The unexpected significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls
It was November, 1947. The learned professor studied the newly discovered Dead Sea Scrolls to try and ascertain if they were as important as he dared to suspect. No one had yet identified whether or not they were genuine, or the huge significance held in those ancient and fragile fragments.
“My hands shook as I started to unwrap one of them”, Professor Eliezer Sukenik of Hebrew University wrote in his journal.1 “I read a few sentences. It was written in beautiful biblical Hebrew. The language was like that of the Psalms, but the text was unknown to me. I looked and looked, and I suddenly had the feeling that I was privileged by destiny to gaze upon a Hebrew Scroll which had not been read for more than 2,000 years.”
He took them back to his home in Jerusalem to examine them further. The timing of Professor Sukenik’s eureka moment was almost as significant as the discovery itself. The world was in the throes of deciding whether or not the people of Israel could have a home in the land of their fathers: the UN were voting on the Partition Plan that exact hour, on November 29th 1947.
“While I was examining these precious documents in my study, the late news on the radio announced that the United Nations would be voting on the resolution that night—whether or not Israel would be allowed to become a nation… It was past midnight when the voting was announced. And I was engrossed in a particularly absorbing passage in one of the scrolls when my son rushed in with the shout that the vote on the Jewish State had passed. This great event in Jewish history was thus combined in my home in Jerusalem with another event, no less historic, the one political, and the other cultural.”
God’s remarkable timing to reveal his secrets
Before the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, suggestions had been arising that the Jewish people had fabricated the Bible, and that they had no real connection to the land. Just as the people of Israel faced great obstacles entering the Promised Land the first time round, so they faced great opposition in the twentieth century. But now a shepherd boy in the desert of Qumran blew those doubts about the Bible out of the water with his accidental discovery… just in time for the birth of Israel in 1948! God’s timing was perfect, as always.
“On the very day, the very day, that Israel’s rebirth was confirmed, a Jewish professor confirms the existence of ancient Israel. You really have to intellectually dishonest if you are going to claim that God was not behind Israel’s dramatic rebirth,” says Ron Cantor, a Messianic Jewish pastor in Israel.2
This amazing discovery shows us that the Biblical texts were passed down with extraordinary accuracy. The scrolls were 1000 years older than any text we had before the discovery, yet the book of Isaiah you have in your Bible is the same as the one found in that ancient jar in Qumran, with only a few letters changed.
What the Dead Sea Scrolls bring us today
As well as solid evidence that the Biblical text has not changed for two millennia, we now have invaluable insights into Jewish culture and lifestyle at the time of Yeshua and the birth of the church. We can also see how minor changes made to letters in the Biblical text by Medieval rabbis covered up some Messianic prophecy pointing to Yeshua! Today, Jewish people can examine the ancient texts and decide for themselves what – or who – the Biblical prophets were referring to. More than that, the scrolls show us that there was significant Messianic expectation among the Jewish community in the century right before Yeshua was born. They were expecting a Messiah whom heaven and earth would obey – one who would be the very Son of God!
(Above: Excerpts from a fascinating conversation with one of the leading New Testament scholars of our time, and an authority on the Dead Sea Scrolls, Dr. Craig Evans.)
And the findings continue: More recently, remains of an ancient Torah scroll were found in a burnt synagogue by the Dead Sea, and only this year, another cave in Qumran was found to contain evidence of more scrolls.
“The Dead Sea Scrolls made for a symbolic birthday gift for the state still struggling to survive out of utero. The texts are celebrated icons of Israel’s heritage”, writes Shelley Neese in her book, The Copper Scroll Project. “The Egyptians have their pyramids and the Chinese have their wall… but the Jews have their scrolls, monuments built from words rather than mortar”. These ancient scrolls symbolize the people of Israel and their great contribution to the world: the Oracles of God.
In short, the Dead Sea Scrolls were an absolutely extraordinary discovery, full of invaluable treasures for us today.
This article originally appeared on One For Israel and is reposted with permission.
ONE FOR ISRAEL strives to be the leading organization in sharing the Gospel of Yeshua the Messiah with Israeli Jews and Arabs in the Hebrew language. Our staff is comprised of both Jewish and Arab Israelis, with the shared belief that true peace in the Middle East can only come into existence under Yeshua.
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Israeli archaeologists discover Yeshua painted on stone
The discovery of Yeshua’s face in a Byzantine church in the Negev Desert shows a more Jewish Jesus than the long-haired Christ portrayed in later European art.
The 1,500-year-old painting was uncovered at the archaeological site of Shivta, a Byzantine village in southern Israel. The face of Yeshua shows a younger man with cropped curly hair, vastly different from the flowing robes and long hair usually found in Western depictions of the savior.
“This figure is more Jewish, more Middle Eastern, Semitic,” Howard Bass, pastor of Nachalat Yeshua Congregation in Beersheva, told KNI. “He morphed into a less Jewish, less Semitic figure that later church iconography made of him.”
Bass also points out that this portrayal suggests that Jesus wasn’t a Nazarite.
“Everyone speaks of him as having long hair,” he noted. “I think that’s because people think he’s a Nazarite and doesn’t drink any alcohol, no wine. Most Christian church thinking is that Jesus didn’t have long hair and that he didn’t drink wine — and now we can’t say either.”
Nazarites were separated to God with the physical evidence that they couldn’t cut their hair or drink alcohol.
“He was separated to God, but he wasn’t a legal Nazarite,” Bass said.
When Christianity arrived in Europe, artists there depicted Jesus more like them, which made by default him less Semitic looking. Bass contends that the Byzantine depiction found in Shivta is probably more accurate to what Yeshua actually looked like— it was closer to the time of Jesus and it was found in the same land he was raised.
The finding is also important in that it highlights the Negev as a Christian pilgrimage destination.
“Most people think of the Galilee as having a Christian heritage because thats where Jesus did his ministry,” Bass said. “But we have all these Negev findings now that show there were Christians, and perhaps Messianic Jews and Arabic people becoming believers in the Negev until islam came in and drove them.”
The painting was found in one of three churches at the site. Shivta, a Nabataean town, was settled in the early Roman period and reached its peak during Byzantine times (5th–6th centuries AD). Founded around 1 century BC, Shivta forms part of the series of UNESCO Heritage Site Desert Cities. In fact, Bass’s congregation toured the Christian site, about 30 miles south of them, a few years ago.
Shivta is a large and impressive archaeological site. The city was abandoned not destroyed. It contains three Byzantine churches (a main church and two smaller churches) and baptismal font in the shape of a cross.
During the 3rd – 4th Centuries CE the Nabateans converted into Christianity and logically big churches in all of their cities. T
Emma Maayan-Fanar and her research team revealed the finding in the journal Antiquity in August. They write that Jesus’ face is set in a larger depiction of Jesus’ baptism and is “the first pre-iconoclastic baptism-of-Christ scene to be found in the Holy Land.”
“Those who know the iconography of early Christianity can recognize such an image even from almost nothing,” said Maayan-Fanar explaining that early Christian art and iconography of that time utilized well-known patterns for Jesus including short hair.
John the Baptist is also identified in the same painting.
The researchers said the finding is “extremely important.”
“Thus far, it is the only in situ baptism-of-Christ scene to date confidently to the pre-iconoclastic Holy Land. Therefore, it can illuminate Byzantine Shivta’s Christian community and Early Christian art across the region.”
The Kehila News Staff is a team of Israeli believers in Yeshua.
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Builder of Noah’s Ark replica hopes to sail it to Israel
JERUSALEM, Israel – Dutch Christian businessman Johan Huibers plans to sail his life-size replica of Noah’s Ark to Israel, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported last week.
Huibers completed the four-year project – built to the exact specifications in Genesis 6 – in 2012, raising the $5 million needed for its construction. He had hoped to sail it to Israel not long after its completion, but Israel was dealing with massive wildfires at the time so the plan was postponed.
CBN News Middle East Bureau Chief Chris Mitchell traveled to Holland several years ago to interview Huibers.
Though the ark quickly became a popular tourist attraction in southern Holland along the Maas River, Huibers says it belongs in Israel.
“My preferred destination for the ark is Israel,” he told JTA. “I love the land, I love the country, I love the people.”
Huibers said he believes the Bible verbatim, that is, word for word.
“It may sound scary, but I believe everything written in this book, cover to cover,” he told JTA, pointing to a Dutch translation of the Hebrew Bible. “This [the ark] is a copy of God’s ship. It only makes sense to take it to God’s land.”
According to the report, Huibers needs to raise $1.3 million to hire tugboats for the voyage because the ark has no motor of its own. Earlier, he’d considered sailing it to Brazil, but those plans didn’t materialize.
The 60-year-old businessman, who made his fortune building storage units, told JTA he got the idea in 1993 after reading a story about Noah to his children.
Huibers and a crew of seven amateur carpenters built the 390-foot-long, 75-foot-high structure in just four years.
“We had a butcher, a hairdresser and a teacher working here,” he said, definitely not professional boat makers.
Huibers hopes his replica of Noah’s Ark will help people understand that God is real, “to show people that God exists.” He says we’re living in the end times though many people aren’t aware of it.
Born five years after the North Sea flood in 1959, which killed some 2,000 people, Huibers believes there will be more flooding in the future, but that’s not why he built it.
“Maybe it will, who knows, but my survival is not its purpose,” he said. Rather it’s meant to educate people and strengthen their belief in God.
This article originally appeared on CBN News, November 26, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Tzippe Barrow is the CBN News Internet Producer - Jerusalem. She and her husband made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) nearly two decades ago. Barrow hopes that providing a biblical perspective of today’s events in Israel will help people in the nations to better understand the centrality of this state and the Jewish people to God’s unfolding plan of redemption for all mankind.
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Airbnb caves to BDS, removes West Bank settlement listings
Some 200 hosts are affected. Israel, in response, said it would try to restrict Airbnb in the country and also encouraged affected hosts to file lawsuits under Israel’s anti-boycott law.
Airbnb noted the policy change on its website.
“As a global platform operating in 191 countries and regions and more than 81,000 cities, we must consider the impact we have and act responsibly,” Airbnb said. The company cited “conflicting views” about doing business with companies “in the occupied territories.”
Israeli’s Tourism Minister Yariv Levin demanded that the management of the Airbnb accommodations reverse its decision.
“This is a disgraceful and miserable decision and a disgraceful surrender by the company,” he said.
Former Ambassador to the United States and present Israeli cabinet member, MK Michael Oren tweeted: “Airbnb blacklists Jewish apartments in Judea and Samaria – not Palestinian apartments, not apartments in Turkish occupied Cyprus, in Moroccan occupied Sahara, not in Tibet or the Crimea. Airbnb’s policy is the very definition of anti-Semitism,”adding that, “No one should use their services.”
Homeland Security Minister Gilad Erdan went as far as to urge Judea and Samaria home owners to sue the American company for discrimination.
“Airbnb executives will have to explain why they chose to take a racist stance against part of Israel’s citizens,” said Erdan, adding that he plans to urge American lawmakers to make sure Airbnb’s new policy is not breaking American state laws against boycotts.
It appears however that only Jewish properties are banned: Airbnb continues to list properties in other occupied and disputed territories, according to International Law Professor Eugene Kontorovich, including Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara and Turkish-occupied Cyprus among others.
Post on Facebook and Twitter with #BoycottAIRBNB, saying you will no longer use AIRBNB until they reverse this policy. Now others, like Booking.com, are being pressured by loud, even if small, leftwing groups to discriminate against Israel.
Ron and wife Elana make their home in Tel Aviv. He serves on the pastoral team of Tiferet Yeshua—the Glory of Yeshua—a Tel Aviv-based, Hebrew-speaking Messianic congregation. Ron is a published author with Destiny Image Publishers, having written books like “Identity Theft”, “Leave Me Alone, I’m Jewish” and “The Jerusalem Secret”. Ron is a sought-out conference speaker and shares passionately about the Jewish Roots of the New Testament and God’s broken heart for His ancient people Israel.
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Understanding the tumultuous week of Israeli politics
A week of political unrest left Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a razor-thin majority in the Knesset which brings the government closer to the possibility of collapse and early elections.
The Israeli parliament, the Knesset, is comprised of 120 members. The prime minister, in order to maintain his hold on the government, must have a majority of at least 61 members in his coalition. Right now, with the withdrawal of the defense minister’s party from the coalition last week, Netanyahu’s majority has been reduced from 66 to 61.
While the government can keep running on a slim majority, if another party withdraws from the coalition it would be dissolved and early elections would be scheduled. Currently the coalition is comprised of Netanyahu’s Likud party, Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home), Kulanu, Shas and United Torah Judaism (UTJ). Yisrael Beytenu, the party of former Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, had five members in the coalition until Liberman resigned last week, reducing the stability of the coalition.
This present government was sworn in on May 14, 2015. The next election is scheduled for November 2019, but could happen earlier if another party leaves the coalition. Netanyahu has been the prime minister for four non-consecutive terms.
After Liberman resigned last week, political jockeying began immediately. Education Minister Naftali Bennett threatened to pull his Bayit Yehudi party if he wasn’t given the defense minister position.
But Netanyahu managed to cast the issue in his favor. He accused Avigdor Liberman of deserting the nation’s key security post at a crucial time. He called Bennett selfish for making his demands. He claimed that because he was privy to all the information he was “obligated to complete” in order to ensure Israel’s security.
“As I said yesterday, we are still in a military campaign. During this sensitive security time, it is irresponsible to bring down the government,” he said. “Even if people try, we will continue to work for Israel’s security.”
Liberman’s resignation came after Hamas, the ruling power in Gaza, launched nearly 500 rockets at Israel in one day. He called Israel’s response, by reaching a ceasefire, “weak.”
“What happened yesterday with the ceasefire with Hamas was a surrender to terror. There is no other word for it,” Liberman said.
Netanyahu now holds the position of prime minister, foreign minister and defense minister.
Kehila News spoke to Messianic believers around Israel regarding these recent events. Although not everyone agreed, the general consensus was that early elections would be harmful, but a stronger response to Hamas would’ve been helpful. Here are some of their responses:
“I think this was the right decision not to have early elections and Bibi (nickname for Benjamin Netanyahu) has absolutely come up on top. My feelings are one thing and my knowledge, that I don’t know what the PM knows, make me trust the cease fire. Beside possibly many casualties and the fact that Gaza is Judah’s inheritance. We do not want to control Gaza or turn it over to the PA. We are between a rock and a hard place, so we will see.” E from Jerusalem
“I do not see any benefit for an early election. It’s a waste of time, money and increase of confusion. I do foresee that in the next election, Bibi will lose much of his power. I do think that the need to crush Hamas is long overdue. This is a brood of vipers which enslaves the people they control. The only reason it has not been done, and we continue to tolerate rockets fired at our civilians, is that we have been manipulated by world public opinion. We fear that if we use our power to break the power of the terrorists, that the world will come against us. I believe there were other factors which prevented Bibi from striking them.” D from the Galilee
“I was against the withdrawal from Gaza in the first place (when Israel removed Jewish residents in 2005). What was the result? We’ve had a wide variety of weapons raining upon us every time Hamas (and Iran or Qatar, or whoever is pulling the strings) thought it expedient to do so. I’ve thought that the Israeli government has shown too much restraint EVERY SINGLE TIME we’ve been attacked. (My strong feeling about that is the only reason I voted for Bennett.) I’m displeased that Netanyahu has kept the defense portfolio for himself, and would have liked him to appoint Bennett. That said, I’m aware there are other influencing factors that we are kept in the dark about. I concede that it’s possible it’s not just cowardice that keeps Israel from retaliating to such a degree and in such a way that no one would dare to attack us in the future. Or maybe it is.” J from Jerusalem
“I am In favor of early elections, although I do think that Israel should have agreed to a cease fire. But, sadly, there will be more opportunities to take out Hamas. It’s most important to remember and to apply: 1Tim. 2:1,2 – I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” H from Haifa
“In terms of early elections, since Bennet reconsidered, it’s good the way it is. I would have liked to have seen us move against Hamas, but I allow for the fact that there might have been compelling reasons I am unaware of which persuaded the government not to do so.” C from Jerusalem
“If this is a political tactic in order to pull the government right and then return to work … it seems a bit extreme. If this is from God to bring down the government and transfer it to Yair Lapid, that could work. But in my perspective Lapid will be more leftwing. In the meantime 1. it weakens the government 2. divides the people 3. belittles the prime minister 4. strengthens Hamas immensely and 5. brings us to another round of elections that are a waste of time and money.” A from Jerusalem
The Kehila News Staff is a team of Israeli believers in Yeshua.