CHAPTER THREE THE PRE- AND POST-EXILIC PERIODS AND THE TREATMENT OF NONJEWS IN ISRAEL
Xenophobia is generally a problem of people who are faced with the task of rebuilding and reconstructing their nation. In this chapter we examine the xenophobia of the Jews in the Old Testament. The main focus is on Jewish xenophobia in the post-exilic period and how other nations responded to the attitudes and actions of the Jews. Special attention will be given to the social setting (social, economic and cultural elements) of that period, with its tensions and expectations and how some of that pressure of rebuilding and reconstructing their land contributed towards the xenophobic attitudes and actions of the Jews.
Before we deal with that period, however, it is important to give a background to how the Jews understood themselves and to mention some of the issues that made it difficult for them to relate to other nations. There are certain issues, such as the notion of being a chosen people, the land, the temple and the law, which were dear to the Jews, formed part of their identity, and which had an effect on all other spheres of Jewish life. These issues not only had an effect on them but they also determined how the Jews related to other nations. In other words, it is through their actions that the xenophobic attitudes of the Jews found concrete expression. When dealing later in this chapter with xenophobia in post-exilic Israel we shall see some of these issues surfacing or being invoked to make sure that the Jews did not associate with other nations.
ISRAEL’S UNDERSTANDING OF HERSELF
As recorded in the Bible, Israel understood herself as being a chosen nation of God; the Israelites saw themselves as God’s people (Judg 5:11, Josh 24:2, 23). They were a special people, with a special place and for a special purpose. As the chosen people, they were a united people, children of one family, able to trace their ancestry back to Abraham.
Why did God ‘choose’ Israel from among other nations? The book of Deuteronomy had to face and deal with this fact openly. This book, Deuteronomy (which means second law), according to Clements (1989:9,71), was edited in the 7th century before Christ. It was discovered by Hilkiah the priest after it had been forgotten in the temple during the reign of Manasseh and the persecutions of the Israelites. Its discovery prompted Josiah to introduce reforms in Israel (2 Kings 23). Deuteronomy was the law intended to reveal to the people of Israel the cause of their defeat by their enemies and offered them an opportunity for salvation.
Israel’s ‘election is spoken of in order to indicate all privileges the Old Testament ascribes to it: the divine calling, the adoption, the inheritance, the special dwelling of God among his people. The whole thinking of this people was governed by the notion of election’ (Bühlmann 1982:27). Israel believed she was elected not because she had any special qualities; she had no special qualities. The Israelites believed they were chosen not because they were more in numbers but because they were the fewest (Dt 7:7). They were chosen not because they were good; they were in fact a stubborn people (Dt 9:6). God ‘chose’ such people to be God’s people in spite of their unworthiness. According to Bühlmann (1982:28), God ‘does not seek worthiness, he bestows it’. The election of Israel, it was believed, resided in God’s love for her and the oath God swore to her fathers (Dt 7:7). A good example of this view is Exodus 19:3-6, probably a post-exilic text. This text recalls to the people of Israel the deeds of their God in bringing them out of Egypt and guiding them safely through the wilderness (v3). All this is done so that Israel may be God’s possession (v5), a kingdom of priests and a consecrated nation (v6). Being a holy nation ‘means primarily a nation “set apart” from other nations to belong to God’ (Cole 1973:145). But obedience and holding fast to God’s covenant is the condition or requirement to belong to God (v5). For the election to be based on these reasons helped in some way to avoid self-righteousness on the part of Israel.
Because Israel was ‘chosen’, she became special, was separated and set apart from other nations. She therefore became a different nation among the nations around her and was believed to be treasured by God. Yahweh was their only God. Yahweh became the God of the nation. It was through the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt that God was able to ‘reveal’ God’s self to them. In return, that made them a people with a memory of Yahweh’s promise, a memory of his deeds and deliverance. God’s liberation of this small, oppressed and powerless nation did not only display God’s power but was also the establishment and continuation of a relationship through a covenant (Ex. 19:4-5). The Hebrew word for “covenant”, berith.
The covenant was the core of the Jewish understanding of their relationship with God. It was something new and unique for this nation. Van Zyl and others (1979:83) best express this idea of the covenant when they say.
There were certain stipulations that they had to adhere to, which underlined the relationship. Obedience to God’s will, which was expressed in words, underlined the relationship. If they accepted and obeyed, God would be their God and they would be God’s people (Lev 25:12). Even though there were many gods and lords for the other nations, Israel had to have a single and undivided loyalty to God. Israel could not allow herself to be determined by any other god than Yahweh. This is best expressed in the first of the ten commandments ‘you shall have no gods except me’ (Ex 20:3). Yahweh was an exclusive and a jealous God. He had revealed himself as the God of History. God chose the Israelites and set them apart for a purpose. God wanted them to be instruments through which God’s love and blessing would reach the world (Gen 12:3).
After being delivered from Egypt, wandering and living a nomadic life in the desert, God fulfilled the promise made to the Patriarchs. In Genesis God promised to give and lead Abraham to a new land (Gen 12:7). God ‘gave’ Israel a land, Canaan, that was occupied by Canaanites. The supposed giving of the land, however, is portrayed as if brutality and intolerance were being promoted by God’s very self. God is said to have conquered the land on behalf of the Israelites by driving seven nations out of it (Dt 7:3). God further ‘commands’ that the Israelites should break the altars of the nations (Dt 7:5), exterminate and show no mercy to the people God would deliver to them (Dt 7:6). Bühlmann (1982:30) calms our fears of seeing this take over as brutal by stating that
It is Yahweh who ‘gives’ the land because ‘it belongs to me [Yahweh]. You are only foreigners and guests in the country’ (Lev 25:23). Yahweh is the real owner of the land. The land is “given” as a gift of Yahweh and this is a fulfilment of the promise made long ago to the Fathers (Jos 1,3,6). It ‘is the most precious of all the benefits that Israel’s knowledge of God has brought to it’ (Clements 1989:55). The Israelites are given the land to rest (Joshua 1:10-15). If they want peace, success and prosperity, Joshua 1:7f insists that they should keep the Torah. Habel (1995:40) is of the opinion that this understanding of the land being a gift from God seeks to ‘foster an attitude of total indebtedness and dependency on the land-giver ([Joshua] 8:17,18)’.
The land can be defiled and lost. Through their sins the Israelites later defiled the land (Jer 2,7, 16, 18). In Joshua the Israelites were warned that if they fell away from Yahweh, they would ‘perish from the beautiful land Yahweh, our God has given to you’ (Josh 23,13,16). Of course, this did take place when the Israelites were taken into exile by the Assyrians and the Babylonians. They were given back their land later through a decree by Cyrus, king of Persia. Going back to this land became a source of conflict with other nations as we shall see later on.
CHAPTER ONE MANIFESTATIONS OF XENOPHOBIA IN SOUTH AFRICA
1.2. CAUSES OF MIGRATION TO SOUTH AFRICA
1.3 . ALLEGATIONS AGAINST AFRICAN IMMIGRANTS
1.4. ABUSE OF AFRICAN IMMIGRANTS
1.5. IDENTIFICATION OF AFRICAN IMMIGRANTS.
CHAPTER TWO THE GOVERNMENT’S RESPONSE TO THE PROBLEM AND IMMIGRANTS’ SURVIVAL STRATEGIES
2.2. REASONS FOR A LENIENT APPROACH TO AFRICAN IMMIGRANTS
2.3. FORMS OF POSITIVE GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION
2.4. REASONS FOR A STRICT APPROACH TOWARDS ALIEN CONTROL
2.5. FORMS OF NEGATIVE GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION
2.6. RESPONSE OF AFRICAN IMMIGRANTS.
CHAPTER THREE THE PRE- AND POST-EXILIC PERIODS AND THE TREATMENT OF NON – JEWS IN ISRAEL
3.2. ISRAEL’S UNDERSTANDING OF HERSELF
3.3. POST-EXILIC SITUATION
CHAPTER FOUR COMPARISON OF XENOPHOBIA IN POST-EXILIC ISRAEL AND POST-APARTHEID SOUTH AFRICA
4.3. NOTION OF SUPERIORITY AND BEING DIFFERENT
4.4. NEGATIVE UNDERSTANDING OF OTHERS
CHAPTER FIVE JESUS’ PERIOD AND HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH FOREIGNERS
5.2. THE POLITICAL AND RELIGIOUS CONTEXT IN WHICH JESUS WAS BORN
5.3. THE JEWISHNESS OF JESUS
5.4. JESUS’ MINISTRY
CHAPTER SIX THE CONCEPT OF UBUNTU/ BOTHO AND ITS SOCIO-MORAL SIGNIFICANCE
6.2. DEFINITIONS OF UBUNTU/BOTHO
6.3. THE NATURE AND CHARACTERISTICS OF UBUNTU/BOTHO
6.4. UBUNTU/BOTHO IN RELATION TO STRANGERS
6.5. NEGATIVE INFLUENCES ON UBUNTU/BOTHO
CHAPTER SEVEN XENOPHOBIA IN THE LIGHT OF THE GOSPEL AND UBUNTU/BOTHO
7.2. HUMAN DIGNITY
7.3. THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS
CHAPTER EIGHT CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
8.1. GENERAL CONCLUSIONS
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
XENOPHOBIA AS A RESPONSE TO FOREIGNERS IN POST-APARTHEID SOUTH AFRICA AND POST-EXILIC ISRAEL: A COMPARATIVE CRITIQUE IN THE LIGHT OF THE GOSPEL AND UBUNTU ETHICAL PRINCIPLES