The Military Significance Of The Land Of Benjamin -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 13:1 (Winter 2000)
Article: The Military Significance Of The Land Of Benjamin
Author: Anonymous

The Military Significance Of The Land Of Benjamin

Col. (Ret.) David G. Hansen, Ph.D.

Immediately north of Jerusalem, the inheritance given to the tribe of Benjamin was in the heart of Israel (Jos 18) and the site of many events from Joshua through 2 Chronicles. Today the region of Benjamin is in the West Bank and at the heart of political controversy.

Photo taken on December 11, 1917, as General Allenby walks into the Old City. Approaching the Jaffa Gate, he dismounted his horse and entered on foot as a sign of respect to Jerusalem and its history.

While the battle-scarred landscape of First World War Europe is well known to the Western world, few are familiar with military action in WWI Palestine. Late in October 1917, the British army under General Sir Edmond Allenby moved north from Egypt along the Mediterranean coast and broke the German-Turkish army line at Beersheba. Within two months, Allenby successfully maneuvered his army north to Jaffa, then east into the mountains and finally south to conquer Jerusalem.

The British army first broke the German-Turkish front line south of Gaza in November 1917. With winter rains stopping military activity, just as it did in ancient Israel, the winter 1917–1918 front line stretched from Jaffa (Tel Aviv) on the coast, across the Benjamin plateau and north of Jerusalem to the Jordan River Valley.

However, the inevitable winter rains arrived and after several unsuccessful attempts by the Turkish army to retake Jerusalem around Christmas, both sides prepared defensive lines and waited for the winter to end. Winter in Palestine generally means rain, not snow. The rainy season can last well into April, and then the beautiful spring season begins: “See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone” (Sg 2:11).

The two armies were entrenched in the center of the country, the Biblical territory of Benjamin. Separated by a few hundred yards of steep ravines and inhospitable terrain, about 16 km (10 mi) north of Jerusalem, hostilities ceased and encampments were established. Like the region’s armies have done for millennia, they waited for the cold winter rains to end. Both armies prepared defensive positions with front lines on the most defensible terrain of Benjamin’s small plateau. With its deep canyons that serrate the land west toward the Mediterranean and east to the Jordan, it made a naturally defendable buffer zone.

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