By electing the terrorist group Hamas to majority control of the Palestinian parliament, a majority of the Palestinian people have refused to reject Hamas’ advocacy of destroying the Israeli state through terrorist tactics—such as blowing up Israel’s ordinary citizens and children. It may be surprising to learn that Palestinian support for hamas —not the terrorist organization specifically but what the word hamas stands for—was generally foretold long ago in Scripture.
The name Hamas is an Arabic acronym for Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya (“Islamic Resistance Movement”). By design, this acronym is also meaningful on its own—the Arabic word hamas being typically defined as “zeal” or “warlike strength and bravery.” Yet these meanings derive from an older connotation of forcefulness or severity.
Arabic is a Semitic language derived in large part from ancient Hebrew (as many of the Arabs have descended from Ishmael, son of the biblical patriarch Abraham). Thus, it should really come as no surprise to learn that hamas is also a Hebrew word found in the Bible. It means “violence”—in fact, sinful, malicious violence (Strong’s No. 2555). What a fitting name for a terrorist organization. Remarkably, this very word is applied in Scripture to the Middle East conflict of today, as we will see.
The Bible has much to say regarding the clash between Israel and the Palestinians, tracing the roots of this ancient blood feud and declaring how it will ultimately be resolved. The conflict actually goes back to two sibling rivalries—between Abraham’s sons Ishmael and Isaac (see Genesis 16–17; 21) and between Isaac’s sons Esau and Jacob (see Genesis 25; 27–28). Ishmael was the father of many of the Arabs while from Isaac, through Jacob, came the Israelites.
What about Esau? Esau and his descendants are also referred to in the Bible, often by the name Edom (25:30)—and sometimes by the name of their homeland of Mount Seir (see 36:8-9), southeast of Judea, in what is now southern Jordan.
For centuries, the people of Edom acted maliciously against the Israelites, striking at them and encroaching on them. The land of Edom, or Idumea, eventually encompassed the southern half of Judea. Over time, many Edomites migrated away from the Holy Land region, and their descendants may be found among various Middle Eastern peoples. But a number remained or returned—so much so that a prophecy in the book of Obadiah indicates the Edomites will be in possession of much of the original land of Israel in the end time. This would seem to indicate that they probably are well represented among the Palestinians of today.
Yet the book of Obadiah shows that at the dawning of the messianic era, the Israelites will receive their land back. Verse 19 shows that a people in control of particular areas in the Holy Land will gain additional territory when God intervenes. In context, the Israelites, according to this verse, will regain the lands the Edomites took from them.
Tellingly, the lands listed as gaining territory are populated today by Jews, while the lands to be reclaimed are now populated by the Palestinians—apparently identifying the Palestinians as Edomites, at least in large measure. (For more details, go to comments on Obadiah, online at http://www.ucg.org/brp/brp.asp?get=daily&day=2&month=February&year=2003&Layout= ).
In the course of God returning to Israel its original land, “the house of Esau shall be stubble…and no survivor shall remain of the house of Esau” (verse 18). According to verse 10, this will be God’s judgment on the Edomites for their history of “violence” or hamas toward Israel: “For violence [ hamas ] against your brother Jacob, shame shall cover you, and you shall be cut off forever.” Consider this verse in light of the current choice of the Hamas organization by a majority of the Palestinians. This is not to say that the organization was prophesied—but broad support for its tactics was.
God says the Edomites will ultimately fail in their quest to eradicate Israel: “Because you have had an ancient hatred, and have shed the blood of the children of Israel…therefore blood shall pursue you…. Because you have said, ‘These two nations and these two countries [territories of Samaria and Judah—primarily the West Bank today] shall be mine, and we will possess them’ …therefore…I will do according to your anger and according to the envy which you showed in your hatred against them…. You shall be desolate, O Mount Seir, as well as all of Edom—all of it!” (Ezekiel 35:5-15 Ezekiel 35:5-15 5 Because you have had a perpetual hatred, and have shed the blood of the children of Israel by the force of the sword in the time of their calamity, in the time that their iniquity had an end:
6 Therefore, as I live, said the Lord GOD, I will prepare you to blood, and blood shall pursue you: since you have not hated blood, even blood shall pursue you.
7 Thus will I make mount Seir most desolate, and cut off from it him that passes out and him that returns.
8 And I will fill his mountains with his slain men: in your hills, and in your valleys, and in all your rivers, shall they fall that are slain with the sword.
9 I will make you perpetual desolations, and your cities shall not return: and you shall know that I am the LORD.
10 Because you have said, These two nations and these two countries shall be mine, and we will possess it; whereas the LORD was there:
11 Therefore, as I live, said the Lord GOD, I will even do according to your anger, and according to your envy which you have used out of your hatred against them; and I will make myself known among them, when I have judged you.
12 And you shall know that I am the LORD, and that I have heard all your blasphemies which you have spoken against the mountains of Israel, saying, They are laid desolate, they are given us to consume.
13 Thus with your mouth you have boasted against me, and have multiplied your words against me: I have heard them.
14 Thus said the Lord GOD; When the whole earth rejoices, I will make you desolate.
15 As you did rejoice at the inheritance of the house of Israel, because it was desolate, so will I do to you: you shall be desolate, O mount Seir, and all Idumea, even all of it: and they shall know that I am the LORD.
American King James Version×; compare Isaiah 34:5 Isaiah 34:5For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down on Idumea, and on the people of my curse, to judgment.
American King James Version×; 63:1-6). Hamas terror will then be no more.
To better understand the roots of the Mideast conflict and where events are headed, be sure to request or download your free copy of our booklet The Middle East in Bible Prophecy .