PHILADELPHIA (JTA) — In about a week, one of the most significant dates in Jewish history and Israeli history again will again pass by with hardly any attention and no fanfare.
The Book of Joshua states that on the 10th of the first month, Nisan, Joshua led the Jewish people across the Jordan River, which God had parted so the crossing could be made, and into the Land of Israel (Ch. 3: 14-17). This year the date corresponds with the evening of April 14 to sundown April 15.
We read also that a stone memorial was erected at the time as an eternal remembrance, but at some point the remembrance was lost.
So it is time to begin an annual commemoration of the Hebrews’ entering the land of Israel and becoming Israelites some 3,200 hundred years ago. Call the holiday Yom Knisa, short for Yom Knisa la’aretz — The Day of the Entering Into the Land.
This holiday would celebrate this auspicious occasion; serve as an educational device to remind the Jewish people of our connection to the land; and smash the slanderous myths that Jews have only been in this land for fewer than 100 years and have their roots in Europe, not the Middle East.
The Book of Joshua is part of the Jewish Bible (Tanakh) and Christian Bible; even Islam has reverence for Joshua. Some Muslims believe he is one of the two Hebrews referred to in Sura 5:23 as having been bestowed with Allah’s grace. Joshua is included as well in Muslim texts known as “Stories of the Prophets.”
This biblical and historical event chronicled thousands of years ago has enormous significance today.
Many people assert that Jews are interlopers to the region formerly called Palestine, and therefore their rights to the land — specifically the rights of Jews to build on and live on the land — are “illegitimate.” In fact, this is the term President Obama and members of his administration use to describe Jewish towns and communities referred to commonly as “settlements.”
Others — chiefly Israel’s Arab adversaries, European finger waggers and American leftists — claim the Jews are illegally “occupying” another people’s land.
Joshua (3:14-17), as recorded in the ArtScroll edition, provides a remedy:
After the Children of Israel had gathered on the eastern bank of the Jordan River, as instructed by God, "When the bearers of the Ark [of the Covenant] arrived at the Jordan and the feet of the Kohanim, the bearers of the Ark, were immersed in the edge of the water — and the Jordan was overflowing its banks all the days of the harvest season — the waters descending from upstream stood still and they rose up in one column … and was cut off; and the people crossed opposite Jericho. … [A]ll Israel crossing on dry land until the entire nation finished crossing the Jordan."
The notion that Israel was "founded," "created" or "established" just in 1948 by the Western powers to give the Jews a sliver of land due to post-Holocaust guilt is clearly patently false. Israel has really been in existence since approximately 1200 BCE. The Children of Israel — better known today as the Jewish people — have inhabited the land of Israel continuously ever since.
Despite a string of wars, conquests and expulsions, there has always been a Jewish remnant, as noted in Jerome Verlin’s book "Homeland: The Jewish People’s 3,000-Year Presence in Palestine," which cites the top Middle East historians and scholars of all time.
The Arabs and especially the Muslims cannot produce an authentic counter-claim. Mohammed founded Islam nearly two millennia later.
Most of Israel’s detractors ignore these facts. Jews and even some Israelis themselves are oblivious of what took place and when. Yom Ha’atzmaut marks Israel’s modern Independence Day and the beginning of the Third Jewish Commonwealth. Yom Knisa is Israel’s “birthday.”
The patriarch Abraham was the first Jew to enter the Land of Israel. The Torah states that he purchased the cave of Machpelah in Hebron from the Hittites (Genesis 23:16) as a burial place for his wife, Sarah. Later, Abraham himself and the other Jewish patriarchs and matriarchs (except for Rachel) were interred there.
This is the same Hebron that the media commonly, and speciously, refer to as a "Palestinian" [i.e., "Arab"] city. Biblical cities such as Jericho, Shechem (aka Nabulus) and others also are commonly and erroneously referred to as Palestinian or Arab cities. This is an attempt to separate these towns from their Jewish pedigree.
There is considerable debate among academics as to precisely when the Hebrews entered the Promised Land to stay.
Much of this dispute surrounds a record of early Egyptian history known as the Merneptah Stele, an artifact dating to 1209 or 1208 BCE discovered in the first court of Merneptah’s mortuary temple at Thebes in 1896. Merneptah was a pharaoh who ruled Egypt in the late 13th century BCE.
The stele refers to Israel as a "foreign people" and it is the only ancient Egyptian document generally accepted as mentioning "Isrir" or "Israel."
Another similar artifact known as The Mesha Stele, said to date from the ninth century BCE, records a victory by the Moabite King Mesha over Israel and thus also establishes the fact that Israel existed thousands of years ago.
The government and people of Israel — and their supporters throughout the world — must proudly proclaim a genuine land legacy to Israel that reaches back more than 3,000 years, the plague of political correctness be damned.
An annual celebration on the 10th of Nisan would in a sense restore the memorial God commanded be erected and help assure that younger generations, which particularly need to be made aware, never forget the Jewish people’s true birthright.
(Steve Feldman is executive director of the Zionist Organization of America’s Greater Philadelphia District. Dr. Robert Sklaroff, is an oncologist/hematologist.)