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Should the "Holy land" be occupied by the Palestinians or the Israelis?

by Robert Randle  
3/11/2010 / World Affairs

The issue over who should live in the Holy Land cannot be settled by the United Nations or political negotiations, but rather by the Word of God, and if helpful, by the Social Sciences. Since the Palestinians claim to be descendants of the Philistines, then it is prudent to find out who they are and where they came from.

Genesis 10: 6, 13-14
The sons of Ham were Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan. Mizraim begot Ludim, Anamim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim, Pathrusim, and Casluhim (from whom came the "Philistines" and Caphtorim). {Cp. 1 Chronicles 1: 12}

The part of the country that became the home of the Israelite people was named by the Romans "Pelishtum" where the term 'Philistines' (Heb. land of the strangers/sojourners) is derived from. The Philistines lived in the southernmost part of the coast of Canaan. On a stele at the Temple at Medinet Habu, Pharaoh Rameses III is depicted as boasting over the defeat of a "Sea Peoples" in 1188 BC called "Peleste" who are identified as the Philistines. Thirteen years later they were firmly settled on the coastal plains of southern Canaan. Afterwards, they conquered more territory, including the central uplands, Galilee, and the trans-Jordan (Cp. 1 Samuel 31: 7; 2 Samuel 5: 18-20, 22, 25). The land that the Philistines occupied was referred to either as Philistia, Palestina, or even Palestine interchangeably (Cp. Exodus 15: 14; Isaiah 14: 29, 31; Joel 3: 4). Jerusalem was named as the capitol city (Cp. 2 Chronicles 28: 27).

The territory of the Philistines, having been occupied by the Canaanites, formed a part of the "Promised Land," and was assigned to the tribe of Judah (Cp. Joshua 15: 1-12); including such cities as Jerusalem, Gaza, and Hebron (Cp. Joshua 15: 8b, 47, 54). Doubtless, this inheritance led to the area being called the land of Judea [Judah]. It seems that part of this land is included in the Eastern border of Canaan or Palestine as found in Numbers 34: 10-12. Philistia, as such, was a plain on the SW plain of Palestine. It was 40 miles long on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea between Gerar [where Abimelech resided during the time of Abraham in Genesis 20: 1-2; 21: 32] and Joppa; it was 10 miles wide at the northern end, and 20 miles at the southern end. According to Deuteronomy 2: 23; Jeremiah 47: 4; Amos 9: 7, the Philistines came from the country of "Caphtor" which is seen by some as a reference to the island of Crete. Others believe that they are indigenous to the Middle East region, as derivative from the Egyptian word 'Coptos' which refers to someone from either Egypt or somewhere in Africa. It is plausible that both points of view are correct in that in some earlier period in prehistory, Europeans could have settled in Canaan, intermingled with one of the tribes or clans of Casluhim, becoming the more dominant one and totally assimilating the weaker group into their own; thus creating their own unique cultural, social, political and religious identity in this Mesopotamian region.

It would also appear from the Anthropological as well as Archaeological record that the ancestors of the Palestinians were more culturally advanced, as far as technology, than their later rivals, the Israelites. While the progenitor and Patriarchal father of the Hebrews/Israelites was wandering around in Canaan from place to place as a nomad, the Philistines were already established as a people or latent kingdom; it seems. Of course, this still doesn't answer the question of whether what came first, "the Chicken or the Egg?" To be sure, the Philistines or Palestinians did occupy through military conquest some part of what is now the 'Holy Land' and that entire region was called "Palestine" at one time or another. This does not mean that other Canaanite tribes or clans [nations??] did not already live there at that time or even before the arrival of the Philistines. The one thing, though, is that the Philistines never occupied, as far as the historical record shows, Jerusalem ["Jebus'']. This city was the stronghold of the Jebusites, whom King David defeated, moved his capitol from Hebron to there, and where it was later called "The City of David." (Cp. 1 Chronicles 11: 1, 3-5).

So now then, as far as the Palestinian peoples right to Statehood being 'legitimate,' based upon the historical and Scriptural evidences which are known at this time, it would not seem to support the disputed area in which they want to occupy. This does NOT mean, however, that the Palestinians should be a people without a homeland and denied any sense of dignity, respect, autonomy, economic security, a cultural identity, and allowed to live in peace; which they deserve just as much as their Israeli neighbors. It seems that in all the political rhetoric, confrontations between the Israeli military and the PLO or Hamas [as well as occasional interference from Arab countries in the area], violence, and murder, both sides seem have forgotten the basic tenets of their Faith, as doubtless found in numerous passages from the Muslim holy Koran and the Jewish Tanakh, which is: "Love thy Neighbor as Thyself, and what is Hateful to You, Do Not do to any Man."

NOTE: Some non-Biblical references for this study were: The Bible as History, William Keller, WILLIAM MORROW AND COMPANY, New York, 1981; Bible Dictionary, Smith & Peloubet, THE JOHN C. WINSTON COMPANY, 1948; Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come From? William G. Dever, Wm. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Cambridge, UK.

Robert Randle
776 Commerce St. #B-11
Tacoma, WA 98402
March 11, 2010

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