“‘“The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.’’” — Numbers 6:24–26
(Learn more about peace, shalom, with our complimentary study, The Meaning of Shalom.)
In the first century BCE, Judea was ruled by a queen called Shlomtzion. Her name had been Alexandra, but because she brought peace to a nation fraught with violence, she became known as “she who makes peace in Zion,” in Hebrew, Shlomtzion.
Shlomtzion’s life, however, was anything but peaceful. She was married to an evil monarch, who had imprisoned his own family, paranoid that they might usurp his thrown. Moreover, the Jewish people were also in the midst of a ruthless internal battle between those who favored a secular lifestyle and those who remained steadfast to following God, His word, and His laws.
When Shlomtzion’s husband died, the first thing she did was free his family in an attempt to make peace. As was the Jewish custom, she married her deceased husband’s brother, but as it turned out, Shlomtzion’s second husband was just as bad as the first. The country continued to be racked with violence and internal strife. Eventually, that husband died, too, and Shlomtzion became the ruler of Judea. For nine years, until her death, Judea enjoyed unprecedented peace.
Queen Shlomtzion succeeded at restoring shalom amongst her people. The Talmud, Judaism’s Oral Tradition that was eventually collected and written down, describes how the produce grown during that brief period of time was unnaturally abundant. Wheat grew to the size of kidney beans, oats to the size of olives, and lentils to the size of large coins.
The blessing of abundance that was showered on the land was attributed to the accomplishments of Queen Shlomtzion, namely, restoring peace in the land. The rabbis preserved some of the produce for future generations to show them what is possible when there is shalom.
This small window of time gives us great insight into what is possible with the blessing of peace. It’s no wonder that the Jewish sages taught that when the Israelites received the Torah, they were “as one man with one heart.”
The greatest accomplishments of humankind occur when we have shalom. When we are united, we are greater, and that is reflected in everything – from our ability to withstand attacks from the outside, to our connection with God, to nature and the animal life around us.
This can explain the Jewish understanding of the messianic era. Many believe that the only major difference between that time and our time is that there will be world peace. On the other hand, the Bible speaks of many miracles that will occur during that time, such as streams emerging where there were deserts and peace between animals like the wolf and the lamb. When we understand what is possible with shalom, we can comprehend how world peace will quite naturally lead to such miracles.
May we all see peace in our lifetimes so that we might live to see the days of the messiah and the blessings that shalom will bring to us all.
Stepping Stone 12: Never give up. Shalom is our destiny. No matter how long it takes, or how hard it is to achieve, we must never stop striving for peace. Whether it is inner peace, peace in our homes, or global peace, peace is possible as long as we never give up.
Hebrew Word of the Day
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