Once again, we are seeing Hezbollah threatening us, encroaching on the demilitarized area and daring us to retaliate. In Southern Lebanon, Hezbollah has positioned thousands of rockets aimed at Israel in direct violation of the stipulations of the pact Israel agreed to after the Second Lebanon War. At the end of the hostilities, Israel was in possession of Southern Lebanon south of the Litani River. Israel retreated to its previous border based on an international agreement, which Hezbollah immediately violated. Notice to the Israel Defense Forces, if God forbid, Israel is forced to respond to another round of Hezbollah aggression, understand clearly that when fighting in Southern Lebanon, you are fighting in biblical Israel, our historic homeland, no different than Judea and Samaria.
In a number of places in the Torah, Moses looks into the land and longs to see the Hermon and its waterfalls. As renowned Professor Dr. Yoel Elitzur notes in his classic text, “Places in the Parasha,” whenever there is a definitive article (the letter hey, meaning “the”) before a place name in the Torah, it means it is part of the intended land of Israel for the Jewish people. Later, when Joshua and the Jewish people entered the land, all of the tribes met in Shiloh. The tribe of Asher was allocated Southern Lebanon from the Sidon to Mount Lebanon. Numerous ruins from the centuries when the tribe of Asher dwelled in the area are scattered throughout Southern Lebanon. Further, because Muslims kept the place names, we know the approximate whereabouts of the Jewish presence; i.e., the Asher’s villages.
Elitzur tells a story that when he was a soldier in Southern Lebanon during the First Lebanon War, they ran out of food. Fortunately, they stumbled across some dried fruit, which they quickly consumed. Afterwards, he said he was contemplating what to say for the proper food blessing to thank G-d. The after-blessing is slightly different if the food is from the biblical land of Israel, as opposed to being outside of it; within the biblical land of Israel, we say thank you for “her fruits,” meaning Israel’s fruits. Based on his correct understanding of biblical geography, he said the blessing on “her fruits.”
Returning to our current situation, according to INSS (Institute for National Security Studies), July 12 marked the 17th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second Lebanon War; Aug. 14 will mark the anniversary of its end under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701. Resolution 1701 called for a ceasefire, prevention of renewed hostilities and the establishment of the area south of the Litani River as an area free of non-governmental arms. As we now know, virtually nothing in Resolution 1701 was honored by the Lebanese, who have been overrun by the Hezbollah terror organization with the UNFIL’s (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon’s) tacit support.
Hezbollah is now claiming Israel is somehow occupying land along its northern border that rightfully belongs to Lebanon. The exact opposite is true; Hezbollah is occupying biblical Israel. (Hezbollah is also planning for the total elimination of Jewish presence on any portion of the land of Israel.) As background, the current Lebanese border is simply based on the Sykes-Pico Agreement between the British and French empires established during World War I. No one is advocating that Israel should reconquer Southern Lebanon because of its biblical status.
Nevertheless, the IDF would do well to understand the biblical geography in order to strengthen its resolve.