Names in the news are often triggers to biblical studies. Gaza is only the most recent name that is a timeless headliners. Why Gaza is still in the news after so many millennia is without doubt a pointed reminder of unfinished business. Gaza may be an occupied territory contested by Palestinians and Jews, but there is much relevant history that can help us understand the current flare up. First, a great Jewish hero was once imprisoned in Gaza, the shunned and acclaimed Samson. Jewish heroes fall hard because they climb high and they do stand apart from those who merely talk about their national history and aspirations. Israel is a nation that never had its day no matter how many books have been trying to make the point of Israel’s superpower status. People do not need fiction nor can we trust comedians who seem to be the only ones who can say the truth about Israel, Zionism, religious tenets, and bad politics, and get away with it.
Gaza is mentioned in scripture 1/3 as often as Hebron, the place of Abraham’s early residence and the burial place of both the patriarch and his wife Sarah. Gaza is not an obscure city by any measure.
Let’s get back to our heroes. We all know what happens to heroes. They enjoy acclaim for brief moments. People assassinate them. They are soon discarded and forgotten except for the seasonal remembrances and the dogged hero-worship of a few. Heroes have no honour in their own country. On this score Gaza is worthy of mention. If the Israeli government is still wanting to tell a sanitized story about Gaza they should get ready for another hero to crash and burn; crash like the last high priest to kill an animal on Temple Mount or like the last King who courted superpower favour.
Samson did a great job of killing Philistines but he was once the object of ridicule in an idolatrous temple in Gaza. Samson was the first suicide terrorist. Is this what the Jewish state has come to?
Soon after tramping up Temple Mount, Ariel Sharon, one of Israel’s modern heroes, fell silent. Prime Minister Netanyahu is speeding toward his silence and nothing but a conversion can stop him. Well, welding the two halves of his tongue may also save him, but military successes are more often than not measures of failure and pointers to the need to build a genuine neighborhood. Jews and Palestinians are tired of the bloodshed but those voices do not get heard. We get the military sound-bytes which is a phenomenon that reminds us that the kingdom of Israel dallied with military and governance. At least 4 of Israel’s wicked kings were military officers. You think the groping for superiority would be at the bottom of the list? Far from it.
What then is the meaning of the current flare up in Gaza? First, we must remember that that the modern state is Israel is not even a dim shadow of the kingdom that Yahweh intended. While many are prone to have a simplistic picture of the facts. Israel was a kingdom. It quickly departed from its founder and splintered into two kingdoms. Israel has no king and its constitution is the Bible (so go on UK and US, call yourselves Judeo-Christian while keeping the Bible in the distance). They all worship money and capitalism.
Secondly, Israel was never a regional superpower as proposed by some Christian writers. Israel was more often than not under foreign dominion.
The Gaza flare up is one more disturbing attempt by Israel to gain the upper hand and deny the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people. It is groping, pure and simple, by a blind hero whose logical satisfaction can only be found in a suicidal explosion exactly as we saw in the Samson narrative.
This groping for supremacy is both deceitful and rebellious. Palestinian and Israeli intentions can not be anything more helpful than the realization of the future that God has decreed for the land of Canaan.
Ishmael and Isaac cannot afford to forget the day they buried Abraham but their descendants are determined to prove to the world that blood runs like water. Not only do the two lines of Abraham’s family claim to worship the same God, they are first cousins. In my part of the world first cousins treat each other as “brothers”, siblings. But these two go to base extremes to assert their claims. Even when the very organization that gave Israel it’s birth warns about war crimes by the two sides there is no break in the sightless rhetoric.
Lest we forget, Islam has its treasure on Temple Mount and East Jerusalem is the only home many Palestinians have known. So, is the final solution to be one in which there is exclusion and xenophobia? Is that what Moses taught?
The Palestinian Problem is a Gaza problem. “Eyes wide open” are the order of the day. If Jews want to hang on to their superior claim to Canaan over against all others the blind groping in Gaza will result in everything crashing into the ditch.
Another Jewish hero is about to lose his eyes. God forbid that he should, like Samson, pray for a suicidal end to his career, proving to all observers that terrorists come in all shapes and sizes.
Groping like a blind person will result in disaster. The prophets have been ignored so I only hope to help people who have been trapped by Israeli propaganda escape. Jewish leaders are going to wake up and discover that the world does not revolve around Moses, the patriarchs, or the Zionism. Wisdom will be justified by her non-groping children in Gaza and everywhere else.