The Palestinians—the Indigenous People in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
In this article the present author will make a proposal whose solely intent is to explain certain facts and observations he has made. This study on the situation in the Middle East is not meant to be conclusive and exhaustive, but to be seen in a different light and from a particular perspective of the Scripture. And speaking of the Middle East, we cannot afford not to speak of the Palestinians—the indigenous people in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan—the Palestinians in the Bible.
This article is a continuation of the series of articles concerning the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. For more insight on the topic the reader is encouraged to refer first to the preceding articles: Within Three Years the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is to be Despised, The Time When the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan will Exalt Against Israel’s Borders, and The Hidden Remnant.
With that being said, we read from Genesis 25.
Two nations from one mother
Rivkah the wife of Yitschak (Isaac) was barren. YHVH answered his prayer and she conceived. But the children struggled together in her womb (Gen 25:21-22). In this she saw a bad sign that the fruits of her womb might not secure the blessing of the heavenly promise made to her husband. In her intense trouble she cried out, “If it be so, why am I alive? as she sought counsel from YHVH.
And YHVH said to her,
Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples shall be separated from your bowels. And one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older serve the younger. (Gen 25:23)
That was a heavenly answer with a prophetic meaning that she carried two nations in her womb, one stronger than the other; and that the older or first-born should serve the younger. Let us also notice that these two nations will be separated from her body. Why is it necessary for the Torah to tell us that they will be separated from her body, as if it is not natural for the fruit of the womb to leave the mother’s body, if not to tell us that the two nations will be separate from birth and will be two independent, not united or joint in some way nations?
And why is it necessary for the Torah to tell us that Esav was the older and Ya’akov was the younger, as if it is not obvious in the following verses that Esav came out first and Ya’akov second? The Hebrew words for “older” and “younger” do not only refer to the age of the twins, but may be also to Esav’s much larger physical size compared to Ya’akov, and may be to the size of the two nations. And indeed, as we see later in the Scripture, the Edomites were more numerous than Israel.
And when she delivered the twins (Gen 25:24-26), the first-born was of a reddish-brown color, hence he was also called Edom (red) and hairy which was a sign in this instance of excessive sensual vigor and wildness. But the second came out holding the heel of the first, a sign of his future attitude towards his brother. From these circumstances the children received their names: the older was called Esav (Edom) and the younger Ya’akov (Israel), heel-holder (Gen 27:36), just as in an attempt to protect himself (his head) from his brother’s the heel.
As it is written in Rom 9:13, “Ya’akov have I loved, but Esav I have hated.” echoing Mal 1:3 some scholars have taken this to mean that YHVH loved Ya’akov and hated Esav while they were still in their mother’s womb, because one was good and the other evil.
But the Scripture comes to teach us that the struggle in Rivkah’s womb between Ya’akov and Esav was not at all influenced by their personal inclinations of good and evil, as these inclinations could not yet exist before birth and could only be manifested when the personality is well developed.
Rather, the struggle between Ya’akov and Esav represents their personalities that would develop and exist within the nations that would come out from their loins even as they were fighting in their mother’s womb. And YHVH would love Ya’akov and hate Esav not because they were good and evil while in the mother’s womb, because YHVH could not possibly hate someone before he has done evil, but because of what these two nations had done later in the history.
This principle we see in The Book of Jubilee 19:15-16, where we read,
And Avraham loved Ya’akov, but Yitschak loved Esav. And Avraham saw the deeds of Esav, and he knew that in Ya’akov should his name and seed be called; and he called Rivkah and gave commandment regarding Ya’akov, for he knew that she (too) loved Ya’akov much more than Esav.
The difference in the characters of the two brothers was soon shown in a situation which became the turning-point in their lives and more particularly when Esav returned home one day from the field quite exhausted, and seeing Ya’akov who was making a dish of lentils, he asked for some to eat.
Ya’akov taking advantage of his brother’s hunger made him sell his birthright. The birthright consisted afterwards in a double portion of the father’s inheritance, the rule over the brethren and the entire family, and the title to the blessing of the promise, which included the future possession of the land of Canaan and of covenant with YHVH.
Here is the place to say that neither of them had the right to sell nor buy the birthright of the first-born. Esav and Ya’akov were not in the position to do that; that was their father’s right to do. But what this story is telling us is that Ya’akov was eager to take the responsibility of the first-born, while Esav, who also knew it, attached no value to it. The only thing of value to him was the carnal sensation of enjoyment of the present. Perhaps that was the moment when YHVH hated Esav who despised the birthright for a bowl of lentils, which rendered him unfit to be the heir and possessor of the promise.
The three notorious Edomites
Esav married two wives and that not from his own relatives in Mesopotamia, as his father did, but from among the Canaanites whom Elohim had cast off. Esav’s foreign wives became “bitterness of spirit to Yitschak and Rivkah” (Gen 26:34-35) and a cause of deep trouble to his parents, on account of their evil Canaanitish character, which later formed the evil character of his people. Then he married the daughters of Ishmael and moved into the land of Seir east of the Jordan River (Gen 32:3) by driving the Horites from their land. Those personal choices which Esav made well established the bond between the Edomites and Ishmaelites (Arabs).
This story of Esav indicates that he was indeed living up to the words of his father’s prophecy over him in Gen 27:40.
And by your sword you are to live, and serve your brother. And it shall be, when you grow restless, that you shall break his yoke from your neck. And Esav hated Ya’akov because of the blessing with which his father blessed him, and Esav said in his heart, “The days of mourning for my father draw near, then I am going to kill my brother Ya’akov.” (Gen 27:40-41)
The blood bond between the Edomites with the Canaanites and the Arabs, is something we should keep in mind as we will advance in this study.
When the patriarch Yitschak discerned in his son Esav his blood bond and its future attitude to its brother-nation, he promised Edom, not freedom from the dominion of Israel (for he was to serve his younger and smaller brother, as YHVH had predicted before their birth), but only a repeated struggle for freedom from Israel. And so, it was.
The historical relation of Edom to Israel assumed the form of a constant servitude and revolts. This we see from the history: after a long period of initial independence, the Edomites were defeated by King Sha’ul (1Sa 14:47), as we read, “And Sha’ul took the reign over Israel, and fought against all his enemies, against Mo’av, Ammon, Edom, and the Philistines.”
Consequently, the Edomites were subjugated by King David (2Sa 8:14); and revolted against King Shelomoh (Solomon) (1Ki 11:14.), but they remained subject to the Kingdom of Yehudah until the time of Yoram, when they rebelled. They were subdued again by Amatsyahu (Amaziah) (2Ch 25:11.) and remained in subjection under Uzziah and Yotham (2Ki 14:22; 2Ch 26:2).
It was not till the reign of Ahaz that they shook the yoke of Yehudah entirely off (2Ki 16:6; 2Ch 28:17), without Yehudah being ever able to subdue them again. However, they were completely conquered by John Hyrcanus about 129 B.C, compelled to submit to circumcision, and contained in the Jewish state (see Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book 13, Chapter 9:1).
Hyrcanus took also Dora and Marissa, cities of Idumea, and subdued all the Idumeans; and permitted them to stay in that country, if they would circumcise their genitals, and make use of the laws of the Jews; and they were so desirous of living in the country of their forefathers, that they submitted to the use of circumcision, and of the rest of the Jewish ways of living; at which time therefore this befell them, that they were hereafter no other than Jews.
There were two, even three notorious Edomites in Israel’s history. They were all descendants of their father Esav (Edom) from whom they inherited the hatred towards Israel.
From Gen 36:12 we learn that Amalek was the grandson of Esav through his son Eliphaz and therefore the Amalekites are the descendants of Esav. This is the same Amalek who attacked the rearguard of Israel, when Israel left Egypt, killing the most vulnerable among them: the elderly and the sick. Per the sages, Amalek, about whom it was said in Num 24:20, “Amalek was first among the nations, but his latter end is to perish forever” did not come alone to fight against Israel but was first among them in the battle.
Another interpretation is that Amalek was the first heathen nation which opened the conflict of the heathen nations against Israel as the people of YHVH. As his beginning was enmity against Israel, his end would be “to perish forever.” His perishing commenced under King Shaul’s reign and was completed under King Hezekiah. Nor indeed do we ever see the Amalekites but as very cruel and bloody people, particularly seeking to utterly to destroy the nation of Israel.
But above all, the cruelest among the Amalekites was Haman the Agagite of the posterity of Agag, the king of the Amalekites (Est 3:1-15). Had King Shaul utterly wiped out every man, woman, and child as he had been instructed, there would have been no Haman in Est 3:10 and Est 9:24 to avenge the Amalekites against Israel.
Herod (73-1 B.C.) grew up in Judea whose father and grandfather were converted to Judaism. He was appointed governor of Galilee at the age of 25 and was made “King of the Jews” by the Roman senate in approximately 40 BCE. He remained king for around 34 years. Herod had the kingdom, but he still had to fight for it, which took three years, when in 37 B.C. he captured Jerusalem and Judea.
Through Antipater and Herod, the Idumaean dynasty was established over Judea (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book 15, Chapter 7:9), which lasted until the complete dissolution of the Judea in 135 C.E. with the suppression of the Jewish revolt against the Romans. That was the same Herod who ordered all infants in Bethlehem to be killed in order to prevent the coming of the Jewish Messiah on the throne.
What we learn from this brief review of the most notorious Edomites in Israel’s history is that they lived up to the prophecy concerning Esav and his posterity: And by your sword you are to live, and serve your brother. And it shall be, when you grow restless, that you shall break his yoke from your neck. (Gen 27:40-41).
Who are the Edomites today?
But, who are the Edomites today? Do they still exist and where are they?
The Roman Emperor Hadrian (177-138) was notorious for instituting a series of edicts designed to root out the Jewish faith. This led to a Jewish uprising under Bar Kochba. As a result of the uprising, the Romans devastated the land and renamed the former Roman province Judea to “Palestina” after the worst nemesis of Israel: Philistia, and after Jerusalem was destroyed, he renamed whatever was left of the city to Aelia Capitolina.
The emperor was determined to obliterate not only the rebellion of the Jews, Judea, and Jerusalem, but also any memories of Jewish nationhood and identity. The Jews were exiled to the four corners of the empire and Jerusalem completely destroyed. The Temple was destroyed years earlier in 70 C.E. We should keep in mind that the name “Palestina” designating the territory of Judea began to circulate in 135 C.E.
In the beginning, Palestina or “Palestine” was a part of Syria, as during the Turkish Empire’s occupation of Levant. Only after the World War I the boundaries between British-mandated Palestine and French-mandated Syria-Lebanon (under the British and French imperial powers) were drawn on the map and thus the prerequisites for “Palestine” were created.
But that was not “the Palestine” which “the Palestinians” would embrace in their “National Charter” in 1964. For the Arabs “Palestine” was a foreign term, but for political expedience it was quickly and surprisingly accepted. For them “Palestine”, otherwise irrelevant and alien Roman word, became suitable name for their want-to-be country and the Arabs became “Palestinians”—”ancestors” of the ancient Philistines—something that is far stretched.
The Hebrew word for “Philistinian” is pelishtiy which comes from the root verb palash, to roll (in dust). Figuratively, pelishtiy means someone who rolls from place to place, as in a similar way “a rolling stone” moves around, or pelishtiy means “immigrant.” The ancient Philistinians were descendants of Pathrusim, son of Mizraim, son of Ham, son of Noach, who immigrated from Caphtor (probably Crete) to the western seacoast of Canaan.
In other words, the Philistinians are sons of Ham, while those known today as “Palestinians” are Arabs, sons of Avraham, son of Shem, son of Noach. Therefore, the Philistinians and the “Palestinians” are two different branches of the mankind that survived the Flood. Therefore, today the term Palestinian Arabs is more suitable for the people who live in Western Asia, as it designates the Arabs who live in the former Roman province “Palestina” than the term “Palestinians.”
The real change, however, came in the aftermath of World War II, when all Arabs in the former Turkish Empire got independence and identity, but the Palestinian Arabs found themselves without identity of their own, not without the intent of Britain and France to apply the old Roman maxima: “Divide and conquer.”
The British and French plot for the Middle East
The imperial powers of Britain and France (later replaced by the United States and the Soviet Union, now Russia) thus divided the lands of the indigenous Arabs in a way that created today constant conflicts between the Arabs, between Arabs and non-Arabs, and various religious sects. With intent they draw the boundaries that created countries that never existed before, such as “Iraq” and “Transjordan.”
They divided the Arabs and non-Arabs in such a way so that in the newly created “countries” there would be different ethnic groups and religious minorities: for instance, the Kurds were sacrificed between Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran; the Sunni and Shiite Arabs were divided and forced to live together despite their religious differences, instead of letting the Sunni in Sunni states and Shiites in Shiite states.
Thus, the newly created Arab states, in the forms in which they came into being, became artificial and foreign creations, having acquired a political reality despite the lack of a historical and traditional justification behind it. Each of these countries developed its own complex of interests and purposes, and a governing elite, but also ethnic turmoil and wars, as we witness today.
And seems that the Palestinians were set aside without their own identity and country for, what the present author sees, the biggest plot of the British and French political interests to use them, when the proper time comes for it, as a powder keg in the Middle East.
The new “country” those Arabs were given to live in, was Transjordan. But Transjordan was actually given to the ruling minority of the Hashemites. That “deal” seemed to have provided the answer to the Palestinian Arabs, at least on the surface. But as the history would confirm it later, they were and still are being used against the main problem of the world powers: the Jewish problem.
There was a momentary good disposition of Britain when it signed the Balfour declaration, named after the English statesman Balfour (1848-1930).
But, this mistake Britain fixed very quickly. Later, as the history would reveal, the true intent of the British foreign policy: “Divide and conquer” guided by the maxima “Britain does not have eternal friends, only eternal interests” brought forth its bitter fruits, as the land was partitioned in such a way that led to what we call today Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Or, perhaps the Balfour declaration was used exactly like it was designed to be used: to “create” a Jewish state in order to aggravate the Arabs against the Jews.
On the surface it seemed that the United Nations resolution of 1947 did create a Jewish state. Perhaps, the World Governance felt momentarily “guilty” of the Holocaust and favored the creation of Israel. Perhaps. But the fact is that the hypocritical British foreign policy prevented the arrival of the European Jewry in the territory of the British-mandated Palestine, which otherwise was allotted for the Jews.
Initially, according to the United Nations resolution, the British-mandated Palestine, as defined as the territories west of the Jordan River, was to be divided into three entities, a Jewish state, an Arab state, and an International Zone. The Palestinians refused and the neighboring Arab states (Syria, Transjordan, and Egypt) possessed the remainder of the territory: Gaza by Egypt, the Sea of Galilee by Syria, and “the West Bank” by Transjordan.
But only the Declaration of Independence of Israel in 1948 did create the Jewish state. The events that followed quickly after the Declaration of Independence did uncover the true intent behind Britain’s foreign policy.
The neighboring Arabs declared a war on the newly established Jewish state on the next day of the independence, not without the help of Britain and the world powers, and the rest is history: the Arab wars against Israel in 1967 and 1973 added even more to the already troublesome region.
After the unsuccessful war against Israel in 1948, by signing of the armistice agreements in 1949, the United Nations set up a Commission for “Palestine” with the task of “solving” the problem which they themselves created.
Therefore, we may suggest, the Palestinian Arabs purposely were not given a territory where they can live in, but were left in suspension in the so-called “Transjordan”(and also in Syrian and Lebanon) where the Hashemites were treated as indigenous, but the indigenous Palestinians east of the Jordan River were treated as refuges. And the land that was initially held in trust for the Jews in the British Mandate included all of what is now the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, but initially the Kingdom of Transjordan (“on the other [east] side of the Jordan”).
Who are “the Palestinians?”
So, who are “the Palestinians” who live in the land on both sides of the Jordan? And where are the Edomites who lived there before them? If these are two separate peoples, where did the Edomites go and where did “the Palestinians” come from?
There is no indication in the Scripture that the Edomites, the Ammonites, and the Moabites were destroyed completely in such a way that no trace of them can be found. And if we can find them in the end-time prophecy (refer to the aforementioned articles), then they must still exist exactly where the prophecy finds them—in the land of their ancestors—the Ammonites in what is now Northern Jordan, the Moabites in Middle Jordan, and the Edomites in the Southern Jordan.
But if they still live in the land east of the Jordan River, as the prophecy indicates so, then we must acknowledge that the Edomites, the Ammonites, and the Moabites, and “the Palestinians” are the same people, but under different names.
So, who are the Edomites?
The Israelites and “the Palestinians”: two nations from one mother
We should recall that the name “Edumea” (Edom) disappeared about the time the name “Palestina” appeared. It seems that one replaced the other. And indeed, when the Judeans were exiled from the ancestral land to the four corners of the empire and the emperor Hadrian created the Roman province “Palestina”, what would have been more natural to call the indigenous people that still lived there: the Edomites, the Ammonites, and the Moabites? The people of Palestina.
But, the modern-day terms “Palestinians” and “Palestinian state” actually appeared in 1960, as we may expect for political, ideological, and religious reasons. Initially, that name was foreign to the Palestinian Arabs who did not identify with it since “the Palestinians” was a historical term used for the Jews.
But with the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948 and the Jewish identity rapidly growing, the Jews began to drift away from that name, and it was a matter of time until the term “Palestinians” had been coined to create a new political and ethnical entity that would be used against the State of Israel.
The Jew-haters would stop before nothing, even if they have to rewrite the history: just like other Jew-haters did, the Romans.
With that being said, the people called today “Palestinians” may be divided into different groups according to their geographical and political locations: they are those (1) who remained in the State of Israel and did not leave when the neighboring Arab countries declared war on Israel in 1948. They are considered Israeli citizens, equal to that of all ethnic and religious minorities in Israel; (2) who were misled to leave Israel (when the Arabs declared the 1948 war and promised by the Arabs to return when the war would be over) and are still living in various Arab countries.
This second group can be further divided into subgroups, as follows: (1) those who live in the territory annexed by Jordan after the end of the British Mandate, but conquered by Israel in the defensive war in 1967, the so-called “West Bank” but properly Judea and Samaria; (2) those in the Gaza Strip occupied and subsequently lost by Egypt in the same war; (3) those in various refugees camps in Lebanon; and (4) those of the “Palestine” diaspora in the countries of the Persian Gulf.
However, these people may be regarded as “Palestinians” just as all the inhabitants of “the West Bank” may be regarded as “Jordanians” and the difference between the two terms is ideological rather than ethnic.
So, who the Edomites (Ammonites and Moabites of that matter)? These are the Arabs, the inhabitants of the East Bank of the Jordan River, or the so-called “The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan” as we know it today, and the Arab people of “the West Bank.” Or, in other words, all the Arabs of the east and west of the Jordan River. And surely, we can call them Arabs.
Let us recall that Esav (Edom) married Canaanitic wives. He then married the daughters of Ishmael, the father of the Arab people and with the Arab conquest and influence in West Asia, we can call them Arabs. Nevertheless, they are still brothers of the Israelites since both nations can be traced back to their parents Yitschak and Rivkah.
Similar is the fate of the other two nations that comprise today’s the Hashemite Kingdom: Ammon and Moab that are related to Israel through Lot, Avraham’s nephew. They might have mingled with the invading Arabs, thus their national identity might have been changed too.
The bottom line is that the Edomites, Ammonites, and the Moabites could not have just disappeared from the world stage, but still exist under a new identity: that of the Palestinian Arabs, the indigenous people of the land east of the Jordan River.
And if it is so, who then are the modern-day Jordanians? As said before, “the Palestinians” comprise the majority of the population of the Hashemite Kingdom; the minority then are the Hashemites who once ruled a vast territory from the Arab Peninsula, and what is now Iraq, to the Mediterranean coast. But after they were driven out of Arabia by the Sauds, today they are a mere remnant of a great Arab dynasty. They are actually the occupiers of the East Bank of the Jordan.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict seen in a different light
In conclusion, the problem of the Arabs (called “Palestinians” today) is that Palestine is seen not as the historical Roman province Palestina, but as a nation. This puts the Israeli-Palestinian conflict substantially different. As people that had lost their homeland on the eastside of the Jordan River, the Edomites, the Ammonites, and the Moabites to the Hashemites are the historical and ethnical groups that live in the land called today “the Kingdom of Jordan.” Their land is the land east of the Jordan River, as the land west of the Jordan River is given to Israel by Elohim to live in, according to the Bible and Koran.
However, the reality is quite different today. If the Arabs accept under the pressure of the United States Israel’s existence as axiomatic, then the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could move into a new phase in which the problem is no longer whether Israel should exist or not, but about its borders.
It seems that all diplomatic efforts of the U.S. administrations have been going in that direction, namely to bring “the Palestinians” and Israelis around the negotiation table to make the compromise to accept each other and negotiate only the borders of the two states.
Several Arab states like Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Arab states, and Egypt, have already indicated their readiness to accept the Trump administration’s diplomacy towards Israel’s existence as a Jewish state under certain conditions, and make the whole conflict a mere political dispute between Arabs and Israelis about pre-1967 Israel’s borders.
If this is what will transpire and if this diplomacy succeeds in some form or the other, this may open wide doors for the last time events when the wrath of Mighty One of Israel will be poured out on the Earth, as He certainly will not accept the borders of the land He gave to the children of Israel to be a subject of negotiation.
May we merit seeing the coming of our Mashiach speedily in our days.