Hate: A Runaway Addiction with a Global Impact

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

Jew hatred has clearly shown itself as a widespread addiction since the “New Nazis” attempted another holocaust last October 7—torturing, then slaughtering, Jewish men, women, and children in their ancestral homeland. Based on Nazi strategies, decades of unleashed propaganda from Palestinian leaders, the Islamic Regime’s theocracy, and its Triple H proxies (Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Houthis) have destabilized brains and emotions. Minds that either look for the next high of violence, or find excuses to imbibe the lies of victimization, or possess a worldview full of naïve ignorance—each resulting in a new kind of cartel: the cartel of hatred.

Demonstrators, institutions, and international bodies are dangerously consuming lies that lead to poorly formed decisions. The failure (or deliberate refusal) to distinguish good from evil and right from wrong is an assault on Judeo-Christian values—values that have generated the greatest freedoms, well-being, and hopes the world has ever known. The most horrific examples of hate in the last 90 years began in pre-World War II with Hitler’s hypnotic evil. Hamas’s murderous October 7 rampage reenacted Nazi evil in a pattern that continues today: in Gazan tunnels torturing hostages held in underground concentration camps and murdering Palestinians above ground.

Many of Hamas’s hate addicts are high on an amphetamine called captagon, an addictive stimulant that permits higher levels of stamina while lowering inhibitions. Captagon’s history reveals this mind-altering drug—which has been available throughout Arab countries in the Middle East—to be a source of terrorist money. In a short summary, here are a few facts based on a detailed report from The German company Degussa Pharma Gruppe designed the drug in the 1960s to help with narcolepsy, attention deficit disorder, and for use as a stimulant. Beginning in the 1980s, many countries banned it due to a dangerous chemical in the formula. Criminal organizations in Turkey and the Balkan nations began smuggling operations, then in 2011 Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad hijacked the drug operation to bolster his failing economy after the horrific civil war exploded.

Now, Syria is the top captagon cartel of the “jihad drug,” whose consumption makes billions of dollars each year from the six nations comprising the Gulf Cooperation Council: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Amid such a vast drug trade, the Council is very concerned about the drug’s usage and ensuing health and security concerns. Further, a detailed Council report about captagon’s expansion into Europe and Africa outlines the serious threat it represents beyond the Gulf. The report notes that trafficking this drug is “a revenue source for state and non-state actors such as the Syrian government, Hezbollah, and state-affiliated militias [fueling] malign activities that have exacerbated insecurity, encouraged corruption, and empowered authoritarian behaviors.”

Learning about the billions of dollars earned from captagon sales by Syria’s cartel dictator and other criminals, it is important to realize that the billions are used not just for the terrorists themselves who are taking the drug. Since Syria harbors Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), we must question where the money goes. Other countries also finance terror with expensive media propaganda, buying weapons, making payoffs not only to demonstrators and agitators but also to powerful institutions and authorities. For instance, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinians (UNRWA) employs mostly Palestinians. The agency funds 30,000 employees; a small international staff in New York, Geneva, Brussels, and Cairo; plus, five field offices in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and the West Bank (Judea/Samaria.)

Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Oren Marmorstein, stated in April that “more than 2,135 UNRWA workers are members of either Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad.” Hamas has successfully permeated UNRWA so that “it is no longer possible to determine where UNRWA ends and where Hamas begins.” The drug cartels boost a multiplicity of promoting the world’s oldest hatred—a hatred targeting Israel, God’s Land, and His people, the Jews.

In the global judicial arena, it is highly unlikely that the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the United Nations International Court of Justice (ICJ) are taking captagon. However, they are consuming another drug: hate disguised in lies. Last November, I wrote my CBN Israel column proposing that Israel itself hold a war crimes tribunal. Indeed, historic precedent affirms such a move. In December 1961, a Jerusalem court tried and sentenced Nazi SS Lieutenant Colonel Adolf Eichmann to death for crimes against humanity, crimes against the Jewish people, and war crimes. He had escaped U.S. custody in 1946 and was found by Mossad—16 years after the war’s end. The Hamas charter imitates the Nazi’s “Final Solution” to “obliterate an entire people [Jews] from the world.” Israel will not relent in pursuit of those like Eichmann in Gaza, West Bank, or anywhere in the world for their crimes against humanity, crimes against the Jewish people, and war crimes.

The United Nations established the ICC in 2002 as the world’s first permanent international criminal court, with its 18 judges chosen allegedly for their legal qualifications, impartiality, and integrity. The ICC investigates war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity. It was extraordinary, then, that on May 20, ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan announced seeking arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. Putting Israel’s leaders into the same category is outrageous, equating them with the top Hamas terrorist leaders Yahya Sinwar, Ismail Haniyeh, and Mohammed Deif. Note the word impartiality as a qualification to serve on the ICC court. A verdict of disbarment is a good decision to levy against these judges. They are unqualified, unable, and/or unwilling to acknowledge the vast differences between good and evil.

Despite different roles, the ICC and ICJ are twins when it comes to reckless decisions about Israel. The ICJ’s ill-informed decision on May 24 after South Africa had accused Israel of genocide and demanded that Israel completely withdraw from Gaza. Israel is the only army in the world that consistently notifies citizens living in an enemy territory to leave the area before they take military action. The IDF also sets up safe zones for Gazans, first in northern Gaza and now in Rafah, for 900,000 civilians.

The ICJ, established in 1945, serves as the United Nations judicial branch with 15 judges. Their role is to arbitrate between nations, to settle disputes, and to offer legal advisory opinions. Although ICJ did call for the immediate and unconditional release of hostages, I am left to wonder if ICJ’s judges read anything other than Hamas “facts” or the South African government’s absurd accusations. The ICJ is located at the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands. Yet neither the judges in the Peace Palace, nor the world, will encounter peace if they prohibit Israel from fully defeating Hamas—which clearly declares it will repeat October 7 again and again.

True justice is mostly a missing commodity in this era of world history. Nevertheless, take heart in Proverbs 24:24-25, which assures us: “Whoever says to the guilty, ‘You are innocent,’ will be cursed by peoples and denounced by nations. But it will go well with those who convict the guilty, and rich blessing will come on them.”

Our CBN Israel team welcomes you to pray with us this week—prayers for the Jewish nation and people are needed now more than ever.

Prayer Points:

  • Pray that our Christian faith, founded on the rock of Judaism, will strengthen standing for righteousness.
  • Pray for the IDF and their families in a particularly dangerous mission in Rafah.
  • Pray for true justice within world courts.
  • Pray for God’s justice, Creator of true justice, to rule and reign in His perfect timing.

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 an author at The Blogs-Times of Israel and has traveled to Israel since 1990. She co-edited The Auschwitz Album Revisited and is on the board of Violins of Hope South Carolina. By invitation, Arlene attends Israel’s Government Press Office Christian Media Summits. She also hosts her devotionals, The Eclectic Evangelical, on her website at

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Victim of Terrorism: Yehonatan’s Story

Imagine if terrorists suddenly invaded your neighborhood, turning it into a war zone. Soon, you and your loved ones are evacuated hours away to a safe area. You are glad to be alive—yet now you have no job, no basic necessities, and no idea when you can return home.

That’s what Yehonatan’s family faced, as they were rushed far away from the fighting at the Gaza border. Living in a hotel room with their lives uprooted, it’s been especially hard on his son, who is sad about missing school and his friends. Yehonatan says, “He’s tired…he just wants to go home.” They live day to day with an uncertain future, along with others like them.

He continued, “We have to try and keep expenses to a minimum. It’s not easy, because we pay rent for a house we no longer live in.” They took very little with them—and now they are out of work. But thanks to friends like you, this family’s needs are being met through CBN Israel.

Donors provided meals, clothing, and temporary lodging. Yehonatan said, “Here we don’t have to pay anything, and we are taken care of. The fact that we are safe is most important.” He adds, “Your giving is really, really extraordinary. It is hard to comprehend how much you’ve donated, and it has touched our hearts!” And our partners have helped thousands more caught in the crossfire.

Your gifts to CBN Israel can extend an ongoing hand of compassion to other evacuees, as well as Holocaust survivors, single moms, immigrants, and terror victims.

As Israel’s people are being challenged on every front, your support can let them know they aren’t alone. You can deliver nutritious food, shelter, finances, and basic furniture and appliances for those struggling to survive.

Please be a part of this special outreach with a gift today!


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Biblical Israel: Second Temple Model

By Marc Turnage

The large, scale model of Jerusalem in A.D. 66 offers one of the main attractions at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. Hans Kroch, the owner of the Holy Land Hotel in Jerusalem, commissioned Professor Michael Avi-Yonah and his students to create the model in honor of Kroch’s son who died in the War of Independence in 1948. Avi-Yonah provided topographical and archaeological detail and architectural design. 

For many years, the model resided at the Holy Land Hotel. Today the model is housed at the Israel Museum. When Avi-Yonah and his students began the project, the Old City of Jerusalem as well as the City of David—the area of biblical Jerusalem—lay in East Jerusalem, which was controlled by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. 

From 1948 to 1967, the city of Jerusalem was divided between West and East Jerusalem. West Jerusalem belonged to the State of Israel, while East Jerusalem belonged to the Kingdom of Jordan. East Jerusalem contained the area of biblical Jerusalem, which meant that during the period under Jordanian control little archaeological work and activity was conducted; thus, much of the archaeological information that came to light in the latter part of the twentieth century remained unknown when Professor Avi-Yonah built the model. 

This raises the obvious question: how could he have built such an accurate model of Jerusalem in A.D. 66 without the assistance of archaeological discovery? The answer lies in the rich descriptions of Jerusalem provided by the first century Jewish historian Josephus. Josephus wrote his works for a non-Jewish, Roman audience that had never been to Jerusalem. He provided such a detailed description of the city that using what they knew about the Roman world and the land of Israel in the first century, Professor Avi-Yonah and his students were able to produce this model, which contains a great deal of accuracy. While there are some mistakes within the model, it offers a testament to Josephus and his value as our greatest source on ancient Judaism and the land of Israel in the first century. 

Visitors to the model will notice three primary features. First, Jerusalem in the first century covered much more area than the modern Old City of Jerusalem (which has nothing to do with biblical Jerusalem). 

Also, the city had two principal foci. On its western edge, at the highest point of the city, stood the palace of Herod the Great. The largest of Herod’s palaces, his palace in Jerusalem played host to the wisemen (Matthew 2) and Jesus when he stood before Pilate. On the northern end of palace stood three towers, which Herod named Mariamme, Phasael, and Hippicus. On the eastern side of the city stood the Temple and the enclosure that surrounded it, which made the Temple Mount the largest sacred enclosure within the Roman world in the first century. The Temple provided the economic and religious center of the city. 

Jerusalem in the first century produced nothing; it did not sit on a major trade route. It dealt in religion. Jewish and non-Jewish pilgrims (see Acts 2) streamed into the city from all over the known world three times a year: Passover, Pentecost, and Sukkot. Pilgrims approached the Temple from the south. On top of the Temple Mount today stands the golden Dome of the Rock. To gain perspective, Herod’s Temple, the Temple that Jesus, Peter, and Paul knew, was twice the height of the Dome of the Rock. Looking at the model, visitors gain some perspective of its awesome grandeur. 

The third feature of the city is its walls. In the model, people see three different wall lines. The wall that comes from the south-eastern part of the Temple Mount surrounding the southern and western sides of the city, which turns east and connects at the western wall of the Temple Mount, Josephus calls the first wall. A large wall includes the northern neighborhoods; this is Josephus’ third wall, which was built after the time of Jesus. Inside the third wall, visitors to the model see a second wall. The first and second walls contained the Jerusalem that Jesus knew, which was twice the size of the modern Old City. 

One of the biggest challenges for guides of Jerusalem is helping their groups understand the city’s history and many layers. The model of Jerusalem at the Israel Museum offers an excellent visual, as well as a monument to the city at its height in the first century.

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

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Weekly Devotional: Obedience Through Suffering

“During His earthly life, He [Jesus] offered prayers and appeals with loud cries and tears to the One who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence. Though He was God’s Son, He [Jesus] learned obedience through what He suffered” (Hebrews 5:7-8 HCSB).

Our faith has run off the rails. Somewhere within western Christianity we’ve come to believe that God is more concerned with our comfort than our calling. We often forget that even Jesus learned obedience through what He suffered. That’s sobering.

What makes us think that we are entitled to live a life completely free of pain or difficulty? God did not even spare His own son trials, pain, and sufferings. In fact, He used trials and suffering to teach His son faithful obedience. God could have saved Him, but He didn’t. Jesus had a lesson to learn—obedience—so God allowed Him to walk through suffering.

Our faith often places us (mankind) at the center. We can be deceived into thinking God only desires us to be comfortable and happy. In that sort of economy, God exists for me. I am the subject, and He is the object. The Bible, however, does not view the world in such a manner. God is king. He makes the rules; we don’t. I exist to live for Him.

He has my ultimate best interest in mind, but His goal reaches beyond me. He receives the glory. He is the subject, and I am the object. He will teach me obedience—which is His ultimate desire for my life—even through suffering and difficulty.

We tend to equate our inconvenience with suffering. It’s not. We do not suffer when we are inconvenienced. The denial of my perceived rights does not mean I’m suffering. Our faith desperately needs a healthy theology of suffering, because through suffering Jesus learned obedience to His Father. His suffering did not mean God didn’t love Him. No, it meant His earnest submission to His Father’s will, way, and rule.

The author of Hebrews continued, “and being made perfect.” How? Through His sufferings. Jesus “became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him [God]” (Hebrews 5:9 HCSB). Jesus’ sufferings made Him perfect, and they made Him the source of salvation for everyone who obeys God. God can perfect us too through our sufferings, if we submit to Him. Moreover, our obedience to Him offers a conduit for others to come to Him.

Why should God save us from the lessons He taught His only son? As long as our faith focuses upon ourselves, we will never mature, nor will we learn the lessons God has for us. If we truly follow Jesus, we too will submit to the lessons God seeks to teach us, even in pain or suffering. Our refusal to do so indicates our ultimate rejection of following Jesus.


Father, You loved Your son Jesus dearly, and yet You taught Him obedience through suffering. Lord, teach us too. May we submit to Your will in all we say and do, and in every circumstance. Amen.

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The “Butcher of Tehran” Has Perished: What Does the Future Hold? 

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

Last Sunday, Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi died in a foggy-weather helicopter crash in a mountainous region of Iran. Reactions to his death are coming in amid converging narratives. Some narratives offer hope despite the Regime’s ongoing harsh theocracy under 85-year-old Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Iranians, though, are celebrating Raisi’s death with fireworks and sweets. Yet the population suffers under the ironclad Ayatollah’s policies that endure—embedded in Shia Islam’s oppressive rule.

Why are Iranians celebrating the “Butcher of Tehran’s” death? Epoch Times cites Raisi’s judicial role on the “death committee” prior to his election in 2021. Human Rights Watch reported that, under Raisi, mass executions of thousands of political prisoners in Evin and Gohardasht prisons occurred in 1988 and beyond. Raisi called it “divine punishment” and a “proud achievement” for the regime. His evil disposition never changed when he attained the presidency in a low-turnout, possibly rigged vote. One of the most infamous examples of cruelty took place in 2022 amid protests about the death of Mahsa Amini murdered in police custody. Her crime? Not wearing a headscarf (hijab). The Islamic Regime adheres to inhumane actions against its own population and for its proxies against Jews and Israel. 

World leaders are adding to an interesting obituary of condolences including, for example, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, China, and Russia. Hamas, in its condolences, states they are mourning an “honorable supporter” of the “Palestinian resistance.” Pakistan and India observed a day of mourning. Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Al-Thani, sent condolences to the government and people of the Islamic Republic. Maybe it is bad manners to mention the truth about Raisi, the has-been probable successor to the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. But by the same token, who mourned Hitler?

However, on Monday the United Nations did mourn a Hitler—Raisi, the “Butcher of Tehran.” Russia, China, and Algeria requested that the UN Security Council stand up for a minute of silence to honor Raisi. U.S. Deputy Ambassador to the U.N. Robert Wood, stood up. Only one utterance of truths was spoken. Israeli U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan rightly condemned the council which “bowed its head for a man responsible for massacring and murdering thousands in Iran, in Israel, and around the globe.”

My good friend, author Marzi Amirizadeh—now an American citizen—knows first-hand about the Islamic Regime’s tyranny. The authorities arrested and imprisoned her in 2009 when she and a good friend covertly distributed 20,000 Bibles. Like many Iranians, she met Jesus in a dream. It transformed her life into one of hope, despite horrors that later followed her into prison. Miraculously released after nine months from Evin Prison’s hellish confines, Marzi is an advocate for her Iranian people, for the United States, and for Israel.

Marzi observes that before she was arrested, she talked to thousands who were receptive—and many also who had visions of Jesus. “There are many underground churches, and research shows that Iran has the fastest-growing church.” Marzi added an important fact: that “most Iranians do not consider themselves Muslims and believe the Islamic Regime does not represent them. They believe that Persian King Cyrus is their father and Iran has been taken hostage by terrorists.” She is prayerful that “after the fall, millions are going to worship Jesus.” Operation World reports that in 1979, only 500 Muslim-background believers were known—and now estimates that more than 1 million Iranians are Christians.   

Part of Marzi’s post on Facebook expresses the intensity of the facts: “Islamic Regime criminals like Raisi have the blood of countless innocent Iranians, Israelis, and other people on their hands. They are now burning in hell as millions of Iranians and people around the world are celebrating their death. However, we should not forget that the head of this evil octopus—the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and his son—are alive. As long as he is in place, nothing will change because Raisi and the others were only his puppets.” 

Here is how Proverbs 28:15-16 describes the Islamic Regime’s leadership: “Like a roaring lion and a rushing bear is a wicked ruler over a poor people. A leader who is a great oppressor lacks understanding, but he who hates unjust gain will prolong his days.”

In a post on Monday, Amir Tsarfati, president of Behold Israel, observed that “Israelis did not set off any fireworks after news of Raisi’s death.” But justifiably, Iranians did set off fireworks. He went on to add how lies take on a life of their own, this time due to a joke. Someone posted the joke saying that the helicopter pilot was a Mossad agent named “Eli Copter.” Israel haters are now calling it a FACT across the world. They will blame Israel in any way possible, even with jokes. Tsarfati adds, “His death spares other deaths.” I pray that Raisi’s replacement will not be more of the same. Stay watchful. 

As expected in any governmental change, speculation about a Raisi replacement is in the news—with an election in less than 50 days, according to their Constitution. However, the Persian-language television news station, Iranian International, reports that the Supreme Leader has plenipotentiary power (full authority to take independent action) over Iran’s government (executive, legislative, and judiciary). It mimics Muslim caliphs in the Middle Ages.  

With Iran’s first vice president, Mohammad Mokhber, currently set to take over prior to an election, a fight is already unfolding with ex-president Hassan Rouhani (2013-2021) opposing the privileged Guardian Council, which passes muster on candidates. It is highly questionable whether the 85-year-old ailing Ayatollah Khamenei will allow an open election since he absolutely dismisses a preference for more moderate candidates.

Amid the ongoing war that the Islamic Regime is financing and directing against Israel, the longing for freedom in its population is only increasing. Added to economic crisis, policies will remain the same unless the population rises again to protest.

We welcome you to join our CBN Israel team this week to pray for Iranian freedom, remembering Ephesians 6:12. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” 

Prayer Points: 

  • Pray for Iranians to protest in a vast army of unity and freedom for regime change. 
  • Pray for worldwide practical helps for Iranian freedom from oppression.
  • Pray for new Christian believers for their strength, hope, and safety. 
  • Pray for the right leader to emerge and miraculously win Iran’s presidency.

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 an author at The Blogs-Times of Israel and has traveled to Israel since 1990. She co-edited The Auschwitz Album Revisited and is on the board of Violins of Hope South Carolina. By invitation, Arlene attends Israel’s Government Press Office Christian Media Summits. She also hosts her devotionals, The Eclectic Evangelical, on her website at

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Victim of Terrorism: Yovel’s Story

Married just one month, Yovel planned to relax over the October 7 weekend with her new husband Mor. It had been a hectic season of wedding events and Jewish holidays. Instead, friends insisted they all go together to a music festival in southern Israel. That decision would alter Yovel’s life forever.

Ten minutes after they arrived, rockets flew overhead, and they jumped back in the car and sped north. Believing they were out of harm’s way, the road was suddenly blocked by a white Hamas truck. Mor decided to go around it, telling them to “duck and start praying.” As he swerved, bullets pounded their car. Tragically, a bullet hit Mor’s head, as the car flipped into a ditch.

When Yovel regained consciousness, asking who in the car was alive, she panicked when Mor didn’t answer. Trying in vain to revive him, she screamed, “It can’t be that you’re dead! It can’t be. We just got married—there’s no way!” And then, they realized that Hamas terrorists were roaming nearby, shooting anyone in the vehicles they had struck, and finishing off any survivors.

So for five hours, they pretended to be dead, as they heard the horrific sounds of abductions, rapes, and executions. Finally, the army arrived, and got them to a hospital. Yet now, Yovel, who is 26, is dealing with severe anxiety attacks and nightmares, and can’t go back to work.

But through CBN Israel’s partnership with the Jewish Agency, friends like you gave Yovel financial assistance to help support her until she is able to work. Donors also offered her trauma care and counseling, as she starts her life over. She says, “Thank you for opening your hearts, so that we can smile and laugh again… It is not taken for granted how you are standing with us.”

In addition, your ongoing support to CBN Israel can offer safe shelter and hot meals to war victims, while providing groceries, housing, and essentials to families and the elderly who need our help.

Please join us in extending a hand of compassion to those in crisis!


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Biblical Israel: Avdat

By Marc Turnage

Located in the modern Negev Desert on the spur of a mountain ridge, overlooking the plain around the canyon of En Avdat (the “Spring of Avdat”), sits the ancient ruins of the Nabatean city of Avdat. Avdat sits along the ancient caravan routes that crossed the barren lands from Elat (ancient Aila) on the Gulf of Aqaba, and Petra, the Nabatean capital in the Transjordan, to the Mediterranean coast and the port city of Gaza. 

The Nabateans, a nomadic people, immigrated out of the Arabian Peninsula, and in the period of the New Testament, their kingdom stretched from southern Syria to the northern Hijaz in the Arabian Peninsula. Their capital was Petra, in the south of the modern Kingdom of Jordan. Although the land of their kingdom was vast, they had few urban centers. They controlled the trade and caravan routes through the Transjordan, including those that extended west to the Mediterranean coast. Their ability to travel through the dry desert regions, in part by using their caravansaries, like Avdat, enabled them to acquire a great degree of wealth. 

In the New Testament, Herod Antipas, who beheaded John the Baptist, was originally married to a Nabatean princess, the daughter of the Nabatean king Aretas IV. He divorced her in order to marry Herodias, the wife of his brother with whom he had an adulterous affair (Luke 3:19-20).

Avdat was originally settled at the end of the fourth or the beginning of the third century B.C. as a station on the caravan routes. By the end of the first century B.C. and into the first century A.D., Avdat had become a religious, military, and commercial center. Nabatean shrines were located at the site. 

The Roman annexation of the Nabatean kingdom into Provincia Arabia in A.D. 106 did not hurt Avdat. In fact, the second and third centuries A.D. saw the site flourish, as both agriculture and herding became part of the local economy. With the rise of Christianity in the fourth century A.D., two churches and a monastery were built on the site replacing the pagan shrines. Avdat relied upon the cultivation and production of a fine variety of grapes and wine during the Byzantine period. The site was abandoned in A.D. 636 with the Arab conquest. 

The earliest periods of settlement left little in terms of remains, especially a lack of architectural remains. Coins and imported pottery provide the main discoveries on the site from the fourth century B.C. to the early first century B.C. During the first century, public buildings were erected on the site including a shrine (temple) where the Nabatean pantheon were worshipped. 

Although not mentioned in the New Testament, Avdat and the Nabateans stood on the edge of the New Testament world. Herod the Great’s mother likely belonged to the Nabatean aristocracy, if not the royal family. We already mentioned the wife of Antipas. Throughout the first century, the Herodian lands came into conflict with Nabatean territory, which sets the backdrop for life in the region.

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

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Weekly Devotional: Outpouring of the Holy Spirit

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8 NKJV).

Pentecost (or Shavuot) was one of the three pilgrimage festivals within ancient Judaism. Along with Passover (or Pesach) and Sukkot, the Law of Moses required every able-bodied male to appear before the Lord on these festivals.

In the first century, that meant coming to Jerusalem and the Temple. Luke describes the throngs of pilgrims from all over the world that traveled to Jerusalem for Pentecost. 

Jewish tradition identified the festival of Pentecost as the time when God appeared to Israel on Mount Sinai and gave them the Torah.

God’s appearance at Sinai included fire, wind and sounds. Luke wove these same images into his story in Acts 2. He wanted to draw his reader’s attention back to what God did on Sinai when He gave the Torah to Israel, connecting the giving of the Spirit with the foundation of Israel as a nation.

As the crowds hear the disciples uttering the wonders of God in their various languages, Peter stands up before the crowd and explains that what they have experienced is the fulfillment of the words of the prophet Joel. Then, he began to preach and share the good news about Jesus. 

Within the book of Acts, the proof God gives of Jesus’ messiahship is the Holy Spirit. The Spirit’s coming provides the divine evidence that Jesus is truly the Messiah and that God raised him from the dead. The two—the coming of the Spirit and Jesus’ messiahship—are always linked in Acts. 

People often focus on other aspects and manifestations of the Spirit, but we can never forget that the coming of the Spirit ultimately testifies that Jesus of Nazareth is God’s Messiah, whom He raised from the dead.

Peter’s response to the crowd that listened to him: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38 NKJV).

The coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost fulfilled God’s promises through Joel. It connected to His act of the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. And, most importantly, it testified that Jesus is His Messiah, raised from the dead.

Whatever the Spirit’s work is in our lives and in our communities, it should also testify to these things.


Father, thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to testify of the truth of Your Son. Amen.

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CBN Israel Comforts Bereaved Families During War

By Nicole Jansezian

This week, Israel marked Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism for 24 somber hours right before switching gears into Independence Day the following day.

Normally, the transition from solemn ceremonies dedicated to the fallen into the celebration of the birth of the Jewish state is welcomed with fireworks, a national air show, and picnics around the entire country. 

But as Israel celebrated its 76th year, festivities were muted as the national mourning was still raw from October 7. Some 1,200 people were killed on that day and another 250 taken hostage. Now, 132 hostages remain in captivity in Gaza and more than 600 Israeli soldiers have been killed as a war still rages with no end in sight.

One of these soldiers was Cedrick Garin, killed in action on January 22, 2024, and the only son of Imelda Garin.

Imelda came to Israel from the Philippines on a visa for foreign workers in 1995. Cedrick was born in 2000 and Imelda, raised him alone after the boy’s father returned to the Philippines. 

Imelda worked several jobs to provide for her son and afford their small apartment. When Cedrick entered high school, he tried to quit school so he could also work and supplement his mother’s meager income. But Imelda convinced him to go back and made sure he graduated despite his tumultuous teen years.

When Cedrick was called up for army service at age 18, he insisted on joining a combat unit against his mother’s objections.

“He worked hard to become a fighter. I hoped that this would help him to mature because before it was a little bit hard for me,” Imelda told CBN Israel. “He told me, ‘Ima (mom), one day you will be proud of me.’ I said, “What do you mean, I will be proud of you when you finish the army?’ He said, “No, you will be proud of me, Ima. Not like before.’”

Cedrick distinguished himself as a solider and then tried out for a commanders course. He finished in the top three but didn’t expect to be chosen as the top because he was the only Filipino.

“Then one day he called me all happy and shouting, ‘Ima! I’m the one they chose based on excellence to become a commander,’” Imelda recalled.

When October 7 transpired, Cedrick knew he was being called up as a reservist to fight in Gaza and prepared both his mother and his wife Daniella for his absence. 

Imelda resisted the thought. 

“I start crying. I said, ‘No, don’t go.’” Imelda recalled Cedrick’s response: “‘No, Ima. I will do my job. This is the right time to fight for this country. I love this country. And now so many people died, so I must go.’”

One weekend in January, Cedrick came home for a visit. Normally when he said goodbye after his time off, he told him mom he would see her again soon. This time he didn’t, but Imelda didn’t notice at the time.

A few weeks later she awoke to phone call. Daniella was on the line crying and asked Imelda to come outside. As Imelda stepped outside in pajamas and slippers, she saw many people including soldiers. 

“Then I felt that something happened to Cedrick. Maybe he’s in the hospital or something else, but I didn’t think that he was gone,” she said. “When I saw the soldiers, I opened the gate. The soldier came to me, and he just started to tell me something. I said, ‘Stop, my son is alive. Maybe it’s not him. Maybe you didn’t recognize him and it’s not him.’” 

“I was there for an hour crying. I couldn’t accept this,” she said.

CBN Israel’s Family Department reached out to Imelda and Daniella after the news of Cedrick’s death made national headlines. The organization is helping Imelda with her debt, the expenses of a funeral and connected her with trauma counsellors as she navigates this new season.

“He’s the only one to do everything for me because my Hebrew is weak,” Imelda said of Cedrick. “He’s my mouth, he’s like my feet, because everything that I need, he’s the one to do it for me.”

Imelda said the hardest thing is not seeing her son.

“It’s been nearly four months, and I really miss him,” she said. “I know there is a purpose of the Almighty Father. We don’t know what’s the purpose, but later we will see the answer.”

Nicole Jansezian is the media coordinator for CBN Israel. A long-time journalist, Nicole was previously the news editor of All Israel News and All Arab News and a journalist at The Associated Press. On her YouTube channel, Nicole gives a platform to the minority communities in Jerusalem and highlights stories of fascinating people in this intense city. Born and raised in Queens, N.Y., she lives in Jerusalem with her husband, Tony, and their three children.

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After October 7, How Are American Jews?

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

On May 12, Israel literally stopped—as it does each year for two minutes of silence—when sirens notified the country to come to a standstill on their Memorial Day (Yom Hazikaron). Warning sirens also sounded with incoming rockets from Hamas and Hezbollah. There was no peace that day, even in grief. Later, at the Western Wall, President Isaac Herzog stood with his shirt collar torn in mourning, which he called “a symbol of a blood-drenched rend in the heart of the people. A tear in the heart of the State of Israel. … A great tragedy has befallen us.”

Since October 7, 2023, every day is Memorial Day in Israel. The Times of Israel reports that 1,600 soldiers and civilians were killed either in combat or by terrorist attacks since Israel’s last Memorial Day, according to authorities. It was unquestionably the deadliest year for Israel’s security forces and civilians in 50 years. For 76 years—in multiple wars launched against Israel since its founding—the national casualties in this small country have totaled 30,140.

The day after Memorial Day, Israelis celebrated their Independence Day (Yom HaAtzma’ut). The switch from mourning to celebration is intentional, because for Israel, hope and happiness must endure. On May 14, Israel’s 76th anniversary was still celebrated, yet the celebrations were muted amid the heartbreak hovering over Israel in its national trauma. The usual dazzling fireworks displays—which might have triggered additional trauma in IDF soldiers, families and victims—were canceled.

The grim realities in Israel resonate with most American Jews. I checked in with several of my Jewish friends here in the United States by taking an informal poll during this significant week in Israel, asking them to reflect on their experiences here during the ongoing Hamas War. With eruptions on university campuses and the advent of additional silencing strategies toward Christians, we must echo the same concerns of our Jewish friends. Heed their voices. They are our “canary in the coal mine”—right here in the USA.

Susanne M. Reyto, a Holocaust survivor and an author (Pursuit of Freedom and Destination Freedom), is an educator through her books and leadership. She brought to Los Angeles the Violins of Hope, a collection of lovingly restored violins played by Jews during the Holocaust, to educate modern audiences through the power of music. Susanne cautions, “We must teach youngsters to empower themselves to fight for the truth. American Jewry has the good fortune of never having to flee and run to a homeland, so their appreciation for Israel is different than those of us who feel Israel is our umbrella protector.”

Ari Bussel, an Israeli-American friend and a foreign correspondent, gives us a clear view of what he saw with his own eyes: “Seeing my alma mater turn into a battleground at the University of California in Los Angeles caused me not to sleep. Jewish women dared to stand up at a press conference, and the young terrorist-protesters made them into victims. When the police moved in to arrest the aspiring terrorists in the encampment, they also attacked the police.”

Ari’s observation is that, once again, the lie has been multiplied—that Jews dared to attack the peaceful students! He warns, “To win, we must understand this is a war against the USA. Our enemies want ‘Death to Israel and Death to America’; they are against the two satans, and our fate will be one. Therefore, it is time for action to save America.”

My friend Norma Zager, an award-winning journalist, declares: “As a Jew in America today I feel an enormous sense of betrayal and fear. The promise of my country to accept all races, creeds and colors of people has been changed to ‘all but Jews.’ It should be a priority for every Jewish person to pray the Jewish State is triumphant.”

Paul Samuels, my Jewish husband, reveals another perspective. “Both my parents’ families fled Russian pogroms and immigrated through Ellis Island in the early 1900s. In the Bronx I was called a “Christ killer,” but no one marched against us. I am shocked now by the intense Jew hatred in the U.S. I don’t have deep fear, yet I look around me far more now,” he said. “I am glad that my parents are not alive to experience the same Jew hatred they faced as children in Russia. At 80, I am a proud first-generation American. My Dad served in World War II, and I am a Navy veteran.”  

Another Israeli-American friend is a deeply concerned parent of three younger children. “My children know they are Jews by birth and tradition and have family in Israel. Sadly, it’s a challenge to preserve their innocence. Some people simply dislike my kids for who they are, an awful reality. Can you imagine your kids living with that? I must teach my kids how to deal with hate and advocate for themselves. It’s a lot to ask.” My friend had chosen to remain silent about her Israeli heritage to avoid conflict, but October 7 totally changed her. “I cannot afford to keep quiet now. I must face the hatred head-on.”

Ari Bussel has an unambiguous message for his fellow Jews. “American Jews are responsible for the failure to respond to our Jewish students. The Anti-Defamation League, Jewish Federations of North America, Hillel and J Street, the organized Jewish world failed miserably and is fully responsible.”

My message as a Christian to other Christians reflects the thoughts of my Jewish friend who was a U.S. Navy pilot flying the famous F-14 Tomcats. “As an American I put my life on the line for the United States, including in the Iraq War. I am heartened by the evangelical Christian outreach to the Jewish community.”  

Let us make sure our “evangelical Christian outreach” multiplies. We must not remain silent on the sidelines like the German church in the 1930s. Our Christian faith was built on the rock of ancient Judaism. We are grafted into Israel, our spiritual homeland, and read a Jewish-inscribed Bible and serve a Jewish Savior. Standing with the Jewish community in the United States and worldwide is an important way to honor the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’s redemptive plan! Reach out to your Jewish friends with encouragement this week!  

Our CBN Israel team welcomes you to join us this week based on Psalm 119:28—“My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.”


Prayer Points:

  • Pray strength for Israelis afflicted by the ongoing national traumas.
  • Pray that Jews everywhere will reconnect with their Holy Scriptures.
  • Pray for Christians to reach out personally to any Jewish friends.
  • Pray for total victory for the Israel Defense Forces in Rafah.


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 an author at The Blogs-Times of Israel and has traveled to Israel since 1990. She co-edited The Auschwitz Album Revisited and is on the board of Violins of Hope South Carolina. By invitation, Arlene attends Israel’s Government Press Office Christian Media Summits. She also hosts her devotionals, The Eclectic Evangelical, on her website at


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