Biblical Israel: Sepphoris

By Marc Turnage

Sepphoris was the capital of the Galilee during the first part of the 1st century A.D., when Jesus was a boy. Located four miles north of Nazareth, Sepphoris sat in the Beth Netofa Valley, which provided a main east-west roadway in the Lower Galilee from the northwestern part of the Sea of Galilee to Akko-Ptolemias on the Mediterranean coast. Sepphoris consists of an upper and lower city. Within Jewish history, Sepphoris served as the location where Judah the Prince compiled the rabbinic oral teachings into the Mishnah, the earliest body of rabbinic teaching. It was written in Hebrew.

Excavations at Sepphoris uncovered evidence of settlement even as early as the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age I. It seems, however, that a continuous settlement existed at the site from the Persian Period (5th century B.C.) through the Crusader Period. Excavations reveal that during the Roman Period, the western part of the upper city contained Jewish residents, as indicated by the presence of Jewish ritual immersion baths and two oil lamps decorated with menorahs. The upper city also contained a theater set into the northern scarp of the hill, overlooking the Beth Netofa Valley. It could hold about 4500 spectators. Some assign the date of the theater to the 1st century A.D., but most archaeologists date it to the early to mid-2nd century A.D. 

One of the center pieces of the site of Sepphoris is a Roman villa built in the 3rd century A.D. The villa contains a beautiful mosaic floor in its dining room, a triclinium. The center of the mosaic contains scenes depicting the life of the Greek god Dionysius (the god of wine and revelry), including a drinking contest between Dionysius and the hero Heracles. Surrounding the Dionysius scenes are scenes of hunting with wild animals and naked hunters including various flora. In this band of scenes, on the southern end of the mosaic, appears a depiction of a beautiful woman, with either a hunter or Cupid, next to her head. If it is Cupid, then the woman likely is intended to be the goddess Aphrodite. 

Excavations in the lower city have revealed a city planning typical to the Hellenistic-Roman world, a cardo (a north-south street) and a decumanus (an east-west street). Some archaeologists date this urban planning to the 1st century A.D.; others date it to the 2nd century A.D. The cardo and decumanus are flanked by colonnaded sidewalks for pedestrians, with mosaic pavements. Within the lower city, homes, public buildings, as well as a lower city market, have been uncovered. 

Excavators discovered a synagogue in Sepphoris that dates to the 5th century A.D. Its floor is a mosaic that depicts the sun god Helios with his chariot of horses surrounded by a zodiac. Biblical scenes were also depicted although this part of the mosaic was damaged, but it seems to have depicted the story of the binding of Isaac (like the synagogue in Beth Alpha). It remained in use until the 7th century A.D. 

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: Choose Life

“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess” (Deuteronomy 30:15-16 NKJV).

God’s covenant always comes with a condition: “If.” If you will do this, then this will be the result. If you do not do this, then that will be the result. Within the Bible, our relationship with God depends upon our living up to the “if” statements. 

He tells the Israelites that He placed before them the way of life and death. He then calls upon them to do several things: listen, love, walk, and observe. In fact, listening to God is defined as loving Him, walking in His ways, and observing His commandments. 

The evidence that we have listened to God is determined by how we obey Him and walk in keeping with His commands. This also is the biblical definition of loving God: observing His commandments. 

The promise God gave to Israel is if they would do this, then they would live and multiply and God would bless them. We hear people today talking about God wanting to bless us, and He does. He’s a good father. But, in the Bible, God’s blessing is always the then of an “if-then” statement. 

Too often, we want blessing without obedience; we seek relationship without repentance. We want life without observing the commandments. The Bible often connects God’s commandments and obedience to them with the way of life. 

We have a daily obligation to listen to God’s commandments, to love Him by walking in His way and observing His statutes. If we do this, then He has promised His blessing; He has promised life and goodness. So, today, choose life. 


Father, today we choose to listen to Your voice, to walk in Your ways, to observe all that You command, and to love You. Amen. 

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Abraham Accords—A Year Later, Hope is Taking Hold 

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

The Abraham Accords, signed on the White House lawn on September 15, 2020, heralded an unexpected miracle. After President Trump announced the upcoming agreements on August 13, 2020, the three monotheistic faiths represented at the table—Christian, Jewish, and Muslim—not only honored Father Abraham, but set a new Middle East direction led by the United States, Israel, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Bahrain. 

Like all agreements between nations, the road has been strewn with detours, barriers, and yes, sometimes-impassable damage. Nevertheless, persistence, commitment, and recognition of the big picture can remove them. As participating nations navigate various challenges in the Abraham Accords, numerous positive results are outlining a new Middle East roadmap. The specter of Iran—the world’s biggest exporter of terror—hovers over both Israel and the Arab Gulf states and has served, in part, as an unpredicted motivator for alliances. 

On December 3, 2020, a CNN international correspondent commented, “Never has the process of normalization been so fast, and pursued with such mutual enthusiasm, as between Israel and the UAE. And it goes beyond that. The UAE appears to have dropped, in practical terms, any objections to Israel’s occupation of Arab lands.” (Note to CNN: Israel is not occupying any Arab land.) 

Here’s an inspiring personal example of cooperation that has taken place. Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein spent three months in Dubai, UAE, earlier this year. The judge, who has been blind since birth, traveled there on a special mission to “be part of the Abraham Accords.” His focus was on others with disabilities. His visit resulted in new understandings among Arab leaders about disabilities, which some of their children also suffer. In addition, due to Judge Bernstein stopping over in Israel for meetings on his way home, Access Israel (—which is dedicated to “accessibility and inclusion of people with disabilities and the elderly”—will go to the UAE and help them start innovative programs for their own people. This effort could have widespread and much-desired results. 

The economic and tourism benefits to the Abraham Accord signatories, which now also include Sudan and Morocco, should be vast in the Middle East. In March 2021, the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research group, stated that, “Four million new jobs and more than $1 trillion in new economic activity over a decade” could be possible. They base this on 11 nations eventually becoming a part of the Accords. Between Israel and UAE, RAND projects that trade will grow to $6.5 billion. That includes oil, precious metals, defense, medicine, water, agriculture, cyber, and financial technology.

Tourism, despite on-and-off COVID-19 travel disruptions, resulted in numerous back-and-forth visits between Israel and UAE. Indeed, tens of thousands of Israeli tourists and many business delegations have traveled to UAE. The economic development portfolio of Jerusalem’s Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahum includes tourism. Just a few days after the Accords were signed, she set up the UAE-Israel Business Council. Hassan-Nahum observed, “If we managed to create so many relationships during a global pandemic, I think it bodes well for a future of mutual prosperity.” She added, “We created something new here. We are creating the model for a new type of peace.”

Last week Yair Lapid, Israel’s foreign minister, traveled to Morocco where he signed an agreement in Rabat, Morocco’s capital, to reopen the Israeli Liaison Office. He indicated that this was just a first step: “Within two months the two countries will open embassies, rather than liaison offices.” During Lapid’s visit, he and Moroccan officials revealed that Israel and Morocco were already working together on cyber cooperation related to defense. Lapid observed, “Morocco is no chump in the cyber field.” 

Bahrain’s Undersecretary for International Relations, Abdulla bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, visited Israel last week for a series of meetings with Israeli leaders. He and Dore Gold, President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, signed an important public statement of unity on Sunday to oppose Iran. Kalifa, who said he would make an important announcement soon, went on to say, “Hopefully on the fifteenth of September, there will be some sort of demonstration that there is commitment [from the Biden administration].”

Things are a bit more complicated in Sudan. Although one of Sudan’s civilian leaders, Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, signed the Abraham Accords, his nation is facing the embedded complexities and national trauma of the three-decade rule of Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir. The former military officer and politician is accused of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity in Darfur. The Sudanese finally overthrew him in a 2019 coup d’état and turned him over to the International Criminal Court. Sudan is still recoiling from the horrors al-Bashir left behind. 

After Hamdock signed the Accords last September, the United States removed Sudan from its State Sponsors of Terrorism (SST) list. However, Sudan was first required to pay $335 million to the U.S. for American victims of terror acts launched by Sudan. This payment opened the door for massive financial debt relief. Due to Sudan operating with a transitional government (the Sovereignty Council), elections are not set until 2022. This understandably hinders full implementation of the Abraham Accords. 

Nevertheless, some positive steps are happening in that country. Sudan’s religious freedoms are increasing, and their cruel laws against women are decreasing. A delegation of top American agriculture CEOs has visited the devastated nation to help with food initiatives. Modern Sudan is mentioned frequently in the Bible as the kingdom of Cush (Kush). An ancient nation with a Christian history, today it is the third-largest country in Africa, with 44.91 million people in desperate need of dedicated prayers. 

To promote ongoing regional gains, Jared Kushner and former White House envoy Avi Berkowitz announced in May 2021 the formation of the Abraham Accords Institute for Peace. Included in this effort are the UAE and Bahraini ambassadors to Washington, Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, and Israeli-American businessman and Democratic donor Haim Saban. They will work to increase trade, tourism, and people-to-people contacts between Israel, Bahrain, UAE, Morocco, and Sudan. Their recent joint statement is a source of hope: “In less than a year, this warm peace is melting decades of misunderstanding and hostility across the region. This is a peace among peoples as much as it is among nations. This will be the institute’s focus—to nurture and deepen these human connections.”

As for those person-to-person connections, Emiratis and Israelis are meeting via Zoom and burning up the popular social media service, WhatsApp. Every sector of social media is packed with great ideas and fast-forming friendships. Dubai is hosting a big conference where The Jerusalem Post and the Khaleej Times are holding a conference. The event is fully booked, and there’s a waiting list for other hopeful attendees. 

David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, made quite a prediction when he was in office. He commented that it would take the Arab world 100 years to accept the world’s first modern Jewish state. Our prayers can focus on a formidable continuation of the Abraham Accords. Ben-Gurion would likely be astonished and proud.

In the first book of the Bible, Genesis 10:6-7, Noah’s grandson Cush is listed: “The sons of Ham: Cush, Egypt, Put, and Canaan. The sons of Cush: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabteka.” Let’s be sure to pray for the well-being of the people in an ancient land, today called Sudan. 

Please join CBN Israel this week in praying for all of the Abraham Accords signatories and that more countries would join in this unprecented peace agreement:

  • Pray for God’s mercy and help to be shown to the Sudanese people who suffered under a genocidal leader for three decades. 
  • Pray for honest leaders in Sudan’s 2022 elections who will guide their nation into freedom and success. 
  • Pray with thankfulness for visionary leaders like Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu who led the way for the Abraham Accords to take place.
  • Pray for spiritual blessings on the nations that are signatories to the Abraham Accords. 

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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Single Mother: Ava’s Story

At age 46, Ava was suddenly starting over. She had moved to Israel from Eritrea, got married, and had six children. But her hopes for a good life were dashed when her husband became violent. Israel’s social services had to intervene—placing the children in foster homes and boarding schools. Finally, Ava divorced her husband and tried to reclaim her life and family.  

Working diligently with the welfare department, her children were returned back to her care. Hired as a professional cleaner, she also did side jobs, cleaning private homes to make ends meet. But when COVID-19 hit, the work from private homes stopped, with no other job options. 

Her low income from cleaning for businesses barely covered basic rent and electricity—and left no money for food, clothing, or other expenses. Plus, their apartment building was slated for demolition, so she desperately needed to find a new place to live. Where could she turn? 

Thankfully, Ava’s employer told her about CBN Israel’s program that assists single mothers in crisis. Friends like you helped her family relocate to a new apartment, and purchase needed furniture, such as beds and sofas. We also brought them food, clothing, and other essentials. Additionally, we bring them groceries each week. And we provided the children with a computer, to help with their education and studies. 

Ava is thrilled, saying, “I truly appreciate all the love you have shown my family!” And your gift can help others like Ava, who struggle to survive in Israel. The needs are so great. Your support can reach out to refugees, Holocaust survivors, and others with food, housing, and financial aid. 

Please join us in blessing others in need throughout the Holy Land!


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Biblical Israel: Mount Nebo

By Marc Turnage

Mount Nebo is in the Transjordan (the modern Kingdom of Jordan) in the biblical territory of Moab. From here, Moses viewed the promised land, which he was not permitted to enter due to his disobedience in the Wilderness of Zin (Numbers 20).

God also buried him on Mount Nebo (Deuteronomy 34:1-8). The two and a half tribes that remained east of the Jordan River (Reuben, Gad, and half of the tribe of Manasseh) name Mount Nebo as part of the territory they requested from Moses. Its situation near to the southern end of Gilead (see Deuteronomy 34:1) and within Moab meant that, like other locations along this border, at times it came under the control of Israel and at others the Moabites laid claim to it.

Near to the mountain was a village also named Nebo (Numbers 32:3; 32:38; Isaiah 15:2; Jeremiah 48:1). The preservation of the name of the city aided later travelers and pilgrims in identifying Mount Nebo, which has been identified as such since the 4th century A.D. Byzantine pilgrims routinely visited Mount Nebo and left descriptions as to its location.

Mount Nebo is demarcated by two wadis on the north (Wadi Ayoun Mousa) and south (Wadi Afrit), and the Jordan Valley to the west. It’s highest peak stands at over 2500 feet above sea level, and none of its peaks are lower than 2100 feet above sea level.

The two most important peaks are Siyagha in the north (2130 feet) and Mukhayyat (2370 feet). Both yield evidence of human presence for thousands of years. From both locations, one has a dramatic view of the Dead Sea, the Jordan Valley and Jericho, and the wilderness of Tekoa to Jerusalem.

Excavations on Siyagha revealed a basilica with mosaics and a monastery that developed around it. So too, excavations on Mukhayyat revealed several Byzantine churches as well.

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: His Word Is Near to You

“For this commandment which I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it far away. It is not in heaven, that you could say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us and get it for us, and proclaim it to us, so that we may follow it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea, that you could say, ‘Who will cross the sea for us and get it for us and proclaim it to us, so that we may follow it?’ On the contrary, the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may follow it” (Deuteronomy 30:11-14 NASB).

Did you ever play hide-and-seek as a child? The goal, of course, was not to get caught. Playing it outdoors during summer nights was the best. We sometimes act like we’re in a game of hide-and-seek with God. He hides Himself from us and His will. 

The book of Deuteronomy says differently. God’s commands are not too baffling or distant. His Word is near; it’s in your mouth and heart to do it. God does not seek to confuse us or hide His will from us. He wants us to understand what pleases Him and what He desires from us. That’s why He gave us His Word. 

But in the same breath that Deuteronomy states that His Word is near us, it describes the nature of its nearness, in our mouth and heart.

Throughout the book of Deuteronomy, the children of Israel are told to “repeat these words” that they are being commanded. This reflects the oral repetition common in ancient cultures. Repeat these words. The repetition of God’s commands makes His Word near in our mouths. 

Within the Bible, the heart was not seen as the seat of human emotion, as in English today. Rather, the heart was seen as the seat of reason and cognitive function. The action of the heart, then, was to think, to meditate instead of feel. God’s Word being in your heart means that you think on it, meditate on it. This brings His Word near to us. 

The repetition of His Word brings it near, which leads us to observe it and to do it. God’s Word is not esoteric or abstract. In fact, we perceive it when we repeat it, meditate upon it, and do it. We cannot know God’s Word and meditate upon it if we do not learn it.

Devotionals are helpful in stimulating our thinking, but they do not bring God’s Word near to us. For that, we must continually speak God’s Word, meditate on it, and live it out each day.  


Father, Your Word is life; it gives life; it instructs us. May we know it and You better as we study it, meditate upon it, and do it. Amen.

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Economic Zionism: A Powerful and Peaceful Way to Oppose Economic Warfare Against Israel 

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

Israel’s biblical heartland is Judea and Samaria. This region is widely known as the “West Bank,” as it lies west of the Jordan River. Much of the world considers Israel as “occupying” this area—but they are wrong. 

God deeded Judea and Samaria to modern Israel’s ancient ancestors. Genesis 15:18 records it in the courthouse of heaven in the world’s most reliable book: the Bible. “On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: ‘To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates.’” God’s real estate deed is irrevocable, and the modern residents of the biblical heartland are rightly placed. 

Scornfully called “settlers” by the Palestinians and many other groups today, the Jews began “settling” in their biblical heartland in 1,400 B.C., when they crossed the Jordan River under Joshua’s leadership. Joshua 1:1-9 records it as happening more than 3,000 years ago. There are now around 450,000 Jews are at home in Judea and Samaria. 

Israeli citizens in the heartland are re-pioneering their ancient homeland referred to in Isaiah 61:4: “And they shall rebuild the old ruins, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations.” The term Zionism, coined in 1890, grew out of this verse. It is simply defined as the national movement for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty.

And in addition to the political Zionism that founder Theodor Herzl championed, there is another movement—Economic Zionism—that not only helps support businesses for Israeli livelihoods but also offers a tangible way for Christians and Jews to oppose the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. 

Briefly, BDS is economic warfare against the world’s only Jewish state. BDS proponents strive to halt the purchase of Israeli products, push back against companies that help Israel, and urge countries to sanction Israel. The movement was launched in 1995 by imprisoned terrorist Omar Barghouti, who has made the BDS goals clear: “Definitely, most definitely, we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine. … Palestinians have a right to resistance by any means including armed resistance. Jews aren’t indigenous just because you say you are.” 

Countering BDS economic warfare by supporting local enterprise, Economic Zionism in Judea and Samaria offers amazing options to thwart BDS. What follows is a sampling of Israeli businesses (and a charity) that include olive oils, tea, soaps, jewelry, pottery, wine, organic cosmetics, and Judaica. Exploring the following sites, you can enjoy products from the land of milk and honey to bless yourself, your family, and your friends. And, by developing into an economic activist, you will be standing against the animosity toward Israelis living in their biblical heartland. 

First Fruits (Bikurim in Hebrew), found at, is a global project that is defining a new generation of Zionism: Economic Zionism. They describe themselves as the “first and only non-profit initiative allowing philanthropic investment directly to the building and strengthening of the heartland.” The Hebron Hills, Judea, Jordan Valley, Binyamin, Samaria, and Gush Etzion where Bikurim’s warehouses are located is full of Jewish holy sites. Bikurim is a person-to-person operation complying with God’s covenants with Abraham 4,000 years ago. In fact, pilgrim farmers brought their first fruits—Bikurim—to the Temple as described in Deuteronomy 26:3-10.

Here is a poignant example of what occurred when a Philadelphian named Steven decided to contribute to Bikurim. Steven had learned about the horrific death of Ester Horgan, an artist murdered by a Palestinian terrorist in 2020. When he wanted to do something meaningful in her memory, Bikurim connected him with an artist in Tal Menashe where Ester had lived. Steven donated in Ester’s honor, remarking, “To just sit back as my people are being attacked, killed, and feeling helpless, was something I couldn’t live with. Bikurim offered me a practical and meaningful way to put my thumb on the scale and support the building of Judea and Samaria.” The blessing went both ways. Bikurim connected Steven with an artist who was Ester’s close friend. The friend, in tandem with Ester’s husband, sent Steven a portrait of Ester.

Another company, Blessed Buy Israel (, was founded in 2016. In addition to highlighting products to purchase—such as exquisite ceramics, jewelry and coffees—they inform shoppers about misguided decisions. In one of their blogs, they cited the Seattle teachers union’s (SEA) recent decision that endorsed BDS to stand with “oppressed people in Palestine.” SEA also included a slanderous resolution to ban the Seattle Police Department from receiving training from the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). The truth is many U.S. police departments travel to Israel to learn excellent peacekeeping strategies. The absurd lie is that Israel trains U.S. police forces to unfairly target minorities—a theory that has been widely discredited.

Lev Haolam ( is another source for buying products from the biblical heartland in support of a local family business. They state, “Our region is most affected by terror and international boycotts in all of Israel.” Their subscription specialty is packing a hand-picked surprise-box of seven or eight products. The high-quality products are shipped free to their subscribers worldwide. They rightly define BDS as bigotry, discrimination, and anti-Semitism. 

Truly, subscribers and philanthropic investors, both Christian and Jewish, are large and small financial activists who are committed to the biblical heartland. Judea and Samaria are biblical not only for Jews as their ancestral homeland; they are biblical for Christians who read and treasure both the Old and New Testaments and know that the Christian faith was born on Israeli soil. 

Barkan Industrial Park in Samaria is an example of successfully shaping peaceful coexistence between Palestinian Arab and Jewish workers. BDS may demonize Israel, but it is estimated that Israeli businesses offer employment to more than 30,000 Palestinians in Judea and Samaria. I witnessed it in person when I attended the Israel Government Press Office’s Christian Media Summit in November 2019. I was delighted that Samaria was on our agenda and where the Lipski Company hosted us at the industrial park. It is one of 146 companies that employ Palestinians. CEO Yehuda Cohen gave us a tour around the huge factory where plastic and sanitization products are made. Lipski has made a significant mark for peace since 2007 in the biblical heartland. At the time we visited, Cohen employed 60 Palestinians and 40 Israelis in both managerial and regular positions. CEO Cohen explained, “The atmosphere is of one big family.”

The factory pays a good Israeli salary—more than Palestinian Authority jobs—and supplies benefits (pension, recreation, vacations, etc.) to all employees. Walking around the factory, we experienced an atmosphere of cooperation and hard work. Cohen commented, “The people want to live in peace. It seems that working together also brings the hearts closer, regardless of ethnic or political identity. I believe that peace will be obtained not through boycotts, but through living together.”

A good economy is vital for Judea and Samaria. The region is also an indispensable part of Israel’s security. Without Judea and Samaria, Israel is only nine miles wide in places. Its mountain ranges overlook Ben Gurion international airport, and most of Israel’s main cities would be a scant 15 miles away from its enemies. Judea and Samaria are strategic since they provide high ground and territorial depth. History makes it plain. When Israel gives up land for peace and relocates its citizens—as it did from Gaza in 2005—the results are disastrous. Terror takes over, and Israel’s enemies grow bolder with Iran’s backing. 

To reemphasize God’s ancestral deed to the Jewish people in ancient times, Samaria was designated in history as Israel’s northern kingdom and Judea as the southern kingdom. In the first Temple era, Samaria was deemed Jerusalem’s “elder sister” (Ezekiel 16:46: “Your older sister was Samaria, who lived to the north of you”). Shiloh was Israel’s spiritual center until the first Temple was built. The moveable Tabernacle was located three millennia ago in the heart of Samaria for 369 years.

It is imperative that Christians stand against the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic BDS movement and instead support our Jewish brothers and sisters in their ancestral, biblical heartland through Economic Zionism. 

Join with CBN Israel this week in praying for Israel and specifically the biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria:

  • Pray for a significant increase among Jews and Christians who will be economic activists to bless Judea and Samaria. 
  • Pray that members of the BDS movement may be open to the facts of the Jewish claims to the biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria. 
  • Pray that each Israeli and Palestinian initiative for peace increases the well-being of both communities. 

May we pray for Israel this week in thankfulness that God keeps His promises, declaring in Isaiah 61:4—“They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.” 

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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Holocaust survivor: Zinaida’s Story

It was 1941, and Zinaida was terrified. The Nazis had invaded her Jewish village in Belarus, and the Holocaust began. This child and her family were rounded up and had to live in a barn with the animals. Laboring in their own fields, all their harvests went to Germany—while they were left starving, with little to eat. It was a time of hunger and fear that stayed with her. 

Those who couldn’t work were killed. Only 15 people in Zinaida’s village of 3,000 were alive by the war’s end. Yet today, living alone in Israel, she struggles again to survive. 

Like many older Holocaust victims, she cannot get out like she used to. She has little money for groceries, and during the lockdowns this past year, her fear of hunger and isolation reminded her of past trauma. She admits, “Those memories of hunger have never left me. Not being able to see my friends, many of them Holocaust survivors, has been heartbreaking.” Where could she turn? 

Thankfully, friends like you were there for her through CBN Israel. Our staff brings Zinaida groceries and checks in on her, to help her feel less isolated. She is thrilled, and says, “It’s been so nice to have you come and bring me this food… Your visits are something I always look forward to, and that helps me get by. It means everything—I’m so very thankful for you!” 

And CBN Israel is bringing help and hope to so many seniors, single moms, refugees, young families, and others struggling in the Holy Land. At a time when many Israelis are in crisis, you can offer needed aid and encouragement. Your gifts can bring food, housing, financial help, and more to those in desperate situations.

Please join us in standing with Israel and blessing her people in need!


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Biblical Israel: Southern Steps

By Marc Turnage

Pilgrims to Jerusalem in the first century A.D. approached the Temple Mount from the south. After ritually purifying themselves, either in the Pool of Siloam, at the southern end of the City of David, or in one of the ritual immersion baths located along the southern end of the Temple Mount, pilgrims ascended onto the Temple platform via the southern steps that led through two sets of gates referred to as the Huldah Gates. 

Entering through the Huldah Gates, one came into a double-vaulted entrance hall that led into an ascending tunnel that exited onto the Temple Mount platform. Upon exiting the tunnel, the pilgrim found him or herself standing on a pavement of colorful stones on the southern end of the Temple Mount platform facing the sacred precinct and the Temple itself.

Today visitors to the southern steps of the Temple Mount see remnants of the two sets of gates. The western most of the gates preserves the remains of a double gate, which served as the exit for pilgrims to the Temple. The eastern most set of gates is today a triple gate sealed, most likely, during the Crusader period. This gate was also originally a double gate, and through it, pilgrims entered the Temple. If a pilgrim was in mourning, they reversed their course, entering through the exit and exiting through the entrance, so that other pilgrims could comfort them saying, “May He that dwells in this house give you comfort!”

We hear of Jewish Sages sitting on these steps teaching their students and interacting with pilgrims entering and exiting the Temple. Today, most of the steps have been reconstructed, but a few of the original steps remain exposed. The steps leading up to the Huldah Gates follow a pattern of long, short, long, short. This arrangement makes it difficult for the pilgrim to ascend the steps either running or in great haste. Thus, one must approach the sacred Temple, the house of God, in a circumspect manner. 

South and east of the southern steps archaeologists uncovered a large and unique Jewish ritual immersion bath, a mikveh. Its proximity to the Temple, as well as its unique construction, have led some to suggest that this served the priests for their ritual purification. Other ritual immersion baths have been discovered along the southern end of the Temple Mount, which served Jewish pilgrims who immersed and purified themselves prior to entering the Temple (see Acts 21:24).

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: The Secret of Contentment

“For I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with little, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13 NASB).

The ups and downs of life can easily distract us and sap our energies if we let them. Paul experienced such ups and downs in his journeys; he knew plenty and want, being well-fed and hungry. Yet he learned that even in the midst of life’s rollercoaster, the key to remaining steady—to being content—was found in Christ.

Paul does not intend the statement, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me,” as many interpret this verse today. It does not mean that if we are believers, we can do anything. Rather, it means that in the midst of the twists and turns of life, the ups and the downs, Paul finds stability and contentment in Christ. That’s his secret for navigating life.

Jesus also noted how the cares of life can distract us, detouring what God wants to accomplish in our lives (see Luke 8:14). If we allow the cares of life to distract us, to dictate our mood or outlook, then our feelings will run our life; they will color our outlook and perspective. We will get too high with the highs and too low with the lows.

This can lead us to being tossed about like a boat on the water. It can also lead us to identifying our circumstances with our relationship to God. Both experiences are not what God wants for our lives; therefore, we find contentment in all things and can endure all things through Christ who strengthens us.

How do you manage the ups and downs of life? Do you find yourself stressed and overwhelmed? Then perhaps you have yet to find the true contentment that Paul spoke about, the realization that you can do all things, whether in want or plenty, whether hungry or well-fed, through Christ, the one who strengthens you.

If others look at us and see us riding the waves of life and our emotions following, are we demonstrating a confidence in the God of the universe as our Father? Perhaps that is what an unbelieving world finds unbelievable.

Father, in the journey of our lives, may we find contentment in all things. Let us not lose sight of You in plenty or in want but let us find our stability and contentment in You. Amen.

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