By: William Jackson
Professor Elie Wiesel, the author of 57 books and an Auschwitz survivor, once said of those that saved the Jews;
Professor Elie Wiesel
“And so we must know these good people who helped Jews during the Holocaust. We must learn from them, and in gratitude and hope, we must remember them.”(1)
Sadly, the Holocaust was not the only time of oppression for the Jews. We see the Jewish struggle ebb and flow throughout history and especially in the Tanakh. In some of these dark and challenging times, we see an outsider lending a hand and sometimes rescuing them. We covered five of these events last Thursday in Part 1. As Elie Wiesel states “we must remember them.” Here is the second half of our top ten list of Gers that Helped the Jews in the Tanakh.
6. The Woman Who Protected Israel’s Assets
Joshua had the privilege of leading Israel into the Promised Land. Like any good military leader, he needed intelligence before making his move. Israel’s first conquest would be a border city called Jericho. Joshua first sent two spies into the city to scout out the situation. As fate would have it, the enemy became aware of the spies’ presence, and the King’s men began a search for them. A local girl by the name of Rahab hid Joshua’s spies. When Rahab was questioned, at the cost of her own life, she lied about their whereabouts (Joshua 2:4-6). Rahab then confessed to the two spies that she knew they served the one and only Elohim (God), (Joshua 2:9, 11). She also asked that she and her family be spared in the impending attack. The two spies conceded (Joshua 2:14,17-21, 6:17,23,25). Yes, Rehab saved the lives of two men, but also she ensured the intelligence they gathered returned to the Israelites, helping to secure their victory. Rahab was a true heroine. She joined the people of Israel, and the Lord honored her request (2).
7. The Manipulative Allie
After Joshua’s victory over Jericho, he and his men spent a year battling armies for the occupation of Canaan, the Promise Land. One day a ragtag group of people showed up to make an alliance with the Israelites. Based off their appearance and testimonies, it seemed as though these people had come from a far away land (Joshua 9:7-14). They were eager to unite with Israel after hearing all about their victories. So Joshua made a treaty with them (Joshua 9:15), but after a few days it was discovered that this foreign tribe, the Gibeonites, were local (Joshua 9:16-17). Joshua confronted them about their deception. The people of Gibeon expressed that they feared for their lives because of the promise YHVH gave to Israel, the land. The Gibeonites were willing to be subjects of Israel. Joshua honored his promise, and the Gibeonites became subservient to the Jewish people (Joshua 9:24-26). Ironically, because of this alliance, when Gibeon came under attack by foreign armies, Israel came to their rescue. This started a chain of victories for the Israelites throughout the southern region. Inadvertently, the alliance with Gibeon and the will of HaShem helped to secure Canaan for YHVH’s people (Joshua 10:40-42)
8. The Female Assassin of Opportunity
In about the 12th century BCE Israel was ruled by a ruthless Canaanite King by the name of Jabin (Judges 4:2-3). King Jablin’s Army Commander was Sisra, who had 900 iron chariots at his disposal. As promised, HaShem defeated Sisra and his army on the plains of Esdraelon, Israel (3). The only survivor was Sisra, who escaped from the battlefield. In his solo retreat, he ended up at the tent of Jael, a Kenite woman (Judges 5:24). Jael, a cordial hoist, made Sisra feel safe. She lulled him to sleep with blankets and goat’s milk. When Sisra was fast asleep she then drove a tent peg into his head – situation solved (Judges 4:21).
9. A Gentile Example for Israel
The Recabites belonged to a clan that descended from their ancestor Jehonadab. It appears Jehonadab established rules for the family early on. These three rules were: 1. don’t drink wine (Jeremiah 35:6, 8), 2. live in tents (Jeremiah 35:7,10), and 3. don’t grow crops (Jeremiah 35:8). So when the prophet Jeremiah invited them to the Temple and offered them wine, they were quick to decline as they were loyal to the family vows (Jeremiah 35:3-6, 8). HaShem brought attention to this family that lived with the Israelites, making their loyalty an example for Israel. Jeremiah said to the Recabites on HaShem’s behalf:
“‘You have obeyed your ancestor Jehonadab in every respect, following all his instructions.’ Therefore, this is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘Jehonadab son of Recab will always have descendants who serve me.’” Jeremiah 35:18-19
Consequently, HaShem compared Israel’s level of loyalty to the Racabites and Israel was sorely lacking. Because of their lack of obedience, HaShem tells Israel He will send them disasters (Jeremiah 35:16-17), and just as the prophet Jeremiah had warned, the city of Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians in 586 BC (4).
10. Cyrus King of Persia 537 BCE
King Cyrus, or as history knows him “Cyrus the Great,” was the King of the Achaemenid Empire, which is modern day Iran. He defeated the Babylonians in 539 BCE (5). Now it was and is common practice to take over a nation’s assets after you defeat that nation, and these assets sometimes comes in the form of other countries. For the country that was occupied, this usually meant the oppression continued, just under new management. However, Cyrus was different. He didn’t pillage; he preserved. This remarkable man had a tendency to embrace the cultures of the countries he controlled. YHVH would place it on Cyrus’s heart to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. Thus “Cyrus the Great” released the Israelites, allowing them to return home and build the Temple (2 Chronicles 36:22-23, Ezra 1:1-3). As history and the Tanakh tells us, because of a foreign King motivated by HaShem, the second Temple was completed on the very site of the first Temple in 516 BCE (6) .
We spent only two days covering a millennium and a half picking out only ten of those that helped out the Jews – there are quite a bit more. For those that would like to pursue this topic, the book “Righteous Gentiles in the Hebrew Bible” is an excellent source. So why did and why do these Gers do what they do? Because HaShem tells us to: Jeremiah 22:3, Isaiah 1:17, Zechariah 7:9-10, Psalm 10:18, 82:3, Proverbs 31:9.