Echoes of Genesis: Israel’s Identity Through The Ages – Part 1

After the 7th of October Massacre in Israel, I wrote a thread exploring Israel’s identity throughout the ages, and it was published on ecspe.org

Israel is more than 3,000 years old and 75 years young. Ever since Israel was reestablished on May 14, 1948, there has been a widespread belief worldwide that Jews have occupied land that rightfully belongs to Palestine. However, this notion is both incorrect and a form of disinformation. Many propagandists are attempting to spread this false narrative to create confusion worldwide.

Today, we will provide a detailed explanation of the origin of Israel and the historical context surrounding their claim to the land. Let’s begin our exploration.

According to the Bible and the Quran, God called Abraham and entered into a covenant with him. The reason for God’s call to Abraham is central to all three religious’ traditions:

In Judaism: God called Abraham to establish a covenant with himself and his descendants. This covenant included the promise of land (Canaan), and that Abraham’s descendants would become a great nation. Abraham’s faith and obedience were very important in this covenant.

In Christianity: Abraham plays a vital role in the history of salvation. God called Abraham as part of His plan to save humanity. Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, Isaac, predicts God’s sacrifice of Jesus for humanity’s redemption.
God promised to make his descendants one of the world’s greatest nations and to give them the land of the Canaanites.

In Islam: Abraham, known as Ibrahim in Islam, is considered a prophet. God called him to preach monotheism, to call people to worship the one true God and to guide them to the right path. In Islam, Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son (Ishmael in Islamic tradition).

All three religions agree on this point: Abraham is the father of nations, and Isaac and Ishmael were his sons.

Who is Israel: A Deeper Dive

There is another point on which all three are once again agreed. And that Jacob was the Chosen one by God who followed his forefathers. Christians and Jews agree on this issue. Surprisingly, the Quran also Accepted him as the grandson of Abraham and a messenger who followed and preached the one true God. Moreover, Jacob is mentioned 16 times in the Quran and in a very highly regarded manner. Even Islamic tradition agreed that his people call him Israil (Israel).

In Islam and the Quran, there is no specific account or explanation for the origin of why the people were called ‘Israel’ or ‘Israil.

Jacob to Israel:

However, In the Bible, the story of Jacob’s name being changed to Israel is found in the book of Genesis, specifically in Genesis 32:22-32. The name change occurred during an encounter Jacob had with a divine figure, often described as an angel or a manifestation of God. When the divine figure was about to leave, he blessed Jacob.

Then the man said, ‘Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”

(Genesis 32:28, NIV)

So, it is proven that Jacob is Israel. When Muslims around the world curse or use abusive language against Israel, they are actually committing blasphemy against their own Quran, as the Quran mentions him as one of its prophets.

As God promised earlier to Abraham, to grant his descendants the land of the Canaanites, we all know that God always fulfills His promises.

He fulfilled his promise by granting the land of the Canaanites to the descendants of Jacob, who was named Israel. Jacob’s 12 sons became the 12 tribes of Israel, known as ‘Bani Israel,’ which is also in accordance with Judeo-Christian history as well as Islamic tradition.

In the Quran, “Bani Israel” refers to the Children of Israel, who are descended from Jacob, also referred to as “Yaqub” in Arabic. There are numerous references to the Bani Israel in the Quran, recounting events and stories related to their history and interactions with prophets, such as Moses (Musa in Arabic). Quranic references to Bani Israel play a significant role in the religious and historical narratives of the Quran.

Quranic References About Bani Israel:

“Bani Israel” is mentioned in several verses of the Quran, particularly in Surah Al-Baqarah (Chapter 2) and Surah Al-Isra (Chapter 17), among others. Here are a few references:

  1. Surah Al-Baqarah (Chapter 2), Verse 47: “O Children of Israel, remember My favor which I have bestowed upon you and fulfill My covenant [upon you] that I will fulfill your covenant [from Me], and be afraid of [only] Me.”
  2. Surah Al-Baqarah (Chapter 2), Verse 122: “O Children of Israel, remember My favor which I have bestowed upon you and that I preferred you over the worlds.”
  3. Surah Al-Isra (Chapter 17), Verse 2: “And We gave Moses the Scripture and made it a guidance for the Children of Israel that you not take other than Me as Disposer of affairs.”

These are just a few verses mentioning “Bani Israel” in the Quran. Several references in the Quran to the historical and religious narratives involving the Children of Israel provide guidance and lessons for its believers.

Hence, it proves that Jacob founded the nation called the Israelites, and all three religions agree.

Why the Land of Canaanites was given to Israelites:

While it is a topic open to debate, it is generally agreed upon in Jewish, Christian, and even Islamic traditions that the land was promised to the Jewish people.

However, even today, some Muslims deny the facts and consider Jews as the occupants of the land of Palestine. This belief lacks historical backing and no evidence of a king or ruler ever governing from Jerusalem.

But we Christians and Jews believe that God has granted the Land of the Canaanites to the Children of Jacob (Israel) due to the following point:

Covenant with Abraham:

God made a covenant (a sacred contract) with Abraham, as described in the book of Genesis. Part of this covenant included the promise of land for his descendants. In Genesis 17:8, God says to Abraham: “The whole land of Canaan, where you now live as a sojourner, I will give to you and your descendants after you as an everlasting possession.”

Fulfillment of a Promise:

The people saw the land of Canaan as God’s fulfillment of His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Abraham’s descendants) for their faith and obedience. They considered it a land flowing with milk and honey, symbolizing abundance and blessing.

Inheritance for the Israelites:

 Moses led the Israelites, who were the descendants of Jacob, out of Egypt. They organized their journey around returning to the Promised Land, viewing it as an inheritance of the land God had promised their ancestors.

Divine Plan and Providence: 

In the biblical worldview, allocating the land to the Israelites was part of God’s divine plan to establish them as a chosen people with a unique religious and moral responsibility. The land was not only a physical inheritance but also a spiritual and symbolic one.

It is important to note that this biblical narrative and the divine promise of the land are specific to the religious beliefs of Judaism and, to some extent, shared with Christianity. However, the historical and geopolitical aspects of the Israelite occupation of Canaan are complex and have been a source of controversy and debate for centuries.

 Who were the People of Canaan?

The Canaanites were ancient Semitic people who inhabited Canaan, corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and parts of Jordan and Syria. They lived in this area during the Bronze Age, from around 3000 BC to the early 1st millennium BC.

The Canaanites were not a unified group but a collection of city-states and small kingdoms. They had their own distinct culture, languages, and religious practices. The most well-known Canaanite city was probably Jericho, famous for its ancient walls and archaeological significance.

Canaanite culture and religion influenced the surrounding regions, including ancient Israel. The Canaanites worshiped a pantheon of gods and goddesses, with each city often having its patron deity. Their religious practices included rituals, sacrifices, and various forms of divination.

Various ancient texts, including the Bible, mention the Canaanites, often portraying them as inhabitants of the Promised Land during the Israelite conquest. The interactions between the Israelites and the Canaanites constitute a significant part of biblical narratives.

The story continues in Part 2 – stay with us!

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