Like President Barack Obama, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not fully grasped the nature of his country’s enemy, and/or has not acted commensurately vis-à-vis this enemy. Concerning this complex matter we must shed the conventional political discourse propagated by secular universities. A more reliable source is the Bible of Israel. There we must examine what is said about the character of Ishmael, the paradigm of the Arab nation, on which we must superimpose an Islamic veneer.
Ishmael, enemy of everyone
Genesis 16:11 records the naming of Ishmael, which in Hebrew means “consciousness of G-d.” In the next verse, however, Ishmael is called a “Pera Adam,” a “free man amongst men [whose] hand [will be] against everyman, and every man’s hand [will be] against him …”
A person conscious of G-d may become bellicose and kill others in the name of G-d. But what has Ishmael to do with the Temple Mount and the deficient mentality of Mr. Netanyahu?
It was Ishmael’s descendants that built the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount. Whereas the mosque is circular or curvilinear, the Beit Hamikdash (the Temple) is rectilinear. It is well-known that circularity is representative of “Nature,” a word that does not occur in the Bible of Israel. Nature is the domain of determinism, the absence of free will. But Genesis 16:12 refers to Ishmael as a “free man.” How are we to explain this seeming contradiction?
Nature of Ishmael
First note that contrary to Hebrew usage, the adjective “Pera” precedes the noun “Adam.” This means that Ishmael’s humanity is inverted or misleading; he tends to behave like a savage. Hence Genesis 16:12 refers to him as a man whose hand will be against everyman. (This conforms to the description of Ishmael’s descendants by Ibn Khaldun, a 13th century Arab historian.) Moreover, we commonly refer to the behavior of savages as close to nature or as “natural.”
If Ishmael’s humanity is misleading, his “consciousness of G-d” is also misleading. Perhaps his conception of G-d is distorted, tainted by determinism. Perhaps this is why mosques are curvilinear, and why they are places of worship for people whose religion is fatalistic.
Be this as it may, the Al-Aqsa Mosque is on the Temple Mount. What is its purpose? According to the Talmud, the descendants of Ishmael will prevent Jews from treading on and thereby violating the holiness of the Temple Mount until Jews have attained a certain spiritual purity. The Al-Aqsa Mosque also serves to remind Jews of the absence of the Beit Hamikdash, the Temple, which need to attain the most profound closeness to G-d. For this end they require a “straight” and not “curvilinear” or “circuitous” mind.
Israel must therefore transcend the meaningless circularity of Nature in which the non-Torah world is entrapped. Israel must be true to her own name, whose prefix, “yashar,” means “straight”! To be straight and direct one’s life to the service of G-d and thus sanctify His Name – this is Israel’s world-historical function.
The Ishmael connection
Now let’s connect Israel’s relentless policy of “land for peace” with Islam’s relentless imperialism in biblical and theological terms. Let’s connect Genesis 16:12 with the birth of Ishmael, the archetype of the Arab nation.
Ishmael is there referred to as a “pera adam,” an unusual construct since, contrary to Hebrew grammar, the adjective “pera” precedes the noun “adam.” Many commentators have puzzled and commented on this bizarre construction. Some have translated pera adam as “a beast in the form of a man.” Genesis 16:12 says of Ishmael: “His hand shall be against everyone, and everyone’s hand shall be against him.” Midrash Rabbah (Genesis 45:9) refers to pera adam as “a savage among men in its literal sense, for whereas all others plunder wealth, he plunders lives.”
Other commentators refer to pera adam as a prolific man who will have abundant progeny spread throughout the world. That great convert to Judaism Onkelos (c.35-120 CE) says of pera adam: “He will be dependent on every one and similarly everyone will be dependent upon him” (a prophecy that has come to fulfillment in our times: witness Arab dependency on Western technology and the West’s dependence on Arab oil).
Rabbi Abraham Ibn Ezra (1092 or 1093-1167) also construes the reference to pera adam in Genesis 16:12 as a prophecy. “His hand shall be against everyone, means that Ishmael will be victorious at first over all nations, and afterwards, everyone’s hand shall be against him, meaning that he will be vanquished in the end.”
This is beyond the secular mentality of Netanyahu and of Israel’s military chiefs, hence of their mentors. Israel needs Torah-educated leaders.☼
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