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Tuesday, December 13 2011
Samson And Goliath, Yesterday And Today
The struggle between the Philistines and some of the descendants of Abraham (see also What Does The Bible Say About Arabs?) began before there were any Israelites. The Israelites originated from the descendants of Jacob, who the LORD renamed as Israel (see The First Meeting Of Israel And Esau); the struggle began in the time of Jacob's father, Isaac, the son of Abraham.
"26:12 Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him. 26:13 And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great: 26:14 For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants: and the Philistines envied him. 26:15 For all the wells which his father's servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled them with earth.
By the time of the Exodus from Egypt (see also Why Did They Go To Goshen?), the Philistines had become a powerful military force, in their small territory in and around Gaza.
"13:17 And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt: 13:18 But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea [see Paul's Geography Lesson]: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt." (Exodus 13:17-18 KJV)
The problem that the Israelites encountered originated from their not obeying the LORD regarding the Philistines at the time of the Israelite entry into the land promised to Abraham's Isaac descendants.
"23:31 And I will set thy bounds from the Red sea even unto the sea of the Philistines, and from the desert unto the river: for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand; and thou shalt drive them out before thee. 23:32 Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods. 23:33 They shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee sin against me: for if thou serve their gods, it will surely be a snare unto thee." (Exodus 23:31-33 KJV)
As warned, when the Israelites did not obey the original command of the LORD, it set the stage for centuries of strife.
"10:6 And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim, and Ashtaroth, and the gods of Syria, and the gods of Zidon, and the gods of Moab, and the gods of the children of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines, and forsook the LORD, and served not him. 10:7 And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hands of the Philistines, and into the hands of the children of Ammon. 10:8 And that year they vexed and oppressed the children of Israel: eighteen years, all the children of Israel that were on the other side Jordan in the land of the Amorites, which is in Gilead. 10:9 Moreover the children of Ammon passed over Jordan to fight also against Judah, and against Benjamin, and against the house of Ephraim; so that Israel was sore distressed. 10:10 And the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, saying, We have sinned against thee, both because we have forsaken our God, and also served Baalim. 10:11 And the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Did not I deliver you from the Egyptians, and from the Amorites, from the children of Ammon, and from the Philistines?" (Judges 10:6-11 KJV)
"The anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and He sold them into the hands of the Philistines"
Humans have a typical habit of doing horrendous things to each other in beautiful places, including the places of the Holy Bible, as well as the Holy Bible itself. The Holy Bible is not a story book, filled with all sorts of sugar-coated fantasies that ignore the way humans really are ("Santa Claus" and the "Easter Bunny" are the products of those who think that it is; see also Who's Hiding On Your Wall?). The Holy Bible records reality, including the results of wars that humans have chosen to inflict on themselves. The wars between the Philistines (known today as "Palestinians" - "Philistine" and "Palestinian" are merely different English pronunciations of the same word) and the Israelites haven't much changed from what is written in the Scriptures to what is seen on the "News" (although there's rarely anything "new" in the news) today. The people of Israel and "Palestine" are still doing to each other today as they were doing in these two examples when they each lost one of the "heroes" of their earlier wars - Samson the Israelite and Goliath the Philistine/Palestinian.
For many people, the "story book" Samson is that of forbidden love and betrayal with a Philistine woman named Delilah. That's how the "story" of Samson came to an end, but the bulk of the reality that is recorded about him is that he was an Israelite warrior who killed hundreds of Palestinians before he was captured, blinded and tortured - before he managed to kill many more while a prisoner, during which he himself was killed. As stated in the verses above, the LORD was involved simply as a matter of permitting the Philistines to trouble the Israelites, when the Israelites became corrupt before the LORD, and then thereafter giving the Israelites a mighty warrior to help them after they turned back to the LORD.
"15:3 And Samson said concerning them, Now shall I be more blameless than the Philistines, though I do them a displeasure. 15:4 And Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and took firebrands, and turned tail to tail, and put a firebrand in the midst between two tails. 15:5 And when he had set the brands on fire, he let them go into the standing corn of the Philistines, and burnt up both the shocks, and also the standing corn, with the vineyards and olives. 15:6 Then the Philistines said, Who hath done this? And they answered, Samson, the son in law of the Timnite, because he had taken his wife, and given her to his companion. And the Philistines came up, and burnt her and her father with fire." (Judges 15:3-6 KJV)
The wars between the Israelites and the Philistines/Palestinians continued on, as ever, through the time of David when David's famous battle with, and beheading of, the Philistine warrior Goliath occurred.
"17:1 Now the Philistines gathered together their armies to battle, and were gathered together at Shochoh, which belongeth to Judah, and pitched between Shochoh and Azekah, in Ephesdammim. 17:2 And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and pitched by the valley of Elah, and set the battle in array against the Philistines. 17:3 And the Philistines stood on a mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side: and there was a valley between them.
Fact Finder: When are humans going to stop butchering each other?
This Day In History, December 13
1204: Medieval Jewish scholar Maimonides (Moses ben Maimon) died at age 69.
1250: Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Germany and Sicily, died and was succeeded by Conrad IV.
1545: The Council of Trent, summoned by Pope Paul III in 1542, opened to discuss doctrinal matters, especially the rise of Protestantism.
1577: British explorer Sir Francis Drake left England with 5 ships, including the Golden Hind, on his voyage around the world - a journey that took almost 3 years.
1642: New Zealand was discovered by Dutch explorer Abel Tasman.
1862: During the U.S. Civil War, General Robert E. Lee with 80,000 Confederates repulsed General Burnside with his 150,000 Federals at the Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia. After hard fighting, Burnside lost almost 14,000 troops.
1916: During the First World War (listen to our Sermon The European World Wars), an avalanche killed 10,000 Austrian and Italian troops in Tyrol.
1937: Japanese forces took the Chinese city of Nanking. Over the next 6 weeks, in one of the worse atrocities of the Second World War, they killed an estimated 200,000 Chinese in what became known as the "Rape of Nanking."
1939: During the Second World War (listen to our Sermon The European World Wars), the captain of the German battleship Graf Spee ordered his vessel scuttled after being encircled by 3 British cruisers (Exeter, Ajax and Achilles) off the coast of Uruguay.
1941: During the Second World War, British forces withdrew to Hong Kong island as the invading Japanese army took Kowloon and the New Territories.
1945: France and Britain announced that were leaving Syria and Lebanon.
1949: In defiant response to United Nations and Papal demands to make Jerusalem an "international" city, the Israeli Knesset unanimously approved David Ben-Gurion's proposal that the sovereign legislature of the state of Israel be moved to Jerusalem, from Tel Aviv, which it was the next January 1.
1967: King Constantine of Greece and his family fled the country after a counter-coup failed to topple the military-backed government.
1981: In response to the success of the Solidarity Union, Polish communist leader General Wojciech Jeruzelski proclaimed a national emergency and martial law. His action in all probability prevented a Soviet invasion which would have made Solidarity's later victory less likely.
1993: The European Union ratified a treaty creating the world's largest trade bloc, the European Economic Area (EEA).
2000: Al Gore conceded the U.S. Presidential election to George W. Bush, 5 weeks after the very close election was held (Gore actually won the popular vote i.e. nationwide, 500,000 more people voted for Gore than Bush). A 5-4 vote of the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately decided the election however with the decision to stop an in-progress vote recount in Florida (that many people believe Gore also actually won).