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News Letter 5847-047
9th day of the 11th month 5847 years after the creation of Adam
The 11th Month in the Second year of the third Sabbatical Cycle
The Third Sabbatical Cycle of the 119th Jubilee Cycle
The Sabbatical Cycle of Earthquakes Famines, and Pestilences.
February 4, 2012

Shabbat Shalom Brethren,

On Shabbat Feb 4, 2012 this weekend I will be presenting the Basics of the Sabbatical years and how to identify the false teachings out there right now in Hanover Ontario. Although this is short notice I hope to see you there.

Then next weekend we will be speaking Feb 11, 2012 in Ocala Florida. The hall is booked from 9AM to 9PM. I will be pouring it all out for you know and not holding anything back. I look forward to seeing you all there.

We will be at the Forest Community Center at Sandhill Park
777 South 314-A, Ocklawaha, FL 32179 [ FCC phone # 1.352.438.2840 ].

Here is the address and phone # of the Days Inn in Silver Springs, FL:
5751 E. Silver Springs Blvd {SR 40), Silver Springs, FL 34488 Phone: 1.352.236.2575
$59 per night per room, sleeps 4.

This event is being hosted by Ken & Jan Gordon 1.352.625.4236

We also have planned, a three week teaching series in Sarnia Ontario for February and then again in June, so stay tuned for more details about this.

Last week I was in Ashland Kentucky and spoke to about 35 brethren who were eager to learn these Sabbatical and Jubilee truths. A great bunch of people who wanted to learn; it was a real treat to share with them. Unfortunately I did not plan my time right and we had to close down before I finished. But we have a good recording that will soon be available on the web site.

We also had some other developments that I hope to announce in a few weeks time. We have an opportunity to go on a very large Christian radio with 5 minute slots between two of the nations great Christian shows. One is the Mike Huckabee show and the other is Focus on the Family. And just like the Oreo cookie I would be the best part in the middle.

Please pray for this and whatever else Yehovah has planned for us.

I also am very pleased to tell you that I am hearing from people who heard this message in Israel, and Ontario, and Texas and even Kentucky already who are now telling others about the Sabbatical and Jubilee years and the importance of keeping them and how to know when they are. This is awesome. They do not have to know it all. They know enough to share it. They know the danger of not sharing and of not keeping the Sabbatical years.

Each of us has a responsibility to tell others. Have you forgotten what is said in Lev 5:

Lev 5:1 ‘And when a being sins in that he has heard the voice of swearing, and is a witness, or has seen, or has known, but does not reveal it, he shall bear his crookedness.

If you do not tell people their sins when you know they are clearly in the wrong, for example they are not keeping the Sabbatical years then, if you do not speak up you are guilty. Yes YOU Are Guilty.

Lev 5:17 “And when any being sins, and has done what is not to be done, against any of the commands of יהוה, though he knew it not, yet he shall be guilty and shall bear his crookedness.

It does not matter if they knew or not, they will pay for breaking the Sabbatical year as we are already doing now. But you can warn them, you can speak up and not bare the guilt for not saying anything as you are warned in Lev 5:1 and Ezekiel.

Eze 3:17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Yisra’ĕl. And you shall hear a word from My mouth, and shall warn them from Me. 18 “When I say to the wrong1, ‘You shall certainly die,’ and you have not warned him, nor spoken to warn the wrong from his wrong way, to save his life, that same wrong man shall die in his crookedness, and his blood I require at your hand.

Brethren speak up now while you can. Tell others about the Sabbatical years. You can stop when everyone on the earth knows about them and is keeping them. Until that time speak out and be found guiltless.

Brethren, as you know I have been to Israel 12 times now. I am simply in love with the land of our ancestry. I have been so privileged to have gone, but even more so to have been shown the things Yehovah has revealed to me. It does blow me away.

Again as some of you already know we have been raising money in order to purchase a farm in the land of Israel. This has been a slow process and we still pray that this will come about.

There are a few reasons for doing this, but the main one is so that we can show our faith to Yehovah by actually planting a crop in the 6th Sabbatical year of 2015 and then by not planting anything in the 7th Sabbatical year of 2017. We seek to show Yehovah and Judah our brother as a group the blessings for obeying and keeping the Sabbatical year at the right time in the Land. This has not been done since the Bar Kochba revolt when Judah was again forced out of the land.

Each Year people go to Israel. Many leaders take people in the off season and charge the full season prices. They do this to provide for their ministry. One such group is right now charging over $4000 for the 12 days they will be there. So when you have two buses of about 100 people that is $400,000 that is being raised. And the actual cost is less than $200,000.

I have gone to Israel for 14 days and had two meals a day and a room for $35 Euros a day. And my airfare only cost me between $900 and $2500 depending on the time of year. But I always went at the high days. So you do the math and know just how much these other groups are taking to feed their ministries.

Each year that I have gone I have shown people around and we have co hosted with others and not profited anything. It was done for cost and cost alone. This way more people who could not otherwise afford it could come to Israel and see our Fathers home.

Last year we went with Avi ben Mordechai and it was an awesome time. Avi makes a living giving tours so it will cost you to go with him. If you have ever wanted to go to Israel and want a tour then let me say, this guy Avi ben Mordechai is tops.

This is last years tour program. http://www.cominghome.co.il/video/V4/V-4.html

You can see different tours he offers which you can take any time of the year. Just book them with him in advance. http://www.cominghome.co.il/tours/tours_11.html
And in case you’re wondering what Avi is like then here is his teaching of David and Goliath at http://www.cominghome.co.il/video/V2/V-2.html Or Masada at http://www.cominghome.co.il/video/V1/V-1.html

We have just begun the 11th month. The watching for the Aviv barley is soon going to take place. And this means we have about 7 more months to Sukkot. What are your plans this year?

I want to share with you the diary of one young lady from South Africa as she describes her trip to Israel last year in 2011. It was her second time there. I had asked her to use her posting at some time in the future. That time is now. Unfortunately she has not written about the whole tour. This is what happens when life catches up with you. But you can enjoy what she did write.

Shalom Joe
I can’t imagine how you would want to use any of these ramblings, but , certainly, if they can be of any use to you. - By all means feel free to use what you want to.
Blessed greetings!
Heather

Dear Friends and Family
As most of you know, i have just come back from another trip to Israel and I would like to share with you all some of the wonderful experiences and “Wow!” moments that I had in the Land of our Forefathers.
As you know, I am not a “frequent flyer” and so all the little checks and balances at the airport have the potential to just ruffle the surface for me. My family came down to the Pmb airport to see me off and I was a little uneasy about having enough time at the OR Tambo airport to pick up my bag from domestic arrivals and then get over to international departures before the desk closed. My plane in from Pmb arrived at 1800 and Lufthansa depature was for 2020. The travel agent had nodded and said ‘yes, that should be fine”. i grabbed my bag , grabbed a trolley and asked directions to the international departure hall, whereupon a porter stepped forward asked which airline , and took off at a brisk pace. Upstairs and down and to the furtherest - literally the LAST line of windows in the building. All closed. The porter turns to me and says “you’ve missed the plane!”

I turned to a lady at a computer in the swissair window and asked for help. She tickled a few keys and told me that I was booked Lufthansa operated by SAA and had to go all the way back to terminal A, where I had started out and book in with SAA !! So, now, brisk pace forgotten, the porter and I RAN all the way back and booked in. Now the porter wanted a tip and looked at the R10 I gave him as thou I had given him a chappie bubble gum. All I had with me was a R20 note, which he grabbed and then told me I could push the trolley further myself!

Then I had a further brick loaded onto my stress meter when I was asked for my visa to go to Germany. This necessitated calling someone else to verify that i was not going to Germany, but to Israel. and therefor did not need a visa. I then had to produce evidence that i was on a booked tour, and that I had an address in Israel where I was expected.

The check in lady asked what my seat preference was and I asked for a window. She said there were no window seats, but she would give me an aisle seat on the side, meaning I would have only one passenger between me and the window. So fine. Once on the plane and the stairs were rolled away and seat belts fastened it appeared that there was no one else and I had both seats to myself - and it was the first row of the economy class. - so I had a blank wall in front of me and could sleep across both seats and put my feet up against the wall. Lovely! But even so it was quite difficult to sleep.

I had a two hour wait at Munich where I sat and watched planes coming in to land. It was fascinating to see that no sooner had one plane landed than the next one came into view. There were just in my small field of vision, always two planes in the sky. I just had view of one landing strip and there were always two planes coming in. Where are all the people going all the time?

Once on the plane ready to depart for Tel Aviv, the pilot announced that the Greek airlines were on strike, and we would not, as planned, be able to fly over Greek airspace, so would have to divert over the Black Sea, and thus would need to take on extra fuel. And so a delay of 2 hrs while this was accomplished!

Anyway it took them about 40 and then we took off over Turkey and parts of Russia. I was fortunate to have a window seat, and could get a bit of a view of the landscape. Unfortunately the window was a bit fogged so could not take any photos through the window.

As stated before, I am not a frequent flyer at all but it really amazes me that the different countries and different airports are so different in their security checking. Quite unintentionally, once I unpacked my handbag (which was quite full) at my destination, I found that the bag had gone through 6 x ray checks and a little 200ml liquid fruit drink had gone thru undetected! The bags were checked twice at Munich but were not checked on entry to Israel! Quite weird. They will confiscate a little old lady’s knitting needles, but they hand out metal knives and forks on the plane, and do not count them back when they collect the used meal tray!

Anyway, It seems that it is taking the whole of episode 1 of my story just to get into the land! Point being that I was not asked a single question at the passport control and my hand luggage was not checked on entry to Israel. Now to get sherut taxi (which is a sort of combi taxi) 10 seater shuttle service from the airport to the major centres. I had the name of my host and her address printed out, but not one of drivers seemed even vaguely interested in going to Mevesseret Ziyyon. Which is a suburb of Jerusalem. I noticed that there seemed to be one man in charge of telling all the drivers where to go, so I just followed him around, letting him realise that ,if necessary, I would follow him home if he did not put me on a taxi to my required destination. Which he duly did. So I arrived with my host, Naomi, a lovely Swiss Jewish lady who has recently made Aliyah and come to live in Israel. She truly is a very sweet and friendly lady in her mid 40’s and we just really got on very well.

I arrived late on thurs afternoon 6 oct. Naomi had made a very tasty supper and I went to bed early.
The next morning, being the day before Shabbat, Naomi had a few things to do around town, and I just went along with her. She also is a trained nurse, but due to various technical hitches, has not been able to register as a trained nurse in Israel, so she is doing caring work. We went home and I helped her to make the Challah (plaited bread) because she had a sore shoulder and could not kneed. I learned a trick from her - she puts the bread into a cold oven, then turns on the oven. So the bread rises while the oven is warming. It worked beautifully. We made stuffed veggies - cabbage leaves, sweet pepper, and veg marrow stuffed with lamb mince. Very nice indeed.

That afternoon, the tour guide, Avi ben Mordechai, came over to meet me and I just liked him immediately. No big deal, no hype. Just ordinary and likeable.

The next day was the Rabbinic Yom Kippur.(Day of Atonement) Some of you will understand without explanation the confusion that exists among followers of the full authority of Scripture with regards to The Calendar. The only point that all will agree upon is that the calendar which is followed by the secular world is NOT the calendar which was instituted ‘at the beginning’ by the Almighty. There are, I think, something like 26 (or more) different “scriptural” calendars all with a very plausible and scriptural justification as to why this particular version is correct. I am not going into that subject in any detail, except to say that I can’t agree with the Rabbinic Calendar because under this system it happens every few years that Yom Kippur, which is a FASTING day falls on the Shabbat, which is a FEAST day, and a day of joyous celebration. And so this situation is for me a conflict.

However, be that as it may, on YOM KIPPUR Israel SHUTS DOWN. There is not one shop open, and not one car on the roads. No TV and no radio broadcast. For the whole morning, pretty much there is not a soul out of doors. Around midday, families start coming out, and kids on bicycles and tricycles take to the roads. Unfortunately I have not yet had my photos processed to be able to show photographic evidence that there is not one car on the roads. Naomi and I went for a walk down to the main highway between TelAviv and Jerusalem. Nothing. All along the main commercial centre, the kids were playing in the road. I have a photo of a group of little kids (as it happens, they were black) sitting in the middle of what would normally be a very busy intersection, playing some sort of board game on a manhole cover in the middle of the road. They had drawn chalk markings and were moving stone pieces around!

Unfortunately I picked up a bug on my travels, and am not fully recovered. I still have a persistent earache and fuzzy head, so I think that this will be enough for session 1.

If there is anyone receiving this who would really rather not have all this minute detail of what I did , where I went, what I ate and what I saw, please just drop me a line and I’ll leave you off of the next and subsequent instalments.
Blessed greetings!
Heather

Dear Friends and Family
Many thanx to those of you who have already read and responded positively to the first installment.
Sadly, my ‘bug’ has not left yet, and I now have a full blown otitis media (middle ear infection) which is proving quite tiresome.

To continue: On the day after Yom Kippur I left with Naomi as she had to go to town and I then walked down to the Jaffa Gate to the old city. Before leaving Howick I had heard from two different sources within the space of 3 days that I should be sure to join “Bart” at Jaffa Gate at 08.45 any morning except Shabbat and go with him on the Rampart walk. So this I did.

Bart Repko, and his wife, Yoki ,are a Dutch couple who have felt the conviction to preach the word of Isaiah 62 to anyone who will listen. He is a self appointed “watchman” on the walls of Jerusalem. He is an enthusiastic, energetic and compelling preacher who goes day after day and preaches to anyone who comes - and they come - by recommendation from friends, people come from the ‘” four corners of the earth” on a daily basis. Sometimes so many that a friend helps him and they take two groups.
He preaches the message of the horrors perpetrated over the centuries by zealous and misguided groups of “Christian” missionaries - the crusaders, the inquisition- the holocaust, to say nothing of all the oppression and subjugation over the millennia of Turks, Moors, Assyrians, Babylonians Egyptians etc, Oppressors who have sought to annihilate the Jews. The point he makes is that prophesies are being fulfilled today, in our life time. In spite of the hoards of nations that have tried to obliterate the nation of Israel, Israel is today being recalled from the North, South, East and West to become again a nation occupying the land of Israel.

He uses Isaiah 62;2 as his stamp and he invites all who would to join him as he proclaims from the walls “Oh YHWH, Mighty one of Israel ! I hold You to Your promise and give You no rest till You establish and make Jerusalem a praise in all the earth” He quotes liberally from the book of Joel 2:19 onwards. In fact the whole of the book of Joel becomes his message. Also verses from Jeremiah 31:31 “Behold the days are coming” declares YHWH “when I shall make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant I made with their fathers in the day when I strengthened their hand to bring them out of the land Of Egypt, My covenant which they broke though I was faithful to them” declares YHWH “For this is the covenant I shall make with the house of Israel after those days, “declares YHWH: “I shall put my law (Torah, teachings, instructions) in their inwards parts, and write it on their hearts. And I shall be their Elohim and they shall be My people…”

After the walk along the top of the old city wall he then invites people to come and have refreshment with him and then the informal discussion goes on for hours afterwards. What a dedicated ministry.

Bart has written a book in Dutch which talks of the “stone of offense” from Isaiah 8:14, and mentioned again in 1Peter 2:8.

I had taken along with me , just on a prompting , one of John’s books, “Blowing the Trumpet” and I went along again the next day just so that I could talk with Bart and give him John’s book. I told him that he has to write his book in English, and that if he found anything in John’s book (which has never been published) that he could use, then would he please do so. He was very touched and grateful for the gesture. I hope that he will write his book in English and I hope that he will be able to make use of some of John’s research.

Noami had recommended a little gift/book store near the Hurva Synagogue called Shoreshim ,but cautioned that the storekeeper sometimes closes the shop when he has a group of interested people, and gives an impromptu lecture on whatever- the history of Israel or whatever the appropriate topic may be for his purposes at that moment. I did get there, but unfortunately had missed the talk because, true enough, the shop was closed and I could see through the window that there was a group of absorbed listeners. When I went back about 20 min later, the shop was open and the group were still there, buying various things. I could not help but overhear that they were speaking Afrikaans! They were a group from Stellenbosch. We chatted a little in Afrikaans and one lady said they had just had a very interesting lecture of the history of Israel.

I then had the afternoon to myself and wanderer around through the maze of tunnels and shuuk market stalls. (Unfortunately I still have not had my photographs put onto a disc so that I can include them - but pictures will follow) The myriad of little stalls and shops - some of them no bigger than a toilet are just too difficult to describe. there will be a shop selling clothing -all hanging out into the walkway, then a shop selling jewellery, pottery, glassware, followed by a fruit seller, selling freshly squeezed pomegranate juice, next will be a little alleyway with a wizened little man sitting mending shoes on a museum piece sewing machine; then there will be a grocery store followed by a restaurant and then a souvenir seller with a whole bunch of tacky kitchy religious figurines and symbols. “You mention a faith and we will sell you an emblem” For those of us who are of my vintage and can remember the old Indian market in Durban -it is a lot reminiscent of that. All the colours, aromas, sights, sounds and pushy Arabs wanting to catch an unwary tourist for a sucker!

I worked my way up to the Jewish sector of the new town where the Kosher fruit, veg and meat is sold in a slightly different type of shuuk. There again - What a display. Nothing is packaged - just all arrayed in open boxes. The most beautiful fruit, pomegranates, oranges, bananas, persimmins, melons etc. There will be the spice shop with sacks of all the aromas and colours of heaped up spices, followed by the dried beans, rice, lentils, cuscus, chickpeas, and so on. Then just next to that suddenly will be the meat shop with all the meat just open on display - not wrapped or packed at all, and then a sweet shop with trays and trays of different coloured sweets, dried fruits, dates, raisins, and so on. Lots and lots of shops selling scarves and pashminas of the most beautiful colours and designs. The Orthodox Israeli married women all cover their hair - either with a hat, beret, scarf or, if they want “hair”, then they will wear a wig!!

I saw a lovely selection of sweetmelons (spansspek) and before I could stop myself, I had walked over and smelled one. I then felt obliged to buy it as I had put my nose to it! Anyway Naomi and I enjoyed it for supper that night.

I had to use a lot of self control in walking past the fabric shops as they really did have a wonderful selection of fabrics. All I bought was a pair of long pink shoelaces which I used to tie my hat on as I had nearly lost it that morning on the rampart walk!

Just a few notes about orientation to the Northern hemisphere. Of course, they drive on the “wrong” side of the road which can be quite disturbing when you are sitting in a bus and then you find the driver going the wrong way around a traffic circle! And cars whizzing by on the left hand side of the bus. Even though it is my second time in Israel I still found that confusing. Then their light switches switch the wrong way round. They switch up for on and down for off. The books and magazines open back to front and so do the CD covers! Just as well that I could not read anything as they read bottom to top and back to front. How these “goyim” families who have gone to live in Israel are managing I really don’t know. It is all just too confusing for me!

Here endith part 2 . I’m going to lie down with my sore ear.
Much love to all
H

Dear Family and Friends
Thanku to those who have responded so enthusiastically to these lengthy diary entries. I am enjoying writing it all up from my scanty notes that I made “on site” because it is refreshing all these memories for me and I am reliving it.

The reason that these letters are coming so prolifically is that I am still not well. My ear is still blocked and making my head feel like a pumpkin, so I am not able to roar around and attend to the trillion things that I have to do.

I have also not yet been able to resume my “granny-nanny” duties and am suffering from withdrawal. I have only seen my precious little bundle once since I got home.

So now - for the next episode:
I see that I neglected to say that I had bought a whole packet of little bits and pieces of spices from the spice shop. I hadn’t a clue what I was buying - just went by sight and smell. All the labels were in Hebrew. The shop assistant was very helpful though, and we made ourselves understood to each other with simple one word instructions and a lot of face and body language.

I also bought a very expensive piece of Halva. There was a young man promoting his wares by offering little pieces of the MOST delicious coffee flavoured Halva. When I asked him how much that piece would be, he said fourteen shekels. So I agreed and he wrapped and packed it and then took 40 shekels out of the money I gave him. We then had a little discussion which necessitated his father coming in to apologise that the young man was still learning English and I then heard them discussing the difference between 14 and 40!

I must say I have to take my hat off to the shop merchants in Israel and in Jerusalem particularly as they do get to meet so many different people from all over the world on a daily basis, and all the languages are so very different. There are many mandarin speaking visitors to the Land now as well. Each with his own idea of the value of an item. Many of the shops have prices in Euros or dollars as well as, or instead of, shekels. It is easy to get mixed up about prices, especially when one is converting to Rands to try and decide if it is worth the price or not.

It just emphasises for me how much of an international crossroad Israel was in antiquity before the age of air and sea travel. All the land routes from anywhere to somewhere else crossed through Israel. This also has been confirmed by archaeological diggings and findings of international coinage among the ruins. This also brings to mind one of the very interesting things that Avi showed us. We know of the money changers in the time of Yahushua, and of course, before. Apparently from archaeological finds they have established that the money changers were referred to as the “person who sat on the bench” or the “banke”, whereas most of the other traders did their job standing up and walking around - as they still do today. But the person who sat at the table on a “banke” became known as the banker. Think about it - how many languages do you know where the place where money is kept is called some derivative of the word “bank”?

I was really blown away by the number of archaeological diggings and excavation sites. Everywhere in Jerusalem and on every drive out into the country one just kept seeing remains of an earlier civilisation. Little pieces of pottery shards and bits of mosaic stones just lying in the roadside, scattered around and available for anyone to pick up. Remains of archways, and stone paving are everywhere. All the older buildings in Jerusalem are solid stone, sometimes white, sometimes pinkish or greyish or beige. All the newer buildings are of concrete, but faced with the same Jerusalem stone. So that in looking at the landscape, all the buildings are of stone. No painted walls anywhere. Having said that, there are a few blank walls here and there amongst the newer buildings, but then a mural artist is engaged to paint a scene onto that wall. - Very often commemorating some particular event. Even the electricity meter boxes have scenes painted onto them!

So the next day, mond 10 oct, Naomi was still troubled with her sore shoulder and thought that a dip in the Dead Sea might help her. I offered to help with the expenses if she would take me along, so we packed a picnic lunch and set off to the Dead Sea.

The distances in Israel are not very great, as the country itself is hardly bigger than the Kruger National Park. - Just a lot more roads and traffic and people!! On the way there the countryside was very desolate. Much like a lot of the pictures one sees in Biblical atlases. - Just hills and hills of reddish brown sand - not even a bossie here and there. Stones - lots and lots of stones, rocks and dry ground. We saw two “Bedouin’ encampments - which really just looked like our SA rural African settlements. Couple of goats, couple of shanty houses, washing hanging on barbed wire fences. Half dressed little kids running around barefoot. A battered car next to the shanty and a TV aerial. No difference! Except that there were only a scattered few here and there. Not like ours where the whole landscape is covered in them.

I found the Dead Sea quite curious in many ways. Firstly, it and the Jordan River and Sea of Galilee form the Jordanian border - So there was a lot of military presence. Lots of barbed wire and razor security fencing which restricted access to the sea line. Then, of course there is the AHAVA company which processes the minerals into beauty and spa products - So there is the harvesting infrastructure along the sea line, also restricting access to the shore. Then there is actually a lot of agriculture going on there as well. This I find the paradox. One would think that the land would be quite saline and not really good for agriculture - and where does the fresh water come from?

Naomi told me, and indeed I could see evidence that the level of the sea is dropping each year, so that means that no water is flowing into it, and yet, there is evidence in valleys leading down to the sea, of trees, reeds, and grass growing. They must be getting water from somewhere?

We stopped at a little resort - not the main resort with the spa facilities and restaurant etc. and then spread out our picnic on hard dry stony ground which is the “beach”, under a little canopy. We took it in turns to go and swim, with the other one sitting by all the spread. Naomi told me that I should take off all jewellery as the water would tarnish the silver and the gold.. NO swimming, splashing or disturbance in the water, as even one tiny drop in the eye is extremely acid and potentially dangerous.
Of course, I did go into the water. The sea looks blue, no waves, more like a lake than a sea. - Especially as it is quite small and one can see the Jordanian border on the other side. The air is very foggy and hazy because of the depth below sea level. - Very close and quite oppressive atmosphere. The water felt oily and sort of silky. One could see the supersaturated concentration of the salts in sort of wavey “lines” in the water. The salts also crystallized out onto the rocks at the waters edge. Then, of course, was the sensation of buoyancy. Everyone around looks as if they were standing on a rock because they were so far out of the water, then you realise that you are also standing chest high out of the water. A strange, pleasant sort of sensation. I would like to do that again sometime. (?)

We also stopped at Qumran caves, which is right there on the Dead Sea coast. We saw a 3D movie enactment of what it must have been like - based on archaeological findings of the remains of the Essene village right there at the base of the mountain where the Qumran scrolls were found.. It would seem, from the writings that they have been able to decipher that the Essenes were a community of men only, who had left their families for a period (maybe a year) to go and study scripture and write new scrolls to replace those that were old and worn. From the “diary” of one of the students it would seem that John the Baptist spent a lot of time in this community. - Absolutely fascinating!!!

We also had the opportunity to browse through the little tourist curio shop which was specialising in AHAVA products. Just too expensive for me, I’m afraid, so apart from looking at one or two ’special offers” which I realised were only “special” if you were paying in US$, I did not even look at the stuff. Even the other curio stuff was way out of range, but I did buy a rather nice map of Israel, geographical on one side, and road map on the other.

Then Naomi’s automatic car window had a problem, and we could not wind up the passenger side window. We then had about half an hour to get back to Jerusalem and get the car to the workshop where she had taken it only a week before for the same problem. Driving in peak traffic in Jerusalem was much like Joburg without the ring roads. Just lots of intersections, traffic circles, impatient drivers all with what Avi Mordechai terms the “me first” syndrome. I’m glad I wasn’t driving.!

Then followed what could have been any workshop scenario here in SA. Complete with language problem . . The reception clerk being Hebrew, and able to communicate sufficiently in English understood Naomi and passed the problem onto an Arab worker whose communication was limited to Arab and a little Hebrew. Naomi still learning Hebrew. Enough!

We got home quite late and had lovely rosti for supper.

Another thing I found quite curious from the day - One of the ways that the Arabs make a bit of money from the tourist industry is by allowing tourists to take photographs of a camel all dressed in its robes and colourful saddle cloths. We saw two of these. What I found fascinating was how still the camel sits. The first place where we stopped at the marking of sea level at a siding on the road, there was this camel. I walked up to it because I thought it was a statue. It just did not blink, or wave it tail, or move its head at all. Only when the Arab walked up from his shelter under a tree did the animal blink an eyelid. I did not take the photo.

On the way home we stopped briefly to have a cool drink and I saw another two camels and no Arab. These I thought, must be statues. So again, I walked right up to them - this time I could smell them, but still thought that the manure must have been brought in and put there to “authenticate” the look. Then, again an Arab appeared from out of the side of the building and looked interested in taking some money from me. And still the statues did not move!

On the next entry I actually join the “Coming Home” tour. . . .stay tuned !

Dear Family and Friends
Thank you so much for the warm and encouraging responses that I have had, and for the good wishes for my health.. Praise Abba, I am feeling a little more “with it” today - maybe that has something to do with the fact that it is the first time in a week since I got home that the sun is out. But I still have the “thick head ” syndrome. Ear still blocked and the pumpkin head feeling. - sound of rushing water in my head constantly.

So on with the saga.

We are now on tues 11 oct
I left Naomi’s early because I wanted to get to Bart again to give him John’s book. I bought a bus ticket, pointed to my grey hair and asked for a pensioner’s discount. I also, on Naomi’s advice, asked for a “ma’avar” - remember that word, it could be useful to you when you go to Israel and travel on a bus.- It simply means that he gives you a ticket, at no extra charge, that you can use again and again on the same day.!

I had hoped to walk a different section of the wall on that day, but unfortunately, we did the same section again from Jaffa to Dung Gate. One little amusing highlight on that day was that the ticket seller (to gain access to the wall ) seemed to be quite grumpy and austere. He came out of his booth, looked at the row of tourists waiting to buy tickets and growled “no change - give me 8 shekels” so everyone dived into their bags looking for small change. I was the last in line, and had seen him just take money and issue tickets without any smile or comment. I expected nothing different, but when I took my ticket from him, I practised one of the few Hebrew phrases I know and said “todah raba” (thank you very much). My goodness - this just switched a switch for him and he promptly burst into song ” Todah raba… todah raba….todah raba…” and started beating time on the edge of the table, giving a little clap in between. That was my fun for the day!

After the second time around the walls, this time with a friend of Bart, Albert, (The group had been too big and Bart had taken a Dutch group.) Albert told me on the walk back to the open air restaurant where they always finish up for a drink that he (Albert) and his wife had been helping Bart for a few weeks and would also be selling up in Holland, to join Bart on a fulltime basis in their ministry in Jerusalem in the next year.
I am hearing of so many people, with families, who are leaving their comfort zones and going out, in faith, to minister in the Land. Not to missionize or convert the Jews, but to be a light and to minister to the needs of the people in the Land. Be they orthodox Jew ,or, more likely, as in this case, to visitors to the Land, to help to show the Light and Love of Messiah and to support Brother Judah in regaining a rightful tenure of the Land of inheritance to the “People of Israel”

This is the concept of uniting the full house of Israel, as described in the book of Ezekiel ch 37, - just after he has talked of the dry bones becoming fleshed (the people of Israel returning to the land) but not yet alive, because they lack the Spirit, - and then in verse 14, he puts His Spirit in the people. Anyway just after that, in verse 16 the prophesy is for the uniting of all the twelve tribes of Israel. Both the House of “Israel” (which was the northern kingdom consisting of 10 tribes dispersed among the nations) and the House of Yehudah (which was the southern kingdom of two tribes that went into captivity in Babylon). Ezekiel speaks of this union happening in the latter days. We read in Luke 1: 31 where the Angel says to Mary that the Son she is carrying will reign over the House of “Jacob”. This signifies all the twelve tribes together… “and there shall be no end to His reign.” HALLELUYAH.!! Pardon me, but I do get quite excited when I see prophecies from centuries ago being fulfilled in our lifetime!!

After that I walked up from Jaffa Gate through a very modern and upmarket shopping mall called “Mamilla” where a lot of modern Hebrew sculptors’ work is on exhibition. Some of it was quite inspiring, but some of it I actually found a bit offensive. Just another side to the actuality of life in modern Israel.
Modern Israel is really a rich patchwork of peoples…some religious, some secular, some Orthodox Judaic, some Orthodox Russian or Greek Christian, some western,(a lot from USA) Christian, Jew, and Muslim. Some dressed ultra conservatively, some dressed rather immodestly with short skirts, low necklines and exposed backsides. One thing all the citizens of the new Israel seem to have in common is that, as a general rule, I can safely say they all believe in having large families. Every young married woman has at least two or three by the hand, and is pushing a pram. I know that there are some who would criticise this as irresponsible family planning, but I just see it as a sign of hope and trust in the Future. (as Duncan would have said “we don’t know what the future holds, but we know Who holds the Future”) One can so easily become despondent about the bleak prospects ahead when one reads of the plagues and terrors to come in the book of Revelations, but then one has to hold on to the joyous and triumphant prophecies for the “faithful remnant”.

So then, with my “ma’aver” ticket, I was able to jump on another bus, and go to Ramat Rachel which was the Kibbutz and hotel where the tour had been booked. Naomi very kindly ferried my bags across for me and met me there. The afternoon was spent in unpacking and wandering around meeting some of the rest of the group. Some of us had opted for the budget accommodation and a few others had the more upmarket rooms. There were three of these rooms that opened out onto a small private lawned area which the hotel management had kindly allowed Avi to use to put up a Sukkah. - a slightly more modern version than described in Leviticus 23 verse 34-44.. You see, we still see this as a valid instruction to us to remember that we are in a temporary dwelling, and not to make ourselves too comfortable in this temporary life. There are greater plans for us hereafter. HALLELUYAH !! Besides, it is a wonderful time for the community of believers to come together and celebrate the return of the Bridegroom. Get out - stop work for a while- come together and discuss the Word - Enjoy the kids, have fun, Prepare for His return!! Sorry, but I have to put in another HALLELUYAH !!

That evening, we met the other tour members from all over the world, Canada had a strong contingent, as did the USA, one from the Philippines, one from Thailand, one from Malaysia - Actually it get a bit confusing after this, because there is Santi who is from Hong Kong, living in Canada, Suzanne from South Africa, living in Australia, Jeanette who originates from Malaysia, living with her husband in Germany, Barb, from Australia living in Canada,( and now come to Israel for the Hebrew language study course.) Then there was me and a lovely family with three young boys from the republic of KZN . A truly cosmopolitan group.

What was amazing was the different stories and life histories that each brought to the group. What stood out for me especially was Joe Bartling, from USA. He and his wife have a son of their own, I think just in his 20’s , and then they have adopted 6 young children, all blind, and some of them with special ed needs. - Wow that is commitment.!

I was very privileged to make acquaintance (and ongoing friendship) of a warm and loving young woman, Suzanne, who emigrated from SA to Australia with her husband and two sons, aged 15 and 17, just over a year ago. Her husband and his brother opened a company together in Australia. Her husband was killed in an accident in Feb of this year when he had stopped to help someone at the side of the road and another vehicle came and crashed into them. Obviously she still has a lot of emotional pain and we were able to have a few good chats.

The spread of food at the hotel was just astonishing. There was a selection of probably six to eight different hot meal choices every evening, with corresponding hot veg dishes, then there was a table the most exotic colourful and flavourful salads. Not the usual lettuce, cucumber and tomato here. Oh no. Get a cookbook out of the library and find the most exotic selection of eastern dishes with bringals, sweet peppers, cuscus, qinoa, chicpeas, labna, … Oh my goodness what an array. No possible way that you could have “a little of everything please”

And then the sweets - Chocolate mouses, cheesecakes, pastries, apple pies, strudel, baklava, and a host of other delicacies.

And so to bed. Only a handful of the men slept out in the Sukkah the first night, and they were rudely awakened in the morning at 0400 when the automatic sprinkling system came into operation to water the lawn !!

Enough for today. Next episode.. Down Town Yerushalyim and a 4×4 jeep tour of the hills and vales.

Shalom again Dear Ones
Thank you to all those who have responded individually. Please forgive me for not reciprocating. I need to get this all down before it goes out of my head, and while there is time. Tomorrow I will not have time so…
wed 12 oct.

Breakfast in the Hotel dining room was, as might be expected after the magnificent spread of the night before, just as spectacular. Fruit, cereal, yoghurt, and the usual breakfast type egg thingies Omlettes made to order while you watch etc . But also another huge display of cold meats (all Kosher), cheeses, salads - yes, salads! Then there were the various breads, rolls, pastries, and even halva! Sadly I did not discover the halva until about the fourth morning. - but from there on, I had halva every morning after the muesli and yogurt.

So enough about the food already! After breakfast, we were taken out into the garden where we met friends of Avi who have recently made Aliyah and are earning a living through photography. So we had group and individual photos taken - as we were, and then dressed in biblical type shepherd costumes. We had great fun in the dressing up parade!

We then were put on the city bus and sent to town for the day to ‘explore’. We were given very clear landmarks and time schedules and money for lunch! Several of us joined up with Joe Dumond, who is a regular visitor to Israel, and who has various very interesting places to take people to, and several interesting theories about the actual whereabouts of significant sights.

I had the privilege of meeting with Joe last year when I was in Israel, and purchased a copy of his book “The Prophecies of Abraham” An extremely interesting and in depth study on the Sabbatical and Jubilee years and their significance throughout history. This book was actually nominated this year for the Noble Peace Prize , by a South African university. In their motivation for the award they cited that “Mr Dumond has produced this year’s most outstanding work, having proven beyond all doubt when the Sabbatical and Jubilee Years are. He also shows when the curses associated with these years are expected to come and what it means to us today.. We strongly feel that this book must be seriously considered for this year’s Nobel Prize.”

Anyway, Joe took several of us on a trip to have a look at the traditional sites where it has been said that the crucifixion took place, where the “garden tomb” is and where it is said that the Temple of Solomon was located. He then allowed us to make up our own minds, based on what we saw, what is recorded in scripture, and the position of other undisputed landmarks.

This was the day before the Rabbinic first day of Sukkot, which is a Sabbath of no work. This means that all the public services, such as buses etc, close down early in preparation for the next day. We had a few anxious moments while waiting for our bus as to whether we had missed the last bus. The buses became fewer and fewer, and were all the wrong number, then just as we were contemplating having to fork out for a taxi (expensive) the number 7 bus pitched.

That evening, after supper, we were entertained by Bruce Bril, a fascinating little man. I say “little” because he is slight in build. I had actually met him last year when he took us on a one day bus tour through Judea. We visited a few very interesting places, but what I found interesting about him, even then, was his diversity. He was doing the “tour guide “.thing all day - and telling us all sorts of very interesting things, then on the way home he took us past his house to show us his wind turbine which he designed and built, and which supplies his household with electricity. Then on the last trip, the “home straight” he started playing a cd which he had recorded. “Just me and my banjo” -an accomplished balladeer as well.!

What a pleasant surprise it was to see him again and to hear his stories about is childhood in the USA, and how he had learned to play the “fiddle” and the banjo as a young child, and to listen to his songs. Very interesting and intellegent man. Did you know, by the way, that the song ‘She’ll be coming round the mountain when she comes” was actually written as a Hebrew spiritual song, and the “She” referred to is actually the Shabbat!

Many times I get frustrated by my ineptitude on the computer. I know that one can actually access a U Tube recording of Bruce playing but I can’t give the links and whatevers to get there. I have just been fiddling around, trying to get some pictures out of last year’s selection to insert into this letter, but have not succeeded.

Now I have lost my impetus. I have a picture from last year showing how he carries a gun just stuck into his jeans waistband. He carries it with him always.

Anyway, quickly. before I go to bed, let me tell you about the jeep trip we took the next day. No, I can’t do this quickly.

We set out early next morning in an open jeep type vehicle, much like those used here for game viewing. Off to Adullum Caves mentioned in Genesis 38, the story of Judah and the Adullamite man named Hirah. then again in Josh 12: 15, the area is mentioned. In 2Samuel :23:13 we see David camped at Adullum. We trecked along a dusty bumpy dirt road and arrived at a site where there were some ruined remains of stone walls, and then found an entrance to the caves where David and his men camped. How do we know this was the actual site? Because the land of Israel is only about as big as the Kruger Park, and it is full of places, like Jerusalem, which are still called today what they were called in Biblical times. This place is still called Adullum today, and there are archaeological remains and artefacts which were found there, dating to that time. so, THESE ARE THE ACTUAL CAVES WHERE KING DAVID CAMPED WITH HIS ARMY. Then we all crawl into and out of the caves, and see there are the remains of stone ‘workings’ in the cave that must have been done at that time!! And over 3000 years later, there it still is. Amazing
Then we went on to a place called Churvat Midras which is another archaeological site of the place of the tomb of the prophet Zechariah. Also at this site, a later building of a Byzantine church complete with mosaic floors. Just nearby to this is a large limestone cave where doves were kept - “farmed” actually. All over were little nesting areas carved out of the rock. These doves were evidently fed and given place to roost here, and then culled as required for the pot.

We then went on to yet another archaeological dig called Tel Qeiyafa. ( there are archaeological sites all over the place), The peculiar feature of this site is that the excavations reveal a city that clearly has two entrances - an unusual feature in this time period. The two entries are clearly discernable. Look in 1 Samuel 17. 52. This verse puts the battle between Israel and the Phillistines at a place called Sha’arayim, and mentions the town of Ekron. Strongs number 8189 gives the meaning of sha’arayim as ‘two gates”.

Just across from this two-gated city is another hillside excavation which reveals the remains of a Phillistine encampment called Ekron.( Joshua 13:3 calls Ekron a Phillistine town) These archaeological finds pinpoint this as the actual place where the young David meets and slays Goliath, the Philistine champion. And guess what? Just there, in the valley, is a stream where he probably picked up his 5 smooth stones! Mind blowing! Nothing has changed in all that time. Just over there is the hillside where the Philistines are camped (and there is the archaeological proof) Over here where we are standing in the portals of the city with two gates (and look! here they are! 2 gates) we can look down onto the field where they must have met! Amazing!!

We then look up 1 Samuel chapters 4, 5 6 and 7 (note 6;16 again puts Ekron as the Phillistine village) :and read the sad story of what happened to the Ark of the Covenant when it was misused by the Israelites as a “good luck charm” without the authority of The Almighty and see that it was taken by the Philistines to Ekron. We then followed the trail taken by the two cows on their way to Beit Shemesh. All this area is still undeveloped and basically unchanged since the time of these events told of in Scripture!! Beit Shemesh also confirmed archeologically by the presence of a gigantic underground water cistern.
I really found that quite a mind blowing experience to stand on the ACTUAL SITES where these ancient biblical events took place.

And now to bed. It is late and my ear still blocked.
Next episode deals with a variety of places and activities over the next few days…..stay tuned!

Shalom again everyone.
To those of you who enquired, yes thank you, my health is improving and my life is returning to “normal”.
Have just had a break from the computer as I have been back to work and catching up with “stuff” that was put on hold while I went on holiday. Funny that - how it sits and waits for you to come back !
One of the things that has come to interrupt my time at the computer has been a visit from the well known Messianic Teacher from the States, Brad Scott. What a welcome interruption that was. A really good speaker and a thoroughly likeable man. We had the privilege of hosting him and his wife, Carol, in our home for a night and so were able to have extended discussions with him. It truly is so enlightening to hear just how intimately the “old” and “new” testaments of the scriptures are linked and to realise just how much we have missed over all the years of Christian teachings because we have concentrated only on the “new” testament. Like building a house with no foundation.

And so where were we?
Ah yes, Frid 14 oct.

More of an easy day. Late start and then a walk through the streets chatting along the way.

Avi is a mine of information, and we stopped frequently along the way for him to explain some interesting point about a building, or the person after whom a street was named. So interesting were his comments that a local lady joined in with our group and just followed along listening to all his stories.

We arrived at a very wide and beautiful walkway called the Goldman Promenade, and I regret I forgot now who Goldman was because of the stunning view that just totally captivated my attention. We spent a long time identifying landmarks from the ancient and the modern landscape in front of us, and then had a relaxed picnic lunch on the lawn in the beautifully laid out public park.

A lovely Erev Shabbat dinner in the Sukkah that night, followed by Joe Dumond’s teaching which was sobering to say the least. Joe has done extensive work, as I said before, on the Sabbatical and Jubilee cycles, which show that over the time period from Adam to now, certain disasters occur in repetitive cycles. He showed what we can expect from this pattern to be repeated in the next few years to come. His website at sightedmoon.com is a mine of information. He also puts out a lengthy newsletter each week to which anyone may subscribe for free. I have to admit I can’t always read all of it and I don’t know how he writes it all as well as everything else that he does.

On Shabbat, 15
After a sleep in and a relaxed breakfast we went for a walk into the nearby Olive Tree Park, where an artist, Ran Morin has put up an enormous “living” statue in the form of 3 gigantic stone columns supporting a concrete platform, on top of which are planted three full grown olive trees. Radiating out from the central columnar statue are three pathways dividing the land around into three triangular parks where olive trees are planted in neat rows radisting outward. We had a long discussion on the possible symbolism and the practical logistics of how the trees on top of the columns are kept watered and anchored against winds and storms.

Also walked over to the boundary between Israeli occupied territory and Arab territory and had a look at the remains of a dugout used in the 6 day war. What struck me particularly was that Israel is such a relatively small piece of land, but it has such a wealth - over 6,000 years - of recorded history! You can’t turn a corner without facing some site of historical significance. Even modern Jerusalem, as a metropolitan city, is really rather small - but my goodness, so much of interest and archaeological, historical significance. Impossible to take it all in, in one short visit.
That evening, after supper we went in to central Jerusalem to Ben Yehudah street. - Now I cant remember whether I’ver talked about this street yet. Just had to go back and read to see that I have not yet recorded it in writing, although I know that I have told many people about this street.

It is the prime tourist attraction of modern Jerusalem, especially at night. Not a very long street that becomes totally a pedestrian mall after sundown. Buskers and ‘wandering minstrels’ come out and sing and play their instruments - be it guitar, “jewish harp” (do you remember how our Dad used to play his ‘trompie’ ?), or even the conventional harp. Street artists, - You will find it all there, as well as lots and lots of people - families with two, three and four children or more. There is also a sort of open air stage where often one of the Rabbinic sects will be singing, dancing, and celebrating the season of Sukkot.

On that night we found a Korean Christian group singing. The tourist curio type shops are all open until late, as are the “eating and drinking” shops. A favourite spot is the frozen yoghurt shop. One has to squeeze through the crowds to buy a ticket and then stand in a sort of crush around the stand and drool over all the items on display. They have an enormous display of trays of frozen fruits, -sorry, I just have to mention a few of them - pineapple, kiwifruit, melon, granadilla, pomegranite, mango, berries, nuts, choc chips, biscuit bits, smarties, halva, and many more etceteras, and then finally the scoop of plain frozen yoghurt. Once you have made your selection, they stick it all in a super blender machine and out comes your twirl of frozen fruit yoghurt. LOVELY !! Then of course, all the other “eatie” thingies like swarmas, falafels, and the good old macDonalds are all available as well.

I’ve now covered 10 days in 6 episodes - another 10 days to go! So thanku all for “hanging in” -and take courage - we will get to the end!!
Next episode will take us through Hezekiah’s tunnel

Shalom again to you all.
Thanku to those who have asked for the next episode. No, you were not left off the mailing list, I just have been really busy with other pressing details - like going to work - to get to the computer for the next episode!

Duncan always said we must not let the “urgent” overshadow the “important”. How right he was.

And so. where were we?
Sunday 16 oct

One must realise that in Israel, with the seventh day being kept as the Shabbat, that the first day of the week, or sunday is a normal working day. Most people would say that the seventh day Sabbath applies only to the Jews, but we prefer to take scripture as our reference right there in the book of Genesis 2:3 where clearly the seventh day is hallowed, sanctified, set apart as the day on which to rest. Again in Exodus 20:8-11 this same day is endorsed as THE SABBATH. Numerous texts found throughout scripture all reinforce this commandment for the seventh day. This seventh day was determined by The Almighty Himself and shown specifically again to His people when they came out of slavery, as in Exodus 16 :23-28. Take particular note of verse 28 .

The notion that Messiah rose on the first day and the Holy Spirit was poured out on the first day, thus changing the Sabbath to the first day is a typical example of how the Truth becomes twisted to create an erroneous view. Yes, indeed those two significant events did occur on the first day of the week, but nowhere is there a scripture which then tells us that the Sabbath has changed to the first day of the week. In fact, there are numerous sites on the internet which will show clearly when in history the early Christians were forced to observe the Sabbath on the first day, and on whose instigation that was. Look up emperor Constntine of the Roman Empire

Leviticus 23:10-11 will show that the Messiah was the First Fruits Offering, and that is why He rose on the first day of the week; the First Fruits offering was made on the first day of the week Also the disciples were gathered in the upper room on the first day of the week in accordance with the instruction in Lev 23:15-16.

Anyway, so the first day of the week, except on these Feast Days as described in Lev 23 are normal working days. This being so, we set out for Hezekiah’s tunnel. We were first treated to a 3D film where we had to put on special glasses which made the presenter appear to almost sit in your lap while he presented the history of the young king David and his conquests over the Philistines as long as he was obedient to The Almighty YHWH.

We then entered the tunnel which is casually mentioned in scripture in 2 Kings 20:20 where it talks of a “conduit”. Well, for me this word conjures up an image of a little water canal like they used to have in the “old” days (of my youth) in GraafReinett, running by the side of the road. An open channel about 30cm deep and about 20cm wide. Not Hezekiah’s “conduit”

Hezekiah was a righteous king and reigned at the time of the seige of Jerusalem by the Assyrians. His great feature was to divert the water from the Gihon spring and bring it into the city to the Pool of Siloam where the Israelites could get water in safety. This remarkable feat he accomplished by digging a tunnel through a mountain of solid rock, by starting two teams, one at each side of the mountain, digging towards each other. The tunnel is not straight, is about a kilometer long and is solid rock on both sides. It is high enough and wide enough for a big man to get through, occasionally scraping shoulders on the sides, and occasionally having to duck the head. The place where the two tunnelling teams met up is clearly discernable as the second team was a litle too high and they then had to dig deeper and lower the floor level to meet with the first team, so for the second half of the journey there is suddenly a lot of head room. This walk is done in ankle to midcalf deep fresh spring water all the way.

We come out into the open into a little pool which for years was assumed to be the Pool of Siloam, but recent archaeology has found where the original pool is and they have been able to excavate a small section of it. The major part of the pool lies under a privately owned piece of land (owned by the Catholic church) and they are not willing to allow excavations on their property.

However, what we were able to see was the recently opened extensive excavations of the steps leading from the Temple Mount all the way down to the pool of Siloam. Last year I saw just a small section of this, and now this year we were able to walk back from the Pool of Slioam, underground, following the excavation of what would have been the underground sewer system, under the steps of Siloam. Avi bringing it all to life for us with his rhetoric, quoting long passages from the writings of Josephus, and pointing out where the paving stones had been broken by the Roman guards, looking for refugees hiding underground in the sewer system during the sacking of Jerusalem in 70AD.

After lunch some of us went walking up the Mount of Olives with Joe Dumond to one of his favourite places. Joe has done extensive research into the exact location of the sites of historical significance. ie the location of Solomon’s Temple, Herod’s temple, the site of the execution of Messiah and the “garden tomb”. Joe had taken some of us on a bit of a pilgrimage on the first day of the tour, to visit some of the sites that are traditionally believed to be the actual sites, and we had much discussion on the logic and the scripture verses that give us an idea of the location and as to why the traditional sites cannot be accurate. Anyway Joe took us to a place, a catholic guest house, which he believes to be the true site of the crucifixion. We had to wait to get permission to walk around from the mother superior who was in a meeting. Then we ran out of time and someone came out and asked us to leave and come again another day - which, sadly, we were not able to do. However, I did go there last year with Joe, and have a few pictures from then.

monday 17 oct.
We spent the day in the Old City and visited The Davidson Centre Archaeological Park, saw a computer generated reconstruction of the temple mount, the main street, shops and houses, all based on archaeological evidence. Then we went and saw the “burnt house ” museum and the Wohl Archaeological museum which contained the actual remains of the homes of the wealthy dating back to the time of Messiah. Some very well preserved ruins, complete with mosaic floors and mural paintings. very very interesting.

Later that afternoon we walked through the Moslem Quarter and went to visit the site of the Sheep pools or Bethesda pools near the Lion Gate.
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So the long break inbetween where I left off, in part 7, and now has been due to a whole lot of diverse distractions, including a couple of days when I was blessed with a visit from my elder brother, Bleign, and his family from Pretoria. We, together with my other brother, Kevin, who also lives in Howick, and their wives had some good times together. Also just celebrated the first birthday of my beautiful and cute little grandson, who is just thinking about walking now and really is into all the cupboards that he is able open!! Needs Fulltime supervision !!

I have just gone back to re-read Part 7 - and ohmygoodness! It looks as though I just abandoned it midsentence.

We went to the Sheep pools at Bethesda (another site of significance which is currently in the care of the catholic church) and there some of us went into the church building which dates from the crusaders time. My goodness!! what beautiful acoustics!! It really was quite an experience. There was another group there from one of the Central African countries - I forget which - but they went in and sang the HalleluYah chorus and the sound vibrations were just absolutely goosebumpy!
That evening we had a talk form the archaeologist, Jozi Garfinkle, (yes, that really was his name!) who was responsible for the dig that we had seen at the city with two gates. Very interesting.

So now to continue - Tues 18 Oct.and another bus trip out to Samaria.(Thanku Guida, it must have been you who sent me an sms for Mom’s birthday - unless it was Bleign. My phone did not recognise the number) On the way, we called in at the ruin of a crusader castle. Really fascinating to see the real old King Arthur type castle situated on a hill with a really good lookout vantage point for miles in all directions. We all had fun trying to identify what each of the rooms were used for, and how we could rehabilitate the building and who would live where!

Then on to Shilo (1Samuel :chapter 4) where we saw the ruins of the site where the the Ark had rested and we had Avi acting out the whole sad story of the capture of the Ark and the death of Eli. We even identified a cave where, very possibly, Eli lodged.

We went on to Shechem, which is the site of the Samaritans. Interestingly, there is still a community of Samaritans there today and one can see both the modern Samaritan temple as well as the ruins of the ancient Samaritan temple, overlaid with the ruins of a Byzantine church and the remains of a minaret from the Turkish occupation, and interestingly, the remains of the British army barracks from the 1947 British occupation. - All on top of mount Gerezim. (I actually saw these the first time I went to Israel) The origin of the Samaritan split from Judah can be read in 1 Kings chap 12.

Also from the top of Mount Gerezim we were able to look down into the Arab occupied town of Nablus which is built on the site of Jacobs well where Yahshua had the conversation with the Samaritan woman. We could also see the well defined border between Israeli and Palestinian occupied teritory. We were actually standing in no man’s land between the two.

On Wed 19 we set out early to go all the way up to Galilee.On the way there we stopped at yet another ruin site and walked through the remains of a synagogue at Korazim. What was remarkable here was that this was one of the two places in all the archaeological endeavours where an intact “seat of Moses” had been recovered. The seat of Moses was the prominent seat in the synagogue from which the Rabbi would read the Torah.

We called in at the ruins of the ancient town of Capernaum on the shore of the Sea Galilee. Here we saw the ruins of the synagogue which Yahshua would have attended as well as the ruins of the home of Peter’s mother-in-law. (Once again, this site is in the care of the catholic church,) and they have very cleverly built a modern church raised up on stilts, over the archeological site.

We then went out on one of the highlights of the tour- a boat ride across the Sea of Galilee. More like a lake actually - no waves. I had secretly been a bit anxious about the boat ride because of my notorious travel sickness. But, really, it was such a calm sea and such a steady and stable ride that it really was a pleasure. I was disappointed not to have been able to take a dip in the water. I had hoped that I could hop off the boat and into the water - but the skipper wasn’t having that. I am currently reading “The Big Fisherman” by Lloyd C Douglas and am really enjoying being able to picture it all in context.

On the way home we stopped off at Jezreel Spring. I Samuel 29:1 talks of the spring at Jezreel. Once again it was really amazing to stand there at the fountain and know that this is the fountain where King Saul and his army camped. Right here - at this spring.!! And the countryside all around still undeveloped - pretty much as it would have looked in Saul’s time. Really goosebumpy stuff. Avi also identified the hill where one would suppose the death of king Saul and his sons took place at the hands of the Phillistines.(1Samuel :31)

Avi then took us on to another site where archaeological digs had put the castle of Jezebel. We then read the gory details of her deeds and death.

I’m really needing to condense the last few days because of time constraints. My “publisher” is pushing me to finish in this episode !

Thurs 20 oct saw us reluctantly packing up from the Ramat Rachel hotel, and then a bus ride through the outskirts of Jerusalem to visit a few sites of interest. We stopped and carefully examined a magnificent work of art, called The Copper Scrolls. These are two enormous cast iron scrolls, one depicting the tragedy and horror of the holocast and the other depicting the triumph and victory of the return to Eretz Israel in 1948.

We called in for coffee at the Elvis Cafe. This is the brainchild of a quirky Elvis fan, Uri Yoeli, who did not know what to do with all his Elvis memorablilia when his wife banned them from the house - So he opened a cafe. The whole interior is painted with various pictures of the icon and there are busts, statues and 1,728 pictures of him all over the place. Of course, his music is played continuously and although one pays an exorbitant 20 shekels for a cup of coffee, you get to keep the mug which. of course, has an Elvis picture on it. I have a souveniour from the diner, the paper place mat with a whole lot of useless info such as that he bought more than 100 cadillacs, most of which he gave away to his friends.

Not ever really having been an Elvis fan, I just found it interesting and quirky, but as we were leaving, Avi announced “Now that was awesome!” I caught the look on my friend Joe’s face. - He just knew that I would not let that one pass because he, Joe, had got the sharp end of my tongue last year for using the word “awesome” frivolously.

I really endorse my dear husband, John’s, aversion to popular slang misuse of words. My personal trigger being the way the young people use the word ‘awesome” when they simply mean “pleasant, enjoyable, fun, exciting, great, fantastic, (and I’m not even using a thesaurus here), or just plain good.” - what is wrong with the word “good” ? - It is a perfectly good word. My problem with the misuse of the word “awesome” is just this - what word will you then use when you see the Victoria Falls for the first time? - What word will you use when you experience a thunderstorm in the Drakensberg? - What word will you use to describe Aurore Borialis? - What word will you use when Messiah returns? Oxford dictionary still gives “reverent fear” as the definition of this word and it really will be sad to have lost that word simply to replace the now outdated “cool” - Anyway that’s enough of me on the soapbox for now.

We then went on to another hilltop in the greater Jerusalem surounds where the prophet Samuel is alleged to be burried. Another old Byzantine church ruin there with the most amazing (”awesome”) acoustics. I really wonder why modern buildings have not been able to replicate the design to get the same effect? And a synagogue still in use. The spectacular aspect of this lookout was that we got there just at sunset, and apart from the beauty of the sunset, Avi told us that this was the setting of the story told in Joshua 10. The famous verse 12 wherein Joshua told the sun and the moon to stand still. This incident has always been interpreted as Joshua bidding the day to last longer so that they could finish the battle and smite the enemy. But on site, where we could orientate towards where the compass points were and which direction the Amorites would have been coming from, and in which direction Jerusalem lay, it became clear that there would have been early morning mist towards the east, with the rising sun shining through, blinding the eyes of the enemy who were moving eastward toward Jerusalem. And so, with the moon behind the Israeli army, lighting the scene for them, they had the advantage and could wipe out the enemy with virtually no losses. - as verse 13 says ‘and the sun stood still and the moon stayed until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies ‘ … Now that, my friends, is awesome.

We then booked into the Hotel Lev Y’rushalayim which is situated in the heart if the new city, right at the top of the popular Ben Yehudah street. It is also a semi residential hotel and had quite a number of traditional observant Jewish families in residence. The dining room also being strictly Kosher. the spread was not as lavish as the Ramat Rachel had been, and less tourist friendly. The first evening there I felt like a cup of coffee, and duly poured a cup and then looked around for the milk. I made the mistake of asking the maitre de (or whatever he would be called) for some milk. I was told in no uncertain terms that this was a Kosher dining room and no milk would be served with dinner. (There had been meat served at dinner, so no milk would be in the same room as the meat) If you want milk with your coffee, have it at breakfast when there will be no meat in the dining room. Ok so that was my first lessen in Kashrut. After dinner coffee is black. That’s that.

That evening some of us had booked to go to the sound and light show at the Citadel of David in the Old City. A remarkable feat of sound and light technology and engineering. I did see it last year and was totally blown away by it and so was quite keen to go again. Really magnificent. - Although I was a bit disappointed to see that it was exactly the same show as last year. I did think that they would do a different show each year.

Fri 21oct . Avi took us on a walking tour through the modern city of Jerusalem. “modern” as in not the Old City, but we saw a lot of the early resettlement buildings of the last two or three centuaries. Very interesting stories of pioneers and men of vision such as Conrad Schick, a German protestant missionary who was sent to Israel in the 1800’s and besides all the missionary related work which he did, was an accomplished architect and was responsible for the construction of Mea Sherim, the ultra orthodox section of the community and for many public buildings still standing today. His own home, in the street of the Prophets, is styled on the altar in the tabernacle. Fascinating. The remains of one of his buildings still stands at the top of Jaffa road, just the front wall of the building , the name Talitha, and a clock. This is what remains of a home he built for young orphaned girls.

Shabbat was spent quietly with many of us chatting, walking around the quiet streets, reading, sharing, and discussing and saying sad fairwells.

On sunday evening we were taken on a tour down below street level to the foundations of the Western wall and through some of the many tunnels that network under the old city. The mind just boggles at the sheer age and antiquity of it all and the impossible size of the building blocks. I just spent my time wondering around with my mouth open saying “it’s not possible - but there it is!” And everywhere along the tunnels there will be little groups of orthodox Jews praying at the base of the Western Wall. - Little pieces of paper folded up and pushed into the tiniest cracks. I don’t believe what they believe, but I do respect the dedication and conviction with which they practise their beliefs.

And so, this is the conclusion of the booked tour to Israel. I still had two more days which I spent back with Naomi. One day I spent shopping for gifts for my family and the next I spent with Avi, Dina and James just unwinding and trying to collect all the fragments of this most stimulating experience.

One of the main reasons for recording all of this experience in such minute detail was to serve as a memory jogger for myself to relive the experience, and as I sit here now I am aware of so much that I have left out, and can’t think where it fitted. There is also so much that I have forgotten and so much that I missed even while I was there. I really really would love to go again, but will have to leave that to our Almighty Father - if He wants me to go again He will make it happen.

I realise that I am really privileged to have been able to go to Sukkot in Israel two years in a row, and that I was able to experience the best of both trips. Last year I was blown away by the quality and the diversity of the excellent teachings which we had, and this year, the focus of the experience was getting out and seeing places and “touching the Land”.

Heather has now finish these lovely letters and we look forward to the next time we can meet and tour the Land of Israel with other pilgrims..

We continue this weekend with our regular Triennial Torah reading which can be found at http://www.sightedmoon.com/files/TriennialCycleBeginningAviv.pdf

04/02/2012 Lev 14 Jer 51 Prov 26 Acts 23

Leviticus 14

Laws Regulating Disease and Bodily Discharges (Leviticus 13-15)
Modern leprosy, also called Hansen’s disease, is, according to Mosby’s Medical, Nursing, & Allied Health Dictionary, a “chronic, communicable disease… that may take either of two forms, depending on the immunity of the host. Tuberculoid leprosy, seen in those with high resistance, presents as thickening of [skin] nerves and [insensitive], saucer-shaped lesions. Lepromatous leprosy, seen in those with little resistance, involves many systems of the body, with widespread [deposits forming hardening] and [small lumps] in the skin, [eye inflammation], [corneal inflammation], destruction of nasal cartilage and bone, testicular atrophy, [swelling of extremities], and involvement of the [immune] system. Blindness may result. Death is rare unless… tuberculosis [or a related illness] occurs concurrently. Contrary to traditional belief, leprosy is not very contagious, and prolonged, intimate contact is required for it to be spread between individuals” (4th ed., “Leprosy”).

Still, it is contagious nonetheless. As the Encylopaedia Britannica states in its article on the disease: “The prevention of leprosy rests upon the recognition of bacteriologically positive cases so that they may be isolated and treated” (1985, Vol. 7, p. 287). And this is quite biblical. While treatment is not emphasized in Leviticus, the priests, as medical control officers, were to diagnose individuals and then take action to protect the community from further infection—by isolating those displaying the disease’s symptoms.

It may even be that the “leprosy” identified in Leviticus 13-14 was far more communicable than the modern disease of that name. “There is some debate among medical scholars about whether the Hebrew word translated ‘leprosy’ in the Bible is exactly the same disease as the modern variant. It may have been another deadly infectious disease that differs from modern forms of leprosy” (Grant Jeffrey, The Signature of God: Astonishing Biblical Discoveries, 1996, p. 147). Indeed, The Nelson Study Bible notes on the word “leprous” in Leviticus 13:2, “Hebrew saraath, disfiguring skin diseases, including leprosy.” So there may have been an immediate concern about a very infectious disease at the time God inspired Moses to write Leviticus.

Of course, it is also possible that the leprosy of the time was the same as today. In that case, God may have simply been instituting a general way of dealing with communicable illness—that is, quarantine. In any case, He was also illustrating the need for removing spiritual uncleanness by the lesson of such physical separation—and made this even clearer by certain ritual or ceremonial ordinances. “Leprosy” on house walls and garments, it should be pointed out, was almost certainly “decomposition by mildew, mold, dry rot, etc.” (Nelson Study Bible, note on 14:34)—spreading fungus. “All of these were harmful growths, whether on human skin, clothing, or the wall of a house.”

It is especially interesting to read the requirements of shaving and washing in water. Incredibly, the idea of microscopic germs passing on illness, which Leviticus seems to take for granted, was not even generally believed in until very modern times. Indeed, Ignaz Semmelweis, a Hungarian doctor, was ridiculed by the entire medical establishment in the mid-1800s for instituting handwashing before examining patients—as if there were some invisible infectious agents to be worried about. Thankfully, his notion eventually caught on—but not until many died unnecessarily and until he died as well, following decades of rejection that, sadly, drove him into a mental institution (Jeffrey, pp. 145-146, from S.I. McMillen, None of These Diseases).

Yet consider the time during which Moses wrote the Pentateuch. Ancient Egyptian medical knowledge was primitive compared to that of the 1800s. It is obvious from the Papyrus Ebers manuscript and other ancient sources that there was no sense of sanitation in Egypt whatsoever. For instance, dung, from many different animals, was a primary ointment ingredient for all manner of ailments. The ancient laws of the Israelites, on the other hand, show nothing but concern for sanitation. They would have protected against microscopic pathogens. Yet how could Moses have known of the existence of such germs? The Egyptians certainly did not—nor did any other ancient culture.

In fact, “until this century, all previous societies, except for the Israelites who followed God’s medical laws regarding quarantine, kept infected patients in their homes—even after death, exposing family members and others to deadly disease. During the devastating Black Death [or bubonic plague] of the fourteenth century, patients who were sick or dead were kept in the same rooms as the rest of the family. People often wondered why the disease [which killed half of Europe and seemed unstoppable] was affecting so many people at one time. They attributed these epidemics to ‘bad air’ or ‘evil spirits.’ However, careful attention to the medical commands of God as revealed in Leviticus would have saved untold millions of lives. Arturo Castiglione wrote about the overwhelming importance of this biblical medical law, ‘The laws against leprosy in Leviticus 13 may be regarded as the first model of a sanitary legislation’ (Arturo Castiglione, A History of Medicine… 1941, p. 71). Fortunately, the church fathers of Vienna finally took the biblical injunctions to heart and commanded that those infected with the plague… be placed outside the city in special medical quarantine compounds. Care givers fed them until they either died or survived the passage of the disease. Those who died in homes or streets were instantly removed and buried outside the city limits. These biblical sanitary measures quickly brought the dreaded epidemic under control for the first time. Other cities and countries rapidly followed the medical practices of Vienna until the Black Death was finally halted” (Jeffrey, pp. 149-150).

No, Moses simply could not have understood the need to institute such laws through the natural means available to him at the time. But the Creator God did understand. And in commanding that His instructions for handling such situations be preserved in the Bible, the Eternal has given us one more amazing proof that this wonderful book is truly His inspired Word.

Jeremiah 51

Seraiah’s Mission (Jeremiah 51:59-61; 50:1-46)
Jeremiah 50-51 is a long prophecy against Babylon. At the end of the prophecy is an account of the context in which it was first delivered (51:59-64). Though obviously written down after the prophecy itself, our reading starts with part of this account (verses 59-61) to give us that context up front.

The time frame is the fourth year of Zedekiah, 593 B.C. The Jewish king, we are informed, traveled to Babylon at this time. As was suggested in the Bible Reading Program comments on Jeremiah 29, Zedekiah may have made this trip to allay Nebuchadnezzar’s concerns over his involvement in the international plotting addressed in chapter 27. Whatever the reason for the journey, we are told that Zedekiah is accompanied by Seraiah the son of Neriah (51:59), apparently the brother of Jeremiah’s scribe Baruch. Seraiah was serving as the “quartermaster” or, as the Contemporary English Version translates the term, “the officer in charge of arranging for places to stay overnight” (”quiet prince” in the King James Version is evidently a mistranslation).

Prior to the departure of the entourage, Jeremiah writes on a scroll what God has revealed to him about the future downfall of Babylon—the words recorded in Jeremiah 50:1-51:58. The prophet sends the scroll with Seraiah to read aloud when he gets to Babylon. No doubt, God intends that a representative number of Babylonians hear this message, as there are numerous statements in it addressed directly to Babylon. However, His main purpose in directing Jeremiah to send the message to Babylon is probably to console the Jewish captives there.

“Move From the Midst of Babylon” (Jeremiah 51:59-61; 50:1-46)
The Neo-Babylonian Empire of the Chaldeans would be destroyed. Repeated reference is made to an assembly of nations invading Babylon from the north (50:3, 9, 41; 51:48). In the next chapter we will see that one of the principal nations involved in this invasion is that of the Medes (51:11, 28), who were located to the northeast of Babylon in ancient times. This must surely refer in part to what happened 54 years later, in 539 B.C., when Cyrus of Persia, in alliance with the Medes, defeated the Chaldeans and took over their empire.

However, while these two chapters of Jeremiah portray a violent overthrow of the city of Babylon, “the Nabonidus Chronicle, a text describing the fall of Babylon, reports that ‘Cyrus entered Babylon without a battle’” (Nelson Study Bible, note on 51:29-32). The Expositor’s Bible Commentary states: “It has troubled some scholars that chapters 50-51 predict the violent destruction of Babylon, whereas its defeat by Cyrus in 539 B.C. took place without a battle and with no damage to the city. But as with other predictive prophecies, if a fulfillment does not occur in one period, it is to be sought for in another and future one” (introductory notes on chap. 50).

Indeed, these two chapters also show that Babylon would be left desolate and perpetually uninhabited (50:39-40; 51:43). And yet the Persians made it their winter capital. Some, therefore, look to events that followed. “Cyrus took away its supremacy. Darius Hystaspes [a later successor of Cyrus] deprived it, when it rebelled, of its fortifications” (Jamieson, Fausset & Brown’s Commentary, note on 50:39). His successor, Xerxes, sacked Babylon in 497 B.C. This best fits the picture of Jeremiah 50-51 in an ancient context. Still, Alexander later resurrected the city as an Asian capital. His successor in the region, Seleucus, made it his capital for a while but soon relocated. “Seleucus Nicanor removed its citizens and wealth to Seleucia, which he founded in the neighborhood; and the Parthians [later] removed all that was left to Ctesiphon. Nothing but its walls was left under the Roman emperor [H]adrian” (JFB Commentary, note on 50:39).

Yet even this does not fully fit the utter destruction and sense of desolation that is prophesied. We should compare Jeremiah’s prophecy with what we saw earlier in Isaiah 13. The mention of wild animals living at the site is found in both Jeremiah 50:39 and Isaiah 13:21-22. Now note the verse that follows in Jeremiah: “‘As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighbors,’ says the LORD, ‘So no one shall reside there, nor son of man dwell in it” (verse 40). Compare that with Isaiah 13:19-20: “And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldeans pride, will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It will never be inhabited, nor will it be settled from generation to generation…” And notice particularly the end of the verse: “…nor will the Arabian pitch tents there, nor will the shepherds make their sheepfolds there.” This just has not come to pass on the site of ancient Babylon. Bedouins have ranged over the area for centuries. People involved in archaeological excavation have lived at the site in more recent times. Moreover, in the past several years, Saddam Hussein of Iraq began a monumental restoration project at ancient Babylon, even though Jeremiah prophesied that none of the city’s stones would be used for rebuilding (Jeremiah 51:26). And certainly people have been living at the site to carry this out.

How do we explain this? As was pointed out in the Bible Reading Program comments on Isaiah 13, the prophecy there was primarily referring to the fall of end-time Babylon—the coming European-centered economic, politico-military and religious world power bloc called the “Beast” and “Babylon” in the book of Revelation. So it is with these chapters of Jeremiah as well. Notice the phrase “daughter of Babylon” (50:42), wording that indicates an end-time counterpart to the original (compare Isaiah 47:1, 5). The expression “Behold, the days are coming,” points to events that are yet future (Jeremiah 51:47; 52). We can especially see the latter-day context here in the references to the return and restoration of both Judah and Israel (50:4-5, 19-20; 51:5)—which has never happened.

Thus, while much of Jeremiah 50-51 is applicable to ancient times—as is clear from the references to Nebuchadnezzar (50:17; 51:34) and the fact that Jeremiah sent Seraiah to read the prophecy to people of that time—these chapters also point to events that are yet future. “Babylon was employed as the rod in God’s hand for the chastising of all the other nations, and now at length that rod shall be thrown into the fire. The destruction of Babylon by Cyrus was foretold, long before it came to its height, by Isaiah, and now again, when it has come to its height, by Jeremiah…. And as [with] Isaiah’s prophecies…Jeremiah’s prophecies of the same events seem designed to point at the apocalyptic triumphs…over the New-Testament Babylon, many passages in the Revelation being borrowed hence” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary, introductory notes on Jeremiah 50).

With this in mind, let us notice some of the particulars in the first part of the prophecy, chapter 50. (We will go through the rest of the prophecy in our next reading.)

Verse 2 mentions the Babylonian deity names Bel (which, like Baal, means “Lord”) and Merodach (the Hebraic form of Marduk, chief god of Babylon). These names referred to the same deity—often styled Bel-Marduk. It and the other false gods of Babylon are referred to using a word translated “images” (NKJV) or “idols” (NIV), but which actually denotes “dung pellets” or “animal droppings” (Expositor’s, note and footnote on verse 2; Nelson, note on verses 2-3). Idols are utterly revolting to the true God and should be to everyone else as well. God actually refers to the worship of idols as “insane” (verse 38)—completely irrational.

Interestingly, the humiliation and shame foretold for Babylon’s gods in verse 2 (compare 51:44, 47, 52) did not come with Cyrus’ takeover—except in the sense that they were powerless to prevent it. For Cyrus allowed their temples and priests to continue unmolested. But the idols were “broken in pieces,” as it says, by Xerxes, whose attack was directed at the Babylonian religious establishment. In a modern context, Bel-Marduk or Baal has come down to us as the false “Lord” of the Babylonian counterfeit Christianity (see Revelation 17). This religious system still worships powerless idols. But these idols will be utterly destroyed at the coming of the true Lord to rule all nations.

God issues warnings to His people to leave Babylon so as not to be corrupted by it and suffer its destruction (verse 8; 51:6, 45; compare Isaiah 48:20). This was not meant in a literal sense for the time Jeremiah’s prophecy was given. We can be sure of that because he had already written to the captives instructing them to settle down where they were (Jeremiah 29:4-7). Furthermore, they could not leave until they were later freed. Certainly the message would still have applied in a figurative, spiritual sense—that is, though they dwelt in Babylon, they were to come out of its ways. On the other hand, the instruction to leave would have applied literally once the Jews were eventually freed. That is, they needed to leave Babylon before it was afterward sacked. Most significantly, the same warning is issued regarding end-time Babylon in Revelation 18:4: “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.”

As mentioned, God would bring great forces against the Babylonians. They are pictured as archers (Jeremiah 50:9, 14, 29, 42; 51:3)—though sword, lance and ax are also mentioned. The shooting of arrows may relate to Persian forces elsewhere described with bow and quiver (49:35; Isaiah 22:6). This probably meant literal bows and arrows in the ancient application of this prophecy. But what about an end-time fulfillment? Perhaps the image is simply one of dealing destruction from afar. The “arrows” or “missiles” used in today’s warfare are mechanical ones. Note this statement: “Their arrows shall be like those of an expert warrior; none shall return in vain” (Jeremiah 50:9). This almost sounds like modern smart missiles.

Verse 17 says that Israel has been partially devoured and scattered by the king of Assyria and is being finished off, so to speak, by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. This definitely applied to Jeremiah’s day. “Therefore,” God says in the next verse, “…I will punish the king of Babylon and his land.” This seems to still be referring to Nebuchadnezzar. And indeed, God did punish him by causing him to go crazy for seven years (see Daniel 4). However, God then restored him to sanity and glory—and Nebuchadnezzar never saw the fall of Babylon. So perhaps a successor ruler is meant. Belshazzar was killed at the time of the Medo-Persian takeover for his arrogant defiance (Daniel 5).

Yet this verse, Jeremiah 50:17, may also have an end-time application—and it does seem to, given its juxtaposition with the verses that follow concerning Israel’s future return. “Nebuchadnezzar” could denote not just the ruler with that name in Jeremiah’s day, but also an end-time Babylonian ruler of any name (for just as a prophecy of a future Elijah in Malachi 4 did not refer to Elijah himself, but simply to one in the same spirit, so it could be in this case). In fact, the name itself could have broader application. Consider that, according to some scholars, “the -ezzar of Nebuchadnezzar means Assyria, and appears in such words as Nabonassar, Bel-ch-azzar, Nebo-pol-assar, Tiglath-Pil-eser, Esar-haden, and so on…. Nebuchadnezzar is Nebo-chah-adun-Assar (Nebo, royal prince-of Assyria)” (E. Cobham Brewer, Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, 1898, “Nebuchadnezzar”). Nebo was a god whose name meant prophet or spokesman, thus equating him with the Greek Hermes or Roman Mercury, messenger of the gods. So Nebuchadnezzar (”Spokesman for the god of this world, royal prince of Assyria”) could conceivably be a general descriptor for the end-time Assyro-Babylonian “Beast” dictator. Even if not, the original Nebuchadnezzar was certainly a precursor of this future ruler. Just as Nebuchadnezzar’s pride brought God’s punishment on him, once again we see pride and haughtiness as a major reason the wrath of God will be unleashed on the end-time Babylon (verses 29-32).

In verse 21, Merathaim, “i.e., ‘double rebellion’—signifies Babylon. Southern Babylon was known as mat marrati (’Land of the Bitter River’). ‘Pekod’ means ‘visitation’ or ‘punishment.’ An eastern Babylonian tribe was named Puqudu” (Expositor’s, note on verse 21). The JFB Commentary says Pekod was “a chief province of Assyria, in which Nineveh, now overthrown, once lay…. The visitation on Babylon was a following up of that on Assyria” (note on verse 21).

Babylon is to receive “the vengeance of the LORD our God, the vengeance of His temple,” which the Babylonians destroyed (verse 28). The end-time Babylonians will also defile the temple through the setting up within it of the future “abomination of desolation” (see Matthew 24:15). Jeremiah 51 mentions the shame suffered by the Jews because “strangers have come into the sanctuaries of the LORD’s house” (verse 51). As this provokes divine vengeance on Babylon’s “carved images” (verse 52), perhaps such images will be set up in God’s temple.

The drying up of waters in Jeremiah 50:38 refers, at least in part, to the diversion of the River Euphrates by Cyrus as a means of access into Babylon. This was explained in the Bible Reading Program’s comments on Isaiah 45:1. As was further explained there, the Euphrates will also be dried up in the end time in preparation for the final destruction of Babylon (see Revelation 16:12).

As already stated, Babylon will be left wasted and desolate. In an end-time context, this would appear to refer to the capital of the future empire, probably Rome. Notice again the description of wild animals dwelling there (Jeremiah 50:39; compare 51:37; Isaiah 13:21-22; 14:23). While probably literal on one level, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary reports that at least one scholar “attempts to render the assonance of tsiim ‘eth ‘yim (siyyim et- iyyim, ‘desert creatures and hyenas’) by ‘goblins and ghouls’…. [Another scholar] considered them, not as animals, but probably demons of the desert” (footnote on Jeremiah 50:39). This is certainly interesting given the parallel—as mentioned in the Bible Reading Program comments on Isaiah 14:23—with Revelation 18:2, which mentions the future Babylon becoming “a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird!” (the latter also apparently referring to demons). This parallels the abyss or bottomless pit where Satan and his demons are confined after they are bound at Christ’s return (Revelation 20:1-3).

Jeremiah 50:44-46 is adapted from the prophecy against Edom in 49:19-21, substituting Babylon for Edom (Review the Bible Reading Program comments on this other passage for alternative suggestions regarding its meaning.)

The Prophecy Against Babylon Continues (Jeremiah 51:1-58, 61-64)
Chapter 51 begins with a reference to “Babylon…those who dwell in Leb Kamai” (verse 1). The King James Version renders Leb Kamai as “the midst of them that rise up against me.” The Hebrew expression literally means “the heart of my enemy.” Many argue that this is the first of two cryptograms in this chapter. The explanation is that a code is used wherein the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet is expressed by the last, and so forth, so that Leb Kamai corresponds to Chasdim, the Hebrew word for Chaldeans. The other possible cryptogram in the chapter is Sheshach in verse 41, where, as mentioned in the Bible Reading Program comments on Jeremiah 25:26 (the other place where this expression occurs), using the same letter substitution system would produce the word Babel. However, as in chapter 25, it is clear in both cases here in chapter 51 who is being described anyway—so it is not apparent why such a code would be needed. The word Sheshach, as explained in previous comments, has been interpreted variously by scholars, with perhaps the most likely meaning being, as noted before, “thy fine linen,” which, again, would seem to tie in with the description of end-time Babylon in Revelation 18:16: “that great city that was clothed in fine linen, purple, and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls.”

Babylon is going to be punished. God is going to rescue Israel and Judah—again showing an end-time context. The Lord has not forsaken His people “though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel” (Jeremiah 51:5). God has always intended Israel to be a godly, model nation for the world. And He will not be thwarted from His purpose. Despite the failings of the Israelites, the omnipotent God will yet confront them and lead them to repentance. (This does not mean that all Israelites will ultimately respond in a right way to God—but undoubtedly the vast majority will.)

Verse 7 uses the imagery of Babylon as a cup of wine being poured out on the nations by God. This is a symbol of divine wrath taken from 25:15-29. The nations are made drunk (to reel and stagger) through suffering conquest. Also, we can see this as God giving the nations over to Babylon’s spiritual wine, thus making them drunk with false religion (compare Revelation 17:2). Yet now God will break the cup of Babylon. “Babylon has suddenly fallen” (verse 8; compare Isaiah 21:9; Revelation 18:2).

Jeremiah 51:9 states: “We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed…. Let us go everyone to his own country.” From the next verse we can see that it is God’s people who are pictured speaking here. “The people of God that were captives among the Babylonians endeavoured, according to the instructions given them (Jer. 10:11), to convince them of the folly of their idolatry, but they could not do it; still [the Babylonians] doted as much as ever upon their graven images, and therefore the Israelites resolved to quit them and go to their own country” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary, note on 51:9).

Verse 10 states, “The LORD has revealed our righteousness.” This may just mean that, through punishing Babylon, God has shown the Israelites to be the ones in the right in the present circumstances. Babylon’s treatment of them has been unjust. And the Israelites’ abandonment of the Babylonians to suffer destruction is appropriate. However, the wording could also perhaps refer to the Israelites being reconciled to God through repentance—and God making this manifest through His deliverance of them.

Verses 11 and 28 identify the forces that would invade Babylon from the north as those of the Medes. And the Medes, as was noted in the previous highlights, did invade ancient Babylon in 539 B.C. under the Persian king Cyrus the Great. Verse 27 mentions other nations that are joined with the Medes in the invasion—Ararat, Minni and Ashkenaz. In the sixth century B.C. these peoples lived in northwestern Iran and contiguous areas. “The first are the Urartu of the Assyrian inscriptions, practically Armenia, north of Lake Van. The second are the Mannaeans of the Assyrian records, who lived south of Lake Urmia. The last, the Ashguzai of the Assyrian inscriptions, were nomads living east of Lake Urmia (cf. Gen. 10:3 [where Ashkenaz is listed as a nation descended from Noah’s son Japheth, see verse 2])” (Expositor’s Bible Commentary, note on Jeremiah 51:27-33).

While the ancient invasion was no doubt intended by the prophecy, we should also look beyond that. For given the clear latter-day context of much of this chapter and the previous one, it is evident that the modern descendants of these same peoples will play a part in the fall of end-time Babylon. As was pointed out in the Bible Reading Program comments on a parallel prophecy concerning Babylon’s downfall, Isaiah 21, while some of the Medes probably still live in their ancient homeland, many today may be found north of the Black Sea in what is now the Ukraine. Concerning the Urartians and Mannaeans, today’s Armenians and neighboring peoples would seem to be indicated.

Ashkenaz is commonly identified with the Scythians—though it should be understood that various nomadic groups near the Caspian Sea were known as Scythians, including the Israelites who came out of Assyrian captivity (see our free booklet The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy). The people of Ashkenaz appear to have ranged eastward, becoming scattered throughout East Asia. One source explains that many of those who live today in “south-east Asia, Bhutan, Nepal, Tibet, southern China and a few of the population of Japan are descendants of Ashkenaz” (”The Origin of the Nations of South-East Asia,” cgca.net/coglinks/origin/oon2.1/vol2_1p4.html). The book of Revelation describes a 200-million-man army from beyond the Euphrates River that will inflict great destruction on all mankind, including end-time Babylon, shortly before the return of Christ (see 9:13-19). Later, as referred to in the previous highlights, the Euphrates is “dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared” (16:12). As mentioned, Cyrus dried up the Euphrates to enable Babylon’s invasion in his day. Both events seem to be indicated by Jeremiah 50:38.

Babylon is said to “dwell by many waters” and to have a “sea” with “waves” (51:13, 36, 42, 55). Recall from Isaiah 21:1 that Babylon was there referred to as the “Wilderness of the Sea.” This was apparently a reference to the lakes and great marshes surrounding the Euphrates to the south of Babylon—the region bordering the Persian Gulf known as the Sealands. However, this could also be a reference to the later Babylon, Rome, which sat beside the Mediterranean, calling it Mare Nostrum (”Our Sea”), as the Roman Empire encompassed it. A similar situation may exist in the end time. The image is also quite likely a figurative one. The Romano-Babylonian Beast power is described as rising from the “sea” and as one that “sits on many waters” (see Daniel 7; 13; 17), these waters representing “peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues” (verse 15).

Jeremiah 51:15-19 contrasts the omnipotent God with powerless idols and the foolishness of worshiping them. The words here are taken from an earlier prophecy God gave Jeremiah in 10:12-16. Both sections end by describing God as the “Portion” of His people—their livelihood and reward.

Then notice the next section. God says, “You are My battle-ax and weapons of war…” (verse 20). And He goes on to show how He would use this battle-ax to do great damage (verses 20-23). But just whom is He talking to and about? Verse 24 answers, “And I will repay Babylon and all the inhabitants of Chaldea for all the evil they have done in Zion in your sight.” Clearly, Babylon is the one being broken and destroyed—and, surprisingly, the Jews are the ones being used to accomplish this (and probably all Israel since Jacob is the last people referenced just prior to this section—verse 19). This did not happen in ancient times. Israelite Scythian forces did help to bring down ancient Assyria and its capital of Nineveh, but there was no parallel with the fall of ancient Babylon.

However, we do have other indications that such a resurgence of Israel and Judah will happen in the end time. For instance, Zechariah 14:14 says that at the time of Christ’s return, “Judah also will fight at Jerusalem.” Isaiah 41:14-15 says: “Fear not, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel…. You shall thresh the mountains [kingdoms] and beat them small, and make the hills [smaller nations] like chaff.” (Babylon is described in Jeremiah 51 as a mountain that will be threshed—verses 25, 33). Micah 4:13 says, “Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion…you shall beat in pieces many peoples.” This last reference is likely dual, as it could also refer to spiritual Israel, the Church of God, glorified at Christ’s return and executing God’s judgment on the nations.

Yet we might wonder how physical Israel and Judah, enslaved and decimated peoples, could become resurgent prior to Christ’s return. Realize that this does not mean restoration to greatness. That will not come until after Christ establishes His Kingdom on this earth. Rather, resurgence simply implies a slight regaining of strength—and probably in pockets rather than all Israel. As we saw from Hosea 6:1-2, the time of Jacob’s trouble will apparently last about two and a half years, to be followed by the “day of the LORD’s vengeance, the year of recompense for the cause of Zion” (Isaiah 34:8)—the final year prior to Christ’s return. According to the book of Revelation, “the great day of His wrath” (6:17), which follows the Great Tribulation (compare verses 9-11), will encompass the great calamities of the seven trumpets (see Revelation 8-9).

Consider then: The people of end-time Babylon will be preoccupied by the catastrophic events of that final year, which may direct their attention away from their slaves to some degree. This could allow many Israelites scattered throughout Europe and other places to escape and pockets of resistance to form (think of the French resistance of World War II). These pockets of resistance may secure weapons with which to fight. When forces from the East—apparently including the latter-day Medes—come to wreak havoc on Europe (Revelation 9:13-21), this would likely free up even more Israelites. And the Israelite resistance forces would then be able to help in the destruction of end-time Babylon. Perhaps they will, in particular, help destroy the Babylonian capital of the last days, probably Rome. (Again, such Israelite participation would parallel the fall not of ancient Babylon, but of ancient Nineveh—which still makes sense when we realize that end-time Babylon will be fused together with end-time Assyria in the same power bloc.) Whether or not events turn out exactly this way, we should be able to see that a somewhat resurgent Israel can well fit in the panorama of end-time events laid out in Bible prophecy. And indeed, we are told here in Jeremiah 51 that it will help to bring about the final Babylon’s downfall.

Babylon stands guilty of great evil. The “slain of Israel” (verse 49) may refer also to “the blood of the saints…and of the martyrs of Jesus” (Revelation 17:6). For all she has done, swift punishment is coming. “Babylon is compared to lions’ cubs (v. 38). She will be given a feast, followed not by the usual drunken sleep, but by a perpetual sleep of death (vv. 39-40)” (Expositor’s, note on verses 34-44). We see this specifically applying to Babylon’s leaders and prominent people in verse 57. It should be clarified that the statement “They shall sleep a perpetual sleep and not awake” does not mean they will never be resurrected, as they surely will be. Again, the point is simply that their “sleep” is death—long and ongoing. They will not awake from it as from typical slumber.

In part, this seems to be a reference to Belshazzar’s drunken feast (Daniel 5), which facilitated the downfall of the city of Babylon that very night. Of course, as with the rest of the prophecy, a greater fulfillment will come at the end of this age, during the Day of the Lord.

“The broad walls of Babylon” (Jeremiah 51:58) refers to the literal massive walls of the ancient city of Babylon, as well as to the exalted confidence in the strength and security of “Babylon the great” of the last days. She will think she “will not see sorrow” (Revelation 18:7), but “her plagues will come in one day” (verse 8) .

After reading the prophecy, Seraiah is to visually enact the symbolism of Babylon’s fall by throwing the scroll, with a stone tied to it, into the Euphrates (Jeremiah 51:63). Babylon will sink to never rise again (verse 64; see also verse 42).

The section ends with the statement, “Thus far are the words of Jeremiah.” The Good News Bible renders this, “The words of Jeremiah end here.” This is because the next chapter of the book, Jeremiah 52, the last chapter, was evidently added by a later editor. However, we are not yet finished reading other parts of the book of Jeremiah.

Proverb 26

First Part of Hezekiah’s Solomonic Collection Cont’d (Proverbs 25:28?26:28)
8. Portrait of a Fool (25:28?26:12)
“TYPE: THEMATIC, CATCHWORD….These verses describe the fool in all his destructiveness. The word for ‘fool’ is something of a catchword here as well, as indicated by its frequent repetition.

? “25:28?26:2 The collection begins with three similes (25:28?26:2) on foolish actions” (NAC). The person without self-control (25:28)?certainly a foolish person?is vulnerable to destruction in various forms. Proverbs 26:2 shows that curses don’t happen by themselves. They cannot “land” (come down on people) without some cause. A parallel is drawn here with something else that cannot happen?a bird cannot land (literally speaking) if it is flitting and fluttering about. In context, the point seems to be either that fools are responsible for curses that come or that dealing improperly with fools?contrary to the warnings here?results in curses. As an example of the latter, “giving honor to a fool is not only inappropriate (snow in summer) but destructive (rain in harvest), as the similes imply (26:1), since he may think of himself as competent and actually try to take charge” (NAC; compare verse 8) .

? “26:3-5 These verses tell how one should speak to a fool” (NAC). Verse 3 implies that fools don’t respond well to reason. They are better guided, like work animals, through strict discipline.

Verses 4-5, as explained in our introduction to the book of Proverbs, are not hard and fast rules that contradict one another. Rather, they go together to illustrate the fact that proverbs are generalizations and that the specific circumstances must be evaluated to know which proverb applies. Consideration was given in our introduction to some modern English proverbs that seem contradictory but are nevertheless true depending on the circumstances. For example, “Many hands make light work” as opposed to “Too many cooks spoil the broth.” Both principles are valid, but the situation may call for one or the other. Even so, circumstances will dictate whether to apply “Do not answer a fool according to his folly” or “Answer a fool according to his folly.”

As The New American Commentary notes on these verses: “To ‘answer a fool according to his folly’ is to engage in the same emotional invective [or loud show or drawn-out debate] that the fool uses. On the one hand, one should not deal with a fool on his own terms lest the imitation of folly become habitual [or lest we appear foolish ourselves]. On the other hand, one must sometimes answer fools in the words they understand in order to reprimand them effectively”?or possibly to show others that the fool’s argument has not stumped us. Much will depend on the intention of statements made to us. Are these sincere inquiries or meant to trap us? Is the person willing to learn or is he belligerent and unyielding? Sometimes a sarcastic answer is appropriate. Jesus was masterful at knowing how to answer hostile questions.

The rabbinic solution to the apparent contradiction between these approaches, as given in the Talmud (Shabbath 30b) was to apply “verse 4 to foolish opinions on secular subjects which can be ignored, and verse 5 to erroneous ideas in connection with ‘learning,’ i.e. religious matters, which should be refuted” (Soncino, note on verse 5). Yet there is nothing in the verses in question to support this delineation, whereas the general circumstantial application, supported even by the Jewish Soncino commentary, explains the matter rather sensibly. Of course, the delineation mentioned in the Talmud is worth taking into account in a general circumstantial view.

? “26:6-10 The similes in vv. 6-10 all concern how one should deal with a fool. They are arranged in a chiastic fashion as follows:

In the context of understanding verses 4-5, we may note that the wise consider not only what proverbs say, but how to properly apply them?unlike fools, who, as we see here, don’t know how to use proverbs appropriately and may even wield them dangerously (compare verses 7, 9).

The Hebrew of verse 10 is notoriously difficult. While the New King James Version reads, “The great (God) who formed everything/gives the fool (his) hire and the transgressor (his) wages,” the NIV reads, “Like an archer who wounds at random/is he who hires a fool or any passer-by.” The Expositor’s Bible Commentary explains that the first line ” is difficult because it can be translated in different ways: rab can mean ‘archer,’ ‘master,’ or ‘much’; and meholel could mean ‘wound’ or ‘bring forth.’ The possibilities include the following: ‘A master performs all’; ‘A master injures all’; ‘An archer wounds all’; or simply ‘Much produces (wounds) all.’” The Jewish Soncino commentary, viewing the two lines of the proverb as contrasting, says that “the nearest to the Hebrew text is R[evised] V[ersion] margin, ‘A master-worker formeth all things; but he that hireth the fool is as one that hireth them that pass by’ (Rashi, quoting R[abbi] Moshe). The thought would then be: if you want a task accomplished, select an expert for the work; to choose a fool is like calling upon a casual passer-by without regard to his competence” (note on verse 10). Expositor’s, seeing the colons not as contrasting (with a ‘but’) but as synonymous (’As…so’), argues: “The [first] line must [with the second] express something that is negative?an archer/master who injures/wounds everything. Anyone who hires a fool or a stranger gives them ample opportunity to do great damage. The undisciplined hireling will have the same effect as an archer’s shooting at random” (note on verse 10). The point of both these translations, unlike the NKJV rendering, is that important tasks should not be committed to fools, parallel with verse 6?which fits the concentric arrangement outlined above.

? 26:11-12 Verse 11, which illustrates that fools don’t learn from their mistakes, is quoted by the apostle Peter in 2 Peter 2:22 in reference to people who are led out of the sinful ways of this world and yet then return to their former evil ways. Wise people make mistakes, but one is a fool to keep making the same mistake. And Proverbs 26:12 “is an apt closure to this section. The quintessential fool is the one who is so sure he has all the facts of life straight that he refuses to submit to wisdom for instruction and is far worse off than the run-of-the-mill fool” (NAC). Recall from verse 5 that answering a fool according to his folly is sometimes necessary to prevent him from becoming wise in his own eyes.

9. Portrait of a Sluggard (26:13-16)
“TYPE: THEMATIC” (NAC). “These proverbs about the lazy man have a ‘can you top this’ quality that provides comic relief….Each one belittles laziness and the many outrageous excuses people often use to justify it” (Nelson Study Bible, note on verses 13-15). Two verses here are on the table of identical proverbs included with the comments on our previous reading. Proverbs 26:13 is identical in meaning to 22:13, and 26:15 is identical in meaning to 19:24. As the last proverb in the previous cluster concerned a fool being wise in his own eyes (26:12), so this cluster ends with a lazy person being wise in his own eyes (verse 16), deeming his sheer brilliance in avoiding work and productivity to be greater than the combined wisdom of a whole group of thinkers?when the fact that he believes this proves just the opposite.

10. Portrait of a Busybody (26:17-22)
“TYPE: THEMATIC….These proverbs discuss anyone who involves himself or herself in the affairs of others, who spreads gossip, or is a general source of mischief. Metaphors of violence and destruction dominate this text since these qualities characterize the aftereffects of the busybody” (NAC).

A person who injects himself into a quarrel not his own is likely to get snipped at and possibly hurt, represented here by the imagery of grabbing a dog by the ears (verse 17). Some take verses 18-19 as condemning any kind of antics, such as modern practical jokes friends might play on one another, but that does not seem to be the point here. As The New American Commentary says: “While practical jokes can be destructive and hurtful [especially if done maliciously with a view to humiliating someone as opposed to good-natured humor that the subject of the prank can himself laugh at later], the larger context here implies that such may not be precisely the nature of the deceit implied here. Rather, this is a person who enjoys gossiping about or tampering with the affairs of other people. Such a person will purposefully confuse others and engage in a kind of social disinformation. When called to account, he or she will treat the whole thing as a game and be oblivious [like a reckless madman] to all the hurt such actions created” (note on verses 18-19). Another idea here might be slanderous jokes. Humor, such a political humor, is often a powerful weapon. And people know that they can better get away with derogatory comments if they are made in a humorous way.

Verse 22 is identical to Proverbs 18:8, warning the reader that while gossip tastes good like choice bites of food, it likewise makes its way to one’s innermost being. They have a corrupting effect on one’s heart and character.

11. Portrait of a Liar (26:23-28)
“TYPE: THEMATIC….This final ‘portrait’ rounds off the larger collection of 25:28?26:28. The fool, the meddler, and the liar are the three agents of social discord” (NAC).

Where the NKJV has “silver dross” in 26:23 (see also NASB and New JPS Tanakh), several modern Bible versions slightly emend the Hebrew to a meaning of “like glazes”?but this is not necessary, as silver dross was used for glaze. The New International Commentary on the Old Testament notes on this verse: “Silver dross …refers to the scum or refuse that is thrown off, or falls, in smelting silver (see 25:4). In the process of melting and purifying the ore, the silver, oxygen, and lead are separated, leaving lead monoxide as the silver dross. Because of its silvery gloss, this slag was used as a glaze for ceramics.” The point of the proverb is that a wicked person’s appealing speech conceals what he really is?which is expanded on in verses 24-26.

Verse 27 shows that those who lay traps for others will be caught in their own snares, an idea found elsewhere in the Old Testament as well (Psalm 7:15; 9:15; Ecclesiastes 10:8).

Acts 23

We pick up this week with the Apostle Sha’ul sitting in front of a council of chief priests and he begins his testimony and defence before them. The high priest was a man named Hananyah who, after hearing Sha’ul’s opening statement ordered the men standing next to where Sha’ul was seated to strike him on the mouth. Sha’ul rebukes them. Here he is being judged “supposedly” according to the Torah and the high priest is commanding him to be struck, which is contrary to the Torah. Then Sha’ul, noticing that some of the council were Sadducees and some were Pharisees, he decides to create a diversion by claiming he is on trial concerning the expectation and resurrection of the dead. For in that day, the two sects were split on this issue and had many many arguments because of it. The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the dead and the Pharisees did. This in fact does create a large commotion between the members of the council. And the crowd was divided.

When the Pharisees, who profess the resurrection of the dead and in the spirit and messengers of Elohim heard this they began exclaiming that they find no fault in Sha’ul! The commander of the soldiers ordered for Sha’ul to be taken back into custody to protect him from the crowd once again and he was taken back to the barracks. That night, our Master Yeshua appeared to Sha’ul and said, “Take courage, for as you have witnessed for Me in Jerusalem, so you have to bear witness at Rome too.”

Also that evening, a group of more than forty of the religious council bound themselves with an oath saying they would neither eat nor drink until they had killed Sha’ul. They were going to kill him the next day when he was brought down again before the council for further interrogation. Sha’ul’s nephew overheard the plot – told Sha’ul – and the message was relayed to the commander of the guard. When he heard of this, he ordered that Sha’ul be carried away by night (the third hour of the night) by armed guard and on beasts to Caesarea to Felix the governor. The commander wrote a letter to Caudius Lysias recounting all that had happened and why this Sha’ul was being sent to him now.

We finish Chapter 23 with an agreement from the governor to hear from all sides the following day – with Sha’ul and then also his accursors.

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