The Covenants

by Joseph Hunting

The Palestinian, or Canaanic Covenant is part 2 in a series on God's covenants with Israel by J.H. Hunting. The Davidic and New Covenant will appear in the August and September issues of "The Vineyard".

One of earth's festering sores for which there seems to be no cure is the dispute between Jew and Arab for possession of the Holy Land.

Initially the territory currently under dispute was named after one of Noah's grandsons, Canaan. In the course of time the land was also occupied by Hittites, Amorites, Hivites and Jebusites.

This land, which was promised to Abraham's seed, extends from the River of Egypt (wadi El Arish) to the Euphrates. "Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates." (Genesis 15:18)

As both Arab and Jew are Abraham's seed the current dispute seems like a family squabble over real estate which was given to their ancestor by God. When in November 1947 the U.N. partitioned the land of Palestine the Jews agreed to abide by the U.N. decision. The Arabs flatly refused.

Although Arabs and Jews have lived together for centuries in this land, who has the legal tenure since both claim Abraham to be their ancestor? Should there be a joint title held by both races, or did God intend either one or the other to inherit this hotly disputed territory? The Bible itself provides the answer.

Under the patriarchal system Ishmael, Abraham's eldest son, would normally have been the heir . If this is so the P.L.O. and the Arabs would have a perfect right to dispossess the Jews whom they regard as interlopers. But a closer reading of the terms of the covenant reveals that Ishmael was disinherited by God. And it was God who confirmed the covenant concerning the tenure of the land with Isaac. In actual fact Abraham interceded with God on Ishmael's behalf. "And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!

"And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed: and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.

"And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. (Genesis 17:18-20)


"And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking, Wherefore she said unto Abraham, cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac.

"And the thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight because of his son.

"And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman: in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called." (Genesis 21:9-12)

Israel 's eventual possession of the land of Canaan was to depend upon their fulfilling certain conditions laid down by God and recorded in Deuteronomy chapters 28 to 30 inclusive. It is vitally important that these chapters be read in order to understand why God dispossessed Israel.


Their first dispersal was in two parts. Ten northern tribes known as the kingdom of Israel were taken captive into Assyria by Shalmaneser about 721 B.C., and in 586 B.C. the southern tribe of Judah was dispossessed by Nebuchadnezzar and the seventy-year Babylonian captivity commenced.

It is interesting to note the ten northern tribes as such were never restored to the land, whilst a remnant of the tribe of Judah together with individual members of the other tribes returned under the leadership of Zerubbabel, Ezra and Nehemiah.

Centuries later, in AD 70, the second commonwealth of Israel was again dispersed by the Romans, and the current restoration, nineteen centuries later, is a remnant comprising members of all twelve tribes. In broad terms, the Ashkenazic Jews are the descendants of the ten northern tribes who eventually settled in Europe, Russia and Asia, whilst the Sephardic, or Oriental Jews, generally are descended from Judah.


Ezekiel throws interesting light on the present reuniting of the twelve tribes of Israel on the soil of their ancient homeland. He was commanded to take two sticks in his hand. One stick represented the tribe of Judah and the other tribes were represented by the other stick. "And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand.

"And when the children of your people shall speak unto you saying, Will you not show us what you mean by these?

"Say unto them, Thus says the Lord God, Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph which is in the hand of Ephraim and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand . . .

"And say unto them, thus says the Lord God; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land.

"And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel, and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all." (Ezekiel 37:17-22)

It is very interesting to note that the first part of this prophecy is currently being fulfilled, whilst the latter section concerning the king awaits the return of the Messiah.

The significance of this current return in which all twelve tribes are represented is further highlighted by Isaiah's reference in chapter 11 to the second regathering of Israel as the great forerunner of the Messianic era.

Therefore, it is Israel, and not the Arabs, that has the title deed to the land God promised to their illustrious forefather Abraham. Just as long as the Great Powers back the Arabs in trying to dispossess Israel, so long will there be further bloodshed. Furthermore, God calls this real estate under dispute, "My Land" and it ill-behoves any individual or nation to fight against His purposes concerning it.

The Arabs, headed by the P.L.O. and aided and abetted by the U.N., are usurping the territory God does not want them to have at the expense of their half-brothers, the Jews. U.N. resolutions, Geneva conventions and Kissinger diplomacy will not solve the problem. There will be no peace in the Middle East until the Divine decree concerning the land is observed.

God has promised that He will remember His covenant and an assessment of events relating to Israel's regathering indicates the gigantic scale upon which God is fulfilling His purposes. Just as in the ultimate, the final assessment of World War I was that out of this ghastly conflict God prepared the Land for the return of His people, so the outcome of World War 2 and the Holocaust prepared the People to return to the Land. When the Proclamation of the rebirth of the State of Israel is viewed in this light it becomes one of the most significant documents of our time.