“Palestine or Israel?”
“He said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed” (Genesis 32:28)
Today the term ‘Palestine’ or ‘the Palestinians’ is being heralded in most of the nations of the world as we see anti-Semitism and anti-Israel protests occurring in many cities in the world especially in the western democracies on the European Continent, in Great Britain, in Canada and in America and in Australia. There are protests in the city streets of many major cities and on university campuses and colleges.
The name ‘Palestine’ has even taken root within wider Christendom today and many who support the name Palestine within Christendom are also advocates of or favour replacement theology which in its fullest expression is a doctrine of the devil and spawned by some of the early Latin and Greek Church Fathers that removed the Church from its Jewish roots and started to interpret the Word of God with Hellenistic Greek thinking.
Jacob, not Esau!
Even in virtually all of our western Bibles we see the term ‘Palestine’ on the maps in the back of those Bibles, clearly showing that even in wider Christian circles over the past years there seems to be an increasing swing towards calling Israel by the name of Palestine. Most, if not all those in the protests today who are touting Palestine as the home of the Palestinian Arabs and that the Jews are occupiers, are just plain ignorant of why the Holy Land is called Israel historically and Biblically, a name given to the nation that God bestowed upon the Patriarch Jacob and not upon his brother Esau, the father of the Arab nations. The Palestinians today are just displaced Arabs that do not have a homeland.
An “everlasting possession”
Israel today is the land God gave to the Jewish people to be their homeland as He promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and to their descendants to be for the Jewish people as an everlasting possession. God also mapped out the perimeters of the land from the Wadi of Egypt to the River Euphrates including Gaza, Judea and Samaria, the city of Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, Jordan, Lebanon and extending into Syria. (Genesis 17:7-8) (Genesis 15:17-19).
They argue with God!
God personally bestowed the name Israel upon Jacob after he had wrestled through the night with the pre-incarnate Messiah before His incarnation and the name Israel was given to Jacob and to his descendants after him, the Jewish people. Since the time of Jacob the land called Canaan became the land of Israel after the conquest Canaan under Joshua. The Land has been called Israel down through the centuries. God calls the land Israel and the writers of the New and the Old Testament call the land Israel. The Messiah our Lord Jesus called the land Israel. Those who want to argue the point argue with God!
The term ‘Palestine’
The term ‘Palestine’ has been adopted by the Arabs living in Israel and has spread to all of the Arab nations today and is also being called by that name by virtually all of the political leaders in the western democracies. The main stream media is also calling the land of Israel by the name of Palestine and most of their reporting favours the so called ‘Palestinian cause’ while distancing itself from Israel and even calling the Jewish people the illegal occupiers and some of those in the news media who are even accusing Israel of perpetrating Genocide against the Palestinians or at least inferring it. Not much is being said at all by and large about the massacre of Jews on October 7th 2023 by the Hamas terrorists accompanied by Arab citizens of Gaza.
What does the Bible say?
In the Old Testament we see the Philistines that occupied Gaza, the southwest coastal area of Israel. The word Philistine is a translation of the Hebrew word “Pelesheth”. This term is never used in the Old Testament to refer to the whole land of Israel but only designated for the Gaza Strip. In the New Testament the term ‘Palestine’ is never used. The term Israel primarily refers to the people of Israel and not the land itself, however in at least two passages of the New Testament Israel is specifically used to refer to the Land. Matthew uses this in his gospel (Matthew 2:20-21). The Lord Jesus directly called the land Israel (Matthew 10:23). The Bible never uses the term Palestine to refer to the land of Israel as a whole, and the Bible maps that refer to Palestine in the old or the new Testament are, at best, inaccurate, and, at worst, are a conscious denial of the Biblical name of Israel.
Its historical use
Where did the name Palestine originate from? How did the secular world and within wider Christendom get into the habit of calling the Land of Israel ‘Palestine?’ Before 135 AD the Romans used the terms Judea and Galilee to refer to the Land of Israel and today Judea and Samaria are considered by the Jewish people as the heartland of Israel and are also called this in the Bible, which secular Gentiles and Arabs call the West Bank. When the Roman General Titus destroyed the temple and ransacked Jerusalem the Roman government minted a coin with the phrase “Judea Capta,” meaning “Judea has been captured.” The term Palestine was never used in the early Roman designations of the land of Israel.
After 135 AD
In 135 AD the second Jewish revolt led by Bar Kochba against Rome was crushed by the Roman legions and consequently the Roman Emperor Hadrian applied the term Palestine to the Land of Israel. Hadrian realised the powerful propaganda in terms and symbols. Hadrian replaced the shrines of the Jewish Temple and the sepulchre of Messiah (Christ) in Jerusalem with temples to pagan deities. Hadrian changed the name of Jerusalem to Aelia Capitalina, and changed the name of Israel and Judah to Palestine. Hadrian with deliberate malevolent intent chose the name Palestine, it was no accident. He took the ancient name of Israel’s enemies the Philistines that lived in the Gaza Strip, Latinised it to Palestine, and applied it to the land of Israel hoping to erase the name Israel from people’s memories. Today Satan is doing his work overtime to destroy the identity and Biblical history of the Jewish people. So then the term ‘Palestine’ as applied to the Land of Israel was invented by the arch enemy of God, the Bible and the Jewish people. Hadrian was a type of the Antichrist to come.
Actually the Philistines were not Middle Eastern at all as they were European peoples from the Adriatic Sea next to Greece. It may well have suited Hadrian to use the Hellenistic term Palestine for the Jewish land of Israel. Be that as it may, the original “Palestinians” had nothing to do whatsoever with any Arabs!
How Christendom adopted the term “Palestine”
One of the first uses of the term Palestine is found in the writings of the Church Historian Eusebias who lived in Caesarea who wrote his historical works around 300AD. At that time the Roman persecution of Christians was ending as the Emperor Constantine began to embrace Christianity as the legal and official religion of the Roman Empire. It is important to note that Eusebias himself did not accept Hadrian’s nation of Jerusalem as Aelia Capitalina, but he did use Hadrian’s term Palestine. Eusebias saw himself as a Bishop of the Church and one of the bishops of Palestine. As a result the anti-Israel, anti-Christian name of Palestine was assimilated into the vocabulary of the Byzantine Empire as it was being formed in Turkey, part of the Eastern leg of the Roman Empire with its capital at Constantinople which today is modern Istanbul in Turkey.
The broader use of “Palestine”
Since that time, Christendom for the most part has used the term Palestine in their literature and in their Bible maps to refer to Israel. During the crusades the crusaders called the land the Kingdom of Jerusalem. However, when the British received their mandate after WW1 they called the land on both sides of the Jordan River, Palestine; a name that has stuck down to this present day within most of the Middle-Eastern and Western nations. The British Mandate for Palestine as it was called, also known as the Mandate for Palestine or the Palestine Mandate, was a “Class A” League of Nations mandate for the territories of Israel, in which the Balfour Declaration’s “national home for the Jewish people” was to be established, and Transjordan, a separate Arab Emirate, both of which were conceded by the Ottoman Empire following World War I.” For several decades after the British mandate those who lived in the land were called Palestinians, whether they were Jews, Arabs or Europeans. Even many evangelicals today who love and support Israel call the land Palestine either knowingly or unwittingly they have followed the pagan world and haters of Israel and anti-Semites in calling Israel by the Un-Biblical and the anti-Israel term Palestine. The name today is found throughout Bible maps, Bibles, Bible commentaries and textbooks. Satan has been at work seeking to destroy the identity of the Biblical land of Israel as well as the Jewish people.
Throughout the age of Christendom the use of the term Palestine was Biblically inaccurate and wrong and in defiance of the Triune God of Israel, the authors of both Testaments, the prophets, the apostles and the Lord Jesus Himself. Today we see the name Palestine being levelled at the Jewish people and a byword within all of the nations of the world and infiltrating the rank and file of clergy and laity alike within wider Christendom and even creeping into many Evangelical circles. The tern Palestine is rapidly becoming the cornerstone of the propaganda war against Israel and the Jewish people. Why would Bible believing Christians want to or even consider using a name invented by a pagan Roman Emperor who hated God, hated the Bible, hated the Jews and sought to erase their identity as a nation from history? Why would even an increasing number of professing Bible believing Christians seek to utilise terms used by those today who hate God, hate His Word, reject the Messiah and disregard His people Israel and who seek the total destruction of the Jewish people?
As New Covenant believers and members of the Body of Messiah who love Israel and the Jewish people and believe in their Biblical and national restoration at the end of this present age should always use Biblical terminology. If God calls the Holy land Israel, if the whole Bible itself calls the Land Israel and if the Messiah our Lord Jesus called the Holy Land Israel when He walked this earth, then who are we to use any other name for Israel? Yet there are professing Christians who insist on using the name Palestine and usually they are most comfortable associated within the replacement theology camp! Now that the Jews are back in the Land of Israel as prophesied in the Word of God they are still called Jews and the land called Israel. Those who beg to differ and argue for using the term Palestine argue with God!
As the Second Coming of the Messiah our Lord Jesus gets closer, keeping in mind that Israel has now been a nation for 76 years (We are now in 2024) and is God’s prophetic time clock for the nations, that Satan knows his time is short and is upping the ante on hatred of the Jewish people and hell-bent on their annihilation as a nation as well as the Body of Messiah spiritually grafted into Israel. Satan knows that the Messiah is the King of the Jews and that He is destined to sit on David’s throne at Jerusalem after He has returned to this earth and completely restored Israel as a nation spiritually and nationally. Satan hates the woman Israel that God calls His wife and her spiritual offspring being the Body of Messiah spiritually grafted into the Olive Tree that metaphorically and Biblically represents the Commonwealth of Israel. Satan hates the Jews and the Christians with a twisted and perverted passion. It was at Jerusalem that Satan experienced his first defeat with the first coming of the Messiah our Lord Jesus and it will be at Jerusalem where Satan will experience his last defeat at the Second Coming of the Messiah our Lord Jesus. To this the prophets and the apostles and the Lord Jesus testify in scripture and in that day Israel will “possess their possession” and “possess the gates of their enemies!” As for the name ‘Palestine’ it will have been well and truly erased forever!