The Levant (to rise – also “country where the sun rises”): Light shaded areas. A geological region encompassing the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea from roughly the Isthmus of Suez to the Taurus Mountains, including present day Israel, Lebanon, western Jordan, the Sinai in Egypt and part of Syria. About 75,000 square miles. Ecologically diverse.
Until the time of the Israelite conquest under Joshua, the southern part of the Levant, often called Palestine, was known as the land of Canaan. The Hebrew Scriptures refer to the people occupying the land as the Canaanites. With the conquest it became, along with other conquered territories, the land of Israel (eretz Israel). From “Dan to Beersheba,” the usual the way of describing Palestine and for most periods the limits of settlement, is about 150 miles. After AD 132 the Romans renamed the region Palestina. Aware of Jewish history, the Romans chose to name the land after Israel’s most bitter enemy, the Philistines, to humiliate their vanquished Jewish subjects.
The Romans made the point, after Jewish zealots rebelled twice against Roman authority, that this region was no longer eretz Israel but rather Roman turf. The word Palestine comes from the Latin Palestina meaning “land of the Philistines.” Israel and Judah were related Iron Age (1200 BC – 539 BC). The Judean kingdom ended in 63 BC in the conquest of Rome. Jewish Revolt by Israel due to civil trouble ended in destruction of Second Temple, emergence of Rabbinical Judaism and Christianity and eventual conquest by Roman and Byzantine empires, and the Arab conquest of 7th century AD. Jews and Arabs lived together with relative cordiality for several hundred years. There has been a Jewish presence in Arab-Muslim countries since before Islam was introduced in the sixth century BC. (Authoritative book: Abraham Divided by Daniel C. Petersen.)
Garden of Eden (Gan Eden) the biblical garden of God. (Genesis 2, 3 and Ezekiel, Zechariah and Psalms) According to Jewish eschatology (concerned with the end of days) in the Talmud (six orders of instruction in living, commentaries on the books of Moses) it is called “Garden of Righteousness” which will appear gloriously and celestial at end of time. The righteous will see the throne of God at that time. Each person will walk with God who will lead them in a dance. Moses 3:8 tells us God planted a garden in Eden and placed His human creations in it. Before they were mortal, they were spiritual only. There, in that perfect place He gave, not loaned, moral agency, and instructed Adam and Eve in the consequences of their choices. (2Ne 2:14-16) He let them be tempted together and let them work out their salvation through their faith in Him and their trust of one another. In His wisdom, Heavenly Father distinguished Himself from His creations, but remained spiritually bound to them as their eternal Father and spiritual Home.
Moses met the Lord in the Garden. He told Moses about the man He formed there (Moses 3:8). In Hebrew the root is “ish” (אישׁ). It has many nuances, including husband and mankind. The first theological consideration is that man is distinguished from God. The relationship between Heavenly Father and mankind and the differentiation of human nature from God is determined by God’s creation of man and by the Old Testament belief that all human nature is in His Hand and He is the breath of all created things (Job 12:10). See: https://www.lds.org/ensign/1988/06/the-tree-of-life-in-ancient-cultures?lang=eng:- Wilfred Griggs – Book of Mormon.
Ish – meaning husband – is in a parallel to baal – owner, lord – the man of the household and of all things earthly. In the Genesis narrative the creation of male and female emphasizes that mankind is not related to animals – man has a God-given need for a partner of his own kind. Everything that perverts such a relationship is offensive to God.
In the Hebrew Bible (The woman/wife = (אהשׁ)”ishhah” contrasts with man – she is smooth whereas he is rough shaven. Physical and spiritual qualities are emphasized by the differences between the sexes. God has brought the woman to her husband, to establish a blood relationship signifying they are of the same nature, indicating their position in creation. Moses in Genesis emphasized the identity of the nature of and the equality of man and woman. Their relationship extends beyond sex. It extends back to the Father. It is not until after the Fall that the woman receives her name – Eve. (Gen. 3:20) after establishing that there is a fellow creature for adham – man – named Adam. Her name is inherent in his. They are symbolically the same flesh. Without the woman/wife at his elbow, Adam cannot be whole. God is responsible for establishing marriage. Before God and in the presence of the woman, the man acknowledges the equality of the partnership between ish and ishah and makes a covenant with her “berit elohim” – a covenant of God and calls her his wife (Gen 2:24 and Ezek 16:8) which indicates that monogamy is the foundation of the human race. She becomes the wife of his bosom (Deut 28:54, his esheth cheqo). She is placed under her husband’s authority. They are equal before God ( but not socially in this world). Two souls sealed in Christ = One flesh. See The Family: A Proclamation To The World:
We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children… Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan.
The great patriarch Abraham (Hebrew, אברהמ–Avraham-father of a multitude). His original name was Abram, exalted father. See D&C 132:29,37. Numerous meanings in O.T.: grandfather-Gen 28:13, founding father-1Kings 15:11, others, forefather, counselor, wise teacher. Semitic language originally referred to a distinction between generations, not people. Since Israel was one of the Semitic nomadic peoples, her social life was more closely knit together than that of the city culture of the ancient Near East, and tribal fellowship was most important. The father is the center from which strength and will emanate. Remember 1Ne 8:12.
The insertion of an “h” in the name (also the addition of an “h” to Sarai = Sarah, his wife) is a marker to show the initiation of the covenant made with God and a connection with generations to come. He was the founder of the Jewish nation, the founding patriarch of the Israelites, Ishmaelites, Edomites, and the Midianites and kindred peoples. But he was neither Israelite nor Jew: The name “Jew” comes from the name “Judah” who was a great-grandson of Abraham. Israelites were the descendants of Israel and God gave that name first to Jacob, Abraham’s grandson. Also, Romans 4:11-12 tells us Abraham received circumcision later in life. All those baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are essentially Israelites, born of the tribal families and heritage of ancient Israel. We want to study the O.T. as an essential part of our understanding of and appreciation of our religious heritage.
Israel – יִשְׂרָאֵל – “ivri” – to pass over – the people across the river –Also: God contended, God Strives or El (God) Persisteth. Represents the action of struggling with God- related to the story of Jacob wrestling with the Angel (Gen 35:1-7).Synonymous with Semitic Israelites, especially when they were nomadic. In the Old Testament, Israel (who was formerly named Jacob – Genesis 32:28) wrestles with an angel. The ancient and modern states of Israel took their names from him, so Jacob’s
(Ya a cov) descendants are Israelites, eventually forming the kingdom of Israel! Remember the 10th Article of Faith: We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.
Historian Paul Johnson writes of the Jewish people:
They were the first to create consequential, substantial and interpretive history. They knew they were a special people who had not simply evolved from an unrecorded past but had been brought into existence, for certain definite purposes, by a specific series of divine acts. They saw it as their collective business to determine, record, comment and reflect upon these acts. No other people have ever shown, particularly at that remote time, so strong a compulsion to explore their origins… The Jews wanted to know about themselves and their destiny…. about God and His intentions and wishes. (in History of the Jews)
Timeline of Ancient Near Eastern Events
Influential to Hebrew Writings
- 10000 BC Beginnings of agriculture in the Middle East. Mesopotamia – 2100 – 1900 b.c., possible exodus route for Abram’ family
- 7700 BC Time of Abraham
- around 2000 b.c. (Gen 11-25)
First domesticated wheats in the Fertile Crescent.
Israelites in Canaan-tribal, monarchic periods-15-16th centuries b.c.
7000 BC Dates of Exodus from Egypt- began around 1370 b.c. (1Kgs 6:1, 1 Chr 6:33-37)
Domestication of goats. Estimated birth of Moses – 1393 b.c.? (7th of Adar. Lived 120 yrs)
- 6500 BC Settlement of Israelites in Canaan – around 1200 b.c
Dead Sea Scrolls – First Temple Period – 960-586 b.c.
- 5000 BC Babylonians conquer Judah – 598-586 b.c.
- 853 BC Alexander in Greece, Seleucids – 336 b.c. – 312 b.c.
Babylonian kings depend on Assyrian military support. Christian persecutions – Vespasian – 60 – 64 b.c.
- 850 BC Massacre at Masada – a.d. 73
Medes migrate into Iran from Asia. Fall of Jerusalem to Rome – a.d. 70 Rabbinic rule – Talmud development – 70 b.c. – a.d. 500
- 750 BC Arabs, Islam, Persian influence – a.d. 632 – 570
Persians migrate into Iran from Asia. Spanish Visigoth invasion – Massacre of Sephardic Jews – 5th century
- 750 BC – 705 BC British persecution of Jews relating to “blood libel” – 12th century
Peak of the Assyrian empire. Spanish Inquisition- baptism or death. Expelled from Spain – 14th-15th century
- 734 BC Ottoman Empire-Turks overrule Islamic Jews – World War 1
Babylon is captured by Chaldeans. British Mandate in Jerusalem – 1920
- 729 BC Russian Purges in Poland, Russia – 1935-40
Babylon is occupied by Assyrians. German 3rd Reich – Hitler – Millions of Jews murdered -1940
State of Israel – May 1948 –Only country with a national religion
Prophets revealed the Tanakh over a 1000-year period. From the books of Moses – revealed about 1400 B.C. to the book of Malachi revealed about 425 B.C. The Hebrew Bible has been preserved and transmitted by Jewish scribes, in Babylon and Palestine; these scribes in Palestine were known as the Masorites. The manuscript source for the King James Bible is the Masoretic Text, as copied from the St. Petersburg Manuscript dated about 916 A.D.
When the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, a portion of every book of the Tanakh was found, except for the book of Ester, including two complete versions of the book of Isaiah. When compared to the oldest existing Masoretic manuscripts, the much older Dead Sea scrolls, dated from 100-200 B.C., demonstrated a virtually flawless manuscript transmission over the eleven hundred-years, which separated the two copies.
These facts indicate that Heavenly Father preserved the scriptures for these latter days. Though all the events of history in that region, these books were preserved. However, many changes and omissions were made through the centuries, so the text that was finally codified is lacking in some of the essential teachings of Christ. One more reason for the LDS church to finally restore true scriptures, ordinances and temples.
By Marlena Tanya Muchnick-Baker: www. [email protected] Renton Stake, WA. May Creek ward. Please visit my blogs: http://judaicaworld.wordpress.com, http://mormonsandjews.net, http://judaicaworld.blogspot.com for more posts and articles.
Forward these posts to others to enjoy and give out at your Sunday school meetings. To request specific information on Judaism and/or research you would like done, email Marlena anytime. For firesides, classes other info: www.jewishconvert-lds.com.