At first glance, the political pundits were right.
A Politically Correct But Uneventful Visit?
(Photo credit: Y. Rosenberg)
The visit of 36-year-old Prince William of England, the Duke of Cambridge and second in line after his father to the throne of the United Kingdom, didn’t really amount to much.
Prince William seemed to bend over backwards to appear politically even-handed to the Jews and Arabs of the region, while showing deference to each of the three major monotheistic religions Judaism, Christianity and Islam that, whether they like it or not, are locked down together in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Politically correct to the max, right? (The fact that Arab residents of Jalazone, a suburb of Ramallah neighboring the Jewish community of Beit-El, threw stones at William’s vehicle is apparently irrelevant to William’s visit. The stoning was reported in the Arabic-language Galazone Facebook page, but ignored by almost all other media outlets.)
An Arab Child Hurling Rocks
(Photo courtesy of the Galazone Social Media Center Facebook Page)
A closer look, however, reveals a religious sub-text that is entirely overlooked by the media, and probably not even understood directly by the British Royal Family itself. With his simple act of visiting the Jerusalem holy site - regardless of whether he stated explicitly that the Old City was Israeli territory, and irrespective of the fact that the real Jewish Holy Site is on top of, and not at the foot of, Mount Moriah - the young prince officially came of age.
A frog had been turned into a prince.
Faint Echoes of an Ancient Royal Line
It turns out that Queen Victoria, William’s great-great-great-great-grandmother, was fascinated with the royal line’s supposed connection to the shepherd king from the tribe of Judah: David, the son of Jesse, king of ancient Israel. In fact, she placed such great importance to this supposed lineage that she arranged to have her sons circumcised.
This past Thursday, her descendant, Prince William, paid a visit to Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, the Chief Rabbi of the Jewish Holy Sites of the Old City, at the Western Wall. It was the first official visit by a member of the British Royal Family in the 70-year history of the modern State of Israel.
Prince William Signs the Western Wall Guest Book
(Photo credit: Y. Rosenberg)
William’s meeting with one of the most important Jewish religious figures in Israel parallels an ancient story found in the Book of Genesis, from the Five Books of Moses of the Hebrew Bible: The Hebrew Patriarch Abraham’s meeting with Melchizedek, the king of Jerusalem. The tête-à-tête took place after Abraham returned from a successful military campaign to rescue his nephew, who had been kidnapped by an alliance of regional kings. On his way home from the battle, Abraham passes Jerusalem and meets the city’s political and religious leader, Melchizedek (Hebrew for ‘king of righteousness’):
“And Melchizedek the king of Shalem brought out bread and wine; and he was Priest to the Most High God. And he (Melchizedek) blessed him (Abram); and he said: ‘Blessed is Abram to the Most High God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth. And blessed is the Most High God, who gave your enemy over into your hands;’ and he (Abram) gave him (Melchizedek) a tenth from everything.” (Genesis, Chapter 14, Verses 18-20)
Prince William (center) Receives a Gift From Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch (right)
(Photo credit: Y. Rosenberg)
Abraham’s visit to Jerusalem, his acceptance of Melchizedek’s gifts, and his giving of tithes to Melchizedek confirmed two political and religious realities: First, he recognized that Melchizedek was the official king over the city of Jerusalem (called ‘Shalem’ in the account); and second, he confirmed Melchizedek’s status as the High Priest of worship of the Most High God.
Seventy years ago, the British Government ruled over the Land of Israel as part of the mandate that it received from the League of Nations after the First World War. As the result of the State of Israel’s War of Independence, the British were forced to abandon their mandate. Since that time, no member of the British Royal Family has seen fit to pay Israel an official government visit.
With Prince Edwards visit, that reality became a thing of the past.
The Future of a King in Israel
Behind these events lies another story: the prophecized return of an enlightened constitutional monarchy, and monarch, to Israel. Jewish tradition, as expressed in the Hebrew Bible and the writings of the Sages of the Talmud, is clear: King David’s line was established for all time, and a direct patrilineal descendant of King David will one day return to reign in Israel. In King David’s 3000-year-old description of HaShem’s (God’s) words in the Biblical Book of Psalms:
“‘I have made a covenant with My chosen one, I have sworn to David, My servant: I will prepare your seed forever, and I will build your throne from generation to generation.’” (Psalms, Chapter 89, Verses 2-5).
The world has not seen a direct descendant of King David who wields true political power over the entire Nation of Israel since the days of Zedekiah, King of Judah, who, after an unsuccessful revolt against the Babylonian Empire, was taken in chains from Jerusalem to Babylonia some 2,556 years ago. Yet the dream of the return of a Davidic king has accompanied the Jewish Nation throughout all their wanderings in Exile.
Look, for example, at the words of the Biblical Prophet Ezekiel, who prophecised about the future of the Jewish Nation over 2,500 years ago:
“And my servant David will be king over them, and one shepherd will be for all of them; and in my laws they will walk, and my statues they will keep, and do them.” (Ezekiel, Chapter 27, Verse 36)
Furthermore, here are the words that religious Jews all over the world have recited as part of their 2000-year-old communal prayer service, repeated three times every day:
“And to Jerusalem your city – return with mercy, and settle within it as you have spoken, and build it soon in our days, an eternal building, and the throne of David speedily prepare within it. Blessed are you HaShem, who builds Jerusalem!” (The Eighteen Benedictions of the Daily Prayer Service)
One thousand years ago, the classical redactor of Jewish Law, Moses Maimonides, wrote in his famous treatise "Mishneh Torah" the following monumental words that clearly express this idea:
"The anointed king will in the future stand up and return the Monarchy of the House of David to its original state, the first government. He will build the Holy Temple, and gather in the dispersed of Israel. All the laws will return in his days to how they were originally: they will offer sacrifices and observe sabbatical years and jubilees according to all the commandments that are said in the Torah." (Mishneh Torah, the Book of Judges, Laws of Kings and Their Wars, Chapter 11, Law 1)
It’s not hard to postulate that William’s visit resulted in a kind of abdication of the British Monarchy’s unspoken claim to the Throne of David - in Jerusalem, the Capital of the Jewish Nation’s sovereign country, the State of Israel.
Another Event Happening Just a Hill Away
Finally, it is important to note that at the very same time William was visiting with Rabbi Rabinovitch, Jews were marking the date of the passing of a famous and pious rabbi, Rabbi Hayyim ben Atar, also known as the ‘Or Hayyim’. While William was walking across the Western Wall plaza, thousands of religious Jews were gathered in prayer at the nearby Mount of Olives, the site of Rabbi ben Atar’s grave.
Rabbi ben Atar, the author of a visionary and pioneering commentary on the Five Books of Moses that reveals ancient traditions regarding the esoteric meaning of the text, has written profusely about the concept of the return of the Jewish People to the Land of Israel. He lived in the 18th century, at a time when the revival of Jewish sovereignty in Israel was nowhere to be seen. How he would be amazed, and encouraged, were he to see how the young prince bowed before the Rabbi at the very location of a remnant of the Israel’s Great Temple in Jerusalem.