Wednesday, April 30, 2014

IDF Faces Frame-Up By B'tselem And Arab Gangs For Propaganda

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                 

David, a  Nahal Brigade soldier,  was provoked by a teen-aged Arab gang who threatened and provoked him in Hevon, (Hebron).  Hebron has the Jewish  history of being a levitical city and a city of refuge of which there were 4 in Israel's early history with Joshua.  This is where King David ruled for 7 1/2 years before he moved to Jerusalem.  It's where Abraham bought land holding the Cave of Machpelah so that he could bury his wife, Sarah.  Hebron is now considered a Palestinian city which lies 19 miles south of Jerusalem which is in Judea/Samaria.   What is a soldier to do?  He was all alone so he warned one of the boys not to continue doing this but the teen pushed him  and continued to act in a threatening manner.  The soldier himself could have been no more than 18 years old himself.
The problem is that the teens had been helped in their behavior by B'tselem, an NGO that gave out cameras to Palestinian Arabs for the very purpose of catching soldiers behaving in ways that could get them in trouble so as to have something on film for anti-Israel propaganda.   B'tselem gets funding from the New Israel Fund.  B'tselem says it has "championed human rights in the West Bank and Gaza Strip for over two decades, promoting a future where all Israelis and Palestinians will live in freedom and dignity".but their way is to frame the Israeli soldiers with lies, giving the Arabs ammunition to fight against them which is not bringing about peace and harmony between the two peoples.  

An earlier attack on a soldier turned out to be very successful.  They got a senior officer, Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner dismissed from service.  A teen-aged gang  had tried to disrupt traffic on a major highway and the gang was being violent towards Eisner by breaking one of his fingers.  So they're out for more IDF victims.

The Nahal soldier being threatened had cocked his rifle and pointed it at the teen.  Then he pointed it at another Arab who jumped towards him with what looked like a set of brass knuckles on his hand, so the soldier kicked the first first teen away, making ready to handle the 2nd who was coming at him. It is alleged that he was involved in another incident earlier in the week.  Then it would seem that he has been pointed out by the Arabs as someone to work on and break down.

All this was being filmed.  Arabs and left-winged allies uploaded the video to the Internet and onto facebook and called the media.  The IDF heads, in defending their own IDF values, mores and reputation, said that the soldier had acted in a way that wasn't the regular way and said that he might be dismissed from his unit.  Also, he wouldn't be serving in combat positions.  In fact, chances are that he could be jailed for acting in an "inappropriate manner" and will be tried in court.   The IDF may even take steps against the supporting soldiers who held up signs they uploaded on facebook.

What would have happened had not the soldier reacted normally?  No doubt in this soldier's mind that he would have been taken down by the gang and attacked which might have led to his death.

The reaction of the soldier's fellow soldiers was that thousands of IDF soldiers from all units are supporting him.  They are protesting the action taken against him.  These soldiers see that the lone soldier was in a tight spot and treated unfairly so that they are demanding that the Israeli government give them the word to properly deal with these types of problems.  Right now the rules are such that they are not allowed to protect themselves and they must respond to violence by the Palestinians.  This policy is evidently not made by the army itself.  It's being an ongoing happening that Palestinian Arab teenagers deride and provoke IDF soldiers into a defense position.  What happens in this type of media is that they cut out the Arabs' actions and only show the IDF soldier's act.

This IDF position is like that of a new teacher in a classroom.  He has to set down rules of behavior in the fall to set the scene for future events that will come up.  The teacher cannot be wishy-washy or weak.  If you say NO to something, there must be consequences if not listened to.  David is expected to act like the British guard in England with the high tall black furry hat, not to move a muscle or say a thing.  He cannot do this when confronted with taunting getting into his space.  One soldier facing a gang bent on causing trouble should be backed up by his peers who will have to face similar situations.   The rules of behavior should be altered to cover these situations.  If there wasn't a camera available, this wouldn't have happened.  .

Resource: Arutz Sheva;, Unprecedented IDF Protest over Soldier's Punishment and As AIDDF Protest Grows, Nahal Soldier Faces Jail, by Gil Ronen error listed.
New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia: Hebron

Monday, April 21, 2014

How Moscow Felt About Jews

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                   

                           Nathan Goldfus/Goldfoot, b: 1870 Lithuania; d: 1912
Moscow is the capital of the Russian republic.  Jews have not been allowed to live there.  Orders were even issued in 1490, two years before the Spanish Inquisition, that Jews could not enter Moscow.  These same orders were issued again in 1549, 1610 and 1667.

Jews were living in Lithuania in 1321.  By 1398, mostly Karaite Jews were living there.  In 1495 Jews were living in Vilna, Grodno and Kovno, totalling 10,000, but in that same year from 1495 to 1502 they were excluded from Lithuania.   By 1529 they received a charter guaranteeing freedom of movement and employment, but in 1566 to 1572 they had to wear a Jewish badge.  They also couldn't give evidence in court.     White Russia (Belarus) was annexed to Russia in 1772 and after that happened, Jewish merchants began to go into Moscow, mainly from Shklov.  From 1826 to 1856, a ghetto was created there.  Most Jews residing there permanently were Cantonists or teen-aged conscripts that had been drafted into the army.  From 1805 to 1856, Jews were subject to the decree from 1827, and a very high number of Jewish children were taken away from their parents with the intent of converting them to Christianity.  The Jewish communities were expected to supply early a certain number of recruits between the ages of 12 years of age and sometimes even as young as 8 years of age and up to 25 years old.  Once they were in the service they had to serve for 25 years if they lived that long.  The count didn't start until they were 18 years old, so they had to serve until they were 43 years old.

There was a Catherine I, who was an empress of Russia.  She ruled from 1725 to 1727, and in May of that last year expelled all the Jews living in Little Russia (Ukraine).  This order was then countermanded after her death.
Catherine II the Great Empress, ruled from 1762 to 1796.    In 1791, she  hadn't allowed any Jews into Moscow by writing up a decree about it. Her method of dealing with the Jewish policy was a combination of liberalism and coercion.  She allowed Jews to register in the merchant and urban classes in 1780 but permission was restricted to White Russia (Belarus) in 1786.  This marked the beginning of the Pale of Settlement.    Jews were to live in the Pale of Settlement, which consisted of 25 provinces of Czarist Russia in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Belarus,  Ukraine and Crimea.It also included Bessarabia, which was a province, formerly Romanian, and now in the Moldavian and Ukrainian Republics.
                                 Pale of Settlement

Jews were living there when Bessarabia was annexed to Russia in 1812.  Between 1839 and 1858 Jews were forbidden to live within 50 versts of the frontier with Russia proper and, like the gypsies, couldn't ever become government officials.  Lots of anti-Semitism existed in Kishinev.  90,000 Jews escaped from Soviet Russia through Bessarabia in 1919 to 1925 and many emigrated from there to Brazil. Catherine II was nasty to Jews in her last years.  She prevented the extension of Jewish settlement and in 1795, prohibited Jewish residence in the countryside areas.

My grandfather, Nathan Goldfus, was born in Telsiai, Lithuania in 1870.  I"ve managed to trace his ancestors back to 1730 to Iones "Jonah Goldfus in that same city.  Nathan's father was Morris Goldfus, a distiller. Either grains or potatoes are used to make Russian Vodka which must be 40% alcohol.   How his family managed to exist all that time in this city is astounding, but we know that they got there after living in the Rhineland (Germany).    Some members of the Goldfus family were given special passes to sell corn in Russia proper.  A few people were allowed to live outside the Pale if they were members of the liberal professions with a high school diploma, big businessmen, skilled artisans, and ex-Cantonists (by then converted to Christianity.)  .  If you were a common Jew and found outside the Pale of Settlement without permission, your fate depended on the decision of the local governor.

 These young Jewish recruits were educated at special schools outside the Pale of Settlement  and then sent far away to do their service in the eastern provinces like Siberia.  Thousands were converted and assimilated, but many died from hardship.  Most of these cantonists were from poor families who could not buy their child out of doing service in the Russian army.  The Russian police were brutal in picking up the children which literally amounted to kidnapping.  This led to a lot of corruption and much resentment against the richer Jews by the poorer ones.

Moscow's Jewish quarter expanded rapidly and was a center of the Hoveve Zion.  In 1891 there were 20,000 craftsmen, workers, teachers living there but they were all expelled to the Pale of Settlement.  After Russia's 1905 revolution, things got better for them.

The 1st World War started in 1914 and ended in 1917.  During the war, 100,000 Jews were expelled or emigrated to the Russian interior in Lithuania.  After the 1917 revolution, the Jewish population of Moscow increased greatly and it became the most important Russian Jewish center.  It held Jewish cultural activities such as Tarbut, the Ha-Bimah and Yiddish theaters which flourished for a time.  That was culture, but religious life did not grow.  The cultural authorities came to an end in the last year of Stalin.  Everything revived, such as culture and religion with the introduction of Perestroika."which was a political movement for reformation within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union during the 1980s (1986), widely associated with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and his glasnost (meaning "openness") policy reform. The literal meaning of perestroika is "restructuring", referring to the restructuring of the Soviet political and economic system.Perestroika is often argued to be the cause of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the revolutions of 1989 in Eastern Europe, and the end of the Cold War."

                                              Russian  Jews

There were at least 175,000 Jews in Lithuania at the start of WWII.  About 25,000 were deported by the Russians from Lithuania and Latvia in July 1940.  The remaining Jewish of Lithuania were massacred by the Germans and the Lithuanians by 1943.  24,000 Jews were living there in 1959, but by 1989 about half had left for Israel, leaving 12,312 Jews behind.   By 1989 there were 232,000 Jews in Moscow.

Resource: Jewish Encyclopedia

Friday, April 18, 2014

What Happens to Jews' Souls When We Die?

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
Typically, Jews are not to concerned about what happens when we die.  We are more concerned about our actions while alive, for we trust that G-d will do right by us.  What happens will happen, but it's best to be on the safe side and live as good a life as we humanly can.  We're very realistic and know that "for dust you are and to dust shall you return" because this is what it says in Genesis 3:19, but "the spirit returns to G-d who gave it" (Ecclesiastes 12:7.  We realize that "the end of man is death," Rabbi Johanan (Berakhot 17a).  We shall all die.  Being a very scientific minded-people, we haven't had enough proof that there is a certain thing that happens to us, so we don't dwell on it.  We have to accept the fact that it will happen.  BUT.....
King Solomon said, "A good name is better than precious oil; and the day of death than the day of one's birth."  (Ecclesiastes 7:1, Berakhot 17a).  So don't sully your name by doing bad things, for it goes down in the great book.  Our good deeds and our bad are recorded, we say, every Yom Kippur, when we ask G-d for forgiveness for our sins.  A picture in my mind is that of a scale and of our sins being weighed.  We don't want to tip the scales towards sins, so have to work pretty hard to perform a lot of mitzvot "good deeds" so that scale doesn't tip the wrong way.

Our present world we were born into is viewed as a hallway that leads to still another world.  The belief in an afterlife, in a world to come called Olam Haba, is where man is judged and where his soul continues to live on is something embedded in Jewish thought.  "All Israel have a share in the world to come" is in the Mishna, Sanhedrin 11:1. Olam Haba refers to the eternal world of the spirit to which the human soul passes after death.  It also is used as the time following the advent of the Messiah, when all the world will be perfected.

 A certain type of existence still continues in Sheol.  Sheol, according to the biblical conception, is where the dead live (Gen. 37:35; and Is. 38:10.  It's a place far below the earth where we the dead cannot give thanks to God anymore.  Usually it's thought of as a place for the wicked (Ezekiel. 32:15.  The name in the Bible is synonymous with shahat and avaddon.  In some places we read that the dead were considered to possess certain psychic powers.

At the end of days, people won't die anymore and all who are dead will rise.  This idea of Resurrection became a fundamental doctrine in Pharisaic Judaism.  The classical liturgy emphasized that faith in G-d is important as G-d is the reviver of the dead.  People die in this world because of sin either from Adam's sin or else personal sin.  There are even many rabbinic legends that talk of a belief that the dead carry on some connection with the living and even take an interest in their affairs.

People  praying for the intercession of the dead seemed to start very early in our belief. "An example is: "Oh papa, please help me!"   When a Jew is dying, he recites the Shema which is, Shema Israel Adonoi Eloheinu Adonoi Echad.  Here Oh Israel--the lord our G-d---the lord is ONE.  In other words, people, there is only one G-d.

If we have become very important in this life and are very worthy, we are a greater loss to the living.  More people grieve for us and their anguish is very sharp.  We have all seen the faces of the parents who have lost their children on the ferry in South Korea.  Every child was important to those parents and they are suffering a great loss.  In our Jewish tradition, we address ourselves to the dignity of the deceased and to comforting the relatives and friends of the deceased who are mourning the loss of that cherished person.

Life is most important to us.  When we make a toast, we say, L'Chaim "to life!"  We don't relish dying at all.  It's not something glorious to do. If we get a bad doctor's report we will go to 3 doctors afterwards to get the help we need if necessary.   We're very sad when someone dies, and so the tradition is to sit shiva for our father, mother, wife, husband, siblings and children.  This is a 7 day period of mourning that follows the burial.  We do bury our deceased, not cremate.  Then there is a 30 day period called shloshim when we should not listen to music or get married or do any shaving or cutting one's hair.  This ends the mourning period except if the deceased was your mother or father.  Mourning for them lasts for 12 months and is called avelut. During this time you don't participate in any joyous events, such as dinner with music,  theater or  concerts.  A special prayer for your parent is said daily called Kaddish by the sons for 11 months of the year.  After that, 12 month period,  you live a normal life again and are not to mourn anymore.

If you read the Bible, you will see many passages showing that our early ancestors looked upon death as rejoining one's fathers.  People received blessings to die a good old age.  Moses himself lived till age 120 and he was a righteous person.

Reference:  To Be a Jew; a guide to Jewish observance in Contemporary Life by Rabbi Hayim Halevy Donin
The New Standard Jewish Enchclopedia ---on death.
Update: Rabbi Friedman on the soul after life.  from www.Sinai 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Who Lived In Canaan Before the 12 Tribes of Jacob?


Nadene Goldfoot               Noah on the Ark, father of Shem, Ham and Japheth                                              
                                                                           Moses with the 10 Commandments

2,000 BCE:  G-d said to Abram (Abraham), "Go for yourself from your land, from your relatives, and from your father's house to the land that I will show you.  And I will make of you a great nation....and you shall be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse;  and all the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you.  

1311 BCE:  Moses was told by G-d, "from the hand of Egypt and to bring it up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Hivvite, and the Jebusite.  (Exodus 3:2-17)

Before the Israelite conquest of Canaan around 1271 BCE, which was 3,285 years ago,we see that there was not one people occupying the promised land but 7 of them and also others in the surrounding territory.
1. Canaanites.  They lived in the land of Canaan, and traditionally descended from Canaan, son of Ham, son of Noah. Noah's sons were Shem, Ham and Japheth.  the Israelites were descended from Shem.   Canaanites were divided into 10 peoples who occupied the land between the Nile and the Euphrates Rivers.  The name "Canaan" appears in inscriptions from the 15th century BCE and from the 14th century.  The people who lived in Syria applied it to themselves.

Their origin appears to have been a mixture of Horites, Hittites, and Hebrews.  They date back to the Hyksos period in the 17th century BCE.  The Hyksos were semitic peoples who overran Egypt after the destruction of the Middle Kingdom.  Excavations in Egypt have found pieces with names similar to Hebrew.  They ruled in Egypt from about 1720 to 1580 BCE when the Israelites had entered and treated them  well.  The time of being slaves began after the expulsion of the Hyksos which means rulers of the foreign lands.   Canaanites were almost all killed or assimilated by the Israelites in the 13th century BCE when Joshua led them into the land.  G-d had told Moses that was to be their Holy Land.  The Philistines also attacked and killed the remnant of them in battle in the 12th century BCE and the Arameans in the north during the 11th century.  The remnants were under the rule of Kings David and Solomon and so were absorbed this way.  Later, the name of the Canaanites was saved only among the Sidonians and Phoenicians.

2.  Hittites were an ancient people living in Asia Minor.  They were powerful and this power extended southward to Syria in the 15th Century BCE.  Their main kingdom which started about 1650  fell in about 1200 BCE during the time of the Exodus. They lived in what is now Turkey.   Small Hittite kingdoms continued to flourish in northern Syria and the Eland along the Euphrates River.  These states were overrun by the Armenians and the Assyrians.

The Bible connects the Hittites with the Canaanites and shows that some lived in Canaan in an early period.  Abraham bought the cave at Machpelah from Hittites.  Esau took wives from the Hittite people.  The Hittites were one of the 7 peoples from whom the Israelites conquered Canaan.  Later, King David of Israel (1010 -970 BCE) had Hittite warriors, and his son, King Solomon (961-920 BCE) , had Hittite wives.

3.Amorites. They were one of the ancient people there.  What happened to them?  They were either killed or assimilated into the Israelites.  "Amorites" is mentioned in cuneiform and hieroglyphic sources where its significance is not constant.  Sometimes it was used as an ethnographic term meaning the Western Semitic tribes, and on others it was a geographical term, naming the whole area of Syria and what became to be called after 135 CE as Palestine.

From the middle of the 2nd millenium, and Abraham was born in the 2nd millennium BCE, there was an Amorite state in central and southern Syria which included the Lebanese Mountains and important harbor towns.  It was an important link between Egypt and Mesopotamia.  Egypt and the Hittites fought and struggled against each other, and the Hittites annexed it.

Amorites, dating from the days of Abraham, were living on both sides of the Jordan River, especially in mountainous regions.  Moses led the conquest of 2 Amorite kingdoms; Heshbon and Bashan.  At this period, the Amorites were no longer a pure western Semitic group but were mixed with other strains living in the same area, like the Horites and the Hittites.

Rabbinic and medieval literature spoke of "the ways of the Amorite."  They were talking about the folk-practices that were so alien to the spirit of Judaism.

4. Perizzites were one of the 7 Canaanite peoples living in Canaan before the Israelite conquest under Joshua. Their descendants were made tributary by King Solomon, so they hadn't all been killed.  Tributary means paying tribute to another to acknowledge submission to obtain protection or to buy peace.  A state that pays tribute to a conqueror.

5. Hivites were one of the 7 nations living in Canaan when the Israelites took possession of the land.  Gibeon was one of their main cities.  Joshua was forced to enter into a league with the Gibeonites under fraudulent means which was extended to the other Hivite cities.  Some of the Hivites lived in northern Canaan near Mt. Hermon.  (Josh. 9:17).   (Josh. 11:3).

6. Jebusites were a Canaanite people who settled in the land before the Israelite conquest.  They lived in the hill region around Jerusalem which they called Jebus.  Joshua defeated a Jebusite-led coalition.  Jerusalem was occupied only in the reign of King David.  The last Jebusite king was Araunah.  They remained in the city under King David and became tributary under King Solomon, so they had  paid a tribute to buy peace.   In the course of time, they were assimilated into the Israelite people. (Sam. 5:6-7), II Sam. 24:15).  

Arameans were a group of Semitic tribes who invaded the Fertile Crescent in the 2nd half of the 2nd millennium BCE in the time of Abraham and roamed between the Persian Gulf and the Amanus Mountains.  Aram and Israel had a common ancestry and the Israelite patriarchs were of Aramaic origin and maintained ties of marriage with the tribes of Aram. In fact, Shem's 5th child was Aram, so they were closely related, being from siblings of Shem.    In Akkadian sources of the 12th century BCE, the Arameans achieved considerable political importance not long after when independent Aramean states and princedoms like Aram-Dammesek, Aram-Naharaima, Aram-Zobah came into being in Syria and Mesopotamia.  The Aramaic language spread among the people where they lived and became current throughout western Asia.  The Aramean deity in Syria was Hadad, god of wind, rain, thunder and lightning.  Aran-Dammesek was the most important Aramean kingdom in Syria from the 10th to 8th centuries BCE and was called after its capital DAMASCUS.

Then you shall call out and say before Hashem, your G-d, "The Aramean sought to destroy my father; and he went down to Egypt and sojourned

 there, few in number; and he became there a nation - great, strong and numerous."

DEUTERONOMY (26:5)  This declaration is a brief sketch of Jewish history, which shows that the Land could never have been given to Israel without G-d's loving intervention.  The Aramean is the deceitful Laban, who deceived and  pursued our forefather Jacob.  (Rashi).  Updated 4/10/14.

Horites were another ancient people who originated south of the Caucasian mountains.  They invaded Syria and Canaan in the 17th century BCE, which would be just a little after Abraham's time of the 20th century BCE.  They mixed Akkadian mythology with their own tradition and were responsible for bringing Sumero-Akkadian culture to the Hittites.

They lived near Mt. Seir in Abraham's time but their land was conquered by the Edomites.  Egyptian documents from the 16th century call Canaan "Haru" whereas before it had been known as "Rutenu."  Scholars have identified the Haru with the Horites and believe that they were pushed back by the Amorites and Canaanites to the Mt. Seir region where they were later driven by the Edomites.  It was not always a peaceful area even then.

Edomites lived in Edom, which was also called Idumea.  It was a country in southeast part of Canaan which was also called  Seir since Mt. Seir was there.   It was mountainous and fortified easily for this reason.  The land was fertile.  It was south of the Dead Sea and bordered on the Red Sea at Eilat (Elath) and Ezion Geber.  The Edomites were Semites originally, traditionally the descendants of Esau, and lived by hunting.  Esau was the son of Isaac and the oldest twin of Jacob.  The patriarchs of Judaism were Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Esau had become Jacob's enemy over a fight about their birthright and receiving the firstborn blessing.  Jacob had tricked him into giving it to him, instead.  Esau was out to kill him for this causing Jacob to flee to Haran and not returning for 20 years.  The relationship between these 2 brothers symbolizes the relationship between the 2 nations developing into 2 hostile camps.  In the Talmud, Esau was synonymous with villainy and violence.  Esau in late Hebrew literature implies a course materialist.

They had forced out the Horites who were living there and were organized along tribal lines headed by a chieftain called an Allooph.  They later turned themselves into a monarchy with a king.  They were the traditional enemies of the Israelites.  They fought Israel's first king Saul and were defeated by King David who partly annexed their land.  They  regained their independence during King Jehoram of Israel's  reign but wars between the 2 states  happened often.  In the 8th century they became vassals of Assyria.  Assyria had attacked Israel in 721 BCE and carried off 10 of the 12 tribes.

When the 1st Temple was destroyed, the Edomites plundered and looted with the Babylonians who had attacked in 597 and 586 BCE.  They were then driven out from Seir by the Nabateans and so occupied southern Judah during or after the period of the Exile.  The Edomites were conquered by John Hyrcanus who forced them to convert to Judaism, and from then on they were a part of the Jewish people.  John was the son and successor of Simon the Hasmonean and ruled from 135 to 104 BCE.  He had been governor of Gezer, but after his father and 2 brothers were murdered by his brother-in-law Ptolemy, escaped to Jerusalem where he took over the power.  He became a high priest. but had a breach between himself and the Pharisees and was closer to the Sadducees.  In the end he calmed the country and his last years were peaceful.

King Herod (73-4 BCE)  was one of the descendants of the Edomites. He was the son of Antipater the Idumean by his Nabatean wife, Cypros.    During the Roman General Titus' siege of Jerusalem, they marched in to reinforce the extremists and killed all they suspected of having tendencies towards peace.  The name shows up in the Talmud as a synonym for an oppressive government, especially Rome.  It was used for Christian Europe as well.

Nabateans were people of Arab extraction who lived in Edom in the 6th century BCE.  Their capital was at Petra (Rekem).  They were nomads originally but soon learned to develop agriculture under almost desert conditions by an elaborate system of water conservation.  They fostered caravan trade and established a chain of agricultural settlements across the Negev Desert.  When the Seleucid Empire was falling apart, the Nabateans extended their power up to and including Damascus.  They came into conflict with Alexander Yannai.  The Romans overpowered them in 63 BCE.  their country was annexed in 106 CE and became the Provincia Arabia.  The Nabateans developed a remarkable Arab-Hellenistic culture, especially in their rose-red rock-cut city of Petra.  Petra lies in southern Jordan today and is their main city of interest.  It's now a UNESCO World Heritage center.

Hebrews, or in Hebrew called Ivrim, a descendant of Eber, grandson of Shem or one who comes from the other side of the River (Euphrates) in Hebrew-ever ha-nahar).  Abraham is called "the Hebrew" in (Gen 14:13).  The terms was later used interchangeably with Israelites in (Exod. 9:1).  Whether the Habiru and the Hebrews are the same is debatable, but it looks like it's true.  Hebrew was used instead of Jew in Europe but Israelite was more common.  Hebrew was the origin of Ebreo and Yevrei, the Italian and Russian words for Jew.

The only people remaining today from this time are the Jewish people who absorbed the remnants of the people who were living in Canaan at the time of the Exodus.  They are were either killed or absorbed into the Israelites.

Resource: The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Census Time of the 12 Tribes of Israel

Nadene Goldfoot                                                       

Moses was born in 1391 BCE and died in 1271 BCE as best as has been figured.  He led the Israelites out of Egypt and into the Promised Land which was Canaan .  When he started he was 80 years old  So it was in the year 1311 BCE that this exodus started.  He didn't make it as he took 40 years to get there, so died at age 120 outside of the land and Joshua had to take over his position of entering the land.  They found that it was important to take a count, a census of the tribes and this is recorded in the Torah twice under NUMBERS, one of the 5 books of Moses.

Every Jew was counted individually as they passed in front of Moses and Aaron at the beginning of their trek away from Egypt and presented proof of his tribal descent. This happened on the 1st of the 2nd month, in the 2nd year after their exodus from Egypt.    They received their blessing and guidance.  Once counted the tribes were arrayed around the Tabernacle, demonstrating that the presence of G-d was the starting point.  It was the central focus of the nation then and for always.  "Jews are a nation by virtue of the Torah."  It is their reason for being a nation,  their raison d'etre.  By accepting this they became a people and by following the Torah they remain a people.  They camped around the Tabernacle which held the Tablets of the Law and marched with it wherever G-d led them.  Our saying is, "More than the Jews have preserved the Sabbath, the Sabbath has preserved the Jews."  The Jews follow their law in that the Sabbath starts on sundown Friday night and ends on Saturday night with the showing of 3 stars in the sky.

The biblical commentator, Rashi, noted that at the beginning of NUMBERS it was G-d who counted the nation at every significant turn.  They were counted as individuals which shows the worth of every person counted.  It would have been easier to count them in masses but sheer numbers wasn't the point of the census.  Each person was to feel that they mattered and that they had a personal responsibility to grow and contribute.  Each tribe had their own uniqueness and each individual was precious in his own right.

Our 5 books of Moses in Numbers tells how the nation slid and an entire generation had to die through the 40 years of walking, but their children came out of it strong and courageous.  They were ready to claim their destiny as the heirs to the blessings of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as they gathered around the Tabernacle ready to follow Moses.

The 2nd census was taken after the plague.This was a plague that killed 24,000 people who were part of the exodus.  The people  had settled in Shittim and  started seeing the women of Shittim who came over to them and were being very suggestive.  The foreign women invited the Israelite men to their feasts of their gods and they complied and started to praise their god, Baal-peor. Now,  sexual morality is the foundation of Jewish holiness and we are not to be immoral.  Balaam, a great magician,  counseled Balak, king of Moab,  to entice Jewish men to break their law and they did for the offer of sex. Balaam had told Balak that the only way to harm the people of Israel was to seduce them into sin. For only then would G-d punish His people.  One man was so brazen as to bring his paramour right to Moses and sinned in public view.  You can imagine what he was doing.  He was killed for doing this-the punishment of the period.    This evidently was the plague that hit the Israelite  men.   Then  G-d spoke to Moses and to Elazar, son of Aaron the Kohen and told them to take a census of the entire assembly of the Children of Israel, from 21 years of age and up, according to their fathers' houses, all who go out to the legion in Israel.

What we learn from this is that the 600,000 some people on the exodus did not march continually every day, but they did take a break once in a while and here that break led to the death of many for fornicating and starting to worship other gods.  It was not an easy task to change their habits. Here the Moabites were guilty of enticing them to sin in the hopes that G-d would then destroy them.  What has happened to the Moabites now days?  Do you think they are hiding out in some canyon someplace?  I'm afraid not.  They have long disappeared. They may be showing up in DNA tests as a few segments of genes, but as a people, known on this planet-no.  If there are descendants, they are not known as the Moabites anymore.   But Am Yisrael Chai.  The Jewish people are still here.  There are now 6 million Jews  in Israel according to the latest census.

TRIBE                                                        POPULATION      POPULATION      POPULATION
                                                              NUMBERS CH. 1      NUMBERS CH 26      CHANGE

1. Reuben                                             46,500                          43,730                          -2,770
2. Simeon                                             59,300                          22,200                        -37,100
3. Judah                                              74,600                          76,500                         + 1,900 
4. Issachar                                           54,400                          64,300                          + 9,900
5. Zebulun                                           57,400                           60,500                         + 3,100
6. Dan                                                 62,700                           64,400                         + 1,700
7. Naphtali                                          53,400                           45,400                          - 8,000
8. Gad                                                45,650                           40,500                          - 5,150
9. Asher                                             41,500                            53,400                        +11,900
10. Ephraim                                       40,500                            32,500                          - 8,000
11. Manasseh                                    32,200                            52,700                        +20,500
12. Benjamin                                     35,400                            45,600                        +10,200
TOTALS                                        603,550                          601,730                          -1,820

Resource: Tanach, The Stone Edition, ArtScroll Series, Mesorh Heritage Foundation

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Sanhedrin Court of Ancient Israel

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                    

Israel was created as a kingdom when Saul  born in 11th century BCE from the tribe of Benjamin and was made its first king.  King David was the 2nd king and ruled from 1010 BCE to 970 BCE.  His son, King Solomon was the 3rd king who ruled from 961 BCE to 920 BCE.  When Solomon died, problems started with a revolt led by Jeroboam against Rehoboam, Solomon' son and successor in 933 BCE.  The seceding tribes were led by Ephraim.  The other tribes were Manasseh, Issachar, Zebulun, Naphtali, Asher, Dan, and Reuben and Gad and part of Manasseh. So the next king of Israel was Jeroboam from 933 to 912 BCE.  Hoshea was the last from 730 to 721 BCE.
                                King Solomon
Judah was created out of the southern part of Israel in the revolt.  Rehoboam was king and ruled from 933 to 917 BCE.  Their last king was Zedekiah from 597 to 586 BCE.

By the time the Romans occupied Judah, they came along and set up their own choices for rulers, like Herod,  who was the son of Antipater, the Idumean by his Nabatean wife, Cypros.  .
The Sanhedrin was an assembly of 71 ordained scholars who acted as both Supreme Court and legislature.  The head was the Nasi, usually a descendant of Hillel.  He was a scholar in the 1st century BCE and founder of a school called the House of Hillel and was an ancestor of a dynasty of patriarchs who held office until the 5th century.  He was born in Babylonia but had come back to live in Judah and earned a small living by doing manual labor while studying with famous teachers such as Shemaiah and Avtalyon.  He was appointed president of the Sanhedrin and worked with his friend but ideological opponent, Shammai. Shammai was concerned about the Romans occupying their country so set up many rules to keep the Jews from mixing with them as they were heathens.  His name Shammai is possibly identical with the Pharisee Sameas who rallied the Sanhedrin against Herod's attempt at intimidation in 47 BCE.    They were the last of the pairs (Zugot) of scholars.  He was noted for his humility and leniency.  Legal issues usually were solved by Hillel.  He is credited with writing the Golden Rule:  Don't do to others what you would  not want done to you.  How many countries of today had a supreme court of 71 judges before the 1st century?  Israel of today carries on with a supreme legal court system.

The New Standard Jewish Enyclopedia