In Search of the Prophesied Ten Kings–Part One: The Rise of Empires and the Fall of the Commonwealth of Israel (Resources & Notes)

[Note:  The last declared king of the Neo-Assyrian Empire was Ashur-uballit II who was killed in 609 BCE, marking the beginning of a seventy-year period of Babylonian domination in the regions of Mesopotamia, Central Asia, eastern Asia Minor and Palestine (Jer. 25:11-12).]

[Note:  Sargon of Akkad (also Agade) is considered to be the founder of the first world-ruling empire—the Akkadian Empire—which had its beginnings with the ancient city-state of Akkad in Mesopotamia.  Akkad was one of four ancient city-states said to be founded by Nimrod in the land of biblical Shinar, commonly equated with Sumer.  In time the Akkadian Empire gave way to two rival, but culturally mutual kingdoms—Assyria and Babylon—noting that Hammurabi created a transitory Babylonian Empire.]

[Note:  Sargon II appropriated his throne-name from the former Assyro-Babylonian Semitic king named Sargon the Great (of Akkad).]

[Note:  The name “Nimrod” is an epithet that is thought to mean “rebel,” and although some historians attempt to reckon him with Gilgamesh and other legendary and historical figures, it is more likely from a chronological perspective that he was the Sumerian ruler named Lugalzagesi.  In time Lugalzagesi conquered and united most of Sumer and he is thought to be the first leader after the Flood to claim that God had made him king over the land of Mesopotamia—from the Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf.]

[Note:  The initial territorial scope of the promise made to Abraham is greater than some would typically think as God promised him “this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates,” which would essentially include much of the productive lands of Egypt and the fertile region of Mesopotamia (Gen. 15:18).  Considering also that the Euphrates is more than 1700 miles long as it rises in Turkey and flows southeast across Syria and through Iraq.

God had also said to Abraham “after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward:  For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever” (Gen. 13:14-15; Deut. 11:24).  To which we add what was said to Joshua as the people of Israel began to settle in the land of Canaan:  “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.  From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites [eastern Anatolia], and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast” (Jos. 1:3-4).

This would of course envelope, but leave unsettled by Israel, the land given to the children of Lot (Ammon and Moab), and also the land given to some of the descendants of Esau at Mt. Seir (Deut. 2:4-9).]

[Note:  Abraham’s son Isaac died some years before the reign of Hammurabi, but Isaac was alive when his grandson Joseph was sold into slavery, noting that Isaac died about one year before Joseph came to power in Egypt.  This was about the time the Hyksos—“Rulers of Foreign Lands”—began to rule in Egypt, which meant that for a time Hammurabi and Joseph were contemporaries.

Also, Jacob was alive when Abraham died, but he was also alive—and Isaac also—when Eber died.  Eber was a great-grandson of Shem who was born nearly seven decades after the Flood.  Consequently Jacob was turning about 20 years of age when the last of the known post-Flood patriarchs died in Shem’s line, because Eber had lived beyond the time of Shem, Arphaxad, Salah, Peleg, Reu, Serug, Nahor, Terah (Abraham’s father) and also Abraham.]

[Note:  “Chedorlaomer journeyed southward as far as to El-paran, probably the ancient name of Ezion-geber at the head of the Gulf of Aqabah.  In the southern part of the country the eastern confederacy defeated the Horites, or Hurrians who had settled at Mount Seir (Edom).  On the northward march they went to En Mishpat-Kadesh, in the Amalekite country southeast of Beer-sheba, and then to Hazezon-tamar (En-gedi) which was occupied by Amorites.  The king of Sodom and his allies fought Chedorlaomer in the Valley of Siddim, with disastrous results.  In their flight some of the men of Sodom and Gomorrah fell into the slime pits while others escaped to the mountains.  The enemy was able to take as booty all of the property which had to be left behind, and a number of men, including Lot” (Old Testament History, “An Episode of World Politics,” by Charles F. Pfeiffer, Baker Book House, 1979, p. 67).]

[Note:  “In the light of the discoveries at Mari a date of 2150 B.C. for Hammurabi appears too high…  The Mari documents spoke of Shamshi-Adad I as an Amorite contemporary of Hammurabi, which brings him into the latter part of the Mari Age.  On the basis of this important evidence it is now possible to date Hammurabi about 1728-1686 B.C. with reasonable confidence.  At present it is extremely difficult to arrive with any degree of certainty at the identity of King Amraphel of Shinar, but it is now evident that he was not the same person as Hammurabi of Babylon” (Introduction to the Old Testament, with a comprehensive review of Old Testament studies and a special supplement on the Apocrypha, by R.K. Harrison, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1969, 1982, p. 160).]

[Note:  Some have speculated that Amraphel, king of Shinar, was possibly Nimrod or a successor to Nimrod, but this is chronologically most unlikely.]

[Note:  “In Exodus 19:3-8 the covenant with Abraham and his seed (Gen 12, 15, 17) was renewed with his descendants, now that they had become a great nation” (A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, “Exodus,” by Gleason L. Archer, Jr., Moody Press, 1977, p. 234).]

[Note:  “The Old Testament acknowledges that these promises are fulfilled in part within its own time frame as Isaac is born and from him descends the Israelite nation, as Israel itself occupies Palestine, and as individuals from the nations (Rahab, Naaman, Nebuchadnezzar) turn to Israel’s God.  All of the promises of God, however, including those to Abraham ‘are “Yes” in Christ’ (2 Cor. 1:20), and Christians are now considered ‘Abraham’s offspring’ (Rom. 9:8)” (An Introduction to the Old Testament, by Raymond B. Killard and Tremper Longman III, Zondervan Publishing House, 1994, “Genesis,” p. 56).]

[Note:  It is difficult for nations to use a completely unbiased language in diplomatic matters, given that a significant number of Christian principles have become an accepted part of the diplomatic discourse of Western Europe and the United States.  Likewise, we should expect to find that some of the diplomatic dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis is conducted with the knowledge and understanding of the promise given to Abraham.  Also we should expect to find that within the reconciling diplomatic dialogue between the nation of Israel and the Arab states that there are genuine impasses that exist between the influential religions of Islam, Christianity and Judaism as a result of the political nature of the covenant made with Abraham.]

[Note:  Website: United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, (2016 Annual Report).]

[Note:  The significance of understanding the role of religion in diplomacy is well stated by former US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright:  “If diplomacy is the art of persuading others to act as we would wish, effective foreign policy requires that we comprehend why others act as they do.  Fortunately, the constitutional requirement that separates state from church in the United States does not also insist that the state be ignorant of the church, mosque, synagogue, pagoda, and temple.  In the future, no American ambassador should be assigned to a country where religious feelings are strong unless he or she has a deep understanding of the faiths commonly practiced there.  Ambassadors and their representatives, wherever they are assigned, should establish relationships with local religious leaders” (The Mighty and the Almighty, Reflections on America, God, and World Affairs, by Madeleine Albright, with Bill Woodward, Harper Collins Publishers, 2006, pp. 75-76.)]

[Note:  “Apocalyptic activism, in fact, has reached the highest levels of American politics and policy-making.  When the Senate debated whether Israel ought to withdraw the Jewish settlements on the West Bank, for example, Senator James Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma, relied on the Bible to justify the continued occupation of Hebron:  ‘It is at this place where God appeared to Abram and said, “I am giving you this land,”’ he declared on the floor of the Senate, quoting the book of Genesis.  This is not a political battle at all.  It is a contest over whether or not the word of God is true.

“Very few politicians, diplomats, or generals who hold such beliefs are courageous (or foolish) enough to speak about them so openly.  For that reason, it is all too easy to dismiss as a religious eccentric someone who advocates the use of the Bible as a document of American foreign policy.  But, as Senator Inhofe reminds us, true belief and Bible literalism have never been confined to backwater churches where the congregants handle snakes and speak to each other in tongues.  Every now and then, the apocalyptic idea explodes into the headlines and reminds the rest of us that it has been lurking in the shadows all along” (A History of the End of the World, How the Most Controversial Book in the Bible Changed the Course of Western Civilization, by Jonathan Kirsch, Harper San Francisco, 2006, pp. 238-239).]

[Note:  Expositors typically comment that the “fullness of the Gentiles” is a reference to the conversion of Gentiles before the return of Jesus.

This conclusion however is not without some difficulties, because it is an interpretation that assumes that salvation is limited to the period of time from the resurrection of Jesus to the return of Jesus.  And it is also a conclusion that leaves out the belief in a second resurrection for the purpose of salvation, ignoring of course any consideration of Ezekiel’s prophecy regarding the resurrection of the “house of Israel” (Eze. 37:1-14; Jn. 5:25).

Importantly then we should consider that Paul is addressing the timeframe of when national Israel’s “blindness” will end—at the return of the deliverer—when the “fullness of the Gentiles” is complete, which does not allow us to equate this time with a spiritual conversion of the Gentiles.  Noting also that Christ’s return comes at a time when Jerusalem is being dominated and “trodden down” by Gentile nations, while many from the modern 12 tribes of Israel are dispersed into a captivity (Isa. 59:19-20; Lk. 21:22-24).]

[Note:  “More often, the Judeo-Christian tradition traces the origin of Judaism to Abraham, who lived approximately eleven generations after Noah.  Here, one encounters the second covenant between Allah and man, as Allah reportedly established a new covenant with Abraham.  Once again, Genesis only sparsely reports the details of this covenant.  In short, this covenant can is summarized so that:  Abraham and his descendants were to keep the covenant, and were to practice circumcision; Allah promised He would be the god of Abraham and his descendants through Isaac, peace be upon him; and Abraham and his descendants would be multitudinous.  Further, Abraham and his descendants through Isaac would inherit the land of Palestine, and the covenant.  The whole of history then pivoted on this covenant, the relationship between Allah and man was forever changed, and a special relationship was established between Allah and the descendants of Isaac.

“It is important to note that the Judeo-Christian tradition sees this covenant between Allah and Abraham as being one of exclusive inheritance.  Only Isaac and his descendants, of all of Abraham’s many children, could inherit the covenant with Allah.  The exclusiveness of inheritance was further refined, when it was maintained that the inheritance of the covenant passed over Isaac’s elder son, Esau, in favor of Isaac’s younger son Jacob, peace be upon him.  As Jacob’s name was later changed to Israel, making him the eponymous ancestor of the 12 tribes of Israel, the exclusivity of the covenant was seen to reside thereafter with Israel, and with Israel alone” (The Cross & The Crescent, An Interfaith Dialogue between Christianity and Islam, by Jerald F. Kirks, International Islamic Publishing House, 2001, 2008, pp. 19-20).]

[Note:  In November of 1947 a United Nations commission recommended that Palestine be partitioned into Jewish and Arab sectors and that Jerusalem be declared an international city.]

[Note:  “One cannot define the national security of Israel without reference to the principles of Zionism, any more than one could define the national security of the United States without reference to the principles of the U.S. Constitution.  Though it is common for nations to trade assets with one another for purposes of commerce or to solve quarrels, there are some things that a nation can never trade away unless it is willing to change its basic character.  Nations that try to buy peace with aggressive neighbors by trading national rights often wind up with neither sovereignty nor peace” (The Mideast Peace Process, An Autopsy, Edited by Neal Kozodoy, “Land for No Peace,” by Douglas J. Feith, Encounter Books, 2002, Neal Kozodoy, pp. 31-32).]

[Note:  Even though the nation of Israel cannot—from a biblical perspective—use the promise given to Abraham as a God-given right to claim a landed inheritance in Palestine today, it is certain that there is the political right for Israel to claim a nation-status and a place of statehood in Palestine.  Keeping in mind that this statehood was granted to the Israelis by right of international mandate as understood from declarations issued by the United Nations.

In light of this some have considered that the promise given to Abraham gave legal title of the land of Canaan to the people of Israel, and thereby it is assumed that the promise can be used to prove a legitimate ownership of the land in Palestine.

However, the biblical evidence would tell us that it is God who holds title to the land, as he does with the whole earth, and what he granted to the people of Israel was an entitlement to the land based on obedience to a covenant that was established at Mt. Sinai.  And we know this for the simple fact that God was able to give the land to Abraham as an inheritance, and he also was able to renew the inheritance with Abraham’s descendants.  Keeping in mind that some will not inherit the kingdom of God and the land that is associated with that kingdom, even though it was established by a promise from God (Deut. 4:1).

Summarily, we can say that even though God promised a land as an inheritance in lineal perpetuity, and for eternity in the context of the new covenant, the right of inheritance was not without stipulations, and therefore God was not obligated to give them the inheritance forever should national Israel break the covenant.  In a sense then we could say that the stipulations kept the inheritance from being given to a rebellious and destructive people so that they could live at enmity with God for eternity.  Thus we can say then that the Ten Commandments are the qualities that define our reconciliation with God, as understood from the individual covenant each person makes with God through Jesus.]

[Note:  For those who accept the current existence of the 12 tribes of Israel there is the question of whether or not they now possess their lands by reason of the promise given to Abraham.

What we find in Scripture is that as a result of Israel’s rejection of the first covenant there is the expectation of a second covenant, and so we have by reason of these two covenants a suspending of the promise for national Israel.  And in this regard we should consider that the people of Israel have been guided to their respective lands by means of struggle and conflict as they migrated westward with many of the Indo-European peoples.  So even though they may find themselves in those lands that pertained to their individual tribal blessings, they do not possess these things by right of an inheritance as understood from the promise given to Abraham.

Consider also that some believe that the covenant by promise fell to the church by reason of Israel’s rejection of the first covenant, as understood by the promise of eternal life through Christ.

However, the church represents the called according to the gospel of the kingdom of God, but they do not represent the “first fruits” who are understood to be inheritors of the kingdom of God according to the promise given to Abraham (Jam. 1:18; Rev. 14:4).  And this is further understood from what is said in John 6:44, which does not mean a call to form an assembly, but rather it means a maturing to the character of Jesus—a conversion by means of the spirit of God and the working of the logos of God to bring us to the fullness and stature of Christ (Eph. 4:13).]

[Note:  The 1993 Israel-PLO accord was an attempt to secure a land-for-peace trade in the hope of establishing a peaceful solution to the conflicts in Palestine.  However, the Palestinians could not offer an authoritative promise of peace, and the Israelis could not offer a fully supported restoration of land to the Palestinians.

Leaving little doubt that the promise made to Abraham plays a significant political role in the Middle East peace process, which is further complicated by the political involvement of Western Christianity and Islamic Fundamentalism.  Noting that Western Christianity—in general—accepts the validity of the promise made to Abraham and the right for Israel to exist as a nation-state in Palestine, while Islamic Fundamentalism—generally speaking—is in support of establishing a homeland for the Palestinians in Palestine.]

[Note:  As we continue to observe a marginalizing of American and Western European Christian values, we can see within Christianity an increasing willingness to diminish the authority of biblical doctrine as it is sometimes seen as an obstruction to social equality and the formation of a completely democratic society.  And this may someday influence the nature of the diplomatic dialogue of those nations who have supported Israel’s right to exist as a nation-state, causing some nations to see the promise made to Abraham as an obstruction to peace in the Middle East.]

[Note:  Under Titus the temple in Jerusalem was burned in AD 70, and in AD 135, after the defeat of the Kokhba Revolt, Hadrian merged Roman Syria with Roman Judaea, forming the province of Syria Palaestina, and on the site of the ruins of Jerusalem he built the Roman town of Aelia Capitolina.]

[Note:  “Because the United Nations plan had not been approved by both Arabs and Jews, Britain refused to participate, and the British high commissioner for Palestine departed on May 14, 1948, removing a British presence in the area.  On that same day the General Zionist Council at Tel Aviv issued its Declaration of Establishment, which announced the formation of the Jewish state of Israel.  The declaration stated that ‘the State of Israel will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles.’  This policy was formalized in the 1950 Law of Return, which in effect ‘confers on every diaspora Jew the immediate right to become an Israeli citizen.’  The proposal Herzl made in his book The Jews State had been realized” (Islam, Christianity, and the West, A Troubled History, by Rollin Armour, Sr., Orbis Books, 2004, p. 161).]

[Note:  The promise given to Abraham does not constitute a bias against the Arab world, nor should the promise of a landed inheritance be used as a means for selfish political ambitions, which requires its fulfillment to be brought about by Jesus and not the current political factions that are in conflict over the city of Jerusalem and the geopolitical region of Palestine.]

[Note:  “Fundamentalism is not an Arabic word.  Western media use it to describe ultraconservative movements in Islam.  It basically means Muslims look to the past for guidance.  Specifically they believe the basics of the Quran, the sayings and actions (hadith) of the prophet Muhammad, and the experiences of the first three centuries of Muslims should serve as the guide for all later Islamic practices.  Islamic Fundamentalism has incorporated to some extent the following concerns:

–The internal degeneration of the outward decline of the Islamic religion

–A return to the essentials of the teachings of the Quran, the hadith, and the sharia

–A call for jihad, a struggle and warfare, to rescue the Islamic community from decline and corruption and to establish its true and correct standing

–A critique of and attack upon any forms of imperialism and colonialism advanced both by outside influence and tolerated by Islamic leaders themselves

–A judgment against the moral decadence of Western values seen in the light of secularism and modernism compared to the straight path of Islam

–An affirmation of the rights of Palestinians for a homeland, for the right of Muslims to their holy sites in Jerusalem, and condemnation of Zionism” (What You Need to Know about Islam & Muslims, “Islamic Fundamentalism:  Struggle Between New and Old,” by George W. Braswell Jr., Broadman and Holman Publishers, 2000, p. 90).]

[Note:  “Clearly, Zionism was a secular movement nourished by a religious narrative.  Zionism also cannot be divorced from Judaism, because it defined its political goals in terms of the stories of the Hebrew Scriptures (a.k.a., Old Testament).  It took up the story of the people that possessed but lost the promised land—the story told in the biblical books of Genesis through Kings—and promised to continue that story to a happy ending by restoring the people to the land and the land to the people.  That is how Zionism formed a political movement based on a religious myth, by retelling in nineteenth- and twentieth-century terms the biblical story of the Jewish people, which possessed and lost its land and aspired to return to it” (Religious Foundations of Western Civilization, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Edited by Jacob Neusner, “Zionism, Imperialism, and Nationalism:  Zionism,” by Jacob Neusner, Abingdon Press, 2006, p. 377.)]

[Note:  The promise made to Abraham cannot be used as evidence in diplomatic dialogue to demonstrate the current legality of Israel’s territorial claims in the region of Palestine.  Likewise, Palestinians cannot use invalid ancestral claims to demonstrate that Palestine was their historical homeland in what was formerly called the land of Canaan.]

[Note:  Until the restoration of the inheritance to all Israel occurs, the promise given to Abraham will continue to be subjected to many challenges, because the covenant made with Abraham—as recorded in Scripture—is not admissible in today’s diplomatic and political climate, and so its applicability will remain in question until the return of Jesus.

Nonetheless, the covenant made by promise remains a political motivation that strengthens the resolve of the current political remnant of the former kingdom of Judah that now reserves statehood in the Middle East as the nation of Israel.  Which leads us to conclude that the covenant made with Abraham is at the heart of the thinking and emotions of the Israelis, who will not surrender the political vision that the promise creates for the future, which is the promised reestablishment of the commonwealth in the geographic region of Palestine.]

[Note:  The solution at present is a matter of cooperation among the Arab nations and the Israelis to relieve the plight of the Palestinians.  Otherwise, the Palestinian refugee issue remains the world’s most volatile political concern, with attitudes nurtured and hardened in poverty and political restraint, which has the potential to embroil many nations in a world conflict.]    ( In Search of the Prophesied Ten Kings–Part One: The Rise of Empires and the Fall of the Commonwealth of Israel)