May 1 2003
Question: I am puzzled by your statement in the January [’03] Q&A: “the land is Israel, not Palestine....” The term “Palestine” is used four times in the Bible. In Exodus:15:14 it is synonymous with the land of Canaan. In Isaiah:14:29, 31 it identifies the whole region, including both Judaea and Samaria. In Joel:3:4 it denotes the coastal areas of the eastern Mediterranean. The name “Palestine” was used universally by all people, including Jewish people, to indicate that whole area during the British mandate period from 1918 to 1948. Please explain your view.
Answer: The Hebrew word in these four places is pelensheth . This small region was also referred to as Philistia (Ps:60:8; 87:4, 108:9). It was clearly not “synonymous with the land of Canaan” and did not indicate “the whole region, including both Judaea and Samaria.” On the contrary, it referred specifically to the land of the Pelishtee, or Philistines, in the same location but a bit larger than the Gaza Strip of today, named after the Philistine city of Gaza. Their other cities were Ashdod, Gath (home of Goliath), Gerar and Ekron. They were not Semitic people, but invaded Canaan by sea from across the Mediterranean and occupied that particular area before the Israelites arrived.
Thus even the Philistines were not the “original inhabitants of the land,” but displaced others just as they were eventually displaced by Israel. Nor can the Arabs living there today (who are Semites) claim any ethnic, linguistic or historical relationship to the Philistines or on any other basis justify calling themselves Palestinians.
Exodus:15:14,15 makes it clear that Palestina is not “synonymous with the land of Canaan.” On the contrary, “the inhabitants of Palestina” are distinguished from “all the inhabitants of Canaan.” It is also clear that Isaiah:14:29, 31 do not refer to the land of Israel from the fact that the passage promises blessing to Israel and pronounces destruction upon Palestina (along with Babylon, Assyria, Moab, et al.). To “kill thy root...[and] slay thy remnant” (v. 30) foretells the end of Palestina (i.e., the Philistines and their descendants). This is in clear contrast to “the Lord hath founded Zion [Israel]” (v. 32), and the many promises of Israel’s everlasting possession of that land.
The “whole region” of the promised land is called “the land of Israel” 31 times in Scripture. Scores of other times “Israel” means both the people and the land. It is an insult to God and to His people to whom He gave this land to call Israel after her chief enemies, the Philistines!
Sadly, most Bibles promote this fraud. Maps in the back of the Scofield reference Bible show “Palestine under the Maccabees” and “Palestine in the time of Christ.” In fact, the land God gave to His chosen people was known only as Israel until A.D. 135, when the Romans angrily renamed it Palestine after the Philistines to spite the Jews ( see TBC reprints Sep ’00 ). Let us not honor Israel’s enemies by calling the promised land of Israel, which God says is His land (Lv 25:23), by the pagan name “Palestine”! And let us oppose the fraudulent claims of those today who illegally call themselves Palestinians.