The Kia ora coo-ee : the magazine for the ANZACS in the Middle East, 1918
Through The Way of The Philistines
When Moses received his marching orders he was impressed with the thought that be must not lead his people "Through the way of the Philistines."
The Philistines, who it would now seem have altogether disappeared from the pages of history, were an advanced, warlike and fierce people. The Hebrews at the time of the Exodus were just the contrary. They had been held in bondage, were downtrodden and forced to work under hard and unscrupulous task masters, and in consequence were not possessed of that independent, liberty-loving spirit which so characterises their descendents of the present day, and without which no people can ever hope to become free and great. Hence, Moses led them by the longer southern route and it was not until they had forty years of training in desert warfare that they were considered fit to enter on the conquest of Palestine. It is a most absorbing study and quite the romance of history, to follow the wanderings of the tribes from their origin through the many centuries that have passed and to discover, how only now, their descendents are beginning to fulfil the great destiny laid down for them. Abraham was toe become the father of many nations and as such is acknowledged at the present day. But the multitudinous seed, the seed which was to spring up into "A nation and a company of nations" through which " all the families of the earth were to be blessed," in a material sense, the seed which was ordained to break all forms of slavery and to teach the world true liberty and good government—for which work they would naturally require great power—hence, the promise and gift of their great wealth, and unconquerable army and navy, and the further assurance that "No weapon formed against thee shall prosper"—this seed of whom it was foretold that it would colonise the world, settle the waste places, make the desert to bloom, and in general become a blessing to mankind, was to be named after Isaac.
"In Isaac shall thy seed be called." This means that Isaac's sons, not the sons of Abraham's other descendents, were to be the instruments used to carry on this great educational work. During the ages that have passed since this prophetic declaration was made, Isaac's sons has been transliterated into Saac's sons, and finally to Saxons. In passing, cast a glance back over our own history and see whether, since the tribes were gathered into the appointed "Isles" of the North West, they have as yet begun to work out their great task or not. Geography will teach us that "the little stone cut out of the mountain without hands" has begun to spread itself abroad and bids fair to "Fill the whole earth." The liberty and justice loving spirit, so sorely lacking at the time of the moving out from Egypt, is now possessed in J full measure by their descendents in this great war now raging, the smaller nations— Kipling calls them "the lesser breeds without the Jaw," may well stand dumbfounded at all the great might of the former. Not for nothing is it that the British folk have the lion—king of beasts —for their emblem, and their kin across the water, the eagle—king of the air for theirs. Who, think you, could prevail against this combination? Certainly not the mis-shapen birds that are getting their feathers plucked at the present time.
One hears people, who ought to know better, extol the wonderful organising ability of Germany and speak of her might and power, of what she has done, and is still going to do. By all means give her the credit she deserves, but surely, after due investigation it will be found that any credit she deserves for any lasting good she may have done, will not prove so great as her friends imagine. Do not let us forget that she has been training her people' and organising her forces and appliances for this war for at least 40 years. And with what result? Only to fail all along the line. And why did she fail? Simply because she roused the lion. Was Great Britain prepared? No—a thousand times no, to our disgrace and shame be it said. Nevertheless, her "Contemptible little Army," and the armies of her Allies under God's guidance was quite sufficient to stop the arrogant inroad of the immense German armies, no matter how well organised, equipped and trained. And what happened then? Why, in two short years Great Britain out-organised the Germans, raised and equipped an army in every way superior to theirs, swept the seas clean of the German boasters and man for man beat them all along the line. No other nation under heaven could have accomplished what Britain has done. Think of it. Believe in it. Preach it. Take pride in it. It is a guarantee for the future, and give God the glory.
It would be well if our politicians and men at the head of affairs had more knowledge of, and believed in the guiding hand that is shaping our destiny. Shakespeare had a glimmering of it when he said "There is a destiny that shapes our ends rough hew them how we may."page 9
Certainly, if we took more heed to such teaching, fewer mistakes would be made, and the coach of State would roll along more smoothly. One lesson at all events we ought to take to heart, and it is that Palestine is the gift of providence to us. De-jure it has always been ours—De-facto the Edomite has been in possession but his time is now up and in spite of the aspirations of any other nation we cannot afford to part with it. It is ours for keeps this time. Outside of the consideration that after all these centuries of misrule it is entitled to a stable and just government, it is of other importance to us. Palestine is the defense of Egypt—another prophetic land entrusted to our care. Our Indian as well as our Pacific possessions also compel us not to consider it lightly. Disraeli, that far-seeing statesman, secured us Cyprus as a base of operations, against the time when the Turk would lose his hold on the land. Again, as the centre land, Palestine is destined to become of immense importance commercially.
But be this as it may, it is not at all what I started out to talk about. I wanted to tell you that in this modern campaign for the re-taking of the land Moses started out for, the New Zealand Mounted Rifle Brigade was ordered to approach it" through the way of the Philistines". I want to tell you what we learnt, did, and met with. But having been so long winded it will have to come in the next issue of this magazine.