Location: New England, United States

Monday, August 01, 2005

Oil and Water

Two children were born to Abraham. The first born, Ishmael, was born to the Egyptian handmaiden, Hagar. The second child, Isaac, was born to Abraham's wife Sarah. Centuries later, the conflict between these two half brothers is still waging. Who is the first born of Abraham? Which child inherits the land promised to Abraham?

Arabs claim they are the descendants of Ishmael and as Ishmael was born first, the land belongs to them. Jews claim they are descendants of Isaac and as Isaac was born of Sarah, Abraham's wife, then the land rightfully belongs to them. Jews claim that Ishmael was born of a household servant, therefore his descendants have no right to the land of Abraham.

Centuries later, this battle is still being waged, and contrary to current belief, this fight was never about oil or what lies beneath the land. The purpose of this fight is about what lies on the land - water.

Maps of the Middle East show few sources of fresh water. On the east, there is the Euprates and the Tigris rivers running between Iraq and Iran spilling towards the Persian Gulf. To the west, we have the Nile River coursing its way through Egypt. The only other major water source in the region starts in Lebanon and carries its life giving water to the Jordan River and the Sea of Gailee in Israel.

The 1967 conflict between Israel and the surrounding Arab states had nothing to do with Zionism or a conflict over lands. This conflict started when Jordan and Syria began plans to dam the headwaters of the Jordan River. By daming the headwaters, they would stop the flow of water into the fledgling nation of Israel.

Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and the highly disputed West Bank are in conflict with Israel for the control of the area's fresh water supply. With an annual rainfall comparable to Arizona, this region's most precious resource is water. As a coastal region, the West Bank does receive significanly more waterfall than the other regions mentioned above, but as the ground is comprised of porous sand, this water is quickly absorbed - moving underground to feed wells and eventually the Jordan River. Thus, both the Arabs and the Israelis covet the West Bank as a great source of fresh water.

Both the Arabs and the Jews claim Abraham as their founding father, yet, their dispute has waged for thousands of years. So how did Abraham acquire this land?

Let us read Genesis 13:5-9
" And Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents, so that the land could not support both of them dwelling together; for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together, and there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram's cattle and the herdsmen of Lot's cattle. At that time the Canaanites and the Per'izzites dwelt in the land. Then Abram said to Lot, "Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herdsmen and my herdsmen; for we are kinsmen. Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left." RSV

Lot was Abraham's nephew, the son of his brother. So we see another dispute between familial members - this one over grazing land and probably available fresh water. But, notice how Abraham handles the dispute. "Let there be no strife between you and me." As we continue in Genesis, we learn of Lot's response.

" And Lot lifted up his eyes, and saw that the Jordan valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zo'ar; this was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomor'rah. So Lot chose for himself all the Jordan valley, and Lot journeyed east; thus they separated from each other. Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, while Lot dwelt among the cities of the valley and moved his tent as far as Sodom." Genesis 13:10-12 RSV

Lot took the whole valley, leaving Abraham with the arid land of Canaan. As we continue to the end of Genesis 13, we see that God portioned a land just for Abraham and his descendants.

" The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, "Lift up your eyes, and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land which you see I will give to you and to your descendants for ever. I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your descendants also can be counted. Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you." So Abram moved his tent, and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are at Hebron; and there he built an altar to the LORD."

It should be noted that Lot did not hold onto his land for long. His land was destroyed along with the city of Sodom by fire.

Strife will last for centuries, but the pain of the peacemaker will sting for a short time.


Blogger Paul M. Kingery said...

Dear Annie,

Thank you for your thoughts about Abraham and Lot. I look forward to following your interesting blog. I have also been writing on that subject. Are you interested in topics about the Apocalypse, End times, the End of the world , Eschatology , Last days , the Horsemen of the apocalypse , The beast , Prophesy , Prophesies , Revelation , 666 , Bible Prophesy , Prophets , Canaan , Canaan's land , Land of Canaan , or the Christian future? If so you may enjoy reading " Land of Canaan." This is a free online book. The Link is Let me know what you think.


Paul M. Kingery, PhD, MPH

6:31 PM  

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