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How Anti-Semitism Reproduces and How to Stop it

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

By the time World War II ended, the world was reeling in shock and chaos from the ravages of hate gone viral. In Europe alone, an estimated 15-20 million people died in a war viewed as the most destructive in history. 

Hitler committed suicide on April 30, 1945. Germany then surrendered to the Allies on May 7. General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s judgment to call for photographic proof while liberating the death camps proved wise—the photo documentation provided incontrovertible evidence of inhumanity beyond comprehension. As the appalling photographs made their way into the public eye, the watchword “Never Again” was born. 

Tragically, the seeds spawning this hatred were never destroyed—and they are active once again. Anti-Semitism continues to rear its wicked head and is spreading like a malignant cancer. Proactively aided by the United Nations, mainstream media, the World Council of Churches, and others, anti-Semitism also grows when onlookers react with passivity, denial, and apathy. Modern-day minions may not be marching in lockstep like the Nazis in Nuremberg Stadium, but marching they are. Among them are lone gunmen attacking Jews in synagogues and in the streets; terrorists inside and outside Israel; Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah constantly scheming; and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement inciting economic warfare against the world’s only Jewish nation. 

A quote attributed both to Spanish philosopher George Santayana and Winston Churchill  summarizes my column today: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Looking in history’s rearview mirror will help us understand how the Third Reich made hate and death acceptable to ordinary Germans and to churchgoers, as well. The evangelical Christian community must expand prayer, action, and vigilance so as not to imitate Germans who either appeased, denied, or enabled the evil. Passivity is not an option today. 

How did Hitler’s propaganda machine grind out the lies and legislation that led to the death camps where 6 million innocent Jews were murdered? “Gradually” is the key word. When Hitler became chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933, his hate-fueled machine first began carrying out smaller, organized attacks against the Jewish people. 

At the time, some 500,000 German Jews made up only 0.8% of the population. Outstanding in many professions, Jews in Germany accumulated a disproportional 24% of that nation’s Nobel prizes. 

Nevertheless, their achievements did not protect them. On April 1, 1933, Nazi boycotts and violence targeted Jewish-owned businesses. Laws passed one on top of another banned Jews from professions. Jewish-authored books were thrown into fires all over Germany. Then in 1935 the Third Reich passed the Nuremberg Laws, making Jews non-citizens.

All the while, throughout Nazi Germany many in leadership were cultured elites who attended elegant parties, classical music concerts, and the like. They were conveniently ignorant and in denial about what was actually transpiring right under their noses. Even high-level religious leaders—either devoid of discernment or full of fear—welcomed the Nazis openly and accepted their deceitful lies. The brilliant, beloved German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer did his best to alert the church. His dedicated opposition led to his hanging at the Nazi Flossenburg concentration camp a few weeks before liberation in 1945.

The evil genius of Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Reich Minister of Propaganda, created the “golden age of propaganda.” Goebbels’ nickname, “Poison Dwarf,” is fitting. The five-foot-five-inch Nazi built Germany’s propaganda machine into an eventual takeover of Germany’s newspapers, radio, magazines and films, along with media takeover in conquered countries. 

Goebbels implemented the strategies written in Hitler’s Mein Kampf (“My Struggle”), which is still a bestseller. He described his propaganda technique as so “colossal” that no one would believe that this kind of “impudence to distort the truth so infamously” would even be attempted. In similar fashion, we hear “colossal” lies about Israel today—one of the most historically outrageous being that Jerusalem is not Israel’s capital. 

Goebbels once said about lies, “The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

When you read some of the Hitler/Goebbels quotes, think about the current propaganda against Israel and Jewish communities worldwide. Remember, propaganda is a vehicle that drives an agenda without objectivity. Its selective facts, rumor, and loaded language are designed to derail a person, group, movement, institution, or nation. An often-overlooked result of repeating lies is that even you yourself will come to believe it. Is this true for mainstream media? Germans “came to believe it themselves.” 

More insights became available in the 1940s, when the U.S. Office of Strategic Services cited a book by psychoanalyst Walter C. Langer, who wrote The Mind of Adolf Hitler: “His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong.” The Hitler/Goebbels anti-Semitic party line is still alive, with its strategies resulting in a deadly propaganda downline that reaches from the 1920s to 2021.

What are we to do? First, understand God’s outlook on courage. Joshua 1:9 says: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” 

God has given Christians another chance following the events of World War II and the Holocaust to stand with the Jewish people and oppose the poison of anti-Semitism. With that being said, Christian commitment to this cause needs to expand much further. Although Yad Vashem recognizes almost 27,000 Righteous Among the Nations as “Drops of Love in an Ocean of Poison,” Christian rescuers during the Holocaust were too few—and many died. We must remember history but be determined not to repeat it.  

Be on your guard and watch out for new displays and indications of the same type of propaganda utilized by Hitler and Goebbels decades ago. Read reliable information. Develop discernment in what you read and hear. Speak out with a factual and reasoned voice against the disparaging lies. Reaching out to the U.S. Congress on behalf of Israel with tools from Christians United for Israel (CUFI) and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) can help guide better and stronger legislative decisions. 

Support trusted Christian and Jewish organizations that strengthen Israel. Travel to Israel when you can. To expose today’s propaganda downline, we must proactively abandon apathy, maintain vigilance, dismiss denial and naivete, and most of all, source and share the facts. The Christian Broadcasting Network and CBN Israel serve as an enormous repository of facts, documentaries, and balanced news about Israel. 

Prayer is foundational but be warned: Passivity helps propaganda proliferate. 

Use emails and social media, along with discussions and programs in our churches, to promote support for Israel and the Jewish communities in the United States and abroad. Let’s determine to be champions for the truth!

Please join CBN Israel in prayer this week for the Jewish nation and people:

  • Pray that God’s light will shine into every anti-Semitic crevice all throughout our world and expose anti-Semitism for the evil it is.
  • Pray for Christians to renounce passivity and indifference and to act on behalf of Israel and the global Jewish community.
  • Pray for the global mainstream media to stop disseminating a biased, one-side narrative that dishonestly portrays Israel as villainous oppressors and occupiers. 
  • Pray for churches espousing replacement theology to wake up and repent their wrong attitudes against God and His covenant people, the Jews. 

Together, may we remember and meditate on Paul’s exhortation to the churches in Corinth: 

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13).

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

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Lone Soldier: Anna’s Story

When Anna was a young girl, her family immigrated to Israel. Although she was not from a religious family, Anna came to faith in God as a Messianic Jew when she was 14. But in her teens, conflicts at home grew so intense that she was forced to leave and attend a boarding school—where she became more grounded emotionally and spiritually. 

Later, she was accepted into a program with the IDF (Israel Defense Forces), to help her prepare for life in the military. During this time, she needed a safe, healthy place to live, where she could also grow in her faith. But she had little money, and no family support whatsoever. 

Thanks to friends like you, CBN Israel has a home for lone soldiers like Anna. Her pastor, who once lived there, recommended it to her as a good fit. We gave her a safe haven while she attends the IDF program, and it has been life-changing. She enjoys the friendship and encouragement of other lone soldiers—and she has joined a congregation, where she is maturing as a believer. 

Anna is happy to belong to a caring community of friends, saying, “I am grateful to have found this place that I now call home. CBN Israel has shown me so much kindness and support!” 

Your gift can help so many in Israel who have nowhere to turn. You can provide food, housing, job training, financial assistance, and other aid for those in need, especially during the pandemic. 

And you can provide relief and hope to elderly Holocaust survivors, single mothers, terrorism victims, immigrant families, and more. Plus, you can bring frontline reports from the Holy Land through CBN News. 

Please join us in making a difference throughout Israel!

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Biblical Israel: Jordan Valley

By Marc Turnage

The Jordan Valley is a narrow valley the extends from the Sea of Galilee in the north to the Dead Sea in the south. It is part of the great Syro-African Rift, the longest scar on the face of the planet, that spans from Syria to Lake Victoria in Africa.

The southern stretch of the Jordan River as it exits the Sea of Galilee passes through this valley on its way to the Dead Sea. From the southern end of the Sea of Galilee to the northern shore of the Dead Sea is roughly sixty miles, yet over these sixty miles, the Jordan River meanders a little over two hundred miles. Today, the Jordan Valley serves as the international boundary between the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the State of Israel, and the West Bank.

The Jordan Valley served as an interior travel route between the hill country of Cisjordan (west of the Jordan River) and Transjordan. It enabled east-west travel between these two regions, as well as north-south travel through the valley. In the first century, the Jordan Valley served as one of the three routes Galilean pilgrims could take to Jerusalem. The Gospels record Jesus following this route on his final journey to Jerusalem (Luke 19:1-11).

The northern stretch of the valley, from the Sea of Galilee until south of Beth-Shean, received good rainfall, and therefore, had rich agriculture. South of Beth-Shean towards the Dead Sea, the high mountains of Samaria restrict rainfall and the climate becomes harsh, dry, and unfriendly. Along the Jordan River, however, vegetation grows and as recently as the 19th century served as the habitation for lions, among other wildlife that still live there today.

Throughout the periods of the Old and New Testament, settlement existed within the Jordan Valley. Sites like Beth-Shean, Jericho, Pella, Deir ‘Alla (biblical Succoth), and Rehov provided important administrative, religious, and commercial centers within the Jordan Valley. It served as the route between many biblical stories that involved places in Cisjordan and Transjordan.

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

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

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Weekly Devotional: True Humility

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus tells a provocative parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and looked down on everyone else: 

“Two men went up to the temple complex to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee took his stand and was praying like this: ‘God, I thank You that I’m not like other people—greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get.’ 

But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even raise his eyes to heaven but kept striking his chest and saying, ‘God, turn Your wrath from me—a sinner!’ I tell you, this one went down to his house justified rather than the other; because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:9-14 HCSB).

What is the purpose of this parable? Is it about prayer? No. Is it to convey that we are all sinners before God? No. What precipitates Jesus to tell this story? Those who identified themselves as righteous despised others that they viewed as “less than.” It conveys the importance of humility in our faith; God exalts the humble and resists the proud (James 4:6). 

But Jesus lays His finger on a very subtle and important aspect of pride: It’s easy to profess humility before God; pride often appears in how we view ourselves versus others. 

We want God to love us, to forgive us, to bless us. In fact, our modern Christian faith tends easily toward an egocentrism. But what about the person we don’t like? What about those who think differently than we do? Who behave differently than we do? What about sinners? 

Do we hold them in contempt? Do we view ourselves as more important in God’s eyes since “I’ve found the way”? In such instances, our relationship with God, our obedience to Him, becomes the source of our pride because we view it as making us closer to God than others. 

We cannot be close to God and hold others, also made in His image, in contempt. That doesn’t mean that we accept everyone’s behaviors, but how we view them matters. Jesus taught that those who extend mercy to others will receive mercy from God. 

There is no room for contempt of others, even outsiders, within the kingdom of God. Humility comes when we can look at another and recognize the good and the bad in them just like the good and bad within us. When we understand that, we understand Jesus’ parable.

PRAYER

Father, may I show mercy today to others, even those outside of my circles. Help me to see them with the compassion that You have for them. Amen.

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UN Watch: Resolving to Fix the United Nations’ Anti-Israel Bias

By Arlene Bridges Samuels 

Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. and the UN, strode to the podium on October 29 at a special session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) at the UN General Assembly in New York. “It’s always open season on Israel at the Human Rights Council,” Erdan declared. He recounted some of UNHCR’s earlier examples of exaggerating supposed Israeli human rights transgressions, including the 1975 resolution that Zionism was racism. Then, in a dramatic step, he tore up the distorted UNHCR report and announced, “Its only place is the dustbin of anti-Semitism, and that is exactly how we shall treat it.” Erdan then scolded the UNHCR further for its anti-Israel bias further, declaring, “The suffering of the victims of humanity’s greatest crimes goes unnoticed. Shame on you, shame on you, shame on you!”

Proverbs 6:16-19 (NASB) fittingly describes the UN’s anti-Israel bias: “There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness who declares lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers.”

The special session—held when the UN General Assembly meets in order to discuss an important wide-ranging topic—seems hardly special when you consider that Israel’s enemies use it to bludgeon this nation for offenses, real and imagined. In fact, Israel—the world’s lone Jewish state—is the only country that is permanently on UNHCR’s agenda. Established in 2006, on paper the UNHCR identifies itself with noble goals—to promote and protect human rights around the globe, “guided by principles of universality, impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity.” But the reality is so much different. Since its inception, the organization has condemned UN nation states 142 times. However, condemning Israel 95 times out of 142 is preposterous.

UNHCR tends to ignore the colossal human rights abuses from North Korea, China, Syria, and Iran—abuses of, for instance, Christians and Muslim Uyghurs in China or Nigerian Christians. I find it astounding that dictatorships such as those in Cuba, Venezuela, and Somalia are nevertheless represented on the 47-member council. 

Fortunately, the United Nations Watch (www.unwatch.org), founded in 1993, has become a powerful instrument for combating untruths about Israel. Located in Geneva, Switzerland, right next door to the UNHCR headquarters, it is a non-profit non-governmental organization (NGO). Its purpose is to scrutinize the performance of the UN using the “yardstick of its own charter” and hold them accountable. 

UN Watch has developed an exceptional, extensive UN Watch Database available online to anyone in the world. The UN Charter, signed in San Francisco on June 26, 1945, contained noble goals to prevent war, promote freedom, and provide peaceful strategies to settle conflicts. Regrettably, their noble goals have long been tarnished by nations that have no business in the UN—as outlined in Article 6 of their charter: “A Member of the United Nations which has persistently violated the principles contained in the present Charter may be expelled from the Organization by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.” 

With their consistently biased resolutions, one might think the UN Security Council members had never read Article 6. The Security Council’s composition is instructive. With five permanent members—China, France, Great Britain, the Russian Federation, and the United States—and 10 rotating members, the permanent members are a combination of U.S., French, and British democracies, China’s brutal communism, and Russia’s mixture of dictatorship and democracy.

Exploring UN Watch’s database, it is obvious how far the United Nations has strayed from its founding principles. The database is easy to navigate and is full of UN speeches with texts, committees, voting records, and more. This resource links information with actionable items that all clear-thinking citizens can easily implement to oppose the UN’s wrong decisions. UN Watch is laser-focused on history, attitudes, propaganda, and resolutions against Israel. It is worth noting that UN Watch’s factual submissions correcting UN reports are mostly rejected. 

The executive director of UN Watch is Hillel Neuer. Recognized as one of the world’s top human rights advocates, he has an impressive resume—and his dedication is a stellar example for advocacy. McGill University in Montreal, Canada, awarded their Jewish native son an honorary Doctor of Laws in 2018, naming him “a voice for those without one.” In various articles, he is described as an activist who is “feared and dreaded” (Tribune de Genève) by dictatorships. The Journal de Montreal commented that Neuer “makes the UN tremble.”

Israel’s Ma’ariv newspaper listed Neuer as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Jewish People in the World.” His leadership is a blessing not only to all who suffer human rights abuses worldwide. For evangelical Christians who detest the UN’s stubborn anti-Israel bias, he represents us! 

Neuer skillfully follows in the footsteps of Morris B. Abram, the Founding Chair who established UN Watch in 1993. Abram’s life story is the stuff of legends. Growing up in Fitzgerald, Georgia, he pioneered civil rights litigation, and the American Jewish Committee elected him as president in 1964. A Rhodes Scholar, Abram grew into a globally recognized human rights champion. Among too many accomplishments to list, he prominently advocated in the 1980s on behalf of Jews in the Soviet Union. In 1993, United Nations Watch was the first NGO designed to hold the United Nations accountable to the principles of its charter. Abram, who died in 2000, left a legacy that has improved the plight of millions in peril worldwide and given us a way to help cure anti-Semitism at the UN. 

Earlier in the year, on March 22, Ambassador Gilad Erdan spoke at UN Watch’s virtual launch of its website portal. First commenting, “We cannot allow the anti-Israel lies spewed at the UN to go unchallenged,” he went on to praise the “phenomenal” UN Watch website. He added, “The UN Watch Database is a great resource to learn more and take action.”

Estimates show that there are approximately 600 million evangelicals in the world. Our influence as advocates for the only Jewish state has potential to influence the decisions at the United Nations using the fantastic tool UN Watch has created. 

In illogical resolutions since 2015, the UN has condemned Israel 112 times, North Korea, 6, and Iran, 5. Imagine the difference we can make if millions of us took five minutes to read a UN Watch action item and responded with an email. Let us determine to help cure the UN’s anti-Israel bias.

Please join CBN Israel in prayer this week:

  • Pray for UN Watch that its success to hold the UN accountable will increase. 
  • Pray that the next UN Secretary-General will serve with moral clarity. 
  • Pray that more UN delegates will have the opportunity to visit Israel. 
  • Pray that pro-Israel Christians will choose UN Watch as a tool for advocacy.
  • Pray against the growing anti-Israel hostility within the UN and around the globe. 

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

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Victim of Terrorism: Sarah’s Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Name and photo changed for privacy.

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Biblical Israel: Edom 

By Marc Turnage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Weekly Devotional: Radical Devotion to God 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PRAYER

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

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Restoration and Restitution for Massive WWII Art Heist

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Biblical Artifact: Tel Dan Inscription

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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