NEAR EAST CONFLICT
by Jim Kaness
Every few years another try is made at negotiating a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. It is well intentioned, but doomed to frustration. Although I write this as a Christian, my goal here is to offer a dispassionate and fair discussion.
The story, and the reason for all the frustration, began some 4,000 years ago with Abraham and his wife Sarah. God promised Abraham that a son coming from his own body would be his heir [Genesis 15:1-6] and that God would give to Abraham the land from the Nile River (in present day Egypt) to the Euphrates River (in present day Iraq) for his possession [Genesis 15:18-21, Genesis 17:6-8, Genesis 35:9-15, and Joshua 1:1-5]. For a look at where this might fit on today's map, Click Here.
When they got old and no heir was born to them, Sarah told Abraham to provide an heir by her Egyption servant Hagar, and he did [Genesis 16:1-4]. Abraham's firstborn son (when Abraham was age 86), by Hagar the Egyption, was named Ishmael. He is the patriarch and source of the Arab race [Genesis 17:19-22 and 21:18]. Of Ishmael, God said "He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers" [Genesis 16:12 and Genesis 25:13-18].
Fourteen years later, Sarah bore Abraham the son that God had promised [Genesis 21:1-7]. Abraham's second born son (when Abraham was age 100), by his wife Sarah, was named Isaac. He is the patriarch and source of the Jewish race [Genesis 15:4, 17:19-22 and 22:17].
After Sarah died, Abraham took another wife Keturah who bore him more sons [Genesis 25:1-6]. Before he died (at age 175), Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac [Genesis 25:5].
The Qur'an refers extensively to Abraham (Ibrahim), Ishmael (Ismail), and Isaac (Ishaq) [Surah 2:136, 3:84 and more] but without any detail. The Qur'an also refers extensively to, and honors, the Jewish Torah (Tawrah, or Taurat), the five books of Moses (Musa) of which Genesis, referenced herein, is the first book [Surah 3:1-4, 5:44, 6:91 and more]. I have not yet found in the Qur'an any reference to the land now called Israel or to the city of Jerusalem.
Today, the decendants of the half-brothers Ishmael and Isaac, Arabs and Jews, both claim inheritance of Abraham's legacy. Both claim title to the city of Jersualem. For historical timelines of the city of Jersalem, showing the many conflicts for ownership of this city, see Jerusalem Timeline 1 (Jewish) and Jerusalem Timeline 2 (Wikipedia).
As we often hear today, you really don't know someone until you've shared an inheritance with them! Given the history of this region over the centuries, it should come as no surprise that current efforts toward peace and harmony will be frustrating.
NOTE: Names and their spellings will vary with different traditions and translations into English.
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