ISRAEL

Writing - Under, Beside, and On the Wall


By Jheri St. James

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Temple Mount looking towards the Garden of Gethsemane and the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, Israel. Note the "Wailing Wall" in the right front foreground. Above Right: No words necessary.

The State of Israel seems to get more written about it in the press more than any other country on earth. The human activities on this soil are like a boil on the face of Mother Gaia, a place where ancient toxins are trying to break free and be released--a heated, painful process. From Gilgamesh to Moshe Katsav, foment and ferment have characterized life in this land. Gilgamesh was an historical king of Uruk in about 2700 B.C. Many stories and myths were written about him on clay tablets which still survive, in the Sumerian language, which bears no relation to any other human language. Versions of the Gilgamesh stories survive in Akkadian (the Semitic language related to Hebrew spoken by the Babylonians) but also on tablets written in Hurrian and Hittite (an Indo-European language, a family of languages which includes Greek and English). Twelve stone tablets were found in 669-633 B.C. and were written by Shin-eqi-unninni, the oldest known human author we can name. Written words will be found to have enormous importance in the story of Israel.

For instance, the name “Israel” is rooted in the Hebrew Bible, where Jacob was renamed Israel after wrestling with a mysterious adversary. (“a man”, and later “God” according to Genesis 32.24-30; or “the angel”, according to Hosea 12:4). The biblical nation fathered by Jacob/Israel was then called “The Children of Israel” or the “Israelites”. Citizens of the modern State of Israel are referred to, in English, as “Israelis”. (The angel proceeded to change his name to Yisrael, “because you fought with God and with men and you triumphed” (32:29)). The earliest known mention of the name “Israel”, probably referring to a group of people rather than to a place, is the Egyptian Merneptah Stele (clay tablet shard) dated to about 1211 BCE. This is an ancient word.

The State of Israel is an arrowhead-shaped country in Western Asia on the southeastern edge of the Mediterranean Sea and is bordered by Lebanon in the north, Syria, Jordan and the West Bank in the east, and Egypt and the Gaza Strip in the south-west. It has coastlines on the Mediterranean in the west and the Gulf of Eilat (also known as the Gulf of Aqaba) in the south. It is a parliamentary democracy and the world’s only Jewish state. For over 3,000 years, some Jews have regarded the Land of Israel as their homeland, both as a Holy Land and as a Promised Land. The land of Israel holds a special place in Jewish religious obligations, encompassing Judaism’s most important sites—including the remains of the First and Second Temples, as well as the rites concerning those temples. Starting around 1200 BCE, a series of Jewish kingdoms and states existed intermittently in the region for more than a millennium.


Under Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Sassanian rule, Jewish presence in the province dwindled due to mass expulsions, in particular, the failure of the Bar Kochba Revolt against the Roman Empire. It was during this time that the Romans gave the name Syria Palaestina to the geographic area, in an attempt to erase Jewish ties to the land. The Mishnah and Jerusalem Talmud, two of Judaism’s most important religious texts, were composed in the region during the period. The Muslims conquered the land from the Byzantine Empire in 638 CE. The area was ruled by various Muslim states (interrupted by the rule of the Crusaders) before becoming part of the Ottoman Empire in 1517.

There have been five distinct waves of Jewish immigration to Israel—the first in 1881; another in 1904-1014; a third in 1919-1923; and the fourth in 1924-1929 after World War I. The rise of Nazism in 1933 led to the fifth wave of Aliyah, increasing Jews in the region from 11% of the population in 1922 to 30% by 1940. By this time 28 percent of the land had been legitimately bought and was owned by Zionist organizations, plus additional private land owned by Jews. The Holocaust in Europe led to additional immigration from other parts of Europe. By the end of World War II, the number of Jews in Palestine was approximately 600,000.

In 1947, following increasing levels of violence together with unsuccessful efforts to reconcile and Jewish and Arab populations, the British government decided to withdraw from the Palestine Mandate. The UN General Assembly approved the 1947 UN Partition Plan dividing the territory into two states, with the Jewish area having roughly 55% of the land and the Arab area roughly 45%. Jerusalem was planned to be an international region administered by the UN to avoid conflict over its status. Jews were unhappy with this allotment, as 60% of their territory was in the Negev Desert and not a single religiously significant site was included. David Ben-Gurion tentatively accepted the partition, while the Arab League rejected it. Several Arab attacks on Jewish civilians soon turned into widespread fighting between Arabs and Jews. On May 14, 1948, before the expiry of the British Mandate at midnight on May 15, 1948, the State of Israel was proclaimed, and the current boiling began, which has been ongoing for the last half century and more.

“The soil is finally on its way to you . . . sorry it took so long to collect, but it is a long story concerning the fact that I had to sell my car and I still haven’t gotten a replacement but I was able to get a car from my kibbutz and make the trip finally.

“I want you to know that I am a channel in Israel for the 72 Angels of the Tree of Life and also a medium. When I go to visit Mount of Beatitudes every few months I meditate there and channel the spirit of Jesus of Nazareth. I asked Jesus of Nazareth for a message for you and I have attached it to this message.

“I don’t know if you are spiritual at all or believe in channeling but it really doesn’t matter because what is said in the channel is true. This soil was blessed and has love energies and people who can feel energies will feel it. I gave it to a good friend who can see and feel energies to hold and he told me he felt strong waves of love coming from the soil.

“The soil is quite damp because it rained a few hours before I collected it but you can dry it out if you want . . . I feel very honored that I could send this soil to you since it has special meaning . . . the angels wanted me to do this. I also sent you angelic help and the angels told me they are helping you with the project.

“The angels want to say one last thing to you: ‘Know that the energies of love will be emanating from this work and many people will be affected by it. You are doing a wonderful service for mankind and we honor you for it.’ Shalom and Peace, Carol Levine” – Soil Collector from the Mount of Beatitudes, Israel. (The Church of the Beatitudes is located on the Mount of Beatitudes, which is where Jesus delivered his Sermon on the Mount.)

The Church of the Beatitudes (Soil Collection Site), and the Church of All-Nations

The Church of All Nations, officially named the Basilica of the Agony, is located at the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem next to the Garden of Gethsemane. It enshrines a section of bedrock in the Garden of Gethsemane that is believed to be where Jesus prayed on the night of his arrest (Matthew 26:36). The Basilica of the Agony was built from 1919 to 1924 using funds from 12 different countries, which gave it its common name, Church of All nations. The symbols of each country that contributed to the church are incorporated into the inlaid gold ceilings of each of 12 cupolas, which rest on six monolithic pillars. The Church of All Nations lies on the foundations of two earlier churches: a 12th century Crusader chapel abandoned in 1345 and a 4th-century Byzantine basilica, destroyed in an earthquake in 746.

And so goes the story of Israeli and human life—evolving atop former lives, which gradually sink into the soil then, in Israel, becoming caves, like the Avshalom and the Ramle Caves. Recently Israeli scientists said they had discovered a prehistoric ecosystem dating back millions of years in the Ramle Cave during rock drilling at a quarry. Eight previously unknown species of crustaceans and invertebrates similar to scorpions were found, all of them unknown to science. The cave ecosystem probably dates back around 5,000,000 years, when the Mediterranean Sea covered part of Israel.

* * *

The underground world of caves offers more in Israel: the Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered by chance by a Bedouin tribe in the winter of 1947 in caves on the northwestern shores of the Dead Sea. Excavations have continued since 1956, but the original seven scrolls are all that have been found. Most scholars have concluded that Khirbet Qumran and its environs were inhabited by a sect of Jewish Essenes. The majority of the scrolls are written in Hebrew, but there are also texts in Aramaic Greek. The illustration is of a frament of a Dead Sea Scroll - Palestine: Qumran, Cave 4; 1st century A.D. Parchment and ink. It is housed at the Oriental Museum. This fragment from a Hebrew manuscript was once part of a library of scrolls hidden in caves near the Dead Sea. The parchment texts, wrapped in linen and stored in pottery jars, were hidden in the first century A.D. and recovered between 1947 and 1956, at which time they became known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. The biblical writings on many of these scrolls are the earliest known Hebrew copies of Old Testament texts. The text on this fragment comes from a non- biblical Essene psalter, similar to the Psalms of the Bible."

 

A soil other than cave dirt is the Ramon Crater in the Negev Desert. It contains geological formations unparalleled in the world, presenting a fascinating story of geomorphologic evolution. Shaped like an elongated heart, the crater is 40 kilometers long, 2 to 10 kilometers wide, 500 millimeters deep, and is part of the Ramon nature Reserve that includes also the surrounding Negev mountains. The formation began hundreds of millions of years ago when the ocean that covered the Negev began to move north.

Ramon Crater from Above

Men bring holy prayer writings to the Western or Wailing Wall, a retaining wall in Jerusalem that dates from the time of the Jewish Second Temple. It is sometimes referred to as the al-Buraq Wall, in a mix of English and Arabic. In recent centuries, Jews were allowed little or no access to the site until the Israel Defense Forces won a victory in the 1967 Six Day War. According to Judaism’s religious texts, when the legions of Titus destroyed the Temple, only a part of an outer courtyard “western wall” remained standing as a bitter reminder to the Jews that Rome had vanquished Judea. Some Jews, however, attribute it to a promise made by God that some part of the holy temple would be left standing as a sign of God’s unbroken bond with the Jewish people in spite of the catastrophes which had befallen them. Jews believe that that spot has greater holiness than any other accessible place on Earth. The tradition of placing prayers on a small piece of paper into a crack in the Wall goes back thousands of years and the prayers are pleas that god return to the Land of Israel, ingather all the Jewish exiles, rebuild the Third Temple and bring the messianic era with the arrival of Jewish Messiah. Many Jews spend their last years near the walls of Jerusalem, spending much of their time in tearful prayer in front of the wall.

The site is also holy to Muslims who believe Solomon to be a prophet. Muslims believe that Muhammad made a spiritual journey to Jerusalem on a winged horse, al-Buraq, in 620 A.D. While there, he tethered his horse to a wall, which some Muslims believe to be the Western Wall. Due to the holiness of the site in Islam, in 687 A.D. Muslims built the Dome of the Rock and the nearby Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount, encompassed by the wall.

On February 16, 2004, a portion of a stone retaining wall that forms one side of the Western Wall Plaza and supports the ramp that leads from the plaza to the Gate of the Moors collapsed. On March 30, 20056, the wall was found to have been the target of vandals. The word “Allah” in half-meter tall Arabic script was found newly etched into the eastern wall of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. The word was discovered on a section of the 2,000 year old wall and the vandalism was attributed to a team of Jordanian engineers and Palestinian laborers in charge of repairing that section of the wall.

In January of 2004, the Guardian Unlimited wrote in a headline: “Jewish Women Fight Holy War”, a story about a group known as Women of the Wall, an organization launched in 1990 to challenge centuries of tradition that permits only men to wear shawls and speak prayers from the Torah at the wall. But the organization’s broader aim is to break the grip of men over Orthodox religious practices that, among other things, exclude women from becoming rabbis. A female speaker said, “Judaism has no dogmas; you can interpret it. We say the Torah has at least 70 interpretations, so why not a feminist one also that says we don’t need men to represent us before God?” Orthodox members of the Israeli parliament drafted a bill to amend an existing law that regulates behavior at holy places, including a prison sentence for women wearing a prayer shawl or reading aloud from the Torah near the Wailing Wall of three years. The women’s struggle has been before Israeli courts. “Some of the Orthodox men spat on us, beat us, threw rocks,” said another female speaker. “Many many women we meet there hush us when we start to pray out loud, because they believe it is forbidden by religious law. When we said the men couldn’t hear us from their part of the wall, one of the rabbis answered, “The wall hears you and it is offended.”

MENDING WALL, Robert Frost

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
to please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
no one has seen them made or heard them made,
but at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
and on a day we meet to walk the line
and set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
we have to use a spell to make them balance:
'Stay where you are until our backs are turned!'
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
one on a side. It comes to little more:
there where it is we do not need the wall:
he is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
and eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors'.
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
if I could put a notion in his head:

Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
one on a side. It comes to little more:
there where it is we do not need the wall:
he is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
and eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors'.
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
if I could put a notion in his head:
'Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
where there are cows?
But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
what I was walling in or walling out,
and to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
that wants it down.' I could say 'Elves' to him,
but it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
he said it for himself. I see him there
bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors."


(Salt crystals in the Dead Sea)

“Yes, this is Jesus of Nazareth and I am being channeled by Carol Levine in Israel at the Mount of Beautitudes and this is a channeled message to Gary Simpson who is being sent a cup of holy earth from this place . . . these energies will stay in these people and it is as if they will be receiving a personal blessing from this holy place. When you receive the soil in the mail, be aware of what you are holding in your hands and know that just by its being incorporated into this work it will have a positive effect on many people.”

Writing is a mysterious process; one teacher called it the highest activity of humans. The written word can cast a pall of violence over a people, or conversely wave a wand of serenity. Certainly the writing that has been inscribed over the millennia in the earth’s country called Israel represents a compendium of many of man’s thoughts and beliefs. The tables, the scrolls, the books, the prayer slips, one word written on the Wall, the heated words in the press, the e-mail writing of our soil collector, and even this journal entry are either ephemeral musings in a dying language like Sumerian, or ageless philosophies of great importance. And beyond the writings, the foment and ferment of Israel will lead ultimately either to war or peace. Only Time will be the judge.

Israel’s Laughing Dove


NASA Image of Israel from space…

 

 

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