When points of the compass reveal political direction

Each person goes his own way, has his own direction.

By Aviel Schneider | | Topics: Politics, BIBLE STUDY
four points
Photo: Shutterstock

The same can also be said of any nation, including Israel. As direction indicates goals in our lives, so, too, do points of the compass indicate objectives. North, south, east and west – we need to be able to navigate and have a sense of orientation in order to actually reach our goal, whether it is in life, in nature or in politics.

From history we discover that the main points of the compass stand for thoughts, for ideas. Whereas nowadays we orientate ourselves by the North Pole, in biblical times the defining direction was toward the east, for that is from where the sun rises. Kedma (קדמה) is the word used in the Hebrew Bible text to signify the east, though it literally translates as “at the front.” The rising of the sun brings a new day, symbolizes beginnings and hope. Light displaces darkness. The sunrise, the east, determined direction.

In Isaiah 9:12 it is written that “the Arameans [Syrians] on the east [at the front, or Kedma] and the Philistines on the west [from behind, or Achor] … devour Israel with gaping jaws.” In the Bible, the western direction is described as “behind,” since it naturally lies to the rear of those focused on the sunrise. This is why the Mediterranean Sea is described as the “sea behind.”

In Deuteronomy 11:24, we read: “From the wilderness to Lebanon, and from the river, the River Euphrates, as far as the western sea [in the Hebrew הים האחרון, or the sea behind].” And in another passage it says: “And all the land of Judah as far as the western sea [or: the sea behind]” (Deuteronomy 34:2). Seen from Israel, the sun always goes down in the sea behind. The sun disappears behind the Mediterranean horizon and darkness then creeps in.

North and south stand for left and right. In Psalm 89:12 it states in the English translations: “The north and the south, Thou hast created them.” In the Hebrew Bible text it reads: “North and right-hand (yamin), Thou hast created them.” To the right is consequently the opposite direction to north, which is thus left, and in Hebrew is called smol (שמאל).

The prophet Ezekiel (16:46) describes the neighboring kingdoms not according to the points of the compass, but with left and right. “Now your older sister is Samaria, who lives north [or: to the left] of you with her daughters; and your younger sister, who lives south [or: to the right] of you, is Sodom with her daughters.” Samaria lies to the north of Sodom by the Dead Sea.

The Bible also reveals to us the political interpretation of right and left. Abraham decided to separate from Lot and suggested to him: “Please separate from me: if to the left, then I will go to the right; or if to the right then I will go to the left.” (Genesis 13:9) From this verse we understand that Abraham moved to the south. Turning their faces to the east, Lot chose the well-watered Jordan plains, and Abraham thus made his way to the south, to Hebron.

The Jordan plains around the Dead Sea lie north of Hebron. We can therefore conclude that Lot set off to the left, and Abraham to the right. Lot chose according to his senses and human understanding. Abraham trusted God, and was content with the south and with going “to the right.”

This formed the idea and the difference between Left and Right. Left-wing ideology is founded on logic, on what the eye can see, while right-wing ideology puts its trust in God. Left-wing politics are more likely to be humanistic, right-wing politics biblical. This is why the rabbis and many Likud voters believe that the word from the prophet Jeremiah (1:14) “Out of the north the evil will break forth on all the inhabitants of the land [Israel]” should be understood differently. The evil breaking forth on the land comes from a left-wing government.

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