Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Story of Israel: Amazing Facts (EXCLUSIVE)

The truth about the Hebrew Israelites of the Bible can no longer be suppressed. The Most High is awakening a nation. We are not a color, BUT A NATION. The secret things belong unto YAHAWAH our Strength: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do ALL the words of this law." (Deut. 29:29)

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Prophecy of Obadiah Against Edom

Obadiah 1 (King James Version)

Obadiah 1

1The vision of Obadiah. Thus saith the Lord GOD concerning Edom; We have heard a rumour from the LORD, and an ambassador is sent among the heathen, Arise ye, and let us rise up against her in battle.

2Behold, I have made thee small among the heathen: thou art greatly despised.

3The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground?

4Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD.

5If thieves came to thee, if robbers by night, (how art thou cut off!) would they not have stolen till they had enough? if the grapegatherers came to thee, would they not leave some grapes?

6How are the things of Esau searched out! how are his hidden things sought up!

7All the men of thy confederacy have brought thee even to the border: the men that were at peace with thee have deceived thee, and prevailed against thee; they that eat thy bread have laid a wound under thee: there is none understanding in him.

8Shall I not in that day, saith the LORD, even destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of the mount of Esau?

9And thy mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed, to the end that every one of the mount of Esau may be cut off by slaughter.

10For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever.

11In the day that thou stoodest on the other side, in the day that the strangers carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even thou wast as one of them.

12But thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother in the day that he became a stranger; neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly in the day of distress.

13Thou shouldest not have entered into the gate of my people in the day of their calamity; yea, thou shouldest not have looked on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor have laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity;

14Neither shouldest thou have stood in the crossway, to cut off those of his that did escape; neither shouldest thou have delivered up those of his that did remain in the day of distress.

15For the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head.

16For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been.

17But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.

18And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken it.

19And they of the south shall possess the mount of Esau; and they of the plain the Philistines: and they shall possess the fields of Ephraim, and the fields of Samaria: and Benjamin shall possess Gilead.

20And the captivity of this host of the children of Israel shall possess that of the Canaanites, even unto Zarephath; and the captivity of Jerusalem, which is in Sepharad, shall possess the cities of the south.

21And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD's.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

EDOM: A Further Examination


EDOM (Heb. אֱדוֹם), a land in the south of eastern Transjordan, the southeastern neighbor of Palestine.

The Country

"The land of Edom" is the most common name for the Edomite territory. It had, however, other names and appellations, both prosaic and poetic, i.e., "the field of Edom" (Judg. 5:4), "Seir" (ibid.), "Mount Seir" (Deut. 1:2), "the land of Seir" (Gen. 36:30, "the lands of Seir," cf. mâtātid še-e-riki, in el-Amarna letter no. 288, line 26; Pritchard, Texts, 488; J.A. Knudtzon, Die El-Amarna-Tafeln, 2 (1915), 1340), and a combined name, "the land of Seir the field of Edom" (Gen. 32:3). There are also in Egyptian sources the equivalents of two names: Seir (Pritchard, Texts, 262) and Edom (Papyrus Anastasi VI, Pritchard, Texts, 259). It is possible to establish, according to the Egyptian and Akkadian sources, that the name Seir is chronologically first, since it is mentioned at the beginning of the 14th century B.C.E. in the Tell el-Amarna document, as well as in an Egyptian list from the time of Ramses II, i.e., from the first half of the 13th century B.C.E. On the other hand, the first mention of the name Edom in Egyptian sources occurs only at the end of the 13th century B.C.E.

The name Seir is apparently related to the Horites; this is especially evidenced by Genesis 36:20: "These were the sons of Seir the Horite, who were settled in the land" (cf. Deut. 2:12). The name Edom is related to the Western Semitic settlers who came after them.

It appears that the Edomite territory consisted of the mountain which extends from the Dead Sea in the north to the Red Sea in the south. The northern border of Edom was the Zered River (Wadi al-Hesa), which was also the southern border of Moab (Deut. 2:13). Its eastern border was the desert and its inhabitants were the Kedemites. Its southern border was Elath and Ezion-Geber (Deut. 2:8), i.e., the gulf of Elath. There was probably no fixed western boundary; during the Exodus from Egypt, the Israelites who requested permission to pass through Edom said to the king of Edom: "Now we are in *Kadesh, the town on the border of your territory" (Num. 20:16). Another place mentioned as being on its western border is "Mount Hor on the boundary of the land of Edom" (Num. 20:23). The western border is described more comprehensively as "the boundary of Edom to the wilderness of Zin at the farthest south" (Josh. 15:1), and in an abbreviated manner as "south, toward the boundary of Edom" (Josh. 15:21).

In later periods there was an Edomite expansion beyond Mount Seir, especially after the fall of the kingdom of Judah (see below). Ezekiel thus terms the Edomite territory "Mount Seir and all Edom" (Ezek. 35:15). The capital of Edom was probably Bozrah (see especially Amos 1:12, "the palaces of Bozrah," similar to the palaces of other capital cities mentioned in this prophecy). Bozrah was the principal city, the other cities of Edom being called Bozrah's cities: "For I have sworn by myself, says the Lord, that Bozrah shall become a horror, a taunt, a waste, and a curse; and all her cities shall be perpetual wastes" (Jer. 49:13). Among the other cities of Edom mentioned in the Bible are Teman, which is used as a parallel for Bozrah (Amos 1:12), and Dedan (Jer. 49:8). The principal cities of Edom, which were also the royal cities, can be learned from the list of kings, who reigned "before any king reigned over the Israelites" (Gen. 36). In this list, Bozrah and Teman are mentioned with other towns such as Avith, Rehoboth Hanahar, Masrekah, and Pau, about which nothing is known from the Bible or from other sources.

The People

In the biblical tradition about the origin of the Edomites or, more precisely, in accounts about the eponym "Esau who is Edom" (Gen. 36:1), the Edomites are related to the Hebrews. Esau was the grandson of Abraham the Hebrew and the son of Isaac. The close relationship of *Esau to Israel is especially emphasized in the narratives which point out his closeness with Jacob-Israel, and describe their birth as twins. In parenthetical narrative comments and especially in genealogical lists, the complexity of the Edomites' ethnic composition is demonstrated. In the accounts of Esau's marriages, which should be viewed as etiological-ethnological stories, it is told that Esau married Canaanite-Hittite women (Gen. 26:34; cf. 36:2). It is likewise told that he married Ishmaelite women (Gen. 28:9; cf. 36:3). He also took Hivite wives (Gen. 36:2). These parenthetical narrative remarks substantiate and confirm the contents of the genealogical lists of Edom. The ethnic composition appears to be even more heterogeneous when in addition to the Canaanite-Hittite, Hivite, and Ishmaelite elements, Kenazite (Gen. 36:15), Amalekite (36:16), and especially Horite (36:20, 21, 29, 30) elements are found in the genealogical list of Esau's descendants and in the list of the chiefs of Esau. A similar picture is reflected in the names appearing in the genealogical lists of Edom. West-Semitic names are listed side by side with Horite names. It is possible to distinguish earlier and later elements in the ethnic composition of Edom. Traditions, whose authenticity is beyond doubt, have been preserved in the Bible about the antiquity of the Horites in Edom. In the Deuteronomic tradition about the ancient settlers of eastern Transjordan before the advent of the Hebrews, it is stated: "Seir was formerly inhabited by the Horites; but the descendants of Esau dispossessed them, wiping them out and settling in their place" (Deut. 2:12). This tradition is reported in brief also in the chapter specifically dealing with Edom, Genesis 36, where a parenthetical remark is made: "these were the sons of Seir the Horite, who were settled in the land" (36:20). Thus, the ancient ethnic element of Edom is the Horites, to whom were later added those descendants of Esau who were from a Western-Semitic origin. This is corroborated by epigraphic sources and archaeological findings. From Akkadian and Egyptian epigraphic sources it is known that toward the first half of the second millennium B.C.E. "Horite" (Akk. ḥurru) tribes penetrated all the areas of the Ancient East and settled in these areas including Canaan and eastern Transjordan. There is also information about waves of migration of Western-Semitic elements who infiltrated western Asia, including Transjordan, and apparently conquered these territories and defeated the Horite population. According to biblical tradition, Esau and his descendants first inhabited the land of Canaan (Gen. 36:5), and when "the land in which they sojourned could not support them because of their livestock," Esau, together with Jacob and his children, "took … all the members of his household … [and] settled in the hill country of Seir" (36:6–8). From the archaeological survey of eastern Transjordan conducted by Nelson Glueck the same picture emerges. It appears that the settlement which existed from the 23rd to the 20th centuries B.C.E. was highly civilized, but the 19th century B.C.E. saw a steep decline and the total extinction of all the great fortresses and settlements. The blow was final and the destruction, total. The cities were not rebuilt and most of Transjordan became a camping spot for shepherds and nomads until the end of the 14th century B.C.E. The archaeological survey demonstrated that at the end of the 14th and the beginning of the 13th centuries B.C.E., there was a revival of an agricultural civilization among the Edomites, the Moabites, the Ammonites, and the Amorites, who quickly divided into national groups within defined territorial boundaries. Thus, Transjordan was divided into the kingdoms of Edom, Ammon, and Moab, which were separated mainly by the deep and wide natural boundaries of the Zered, Arnon, and Jabbok rivers. These kingdoms underwent a fast development of prosperity and growth, primarily material, from the 13th to the 8th centuries B.C.E. There followed a period of decline which ended in utter destruction in the sixth century B.C.E.

Biblical Sources

These latter comments would have exhausted our knowledge about Edom had the Bible not preserved much information about this kingdom, more so than about any of the other kingdoms neighboring Israel. This great amount of material in the Bible is very valuable from both the historical and historiographical points of view. Biblical information about Edom may be divided into two types, which are distinctly separable. The first type is the original and authentic material, which apparently originated in Edom itself and somehow made its way to Israel, and which is found mainly in Genesis 36. The second type is information about Edom which is connected with the history of Israel. These two types of material give a chronological coverage of the two periods of Edom's history (see below). The original and authentic material about Edom is from the period before the monarchy was established in Israel (it is not intended here to discuss R.H. Pfeiffer's Edomite-Seirite, or Southern source (S); for its scope, character, and time see *Pentateuch). This material describes the history of Edom until its conquest by David. On the other hand, the material about Edom which is contained in the Israelite history covers the period of the monarchy in Israel and Judah, and, in fact, beginning with the time of David, the history of Edom is contained within the history of Israel.

History until Its Conquest by David

From the information contained in Genesis 36, it may be learned that the Edomites were governed by chiefs (allufim) and kings in the period which preceded its conquest by David. The question arises as to whether chiefs and kings ruled at one and the same time, the kings being only the most powerful of the chiefs, or whether there were two periods, a first of chiefs and a subsequent one of kings. It appears that two periods should be distinguished, the "period of the chiefs" and the "period of the kings," typologically paralleling the "period of the judges" and the "period of the monarchy" in Israel.


It appears that the chiefs were the heads of the thousands (alafim), which were tribes or clans (in the broad sense of the word), and later, heads of regions. This form of organization was prevalent among nomadic tribes. Actually, only 11 chiefs of Edom are mentioned, but there is reason to accept the opinion that a 12th name, which is found in the Septuagint, was left out. The tradition of the 12-fold organization in Edom is based on, and confirmed by, the organization of other tribes which are closely related to Edom in terms of race and origin. This 12-fold organization is found among the Nahorites (Gen. 22:20–24), the Ishmaelites (25:13–15), and the Israelites, and it is M. Noth's opinion that this system is based on "principles such as were customary in tribal societies which were still lacking settled political institutions" (Noth, Hist Isr, 87; for details). Taking as a starting point the conclusion of Nelson Glueck's survey that the Edomites arrived in Edom at the end of the 14th and the beginning of the 13th century B.C.E., it may then be assumed that the rule of the chiefs lasted approximately 150 years, until the middle of the 12th century B.C.E. Actually, the Bible appears to contain information to the contrary, since in the narrative on the Exodus from Egypt and the penetration of Canaan it is told that the Israelites had dealings with the king of Edom (Num. 20:14; if it is assumed, as is the accepted opinion today, that the Exodus was during the second half of the 13th century B.C.E.). It is known, however, that the source for the narrative (Num. 20) is late and "the king of Edom" is an anachronism. More authentic evidence from a very early poetic source, the Song of the Sea, testifies that at the time of the Exodus the chiefs were ruling in Edom: "Now are the chiefs of Edom dismayed" (Ex. 15:15). There are also sources outside the Bible which confirm this. In the Papyrus Anastasi VI from the time of Merneptah (end of the 13th century B.C.E.) the population of Edom and its adjuncts is divided into "tribes" or shasu: "[We] have finished letting the Shasu (šʾsw) of Edom (ʾidm) pass the Fortress [of] Merneptah" (in Pritchard, Texts, 259). Ramses III (beginning of the 12th century B.C.E.) boasts: "I destroyed the people of Seir among the nomad tribes. I razed their tents: their people, their property, and their cattle as well, without number, pinioned and carried away in captivity, as the tribute of Egypt" (see Papyrus Harris I, in: Pritchard, Texts, 262). In any event, it becomes evident from these two Egyptian sources that there was a tribal organization, the population was nomadic, and there was no monarchy.


The genealogy of Edom in Genesis 36 contains a list of the kings of Edom who ruled "before any Israelite king reigned" (probably meaning "before any Israelite king ruled over Edom"). It is not certain whether "kings" were merely judges or tribal chiefs, or whether they were literally kings. Those scholars who hold that they were judges point to the following supporting evidence: the absence of succession, the absence of a fixed capital city, the parallelism of melekh / shofet ("king"/"judge") in Ugaritic and the Bible, as well as the formula "in those days there was no king over the Israelites," which recurs repeatedly in the Book of Judges in reference to the period of the judges. Thus, king here means judge (this opinion has been expressed by S. Talmon). It appears that the second opinion is the correct one, however, and that kings is meant literally.

The list of the Edomite kings (36:31–39) resembles a "royal chronicle" in that it includes various details found in the Judean and Israelite chronicles contained in Kings and Babylonian Chronicles. Details given in this list – though not all the details are given for every king – are the name of the king, his father's name, the name of his city (or place of origin), and an informative comment. This list includes eight kings. The names of the fathers of four of them are given, and the city (or place of origin) of seven out of the eight is mentioned. An informative comment is made about two of them. The informative comment about Hadad son of Bedad is distinctly historical. It is stated that he "defeated the Midianites in the country of Moab" (36:35), while the comment about Hadar, the last king, refers to his wife's genealogy: "and his wife's name was Mehetabel daughter of Matred daughter of Me-Zahab" (36:39). This list has been analyzed by numerous scholars in an attempt to derive from it information about the history of Edom, its chronology and the possibility of synchronization, its monarchy, and its character. It is clear from this list that the monarchy in Edom was not dynastic. Not one of the kings of Edom is said to be son of the former king. However, it should not be deduced from this, as has been done by several scholars, that the monarchy was not consistent. The formula: "when … died, … succeeded him as king" attests to the consistency and continuity of the monarchy. Further, it should be pointed out that there was no central authority based in one capital city. The fact that the king's capital or place of origin is mentioned shows that there was no common ruling city for even two of the kings (cf. the absence of a regular capital city in the kingdom of Israel until the establishment of Samaria by Omri). The two informative statements were variously interpreted by scholars. From the statement about Hadad son of Bedad E. Meyer tried to establish a synchronistic connection with events in Israel, namely that Hadad, who defeated the Midianites, was a contemporary of Gideon who defeated the Midianites. On the basis of this they attempted to derive chronological conclusions with regard to the history of the kings of Edom. There is no certainty, however, about Gideon's time, and even less about the time of the kings of Edom, concerning whom there is no chronological information. From the information about Hadar's wife's lineage on her mother's side, and from the naming of her mother and grandmother, W.F. Albright attempted to deduce the existence of a royal dynasty in Edom which passed in succession on the side of the mother and not the father. Thus, the king's son-in-law because he marries the queen's daughter is heir to the throne. A general conclusion of this nature, derived from a single comment, is, however, difficult to maintain. Moreover, there are no examples of such a custom in the ancient Near East to support this hypothesis (the example of Saul-Michal-David cannot be explained in this way).

It is most difficult to assess the dating of Edom's kings since, as has been stated, there is no chronological information given in regard to this period. It is only known that it ended at the time of David's conquest of Edom. If this assumption is correct, namely, that at the time of the Exodus, Edom was ruled by chiefs and not by kings, then the period of these kings can be set from the middle of the 12th century to the end of the 11th century B.C.E., i.e., a period of around 150 years, and an average of approximately 20 years per king.

During this period of chiefs and kings, Edom was strong and its borders well-fortified by a series of border fortresses which prevented the penetration of nomadic tribes from the desert. A series of fortresses was discovered during the archaeological survey in eastern and southern Edom, and some also in western Edom. (In the north, Edom shared a common border with Moab, with which it apparently had close and good neighborly relationships.) There is almost no biblical information in regard to contacts between Israel and Edom during this period, except that Edom is listed among the nations oppressing Israel which Saul defeated at the end of this period (I Sam. 14:47; it is possible that this refers to Amalek which is related to Edom). In Psalm 83, which is assumed by B. Mazar and S. Feigin to be from the period of the judges, Edom (as well as Amalek and Gebal which belong to Edom) is also mentioned as joining with Israel's other neighbors against Israel. It appears, however, that these two mentions are schematic and it is difficult to arrive at historically valid conclusions from the appearance of Edom in these lists.

From David until the Destruction of Judah


In David's wars of expansion, Edom was conquered after a decisive defeat in the Valley of Salt. This is echoed in three biblical sources – actually three accounts of the same battle. According to II Samuel 8:13 it was David who defeated Edom (this should be read instead of Aram) in the Valley of Salt, slaying 18,000 Edomites. According to I Chronicles 18:12, "Abishai son of Zeruiah slew 18,000 Edomites in the Valley of Salt," while according to Psalm 60:2, it was Joab who defeated Edom, and here there is a different number given for Edom's casualties – 12,000. While a few scholars held that these are accounts of battles led by the different people mentioned, it appears that they are, in fact, different accounts of the same event, and the numbers are schematic. In any event, in order to clarify the historical aspects, it appears that the original historical version is that Joab defeated Edom. The introduction of Abishai in Chronicles is aimed against Joab and is based on the wars in eastern Transjordan in which Joab and Abishai led the armies. The war was attributed to David because it appears that the victories of Joab, his military commander, were credited to the king, David, as was the case in the defeat of Rabbath-Benei-Ammon (II Sam. 12:26–31). Edom suffered a decisive defeat, apparently after a difficult battle. Contrary to his custom with regard to the other nations of Transjordan, David did not leave the Edomite monarchy in power but made Edom into an Israelite province ruled by appointed governors (II Sam. 8:14; I Chron. 18:13). There is additional information about this battle in I Kings 11:15–16 which states that "For six months did Joab remain there with all Israel, until he had cut off every male in Edom." His reasons for turning Edom into a province which rendered tribute and was ruled by governors were probably primarily economic, since Edom controlled the trade routes, both overland – the "King's Highway" – and maritime – the port of Ezion-Geber-Elath. Israel's rule of Edom by means of governors lasted throughout David's reign and apparently also through most of Solomon's time, until Hadad, a descendant of the last Edomite king, rebelled against Solomon. (It is difficult to determine whether Hadad was the son or the grandson of the last king of Edom. Actually, this was the introduction of a dynastic monarchy in Edom. In the opinion of Edward Meyer the Edomites were loyal to their last king.) This Hadad, who fled to Egypt during the conquest of Edom, received personal aid and political support in Egypt, and returned to Edom after David's death (I Kings 11:14–22). According to the Septuagint, what is said about Aram in I Kings 11:25 refers to Edom, and it thus turns out that this Hadad rebelled at the beginning of Solomon's reign and ruled Edom. It is difficult to accept this version, however, since it would mean that at the beginning of his reign, a time of prosperity and growth, of the development of the Negev and Arabah, and of maritime and inland trade, Solomon did not have absolute control over Edom and over the routes which crossed its territory. It would therefore appear that Edom's liberation was possible only at the end of Solomon's reign.


There is no information about Edom from the end of Solomon's reign until Jehoshaphat's, either from the Bible or from other sources. It may be assumed that after the collapse of Solomon's kingdom and its division, and especially after Shishak's campaign in Judah and Israel, Edom finally overthrew the yoke of Israel's rule and established an independent kingdom, which lasted around 50 years, until the time of Jehoshaphat. With the expansion of Judah southward in the time of Jehoshaphat, the submission of the Arabian tribes (II Chron. 17:11), and the institution of a mercantile fleet at Ezion-Geber (I Kings 22:49), Edom was probably conquered. In fact, there is an explicit statement in this regard from which it can be understood that not only was Edom conquered by Jehoshaphat but he dealt with it as did David and turned it into a province ruled by governors. Chronicles writes in connection with Jehoshaphat that "there was no king in Edom; a deputy was king" (I Kings 22:48 (47)). The conquest of Edom probably stemmed from the same economic motivations which existed at the time of David and Solomon. Edom became subject to Judah, and, during the period of subjection, "the king of Edom" (probably the "deputy" mentioned above) joined the campaign of Joram king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah against Mesha, the rebellious king of Moab, which passed "through the wilderness of Edom" (II Kings 3:8). The participation of the "king of Edom" angered the king of Moab, who attempted first and foremost "to break through opposite the king of Edom" (3:26). The failure of this campaign led to the weakening of the rule of Judah and Israel in eastern Transjordan, as well as Judah's rule in Edom. It is explicitly stated that during the time of Joram, Edom rebelled against Judah: "In his days Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah, and madea king over themselves" (II Kings 8:20). Joram attempted at the beginning of his reign (probably in 848 B.C.E.) to reinstate Israel's hegemony over Edom in a great campaign including "all the chariots" (8:21–22), which apparently failed (the biblical text is corrupt here), and Edom was completely liberated from the domination of Judah. Edom maintained its independence for about 60 years, until the middle of Amaziah's reign. At the time of Amaziah, Judah recovered from the pressure of Aram, to which it paid heavy taxes. This recovery is expressed in the undertaking of a military campaign against Edom in order to renew the rule of Israel there. It is said of Amaziah that "He slew of Edom in the Valley of Salt 10,000, and took Sela by war, and called the name of it Joktheel unto this day" (II Kings 14:7). The battle was waged in northern Edom, the Valley of Salt (as in David's time), and in Sela. Amaziah (like Joab) treated the Edomites with cruelty, as is recounted in II Chronicles 25:11–12: "…and [Amaziah] smote 10,000 men of Seir. The men of Judah captured another 10,000 alive and took them to the top of a rock and threw them down from the top of the rock; and they were all dashed to pieces." It seems that the changing of Sela's name can be interpreted not only as a symbol of renewed domination but perhaps also as the introduction of Judahite settlers in the new important town Joktheel which "on account of its geographic conditions, its distinctly strategic location, its close proximity to the capital Bozrah which lay south of it, and its control over the approach to the mines of the Arabah, … was subject to a violent controversy between Israel and Edom" (S. Abramsky). With the conquest of Sela, Amaziah assured Judah of control over northern Edom and the copper mines of the Punon area. It appears that Uzziah son of Amaziah completed his father's activity by conquering Edom. Uzziah, who expanded his kingdom in the direction of south and the Negev, "built Elath and restored it to Judah" (II Kings 14:22); this was the climax of his activity in the Negev and the Arabah, in developing agriculture, industry, and commerce, which has been confirmed by archaeological excavations and surveys. Apparently, in the days of Jotham son of Uzziah as well, Judah ruled over Edom. The "ליתם" (lytm) seal found at Ezion-Geber may have belonged to Jotham. This period of Judah's rule over Edom did not last long, and ended with the establishment of the Aramean-Israelite coalition between Rezin king of Aram and Pekah king of Israel: "At that time the king of Edom recovered Elath for Edom (the MT text reads Aram instead of Edom) and drove the men of Judah from Elath; and the Edomites came to Elath, where they dwell to this day" (II Kings 16:6). The Edomites took the opportunity to penetrate Judah itself: "For again the Edomites had come and smitten Judah, and carried away captives" (II Chron. 28:17). There was probably a final attempt on the part of Judah, during the time of Hezekiah, to renew its hegemony over Edom. In the genealogical list of Simeon's descendants, it is stated parenthetically that "some of them, 500 men of the Simeonites, went to Mount Seir … and they destroyed the remnant of the Amalekites that had escaped, and they have dwelt there to this day" (I Chron. 4:42–43). This attempt, however, was probably limited to the western border district of Edom and had no real results since Edom, like Judah, was subjugated by Assyria.


From the time of Ahaz, Edom became an Assyrian vassal state, like the other nations of Palestine and Syria. Tiglath-Pileser III (745–727 B.C.E.) mentions, together with the kings of Palestine and Syria, Qosmalaku, king of Edom, who surrendered to him (Pritchard, Texts, 282). Sennacherib mentions the king of Edom, Aiarammu (ibid., 287), who surrendered to him in his campaign against Jerusalem (701 B.C.E.). Esarhaddon (680–669 B.C.E.) mentions Qosgabri king of Edom together with the 22 vassal kings whom he swore to loyalty at Nineveh (ibid., 291). In addition to its subjugation to Assyria, Edom was, beginning with the eighth century B.C.E., under pressure from the Arabian tribes that impoverished the land and brought about its decline in material culture. Toward the end of the kingdom of Judah (beginning of the sixth century B.C.E.), when Judah was rising up against Babylonian rule, Edom was among the peoples preparing to rebel against the Babylonian king. The king of Edom sent messengers to a meeting of rebels called in Jerusalem by Zedekiah king of Judah (Jer. 27). Later, however, during the destruction itself, Edom was on the other side, sending its troops against Judah (II Kings 24:1; "the bands of Edom" should be read in place of "the bands of Aram"), and even participating in its destruction. This is verified from the recently discovered Arad letters, in which Judah is guarding itself against Edom's penetration into the land (Y. Aharoni). Edom's participation in the destruction of Judah aroused the great anger and strong condemnation of the poets (Ps. 137; Lam. 4:21–22) and prophets (Isa. 34, which is to be dated to this period; Jer. 49; Obad.) of Judah. The anger and condemnation continued in the following generation in the prophecies of Deutero-Isaiah (Isa. 63).

Edom, too, was subject to destruction in the sixth century B.C.E. Nomadic tribes infiltrated Edom and exerted pressure on the Edomites, who turned toward Judah and settled in its southern region. This settlement was long known in Hellenistic sources as *Idumea.

Religion and Culture

The gods of Edom were mainly fertility gods, as is evidenced by the numerous clay figures found in Edom. Like Ammon and Moab, Edom had one chief god, Qos. This name is known to be a theophoric element, both from the names of the Edomite kings mentioned in the inscriptions of the Assyrian kings (see above) and from names which are preserved in the Bible (e.g., Barkos, Neh. 7:55). This name also appears as a first name in a seal in Hebrew-Edomite script on oil jugs from the eighth and seventh centuries B.C.E. which were found at Tell al-Khalayfa "לקוסענל עבד המלך," "lqwsʿnl servant of the king." There are some scholars who read instead of the unclear name Alqum in Proverbs 30:31, Alqus, on the assumption that the name is included here in the context of Edomite wisdom. Although Edom had one national god, it cannot be described even as monolatry. Biblical evidence emphasizes Edomite polytheism. It is told of Amaziah after "he came from the slaughter of the Edomites, he brought the gods of the men of Seir, and set them up as his gods, and worshipped them, making offerings to them" (II Chron. 25:14).

Apparently there was an early connection between the religion of the men of Seir and the early religion of Israel, a connection deduced from an Egyptian list from the time of Ramses II (13th century B.C.E.) from a statement in which there is the unusual juxtaposition "the land of the Shasu of JHW" (see Herrmann in bibl.). In the same list there is the equivalent juxtaposition "the land of the Shasu of Seir." (The connection between YHWH and Seir can be learned from a number of early biblical verses, e.g., Deut. 33:2; Judg. 5:4.) Of course, one cannot speak of the identification in this period of this name with YHWH but rather about the origin of YHWH from the same area and ancient contacts between the people of Israel in its early period and the sons of Seir. In this way the biblical tradition is confirmed.

From the archaeological excavations and surveys in Edom it appears that its material culture was developed. The only evidence with regard to its spiritual culture is biblical. The wisdom of Edom was held in esteem by the prophets. Jeremiah asked in amazement: "Is wisdom no more in Teman? has counsel perished from the prudent? has their wisdom vanished?" (49:7); Obadiah 8 repeats the same idea: "destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of the mount of Esau."

In Second Temple Times

The geographical conception of Edom during the Second Temple period differs radically from that at the time of the First Temple. Following the movement of Edomites from southern Transjordan and into southern Palestine, across the Arabah, in the late seventh and early sixth centuries B.C.E. (II Kings 24:2; Ezek. 35:6), the area to the south of the territory of Judah came to be referred to as Edom/Idumea. The territory of "Darom" ("south") in Talmudic literature usually refers to Idumea. Idumea in Second Temple times was further north than in the previous period and covered a considerable part of the territory of the tribe of Judah, including Hebron. The border with Judea passed south of Beth-Zur. This change came about on the one hand in consequence of the invasion of Old Edom by new tribes from the desert and the establishment there, in the course of time, of the Nabatean kingdom; and secondly through the weakening of Jewish resistance during the time of the destruction of the Temple and the Babylonian exile. The return only changed the situation slightly; in general the returning exiles did not settle south of Beth-Zur. Even in the list of those who built the walls of Jerusalem in the days of Nehemiah, there is no mention of men from places south of the line Tekoa-Beth-Zur-Keilah-Zanoah.

During the Hellenistic period the Idumean region formed a separate administrative district and is mentioned as such by Diodorus in connection with the period of the Didache (Bibliotheca Historica, 19, 98, 1). Marissa and Adorah were the main Idumean settlements in the Hellenistic era. Marissa became an important junction during the Ptolemide era and served, as can be inferred from one of the Zenon papyri (C.C. Edgar, Catalogue général des antiquités égyptiennes du Musée de Caire, 1 (1925), 34, no. 59015 verso), as the seat of the government administration. From the inscriptions and painted designs in one of the tombs, it is possible to follow in great measure the process of Hellenization of Marissa during the Ptolemide era. Among other things, a Phoenician settlement, which was the standard-bearer of the Hellenistic movement in Idumea, existed in the town, and had organized itself as a politeuma of Sidonians in Marissa (W. Dittenberger, Orientis Graeci Inscriptiones Selectae, 2 (1905), 284–5 no. 593). The Ptolemide government of the country also helped in the migration of many Idumeans to Egypt. Hostile relations between the Idumeans and the Jews persisted throughout the Hellenistic period. Ben Sira enumerates the Edomites among the "nations whom his soul abhorred" (50, 25–26). The same enmity is reflected in the quotation from the Greek writer Mnaseas given by Josephus (Apion 2:112ff.) describing how Zabidus of Dorii fooled the people of Jerusalem. During the Hasmonean wars the Idumeans assisted the Seleucids against the Jews. Judah Maccabee fought the Idumeans, and was particularly active against Hebron (I Macc. 5:65).

A decisive change in the relations between the two nations took place in the days of John *Hyrcanus (end of second century B.C.E.). Hyrcanus conquered the whole of Idumea and undertook the forced conversion of its inhabitants to Judaism (Jos., Ant., 13:257ff.). Thenceforth the Idumeans became a section of the Jewish people, Idumea becoming one of the ordinary administrative districts of the Hasmonean state. It appears that the Hasmonean dynasty used some of the respected families of Idumea to establish its dominion in that country. During the reigns of Alexander Yannai and his wife Alexandra Salome, *Antipas, who was an Idumean, served as ruler of Idumea on behalf of the Hasmoneans (Ant., 14:10). *Herod, appointed king of Judea by the Romans in 40 B.C.E., was his grandson. During the reign of Herod, Idumea served in general as the firm basis of his authority. He considered the Idumeans to be much more loyal to him than the Jews, and also depended upon them for the military settlement in Transjordan; three thousand Edomites being settled in Terakhan (Ant., 16:285). Despite this, even during his reign, an attempt was made to sever the link between Idumea and Judea. The king's brother-in-law, Costobar, entered into a conspiracy with Cleopatra, queen of Egypt, for the purpose of annexing Edom directly to Egypt, but the plot was foiled by Herod. After the death of Herod in 4 B.C.E. Idumea was included with Judea and Samaria in the ethnarchy of Archelaus. When the latter was deposed in 6 C.E., Idumea became part of the Roman province of Judea. Furthermore Gaza was severed from any administrative connection with Idumea and added to the province of Syria. Consequently, the size of Idumea was reduced – and in view of the fact that by degrees the differences between the Idumeans and their northern neighbors became blurred – the Roman government decided to abolish the separate status of Idumea as an administrative district equal in status to Judea or Samaria. Toward the end of the Second Temple era, Idumea appears as one of the 11 ordinary toparchies of Judea (Jos., Wars, 3:55).

The Idumeans participated in the Roman War of 66–70 C.E. They were organized into their own detachments and, at the time of the fratricidal war in Jerusalem between the Zealots and their opponents under the leadership of Anan b. Anan, hastened to the help of the Zealots, on the assumption that Anan and his associates intended to deliver the city into the hands of the Romans. The Idumeans were led by four commanders. They penetrated into Jerusalem on a rainy night and freed the Zealots who were besieged in the Temple, thus triumphing over their enemies. During the siege of Jerusalem by Titus they constituted a special division, numbering 5,000 men. They were led by ten officers, the most prominent among them being *Jacob b. Sosas and Simeon b. Katala. They acted under the high command of Simeon b. Giora (Jos., Wars, 5:249). Johanan, the brother of Jacob, was killed during the siege (6:290), and the Idumeans were prominent in the defense of Jerusalem (9:358–6:92, 148). Titus, too, regarded them as an important element of the Judean military force (8:379). It is not known which were the most important Idumean centers of settlement at the end of the days of the Second Temple. At the time of the Parthian invasion in 40 B.C.E., Marissa had already been destroyed, and Adorah no longer appears in the sources of the period. On the other hand Hebron is mentioned (4:529, 554).

Idumea is frequently mentioned in Latin poems of the period, usually as a synonym for Judea.

[Isaac Avishur]

In the Aggadah

Edom appears sometimes in the aggadah as referring to the actual Edomites and sometimes to the Romans, who are identified with them (see *Esau aggadah).


The historical Edom is chiefly discussed from the point of view of its relations with the Israelite people as these are reflected in the books of the Bible. Beside the enmity and hatred already stressed there, the aggadah emphasizes that Edom oppressed the people most closely akin to him. There are interesting aggadot which discuss, for example, the legal aspects of Israel-Edom relations in the time of King David (Gen. R. 74:15; ed. Theodor-Albeck, p. 872ff.), and also attempt to justify David's wars against Edom despite the biblical command laying down that Edom was not to be a heritage of the people of Israel (Deut. 2:5).


The identification of Edom with Rome is never found in the literature of the Second Temple period. It appears for the first time close to the Bar Kokhba revolt (cf. Margolioth, p. 610/2). R. Meir even connects it with the verse (Isa. 21:11), "The vision of Dumah" = the vision of Dome (דומי = רומי, Rome, TJ, Ta'an. 1:1, 64a see ed. princ.); also "The re'emim [wild-oxen] shall come down with them" (Isa. 34:7) is read as "The Romans shall come down with them" (PdRK 7, 11, ed. Mandelbaum, p. 134). The previous verses (5–6) speak of Edom (cf. also Targ. Jon. ed. Sperber, Isa. 9, "The streams thereof shall be turned into pitch": "The streams of Rome shall be turned into pitch"). Many scholars are of the opinion that the source of this identification lies in the connection between *Herod, a descendant of Edomite proselytes, whose evil rule over Judea left a harsh impression and the intensification of Roman rule in Judea, especially as Herod was virtually a vassal of Rome. However these conjectures cannot be accepted. Not only are substantial proofs lacking, but the identification appears only in the second quarter of the second century C.E., more than four generations after the death of Herod. It seems, therefore, that its source is to be sought elsewhere.

In the Bible Edom is described as the eternal enemy of Israel (and Judah, Amos 1:11; Ezek. 35:5) who not only always oppressed Israel, but at the time of the destruction of the First Temple took advantage of the situation and seized control of parts of Judah (Ezek. 25:12; 35:5, 10, 2; Obad. 11–16), and it is hinted that Edom also took part in the destruction of Jerusalem (Ps. 137:7; Obad. 11) and even in that of the Temple itself (Obad. 16). In consequence, during the Second Temple period there spread a belief that it was actually the Edomites who burned the First Temple (I Esdras 4:45; Ethiopian Enoch 89:66), and also interfered with the building of the Second Temple (ibid., 72). Hence the intense enmity toward Edom which grew stronger in the course of time (Ecclus. 50:25–26), until the conquest of Edom and its conversion to Judaism in the time of John Hyrcanus – a conquest which is the background to the descriptions of the wars of Jacob and his sons with Esau and his sons in the Book of Jubilees (37–38) and in the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs (Judah 9). Edom is even compared to a black boar (I En. 89:12, 42–43, 49, 66; Jub. 37:20, 24). The intense hatred of Rome after the cruel crushing of the revolt of the Diaspora in the time of Trajan and still more after the harsh suppression of the Bar Kokhba revolt and the decrees of persecution in Hadrian's days; the fact that Rome, like Edom, had destroyed the Temple; the similarity of Edom, compared to a pig, with Rome, for whom the pig (or, more correctly, the sow) was a most important symbol; the allusions to Edom dwelling on high like an eagle and the fact that the eagle, too, was an important Roman symbol; and perhaps finally even the similarity to the name Rome and Romans in several verses that speak of Edom, Seir, and Esau – all these apparently combined to cause the application to Rome of the biblical references to Edom, the eternal enemy of Israel.

At the end of the tannaitic period, and still more in the amoraic, the identification became very widespread, and the overwhelming majority of homilies about Edom speak explicitly of Rome. Thus it was stated that Rome was founded by the children of Esau, and Rome was identified as one of the cities of the chiefs of Esau enumerated at the end of Genesis 36 (these identifications occur not only in the Midrashim and the Talmuds but also in the Palestinian *Targums of the Torah and in the Targums to Lamentations and Esther). At a still later period the term became a synonym for Christian Rome and thence for Christianity in general, and allusions were even found to *Constantinople among the cities of Edom (and see *Caesarea).

[Moshe David Herr /

Carl Stephen Ehrlich (2nd ed.)]


F. Buhl, Geschichte der Edomiter (1893); M. Noth, Das System der Zwoelf Staemme Israels (1930); N. Glueck, The Other Side of the Jordan (1940); R.H. Pfeiffer, Introduction to the Old Testament (19522), 159–67 (on the S. Document); S. Abramsky, Mesillah ba-Aravah (1959); J. Liver (ed.), in: Historyah Ẓeva'it shel Ereẓ Yisrael … (1964), 190–205; S. Herrmann, in: Fourth World Congressof Jewish Studies, Papers, 1 (1967), 213–6 (Ger.); Y. Aharoni, in: Eretz Israel, 9 (1969), 10–21 (Heb. pt.), 134 (Eng. summ.). SECOND TEMPLE PERIOD: Klausner, Bayit Sheni, index; S. Klein, Erez Yehudah (1939), 249–54. IN THE AGGADAH: M. Gruenbaum, in: ZDMG, 31 (1877), 305–9; A. Epstein, Kol Kitvei, ed. A.M. Habermann, 2 (1957), 33; Ginzberg, Legends, 5 (19476), 272–3; Schuerer, Hist, 3 (19094), 320–11; I. Heinemann, Darkhei ha-Aggadah (1954[2]), index, S.V. Esau; H. Fuchs, Der geistige Widerstand gegen Rom (19642), 69ff., 78. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: A. Kasher, Jews, Idumeans, and Ancient Arabs (1988).

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, November 26, 2010


Map of the Territory of the Edomites

The Edomites were the descendants of Esau (Gen 25:25; 36:1) and lived in strong mountain fortresses. They became prosperous through agriculture, cattle, and the tribute they levied on passing caravans.

After the Babylonian captivity the Edomites were driven north by the Nabataeans to the areas around southern Judah and Hebron, which was called Idumea in the Greco-Roman period. The whole area was conquered by John Hyrcanus. Antipater and his son Herod the great were Idumeans. In rabbinical literature Edom was a pseudonym for Rome.

Genesis 36:43 - Duke Magdiel, duke Iram: these [be] the dukes of Edom, according to their habitations in the land of their possession: he [is] Esau the father of the Edomites.

The Edomites in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE

2. Character and Features:
The land thus indicated varies greatly in character and features. South of the Dead Sea in the bottom of the valley we have first the stretch of salt marsh land called es-Sebkha; then, beyond the line of white cliffs that crosses the valley diagonally from Northwest to Southeast, a broad depression strewn with stones and sandhills, the debris of an old sea bottom, rises gradually, and 60 miles to the South reaches a height of about 700 ft. above the level of the Red Sea, 2,000 ft. above that of the Dead Sea. From this point it sinks until it reaches the shore of the Gulf of `Aqaba, 45 miles farther South. The whole depression is known today as Wady el-`Arabah (compare Hebrew ha-`arabhah, Dt 2:8 the Revised Version (British and American), etc.). On either side the mountains rise steeply from the valley, their edges carved into many fantastic shapes by the deep wadys that break down from the interior (see ARABAH). The northern part of the plateau on the West forms the spacious grazing ground of the `Azdzimeh Arabs. The mountains rise to a height of from about 1,500 ft. to a little over 2,000 ft. This district was traversed by the ancient caravan road to South Palestine; and along the eastern side traces of the former civilization are still to be seen. The desert region to the South is higher, reaching to as much as 2,600 ft. The mountain range East of the `Arabah is generally higher in the South than in the North. Jebel Harun beside Petra, is 4,780 ft. above sea-level; while East of `Aqaba, Jebel el-Chisma may be as much as 5,900 ft. in height. Limestone, porphyry and Nubian sandstone are the prevailing formation; but volcanic rocks are also found. The range consists mainly of rough rocky heights with many almost inaccessible peaks separated by deep gorges. But there are also breadths of fertile land where wheat, grapes, figs, pomegranates and olives are grown to advantage. The northern district is known today by the name el-Jebal, corresponding to the ancient Gebal. Seir is the name applied to the eastern range in Gen 36:8; Dt 2:1,5; 2 Ch 20:23. It is also called Edom, and the Mount of Esau (Ob 1:8 f). Seir, however, is used for the western highlands in Dt 33:2. This seems to be its meaning also in Jdg 5:4, where it appears as the equivalent of "the field of Edom." With this same phrase, however, in Gen 32:3 it may more fitly apply to the eastern range.

5. Idumaea and the Idumeans:
West of the `Arabah the country they occupied came to be known by the Greek name Idumaea, and the people as Idumeans. Hebron, their chief city, was taken by Judas Maccabeus in 165 BC (1 Macc 4:29,61; 5:65). In 126 BC the country was subdued by John Hyrcanus, who compelled the people to become Jews and to submit to circumcision. Antipater, governor of Idumaea, was made procurator of Judea, Samaria and Galilee by Julius Caesar. He paved the way to the throne for his son Herod the Great. With the fall of Judah under the Romans, Idumaea disappears from history.
The names of several Edomite deities are known: Hadad, Qaus, Koze, and, possibly, Edom; but of the religion of Edom we are without information. The language differed little from Hebrew. Full Article

The Edomites from Smith's Bible Dictionary

Edom, Idumaea or Idumea (red). The name Edom was given to Esau, the first-born son of Isaac and twin brother of Jacob, when he sold his birthright to the latter for a meal of lentil pottage. The country which the Lord subsequently gave to Esau was hence called "the country of Edom," Ge 32:3 and his descendants were called Edomites. Edom was called Mount Seir and Idumea also. Edom was wholly a mountainous country. It embraced the narrow mountainous tract (about 100 miles long by 20 broad) extending along the eastern side of the Arabah from the northern end of the Gulf of Elath to near the southern end of the Dead Sea. The ancient capital of Edom was Bozrah (Buseireh). Sela (Petra) appears to have been the principal stronghold in the days of Amaziah (B.C. 838). 2Ki 14:7 Elath and Ezion-geber were the seaports. 2Sa 8:14; 1Ki 9:26 History. --Esau's bitter hatred to his brother Jacob for fraudulently obtaining his blessing appears to have been inherited by his latest posterity. The Edomites peremptorily refused to permit the Israelites to pass through their land. Nu 20:18-21 For a period of 400 years we hear no more of the Edomites. They were then attacked and defeated by Saul, 1Sa 14:47 and some forty years later by David. 2Sa 8:13,14 In the reign of Jehoshaphat (B.c. 914) the Edomites attempted to invade Israel, but failed. 2Ch 20:22 They joined Nebuchadnezzar when that king besieged Jerusalem. For their cruelty at this time they were fearfully denounced by the later prophets. Isa 34:5-8; 63:1-4; Jer 49:17 After this they settled in southern Palestine, and for more than four centuries continued to prosper. But during the warlike rule of the Maccabees they were again completely subdued, and even forced to conform to Jewish laws and rites, and submit to the government of Jewish prefects. The Edomites were now incorporated with the Jewish nation. They were idolaters. 2Ch 25:14,15,20 Their habits were singular. The Horites, their predecessors in Mount Seir, were, as their name implies, troglodytes, or dwellers in caves; and the Edomites seem to have adopted their dwellings as well as their country. Everywhere we meet with caves and grottos hewn in the soft sandstone strata. Full Article

The Bible Mentions "Edomites" in many places:

2 Chronicles 25:19 - Thou sayest, Lo, thou hast smitten the Edomites; and thine heart lifteth thee up to boast: abide now at home; why shouldest thou meddle to [thine] hurt, that thou shouldest fall, [even] thou, and Judah with thee?

1 Kings 11:1 - But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, [and] Hittites;

2 Kings 8:21 - So Joram went over to Zair, and all the chariots with him: and he rose by night, and smote the Edomites which compassed him about, and the captains of the chariots: and the people fled into their tents.

Genesis 36:43 - Duke Magdiel, duke Iram: these [be] the dukes of Edom, according to their habitations in the land of their possession: he [is] Esau the father of the Edomites.

2 Chronicles 25:14 - Now it came to pass, after that Amaziah was come from the slaughter of the Edomites, that he brought the gods of the children of Seir, and set them up [to be] his gods, and bowed down himself before them, and burned incense unto them.

2 Chronicles 21:10 - So the Edomites revolted from under the hand of Judah unto this day. The same time [also] did Libnah revolt from under his hand; because he had forsaken the LORD God of his fathers.

2 Chronicles 21:9 - Then Jehoram went forth with his princes, and all his chariots with him: and he rose up by night, and smote the Edomites which compassed him in, and the captains of the chariots.

1 Kings 11:17 - That Hadad fled, he and certain Edomites of his father's servants with him, to go into Egypt; Hadad [being] yet a little child.

1 Chronicles 18:13 - And he put garrisons in Edom; and all the Edomites became David's servants. Thus the LORD preserved David whithersoever he went.

1 Chronicles 18:12 - Moreover Abishai the son of Zeruiah slew of the Edomites in the valley of salt eighteen thousand.

2 Chronicles 21:8 - In his days the Edomites revolted from under the dominion of Judah, and made themselves a king.

Genesis 36:9 - And these [are] the generations of Esau the father of the Edomites in mount Seir:

2 Chronicles 28:17 - For again the Edomites had come and smitten Judah, and carried away captives.

Mark 3:8 - And from Jerusalem, and from Idumaea, and [from] beyond Jordan; and they about Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude, when they had heard what great things he did, came unto him.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Malcolm X on the Israelites (EXCLUSIVE)

"We believe in the resurrection of the dead. We believe that the 20 million black people in America in the last day will be taught the truth. The trumpet of truth will sound in your ear, as its being sounding today. The trumpet of truth, and as truth strikes your ear, it strikes your heart, it will open your eyes, it will open your ears, it will make you stand up, it will do the same thing for you that truth did for the dry bones in the valley, because the picture of dry bones in the valley is talking about you, the picture of Lazarus laying dead four days is talking about you, you are Lazarus, you are the dry bones, you are the prodigal son, you are the lost sheep. You are the people about whom the Bible is speaking who will stand up in the last days when the trumpet is sounded. Black people are waking up, black people are standing up, black people are rising up!"
-Malcolm X
excerpt from Unity Rally Speech in Harlem, NY 1963

Editor's Note: Irrespective of Malcolm's religious beliefs, he was one of us, a true Hebrew who believed in the liberation of his people without moral compromise with the white power structure. I embrace him as a brother and I believe the Most High has vindicated him based on his quest for the truth. It is the Most High who saves anyway, it is not of our own works. Shalom.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

WHO ARE THE MODERN JEWS? (An Anthropological Study)


By Scott Stinson

In this age of brain-dead media programmed zombies, would it still be possible for the facts to speak? If so, there is something worth saying about the modern "Jewish" race, not written by anti-semites, but by Jews themselves—and where else but in The Jewish Encyclopedia! Please excuse me for being so abrupt, but I had to get your attention. You see, this article is worth reading because it has some facts that you need to know about the authenticity of today's Jewish race. The question that must be asked as well as answered is simple: Are the modern Jews really the descendants of the ancient people of Israel? The source of our information is also quite simple: The Jewish Encyclopedia. Hopefully we will not find any anti-Semitism in the writings of these Jewish scholars. However, the reader should be forewarned. Their articles were written long before the age of mass-media social engineering and do not contain any of the familiar buzz-words common to today's new views. In other words, brace yourself for a factual scientific analysis of the racial origins of the modern Jews. Oh, and should you decide to verify any of these facts, you will find them in your local library in the 1901-1905 edition of The Jewish Encyclopedia. So, please, do read on.

At the turn of the last century there was great interest stirring in the science of anthropology. In the wake of this, Jewish scholarship turned its watchful eye upon itself and began to examine the racial claims that modern Jews make to the ancestral heritage of ancient Israel. The results were startling. The religious community found itself completely alienated by its scientific counterpart. The scientific method was coming face to face with religious traditions and there was a great unsettling in the land. The facts were telling a different story than what had been heard for centuries in the local synagogue. In his article on Purity of Race, Joseph Jacobs relates something of the dilemma that was gripping the Jewish community at this time. He writes: "The question whether the Jews of today are in the main descended from the Jews of Bible times, and from them alone, is still undecided" (Jew. Enc. X (1905), 283). What a startling statement to come from a Jewish scholar and to be printed in The Jewish Encyclopedia! However, scholarship must have its reasons. Let us look further to see what the scientific community had discovered that would warrant such a radical and perplexing statement.

In his article on Purity of Race, Jacobs gives several important facts that were forcing anthropologists of his day to reconsider the modern Jew's racial claims to be Biblical Israel. In the study of craniometry which involves the measurements of the skull, the evidence was clearly mounting against the modern Jews. After extensive samples were taken from a broad spectrum of Jewish groups world-wide. The conclusion was evident. Jacobs writes; "They are predominantly brachycephalic, or broad-headed, while the Semites of Arabic origin are invariably dolichocephalic, or long-headed" (Jew. Enc. X (1905), 284). Simply put, all known Semites have historically been long-headed, but the modern Jews were predominantly round-headed! While Jacobs avoids drawing any personal conclusions, he relates a prevailing view of his time: "Some anthropologist are inclined to associate the racial origins of the Jews, not with the Semites, whose language they adopted, but with the Armenians and Hittites of Mesopotamia, whose broad skulls and curved noses they appear to have inherited" (Jew. Enc. X (1905), 284). The findings of some anthropologist were leading them to conclude that the modern Jews were not in fact Semites at all. but rather descendants of the ancient Hittites. Jacobs however was personally hesitant to confess that the Jews were not the Jews, simply because of the profound implications it imposed. He also wrote the article on Anthropology and there declared: "Much turns upon the preliminary question whether contemporary Jews are of the same race as those mentioned in the Bible" (Jew. Enc. I (1901), 619). Jacobs obviously realized the implications of the data he was receiving. It suggested the revolutionary idea that the Jews were not in fact the Jews. He again presented the anthropological evidence the cranial measurements of the modern Jews, stating: "Their skulls are mainly brachycephalic; that is, the breadth is generally over 80 per cent of the length. This has been used as an argument against the purity of race, as most Semites—like the Arabs and Syrians—are dolichocephalic, or long-headed" (Jew, Enc. I (1901), 619). Jacobs avoids any personal conclusions. He was the former president of The Jewish Historical Society of England and obviously could not bring himself to break with the great strength of the "Jewish" tradition.

But Jacobs was not the only Jewish scholar of his day that was attempting to come to terms with the startling discoveries of his time. After all, it was the talk of the Jewish community. The haunting question persisted, Were the Jews really the Jews? In his article on Craniometry, Jewish scholar Maurice Fishberg provides a more comprehensive treatment of the "Jewish" cranial findings that were turning the Jewish world upside down. Moreover, Fishberg was a licensed medical Doctor and a medical examiner in New York City. He was clearly an expert in his field and eminently qualified to comment on the data at hand. Unlike Jacobs who was tied to the Jewish historical society, Fishberg presents the facts much more objectively. Forthwith, he declares: "As is at present accepted by nearly all anthropologists, the shape of the head is the most stable characteristic of a given race" (Jew. Enc. IV (1902), 335). The article by Fishberg is thoroughly educational as well as informative. His scientific frame of reference is immediately evident. He includes numerous charts and statistics, a complete inventory of all the cranial data collected on the Jews to date. Fishberg also gives an understanding of some of the basic concepts and terminology. He writes: "The cephalic index is expressed by multiplying the width of the head by 100 and dividing the product by the length ...The broader or rounder the head is, the higher its cephalic index, and vice versa. When the cephalic index is above 80 anthropologist term it 'brachycephalic'; between 75 and 80, 'mesocephalic'; and less than 75, 'dolichocephalic"' (Jew. Enc. IV (1902), 333). Dr. Fishberg then proceeds to present all the Jewish cranial findings in classical scientific form. He writes: "Appended is a table of nearly 3,000 Jewish heads, from various countries, measured during the last twenty years" (Jew. Enc. IV (1902), 333). In the table that follows, there is not one Jewish head that has a cephalic index below 80, and they are taken from a wide variety of countries spread throughout Europe, Russia, and Asia Minor. Fishberg comments on the data: "On an examination of the figures in this table a remarkable uniformity of the cephalic index of the modern Jews will be noticed....nearly 90 per cent are between 81.5 and 83 ...Another remarkable fact is the striking absence of the dolichocephalic type, which is characteristic of all the other modern Semitic races" (Jew. Enc. IV (1902), 334).

Dr. Fishberg also presents a large graphic chart which shows the cephalic indexes of the Jews by percentage. This chart peaks upward at the cephalic index measurement of 82, indicating the average Jewish mean. Fishberg comments on the overall percentage factor: "What is worthy of notice is the small percentage of dolichocephaly—only 1.58 percent—and the large preponderance of brachycephaly, 76.48 per cent" (Jew. Enc. IV (1902), 334). The Jewish medical examiner also confirms the representative nature of his findings. He states: "The cephalic indexes from which this curve was obtained were those of Jews in various parts of the world" (Jew. Enc. IV (1902L 331). Fishberg then provides a table of cephalic indexes by gender which shows little significant difference. He writes: "There appears no perceptible difference between the cephalic index of Jews and that of Jewesses" (Jew. Enc. IV (1902), 335). Finally, Fishberg addresses the most obvious and confronting problem with his findings, specifically how they relate to the racial claims of the modern Jews. He writes: "The most important problem suggested by a study of craniometrical results concerning Jews is the relation of the type head of the modern Jews to that of the ancient Hebrews and to the modern Semitic skulls. The pure Semitic skull is dolichocephalic, as may be seen from a study of the heads of modern Arabs, Abyssinians, Syrians . . . . The only way the type of the head may change is by intermixture with other races. If the ancient Hebrews were of the same stock as the modern non-Jewish Semites, and if the modern Jews are their descendants, then a pure dolichocephalic type of head would be expected among the Jews. As has been seen, all results of craniometry prove that the Jews are brachycephalic, and that the dolichocephalic form is only found among them in less than two percent of the cases" (Jew. Enc. IV (1902), 335). Fishberg presents an excellent summary of the problem. If the modern Jews are descendants of the ancient Hebrews and are supposed to be Semites, then dolichocephalic skulls would be expected. However, the exact opposite is true. The Jews are predominantly round-headed. Fishberg provides some other cranial data, but draws no further conclusions. The factual data he presents, however, is some of the most incriminating evidence to have ever been collected against the racial claims of the modern Jews.

Like the shape of the skull, the shape and configuration of the nose is another important racial index that was recognized by anthropologist at the turn of the century. It is also another clear sign against the modern Jew's racial claims to be Biblical Israel. It turns out that the so called "Jewish nose" is not Jewish at all, but rather comes from the ancient Hittites, as do also their round skulls. Dr. Fishberg is also the author of the article on the Nose. On the importance of this area as a racial index, the Jewish medical examiner writes: "The relation of the breadth of the nose to its length, known as the `nasal index,' has been considered one of the best means of distinguishing the various races of mankind" (Jew. Enc. IX (1905), 339). Fishberg proceeds to present a table of the nasal indexes of the modern Jews. Their marked similarity to one another and peculiarity to others again predominates in this table. Joseph Jacobs, in his article on Anthropology, also mentioned the peculiarity of the Jewish nose, stating: "The nose is generally the characteristic feature of the Jews, who have, on the average, the longest (77 ram) and narrowest (34 mm)" (Jew. Enc. I (1901), 619). In attempting to address this peculiarity, Fishberg presents some of the current thinking circulating among the anthropologist of his day. He writes: "Some authors show that this form of nose is not characteristically Semitic, because the modern non-Jewish Semites, particularly such as are supposed to have maintained themselves in a pure state, as the bedouin Arabs, do not possess this characteristic nose at all Their noses are as a rule short, straight, and often 'snub' or concave. Luschan holds that the hook-nose is by no means characteristic of the Semites, and contends that the number of arched noses that are found among the Jews is due to ancient intermixture with the Hittites in Asia Minor. He shows that other races also, as the Armenian, for instance, who have a good portion of Hittite blood in their veins, have hook-noses" (Jew. Enc. IX (1905), 338). Thus, the notorious "Jewish" hook-nose is another clear sign to the true racial origins of the modern Jews.

According to all the racial indicators recognized by leading anthropologist at the turn of the century, the modern Jews have more in common with the ancient Hittites, than with the ancient Israelites. In another early publication written about the same time, this statement is found in the article on the Hittites: "The human type is always brachycephalic [round-headed], with brow receding sharply and long nose making almost one line with the sloping forehead. In the sculptures of the Commagene and the Tyana districts, the nose has a long curving tip, of very Jewish appearance" (Enc. Brit. XIII (1910), 537). It should be evidently now that the round-headed hook-nosed Jews of today have a definite racial connection with the ancient Hittites, remembering or course what Joseph Jacobs wrote: "Some anthropologists are inclined to associate the racial origins of the Jews, not with the Semites, whose language they adopted, but with the Armenians and Hittites of Mesopotamia, whose broad skulls and cuffed noses they appear to have inherited" (Jew. Enc. X (1903), 264). Moreover, a portrait of one of these Hittites taken from a sculptural relief found on the tomb of an Egyptian Pharaoh clearly reveals what looks like a typical modern Jew (Jew. Enc. VI (1904), 427). The resemblance is so startling it is uncanny! In light of this, and all the other scientific evidence, confirmed and verified, it should be enough to convince any rational person that the modern Jews are standing on very shaky ground in their racial claims to be descendants of Biblical Israel. If you don't believe me just read The Jewish Encyclopedia, remembering of course that there is nothing anti- Semitic about it. After all, the Hittites were not Semites at all. hittites.htm

Monday, November 22, 2010


by Richard Evans

In October 1946, Soviet agent Alger Hiss invited Canadian psychiatrist Brock Chisholm to Washington DC to lay the foundation for the corruption of America’s public schools using sex education and sensitivity training.

Chisholm, a Unitarian who soon became the first Director of the World Health Organization, advocated severing children’s morality from the “influence of their elders” by conforming to the amorality of the Kabbalah. [1][2]

Many years later, at the 2005 14th World Jewish Congress, Dr. Avraham Elqayam of Bar-Ilan University said the Kabbalist mindset was being mainstreamed through vehicles like Harry Potter books and movies, Madonna and other celebrities.
Why does the United Nations and the World Jewish Congress want Kabbalah taught to the masses of the West?

“Kabbalah” is the unacknowledged religion of the West, a fact that will become evident over time. It is the belief system of Freemasonry and organized Jewry, the two forces that govern the world. It is the reason God and the Ten Commandments have been banished from public life, why Christianity has been gutted and replaced by moral “relativity.”


In its current form, the Kabbalah was created by Isaac Luria (1534-1572.) He derived it from THE ZOHAR, a 13th century 23-volume work by a Spanish Jew, Moses de Leon.

Moshe was a prolific writer of books steeped in Medieval philosophy and occult mysticism. According to Wikipedia, “He knew how to charm with brilliant and striking phrases without expressing any well-defined thought. He was a ready writer and wrote several mystical and cabalistic works in quick succession.”

These books were arguments against assigning any moral attributes to God or “the endless one” (Ein Sof ). He argued that distinction between good and evil place limits on the infinity of the Ein Sof. Further, Ein Sof is so transcendent that God’s not in this universe and has no direct interactions in it, but can be known through ten emanations or qualities of energy called the “Ten Sefirot.”

The Sefirot are the ten circles depicted in the ‘Tree of Life’ diagram pictured in the Zohar and Kabbalah. These mysterious medieval elements continue to intrigue credulous minds and made it a Middle Ages best seller.


The Kabbalah is largely based on the Zohar. According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, this is its origin:

“There is a story told about how after the death of Moses de Leon, a rich man of Avila named Joseph offered the widow, who had been left without means, a large sum of money for the original from which her husband had made the copy; and she then confessed that her husband himself was the author of the work. She had asked him several times, she said, why he had chosen to credit his own teachings to another, and he had always answered that doctrines put into the mouth of the miracle-working Simeon ben Yohai would be a rich source of profit“. [3]

The specious notion of a Jewish secret mystery school complete with systems of divination and reality-altering magic created a sensation among Jews throughout Europe. However the scholarly Sephardic Jewish leaders in Moorish Spain dismissed the Zohar as a hoax full of heretical and dangerous ideas and banned it.

When the Catholics regained control of Spain from the Moors and expelled (or converted) the Jews in 1492, the dominance of Sephardi culture over Jewry waned.

Many intellectuals went into exile in Jerusalem, where Issac Luria was teaching the Zohar. The ban forbidding study of the Zohar was lifted in 1540 when the balance of power shifted to the Ashkenazi rabbis. Luria’s Kabbalah opus was published after his death, and Kabbalah replaced Hakirah ( Mishne Torah) as Judaism’s mainstream theology.

The main reason for mainstreaming Kabbalah was to underpin belief in the arrival of the Messiah and with it, Jewish world dominion. Rumors spread like wildfire that the arrival of the Moshiac (Messiah) was at hand.


In the midst of this wishful fervor, the infamous Kabbalist Sabbatai Zevi [4] announced in Smyrna in 1666 that he was the Messiah. Over a million Jews worldwide became his followers. Sabbatai Zevi preached the satanic doctrine, “Praised be He who permits the forbidden.”

He reasoned that doing good keeps the universe too balanced and slows down the return of God. Therefore sin is virtue; and observance of the Torah morality was the sin. The essence of Satanism is to turn good and evil on their head.

Sabbatai Zevi’s movement thrived until he promised to overthrow the Caliph of Istanbul. The Caliph had him arrested him and gave him the choice of converting to Islam or execution. Sabbatai Zevi converted without hesitation, telling his followers to do the same.

Conversion to Islam was a bit over the top for many rabbis who excommunicated the Sabbateans. However, a core of followers converted with him.[5]

Rabbi Martin Antelman believes an unknown number of Sabbatai’s followers returned to the mainstream fold of Judaism and remained secret practitioners of the cult.

The Nobel Prize winning Yiddish storyteller Isaac Bashevis Singer recounted legends among pre-Holocaust Jews in Poland of entire villages that succumbed to these Satanic Kabbalists. His novel “Satan in Goray” is devoted to this subject.

Sabbateanism went underground and within a century had a revival as the semi-secret cult of Jacob Frank. When Adam Weishaupt’s branch of the Illuminati was exposed, Amschel Mayer Rothshild set Frank and his cult up in Frankfurt as the new head of the Illuminati.

Frank followed Sabbatai Zevi’s strategy of pretending to convert to a target religion in order to infiltrate and destroy it. Frank later returned to Poland with his followers and “converted” to Catholicism. His sponsor had been the King of Poland. But within a year his infamy was obvious and he was imprisoned.


The Kabbalah is a hoax, but one which governs our deluded and degenerate society.

For the Kabbalist, good and evil are ‘relative’ so evil is an illusion. Instead of right and wrong, Kabbalah says every action is like the moon, with a light side and dark side. The Kabbalists say that the adept must embrace his or her dark side to become, “a fully integrated human being”.

Not everyone who studies Kabbalah becomes a Satanist. But, Kabbalah is a prerequisite for ALL Luciferian practitioners. Freemasonry rides on Kabbalah, the 19th century “Pope of Freemasonry” Albert Pike said, [6]

“The masonic Religion should be, by all of us initiates of the higher degrees, maintained in the Purity of the Luciferian doctrine. If Lucifer were not God, would Adonay and his priests calumniate him?

Yes, Lucifer is God, and unfortunately Adonay is also god. For the eternal law is that there is no light without shade, no beauty without ugliness, no white without black, for the absolute can only exist as two gods…”[7]

There is only one God. Lucifer is the spine-chilling vacuum that results from the absence of God. The Kabbalah is a hoax that allows its followers to reformulate reality to serve their selfish interests. This is why they teach that “truth is by its nature subjective.”

Modernism and secularism are based on the Kabbalah. It is the reason our “civilization” is preoccupied with violence, sex and the occult, and why current events appeared to be scripted in Hollywood. It is the reason our political and cultural leaders are liars and why society has lost its bearings.

As long as Kabbalists (i.e. Illuminati) continue to rule, humanity will continue to spin its wheels.
Next time: Kabbalah and the Messianic Age, 2012, and the Kabbalah’s coming New Age Utopia.
[1] “The psychiatry of enduring peace and social progress” Dr. Brock Chisolm. (The William Alanson White memorial lectures). Psychiatry Journal; 1st standard Edition edition, 1946 ASIN: B0007IV8WY
[2] George Brock Chisolm quote
[3] Kohler, Kaufmann et al. Leon, Moses (Ben Shem-Tob) de.” Jewish Encyclopedia. Funk and Wagnalls, 1901-1906
[4] Sabbatean-Frankist Messianic Conspiracy Partially Exposed.pdf Clifford Shack,
[5] Marranos and Sabbateans: A Reexamination of Charismatic Religiosity, Ezer Kahanoff
[6] Kabbalah in Freemasonry
[7] “The Creation” Kabbalah excerpt from Morals and Dogma, Albert Pike

Sunday, November 21, 2010


The Secrets of the Federal Reserve
by Eustace Mullins

Product Description
Mullins presents some bare facts about the Federal Reserve System with subjects on: it IS NOT a U.S. government bank; it IS NOT controlled by Congress; it IS a privately owned Central Bank controlled by the elite financiers in their own interest. The Federal Reserve elite controls excessive interest rates, inflation, the printing of paper money, and have taken control of the depression of prosperity in the United States.

Insert from Book

The London Connection By Eustace Mullins

Dedicated to two of the finest scholars of the twentieth century
Who generously gave of their vast knowledge to a young writer to guide him in a field which he could not have managed alone.

I wish to thank my former fellow members of the staff of the Library of Congress whose very kind assistance, cooperation and suggestions made the early versions of this book possible. I also wish to thank the staffs of the Newberry Library, Chicago, the New York City Public Library, the Alderman Library of the University of Virginia, and the McCormick Library of Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Virginia, for their invaluable assistance in the completion of thirty years of further research for this definitive work on the Federal Reserve System.

About the Author
Eustace Mullins is a veteran of the United States Air Force, with thirty-eight months of active service during World War II. A native Virginian, he was educated at Washington and Lee University, New York University, Ohio University, the University of North Dakota, the Escuelas des Bellas Artes, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and the Institute of Contemporary Arts, Washington, D.C.

The original book, published under the title Mullins On The Federal Reserve, was commissioned by the poet Ezra Pound in 1948. Ezra Pound was a political prisoner for thirteen and a half years at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Washington, D.C. (a Federal institution for the insane). His release was accomplished largely through the efforts of Mr. Mullins.

The research at the Library of Congress was directed and reviewed daily by George Stimpson, founder of the National Press Club in Washington, whom The New York Times on September 28, 1952 called, "A highly regarded reference source in the capitol. Government officials, Congressmen, and reporters went to him for information on any subject."

Published in 1952 by Kasper and Horton, New York, the original book was the first nationally-circulated revelation of the secret meetings of the international bankers at Jekyll Island, Georgia, 1907-1910, at which place the draft of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 was written.

During the intervening years, the author continued to gather new and more startling information about the backgrounds of the people who direct the Federal Reserve policies. New information gathered over the years from hundreds of newspapers, periodicals, and books give corroborating insight into the connections of the international banking houses.*

While researching this material, Eustace Mullins was on the staff of the Library of Congress. Mullins later was a consultant on highway finance for the American Petroleum Institute, consultant on hotel development for Institutions Magazine, and editorial director for the Chicago Motor Club’s four publications.

* The London Acceptance Council is limited to seventeen international banking houses authorized by the Bank of England to handle foreign exchange.

The cover reproduces the outline of the eagle from the red shield, the coat of arms of the city of Frankfurt, Germany, adapted by Mayer Amschel Bauer (1744-1812) who changed his name from Bauer to Rothschild ("Red Shield"). Rothschild added five golden arrows held in the eagle’s talons, signifying his five sons who operated the five banking houses of the international House of Rothschild: Frankfurt, London, Paris, Vienna, and Naples.

Table of Contents
Chapter One Jekyll Island 1
Chapter Two The Aldrich Plan 10
Chapter Three The Federal Reserve Act 16
Chapter Four The Federal Advisory Council 40
Chapter Five The House of Rothschild 47
Chapter Six The London Connection 63
Chapter Seven The Hitler Connection 69
Chapter Eight World War One 82
Chapter Nine The Agricultural Depression 114
Chapter Ten The Money Creators 119
Chapter Eleven Lord Montagu Norman 131
Chapter Twelve The Great Depression 143
Chapter Thirteen The 1930's 151
Chapter Fourteen Congressional Expose 171
Addendum 179
Appendix I 181
Biographies 186
Bibliography 193
Index 197

Editor's Note: Eustace Mullins passed away earlier this year on February 2, 2010.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Myth of Charter Schools

The New York Review of Books
The Myth of Charter Schools
NOVEMBER 11, 2010
By Diane Ravitch
Waiting for “Superman”
a film directed by Davis Guggenheim

Paramount Pictures
Anthony, a fifth-grade student hoping to win a spot at the SEED charter boarding school in Washington, D.C.; from Davis Guggenheim’s documentary Waiting for ‘Superman’

Ordinarily, documentaries about education attract little attention, and seldom, if ever, reach neighborhood movie theaters. Davis Guggenheim’s Waiting for “Superman” is different. It arrived in late September with the biggest publicity splash I have ever seen for a documentary. Not only was it the subject of major stories in Time and New York, but it was featured twice on The Oprah Winfrey Show and was the centerpiece of several days of programming by NBC, including an interview with President Obama.

Two other films expounding the same arguments—The Lottery and The Cartel—were released in the late spring, but they received far less attention than Guggenheim’s film. His reputation as the director of the Academy Award–winning An Inconvenient Truth, about global warming, contributed to the anticipation surrounding Waiting for “Superman,” but the media frenzy suggested something more. Guggenheim presents the popularized version of an account of American public education that is promoted by some of the nation’s most powerful figures and institutions.

The message of these films has become alarmingly familiar: American public education is a failed enterprise. The problem is not money. Public schools already spend too much. Test scores are low because there are so many bad teachers, whose jobs are protected by powerful unions. Students drop out because the schools fail them, but they could accomplish practically anything if they were saved from bad teachers. They would get higher test scores if schools could fire more bad teachers and pay more to good ones. The only hope for the future of our society, especially for poor black and Hispanic children, is escape from public schools, especially to charter schools, which are mostly funded by the government but controlled by private organizations, many of them operating to make a profit.

The Cartel maintains that we must not only create more charter schools, but provide vouchers so that children can flee incompetent public schools and attend private schools. There, we are led to believe, teachers will be caring and highly skilled (unlike the lazy dullards in public schools); the schools will have high expectations and test scores will soar; and all children will succeed academically, regardless of their circumstances. The Lottery echoes the main story line of Waiting for “Superman”: it is about children who are desperate to avoid the New York City public schools and eager to win a spot in a shiny new charter school in Harlem.

For many people, these arguments require a willing suspension of disbelief. Most Americans graduated from public schools, and most went from school to college or the workplace without thinking that their school had limited their life chances. There was a time—which now seems distant—when most people assumed that students’ performance in school was largely determined by their own efforts and by the circumstances and support of their family, not by their teachers. There were good teachers and mediocre teachers, even bad teachers, but in the end, most public schools offered ample opportunity for education to those willing to pursue it. The annual Gallup poll about education shows that Americans are overwhelmingly dissatisfied with the quality of the nation’s schools, but 77 percent of public school parents award their own child’s public school a grade of A or B, the highest level of approval since the question was first asked in 1985.

Waiting for “Superman” and the other films appeal to a broad apprehension that the nation is falling behind in global competition. If the economy is a shambles, if poverty persists for significant segments of the population, if American kids are not as serious about their studies as their peers in other nations, the schools must be to blame. At last we have the culprit on which we can pin our anger, our palpable sense that something is very wrong with our society, that we are on the wrong track, and that America is losing the race for global dominance. It is not globalization or deindustrialization or poverty or our coarse popular culture or predatory financial practices that bear responsibility: it’s the public schools, their teachers, and their unions.

The inspiration for Waiting for “Superman” began, Guggenheim explains, as he drove his own children to a private school, past the neighborhood schools with low test scores. He wondered about the fate of the children whose families did not have the choice of schools available to his own children. What was the quality of their education? He was sure it must be terrible. The press release for the film says that he wondered, “How heartsick and worried did their parents feel as they dropped their kids off this morning?” Guggenheim is a graduate of Sidwell Friends, the elite private school in Washington, D.C., where President Obama’s daughters are enrolled. The public schools that he passed by each morning must have seemed as hopeless and dreadful to him as the public schools in Washington that his own parents had shunned.

Waiting for “Superman” tells the story of five children who enter a lottery to win a coveted place in a charter school. Four of them seek to escape the public schools; one was asked to leave a Catholic school because her mother couldn’t afford the tuition. Four of the children are black or Hispanic and live in gritty neighborhoods, while the one white child lives in a leafy suburb. We come to know each of these children and their families; we learn about their dreams for the future; we see that they are lovable; and we identify with them. By the end of the film, we are rooting for them as the day of the lottery approaches.

In each of the schools to which they have applied, the odds against them are large. Anthony, a fifth-grader in Washington, D.C., applies to the SEED charter boarding school, where there are sixty-one applicants for twenty-four places. Francisco is a first-grade student in the Bronx whose mother (a social worker with a graduate degree) is desperate to get him out of the New York City public schools and into a charter school; she applies to Harlem Success Academy where he is one of 792 applicants for forty places. Bianca is the kindergarten student in Harlem whose mother cannot afford Catholic school tuition; she enters the lottery at another Harlem Success Academy, as one of 767 students competing for thirty-five openings. Daisy is a fifth-grade student in East Los Angeles whose parents hope she can win a spot at KIPP LA PREP, where 135 students have applied for ten places. Emily is an eighth-grade student in Silicon Valley, where the local high school has gorgeous facilities, high graduation rates, and impressive test scores, but her family worries that she will be assigned to a slow track because of her low test scores; so they enter the lottery for Summit Preparatory Charter High School, where she is one of 455 students competing for 110 places.

The stars of the film are Geoffrey Canada, the CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone, which provides a broad variety of social services to families and children and runs two charter schools; Michelle Rhee, chancellor of the Washington, D.C., public school system, who closed schools, fired teachers and principals, and gained a national reputation for her tough policies; David Levin and Michael Feinberg, who have built a network of nearly one hundred high-performing KIPP charter schools over the past sixteen years; and Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, who is cast in the role of chief villain. Other charter school leaders, like Steve Barr of the Green Dot chain in Los Angeles, do star turns, as does Bill Gates of Microsoft, whose foundation has invested many millions of dollars in expanding the number of charter schools. No successful public school teacher or principal or superintendent appears in the film; indeed there is no mention of any successful public school, only the incessant drumbeat on the theme of public school failure.

The situation is dire, the film warns us. We must act. But what must we do? The message of the film is clear. Public schools are bad, privately managed charter schools are good. Parents clamor to get their children out of the public schools in New York City (despite the claims by Mayor Michael Bloomberg that the city’s schools are better than ever) and into the charters (the mayor also plans to double the number of charters, to help more families escape from the public schools that he controls). If we could fire the bottom 5 to 10 percent of the lowest-performing teachers every year, says Hoover Institution economist Eric Hanushek in the film, our national test scores would soon approach the top of international rankings in mathematics and science.

Some fact-checking is in order, and the place to start is with the film’s quiet acknowledgment that only one in five charter schools is able to get the “amazing results” that it celebrates. Nothing more is said about this astonishing statistic. It is drawn from a national study of charter schools by Stanford economist Margaret Raymond (the wife of Hanushek). Known as the CREDO study, it evaluated student progress on math tests in half the nation’s five thousand charter schools and concluded that 17 percent were superior to a matched traditional public school; 37 percent were worse than the public school; and the remaining 46 percent had academic gains no different from that of a similar public school. The proportion of charters that get amazing results is far smaller than 17 percent.Why did Davis Guggenheim pay no attention to the charter schools that are run by incompetent leaders or corporations mainly concerned to make money? Why propound to an unknowing public the myth that charter schools are the answer to our educational woes, when the filmmaker knows that there are twice as many failing charters as there are successful ones? Why not give an honest accounting?

The propagandistic nature of Waiting for “Superman” is revealed by Guggenheim’s complete indifference to the wide variation among charter schools. There are excellent charter schools, just as there are excellent public schools. Why did he not also inquire into the charter chains that are mired in unsavory real estate deals, or take his camera to the charters where most students are getting lower scores than those in the neighborhood public schools? Why did he not report on the charter principals who have been indicted for embezzlement, or the charters that blur the line between church and state? Why did he not look into the charter schools whose leaders are paid $300,000–$400,000 a year to oversee small numbers of schools and students?

Guggenheim seems to believe that teachers alone can overcome the effects of student poverty, even though there are countless studies that demonstrate the link between income and test scores. He shows us footage of the pilot Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier, to the amazement of people who said it couldn’t be done. Since Yeager broke the sound barrier, we should be prepared to believe that able teachers are all it takes to overcome the disadvantages of poverty, homelessness, joblessness, poor nutrition, absent parents, etc.

Paramount Pictures
Francisco, a first-grade student in the Bronx whose mother wants him to attend a charter school

The movie asserts a central thesis in today’s school reform discussion: the idea that teachers are the most important factor determining student achievement. But this proposition is false. Hanushek has released studies showing that teacher quality accounts for about 7.5–10 percent of student test score gains. Several other high-quality analyses echo this finding, and while estimates vary a bit, there is a relative consensus: teachers statistically account for around 10–20 percent of achievement outcomes. Teachers are the most important factor within schools.

But the same body of research shows that nonschool factors matter even more than teachers. According to University of Washington economist Dan Goldhaber, about 60 percent of achievement is explained by nonschool factors, such as family income. So while teachers are the most important factor within schools, their effects pale in comparison with those of students’ backgrounds, families, and other factors beyond the control of schools and teachers. Teachers can have a profound effect on students, but it would be foolish to believe that teachers alone can undo the damage caused by poverty and its associated burdens.

Guggenheim skirts the issue of poverty by showing only families that are intact and dedicated to helping their children succeed. One of the children he follows is raised by a doting grandmother; two have single mothers who are relentless in seeking better education for them; two of them live with a mother and father. Nothing is said about children whose families are not available, for whatever reason, to support them, or about children who are homeless, or children with special needs. Nor is there any reference to the many charter schools that enroll disproportionately small numbers of children who are English-language learners or have disabilities.

The film never acknowledges that charter schools were created mainly at the instigation of Albert Shanker, the president of the American Federation of Teachers from 1974 to 1997. Shanker had the idea in 1988 that a group of public school teachers would ask their colleagues for permission to create a small school that would focus on the neediest students, those who had dropped out and those who were disengaged from school and likely to drop out. He sold the idea as a way to open schools that would collaborate with public schools and help motivate disengaged students. In 1993, Shanker turned against the charter school idea when he realized that for-profit organizations saw it as a business opportunity and were advancing an agenda of school privatization. Michelle Rhee gained her teaching experience in Baltimore as an employee of Education Alternatives, Inc., one of the first of the for-profit operations.

Today, charter schools are promoted not as ways to collaborate with public schools but as competitors that will force them to get better or go out of business. In fact, they have become the force for privatization that Shanker feared. Because of the high-stakes testing regime created by President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation, charter schools compete to get higher test scores than regular public schools and thus have an incentive to avoid students who might pull down their scores. Under NCLB, low-performing schools may be closed, while high-performing ones may get bonuses. Some charter schools “counsel out” or expel students just before state testing day. Some have high attrition rates, especially among lower-performing students.

Perhaps the greatest distortion in this film is its misrepresentation of data about student academic performance. The film claims that 70 percent of eighth-grade students cannot read at grade level. This is flatly wrong. Guggenheim here relies on numbers drawn from the federally sponsored National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). I served as a member of the governing board for the national tests for seven years, and I know how misleading Guggenheim’s figures are. NAEP doesn’t measure performance in terms of grade-level achievement. The highest level of performance, “advanced,” is equivalent to an A+, representing the highest possible academic performance. The next level, “proficient,” is equivalent to an A or a very strong B. The next level is “basic,” which probably translates into a C grade. The film assumes that any student below proficient is “below grade level.” But it would be far more fitting to worry about students who are “below basic,” who are 25 percent of the national sample, not 70 percent.

Guggenheim didn’t bother to take a close look at the heroes of his documentary. Geoffrey Canada is justly celebrated for the creation of the Harlem Children’s Zone, which not only runs two charter schools but surrounds children and their families with a broad array of social and medical services. Canada has a board of wealthy philanthropists and a very successful fund-raising apparatus. With assets of more than $200 million, his organization has no shortage of funds. Canada himself is currently paid $400,000 annually. For Guggenheim to praise Canada while also claiming that public schools don’t need any more money is bizarre. Canada’s charter schools get better results than nearby public schools serving impoverished students. If all inner-city schools had the same resources as his, they might get the same good results.

But contrary to the myth that Guggenheim propounds about “amazing results,” even Geoffrey Canada’s schools have many students who are not proficient. On the 2010 state tests, 60 percent of the fourth-grade students in one of his charter schools were not proficient in reading, nor were 50 percent in the other. It should be noted—and Guggenheim didn’t note it—that Canada kicked out his entire first class of middle school students when they didn’t get good enough test scores to satisfy his board of trustees. This sad event was documented by Paul Tough in his laudatory account of Canada’s Harlem Children’s Zone, Whatever It Takes (2009). Contrary to Guggenheim’s mythology, even the best-funded charters, with the finest services, can’t completely negate the effects of poverty.

Guggenheim ignored other clues that might have gotten in the way of a good story. While blasting the teachers’ unions, he points to Finland as a nation whose educational system the US should emulate, not bothering to explain that it has a completely unionized teaching force. His documentary showers praise on testing and accountability, yet he does not acknowledge that Finland seldom tests its students. Any Finnish educator will say that Finland improved its public education system not by privatizing its schools or constantly testing its students, but by investing in the preparation, support, and retention of excellent teachers. It achieved its present eminence not by systematically firing 5–10 percent of its teachers, but by patiently building for the future. Finland has a national curriculum, which is not restricted to the basic skills of reading and math, but includes the arts, sciences, history, foreign languages, and other subjects that are essential to a good, rounded education. Finland also strengthened its social welfare programs for children and families. Guggenheim simply ignores the realities of the Finnish system.

In any school reform proposal, the question of “scalability” always arises. Can reforms be reproduced on a broad scale? The fact that one school produces amazing results is not in itself a demonstration that every other school can do the same. For example, Guggenheim holds up Locke High School in Los Angeles, part of the Green Dot charter chain, as a success story but does not tell the whole story. With an infusion of $15 million of mostly private funding, Green Dot produced a safer, cleaner campus, but no more than tiny improvements in its students’ abysmal test scores. According to the Los Angeles Times, the percentage of its students proficient in English rose from 13.7 percent in 2009 to 14.9 percent in 2010, while in math the proportion of proficient students grew from 4 percent to 6.7 percent. What can be learned from this small progress? Becoming a charter is no guarantee that a school serving a tough neighborhood will produce educational miracles.

Another highly praised school that is featured in the film is the SEED charter boarding school in Washington, D.C. SEED seems to deserve all the praise that it receives from Guggenheim, CBS’s 60 Minutes, and elsewhere. It has remarkable rates of graduation and college acceptance. But SEED spends $35,000 per student, as compared to average current spending for public schools of about one third that amount. Is our society prepared to open boarding schools for tens of thousands of inner-city students and pay what it costs to copy the SEED model? Those who claim that better education for the neediest students won’t require more money cannot use SEED to support their argument.

Guggenheim seems to demand that public schools start firing “bad” teachers so they can get the great results that one of every five charter schools gets. But he never explains how difficult it is to identify “bad” teachers. If one looks only at test scores, teachers in affluent suburbs get higher ones. If one uses student gains or losses as a general measure, then those who teach the neediest children—English-language learners, troubled students, autistic students—will see the smallest gains, and teachers will have an incentive to avoid districts and classes with large numbers of the neediest students.

Ultimately the job of hiring teachers, evaluating them, and deciding who should stay and who should go falls to administrators. We should be taking a close look at those who award due process rights (the accurate term for “tenure”) to too many incompetent teachers. The best way to ensure that there are no bad or ineffective teachers in our public schools is to insist that we have principals and supervisors who are knowledgeable and experienced educators. Yet there is currently a vogue to recruit and train principals who have little or no education experience. (The George W. Bush Institute just announced its intention to train 50,000 new principals in the next decade and to recruit noneducators for this sensitive post.)

Waiting for “Superman” is the most important public-relations coup that the critics of public education have made so far. Their power is not to be underestimated. For years, right-wing critics demanded vouchers and got nowhere. Now, many of them are watching in amazement as their ineffectual attacks on “government schools” and their advocacy of privately managed schools with public funding have become the received wisdom among liberal elites. Despite their uneven record, charter schools have the enthusiastic endorsement of the Obama administration, the Gates Foundation, the Broad Foundation, and the Dell Foundation. In recent months, The New York Times has published three stories about how charter schools have become the favorite cause of hedge fund executives. According to the Times, when Andrew Cuomo wanted to tap into Wall Street money for his gubernatorial campaign, he had to meet with the executive director of Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), a pro-charter group.

Dominated by hedge fund managers who control billions of dollars, DFER has contributed heavily to political candidates for local and state offices who pledge to promote charter schools. (Its efforts to unseat incumbents in three predominantly black State Senate districts in New York City came to nothing; none of its hand-picked candidates received as much as 30 percent of the vote in the primary elections, even with the full-throated endorsement of the city’s tabloids.) Despite the loss of local elections and the defeat of Washington, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty (who had appointed the controversial schools chancellor Michelle Rhee), the combined clout of these groups, plus the enormous power of the federal government and the uncritical support of the major media, presents a serious challenge to the viability and future of public education.

It bears mentioning that nations with high-performing school systems—whether Korea, Singapore, Finland, or Japan—have succeeded not by privatizing their schools or closing those with low scores, but by strengthening the education profession. They also have less poverty than we do. Fewer than 5 percent of children in Finland live in poverty, as compared to 20 percent in the United States. Those who insist that poverty doesn’t matter, that only teachers matter, prefer to ignore such contrasts.

If we are serious about improving our schools, we will take steps to improve our teacher force, as Finland and other nations have done. That would mean better screening to select the best candidates, higher salaries, better support and mentoring systems, and better working conditions. Guggenheim complains that only one in 2,500 teachers loses his or her teaching certificate, but fails to mention that 50 percent of those who enter teaching leave within five years, mostly because of poor working conditions, lack of adequate resources, and the stress of dealing with difficult children and disrespectful parents. Some who leave “fire themselves”; others were fired before they got tenure. We should also insist that only highly experienced teachers become principals (the “head teacher” in the school), not retired businessmen and military personnel. Every school should have a curriculum that includes a full range of studies, not just basic skills. And if we really are intent on school improvement, we must reduce the appalling rates of child poverty that impede success in school and in life.

There is a clash of ideas occurring in education right now between those who believe that public education is not only a fundamental right but a vital public service, akin to the public provision of police, fire protection, parks, and public libraries, and those who believe that the private sector is always superior to the public sector. Waiting for “Superman” is a powerful weapon on behalf of those championing the “free market” and privatization. It raises important questions, but all of the answers it offers require a transfer of public funds to the private sector. The stock market crash of 2008 should suffice to remind us that the managers of the private sector do not have a monopoly on success.

Public education is one of the cornerstones of American democracy. The public schools must accept everyone who appears at their doors, no matter their race, language, economic status, or disability. Like the huddled masses who arrived from Europe in years gone by, immigrants from across the world today turn to the public schools to learn what they need to know to become part of this society. The schools should be far better than they are now, but privatizing them is no solution.

In the final moments of Waiting for “Superman,” the children and their parents assemble in auditoriums in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and Silicon Valley, waiting nervously to see if they will win the lottery. As the camera pans the room, you see tears rolling down the cheeks of children and adults alike, all their hopes focused on a listing of numbers or names. Many people react to the scene with their own tears, sad for the children who lose. I had a different reaction. First, I thought to myself that the charter operators were cynically using children as political pawns in their own campaign to promote their cause. (Gail Collins in The New York Times had a similar reaction and wondered why they couldn’t just send the families a letter in the mail instead of subjecting them to public rejection.) Second, I felt an immense sense of gratitude to the much-maligned American public education system, where no one has to win a lottery to gain admission.

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