Psalm 105:8-11 - State of Israel

Psalm 105:8-11 says :
"8 He is mindful of his covenant forever,
of the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations,
9 the covenant that he made with Abraham,
his sworn promise to Isaac,
10 which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute,
to Israel as an everlasting covenant,
11 saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan
as your portion for an inheritance.”

God never lies and his covenant with Israel is eternal. Noting this, how should a Catholic interpret this passage? It seems quite clear that the passage supports the presence of Jews in the land of Israel and given the wording of this passage, this covenant will last until the end of time. From what I can gather, many Catholic interpreters in contemporary times, not least the fathers of the Second Vatican Council, Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI have said that the covenant of the Jewish people with God remains valid. Would this extend to the land of Israel itself? Some Catholic interpreters do believe so and I am strongly inclined towards this position given what is written in Sacred Scripture but I would like to hear from people on this forum until I make up my mind fully. What do you guys think?

1 Like

Roy Schoeman, who was raised a conservative Jew, actually discusses this. Look him up, it might be helpful.

3 Likes

I have his book Salvation is From the Jews. Haven’t read it yet.

I myself however have to disagree with the interpreters the OP cited. Read Benny Morris’ Righteous Victims. That’s all I’ll say.

2 Likes

@harshcshah, take a look at the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem website. These are the Catholics who live with the Israel-Palestine issue every day of their lives.

2 Likes

The covenant remains in its spiritual scope, the part that was fulfilled/perfected by Jesus. The ritual/purity laws were abolished, especially those related to the Temple, which was destroyed in AD 70, never to be rebuilt.

1 Like

Whilst that may be and I’m not disputing it, would you consider the covenant still constituting the land the Israelites were given? The Psalm seems to strongly affirm that view.

I’d be a little more careful in how I describe the relationship between the two covenants. Fulfilment is not the same as abolition. It is about perfecting the imperfect, completing the incomplete but not about throwing the old aside or denying it’s goodness.

The mitzvot of the Torah dealing with ceremonial, ritual purity/dietary matters have not been “abolished” (hard supersessionism, which the church rejects today), it is merely the case that people - whether ethno-culturally Jewish or Gentile - who are baptised members of the church, are redeemed and justified by a living faith in Jesus (the fullness of divine revelation), rather than through those works of the law.

The mitzvot themselves were never binding upon Gentiles in the first place and St. Paul cautions that for Gentiles to subject themselves to such mitzvot would be akin to denying the efficacy of Christ’s sacrifice (the heresy of “Judaization”).

However, this does not mean that Jews can no longer observe these divinely-ordained laws which God (in our theological understanding) revealed specifically for the children of Israel that they might be a “light unto the nations”.

St. Paul actually writes:

1 Corinthians 7:18-20 [ESV]: “Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision…Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called

Jews are born as Jews by upbringing and ethnicity, Gentiles as Gentiles by upbringing and ethnicity (i.e. Irish Catholics, Mexican Catholics, Polish Catholics, Melkite Catholics).

We are each entitled to remain “as we were called”, at least so far as our conscience so dictates:

I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.” (Romans 14:14)

If an ethnic Jewish believer in Christ, on the other hand, freely chooses not to be Torah-observant (i.e. decides that he doesn’t consider non-kosher food unclean, or himself impure for not following the purity laws of his heritage etc.) then he or she equally has that liberty.

The moral laws of the Torah are eternally binding, the ceremonial/cultic/purity/dietary laws were only ever intended for Jews (then and now).

To be precise, the only laws which Christians regard as “abolished” are the Temple blood sacrifices (the grain offerings could theoretically still be offered up if there were a re-constructed Third Temple), because Christ’s offering up of his body and blood as eternal high priest in the Eucharist have replaced them, and I would personally say the judicial/penal regulations too as evidenced by the pericope adulterae, which reflected the needs / social limitations of the more primitive time in which they were revealed and would be excessively harsh by today’s standards, ordained therefore only for the ancient Israelites.

2 Likes

@Vouthon What would your view on the status of the land the Israelites received be specifically?

I would have to say that the promise to Abraham - corporeal and spiritual for Jews, purely in spirit for Gentiles who believe in Christ - still stands, which includes the land of Israel, because God does not abandon his promises as St. Paul informs us in Romans.

With that being said, the state of Israel is quite a different matter. Divine revelation is concerned only with the Jews as a people and their promise of the land of Israel, not the style of government they choose to adopt in tandem with other co-inhabitants of said land.

That has varied throughout the millennia - Davidic kingship, Persian satrapy, the Maccabean dynasty, Roman rule.

So, Catholics would not see any sacral significance to the Israeli state, although we should with regards to the Jewish people (wherever they are in the world, whether in Israel or diaspora) and the land IMHO.

1 Like

From my understanding the current state of Israel has nothing to do with that Scripture passage. Israel is not the land itself, but the Church.

And the old covenant is no longer valid; as Scripture says there is no longer Jews and Gentiles, with regards to Salvation. We are all one under Jesus Christ.

Is not the Church the “New Israel”?

Like it or not, the answer can be found in Christ’s own words…

Remember, the Jews WERE awaiting the “one” their ultimate King to be sent for the fulfillment of the law…or let us say their contract.

16 So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

17 “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them 18 For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. 19 Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

In the sense of being the sacrament of salvation for both Jews and Gentiles - the “olive tree” - yes, but the promise to physical Israel (the Jewish people who are the “root” of the olive tree and individually it’s natural branches) is still in force and cannot be revoked, because, Romans 11:29: "the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable”.

Folks needs to stop thinking in terms of “abolition” and “replacement”. That’s not fulfilment - literally to fill full.

To cite St. Paul in Romans 11:

I ask, then, has God rejected his people [the Jewish people]? Of course not! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew…

Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I glory in my ministry

If the firstfruits are holy [the Jews], so is the whole batch of dough; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot [Gentile], were grafted in their place and have come to share in the rich root of the olive tree [Israel], do not boast against the branches [Jews]. If you do boast, consider that you do not support the root; the root supports you…

I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers, so that you will not become wise [in] your own estimation: a hardening has come upon Israel in part, until the full number of the Gentiles comes in…

…But in respect to election, they [Jews] are beloved [by God] because of the patriarchs 29 For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable

( This passage also confirms that ‘replacement theology’ is not taught by the New Testament )​

So what you have here is an exegesis of the Abrahamic covenant in the Torah, which uses a parable - or analogy - of an olive tree to represent the people of Israel under the covenant with God, which finds fulfilment in the Church. Jews are described by Paul as the ‘firstfruits’ and ‘natural branches’ of the olive tree, whereas Gentiles are " wild olive shoots " who have been grafted into the olive tree to have a share in the Messianic Age.

Christians interpret Jeremiah 31:33 along lines of spiritual circumcision: " For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD, I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts . And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. "

This is not to deny the utility of the outward conformance to the covenant for Jews (in addition to the more mystical inner circumcision) so long as those in Christ don’t consider it salvific, just that it isn’t of relevance to Gentiles, only the inner (by which we are all saved through a living faith in Christ, animated by charity and expressed through good works, whether Jew or Gentile, whether Torah-observant or not).

1 Like

The covenant made with Abraham and his seed is fulfilled in Christ and those incorporated into Him through faith and Baptism. Receiving the blessings of the covenant is conditional on faithfulness (see Deut. 28), and Christ receives them all because He is perfectly faithful and obedient.

It is permanent for the Jews in as much as if they are faithful, they will receive those blessings (they are not definitively cut off), but this faithfulness ultimately includes reception and obedience to the Gospel. That’s why it is right and good to pray that they grow in faithfulness to this covenant.

The modern nation-state called Israel should not be confused with the biblical Israel, which sees its fulfillment in the Church of Christ.

3 Likes

And… God demands Obedience - which at times “Israel” has shown a sore lack of it.

This topic was automatically closed 14 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.