Judaism is a unique religion in many respects:
- Every other religion is based primarily on faith. Judaism is based primarily on lineage.
- Every other religion is based on belief. Judaism is based on action.
- Every other religion is not geographically-bound. Judaism is tied to the land of Israel.
The Old Testament has 613 commandments for Jews to observe. Many of those can only be kept inside the land of Israel. Those commandments relate to the sanctity of the land, as God promised the land to Abraham and the generations after him.
The Bible has three sets of promises of the land of Israel for the Jewish people. The first set is God’s original promise to Abraham:
- “The Lord appeared to Abram and said ‘To your descendants I will give this land’” (Genesis 12:7)
The book of Genesis repeats the promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob several times where the land is presented as “an everlasting possession” for the generations to come. (Genesis 17:8).
Promised Return to the Land
The second set of promises related to the return to Israel from slavery in Egypt. That promise is slightly different than the original promise to the Jewish forefathers:
- The land is described as being a good land “flowing with milk and honey”
- The land is occupied by others, by the “Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite.” (Genesis 3:8)
Hundreds of years earlier, God just told Abraham to go “to the land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1) without any description of the location or nature of the land. At the point of the exodus from Egypt, God promised not only freedom from slavery, but to a land of great quality. Presumably, the land was so good, that others had now moved there while the Jews were trapped in Egypt. However, God promised to “drive them [the others] out” (Exodus 23:30) and that the Jews will ultimately possess it.
The Old Testament ends with yet a third promise: a return from the diaspora to the land of Israel, to their home.
- The promise includes an ingathering of exiles from “the four quarters of the Earth” (Isaiah 11:12)
- Israel is no longer only described as simply being a good land, an inhabited land or the land of the Jewish forebears. The land is described as belonging to the people of Israel. The prophets repeatedly describe that God will “bring you home again to your own land” (Jeremiah 29:14)
Home. A place that is established and well-known. That doesn’t require a list of directions of how to get there, nor many adjectives.
It is a place where a people grows up and lives. It is a place of life events, both happy and sad. Where families celebrate, quarrel and mourn. A place with family history and history to be made.
Home is where “house rules” apply; where the house decides what is allowed and denied. It decides what is in the best interest of its inhabitants. It is the safe space where a family comes to find sanctuary from the world at large.
Home is always home, even when people have been away. But especially when they come back.
A music video about God’s promises of the land of Israel to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to become a home for the Jewish people.
First posted at Israel Defender