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and will smith's lesson for jerusalem/

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 11, 2008 4:31 pm    Post subject: and will smith's lesson for jerusalem/ Reply with quote

Will Smith’s Lesson for Jerusalem
The Continental Divide

Hollywood star Will Smith is reportedly planning to make a movie on Taharqa, a black warrior king from Nubia who ruled over Egypt during the 7th-century BCE. The film is likely to focus on issues of black pride, but if Smith and his scriptwriters do their homework well, “The Last Pharaoh” should also be of particular interest to Jewish moviegoers. According to some scholars, Taharqa played a key part in the early history of Judaism — and his story carries a crucial lesson for the future of the State of Israel.

The figure of Taharqa, who was born in what is today Sudan, is linked to a pivotal historical event that is described in the Bible: the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem in 701 BCE. Hezekiah, the king of Judah, had little chance of surviving that onslaught by one of the greatest military powers on earth; only two decades before, the Assyrians had conquered the neighboring kingdom of Israel and deported many of its citizens.

But the Assyrians eventually withdrew from the walls of Jerusalem and Hezekiah’s throne was saved. Judah kept its independence for another 115 years, until it was defeated by the Babylonians, who went on to destroy the first temple in 586 BCE.

The rescue of Jerusalem had enormous consequences for religious thought. Recent archaeological discoveries have convinced most historians that monotheism had not yet fully taken root among Israelites at the time of the siege, and the Torah had very likely yet to be written down.

It was only after the withdrawal of the Assyrians that the embattled survivors became deeply convinced that their God was truly unique and almighty. That new belief then had more than a century to evolve and flourish, and it grew strong enough to allow the exiled Jews to retain their faith during the Babylonian exile and later return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple.

Why, though, did the Assyrians withdraw from Jerusalem? The Bible talks about God visiting a plague on the invading army. It also mentions a lack of water in the Judean Hills that bedevilled the besiegers, and archaeologists have since credited King Hezekiah for having the foresight to build a tunnel to Gihon Springs that gave the city a secure water supply.

But in a recent book, journalist turned historian Henry Aubin argues convincingly that it was the approach of the Kushite-Nubian army — headed by young Taharqa, whom the Bible refers to as king of Ethiopia — that made the Assyrians lose heart. Militarily, it makes sense: It’s not the best idea to be caught up besieging a city like Jerusalem when a hostile force approaches from the rear.

The turn of events was arguably one of the most important moments in human history. Had Jerusalem been destroyed in 701 BCE, Judaism very well have disappeared before it really got underway. The other two monotheistic world religions, Christianity and Islam, might never have been born. It was the timely intervention of a black warrior that convinced an embattled tribe in the Judean hills that their god was so special that they would still pray to him 2,700 years later.

The lessons of this unlikely alliance between Jews and Nubians are worth pondering as Israel approaches its 60th birthday.

What the Judean king did was play a good game of geopolitics. He chose a strong ally at the right moment to help him against a dangerous foe. The Assyrians later defeated Taharqa and drove him out of Egypt, but they left the kingdom of Judah alone.

The combination of fortuitous geopolitical circumstances and smart diplomacy was also crucial during other successful episodes in Jewish history.

The Maccabean revolt in the 2nd century BCE, which we commemorate each year during Chanukah, was, to be sure, a truly popular uprising. Independence, however, only came and was sustained with the help of the rising Roman republic, which regarded the Hasmoneans as a pawn in their battle against the Greek-Seleucid empire.

One hundred years later, King Herod demonstrated even greater tactical skills and maintained Judea’s independence from Rome against all geopolitical odds. Disaster only struck when radical nationalists staged the hopeless revolt against the Romans in 66 C.E.

The founding fathers of modern-day Israel likewise knew how to play a good game of geopolitics. Chaim Weizmann and David Ben-Gurion took advantage of, at various times, British, French, American and Soviet interests to secure the Balfour declaration, the United Nations resolution dividing Palestine, and military support for the War of Independence. The strength and heroism of the Haganah obviously mattered quite a bit, but without the right allies, Israel would likely never have come into existence.

The Jewish state is today militarily and politically stronger than at any time in its history. At the same time, plenty of threats remain — and the future of Israel may again depend on correctly reading the geopolitical trends and making the best of them. It may even require Jerusalem to look for allies besides America, perhaps ones in unexpected places.

Such an approach might mean Israel linking up more closely with the expanding sphere of stability and prosperity that the European Union is trying to create on its eastern and southeastern flank. Israel’s most important ally in this endeavor may turn out to be Turkey, a Muslim state vying for full E.U. membership within a decade.

In dealing with Iran, Israel may find allies for a strategy of containment among those Sunni Arab states that feel at least as threatened by Shi’ite fanaticism as Israel does. On the other hand, Iran might one day again become a geopolitical ally against aggressive Arab designs, as it was under the reign of the shah.

Such clever diplomacy requires flexibility, pragmatism, opportunism and a light touch when it comes to Muslim sensitivities. Self-righteousness, stubbornness and a misguided myth of self-reliance are counterproductive in the realm for diplomacy. Beating up on Hamas radicals and other demonstrations of toughness may make political sense in the short term, but more often than not they make Israel more isolated and therefore more vulnerable.

When national survival is at stake, one can always pray for God’s timely intervention — but searching out a modern-day Taharqa might not be a bad back-up plan.

Eric Frey is managing editor of the Vienna daily Der Standard.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 12, 2008 3:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This post should have been on the general discussion section but since i posted the above one i believe this one should follow since taharqa was not the last pharaoh of egypt. maybe i would post this later in the general discussion section.

Despite what the article says, it would seem Taharqa was not the last Pharaoh of his dynasty; Wikipedia indicates that Taharqa, who reigned 690-664 BC, was succeded by his nephew Tantamani, who reigned 664-656 BC. However, both Taharqa and his nephew had to contend with a rival dynasty that began with Necho I, who was "installed" by the Assyrians around 670 BC; and it was this rival dynasty that eventually booted Taharqa's nephew off the throne. And of course, as the article itself states, the last Pharaoh of any dynasty was Cleopatra, who died several centuries later in 30 BC. But what can one say, filmmakers seem to like titles with the word "last" in them.

Given the title, it seems a safe bet this film will focus on the end of Taharqa's reign, rather than the beginning. But if we step back a few decades, to Taharqa's early years, it turns out there is an interesting connection between Taharqa and the biblical history of this period. Scholars, it seems, have said that Taharqa may be the same person who is referred to in II Kings 19 and Isaiah 37 as "Tirhakah, the Cushite king of Egypt" -- a figure who is mentioned simply because he was "marching out to fight" against the Assyrian king Sennacherib while Sennacherib was laying siege to Jerusalem in 701 BC.

There is one slight problem with making a simple equation between Taharqa and Tirhakah, and that is the fact that Taharqa was not actually king of Egypt until about a decade after the incident described in the Bible. However, it seems that Taharqa's brother Shebitku was the Pharaoh at this time, and Taharqa did lead the army in his name, so it is possible that the author of this passage -- which also describes the death of Sennacherib in 681 BC -- was writing at a later date and conflating Taharqa's military leadership with his later reign as Pharaoh.

One other interesting detail: Sennacherib did a lot of damage in Judea; he himself claimed to have destroyed 46 cities, and he decorated his palace with stone panels depicting the destruction of Lachish, stone panels that are now on display at the British Museum in London. But he failed to take Jerusalem itself, and the biblical accounts say he failed because "the angel of the LORD went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp." The Greek historian Herodotus, who lived a few centuries later, tells a similar story about Sennacherib being defeated by divine intervention -- but the story he tells takes place during a battle against the Egyptians. However, Herodotus says the Pharaoh at that time was named Sethos, so his information would seem to be a bit garbled.

Whether any of this data will make its way into the Will Smith movie, who knows, but it does give the story some extra context, and I, for one, am curious to see whether the film will deal with it -- and, if so, how. Will the Greek and Hebrew stories be treated as two separate incidents? As two different facets or versions of the same basic incident? Or will either or both of the stories be ignored altogether?

One final thought: In the past, people have debated the merits of black actors playing ancient figures like Jesus and Hannibal whose ethnic make-up was either decidedly different or a matter of some controversy -- but it seems a safe bet that no one will complain about historical inaccuracy if Will Smith plays a Nubian king.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 12, 2008 3:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

one point the second post has incorrect ,it was the kushite nubian army that saved jerusaleam


But in a recent book, journalist turned historian Henry Aubin argues convincingly that it was the approach of the Kushite-Nubian army — headed by young Taharqa, whom the Bible refers to as king of Ethiopia — that made the Assyrians lose heart. Militarily, it makes sense: It’s not the best idea to be caught up besieging a city like Jerusalem when a hostile force approaches from the rear.
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