How do you explain Joel's prophecy about dividing the land?

10/25/06

Dear Rabbi,

In dealing with those who support Zionism(christian Zionists), how do you answer their use of Joel 3:2

"They have also divided up My land..."

I'm not sure what to say when confronted with this verse.

Mort

Dear Mort,

The prophet Joel says, For behold, in those days and at that time, when I bring back the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Yehoshafat, and I will punish them there on account of my people, my inheritance, Israel, whom they scattered among the nations, and they divided up My land. (4:1-2) In other words, when the time of Moshiach arrives and G-d gathers the Jews back to Eretz Yisroel, He will punish the gentile nations for exiling the Jews from the Land and dividing up the Land among themselves. Although the exile was a Divine decree because of the sins of the Jews, the gentiles are still punished for offering their services in carrying out the decree. Similarly, although G-d decreed that Abrahams descendents would be slaves (Genesis 15:13), he punished the Egyptians for being the ones to carry out the decree. This concept is explained by the Rambam (Teshuva 6:5).

(So you see that the verse is not talking about dividing up the land between Jews and Arabs, as in the Partition Plan or the Two-State Solution. It is talking about the gentiles dividing up the land among themselves.)

Today we have a group of gentiles who say, We don't want to be punished for taking the Jewish people's land away! Let's go and give it back to them. (The Christian Zionists have other motivations besides this, having to do with their religion. But we'll only address this reason.) The truth is that this is a good thought on their part. When the great Day of Judgement comes, the gentiles will be punished for all the terrible things they did to the Jews over the centuries, and taking their land away 2000 years ago is only one thing on the long list. If a particular gentile speaks up and says, I am sorry for the things my people did to yours. I will always treat the Jews nicely, and he follows through on that with actions, he is considered one of the chassidei umos haolam (pious gentiles) and will be rewarded by G-d.

But when it comes to giving back Eretz Yisroel to us, they must be told that we are not allowed to take it from them until G-d sends us Moshiach and gives us the signal that the time has come. So let them feel sorry for exiling us, let them be nice to us now during the remainder of our exile, and then they will not be punished for the sin of their ancestors who took away our land. When the Day of Judgement described by Joel comes, this group of gentiles will be acquitted, since they have repented from that sin. Repentance does not always have to mean undoing the sin, for some sins are impossible to undo.

Even today, after many Jews have strayed from the true Jewish religion and have established a state of their own, we must encourge the gentiles to show kindness to Jews only in the context of exile. For them to encourage Jews to emigrate to the Holy Land and strengthen the Zionist presence there is to encourage Jews to violate their own religion and rebel against G-ds decree of exile. Furthermore, concentrating more Jews in one area of the world can only be dangerous for the physical welfare of the Jewish people.

As for politicians who feel it is in their country's best interest to support the Zionist state, we must only ask them not to associate the Zionist state with the Jewish people. Let them do as they please, and they have our unswerving support as citizens of their country. But let it be clear that their assistance to the country calling itself Israel is not assistance to the Jewish people, and any attempt to misconstrue it as such could have dangerous implications for Jews everywhere.