God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem' " (1:1-4).

In Ezra 1, almost the same things, word for word, are said about Cyrus' proclamation as are found at the end of Second Chronicles, except that the words "the Lord God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem," are added. Cyrus' proclamation, in which he mentions the Lord God of Israel, should not be interpreted as implying that he recognized the God of Israel according to the Jewish concept: God of the world, the one and only God. But this does not imply that he did not use the term "God of Israel," only because he didn't believe in one God as the Jews did {he did ... he called it Ahura-Mazda}. It is known that Cyrus was tolerant in religious matters, and acknowledged the gods of all the lands which he conquered {unlike Judaism}. He acknowledged the gods of Babylonia, and after his son Cambyses conquered Egypt, he acknowledged the gods of Egypt. In Babylonia he also spoke in the name of Merodach.

But what is mentioned in Ezra 1 and in Chronicles is apparently not Cyrus' proclamation in his own words. We know this from chapter 6 of Ezra, from the reply which King Darius sent to the question which Tattenai, governor beyond the river, and Shetar-Bozenai and their friends asked, in which they requested clarification of the authority under which the Jews were building the Temple. The Jews claimed, in the presence of Tattenai and his

{p. 271} friends, that they received permission to do so in the days of Cyrus king of Persia. But the governor wanted to look into the matter and turned to Darius. The decree was issued in Echbatana, the capital of Media or, as is written in Ezra: "But it was in Ahmetha in the royal residence in the province of Media, that a scroll was found, on which was written the following memorandum" (I would suggest that in place of the word "decree" we use the word "memorandum"). And in verses 3-5 (chapter 6), the text of the decree, in its original Aramaic form, is given. According to this decree which was found in Ganzach, in Ahmetha (or Echbatana as the Greeks call it), King Darius ordered Tattenai, governor beyond the river, and Shetar-Bozenai to permit the Jews to continue building the Temple and to give them all the necessary assistance. The building of the Temple then continued in the days of Haggai and Zechariah, the last of the prophets of Israel, and the Temple was completed on the third day of the month of Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of Darius. This was in 516, in the days of Zerubabel, son of Shealtiel. Then, too, all of the Jews did not return from Babylonia. The call of the prophet Isaiah II: "Come out of Babylon, hasten away from the Chaldeans, proclaim it with loud songs of triumph, crying the news to the ends of the earth - tell them, 'The Lord has ransomed his servant Jacob,'" was not heeded by all of the Jews. According to Ezra, only 47,000 Jews returned and the Babylonian exiles stayed there until 10 years ago - untii 1951 - when three times the number returned. We are fortunate that we have lived to see the day when almost all of the descendants of the Babylonian exiles of 2,500 years ago have returned.

The historian Josephus, son of Mattathias, called Flavius, tries to explain in his book, Antiquities of the Jews (Book XI), Cyrus' relationship with the Jews through the fact that the Jews ascribed to Cyrus a prophecy which Isaiah had prophesied 210 years earlier. It is doubtful that there is any basis for this explanation. All contemporary scholars agree that the prophetic chapters in Isaiah on Cyrus were spoken by another prophet who lived in Cyrus' day and is known as Isaiah II. There is reason to believe that the Jews of Babylonia helped Cyrus in his wars, just as most Jews were sympathetic to England in World War I. Without a doubt, it was politically important to Cyrus that he have loyal allies in the western part of his kingdom - the Eastern Mediterranean. But Cyrus' decree cannot be explained by these motivations alone. This decree fits in with Cyrus' general policy reflecting the manner in which he dealt with other nations he conquered.

The great conqueror who arose in Persia over 2,500 years ago

{p. 272} did not behave as did the kings of Assyria and Babylonia, who exiled conquered nations and imported other nations to replace them. He also did not yearn, as did Alexander the Great and his descendants, to smother the conquered nations with his country's culture, nor did he make any attempt, as did the descendants of Mohammed, to impose his language and religion upon the defeated nations. Cyrus dealt forthrightly with the vanquished. He respected the religion and ritual of every nation and acknowledged its gods.

When he said in his decree: "To every man of his people now among you, I say, God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem in Judah, and rebuild the house of the Lord God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem," he did not deceive, was not hypocritical, and also did not acknowledge the God of Israel in the way the Jews did; as is written in Isaiah 45:5-6: "I am the Lord, there is no other; there is no God beside me . . . there is none but I. I am the Lord, there is no other." Rather, he believed, as was customary among other nations, that every people had its god, and that "the Lord God of Israel is the god in Jerusalem."

Cyrus granted every nation spiritual and ritual autonomy, and retained only his political and military rule. This was the policy of the kings of Persia for 200 years, until the conquest of Alexander the Great. And during the span of these 200 years, the Jews enjoyed religious autonomy. During this period, Judaism was consolidated and strengthened, and was able to endure for the entire period of the Second Temple. The Jews only attained political independence in the days of the Seleucids (in the period of the Second Temple) - the Greek rule in Syria - after the Hasmonean revolt against the Hellenists.

In closing, I must note that it is not clear if this year marks 2,500 years since Cyrus' decree, or whether it is next year. But it is quite certain that the event took place in the month of Nisan (April). It is possible that this month marks the 2,500th year of the decree. There is no doubt that Cyrus' greatness as a mighty and enlightened ruler, and as the first to permit the return to Zion, should be remembered by us and by all civilized people. I am pleased to see two delegates here from modern Persia, now known as Iran. Here, two ancient peoples meet again in the international arena as friendly nations, working together for the common good, and for world peace. On behalf of the government, I extend to them and to their people our best wishes. {end of Chapter Fourteen}

{p. 273} CHAPTER FIFTEEN The Return to Zion

Three central events concerning the return to Zion are known in our history. The most important, which according to tradition is the point of origin of Jewish history, and which has been celebrated for 3,300 years all over the world in every place where a quorum of Jews, or even one Jew is to be found, is the return to Zion after the exodus from Egypt. The second event is the return to Zion from Babylonia 2,500 years ago, which opened a new chapter in the history of Judaism. And the third event - the return to Zion in our day, which brought with it the revival of a sovereign Israel as well as the ingathering of exiles; both unparalleled since we became a nation. ...

{p. 274} Indeed, there have been many scholars who have held that the entrance into the promised land didn't take place at one time, but in waves. But my purpose here is to clarify the exodus from Babylonia, and not the exodus from Egypt. This was of a different nature than the exodus from Egypt - in its numbers, in its motivation, and in the political circumstances which surrounded it.

According to the accepted tradition, the Jewish people was born in Egypt, for only Jacob and his family went down to Egypt, as it is written in the Book of Genesis: "All the persons belonging to Jacob who came to Egypt - his own issue, aside from the wives of Jacob's sons - all these persons numbered 66. And Joseph's sons who were born in Egypt were two in number. Thus, the total of Jacob's household who came to Egypt was 70 persons" (46:26-27). But, there is reason to believe, as I have explained elsewhere, that most of the Hebrew people, or a large part of them, remained in their land all the while and did not go down to Egypt at all. According to the Book of Numbers: "All the Israelites, age 20 years and over, enrolled by ancestral households, all those in Israel who were able to bear arms - all who were enrolled, came to 603,550. The Levites, however, were not recorded among them by ancestral tribe" (1:45-47). Elsewhere, in the Book of Numbers (26:51) it says: "This is the enrollment of the Israelites: 601,730." Here, too, the members of the tribe of Levi were not included: "They were not part of the regular enrollment of the Israelites, since no land was assigned to them among the Children of Israel" (26:62). These two figures imply that the number of Israelites who left Egypt approached 3,000,000 people. Moreover, according to the Rabbis, the Israelites lived in Egypt not 400 years, as Abraham was told in the Covenant of Circumcision, and not 430 years, as it says in the Book of Exodus (12:40), but only 210 years. And in this short span of time they reached such a vast number, far too many con-

{p. 275} sidering the population rate of those days! It is obvious that this figure is legendary and exaggerated.

In the two immigrations from Babylonia, only about 52,000 people immigrated. In the first immigration led by Zerubabel, son of Shealtiel in 538 B.C., immediately after Cyrus' decree, "forty-two thousand, three hundred and sixty" people immigrated, and, together with their male and female servants and singers, the number amounted to 49,894. The second immigration, led by Ezra approximately 80 years after Cyrus' decree, numbered only 3,000 people. The two immigrations from Babylonia amounted to 10% of the number (482,000) who immigrated to Israel in the 30 years from the Balfour Declaration until the establishment of the state, and less than 50% of the number of immigrants in the first 15 years of the state. In our day, from Babylonia alone (today Iraq) 7,994 people arrived during the Mandate period, and 123,265 people in the period 1950-1951. This immigration from Babylonia was larger than any that came in such a short period from any country in Europe, Asia, or Africa in our lifetime. Only the immigration from Poland in the 30 years of the Mandate was greater, and numbered 170,127 people.

The second difference between the exodus from Babylonia and the exodus from Egypt lies in the fact that according to accepted tradition (and a very doubtful tradition, in my view), before the exodus from Egypt there was not any Jewish settlement in the Promised Land. The formation of the renewed State of Israel can be dated from the establishment of the first cooperatives (moshavot) in 1870-1878, at a time when only a tiny urban population - close to 24,000 people - lived in the country. But, when the immigrants came from Babylonia in the days of Zerubabel, and later in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, they found a large Jewish settlement in the country, because Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylonia "carried the people of Jerusalem into exile, the officers and the fighting men, 10,000 in number, together with all the craftsmen and smiths" (II Kings 24:14). But the "poorest segment of the population" remained, and they were the majority of the population in Judah. Even Nebuzaradan, who came eleven years after Nebuchadnezzar, and burned the Temple and all the houses of Jerusalem, razed the walls of the city and exiled many of the people to Babylonia - kept the poorest people of the country as vine-dressers and husbandmen (II Kings 25:12). This means that the people who had been engaged in agriculture was not exiled, as is reported in Jeremiah 39:10: "At that time Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard in Judah, left behind the weakest class of people, those who

{p. 276} owned nothing at all and made them vine-dressers and husbandmen." Thus, those who returned to Zion from Babylonia did not return to a land uninhabited by Jews. ...

The State of Israel, today, is surrounded on all of its land-borders by Arabic-speaking moslems {spelt all lower-case}, who are quarreling and competing with each other, and who are, to no small extent, undermining one another. But they are united by one declared aspiration: To destroy Israel and to throw our people into the sea. In the days of the First Temple conditions on our borders were much better. The different nations: Edom, Moab, Ammon and Philistia in the southern sector, and the Canaanite nations, Sidon and Tyre in the north - were also small nations. But they were not united, and not all were constantly hostile to Israel. In those days, the kingdom of Israel, especially after the division following the death of Solomon - the only king in Israel to rule with a cosmopolitan outlook - was under the pressure and influence of two great and mighty powers who were competing with each other in the Mediterranean: Egypt from the south, and Assyria, followed by Babylonia, from the north. The cold and often the hot war between these two powers, for whom the land of Israel served as a crossroads, was occasionally responsible for strengthening and awakening Israel, and occasionally the cause of its enslavement and ruin.

Hoshea, son of Elah, the last king of the kingdom of Israel in the north, first turned into a vassal, subservient to Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, and after he tried to contact Soh, king of Egypt, the king of Assyria captured Samaria "and deported the people of Israel to Assyria and settled them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of Media" (II Kings 17:6). This was in 722 or 721 B.C. Seventy years after the destruction of the kingdom of Israel, in the days of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib, king of Assyria, "attacked and captured all of the fortified cities of

{p. 277} Judah" (II Kings 18:13) - among them the two big cities in the south, Lachish and Dvir.

But the kingdom of Judah lasted until 587 - that is, another 135 years after the destruction of Israel - because in the interim, the kingdom of Assyria began to falter, until it was completely conquered by the revived kingdom of Babylonia. This weakening of Assyria made possible the expansion of the kingdom of Judah into the territory of the kingdom of Israel by young King Josiah who ruled from 640 to 609 and who strengthened the fabric of the State materially and spiritually; for one of the books of the Torah was found in the Lord's house during his reign, and the covenant between the people and the God of Israel was renewed. In Second Chronicles (34:5-6) we read that Josiah not only cleansed Judah and Jerusalem, but also smashed altars {unlike Cyrus, and testifying that Intolerance is an intrinsic and ancient feature of Judaism} in the cities in Manasseh and Ephraim, from Simeon to Naphtali. It is clear from this that his kingdom also extended to Samaria and the Galilee. The prophet Zephaniah, who lived during the days of Josiah, prophesies about the destruction of Assyria and the devastation of Nineveh, and utters these words of consolation to his people: "Zion, cry out for joy; raise the shout of triumph, Israel; be glad, rejoice with all your heart, daughter of Jerusalem. The Lord freed you of your adversaries, he has swept away your foes; the Lord is among you as King, O Israel; never again shall you fear disaster" (Zephaniah 3:14-15).

Indeed, in the days of Josiah, in 623, Babylonia was relieved of the yoke of Assyria, and the king of Babylonia, Nabopolasar fortified his position and prepared to attack and destroy Assyria. In 612, Nineveh fell, and the king of Assyria and his army fled to the northern part of Aram Naharaim (Mesopotamia). But after three or four years (608-609), Assyria was subdued by the Babylonians who were aided by the armies of Media in the War of Harran.

The disintegration of the kingdom of Assyria only helped to strengthen the kingdom of Judah temporarily. A strong Babylonia also became a severe threat to Israel, and in the days of Jehoiakim, son of Josiah, "Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylonia, came up and Jehoiakim became his vassal; but three years later he broke with him and revolted" (II Kings 24:1). Jehoiakim tried to rely on Egypt, but in the interim Egypt had weakened and "the king of Egypt did not leave his own land again, because the king of Babylonia had taken from the king of Egypt all of his possessions, from the 'river of Egypt' to the Euphrates" (24:7).

In the days of King Jehoiachin, son of Jehoiakim, Nebuchad-

{p. 278} nezzar besieged Jerusalem once again, and deported Jehoiachin to Babylonia, and together with him were deported "all the men of might, seven thousand in number, and a thousand craftsmen and smiths, all able-bodied men and skilled warriors. The king of Babylonia brought them as captives to Babylonia" (24:16).

This was the first Judean exile, in the years 598-597. It was 123 or 124 years after the destruction of the kingdom of Israel. Judah became subject to Babylonia, but was not yet destroyed, because in place of Jehoiachin, Nebuchadnezzar had crowned Mattaniah, his uncle, son of Josiah, who had changed his name to Zedekiah (II Kings 24:17).

The new king, too, was inclined to rely on Egypt, contrary to the thinking of Jeremiah, the prophet, and in the year 588 B.C. he rebelled against Babylonia (II Kings 24:20). The king of Babylonia returned to place Jerusalem under siege. The neighboring pro-Egyptian kings in whom Zedekiah placed his faith didn't come to his aid, and Judah remained alone in her war against a mighty and war-hardened enemy. The walls of Jerusalem held fast for about a year and a half, but famine engulfed the city and the people were no longer able to fight. An erroneous international assessment was at the root of the downfall of the kingdom of Judah, and brought on a great catastrophe.

On the ninth day of the month of Tammuz, 587, the city was breached. The children of King Zedekiah were slaughtered before his eyes, and afterwards the Babylonians gouged out his own eyes. This king of Judah was bound in chains and carried off to Babylonia (II Kings 25:7). And, "on the seventh day of the fifth month" - the seventh day of Ab - Nebuzaradan came to Jerusalem and burned the Temple of the Lord and the palace of the king.

According to the Book of Jeremiah, the event took place, not on the seventh of Ab, but on the tenth of Ab. As it is written: "In the fifth month, on the tenth day of the month, in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylonia, Nebuzaradan, captain of the kings' guard came . . . and set fire to the house of the Lord and the royal palace.... The Chaldean forces with the captain of the guard pulled down the walls around Jerusalem" (Jeremiah 52:12-14). This was the second and final exile at the hands of the king of Babylonia in 586 - some 135 or 136 years after the exile of Israel. With the banishment of Zedekiah, the House of David came to an end, but the end had not yet come to all the independent settlements in Judah. It is true that the monarchy no longer existed, but the king of Babylonia appointed a Jewish representative over "those people who remained in Judah" (II Kings 25:22) - Geda-

{p. 279} liah, son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan; one of the noblest figures of the Bible; one whose compassion and humanity remind us of Jonathan, son of Saul, David's friend.

But, Gedaliah, like the prophet Jeremiah, favored Babylonia and his entire family was outspokenly pro-Babylonian, unlike the supporters of the monarchy who were pro-Egyptian. Thus, the zealots of the royal house plotted against Gedaliah and killed him seven months after his appointment (II Kings 25:25). The remainder of the population was then overcome by fear, for they feared the vengeance of the king of Babylonia, despite Jeremiah's appeal to the people to stay in the country, and despite his promise to them in the name of God: "If you will stay in this land.... Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon whom you now fear. Do not be afraid of him, says the Lord; for I am with you, to save you and deliver you from his power. I will show you compassion, and he, too, will have compassion on you; he will let you stay on your own soil" (Jeremiah 42:10-12) . And although he warned them not to leave for Egypt, the leader of the pro-Egyptian group did not listen to him and even dared say to Jeremiah: "You are lying; the Lord our God has not sent you to forbid us to go and make our homes in Egypt. Baruch, son of Neriah has incited you against us in order to hand us over to the Chaldeans, so that they may kill us and deport us to Babylonia" (43:2-3). And it also says there: "Johanan, son of Kareah, and the captains of the armed bands, collected the remnant of Judah, all who had returned from the countries among whom they had been scattered, to make their home in Judah - men, women and children, including the king's daugbters, all the people whom Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, had left with Gedaliah.... Those all went to Egypt, and came to Tahpanhes, disobeying the Lord" (43:5-7).

A Jewish exile already existed in Egypt in the days of King Zedekiah, as we learn from the Book of Jeremiah (24:8). There were also Jews who fled to Moab, Ammon and Edom (Jeremiah 40:11-12), and there were also Jewish settlements in the distant sea islands (Isaiah 60:9; 66:19-20). But the most important exile was in Babylonia, consisting of all of the officers and warriors, as well as all of the craftsmen and smiths who were banished in the days of King Jehoiachin (II Kings 24:14). Only the poorest of the nation remained in the country; and there is reason to believe that this constituted a majority of the people in Judah.

Again there were events of an international nature which the prophets of Israel saw as manifestations of God and which led to

{p. 280} the second return to Zion some 50 years after the exile of Zedekiah.

Just as the First World War, in our lifetime, helped bring about the Balfour Declaration, so did the wars of Persia and Media against Babylonia lead to Cyrus' declaration with which the Bible, as we now have it, ends. These are the last verses of Second Chronicles: "Now, in the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, so the word of the Lord spoken through Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord aroused the spirit of Cyrus, king of Persia; and he issued a proclamation throughout his kingdom, both by word of mouth and in writing, to this effect: 'This is the word of Cyrus, king of Persia: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and He himself has charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem, in Judah. To every man of his people now among you I say, the Lord his God be with him, and let him go up' " (II Chronicles 32:22-23).

Though the Book of Chronicles is the last book of our Bible, there are books which were written after it, including Ezra and Nehemiah, which are really no more than a continuation of Chronicles. With minor changes, the Book of Ezra begins with the words with which Second Chronicles ends.

Cyrus, king of Persia, is one of the greatest historical figures in the annals of mankind. He built the largest empire in existence to his day, and he excelled not only as a great conqueror, but as a distinguished statesman and a brilliant leader who knew how to respect his defeated opponents {unlike Israe's treatment of the Palestinians}, who acknowledged and respected the leaders and religions of all nations, who granted every nation full spiritual and religious autonomy and ritual freedom {unlike Judaism's destruction of "pagan" altars etc}, and who also excelled in the planning and organization of transportation between near and distant lands.

There are many statements to be found on Cyrus (who was rightly noted in history as "The Great" in order to distinguish him from Cyrus I, who preceded him, and the younger Cyrus who came after him) in the books of the Bible (Isaiah, Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah and Daniel), even more so in Greek literature. There are also testimonies in ancient Babylonian writings: the cylinder inscription found in 1879; a long inscription of several columns; and a shorter inscription found in 1850. An inscription has also been found in three languages - Pcrsian, Babylonian and Elamite - about which it is not yet clear whetller it pertains to Cyrus the Great, or Cyrus the Younger.

Cyrus' first conquest was the seizure of the kingdom of Media. Later, he fought with Croesus, the rich king of Lydia in Asia Minor. In 546, Cyrus conquered Sardis, capital of Lydia, and also

{p. 281} ruled over the Greeks in Asia Minor- Then came Babylonia's turn.

The rise in Cyrus' fortune sparked hopes of redemption in the hearts of the Jewish exiles in Babylonia. The prophet of compassion, Isaiah II, enthusiastically declared: "I make My servant's prophecy come true, and give effect to My messengers' designs. I say of Jerusalem, 'She shall be inhabited,' and of the cities of Judah, 'They shall be rebuilt; all their ruins I will restore.' I say to the deep waters, 'Be dried up; I will make your streams run dry.' I say to Cyrus, 'You shall be my shepherd to carry out all my purpose, so that Jerusalem may be rebuilt and the foundations of the Temple may be laid'" (Isaiah 44:26-28).

He said things about Cyrus which no prophet of Israel ever belore uttered about a foreign king: "Thus says the Lord to Cyrus His anointed; Cyrus, whom He has taken by the hand in order to subdue nations before him and to undo the might of kings; before whom gates shall be opened and no doors be shut. I will go before you and level the swelling hills; I will break down gates of brass and hack through iron bars.... For the sake of Jacob my servant and Israel, my chosen, I have called you by name and given you your title, though you have not known Me" (Isaiah 45:1-4).

As has been said, after the conquest of Asia Minor, Cyrus attacked Babylonia. At that time, Nabonidus who spent most of his time away from the capital of Babylonia, was on the throne, and he dedicated most of his time to the renovation of the ancient temples of Sin, god of the moon, which aroused the ire of the priests of Marduk, Babylonia's god at that time. The enmity of the priests for their king who was being lured by a foreign god made it easier for Cyrus to conquer Babylonia, which voluntarily opened its gates to the Persian conqueror. In Tishrei, 539, Cyrus' army entered Babylonia, and on the third day of the month of Heshvan the king entered the capital city of Babylonia.

The great prophet who arose at the time of Babylonia's decline, and whose prophecy has been incorporated in the Book of Isaiah, prophesied in his "Prophecy Concerning Babylon" (Isaiah 13:1719): "I will stir up against them the Medes, who care nothing for silver and are not tempted by gold.... And Babylon, fairest of kingdoms, proud beauty of the Chaldeans shall be like Sodom and Gomorrah when God overthrew them." This prophet associated the fall of Babylonia with the revival of the Jewish people and the return to Zion, and he added "The Lord will show compassion for Jacob, and will once again make Israel His choice. He will settle them on their own soil, and strangers will come to join them and attach themselves to the house of Jacob. Many nations shall

{p. 282} escort Israel to her place, and she shall employ them as rnale and female slaves on the land of the Lord; she shall take her captors captive and rule over her taskmasters" (14:1-2).

In non-Jewish sources - in ancient Babylonian, Greek and Roman writings on Cyrus - there is no mention at all of Cyrus' declaration to the Jews. Concerning this, we have only the references in Second Isaiah, Second Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah. But there is no basis for the doubting of Christian scholars, especially the Germans. Cyrus' declaration in Chronicles and the Book of Ezra - both the short and festive form in Hebrew, and the longer and more prosaic form in Aramaic (Ezra 6), fits in with Cyrus' governmental policy in its entirety as implemented in Media, Asia Minor and Babylonia.

We find that Cyrus speaks with the same reverence and the same language in his proclamation concerning the God of Israel as in his speech about Marduk, god of Babylonia. This, too, should be mentioned with special emphasis: Cyrus did not grant the Jews political independence or autonomy - only spiritual, religious and ritual independence. Permission was granted to go up to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple of God. He also allowed those who remained to make donations to the house of God in Jerusalem, but the government of the country remained in the hands of the Persians and their governors.

However, opponents to the return to Zion arose, just as happened several years after the issuance of the Balfour Declaration, in our day. "Then the people of the land caused the people of Judah to lose heart and made them afraid to continue building; and in order to defeat their purpose, they bribed officials at court to act against them. This continued throughout the reign of Cyrus, and into the reign of Darius, king of Persia" (Ezra 4:4-5). And during the reign of Ahasueros - Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel and the rest of their companions wrote an indictment against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem and sent it to Artaxerxes; and in it they informed the king (in Aramaic) that the Jews who had left his land arrived in Jerusalem and are building the evil and rebellious city. They warned the king that if the Jews are permitted to rebuild this city he will lose all the taxes, and the king's treasury will be hurt. At the king's command, building was halted, and it started again only in the second year of Darius' reign. King Darius issued an order to search the archives where the treasures brought from Babylonia were kept. During the search a memorandum was found in which was written (in Aramaic): "In the first years of King Cyrus, the king issued a declaration concerning the house of

{p. 283} God in Jerusalem: Let the house be rebuilt as a place where sacrifices are offered. Its height shall be sixty cubits, and its breadth sixty cubits, with three courses of massive stones and one course of fresh timber. The cost is to be defrayed from the royal treasury Also, the gold and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took out of the Temple in Jerusalem and brought to Babylonia, shall be restored; they shall be taken back to the Temple in Jerusalem, and restored each to its place in the house of God" (Ezra 6:3-5).

The Babylonian exiles were cut off from their land for only 50 or 60 years: the exile of Jehoiachin took place in 598-597 B.C., and the exile of Zedekiah in 587-586. Cyrus' decree was issued in 538 - 60 years after Jehoiachin's exile and 49 years after Zedekiah's exile. In this short period, two generations were born in Babylonia, or at the most three. There were two immigrations: the first immigration led by Zerubabel, son of Shealtiel immediately afler Cyrus' decree in 538; and the second immigration in the days of Ezra in the 7th year of the reign of King Artaxerxes who ruled in the years 465-424. Ezra's immigration was in the year 458; that is, 80 years after Cyrus' decree. This relatively short period provided enough time for those exiled to Babylonia to assimilate. And Nehemiah, who immigrated to the land 13 years after Ezra, found that the earlier immigrants had wed women from Ashdod, Ammon and Moab, and that "half their children spoke the language of Ashdod, and could not speak the language of the Jews" (Nehemiah 13: 25-26).

{Ben-Gurion omits to mention the commands in the Jewish Bible that those mixed marriages be broken up: guthridge.html}

The immigrants who came after the Balfour Declaration in our day, after hundreds of years of living and wandering in exile, spoke 70 tongues, and very few "spoke the language of the Jews" before they came to the land.

The immigrants from Iraq, in our day, returned to the land after almost 2,500 years since the Babylonian exile, and after a period of only a few years in the land, the entire younger generation was speaking Hebrew. But the outstanding difference is that after the return from Zion in the days of Cyrus and Zerubabel, 373 years passed before the Jewish settlement in the land became independent in a political sense. This happened after the conquest and purification of Jerusalem in 165 by Judah the Maccabee. In our day, the immigrants attained independence 30 years after the Balfour Declaration. The similarity between the two "returns" - that of 2,500 years ago, and that of our generation - lies in the lact that both encountered enemies in the land who tried, by force and provocation, to interfere with the building of the homeland.

{p. 284} "Then the people of the land thwarted the people of Judah and made them afraid to continue building, and in order to frustrate their purpose they bribed court officials to act against them. This continued throughout the reign of Cyrus and into the reign of Darius, king of Persia" (Ezra 4:4-5). So it was in our generation, in the days of Chancellor and Passfield, and later on in the days of Chamberlain and MacDonald. The Darius of our day, who issued the "righteous" document, was Henderson, the British Foreign Minister of the Labor Party who rescinded the White Paper in a letter known as MacDonald's Letter, which was really Henederson's Letter, which once again permitted immigration. By 1935, the wave of immigration grew from several thousand to 61,000 per year.

The first returnees to Zion lived under the rule of Persia for 200 years as a religious sect, without political independence; until the Persian empire was conquered by Alexander the Great.

Alexander followed in the footsteps of Cyrus the Great, giving freedom to all peoples, and not oppressing them; and he also dealt mercifully with the Jews. But he did not last long, living only eleven years after establishing his great empire. After his death, his kingdom was split apart; and his heirs divided it. The Land of Israel was first made a part of Egypt, and later a part of Syria. Then the Hellenistic rulers began to oppress the Jews religiously. Even spiritual autonomy was taken from the Jews. But even more, there was religious pressure to assimilate them into the Hellenistic world. The decrees of Antiochus Epiphanes aimed at annihilation, and lasted until the Maccabees revolted in 167 B.C.; and on the 25th of the month of Kislev, 165, Judah the Maccabee conquered Jerusalem and liberated it.

It was not the Balfour Declaration - and I hasten to add, not the General Assembly decision of November 29, 1947 either - which gave us the State of Israel.

One should not deny the part that Cyrus' proclamation played, nor that of the Balfour Declaration. And one should certainly not downgrade the part played by the U.N. General Assembly. But the U.N. decision did not bring about the establishment of the state, nor did it guarantee its existence; for we know that eight hours after our Declaration of Independence, on May 14, 1948, the Arab armies invaded the young state. The Arabs rebelled against the decision of the General Assembly which was supported by more than two-thirds of the members of thc U.N., and included in this majority was America, on the one hand, and Russia on the other. This was the first time, after World War II, that both shared a

{p. 285} common view. But when the Arab armies invaded Israel, not one outside person raised a finger to defend us, and no one asked the invaders to withdraw to the previous lines. Had it not been for the Israeli army which knew how to fight and how to drive out the invaders, not a trace of the U.N. decision would have remained and the Jewish settlement in Israel would have been erased from the face of the earth. Because of this we can say it was not the UN decision, but the strength and might of the Israeli army which gave us the State of Israel.

From this a lesson can be learned. Cyrus' decree was also a great act. After strangers came and argued against the building of the Temple, the Jews relied upon Cyrus' declaration. Darius, king of Persia, issued an order to look for it, and it was found. Then the building of the Temple was completed, and, for a period of 200 years, the Persians did not interfere with the freedom of the Israelite religion. But the Jews only obtained independence through the war which the army of Judah the Maccabee and his brothers waged. In our generation, too, independence was only obtained thanks to the power and might of the Israeli army. {end of Chapter Fifteen}

{p. 286} CHAPTER SIXTEEN The Bible and the Jewish People

The history of the Jewish people is one of the most amazing, if not the most amazing, in the history of nations. It is a threefold wonder:

1) The existence of our people for hundreds of years while it was dispersed throughout the world and was surrounded by the enmity of the peoples in whose midst it lived. There is no other example in world history of a people cut off from its land, scattered and separated, and wandering from land to land, that preserved its existence, uniqueness and unity for close to 2,000 years without being forced off the stage of world history.

2) The national revival and renewal of its independence under conditions unparalleled in the annals of any other nation.

From the time when the Hebrew state was revived in the ancient homeland of the Jewish people a little over 16 years ago, more than 40 nations in Africa and Asia freed themselves of their enslavement and attained freedom and independence. But all these nations had spent all of their years in their own land, and were enslaved for scores and even hundreds of years by E:uropean empires: Britain, France, Russia, Belgium, Holland, etc. Israel was revived only after a prolonged process of returning to Zion - the return of a scattered and separated people which was cut off from its homeland for more than 1,800 years.

{footnote} Delivered at Nahalal, July 20, 1964. {end footnote}

{p. 287} At the end of World War I, the Jewish settlement of numbered only 65,000 people. On the eve of the establishment of the state, in the middle of May, 1948, it numbered 650,000. And today, it numbers over 2,000,000. No other nation has arisen under such conditions - not in our age, and not in any other. There is no other example in human history of a nation renewing its independence in its homeland after being exiled and wandering for 1,813 years (if we take our count from Bar Kochba's defeat in 135 A.D.). The people of Israel is the only Mediterranean people to preserve its faith from antiquity, and to speak the language that its forefathers spoke three and four thousand years ago. Egypt, Babylonia, Syria, and Canaan do not even know their early names, and not one of their rulers knows how to converse in the language of his forefathers. They received their religion from foreigners - willingly, or under duress. Only the faith and language of Israel lives, once again, in its ancient land.

3) Its influence on world history - despite its being a small nation deprived of its independence: Only the Greeks of the classical period had such an extraordinary influence on the shaping of world history as did the Jewish people. And this infiuence was not only apparent in those years when the Christian and Islamic religions were spreading among the nations of the world, but also in the last few hundred years, from the days of Spinoza to Marx, Freud, Einstein and the rest of the great Jewish scientists {see also p. 111 above}; and in the short period of the renewal of Israel's independence during which time the young, small state became a significant factor among "developing" nations on three continents: Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

The secret of this threefold wonder lies in the immortal creation of our people in antiquity - the Bible, which has accompanied our people in all of its metamorphoses and wanderings for some 2,500 years.

In the books of the Bible, for the first time in human historiography, we are given the story of the birth, growth and struggles of a nation. The writing of Hebrew history predated the works of Herodotus and Thucydides and other books of history written by Greeks and Romans in days of old.

The Bible bequeathed to the Jewish people an awareness of its origin, its great past, its political, military, cultural and spiritual struggles with its neighbors, its moral and religious uniqueness, as well as its historical destiny for the future.

From the Bible the Jewish people drew its faith in the return

{p. 288} to Zion after its independence was destroyed and its land devastated twice: by the Babylonians 2,500 years ago; and by the Romans 1,900 years ago. Every Jewish child studied the Book of Deuteronomy, where it says: "Then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and take you back in love. He will bring you together again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you, Even if your outcasts are at the ends of the world, from there the Lord your Gocl will gather you, from there He will fetch you. And the Lord your God will bring you to the land which your fathers occupied, and you shall occupy it; and He will make you more prosperous and more numerous than your fathers (Deuteronomy 30:3-5).

Every Jewish child studied and read about the ingathering of exiles in the Book of Isaiah: "Have no fear; for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you all from the west. I will say to the north, 'Give them up,' and to the south, 'Do not hold them back. Bring my sons from afar, bring them from the ends of the earth'" (Isaiah 43:5-6). The same thoughts are found in the prophecies of Jeremiah: "I will restore your fortunes and gather you again from all the nations and all the places to which I have banished you, says the Lord, and bring you back from the place from which I have carried you into exile" (Jeremiah ~9. 14.

From the Bible, our people also learned the process of redeeming and rebuilding the land. Amos, the shepherd-prophet who said of himself that he is neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore trees, prophesied the following about the Return: "I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel; they shall rebuild deserted cities and live in them, they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, make gardens and eat their fruit. Once more I will plant them on their own soil, and they shall never again be uprooted from the soil I have given them. It is the word of the Lord your God" (Amos 9:14-15).

Just as the words of the Prophet of Destruction cried out: "I saw, and behold the farmland was wilderness, and the towns all razed to the ground, before the Lord in his anger. These are the words of the Lord: 'The whole land shall be desolate'" (Jererniah 4.~6-27), so did the Prophet of Compassion cry out: "Ancient ruins shall be rebuilt and sites long desolate, restored; they shall repair the ruined cities and restore what has long lain desolate" (Isaiah 61:4). Even an arid and desolate land will bloom again, because water will spring up in the desert: "Let the wilderness and the thirsty land be glad, and the desert shall rejoice and flower

{p. 289} as the lily . . . for water springs up in the wilderness, and brooks in the desert. And the parched land shall be a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water" (Isaiah 35.1-7).

Throughout the hundreds of years of wandering, scattered Jewry was accompanied by the Book of Books, and by its promise of redemption and return to Zion; a promise of making desolation bloom and of an ingathering of exiles. The nation didn't lose heart and its spirits didn't drop. For hundreds of years every Jew prayed daily: "Blow the mighty shofar to herald our freedom, Jnd raise a banner to gather in our exiles; and gather us speedily into our land from the four corners of the earth ... and return mercifullt to Jerusalem your city ... and rebuild it speedily in our day for eternity." And three generations ago this silent prayer turrled into a program of pioneering settlement: In 1870 the Mikve Yisrael Agricultural School was founded; in 1878 the first Hebrew village by the name of Petach Tikvah was founded, and after it Hebrew villages by the score and by the hundreds were set up. In 1948 the establishment of a Hebrew state and the independence of Israel were declared, because our people were sure that their prayer would be answered if they would return to the land which their forefathers bequeathed to them, and if they would reconstruct its ruins. And in our day this marvel was achieved. We are still a he beginning of the revival: making the clesert bloom and gath ering in the exiles. The road ahead of us is still long and difficult but we know that our hopes and faitll and efforts have not turned to disappointment.

It is not only a knowledge of its past and its hope for its future that the Jewish people has drawn from the Book of Books. The Bible has bequeathed to our nation - and through us, to all of humanity - not only a belief in one God who created all, but also lofty human values: the values of human brotherhood, the values of justice and mercy, truth and compassion, equality of nations and peace - all of which are the kernel of the thoughts of the prophets and the morality of Judaism.

{excursus - Peter Myers: What of Israel Shahak's revelations about Israel's will to expand its borders by war?; what of the Jewish Bible's fundamental distinction, between Israel and the Nations (Gentiles, Goyim, Non-Jews, Pagans)? What of the injunction to overcome and destroy them:

1. "Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you" (Genesis 27:29)

2. "I will send my terror in front of you, and throw into confusion all the people against whom you shall come ... Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased and possess the land" (Exodus 23:27-9; also see 34:24)

3. "Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, for by all these practices the nations I am casting out before you have defiled themselves" (Leviticus 18:24)

4. "As for the male and female slaves whom you may have, it is from the nations around you that you may acquire male and female slaves. You may also acquire them from the aliens residing with you ..." (Leviticus 25:44-5)

5. "When the LORD your God brings you into the land that you are about to enter and occupy, and he clears away many nations before you ... and the LORD your God gives them over to you and you defeat them, then you must utterly destroy them" (Deuteronomy 7:1; also see 7:22-4)

6. "You must demolish completely all the places where the nations whom you are about to dispossess served their gods ... Break down their altars, smash their pillars, burn their sacred poles with fire ... and thus blot out their name from their places" (Deuteronomy 12:2-3)

7. "... you will lend to many nations, but you will not borrow; you will rule over many nations, but they will not rule over you" (Deuteronomy 15:6; also see 28:12).

8. The "great" Ezra, builder of the Second Temple, speaks: 'After these things had been done, the officials approached me and said, "The people of Israel, the priests and the levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands with their abominations ... For they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and for their sons. Thus the holy seed has mixed itself with the peoples of the lands ... ." When I heard this, I tore my garment and my mantle, and pulled hair from my head and beard, and sat appalled ... And now, our God, what shall we say after this? For we have forsaken your commandments ... saying, "The land that you are entering to possess is a land unclean with the pollutions of the peoples of the lands ... Therefore do not give your daughters to their sons, neither take their daughters for your sons, and never seek their peace or prosperity ..."' (Ezra 9:1-12).

9. Ezra continues: 'Shecaniah ... addressed Ezra, saying, "We have broken faith with our God and have married foreign women ... So now let us make a covenant with our God to send away all these wives and their children" ... Then Ezra stood up and made the leading priests, the Levites, and all Israel swear that they would do as had been said. So they swore.' (Ezra 10: 2-5).

There are many such passages in the Jewish Bible (to find them, look up the word "nations" in a concordance) ... thus the apartheid basis of Israel, even today. Is there any other "holy" book like this? Can any non-Jew trust Jewish visions of world brotherhood and peace, given such a foundation? Why does Ben-Gurion, apostle of universalism, pass over such passages?

end excursus}

In a three-word [Hebrew] phrase our Torah has expressed the loftiest moral truth: "Love thy neighbor as thyself," about which the greatest of the Mishnaic scholars said: "This is the greatest precept in the Torah." {What of Israel Shahgak's revelations about the restriction of that brotherly morality to fellow-Jews only?} It is interesting that this supreme human command is found in the same book of the five books of the Torah which Bible critics speak of with contempt, as if it is no more than a Book of Priests dealing with religious ritual: the Book of Leviticus. Lest this command be interpreted as being intended only for Jews, the Bible reminds us in the same chapter: "When a Stranger

{p. 290} resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens {why then are non-Jews of lower status in an apartheid Israel?}; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God" (Leviticus 19:33-34) . The entire chapter is one of the most sublime in the Bible, and it demands concern for the poor and the stranger ("You shall not pick your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger" - 19:10). It demands just conduct ("You shall not steal; you shall not deal deceitfully or falsely with one another.... You shall not defraud your neighbor. You shall not commit robbery. The wages of a laborer shall not remain with you until morning.... You shall not render an unfair decision: do not favor the poor or show deference to the rich; judge your neighbor fairly. Do not deal basely with your fellows. Do not profit by the blood of your neighbor. . . You shall not hate your kinsman in your heart. Reprove your neighbor, but incur no guilt because of him. You shall not take vengeance nor bear a grudge against your kinsfolk.... You shall not falsify measures of length, weight, or capacity. You shall have an honest balance, honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin. I am the Lord your God who freed you from the land of Egypt").

One of the first Literary Prophets, Hosea, son of Beeri, established the covenant between the God of Israel and his people on four principles: "I will betroth you to myself in righteousness, and in justice, in loving-kindness, and in compassion" (Hosea 2 2l); and when he grew bitter over the tottering foundations of morality in Israel, he cried out with all his might: "Hear the word of the Lord, O Israel; for the Lord has a charge to bring against the people of the land: There is no truth nor mercy nor knowledge of God in the land. Swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery! They break all bounds, and blood touches blood. Therefore is the land in mourning, and everyone that dwells within it languishes" (4:1-3).

Almost all of the prophets deal with righteousness and Justice. We already find in the Book of Genesis: "Abraham is to become a great and populous nation, and all the nations of the earth are to bless themselves through him. For I have singled him out, that he may instruct his children and his posterity to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is just and right ... " (18:18-19) . Whether we accept the traditional view, that these words were written by Moses before the period of all the literary prophets, or the view of Bible scholars, that these are later utterances, the Jewish people, throughout the generations, for at least 2,500 years, has read these

{p. 291} words in the belief that they were written by Moses and given by God. And when before his death Moses blesses the tribe of God, he concludes his blessing and praise of the tribe with the words: "It executed the Lord's Judgments and his decisions for Israel" (Deuteronomy 33:21).

When the author of Second Samuel summarized the reign of King David, he wrote: "David ruled over the whole of Israel and maintained law and justice among his people" (II Samuel 8:15). The same is true of the author of First Chronicles (18:14). And when the queen of Sheba came to King Solomon, she naturally praised his wisdom, but saw his function as that of practicing justice and righteousness: "He has made you king to do justice and righteousness" (I Kings 10:9). The prophet Isaiah stated that: "Justice shall redeem Zion and righteousness her repentant people" (Isaiah 1:27), and reiterated the principles of justice and righteousness several times in his prophecies (9:5-6; 16:5, 28:7; 33:5). The same applies to Second Isaiah (56:1; 58:2). Jeremiah stresses this strongly when he states that a wise person should not boast of his own wisdom, a brave man of his strength, or a rich man of his wealth; "rather, if any man should boast, let him boast of this: that he understands and knows Me, because I am the Lord who exercises mercy, justice, and righteousness on earth. It is in these things that I delight. This is the word of the Lord" (Jeremiah 9:22-23). He repeats this several times in his addresses and prophecies (4:2; 21:3; 22:15; 23:5; 33:15). The same holds true for the prophet Ezekiel and the Minor Prophets.

The composer of Psalms asks: "O Lord, who may dwell in thy tabernacle? Who may dwell on thy holy mountain?" And he answers: "The man of blameless life, who does what is right and speaks the truth from his heart" (15:1-2). He praises and glorifies the God of Israel: "Thou hast established equity, thou hast executed justice and righteousness in Jacob" (99:4). Several times the Psalmist repeats the words: "Lover of righteousness and justice," "Acts of justice and rigllteousness," "To observe your laws of righteousness." And the same applies to tlle Book of Proverbs.

But the prophets of Israel did not limit themselves to preaching about justice and righteousness between individuals. They also held aloft the ideals of equality among nations and peace in the world {i.e., rejection of those nations, yet unity of those nations?} - something unheard of in any of the literature of ancient, cultured peoples Greece, Egypt and Babylonia in the Mediterranean region; India and China in the Far East. (The peoples of Europe, and the rest of the nations of Asia and Africa above the Sahara, were not recipients of the benefits of human culture in

{p. 292} those days, and the existence of America and Australia was not yet known in the three older continents.)

Amos, a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore trees, who angrily prophesied against the transgressions of all the nations surrounding Israel, also said about his own nation: "Are you Israelites not like the Ethiopians to me, says the Lord? Did I not bring Israel up from Egypt, the Philistines from Caphtor, and Aram from Kir" (Amos 9:7). All nations are equal before the Lord God of Israel. Isaiah and Micah saw a vision that in the end of days peace would reign between nations, and "nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore" (Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3). This is the vision of peace which the prophets of Israel foresaw - a vision which all of the large nations of our day, who wholeheartedly reject war, have not yet attained. They are wasting a large part of their wealth, and their manpower, which runs into the tens of thousands and millions, in "learning warfare". These two prophets of Israel foresaw an age of peace in which not only would "nation not lift up sword against nation," but during which time they would not learn war anymore.

A prophecy such as this is not to be found in the great literatures of antiquity - not in China, not in India, and also not in Greece. The greatest Greek philosopher, Plato, who lived some 300 years after Isaiah, preached in favor of the cessation of the wars between the Greek tribes, because in his youth he had been a witness to the war of destruction which the Dorians of Sparta and the Ionians of Athens conducted against each other. But he didn't oppose the war of the Greeks against the barbarians, as the Greeks then called all non-Greeks.

The prophets of Israel preached peace among all nations and they believed that this peace would come in "the end of days," even without being aware of the great danger of the atomic bomb which is capable of destroying all humanity. Through their deep insight into the lives of people, and because of the deep sense of justice which beat within them, they believed that a day would come - though not in the near future (for which reason they used the phrase "in the end of days") - when nations will destroy their weapons, will not wage war against each other, and will no longer even learn the art of war. They will not possess weapons, because this is the only real and faithful guarantee for a reign of lasting peace and for the reduction of mutual fear.

{yet under Ben-Gurion, Israel acquired nuclear weapons}

The Bible not only bequeathed to the Jewish people and the nations of the world the lofty, human and international values that will cause justice, mercy, truth and peace to reign in the world, but

{p. 293} also established a great destiny for the people of beacon for other nations. "I the Lord have called you with righteous purpose, and taken you by the hand, and created you to be a covenant among the nations and a beacon to all people," says the prophet in the name of God. He also explains the purpose of all this: "To open up blind eyes, to bring captives out of out of the dungeons where they lie in darkness" (Isaiah 42:6-7). Elsewhere, he repeats this and expands upon the goal: "I will you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth" (49:6).

Realistic and shrewd people belittle this envisioned destiny. We aren't a light to ourselves, so how can we be a light to other nations?" - so they argue. This overlooks the great light which shines forth from the enterprise of the Jewish revival in Israel. Of course, there is no lack of dark spots in our life: emptiness, cynicism, hypocrisy, transgressions, fraud, thievery, prostitution, cruelty maliciousness and deceit. All this is also found in other countries to a greater or lesser extent, in one form or another. But there are positive manifestations and deeds in Israel the like of which are not found elsewhere in the world. New social relationships within the working population correspond to the dreams of the greatest social philosophers of the past and present. The pioneering character of our army is unique. The effect of the efficient and beneficent aid which young and small Israel is extending to new nations in Africa and to old nations which are developing in Asia and Latin America, (what of Israel's hijacking of the American Foreign Aid budget?} is in no way inferior to that of the mighty powers - the biggest and richest in the world. Our pioneering capacity has come to the surface - an ability which perhaps every person possesses, but for some reason isn't aware of, or doesn't want to put to use. This capacity has developed here in the last three generations, since the first Hebrew village was established in 1878. Since that time, the capacity has served us to build up a Hebrew agriculture which is the best on the Asian continent (with the exception of Japan), though for hundreds of years we were cut off from the earth; to apply Hebrew labor to all branches of agriculture, industry, communications on land, in the sea, and in the air; to revive a language which for 2,000 years was thought to be a dead language, and which became a spoken language in Israel; to create a thriving Hebrew literature; and to develop and cultivate advanced scientific and research institutes with world-wide reputations. All these appeared as empty dreams, as pure fancy, as something impossible, to "practical people" 50 or 60 years ago. ...

{p. 316} Only after I immigrated to Israel - 62 years ago - and read the Bible here, did I know and understand that justice was on the side of the "Prophets of Rebuke." I saw what was in store for us here for the first time when I worked in Sajrah, and two of my friends: Israel Korngold, watchman of the settlement, and a young farmer by the name of Shimon Melamed, were needlessly killed by Arabs (Passover, 1909), merely to satisfy the custom of "redeeming the blood," a practice accepted among the Arabs {it sounds like "an eye for an eye"}. Only then did I understand what was in store for us, and what was required of us in this land.

I learned two things from the reality of life in the land, and from the Bible which I have read in an altogether different light since I came to the land: 1) that words alone, even the most beautiful words, if not accompanied by appropriate deeds, have no significance at all. As a result, I was compelled to say at some international gathering that I am no longer a "Zionist." And 2) that Moses was correct. We are the smallest of nations and, thus, we must be a special people. Only our superior quality has sustained us. We succeeded in the Six Day War because we succeeded in building up a special army. And we need not fear evil if we also succeed in establishing a special government. The Jewish people has the needed traits to be a special people, but to achieve this, more than any other nation in the world, we need a special government. For we are a small nation, and the world does not understand that

{p. 317} we are different from all other nations - both in days of old and today - and need a special government. Without such a government, which will arouse respect and trust from Jews as well as from the best nations in the world, we will not long endure. This in my view, is the moral lesson of the Bible and of Jewish history, from ancient days to our own.

{end of selections}

Ben-Ami Shillony puts a similar view to Ben-Gurion - combining Zionism with support for Trotsky - in his book The Jews and the Japanese: japan.html.

The Exodus and the Archaeology of the Bible - the findings of Egyptologist Donald B. Redford, and Israeli Archaeologists Israel Finkelstein & Neil Asher Silberman: archaeology-bible.html.

Isaac Deutscher wrote in his book The non-Jewish Jew and other essays, ed. Tamara Deutscher, OUP, London, 1968:

{p. 98} Ben Gurion had no sooner welcomed me than he launched out on a lecture on the Russian revolution - the topic obviously fascinated him:

'One man', he said, 'could have saved the world, but, unfortunately, he missed his opportunity. That man was Lenin.' {endquote}

David Ben-Gurion offers an atheistic definition of Judaism, arguing that God did not choose them; rather, they chose Him - and themselves: bengur-recollections.html.

David Ben-Gurion's interview in Time Magazine of August 16, 1948: bengur48.html.

Ben-Gurion's forecast of World Government by 1987: tmf.html.

From the Jewish Bible: 1 SAMUEL Chapter 15. This chapter says that God, through his prophet Samuel, condemned King Saul for not killing all of the non-Jews he fought, when ordered to do so. Saul, regretting his disobedience, slew the captive king he had spared - samuel-saul.html

How the Torah (including the Book of Genesis) was produced by Ezra around 458 BC, with the authority of the Persian Emperor: bible.html ... and under the influence of its Zoroastrian religion: zoroaster-judaism.html.

Write to me at contact.html.