Q.

Recently I heard that Christians shouldn’t use the word “Palestine” to describe Israel and the Holy Land.

A.
The term “Palestine” is a bit like the celebration of Halloween, once thought a rather innocent experience, especially for children and in spite of what it was centuries ago; but the recent connotations and practices of it have become so laced with the occult that more and more Christians have abandoned it entirely and have even become outspoken against it.

Similarly, in the past, “Palestine” was used quite innocently to refer to the Holy Land, but we have to take a new look at the use of the word because it is becoming a political word with “and Israel” implications. It has become synonymous with a propaganda war against Israel. The Arabs want their Falasrin.

For several reasons I agree with what you heard. First, “Palestine” comes from the name “Philistia.” It was the general region where the Philistines lived. We must observe that the Philistines were not the original inhabitants of the region, and they eventually disappeared.

Second, Palestine never was a bona fide nation. A Palestinian language or culture never existed. If anything, the term has been a geographical word, often used erroneously.

Third, “Palestine” doesn’t appear in the New Testament. The word is used several times in the Old Testament (Pelesheth), but never synonymously with “Israel” and the latter’s entire land.

Fourth, the Romans originated the word “Palestine,” and they gave this name to Israel to infuriate the Jews. This renaming took place after the second Jewish revolt against Rome in AD 135. Hadrian, the emperor, rook the name of an ancient enemy of Israel, the Philistines, probably thinking he could permanently erase the name “Israel.” More recently Arabs have used it as their nation’s supposed ancient name, referring to the area west of the Jordan River. With this use they can also avoid using the name “Israel.” “Palestine” has become an anti-Israel term. I understand that Arab maps published in Jordan, Egypt, and the like label Israel “Palestine” without any reference to Israel! Iris the Palestinian Authority (PA) that has been getting, and trying to get, more land through the so-called peace process.

Fifth, as Bible-believing Christians, we do not want to use a term that conflicts with the Biblical prophecies that teach the restoration of Israel as a nation and the reception of Jesus Christ as the nation’s Messiah. We should therefore work toward the proper use of the word “Israel” instead of “Palestine” in Bible maps, atlases, our literature, and so forth.

Do you have feedback or a Bible question to submit? Send to nolson@garbc.org or mail to Norman A. Olson in care of the Baptist Bulletin, 1300 N. Meacham Rd., Schaumburg, IL 60173-4806.

Reprinted from the Baptist Bulletin (November 2005).
© 2005 Regular Baptist Press. All rights reserved.
Used by permission.