Tuesday, December 18, 2007

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The Pattern and The Terrace

terraced hill

terraced hill

closer terraced hill

close up terrace wall
by Akiva at Mystical Paths

At the end of the reign of Shlomo HaMelech (King Solomon), the navi Achiyah HaShiloni (Malachim 13:29) came to Yaravom (Jeroboam), tore his new garment into 12 pieces, and handed Yaravom 10 pieces, telling him 10 tribes (10 portions of Israel) would be given to him.

This division of Israel was supposed to be a punishment for 36 years. Yaravom had a choice to make it spiritual or physical. Due to his great anger he made it spiritual, he prevented the people from going to Jerusalem, setting up altars of worship along the path to Jerusalem to draw the people aside. (The Midrash says that those altars and idols actively drew people with magic, the idols actually responding to people.) Though, as usual, there was a 'political' explanation to this, that people going to Jerusalem and praying to Hashem would potentially return their alligience to the House of David, so he destroyed their faith for 'political' calculations, at least by one thought.

Yet in doing so, he set in place the pattern that led to the destruction of the Kingdom of Israel and the exile of the 10 tribes.

The first capital of the newly formed Kingdom of Israel, Yaravom's split from the House of David and the children of King Solomon, was in Shechem (Nablus). Later, it was moved to Sebastia, about 8 miles from Shechem (where the ruins of the palace of Achav stands to this day).

The area was incredibly wealthy, it was the zone of Menashe, and south of that the zone of Efraim (after that Binyomin as the area of Jerusalem, but that was the Kingdom of Judea). The hills were terraced forests of orchards, fruit trees, olive trees, grape vines.

As you can see from the pictures, these terraces still exist today. It is literally the work of hundreds of thousands over generations to terrace such mountains.

Two times the land was raped. The first was during the time of the Romans. They defeated the land, slaughtered the majority of the population (those that they didn't take as slaves), and cut the trees for the wood. The second was almost 1500 years later, the Ottoman Turks stripped the land of wood for building railroads and war supplies during World War I.

What remains are the terraces and the olive trees. The terraces of the Kingdom of Israel. The area has not sustained a population since that could do the amount of work necessary.

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