The Origins of Anti-Semitism
Even though we have seen anti-Semitism throughout history, we have seen a recent increase over the last several years. Anti-Semitic violence and attitudes have once again begun to surge. After the Holocaust, most Christians in the United States had been pro-Israel, but today, we have seen that many church-goers have turned their backs on Israel and now support Israel’s enemies. You see more and more hateful remarks on social media. Western Europe has exploded with hate for the Jewish people. The state of Israel has seen many attacks over the years. So you have to ask yourself, why? And why now? Is it the nationality or is it their religion that is causing the hatred? We want to take a closer look at this, so to do that we have to look back into the Scriptures to see when this all started.
We could go back to Adam and Eve, when they sinned in the garden. We could look at when Cain, filled with hatred, killed his brother Abel. But we will start with Abraham. God blessed Abraham with these words: “I will bless those who bless you and I will curse those who curse you” (Genesis 12:3). We will see this hold true till eternity. Abraham’s first son, Ishmael, was from Hagar rather than Sarah, who God said the promises would come through. When Abraham sent Hagar away with her son she cried out to God and He heard her: “As for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation” (Genesis 17:20). The descendants of Ishmael are the Arab nations. The Arab nations will reconcile with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Today there are many Muslims who have found the One True Living God, and when Messiah returns He will gather the nations unto Himself. So we see that we need to look further into this subject, but not too much further, for we see this also with Esau and Jacob the sons of Isaac. The Scriptures tell us that God loved Jacob but hated Esau: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” (Romans 9:13). So why did God hate Esau? Let’s take a closer look at the backstory to all of this.
We see that Esau, who was the eldest of Isaac’s sons, had no regard for his birthright. The birthright was a special blessing given to the firstborn son. It also meant a double portion of land and money. Genesis 25:29-34 tells us how one day Jacob was cooking some stew, and Esau came asking for food. Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.” So Esau swore an oath and sold his birthright to Jacob for some bread and stew. So Esau despised his birthright. Esau had no regard for the things of God. He would be, let’s say, a man of the world, but Jacob, he was a man of God. Hebrews 12:16-17 tells us, “See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. Even though he sought the blessing with tears, he could not change what he had done.” We see from Scripture that Isaac loved Esau more than Jacob, and when it came time for Isaac to bless Esau before he died, Rebecca (Isaac’s wife) had a plan to replace Esau with Jacob for this blessing, for she knew that God’s will was for Jacob to have this blessing (Genesis 25:23). Well, Jacob deceived his father who was blind by putting on Esau’s clothes and covering himself with animal skins so he would smell and feel like Esau. So Isaac believed and he blessed Jacob. When Esau found out, he swore that he would kill his brother and so Jacob fled.
Now let us move forward in time. The descendants of Esau were the Edomites. The Scriptures tell us a lot about the Edomites: they are mentioned about 120 times in the Old Testament. Genesis 36 gives us the family tree of Esau, and again in 1 Chronicles 1:43-54. Numbers 20:14-21 tells us about a conflict that took place between Edom and Israel. Moses, after leading Israel out of Egypt into the wilderness, sent messengers to the king of Edom asking permission to simply pass through his country on the way to their destination, stressing that their intentions were not to stay in the land but to move through it and that they would pay for any water used in his country. Edom responded harshly and came out to meet Israel with a mighty army, so Israel is forced to take a different route.
This hatred was evidently also passed on to Esau’s grandson Amalek. The Amalekites come and attack the Israelites at a place called Rephidim. While Joshua leads the army, Moses prays and lifts his hands toward God. As long as Moses’ hands are raised, the battle is in Israel’s favor, and in the end Israel is victorious. God tells Moses, “‘Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven.’ Moses built an altar and called it ‘The LORD is my Banner.’ He said, ‘Because hands were lifted up against the throne of the LORD, the LORD will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation'” (Exodus 17:8-16). Let’s look at some other Scriptures regarding Edom. Isaiah 34:1-17 speaks about God’s wrath toward Edom. “My sword has drunk its fill in the heavens; see, it descends in judgment on Edom, the people I have totally destroyed. The sword of the LORD is bathed in blood… For the LORD has a sacrifice in Bozrah and a great slaughter in the land of Edom… For the LORD has a day of vengeance, a year of retribution, to uphold Zion’s cause. Edom’s streams will be turned into pitch, her dust into burning sulfur; her land will become blazing pitch! It will not be quenched night or day; its smoke will rise forever. From generation to generation it will lie desolate; no one will ever pass through it again.” Jeremiah writes in Jeremiah 49:7-22 how once again God will destroy Esau. “’Turn and flee, hide in deep caves, you who live in Dedan, for I will bring disaster on Esau at the time when I punish him… I will strip Esau bare; I will uncover his hiding places, so that he cannot conceal himself. His armed men are destroyed, also his allies and neighbors, so there is no one to say, “Leave your fatherless children; I will keep them alive. Your widows too can depend on me.” I swear by myself,’ declares the LORD, ‘that Bozrah will become a ruin and a curse, an object of horror and reproach; and all its towns will be in ruins.’” Dedan and Bozrah were towns in which the Edomites lived. We see again in Obadiah 1:18, “Jacob will be a fire and Joseph a flame; Esau will be stubble, and they will set him on fire and destroy him. There will be no survivors from Esau. The LORD has spoken.”
We could also look at Ezekiel 35:1-5, where the inhabitants of Mount Seir, an Edomite town, are told they will be judged for their hatred toward Israel: “You have had everlasting enmity and have delivered the sons of Israel to the power of the sword at the time of their calamity.” The prophet Malachi says, “’I have loved you,’ says the Lord. ‘But you ask, “How have you loved us?” Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?’ declares the Lord. ‘Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his hill country into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals. Edom may say, “Though we have been crushed, we will rebuild the ruins.” But this is what the Lord Almighty says: They may build, but I will demolish. They will be called the Wicked Land, a people always under the wrath of the Lord. You will see it with your own eyes and say, “Great is the Lord—even beyond the borders of Israel!”‘” (Malachi 1:1-5).
So why does God hate Esau? Frankly because Esau hates the God of Israel. We have seen the various prophecies concerning the destruction of Edom. Not like the descendants of Ishmael, Edom was and never will turn to God. Esau, who kept cursing Israel, eventually was cursed of God. But we must understand that just as in the days of the Apostles the spirit of antichrist was already present (1 John 4:3), so too is the spirit of Edom present, and in many ways they are the same spirit. We want to look at several people in history that had this spirit of Edom. Doeg is seen in 1 Samuel 22:16-19. Saul unjustly orders his army to slaughter the priests of God who had given David support as he fled from Saul. The soldiers refuse, so Saul orders Doeg the Edomite to carry out his order. Doeg not only kills eighty-five priests, but continues to destroy the entire town the priests inhabited. Doeg did not just kill the priests, but the whole town including the women, children, and animals. Next we see Haman in the book of Esther, who wanted to kill all the Jews. Esther’s uncle, Mordecai, refused to bow to Haman, who was a descendant of Amalek and a powerful man in the kingdom of Babylon. Haman is furious, so he devises plans to not only kill Mordecai, but all of the Jews along with him.
We also see the example of Herod, whose father was an Edomite, in Matthew 2:13-18. After hearing from the Magi that the King of the Jews, Yeshua (Jesus), had been born in Bethlehem, he commands them to tell him where the child is located once they find him. Warned in a dream, the Magi return home. “When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: ‘A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.'” There have been so many others throughout history, too many for this brochure, but we do want to mention one other and that was Adolph Hitler who also wanted to annihilate the whole Jewish race. Today we still see the spirit of Esau who has not stopped persecuting the Jewish people and also the Judeo-Christians who believe in the God of Abraham. Revelation 12:17 says, “Then the dragon was enraged at the woman (Israel) and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Yeshua.”
We see that anti-Semitism is all about who the people of Israel are, the children of Jacob, and who they worship, the One True Living God. How about you? What kind of spirit do you have? Are you true to the God of Abraham, or have you been duped to believe that God no longer cares for His chosen Israel and has chosen another? He who blesses Israel will be blessed for all eternity.