A Jewish Rabbi Challenges Whether Ancient History Supports The Biblical Account Of The Exodus And Why Blacks In America Should Be Interested In The Controversy (Part 3)
The account of the 400-year slave experience of the Children Of Israel, by the Egyptians, and their eventual liberation and separation, by God, is the central story of the Torah and basic to the birth of the Messiah and the "storyline" of the Gospels. However, as we have written, the 400-plus year experience of Blacks in America has not been taught or connected with the Torah or the Gospel. Why haven’t the theologies of Judaism and Christianity, in particular, impacted the Black community in a manner that influences prominent Black spiritual leaders to guide Black People in America as it is written that Moses and Aaron guided the Children of Israel into their true identity and freedom (both of which they lost while serving as slaves in Egypt). However, Black Christians, and Christians of all colors, are taught that Jews, in Egypt, 4,000 years ago, fulfilled what was written in the book of Exodus. They also are taught that the people who live in the land called Israel today are the descendants of those Jews who are said to have been enslaved, according to the description contained in the Bible.
Over the last few weeks we have referenced the belief by a prominent Rabbi, David Wolpe, that there is no historical evidence that supports the claim that Jews of 4,000 years ago endured what is described in the Torah. He is not alone. Many Jews, archaeologists, historians and theologians believe the same, for a variety of reasons.
Christians are also taught that these Jews who live in what is called Israel today are God's chosen people and that Jesus, upon his return, will grant them an extraordinary measure of His mercy and save them from their enemies. Many Christians are taught, on programs like The 700 Club that the prophesied anti-Christ written of in the book of Revelation is or will be a man who opposes the Jewish people in the Middle East.
Many speak of this subject as if such has no effect on reality. Some minimize the role that religion plays in political affairs. But such arguments can really only be accepted by individuals who are generally unaware of current events and who know even less about world history. To punctuate our point about the relationship between Christians and the support of Israel, that is a direct result of theological traditions in Christianity, including the belief that Jews in Israel are God's Chosen people, we provide the following article below:
Israeli Jews seeking donations from Christians
By Larry Witham
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
An American rabbi living in Israel is soliciting humanitarian aid from Christians especially from members of evangelical groups -- to help the poor and deprived of Jerusalem
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein of Chicago has been appointed by Jerusalem's mayor to head a commission aimed at "strengthening worldwide Christian ties" with the city, which is suffering financially from the recent conflict with the Palestinians.
Mr. Eckstein explained, "There's been a tremendous drop in tourism, and with funds going to security, there are fewer resources for the poor."
Although Christian-Jewish relations have improved in recent decades and there are many examples of rapprochement, "This is the first time in the history of Jerusalem that there has been a commission" to reach Christians around the globe, Mr. Eckstein said.
The rabbi, who 18 years ago founded the U.S.-based International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, said the new project will expand on the fellowship's efforts to stimulate moral support for Jerusalem and to attract donations.
In that connection, he met Monday in Israel with a religious broadcaster, the Rev. Pat Robertson, who is interested in discussing Jerusalem and its plight as part of the Christian Broadcasting Network's TV programming. Mr. Eckstein will contribute reports for Mr. Robertson's popular "700 Club" program, and he is producing a weekly, half-hour magazine-format television show for the Trinity Broadcasting Network's 70 million U.S. viewers. The show will air in November.
The appeals for Jerusalem and its people are expected to resonate with members of evangelical communities, who, unlike mainline Protestants, tend to sympathize with Israel and in the past have provided what Mr. Eckstein calls "humanitarian, moral and biblical" support. Mainline Protestant leaders have tended to side with the concerns of Arab Christians, most of them Palestinians.
A month ago, a large delegation of mainline church leaders, led by Presiding Bishop Frank P. Griswold, the top Episcopal bishop, visited Secretary of State Colin L. Powell in his Washington office to defend the Palestinian side.
In the name of Mideast "sister churches," the delegation gave Mr. Powell a statement urging "the United States to do what it must to bring Israel's settlement activity to an end" in the occupied territories.
"While we condemn the violent words and actions of Palestinians, we understand the rage that comes from decades of occupation," the statement said.
Mr. Eckstein, who began his work 25 years ago as head of Christian-Jewish relations for the Anti-Defamation League, said it has become difficult to work with mainline Protestants on Mideast issues because they refuse to criticize the Palestinian Liberation Organization.
"My work has focused more and more on evangelicals broadly, and specifically charismatic and Pentecostal Christians," he said. Those sectors of Christianity are the fastest growing in the world, according to scholars.
Mr. Eckstein's reports over the religious television networks will appeal to what he calls "a growing Christian interest in the Jewish roots of their faith."
The rabbi has had years of experience producing "infomercials," or long TV advertisements, seeking Christian humanitarian support. And he says his fellowship has raised $100,000 for 75 families who suffered losses in May when a banquet hall collapsed, killing two dozen persons and injuring more than 300 at a wedding reception?
All of the above is a direct result of the belief, among Christians, that Jewish people are the chosen of God, and that they were chosen by God because of their suffering in Egypt under a 400-year slavery regime. Can a Christian even imagine God showing the same favor to Black people as a result of their slave experience in the Western Hemisphere and the United States of America, which began 400 years ago? If not, why not?
Why don't Christians help Blacks in the United States and throughout the Diaspora to return to Africa like Jews, who throughout the world are aided in a return to Israel? Is there no basis in theology for the return of Blacks to a homeland? Is such an argument incompatible with Christian theology? And more importantly, can it really be shown that such an argument is incompatible with numerous narratives and prophecies written in the Bible?
We end by quoting from the Biblical description of the conspiracy against the Children of Israel – committed by the Egyptians. Next week, we will begin to see how relevant this aspect of the Bible, and thus the whole of the Bible is to Black People and the United States of America.
From Exodus 1: 9-22
Then a new king, who did not know about Joseph, came to power in Egypt.
"Look," he said to his people, "the Israelites have become much too numerous for us.
Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country."
So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh.
But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites
and worked them ruthlessly.
They made their lives bitter with hard labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their hard labor the Egyptians used them ruthlessly.
The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah,
"When you help the Hebrew women in childbirth and observe them on the delivery stool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live."
The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live.
Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, "Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?"
The midwives answered Pharaoh, "Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive."
So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous.
And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.
Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: "Every boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live."
Sunday, August 5, 2001