Four days a week I'm in a class on Neviim Rishonim (Books of First Prophets). We recently finished Samuel I and II and had an amazing field trip to the City of David, just outside the Old City (who knew that the Old City walls were built by the Turks? Not I. You learn something new every day.) I have tremendous new respect for the ancient Jebusites, who inhabited Jerusalem until they were overthrown by King David. Their technology was incredible.
It is very cool to be able to study the Bible and then go to the very places where the stories took place-- to walk through the very tunnels that David's soldiers probably used to get into the city and overthrow it, and to admire the very water spring at the opening of Hezekia's amazing aqueduct. They've even recently uncovered a room with dozens of seals (the kind used to protect important documents in ancient times), some of which bear the name of a man who is mentioned in the bible as being a king's scribe. Wow. It is all so very very cool.
But today I will present a specific Bible lesson (don't worry, this will have a point):
In class today, we got up to the chapter in Kings I where King Solomon builds the First Temple. See, his father, David, had handled all the wars with the neighbors that established a proper Israelite kingdom. And Solomon built on that stability, entering into commercial treaties with the surrounding nations, and ushering in a period of economic prosperity and peace. Every man to his fig tree or vine . . . 100 percent employment . . . and Israel as a cultural and commercial center for the Middle East. And to cap it all off, the wise and God-fearing Solomon builds a gorgeous Temple in Jerusalem. . . . the Temple that was the religious culmination of all of his and his father's military, economic, social, and cultural work.
According to Kings I, they started building the Temple 480 years after the Exodus from Egypt. In other words, it took 480 years from the time they left Egypt for the Jews to get their act together, set up a state, reach peace with the neighbors either through military action or through mutually beneficial treaties, enact intelligent economic and social policies, and finally reach a cultural zenith to the likes of which we aspire to return.
480 years is a long time, but it happened eventually.
Probably, the people who lived in the 100th year or the 354th year were thinking pretty much what we're thinking: that they don't want to read the Israelite newspapers anymore because it's too depressing.
So just think! Give the modern State of Israel another, say, 420 years or so, and everything could be fine!
Maybe not. But maybe yes.
420 years isn't so bad, right? Personally, I plan to pass the time watching Babylon 5, blogging, and trying to get another story published in the New York Times. Oh, and doing what I can to get us closer to the goal, by contributing to society as best I can, voting as intelligently as I can, and staying involved as much as I can.
I probably won't live to see the end of this movie, and right now the beginning scenes are looking pretty gruesome. But I like to believe the end will be a happy one, and someone, someday, will be there to enjoy it.
Pass the popcorn.
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