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Why the Bible doesn't give Israel a claim to the West Bank | The Electronic Intifada

Why the Bible doesn't give Israel a claim to the West Bank | The Electronic Intifada
Having a passport stamped with the names Judea and Samaria reminds me of a trip my family made to Disneyworld, where I got a passport stamped Neverland.  That day I met Peter Pan and Wendy. Getting my passport stamped for the West Bank these days, I can hope to stand before the graves of Biblical characters in Samaria and Judea.
What actually can we glean about the area of Samaria from the Hebrew Scriptures? Samaria was a region in the land of Israel with geographical limits that were never clearly defined in the Bible. Originally it was the territory of the tribe of Ephraim and half tribe of Manasseh: its eastern boundary was the Jordan River, the western boundary was the Mediterranean coast. Not surprising since natural boundaries, such as mountains, rivers, deserts, or lakes formed boundaries long before they were hand-drawn by the winners of wars.
After the campaign of Tiglath-Pileser III in 732 BC, Samaria became a province of the Assyrians. The Biblical authors understand this loss of the Northern Kingdom (Samaria) as God’s punishment of his people for worshipping other deities and breaking the Covenant that had bound them to God. “And the king of Assyria did carry away Israel [Samaria] unto Assyria and put them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes” (II Kings 18:11).
The triumphant Assyrians settled some of their subject populations there and in Syria to mingle with the Palestinian people. The Hill Country of Samaria remained a province during the Persian period. Then, Samaria, along with Judea, became the property of the Babylonians, from 539 until 333 BC, and subsequently was ruled by the Hellenistic Greeks, and then the formidable Roman Empire. The land was never owned by the Jewish people, except in minds that were nourished by the Biblical narratives.

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