Purim: The Story of Esther

By Julie Stahl

Before the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19, if you said the word “masks” in Israel many people would think about the holiday of Purim! It’s a festive time of celebrating, where children dress in costumes to celebrate the Jewish people’s rescue from—and victory over—a wicked government minister who wanted to destroy them thousands of years ago, as recorded in the book of Esther in the Bible.

“And Mordecai wrote these things and sent letters to all the Jews … that they should celebrate yearly the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar, as the days on which the Jews had rest from their enemies, as the month which was turned from sorrow to joy for them, and from mourning to a holiday … because Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to annihilate them, and had cast Pur (that is, the lot), to consume them and destroy them; but when Esther came before the king, he commanded by letter that this wicked plot which Haman had devised against the Jews should return on his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows. So they called these days Purim, after the name Pur” (Esther 9:20-26 NKJV).

And although Esther is the only book in the Bible where the name of God is not mentioned at all, His fingerprints are all over it!

“The book of Esther is kind of about the end of the world—Jerusalem’s destroyed, there are no more prophets, God has stopped speaking to people and you can’t see Him anywhere. The kingdom is gone, the armies are gone, the glory that was Jerusalem and Israel is gone and the Jews are scattered throughout the Persian Empire,” said Yoram Hazony, author of God and Politics in Esther.

“And the question of the book of Esther is, can there be any hope in this kind of world of despair?” Hazony added, “Something that ought to be able to speak to us today?”

Haman—an evil advisor to King Ahasueres (Xerxes) with a Hitler-like desire to wipe out the Jewish peopleconspired to kill them all throughout the ancient Kingdom of Persia (modern-day Iran) on a single day. Since the King trusted Haman, he agreed.

But, unknown to the King, his beloved Queen Esther was Jewish. She and her cousin Mordechai exposed the plot and turned the tables. So, instead, the Jews were rescued from and became victorious over their enemies—and that’s what they celebrate at Purim.

Hazony says there’s a deep lesson here.

“We all like favor, we all like political favor, we love it when people love us and Esther does, too. She loves being queen,” says Hazony. “But the question is, when it comes down to it and you need to do something to throw away that favor—throw away political favor in order to do the right thing—do you have it in you?”

At the Western Wall and in synagogues in Israel and around the world, Megillat Esther, or the scroll of the Book of Esther, is read on Purim. But this reading is unlike any other. Parents and children dress up in costumes—at one time it was to imitate the biblical characters, now it includes popular costumes, too. They cheer when the names of heroes Mordechai and Esther are read and boo and use noisemakers when the name of Haman, the villain, is mentioned.

According to Rabbi Welton, there are two possible reasons for the costumes: to symbolize either how Esther concealed her identity until the last moment or how God was a “concealed force behind the salvation of the Jews.”

Sending financial gifts to the poor and food gifts to others are traditions. Some Jews have a Purim feast. A special treat called hamentaschen (Haman’s hat in Yiddish) or oznei Haman (Haman’s ears in Hebrew) is a triangular cookie filled with dates, chocolate or nuts that’s eaten at the holiday.

In most Jewish communities the holiday is celebrated on the 14th of Adar, but in walled cities or those that were at one time like Jerusalem, the holiday is celebrated a day later and known as Shushan Purim.

Hazony summed up Purim like this: “The Persian Empire. One Jewish Woman. Guess Who Wins?”

Julie Stahl is a correspondent for CBN News in the Middle East. A Hebrew speaker, she has been covering news in Israel full-time for more than 20 years. Julie’s life as a journalist has been intertwined with CBN—first as a graduate student in Journalism at Regent University; then as a journalist with Middle East Television (METV) when it was owned by CBN from 1989-91; and now with the Middle East Bureau of CBN News in Jerusalem since 2009. She is also an integral part of CBN News’ award-winning show, Jerusalem Dateline, a weekly news program providing a biblical and prophetic perspective to what is happening in Israel and the Middle East.

Read more

Purim’s Persian Queen Esther: An Advocate Then and Example Now 

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

Queen Esther is beloved in the pages of biblical history. Her story reflects how one ordinary person responded to God’s call—and how her courage and obedience resulted in an extraordinary rescue of her Jewish community during King Ahasuerus’ reign (486–465 B.C.). God used an ancient beauty contest to save His chosen people, and for centuries the Jewish community worldwide has annually celebrated Purim, which commemorates the saving of the Jews from their Persian conquerors. Beginning at sunset today, February 25, the two-day celebration is a joyous one where the sacred and secular coexist, with solemn Scripture reading and exuberant parties. 

Purim begins after a day of fasting. The sacred Scripture, the entire book of Esther, is read in synagogues. (It’s also called the Megillah Scroll, which Esther herself asked scribes to write by hand on parchment.) Then the secular kicks in as parties get underway. In Israel, it’s not a day off, but fanciful costumes are worn to schools and offices. Adults and children alike dress in an amazing array of costumes, a tradition dating back to the Middle Ages. Their traditions also include giving gifts to friends and the poor and, of course having a feast. The meals include a special cookie-like dessert called hamantaschen, which is fashioned in the shape of a three-cornered hat. When the book of Esther is read, noisemakers called graggers are wildly rattled every time the evil Haman’s name is mentioned.

Persia is the nation of Iran today. However, in Esther’s day the Persian Empire was the largest ever, stretching across three continents: Europe, Africa, and Asia. Estimates suggest a population of 50 million—44 percent of the world’s population. While the numbers are lost to antiquity, some scholars estimate that Jews comprised 20 percent of the population. 

Four main characters fill the book of Esther: the Persian King Ahasuerus (Xerxes in Greek); Haman, the King’s minister; Mordecai, a Jew; and Queen Esther (Persian for “star” or Hadassah in Hebrew). Esther’s name is fitting for a woman who rises to such prominence. And it is clear that Esther, although an orphan in Jewish exile during the Diaspora—truly shone in her day. Interestingly, none of Esther’s 10 chapters mentions God’s name, yet His fingerprints are an indelible part of her story.

Esther steps onto the runway of history when the King decides to hold an ancient beauty contest to replace the disobedient Queen Vashti. The queen had displeased him for refusing to appear one evening during his six-month-long banquet extravaganza held for the princes and nobles of his empire. He angrily dismissed her and sent his messengers to search the empire for a replacement. 

Esther is chosen to participate. Imagine for a moment: Esther has been living quietly, in relative obscurity, under the protection of her cousin Mordecai, who adopted her when her parents died. Yet she is about to be thrust into the spotlight.

Described as quite beautiful, Esther is chosen for the beauty contest held in Susa, one of the King’s capitals. The story heats up after the King chooses Esther as his new Queen. Then Mordecai overhears the deadly plot of Haman—a wealthy high official in the King’s court—to kill all Jews. Previously, the two men had had an encounter where Mordecai refused to bow to Haman—which was against the king’s command. As a result, a fire of hatred lit in Haman against the Jews as a whole. 

Haman persuaded the King to issue an edict to kill the Jews. His anti-Semitism showed in full force in Esther 3:8: “There is a certain people, scattered and dispersed among the other peoples in all the provinces of your realm, whose laws are different from those of any other people and who do not obey the king’s laws; and it is not in Your Majesty’s interest to tolerate them.” Ahasuerus sent soldiers to carry out the death sentences while Mordecai hastened to tell his well-placed cousin the dreadful news. He asked a reluctant Esther to appeal to the King. 

Esther’s first response was fear. We can easily assume that when Esther instructed Mordecai to ask all the Jews to fast along with her, their prayers resulted in God giving her courage and the right strategy to lobby the King.

Through Mordecai, we hear God’s words spoken in Esther 4:14: “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” 

In the following verse, a transformed queen agrees to Mordecai’s request and says, “If I perish, I perish.” 

Haman was already building 75-foot-tall gallows to execute Mordecai. In the meantime, God was working out His rescue plans behind the scenes, making sure the King learned about Mordecai—that, in the past, Mordecai had informed the King’s guards about a plot to assassinate Ahasuerus. The King decided to honor the informant and called Haman in, asking, “What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?” Of course, Haman thought, “It’s me.” 

Haman advised the King to clothe the man in royal robes, seat him on a horse, and lead him through the streets with shouts from adoring crowds. Imagine Haman’s shock and humiliation when he learned the King meant Mordecai. And to make Haman’s mortification worse, the King asked him to lead Mordecai’s horse through the streets. 

Part of Queen Esther’s strategy involved taking the risk of going to the King without being invited to do so—a risk that could mean death. But Ahasuerus received her warmly, asking what she wished. She requested a banquet where Haman would be a guest. The King made it clear that he would grant Esther her heart’s desire. Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favor with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my life—this is my petition. And spare my people—this is my request. For I and my people have been sold to be destroyed, killed and annihilated” (Esther 7:3-4). Esther identified Haman as the perpetrator. 

King Ahasuerus left the banquet to order his soldiers to act. At this point, Haman accosted the Queen, begging for mercy. Ahasuerus, thinking Haman was about to molest his wife, became even more enraged—and ordered Haman to be hung on the gallows he had built for Mordecai. He sent out another decree across the empire commanding the Jewish community’s rescue. 

Queen Esther’s brave advocacy—strengthened with prayer and strategic plans—resulted in saving her people. This remarkable series of events is now celebrated at Purim, reminding the Jewish people that God saved them using an orphan who had won the favor of a king and bravely grew into her influence to change the course of history. 

How has Queen Esther taught us, the Christian community, to advocate for Israel and the Jewish people today?

God placed Esther in her position. She is, in essence, a role model for Christians to be involved in political advocacy. She prayed for a strategy, appealed to her leader, made her case, and asked him to save her people. Consider what the fate of the Jewish people would have been if Esther had not taken the case to her King. Esther—along with Moses, Daniel, and Jeremiah—are biblical political activists who made a lifesaving difference for Jews by appealing to their leaders. Again, where would the Jewish community be without these role models? Evidence of Esther and Mordecai’s ancient tombs are in Hamadan, Iran, and we can honor their legacy today by following their examples.  

In today’s political climate, many believers are opposed to political advocacy. Nevertheless, if we take Scripture seriously, political activism is affirmed—and directed—by God through willing vessels. Advocacy opportunities await us. Iran, the site of ancient Persia, has been ruled since 1979 by theocratic Imams who are modern “Hamans.” The Imams are dead-set on obtaining nuclear weapons and destroying the Jews, whom they call “the little satan.” They call the United States “the big satan.” Their goal, as the largest terror-instigator nation in the world, is to destroy the Jews and their ancestral homeland of Israel. 

Using Mordecai’s inspired words—“at such a time as this”—as our guide, we first pray as Esther did, then act. Iran’s leaders know that the U.S. has millions of pro-Israel believers and Christian and Jewish organizations that oppose their terrorism. It’s time to add the practical action through politics so that Iran’s goals can be thwarted. We pray, embracing the fact that we also live at “such a time as this.” While we are not royalty like Queen Esther, we are royalty, adopted into God’s family through our own King of Kings, Jesus. 

Several organizations are absolutely critical in the global fight against rising anti-Semitism and hostility toward the Jewish state as well as to the provision of humanitarian aid and relief to vulnerable families and communities in Israel. CBN Israel and International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) are two excellent examples, among many others.  

It is also critical for Christians to be politically involved. For instance, Christians United for Israel (CUFI) and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) are especially focused on political advocacy for Israel. Responding to their action alerts and special petitions takes only minutes. Both organizations are indispensable gateways for helping you contact your members of Congress and make your voice heard. Silence is not an option, and this is one of the main ways you can help guarantee Israel’s safety through the political process.

In fact, it is the U.S. Congress that votes every year to supply security aid to Israel. That aid is indispensable, as threats and anti-Semitism strategies mushroom from Iran and its proxies—Hamas, Hezbollah, and Syria. Aside from prayer, it’s the main way that you can help guarantee Israel’s safety.

Recognizing the importance of ensuring Israel’s security on the occasion of Purim, I’d like to share with you a news item disseminated by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in 1945. It reported an inspiring Purim celebration in a castle formerly owned by Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s infamous Minister of Propaganda. It took place a week after Purim, as the American soldiers had been fighting on the front lines and couldn’t stop for the annual observances. The big room they gathered in was packed as the chaplain, Captain Manual Poliakeff of Baltimore, “carefully arranged the candles over a swastika-bedecked bookcase in Goebbels’ main dining room.” He and two Jewish soldiers told the Purim story to their fellow Christian soldiers. They compared the Nazis, whom the soldiers had defeated, to Haman. Chaplain Poliakeff declared, “It is so fitting that Purim services should be held in a castle belonging to Goebbels.” 

As we pray and take up advocacy action, we hope for the day when our Jewish friends will experience full freedom and liberation from all anti-Semitism and violence. 

Here are a few prayer points for “such a time as this.” Please add your prayers from the Lord’s prompting and what you hear from CBN News based in Jerusalem: 

  • Pray for God’s protection for Iran’s 82 million citizens oppressed by their dictator Imams. Many are secretly coming to Christ through an Iranian TV program backed by CBN. 
  • Pray that sanctions against Iran will not be dropped, since pressure is needed against that rogue regime.
  • Pray that the Biden administration will keep commonsense caution in dealing with Iran’s predatory goals against Israel, the Jewish people, Arab nations in the Middle East, and the United States.  
  • Pray for your own decision to become a modern “Mordecai,” that Israel’s intelligence operations will continue to expose Iran’s deadly plans and design more “Esther strategies” to stop them.

As we recall how one woman’s courage not only prevented her people’s annihilation but turned evil into triumph, let’s acknowledge what a powerful example she is for us today, more than 2,500 years later. 

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

Read more

Biblical Israel: Dan

By Marc Turnage

The Bible identifies Dan as the northernmost point of ancient Israel (Judges 20:1; 1 Samuel 3:20). The site of Dan sits at the southern base of Mount Hermon, in the upper portion of the Jordan River Valley, at the juncture of the ancient north-south and east-west caravan routes. Its location at the Dan springs, one of the three headwaters of the Jordan River, meant that the site experienced an abundance of water and vegetation.

Within the Bible, the site was originally called Laish (or Leshem; Genesis 14:14; Joshua 19:47; Judges 18:29). Its name changed to Dan when the tribe of Dan had to relocate due to their inability to remain in their tribal territory, which lay in the Plain of Philistia. The Danites migrated to the north of the land, conquered Laish, and renamed it Dan (Judges 18:11-31).

After the death of King Solomon, the kingdom of Israel divided between the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah, which remained loyal to the house of David. The first king of the northern kingdom of Israel, Jeroboam I, set up a golden calf at Dan, establishing there a high place, and appointing priests of a non-Levitical line (1 Kings 12:29-31). Dan remained a cultic place of worship throughout the period of the Israelite kingdom (2 Kings 10:29; Amos 8:14) and even into the Hellenistic and Roman periods (4th century B.C. to 1st century A.D.). Archaeologists digging at Dan found a Greek inscription that read “To the god who is in Dan,” which actually confirmed the identification of the site as the biblical site of Dan. Although not mentioned in the Bible, the Assyrians destroyed Dan when they conquered the northern kingdom of Israel.

Excavations at Dan have uncovered a number of significant finds that illuminate the world of the Bible. Around the 18th century B.C., the people of Dan constructed a large city gate out of mudbricks on the eastern side of the city. The gate has four towers, a pair on each end. The entrances to the gate, which were only used for a few generations before it was sealed, is in the shape of a triple arch. This gate complex dates to the period of the biblical Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob).

Excavators also uncovered the Israelite high place of Dan. This offers the largest excavated monumental temple complex from the kingdom of Israel. Jeroboam I wanted to keep the Israelites from making pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem. He feared the religious allegiance of the people would also draw their hearts to the house of David that ruled the southern kingdom of Judah (1 Kings 12:25-30), so he established two central cultic places of worship in Israel at Bethel and Dan. The author of Kings views Jeroboam’s actions as the “sin of Jeroboam” from which the northern kingdom never recovered.

The high place at Dan has three phases of development. The first dates to the period of Jeroboam I. This phase was destroyed by a conflagration, which excavators suggest happened due to the attack of the Aramean king Ben-Hadad (1 Kings 15:16-20). The second phase dates to the 9th century B.C. This phase enlarged the area and used finely cut limestone ashlars. It also included chambers erected around the temple podium and altar to serve the priests in their duties. This phase the excavators date to the reign of King Ahab. The final phase dates to the reign of Jeroboam II, with minor alterations to the previous phase. The high place continued to be used into the Hellenistic and Roman periods.

Excavations also revealed a large gate complex dating to the 9th-8th centuries B.C. This gate complex contains a dais where the king or local governor could sit to adjudicate the requests of the people (see 2 Samuel 19:9). In the area of the gate, archaeologists discovered the fragments of a stela written in Aramaic likely placed there by Hazael, king of Aram-Damascus. The inscription mentions the king of Israel and a king of the “House of David” (see 2 Samuel 7), possibly Ahaziah, who was killed along with Joram, king of Israel, in the revolt of Jehu (2 Kings 9-10).

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.

Facebook: @witbuniversity
Podcast: Windows into the Bible Podcast

Read more

Weekly Devotional: Learning Meekness

“Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all the people who were on the face of the earth” (Number 12:3 ESV).

Our modern culture, even our Christian culture, celebrates strong, bold, and yes, even arrogant, leaders. Moses wouldn’t have fit. Yet God selected Moses as the vehicle of His redemption of the children of Israel—as their leader to the land He promised them.

The Hebrew word translated as “meek” also means “humble.” Meekness is not weakness; it’s humility. What made Moses so humble? He learned how to lead by being a shepherd.

We do not connect shepherding with leadership in our modern culture, but the ancient world saw shepherds as an ideal model for leaders. Gods and kings were often described as shepherds, and many leaders, like Moses and David, came from shepherding. How did being a shepherd make one a meek and humble leader?

Shepherds followed a nomadic lifestyle. They pastured their flocks wherever they could find land that provided grass and scrub. They lived on the periphery of agricultural society, as farmers did not want sheep and goats crossing through their cultivated fields. Thus, the wilderness became the home of shepherds, alone among the flocks. The wilderness areas of the Middle East, which can include deserts, pose innate dangers to a shepherd.

First, they have to deal with harsh climates that can produce scorching heat in the day and cold at night. The harsh terrain poses another set of problems, as the shepherd must navigate his or her flocks to safe places of pasture. Third, predators—both animal and human—reside in the wilderness, and it falls to the shepherd to defend the flock. Such an environment develops a number of leadership qualities.

You can almost imagine how a person surviving in such conditions could develop a self-image as a self-made individual. But the opposite is actually the case. Why? Because there are no self-made individuals in the wilderness.

The conditions prove so formidable that without the help of God and others, one cannot survive. So, how did Moses learn true humility? Through his experiences as a shepherd.

Our world does not value genuine meekness and humility, but God does. The psalmist promises that “The meek shall inherit the land” (37:11 ASV), a sentiment echoed by Jesus in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:5). Paul identified meekness as a Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Do we learn humility through our life circumstances? We should.

Following God often requires us to value things not valued by our culture, to cultivate behaviors counter to the world in which we live. Moses learned lessons by shepherding flocks, a very common practice in the ancient world.

We need to allow our common, everyday circumstances to help us develop godly behaviors and attitudes in our own lives.


Father, may we grow in genuine meekness and humility before You and others today. Amen.

Read more

Torah Reading Commentary: The Genesis of Distinctions

By Mark Gerson

Parshat Mishpatim, the Torah portion that spans Exodus 21-24, immediately follows Parshat Yitro, in which God appears at Mount Sinai and gives the Ten Commandments to Moses in a scene so spectacular that the people “saw the sounds.” This greatest of all religious moments is followed by Parshat Mishpatim, which begins with the word “and.” The connection—what lives on the other side of “and”—are dozens of laws. These laws, covering both civil and criminal matters, account for circumstances that include intentional and unintentional killings; the different levels of responsibility that different kinds of watchmen have; differences in penalties that the owner of an ox that attacks another ox has, depending upon the previous behavior of the first ox; and much else.

The “and,” as numerous Jewish commentators have noted, puts into real and daily life the extraordinary religious moment at Sinai. The laws of Mishpatim, which might seem pedestrian, are really a continuation of the religious high experienced in Yitro. The vision of Yitro needs the execution of Mishpatim, and vice versa. There is no “either,” there is no “or”—there is only “and.”

Rabbi David Wolpe, a great Jewish scholar, thinker, and leader based at Temple Sinai in Los Angeles, has another remarkable observation about Mishpatim. Mishpatim, he observes, prepared Jews for success in the modern world. Mishpatim, which of course was written thousands of years before any of the realities of modernity were birthed, is all about the pursuit of justice through the creation and crafting of distinctions. It is the skill in the otherwise arcane practice of making distinctions—exercised by professionals as diverse as accountants, medical ethicists, botanists, appellate lawyers, engineers, chemists, and physicians of all kinds—that has emerged as the most important in the information age and the knowledge economy.

This art of making distinctions also informs Jewish biblical politics, with resonance into the present day. For instance, take a general question: How should we regard the stranger in our midst? It entirely depends, as Parshat Mishpatim says, upon the distinctions we must make.

One example is given in Exodus 22: “If the thief is discovered while tunneling in, and he is struck and dies, there is no blood-guilt on his account.” This is the modern stand-your-ground law. A homeowner is entitled to defend his property and to act with the presumption that the thief coming surreptitiously (“tunneling in”) will inflict maximum physical harm. Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, drawing from ancient Jewish sources, said this applies even if a homeowner is on the second floor and the burglar is on the first floor and the homeowner is not in immediate danger. The homeowner need not allow the thief to rob his house and can defend his property with lethal force. Rav Soloveitchik explained, “The covenantal community is not a community of meek ones.”

The treatment of the tunneling thief is, within Parshat Mishpatim, completely distinguished from how we must treat another kind of stranger: “You shall not taunt or oppress a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall not cause pain to any widow or orphan. If you dare to cause him pain … if he shall cry out to me, I shall surely hear his outcry. My wrath shall blaze and I shall kill you by the sword, and your wives will be widows and your children orphans” (Exodus 22:20-24).

The language is as relentless as it sounds and is meant to jar us. If you mistreat the vulnerable, God says, your death will just be the beginning of your suffering. The same relentlessness that is directed against the tunneling thief is now directed toward the vulnerable and against those who make the mistake of mistreating them. 

Moreover, the “you” in “You shall not cause pain” and “If you dare to cause him pain” is in the plural. The “you” applies to each individual in the community, regardless of whether he is the person who caused the pain. If we stand idly by when the vulnerable are mistreated, then each of us is eligible for divine wrath. Compassion, in the biblical imagination, is an individual and collective obligation. And it is given abundantly or not at all, depending on the circumstances.

The insistence of this distinction between the thief and the vulnerable is amplified in the next passage. This passage, Exodus 22:25-27, establishes a rule governing the collateral that a lender is able to require from a borrower. A lender is entitled to accept collateral. However, if that collateral is “your fellow’s garment”—the shirt off his back—the lender must return it to him before sunset. The Torah does what it rarely does, which is to offer its own commentary on its rule: “For it alone is his clothing, it is his garment for him—in what shall he lie down?”

The Torah is telling us yes, it’s your collateral, but it is the shirt off of his back! You can’t let him go cold; what is wrong with you?

The next verse brings us to another telling distinction. Exodus 23:5 says, “If you see the donkey of someone who hates you crouching under its burden, would you refrain from helping him?—you shall repeatedly help with him.”

The first interesting part of this verse is the clause “would you refrain from helping him?” This is the Torah’s acknowledgment that the natural response to seeing someone who “hates you” suffering is not to help. And that’s okay. One of the strangest ideas in the moral life is that the “natural” is what is good. In fact, the Bible—and perhaps all of moral striving—is about conquering the natural in order to achieve the good. While it is natural to not want to help one we hate, the Bible is instructing us to do so—but with a crucial distinction.

This distinction exists in the word “with”—as in, “you shall help repeatedly with him.” We are under no obligation to help alone or to do the entire job ourselves. If we see one who hates us struggling with his animal, then we must offer to join forces with the other person in order to alleviate the burden of the donkey. What if the other person does not want to work with us? Perhaps he hates us too much to collaborate with us or perhaps he is just the kind of person who insists on doing everything by himself. In that case, we are not obligated to help. Perhaps this is because the act of working with someone toward a productive end is probably the best way to mend a broken relationship and turn “hatred” into something better. Or perhaps this is because we are just not required to help someone who is unwilling to help himself by accepting our assistance.

In either case, the distinction stands. If a person agrees to help with us, we help. If not, we don’t.

It is the education in distinctions from Parshat Mishpatim that teaches us how to distinguish and differentiate between the vulnerable widow and the tunneling thief—between the person we must help and the person we need not assist—that has prepared us to live in our complex modern world.

Mark Gerson, a devoted Jew, is an entrepreneur and philanthropist who (along with his wife, Rabbi Erica Gerson) is perhaps the world’s largest individual supporter of Christian medical missions. He is the co-founder of African Mission Healthcare (AMH) and the author of a forthcoming book on the Haggadah: The Telling: How Judaism’s Essential Book Reveals the Meaning of Life.  

Twitter: @markgerson
Podcast: The Rabbi’s Husband


Read more

A Jewish Patriot of Colonial America: An Example for Future U.S. Support of Israel 

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

Long before Ellis Island became the gateway to America, Haym Salomon, a Jewish immigrant, fled from the political unrest and violence in his native Poland. He settled in New York in the early 1770s and set up a brokerage business that included foreign securities. To protest the British, Solomon joined the Sons of Liberty (perhaps best known today for their role in the Boston Tea Party) and built relationships with George Washington and other leaders in colonial America. While information about this remarkable man is somewhat limited, it has not stopped the legends about his short life (1740-1785). But one fact is certain: He helped finance America’s Revolutionary War (1775-1783). And his vital assistance to the colonies would prove to be a precursor to modern, reciprocally beneficial connections between the U.S. and Israel.

Salomon’s patriotism led him to spy on behalf of his new homeland. He was arrested several times and later imprisoned. However, since he spoke several languages, the British paroled him; they needed his services as a translator for their German-allied troops. Covertly urging the German mercenaries to desert, Salomon was sentenced to hang, yet escaped to Philadelphia. He joined Mikveh Israel Synagogue—known as the “Synagogue of the American Revolution in Philadelphia”—and rebuilt his successful business. He also married, and his new brother-in-law was a lieutenant colonel on George Washington’s staff.

During the Revolutionary War, the businessman gave varying amounts of money—totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars in today’s money—to the cause. He made loans to such leaders as James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, and his philanthropy was well known. 

Salomon’s significance during America’s War of Independence is highlighted in a famous request in 1781. As the story goes, the Continental Army was preparing for the most critical battle of the war in Yorktown, Virginia. After five long years of fighting, food, clothing, and weapons were scarce. Desperately needing money for the war effort, General George Washington sent urgent word to Robert Morris, Director of the Treasury of the Continental Congress.  

Morris relayed a message back telling Washington, “We are broke.” 

Washington directed Morris, “Send for Haym Salomon.” 

Morris hurriedly went to Salomon’s synagogue even though it was Yom Kippur, Judaism’s holiest day of the year, their day of repentance. One of the synagogue members challenged Salomon’s agreeing to help on this most solemn of days. Salomon’s response was, “It is for the cause.” 

Two hundred and forty years have passed since the decisive Battle of Yorktown, where British General Cornwallis surrendered. Yet Haym Salomon has been remembered as an American Jewish hero for many years afterward. In 1939, a major motion picture studio brought out a biopic about Salomon, titled The Sons of Liberty. In its catalog, Warner Brothers described the movie: “The story of the unselfish loyalty and devotion of Haym Salomon (Claude Rains) to General Washington and the fight for freedom in the American Revolution are told in a forceful and rousing way.”

And, although Jews’ contributions are rarely included in students’ history texts, young readers’ “trade books” about American heroes like Patrick Henry and Daniel Boone also include Jewish heroes, and Salomon was certainly included in these.

A 1975 commemorative stamp issued by the U.S. Post Office described Salomon this way: “Financial Hero—businessman and broker Haym Salomon was responsible for raising most of the money needed to finance the American Revolution and later to save the new nation from collapse.” 

Mr. Salomon did not live to read the fine letter that George Washington, the general who later became President, wrote in August 1790 to the Jewish community of Newport, Rhode Island. The Jewish patriot would have rightly felt pride in Washington’s 340-word letter. 

In part it read, “May the children of the stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants; while everyone shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid” (the latter portion of the sentence includes a clear reference to Micah 4:4). Washington’s letter also said, “For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.”

On President’s Day last Monday, I reflected on all that President George Washington had done for his country. Like most Americans, I hold him in the highest esteem. In learning about his respect for the Jewish communities in the colonies and now Haym Salomon, the “financial hero,” I am inspired by both leaders as examples for mutually beneficial ties today. In two different yet essential ways, General Washington’s leadership—and the security aid that Haym Salomon generously provided from his personal wealth—ensured our freedom as a nation.

Today, the United States provides security aid for Israel with a long-standing commitment from the U.S. Congress on both sides of the aisle. It’s a win-win for both nations, with multiple mutual benefits. Also known as foreign aid, generally speaking the monetary issue though can be controversial for some Americans when it comes to multiple countries, whether military or economic aid. 

According to polls, Americans believe we spend a whopping 25% of our federal budget on foreign aid—which is completely false. The truth is that total foreign aid comprises only 1% of our federal budget. (Israel receives approximately 0.01% of that.) Some of our foreign aid is problematic, but not when it comes to Israel, especially among millions of pro-Israel American evangelicals. Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, often comments, “Israel will defend itself, by itself.” It’s clear that Israel does not want American boots on the ground. But our security aid—financial aid—is much needed by the only democracy in the Middle East. 

For instance, due to Israel’s considerable need for defense, their expenditures are 5.7% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP). That’s a high percentage, higher than that of any other industrialized country. Our security aid to Israel has increased in keeping with the huge increase in terror attacks against Israel.  

Beginning under President Bill Clinton, Congress agreed on a ten-year “Memorandum of Understanding” (MOU) that has continued through the Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations. It may sound excessive, but the first agreement committed to $21.3 billion portioned out over 10 years. Each MOU has seen an increase. In 2016 the new agreement was renegotiated, providing $38 billion from fiscal year 2019 to 2028. Congress re-examines and votes on the MOU each year. The billions do not land in Israeli banks unmonitored. In fact, 75% of the funds stay in the United States, helping to employ Americans in our factories that make military equipment.  

The Congressional Research Service annually reports the highly detailed—and closely monitored—financial and accountability measures for our foreign aid to Israel. Their 2020 report notes: “The Trump Administration requested $3.3 billion in FMF [Foreign Military Financing] for Israel and $500 million for missile defense aid to mark the second year of the MOU. The Administration also requested $5 million in Migration and Refugee Assistance humanitarian funding for migrants to Israel.” 

For those wondering how the U.S. benefits from such generosity, it’s important for Americans to understand how the security aid we provide Israel helps us, in turn. Israel provides us with significant intelligence sharing, military cooperation and training, counterterrorism knowledge, and our own homeland security. The value of their contributions to our country is impossible to estimate. Nevertheless, it’s safe to say our security aid is worth every penny and more. Our alliance with Israel makes us stronger and safer. Even without American boots on the ground, the benefits protect American lives at home and abroad. 

Here are some examples of how this win-win relationship benefits the U.S. First of all, Israel has designed a system to detect underground tunnels. We now collaborate on this system, which we can apply to tunnels at our own southern border. Secondly, Israel’s technology and expertise make our airports more safe and secure. As a world leader in counterterrorism and emergency response, Israel helps train American first-responders and counterterrorism officials. Another benefit relates to direct help for our military serving overseas in that part of the world: the United States has $3.4 billion in weapons and equipment stored in Israel—the War Reserves Stock. If our troops need those supplies, they can quickly get them. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) may also access this stockpile in an emergency, U.S. authorization permitting. 

As mentioned earlier, foreign aid is another way to support Israel—a tangible expression that saves Israeli lives and protects our own citizens. Foreign aid decisions begin in the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, the birthplace of foreign aid in general. In the 117th Congress, the committee has 33 Democrats and 26 Republicans. Both Jews and Christians—and now one Muslim—discuss and make the decisions. When it comes to Israel, the committee has a track record of support from both Democrats and Republicans. 

Join CBN Israel this week in our prayers to thank God and the majority of the U.S. Congress for their historic, consistent security aid to Israel:

  • Pray that the U.S. Congress will maintain a majority of votes for Israel’s security aid and other related legislation.
  • Pray that our multi-level cooperation with Israel will increase even more to benefit both our nations and citizens. 
  • Pray that more Americans will become active with their members of Congress to ask for their support for the U.S.-Israel relationship. 
  • Pray that Christians will not be apathetic; that we will stop anti-Semitism from spreading in small and big ways.

As we pray with and for Israel this week, let’s remember that Christians in the U.S. have a critical role to play in supporting the modern State of Israel—not only our prayers, but through our financial support and our vigilance in detecting signs of anti-Semitism and calling them out.  

Perhaps nothing could speak to this mutually beneficial relationship more eloquently than the bronze sculpture titled “The Great Triumvirate of Patriots ” that stands in Chicago’s Heald Square. Dedicated in 1941, the 11-foot-tall statue features three leaders standing hand in hand: General George Washington, Robert Morris, and Haym Salomon. Flanking General Washington, Morris and Salomon are described on a plaque as “the two principal financers of the American Revolution.” In light of Haym Salomon’s support of the American colonies—helping us shake off the British yoke and forge a strong nation—let us look forward to our continued help and support of Israel in the years ahead.

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

Read more

Relief for Terror Victims

What if you saw your entire year’s income disappear in minutes? For the last two years, this has been the plight of Israeli farmers living near Gaza. Enemies across the border have been launching fire kites and balloons that burn their crops rapidly and threaten Israel’s food supply. 

This latest terrorism has communities in a constant state of anxiety and high alert, even as these terror devices also threaten to destroy schools and homes. Meanwhile, Israeli volunteers and first responders, like Ilan, risk their lives to fight these fires and minimize damage. 

Ilan is head of security for areas closest to the Israeli border, working with 20 security coordinators responsible for the villages they live in. Every day, they put themselves in danger to keep their towns safe. Yet, they also struggle to afford vital firefighting gear and supplies. 

But CBN Israel has become a faithful source of needed aid to Ilan and his brave team. We delivered a costly top-of-the-line fire suppressant, which mixes with water to stop fires instantly, and prevents them from restarting. Plus, we provided state-of-the-art firefighting equipment, so they can safely battle blazes. And we are hosting emergency training for communities, as well as trauma counseling and assistance for terror victims. 

Ilan is so grateful, saying, “I can’t thank you enough for all that you have done!” And CBN Israel is touching lives in the Holy Land in so many other ways. We are offering food, housing, financial help, and essentials to those in need. 

Your support can offer a lifeline to so many, especially during this pandemic. You can offer aid to Holocaust survivors, refugees, and young families. Please join us in blessing Israel today!


Read more

Biblical Israel: Dan Spring 

By Marc Turnage

The land of Israel did not merely provide the stage upon which biblical events too place, its flora, fauna, climate, and geology provide the images, metaphors, and vocabulary that biblical writers used frequently to communicate their message whether in narrative, poetry, or prophecy.

There are places within Israel today where one can stand within the geography used by the biblical writers and feel and hear, within the setting, the message they sought to communicate. The Dan Spring is one of those places.

The spring acquires its name from the biblical site of Dan, the northernmost city within biblical Israel. Located at the base of the foothills of Mount Hermon, it provides the largest of the three springs whose tributaries come together south of the site of Dan to form the Jordan River.

The Dan Spring produces roughly 240 million cubic meters per year. With such a large amount of water coming from the spring, especially in the winter and spring of the year when the rains and snowmelt add to it, the sound of the Dan tributary roars as it flows towards the meeting point to form the Jordan.

The psalmists use this setting and the sound created by the waters in a couple places. Psalm 29 proclaims: “The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over mighty waters. The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty. The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon. He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox. The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire. The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. The voice of the LORD causes the oaks to whirl, and strips the forest bare; and in his temple all say, “Glory!” The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king forever. May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!” (29:2-9).

The highlighted bold type shows the psalmist’s use of the waters of the Dan spring to describe the voice and glory of the Lord. How do we know he meant the Dan Spring? Because of the geographic detail provided, which is italicized. These locations—Lebanon, Sirion, and Kadesh—surround the northern area of Israel and the Dan Spring.

When the psalmist listened to the raging waters of the spring and its tributary, he found himself moved to comparison with the voice and glory of the Lord. He communicated his message through the physical setting of the Dan Spring and the surrounding countryside.

In Psalm 42, we find another use of the Dan Spring for the psalmist’s poetry: “As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God? … My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. Deep calls to deep at the thunder of your cataracts; all your waves and your billows have gone over me” (42:1-7).

The psalmist begins by likening his desire for God to a deer craving the streams of water from springs, like the Dan. Although lush with vegetation, the summer heat and humidity of the region of the Dan Spring is difficult for animals and humans. He finds himself in the region of the Dan Spring (the italicized portions) and feels overwhelmed with the roar of the gushing spring.

Traveling to the land of Israel is more than visiting sites. It should transform how we read and interact with the physical reality of the land of the Bible.

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.

Facebook: @witbuniversity
Podcast: Windows into the Bible Podcast

Read more

Weekly Devotional: Where God Dwells

“For thus says the high and lofty one who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with those who are contrite and humble in spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite” (Isaiah 57:15 RSV).

The dissonance of this verse is astounding! The God who dwells in the highest heaven, who inhabits eternity, also resides with the contrite and humble of spirit.

Why does He dwell there? To revive them. To lift them up. It seems impossible to imagine that the King of the universe dwells with the contrite and humble.

Within the ancient world, the gods were capricious, caring about their sacrifices and the mighty; human morality did not move the gods. Neither did human poverty. The God of the Bible is fundamentally different.

The suffering, the poor, those on the fringe of society—He identified with them. The mighty, He cast down; the proud, He resisted. The contrite, He revives their heart. The humble, He revives their spirit.

The economy of God’s kingdom turns the normal order of things upside down. He often values what others overlook or despise, and He despises what we tend to value.

The Hebrew word translated as “contrite” literally means “crushed.” Those who are crushed. The God who inhabits eternity dwells among those who feel crushed.

The structure of the verse indicates that the crushed and contrite are also the humble in spirit. The “humble in spirit” doesn’t merely mean those who are humble; it carries with it the sense of those whose spirits are low, depressed. Have you been there? The God of the universe dwells with you.

Our weakness does not hinder or prevent God’s presence. His greatness does not distance Him from our brokenness. Rather, He dwells with us there. He does not leave us there; His presence comes to revive us.


Father, You dwell in eternity, yet You reside with us in our brokenness to revive us. How great are You, O Lord! Amen.

Read more

Torah Reading Commentary: Jethro’s Concern

By Mark Gerson

The parsha (Torah portion) we Jews read last week in synagogue was about the greatest moment in the history of humankind: when God gave the Ten Commandments (and, according to some scholars, the entire Torah) to Moses at Mount Sinai. It was such a dramatic moment that the people “saw the sounds.” They—we—were so overwhelmed, our senses were discombobulated to the point where sounds became objects of sight. Moreover, the sound of the trumpet became “continually louder”—when in reality, of course, sounds soften after reaching their peak.

What would we imagine, then, that this parsha be named? Perhaps for the Ten Commandments, perhaps for Moses, perhaps for Sinai. One would think the greatest moment in all of humankind would be worthy of a parsha title in the Bible.

But that is not what the Author of the Torah did. He named this parsha “Jethro,” after Moses’ father-in-law. The fact that the character of Jethro receives a distinction that the Torah does not, and that Moses does not, leads us to ask: What is so special about Jethro and what can we learn from him?

The first thing we are told about Jethro in this parsha is that he is a “priest of Midian.” He is a Gentile. We are soon informed that Jethro “heard everything that God had done for Moses and for his people Israel.” Jethro would have heard about the Exodus along with everyone else in the world. The news may have taken longer to travel then than it does now, but everyone would have known that God had freed the Jewish slaves from the grip of the most important empire in the world, Egypt.

Yet Jethro is the one person who genuinely heard. He was moved by what he learned, and as such did not treat it as an abstract news event, but rather as cause to do something. And he did something bold and courageous. He went to visit Moses in the desert.

One might ask: What is courageous about visiting one’s son-in-law? It becomes somewhat clearer when we read, in Exodus 18:2, that Zipporah ( Jethro’s daughter) “had been sent away.” This is, as the Hebrew scholar Nehemia Gordon notes, the ancient expression for divorce. And the rupture in the relationship between Moses and his family becomes even clearer when Jethro finds Moses in the camp.

“I, your father-in-law Jethro, have come to you with your wife and her two sons with her.” Her two sons—Gershon and Eliezer. Their father was Moses. Yet Jethro identifies the boys as “her” two sons. This is not a snarky insult, but a profound statement about the nature of Jewish parenthood. Judaism does not consider parenthood to be a biological phenomenon but a deeply moral and substantive set of obligations and responsibilities. That is why Judaism considers grandparenthood to be akin to parenthood, as grandparents assume the responsibility of transmission along with the parents. Moses has not earned the designation “father” and he does not even attempt a rebuttal.

What is Jethro thinking at this point? We are not told, which is not surprising. The Torah does not generally grant us entry into the inner lives or intimate feelings of its characters. We observe actions and try to intuit what must have driven and motivated them. But as usual in the Torah, we are given enough to come to a reasonable conclusion. Moses had abandoned his family. He, with God’s help, had led the world’s first slave rebellion and had defeated the most powerful empire in the world. All other conquerors had used their victory to augment their power.

Jethro, like all people on all journeys (whether to the supermarket or the Promised Land), must have been imagining something. What could that have been? Presumably something along the lines of the writer of the World War I classic, “How Ya Gonna Keep ‘em Down on the Farm (After They’ve Seen Paree)?”—but much more so. Jethro probably figured that Moses had abandoned his family for good to become like every other conqueror—and establish himself as a demigod with nearly absolute power accompanying divine pretensions.

And yet Jethro goes to visit anyway.

In Exodus 18:7, we are told Moses’ reaction. Moses “prostrated himself and kissed him [Jethro] and each inquired about the other’s well-being.” They made small talk! Then came the big talk: “Moses told his father-in-law everything that God had done to Pharaoh and Egypt for Israel’s sake—all the travail that had befallen them on the way—and that God had rescued them.”

Jethro, a man defined by his quality as a listener, surely heard a sound of silence. Moses does not mention himself. Moses spoke of what God did to Pharaoh and to Egypt for Israel’s sake.

These were not the words of an imperious conqueror. They were the words of, as the Torah later describes Moses, “the most humble man ever to live.”

Jethro’s reaction? He is—and this is what the Hebrew says—“pricked with joy.” He is so happy that this is the Moses he found, that he gets goose bumps. Jethro falls in love with Moses and with Moses’ Boss, who inspired His prophet to act this way. Jethro becomes the third person, and the third Gentile in the Bible, to say: “Blessed is God,” and he follows the blessing with a declaration: “Now I know that God is greater than all the gods.”

Jethro continues by making offerings to God and hosting a feast. Moses’ brother Aaron was at the feast, as were “all the elders of Israel.” But there was a conspicuous absence: Moses was not there.

The text does not make us wait for long to surmise where Moses was. “It was on the very next day,” we learn in Exodus 18:13, that Jethro observed Moses judging disputes “from the morning until the evening.” He missed the dinner, presumably, because he needed to be judging.

Jethro confronts Moses. “What is this thing that you do to the people?” He tells Moses to institute a judicial bureaucracy composed of “men of accomplishment, God fearing people, men of truth and people who despise money.”

Jethro’s primary concern is instructive. He is concerned about the effects of workaholism on Moses: “You will surely be worn out,” he explains to Moses in Exodus 18:18. But Jethro’s primary focus is on the Jewish people: “What is this,” he asks in Exodus 18:14, “that you do to the people?”

What could Moses have been doing to the people? He was the one hearing their disputes, and he must have had a good reason for doing so. Moses, a brilliant man (to put it mildly), surely had considered delegating, especially as he felt the pain of its absence; the Bible says that judging as he did “wore him out.” Moreover, he had already proven that he understood the benefits of relying on delegating, as when he relied upon Aaron, Hur and Joshua to win the battle against the Amalekites a short time before. 

Yet he decided against delegating when it came to judging. We are not told why. Perhaps he wanted all the people to benefit from his superior rulings. Perhaps, due to his stature or disposition, disputants came easier to compromise in his presence.

Whatever the case, Jethro was not having it. So long as Moses was the only person who could hear disputes, his original concern stood—that Moses would become, or even just be perceived as, a demigod. Instead, Jethro told Moses to empower lots of other people, despite the fact that their rulings would not be as good as his. This empowerment would lead to a widespread investment in the system, as people would draw conviction from the fact that they were able to make rulings that would reflect and define the Jewish future. 

And that, Jethro seemed to realize, would prepare the people for its most important reality. Someday, Moses would be gone. How would the Jewish people continue to survive and thrive in the absence of their great leader? By, perhaps paradoxically, seeking and accepting rulings that would not be as good as possible—just as if Moses had made them all. This concession would enable the construction of systems and processes—an institution—that was widely respected by the people. The people would then inculcate the virtues and practices of the institution in their children, who would be obligated and enthusiastic to pass it on to their children.

The result? The Jewish religion—which we owe to our great Gentile friend and observer, Jethro.

Mark Gerson, a devoted Jew, is an entrepreneur and philanthropist who (along with his wife, Rabbi Erica Gerson) is perhaps the world’s largest individual supporter of Christian medical missions. He is the co-founder of African Mission Healthcare (AMH) and the author of a forthcoming book on the Haggadah: The Telling: How Judaism’s Essential Book Reveals the Meaning of Life.  

Twitter: @markgerson
Podcast: The Rabbi’s Husband

Read more