Judah or Israel

Dr. Gerhard Falk

Commentary by Dr. Gerhard Falk


Judah or Israel: Two Choices, One People


    When in 1948 the national liberation movement of the Jewish people succeeded in re-establishing an independent Jewish nation after so many years of foreign occupation, the people voted to name it Israel.

     There were other possibilities. Notable was the possibility of calling the nation Judah after the last independent Jewish kingdom destroyed by the Romans in 135 C.E. after the failed Jewish revolt led by Bar-Kochbah. That revolt led to the slaughter of 580,000 Jews and the enslavement of the survivors. Thereafter it was thought that Judah would never exist again and that Rome is eternal. Now the Roman Empire is no more, but Judah and Israel are eternal. “Der Mensch denkt und Gott lenkt.” (Man supposes but God disposes).

      The area occupied by Judah at the time of the Bar-Kochbah revolt was very small. It consisted of Yerusholayim and that part of Solomon’s kingdom inhabited by the tribes of Judah, most of Benjamin and Simeon. Judah was only one third the size of the Northern Kingdom called Israel. The split between the two Jewish states came in 933 B.C.E. at the death of Solomon. Judah was ruled by 20 kings from the son of Solomon, Rehoboam (933-917) until Zedekiah (597-586).  Judah was governed by kings who reckoned their descent from David. Because the Temple was in Yerusholayim, Jewish life and the Jewish religion were so vital there that a good part of the Bible was composed there. Most of the Jewish prophets lived in Judah, so that the traditions of the Jews were preserved in that tiny land. In 586 B.C.E. the Babylonians invaded Judah and deported many of the inhabitants to Babylon. That would have been the end of the Jewish people if it had not been for the destruction of Babylon by the Medes and the Persians under their king Cyrus or Korash (You may remember that Vernon Howells, the leader of some religious dissidents burnt to death in Waco, Texas, called himself David Korash).

       Cyrus permitted the Jews to return to Yerusholayim to build a second Temple there. It was that Temple which the Romans destroyed in 70 C.E. before the Bar-Kochbah revolt. Take a look at your Bible. The last chapter, called 2 Chronicles XXXVI:23 says this: “Thus has said Cyrus the king of Persia. All the kingdoms of the earth has the Lord the God of heaven given me; and he has charged me to build him a house in Yerusholayim, which is in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all his people, may the Lord his God be with him and let him go up" (to Yerusholayim).

      The northern kingdom called Israel was governed by king Jeroboam after 933. Its capital was Samaria. Therefore the whole country was sometimes called Samaria, a name which still attaches to that part of modern Israel now, just as southern Israel is called Judea, now.

    Jeroboam had revolted against the rule of Rehoboam. Nineteen kings ruled in Israel until 721 B.C.E. when the Assyrians, under king Sargon, invaded and destroyed ancient Israel.  Israel consisted of ten tribes, all of whom were said to be “lost” after the Assyrian invasion. Numerous theories concerning the “lost ten tribes” were at one time in vogue. The British claimed to have the honor while the Mormons said that the native Americans were the “lost” ten tribes. Others claimed to have seen the L.T.T. in Arabia, in Africa and all over Asia.

   The fact is that the Jews then forced into Assyrian exile were assimilated by the Asian population, leaving traces of their customs and ceremonies all over that continent. There are Moslems in Afghanistan and other Asian lands who light candles on Friday night because they have done so traditionally without knowing the reason for doing so. Even the custom of driving a “scape goat” into the desert is practiced by some Japanese people to this day. In addition, there were a good number of Jews in Africa, i.e. Ethiopia and Eritrea, who called themselves Beta Israel and practiced only the Samaritan rites until they were repatriated by Israel in the 1980’s.  Furthermore, the Jewish population of Arabia gave rise to Islam in the early seventh century. Hence, Muslims eat only kosher food, wear a Yarmulka and are strict monotheists.

   There are today a few Samaritans in Israel. They sacrifice animals and base their beliefs on the 5 Books of Moses. They do not include the other books of the Torah in their considerations, nor do they recognize the Talmud.

    One of the world’s most malicious bigotries refers to Judea as “The West Bank” and pretends that Judea is somehow the homeland of the current Philistines. The fact is that the word Jew refers to Judean, just as the word German refers to an inhabitant of Germany, Englishman refers to an inhabitant of England, Italian refers to an inhabitant of Italy etc. Only Jews are told we don’t belong in Judea. Yet, that is the land of our ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It is where the Jewish people were born and where we will always belong. No hatred, no bigotry, no lies by CNN will change that. For we are an eternal people and all of Israel, from the sea and including Jordan, from Golan to the Sinai, is ours. Those non-Jews who live there are guests and intruders. The land is the land of Israel as it always has been and always will be now, in our day and for all the days to come, Bimhayro v’yomenu. 

Shalom u’vracha.

Home ] Up ]