Vice President Mike Pence’s address at a special session of the Israeli Knesset on Monday emphasized the unbreakable alliance between the US and Israel. But even more significant in his speech was his description of a common bond in the Bible between the respectively dominant religions of the US and Israel.
“We stand with Israel, because we believe in right over wrong, in good over evil, and in liberty over tyranny,” Pence said in his address. “The people of the US have always held a special affection and admiration for the People of the Book.”
“The Book” Pence was undoubtedly referring to was the Bible, which he said not only described the story of the Jewish people but also foreshadowed the story of America in a similar fashion.
“In the story of the Jews, we’ve always seen the story of America,” he said. “It is the story of Exodus, a journey from persecution to freedom, a story that shows the power of faith and the promise of hope.”
Rabbi Yehudah Glick, a Likud Member of Knesset who is an advocate for religious equality on the Temple Mount, felt that Pence’s reference to the Exodus was especially poignant, and he compared the vice president’s connection with Israel to Biblical Jethro’s connection to the Children of Israel.
“When we read about the Exodus, we learn about two kinds of people: Jethro, a non-Jew who saw the significance and came to join Israel, and Amalek who came to fight against Torah,” Rabbi Glick told Breaking Israel News.
“We have seen these two types throughout history,” he continued. “As Jews, we have an obligation to fight evil, those who promote violence and legitimize terrorism, and we also have an obligation to welcome those, like the Vice President, who join us.”
As a representative of a “cherished friend” of Israel, Pence invoked a verse in Psalms, wishing Israel peace and security.
“The USA is proud to stand with Israel and her people, as allies and cherished friends. And so we will pray for the peace of Jerusalem, that those who love you be secure, that there be peace within your walls and security in your citadels.”
Pray for the well-being of Yerushalayim; “May those who love you be at peace. May there be well-being within your ramparts, peace in your citadels. Psalms 122:6-7
Pence described the original vision of America’s first settlers, of a “New Israel” based on God’s Covenant with Abraham and his descendants, the Jewish People.
“My country’s very first settlers also saw themselves as pilgrims, sent by Providence, to build a new Promised Land,” he noted. “The songs and stories of the people of Israel were their anthems, and they faithfully taught them to their children, and do to this day.”
“And our founders, as others have said, turned to the wisdom of the Hebrew Bible for direction, guidance, and inspiration,” he added.
Pence also stressed the Biblical importance for the US in bringing peace to the land of Israel, citing the Prophet Micah saying, “And we will work and strive for that brighter future, so everyone who calls this ancient land home shall sit under their vine and fig tree, and none shall make them afraid.”
But every man shall sit Under his grapevine or fig tree With no one to disturb him. For it was God of Hosts who spoke. Micah 4:4
Pence also cited President Trump’s recent acknowledgment of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and recognized the Biblical ties between the Jewish people and Jerusalem
“The Jewish people’s unbreakable bond to this sacred city reaches back more than 3,000 years,” Pence said. “It was here, in Jerusalem, on Mount Moriah, that Abraham offered his son, Isaac, and was credited with righteousness for his faith in God.”
Though not stated explicitly in the Bible as the site of the Binding of Isaac, Jewish tradition maintains that it took place at the site where the Temples were later built.
“It was here, in Jerusalem, that King David consecrated the capital of the Kingdom of Israel,” Pence continued. “And since its rebirth, the modern State of Israel has called this city the seat of its government.”
At this point, Vice President Pence announced that the US government was planning on opening its new embassy in Jerusalem by the end of next year.
The Vice President also affirmed that the Jewish people held onto God’s eternal covenant promising the Jewish people that they would return to Jerusalem and the rest of the land of Israel.
“The Jewish people held fast to a promise through all the ages, written so long ago, that ‘even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens,’ from there He would gather and bring you back to the land which your fathers possessed,” affirmed Pence, referencing several verses in Deuteronomy.
“Even if your outcasts are at the ends of the world, from there Hashem your God will gather you, from there He will fetch you. And Hashem your God will bring you to the land that your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will make you more prosperous and more numerous than your fathers. Deuteronomy 30:4-5
As part of this process of returning to the land, he noted that just a few short years after the Holocaust, modern Israel developed at a remarkable pace. He described this seemingly miraculous growth by referencing a section of Isaiah.
“Can a country be born in a day, can a nation be born in a moment,” Pence asked.
Who ever heard the like? Who ever witnessed such events? Can a land pass through travail In a single day? Or is a nation born All at once? Yet Tzion travailed And at once bore her children! Isaiah 66:8
When the Vice President discussed his efforts to bring about negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, he couched it in Biblical terms, describing it as “the descendants of Isaac and Ishmael … coming together in common cause.”
Vice President concluded his speech with wishes that “God bless the Jewish people, God bless Israel and God bless the USA.”
Rabbi Glick, who had immediately responded at that point by shouting out, “God Bless you, Mr. Vice President,” explained his overwhelming enthusiasm with the Biblical themes Pence touched upon in his speech.
“Pence praised God throughout this speech, and it was very inspiring to see how God is putting this together,” Rabbi Glick said.
“This was what we saw in the Second Temple when Cyrus reminded us that we needed to return and build the Temple,” he continued. “In a similar manner, President Trump and Vice President Pence are reminding us who we are and what is the essence of our lives.”