Saturday, 12 May 2018

Jerusalem of Gold and SIX DAYS OF MIRACLES in 1967

"Remember how the enemy has mocked you, O Lord… 
Rise up, O God, and defend your cause…" 
Psalm 74:18

In 1967, Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq signed military alliances with each other. Egypt closed the Strait of Tiran to Israeli shipping, and told UN troops stationed in Gaza to get out. The young nation of Israel then knew it had to prepare and brace itself to fight another war.

June 5, 1967 – Deaf to Israel's entreaties not to engage in war, Jordan attacked Jerusalem from the east. At this time, Irene Levi (then Duce), was head mistress of the Carmel school in Haifa. She took on extra duties of teachers who had been called up by the IDF. Many believers flocked to the school to pray for God's intervention.

That first day was the beginning of many miracles: Israeli pilots destroyed the Egyptian air force on the ground; the Jordanian air force followed suit and two-thirds of the Iraqi Air Force were in shambles.

June 6: Irene kept the school open, and while telling the flannel graph story of David and Goliath, the radio news came on. 
""Israel has turned back the enemy at the Sinai Desert and has almost reached the Suez Canal". 
The children's mouths fell open. "The West Bank is now in Israeli hands", the announcer continued, "including Nablus, Ramallah, Jericho and Bethlehem."

June 7: With beaming face, a Bible School teacher hurried to the school to tell the great news: "All of Jerusalem is now united under Israel's rule!"

That morning, Motta Gur and his paratroopers broke through the Lion's Gate and liberated the Western Wall and the Temple Mount.

 "The Temple Mount is OURS!" Israelis would never forget those words coming over the radio. IDF Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren had blown the Shofar. With tears in their eyes, the dust covered soldiers, for the firs time in their lives, touched the ancient walls. 

Many stood with head bowed, reciting Psalm 122,  "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, may my right hand lose its cunning".

At the Haifa School, Irene (2nd from right) put up the Israeli flag with  "Jerusalem of Gold" -
 Naomi Shemer's song that became famous. 
Israelis found it hard to believe that after 19 years, all of Jerusalem was back in Israeli hands.

Irene knew that the war wasn't over yet, and continued to fast. She knew in her spirit that Adonai Tzva'ot (The Lord of Hosts) was fighting alongside and strengthening the soldiers on the Golan Heights.

June 8 – The Syrian positions on the Golan, which for so many years made life a living hell for the Israelis, because of their constant rocket barrages, had been conquered by Israeli soldiers.

June 9 – After the cease fire with Jordan, from all over the country people rushed to Jerusalem.

June 12 – After taken six days of heavy fighting, the war was over! Slowly, the magnitude of the Israeli victory dawned upon Israel and the rest of the world.

The "Six Day War" as it became known, had been a miracle from beginning to end.

Haya and Menahem Ben Haim had moved to Eilat in 1963, only to discover they were the first American couple to settle there. Despite the primitive living conditions, and the fact that in summer it felt like hell (as described in the Bible), they lived there for 14 years. With war imminent, the people in Eilat were also ordered to cover their windows (blackout) every night. Men prepared to be call up, and medics stocked up their supplies. The atmosphere was so tense you could cut it with a knife.
"Are we to live? Are we to die?" Haya and Menachem wondered.
Because most of the bomb shelters in Eilat were not yet finished, many left the town. All the hotels emptied out of tourists. The international press drove around in their vans, interviewing people at the airport and in the cities, Menahem one of them. Haya and Menahem decided to stay put in Eilat. It had been a wise decision, as those who fled to Jerusalem had to spend three days in a bomb shelter.

"A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation. 
I, the LORD, will hasten it in its time." 
Isaiah 60:22

Little Israel had become a strong nation, as the Lord had promised.
"I will hasten" – achishana could be two Hebrew words: shana (year) and achi (my brother). The numerical value of these letters is nineteen – the years from Independence (1948) to 1967. It happened swiftly (in His time, in six days). Jerusalem had been united on June 6 and 7. Even the newspapers spoke about the meaning of that amazing date: 6-7-'67 and 'achishana'.

Yom Yerushalayim – Jerusalem Day.
Throughout the world, (including the USA), Zionist Jews mark Yom Yerushalayim - Jerusalem's reunification, with a range of events. These include: recitations of the Hallel prayer for praise and thanksgiving in synagogues; street parades, parties, singing and dancing; special meals; and lectures on the history and future of Jerusalem and Zionism. In Jerusalem, a public reception by the mayor of Jerusalem, state ceremonies and memorial services for those who died in the Six-Day War are also held.
The so-called "Parade of the Flags" usually begins at Sacher Park. Happy participants (mostly religious young people) sing and dance their way to the Old City, where the parade ends at the Kotel (Western Wall).

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Our Daily Bread and Ancient Wheat

“You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, 
and it shall be well with you.” 
Psalm 128:2 ESV

From the Babylonian Talmud, Berachot 58a, we learn that in ancient times, getting ones ‘daily bread’ involved a great deal of hard work,

“Look at all the work Adam had to do before he had bread to eat! He ploughed, he sowed, he reaped, he bound [the sheaves], he threshed and winnowed and selected the ears, he ground [them], and sifted [the flour], he kneaded and baked, and then at last he ate; whereas I get up, and find all these things done for me....”

Deuteronomy 8:8 lists wheat as the first crop of the seven species of Israel,  
“Land of wheat and barley and vines and figs and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey.”

This essential Israelite staple for bread and porridge was harvested after the barley. Due to the cereal’s high maintenance it often was food of the privileged, while the poorer people mainly ate barley. Measuring the grain harvest was crucial in preparing dry food for the coming year. 
Bread was a symbol for sustenance and life.
During the 50 days between Pesach and Shavuot both the barley and wheat harvest was counted. 
At the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot) two wheat loaves were presented to the Lord as ‘first fruits’ of the grain harvest.

In 1906, Israeli botanist Aaron Aaronsohn discovered the ‘ancestor’ of wild wheat in Rosh Pina, near Safed. Other botanists found the wheat growing in other parts of the country as well - even in the Jerusalem mountains!

Aaronsohn believed this discovery could help improve cultivated wheat and today, his vision is being fulfilled.
The wheat from which our daily bread is made is already 10.000 years old, but worldwide, the modern variety fights a constant battle with all kinds of fungi that often destroys a large part of each harvest.

In 2009, a team of Haifa University scientists found the wild emmer wheat to be rich in diseases resistance genes and one that increased the protein and mineral content. By studying the species of the past, the scientists use biotechnology to improve our future ‘daily bread’.

In Israel, the self-pollinating wild wheat usually blooms between
March-April, reaching a height of 70-100 cm. Between May-June it grows and ripens, with a minimal amount of rain, on rocky, chalky and basaltic soil. The ancient Gezer calendar also mentions the month of “reaping the wheat”.

Each of the wild plant’s spikelets are separately shed, enabling them to spread its seeds and grow a new generation. Domestic spikes on the other hand, don’t shatter, enabling the farmer to collect the yield.

At present, Israeli farmers mainly grow genetically engineered crops, but a change may be coming. European countries demand for ‘heirloom strains’ of grains that are grown organically and resilient to survive the weather extremes. European farmers are not interested in growing these antique strains themselves but have them grown in their indigenous environment and import them from countries like Israel and Jordan.

This means that there is more work to be done for the Israel Plant Gene Bank, which is responsible for the collection, preservation and assessment of plant species indigenous to Israel.

The golden fields we can see from the Negev to the Galilee, remind us to pray for the truth of Elijah’s words, “For the Lord, the God of Israel has said that the jar of wheat shall never run out.” 1 Kings 17:14

And... may we never forget to pray for ‘our daily bread’ (Matthew 6:9-11).

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Precious Things

“And of Joseph he said, Blessed of the Lord be his land, for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath, 14 And for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon, 15 And for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the lasting hills…” Deuteronomy 33:13-15 KJV

The Hebrew word for “Precious things” (mentioned four times in these verses) is  מֶ֫גֶד ‘meged’ – meaning ‘goodness’, ‘quality’ and ‘tasting good’. Other translations use the word “choice”.

The “Ancient Mountains” and “Lasting Hills” mentioned in Deuteronomy 33 are Mount Gadur, Mount Seir, Mount Hermon and Jebel Mubarak.
1. Mount Gadur (Gilead), part of the tribe of Manasseh, is 1.250 meters high with 1,000 mm rain yearly. The rainwater fed the Jabbok and Yarmuk river.
2. Mount Seir (Southern Edom) is 1,700 meters high, with a yearly precipitation of 400 mm.
3. Mount Hermon, 2.224 meters high
4. Jebel Mubarak (‘Blessed Mountain) was part of Edom.
These mountains received more dew, rain and snow than any other mountains in eastern Israel.

Mount Hermon is known under different names:
a. Hermon – (Hebrew) – Sacred, holy mountain from early times. The Canaanites called it Baal Hermon (Judges  3:3)
b. Mountain of the Sheikh (Arabic)
c. Senir (Amorites)
d. Sirion (Phoenicians) – breastplate.
e. Snowy mountain
f. Gray-haired mountain
g. Mountain of Snow
e. Eye of the Nation – because of Israel’s military strategic early warning system

According to tradition, it was on Har Habtamim, on the slopes of Katef Sion (part of Mt. Hermon) that God promised Abraham to give the land to his descendants. An ancient tomb and oak tree were found at this spot. Hermon is also believed to be the mountain where Jesus’ transfiguration took place as Jesus was in the area of Caesarea Philippi with his disciples, which is near Mt. Hermon.

During the Six Day war of 1967, Israeli forces captured part of Mount Hermon and the Golan Heights. Israeli citizens were finally safe after having been harassed and murdered by Syrian snipers for 19 long years.

Mount Hermon, geographically separate from the Golan Heights, is the most northern and highest point in Israel (2800 meters above sea level). The only skiing site in Israel has a 620-meter vertical drop. Locals call it the only ‘real’ mountain in Israel – the others are seen as only high hills.

"Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes It is like the dew of Hermon,  which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore." Psalm 133 ESV

Mount Hermon has the honour of being THE mount of dew amongst Israel’s mountains. 
Because of its height, the difference in day and night temperatures create a high dew precipitation during the hot, dry summer months, while during the rainy season (November – April) there is a lot of rain and snowfall. And then, when the snow begins to melts, it will feed the springs and rivers merging into the Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee.

 Blessings and life, all year round!