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Replacement Theology and its downfall

My wife and I came back yesterday safe and sound to our home in Safed after an absence of over nine weeks. We had spent the High Holidays and Sukkot in Yerushalayim, intending to return to Safed immediately afterwards. However, when the war broke out on Shemini Atzeret, we stayed in Yerushalayim until the immediate threat of a serious war on Israel’s northern border receded somewhat.

At this moment the security situation throughout the country is far from unclear as trouble could burst forth from Lebanon at any moment, and an open conflict with Hezbollah could prove far more challenging for Israel than the present war against Hamas in Gaza. However, we put our trust in God Almighty and pray that, as He has helped us until now, He will show great mercy and grant salvation to His people Israel and to all our true allies and supporters in the Land of Israel and across the entire world.

The route of our drive yesterday from Yerushalayim to Safed starts on the stunning Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway, with its panoramic views of the beautiful forest-clad hills as one descends to the center of the country, then turns northwards through the densely populated, highly developed lowlands, before cutting through the rain-washed hills and meadows of the Galilee for the final ascent to Safed.

The holy Land of Israel has literally everything, from snow-capped Mt Hermon and the crisp, pure streams flowing into the Kinneret, to the fertile Sharon, from the serenity of the holy city of Jerusalem, to the staggering natural wonders of the “Dead Sea”, the stark mountains and scorched deserts of the Negev, and the warm waters of Eilat swarming with aquatic life.

Is it any wonder that all the nations of the world have their jealous eyes upon this tiny strip of land? Our sages explained how it was that in the time of Joshua, this little land had no less than thirty-one kings. In fact, they were all from other lands, but each felt obliged to kept his clutches on some part of this blessed land, because any ruler who did not have a hold here was considered a nothing and a nobody.

So it is until today, when America, Russia, Turkey, France, Britain, the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan, Egypt, the United Nations, UNWRA, etc. and numerous more secretive players all make sure to keep their claws well ensconced in the little pot, each for their own reasons. Across the world, in parliaments, in the media, on campuses and in city streets, it’s now open-day for every historical ignoramus and dumbed-down weirdo to virtue-signal, blast forth their message, pontificate and throw in their two cents about the supposed crimes of Israel and all who dare support her.

For thousands of years, this corridor between Africa and Asia, the Mediterranean and the East, has been the bone of contention between the Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, Persians, Arabs, Crusaders, Turks, British… From the time of the exile of most Jews after the destruction of the Second Temple, the land was largely neglected until the later middle ages and early modern times, with the return of Jews expelled from Spain and, later on, the ever-growing influx of Jews from all over the world, culminating in the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 and the subsequent waves of immigration decade after decade.

Every stage in the restoration and strengthening of Jewish sovereignty in our ancestral land has been a struggle in face of relentless opposition, hostility and outright war. The cruelty with which the Turkish rulers oppressed their dhimmi Jewish subjects is well documented. In the 1920’s it was the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem — later collaborator with Hitler — who incited bloody pogroms of Jews up and down the country. In 1948 all the Arab countries in concert rose up in war against the newly-declared State of Israel.

Since the 1967 Six Day War and 1973 Yom Kippur war, both waged against Israel by largely secular Arab rulers, the more pragmatic Arab states have eventually come to some kind of cold “peace” with Israel, the latest example being the so-called “Abraham Accords”.

However, the war against Israel started by Hamas on October 7, 2023, and developments across the world in its wake, show beyond all doubt that flagrant, unashamed, unrepentant hatred of Israel (the Jewish State), Zionism (its political ideology), and Jews and Israelis of all, any and every shade, kind and color, has now escalated to hitherto unknown levels of intensity, and is advancing shamelessly by leaps and bounds across the whole world. It is also clear that this surge of hatred is being spearheaded by self-avowed Muslims in the name of Jihad, religious war.

The slogan chanted at mass rallies across the world, “From the River to the Sea, Palestine shall be free”, is as blatant an insult to the Jewish people and to the Bible itself as is the name “Palestine”, which the Roman occupiers demeaningly attached to these God-given lands as if they belonged to Israel’s arch-nemesis, the barbaric Philistines. Yet the eternal Biblical truth is that God’s eternal covenant with Abraham gave his descendants this land “from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates” (Genesis 15:18), that is to say, all the territories from the Euphrates River to the Mediterranean Sea.

The establishment of Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire was accompanied by the development of what modern scholars term “replacement theology”, where the Church was presented as God’s chosen community of righteous to replace the allegedly sinful Israel, whom He had, as it were, “rejected” from being His people. (The sinfulness that pervades much of the present-day Christian establishment may be seen as history’s verdict on such holier-than-thou attitudes.)

The replacement theology that is intrinsic to Islam is found in its denial of the eternity and divinity of the Torah, since it claims that Muhammed’s teachings superseded the prophecy of Moses, whereas the Torah states quite explicitly that no other prophet arose in Israel like Moses (Deuteronomy 34:10), and that it is forbidden to add to or subtract from the Torah as given by God to Israel through Moses (Deuteronomy 13:1).

The eternal validity of the Torah is underlined by the outstanding codifier of Torah law, Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, the RaMBaM (“Maimonides”), who writes that in the days of King Mashiach —

“The observance of all the statutes will return to their original state. We will offer sacrifices, observe the Sabbatical and Jubilee years according to all their particulars as described by the Torah. Anyone who does not believe in King Mashiach or does not await his coming, denies not only the statements of the other prophets, but those of the Torah and Moses, our teacher.”
(Mishnah Torah, Laws of Kings 11:1).

It is Melekh HaMasiach who will bring the entire world to accept the kingship of the One God in fulfillment of the prophecy of Zephaniah (3:9): “I will transform the peoples to a pure language that they all will call upon the name of God and serve Him with one purpose.”

So when is he coming?

Concluding its account of the life of Ishmael and his offspring, the Torah writes: “…in face of all his brothers he fell” (Genesis 18:18). And directly following this, it writes: “And these are the offspring of Isaac…” (Genesis 18:19).

The commentary Baal HaTurim (by Rabbi Jacob ben Asher c. 1270-1340) writes about this juxtaposition:

This indicates that when Ishmael will fall at the end of days, then the Son of David will sprout forth from the offspring of Isaac.
Baal HaTurim on Genesis 18:18-19)

The ultimate fall of Ishmael is foreseen in the vision of Daniel (chapter 7), where he sees a succession of monsters: the Lion with eagle’s wings (Babylon), the Bear (Medea-Persia), the Leopard (Greece), and finally the fourth Beast, “fearsome, dreadful and very powerful, with great iron teeth, that devoured and crushed, and stamped the remains with its feet”. This beast had ten horns.

And then:

While I was gazing upon these horns, a new little horn sprouted up among them; three of the older horns were uprooted to make room for it. There were eyes in this horn like those of a man, and a mouth that spoke arrogantly.
Daniel chapter 7 verse 8

Commenting on this verse, the outstanding latter-day Biblical commentator, Rabbi Meir Leibush ben Yehiel Michel Wisser (1809–1879, better known as MaLBiM), writes:

The small horn alludes to Mohammed… who presented his faith and religion before the children of Ishmael, and he too was small when he began, and afterwards he became very powerful and conquered Asia and other parts of the world…
MaLBiM on Daniel 7:8

Later on in the same chapter, an angel explains to Daniel the meaning of parts of his vision. Commenting on this section of the chapter, MaLBiM writes on verses 24-25:

And he will be different from the former ones…” — Namely, from all the empires until his days, because they were no longer to worship idols as in the times of all the previous empires… “And he will harass the holy ones of the All High…” And in the times of religious persecution, when the small horn arose, namely the prophet of the Ishmaelites, many righteous and supremely holy Tzaddikim perished, “and he will think of changing times and laws” — Mohammed, giver of the religion of the Ishmaelites, changed the laws of religion and abolished the Torah festivals.

And they will be given in his power for a time, times and half a time” Malbim’s commentary here is very complex, and it would appear that his dates for the redemption have already passed.

What is noteworthy for us today is that in Daniel’s vision, immediately after the appearance of the little horn with its arrogant talk, he saw that: “Thrones were set in place and the Ancient of Days took His place…” And then, because of its arrogant words, the beast was killed, its body was destroyed and it was consigned to flames and the dominion of all the other beasts was withdrawn (Daniel chapter 7 verses 9 and 11-12).

MaLBiM writes on the arrogant words of the little horn followed immediately by its downfall:

[Daniel] saw that the essential judgment and the sin as written in the holy books is on account of the voice of the overweening words which the horn speaks, and likewise the horn of the Ishmaelites, namely their prophet, giver of their teachings, spoke rebelliously against the true Emunah and against HaShem, and on account of this comes the main judgment. “I was looking and I saw… until the beast was killed” — this will be when the power of the Ishmaelites is taken away “and its body was destroyed“.
MaLBiM on Daniel 7:8

“Arrogance goes before ruin” (Proverbs 16:18).

Thus in the end:

The court will sit and his dominion will be taken away, to be destroyed and abolished for all time.
The kingship and dominion and grandeur belonging to all the kingdoms under Heaven will be given to the people of the holy ones of the Most High. Their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey them.’”
Daniel chapter 7, verses 26-27

Today the masses across the world may be marching in “solidarity” with the torch-bearers of an Islamic replacement theology that flagrantly denies and despises the Torah. But for God, the numbers do not count.

It is not because you are the most numerous of peoples that God desired you and chose you—indeed, you are the smallest of peoples.
Deuteronomy 7:7

As we say daily in our morning prayers:

All the nations are as nothing before you, as it is written: The nations are as a drop of a bucket— no more than dust upon the scales are they considered! Behold, the isles are like the flying dust.
However, we are Your people, children of Your covenant, children of Abraham, Your beloved, to whom You swore on Mount Moriah; the seed of Isaac, his only son, who was bound on top of the altar; the community of Jacob, Your firstborn, [whom]—because of Your love for him and Your joyous delight in him— You named him Yisrael and Yeshurun.
Therefore, we are obligated to thank You, to praise You, and to glorify You; to bless, to sanctify, and to offer praise and thanks to Your Name. We are fortunate! How good is our portion! How pleasant is our destiny! How beautiful is our heritage! We are fortunate we who rise early and stay late in synagogues and houses of study, and unify Your Name each day—always and lovingly say twice:
“Hear Israel, HaShem is our God, HaShem is One.”

Shalom and blessings from the Holy City of Safed
Avraham ben Yaakov

Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum is a Torah teacher based in Safed Israel & author of translations and commentaries on Bible, Hassidut, Kabbalah, Spiritual Growth, Health & Healing. He is the Director of the Azamra Institute and maintains the website.

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