Biblical Israel: City of David

By Marc Turnage

The first seven and a half years that David reigned, he reigned in Hebron, which sat in the heart of the tribal territory of Judah, David’s tribe (2 Samuel 5:5). As he expanded his rule to all of Israel, he decided to conquer the city of Jerusalem, which until this time was ruled by the Jebusites (2 Samuel 5:6-10). Why did David select this city? 

Geographically it sat off the major north-south route through the central hill country; it did not have natural roads leading east or west from it. He selected it, however, due to its location. The city, on its southern end, was bounded by the Hinnom Valley, which formed the boundary between the tribal territory of Benjamin (Saul’s tribe) and Judah (David’s tribe). Also, by virtue of it not being captured by the Israelites, no tribe could lay exclusive claim to the city. It offered a place where he could consolidate the political and religious center of his kingdom.

The city of Jerusalem that David conquered covered about eleven acres. It sat on what is known as the eastern hill. To its east, stood the Mount of Olives, which is separated from the eastern hill by the Kidron Valley. To its west stands the western hill, which is separated from the eastern hill by a valley known as the Tyrpoean Valley. To its south lies the Hinnom Valley. To its north lay the upper heights of the eastern hill, where Solomon built his palace and the Temple. 

The Bible identifies the eastern hill, specifically the northern portions, as Mount Zion. This can be confusing for modern visitors to Jerusalem because in the Byzantine period (4th-6th centuries A.D.) the western hill was mistakenly identified as Mount Zion, and that nomenclature has stuck. In the Bible, however, the eastern hill, especially its northern area, where the Temple came to be built, was referred to as Mount Zion.

Today, the eastern hill sits outside of the Old City walls, even though it is the oldest part of Jerusalem. It is referred to as the City of David. As we hear in Psalm 125, the mountains surround Jerusalem; while the psalm brings to our minds the beautiful image of God surrounding his people, strategically, this was to Jerusalem’s detriment. On all sides of the eastern hill, hills higher than it surround it. So why was the city built here? Because of its water source, the Gihon Spring. This karstic spring continues to flow even today. Recent excavations have uncovered a large fortification built around the spring to protect it. 

Excavations of the City of David have uncovered remains dating back over four thousand years. The excavations of the City of David reflect the history of the city; its role as the capital of the kingdom of Judah; its destruction by the Babylonians; its smaller size in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah. Its water systems. Structures from the first century, and evidence of its destruction by the Romans in A.D. 70. It was here that the exiles remembered when they were dispersed and longed to return (Psalm 137).

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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Deeds Worthy of Repentance

“Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance” (Acts 26:19-20 NKJV).

A key difference between the cultural world of the Bible and much of our modern world is that we tend to think and express ourselves in abstract ways today. We often place more importance upon our inner psychology, defining thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in a far more abstract manner. The world of the Bible expresses itself in a more concrete form. 

We tend treat repentance as something psychological. I’m sorry for what I’ve done. We may acknowledge that we should not continue in the behaviors that we previously did, but the shift is mostly inward. The Bible looks at repentance differently. Repentance is not something you feel; it’s something you do. 

When Paul stood in front of Agrippa, he spoke about his ministry to Jews and Gentiles. His message: Turn to God, and do works befitting repentance. It’s active, not inward. Now, one might argue that external action begins inside the psyche of a person. And that can be true. 

But the Bible does not define repentance as a feeling; rather, repentance actively turns to God and performs deeds worthy of repentance. For the biblical mind, the manifestation of repentance, true repentance, appears in our actions, usually our actions towards others.

When we read Paul’s statement, “do works befitting repentance,” we should ask, what exactly are those? We find a similar phrase on the lips of John the Baptist in Luke 3. John outlines that the fruits that befit repentance manifest themselves in our obedience to God, especially in how we care for others, particularly the poor: “He replied to them, “The one who has two shirts must share with someone who has none, and the one who has food must do the same” (Luke 3:11 HCSB). 

We run the risk in our modern world of turning repentance into something purely inward, private, between God and us. Yet, according to the Bible, if we want to repent, we must act, turn to God in obedience, and perform deeds worthy of repentance.

Repentance is not something we do once and then are completely done. Jesus challenged His followers to repent on a daily basis. Repentance is a lifestyle and a posture of humility toward God, recognizing that the fruit of our repentance is usually directed toward others.


Father, we turn to You today. We humbly submit ourselves to Your will today. Today, we will actively seek to perform deeds worthy of our repentance. Amen.

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Arson by Balloons: Floating Incendiary and Explosive Devices Target Innocent Israeli Civilians

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

For generations, toy balloons have been a source of fun and joy. That was certainly true in Israel—until Hamas turned these instruments of amusement into implements of terror.

Beginning in 2018, Hamas terrorists in Gaza began tying explosives to balloon bouquets, hoping the winds would blow them toward Israel’s civilians in nearby kibbutzim. Those winds also began carrying balloons to nearby fields—burning thousands of acres of thriving crops that provided food, fruits, and flowers—thereby destroying farmers’ livelihoods.

In the most recent balloon arsons that occurred this past week, three acres of lemon trees burned down in one location, as did an acre of clementine trees. Along with wheat fields and tangerine orchards, a total of 30 acres went up in smoke on this occasion alone. Ashes replaced vegetables, charred land replaced green leaves, and blackened fields replaced fertile soils.

Who but terrorists could concoct such an idea? 

These deadly balloon bouquets—marking the first conflict since Hamas initiated the war that ended just last month—are being met with a clear policy response from the IDF: air strikes. Newly elected Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has declared repeatedly over the years that incendiary balloons would be considered on the same threat level as rockets and therefore would require the same swift response. The most recent balloon Intifada (uprising) set 26 fires in southern Israel—all aimed at civilians. 

Rabbi Shmuel Bowman, Executive Director of Operation Lifeshield, observes, “While Palestinians have been enthusiastic to burn and destroy this land they claim to own, Israelis are determined to protect and defend our beloved homeland by whatever means necessary.” Operation Lifeshield is an emergency campaign dedicated to saving innocent lives in Israel by providing portable bomb shelters. Since its founding, the organization has provided hundreds of bomb shelters, fire trailers, and ATVs with international assistance—from individuals, churches, CBN Israel, and International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. 

Although arson generates economic damage and frustration, undeterred Israelis begin replanting once again. Nevertheless, the longterm mental and emotional toll on residents is considerable—and undeniable. 

Put yourself in Israeli shoes for a moment. You’re inside your kibbutz home just a mile from the Gaza fence. Your children are playing in the backyard. Colorful balloons float over a flower bed. Tied to something that looks a little heavy, the balloons float to the ground. Glancing out the kitchen window, you see your children running toward the bouquet. In their joy, they have forgotten your repeated warnings to never go near any balloons for any reason. You scream, throw down your dish towel, and sprint outside. Horrified, you know that explosives are tied to the bouquet. You grab your children just in time. Hugging them closely, you call for the specially equipped ATVs. 

In their fast-moving ATVs, Israeli firefighters speed to your kibbutz and disarm an explosive that could have resulted in the deaths of your children. This is a reality for families living in the “Gaza envelope.” Up to a million Israelis live within range of lethal incendiaries and rockets.  The Jewish Virtual Library notes that since Israel completely withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, terrorists have fired more than 15,000 rockets and mortars putting innocent, Israeli citizens under threat on a nearly daily basis.

In 2007, before Hamas took over in Gaza and terror attacks multiplied, the historic name of this area was simply the “western Negev.” Its seven regional councils include 32 kibbutzim along with towns. The city of Sderot with its 27,000 residents—uniquely targeted by terror attacks—has suffered years of massive rocket fire from Gaza-based terrorists. I have visited Sderot often for briefings.

Kibbutz Nahal Oz is the closest to the Gaza fence—just 875 yards away. Only open fields and a fence separate Nahal Oz’s residents from Gaza. They live in peace until rockets fly, explosive-laden balloons float, or terror tunnels are discovered near their homes. Many times, I have also visited residents living on kibbutzim. I’ve stood at the fences with them, looking into Gaza. Hearing their stories is heartbreaking. Frightened children are often unable to potty train until they are five years old. When her husband is at work, a mom never knows when to take a shower since the Red Alert alarm may go off at any time. And, on hearing the alarm, she knows she has just 15 seconds to figure out which young child to grab first and race to the safe room or a bus stop bomb shelter. Definitely a recipe for nonstop stress.

In a stark, sobering comment, the security chief of this region, Ilan Isaacson said, “We and the IDF are the ‘physical’ Iron Dome of the state of Israel. Everyone in Israel has a good life because we are stopping two million Palestinians from infiltrating. We will get slaughtered if we are not defended.” 

Maybe his comment will help answer Israel’s detractors who scoff at and condemn Israel for defending its civilians. After notifying Gazan residents, the Israeli Air Force targets weapons and launchers that Hamas agents purposely stored and used inside civilian areas. Israel laser-targets terror tunnels built underneath Gaza City, where Hamas leaders and fighters can run and hide without any regard to the damaging effects on their own population. And yes, balloons and helium tanks must be destroyed due to its terrible re-purposing designed to burn and kill.   

Meanwhile, rather than ignoring the needs of their countrymen, Israelis tackle citizens’ problems with therapeutic solutions to heal broken bodies and spirits. Terrorism has turned Israel into a world leader in developing traumatic stress solutions and treatments. A succession of wars has exacted a hefty toll, especially on citizens in the western Negev—both the soldiers who defend them and the civilian security and firefighting personnel. In Israel, the attacks are sometimes incessant, day after day, month after month, and year after year. 

Except for persecuted populations as in Syria, China, Nigeria, and Iran, Israel is a stand-alone nation when it comes to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Is a new moniker needed to describe Israel’s specific trauma? Permanent Traumatic Stress Disorder would be correct. 

The Israeli traumas cannot be minimized. The same is true for the Palestinians who are held in a prison of oppression due to the chaotic actions perpetuated by their terrorist leaders, and who suffer severely from the relentless border conflict. Those militant leaders use donated multimillions for war, rather than for hospitals, schools, crops, and employment to help Palestinians. 

If it is almost constantly under attack, how does an entire nation or a region like Israel’s western Negev heal? A combination of characteristics prevalent among the Jewish citizenry helps. Israel’s culture of life, tenacity, and the ability to rise above the worst hatred and evil demonstrates strength despite sorrow. Israel’s tragedies are a valuable lesson for all of us, as these people choose to live not as victims but as victors. 

Judaism is the bedrock of our Christian faith, and our Christian faith is the bedrock of our lives. Let us express our gratitude to God by helping keep His chosen people safe through CBN Israel. 

Join CBN Israel in prayer this week for both Israelis and Palestinians:

  • Pray for Christians to be even more pro-active in tangible ways to join with others to give bomb shelters, fire trailers, and ATVs.
  • Pray for freedom and mercy for Gazan Palestinians whom Hamas is using as pawns. 
  • Pray for deep healing of traumas for Israeli children who have grown up with rockets, arson balloons, and tunnels for the last 16 years.

“Do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased” (Hebrews 13:16).

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

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Biblical Israel: Beth Shean

By Marc Turnage

Located at the intersection of two significant roads that crossed the land of Israel from west to east, through the Jezreel and Harod Valleys towards the land east of the Jordan River, and north to south, through the Jordan River Valley, Beth Shean’s prominence came due to its location. The importance of its location is underscored by being inhabited from the late Neolithic period until the Middle Ages.

Egyptian sources mention Beth Shean, and it served as an Egyptian administrative center during the 16th-13th centuries B.C., when Egypt controlled the region. Beth Shean appears often within the sources during the Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine periods where the city is known as Scythopolis (“city of the Scythians”) or Nysa Scythopolis. 

The tribal allotment of land gave Beth Shean to the tribe of Manasseh (Joshua 17:11), but the Israelites were unable to dislodge the people of Beth Shean (Judges 1:27), in part, due to the people of Beth Shean having “chariots of iron” (meaning an iron axel; Joshua 17:16), which gave them a military advantage in the plain.

After the death of Saul and his sons on nearby Mount Gilboa, the Philistines hung their bodies on the walls of Beth Shean (1 Samuel 31:10). The men of Jabesh Gilead, in the Transjordan, later retrieved their bodies burning them and burying them in Jabesh Gilead (1 Samuel 31:12). Like Megiddo, Beth Shean served an important role along significant international roadways, which means that it rarely came under the control of the kingdom of Israel. 

The Gospels do not mention Jesus in Beth Shean, Scythopolis, as he avoided non-Jewish villages and cities. Yet, Luke mentions that on his way from Galilee to Jerusalem he passed between Galilee and Samaria (17:11). Luke’s precise geographic language reflects the geopolitical reality of the first century in which Beth Shean, the Harod Valley, and even the Jezreel Valley lay neither in Galilee, nor in Samaria.

Thus, Jesus passed through this way towards the Jordan River, where he crossed the river, south of Beth Shean, proceeding south along the east bank of the Jordan River, which was inhabited by Jews, until he came opposite Jericho, where he crossed the river again and ascended to Jerusalem.

Visitors to the site of Beth Shean today see primarily the Roman-Byzantine city. The biblical period site resides on the high tel that overlooks the lower Roman-Byzantine city. On the tel, archaeologists have excavated five different temples from the Bronze Age to the early Iron Age. Also, on the top of the tel, excavations have revealed Egyptian and Canaanite presence.

The lower city, most of which dates to the late Roman and Byzantine periods, preserves remains of two large bath houses, with public toilets, a large theater, with portions of the backdrop still intact (reconstruction work has added more to this), a public market, nymphaeum (a public fountain), a public market, and shops. 

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: Slow to Anger in a World of Tempers

“Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but one who has a hasty temper exalts folly” (Proverbs 14:29 NRSV).

We live in a world full of tempers. On our streets, in our homes, and on our social media, people tend to express their temper often and loudly. Anger seems to simmer under the surface of our society, and it’s destructive.

The admonition of Proverbs has a timeless relevance: “A hasty temper exalts folly,” yet the one who is slow to anger shows understanding. Proverbs does not say, don’t have a temper or don’t ever get angry. Rather, it instructs us not to have a hasty temper.

As humans, we get angry. God even gets angry in the Bible. We have tempers. Our response in the moment of emotion causes us to move from understanding to folly.

Paul notes in Galatians that self-control is one of the fruits of the Spirit (5:23). One who is slow to anger controls him or herself. Such a person stands out increasingly in the volatile and emotionally driven world in which we live.

Emotions tend to focus us on the passion of the moment; but self-control takes a long-term view of a situation. Our freedom of expression, especially in moments of anger, rarely brings about anything constructive. In fact, it often causes more harm than good.

But when we exercise self-control and are slow to anger, we find opportunity to build instead of tear down; we display understanding and wisdom instead of foolishness. And, ultimately, we show that God’s Spirit works in us, by the fruit our lives produce. In other words, we testify to God before a watching world.

A world full of tempers cares little for our Gospel proclamations when we show our tempers just as hasty and volatile as its own. A person with great understanding is a rare commodity in our world, and such a one enables people to glimpse God.


Father, may Your Spirit bear fruit in my life, enabling me to exercise self-control at being slow to anger. Amen.

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Anti-Israel Hostility Is Soaring While Dictatorships Get a Free Pass 

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

When it comes to what drives spiraling anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment, hate is always at the helm. The global mainstream media’s anti-Israel bias could not be clearer. By frequently abandoning or twisting context and facts, they often reveal unrelenting hostility toward the world’s only Jewish state. Astonishingly, they will single out Israel’s parliamentary democracy as the culprits of human rights violations, while neglecting the world’s most heinous tyrants who rule their nations with an iron hand of oppression. 

The same neglect arises within anti-Israel organizations, governments, universities, and some religious denominations. Israel is not a perfect country. No nation can make that claim. But one thing is quite clear: Israel is a free country where its citizens can argue their opinions. In that country, media have freedom to report opinions that cover every position. Robert Kennedy, Jr., once said, “Democracy is messy, and it’s hard. It’s never easy.” I agree. Freedom and democracy are messy. That is part of freedom, and those who have freedom prefer it. Many in our world long for it.   

Let’s examine a few statistics and realities to draw attention to media’s lopsided judgments on Israel as compared to authoritarian-ruled countries. 

On Israel’s 2021 Independence Day, their total population registered at nearly 9.3 million people. The Jewish population itself is currently 6.9 million—just over 74%. And according to the Worldometer, Israel’s population is around 0.11% of the nearly eight billion people in the world. 

A poisonous web of dictator-run countries crushes their own civilian populations. Yet such actions are mostly ignored by the media, along with Israel’s detractors who don’t assign much, if any, blame for their actions. Dictators and anti-Semitic individuals and organizations make up an unholy alliance against Israel and Jewish communities. 

When hatred and lies warp a mind, evil is its product. Clearly, examples abound not only toward Israel and Jews but also against innocent populations trapped by megalomaniacs—those with extravagantly grandiose ideas about themselves.  

Although there are more, the dictator countries I am citing as examples are China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela. Their leaders are a mix of communists, Islamists, atheists, and pathological narcissists who demonstrate no mercy to their people. I took the time to add up their combined populations, and the total comes to nearly 1.6 billion people. My heart goes out to those who live in these nations. “Horrifying” is not a strong-enough description of the plight these citizens face. 

To explain, here are several cogent points about each country.

North Korea’s official name is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). It is a misnomer, and the country is more aptly nicknamed the “hermit kingdom” for closing itself off to foreigners. North Korea had its nearly 26 million citizens in total lockdown decades before COVID-19 surfaced. Food and freedom are scarce. There is no way out. 

Communist China is on its atheistic mission, using many forms of persecution against Christians, Muslims and Buddhists. This autocratic government intimidates its citizens via arrests, imprisonment, torture, and murder. Olivia Enos, a senior policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, commented about China’s President Xi, “We have not seen such an authoritarian figure since Mao [Zedong].” Chairman Mao, a Marxist/Leninist, founded the Chinese Communist Party in 1949 and ruled it until his death in 1976. 

Venezuelan citizens continue to flee their once wealthy and stunningly attractive country. Condé Nast Traveler previously described it as one of the 40 most beautiful nations in the entire world. In desperation, scores of its citizens are now coming over the southern border of the U.S. Socialist dictator Hugo Chavez and his thugs began to steal people’s businesses, ruined the economy, and hunger crept in. When Chavez died, Nicolás Maduro took over. Deeply unpopular, he has kept the Chavez stranglehold on the people, pushing disastrous economic policies that finally turned the once-prosperous country into a national disaster area while boosting his cozy relationship with Iran and China. 

Cuba, only 90 miles from the Florida Keys, remains communist. Iranians have an embassy in Havana and Cuba helps Maduro ruin Venezuela and its people. The United States lists Cuba as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, and Cubans are still painfully accustomed to communism’s decades-long catastrophic effects.  

Iran, the world’s biggest state sponsor of terror—in addition to supplying weapons for its terror proxies Hamas, Hezbollah, and Syria—has embedded its influence in many parts of the world through its embassies and elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). A few weeks ago, satellites showed that two Iranian ships had crossed the Atlantic, believed to be headed for Caracas, Venezuela. It’s not a pleasure cruise. The ships are said to be carrying fast-attack boats and also missiles that could possibly reach the United States. Iran has stationed its IRGC there to help Maduro control his suffering population. 

Together, these five nations comprise a quintet of terror at home and abroad, and they cooperate with each other on multiple levels. One is worth a mention: For years North Korea has covertly supplied Iran with many nuclear-related parts to help them achieve their nuclear weapon goals. The quintet imports and exports whatever chaos they can. The dictators also greedily fill their own pockets. Maduro, in particular, likes gold. His fortune now amounts to billions of dollars with some of it stashed in Great Britain. Thankfully, they refuse to release the funds to Maduro, because Venezuela illegally mines its valuable gold resources with harsh, forced labor. Since the U.S. sanctions Maduro’s government, it forces him into complicated, covert transfers of gold to other nations, like Iran.  

These are just a few examples of the devastating policies affecting more than 1.6 billion people in five countries. Now let’s contrast that with Israel. 

A nation the size of New Jersey has fought off terror and wars since its modern founding in 1948. Israel now readily walks with Arab nations in the Abraham Accords and has peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan. Despite having only 0.11% of the world’s population, Israel is responsible for sharing a massive—and miraculous—output of innovations that surround the globe with blessings. Israel is also a shining light of help and hope across the globe as they send humanitarian aid and relief to more than 140 nations as of 2020.   

The Culture Trip ( tries to aggregate the number and benefits of Israel’s innovations. They salute Israel’s having more high-tech startups per capita than any other nation. Here is a tiny sample of what they recently highlighted: The SniffPhone diagnostic tool features a breathalyzer (“NaNose”) that detects odors caused by cancer and other diseases and is accurate between 86 and 93 percent of the time. An Israeli-developed flexible stent has saved millions of lives (and prevented the need for open-heart surgery) by opening arteries. Israelis invented the now-ubiquitous portable USB memory drive, as well as Waze, a real-time GPS system that connects drivers to each other and is used by more than 140 million people in 185 countries. Netafim, an irrigation system that transforms deserts into gardens, is now in 110 countries, making 24.7 million acres productive—especially critical for poor nations. 

The anti-Israel media and anti-Semites prop up brutal dictators by neglecting to focus on their cruelty and greed. Also, it is incomprehensible that the United Nations not only serves as an accomplice but has also seized upon resolutions for media and detractors to use against Israel. 

In the Christian community, let us make sure we are not neglecting truth telling about the nation of Israel! And let us seek ways, big and small, to help oppressed peoples in nations run by dictators. 

Please join CBN Israel in prayer this week for Israel, the Jewish people, and the millions who live under tyranny around the world:

  • Pray for God’s mercy upon all oppressed peoples across the globe.
  • Pray that the Christian community will continue to exhibit compassion wherever we can, at home or abroad, embracing this verse in Isaiah 1:17: “Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.”
  • Pray that Christians gain courage to speak up with facts about Israel to push back against rising anti-Semitism and hostility toward the Jewish state.

Reading about those suffering under dictatorships is both upsetting and heartbreaking. May we each thank God for the wonderful blessing of living in the United States or whatever other free nation we reside in. As Paul puts it so eloquently in Ephesians 5:20, “giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

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

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Family in Crisis: Aviva’s Story

For many in Israel, COVID-19 has not only caused financial hardships, but it has also taken a mental and emotional toll on people. The isolation and restrictions made life even worse for those already struggling to get by. And for Aviva, a single mother raising two children by herself, it became a nightmare. 

Aviva was already ill before entering lockdown with her children. But soon, her kids became bored and hated being inside. And this made it harder for Aviva to recover, as she did not have the energy to keep them entertained. She was overwhelmed—and worried about basic survival. 

Thankfully, friends like you there to extend help and hope to Aviva. CBN Israel helped make a way for Aviva to get food and other essentials so she and her children wouldn’t go hungry. Plus, to keep her little ones occupied, we gave her free access to the Hebrew version of Superbook, CBN’s animated Bible stories. Her children enjoyed the fun, positive episodes—giving Aviva time to rest and heal. It was the very blessing she needed! 

As she recuperates, CBN Israel will be there to bring groceries and generous vouchers to give her access to nutritious food. “Thank you so much,” says Aviva. “I am deeply grateful for the care and love you have shown!” 

And your gift to CBN Israel can deliver hope to others in so many ways, during the pandemic and beyond. You can be there with groceries and supplies, shelter, financial assistance, job training, and much more. Right now, so many across Israel are just trying to survive. 

Your support can bring compassionate aid to immigrant families, Holocaust survivors, victims of terrorism, and single mothers. 

Please join us in making a difference for others in the Holy land! 


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Biblical Israel: Ein Gedi

By Marc Turnage

The name Ein Gedi means “spring of the kid (young goat).” Ein Gedi, which is the largest oasis on the western shore of the Dead Sea, sits between two riverbeds (in Hebrew, nahal, in Arabic, wadi): Nahal David to the north and Nahal Arugot to the south. The oasis contains four springs, Ein David, Ein Arugot, Ein Shulamit, and Ein Gedi, that flow year-round supplying three million cubic meters of water annually. 

The springs have allowed habitation, which dates back to the Chalcolithic period (ca. 4000 B.C.). Its most continuous inhabitation goes from the beginning of the seventh century B.C. until the early Arab period as indicated by archaeological and literary evidence. The book of Joshua locates Ein Gedi within the tribal territory of Judah (15:62). Ein Gedi’s location within the tribal territory of Judah explains David’s use of the oasis when he hid from Saul (1 Samuel 23:29; 24). During the biblical period, a road from the southern end of the Dead Sea and the lands to the east, Moab and Edom, ascended from Ein Gedi into the central hill country towards Bethlehem. 

Although located along the arid shores of the Dead Sea, the fresh-water springs and temperate climate year-round allowed Ein Gedi to flourish as a place of agriculture. Date palms and perfume-producing plants became the primary crops of the oasis. The book of Ben Sira mentions the date palms of Ein Gedi. 

In the first century B.C., the arrival of hydraulic plaster from Italy in Judaea enabled the Jewish leaders, the Hasmoneans, to construct aqueducts at Ein Gedi, which allowed them to expand the agricultural production at Ein Gedi. During the first century B.C. and A.D., Ein Gedi produced a perfume, balsam, which served as the cash-crop of the kingdom of Herod the Great and Judaea. It was exported all throughout the Roman world. Herod the Great’s construction of the palace fortress of Masada, just south of Ein Gedi, served to protect the produce of the balsam.

The dates of Judaea also were exported to Italy. The site of Ein Gedi was destroyed during the First Jewish Revolt (A.D. 66-73) but rebuilt in the years after the revolt and served as a location of a Roman garrison as well as a military and administrative center for the Jewish rebels during the Bar Kochba Revolt (A.D. 132-136). The Romans conquered Ein Gedi at the end of this Jewish revolt. Remains of the Jewish rebels and their belongings were discovered in caves near the oasis of Ein Gedi in the twentieth 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: Do You Sanctify His Name?

But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not trust Me to show My holiness in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this assembly into the land I have given them’” (Numbers 20:12 HCSB).

The children of Israel found themselves in the wilderness of Zin without water. They grumbled against Moses and Aaron, wishing themselves back in Egypt. God instructed Moses to speak to the rock to bring water out for the people. Moses, however, in his anger, struck the rock and brought forth water. The disobedience of Moses and Aaron prevented them from entering the Promised Land.

This seems like an odd story. Regardless of how Moses did it, water still came from the rock. Why did God get so upset? Because Moses did not do what He commanded. Moses and Aaron brought the congregation before the Tent of Meeting, and God’s glory appeared to everyone. They heard what He said. But still, water came from the rock. Problem solved. Yet, it wasn’t.

Shepherds, like Moses, have a knack for finding water in the desert. Moses’ efforts made him the source of Israel’s provision, not God. His action showed that he did not trust God to bring forth water simply at his word. Moreover, his disobedience in front of the congregation did not sanctify God; in fact, it did the opposite. It profaned Him.

According to the Bible, our behavior either sanctifies God’s name or profanes it. We sanctify His name through our obedience to Him in the common and ordinary aspects of our everyday lives. The Bible often provides ordinary examples of ways to sanctify God’s name in our daily lives. To disobey means that we profane His name.

We often want to blame the media, secularism, politicians, and non-believers for God’s name being profaned in the world. However, the Bible tells us that non-believing nations were not called to sanctify God’s name; His people were. The secular forces in our world are not responsible for God’s name being profaned in our world; we are. When we fail to obey Him, we profane His name. But when we obey Him, we sanctify His name before the world.

God takes this seriously. So seriously, that it prevented Moses and Aaron from entering the Promised Land. The first benediction of the prayer Jesus taught His followers to pray requested, “May we sanctify Your name.” How? By obeying His will.


Father, may we sanctify Your name in our world today through our obedience to Your word. Amen.

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Israel’s Ancient Political Dramas: Good Kings, Bad Kings, No Kings, and the King of Kings 

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

Drama has dominated Israeli politics going back to ancient times, when the Jewish nation experienced seasons with good kings, bad kings, and no kings. Its political baggage is packed full of successes, failures, prosperity, disaster, peace, war, unity, betrayal, and even death.   

Israel’s political dramas persist today, following four elections since 2019 and, at this writing, a possible fifth looming. Any Israeli governing coalition can easily fail in just a few short weeks and months due to the nation’s political structure. Israel’s challenge of multiple political parties, posturing, and disputes unroll while Iranian leaders ramp up their terrorist plots and fanatical ambitions to dominate not only the Middle East but the rest of the world. That includes the United States—in Iran’s words, the “Great Satan.” 

Pro-Israel Christians are alarmed by the current political drama taking place in Israel. Yet this present situation raises serious questions as to how non-Israeli Christians should support Israel during this uncertain time. How do we navigate what goes on internally within Israel? What is our role to play in Israeli politics? And do we even have one?

The primary role of Christians is first and foremost to lay a foundation of prayer for the nation of Israel and its entire population: Jews, Israeli Arabs, Palestinian Arabs, Muslims, Christians, Palestinian Christians, and Druze. However, our prayers must also be followed up with action. We are called to advocate for Israel in our own United States Congress, to oppose anti-Semitism, and to send tangible relief to bless Israel and her people in need. Above all, we must trust God’s promises and provisions—especially since He is the one who reawakened the Jewish homeland into a modern Jewish state. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will fulfill His promises.  

For some background, though, let’s look at these four areas: God’s unending patience, His warnings proven true, the consequences He allowed as teachable moments, and His continual promise-keeping. 

What does the Bible, the most authoritative and popular book in world history, affirm? We do not have to look far to read about Israel’s governmental issues. God first chose Abraham and committed to shaping him and his Jewish generations into a nation that would be a light to the world with redemption and innovative blessings beyond comprehension. God Himself promised to be their King until the Israelites eventually demanded a king through the prophet Samuel. 

Once men took on the mantle of kingship over Israel, the chronicles and stories went sideways. In first person, the prophet Samuel recounts part of the story in 1 Samuel 8:1-9. Samuel was old, his sons were not fit to lead, and his elders visited Samuel to lobby him. In verse 5 they pleaded, “Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” Samuel was not pleased and prayerfully consulted God. God assured Samuel that his elders were not rejecting him but rejecting God Himself. In verses 8 and 9, God goes on to say, “According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day—with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods—so they are doing to you also. Now therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them.” 

God knew that kings would rule imperfectly. He knew full well that the Israelites’ preferences were going to return to haunt them. Their insistence on their own way is a clear example for us—and all humanity—of our weakness and arrogance in thinking that we are in charge. Even so, God has not rejected Israel, the Jewish people, or those of us who are grafted into the family through the sacrificial blood of our Jewish Messiah. 

Tall, handsome Saul had his chance as the first King to reign. Jealousy, insecurity, and rage consumed him. He then died a terrible death. Along came David, a beloved king, a magnificent musician, and psalmist. The psalms are vehicles of praise, sorrow, majesty, and agony that bless us still. Yet David was also an adulterer who ordered a hit man to murder Bathsheba’s husband. 

Solomon, the developer king and architect of the First Temple, likewise filled the book of Proverbs with wise sayings. We read them today for guidance. Nevertheless, he himself did not act wisely. Later in life, he listened to his many wives and built altars to their gods. The books of 1 and 2 Kings are sad commentaries about the evil kings of Israel’s 10 northern tribes. King Ahab, in particular, was considered the worst king in Jewish history. When he married Jezebel, he aligned with pagan worship, which led to building an altar to Baal. And the southern and northern kingdom rivalries dominated Israel’s political landscape.  

Several examples of Israel’s clashes appear in 1 and 2 Kings:

“Now there was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days” (1 Kings 15:16).

“And Zimri went in and struck him and killed him in the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah, and reigned in his place” (1 Kings 16:10).

“For he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; he raised up altars for Baal, and made a wooden image, as Ahab king of Israel had done; and he worshiped all the host of heaven and served them” (2 Kings 21:3).

Today, infighting between Jewish groups continues to rage even while the world’s only Jewish nation faces unrelenting threats of war, terrorism, and hostility. The political strife continues even as a rising tide of anti-Semitism sweeps the globe and the world singles out Israel for condemnation, boycott, divestment, and sanctions. No group or nation is immune from infighting and strife, of course—including Christian groups—but we pray for our Jewish friends in Israel as well as all of Israeli society that God would bring peace to the storm and a unified solidarity that will make Israel strong not only to defend itself but also to be a light to the nations.   

In closing, I want to highlight important biblical truths to direct our thinking and to trust God’s sovereignty when it comes to Israel and our role as believers. Despite the wonders and tragedies of Israel’s history, Isaiah 43:1-4 still holds true and in part says, “But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I gave Egypt for your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in your place. Since you were precious in My sight, you have been honored, and I have loved you; therefore I will give men for you, and people for your life.” While we must pray, act, and give our support to Israel, we must remember that it is God who saves, not us. 

The New Testament reiterates God’s unconditional plans in the brilliant Jewish Apostle Paul’s writing in Romans 9:3-5 under the Holy Spirit’s inspiration: “For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.”

No matter who fills the role of Israel’s prime minister or who joins him in governing the nation, we are called by God to stand with the Jewish state and to bless His chosen people. May we trust in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the King of Kings—to fulfill His plans and promises concerning Israel. 

Please join CBN Israel this week as we pray for Israel amid the current political turmoil:

  • Pray with thanks that Israel is a parliamentary democracy.
  • Pray that Israel’s political strife and division will move into unity and solidarity.
  • Pray that the Christian community will rightly understand our role and trust the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 
  • Pray that, despite Israel’s political turmoil, their military will keep successfully maintaining the safety of their nation. 
  • Pray for Israel’s leaders—president, prime minister, Knesset and judiciary—for wisdom and right decisions. 

May we remember Amos 9:15, where God makes His intentions toward the people of Israel abundantly clear: “I will plant them in their land, and no longer shall they be pulled up from the land I have given them.”

Scriptures taken from the New King James Version.

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

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