Will Jewish Year 5783 Be A Good One for Israel? Not if it depends on Abbas and Raisi

By Arlene Bridges Samuels 

Israelis celebrated a new Jewish year 5783 with their traditional Days of Awe, which began with the Feast of Trumpets—also called Rosh Hashanah (“head of the year”)—on September 25-27. On Thursday prior to Rosh Hashanah, around 35,000 people crowded the Western Wall plaza for pre-Rosh Hashanah prayers.

The sound of hundreds of ram’s horns (shofars) saturated the air as the holiday commenced two days later. Families and friends feasted on sumptuous meals that included dipping apples in honey accompanied by heartwarming greetings: “May we enjoy a sweet new year” and “May you be inscribed in the Book of Life.” 

The Days of Awe are overflowing with celebrations, introspection, and repentance. These 10 days end with the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), the holiest day of the year. In the 25-hour period from sunset October 4 until sunset October 5, it is a national holiday. The country all but shuts down; many people fast and attend synagogue—with a day off work for adults—and children happily ride their bikes on the no-traffic streets.

However, after United Nations General Assembly speeches last week by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi, it is not surprising that wishes for a “sweet near year” for Israel were not spoken. After all, both leaders would prefer that the world’s only Jewish nation be eradicated. 

Abbas and Raisi have each perfected the art of turning truth upside down, displaying a level of unmatched hypocrisy. They have fine-tuned their speeches by holding up photographs of terrorists and praising them as heroic martyrs on holy missions.

Mr. Abbas spent 47 minutes at the UN glorifying his own leadership and claiming that Palestinians were Israel’s victims. He defined Israel as an apartheid nation that he accused of massacring thousands of children and carrying out assaults on Islamic and Christian holy sites. He also claimed Israel was not a peace partner. Yet this dictator, who lives in a multimillion-dollar home in Ramallah and has stayed in power many years longer than the four he was elected to, has defiantly refused direct negotiations with Israel’s leaders since 2009.

He punctuated his speech by holding up numerous photos, including those of Nasser Abu Hamid, who murdered seven Israelis and attempted the murders of 12 more. Due to multiple life sentences, Hamid has been in prison since 2002. He was diagnosed with cancer, sent to several Israeli hospitals, and transferred for treatment to remove lung tumors. He remains terminal. Abbas calls Hamid and the terrorist prisoners “heroic martyrs” and “the living conscience of our people.” 

According to Israeli and Palestinian media, on Monday Abbas then called Defense Minister Benny Gantz and President Isaac Herzog with a Rosh Hashanah greeting. However, will 5783 produce a call to his Palestinian terrorists to stop assaulting and murdering Israelis?   

Abbas and Raisi share the same playbook of lies and hypocrisy. Taking no responsibility for the detrimental impact their policies have on their own people, both are disenchanted with the United States. Yet their name-calling is even more intense against Israel. In fact, Raisi strode to the United Nations podium and unleashed a torrent of lies calling Israel a “savage power.”

Like Abbas, he accused Israel of killing women and children in a “dark report card of the Zionist regime.” He went on to name Gaza the biggest prison in the world. There was no mention, of course, about Israel’s unilateral decision to withdraw from Gaza in 2005 when—under former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon—8,000 Israelis were forced to vacate their homes, businesses, schools, and synagogues. 

Typically, there was no mention either about Hamas, Raisi’s hateful surrogate that purposely places civilian women and children in harm’s way. This, from an Islamic theocrat that formerly served as a prosecuting judge who ordered thousands of Iranians killed. Amnesty International Secretary General Agnes Callamard commented that Raisi is “a grim reminder that impunity reigns supreme in Iran.” 

During Raisi’s speech at the United Nations, Iranians were protesting throughout Iran about the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman who died while detained by the “morality police.” Her crime? Not wearing an acceptable headdress as required by the Islamic Republic’s strict laws about women’s clothing. 

Indeed, the protests center on far more than clothing. It is about citizens living under an oppressive regime since 1979—a regime more interested in developing a nuclear weapon of mass destruction than relieving the woes of their own people. In 2019, demonstrations broke out over fuel prices. Reuters reported 1,500 people were killed in the subsequent clampdown. 

We can pray that current protests will not result in the same or higher statistics. Yet news is not emerging consistently, as the Iranian regime is using rolling blackouts on the internet. Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and Telegram were shut down earlier. The Media Line reports 50 deaths thus far in two weeks of protests, but the total will likely be higher. Hundreds have been arrested, including journalists.

With his history of ruthlessness as an indicator, Raisi is carrying out his vow to “deal decisively” with citizens he views as a threat to what he calls Iran’s security and tranquility. 

Like Abbas, Raisi held up a picture before exiting the podium. It showed a smiling Qasem Soleimani, Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). Raisi praised him as a freedom-seeking martyr. Soleimani’s smile cannot erase the fact that this brutal warlord oversaw thousands of deaths and crippling injuries of American military personnel who served during the Iraq War. For 20 years, Soleimani commanded the IRGC’s terrorist actions against Israel in Syria and other locations around the world. The United States assassinated Soleimani in 2020 via drone at the Baghdad International Airport.

Abbas and Raisi each made contemptible claims at the United Nations. In his long list of lies, Abbas insists he is willing to negotiate but that Israel refuses. Raisi insists that their nuclear quest is peaceful. The evidence against both claims is overwhelming. 

The world’s citizens must not be trapped in the widespread propaganda, especially with the long arm of Iranian terror reaching into many parts of the world, including the United States. 

Nevertheless, too many are deceived. It remains the responsibility of Christians, Jews, and all who accept the truth about Palestinian and Iranian leaders’ deceptions to stand up as truth-bearers in relationships, social media, and beneficial reforms while we pray that God’s “will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” No matter the state of the world, we can completely count on our Lord Jesus and the truths God has provided in the Bible. 

We welcome you to join CBN Israel in prayer reflecting on Proverbs 12:22: “The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.”

  • Pray for Iran’s citizens bravely standing up against their oppressive regime.
  • Pray with thankfulness for Jesus’ one and only atonement for believers.
  • Pray for Israel during the Days of Awe while under high terror alerts.
  • Pray for safety and vigilance for Israel’s security personnel in all sectors.
  • Pray for the Lord’s direction on how He wants you to advocate for truth.  

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, a guest columnist at All Israel News, and has frequently traveled to Israel since 1990. She co-edited The Auschwitz Album Revisited and is a volunteer 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 Facebook.

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Biblical Israel: Gamla

By Marc Turnage

The ancient site Gamla sits in the central Golan Heights about six miles east of the northern end of the Sea of Galilee and the Bethsaida Valley. The ancient village sat on the spur of a hill created by two streams, Nahal Gamla and Nahal Daliyyot. The spur that the village of Gamla sat on can be seen easily from Bethsaida and the Bethsaida Valley; thus, while we never find mention of Jesus in Gamla, he would have known the site. The first century Jewish historian, Josephus, describes the village and the battle that took place there during the First Jewish Revolt (A.D. 66-73). 

Gamla offers an important window into Jewish village life in the Galilee and Golan during the first century. Once the Roman army of Vespasian destroyed the site (A.D. 67), it was never reinhabited, and therefore, functions as a time capsule into a first century Jewish village. The primary settlement of the site began in the Hellenistic period. It started as a Seleucid fort. The fort eventually became a village inhabited by Jews in the first centuries B.C. and A.D. 

Excavations at Gamla uncovered only a small percentage of the village, but they provide significant information about the Jewish life in the village. Towards the upper part of the hill, excavations uncovered a large olive oil press with a Jewish ritual immersion bath (mikveh) attached to it. This indicates that the inhabitants sought to prepare olive oil with concern for ritual purity. Excavators also uncovered a second large, industrial olive oil press indicating that Gamla served as a center for olive oil production exporting it to other Jewish communities. The community also seems to have grown grain and even practiced viticulture. 

Excavators uncovered the largest known urban synagogue discovered in Israel from the Roman period. At the entrance of the building, they found a ritual immersion pool. The synagogue itself consists of the main hall, with benches around the walls of the hall. The focal point being the center of the hall where the reading of the Scriptures and explication would have occurred. To the right of then entrance, in the north wall, was an inset into the wall, which most likely housed a cabinet where scrolls were kept. A small study room is also next to the main hall. 

Excavations also yielded evidence of an affluent class within the village. Painted fragments of plaster indicate the presence of wealthy homes. Finger rings and earrings, as well as gemstones and other jewelry attest to an affluence among some of the citizens. The presence of Jewish ritual immersion pools, as well as stone vessels indicate that the population of the village adhered to Jewish ritual purity. 

Excavations also attest to Josephus’ story of the fall of Gamla. Evidence of battle, destruction (including the breach in the city’s defensive wall), arrow heads and ballista balls were discovered throughout the excavations. Its destruction preserved this first century Jewish village, which offers one of the best examples of the villages known to Jesus.

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 Trumpets Are Blowing

“In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD” (Leviticus 23:24-25 NKJV).

Rosh Hashanah (“Head of the Year”) is the first of the High Holy Days, which happens this time every year. It is observed as the start of the civil year on the Jewish calendar (in comparison to the religious year, which starts with Pesach or Passover).

Rosh Hashanah is the first of the fall feasts. It begins the “Ten Days of Awe” that lead up to Yom Kippur (“Day of Atonement”). According to Leviticus 23:24-25, this celebration was signified as a time of rest, an offering that was made by fire, and the blowing of trumpets.

The modern holiday is traced back to the biblical “Feast of Trumpets,” which is the blowing of the shofar (“ram’s horn”) on the first day of the seventh month (Tishri) of the religious calendar year (Leviticus 23:24; Numbers 29:1). 

The Feast of Trumpets occurs on the first day of the Hebrew month, Tishri. It would occur at the new moon. Only the slightest crescent would be visible. However, clouds could sometimes obscure the moon, and witnesses would be required.

Watchfulness was a critical ingredient of this feast. The rabbis later would include a second day to this feast to ensure that they did not miss it. 

This need for watchfulness and preparedness in connection with the Feast of Trumpets is spoken of throughout the New Testament in relation to the Lord’s coming:

“Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming” (Matthew 24:42 NKJV). 

“Therefore, let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:6 NKJV). 

Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13 NKJV).

“So, Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (Hebrews 9:28 NKJV).

You may ask, what does Rosh Hashanah have to do with me? 

The High Holy Days remind us not only to continue to repent and return to God but to also remain watchful, always looking for that blessed hope, the glorious appearing of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 


Father, we eagerly look to You as the sole source of our redemption, and we remain watchful looking for Your magnificent return. Amen. 

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Rosh Hashanah: Feast of Trumpets

By Julie Stahl

“Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. On the first day of the appointed month in early autumn, you are to observe a day of complete rest. It will be an official day for holy assembly, a day commemorated with loud blasts of a trumpet. You must do no ordinary work on that day. Instead, you are to present special gifts to the LORD” (Leviticus 23:23-25 NLT). 

Rosh Hashanah literally means the “head of the year.” But biblically it is much more than that. In the book of Leviticus in Hebrew it is actually called Yom Hateruah—the day of the blowing of trumpets or ram’s horn (shofar). 

The piercing blast of the shofar is meant to remind the hearer to repent for his sins and make things right with his brothers and sisters. The rabbis say that reconciliation with God and man will confound the enemy. 

“It’s something that people connect to their soul to hear the sound of the shofar,” says Eli Ribak, third-generation shofar maker. 

The ram’s horn is used as the traditional shofar because when Abraham showed his willingness to sacrifice his son, Isaac, God provided a ram in the thicket to be used in his place. 

The only animal horn that is forbidden to use as a shofar is the cow’s horn. That’s because the Jewish people don’t want to remind God of the time Israel worshipped the golden calf in the wilderness. 

In some traditions, the shofar is blown in synagogues and at the Western Wall each morning for a month before the holiday to give plenty of time for repentance. 

Traditionally, Rosh Hashanah is a celebration of creation, specifically the day God created Adam and Eve. As such, God the Creator is hailed and crowned as “our King” on that day. 

Christians often blow the shofar throughout the year, but in Judaism it’s only blown during the month of Elul, prior to Rosh Hashanah and at the holiday. It was also blown at the coronation of the kings of Israel, to announce the new king or the coming of the king. 

Boaz Michael, founder of First Fruits of Zion, says that’s a foreshadowing for those who believe in Jesus. 

“And they tell us something, they’re speaking to us, they’re reminding us of something, and one of the things they’re reminding us of is the creation of the world, the coming of the king, King Messiah one day at this time, the coronation of his Kingdom here on earth,” says Michael. “This is what the shofar is to remind us of, and it speaks to us every day when we hear that sound.” 

For Christians, there are a number of references in the New Testament referring to the sounding of trumpets. 

“And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:31 NKJV). 

Paul writes, “It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed” (1 Corinthians 15:52 NLT). 

The seven trumpets in Revelation also make clear they play a part in the end time calling. 

Rosh Hashanah is the first of the autumn Jewish feasts and begins the “Ten Days of Awe” that lead up to Yom Kippur (“Day of Atonement”). 

A festive meal at the start of the holiday includes eating apples dipped in honey for a sweet new year; dates, that our enemies would be consumed; pomegranate seeds, that we would bear much fruit; eating round hallah, symbolizing the circle of life and the crown of God’s Kingship; and eating a fish or ram’s head, symbolic of being the head and not the tail in the year to come. 

Another custom is called Tashlich, which literally means “to cast away” or “to throw away.” This concept comes from Micah 7:19 (NKJV): “He will again have compassion on us and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” 

This is a time of reflection to think about and repent for sins of the previous year and to determine how one could do better in the coming year. During this ceremony, Jewish people stand by a body of water and symbolically cast their sins into the water. 

Holiday Greeting: L’Shanah Tovah U’metuka (“May you have a good and sweet new year!”) and Chag Sameach (“Happy holiday!”).

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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Queen Elizabeth II and the United Nations: A Contrast in Character 

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

On Monday, September 19, an estimated 4 billion people gathered in homes and public places worldwide to say their goodbyes to the beloved monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. Among 2,000 guests, some five 500 dignitaries—composed of prime ministers, presidents, and royalty—filled the pews at Westminster Abbey, likely history’s largest assembly of its kind. 

Israel’s President Herzog and First Lady Michal Herzog represented Israel according to protocol. Hundreds of thousands of mourners lined the streets, some tearful, as loudspeakers broadcast the service, and where all stood for the requested two minutes of silence. A Westminster Abbey bell tolled 96 times from the 1,000-year-old edifice, honoring the 96-year life span of Queen Elizabeth and her 70-year reign. 

The Queen’s coffin, beautifully bedecked with flowers and the magnificently jeweled Imperial State Crown, was then processed down the Long Walk toward Windsor Castle, to the beloved monarch’s final resting place inside St. George’s Chapel. Services in both locations were replete with Scriptures and hymns to commemorate the Queen, who was a symbol of stability and service wrapped within her salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. In her 2014 annual Christmas message—one of her numerous speeches over the years—she proclaimed, “For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, whose birth we celebrate today, is an inspiration and an anchor in my life.”

Earlier, across the Atlantic on September 9, the United Nations removed all countries’ flags and flew the UN flag at half-mast to honor Queen Elizabeth’s passing. Then on September 13, the 77th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) got under way. After the Queen’s September 19th funeral, invited world leaders jetted out of London. With regal accolades bestowed on the demonstrably kind and honorable Queen, they exited those tributes to enter a worldwide assortment of 193 leaders.

The contrast between the singular, esteemed Queen Elizabeth II and the world’s repressive leaders is unmistakable. 

Queen Elizabeth spoke twice at the United Nations—first in 1957, not long after her 1953 coronation—and then again in 2010. In 1957, she declared, “The future of this organization will be determined, not only by the degree to which its members observe strictly the provisions of the charter and cooperate in its practical activities, but also by the strength of its people’s devotion to the pursuit of those great ideals to which I have referred.” In her later speech, in a diplomatic yet pointed comment, she mentioned the UN as a force for the “common good.” Then she added, “But we are not gathered here to reminisce. In tomorrow’s world, we must all work together as hard as ever if we are truly to be United Nations.”

The Queen’s exhortation about “being United Nations” has a long road ahead, mainly because that organization continues to single out Israel and perpetuate false accusations. The presence of members like Iran, the world’s leading terror agent; Communist China, which imprisons Christians and Muslims; and Russia, which is actively guilty of war crimes in Ukraine, discourage hopes for peace and harmony.

In an extraordinary wave of anti-Israel resolutions, the UN condemned Israel—the only parliamentary democracy in the Middle East—an astonishing 14 times in 2021 alone. For the other 192 nations, the General Assembly issued only four condemnations: one each against North Korea, Iran, Myanmar, and Russia’s invasion of Crimea. 

Hillel Neuer, executive director of the excellent UN Watch, recently addressed the UN’s anti-Semitism. “Across the board at the UN—the General Assembly, World Health Organization, the Human Rights Council—one country gets singled out and demonized. It’s the Jewish state.” Since 1993, UN Watch has measured and monitored the UN’s performance by its UN charter. This non-governmental organization in Geneva, Switzerland, looks closely at the UN Charter, which includes five mandates, one of them being “Protect Human Rights.”

In my viewpoint as a Christian, the UN reached its zenith early on to “protect human rights.” On November 29, 1947, the UN—then a young organization—ruled that the Jews could establish a state. The Jews accepted the smaller part of the land’s designation, while the Arabs rejected the decision altogether. Despite the Arabs’ decision, the Jews did receive their biblical “human right”—their ancestral homeland as codified by God thousands of years earlier. When considering Resolution 181, the British Mandate Partition Plan for Palestine—a plan that made way for both Arab and Jewish states—the members voted this way: 33 in favor, 13 against, with 10 abstaining.

The Partition Plan was not perfect and was fraught with conflicts in wars and personal relationships. However, it was a beginning of God’s justice for the Jewish people.  

Little did anyone know that another fulfillment of prophecy was unfolding in Jerusalem that same night—at the same time the vote was taking place. Israeli archaeologist and Hebrew University professor, Eleazer Sukenik, sat in his study that night in Jerusalem intently scrutinizing fragile pieces of parchment. They were part of the Dead Sea Scrolls that had recently come into his hands. As he pondered the precious scroll fragments, his son, Yigael Yadin, ran into the room shouting the news he just heard on the radio. 

However, we can expect more of the same slander if the United Nations clings to its history. Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi is attending the UN General Assembly. Raisi gave his speech yesterday calling Israel “a savage power” that “kills women and children,” while proclaiming that their nuclear program is peaceful. Raisi, called a “monster” by his own citizens, freely walks the halls of the United Nations in New York City with other tyrants like him who consistently violate one of the UN’s mandates, “Protect Human Rights.”     

September 26 ends the first debate of the 2022 UN General Assembly. We hope against hope that Queen Elizabeth’s desire for some “common good” will in fact emerge. Rays of light do shine occasionally. In April, for instance, UN Watch successfully lobbied the UN to kick Russia off the Human Rights Council. Earlier, in January, in a consensus vote, the UN passed a resolution for members to proactively oppose Holocaust denial. 

Billions have now turned the page on Queen Elizabeth’s life, a life well lived, a life of stability, integrity, and kindness for her subjects in the Commonwealth. As we watched—enthralled with the beauty, elegant ceremonies, history, and music in high cathedrals—we can see that the Queen was surely beloved and rightly so.

Nevertheless, let us also look through spiritual glasses since we have glimpsed a tiny foretaste of Heaven. Nothing or no one on earth we have seen, even the pageantry, flags, and ceremonies, will match the grandeur of heaven and the Prince of Peace, the King of Kings who lives forever with an unending love. Join us at CBN Israel this week, reflecting on majesty in Hebrews 1:3: “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (HCSB). 

Please join with CBN Israel this week in prayer for both Great Britain and Israel:

  • Pray with thanks for the role model that Queen Elizabeth has been. 
  • Pray for those in Great Britain who are mourning with a sense of deep loss. 
  • Pray for the newly crowned King Charles, that his decisions and conduct will reflect attributes of the Queen. 
  • Pray for the UNGA for reduced accusations against Israel. 

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, a guest columnist at All Israel News, and has frequently traveled to Israel since 1990. She co-edited The Auschwitz Album Revisited and is a volunteer 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 Facebook.

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New Immigrant: Anton’s Story

Anton’s nerves were shattered. His town in Donetsk, Ukraine, has been under siege since 2014. As the brutal fighting took its toll on him, he finally moved to Israel, looking for peace. 

Anton arrived a year ago in a new country, suffering from post-traumatic stress. Registered as disabled at age 50, he works in a special program at a factory that pays little. 

Living alone in a tiny, old apartment in Nof HaGalil in Galilee, he has followed the conflict in Ukraine. When the Russian forces advanced, he watched in dismay, since his family and friends there can no longer contact him. He learned that the house he built was destroyed. 

Added to that, his cramped apartment had no air conditioning or heat, which made hot summers and cold winters unbearable. With no money for extras, Anton felt utterly alone. 

But thankfully, friends like you reached out to him through CBN Israel. Caring donors gave him a new heating and air conditioning unit—keeping him cool all summer and warm in winter. They also provided him with vouchers, to buy groceries and other essentials. Anton said gratefully, “Thank you… you have no idea how much your kindness has blessed and encouraged me.”

And your gift to CBN Israel can bring a lifeline of hope to many like Anton. You can be there for those in crisis situations with food, housing, job training, and financial aid—assuring them that they are not alone. As thousands across Israel struggle to make ends meet, your support can offer hope to Holocaust survivors, single mothers, refugees, and more. 

Please join us in helping to touch lives today!


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Biblical Israel: Wilderness of Zin

By Marc Turnage

Many travelers to Israel make the mistaken assumption that the boundaries of the modern State of Israel overlap biblical Israel. Apart from the fact that even within the Bible what constitutes the boundaries of Israel shifts from period to period, the modern State of Israel does not share the same footprint as biblical Israel. 

Biblical Israel extended east of the Jordan River into the area of Gilead. The southern part of modern Israel south of the Beersheva basin, towards the Gulf of Elat, lay outside of biblical Israel; in fact, this area comprised the Wilderness of Zin and Paran. Thus, one can tour the Wilderness of Zin in modern Israel and discuss how Moses sent spies from here into the promised land (Numbers 13:21). 

So, Moses made it into the modern State of Israel, but not inside the boundaries of biblical Israel. What further compounds this confusion is the use of biblical place names within modern Israel that do not refer to the same geographic areas, for example, the Negev. Today, the Negev refers to the land south of the Hebron Hills down to Elat. In the Bible, the Negev refers to the Beersheva basin, which cuts east-west across the central hill country that continues to the south. This can be confusing to the modern traveler to Israel. 

The largest river west of the Jordan River is the Zin River, which extends from the hills south of the Beersheva basin east towards the Jordan Valley. This river does not always run with water, but around Avdat (a Nabatean trading center) springs flow into the Zin year-round. It is fitting that in this area Moses sought water for the children of Israel wandering in the wilderness (Numbers 20). It was here that Moses in his frustration with the people struck the rock to bring water from it rather than speaking to it as God had commanded. 

Because of his disobedience, God did not permit Moses to enter the promised land; he could only look into it from Mount Nebo (Deuteronomy 34). Water was essential in the dry wilderness, yet shepherds, like Moses, often herded their flocks in such inhospitable terrain. The sheep depended upon the shepherd to provide water for them; thus, shepherds became adept at finding water in seemingly waterless wastes. 

The Nabateans, a desert people, who lived in the region in the first century, whose capital was the rose red city of Petra, learned to navigate the desert by sophisticated water collection. Their water reservoirs were known only to them, which enabled them to traverse the harsh dry land and capitalize on the trade routes between Petra and the port-city of Gaza. Avdat, which sits above the Zin Valley, served as one of their stations along these desert trade routes.

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: True Discipleship

“Now Ezra had determined in his heart to study the law of the LORD, obey it, and teach its statutes and ordinances in Israel” (Ezra 7:10 HCSB).

In both Hebrew and Greek, the word for “disciple” means “student.” A disciple, then, is one who studies. We tend to use the term disciple to mean a follower, but that is not the biblical idea of discipleship. Ezra provides the model of a biblical disciple: one who studies, who does, and who teaches. In fact, this is the progression of biblical discipleship: Study leads to doing, and as one progresses with study and doing, he or she gains the ability to teach others.  

Our discipleship suffers because often we do not view study as a foundational ingredient of our becoming disciples. Instead of making disciples—who study the law of the Lord and observe it—we seek to make followers, which has a different connotation.

Some Christians segregate study from spirituality, fearing that study erodes one’s relationship with God and seeing a conflict between the head (study) and the heart (the seat of one’s true relationship with God). Just as an aside, while we identify the heart with emotions, passions, and deep feelings, in the Bible the heart was associated with the mind and learning (biblical people assumed the emotions lay in the kidneys). So, when the Bible calls on us to love God with our heart, it means to love God with our mind, our learning, and our study.

Biblical discipleship requires study. It’s at the very core of discipleship: “The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher” (Luke 6:40 NIV). Jesus indicated that the way one truly becomes like Him is by being “fully taught,” meaning that we study and practice His teaching. Jesus also said that the proof of our love for Him depends on our keeping of His commandments (John 14:15), not how we feel about Him. 

If we are going to be true disciples of the Lord, like Ezra we must set our hearts to study the law of the Lord, which leads us to do it, and as we become fully taught—studying and doing—we teach others. The commission that Jesus gave His disciples was to “make disciples”—not converts or followers, but disciples. 

How can we make disciples, students, if we aren’t studying and doing the words of the Lord? In order to disciple, we must first be disciples, and the way to do that was shown to us by Ezra the scribe: Study the law of the Lord, do it, and teach others. 


Father, may we grow in our learning and doing of Your word to become more like our teacher, Jesus, so that we can make disciples of others for Your glory. Amen. 

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Israel: Living Up to its Promise as the Holy Land—Full of Blessings for the World 

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

There is so much more to Israel and her extraordinary people than what is often portrayed by the global mainstream media. Today, we are bombarded with news stories and commentary obsessed with negatives about this nation. However, behind the scenes in hospitals, offices, factories, and farmlands, Jewish citizens are busy generating blessings for the entire world. 

Numerous innovations are emerging in a timely way. Supply chain gaps, reduced crop production, and inadequate water supplies are only a few of the growing challenges facing the nations—and increasing. With inflation still on the rise and economies in freefall, Israel is researching and pioneering solutions for the basic necessities of life—and then some. 

God’s promises to use Israel as a blessing to the nations are not just ancient words. It has been a modern reality ever since May 14, 1948, when David Ben-Gurion stood in a simple art gallery in Tel Aviv and read the rebirthed state’s Declaration of Independence. Settled in their homeland now for 74 years, with roots going deep into the Holy Land’s soil, Israelis demonstrate that their creativity flourishes across countless sectors. 

In Genesis 12:2 God promised, “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing” (NKJV). God’s promises are scattered across the Old and New Testaments. The word “promise” itself is mentioned 120 times in the Bible, and when we include the number of promises made in Scripture, it goes up to nearly 9,000.

Israel’s previous creations and discoveries make lives better worldwide—often without beneficiaries realizing that Israelis were behind these innovations. Among them are ReWalk, a battery-packed “exoskeleton” that lets paraplegics walk; the world’s first USB drive; the Watergen generator that produces clean drinking water out of air; SodaStream; Michal Negrin (my favorite jewelry); Mobileye car technology to make driving safer; and Waze navigation. 

Join me now for a brief tour of Israel’s unchanging destiny guided by God’s promises to bless the world with new discoveries. One of the best sites to explore these near-miraculous ideas and inventions is Keeping up with the latest discoveries is a full-time job, but this site is a virtual treasure trove. 

Having experienced a pandemic that continues to manifest in various versions, many people around the world will welcome the fact that Israelis are closing in on promising results from medical research they initiated in 2020. Tel Aviv University’s Dr. Natalia Freund is the lead researcher. She and her team, after examining people who have recovered from the COVID-19 virus, have determined that antibodies from those patients have a role to play in neutralizing the various strains of the virus, strengthening the immune system, and reducing the need for boosters. Stay tuned for their final results—hopefully including products to ease the fears that COVID has generated.

Converting trash to fuel isn’t a new concept, but one firm has developed a remarkable innovation in this field. The Israel-based company Boson (the name of an energy-carrying subatomic particle) is harvesting hydrogen from non-recyclable mountains of local household, medical and agricultural waste. When run through an already engineered process, it creates hydrogen fuel. With the European Union, they plan on engaging municipalities worldwide to use energy-saving equipment to produce hydrogen gas. It is estimated that one ton of trash can replace five-and-a-half barrels of crude oil. Their goal is to “bring clean air and energy to future generations by solving the world’s waste problem.” 

Animal and meat lovers alike will be delighted to learn about Future Meat Technologies. The company engages prominent biologists and bioengineers to develop animal cell agriculture and technologies that provide lab-grown meats to replace traditional animal-based foods—and talented chefs to bring these creations to the table. According to a news release, this innovative food technology is expected to “generate 80% less greenhouse emissions and use 99% less land and 96% less freshwater than traditional meat production.” They have built their first factory in Rehovot, Israel, which currently produces cultured chicken, pork, and lamb—with beef on the way. Their plans include GMO-free, lower-cost meats to provide protein for future generations. They are opening facilities in the United States.

Our pet dogs are family members that bring smiles to our faces. Yet their value can far exceed their loyalty and our enjoyment. An Israeli startup company holds great hope for those who suffer cancer or have family and friends facing this dreaded disease. Former IDF Commander Colonel (Res.) Ariel Ben-Dayan, who led the canine unit of the Israeli Defense Forces, has added his skills to training Labradors Retrievers to detect cancer. The company, SpotitEarly, uses the Labradors’ incredible sense of smell along with artificial intelligence. 

It works this way. A client will buy a home kit, which includes a face mask. They breathe into the mask for five minutes. Next, they send it to the company’s headquarters, located on a kibbutz, where the dogs live and are trained. The mask is then inserted into an on-site sniffing station. The dog’s sniffing behavior is monitored by an AI algorithm. If a cancer is detected, then Spot It Early refers the person for testing at a medical facility. 

Currently, the Labradors can sniff out breast, lung, colon, or prostate cancer from a single sample. Clinical trials are taking place at two Israeli medical centers that will end after 10 months. The company has hopes that their canine training plus AI technology will detect many other kinds of cancers. Founder Ben-Dayan and his team of three PhDs—one in animal behavior, another a data science expert, and the third a clinical lab manager—estimate that one Labrador Retriever could perform a million tests annually. What a blessing that can grow to be, since it is estimated that 10 million people worldwide die each year due to cancer. 

Turning to agriculture, the Bible comes alive once again. Isaiah 27:6 declares a delicious promise: “Those who come He shall cause to take root in Jacob; Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.” This is a promise we can all celebrate! Israel grows and then exports flowers globally. It is among the top 10 countries in this beautiful business, attaining one percent of the global market. That may seem small, but the flowers generate $200 million per year. Fruit crops cover around 33 percent of the land. As a fun fact, the prickly pear (sabra in Hebrew) is the national fruit. Sabras, those born in Israel, describe their temperament as similar to the prickly pear, which is hard and prickly on the outside and sweet inside. 

For readers who have traveled to Israel, you may be like me. I always find their vegetables more colorful and more delicious than anywhere else. Israel produced around 2.3 million tons of vegetables with a value of $1.6 billion in 2020. Keep in mind that Israel has reclaimed parts of its barren deserts for food production.

One fascinating effort began to unfold in 2005 in the Negev Desert at Moshav Talmei Yosef. Agronomist Uri Alon started a small farm that he now calls the Salad Trail, and where he has truly—as he says—made the desert bloom. Others became interested in his efforts and began farming in the Negev, which is surely a complex area to farm. But due to the farmers’ ingenuity and endurance, lush greenhouses now produce fruits and vegetables.

Tours are offered where guides lead groups through greenhouses with everything from tomatoes to strawberries, oranges, and the “hottest pepper in the world”! The Salad Trail is described as “an intoxication of colors and smells.” More than 40,000 visitors walk the trail annually.

May we praise God for the ongoing fulfillment of His promise to Israel and her people: “So they will say, ‘This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden; and the wasted, desolate, and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited.’ Then the nations which are left all around you shall know that I, the Lord, have rebuilt the ruined places and planted what was desolate. I, the Lord, have spoken it, and I will do it” (Ezekiel 36:35-36).

Please join with CBN Israel this week in prayer for Israel and her people:

  • Pray with thanks for God’s promises and for all blessings He provided through Israel. 
  • Pray for an increase in Israeli agricultural research and inventions to help poorer nations with farming methods that yield greater/superior crops. 
  • Pray for Israeli farmers who are growing crops in every sector of the Holy Land.  
  • Pray for our world as concern grows about food and water shortages. May Israel’s discoveries ease these fears.
  • Pray for Israel and her people to continue fulfilling prophecy as a light to the nations and a blessing to the entire world. 

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, a guest columnist at All Israel News, and has frequently traveled to Israel since 1990. She co-edited The Auschwitz Album Revisited and is a volunteer 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 Facebook.

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Holocaust Survivor: Maria’s Story

Maria’s family fled to Uzbekistan when the Nazis invaded Belarus during World War II. Struggling to live, she worked in a factory seven days a week. After the war, her family returned to Belarus, only to find their home was destroyed. So Maria lived with her aunt in St. Petersburg. 

Twenty years ago, after the Soviet Union fell, Maria immigrated to Israel. Today, she is a 95-year-old Holocaust survivor. There are about 165,000 Holocaust survivors in Israel, most over the age of 80—and 31,000 over 90. Many live in substandard housing on meager incomes. 

Maria lives alone, with no close relatives in Israel, and she only has weekly video calls with her grandson in Canada. Mostly housebound, she has limited mobility. Her caretaker helps her with chores, personal needs, and errands. Maria’s small apartment has water leaks, and she can’t afford to make repairs on her small pension. But who could help her? 

Thankfully, friends like you were there, through CBN Israel. Donors provided a contractor who repaired the damage, and renovated the apartment to current standards. Maria was thrilled to have a safe, clean, attractive home. They also gave her vouchers for nutritious food, medications, and other basic needs. Maria exclaimed gratefully, “Your kindness means more than you know!” 

Your gift to CBN Israel can let this last generation of Holocaust survivors know they are not forgotten—along with single mothers, refugees, and others. The needs across the Holy Land continue to increase. Your support can reach out to the vulnerable with groceries, housing, financial aid, and more. And you can bring Israel’s news and stories to the world through CBN News. 

Please join us in blessing this special nation and its people! 


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