the ecumenical examiner is dedicated to the power and glory of the God of Creation, Yahweh, and Yeshua the Messiah

- ZION - AND ZIONISM

A BRIEF STUDY ON THE WHO, WHAT, WHERE, AND WHY OF THIS WORD

Theodor Herzl - 1860-1904

   The word 'Zion' occurs more than 150 times in the Bible, including seven instances in the Christian Greek Scriptures (New Testament). It essentially means 'fortress'. Zion is described as both the city of David and the city of God, but was usually meant as simply a reference to the city of Jerusalem. Then as Biblical inspiration progressed, the word Zion would take on additional, spiritual meanings. But the earliest mention of Zion in the Bible is found in 2 Samuel, where it describes king David's attack on the city.

   In the Old Testament 'Zion' is used variously as a name for the city of Jerusalem (Isaiah 40:9), the land of Judah (Jeremiah 31:12), and the nation of Israel as a whole (Zechariah 9:13). The word Zion is also used in a theological or spiritual sense in Scripture, often understood symbolically.

   Mount Zion, as a tangible regional domain, is currently the focus of terrible controversy, and bloody fighting, with the brutal back and forth of seemingly endless conflict. The Temple Mount, within Jerusalem, is claimed by three of the world's great religions as a holy site, but historically, Judaism's claim comes first, as the oldest, most substantial, and most significant through an ancient Judaic birthright. Given that the ancient Jebusites were apparently absorbed into the cultures and peoples of the surrounding areas, they left no trace of any interest or claim.

the modern City of Jerusalem as seen from the Mount of Olives

ציון

   Zion was originally a Jebusite stronghold in the city of Jerusalem. After David’s conquest of the fortress, the city of Jerusalem became a possession of Israel. The Tabernacle of the Ark was set up there, and David's royal palace was built there. Later it would become the location of the Temple, built under the direction of David's son, Solomon. Jerusalem, also known as Zion, became Israel's seat of power.

   Because Zion was not originally a Hebrew name, the word Zion probably comes from a foreign source, possibly from an Arabic root meaning, to 'protect', or 'defend' giving Zion the connotation of a 'fortress', or 'stronghold'. However, as the ancient scribes granted themselves great liberties in the transliteration of foreign words, they chose to spell Zion in a way that overlapped with the spelling of another Hebrew word that means 'place of dryness', or 'sign post'.

'Therefore thus says the Lord God: "Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation;" - Isaiah 28:16

"Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, "Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame." Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, "The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone," and "A stone of stumbling And a rock of offense." They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed." - 1 Peter 2:6-8

   Connecting the Testaments, in the Greek Scriptures, Zion goes on to refer to God’s spiritual kingdom, the New Jerusalem, or Heavenly Jerusalem. Peter, quoting Isaiah 28:16, refers to the Messiah Yeshua as the cornerstone of the heavenly Zion;

MODERN ZIONISM -- THEODOR HERZL

"Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it." - Zechariah 12:2,3

   The modern movement of Zionism first got rolling at the end of the 19th century. The movement was intended to bring an end to the great diaspora of the Jewish people who had been scattered around the world in the wake of the Roman destruction in 70 AD.

   It had been a long time, and the time had come. The idea of Zionism was meant to accomplish this 'regathering' by creating and establishing a Jewish nationalist movement that had as its goal the restoration of a Jewish nation state in the ancient homeland of the Jews, Eretz Yisraʾel, (the Land of Israel). By this time in her history, the term 'Zion' had taken on an almost poetic quality. 

Many people shall come and say, "Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths." For out of Zion shall go forth the law, And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. - Isaiah 2:3

   The Treaty of Versailles proceeded to chop up what was left of the Ottoman Empire, awarding some parts to France, and some parts to Great Britain. Transjordan and Palestine became a British problem. It was called the British Mandate, and turned Transjordan, and the region of Palestine into a single protectorate. Therein lay Jerusalem, still being tossed about like a hot potato that nobody could hold onto. The British would fare no better.

   Jerusalem, and the territory of Israel, over so many generations had been controlled and governed by numerous world powers. Shortly after ending the Bar-Kochba revolt (132–135 AD), the Romans changed the name of the Judean province to Syria Palaestina, and founded Aelia Capitolina over the ruins of Jerusalem, which included a sanctuary dedicated to Jupiter on the Temple Mount. Jews were generally forbidden entrance to the walled city. Historians understand this was done with the intent of terminating the relationship of the Jewish people to the region.

   Then after the death of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad (632 AD), the Rashidun Caliphate was established, and was led by a succession of five Caliphs, who were successors to Muhamad. The Rashidun Caliphate expanded rapidly, engulfing the Levant, including Jerusalem, as well as Persia, and North Africa. Other Caliphates would follow, but it was in 1517 that the Turkish Ottoman rulers claimed ultimate caliphal authority, and established the Ottoman Dynasty by conquering and unifying Muslim lands, becoming the de facto defenders of the Holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Jerusalem, at this time was sort of a backwater afterthought, but it was nonetheless wrapped up by the Turkish Ottoman Empire.

   Thus, he argued, Jews were being forced by external pressure to form a nation of their own, and there was only one place on earth that would do. Zion. Returning to their homeland would be the realization of nearly 2,000 years of hopes and prayers, based on historical ties, and religious tradition. Israel was the only place on earth where the Jewish people might establish a proper, true, and just homeland, promoting both national identification, and national self-determination. A place where Jews could live among others with mutually held values, and cultural traditions. 

   In 1897 Herzl convened the first Zionist Congress at Basel, Switzerland, where documents were drawn up, stating that, “Zionism strives to create for the Jewish people a home in Palestine secured by public law.” It was a tall order. He couldn't have known if it would gain any traction.

   Following the publication of Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State). A pamphlet written by Herzl and published in February 1896, the movement gained strength which sought to encourage Jewish migration to Ottoman Palestine. The closing words of his, The Jewish State, read;

"I believe that a wondrous generation of Jews will spring into existence. The Maccabeans will rise again. Let me repeat once more my opening words: The Jews who wish for a State will have it. We shall live at last as free men on our own soil, and die peacefully in our own homes. The world will be freed by our liberty, enriched by our wealth, magnified by our greatness. And whatever we attempt there to accomplish for our own welfare, will react powerfully and beneficially for the good of humanity."

   Then came World War One, and the whole order of the world was shattered to pieces like a clay vessel. The finish of this 'War to End all Wars,' saw drastic political, cultural, economic, and social change across Eurasia, Africa, the Middle East, and across the globe, even those areas that were not directly involved in the conflict. Four empires collapsed due to the war, including the Ottoman empire. Old countries were abolished, new ones were formed, boundaries were redrawn, and international organizations were established such as the League of Nations.

   Lobbying by a Russian Jewish immigrant named Chaim Weizmann brought about the British government's Balfour Declaration of 1917. It endorsed the establishment of a Jewish Homeland in Palestine, saying in part;

His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

   In 1922, the League of Nations adopted the declaration, and granted to Britain the 'Palestine Mandate', stating,

"The Mandate will secure the establishment of the Jewish national home . . .and the development of self-governing institutions, and also safeguard the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine, irrespective of race and religion."

RESURRECTION OF A DEAD LANGUAGE

Eliezer Ben-Yehuda - 1858 - 1922

   The revival of the Hebrew language began in Europe and Palestine near the end of the 19th century and into the 20th century. During this time, which coincided with the efforts of Herzl, the Hebrew language was revised from the sacred liturgical language of Judaism to a spoken and written language used for daily life and common discourse. 

   The process began as a diverse mix of Jews began arriving and establishing themselves alongside the small pre-existing Jewish community in the region of Palestine. Veteran Jews in Palestine (largely Arabic-speaking at that time) and the linguistically diverse new arrivals, all switched, collectively deciding to make Hebrew the lingua franca of the land. It became a unifying tenet of the ideology associated with the settlement of the land. An article of faith made manifest in Zionism.

   Modern Hebrew would become one of three official languages during the years of British Palestine. Then after the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948, one of two official languages of Israel, along with Modern Arabic. In July 2018, a new law made Hebrew the sole official language of the state of Israel, assigning Arabic a 'special status'.

   Besides territory, there was another glaringly important aspect of the Zionist movement, all revolving around the matter of bringing together and unifying a group of people so diverse. A people who had been scattered around the world in the throws of the diaspora, which, over the course of many generations, had assimilated linguistically into the cultures of the nations in which they had come to reside. Yet, all the while, they had still maintained their otherwise uniquely Jewish cultural traditions.

   Nations are unified by three primary elements. First - culture, which the Jewish people had, and had stubbornly held on to wherever they were. Second - borders, which, as a peoples they no longer had, though they knew the region of the Levant which was the location of their ancestral homeland, and the ancient cities were all still there. And third - language, which had traditionally been Hebrew, a language largely lost over time, and the question arose, could it be revived as a binding element of national unity?

   The process of the Hebrew language being returned to regular usage is incomparably unique. It was almost like God working the confusion of the Tower of Babel in reverse. There are no other examples in history of what was essentially a dead language, one without any native speakers, suddenly (in the context of history, it was very sudden) acquiring several million native speakers, using the language in their everyday life as 'first language' speakers. 

   Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, is often given credit as the "reviver of the Hebrew language," though his major contributions were largely ideological and symbolic. He was the first to raise the concept of reviving Hebrew, through the publishing of articles in newspapers on the topic. Then he took part in the project that came to be known as the Ben-Yehuda Dictionary.

  Theodor Herzl was a Jewish son of Austria. A journalist who came to realize the futility of Jewish attempts to assimilate within the Christian world. He concluded that assimilation was an impossibility for European Jews  who suffered under the inescapable ill-treatment of systemic anti-Semitic persecution.

   The First Aliyah is also known as the Agriculture Aliyah. It was a major wave of Zionist immigrants to Ottoman controlled Palestine between 1881 and 1903. Jews who migrated in this wave came mostly from Eastern Europe, and from Yemen. An estimated 25,000 - 35,000 Jews took part in this migration. Conditions were harsh, and many of the European Jewish immigrants of this period gave up after a few months and went back to their country of origin.

   The second Aliyah (Aliyah is defined as 'the act of going up', to return to Israel is called 'making Aliyah), took place between 1904 and 1914, during which approximately 35,000 Jews immigrated to Ottoman Palestine, mostly from the Russian Empire, along with more from Yemen. The Second Aliyah immigrants were primarily idealists, inspired by the 

   Herzl is now known as the father of modern political Zionism. He formed the Zionist Organization and promoted Jewish immigration to Palestine in an effort to form a Jewish state. Though he died before its establishment, his efforts were realized as a matter of fact, and he is directly recognized by the State of Israel as a founding father.

   Ben-Yehuda had immigrated to Ottoman Palestine in 1881, as part of the First Aliyah, and settled in Jerusalem where he found work as a teacher. Being motivated by the idealistic attitudes of renewal, and rejection of the diaspora lifestyle, Ben‑Yehuda set out to develop a new language that could replace Yiddish and other regional dialects as a means of everyday communication between Jews who moved to Israel from various regions of the world. 

   One of Ben-Yehuda's primary contributions to the revival of the Hebrew language lies in his having invented many new words to denote objects unknown in Jewish antiquity. Some of these words were changed, or hybridized, from their original Hebrew usage and context. Others he invented as entirely new, such as ḥashmal for electricity, a modern word, or as there were no Hebrew equivalent for the names of certain produce that had come from the New World, such as maize and tomato. Yet Ben-Yehuda's esteem and recognition stem from his initiation and symbolic leadership in the revival of the Hebrew language as a dynamic modern language, embracing change and modernization.

   In the Arab Middle East, Ladino and colloquial Arabic were the spoken languages most prevalent in Jewish communities (with Ladino more prevalent in the Mediterranean West, and Arabic, Aramaic, Kurdish, and Persian more widely spoken by Jews in the East). Classical Arabic was used for secular writing, and Hebrew used for religious purposes, though some Jewish scholars from the Arab world, such as Maimonides (1135–1204), wrote primarily in Arabic, or in Judeo-Arabic languages.

   By the time Israel gained independence in 1948, 80% of Jews who had been born in Palestine spoke Hebrew as their only language in daily life, and another 14% of Palestine-born Jews used it as a first among two or more languages. Following the Holocaust, and Israeli independence, large waves of Jewish refugees came from Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and other parts of the world. The Israeli population increased significantly, doubling within a short period of time. These immigrants spoke a variety of languages and had to be taught Hebrew. While immigrant children were expected to learn Hebrew through their schools, a great deal of effort was also put into ensuring adults would learn the language. 

   Young adult immigrants picked up much of their Hebrew through their mandatory military service in the IDF. It was obviously necessary to teach soldiers Hebrew so they could function in the military and post-military civilian life. During the 1950s, the immigrants tended to use their native languages more when socializing and interacting with family, and by 1954, about 60% of the population reported the use of more than one language. 

Mazel Tov.

ANTI - ZIONISM

   There is a long tradition of Jewish anti-Zionism that has opposed the Zionist project from the beginning. Orthodox Judaism, was (and remains) strongly opposed to Zionism because, though the two share the same values, Zionism promoted nationalism within a secular context or paradigm, and used "Zion", "Jerusalem", "Land of Israel", "redemption", and "ingathering of exiles", as literal rather than sacred terms. Interpreting the struggle to achieve in this world, something that God has denied them, as a sinful asperation of pride. In other words, some Orthodox Jews oppose the idea of creating a Jewish state prior to the appearance of the messiah, because it seems to be contradicting, or overstepping the Divine Will. By contrast, reform Jews rejected 'Judaism as a national' or ethnic identity, and renounced the idea that some attached messianic expectations to the rise of the Jewish state.


   Postwar attitudes changed following World War II, especially as the full extent of the horrors of the Holocaust came to light. Theodor Herzel appeared to have been right, almost prophetic in his statements, it was impossible for European Jews to assimilate within the community of Christian/secular Europe. In May 1942, before the full revelation of the Holocaust, the Biltmore Program proclaimed a fundamental departure from traditional Zionist policy of a 'homeland', with its demand, "that Palestine be established as a Jewish Commonwealth."


   Opposition to official Zionism's firm, unequivocal stand, caused some prominent Zionists to establish their own party, Ichud (Unification), which advocated for an Arab - Jewish Federation in Palestine. Opposition to the Biltmore Program also led to the founding of the anti-Zionist American Council for Judaism.

   As full knowledge of the Holocaust was revealed, however, it altered the views of many who had criticized Zionism before 1948, including the British journalist Isaac Deutscher. Deutscher had been a socialist and lifelong atheist who nevertheless asserted the importance of his Jewish heritage. Before World War II, Deutscher opposed Zionism as economically retrograde and harmful to the cause of international socialism, but in the aftermath of the Holocaust, he regretted his pre-war views, arguing for Israel's establishment as a "historic necessity" to provide a refuge for the surviving Jews of Europe.

   Anti-Zionist criticism is alive and well today, but largely morphed into the Boycott, Divest, and Sanction (BDS) movement, insisting that they are not anti-Semitic, but merely anti-Zionist. They especially make their voices heard through the United Nations, which has passed more resolutions against Israel than all other countries of the world combined. BDS has been embraced by nations, cities, international corporations, universities, and many Christian church denominations, including the World Council of Churches.

Amen. Hallelujah.

   Yeshua HaMashiach, Jesus the Messiah, indicated prophetically that when He returned, He would descend through the clouds at the sound of the shofar, in tremendous power and glory, with all His angels. Acts chapter one indicates He will return as He departed, and set foot on the Mount of Olives, overlooking the walled city of Jerusalem, and the Temple Mount. The world of mankind will be His, and he will rule from Zion. Christian prophecy agrees with Theodor Herzl, who had stubbornly insisted, no other place on earth will do. 

"And the king [David] and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who spoke to David, saying, "You shall not come in here; but the blind and the lame will repel you," thinking, "David cannot come in here." Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion (that is, the City of David)." - 2 Samuel 5:6.7

   The Jebusites are believed to have been the descendants of Jebus, a descendant of Canaan, and a son of Ham. They were said to be a warlike tribe, and were mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as a nation living in the mountains. 

   The Jebusites settled and constructed the original city of Jerusalem, which back in the day was called Jebus. Later, the Jebusites did battle with Joshua, but lost the battle, and their king was killed. However, they managed to hold Jebus until the invasion of King David.

revolutionary ideals which were sweeping through Russia. They sought to create a communal agricultural settlement system in Palestine. Thus, they founded the kibbutz movement. The first kibbutz, called Degania, was founded in 1909. Those among the immigrants, who preferred to settle in cities created Ahuzat Bayit near Jaffa, which would later be named Tel Aviv.

   The world outside of Zion will do what they will. It seems clear and obvious that the hand of God has guided the reestablishment of Zion, and placed His blessing over this land and these peoples. Prophecy is being fulfilled before our eyes on a grand scale. Among Christian prophecy watchers, the reestablishment of the nation state of Israel in 1948, constitutes one of the greatest prophetic fulfillments of inspired scripture, EVER. The return of the Messiah couldn't happen until the Jewish people were back in their homeland of Israel. After some 2,000 years, the time has come. The prophecy suggests we are living in the final days of the 'End of the Age'. It is written that this period will last for a marked period of time from beginning to end, about a generation of time;

For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now - and never to be equaled again. “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. - Matthew 24:21,22

   Despite the absence of evidence, or archeological support, many Palestinian Arabs believe that the Jebusites are the forefathers of the Palestinians. They hope this unsubstantiated claim will help to support their insistence that Jerusalem and Israel belong to the Palestinians.

   Biblical prophecy is clear that, one day, Zion will be the sole possession of Yeshua the Messiah, and Zion - the nation, the city, and the mount - will be restored to the Holy One of Israel. It will be gloriously beautified, as appropriate for the place of Yahweh's sanctuary.


But for now, it is the Islamic claim that has risen to the center of contention. Since the great Islamist coalition was defeated by the Israeli Defense Forces in the 1967 Six Day War, Jerusalem has been restored to the Jewish people, and is gradually being reestablished as the capital city of Israel, replacing Tel Aviv. Still, the fight over control of the Temple Mount within the city continues, as it is written;

"As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God." - Genesis 17:4-8

   According to Jonathan Judaken, "numerous Jewish traditions have insisted that preservation of what is most precious about Judaism and Jewishness demands a principled anti-Zionism or post-Zionism." Such objections, however, faded away in the aftermath of the Holocaust, and the establishment of the State of Israel. Nonetheless, there remains a strong opposition within religious groups such as Neturei Karta and among many intellectuals of Jewish background in Israel and the diaspora.

THE HOLOLOCAUST MAKES HERZEL LOOK LIKE A PROPHET 

[thanx Samantha]

WORLD WAR ONE