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Land, Promises and Politics
NUMBERS 33:1- 34: 29

I have several friends in Beirut, including a former student who teaches the Bible in a Christian university (actually he is the guy who once threw me into the pool, as I mentioned in connection with Numbers 28–29). He has a hard time getting his students to focus on the Old Testament because it is difficult to disentangle the modern state of Israel from the ancient people of Israel, especially when the Old Testament speaks of God’s preferential treatment of Israel and God’s hostility to neighboring peoples. This is a problem for Christians in Palestine, all of whose bounds come within the bounds of the country God promises the Israelites. If my friend’s students come to know that Numbers 34 envisages the Israelites possessing a country that includes most of modern Lebanon and a good chunk of Syria, including its capital, Damascus, I imagine they may blow more fuses...

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