Recently, Christians United for Israel (CUFI) held a conference in Washington, D.C. (The CUFI is an Evangelical Christian organization, founded by Pastor John Hagee, which claims to support Israel.) One of the speakers at the recent conference was United States Senator Joseph Lieberman, a self-proclaimed orthodox Jew. Despite Hagee's recent remarks, Lieberman, being a politician first, and knowing the voting power of Evangelicals, could not pass up the opportunity.
In his speech, Lieberman stated that Israel should prepare for war with Iran just as Jacob did with Esau. Being a self-proclaimed orthodox Jew, you would figure that Lieberman must know his Torah, right? From the sounds of his statement, it seems that Jacob was ready for a fight with his brother Esau. Except that's not quite how the story goes. According to the account in Torah (Genesis 32.4-33.3):
- Jacob sent messengers to Esau in order to persuade him not to attack (according to Torah, Jacob saw Esau as his lord, and himself as Esau's servant);
- then, he divided all the people and herds and flocks into two camps, so that, whichever one Esau attacked, the other one could escape;
- next, Jacob sought the protection of Yahweh, the God of his fathers Abraham and Isaac;
- the next day he gathered together a large amount of animals — 220 goats, 220 sheep, 30 camels, 40 cows, 10 bulls, and 30 donkeys — and had his servants take them to Esau in an attempt to buy his kindness so Esau would not attack;
- that night Jacob separated his family from the rest the people. Once again he sought the Lord, entering into a spiritual struggle as to what he should do the next day in regards to Esau;
- finally, we see that, when Esau arrives, Jacob bows to him seven times, showing honor and submission to Esau.
Now, from these passages it looks like Lieberman is advocating that Israel offer gifts to Iran to try to buy their friendship and, if that doesn't work, then they should bow low in submission to the Iranians. That's exactly what Torah says happened in the account of Jacob and Esau. What else could it mean? Jacob clearly did not prepare to do battle with Esau. He did not gather his servants in battle formation. If he had any weapons, they were not brought out and made ready for war. As we saw, he had already sent some of his servants ahead to try to buy his way out of the situation.
Bowing to their enemies has, in fact, become a major problem with Israel's current and recent leaders. Most of the Israeli leaders, it seems, are quite ready to submit to their enemies. Instead, Israel must stand her ground and fight. She doesn't need the permission of the leader of some pagan, Gentile nation to act against her enemies. It doesn't matter what the "world powers" think; Israel must do whatever is necessary in order to defend her land — all of it — and her people.
Another question arises in that, in the situation between Jacob and Esau, Jacob was the one in the wrong; he had manipulated Esau in order to steal his birthright and his blessing. Esau had a right to be mad. Does Lieberman think that Israel has somehow manipulated Iran? Does he believe that Israel has stolen Iran's birthright and blessing and now needs to repent for it?
It seems that Lieberman does not know his Torah very well. In an effort to gain the Evangelical Christian vote, Lieberman, it seems, has twisted the Scriptures to say what he thinks will tickle the ear of his listeners. But oh well, it's all in the name of the pagan god of politics.