The Seven Curses of Gaza (A Modern Midrash)

The Seven Curses of Gaza (Midrash)

שבע קללות קלל על עזה.
על־שלשה פשעי עזה ועל־ארבעה לא אשיבנו. אחת.
באה קרחה אל־עזה. אחת.
ועזה ותחיל מאד. אחת.
ושלחתי אש בחומת עזה. אחת.
ואכלה ארמנתיה. אחת.
ואבד מלך מעזה. אחת.
כי עזה עזובה תהיה. אחת.
אמר הקדוש ברוך הוא: אי מלכא אנא, אמאי לא קאתית לגבאי עד האידנא.
אמר עזה: בריוני דאית בן לא שבקינן.
אמר ליה: אילו חבית של דבש ודרקון כרוך עליה, לא היו שוברין את החבית בשביל דרקון?
אמר ליה: שקלינן צבתא ושקלינן ליה לדרקון וקטלינן ליה, וחביתא שבקינן לה.
אמר ליה: על־הסגירם גלות שלמה לאדום ולא זכרו ברית אחים.
אישתיק עזה.
קרי עליה: ״ויתעום כזביהם אשר־הלכו אבותם אחריהם״.
Seven curses were cursed on Gaza.
"For three transgressions of Gaza [I could forgive, but] for four, I will not revoke the decree" (Amos 1:6). One.
"Baldness has come upon Gaza" (Jeremiah 47:5). One.
"Gaza shall tremble violently" (Zechariah 9:5). One.
"I will send down fire upon the wall of Gaza" (Amos 1:7). One.
"And it shall devour its fortresses" (Amos 1:7). One.
"Kingship shall vanish from Gaza" (Zechariah 9:5). One.
"Indeed, Gaza shall be deserted" (Zephaniah 2:4). One.
The Holy One said [to Gaza]: "If I am a king why didn’t you come to me until now."
Gaza replied: "There are zealots among us who did not allow it."
The Holy One retorted: "If there is a barrel of honey and a snake is wrapped around it, wouldn’t one [be willing to] break the barrel in order to kill the snake?"
Gaza replied: "[In such a case,] we take tongs, remove the snake, and kill it, and thereby leave the barrel intact."
The Holy One then said: "Because they handed over an entire population to Edom, ignoring the covenant of brotherhood" (Amos 1:9).
And Gaza was silent.
Concerning them it was written: "They are beguiled by the delusions after which their fathers walked" (Amos 2:4).


This is a modern Midrash inspired by the approach adopted by the authors of Dirshuni. In this sheet, seven curses of Gaza are noted, as found in the words of the prophets of ancient Israel. These utterances from the Tanakh are linked with the Talmudic passage found in Gittin 56b concerning the destruction of Jerusalem. What this literary approach offers is as follows: The approach put forth by the authors of Dirshuni make it clear that the genre of Midrash remains open to addition and experimentation, allowing readers of Jewish texts to make new connections that respect earlier sources and also nod towards contemporary issues. For those who have watched the full complexity of the crisis in Gaza play out since Israel's unilateral disengagement in 2005, this Midrash offers a small bit of language to capture the moral challenges. In this case, aside from the prophetic voice declaring destruction on the region, God speaks through the words of Vespasian who famously spoke of the impossibility of destroying rebellion of the Jerusalem zealots without harming the citizens of the city. To which Gaza responds through the words of Rabbi Akiva (alt. Rabbi Yosef) who wishes that somehow the people of Jerusalem could be saved. This Midrash ends a little differently from the passage in Gittin. God is a bit more explicit with the sins of Israel's enemies, as found in Amos 1:9, concerning the capture of a number of people from Israel and the abrogation of a treaty. And to this, Gaza is silent.