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Victim of Terrorism: Sarah’s Story

Ashdod is an idyllic seacoast city, which Sarah’s family calls home. At age 74 years old, she and her husband have lived there for years—with their three children and five grandchildren nearby. However, being so close to the Gaza Strip, it has gradually become a target for terrorism—including the non-stop rocket attacks earlier this year lasting over 11 days.

One day, Sarah and her family were relaxing at home, when suddenly, the siren sounded. With no bomb shelter in their area, they rushed to the stairwell for protection. And then, their house suffered a direct hit. Sarah’s 5-year-old granddaughter was hit with shrapnel in her spine. 

Because of the girl’s age, doctors will monitor her for now instead of operating. Sarah still counts it a miracle that everyone survived. Yet sadly, both floors of her family home were completely burned, destroying all her photos and possessions in minutes. The damage was overwhelming. But thankfully, CBN Israel was there with urgent relief and hope.

We gave them financial assistance to provide a temporary place to live, and basic necessities to survive this hard time. Plus, we offered them trauma counseling through local professionals. Sarah exclaimed, “We are so grateful for the kindness and care from CBN Israel!” 

And your gift to CBN Israel can be a blessing to other terror victims, while also helping aging Holocaust survivors, single mothers, and immigrant families. 

As the cries for help across the Holy Land are increasing, your support can reach out with food, housing, financial aid, and essentials—while also bringing news and documentaries that share Israel’s stories with the world. 

*Name and photo changed for privacy.

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Biblical Israel: Edom 

By Marc Turnage

The land of Edom lay south of the land of Moab in the Transjordan. The Zered Ravine, which empties into the southern end of the Dead Sea, formed the boundary between these two kingdoms. The Bible refers to Edom also as Mount Seir (Genesis 36:21; Ezekiel 35:15). 

The plateau that forms the heartland of Edom, south of the Zered, is over 5000 feet above sea level, and some of its peaks reach a height of 5696 feet. Deep gorges cut through the western part plateau opening into the Rift Valley; only on the eastern frontier does the form of a plateau remain. Only a narrow strip on the western edge of the mountains received sufficient rainfall (200 mm) to produce any significant vegetation, mostly in the form of natural forest. Along this line, a line of towns was established. 

The limited agricultural potential of this region is acknowledged in Isaac’s blessing of his son Esau, who the Bible identified as the father of the Edomites (Genesis 27:38-39). Its agricultural limitations were compensated for by its presence along the southern end of the King’s Highway, the gateway from the Arabian Peninsula for incense, gold, and other luxury items. 

Also, Edom controlled the copper mines and trade in the southern Aravah (the southern portion of the Rift Valley north of the Gulf of Eilat). The port of Ezion-Geber on the northern shore of the Gulf of Eilat also received goods from the Red Sea, which would then be conveyed to various destinations via the trade routes that ran through Edom. 

The capital of Edom in the Old Testament period was Sela. Edom’s location along important trade routes put them in conflict with Judah for control of the Aravah (south of the Dead Sea) and Ezion-Geber. 

When Israel sojourned in the Transjordan, they sought to pass through the land of Edom following the King’s Highway, but the king of Edom denied their request. They had to circumvent Edom using the Desert Highway, which lay further east of the kingdom of Edom (Numbers 21:4; Deuteronomy 2:8; and Judges 11:16-18). The Old Testament condemns Edom’s lack of hospitality (Deuteronomy 23:3-6). 

Throughout the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, conflict arose between the people and the Edomites, especially with the kingdom of Judah. During the reign of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, a coalition of the Edomites, Moabites, and Ammonites sought to invade Judah (1 Kings 22:47-49; 2 Chronicles 20). The Edomites revolted in the time of Jehoram and established their own king (2 Kings 8:20-22). 

The prophet Obadiah condemned the Edomites for gloating at the destruction of Judah (Obadiah 1:13-14; see Psalm 137:7; Ezekiel 16:57; 25:12-14; 35). The Babylonian deportation of Judeans left a population vacuum in Judah; this led to a number of Edomites immigrating into the biblical Negev and the southern Judean Hill Country around Hebron. 

In the Hellenistic period, these Edomites living in the southern Judean Hill Country and the biblical Negev were known in Greek as Idumeans. Herod the Great’s (Matthew 2) family came from Idumean stock.

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: Radical Devotion to God 

“Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, ‘If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple’” (Luke 14:25-26 NKJV). 

Jesus identified the greatest and most important commandment as “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5). His Jewish contemporaries considered this the central confession of Judaism. But how does one love God with all his or her heart, soul, and strength? 

Jesus and His contemporaries sought to give practical explanation to their listeners. That’s why they juxtaposed Leviticus 19:18, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” to Deuteronomy 6:5—I love God with all my heart, soul, and strength by loving my neighbor who is like myself. 

On another occasion, though, Jesus sought to help people understand how they should love God with all their heart, soul, and strength by contrasting it with the closest relationships within a person’s life—their family, even their own soul—which He calls upon them to hate. In other words, by offering a counterpoint of one’s closest relationships that He says must be as hatred, He seeks to define how one should love God. 

But before we think we have to hate those closest to us in order to follow Jesus, let’s say a word about the word “hate” in Hebrew. Hate can mean hatred or severe dislike, as we would use it in English, but hate can also mean to prefer something else more than a certain object. Thus, when He calls upon those who would be His disciples to hate their relations, even themselves, He means that there is something they prefer more: their relationship with God, i.e., loving God with all their heart, soul, and strength. 

Not everyone who followed Jesus became His disciple. He demanded a single-minded devotion and obedience of those who would be His disciples. He expected them to love God with everything, even if it meant their own life. Not everyone could agree to that level of commitment.  

If we are going to call ourselves His disciples, then we have to approach our lives with such radical devotion to God. We must seek to love Him in all that we do. We must hold Him above all other relations, even ourselves. 

Too often we want to call ourselves disciples of Jesus and simply add a relationship with God to our lives, but Jesus did not allow that then and He doesn’t allow that now. If we want to be His disciples, we must love God with all our being. 

PRAYER

Father, we seek to love You with all our heart, soul, and strength. Nothing can compare to You. May we walk in Your ways today as a sign of our single-minded love and devotion. Amen.

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Restoration and Restitution for Massive WWII Art Heist

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

Recent news about the upcoming auction of a van Gogh watercolor titled Meules de Blé (“Wheatstacks”) jubilantly swept through the art world. The Dutch artist’s painting has not appeared in public since 1905, when Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam exhibited it. 

However, the painting’s provenance was tarnished at the hands of Nazis who stole the masterpiece as well as hundreds of thousands of other works of art owned by Jews. Hitler’s evil regime of genocide crossed every boundary by murdering 6 million Jewish men, women, and children while also attempting to rob the Jewish community of their highly esteemed culture. 

Wheatstacks is a prime example of looted art. Its journey identifies a change of hands at least nine times since Vincent van Gogh painted it in 1888. Berlin industrialist Max Meirowsky bought the masterpiece in 1913. Fleeing to Amsterdam in 1938, Meirowsky left the painting with a Jewish art dealer. It was later bought by a member of the Rothschild family, from whom Nazis stole it. Wheatstacks continued its convoluted, post-World War II travels, to finally arrive at Christie’s New York for an auction that will take place November 11, 2021. Preceding the auction, the last heirs from the Meirowsky and Rothschild families negotiated a settlement with the family of Texas oilman Edwin Cox—the current owners. Its sale may capture a 30-million-dollar price at auction.

The scale of Nazi looting is staggering. On April 8, 1945, U.S. intelligence alerted American allies about treasures located in the Merkers, Germany, salt mines. The Nazis had stored most of their booty in German banks and museums, but when Allied bombing intensified, they used slave labor to deposit gold, jewels, and priceless artworks into the salt mine in Merkers, a small town located 200 miles southwest of Berlin. After the war, American soldiers heard rumors from the laborers and investigated the site. Later included among the “Monuments Men” who sought to find, repair and return the vast number of art, books, and other treasures looted by the Nazis, they entered the salt mines and discovered the vast array of Nazi plunder. They worked in the damp and dark, scouring a miles-long maze of tunnels. In today’s money, the gold’s worth alone is estimated at around $9 billion. Eight enormous bags of gold rings and teeth, a grim reality, were found in the salt mines. It was one of far-too-numerous signs that Nazis brutally enslaved the European Jewish community. 

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Omar Bradley, and George S. Patton, three of our top generals, rushed to see the monumental stash of gold bars, silver, art, bags of foreign currencies (including 2 million U.S. dollars), artwork, and statues. Aware that this area of Germany was slated for Soviet occupation, the American generals hastened to move the treasure to Frankfurt, which was part of the American occupation zone. The National Archives estimates that Nazis stole more than 20 percent of Europe’s cultural treasures. The Merkers salt mines were deemed the largest depository of the Third Reich’s stolen treasures. 

The Jewish Virtual Library reports that artworks numbering in the hundreds of thousands of pieces and worth billions of dollars were stored not only in the 2,000-foot-deep Merker salt mines but in 1,000 different locations throughout Germany, including churches and museums. The Nazis described some of the artwork as “degenerate” and thus didn’t want them—works by such artists as van Gogh and Matisse and other practitioners of impressionism and expressionism. That gave two Nazi henchmen, Hermann Goering and Joseph Goebbels, an open door to contact art dealers who sold the art and sent funds to Third Reich banks to finance their genocidal war. It is horrifying to know that the Nazis used art, gold, silver, and other treasures looted from the very European Jewish community they had enslaved in order to murder them.

A history professor at Boston University, Charles Dellheim, authored a book published in September 2021 entitled, Belonging and Betrayal: How Jews Made the Art World Modern. At one point he observes, “The Nazis asserted their own cultural claims and economic hunger through the systematic, racially driven theft of Jewish-owned collections.” He went on to say, “Fine art, therefore, became a bloody crossroads where culture and money, aesthetics and avarice, collided with disastrous consequences.” 

After World War II, when the dark caverns of Nazi looting fully came into the light of day, the complexity of identifying Jewish ownership emerged. It is still an issue today, as is evident with the Haystacks auction happening next month. The U.S. Army identified 700,000 pieces of artwork and returned the art to Germany and Austria whence they were plundered. Those governments were tasked with tracking down Jewish owners. Nonetheless, the governments were not able to forward thousands of the pieces, as their Jewish owners either could not be identified or had perished. 

Worth renting or purchasing, one of the best-known stories about tracking down stolen art from the Nazi period is the 2015 film Woman in Gold. It stars Dame Helen Mirren as Maria Bloch-Bauer Altmann and Ryan Reynolds as her lawyer, Randol Schoenberg, grandson of the famed Austrian American composer. Woman in Gold is based on Schoenberg and Altmann’s experiences, which are also the subject of the Lady in Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt’s Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, the 2012 book by Anne-Marie O’Connor. In 1938, Nazis plundered the private residence of Maria’s uncle, Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer in Vienna, Austria. The “Woman in Gold” was Adele Bloch-Bauer, Maria’s aunt. Ferdinand, a wealthy sugar mogul, had commissioned Austrian artist Gustav Klimt in 1907 to paint his 25-year-old wife.

The movie is a splendid story of true justice and restitution when the exquisite portrait of Maria’s aunt finally came into her possession after hanging in Vienna’s Belvedere Gallery for 68 years. Maria Bloch-Bauer Altmann (1916-2011) began her seven-year court battle when she was 82 years old. In 2004 the U.S. Supreme Court thankfully ruled that Maria—who had escaped Nazi Germany and lived in Los Angeles—could sue the Austrian government. Sadly, detective work undertaken for countless other Jews has not been highly successful. 

The traumatic effects of Nazi looting remain an active restitution issue since various entities and governments have finally grown more proactive. Some of them include the German Lost Art Foundation, the World Jewish Restitution Organization that was established in 1993, and the 1998 Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets. Thirty-nine countries pledged to identify stolen art from Holocaust victims and compensate their heirs. Most European countries—along with the United States, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, and Russia—signed on. 

Diego Gradis, a Swiss citizen, has now received four art drawings that were once owned by his great-grandfather, Henry Deutsch de la Meurthe, an industrialist who lived in Paris. Henry passed them down to his daughter—Diego’s grandmother—who escaped when the Nazis marched into Paris. The invading army looted the family mansion, then occupied it with Third Reich officials. The drawings’ destination is among countless fascinating yet deeply disturbing stories. The drawings ended up in a stolen collection by Hildebrand Gurlitt, Hitler’s art dealer. The art dealer’s son, Cornelius Gurlitt, inherited all of this Nazi plunder. In 2010 he was arrested in an unusual set of circumstances. When police searched his Munich apartment, they discovered one of the most dramatic art collections of the 21st century: 1,500 pieces of art, including works by Monet, Renoir, and Matisse.

The genocide of the European Jewish community by Hitler’s Nazis remains incomprehensible. In a Forbes magazine article, Diego Gradis—whose family members in the Holocaust generation did survive—describes another kind of suffering, the result of totalitarian cultural theft. “Looting artwork does not just deprive a person of a belonging with a financial worth, it deprives a person of part of their identity.” And he movingly describes their continued importance as reminders of their past: “They need to be the witnesses and messengers.”

Join CBN Israel this week to pray about restitution for the Jewish community:

  • Pray that God will shine a spotlight into all locations where stolen art is hidden. 
  • Pray for remaining Holocaust survivors, that any factual connections will emerge for restitution to take place. 
  • Pray for German and Austrian citizens to reveal information about Nazi looted art. 
  • Pray for the organizations that are focused on finding lost objects of art and locating their true owners (or heirs).

Leviticus 6:4 is a description of restitution. “When they sin in any of these ways and realize their guilt, they must return what they have stolen or taken by extortion, or what was entrusted to them, or the lost property they found.”

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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Biblical Artifact: Tel Dan Inscription

Excavations in the 1990s at the site of Dan in northern Israel, which sits at the foot of Mount Hermon, uncovered three fragments of an inscription from the 9th century B.C. Written in Old Aramaic the fragments form part of a victory stela of an Aramean king (Hazael?) who claims to have killed the king of Israel and the king of the “House of David,” i.e., Judah. It seems that this stela was erected in connection with the events of the revolt of Jehu (2 Kings 9-10).

From its initial discovery, scholars have noted the significance of this inscription, and especially the mention of the “House of David” with reference to the king of Judah. This is the first ancient inscription that connects the royal house of Judah with David. Moreover, this language, “House (meaning a dynasty) of David,” appears a number of times in the Old Testament.

For example, in 2 Samuel 7, God makes a covenant with David that his heirs will sit on the throne in Jerusalem: “Moreover the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom” (2 Samuel 7:11-12; see also 1 Kings 12:26; 14:8; 2 Kings 17:21; Isaiah 7:2; 22:22; Jeremiah 21:12; Zechariah 12:10; 13:1).

The inscription from Tel Dan indicates that within the 9th century B.C. the royal house of Judah identified itself as belonging to the House of David, as can be seen from the biblical text. Since the discovery of the Tel Dan stela, an inscription discovered in the 19th century in Transjordan, the Moabite Stone, which is also a victory stela of Mesha, king of Moab, has been reread, and some scholars have detected a reference to the “House of David” also in the Moabite Stone.

The Tel Dan inscription is also important because, if it refers to the rebellion of Jehu, it provides extrabiblical evidence that can shed light on how we understand this event recorded within the Bible. It suggests that Hazael, king of Aram-Damascus, and Jehu conspired in the rebellion, which may be hinted at in 1 Kings 19:15-18.

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: Who Are You Causing To Stumble?

“But take care that this freedom of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone sees you, the one who has knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, will his conscience, if he is weak, not be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols? For through your knowledge the one who is weak is ruined, the brother or sister for whose sake Christ died. And so, by sinning against the brothers and sisters and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food causes my brother to sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to sin” (1 Corinthians 8:9-13 NASB).

The Corinthians had written Paul a letter. In it, they asked him questions about a number of issues, one of them pertaining to food sacrificed to idols. The Greco-Roman world was a polytheistic world. The worship of gods and goddesses was everywhere. It was not only a religious action, but it penetrated into society, into civic life (even going to the theater included sacrifices to the gods). 

In Acts 15, the Jerusalem elders forbade non-Jews eating meat sacrificed to idols. But apparently the Corinthian believers brought it up in their letter to Paul. They no longer believed in the polytheistic gods; they had turned to the one true God. Eating meat offered to idols would enable them to “fit in” within the social and civic life of their city. 

Paul, however, saw a problem. He spoke about those who are “impaired” or “weak” in contrast to the believers in Corinth, who had knowledge. The “impaired” seem to have been people in Corinth who remained polytheists and had not yet turned to belief in the one true God. Paul tells the believers that their liberty cannot be the source of causing those on the outside, who have not yet come to faith, to stumble. 

If the impaired see those with knowledge eating meat sacrificed to an idol, that raises doubt as to whether the message of the believers is true. The believers look like hypocrites. It may even affirm to the impaired that they could simply add the God of Israel and Jesus to their polytheistic pantheon of gods. Paul would not allow this. 

We like to talk about “freedom” and “liberty” in our Western Christian circles today. We often run scared from anything that seems to impinge upon our rights as believers. Paul instructed the Corinthians to curtail their liberty for the sake of those who had yet to come to faith, for whom Christ had died. As believers, we are to live for others, not ourselves. Our lives should reflect the reality of our claim that Jesus Himself lived for us and not Himself. 

Is our freedom worth the stumbling of others, those who have yet to come to faith? The outside world watches us. Do we call them to follow the one true God by our lifestyles? Or do we encourage them to simply add Jesus to the life they currently live, which is not the worship that God demands? 

PRAYER

Father, help us today to live our lives for others, especially those who do not yet know You. May they see in us a life submitted to You that draws them to You. Amen. 

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The Truth About “Palestine”—Then and Now

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

Calling Israel “Palestine” is commonplace today. However, the history of that name goes back millennia. First coined by the ancient Greeks for the five-city area in the Philistine confederacy and then adopted by Roman emperor Hadrian, Palestine was more recently copied by former Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman Yasser Arafat in the last century. Arafat’s use of Palestine and Palestinians has expanded into a propaganda machine that is successfully echoed worldwide, as part of an effort to eradicate all Jews. 

But first let’s consider one of its earlier and notable uses. The Roman emperor Hadrian reigned for 21 years between 117-138 A.D. From 132–136 A.D., a Jewish messianic figure, Bar Kokhba, led a revolt against Hadrian that resulted in the deaths of more than half a million Jews in their desperate bid for independence from their pagan conquerors. But their valiant attempt was in vain against the overwhelming power of Roman legions.

Hadrian’s genocidal ambition intensified when he then decided to strip the Jews of their biblical name. He sought to change their identity and sever them from their ancestry by renaming the land Syria Palestina after the Philistines in the Bible—enemies of Israel, although not Arabs. Hadrian then made it worse. He renamed Jerusalem—the already 1,000-year-old Jewish capital—Aelia Capitolina and turned it into a pagan city.

While Bible translations and methods differ, the name Israel is said to appear in its pages over 2,500 times. In Genesis 32:28, we read an example of God’s official nomenclature when Jacob wrestled with God: “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” The title Palestina or Philistines is only briefly mentioned eight or so times in the Old Testament and nowhere in the New Testament. 

The League of Nations, the precursor to the United Nations, identified Great Britain as a kind of “manager” of Israel after World War I. The Ottoman Empire’s defeat had led to the Sykes-Picot Agreement, where two men—Sykes (a Brit) and Picot (a Frenchman)were commissioned to carve up the Middle East for Great Britain and France. They kept the name Palestine, although in a 1938 report to the League of Nations, the British made this important distinction: The name ‘Palestine’ is not a country but a geographic region.” 

In pre-state Israel, when Jewish people began making Aliyah in high numbers, they adopted the name. In 1932, their newspaper was called The Palestine Post. Their first symphony orchestra (1936) was called the Palestine Orchestra. Then, in 1948, the orchestra changed its name to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, and The Palestine Post also later became The Jerusalem Post in 1950. 

The world embraced the name Palestine until May 14, 1948, when Israel’s founder and first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, made the historic announcement of modern statehood at a Tel Aviv art gallery (now Independence Hall). He sent a message of reunification and correction between ancient and modern Israel when he announced the name of the world’s re-established Jewish state: Israel.  

Other names had been considered prior to May 14, 1948—names such as Judea and Zion. Ben-Gurion took a vote among his cabinet-in-waiting. After much debate, and with time running out, they voted favorably for the ancient name. Some thought that Ben-Gurion was especially drawn to the name since the Bible is filled with the name Israel. Although Ben-Gurion was an excellent student of the Bible, he was secular in his views. Nevertheless, in naming the modern Jewish country Israel, he recaptured the correct name, rescuing it from Hadrian’s identity theft 2,000 years earlier. My view is that God moved in the minds and hearts of Ben-Gurion and his cabinet.

Yet just two decades later, another identity thief was on the move. The power of Egyptian-born Yasser Arafat began expanding into a 35-year reign of terror that was masked by smiles and lies, although they were obvious to those who saw through his clever smokescreen. Arafat grew up under the tutelage of his great-uncle Haj Amin al-Husayni, a Nazi collaborator who became Grand Mufti in Jerusalem. Arafat learned his lessons well.  

The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA) has created an informative timeline about Arafat’s terrorism. One of Israel’s newspapers, Yediot Ahronot, carried his revealing statement made at a rally near Bethlehem on October 23, 1996: “We know only one word: jihad, jihad, jihad.” Jihad is a struggle or fight against the enemies of Islam.  

On February 4, 1969, Arafat took over the PLO. A master of propaganda, he took the name Palestine and turned it into a new group of people—Palestinians—and a new country: Palestine. They were and are Arabs, still living in an Arab dictatorship alongside one and a half million Israeli Arabs who live free in a democracy. 

Then, both directly and indirectly, he advanced numerous terror acts that included airline hijackings and the Black September murders of Israelis at the 1972 Munich Olympics. The world did not know about Arafat’s arrival at the United Nations headquarters November 13, 1974, until minutes before he spoke at the General Assembly. He walked into the lobby wearing a holster and gun. (He was asked to leave the gun at the entrance.) In his speech, he said he “held an olive branch in one hand and a pistol in the other.” It was a half-truth. The olive branch imagery was fake. 

Sadly, every U.S. and Israeli leader failed to reach a peaceful resolution to Arab-Israeli conflicts. Instead, terror went into overdrive during the Second Intifada (2000-2005), when more than 1,000 Israelis were murdered. When Arafat died in 2004, Mahmoud Abbas, his partner in terror for 40 years, took over. Abbas remains intransigent, wielding a corrupt dictatorship over his “Palestinian” population while running a kleptocracy like Arafat’s, pocketing millions of dollars while the terrorist activity he incites continues.

Truth about the PLO’s terrorist intent has leaked out over the years from Arab leaders in that organization. Arab countries that have signed on to the Abraham Accords have grown impatient with the Palestinians. But even before then, in 1977 PLO spokesman Zahir Muhsein made a statement that should be heeded to this day. In an interview with the Dutch newspaper Trouw he declared, “The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. … Today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians, and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people.” 

Yes, the Palestinians are Arabs. Nothing has changed since Zahir Muhsein’s 1977 statement except that Gazan Arabs are now ruled by Hamas terrorists and much of the Palestinian population under Abbas still suffers from a corrupt leadership that funnels hate for Jews and Israel through their media day and night. 

In conclusion, while Roman Emperor Hadrian, former PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and all Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) activists shout the name Palestine, it is not a country. 

The Holy Bible, the very words of God, tell a different, profound, and world-changing story. It is an enduring story of God’s land, a land He calls Israel. He deeded it to the Jews and equipped them to serve as the ancient vessels for our Scriptures and our Jewish Savior. Today, Israel and Israelis remain a light to the nations with innovations bordering on the miraculous to bless the world. 

Please join CBN Israel in prayer this week for the Israeli and Palestinian people:

  • Pray with thanks that we can trust the Bible as it clearly expresses God’s intent for the land to belong to the Jewish people. 
  • Pray for the Arabs suffering under President Abbas and Hamas. 
  • Pray for new, fresh leaders who will initiate policies that provide help and hope for Palestinian Arabs. 
  • Pray for the Abraham Accords that it will continue to prove to the world that Israel and the Jewish people desire peace with their Arab neighbors. 

Praying for the nation of Israel today, let’s recall the history of Israelite slavery in Egypt. God spoke to Moses saying, “I have surely visited you and seen what is done to you in Egypt; and I have said I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to … a land flowing with milk and honey.” (Exodus 3:16-17). God’s word is eternal.

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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Single Mother: Monica’s Story

When Monica and her husband immigrated to Israel in 2000 with their infant son, they were full of hope. Settling in Ashkelon, their family grew to nine children, and Monica’s husband worked hard to provide for his wife and kids. But this past year, life took a tragic turn. 

As COVID-19 hit, Monica’s husband became extremely ill, and had to be hospitalized. She prayed fervently for his recovery, as she took care of the children at home. Sadly, he died in the hospital at just 50 years old. At age 48, Monica was now a widow with nine children—and no other family in Israel. Too stunned to cry, she said, “I was in deep shock … All that went through my mind was that I have to stay strong for the kids.” 

Then, just months later, Israel endured a constant barrage of rockets from Hamas-ruled Gaza. For 11 days, over 4,000 rockets hurtled into Israel—with Ashkelon as a major target. The effect on this grieving family was traumatic. The children were terrorized, hiding in the bomb shelter for days, with constant sirens and explosions nearby. There was nowhere safe to go. 

Thankfully, CBN Israel offered respite for Monica’s family. We gave them temporary shelter away from the frontlines, as well as nutritious food. It offered the children some peace, and Monica says, “It gave us some needed space to process that pain and grief.” 

As more people in Israel call for help, your gift can also provide them with groceries, housing, essentials, and financial aid—along with hope. At this critical time, your support is greatly needed and appreciated, as we bring aid to lonely refugees, Holocaust survivors, single mothers, and more. 

Please help us bless those who are struggling to survive in the Holy Land!

GIVE TODAY

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Biblical Israel: Lachish 

By Marc Turnage

Lachish was one of the largest cities within the kingdom of Judah. Located in the Judean lowlands (Shephelah), it sat in the southern branch of the Beth Guvrin-Lachish Valley system, which provided an east-west corridor between the hill country (the area around Hebron) to the coastal plain (towards Ashkelon). Ample water meant that settlement prospered at Lachish in all periods and enabled the cultivation of the land around it. Even today it is in a very fertile area of the Judean lowlands known particularly for its cultivation of grapes. 

The ancient site of Lachish encompasses about thirty-one acres. It first appears mentioned within ancient sources in the 18th century B.C. in an Egyptian document. Excavations at the site have uncovered twenty layers of settlement, which underscores the site’s importance and prominence. 

According to 2 Kings (14:19; 2 Chronicles 25:27), Amaziah, king of Judah, fled to Lachish following a revolt against him in Jerusalem. The rebels killed him at Lachish. During the Assyrian invasion of Judah in 701 B.C., under Sennacherib, the Assyrian army laid siege to Lachish (2 Kings 18:14, 17; Isaiah 36:2; 37:8; 2 Chronicles 32:9). While besieging Lachish, Sennacherib sent a force against Hezekiah in Jerusalem. 

Excavations at Lachish have revealed the extent of the Assyrian siege. In addition to the biblical account, Sennacherib documented his conquest of the city on wall reliefs, with which he decorated his palace in Nineveh. Both Sennacherib’s wall relief and the archaeological excavations show that the Assyrians built an earthen siege ramp that was used to bring siege engines against the walls of Lachish. Excavations uncovered a number of iron military implements like arrow heads. Archaeologists found a large number of slingshot stones. 

The Assyrian siege devastated Lachish and the kingdom of Judah, but they did not conquer Jerusalem. Lachish was rebuilt after the Assyrian siege but was again destroyed by the Babylonian conquest of the kingdom of Judah in the 6th century B.C. This conquest destroyed Jerusalem as well. During the Babylonian conquest, the prophet Jeremiah notes that the only cities remaining to Judah were Jerusalem, Azekah (in the Elah Valley), and Lachish (34:7). 

Excavations at Lachish uncovered a number of inscriptions written on broken pieces of pottery. One of them, a letter, notes that the people of Lachish could no longer see the signal fires of Azekah, which lay to the north. Azekah had fallen, and the Babylonians were coming to Lachish. 

Excavations at Lachish also yielded a number of royal, Judean, storage jars and jar handles bearing a stamp with the Hebrew phrase, lemelek, meaning “belonging to the king.” These type of storage jars have been found at certain sites throughout Judah and date to the reign of King Hezekiah. Excavations at Lachish have uncovered more of these storage jars than any other site in the kingdom of Judah.

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: Our Prayer Is Our Life

“Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9-10 NKJV).

When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He instructed them to begin their prayer with these three phrases. Hebrew poetry, like prayers, often utilizes parallelism; it is a way of conveying various nuances of the same idea. The three statements Jesus began His prayer with are a parallelism; they represent variations on the same theme.

In the Bible, God’s name is hallowed—sanctified—either by how He acts or how we act. Since He always acts to sanctify His name, His name is at stake in us. By our actions, we either sanctify His name or profane it. Too often we blame the world around us for God’s name being profaned, but that’s not accurate. His name is profaned when His people live disobediently to His will. The opposite is also true. When we obey Him and do His will, His name is sanctified in the world. 

Jesus’ Jewish contemporaries described God’s kingdom as His reign. They said that whenever Israel did His will in the world, they caused Him to reign. The Bible is written from the standpoint of a king’s court. The king ruled supreme; he made the rules. His subjects followed them. God is King in the Bible. Our job, as His servants, is to do His will. When we do, we establish His reign in the world. Thus, establishing His reign through our obedience also sanctifies His name.

God’s name is sanctified, and His reign is established when we do His will. Is that our deepest passion—our heart’s desire? To seek His Kingdom and do His will? The phrase, “on earth as it is in Heaven” refers to all three requests; it represents the realization that God’s heavenly servants live to do His will perfectly, obediently.

When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, he instructed them to begin with a request that through our obedience God’s name will be sanctified, His reign established, and His will done. They say the same things, but with slight differences. To follow Jesus means that we seek to sanctify God’s name in all we say and do. 

Prayer has little to do with the words we say; prayer is how we live our lives. When we pray, do we tend to focus on ourselves, our families, our situation, even our world? Or do our prayers passionately seek to have God’s name sanctified in our world? Those are the prayers Jesus taught His disciples to pray. 

PRAYER

Father, may Your Holy name be sanctified in our lives and in everything we say and do. Amen.

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