Catalyst – “How odd of God to choose the Jews”

Artwork by Elhanan ben-Avraham

When a catalyst is added to an inert chemical potion, something is bound to happen, for better or worse. Some inert potions would rather not be catalysed.

The Jewish people represent about 0.2% of the world’s population. For comparison, the Islamic world is about 20% of the Earth’s population. The Jews are part of a long history stretching back at least 3000 years, if not much longer. The codifying of their religion and peoplehood is testified to be around 1200 BC, recorded in Hebrew scrolls known as the Torah. Some ancient contemporary Egyptian writings also attest to their presence, as do writings of the Assyrians and Moabites, and later Romans.

To the dismay of those ancient civilizations with their multiple deities and magnificent temples thereunto, the Jewish people had had a divine encounter in which they were commissioned to announce to the world that there is but one divinity, the one Creator of all: YHVH. Coming from a very small people who were mere shepherds and wanderers, that came as somewhat of an affront to the mighty kingdoms of the Earth with their great pyramids and obelisks and ancient traditions. These stubborn Hebrew people with their irreducible message and divine Law and requirements represented the fly in the ointment, and annoyance to all.

Each of those great ancient civilizations therefore attempted to remove that annoyance from the Earth- from the Egyptians to the Assyrians to the Babylonians to the Greeks to the Romans – civilizations and their gods that are little heard of this day, but for their ruins of a past glory. But the Jews remain.

Since the fall of the Roman Empire that had destroyed the Jewish temple in Jerusalem and exiled its people to the ends of the Earth in the 1st century AD, many other cultures arose  to feel the discomforting presence of that unique and separate people whose very presence would challenge their own theologies and philosophies. Christendom, whose churches worshipped a Jew as their God, and their saints being all Jews, also found the presence of the Jewish people to be a challenge to their worldview and religion which claimed to have replaced the Jews, and thus became one of the perpetual tormentors of the synagogue.

Arising from the Church’s anti-Jewish sentiment for two millennia, especially espoused by the father of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther, Germany would eliminate that annoying people by a Final Solution- the Holocaust. And the great Atheist Soviet Communist Empire would do their very best to remove that burr from their longjohns as well. Both have disappeared from history as empires- but for their mention in history books.  But the Jews remain.

Not only do they remain, but they went on to contribute major advancements in every field to the betterment of humanity, even earning 22% of all Nobel Prizes (as compared to a mere 6 from the Islamic world). The immeasurable influence on that which is good in the Western world, especially America, came from the Jewish scrolls known also as the Old Testament and the New Testament, and the Ten Commandments – all written by Jews.

Today yet another world power is made very uncomfortable by the presence of the Jews:  the vast world of Islam. That world has especially shown its irritation since the Jews returned to the same land and cities they had dwelled in for 3000 years, with the same name of Israel, speaking the same ancient Hebrew language as their ancestors, and worshipping the same God as did their forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Jesus and their Prophets.

Islam, the latecomer amongst world religions, arose in the 7th century AD, some 600 years after the Jew Jesus (Yeshua), and some 1800 years after Moses, with the bold claim to have replaced the Jews and the Christians. Therefore the persistent presence of the Jews back in the Holy Land, and the defeating of Islamic armies in their many attempts at liquidating the Jewish state, stands as an insult to the very essence of Muhammad and his devout followers worldwide.

That ongoing conflict and confrontation is now once again fanning the coals of antisemitism to flames, especially among the modern secular generations educated to claim that “there is no God.” And yet the very conflagration we see now brewing is predicted in the very scrolls that the Jews have bequeathed to the world in the name of their God, the Creator of the universe.

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Elhanan ben-Avraham, born in 1945, is a professional artist, poet, writer and father of two, grandfather of four, living in Israel since 1979. He has served in the IDF, taught the Bible internationally, published five illustrated books of poetry, painted two large Biblical murals in public buildings in Jerusalem, and most recently produced THE JERUSALEM ILLUSTRATED BIBLE, among many other works. He and his wife live in a quiet village in the Mountains of Judah.