Six days – The battle for Jerusalem and the Holy Land

Illustration of Jerusalem by Elhanan ben-Avraham

For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them. – Exodus 20:11

Fifty years ago at this time the City of David, of Solomon and Hezekiah, of Isaiah and Jeremiah and Paul and Peter and Jesus was delivered back into the hands of the Jewish people after a two thousand year hiatus. It took six days to happen. In June of 1967 a coalition of Arab armies gathered on Israel’s borders with the openly declared intent of liquidating the 19 year-old Jewish state by military force. But six days later, after invasion from north and south dividing Israel’s military, Israel’s fighters succeeded in defeating the entire onslaught, chasing the enemy armies all the way to the Jordan River, and into Egypt, and off the Golan Heights. And the walled Old City of Jerusalem, that had been long occupied by the Arab Legion who had destroyed Jewish homes, synagogues and tombs there, was returned to the hands of Israel by Jewish warriors. The rebuilding and beautifying of the ancient city began almost immediately, until today it has returned to its former glory. It was built up with much love and respect, but also excavated down, bringing to light the remains and artifacts of the ancient city destroyed by the Roman Legion in AD 70.

Until that day in June of 1967 east Jerusalem was entirely in Arab hands, who completely prohibited Jews from entering the Old City on pain of death. And there were no Jewish settlements whatsoever in east Jerusalem or anywhere in the West Bank or Gaza, conditions which are exactly what the Arab world today declares as their requirement for peace. But that was the state of affairs when the Arab armies came to extinguish the Jews from the Holy Land and “throw the Jews into the sea.” Settlements were not- and are not- the reason for the Arab-Israel conflict.

When Mark Twain entered the Holy Land exactly a century earlier, in June of 1867, he described the desolation and poverty and filth that his eyes witnessed in a forsaken and mourning city of Jerusalem, which was without dignity or beauty or glory. But today Jerusalem flourishes unified in the hands of its rightful caretakers, the Jewish people who have made it an open and free city for all peoples and faiths.

Military operations have an unpredictable life of their own, in which none can predict the outcome or length of conflict. It could take six weeks like the Gulf War of 1991, or four years as did the American Civil War, which all estimated would be over quickly. Yet the battle for Jerusalem and the Holy Land succeeded in what has come to be called the Six-Day War, no mere coincidence, but all too reminiscent of the six days of creation, perhaps indicative of that same Creator whose name dwells* in the very city where King David lived three thousand years ago, and the imprint of His royal signet.


*Then to the place the LORD your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name – there you are to bring everything I command you: your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, and all the choice possessions you have vowed to the LORD. – Deuteronomy 12:11

Illustration of the Old City walls in Jerusalem by Elhanan ben-Avraham
Illustration of the Old City walls in Jerusalem by Elhanan ben-Avraham
An illustration of the Kotel (Western Wall) in Jerusalem by Elhanan ben-Avraham
An illustration of the Kotel (Western Wall) in Jerusalem by Elhanan ben-Avraham
An illustration of the Old City Jerusalem by Elhanan ben-Avraham
An illustration of the Old City Jerusalem by Elhanan ben-Avraham
An illustration by Elhanan ben-Avraham
An illustration by Elhanan ben-Avraham
An illustration by Elhanan ben-Avraham
An illustration by Elhanan ben-Avraham