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Let's get our biblical facts straight.
Too many Christians have been incorrectly swept into the propaganda war going on now with regard to the term "Palestine." The Romans renamed the land we call Israel, "Palestinia" from which has come the modern term "Palestine." Years ago, it was the Jews living in the Middle East who were called "Palestinians", before Israel became a state in 1948. Since then, the term Palestine has been adopted by Arabs living in Israel in the area west of the Jordan River as a deliberate tactic to avoid saying the name of Israel. This is how it has become an anti-Israel designation. When we visited Jordan last year and were given maps of the region by the tour company, all the area west of the Jordan River was called Palestine and there was no reference anywhere on the map to Israel. Palestine, therefore, is the term now used by those who want to deny the legitimate existence of Israel as a genuine nation among the world family of nations.

The world media consistently uses the term to raise the question Is the existence of the state of Israel legitimate? Christians also have used the term Palestine for centuries in referring to the Holy Land. In earlier times this might have been excusable (although biblically questionable) but in light of the current propaganda war against Israel, it is imperative that Christians now re-evaluate the term and be willing to ask if it is biblically, theologically or prophetically accurate.

The term Palestine is rarely used in the modern translations of the Old Testament, and when it is, it refers specifically to the southwestern coastal area of Israel occupied by the Philistines. It is a translation of the Hebrew word "Pelesheth." The term is NEVER used to refer to the whole land of Israel given by God to Abraham. In the New Testament, the term Palestine is NEVER used.

Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead who sought the young child's life. And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. (Matt. 2:20-21)

But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say to you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man shall have come. (Matt. 10:23)

It is significant to note that Jesus, Matthew and the angel speaking to Joseph all used the term Israel with reference to the Land, even though the term was not then recognized by the Roman authorities.

Their identification of the land reflected God's view, not the politically correct view of the day.

It is clear, then, that the Bible never uses the term Palestine to refer to the Holy Land as a whole, and that Bible maps that refer to Palestine in the Old or New Testament are, at best, inaccurate, and, at worst, are a conscious denial of the biblical name of Israel.

History of the Term Palestine

Before 135 A.D., the Romans used the terms Judea and Galilee to refer to the Land of Israel. When Titus destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D., the Roman government struck a coin with the phrase "Judea Capta," meaning Judea has been captured. The term Palestine was never used in the early Roman designations.

It was not until the Romans crushed the second Jewish revolt against Rome in 135 A.D. under Bar Kochba that Emperor Hadrian applied the term Palestine to the Land of Israel. Hadrian, like many dictators since his time realized the propaganda power of terms and symbols. He replaced the shrines of the Jewish Temple and the Sepulchre of Christ in Jerusalem with temples to pagan deities. He changed the name of Jerusalem to Aelia Capitalina, and changed the name of Israel and Judea to Palestine. Hadrian's selection of Palestine was purposeful, not accidental. He took the name of the ancient enemies of Israel, the Philistines, Latinized it to Palestine, and applied it to the Land of Israel. He hoped to erase the name Israel from all memory.

Thus, the term Palestine as applied to the Land of Israel was invented by the inveterate enemy of the Bible and the Jewish people,Emperor Hadrian.

The original Philistines were not Middle Eastern at all. They were Europeans from the Adriatic sea next to Greece so the original "Palestinians" had nothing to do, whatsoever, with any Arabs.

Christian Adoption of the Term Palestine

The Church historian Eusebius, who lived in Caesarea around 300 AD first used the Roman Emperor's term Palestine in his writings. Becuase of his prestige in that day, the anti-Israel, anti-Christian name of Palestine was assimilated into the Church's vocabulary as the Byzantine Empire was being established.

The Church has, since that time, broadly used the term Palestine in literature and in maps to refer to the Land of Israel. When the British received the mandate after World War I, though, they called the land on both sides of the Jordan River,Palestine. This became the accepted geo-political term for several decades, and those who lived in the land were called Palestinians, whether they were Jews, Arabs or Europeans.

Sadly, even evangelical Christians who believe in the future of Israel have used the term Palestine. The New Scofield Reference Edition of the Bible, among others, has maps in the back entitled "Palestine under the Herods." There never was a Palestine under the Herods. This is a serious misidentification. It would be something like looking at a modern map of Texas and having it titled "Mexico in the Twentieth Century."

The MacArthur Study Bible published just last year contains a map called "Palestine in Christ's Time" There are numerous references in the notes to something called first-century Palestine. Bible-believing Christians have either knowingly or ignorantly followed the haters of Israel in calling God's land by the anti-Israel term Palestine.

Proper Designation of the Land

The use of the term Palestine has been biblically inaccurate and just plain wrong throughout the Church age. However, it is more than just wrong, it is DEVASTATING in our time, when the term Palestine is the cornerstone of the propaganda war against Israel and the Jewish people. Are we to use terms invented by those who hate Christ, the Bible and Israel? Are we to use terms used by the enemies of Israel who seek the destruction of the Jewish people?

Shall we not rather go back to the terms used in the New Testament? The Gospel writers used the term Israel to refer to the Land. Why should we use any other term when referring to the Land, especially now that the Jews are back in the Land and the nation has been restored?

As the coming of the Messiah draws near, understand that Satan's fury against Israel is even greater than his fury against the Church. Why? Because in his perverted thinking, if he can destroy or at least retard the restoration of Israel, he thinks he can delay the coming of the Messiah to rule and reign from Jerusalem. Is it any surprise that he hates the land that will be the Lord's headquarters???

Finally, there never has been a "Palestinian" nation, a "Palestinian" language, a "Palestinian" culture. The "Palestinians" are Arabs among other Arabs.

The ONLY biblically and prophetically accurate way to refer to the plot of land given by Almighty God to Abraham and his descendants is the Land of Israel, which God Himself gave the Hebrews as part of an everlasting covenant. No one should even be asked to give away that which was a gift from God, but be assured that the enemy will do all that he can to steal God's gift to the Jews.

Shalom and blessings to all of you,

B. R.

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