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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Israel’s return in unbelief: counter evidence

Ezekiel 20:34-38  gathering and  purging Israel before they enter the land of promise

This passage appears to be incompatible with a return to the land in unbelief. The house of Israel is gathered from the dispersion among the nations to a place called “the wilderness of the peoples” ‎מדבר העמים τὴν ἔρημον τῶν λαῶν. This Hebrew expression translated “the wilderness of the peoples” is found in the War Scroll 1QM 1:2-3 

1QM 1:2 … The sons of Levi, the sons of Judah, and the sons of Benjamin, those exiled to the wilderness, shall fight against them 3  with […] against all their troops, when the exiles of the Sons of Light return from the Wilderness of the Peoples to camp in the Wilderness of Jerusalem. [1]

The referent of the expression “the wilderness of the peoples” is difficult to identify but we are safe in assuming it is not part of the the promised land “the land of Israel.” The location is not important. Ezekiel makes it the scene where the Lord God enters into judgement with Israel.

Ezekiel 20:34-38 RSV I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out;  35 and I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will enter into judgment with you face to face.  36 As I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will enter into judgment with you, says the Lord GOD.  37 I will make you pass under the rod, and I will let you go in by number.  38 I will purge out the rebels from among you, and those who transgress against me; I will bring them out of the land where they sojourn, but they shall not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD.

The sequence of events here is generally chronological, with some overlap, restatement and expansion; “with wrath poured out” at the end of v34 which may refer to the judgement “face to face” at the end of v35 which is repeated again in v36 “I will enter into judgment with you” and elaborated in v37-38. The narration is not strictly linear, but the gathering precedes the arrival at the place of judgement and the judgement precedes the return to the land of promise. Most important, the rebels “ those who transgress against me” are explicitly excluded from the group who will return to the land.

This doesn’t bode well for 1948 as a prophetic event.

[1] “The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New English Translation,” edited by Michael O. Wise, Martin G. Abegg, Jr. and Edward M. Cook (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1996).



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