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Posts Tagged ‘20-miles stretch of land

In the Near East (Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine) there is barely 30 miles stretch of land in width separating the seashore line to the in-land chains of mountains.  It might seem currently ridiculous to claim that this distance can constitute a dividing line between two cultures within a nation.  Fact is, during Jesus time, before, and for centuries after, the Near East had two separate cultures representing the urban coastal line dwellers and what I call the in-land people.  You might even distinguish two more cultures:  the northern fertile in-land people (north of Jerusalem such as Samara, Galilee, Houran, Damascus…) and the desert nomadic people around Jerusalem and to the south.

The urban coastal dwellers stretching from north Turkey to Gaza were exposed to centuries of openness and negotiations with countless cultures and civilizations:  They acquired flexible tendencies to appreciating and valuing varied customs and traditions coming from overseas civilizations.  Their culture has overgrown the oral language traditions of the in-landers into the written language and complex written business contracts.

The Jews and Jewish tribes living in Judea (around Jerusalem and to the southern desert) failed to communicate and engage in direct trade with the urban people on the seashore cities.  They relied on the coastal middlemen or merchants to buying and transacting their products (mainly sheep and goats).  Their culture remained an oral tradition as nomadic tribes communicated their myths, customs, stories, and superstitions.

The Old Testament was basically a collection of stories describing the customs and tradition of in-land people in Palestine.  The scholar Jews in Alexandria (200 BC) decided to write a history of the collected oral stories, myths, and superstitions of the in-land people residing in Palestine.  The Jewish scholars felt an urgent assignment to convert the frustration, anger, alienation, and superstitious culture of the Jews in diaspora into a cohesive historical account that smack of fictitious facts or accurate dating.

Fact is, after 60 years of independence and zealous endeavors to discovering any archeological sites proving the existence of an ancient Jewish kingdom, Israel was unable to find anything related to urban dwelling of any respectable size.  There were no ancient Jewish kingdoms:  Jerusalem was built over one thousand years before Moses set foot on the borders with Palestine.  The Israelites were simply disparate nomadic tribes trying to connect with urban cultures and afraid of being diluted and absorbed in these advanced civilizations.

Jesus was an urban cultured person:  He was born in the Bethlehem of Mount Carmel, lived his childhood in Qana (Lebanon), and was educated in Sidon (Lebanon).  In the last year of his proselytizing, Jesus had decided to disseminate his message to the in-land people and ventured to the lion’s den in Jerusalem (the bastion of rigid rules and superstition). 

It must have been a terrible shock to Jesus and most of his disciples when they witnessed the customs in Jerusalem.  The people and Jewish “zealots” marched behind Jesus wanting a king.  The Jewish clerics of the various sects were comfortable with the state of affairs under a Roman governor, securing order at no expense to the clerics and never meddling in their internal quibbles.

Israel is adamant on not facilitating the construction of a maritime port in Gaza and on opening easy links and land accesses from the West Bank to Gaza for an obvious reason:  Israel wants to reverse the trend and be the urban culture versus the in-landers.

Note 1:  The Near east region shared several characteristics:

First, they had a common oral and written language called Aramaic (spoken by Jesus).  Aramaic was later called Syriac as the Omayyad dynasty of the Arab/Islamic Empire selected Damascus for Capital.  The various Arabic spoken slangs and Hebrew are variations of Aramaic.  Aramaic is still spoken in many regions in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq

Second, They shared the same religion during paganism periods; every city had temples for the favorite Gods from around the land.  The pagan period extended till 500 AC.  Most of the Christian sects in the Near East were considered heretics by the Orthodox Church of Constantinople because they refused the Catholic dogma of three Gods in one; that Jesus is the son of God; and they refused the excessive pageantry exhibited in ceremonies, in bishops rituals, and displaying icons and pictures of saints in churches.  Thus, when Islam invaded the land, the Christian heretics allied with this new religion that was compatible with their dogma.

Third, the topography of the land did not present any serious natural barriers for external warrior empires.  Once a warrior empire (Babylonia, Assyria, Persia, Greek, Mogul, Turks, Ottoman…) entered one corner, it conquered the entire land within a year.

Note 2:  People living on a sea-shore see vast horizons ahead of them and enjoy temperate climate, plenty of fish for nourishment, and variety of goods arriving to ports:  They are open to new ideas, styles, and customs.  People living in deserts have a vast horizon in front of them but lack the adequate climate, the potable water, the animal resources for daily consumption, and most of them lack ready and frequent contacts with other varieties of customs and traditions.  In-land people with fertile lands (Damascus, Aleppo, Hama) get accustomed to a world of limits, barriers,  concentric design of cities, and central views for governance and administration.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

April 2020
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