Online Midweek November 4

The Prophet’s Song

Remembering: In the Jubilee everyone is restored to their possession.

For the nation of Israel there is one possession in the world that ranks above all others.

That possession is Jerusalem

There are a number of reasons why that is the case:

David’s involvement played a huge role. Jerusalem was a city that David’s men had taken for him. Although told that the blind and lame could hold it against David’s forces David’s men took it by going in through the tunnel that supplied water to the city.

(See a brief account in II Samuel 5:6-10.) A more detailed account is given in I Chronicles 11:4-9 naming Joab as the leader of those who took the city. The verses following in both accounts tell of the growth of the Kingdom of Israel under David’s leadership.

Beyond David though there were other reasons why Jerusalem meant and means so much to the Jewish people

Jesus’ words in Mathew 5:34-35 show us how the Jewish people regarded Jerusalem, when He said:

34 But I say to you, take no oath at all, neither by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 nor by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.

This is reflected in the writings of the Old Testament.

I Kings 14:21 says:

21Now Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned for seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the Lord had chosen from all the tribes of Israel to put His name there. And his mother’s name was Naamah the Ammonitess.

God’s love for and choosing of Jerusalem held true, even during the reign of wicked kings as II Kings 21:1-9 makes clear:

1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned for fifty-five years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Hephzibah. He did evil in the sight of the Lord, in accordance with the abominations of the nations whom the Lord dispossessed before the sons of Israel. For he rebuilt the high places which his father Hezekiah had destroyed; and he erected altars for Baal and made an Asherah, just as Ahab king of Israel had done, and he worshiped all the heavenly lights and served them. And he built altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord had said,  “In Jerusalem I will put My name. 5 He built altars for all the heavenly lights in the two courtyards of the house of the Lord. 6 And he made his son pass through the fire, interpreted signs, practiced divination, and used mediums and spiritists. He did great evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking Him to anger. 7 Then he put the carved image of Asherah that he had made in the house of which the Lord had said to David and to his son Solomon, “In this house and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen from all the tribes of Israel, I will put My name forever. 8 And I will not make the feet of Israel wander anymore from the land which I gave their fathers, if only they will take care to act in accordance with everything that I have commanded them, and with all the Law that My servant Moses commanded them.” 9 But they did not listen, and Manasseh encouraged them to do evil, more than the nations whom the Lord eliminated from the presence of the sons of Israel.

II Chronicles 6:6 record God, Himself as saying:

but I have chosen Jerusalem so that My name might be there, and I have chosen David to be over My people Israel.’

He speaks even more forcefully in Zechariah 3:2 which says:

 And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a log snatched from the fire?”

For the Jewish people, Jerusalem (also known as Zion) even more than being the City and Capital of David, was the city of God. Psalm 48 is a Psalm entirely devoted to praising the city of Jerusalem and God’s choosing it and His relationship with and love for this city. The opening verses of this Psalm say:

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised
In the city of our God, His holy mountain.


2 Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth,
Is Mount Zion in the far north,
The city of the great King.
3 
In its palaces,
God has made Himself known as a stronghold.

In 1948 when Israel was restored to the land (really a fraction of her original holdings) Jerusalem was not in the land ceded to the Nation of Israel.

From the time of their dispersion the Jewish people have had songs of lament over Jerusalem, the city that holds a special place in the heart of all Jewish people. Perhaps the most well known of these ancient laments is Psalm 137 which in part says:

By the waters of Babylon,
there we sat down and wept,
when we remembered Zion.

2On the willows there
we hung up our lyres.


3For there our captors
required of us songs,
and our tormentors, mirth, saying,
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

4How shall we sing the Lord’s song
in a foreign land?


5If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
let my right hand forget its skill!


6Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth,
if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem
above my highest joy! (ESV)

The ancient lament was repeated in a modern lament that took the 1967 National Israeli Music Festival by storm, touching the hearts and minds of the Jewish people as no other song. Written by Naomi Shemer and performed by Shuli Natan, this was the first public singing of the song, although the same singer may have performed it once before for a portion of the Israeli Army. (Lyrics to the song as translated into English appear at the end of this.

In short order this song swept across the Nation of Israel, people everywhere in the land (religious and non-religious) were singing it, including and perhaps most especially, in the Israeli Army for whom the singer made a number of appearances to present the song.

Behind all of the the Hand of God, using the actions, decisions and events of men, was moving unseen.

On the very day that “Jerusalem of Gold” was first sung to the nation events were being set in motion that would bring Jerusalem back to the Jewish people. Enemy troops were moving across the desert to mass at Israel’s borders.

In May 1967, on the eve of Israel’s anniversary an Official of the Soviet Union sent a false and misleading report to Gamal Nasser the President of Egypt stating that Israel was intending to launch an invasion. Nasser responded by sending troops into the Sinai Peninsula towards Israel’s borders. On May 16 he demanded that the United Nations peacekeeping troops leave the Sinai. The UN complied, thus removing the buffer zone between the two nations. Tens of thousands of Egyptian troops were now poised on Israel’s borders. On May 22 Nasser announced the closing of the Straits of Tiran, cutting off Israel’s only shipping route through the Red Sea, an action which is an act of war. On May 30 Egypt entered into a military pact with Jordan and an Egyptian General was placed in charge of Jordanian forces. By June more than 200,000 enemy troops were at the Israeli-Egyptian border.

To sum up the military and societal situation:

The Soviet Union had supplied the anti-Israeli forces with more than twice as many tanks and four times as many antiaircraft guns than Israel could muster.

Nasser is on record as saying “Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel.”

This went throughout the entire Arab world and was picked p by Israel as well. According to those who were there at the time a sense of doom fell on the Israeli Nation.

Coffins were stockpiled by the government and rabbis consecrated public parks to serve as cemeteries. The Jewish people were fearing a Second Holocaust and perhaps even the end of the nation of Israel.

On June 3rd 1967 during an emergency meeting of Israel’s prime minister and the nation’s chief military and political leaders was held. Although it would need to be ratified by the official Israeli cabinet a decision was made in that meeting that Israel could not afford to wait for her enemies to strike. A decision, ratified the next day by the cabinet, was made launch a preemptive strike.

One of the men present in that meeting and involved in that decision was Yigael Yadin, the high ranking military man and eminently qualified archaeologist who had uncovered Masada, in a sense leading Israel’s return there. Although he didn’t know it at the time the decision made meant that he would also take part in leading Israel’s return to Jerusalem.

According to the plan (which took place), the government would call for a full mobilization of all Israeli men up to age 50.

Looking at this thru the lens of the Jubilee: This meant that every Israeli man who fought in that war would have been born in the Jubilee year of 1917 or in the intervening time between the 2 Jubilees.

This meeting took place on a Saturday, as the Sabbath was ending. The appointed Scripture for that particular Sabbath was Numbers 1:1-3 which says:

1The Lord spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tent of meeting, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, saying, 

2 “Take a census of all the congregation of the people of Israel, by clans, by fathers’ houses, according to the number of names, every male, head by head. 3 From twenty years old and upward, all in Israel who are able to go to war, you and Aaron shall list them, company by company. (ESV)

As Israel’s leaders were preparing for war this Scripture was being recited, chanted and proclaimed by Jewish people in Israel and all around the world.

The Scripture at the end of the Six Day War was also significant. It was Numbers 4:1-4,

1Then the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, 

2 “Take a census of the descendants of Kohath from among the sons of Levi, by their families, by their fathers’ households, 

3 from thirty years and upward, even to fifty years old, all who enter the service to do the work in the tent of meeting. 

4 This is the work of the descendants of Kohath in the tent of meeting, concerning the most holy things.

(see also verses 23, 30, 35, 39, 43, 47)

Although this Scripture deals with Priests rather than soldiers it is significant that the age of 50 is listed as the age at which active service ends. Additionally the next study will show the historical link between ancient Israel’s soldiers and priest.

Israel’s proactive strike is perhaps best summed up by Cahn in The Oracle, p 154:

On June 5, 1967 , the Israeli air force in a sudden lightning strike destroyed the air force of the surrounding Arab nations.”

For Israel this was a multi front war:

They were facing the Syrian army to the North and Egypt to the South:

Jerusalem was in the hands of Jordan. The Israeli government at this point was battling for it’s very existence, not for the city of Jerusalem. Had Jordan heeded Israel’s pleas and remained neutral they would have retained Jerusalem.

However the mystery of the Jubilee was being fulfilled

The initial focus of Israel was not Jerusalem. The soldiers initial orders kept them away from Jerusalem. Instead they focused on Mt. Scopus, east of the city. It contained numerous Israeli establishments: military, educational and medical. This was also the mountain from which the Roman General Titus commanded the troops and operation that destroyed ancient Israel. Within an hour after the Israeli airstrikes Jordanian forces, under the command of an Egyptian general were engaged. As Mt. Scopus had played a role in Jerusalem being lost to the Israeli people, it would not play a role in it’s restoration. The word was finally given to Colonel Motta Gur, commander of the 55th Paratroopers Brigade to take the Old City. And just as the men of Titus had swooped down from the North to take Jerusalem, Motta’s men did the same. Motta’s radio transmission of “The Temple Mount is in our hands.” was heard all over the nation.

The soldiers who had taken the city made their way to the Western Wall and reacted in a variety of ways: some wept, some cheered, some prayed, some just stood in awe.

Then they began to spontaneously sing “Jerusalem of Gold”, the song presented to the nation just mere weeks before.

When Naomi Shemer, the composer of the song heard of the liberation of Jerusalem she added 2 verses to her original composition, turning it into a song of joy. The words, including the added two verses and some additional information appear below.

The mountain air is clear as wine
And the scent of pines
Is carried on the breeze of twilight
With the sound of bells.


And in the slumber of tree and stone
Captive in her dream
The city that sits solitary
And in its midst is a wall.

Chorus:
Jerusalem of gold
And of copper, and of light
Behold I am a violin for all your songs. (twice)

How the cisterns have dried
The market-place is empty
And no one frequents the Temple Mount
In the Old City.

And in the caves in the mountain
Winds are howling
And no one descends to the Dead Sea
By way of Jericho.

Chorus:

But as I come to sing to you today,
And to adorn crowns to you (i.e. to tell your praise)
I am the smallest of the youngest of your children (i.e. the least worthy of doing so)
And of the last poet (i.e. of all the poets born).

For your name scorches the lips
Like the kiss of a seraph
If I forget thee, Jerusalem,
Which is all gold…
Chorus:

We have returned to the cisterns
To the market and to the market-place
A ram’s horn calls out on the Temple Mount
In the Old City.

And in the caves in the mountain
Thousands of suns shine –
We will once again descend to the Dead Sea
By way of Jericho!

Chorus…

Jerusalem of Gold” (Hebrew: ירושלים של זהב‎, Yerushalayim Shel Zahav) is a popular Israeli song written by Naomi Shemer in 1967. The original song described the Jewish people’s 2000-year longing to return to Jerusalem; Shemer added a final verse after the Six-Day War to celebrate Jerusalem’s unification under Israeli control.
At that time, the Old City was under Jordanian rule; Jews had been barred from entering, and many holy sites had been desecrated. Only three weeks after the song was published, the Six-Day War broke out. The song was the battle cry and morale booster of the Israeli troops. Shemer even sang it for them before the war and festival, making them among the first in the world to hear it. On 7 June, the Israel Defense Forces captured the eastern part of Jerusalem and the Old City from the Jordanians. When Shemer heard the paratroopers singing “Jerusalem of Gold” at the Western Wall, she wrote a final verse, reversing the phrases of lamentation found in the second verse. The line about shofars sounding from the Temple Mount is a reference to an event that actually took place on 7 June. (From the Website Bagels.tv)