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A Double Disaster: Hatred Against the Jewish Homeland Eliminates Hope for Gazans

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

Since the beginning of its military operations against Hamas, Israel has reported that the Iranian proxy has been appropriating donated food meant for the civilian Gaza population. The Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) verified that a Fatah (political branch of the PA) TV anchor reported that, since the start of the war, Hamas has attacked, persecuted, and even killed aid workers. The food was stolen not only for Hamas to sustain their strength but to also murder Gazan Palestinians and IDF soldiers.

PMW describes that in attacking and killing aid workers to control distribution and to divert the food and water for itself, Hamas caused food prices in Gaza’s markets to skyrocket. An Al-Jazeera TV reporter observed, “Few things are arriving and they [Hamas] claim they are distributing them.” A Gazan woman spoke out, saying, “It is all going to their own homes. Let Hamas catch me and shoot me and do what they want to me.”

Allow the Fatah and Al Jazeera broadcasts to remain in your thoughts as you read what U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres insisted: “This is an entirely man-made disaster, and … it can be halted.” Guterres was telling Israel to allow more routes into Gaza for the delivery of humanitarian goods. Yes, it is a man-made disaster—one, however, that was implemented not by Israel but by barbaric Hamas, beginning on October 7, 2023.

The two or three days of compassion for Israel evaporated almost immediately after the Hamas invasion on October 7. Hamas’s horrors against Israel have faded in the wake of a powerful propaganda operation, with most worldwide media either intentionally or unintentionally promoting lies. This, after Israel’s Government Press Office (GPO) hosted 4,000 journalists, showed them the murderers’ indisputable body cam videos, and walked them around the Gaza envelope area where parents, children, babies, and homes were burned amongst atrocities that cannot be described.

How do mainstream media see what they saw, then sit at their computers posting on social media as if they had never seen evil up close? After all, the GPO staff did not take journalists to a movie set—the October 7 atrocities actually happened! Secular media have turned truth upside down by their omission of facts and by neglecting to blame Hamas and its Islamic benefactor for circumstances that Israel did not ask for and did not initiate.

A Washington Post article describes Israel’s war against the “Hamas rule” as one where “Gazans go hungry” and “aid groups retreat.” No! The war is primarily against the Hamas terrorists who attacked the Gaza envelope, murdered 1,200 Israelis, and kidnapped hostages from 18 countries! Americans are still among the hostages. Led by terrorists in expensive suits and flying in private jets, Hamas and its virulent followers certainly have no regard for Israel or any Palestinians. Despite these truths, the blame is laid—as usual—on Israel.

Strident voices accuse Israel of slowing down aid to Gaza. One of the most shocking accusations comes from Josep Borrell, the European Union foreign policy chief who asserted that Israel is using starvation as a weapon of war. However, on April 9 David Mencer, spokesperson at Israel’s National Public Diplomacy Directorate, pushed back, saying enough food is going into Gaza “to feed every single person there.” He added, “The U.N. fails to distribute it and Hamas steals it.” Earlier, on March 14 Elad Goren, head of Israel’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), informed reporters: “There is no starvation; there are challenges to accessibility.” Another factor rests on slow-moving humanitarian agencies, with blame (once again) typically laid at Israel’s door.

COGAT reported in an April 11, 2024, press release that 600 humanitarian aid trucks were inside Gaza after coming through the Kerem Shalom crossing from Israel and were waiting for the United Nations to unload them. COGAT posted a video on X with stacks of aid, pointing out that they must be collected and distributed by the United Nations agencies. Goods have increased, but the UN “must do the job it has been entrusted with.” Nebal Farsakh, spokeswoman for the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, a humanitarian organization, is correct in saying, “Once shipments reach the border, at both crossings [Rafah from Egypt and Kerem Shalom from Israel] they are reloaded on to Palestinian trucks.”

She further describes this as “a long and complicated process which delays the delivery of aid.” That said, Israel must inspect the aid trucks. They’re aware of Hamas’s long history of smuggling many thousands of tons of goods—food, medicines, construction materials for institutions—convoyed into Gaza by Israel for reasons of peace. All the while, the Islamic Regime and its handy Hamas surrogate next door to Israel has used much of this aid meant for civilians to build 300 miles of terror tunnels instead. 

Prime Minister Netanyahu observes, “Hamas is coming at gunpoint and stealing the food. Humanitarian deaths and starvation are, for us, a tragedy. For them, it’s a strategy. They think that this will help them place more pressure on Israel to stop the war, leave them in place so they can repeat the October 7 massacre.”

Netanyahu is absolutely right in his assessment of the Hamas character. He understands that their goal remains another October 7 massacre, which they aim to do by demonizing Israel in every way possible via world leaders and media who—whether by naïve choices, secular mindsets, or habitual denial—do not recognize evil and its source. Israel is not a perfect nation. No nation is. Yet, Israel is our spiritual homeland, the birthplace of our life-giving faith through Jewish scribes in the Old and New Testaments and Jesus, our Jewish Savior.

We in the Christian community vividly recognize the difference between good and evil. That is why we have a responsibility to share facts to help Israel fight the well-equipped media warfare against them. Let us encourage Israel in Deuteronomy 20:1-4 with an ancient promise that will not fade away! “The LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, is with you! … Do not be afraid as you go out to fight your enemies today! Do not lose heart or panic or tremble before them. For the LORD your God is going with you! He will fight for you against your enemies, and He will give you victory!”

 

Prayer Points:

  • Pray for the United Nations to efficiently distribute food and medicines.
  • Pray for Christians’ worldwide commitment to oppose media warfare against Israel by sharing facts.
  • Pray for the safety of truck drivers delivering goods into Gaza.
  • Pray for those unloading and distributing goods to Gaza’s civilians.
  • Pray always for hostages, the IDF, PM Netanyahu, and his war cabinet.

Arlene Bridges Samuels pioneered Christian outreach for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). After she served nine years on AIPAC’s staff, International Christian Embassy Jerusalem USA engaged her as Outreach Director part-time for their project, American Christian Leaders for Israel. Arlene is an author at The Blogs-Times of Israel and has traveled to Israel since 1990. She co-edited The Auschwitz Album Revisited and is on the board of Violins of Hope South Carolina. By invitation, Arlene attends Israel’s Government Press Office Christian Media Summits. She also hosts her devotionals, The Eclectic Evangelical, on her website at ArleneBridgesSamuels.com.

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Victim of Terrorism: Yulia’s Story

Yulia and her family lived in Kiev when the Ukraine war started. They hid in the town of Bucha—until a major Russian offensive made it a target, and they feared for their safety.

So, Yulia and her husband tried to flee to Israel with their three children, but he was detained at the border. Reluctantly, she and her kids continued without him, arriving with only their suitcases. Adapting to a new country where she didn’t know the language was difficult. And Yulia felt lonely and stressed, worrying about her husband’s wellbeing.

Now, after two years in Israel, she says, “All I want is to bring my husband here. He’s ready to go. We’re just looking for a way for him to finally leave Ukraine.” However, since October 7, the Hamas war has made their situation even more difficult. Trying to navigate life alone in Israel with three children, and in the middle of a war, was taking its toll on Yulia.

That’s why she was so grateful that friends like you were there to help her. Through CBN Israel’s partnership with a local ministry, caring donors delivered needed food packages—along with buying them a new refrigerator (to replace an old one that didn’t keep food cold) and a washing machine. Yulia shared, “Your support made us feel like we’re not alone. Thank you!”

Your generous gifts to CBN Israel can offer aid and encouragement to many others who feel alone. You can be there for aging Holocaust survivors, single mothers, immigrants, terrorism victims, and more.

And your compassionate support can also provide meals, essentials, housing, and finances to those in crisis from the war.

 

Your gifts mean so much—please join us in helping others!

GIVE TODAY

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Biblical Israel: Megiddo

By Marc Turnage

Situated in the western Jezreel Valley at the foot of the lowlands of Mount Carmel stands the ancient mound of Megiddo. It overlooks where Nahal Iron crosses through the Carmel lowlands, which provided passage for one of the branches of the most important highway in the Ancient Near East, a highway that connected Egypt via Israel’s coastline, through the Jezreel Valley, onto Damascus and Mesopotamia. Megiddo’s importance stemmed from its location guarding this most import roadway. 

Archaeological excavations have revealed twenty layers of civilization beginning in the Neolithic period until the fourth century B.C. Its strategic significance made it the stage for battles through much of its history, with Pharoah Thutmoses III in 1468 B.C., Pharoah Merneptah in 1220 B.C., Pharoah Shishak in 924 B.C., and the battle in which Josiah, king of Judah, died at the hands of the forces of Pharoah Neco in 609 B.C. (2 Kings 23:29-30). 

Megiddo’s strategic importance made it the object of Israelite conquest when the Israelites entered the land (Joshua 12:21). By the “waters of Megiddo,” the forces of Deborah and Barak defeated the Canaanite forces of the king of Hazor (Judges 5:19). Megiddo fell within the territorial allotment of Manasseh (Joshua 17:11), but the Manassites could not take possession of Megiddo. It remained under the control of the local Canaanites (Joshua 17:12; Judges 1:27). 

During the United Monarchy, Solomon is said to have fortified Megiddo, along with Gezer and Hazor (1 Kings 9:15)—all three cities provided overwatch of the international coastal highway running from Egypt to Damascus and Mesopotamia. The final mention of Megiddo within the Bible is the death of King Josiah (2 Kings 23:29-30; 2 Chronicles 35:20-24). Within the destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians in 722 B.C., Megiddo became an administrative city of the Assyrians, but its settlement steadily declined until it was abandoned in the fourth century B.C., most likely due to Alexander the Great’s conquest of the land. 

Visitors to the site today can visit two multi-chambered gate complexes from the Bronze and Iron Ages. Two separate palace and administrative complexes have been excavated, as well as an area that contained several cultic places of worship from different time periods. The site contains the remains of horse stables, stone mangers, and an exercise corral for the horses. Kings of Israel stationed horse and chariot forces, which were the tank corps of the ancient world, at Megiddo due to its strategic location. 

Perhaps the most impressive feature of the site that has been excavated is the water system. Ancient sites, especially administrative centers like Megiddo, had to provide the water needs for the city in times of peace and war. Most ancient sites sat on hills to offer the protection of elevation from an attacking army. Springs, however, usually do not sit on hills; they are found at their base. At Megiddo, the spring sits at the bottom of the west side of the mound. To bring the water into the city, the engineers cut a square shaft through the earth within the city’s fortified walls that connected to a long horizontal tunnel (80 meters long) that had been dug to the source of the spring. This tunnel brought the water to the area where the shaft had been dug, and the shaft enabled the people in the city to descend and draw water. 

A final word should be made regarding the well-known idea that the ancient site of Megiddo had some connection with John’s mention of Armageddon in Revelation (16:13-14, 16). The usual explanation, Armageddon represents the Hebrew meaning the “mountain of Megiddo.” People will speak about the Valley of Armageddon, yet the Bible never mentions a Valley of Armageddon. This is a modern fiction, which appears for the first time in the nineteenth century. 

No ancient Church father or Christian source ever connected Armageddon with Megiddo. Moreover, as we noted, Megiddo ceased to be inhabited in the fourth century B.C. The location of the site was forgotten. The first century Jewish historian Josephus did not know of it. In fact, he relocated the death of Josiah to a town he knew on the border between Egypt and the land of Israel. The fourth century Church father, Eusebius, did not know its location, nor did he connect Megiddo with Armageddon. No one, then, knew in the first century, when John wrote Revelation, where Megiddo was. 

Finally, while Megiddo sits on a hill created by layers of civilization, it cannot be described as a mountain. Hebrew has a word for “hill,” a word that accounts for the names of places like Gibeah, Geva, and Gibeon. Megiddo is a hill, and not a mountain. Time does not permit a full explanation for what stands behind John’s Armageddon, but suffice to say, he expected the gathering point for the armies of wickedness to fight against God to be Jerusalem (Revelation 11:1-2; 14:20; and 20:9), the mountain of assembly.

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: The Lord Alone Exalted

“The eyes of the arrogant will be humbled and human pride brought low; the LORD alone will be exalted in that day. The LORD Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty, for all that is exalted (and they will be humbled)” (Isaiah 2:11-12 NIV).

Our world marvels at mankind’s stunning and impressive achievements. We celebrate human success and ingenuity. We are so often consumed by the latest advancements in modern science, medicine, and technology.

At the center of our universe stands humanity. Our postmodern culture tends to evaluate everything through the lens and vantage point of the human individual. Such a worldview is foreign to the biblical mindset. In fact, the biblical worldview challenges and affronts our modern outlook.

The biblical writers were overwhelmed by the God of the universe and His awesomeness. They recognized the transience and fragility of human existence against His dwelling in eternity. They saw the foolishness of human pride and arrogance as God raised up and brought low.

They recognized humanity as created by the Creator to do His will instead of viewing itself as the master of the universe. It understood that God is King, and we are not. They also realized that creation—all of it, including humanity—existed to glorify God, not itself. His redemption of the world brings Him glory and points to His goodness and greatness.

For the biblical writers, God is the subject of the universe, and we are the object. Our modern world flips that around, if we even place God in the sentence at all.

Unfortunately, even our modern Christianity can all too often make us the subject and Him the object. We look to Him for what He can do for us, our needs, our dreams, our salvation, our comfort.

God does care deeply about us, more than we can ever comprehend, but He does not exist for us. We exist for Him. May we be swept away by His awesome majesty!

PRAYER

Father, You are awesome and are enthroned in majesty. May we live each and every day to exalt You in all that we say and do. Amen.

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History Repeats Itself: New Nazis on American University Campuses

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

Passover 2024 began on Monday, April 22. With Passover now in its fourth day, Jewish families worldwide celebrate their freedom festival retelling Moses’ rallying cry to Egypt’s Pharoah: “Let my people go.” In Israel this year, Passover’s rallying cry is “Let our hostages go!” However, the rallying cry on many prominent university campuses glorifies Hamas, the new Nazis. Their hostile shouts, such as “We are Hamas!” reverberate on campuses across the United States with help and funding from their unashamed anti-Israel and antisemitic backers.

Alas, the tsunami of Jew-hatred on American college campuses is not new. In the lead-up to World War II, Hitler handed a far-reaching propaganda portfolio to Joseph Goebbels, his head of the Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. The 35-year-old Goebbels wielded unlimited power over schools, universities, film, radio, and propaganda. When Hitler became dictator in 1933, Goebbels shut down Germany’s free press. The long arm of this 5-foot-5-inch propagandist, who was nicknamed the “poison dwarf,” stretched across the Atlantic to mainstream anti-Semitism into the minds of American college students.  

The “public relations” machine of the demonic duo, Hitler and Goebbels, took hold in the mid-1930s. Their plan included broadcasting Nazis in a good light, drawing German-Americans into their web, using ways to divide Americans, and when war broke out in Europe, Nazis sought to keep Americans out of it at all costs. Fortunately, the Nazi strategy did not appeal to all Americans. Three responses emerged: active opposition to Nazism, disinterest, and yes, on American soil, sympathy for the Nazis.

Examples of pre-World War II anti-Semitism on elite campuses such as Columbia and Harvard are easy to find. Administrators welcomed Nazi leaders to campus, enrolled Nazi-trained German exchange students, and promoted the idea of American students studying in Germany under Nazi oversight. Some returned to the United States mesmerized into supporting Hitler’s “New Germany.”

Today’s ineffectual tolerance of the outbreak of Jew-hatred for the last six months at Columbia University was preceded by a steady, ongoing assault. This blatant antisemitism can be traced all the way back to 1933 with former President Nicholas Murray Butler’s welcome to Nazi Germany’s ambassador, Hans Luther. Butler, like other Ivy League presidents, perhaps naively wished to connect with German universities in the mid-1930s—when Goebbels gradually turned halls of learning into halls of Nazi propaganda. A 2008 Jerusalem Post article pointed out that Stephen Norwood, Ph.D. from Columbia University and author of The Third Reich in the Ivory Tower, said at a conference that “Butler was morally indifferent to Nazi crimes during the critically important early years of Nazi rule.”

Not all American university students accepted the Nazi line. Robert Burke, who was chosen as president of the class of ’38, was expelled from Columbia in 1936 for leading one of the largest anti-Nazi demonstrations on campus. Afterwards, a series of strikes and protests at New York City colleges grew into what would become the longest student free-speech fight until the 1960s. These students demonstrated on the right side of free speech against an enemy, Hitler. The administration’s determined blindness to America’s higher education elites took place even with Nazi atrocities already marching against Jews in kidnappings and murders. 

The pattern of anti-Semitism on college campuses continued into 2007 when Columbia invited then-President of the Islamic Regime, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to speak. Columbia President Lee Bollinger and his administration were aware of Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial and genocidal threats against Israel—including his statement, “The world powers established this filthy bacteria, the Zionist regime, which is lashing out at the nations in the region like a wild beast.” Ahmadinejad had a dangerous knack of turning the Islamic Regime’s own evil into lies against Israel. Keep this in mind when you hear the Islamic pharaohs and their proxies’ “facts” against Israel. They always describe themselves.

Here’s another example. In 1934, Harvard’s administration and alumni were delighted to receive Ernst Hanfstaengl, the Nazi party foreign press chief arriving from Germany for his 25th class reunion at Harvard. He was regaled at the dinners and meetings where he interacted with prominent alumni in corporate business, banking, and higher education. Just try to imagine the meetings and dinners where Hanfstaengl was quoted as saying, among other such pronouncements, that Jews were “vampires sucking German blood.” Yet Harvard’s student newspaper, The Crimson, had described Hanfstaengl as one who should be honored for his “high position in the government of a friendly country.”

Again, 1930s students bravely rose up at Harvard’s graduation ceremonies. They filled Harvard Square to oppose Hanfstaengl’s presence, demanding that the administration should instead give him a “Doctor of Pogroms” award. University police ripped down the anti-Nazi signs posted on campus. They also arrested some of the protesting students and imprisoned them for six months—without Harvard President James Bryant Conant speaking a word on their behalf.  

History repeats itself with a questionable ambivalence about the safety of Harvard’s Jewish students today. On January 2, 2024, President Claudine Gay resigned after her Congressional testimony, in which she did not clearly condemn anti-Semitism on campus. When asked if calls for genocide against Jews following the Hamas war were in violation of Harvard’s code of conduct, this was her tepid response: “It can be, depending on the context.”  

Regarding Columbia University’s protesting students, the unpeaceful encampment protests were organized by Columbia University Apartheid Divest and joined by dozens of student-led organizations. Where are the brave students of yesteryear who opposed Germany’s Nazis? Where are the students standing up for both Jews and Christians on campus to oppose the inhumane new Nazis? Where are the 600 million pro-Israel Christians worldwide who are massively spreading facts and education about Israel, our spiritual homeland?  

Is this where our universities are now? Are they merely elevated institutions for Hamas—the beastly murderers of Jews who imitate Hitler, Goebbels, and the Islamic pharaohs (and their surrogates) cruelly oppressing freedoms within their own populations?

Century upon century—scattered across the world in the Jewish Diaspora—the Jewish community worldwide has celebrated Passover, its oldest festival, which originated more than 3,000 years ago. Jews have steadfastly remembered their exodus from Egypt amid wars, pogroms, persecution, in concentration camps, and now during the first Passover in their modern homeland following the barbaric October 7 attacks. Admittedly in their own words, the Islamic Regime’s new pharaohs recently confessed and boasted about what we knew: their planning of last year’s horrific assault.

Until April 30, Israelis sit with empty chairs at their Passover tables, traumatized and grieving as they think about those they have lost, yet resolute to survive as they always have under the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Israelis and Jews worldwide celebrate their history—while clearly understanding shouts from American campuses and worldwide. They all mean death.

“From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free.” “Arab blood is not cheap, for the martyrs we will speak.” “Resistance by any means necessary.” “Globalize the intifada!”  “Go back to Poland.” “We are Hamas.” And from a 1930s chant, “Let us all be American Hitlers.”  

An important note! If any readers personally know of Jewish or Christian students intimidated on a university campus due to protestors’ hate speech or physical assaults, contact the American Center for Law and Justice at www.ACLJ.org. Upon reviewing the situation, they are willing to represent college students for free. It is part of their ongoing outreach to stand for freedom!

We welcome you to join our team at CBN Israel this week on behalf of all university students under threat who are standing on the truth of God’s promises. As stated in Isaiah 41:11-12 NIV, “All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you  will be as nothing and perish. Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all.” 

 

Prayer Points: 

  • Pray for wisdom for all parents of students in threatening contexts on campuses.
  • Pray for Christian students to stand beside Jewish students in prayerful, protective ways.
  • Pray for university administrators to make strong decisions to protect students at risk.
  • Pray for university presidents to reject pressures to tolerate Jew hatred on their campuses.

 

Arlene Bridges Samuels pioneered Christian outreach for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). After she served nine years on AIPAC’s staff, International Christian Embassy Jerusalem USA engaged her as Outreach Director part-time for their project, American Christian Leaders for Israel. Arlene is an author at The Blogs-Times of Israel and has traveled to Israel since 1990. She co-edited The Auschwitz Album Revisited and is on the board of Violins of Hope South Carolina. By invitation, Arlene attends Israel’s Government Press Office Christian Media Summits. She also hosts her devotionals, The Eclectic Evangelical, on her website at ArleneBridgesSamuels.com.

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Giving Help and Hope During Passover

For over a decade, CBN Israel has hosted a special Passover dinner for single-parent families, widows, and families in crisis. These events are offered in various locations all over the country.

Through these Passover gatherings, friends like you are making it possible to provide families with a quality dinner as well as a meaningful time of fellowship. At the culmination of the evening, each family is blessed with a holiday package and food vouchers.

Thanks to caring donors, the individuals and families who attend are reminded that they are not forgotten—and they are not alone. These holiday events also enable CBN Israel to maintain contact with each household in order to continually assess the needs and offer basic assistance. 

“CBN Israel has been giving me help and support for over a decade—since my two children were babies,” said one single mom. “It makes me so happy that you care about us—both during holidays like Passover and all throughout the year. I cannot thank you enough!”

Another woman shared, “I am a new immigrant in Israel without any family or relatives. I am so grateful that you invite us to come celebrate Passover and other holidays with CBN Israel. You not only welcome us with dinner and hospitality; you also give me food vouchers so that I can afford to buy food and other essentials for my kids. Thank you!”

Your gifts to CBN Israel can bring emergency aid, shelter, and trauma counseling to so many whose lives have been devastated by the war—while continuing assistance to single mothers, aging Holocaust survivors, and others in dire need.

Please join us in delivering help and hope across Israel.

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Biblical Israel: Shiloh

By Marc Turnage

Shiloh served as the place where the Israelites erected the Tabernacle and placed the Ark of the Covenant after they conquered the land (Joshua 18:1). It became a place for religious pilgrimage and the celebration of festivals (Judges 21:19; 1 Samuel 1:3). The parents of Samuel, Hannah and Elkana, came to Shiloh and encountered the priest Eli, who delivered God’s promise to Hannah’s prayer that she would give birth to a son (1 Samuel 1). Then, when Samuel came of age, she brought him to serve the Lord and Eli at Shiloh, and, at Shiloh, God revealed himself to Samuel (1 Samuel 3:21). 

News of the capture of the Ark by the Philistines reached Eli in Shiloh, as well as the death of his sons, Hophni and Phineas (1 Samuel 4). Shiloh apparently suffered a destruction, not mentioned directly in the Bible, prior to the period of David and Solomon because, when the Ark returns to Israel (1 Samuel 6), the people did not return it to Shiloh, and the prophet Jeremiah mentions its destruction in his oracle against Jerusalem and the Temple: “Go now to my place that was in Shiloh, where I made my name dwell at first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel…therefore I will do to the house that is called by my name, in which you trust, and to the place that I gave to you and to your ancestors, just what I did to Shiloh” (7:12, 14; 26:6, 9).

Shiloh sits about twenty-five miles north of Jerusalem. The book of Judges provides a clear description of its location: “north of Bethel, on the east of the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem, and south of Lebonah” (Judges 21:19). Shiloh, then, sat on the primary north-south roadway that ran through the central hill country. Other well-known biblical towns and villages also resided along this roadway, Hebron, Bethlehem, Gibeah, Ramah, Mizpah, Bethel, Shiloh, and Shechem. Jerusalem sits just to the east of this road. 

Excavations of the site of Shiloh revealed a destruction layer caused by a fierce fire in the eleventh century B.C., which coincides with the period of the priesthood of Eli, Samuel, and the capture of the Ark. The destruction of Shiloh likely coincided with the Philistine victory against the Israelites, which resulted in the Ark’s capture. Excavations also attest in this period that Shiloh served as a religious and economic center. 

The Tabernacle and Ark remained at Shiloh for a long period of time prior to the city’s destruction. Although a small settlement appears in the latter part of the monarchy, it never had the importance that it previously had. In Jeremiah’s oracle, it became an object lesson for those who thought the mere presence of God’s dwelling place insulated the people from his judgement and destruction. What mattered to Him was obedience; if you don’t believe Him, just go and look at Shiloh.

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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Passover: The Feast of Unleavened Bread

By Julie Stahl

“The LORD’s Passover begins at sundown on the fourteenth day of the first month. On the next day, the fifteenth day of the month, you must begin celebrating the Festival of Unleavened Bread. This festival to the LORD continues for seven days, and during that time the bread you eat must be made without yeast. On the first day of the festival, all the people must stop their ordinary work and observe an official day for holy assembly. For seven days you must present special gifts to the LORD. On the seventh day the people must again stop all their ordinary work to observe an official day for holy assembly” (Leviticus 23:5-8).

It was the night before freedom. All of the Israelites were huddled in their homes. They had been slaves in Egypt for 400 years. Moses had conveyed God’s instructions to kill a lamb for each household and then put the blood on the door posts of their homes. The Israelites were also commanded to roast the lamb and eat it—not leaving their homes until morning. That night, they waited in anticipation to see what would happen.

God struck the firstborn of every Egyptian home all the way up to Pharoh’s household that first Passover night, as the angel of death “passed over” the homes of the Israelites. The cry must have been agonizing, but the next day after 10 plagues and 400 years of slavery, the Israelites were finally free to leave Egypt under the leadership of Moses!

That’s the Biblical story of the Exodus, which is commemorated each year during Passover. In Exodus 13:8, God commanded the Jewish people to recount the story to their children year after year and to eat unleavened bread or what the Bible calls the bread of affliction for seven days.

That’s what we call matzah (“unleavened bread”) today. Even though it’s made with flour (and no leavening agents), it must be mixed, rolled and shaped, and baked within 18 minutes to inhibit the rising.

For thousands of years, the Jewish people have told the story from the book of Exodus on the eve of Passover, “the fourteenth day of the first month” (Leviticus 23:5) in a special meal with symbolic food called a Seder, which means “order” in Hebrew. There are many traditions from all over the world, but the basic story is the same—God’s miraculous deliverance of the Jewish people against all odds.

Rabbi Levi Welton said that Passover, like all Jewish holidays, has a spiritual theme with applications for each person at any time.

“On Passover, the theme is freeing oneself from ‘personal slavery’ or self-limiting beliefs and transmitting a Jewish identity to the next generation. As the Talmud states in Tractate Pesachim 116b, ‘In each and every generation, a person is obligated to regard himself as though he actually left Egypt,’” says Welton.

Prior to Passover, Jewish people around the world remove all leaven from their homes. Varying traditions define leaven differently, but in general, it means that all bread, crackers, cake, cookies, noodles, and anything made with a leavening agent or flour are removed from the house. Many Jewish people even search every nook and cranny to make sure that not even a crumb remains.

At the Seder, certain foods are placed on a Seder plate to symbolize parts of the story. A shank bone represents the sacrifice of the Passover lamb; an egg represents the cycle of life; maror (usually horseradish) symbolizes the bitterness of slavery; haroset (a sweet paste made of apples or dates) symbolizes the straw/mortar used to make the bricks in Egypt; and karpas (parsley or a vegetable) symbolize springtime and is dipped in salt water to symbolize the tears of the Hebrew slaves in Egypt; and matzah (“unleavened bread”) is also included on the table in a pouch or napkin.

Christians find deep meaning in celebrating the Passover Seder. Jesus’ Last Supper was actually a Passover meal, and the bread that He blessed and broke saying, “take this and eat it, for this is my body” was unleavened bread (Matthew 26:26).

Because of Jesus’ words during the Last Supper, many Christians to this day take communion with matzah bread. Some even say that its designs, with stripes and piercings, are symbolic of the suffering God’s Messiah, Jesus, endured when He was beaten and crucified. The fact that matzah is unleavened also represents His sinlessness.

Christians believe that Jesus was our Passover Lamb, sacrificed for the sins of the world. Many say that the cup Jesus raised was actually the third of four cups of wine that were drunk during Passover meals. The third cup is known as the Cup of Redemption, which fits perfectly with Jesus’ words: Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many” (Matthew 26:27-28). 

Passover and Resurrection Sunday (Easter) often occur the same time in March or April. Passover is celebrated for eight days, though only the first and last days are full holidays. In Israel, the Seder meal takes place on the first eve only and elsewhere in the world, Jewish people celebrate two consecutive Seder nights.

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

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Weekly Devotional: Freed to Serve

“Let My people go, so that they can serve Me” (Exodus 7:16).

Moses repeatedly uttered this refrain to Pharaoh, insisting the Egyptian ruler release the Israelites, the descendants of Abraham. Many modern translations translate Moses’ command as “Let My people go, so they may worship Me,” but the word actually better translates as “serve.”

Everyone loves a story of freedom. The Exodus is one of the great stories of freedom in human history—an enslaved people miraculously led by God to freedom from their oppressive masters. It was such a potent story that in the “Slave Bible”—a Bible given to African slaves brought to the Americas—the story of the Exodus was removed, being deemed too problematic.

Our love for liberty spills over into our faith and spirituality. We often focus on our “freedom” in Christ, or that Christ has “freed” us. But freed us for what?

The Exodus from Egypt is not only about the slave going free, but about God redeeming a people from slavery to serve Him. Throughout the Bible, the theme of freedom is closely tied to the theme of worshiping God and devoting one’s life to Him. True freedom is found only when we surrender our lives to the will and purposes of our King.

The Bible mentions God’s kingship for the very first time in connection with the deliverance at the sea: “The Lord shall reign forever and ever” (Exodus 15:18). A king is to be served. God established Himself as Israel’s deliverer and its king. The people, then, were freed in order to serve: “Let My people go, so that they may serve Me.”

The problem is that we often don’t want to serve. We want freedom and liberty but on our own terms. The Bible views things differently: God is the King, and we are His servants. He is the one who created and reigns over all existence. We were created to know God and to serve Him.

Jesus spoke far more about servanthood than He did about freedom and liberty. Why? Because He fully understood that we either serve God or something else (Matthew 6:24)—but we have to serve somebody.

God delivered the Israelites to serve Him. And today, He still frees people to serve Him. We have freedom and liberty so that we can know God and live for His purposes. How will you use your freedom?

PRAYER

Father, today I submit my will and my life into Your hands. You are the King; may I follow You today as Your faithful servant. Amen.

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Passover in the Holy Land: A Celebration of Freedom Under Shadow of Ongoing War

By Nicole Jansezian

Israelis are preparing to observe Passover beginning at dusk on Monday night, but this year the holiday will take place under the shadow of war and with 133 hostages remaining in Gaza.

The weeklong celebration is a biblical holiday in which the Lord commanded His people to recall the events that led them out of slavery in Egypt and into the Promised Land. During that week, the Israelites were to abstain from bread or leavened products as a symbol of a hasty departure from Egypt. 

Passover occurs in Nisan, the first month of the Jewish calendar, and is known as the spring holiday and a time of new beginnings. Families gather on the first night of Passover for the “seder” meal which includes specific food, songs, and scriptures from the Book of Exodus.

Throughout Israel in the weeks leading up to the holiday, observant Jews will clear their homes of hametz, or leaven, and clean thoroughly in order to remove any trace of it in their midst.

Supermarkets seal off the shelves of pasta, rice, and legumes and sell matzah instead of bread for the week. Kosher restaurants either close for the week or reopen after a major cleaning with “kosher for Passover” products.

This year, however, the holiday occurs under a cloud of mourning, the ongoing war with Hamas, and continued threats from Hezbollah and Iran. Tens of thousands of Israelis are still evacuated from their homes and living in hotels or temporary housing. 

The night of the seder, April 22, coincides with the 200th day since October 7. And with 133 hostages still being held by Hamas in Gaza, many Israeli families will not be in a celebratory mode for Passover this year.

But thanks to caring friends like you, CBN Israel is marking the holiday by supporting people in need throughout the Holy Land—including a special dinner and financial assistance for single mothers and widows.

CBN Israel partners are also making it possible to distribute hundreds of holiday food and care packages to families and communities that have been directly impacted by the war.

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

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