I am on my way to Israel to celebrate the 70th birthday of the Jewish state. Having experienced many of Israel’s birthdays before, when the country was noticeably less mature or prosperous, this birthday is a special occasion. With all the glory attached to the coming of age, there are also sets of precedents that require caution and good judgment.
The number 70 has meaningful commutations in Jewish tradition. It recalls the 70-year Babylonian Exile that led to the start of the Second Jewish Commonwealth in 530 BCE. The return to the Land of Israel occurred through the Charter given by the Persian Emperor Cyrus the Great, allowing Jews who wished to return to “Jerusalem that is in Judah” and build a “House for the God of Heaven” to do so. Prime Minister Netanyahu, in praising Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, compared him to King Cyrus the Great. Similarly, President Harry Truman was told that in recognizing the Jewish state, he would become another King Cyrus for Jews everywhere.
Zerubbabel, a descendent of King David, led the first wave of returnees to Jerusalem. The second wave come with the Scribe Ezra (book of Ezra in the third portion of the Hebrew Bible called Ketuvim). The third stage of mass return to the land occurred with Nehemiah, a high official in the Persian Empire administration… more

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