"AS I SEE IT" 

Volume 11, Number 2, February 2008

 

“I too will have my say; I too will tell what I know.

For I am full of words, and the spirit within me compels me;

Inside I am like bottled-up wine, like new wineskins ready to burst.

I must speak and find relief; I must open my lips and reply.

I will show partiality to no one.  Nor will I flatter any man.”

Job 32:17-21

 

“That which ordinary men are fit for I am qualified in, and the best of me is diligence.”

Earl of Kent

Shakespeare’s King Lear

Act I, scene iv, ll. 32-34

 

[“As I See It” is a monthly electronic magazine compiled and edited by Doug Kutilek.  Its purpose is to address important issues of the day and to draw attention to worthwhile Christian and other literature in order to aid believers in Jesus Christ, especially pastors, missionaries and Bible college and seminary students to more effectively study and teach the Word of God.  The editor’s perspective is that of an independent Baptist of fundamentalist theological persuasion.

 

AISI is sent free to all who request it by writing to the editor at: DKUTILEK@juno.com.  You can be removed from the mailing list at the same address.  Back issues sent on request.  All back issues may be accessed at http://www.KJVOnly.org]

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“All Things Being Equal, . . .”

 

“Rampant egalitarianism is becoming the ruination of this country. . . . One of the reasons I left the teaching profession is that more and more students--kids 18 or 19 years old--got the goofy notion that what they think is as valid as what I think.  It’s not.  I carried into that classroom 40 years more experience than they had, and 6 years more education, and probably even more brains than most.  They have a perfect right to express their opinions, but that does not for a moment mean that their opinions have even a remote chance of being equal to mine. . . . [A]ll things being equal, all things are not equal.”

Roger Welsch

The Tractor Trilogy, pp. 560, 561

(St. Paul, Minnesota: Motorbooks, 2003)

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How Did Jesus Perform Miracles?

 

That Jesus did perform a multitude of bona fide, undeniable, nature-superceding miracles is the clear and consistent testimony of the New Testament, most commonly noted in the Gospels and Acts (for a convenient but not quite complete list of Gospel references to Jesus’ miracles, see A. T. Robertson, A Harmony of the Gospels, p. 294; see also our article “Miracles Jesus Did NOT Perform” in AISI 10:4).  One question requiring attention is, “How did Jesus perform these miracles?  In His own Divine power, or by some other means?”

 

One crucial theological aspect of Christ’s incarnation was His “self-emptying” as described by Paul in Philippians 2:6, 7--

 

Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.  (NASBu)

 

It is the uniform view of orthodox Christianity that this “emptying” involved the voluntary surrender of the independent exercise of His inherent Divine powers, the voluntary surrender of His Divine will to that of the Father, and the voluntary complete veiling or concealment of the visible or outward manifestation of His Divine glory, but not the loss in any manner of any of His Divine attributes or essences as God.  God can never be or become less than God.  Explaining the dynamics of this self-emptying and the permanent assumption by the Second Person of the Trinity of genuine and complete humanity is another matter altogether, and is largely an unfathomable mystery. 

 

On the specific relationship between Jesus' voluntary non-use of His Divine powers and how He was nevertheless able to perform miracles, some NT texts are particularly pertinent.  John 5:19, 30a--

 

Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing, for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. . . . I can do nothing on My own initiative.  As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent me.” (NASBu)

 

It theoretically could have been the Father’s will for the Son to perform miracles in His own Divine power, but apparently it was not, thereby maintaining the self-imposed limitations of His humanity.  Rather, He performed miracles in precisely the same way other men performed miracles--through the power of the Holy Spirit, and it is notable that the kinds of miracle performed by Jesus--healings, superhuman knowledge, even resurrections of the dead (though not self-resurrection, which one earthly miracle of Jesus was, I believe, performed in His own Divine power, the “emptying” having ended at the point of His death on the Cross, at which point the exaltation, with the end of His emptying, began--Philippians 2:8-9) were performed by the Apostles, and others.

 

That the power enabling the miracles of Jesus was the Holy Spirit, and not His own Deity, is evident from two passages in the Gospels.  Luke 4:14 says that Jesus, after the Temptation, "returned in the power of the Spirit" (and be it noted that John informs us that the Father gave to the Son the Spirit without limitation, John 3:34).  What the phrase "power of the Spirit" entails is illuminated for us in Matthew 12:28, where Jesus said, "But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, . . .", as indeed He did.  Jesus, then, performed this specific miracle--demon expulsion--by the power of the Holy Spirit.  It is a legitimate extrapolation to conclude that what was true of this miracle was true of all His miracles: He performed the miracles in the same way that the Apostles and other NT-era Christians did--by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit (see Hebrews 2:3-4; I Corinthians 12:7-11).  His voluntary self-subordination to the Father was in no way violated by His profuse performance of miracles, since these were done in the Holy Spirit's power, in submission to the will of the Father, and as testimony that He was indeed the promised Messiah, as Jesus Himself affirmed (John 5:36) and as not a few individuals in the Gospels readily recognized: Nicodemus (John 3:2); some in the crowds in Jerusalem (John 7:31); the man born blind (John 9:30-33); and others as well.

---Doug Kutilek

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To Translate or Not to Translate:

Introductory “And” in the Hebrew and Greek Texts

and English Translations

 

“Brother Kutilek,

 

I woke up last night to something that bothered me, yet almost feel silly asking.

 

It’s the omission of the “ands” in modern translations. For the last year, I’ve been reading the HCSB and also the NASB update, and have noted that the kai [Greek for “and”] that frequently begins a verse in the NT, and whatever the Hebrew word is in the OT [“ve”--editor], have been almost uniformly ignored in the translation.  I realize no major point of meaning is being lost by its being slighted, but I am used to the Biblical-sounding narrative in which a sentence begins with “And.”

 

So my questions:

 

1) By what principle have modern translation committees begun ignoring this?

 

2) Should this trouble the believer who holds to verbal inspiration?

 

Thanks for any thoughts you have on this—

 

Sincerely,

 

J-- H-----“

---

 

Mr. H--

 

The word "and" (Hebrew "ve", Greek "kai") does indeed begin a remarkably large number of Bible verses and sentences, especially in narrative.  This is a matter of language style--it is a common, ordinary feature of Hebrew (in the Greek NT, it seems to be more of an influence from the Hebrew OT via the Septuagint Greek version, rather than an indigenous Greek practice).  But in English, it is generally considered bad style to begin a sentence with "and"--I remember being taught that in high school English (albeit, in the 1960s).  Wilson Follett's Modern American Usage (1966; p. 64) pooh-poohs the school marmish "rule" against beginning sentences with "and," but does warn against doing it too frequently.

 

So, when translating from a language (Hebrew) that commonly, almost regularly, begins narrative sentences with "and," into another language (English) where beginning a sentence with "and" is rather rare, what should you do?  Either practice--a literal transference of the "ands"; or their silent omission in translation can be defended, the former focusing more on the transmitter language, the latter on the receiver language.

 

There are other features of the Hebrew Bible which are regularly by-passed in English translations.  Hebrew has a marker for definite direct objects, namely "eth"--it is found twice in the Hebrew of Genesis 1:1-- "bereshith bara Elohim eth-hashshamyim ve-eth-ha'aretz" (the Hebrew preposition “le” also sometimes has this function).  In English we do not have any word corresponding to this marker of the definite direct object (the object is indicated in English by word order), though both Spanish ("a") and Romanian ("pe") have words that are similarly used, and no doubt other languages do as well.  In short, we simply cannot translate "eth" into English because we have no word that conforms at all with "eth" 's grammatical usage.

 

In summary: the common practice in Hebrew of beginning sentences with "and" is rather different from common English practice, so it is not an error to simply omit these "superfluous" "ands" in an English Bible translation.  I suspect that a careful search of the KJV would reveal places where it omits the conjunction in translation.  It certainly omits dozens, even hundreds, of definite articles that could have and in many cases should have been literally translated (for example, in Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:23 the original language texts have “the virgin,” not “a virgin”).

 

Doug Kutilek

 

 

 

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Exodus 22:28--“God”, “gods”, or “judges” ?

 

“Doug,

 

In Exodus 22:28 the KJV translates “the gods” while all other translations use “God.”  I was wondering about your opinion of this particular verse and translation.

 

P---- W-----“
---

 

Dear P----

 

That verse in the KJV reads (in the original 1611 edition): “Thou shalt not reuile the Gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people.”  The word “Gods” is capitalized in the original KJV (as it is also at Genesis 3:5, Exodus 20:3, and no doubt elsewhere), though I notice that in my Old Scofield Bible (and no doubt other more recent KJV editions), it is “gods” in lower case.  (Incidentally, Exodus 22:28 is numbered as 22:27 in some Bible editions in some languages).

 

The Hebrew word at issue, and here translated “Gods” is elohim.  It is in form technically a plural masculine noun and is found thousands of times in the Hebrew OT.  The singular form, eloah does occur some 50+ times in the OT.

 

1.  Though plural in form, elohim is often used in a singular sense (and regularly though not quite universally with verbs in the singular) of the true God--Genesis 1:1 and thousands of other places.  This is its usual and overwhelming use in the OT--of the one true and living God. 

 

2. It is also used of false gods--Baal, Asteroth, Dagan, Hadad, etc.  The first commandment, "You shall have no other gods, . . ." (Exodus 20:3) is an obvious example.  There it is a true plural in form and use.

 

3. A third, more rare and somewhat controversial usage of elohim is as an epithet or title of human judges, who in their arbitration between disputing parties stand in God's stead as mediators, and therefore are called elohim.  This verse--Exodus 22:28--may be an example of this (the KJV margin offers as an alternative rendering "judges" for "gods" in the text).  There are a handful of other places where this seems to be the meaning of the Hebrew word, e.g., Exodus 21:6--KJV: “judges” with no marginal alternate rendering; so also Exodus 22:8 (numbered as 22:7 in some editions and versions); Psalm 82:6, “gods” with no marginal alternate.

 

4. Some also interpret the word as sometimes referring to created angels (one interpretation of Psalm 82:6)  (See “elohim” in Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, edited by R. Laird Harris, et al [Moody Press, 1980], vol. I, pp. 44-5 for a good analysis of the uses of elohim in the OT)

 

In the context of Exodus 22:28, "gods" seems to me completely off the mark--why would God prohibit the Hebrews from speaking evil of false gods?  That simply makes no sense at all to me.  Even so, this is the sense followed in the pre-Christian Septuagint Greek version (but which has “God” at 21:6 & 22:7), Jerome’s 4th century Latin Vulgate (with “gods” at 21:6 & 22:8).  Among versions available to and consulted by the KJV translators, Martin Luther’s first (1534) and last (1545) editions of his German Bible have “gods” (21:6; 22:8 and 22:28, all without marginal notes).  The one pre-KJV English version available to me, the Geneva (1560), reads “judges” at 22:28 (see below).  No doubt, were my search broadened, I could find some other Reformation era versions perhaps including in English which have “gods” in 22:28.

 

As for "judges" being the meaning here (as the KJV margin)--that is almost uniformly the ancient and medieval Jewish interpretation of the passage: in the Aramaic version Targum Onkelos, we find “judges,” in 21:6; and 22:7; but surprisingly the singular “judge” at 22:28 (though some manuscripts have the plural here).  The Pseudo-Jonathan manuscript of the Jerusalem Targum has the plural “judges” in all three passages.  This interpretation is also followed in 22:28 by the rabbinic commentators of the Middle Ages: Ibn Ezra, Rashi, Soforno and Rashbam (see, loc. cit., The Soncino Chumash, edited by A. Cohen; or, John Gill’s commentary--he himself favors the meaning “judges” throughout).  Likewise, the Peshitta Syriac version (which often shows strong Jewish influence) has “judges” in 22:28 (so also at 21:6; 22:7). 

 

In English, the Geneva Bible (1560) has “judges” here without marginal variant (at both 21:6; and 22:8; “judges,” margin: “[H]Ebr[ew], gods”).  The Spanish Reina version (1569) has “judges” in Exodus 21:6; 22:8; and 22:28, but at 22:28 alone has a margin note “gods.”  The 1602 revision by Valera retains “judges” in the text in all three verses; at 21:6 it has the marginal note “Heb[rew] elohim”; at 22:28, the marginal note is further expanded to “Heb[rew] elohim gods.”  The somewhat later French version of Ostervald has uniformly “judges” without marginal notes (in the edition I consulted).

 

The meaning “judges” would fit nicely as a parallel expression to "nor speak evil of the ruler of your people," if indeed that was intended (Paul quotes this verse in part in Acts 23:5, but not the part involving elohim).  But Walter Kaiser in his commentary on Exodus in Frank Gaebelein's Expositor’s Bible Commentary says that when "judges" is meant, the word elohim always has the definite article in Hebrew (which is not the case here; I haven't checked this alleged pattern for myself, however).  Furthermore, “judges” seems to be more of an ad hoc Jewish interpretation, trying to keep God at more of a distance from man.

 

In summary, the KJV’s rendering “gods” could have been adopted under the influence of the Septuagint, Vulgate, Luther, the Geneva margin, and the Reina-Valera margin (and other versions as well) while its marginal alternative “judges” seems to have come as a result of the influence of ancient Jewish interpreters, the Peshitta Syriac, the Geneva English, the Reina and Reina-Valera Spanish versions, and likely others.  But neither the KJV text, nor the KJV margin strikes me as the obvious meaning of the text.

 

That elohim here means "God," makes perfectly good sense in context (harmonizing as it does with the 3rd command in Exodus 20:7), and is by far the most common usage of elohim.  And it was for cursing God and the king (the two offenses noted in Exodus 22:28, in my understanding) that Naboth was accused (unjustly) in I Kings 21:10, 13--at least that is how the KJV interprets it there (as do the Septuagint, Vulgate, Targum Jonathan, Peshitta, Luther, Reina and Reina-Valera, Geneva and Ostervald).  To my thinking, in the pagan context of Jezebel and Ahab’s rule, if any place “blaspheming the gods” (versus “God”) would be counted a civil offense, it would be there.  Yet all these versions have understood the word elohim there as “God” rather than “gods.”  That it does not there mean “judges” is evident, because the alleged offense against elohim is listed before that against the king, a situation Ahab and Jezebel would never have tolerated.  They would have demanded “top billing” over any other human beings.

 

So, then, my opinion is that "God" is the correct translation in Exodus 22:28, and also in 21:6 and 22:8 (and, incidentally, also in Genesis 3:5--"God" not "gods"--since false gods had not even been thought of at that point in time).

 

Doug Kutilek

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BOOK REVIEWS

 

Locust: The Devastating Rise and Mysterious Disappearance of the Insect That Shaped the American Frontier, by Jeffrey A. Lockwood.  New York: Basic Books, 2004.  294 pp., hardback.

 

Of all the problems that plagued the pioneers who settled and began to farm in the Great Plains of America from the 1850s to the 1880s--drought, heat, tornadoes, blizzards, Indians, and more--the most devastating were the periodic locust plagues.  These plagues of the Rocky Mountain locust occurred on the average of once every six and a half years for a documentable 300 years up through the end of the 19th century.  And then they suddenly, and mysteriously, even inexplicably, stopped.

 

These periodic plagues occurred when the right combination of factors (especially persistently hot, dry weather; such is still “ideal” for the mushrooming of grasshopper populations in Kansas) allowed the locust population to explode and multiply geometrically from millions to multiplied billions, and even trillions, in a single growing season with four generations of locusts.  The single worst plague was 1875, when some 500,000 square miles, almost twice the size of Texas, of the Great Plains was devastated by a locust plague that is estimated to have consisted of 15 trillion insects.  The locust swarms of the American Great Plains vastly exceeded in size and coverage the very worst of the notorious African (100 square miles) or Asia plagues, including that in Egypt before the Exodus.  The bio-mass of such a swarm would be about 8.5 million tons (compare the total bio-mass of the approximately 60 million bison on the Great Plains weighing some 11 million tons, more or less).  A typical swarm would consume in a single day 50 tons of vegetation (the swarming from place to place was due to the rapid exhaustion of the food supply in any given locality--the locusts were omnivores, eating anything green, alive or formerly green or alive: grass, crops, weeds, tree leaves and bark, even harness, cotton and wool clothing, livestock, paper and each other.

 

The departure or death to frost of a swarm did not mean an end to the problem.  Eggs left by the locusts from the 1875 swarm amounted in places, by actual count, to 150 per square inch, or 940 million per acre!  These, of course, would hatch out into a sea of new locusts with voracious appetites when spring weather conditions permitted.

 

Naturally a great many attempts to control the locusts or destroy the eggs were undertaken.  Birds, especially domesticated poultry (chickens and turkeys) did eat locusts readily, but eating locusts tainted the taste of the meat and eggs of these important pioneer food sources, and furthermore, gorging on locusts proved fatal to turkeys.  And besides, there were more locusts than could be eaten even if every family had had 10,000 chickens.  Those who were inventive designed (and in some cases built and sold) patented nymph sweepers, which could be dragged through fields and scoop up bushels and bushels of emerging locust nymphs, but the task was simply too big and the machines too few.  Farm ground was plowed and harrowed in the fall to expose eggs to birds and winter weather (or the ground was temporarily flooded, if practicable), which was effective in reducing the population somewhat, but there was just too much unplowed ground--pasture, waste ground and such,--that allowed too many locusts to survive.  Some suggested that the locusts be eaten (a la John the Baptist), and recipe books were written and published.  The American Indians had, in fact, for many years regularly eaten locusts and grasshoppers.  (The various insecticides developed in the 20th century were of course unavailable, and would have proven of small use even if available.  Very few chemicals, except the most toxic--which devastate other wildlife--can kill adult locusts and grasshoppers).

 

The swarms, when “spent,” would die in huge masses--once, a swarm that fell into the Great Salt Lake in Utah washed up on the shore, making a 6-foot high window row 2 miles long, amounting to some 1.5 million bushels of locusts!  The stench of huge masses of rotting locusts was intense, and was widely believed (wrongly) to harbor disease, so the dead locusts were often collected and burned.  Other swarms settled on glaciers in the Rockies, died, and were encased in winter snows.  Such snow-layered locusts go back hundreds of years in some glaciers (and were extensively studied by Dr. Lockwood in his research).

 

The widespread devastation of the food supply on the Plains, especially in 1875, led to a human crisis of great proportions.  Families dependent on grain and garden crops, and grass for their livestock, were left with absolutely nothing to eat and faced starvation.  The crisis was widely publicized in the newspapers of the day, and relief was sent from all over the country, and in a generally timely manner (no FEMA in those days!).

 

A major study of the locust problem was commissioned by the U.S. government in 1876 and three leading experts on locusts collaborated in producing an extensive, authoritative work that is still of great value today.  But for all the research and study, a solution to the locust problem was not found.  And yet, in less than a quarter century, the locust plagues stopped altogether, with no recurrence since.

 

The disappearance of the periodic plagues was first noticed in the 1910s, and various explanations were offered, and discredited over the years--extermination of the bison (coincidental in time, but unrelated in cause); the plowing of much of the plains (but much was left in grassland, and the locust-related grasshoppers persisted in large numbers); introduction of alfalfa (the smallest stage of locust growth--nymphs--are dwarfed by alfalfa, but adults thrive on it; besides alfalfa was introduced too late and in too limited quantity to be the cause).  The planting of trees was thought by some to be a locust control, since locusts are not common in forested land (the reason being, apparently, that the regularly higher humidity and rainfall of naturally forested areas is destructive of locust eggs; locusts will readily eat the leaves and bark of most kinds of trees).  And incidentally, tobacco, readily eaten by locusts, is also quickly fatal to them--nicotine poisoning--though virtually none has been grown on the Great Plains.

 

Having devoted some 2,000 whole days over 17 years to the study of locusts, grasshoppers and related insects (not a little of it spent climbing on remote glaciers, studying layered locust swarms in the accumulated snows), Dr. Lockwood proposes what he believes is the explanation of this plague of plagues’ sudden and apparently permanent disappearance.  It seems that the “home range” of locusts in the years between swarm-generating conditions was in close proximity to rivers in the Rocky Mountains.  The locusts lived and reproduced in the rich alluvial silt that bordered these rivers.  And it was just this habitat--rich soil with sufficient soil moisture to farm, that was plowed up by the settlers in the Rockies, thereby disrupting and destroying the locusts’ reproductive cycle, and thereby preventing them from ever growing to swarm proportions.  Also, the vegetation surrounding these rivers--mostly timber or high plains scrub and grasses--was often stripped by lumbering or over-grazing, which caused increased runoff and flooding along these mountain rivers, drowning many of the locusts’ eggs. 

 

While this would account for a general suppression of Rocky Mountain locust numbers, it doesn’t seem to me that this would be adequate to explain the disappearance of all of them, however.  It did not surprise me much, then, that in a cryptic note at the end of the book, Dr. Lockwood implies that the Rocky Mountain locust is not entirely extinct, but that a surviving remnant population may still be found in Yellowstone National Park (he won’t say where), where farming activity does not take place.  Of course, as long as such a population is confined to that region, it can never become the plague that it was in the 19th and earlier centuries.

 

Dr. Lockwood has a rather dry sense of humor.  He has managed to make a book on a rather esoteric topic readable and interesting, even entertaining.  Not surprisingly, Darwinian evolution is accepted throughout as a given, though the author never discusses the actual evidence, if any, of evolution of locusts and their kin as found in the fossil records; I suspect the only fossil “evidence” is for stasis--that fossil locusts from however many allegedly “millions” of years ago look remarkably(!) just like those extant today, unchanged.  The author does, as an aside, cast serious doubt on any significant human contribution to global warming, in light of the evidence of repeated cycles of warming and cooling stretching back thousands of years before man began to employ fossil fuels in the past couple of centuries.  He, furthermore, casts aspersions of the myth of scientific “objectivity.”

 

I have for years sought something informative and authoritative on the subject of the American locust plagues of the 19th century and found this volume entirely satisfactory along those lines.  A close reading of it will likewise cast a great deal of light on the locust plagues in the Bible, in Egypt (Exodus 10) and in the prophecy of Joel (chapters 1-2), besides giving some perspective to those of us who garden on the Great Plains, where periodic grasshopper “blooms” are a recurring problem.  The book naturally contains extensive documentation, bibliography, and an index, as well as numerous illustrations and photos.

---Doug Kutilek

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Jerusalem in the Twentieth Century by Martin Gilbert.  New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1996.    412 pp, hardback.

 

Martin Gilbert is an eminent ethnically-Jewish British historian, whose focus has been on the 20th century.  He has written an authoritative biography of Winston Churchill, an excellent history of World War I (reviewed in As I See It 1:12), another on World War II, and numerous books relating to the history of the Jews in the past century.  This particular work is as its title indicates a history of Jerusalem in the 20th century, and a very turbulent, violent and transforming history it has been.

 

The 20th century history of Jerusalem can be divided into four major periods: the period of Ottoman Turk control (1900-December 7, 1917) which gave way to the period of the British control and Mandate (December 7, 1917-May 15, 1948), the period of a divided Jerusalem, the western part under control of the State of Israel (May 15, 1948-June 7, 1967), and the period of a unified city under Israeli control (June 7, 1967, to the end).

 

I think it almost impossible to exaggerate the historic significance of Jerusalem, because of its long history and central importance in the Bible--both OT and NT, and both past and future (it is also important, though to a lesser degree, and historically much later, in Moslem tradition), and contains, subsequently, very numerous “holy sites,” ruins, churches, shrines and such, which have given it a very long history as the destination of religious pilgrimages.  Though Gilbert does not say so, Jerusalem is and will remain the most important city on earth; 350-year-old New York and 200-year-old Washington are dwarfed by comparison.

 

The whole 20th century witnessed--almost continually--ethnic violence in the city, especially Moslem attacks on Jewish civilians (though sometimes the Jews responded in kind).  There was much Jewish violence and terror aimed at the British military in the final years of Britain’s administration of Jerusalem, leading up to the British departure from the city and country in May 1948, after more than 30 years of occupation.

 

Throughout the century, Moslems have been dominant ethnically in east Jerusalem, including the walled Old City, while Jews have been dominant, and increasingly so, in the extensive developments west, north and south of the Old City.  Though Jews had access to the Old City (and the Western or Wailing Wall of the Temple) for all but 19 years of the century (1948-1967), in the first half of the century, those who visited the Old City were often harassed, threatened, and even physically attacked or killed (Moslem access to their sacred sites since Israel took control of the whole city in 1967 has, in contrast, not been restricted).

 

Jerusalem of 1900 was an isolated, backward, squalid, poor and dirty typical Middle Eastern city with dirt streets, no electricity, no sewage system, grossly inadequate water supply, and no public transportation, and was a place more endured than inhabited by its few thousand residents.  By the end of the century, the city had been transformed into a modern city with all the usual public services, and had become a nation’s capital.

 

The most dramatic account in the book is the Israeli seizure during the 6-Day War of June, 1967 of all of East Jerusalem including the walled Old City, and its most precious place in Judaism--the Wailing Wall, to which the Jews had been absolutely denied access by the Jordanian government for nearly two decades.  Though it had no military significance, and entering the Old City would almost certainly entail high risk of urban warfare and numerous casualties (which to some extent did occur), at 9:45 a.m. on June 7, 1967, the tank commanded by Colonel Mordecai Gur entered through the Lions’ (or St. Stephen’s) Gate near the northern end of the east side of the city wall.  Opposition was light, and soon, when contacted over the radio by General Uzi Narkiss (who had himself just arrived at the Lions’ Gate) for his present location, he excitedly replied, “The Temple Mount is ours!”  Narkiss was incredulous, and Gur repeated, “The Temple Mount is ours!  I’m standing near the Mosque of Omar right now.  The Wailing Wall is a minute away.”

 

Defense Minister Moshe Dayan declared that day, “We have united Jerusalem, the divided capital of Israel.  We have returned to our holiest of holy places, never to part from it again.  To our Arab neighbors we extend, also at this hour--and with added emphasis at this hour--our hand of peace.  And to our Christian and Muslim fellow citizens, we solemnly promise full freedom and rights.  We did not come to Jerusalem for the sake of other peoples’ holy places, and not to interfere with the adherents of other faiths, but in order to safeguard its entirety, and to live there together with others, in unity.”  Later that afternoon, Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eschol became the first leader of a Jewish government to visit the Temple site since its loss 1,897 years before.

 

In a matter of days, the hovels built in front of the wall were bull-dozed, and the large plaza familiar today was created.  A week later (June 14) was the Jewish festival of Weeks (Pentecost), a perfect day to visit the newly-liberated site.  On June 15, 1967, the Jerusalem Post, reported that some 200,000 Israelis visited the Western (Wailing Wall) in Old Jerusalem the previous day.  In the light of this vast pilgrimage en masse, it wrote: “If there was anyone, here or elsewhere, who still had any shadow of doubt concerning the future of Jerusalem, yesterday’s pilgrimage provided the answer: under no circumstances, whatever the pressures may be, will the citizens of Israel allow anyone to cut them off from the Wall that stands at the centre of the city and is the essence and reason for its existence.”

 

The book is well-furnished with photos, maps and a good index.  A very informative read.

 

---Doug Kutilek

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Toward Rediscovering the Old Testament by Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.  Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987.  219 pp., hardback.

 

This is one in the numerous series of “Toward” books by Dr. Kaiser (one is led to wonder, “Does he never arrive?”).  Here he calls for a renewed recognition of the importance of the Old Testament to contemporary Christianity, the need to thoroughly know it, and the importance of its factual accuracy (especially in light of the critics’ attacks to the contrary).  Kaiser traces through several Old Testament themes--promise, Messiah (including His Deity), salvation, the Holy Spirit, and holiness, as well as issues in the interpretation and application of the OT today.   Finally, he notes remaining issues and needs in OT study including a truly useful critical edition of the OT text.

 

An adequate and instructive, though not “exciting” book.  (I am also currently reading Kaiser’s commentary on Exodus in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary set, and find it excellent).  I shall be reading more from Kaiser’s pen.

---Doug Kutilek

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