Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Of Vineyards and Kings

The Bezeq guy just left on this rainy Judean afternoon; hopefully now all will be okay in cyberland. Ran my new 'convergence plan' theory by him but he reassured me that Bezeq is not the enemy so we have nothing to worry about. We did agree that sometimes it's hard to know who the enemy is, though, so I'll hold the thought.

Meanwhile I will post 2 days running just in case he's wrong.

The usual disarray that passes for the norm in Israeli public life is with us this morning, looks like Olmert and Peretz are still proclaiming their greatness even after commissions find them culpable for last summer's failures. And all this reminds me of the brilliance and timelessness of Bible stories. (I am far from a scholar but like to relate what little I do know to current events. Keep things in perspective. Good word, that.)

So what does the news have to do with the Bible? A few months ago I had the rare opportunity to visit Northern Samaria, an area usually off limits to civilians because of the proliferation of terror cells, specifically Islamic Jihad. I had organized a bus as part of my former job and we had the requisite permits and security. We visited the city of Shomron (Samaria) which gave the area its name, built by King Omri long, long ago. There's an area there that was once an altar for idol worship. Our guide took the opportunity to say a prayer for the successful eradication of idol worship from the land of Israel, which got me thinking. You can say a lot about Islam and their, well, unusual take on the sanctity of human life, among other things, but one thing they are definitely not and that is idol worshippers. (I'm an optimistic kind of person, like to give credit where I can). So when we were promised that idol worship, which gave our prophets major headaches in the days when there was real prophecy, would be removed from here, it was. Oh, we're still not having an easy time reclaiming the homeland, but idol worship isn't one of the problems.

Hurray for progress.

What was even more fascinating that day was the discussion comparing the 2 Israelite kings, Ahab and Saul. On the face of it Saul was the better guy; Ahab was married to Jezebel (the original, so I'll say no more) who among other things had him kill Navot and take his vineyard in a version of 'eminent domain' right near Shomron, which is why the topic came up. Elijah the Prophet then sought him out, asking "have you murdered and also inherited", (a sentence that the people of Gush Katif justifiably cried last year to Hamas when they took over Gaza). But Ahab, instead of blaming the wife, which would have been par for the course (think Adam and the Tree way, way back in the Garden) accepted responsibility for his actions. Compare this to Saul who blames the people for his not killing Amalek (see Haman, Purim story) instead of doing the mea culpa thing to Samuel, that era's gloom and doomer.

Getting to the point: Saul loses the kingship then and there, his royal line ends with him. Yet Ahab's descendents, like Omri, continue to rule. That's how seriously God himself takes the standards of leadership. We don't expect perfection, but we do need responsibility and accountability.

Neither of which do we have in this generation. But certain messages stay very relevent through time. Kudos to the author.

Now how we solve this sans overt divine guidance is something else entirely. Ideas?


david said...


David Waldman here.

Good luck with your blog.

I was begging Beni Alon to have a blog and he said one of his team deals with hi-tech stuff ...

knock them dead

YMedad said...

Well, some people think there is an element of paganism extant in Islam like this article and this article. I know the Rambam thinks differently but academic article touches on the Rambam's thinking.