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Single Mother: Yafit’s Story

Yafit was young, Ethiopian, and Jewish—and she fulfilled a major dream when she immigrated to Israel in 1991. Surviving the transition of leaving her little farming village for a new country, she eventually got a great job, married, and had four children. Life was good. And then suddenly, four years ago, her husband abandoned her and the children, and fled the country. 

At age 47, Yafit went overnight from years of being a caregiver for her children, to being the sole breadwinner of her family. Her youngest child was five years old with Down syndrome.

Added to that, her apartment was old, and desperately needed repairs. The contractor she paid only made matters worse—and then he abruptly stopped work, without giving her any compensation. Yafit’s bills were piling up… and when COVID-19 hit, food was scarce. 

Thankfully, CBN Israel arrived with help. We provided groceries for her family, and financial aid to catch up on her bills. We also repaired her apartment, making it safe—and with a local partner, delivered brand new sofas, plus a dining table and chairs. Best of all, friends like you gave Yafit hope. She exclaimed, “Thank you so much… I am so touched by your generosity!” 

And your gift can give hope to many single mothers, as well as elderly Holocaust survivors, immigrant families, terror victims and others. You can be there with food, housing, job training, financial help—and encouragement! 

At a time when so many are in need, you can offer humanitarian aid to those who are suffering—while also delivering vital reports through CBN News and sharing Israel’s story through documentary films. 

Please help us make a difference!

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Biblical Israel: Beersheva 

By Marc Turnage

The site of Beersheva figures prominently within the Patriarchal stories of the Old Testament, particularly with Abraham. It also became the defining limit of the southern extent of the kingdom of Israel, from Dan to Beersheva (1 Samuel 3:20; 17:11; 24:2; 1 Kings 4:25). According to Genesis (21:31), the name of the place derived from an oath between Abraham and Abimelech; the name Beersheva means “the well of the oath.” 

The ancient tel (mound) of Beersheva sits in the Beersheva Valley, east of the modern city of Beersheva in the western part of the biblical Negev. When the Bible refers to the Negev, it means the valley that runs east-west across the southern Hill Country. This valley is known as the Arad-Beersheva valley. The lands south of this valley, the wilderness of Zin (Numbers 20) and the wilderness of Paran (Numbers 10:12; 12:16; 13:3, 26), lay outside of biblical Israel. This can confuse modern travelers to Israel because the land from the Beersheva Valley south to the Gulf of Elat is identified as the Negev today, and it resides within the modern State of Israel, yet the land south of the Beersheva Valley, the biblical Negev, lay outside the biblical land of Israel. 

Beersheva functioned as an important hub between Egypt and the Judean Hill Country. It also served as a juncture for east-west trade routes. Its important location, along major roadways, underscores its importance within the biblical stories, especially the Patriarchal stories, since, as nomadic herdsmen, the Patriarchs moved between the Judean Hill Country, the Negev, and Egypt.

From Beersheva, Abraham sent Hagar and Ishmael into the wilderness of Beersheva, after the birth of Isaac (Genesis 21:8-20). God revealed himself to the Patriarchs at Beersheva (Genesis 26:24-25; 46:1-2); it continued to function as a place of religious activity, even into the periods of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. The prophet Amos condemned the pagan rites held at Beersheva, along with those at Dan, Bethel, and Gilgal (Amos 5:5; 8:14). Archaeological excavations uncovered a four-horn altar at Beersheva made of hewn stone, which God forbade in the Torah. This altar had been dismantled in antiquity, most likely due to the religious-political reforms of King Hezekiah. 

Abraham and Isaac both struggled with Abimelech, king of Gerar, over water rights in the region (Genesis 21:22-34; 26:15-33). Samuel’s sons, Joel and Abijah, judged Israel from Beersheva (1 Samuel 8:1-2). The city belonged in the tribal territory of Judah and Simeon (Joshua 15:28; 19:2; 1 Chronicles 4:28). The prophet Elijah passed through Beersheva on his journey to Mount Horeb when he fled from Queen Jezebel (1 Kings 19:3). Upon the return of the Judean exiles from Babylonian captivity, Beersheva served as the southernmost point of settlement by the Judeans who returned to the land, “from Beersheva to the valley of Hinnom [which is in Jerusalem]” (Nehemiah 11:30). 

The current ancient site of Beersheva preserves a city from the mid-twelfth century to the end of the eighth century B.C. This time period coincides with the period of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Nothing at the site dates to the period of the Patriarchs. The city served as an administrative center; the houses of the city, built one next to the other, formed the city wall by the back wall of the houses. Large storehouses, for the storing of grain, were uncovered attesting to the region’s agricultural potential, as well as a land for grazing flocks of sheep and goats. The water-system proves rather ingenious as rain was captured and funneled into the large water cistern, which provided water for the city year-round. Outside the ancient gate complex sits a well, which remembers the name of the site and the story of Abraham and Abimelech’s oath.

Marc Turnage is President/CEO of Biblical Expeditions. He is an authority on ancient Judaism and Christian origins. He has published widely for both academic and popular audiences. His most recent book, Windows into the Bible, was named by Outreach Magazine as one of its top 100 Christian living resources. Marc is a widely sought-after speaker and a gifted teacher. He has been guiding groups to the lands of the Bible—Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, and Italy—for over twenty years.

Website: WITBUniversity.com
Facebook: @witbuniversity
Podcast: Windows into the Bible Podcast

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Weekly Devotional: The Nature of Redemption

Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:

“Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has visited and provided redemption for His people. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David, just as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets in ancient times; salvation from our enemies and from the clutches of those who hate us. He has dealt mercifully with our fathers and remembered His holy covenant—the oath that He swore to our father Abraham. He has given us the privilege, since we have been rescued from our enemies’ clutches, to serve Him without fear” (Luke 1:67-75 HCSB).

The Jewish people living in the land of Israel during the first century found themselves under the authority of the polytheistic Roman Empire. How could the One true God allow His chosen people to be enslaved to a polytheistic, brutal, and immoral kingdom? 

Judaism responded to this question in different ways. Some claimed submission to Rome was a sin; therefore, Jews should take up the sword and fight. Others blamed Israel’s sin as responsible for this situation. They called upon the people to repent; then, God would bring redemption. They believed that repentance and obedience would bring redemption. This reality forms the backdrop to the world of the New Testament. The Jewish people yearned for redemption; they hoped for redemption. 

Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father, longed for the redemption of Israel. This redemption embodied political freedom so that the people could truly worship God as He desired for them. Freedom enabled them to serve Him. Zechariah envisioned Israel’s redemption as fulfilling God’s promises to His people and the visions spoken of by the prophets. Freed from her enemies, Israel could now serve and worship God without fear. 

Like God’s first redemption of Israel from Egypt, Moses and Aaron told Pharaoh to let the people go, so that they could go and worship their God. They were freed from Egyptian bondage, but for what purpose? In Leviticus, God says, “For the children of Israel are servants to Me” (25:55). God freed Israel to serve Him. Jewish hopes of redemption in the first century expressed that same longing: to be free so they could serve God.

In the New Testament, the teachings of Jesus and Paul announce that God’s redemptive promises have come to Israel and to the world. Jesus, like His contemporaries, articulated this hope in the phrase, “the kingdom of Heaven” (God), which means submitting to God’s rule and reign. 

We often celebrate our personal freedom; in fact, we tend to describe redemption in those terms. That’s not incorrect, but we can never lose sight of the fact that God brings freedom, so that we may serve Him. The Bible never saw redemption as simply for our own freedom; rather, God freed us so that we can submit to His rule and reign and serve Him. 

It’s in our submission to Him that we glorify and honor Him in our world. We are not free to do as we please. We either serve God, or something else. And He never shares His throne. 

Neither exercising our personal freedoms nor taking up the sword effects God’s redemption. Rather, submitted obedience to Him unleashes His redemptive power into the world. This is what happens when we serve Him and seek His kingdom first. 

PRAYER

Father, You free us to serve You. May we submit our will humbly to Your service and may Your redemptive power flow in our world. Amen.

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Hanukkah in Ancient and Modern Israel: “A Great Miracle Happened There” 

By Arlene Bridges Samuels 

On Sunday, November 28, Jewish families worldwide began celebrating Hanukkah—lighting up their homes each day with candles in their Hanukkiahs, their menorah candelabras. By December 6, when the festival ends, all the candles will be glowing. Children are enjoying eight days of gifts and playing dreidel games, and families are feasting on jelly doughnuts and tasty latkes, the traditional potato pancakes fried in oil. 

In recent years, Christians have grown increasingly familiar with the rich Jewish history of festivals and customs. We have joined in the celebration, too, as it also has a special meaning for us. The contemporary Hanukkah (dedication in Hebrew) menorah usually has nine candles, with the center called the servant or helper candle. The servant candle is used each night to light another candle until all are ablaze on the eighth day. In the Christian faith, the servant candle represents our Lord Jesus. 

Our Jewish Jesus celebrated the Festival of Lights, as mentioned in John 10:22-23. It is the only passage in the Bible that refers to Hanukkah, then called the Feast of Dedication. It is not considered a major festival like Passover, Shavuot, or Feast of Tabernacles, yet it signifies the victory of the Maccabees as another eventful part of survival in Jewish history. 

The apocryphal books, Maccabees I and II, contain the stories of their victory, and for us, the New Testament verifies the fact that Jesus joined in the festivities. The Maccabees rose up in 167 BCE to overthrow their enemy Antiochus IV, the Syrian-Greek (Seleucid) ruler. In addition to outlawing important Judaic practice and laws, Antiochus ordered the desecration of the Second Temple—building an altar to the pagan god, Zeus, and sacrificing  pigs. The ancient battle and the Maccabees’ victory in 164 BCE signified once again God’s intervention to save the Jewish people and their faith from extinction.

The Maccabees (also known as the Hasmoneans) then began the process of cleansing the Temple and searching for the pure oil to relight the candles. In doing so, they discovered the seven-branched golden lampstand as described in Exodus 25:31-40, when God gave Moses a detailed design at Mount Sinai to fashion the exquisite menorah. The most skilled craftsman was chosen to make it, hammering it out of a single piece of gold. It weighed perhaps a hundred pounds. 

Although the Maccabees found the lampstand, they discovered only a small cruse of purified oil, enough for just one day. Nevertheless, a miracle happened there” (Nes Gadol Hayah Sham in Hebrew), as Jews for centuries have repeatedly declared. The Maccabees decided to use the small cruse of oil. However, they must have been astonished that it lasted eight days! 

According to biblical laws, the oil used in the Temple took a week to make. It involved beating (not the customary pressing) of the olives, then letting them sit so the pure oil would naturally drain. The Jews regarded the Temple menorah candlelight as the presence of God, just as during the days of the Tabernacle in the wilderness. Thus, the eight-day Festival of Lights was born. 

Fast forward from the Maccabees to approximately 100 years later. Our Lord Jesus walked the Temple courts along Solomon’s Colonnade to join in the Feast of Dedication, the Jewish military victory over their enemies. This was the same Temple the Maccabees cleansed and purified. The same Temple where the lights still gleamed. The same Temple where Jewish leaders stopped Jesus to ask Him to declare Himself.   

In John 8:12 Jesus declared, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 

It is not clear to me, but I like to think Jesus proclaimed Himself as the Light of the world during the Festival itself. However, what He revealed in John 10:22-23 stunned His questioners. Christians today believe the assurances He made then: that He is our Shepherd Who protects us, walks with us, and gives us eternal life. 

“Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, ‘How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.’ Jesus answered, ‘I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one’” (John 10:22-30).

Jesus’ bold statements offered hope to many Jews in the Temple on that day. Like the disciples, thousands of Jews believed in Jesus as their hoped-for Messiah. Yet the Romans now acted as their oppressors following in the footsteps of Antiochus IV a hundred years earlier. Nonetheless, the Jewish political and religious leaders in power took His words as blasphemy, adding more reasons to silence Him, especially when Jesus proclaimed, “I and the Father are one.” 

The Festival of Lights is an opportune time to reflect on the Jewish community worldwide, from ancient to modern times—people who have experienced their share of the darkest of days. That’s because we know the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has provided the promised light to maintain His covenants with His Jewish people, their survival, and now the modern Jewish state in their ancestral homeland. 

The menorah has long been an iconic symbol that abounds all over Israel, appearing in ancient mosaics and on contemporary coins. It was no mistake that Israel’s Provisional Council of State on February 10, 1949 (11 Shevat 5709), adopted the menorah as its national emblem. They held a contest in 1948 won by brothers Gabriel and Maxim Shamir. The Shamirs’ seven-branched candelabrum is depicted on a deep blue shield, with two olive branches appearing on each side in white and the country name Israel written in Hebrew (יִשְׂרָאֵל) below the menorah. The Knesset Menorah, a bold bronze sculpture created in 1956 by Benno Elkan, stands next to Israel’s parliament building at 14 feet high and weighing four tons! 

Since Israel became a modern state on May 14, 1948, Israelis proclaim Happy Hanukkah with the Hebrew greeting, “nes gadol haya po,” which means “a great miracle happened here.” We agree—and wish all our Jewish friends everlasting light, today and forever. 

Please join CBN Israel in prayer for Israel and the Jewish people during this Hanukkah:

  • Pray for the Israel Defense Forces who are modern-day Maccabees protecting their land from terror.
  • Pray for Israel, especially now during Hanukkah until December 6, in their latest lockdown due to another COVID-19 variant. 
  • Pray with praise to our Lord Jesus, who is the Light of the world! 

May we reflect upon these words about Jesus: “The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned” (Matthew 4:16). 

Arlene Bridges Samuels pioneered Christian outreach for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). After she served nine years on AIPAC’s staff, International Christian Embassy Jerusalem USA engaged her as Outreach Director part-time for their project, American Christian Leaders for Israel. Arlene is now an author at The Blogs-Times of Israel and has traveled to Israel 25 times. She co-edited The Auschwitz Album Revisited by Artist Pat Mercer Hutchens and sits on the board of Violins of Hope South Carolina. Arlene has attended Israel’s Government Press Office Christian Media Summit three times and hosts her devotionals, The Eclectic Evangelical, on her website at ArleneBridgesSamuels.com.

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Victim of Terrorism: Rivka’s Story

Rivka and her husband immigrated to Israel from Russia in 1973, and they have established deep roots over the past decades. Living in the coastal city of Ashdod, they both worked from home. Because they lived in an old building without a bomb shelter, they had to use the stairwell for protection in the event of an attack.

One night, during a barrage of attacks, a rocket detonated right next to their building. The explosion blasted out all the windows. Nearly everything was destroyed in an instant. The couple was hit by shrapnel, and Rivka needed stitches. But they were glad they survived with no serious injuries. 

However, the severe damage to their home and the loss of their personal belongings were devastating. The couple is now renting an apartment while figuring out how to repair their home and move forward. Thankfully, CBN Israel reached out to them. 

We provided the couple with access to trauma counseling through our local partners as well as emergency relief, including financial aid to cover immediate essentials. Rivka says, “Thank you… We are so overwhelmed by your kindness!” 

And your gift to CBN Israel can offer hope and help to other terror victims—as well as Holocaust survivors, single mothers, aging veterans, and refugees. As cries for help continue, your support can deliver assistance to those struggling to live in the Holy Land—by bringing them nutritious meals, safe shelter, financial aid, and more. 

Please join us in blessing Israel and her people in need!

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Biblical Artifact: Theodotus Synagogue Inscription

By Marc Turnage

In the centuries between the Old and New Testaments, an important institution developed within Judaism, the synagogue. The Gospels and Acts mention synagogues frequently; they played an important role in the lives of Jesus, His followers, and the growth of His movement. The origins of the synagogue, though, are shrouded in the mists of time. The earliest witness to them come from inscriptions outside of the land of Israel. 

One such inscription from Egypt, dating to the 3rd century B.C., refers to a “place of prayer.” Within the Jewish Diaspora (the Jewish community outside the land of Israel), ancient sources (both literary and archaeological) refer to synagogues in various ways: synagogues, which means a gathering or meeting place, prayer houses, and sabbateions (Sabbath places). We should not assume that they all functioned exactly the same, but the ancient sources do indicate a degree of similarity. Synagogues today, both within Israel and outside of it, serve as places of communal prayer. Scripture is read, but the synagogue service centers around prayer, an act reminiscent to the earliest practice attributed in Diaspora synagogues as attested by the ancient sources.

In the early 20th century, a Greek inscription was discovered in a cistern at the City of David in Jerusalem. This inscription dates to the first century A.D., and it dedicates a synagogue in Jerusalem. To date, the synagogue has not been found, but its dedicatory inscription has. In this inscription, Theodotus, a ruler of the synagogue, and the son and grandson of synagogue rulers, built the synagogue for three things: 1) the reading of the Torah, 2) the teaching of the commandments, and 3) as a guest house for travelers. This inscription proves significant because it provides a description of the synagogue practices within the land of Israel during the first century A.D. 

Our ancient sources do not indicate that prayer took place regularly within the synagogues of the land of Israel. Rather, we find these sources, like Luke 4, consistently depicting the reading of the Scriptures and their explication as central to Sabbath worship in the synagogue. Moreover, the first century synagogues that have been discovered, like at Gamla and Magdala, have a main hall with benches around the sides making the center of the hall the focal point. Jews pray facing towards Jerusalem. 

Later synagogues in the land of Israel, after the destruction of the Temple, orient their halls towards Jerusalem. This indicates that in later periods prayer became an essential part of the synagogue service, but not in the first century in the land of Israel. Instead, as indicated by the Theodotus inscription, the primary role of the synagogue was the reading of the Torah and its teaching. The orientation of first century synagogues, focused on the center of the hall, reflects such a reality. It should also be noted that this is what the Gospels depict Jesus doing in the synagogue on the Sabbath, reading the Scripture and teaching. 

Marc Turnage is President/CEO of Biblical Expeditions. He is an authority on ancient Judaism and Christian origins. He has published widely for both academic and popular audiences. His most recent book, Windows into the Bible, was named by Outreach Magazine as one of its top 100 Christian living resources. Marc is a widely sought-after speaker and a gifted teacher. He has been guiding groups to the lands of the Bible—Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, and Italy—for over twenty years.

Website: WITBUniversity.com
Facebook: @witbuniversity
Podcast: Windows into the Bible Podcast

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Weekly Devotional: The Magnificat

“He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty. He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever” (Luke 1:51-55 NKJV).

The Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) and the Benedictus (Luke 1:68-79) voice the Jewish redemptive hopes and aspirations of the first century. They yearned for God’s removal of Rome, freeing His people so they could worship Him. And they anticipated the reversal of the social order. These were subversive ideas; they upset those who resided in palaces and felt comfortable with the status quo. They hoped God would exalt the lowly and bring down the mighty, that the hungry would be filled and the rich would be made poor. 

God’s redemption was not merely inward and personal. God’s redemption impacted all His people and manifested itself in visible, tangible ways within the social and political order. Mary’s words are anything but safe; they are radical. Israel’s long-held hope for redemption has now come, and it will disrupt the established world.

We tend to view Christmas through our own lens—what God has done for me. In doing so, we can all too easily fail to feel the collective sense of hope and upheaval that the message of Christmas originally articulated. It’s there in Mary’s song; in the song of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist; in the angelic proclamation; and even in Simeon’s utterance about the newborn Jesus in the Temple. 

God is fulfilling His promises to Israel’s fathers—to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—with the birth of Jesus. The hopes of His people, and the world, are being realized in the baby in Bethlehem. But this redemption will upset the social and political order of the day. 

It’s hard for us sometimes—wrapped in the lights, sounds, and smells of Christmas—to hear the disruptive and subversive tone of the first Christmas. But we need to. What God did in sending Jesus was more than for our personal benefit. It manifests itself in visible and tangible ways to all humanity—the mighty and the lowly. 

Jesus articulated the message of Christmas when He read from the book of Isaiah in the synagogue of His hometown Nazareth: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19). 

PRAYER

Father, manifest Your redemption this Christmas in the world among the hurting, suffering, poor, and oppressed. And help us to be present where You are. Amen.

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Thankful for Israel: A Blessing to the World  

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

Today, as we observe a national day of thanksgiving and count our many blessings, may we be extra mindful of those who are distressed and in need throughout our world. This is where we should especially take to heart the extraordinary example of our friends in Israel and how they continue to be an exceptional model of what it means to take our blessings and use them to be a blessing to others. It is remarkable to witness the countless ways in which the modern Jewish nation is still fulfilling God’s promise to Abraham: “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:3).

For instance, consider how IsraAid, Israel’s largest non-governmental humanitarian organization, stepped in to rescue refugees following the U.S. pullout from Afghanistan and the subsequent rapid Taliban takeover. IsraAid immediately began operations to help rescue both Afghan Christians and Muslims, who found themselves under intense persecution due to their religious or political allegiances. IsraAID responded, as they do in many other crisis situations around the world, because they believe in using their blessings—as a country and people—to bless others.

Through a series of near-miraculous connections, IsraAID rescued 42 members of the female Afghan Cycling and Robotics teams on September 6. Around-the-clock networking resulted in passports and transit papers, border crossing in buses, nail-biting negotiations with the Taliban, delays at the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border, and dangerous Taliban threats about a flight from northern Afghanistan to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Each and every breakthrough was absolutely astounding. UAE’s Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed himself welcomed IsraAID’s team with rescued Afghanis—a wonderful byproduct of the Abraham Accords peace agreement. 

Then on October 13, Newsweek magazine reported that IsraAID helped facilitate a second rescue in early October with 125 at-risk Afghans, which included families of the Afghan Cycling and Robotics teams. Israel, along with other goodhearted nations, acted as shining lights amid the darkness and despair. Their actions were a blessing in the middle of this disastrous situation. 

I met IsraAID’s cofounder, Yotam Polizer, in 2018 when he spoke at an American synagogue. Afterward, I spoke with him in a brief interview. I was struck once again that Israel is still a light to the world and growing ever brighter in a chaotic world. IsraAID, founded in 2001, specializes in search and rescue efforts in natural disasters, helping populations affected by war, poverty, and displacement globally. IsraAID’s humanitarian assistance encompasses those in need, no matter their ethnicity, politics, or religion. Yotam pointed out that IsraAID is usually “the first to arrive and the last to leave.” He uses the acronym FILO—First In, Last Out.

Since Israel has faced daily terrorism of all kinds in its modern history, IsraAID has developed expert teams of professionals who use what they have learned to provide relief in more than 55 nations. Following one of Israel’s cultural values to “repair the world” (tikkun olam in Hebrew), they span the globe with both emergency and long-term development projects. Whether in Nepal, Guatemala, Mozambique, Greece with its Syrian refugees, and even U.S. states hit by hurricanes or ravaged by fires, people in need hear Hebrew-speaking teams walking among them ready to offer assistance. 

In recent interviews about IsraAID’s help in Afghanistan, Polizer mentions that the NGO usually goes into countries following natural disasters. Yet the Afghan situation was an emergency on the front end. IsraAID jumped in and kept in close contact with several American groups, including U.S. veterans and Christian groups focused on immediate evacuations where possible.

One of the Afghan refugees did not know until the IsraAID bus stopped at the border of Tajikistan that Israelis were helping them. He said that social media had painted the Israelis “with a bad image.” When he learned that the Israelis were the ones who had helped rescue them, he described them as “angels” and then apologized in shame for his wrong opinion. He now considers them as family. 

IsraAID, other non-profit organizations, and private groups are dedicated to rescuing those on their waiting lists who are in danger from the Taliban terrorists who idolize evil deeds, carrying out murder and mayhem against anyone who does not comply with their oppressive aims.

On this Thanksgiving Day, may we recognize our divine calling to take our many blessings and use them to be a blessing to others—especially those in crisis and in desperate need throughout our world. May we follow the example of Israel and organizations like IsraAID as they continue to fulfill God’s promise to Abraham. 

Please join CBN Israel in thanking God and praying for the people of Israel:

  • Pray with gratitude for the abundance of ways that Israel is fulfilling prophecy as a light to the nations. 
  • Pray for humanitarian organizations like IsraAID and their teams who often risk their lives to help the vulnerable and needy across the globe.  
  • Pray that Israel will continue to be blessing to the world through their humanitarian efforts as well as their many lifesaving medical and technological innovations.  
  • Pray for Christians worldwide to stand by Israel and her people, especially amid the lies and slander from the mainstream media.
  • Pray with thanksgiving for all the blessings in your life as well as the opportunities God has given you to bless others.  

Arlene Bridges Samuels pioneered Christian outreach for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). After she served nine years on AIPAC’s staff, International Christian Embassy Jerusalem USA engaged her as Outreach Director part-time for their project, American Christian Leaders for Israel. Arlene is now an author at The Blogs-Times of Israel and has traveled to Israel 25 times. She co-edited The Auschwitz Album Revisited by Artist Pat Mercer Hutchens and sits on the board of Violins of Hope South Carolina. Arlene has attended Israel’s Government Press Office Christian Media Summit three times and hosts her devotionals, The Eclectic Evangelical, on her website at ArleneBridgesSamuels.com.

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Widowed Single Mother: Anna’s Story

When Anna moved from Ukraine to Israel, she started a new life—and found romance. It’s where she met her husband—an Israeli citizen who was also from Ukraine. They had a little girl, and everything was going well. Then, without warning, tragedy struck. 

Sadly, Anna’s husband suffered a fatal heart attack at the age of just 53. Her world suddenly collapsed. And then, in the midst of coping with her grief as a widow and single mother, she was blindsided legally: She learned she had no official citizenship status in Israel.  

In Israel, there are no civil marriages, or automatic citizenship by marriage. Anna was not Jewish, and her husband had neglected to register their documents of marriage. It left her vulnerable. The one thing in her favor was that her daughter was born in Israel, and gave Anna some protection and minimal welfare benefits. But Anna had to fight for permanent Israeli status. 

Thankfully, friends like you were there for her, through CBN Israel. We have given her needed groceries and support. And with her daughter now in school, we provided a computer for her homework. Anna says gratefully, “You are always there for us, and every holiday, you remember us by making it possible to buy nutritious food and other essentials…” Anna and her daughter are touched by all the support they’ve received. And we offer a lifeline to so many in need. 

CBN Israel reaches out with relief aid and God’s love to aging Holocaust survivors, refugees, terror victims, and more. For Israelis who are facing personal losses and crisis, your support is crucial. You can bring food, housing, job training, finances, and more.

*Name and photo changed for privacy.

Please join us in reaching out to those in need throughout the Holy Land.

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Biblical Israel: Nazareth

By Marc Turnage

Nazareth—the boyhood home of Jesus—sits on a limestone ridge (the Nazareth Ridge) in the Lower Galilee that separates the Jezreel Valley to the south from the Beit Netofa Valley to the north. Nazareth first appears in ancient literary sources in the New Testament (Matthew 2:23; Luke 1:26; Luke 2:4, 39, and 51). According to Luke, Jesus’ mother, Mary, came from Nazareth (1:26). Matthew relates how the Holy Family, after returning from Egypt, relocated to Nazareth (2:19–23). Jesus taught in Nazareth’s synagogue (Luke 4:16-30), and as His popularity grew, He became known as “Jesus from Nazareth” (Matthew 21:11).

Although Nazareth is not mentioned in ancient sources prior to the New Testament, archaeologists have uncovered remains from the Middle Bronze Age (time of the Patriarchs), Iron Age II (time of kingdoms of Israel and Judah), and the late Hellenistic eras. The discovery of tombs from the early Roman period (first century B.C. to second century A.D.) indicates the limit of the village, as Jews do not bury their dead inside of cities or villages. The site in the first century covered an area of about sixty 60 acres, with a population of maybe perhaps 500 people. 

Ancient Nazareth sits 3.8 miles (about an hour-and-fifteen-minute walk) to the south of Sepphoris, the capital of Galilee when Jesus was a boy. Its proximity indicates its dependency upon Sepphoris; moreover, its location between the Jezreel and Beit Netofa Valleys, both of which contained international travel routes, suggests that Jesus was anything but “a hick from the sticks.”

Archaeologists uncovered what they tentatively identify as a Jewish ritual immersion bath from the early Roman period. If they are correct, it may point to the location of the synagogue of Nazareth (see Luke 4:16-30). This, as well as early Christian structures, are now enclosed inside the modern compound of the Catholic Church of the Annunciation, built in the 1960s. 

Later Jewish tradition identifies Nazareth as the location where the priestly course of Hapizez settled after the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in A.D. 70; an inscription discovered in the coastal city of Caesarea, from the Byzantine period, repeats this. The church fathers Eusebius and Epiphanius indicate that the population of Nazareth was Jewish into the sixth century A.D. 

By the fourth century A.D., Christian pilgrims began to journey to Nazareth and were shown a cave identified as the home of Mary. It remains a place for pilgrims to this day. It has housed churches since the Byzantine period. Today, Nazareth contains two main pilgrim churches: the Catholic Church of the Annunciation and the Orthodox church built over the spring of Nazareth. 

Marc Turnage is President/CEO of Biblical Expeditions. He is an authority on ancient Judaism and Christian origins. He has published widely for both academic and popular audiences. His most recent book, Windows into the Bible, was named by Outreach Magazine as one of its top 100 Christian living resources. Marc is a widely sought-after speaker and a gifted teacher. He has been guiding groups to the lands of the Bible—Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, and Italy—for over twenty years.

Website: WITBUniversity.com
Facebook: @witbuniversity
Podcast: Windows into the Bible Podcast

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