Uphill Biblical marathon underscores Jewish ties to the land
Israel’s second Biblical marathon took place during this year’s Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) along a largely uphill route, through Ephraim, Benjamin and Samaria.
For 400,000 Israelis living along the route of the marathon in the ancient Jewish homeland of Judea and Samaria, life parallels the uphill struggle as they live with tensions between themselves and their Arab neighbors plus the prospect of a two-state solution that could mean forcing them out of their homes. Even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has argued that the Palestinian refusal to accept settlers in a future state is tantamount to “ethnic cleansing.”
The challenging Biblical marathon follows the route taken by an ancient Israelite messenger who brought news of the slaughter of 30,000 Israelite soldiers and the capture of the Ark of the Covenant to Eli, the nation’s leader, as recorded in 1 Samuel 4. The bloody battle took place between the Israelite camp at Ebenezer (near modern day Rosh HaAyin) and the Philistine camp at Aphek. The Benjamite messenger ran with the tragic news all the way to Shiloh, right at the center of today’s West Bank, where Eli was residing.
The news of defeat, the capture of the Ark and the loss of his two sons in battle caused the aged priest Eli to fall back in his chair and die. His bereaved daughter in law also died in childbirth, after naming her son with her dying breath Ichabod, which means “the Glory has departed from Israel.”
Amazingly, the Benjamite runner’s route was the same distance as a marathon, 42.2 kilometers or 26.1 miles, as discovered by the late Yosef Yekutieli, founder of the modern Israeli Olympic Committee and Football Association. Out of 3,000 runners this year, a smattering of international contestants from Europe and North and South America participated with Israelis along the closely guarded route.
This year’s winner was Israeli Ariel Rosenfeld of Kfar Saba. Rosenfeld is Israel’s leading ultra-distance runner and considers his greatest achievement the 154-mile Spartathlon (Athens to Sparta race) – perhaps the most challenging ultra-marathon in the world. He has also won Israel’s 61-kilometer Sovev Emek ultra marathon four times as well as the 100-kilometer course in 2013, finishing over an hour ahead of the next runner.
The re-enactment of this highly symbolic Biblical event is testament to Israel’s historic connection to the land. The establishment of the nation of Israel is the work of God and he long ago established the “route” for today’s runners:
“‘But you, mountains of Israel, will produce branches and fruit for my people Israel, for they will soon come home. I am concerned for you and will look on you with favor; you will be plowed and sown, and I will cause many people to live on you—yes, all of Israel. The towns will be inhabited and the ruins rebuilt. I will increase the number of people and animals living on you, and they will be fruitful and become numerous. I will settle people on you as in the past and will make you prosper more than before. Then you will know that I am the Lord. I will cause people, my people Israel, to live on you. They will possess you, and you will be their inheritance; you will never again deprive them of their children.’” Ezekiel 36:8-12 (NIV)
Finally, it is important to note the significance of the marathon’s end point, Shiloh. Not only is this the center of one of the world’s most disputed territories, it is also commonly understood by Bible scholars to refer to the Messiah himself.
As the marathon was uphill, so is maintaining the security of the nation of Israel. The end of the race however ensures victory and an appointment with the Messiah himself.
Joni has worked in education and management and has been a writer for Kehila News Israel since 2016. He holds an MBA, as well as teaching qualifications. He lives in Israel with his family.
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Enjoying good relations with a Muslim state: Uzbekistan and Israel
On average, ambassadors to any country retain their post for two to four years. However, Uzbekistan’s Ambassador to Israel, Oybek Eshonov, has been in his diplomatic position since 2008.
This is all the more surprising considering Uzbekistan has a majority population of Muslims.
“I represent a Muslim country – but one that is friendly to Israel,” Eshonov told The Jerusalem Post. “Uzbekistan is a secular country in which no distinctions are made between people of different faiths, race or ideology.”
As KNI recently reported, Israel has been working to restore its relationships with Muslim countries in Africa that have hitherto bowed to Arab nations’ agendas.The good and enduring relationship with Uzbekistan in Central Asia is in keeping with the development of stronger connections between the Jewish state and Muslim countries. Israeli has full diplomatic relations with five other non-Arab Muslim states in Asia: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.
Uzbekistan, which shares a border with Afghanistan, declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, and Israel was one of the first countries to recognize the new state. Israel opened an embassy in the Uzbek capital Tashkent in 1992. Uzbekistan has its Israel embassy in Tel Aviv
Referring to what he has seen of Israel’s developmental progress during his tenure here, Eshonov has said, “We would like to be like [Israel].”
Indeed, Uzbek medical staff, entrepreneurs and agriculturalists have been receiving training from Mashav, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation.
Uzbekistan imports Israeli technology and medical equipment and exports textiles and chemicals to Israel. While this is positive, Eshonov has said that bilateral trade between the two countries could be better – and he is seeking ways to encourage this.
In regards to the field of medicine, Israel has built a medical center in Tashkent, and this is also staffed by Israeli doctors. Patients from the center are sometimes referred to hospitals in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
“We have good hospitals and medical equipment, but Israel is the best,” Eshonov said.
As part of a continuing effort to strengthen ties between the two countries, Eshonov is working to encourage Israelis to travel to Uzbekistan for tourism. Points of interest for tourists include rock-climbing and archaeological and historical sites. There are four flights a week from Tel Aviv to Tashkent.
Regarding safety, Jews in Uzbekistan have been largely free from persecution, and there has been a Jewish presence in the country for many centuries.
Karen Faulkner is a British Israeli citizen. She has a Master's degree in Human Rights & Transitional Justice from Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
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British funds to PA suspended due to terror victim Kay Wilson’s activism
Six years after she was viciously stabbed and her friend killed in a terror attack near the Jerusalem Forest, Kay Wilson has succeeded in convincing the British government to halt the transfer of funds to the Palestinian Authority, claiming the Palestinians use the money to finance terrorism.
Wilson managed to garner the support of more than 3 million British citizens who signed a petition demanding their government stop sending money to the PA.
Last March outside the United Nations in Geneva, Wilson called out, “Shame on the UN for failing to hold the Palestinian Authority to account, and shame on the UN that pathologically demonizes Israel!”
Wilson accused the UN of “whitewashing an immoral terror.”
“The funds of European and American taxpayers are funding the PA, which is rewarding killers in custody by paying them a monthly salary,” she said.
After this speech and several lectures in various British circles, Wilson managed to collect the signatures from the British public.
Last month, her efforts paid off: The British Parliament decided – for the first time in decades – to suspend its annual transfer of 25 million pounds to the Palestinian Authority. The minister of international development was convinced that some of the money is indeed used to fund terrorists and pay the salaries of high-security prisoners sitting in Israeli prisons.
Wilson, 52, is a Jewish-Israeli tour guide and lecturer with StandWithUs. Motivated by Zionism, she immigrated to Israel from Scotland about 30 years ago.
On a fair winter day in December 2010, Wilson took her friend Kristine Luken, a tourist, on a guided tour of Khirbet Hanut near Beit Shemesh. It was there that they encountered the terrorists.
“I was gagged, tied up and held hostage for half an hour. Then I was stabbed 13 times with a machete while I watched my American Christian friend, Kristine Luken being hacked to death before my eyes, because her executioners thought she was Jewish too,” Wilson testified before the UN Human Rights Committee in March.
Wilson’s Star of David necklace and blue Israeli ID card gave away her identity. She “saw death” before her eyes and in that moment decided to play dead, which saved her. The terrorists returned to confirm the killing and only when they were convinced that the two women were dead, they left. Although Wilson had severe injuries – suffering 30 fractures in her body, as well as six broken ribs; she survived because the knife missed her heart by 4 millimeters. Wilson managed to walk a kilometer before she found people and called for help.
General Security Service agents described Wilson as one of the most courageous survivors Israel has known in recent years.
Wilson used a small pocketknife to fight the terrorists. This helped the Shin Bet convict them on the basis of DNA samples. The attackers belonged to a local terror cell that sought revenge for the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai in January 2010. Operatives had murdered Neta Sorek in the same area earlier that year. They were sentenced to life imprisonment but the victims’ families fear that a future prisoner exchange deal will see the prisoners released.
In the first years after the attack, Wilson struggled to return to her job as a tour guide due to the mental and physical trauma caused by the attack. She served as a guest lecturer of the Golani Brigade in the IDF, but expressed interest in assisting the State of Israel in international advocacy.
The attack demonstrated that terrorism does not discriminate only against Jews since Luken, an American Christian, lost her life despite her pleas, “Jesus help me.” The Daily Mail published an article about the attack, showing the severity of Wilson’s injuries.
Wilson blamed social media and the PA’s educational institutions for their incitement against Jews.
Wilson does not hate or work against the Arab population in Israel. She is quick to point out that a Muslim Israeli-Arab surgeon saved her life when she was hospitalized after the attack.
What she does want is justice and to show the world that Israel promotes successful and democratic coexistence; and the reason there is no peace is because of terror and not “crimes of Israel.”
Luken’s murder was not the first case where a non-Israeli citizen has been affected by terrorism committed against Israel. Families of other victims have also blamed online incitement on social networks for the death of their loved ones.
In July KNI reported that relatives of Israeli and American terror victims have filed a huge lawsuit against Facebook claiming that it allows Hamas to spread hate. The plaintiffs are demanding compensation of more than $1 billion. One such family is that of Taylor Force, a US Army officer and a business student who was killed in an attack in Jaffa last March
Hamas, ISIS, Boko Haram and other terrorist organizations that target non-Muslim populations in the name of religion, prove “there is nothing new under the sun.” Spiritual wars in the name of religion has existed for centuries.
“For our battle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.” Ephesians 6:12
As believers, we can rely on God’s promise that not a single hair will fall from our heads without His consent.
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Republican Senators call on Obama to cut ties with UNESCO
Republican Senators have sent a letter to the Obama Administration calling on President Obama to cut ties with the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO) as the organization continues its anti-Israel agenda.
The letter comes after numerous attempts by Republican leadership to divest support and cooperation with UNESCO after the organization passed two resolutions, one of which was ratified last week, which deny Jewish and Christian ties to Jerusalem, specifically the Temple Mount. The resolutions refer to the Temple Mount only by its Muslim name, and claims the most important and holiest location for Jews is only holy to Muslims.
The letter sent to the Obama Administration was written by Senators David Perdue, Johnny Isakson, Mark Kirk and Marco Rubio and submitted on Thursday. It reads:
“Recent UNESCO resolutions that deny Jewish and Christian ties to holy sites in Jerusalem not only reinforces the necessity of withholding American funding from this counterproductive UN organization, but also call into question future U.S. membership in UNESCO
Given that U.S. law already forbids American taxpayer money going to UNESCO, we urge your administration to join Israel in suspending ties to UNESCO.
In 1984, the U.S. severed ties with UNESCO due to disparities between American foreign policy goals and UNESCO’s agenda. Because UNESCO continues to deviate from its founding mission and adopt one-sided, anti-Israel resolutions, it is time for the U.S. to stand with Israel and suspend our ties with UNESCO.”
Israel recalled its ambassador to UNESCO on Wednesday after UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee passed a second resolution in two weeks time denying Jewish history and ties to the Temple Mount. A reported 10 states of 21 voted in favor to adopting the “Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls” resolution, with 8 abstaining and two opposing.
Prime Minister Netanyahu responded harshly to UNESCO, stating “It is UNESCO that deserves condemnation not only for its present blindness but for its past blindness as well. That scandalous decision, the scandal that they decided upon two weeks ago, to the effect that the Jewish People have no connection to the Temple Mount, or to Jerusalem at all, is contradicted by the Bible and the entire historical record.”
This article originally appeared on Behold Israel, October 28, 2016, and reposted with permission.
Amir is the founder of Behold Israel and lives in northern Israel. He has been invited to churches, prophecy seminars and conferences around the world, to teach on current events in Israel in light of Bible prophecy. Since 2004, Amir has been consultant to various law enforcement agencies and seminars on homeland-security issues.
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Oldest mention of Jerusalem in 2700-year-old papyrus
Amid UNESCO rulings in recent weeks that attempt to erase Jewish ties to Jerusalem, the Israel Antiquities Authority revealed the discovery of a very rare, ancient papyrus bearing the oldest known mention of Jerusalem – in Hebrew.
The IAA, in collaboration with Israel Prize-winning Biblical scholar Shmuel Ahituv, made the announcement earlier this week. Speaking at a press conference in Jerusalem they said that the papyrus, with paleo-Hebrew writing on the extremely fragile artifact, dates back almost 3000 years to the time of the First Temple.
Eitan Klein of the IAA said that comparing the text’s orthography (spelling system) with other texts from the same period confirmed the dating of the papyrus. Radiocarbon dating results place this relic’s origin as being inscribed anywhere from between 700 to 600 years before the birth of Messiah. Only two other Hebrew papyri date to that time.
Other examples from this period, including stone and pottery shards etched with ancient Hebrew texts, firmly place all of these relics in the same time frame.
In 2012, in a sting operation, the IAA intercepted an exchange of plundered artifacts between antiquity thieves and a dealer. The fragile papyrus, evidently found in a cave in the Judean Desert, was one of the items salvaged. It measures 11 centimeters by 2.5 centimeters. (4.3 inches by 1 inch).
The head of the IAA’s antiquity theft prevention division, Amir Ganor, explained that the arid, cool location near the Dead Sea where the papyrus was found preserved it. The location of the cave in Nahal Hever has a very similar climate to Qumran where the Dead Sea scrolls were also preserved over the centuries.
The complete script on the papyrus reads: “From the female servant of the king, from Naharata two wineskins to Jerusalem.” This is the same Naharata in the Jericho Valley mentioned in Joshua 16:7.
After extensive examination, experts including Shmuel Ahituv say that the two lines of jagged black text were originally a dispatch note recording the delivery of two wineskins “to Jerusalem,” which was the capital city of the Kingdom of Judea.
The fact that the note was written on papyrus could mean that the shipment of wineskins was intended for a person of high status. For most customers the business transaction would have been recorded on a more economical ostraca (Greek for clay writing surface, even a potsherd).
Ahituv also deduced that the mention of a “female servant of the king” sending the wineskins to “Yerushalem” indicates that it was sent to Jerusalem by a prominent woman and that the administration was very progressive.
The spelling “Yerushalem” is a portmanteau of yerusha meaning inheritance and shalem meaning wholeness. It is from this word that we get shalom meaning peace. And it is the more commonly found spelling in the Bible. Ahituv explained that in only four occasions in the Bible is Jerusalem spelled and pronounced the way it is now in modern Hebrew – Yerushalayim – a plural word alluding to the fact that Jerusalem is practically two cities.
In recent years, news sites have reported an increase in capturing treasure hunters and traders during raids in the Judean Desert. The IAA has intensified its crack down on thieves who plunder and raid Israel’s archaeological heritage.
Since the raid of 2012, 14 members of the gang of Hebron-based looters were arrested and sentenced to 18 years in prison. Authorities have increased restrictions on further pillaging in the limestone caves located in the cliffs near the Dead Sea.
Looters and archaeologists are in a seemingly constant race to make a significant find first. While desert pirates seek to profit from illegal sales, scientists hope their excavations will yield more hidden treasures such as the Yerushalem papyrus that confirms the accuracy of the Bible.
Israeli-born Dee Catz is a Jewish believer in Yeshua, happily married with children. She has an interest in cooking and baking and all things Biblical. History, Geography, and Archaeology are some of her favorite hobbies, as well as touring Israel's national parks and landmark sites with her family and friends. She has been contributing to Kehila News Israel since December 2015.