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Wind in your Sails











By Rabbi Daniel Lapin
June 23, 2013

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What is interesting about these cities? Oslo, Paris, Rome, Stockholm, and Tokyo. No, it’s not the alphabetic sequence; that’s just me being mischievous. Here’s a clue: Jerusalem is probably the only city that doesn’t fit that pattern. What other great city older than two hundred years was not built on either a river or the coast?

That so many cities were built on water is no surprise. Cities grow and thrive on trade, and rivers and oceans have always been the arteries of trade. The mystery is how Jerusalem grew and thrived. It was never on a trading route like other inland cities such as those on the old Silk Road. Because of its elevation, trading caravans took flatter routes to the Mediterranean. It never had the large markets of cities like Baghdad and Beirut.

What is the secret of Jerusalem’s vitality and endurance?

Let’s glance at two accounts of David conquering the city from the Jebusites.

David took the fortress of Zion, the city of David. David said on that day, ‘Whoever climbs up to the aqueduct, and strikes the Jebusites, along with the lame and the blind, who are hated by David’s soul, he shall be chief and captain...’ (II Samuel 5:7-8)

David and all Israel went to Jerusalem, which is Jebus; the Jebusites were the inhabitants of the land…(they) said to David, You will not enter here but David conquered the fortress of Zion, which is the city of David…and said, ‘Whoever first strikes the Jebusites shall be chief and captain’... (I Chronicles 11:4-6)

Careful examination reveals the differences between the two accounts and teaches us lessons for our lives.

For instance, in story #1 we find, “The king and his men” whereas later, in story #2 we read, “David and all Israel.” Ancient Jewish wisdom explains that initially people doubted the wisdom of trying to take Jerusalem. Thus they viewed David as ‘just a nameless’ king who had only some of the people with him, namely “his men.” Later, however, with the hindsight of the Book of Chronicles, he was lovingly referred to as “David” and (surprise, surprise) the way they remembered it, “all Israel” had been with him.

Another difference between the two accounts which reveals the secret of David’s victory is the “blind and the lame” mentioned in Samuel. Who were these blind and lame that David hated and who had to be removed before anything else could happen? Ancient Jewish wisdom explains that they were the idols worshipped by the pagan Jebusites.

As King David himself wrote:

…they have eyes, but they cannot see…they have feet, but they cannot walk… (Psalms 115:5-7)

David won the people by conquering Jerusalem and he conquered Jerusalem by recognizing that Jerusalem’s vulnerability lay in her idols, not in her weak fortifications. Destroy the idols and Jerusalem is won. The great secret of Jerusalem’s vitality and endurance is the city’s connection to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Those who serve God own the city; those that don’t will surrender it.

Jerusalem originated with Abraham’s deep commitment to God and endures not by people coming to trade but by people coming to drink from her springs of spiritual sustenance and religious rejuvenation.

…for from Zion shall go forth Torah, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:3)

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Spiritual sustenance, religious rejuvenation and connection with God build not only Jerusalem but also communities, families, and yes, even businesses. Making that accessible to everyone through ancient Jewish wisdom is my mission. If you want to enhance your life by learning and applying it, we want to encourage you to do so (and assist others to do the same), by providing The Ten Commandments: How Two Tablets Can Transform Your Life at a reduced price today. Not only will this audio CD provide an amazing new way to look at the Ten Commandments, it also will give you a glimpse of how much ancient Jewish wisdom can add to an understanding of Scripture in ways that will make your life better.

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2013 Rabbi Daniel Lapin - All Rights Reserved

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Rabbi Daniel Lapin, known world-wide as America's Rabbi, is a noted rabbinic scholar, best-selling author and host of the Rabbi Daniel Lapin Show on San Francisco’s KSFO. He is one of America’s most eloquent speakers and his ability to extract life principles from the Bible and transmit them in an entertaining manner has brought countless numbers of Jews and Christians closer to their respective faiths. In 2007 Newsweek magazine included him in its list of America’s fifty most influential rabbis.

You can contact Rabbi Daniel Lapin through his website.

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That so many cities were built on water is no surprise. Cities grow and thrive on trade, and rivers and oceans have always been the arteries of trade.