When in Palestine in 1939, I pondered the problems of the use of the land through the ages. I wondered if Moses, when he was inspired to deliver the Ten Commandments to the Israelites in the Desert to establish man’s relationship to his Creator and his fellow men — if Moses had foreseen what was to become of the Promised Land after 3,000 years and what was to become of hundreds of millions of acres of once good lands such as I have seen in China, Korea, North Africa, the Near East, and in our own fair land of America — if Moses had foreseen what suicidal agriculture would do to the land of the holy earth — might not have been inspired to deliver another Commandment to establish man’s relation to the earth and to complete man’s trinity of responsibilities to his Creator, to his fellow men, and to the holy earth.
When invited to broadcast a talk on soil conservation in Jerusalem in June 1939, I gave for the first time what has been called an “Eleventh Commandment,” as follows: Thou shalt inherit the Holy Earth as a faithful steward, conserving its resources and productivity from generation to generation. Thou shalt safeguard thy fields from soil erosion, thy living waters from drying up, thy forests from desolation, and protect thy hills from overgrazing by thy herds, that thy descendants may have abundance forever. If any shall fail in this stewardship of the land, thy fruitful fields shall become sterile stony ground and wasting gullies, and thy descendants shall decrease and live in poverty or perish from off the face of the earth.