Updated: 7 days ago
The lion and the lamb shall lie down for a very long nap
I have a familiar story to tell again. Familiar at least if you have been educated within a monotheistic faith. If not, you've missed out on all the fun. In this newly spun, non canonical version, the ending is short and sweet.
Let’s begin with YHWH (best known as G-d) who appoints as his chosen people the descendants of a founding father. To validate his covenant, G-d sends them into slavery under a mighty foreign power so that he can later deliver them. He does so by sending plague after plague to spite the foreign ruler. The final plague sounds the immediate death of every firstborn son. It ends in capitulation and emancipation. As the chosen people flee to a promised land, their enemy’s mighty army chases them all the way to a great sea. Trapped! They have no boats to get them across. At this point, G-d divides the waters and leads them to safety on the other side, then causes the great waters to crash down and engulf the pursuing army.
On the other side of the sea, atop the highest of local mountains, G-d reveals through His chosen prophet a set of laws that His people must follow. This is the covenant. In reward for keeping it, the people will receive a host of blessings, starting with a land flowing with milk and honey, also big turkeys in November. The only hitch is that this land is already inhabited by numerous peoples. Fortunately, they are savages, an abomination to G-d, so the chosen people receive clear instructions to eradicate them. This is the first record of something we might now refer to as “holy war”. Although the next chapter of this story involves a great deal of bloodshed, G-d’s chosen people prevail and take possession of the promised land. A promise is a promise.
Now something extraordinary happens...a twist in the story.
The rare survivors of the ethnic cleansing decide to harbor no vengeance. Even those who witnessed the slaughter of their own mother forgive and forget. There is no rational explanation for such a miracle, but as miracles go, it surpasses the drowning of the great army. It was also a necessary miracle, without which the chosen people would be forever under threat of vengeance. As it is written, those who live by the sword shall die by the sword.
Equally extraordinary, the chosen people faithfully adhere to the hundreds of laws revealed to them. They stop worshiping idols. They keep the sabbath (but work very hard on other days). They refrain from eating fish without scales (as well as snails). They honor the impurity of women during their menstrual cycles. Their leaders wear well-ironed white shirts with red or blue neckties.
As a result, G-d blesses them and multiplies their offspring like so many stars in the heavens. All of the surrounding, surviving nations look upon them with great fear and amazement. They become a light unto the nations, all of whom wonder what kind of G-d could be so great as to accomplish such deeds. The pantheon of pre-existing deities are wimpy in comparison.
As the chosen people grow in number, they begin to expand their territory and colonize. The borders of the promised land may have been poorly interpreted. More importantly, if you are a beacon to world, it makes sense to extend your reach and visibility.
The surrounding nations all willingly relinquish their land, their beliefs, and their culture in admiration of the chosen people. Voluntarily subjugated, they fully understand that even though they were not part of the holy tribe, it’s better to join them if you can’t beat them. A smart choice, because when there is only one G-d, the Almighty, you want to be on His side.
The assimilated people are treated nicely, and taxed fairly, even though they did have to give up their cultural identity. It doesn’t matter to them, because the laws and customs of the chosen people are far superior to their own. Some of them do miss eating oysters.
Over time, the chosen people grow into a great nation, the greatest that has ever been seen on earth. Their territory extends from sea to shining sea, and the light of their righteousness and excellence is so bright that nation after nation bow down to them. Ultimately, their seed covers most of the earth, such that it is no longer possible to distinguish the chosen people from the others. Everyone, everywhere, is following the same rules under one kingdom. The only exceptions are India and the Far East. The Hindus just can’t wrap their head around one G-d and persist in seeing and naming the divine in all things. The Chinese remain convinced that their empire is the center of cosmic all order, predating by millenia the election of G-d’s chosen people. The world is thus peacefully split into three parts. The chosen people already have their promised land plus some. The Chinese have no interest in anything beyond their empire. The Hindus are caught up in escaping samsara.
In the united kingdom of Zion, every sword has been beaten into a ploughshare. There is no longer any need to pursue happiness: it’s all around. The lion and the lamb lie down together for a very long nap. Special measures are introduced to control the porcine population.
This is the end of the story. G-d has made his home again in the world. Mission accomplished.
I don’t recall anyone else telling this story with such a nice and simple ending. I have heard other versions of the story that involve millenia of perpetual conflict and bloodshed, leading up to an apocalypse and the return of the messiah to usher in the Kingdom of G-d.
This shorter, pacified version will never make for a blockbuster movie. No drama. No suspense. Worse, it would hedge off the rise of Hellenistic and Roman civilisations. It would make both Jesus and Mohammed irrelevant. It would rob our vocabulary of such concepts as redemption and salvation, democracy and capitalism. No need for Zionism.
“I have heard other versions of the story that involve millenia of perpetual conflict and bloodshed, leading up to an apocalypse and the return of the messiah to usher in the Kingdom of G-d.”
There would have been no Diaspora, no Deutschland, no Declaration of Independence. There would have been no holocaust, no Hamas, only bountiful hummus. For this reason alone, one might expect that it find favor with the chosen people.
But there is a glitch.
In the end it implies that they be absorbed into a mass of humanity where nobody is special (or where everyone is special?) None would deprive themselves of oysters, because when everyone is special, all dietary laws intended to sanctify a special people lose their significance.
Despite these drawbacks, this imaginary version would have been a fast track to the Kingdom of Zion. Nobody was blocking the road.
Now we are faced instead with Zionism leading off track from shalom.
Excerpt from Jerusalem Syndromes by Carsten Sprotte (see my works)