True Martyrdom – Rejecting Islam

Whereas Maimonides’ opponents held to the mistaken belief that Islam was idolatry, there were those authorities, after Maimonides, who, while clearly aware of the monotheistic nature of Islam, still disagreed with Maimonides’ position, and asserted that Jews must give up their lives rather than be forced to convert to Islam. Their rationale was based on the fact that if one gives his agreement to Muhammad’s prophetic mission, this is the equivalent of denying the validity of Torah.

In their opinion it is a capital offense to deny the Torah, and they thus viewed idolatry as merely a manifestation of this denial. Rabbi David ibn Zimra quotes the renowned Rabbi Yom Tov Ishbili (c.1250‑1330) as holding to this view and expresses agreement with him.

Middle East Regional Electric Automobile Manufacturing Trade Agreement

The Union of Middle East states should develop and establish a Regional Economic Plan for the mass manufacturing of the electric automobile and the modification of “fuel cell” (hydrogen) automobiles, buses and other forms of locomotion and develop a plan for stationary fuel cell generators to provide power grids for villages and suburban housing units.



In developing such Regional Economic Plan, a Union of Middle Eastern States should offer a fossil fuel automobile exchange program in each state or kingdom to provide incentive for the modification of such fossil fuel automobiles into fuel cell automobiles, buses and other forms of locomotion but such exchange program and Regional Economic Plan should include other forms of electric automobiles such as the lithium ion battery powered forms of transportation developed by Balqon Corporation. <>

Alternatively, in developing such a plan, the Middle East Regional Economic Plan should utilize the battery exchange system developed by Better Place or the alternative fuel cell program developed by Ballard Power <>

Such a plan should include a renewable energy resource plan for a regional electric transportation infrastructure utilizing wind, water and solar power modeled after the  the Portland, Oregon Water Bureau’s Powell Butte in-line hydro-generation and the Trimet transportation system.

For example, lithium ion battery packs should be mass manufactured and charged by wind turbine farms in Jordan that are patterned after those of the Columbia River Gorge (e.g. Biglow Canyon Wind Farm) and the wind turbine farms established in the Golan Heights.

In developing and promoting such a plan, the Union of Middle East states should consider developing a plan that would incorporate importing and exporting to or from the Ports of Haifa, Eilat, Aqaba [and Gaza] and the feasibility of modifying and/or manufacturing in Amman, Jordan of existing automobiles and future designs of the electric automobile (e.g. the Camel).

Nought but Lies….


Maimonides said, “Christianity and Islam exist to prepare the world for the Moshiach!”

Maimonides: Islam Is Untrue, But Not Idolatry

This was left to Maimonides [1135-1204] who, as we shall see, strongly put forth the view that Muslims were not idolaters. Although, to be sure, Islam was heresy, this did not stop Maimonides from expressing a positive view about Islam–or even about Christianity, which he considered to be idolatry. In his mind, although Islam and Christianity are both in error, they still have some value in that they prepare the world eventually to accept the true religion, namely Judaism.

“All those words of Jesus of Nazareth and of this Ishmaelite [i.e., Muhammad] who arose after him are only to make straight the path for the messianic king and to prepare the whole world to serve the Lord together. As it is said: ‘For then I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech so that all of them shall call on the name of the Lord and serve him with one accord’ (Zephaniah 3:9).” […]

Also important for understanding Maimonides’ view of Islam is a well known letter that he wrote around the year 1165, when he was still a resident of Fez, having not yet travelled to [the land of Israel] and Egypt. It was addressed to the inhabitants of Morocco, who had been threatened by the Almohads [the Berber Muslim dynasty that ruled Spain and Morocco in the 12th and 13th century] with conversion, exile, or death.

It so happened that an anonymous scholar who had been living outside of the Almo­hads’ reach had issued a ruling that Islam was idolatry and that, there­fore, one must give up his life rather than convert to Islam. If one did not, he was to be treated as no different than a true apostate. This ruling created somewhat of a storm among the crypto‑Jews of Morocco, and it was in response to this confusion that Maimonides wrote his letter, which was a marvelous defense of a Jewish community that was forced to hide its religion because of persecution.

There has been much argument about how faithful Maimonides was to the halakhic sources and whether his presentation of his opponent’s view was correct. However, one thing which appears to be sure, [contemporary historian] Haym Soloveitchik’s reservations notwithstanding, is that it was the Maimonidean acceptance of Islam’s monotheistic character that enabled him to come to the defense of the crypto‑Jews, even if he does not argue this point explicitly.

It would appear that, because he felt that this notion was so obvious, he did not feel the need to defend it. Alternatively, one could say that his refusal to argue the case that Islam is not idolatry was because he regarded the crypto‑Jews as never having truly accepted the religion in the first place and, therefore, his argument was able to proceed along a different line, one which argues that, even assuming that Islam is idolatry, the Jews still have not violated the idolatry prohibition. However, had the Jews truly accepted Islam, one could probably have expected Maimonides to argue that, whereas the Jews may have been heretics, they were not idolaters.

In any event, it is safe to say that, in the generations following Maimonides, almost all halakhic authorities accepted his approach to Islam.


O L-RD, my strength, and my stronghold, And my refuge, in the day of affliction, Unto Thee shall the nations come From the ends of the earth, and shall say: ‘Our fathers have inherited nought but lies, Vanity and things wherein there is no profit.’


Nought but Lies:

Muhammad got four historical facts wrong and therefore could not be a prophet:

1) He claims Miriam, the sister of Moshe was the mother of Yeshki (Jesus), Quran – Suras 19:27-28, 3:35-36, 66:12;

2) he claims Haman of Megillat Esther was in the “court” of Pharaoh; confusing the Building of the Tower of Babel with Haman and Pharaoh, Quran – Sura 40:36-37;

3) and he claims that Pharaoh used the Roman method of crucifixion as a form of the death penalty, Qur’an – Suras 7:124, 12:41, 20:71, 26:49; 38.12, 89:6-12;

4) and conflicting Islamic sources claim either Isaac or Ishmael was offered on the Altar by Avraham.

The Settlement of Reuben and Gad: A Rhetorical Case for Transjordan as Part of the Promised Land

The Torah

Dr. Angela Roskop Erisman

Moses misunderstands the request of the Gadites and Reubenites to settle in the Transjordan as a result of unwillingness to participate in the conquest of Canaan with the rest of the Israelites. Once he realizes that they do mean to fight, he accepts their request. The author of Numbers 32 creates a rhetorically rich argument that the Transjordan is part of the Promised Land—but not everyone was buying what this author was selling.

The Settlement of Reuben and Gad: A Rhetorical Case for Transjordan as Part of the Promised Land

Israelites at the Jordan River. ©

As Numbers 32 begins, the Reubenites and Gadites approach Israel’s leadership with a request:

במדבר לב:ה אִם מָצָאנוּ חֵן בְּעֵינֶיךָ יֻתַּן אֶת הָאָרֶץ הַזֹּאת לַעֲבָדֶיךָ לַאֲחֻזָּה.

Num 32:5 If we find favor in your eyes, let this land be given to your servants as a holding.

The Hebrew word אחזה refers to the land as gift to Israel through promise to its ancestors (e.g., Gen 17:8). Texts that use this word typically understand the Promised Land as limited to Canaan—namely, the territory west of the Jordan—but the land in question here is east of the Jordan.

To ask for this land לאחזה, as a holding, is to make a loaded request: The Reubenites and Gadites are not merely asking that they be allowed to settle here. They are asking that this land be recognized, along with Canaan, as part of the land promised by God to the patriarchs—and that they, as Israelites living in this territory east of the Jordan, be recognized as part of the community that is party to that covenant.

The Reubenites and Gadites end their request with the deceptively simple statement אַל תַּעֲבִרֵנוּ אֶת הַיַּרְדֵּן, “Do not make us cross the Jordan” (v. 5). I say “deceptively” because, as a type of linguistic theory called pragmatics teaches us, we interpret even simple statements by making inferences from context. We are usually not aware of this as we are actively speaking with someone, nor do we need to be when communication moves along without any problems. But paying attention to context is often crucial as we try to understand and navigate points of miscommunication or conflicting interpretations.

This idea is very important for interpreting Numbers 32, because conflicting interpretations of אַל תַּעֲבִרֵנוּ אֶת הַיַּרְדֵּן, “Do not make us cross the Jordan,” are exactly what we get.

A Critical Misunderstanding

Moses understands אַל תַּעֲבִרֵנוּ אֶת הַיַּרְדֵּן to mean that the Reubenites and Gadites have no intention of participating with the rest of the Israelites in the conquest of Canaan. He therefore responds with understandable anger:

במדבר לב:ו …הַאַחֵיכֶם יָבֹאוּ לַמִּלְחָמָה וְאַתֶּם תֵּשְׁבוּ פֹה.

Num 32:6 …“Are your brothers to go to war while you stay here?”

His anger is reasonable because he is interpreting what the Reubenites and Gadites said in a very particular context. When we interpret a statement, we are drawn to contexts that we perceive to be more relevant—those that result in what seems to us a more meaningful and significant interpretation than other available alternatives.[1]

The context Moses found most relevant here (which we know because he cites it) is the story of the scouts who were sent to prepare the previous generation for conquering the land from the south (Num 13:1–14:45). In that story, the Israelites were reluctant to conquer Canaan, and the result was an entire generation dead in the wilderness and delayed realization of the land promise, a covenantal catastrophe he would not like to see repeated:

במדבר לב:ז  וְלָמָּה (תנואון) [תְנִיאוּן] אֶת לֵב בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מֵעֲבֹר אֶל הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר נָתַן לָהֶם יְ־הוָה. לב:ח  כֹּה עָשׂוּ אֲבֹתֵיכֶם בְּשָׁלְחִי אֹתָם מִקָּדֵשׁ בַּרְנֵעַ לִרְאוֹת אֶת הָאָרֶץ. לב:ט וַיַּעֲלוּ עַד נַחַל אֶשְׁכּוֹל וַיִּרְאוּ אֶת הָאָרֶץ וַיָּנִיאוּ אֶת לֵב בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לְבִלְתִּי בֹא אֶל הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר נָתַן לָהֶם יְ־הוָה…. לב:יג וַיִּחַר אַף יְ־הוָה בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל וַיְנִעֵם בַּמִּדְבָּר אַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה עַד תֹּם כָּל הַדּוֹר הָעֹשֶׂה הָרַע בְּעֵינֵי יְ־הוָה.

Num 32:7 Why will you turn the minds of the Israelites from crossing into the land that YHWH has given them? 32:8 That is what your fathers did when I sent them from Kadesh-barnea to survey the land. 32:9 After going up to the wadi Eshcol and surveying the land, they turned the minds of the Israelites from invading the land that YHWH had given them…. 32:13 YHWH was incensed at Israel, and for forty years He made them wander in the wilderness, until the whole generation that had provoked YHWH’s displeasure was gone.

Moses then sums up his critique by accusing the tribes of Gad and Reuben of being about to repeat this same calamity:

במדבר לב:יד וְהִנֵּה קַמְתֶּם תַּחַת אֲבֹתֵיכֶם תַּרְבּוּת אֲנָשִׁים חַטָּאִים לִסְפּוֹת עוֹד עַל חֲרוֹן אַף יְ־הוָה אֶל יִשְׂרָאֵל. לב:טו כִּי תְשׁוּבֻן מֵאַחֲרָיו וְיָסַף עוֹד לְהַנִּיחוֹ בַּמִּדְבָּר וְשִׁחַתֶּם לְכָל הָעָם הַזֶּה.

Num 32:14 And now you, a breed of sinful men, have replaced your fathers, to add still further to YHWH’s wrath against Israel. 32:15 If you turn away from Him and He abandons them once more in the wilderness, you will bring calamity upon all this people.”

The Reubenites and Gadites, however, never actually say that that they will not participate in the conquest of Canaan. Their reason for not wanting to cross the Jordan has nothing to do with fear of the giants who live on the other side, as it did for the scouts (Num 13:28–29), and everything to do with the economic suitability of the land east of the Jordan for their cattle-owning tribes (v. 4).

We can already sense a misunderstanding unfolding here. Misunderstanding can result when a listener interprets a statement in a different context than the one in which the speaker framed it, or when a speaker fails to anticipate what information a particular listener might need in order for communication to be successful.

While Moses interprets אַל תַּעֲבִרֵנוּ אֶת הַיַּרְדֵּן in the context of the scouts episode, the Reubenites and Gadites have a different context in mind when they say it. They speak of this land as הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר הִכָּה יְ־הוָה לִפְנֵי עֲדַת יִשְׂרָאֵל “the land that YHWH conquered before the congregation of Israel” (v. 4), a reference to its conquest from the Amorite king, Sihon, back in Numbers 21.

Land that is legitimately conquered is going to be allotted to someone, and the Reubenites and Gadites are making the case that they should be the tribes to receive holdings here. In their concern for where they might be allowed to receive a legitimate holding, they are silent on the issues that Moses perceives as being of utmost importance.

Clearing Up the Misunderstanding

Once they hear the concerns Moses raises, they move quickly and decisively to repair his reading of the ambiguity in their request and assuage his concerns.

במדבר לב:טז וַיִּגְּשׁוּ אֵלָיו וַיֹּאמְרוּ גִּדְרֹת צֹאן נִבְנֶה לְמִקְנֵנוּ פֹּה וְעָרִים לְטַפֵּנוּ. לב:יז וַאֲנַחְנוּ נֵחָלֵץ חֻשִׁים לִפְנֵי בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל עַד אֲשֶׁר אִם הֲבִיאֹנֻם אֶל מְקוֹמָם וְיָשַׁב טַפֵּנוּ בְּעָרֵי הַמִּבְצָר מִפְּנֵי יֹשְׁבֵי הָאָרֶץ.לב:יח לֹא נָשׁוּב אֶל בָּתֵּינוּ עַד הִתְנַחֵל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אִישׁ נַחֲלָתוֹ. לב:יט כִּי לֹא נִנְחַל אִתָּם מֵעֵבֶר לַיַּרְדֵּן וָהָלְאָה כִּי בָאָה נַחֲלָתֵנוּ אֵלֵינוּ מֵעֵבֶר הַיַּרְדֵּן מִזְרָחָה.

Num 32:16 Then they stepped up to him and said, “We will build here sheepfolds for our flocks and towns for our children. 32:17 And we will hasten as shock-troops in the van of the Israelites until we have established them in their home, while our children stay in the fortified towns because of the inhabitants of the land. 32:18 We will not return to our homes until every one of the Israelites is in possession of his portion. 32:19 But we will not have a share with them in the territory beyond the Jordan, for we have received our share on the east side of the Jordan.”

They express willingness, even eagerness, to participate in the conquest of Canaan, volunteering to lead it and to remain in Canaan until all the other Israelites are settled as well, as long as they are first allowed to establish some infrastructure to protect their assets (women, children, livestock) while they are gone. They demonstrate that they are committed to the community, that they are not like the scouts who sowed communal discord and put the land promise in jeopardy, and that the outcome Moses fears will not come to pass.

Moses grants their proposal, but only after laying out some terms. First, Moses makes explicit what is left unsaid even though it is everywhere implied—namely, that the Reubenites and Gadites will cross the Jordan for war. He does this by referring to their proposal (“this thing”) and then specifying in clear terms what it means.

במדבר לב:כ וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵיהֶם מֹשֶׁה אִם תַּעֲשׂוּן אֶת הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה אִם תֵּחָלְצוּ לִפְנֵי יְ־הוָה לַמִּלְחָמָה. לב:כא וְעָבַר לָכֶם כָּל חָלוּץ אֶת הַיַּרְדֵּן לִפְנֵי יְ־הוָה עַד הוֹרִישׁוֹ אֶת אֹיְבָיו מִפָּנָיו. לב:כב וְנִכְבְּשָׁה הָאָרֶץ לִפְנֵי יְ־הוָה וְאַחַר תָּשֻׁבוּ וִהְיִיתֶם נְקִיִּים מֵיְהוָה וּמִיִּשְׂרָאֵל וְהָיְתָה הָאָרֶץ הַזֹּאת לָכֶם לַאֲחֻזָּה לִפְנֵי יְ־הוָה.

Num 32:20 Moses said to them, “If you do this thing, if you take up arms to go before YHWH into battle 32:21 and all of you who bear arms cross the Jordan before YHWH, until He has dispossessed His enemies before Him, 32:22 and the land has been subdued before YHWH, and then you return — you shall be clear before YHWH and before Israel; and this land shall be your holding under YHWH.

A very important shift in their battle position also takes place here. When the Reubenites and Gadites correct Moses’s misunderstanding back in Numbers 32:17, they express their eagerness to fight with the rest of the Israelites by volunteering to go in the very front of the army, “before the Israelites” (לִפְנֵי בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל), as shock-troops. Moses uses different language, though, saying that they are to go “before YHWH” (לִפְנֵי יְ־הוָה). Many translations understand this expression to mean the same thing the Reubenites and Gadites said back in verse 17 (e.g., “if you go to battle as shock-troops, at the instance of the LORD” in NJPS).

But “before YHWH” does not mean the same thing as “before the Israelites.” This hits home when we read Moses’s statement in the context of Numbers 2, which lays out a marching order for the Israelite camp (a not-so-thinly-veiled social hierarchy). The Judah contingent goes first, and then the Reuben contingent (including Gad), which is followed by the tabernacle (the dwelling of YHWH) in the middle.

The eager desire of the Reubenites and Gadites to go in front of the army as shock-troops thus usurps Judah’s rightful place in line. By putting them back לִפְנֵי יְ־הוָה, “in front of YHWH,” where they are supposed to travel according to Numbers 2, Moses accepts their eager participation in the war without the problematic disruption of Judah’s primacy in the social order.

The Reubenites and Gadites unequivocally agree to this adjustment (vv. 25–27). Moses nonetheless creates an exit clause, providing that the Reubenites and Gadites must settle in Canaan with the rest of the Israelites if they fail in order to protect the integrity of the community and the covenant no matter what happens (vv. 28–32).

Convincing the Reubenites and Gadites and the Reader

On one level, Numbers 32 is a conversation between Moses and two Israelite tribes. They begin at odds with one another over a misunderstanding generated by the indeterminacy in אַל תַּעֲבִרֵנוּ אֶת הַיַּרְדֵּן, “Do not make us cross the Jordan,” and they are brought into alignment as the misunderstanding is resolved. This conversation is rhetorically very rich.

Convincing the Reubenites and Gadites

Moses’s speech in particular is angry and judgmental, which explains why it is so often read as an outright rejection of the idea that Israelites would live in Transjordan. But this speech is crafted not to reject but to persuade the Reubenites and Gadites to rethink. Moses refers to them as “brothers,” evoking a sense of obligation to their fellow Israelites. He taps their memory of collective experience, evoking elements of the scouts episode that would help them see the implications they failed to anticipate.

Moses also frames the implications as though the Reubenites and Gadites intended them, and he makes it personal through some rhetorically strategic name calling, referring to them as “a breed of sinful men”—even though they have not sinned yet—in the hope they’ll respond by proving it untrue. (Which, as we have seen, they do.) Moses does not condemn the Reubenites and Gadites for their desire to settle in Transjordan but seeks to prevent the outcome he fears by convincing them, through shame, not to fail in their military obligations to the community as a whole.

But the Reubenites and Gadites are not the only people who need convincing. The idea that territory in Transjordan should be considered a legitimate part of the Promised Land is no ordinary idea. A second conversation is implicit in Numbers 32 between proponents of this idea and potential skeptics who think the Promised Land is limited to Canaan—namely, west of the Jordan River—a reasonable view based on several texts in the Torah (e.g., Exod 16:35 and Num 13:1–14:45)—and have to be persuaded otherwise if this idea is to be accepted. The author of this text seeks to convince his own audience, too.

Convincing the Reader

The first prong of the author’s rhetorical strategy is to anticipate the potential concerns of his audience—particularly those least inclined to accept the idea that Transjordan is part of the Promised Land. These concerns are situated in that first, angry speech, which aligns the audience with the authority figure of Moses: He understands and advocates for their concerns.

These skeptical readers are likely to be as incredulous as Moses is about the Reubenites’ and Gadites’ apparent lack of concern for the Israelite community as a whole. And the hostility they may well feel toward people who suggest such a potentially problematic idea is echoed in Moses’s negative character evaluation of the Reubenites and Gadites: this breed of sinful men will be responsible for the suffering of the rest of us if the covenant is not sustained.

Once this alignment with Moses is created, the second prong of the rhetorical strategy is to have Moses engineer the very conditions under which it is possible to acknowledge Transjordan as a legitimate part of the land. When members of the anticipated audience read Moses’s initial speech, they are guided to begin reading with a sense of affirmation: Moses agrees with us!

But as Moses resolves concerns, their identification with him guides them to accept that resolution along with the Reubenites and Gadites, who accept it in verses 25–27 as a command from Moses both at the beginning (עבדיך יעשו כאשר אדני מצוה, verse 25) and the end (כאשר אדני דבר, verse 27) of their response. Moses is characterized as the legal authority for the legitimacy of Israelite settlement in Transjordan as well as the engineer of the conditions that make that idea possible to accept.

Implications for the Editorial History of Numbers 32

Scholars typically see two different versions of the settlement of the Reubenites and Gadites in Numbers 32. In one version, the Reubenites and Gadites settle there without incident. But another is harshly critical of Israelite settlement in Transjordan, to the point of rejecting the idea outright. Moses’s angry and judgmental speech is typically understood to be part of this second version, superimposed upon the first.[2] But looking at the pragmatics and the rhetorical development of the two conversations in this text—between Moses and the Transjordanian tribes, and between the author and his implied audience—leaves us with a very different view.

Moses’s speech is angry and judgmental. But it isn’t the end of the conversation, and it cannot be relegated to a different version of the story without destroying the rhetorical fabric of the narrative, because the speech that precedes it makes it possible, and the negotiation in the following speeches emerges from it. The result is that this text is a single, coherent story that presents neither a neutral telling of how the Reubenites and Gadites settled in Transjordan, nor an argument against it being part of the Promised Land, but an argument in favor of its inclusion.[3]

Anti-Transjordanian Sentiment

Was this rhetorical strategy successful? Within Numbers 32, we have access to this anticipated audience only as it is constructed in the text. We see it only as the author chooses to present it. But several other texts give us access to this audience in their own voices, and it seems that not everyone was buying what the author of Numbers 32 was selling.

The wilderness itinerary in Numbers 33 knows and accounts for the conquest of this land from the Amorite king Sihon in Numbers 21 but erases its land ideology. Numbers 33:47–48 has a double arrival in Moab: the Israelites arrive at Mount Nebo in verse 47 and then in the steppes of Moab in verse 48. (Mount Nebo is already in the steppes of Moab according to Deut 32:49, 34:1.) It seems to know the double arrival in Moab in Numbers 21, where they arrive in Moab in verse 18b and then again in 22:1–2.

Numbers 21, 22

כא:יא וַיִּסְעוּ מֵאֹבֹת וַיַּחֲנוּ בְּעִיֵּי הָעֲבָרִים בַּמִּדְבָּר אֲשֶׁר עַל פְּנֵי מוֹאָב מִמִּזְרַח הַשָּׁמֶשׁ…. כב:א וַיִּסְעוּ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיַּחֲנוּ בְּעַרְבוֹת מוֹאָב מֵעֵבֶר לְיַרְדֵּן יְרֵחוֹ.

21:11 They set out from Oboth, and camped at Iye-abarim, in the wilderness bordering Moab toward the sunrise…. 22:1 The Israelites set out, and camped in the plains of Moab across the Jordan from Jericho.

Numbers 33

לג:מז וַיִּסְעוּ מֵעַלְמֹן דִּבְלָתָיְמָה וַיַּחֲנוּ בְּהָרֵי הָעֲבָרִים לִפְנֵי נְבוֹ.לג:מח וַיִּסְעוּ מֵהָרֵי הָעֲבָרִים וַיַּחֲנוּ בְּעַרְבֹת מוֹאָב עַל יַרְדֵּן יְרֵחוֹ.

33:47 They set out from Almon-diblathaim and camped in the mountains of Abarim, before Nebo. 33:48 They set out from the mountains of Abarim and camped in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho.

The double arrival was created in Numbers 21 in order to accommodate the conquest of Sihon.[4] Numbers 33 copied this double arrival in Moab, but it doesn’t mention that that any of this land was Amorite or that it was conquered by Israel. This is an erasure, not just an omission.

How can we tell? Numbers 33:44 knows that the second half of Num 21:11 situates Iye-abarim in the wilderness east of Moab, part of the effort to turn this territory into Sihon’s Amorite territory and write a conquest narrative for it.[5] But it puts the route (back) in the territory of Moab rather than in the wilderness east of it.[6]

Num 21:11

וַיִּסְעוּ מֵאֹבֹת וַיַּחֲנוּ בְּעִיֵּי הָעֲבָרִים בַּמִּדְבָּר אֲשֶׁר עַל פְּנֵי מוֹאָב מִמִּזְרַח הַשָּׁמֶשׁ.

They set out from Oboth and encamped at Iye-abarim, in the wilderness bordering on Moab to the east.

Num 33:44

וַיִּסְעוּ מֵאֹבֹת וַיַּחֲנוּ בְּעִיֵּי הָעֲבָרִים בִּגְבוּל מוֹאָב.

They set out from Oboth and encamped at Iye-abarim, in the territory of Moab.

The ensuing route in verses 45–49 contains a string of Moabite toponyms, a tacit rejection that this territory was ever Amorite or conquered by Israelites. In other words, the Israelites are pictured as travelling peacefully through Moabite territory until they eventually cross over the Jordan into the Promised Land, which is, in this text, limited to territory west of the Jordan.

Numbers 33 is evidence that Numbers 32’s effort to convince his interlocutors that Transjordan should be part of the Promised Land fell on deaf ears. Numbers 34 presents a definitive boundary of the Promised Land. Like the map of the Promised Land in Ezekiel 47, it does not include any land in Transjordan. This boundary and the preceding itinerary work together to categorically reject what Numbers 32 is trying to convince readers to accept.[7]

The Complexity of Land Ideology in the Torah

Numbers 32 and the texts that surround it let us witness a conversation—perhaps even something more like an argument—over the status of Transjordan as part of the Promised Land. Numbers 21 lets us see how a conquest narrative was written to support the idea that it is part of the land, and Numbers 32 now comes to assuage potential concerns about that idea.

History and ideology may come together here in a complex blend. Numbers 21 and 32 create a claim to an idea; they are not history per se. But we know from the Mesha Stele, for example, that Israelites do have a long history in this area.[8] It may be difficult or even impossible given our extant sources to show exactly how that history informed this ideological claim, but history and ideology are often a messy mix when it comes to land claims, so it would be no surprise if we find such a mix here as well.

What’s more, that history notwithstanding, this claim was rejected, showing that more is at stake in this argument than just history, even if these texts do not reveal exactly what it is. So much is at stake in questions of land, today as in antiquity. The literary character of the Torah as a text with multiple voices does not let us rest with simple answers but presses us to confront and wrestle with the complex dynamics involved.

View Footnotes

Dr. Angela Roskop Erisman is associate faculty and regional director at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research and owner of Angela Roskop Erisman Editorial, and she was the founding editorial director of the Marginal… Read more

The Unfinished Business of Camp David

Jan 16 at 2:51 AM

The unfinished business of Camp David

Let’s Negotiate ….
—– Forwarded Message —–
From: John Hummasti <>
To: Masjed As-Sabar <>; ; ;
Saudiembassy Info <>;; ; <>; Jimena Info ; World Jewish Congress <>; ; Carole Basri <>; ; <>
Sent: Thursday, January 16, 2020, 2:46:06 AM PST
Subject: Let’s Negotiate a Reparations Agreement
The unfinished business of Camp David –

Camp David Peace Accords – Article VIII The Parties agree to establish a claims commission for the mutual settlement of all financial claims.

Israeli-Jordanian Peace Treaty – ARTICLE 24 CLAIMS

The Parties agree to establish a claims commission for the mutual settlement of all financial claims.

“[…] with Israel having contributed the equivalent of $2.8 million to the UNCCP Reintegration Fund [and willing at Camp David in 2000 to] contribute $30 billion to fund their (Palestinian Arab) resettlement
It’s Time to Negotiate a Reparations Agreement.
As part of any future Middle Eastern “regional” peace agreement, there would need to be a claims commission set up and a claims fund for distribution to those populations affected which was supposed to have been part of the Camp David Peace Accords with Egypt (Article 8) and was supposed to have been part of the Israeli-Jordanian Peace Treaty under Article 24.
As the State of Israel is prepared to (according to the Times of Israel)

seek $250b compensation for Jews forced out of Arab countries, and was willing at Camp David in 2000 to contribute $30 billion to fund their (Palestinian Arab) resettlement

Let’s Negotiate…!
kol tov,
Yochanan Ezra ben Avraham


As the Commission was aware, it [the State of Israel] had already “declared its willingness to support the Reintegration Fund to be established by the United Nations by paying into it funds accruing from compensation for abandoned Arab lands”.

On December 2, 1950, the United Nations General Assembly passed resolution 393 by a vote of 46 in favor, 0 against, 6 abstaining. This resolution allocated, for the period 1 July 1951 to 30 June 1952, “not less than the equivalent of $30,000,000” for the economic reintegration of Palestinian refugees in the Near East “either by repatriation or resettlement”, their permanent re-establishment and removal from relief, “without prejudice to the provisions of paragraph 11 of General Assembly Resolution 194”.

Toward this goal, Israel donated the equivalent of $2.8 million, and Arab states pledged almost $600,000. The United States accounted for the greatest pledge with $25 million.

Israel donated the equivalent of $2.8 million….

B.   Question of the property of Jews emigrating from Iraq to Israel


72.  On 29 March 1951, the Commission received a letter from the Government of Israel concerning legislation enacted earlier that month by the Government of Iraq providing for the seizure of property of Iraqui Jews who had registered for emigration to Israel. The Commission was informed that, according to the terms of a decree promulgated in March 1950, Jews had been permitted to leave Iraq on condition that they forfeited their Iraqui citizenship, that during the ensuing year 104,000 Iraqui Jews had registered with the intention of settling in Israel; and that on 10 March 1951, the day after the expiry of the term for registration, the Government of Iraq had introduced a bill, which shortly afterwards became law, under the terms of which all assets held by or on behalf of Jews who had registered for emigration were frozen and the right of disposal vested in a Custodian appointed by the Government.

73.  The Government of Israel informed the Commission that it had felt compelled to take steps to protect the Jews affected by this legislation. As the Commission was aware, it had already “declared its willingness to support the Reintegration Fund to be established by the United Nations by paying into it funds accruing from compensation for abandoned Arab lands”. However, it could not fully discharge this obligation in view of its new obligation to rehabilitate some 100,000 Jews left destitute as a result of the Iraqui legislation. It had therefore decided that the value of Jewish property seized in Iraq would be taken into account in the settlement of the obligation assumed in respect of compensation for Arab property abandoned in Israel.

74.  The letter stated that if assurances could be obtained from Iraq concerning the adequate liquidation and unhampered transfer of the assets in question, the necessity for linking the two accounts would disappear.

75.  The Commission communicated the Israel Government’s letter to the Arab Governments. In acknowledging the receipt of the letter, and in communicating it to the Arab Governments, the Commission stated that it reserved its right to express at the appropriate time its opinion concerning the questions of competence and substance raised by the Israel Government’s letter. At the time of the Paris Conference, in the autumn of 1951, no change had occurred in the position of either the Government of Israel or the Government of Iraq. The transmittal of the Israel Government’s letter to the Arab Governments brought no response from them.


At the 2000 Camp David summit 52 years following Israeli independence, Israel offered to set up an international fund for the compensation for the property which had been lost by 1948 Palestinian refugees, to which Israel would contribute.

“[…] with Israel [willing to] contributing $30 billion to fund their (Palestinian Arab) resettlement.

Farhud Victims Not Eligible for Holocaust Compensation

Israel: Iraqi victims of WWII-era pogrom not eligible for Holocaust compensation

Supreme Court says since 1957 restitution laws were determined by German government guidelines, survivors of Farhud massacre not eligible for monthly stipends


Iraqi Jews arrive in Israel's Lod Airport on May 1, 1950. (GPO / BRAUNER TEDDY)

Iraqi Jews arrive in Israel’s Lod Airport on May 1, 1950. (GPO / BRAUNER TEDDY)

The Supreme Court on Sunday rejected a petition that sought to include the victims of Iraq’s 1941 anti-Jewish pogrom as victims of Nazi persecution for the purposes of state compensation.

The justices recognized that Nazi Germany was involved in anti-Semitic propaganda that precipitated the persecution of the Jewish community, but said the existing law was not broad enough to include survivors of the Farhud massacre under Israel’s 1957 Holocaust compensation law.

The petition filed by representatives of 2,000 or so survivors sought the same compensation from the state for their losses in livelihood and property, in the wake of the massacre believed to have been a catalyst for the Jewish exodus from Iraq.

Recognition as victims of Nazi persecution would entitle members of the community to receive an annual stipend of NIS 26,400 ($7,000) and other benefits.

The pogrom masterminded by Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, was set off by the collapse of a popular pro-Nazi government in Baghdad in early June of 1941.

In a two-day period, mobs swearing allegiance to the Mufti and Hitler went on a rampage in Baghdad and other cities in Iraq. At least 150 Jews were killed and more than 2,000 injured, some 900 Jewish homes were destroyed and looted, and hundreds of Jewish-owned shops were robbed and destroyed.

A series of subsequent decrees and attacks emptied the country of its ancient Jewish community by the early 1970s, with barely 100 Jews remaining.

The petition argued that the massacre was inspired and encouraged by Nazi Germany, which it said had distributed anti-Semitic propaganda throughout the country.

But the justices said the scope of the Israeli law governing the distribution of the German reparation money was not broad enough to include the Iraqi community. Under Israeli law, Holocaust survivors are eligible to receive compensation if they fit Germany’s legal definition of a victim of Nazi persecution.

Germany’s law, passed in the 1950s, only recognizes victims who were directly affected by Nazi persecution, though it includes a provision for victims of crimes committed by Nazi proxy states during WWII.

Attorneys representing the community argued to the court that the Iraqi Jewish community fell into the second category, arguing that Baghdad at the time was heavily influenced by Nazi Germany.

The justices rejected that argument, saying that anti-Semitism exhibited in Iraq during WWII could not be solely pinned on Nazi Germany.

“Anti-Semitism in its various forms was present prior to the rise of the Nazi regime, and did not disappear after Nazi Germany was defeated,” Haifa District Court judges wrote in their February 2018 ruling on the case, before it was referred to the Supreme Court. “There are many causes for anti-Semitism, and some of them change from time to time.”

The petition was rejected by the Haifa District court in 2011 on similar grounds.

In their decision, the justices also criticized the Israeli government for adopting such a narrow definition of Nazi victims, saying that basing its criteria off of German law was a “missed opportunity” to aid survivors.

“This law represents a policy which does not necessarily reflect the position of Israel at this time,” Justice Daphne Barak-Erez wrote. The policy, she said, “prevents the possibility of granting full recognition to victims.”

Other than European Jews, only Jews from Libya and from Tunisia who immigrated to Israel before 1953 were eligible for compensation as Holocaust survivors. Those benefits change according to certain criteria, but the amount begins at NIS 26,400 ($7,000) per year.

In 2015, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon announced a reparations package for Jews from Iraq, Morocco, and Algeria, who suffered persecution during the period of the Holocaust.

The benefits package, that for the first time included victims of the Farhud pogrom, entitled to an annual payment of NIS 3,600 (approx. $950) and pharmaceutical exemptions.

The community’s representative at the time hailed the move, but said the package felt like a “consolation prize,” as they deserved a stipend comparable to that given to refugees from Europe, Libya and Tunisia.

Kahlon’s package stipulated the community’s eligibility, on the condition the survivors drop all petitions and other legal action.

On Monday, the justices urged the state to uphold the 2015 agreement despite their ruling, and recommended the treasury grant the one-time pay out to Farhud victims.