We went on a tour bus to the mountains of Samaria up the Patriarchs Highway, which goes from Beersheba up to Shechem (Nablus today). We were heading for Shiloh, where the Tabernacle (with Ark of the Covenant) stood for 369 years and where Hannah prayed for a son (Samuel). This was where Joshua divided up the land. We would also see Elon Moreh where God first promised the land to Abraham. We went through the Judean wilderness in the area of the tribe of Benjamin.
Along the way we saw Jewish and Palestinian villages. As posted on the signs, the Palestinian villages were sponsored by the United Nations and the European Union (UN and EU). We could see the contrast of these villages with the less prosperous Jewish villages. We saw that Ramallah is large and flourishing despite media coverage to the contrary. The guide declared that the accusation against Israel of being "apartheid" is obviously untrue, because it's the Palestinian side that shows apartheid, At the entrance of Nablus (biblical Shechem) the sign says, "No Jews allowed." Former President Jimmy Carter declared these roads to be apartheid, but our guide pointed out that the green and white Palestinian car tags outnumber the Israeli yellow and black tags. Israelis build their own homes. Israel's government doesn't help, because it doesn't want Jews there! The guide said the Patriarchs Highway goes right through an Arab town, Hawara, and the United States paid for the road to be widened.
The "poor Palestinians" narrative from the media is not true, our guide said. He said they are wealthier than the Jews. They have a "welfare mentality," however. They don't have to work for their prosperity, but the Jews do. It surprised me to hear that the number one funder of Palestinians is the German government.
Since the Oslo Accords of 1993, this heartland of Israel, Judea and Samaria, is politically divided into three sections: Area A is under complete control of the Palestinian Authority. Area B is mixed control. Area C is Israeli governed. Jews live in this area which is 60% of Judea and Samaria.
There was a half-marathon taking place at Shiloh, so we were delayed getting to our destination. This was the Bible Marathon, and thousands of people had come. Participants retrace the path by the "man of Benjamin" who was running to Shiloh with the bad news that Israel was defeated by the Philistines, and the Ark of the Covenant was captured! (I Sam. 5:12)
As we were going up the hill to the ancient site of the Tabernacle, a man approached me and asked where I was from. I said, "Alabama." He exclaimed, "Sweet Home Alabama!" and began singing. He said he was the "Elvis of Israel," and then he sang an Elvis song. I tried to use my Hebrew in conversation. He said, "Don't trust anyone, just trust God." I answered in Hebrew that I loved HaShem, but I also love Yeshua from Bethlehem, my Messiah. As we walked away, Doris Murdoch said to me, "Didn't you tell me this morning that you dreamed about Elvis?" "Oh! Yes, I did!" I replied. So, evidently the Lord had set up this little encounter! 😀
We walked up the hill to the site of the ancient tabernacle at Shiloh. First we viewed a movie about Joshua's conquest of the Promised Land, dividing up the land, and the story of Hannah, Samuel, and Eli the Priest. Lars Enarson gave us some outstanding teaching at the overlook of the tabernacle. He said the prophetic ministry of Samuel came out of Hannah's prayer. Samuel was God's servant to prepare the way of King David, similar to Elijah (John the Baptist) preparing the way for the Messiah, at both His comings. The Jews pray Hannah's prayer first every day, then Genesis 22 (Abraham binding Isaac).
Next we drove up to the Mount of Blessing to visit a non-profit organization that brings Christian volunteers from all over the world to serve Jewish farmers, HaYovel (Jubilee). The Tommy Waller family from Nashville started this ministry in 2005. Can you imagine Christians being accepted by Orthodox Jews here? In ten years, they have had 1700 volunteers to harvest hundreds of tons of grapes and olives! They help the "settlers" to fulfill Bible prophecy of restoring the land! It was exciting to see so many young people. We had lunch in the communal tent and got to meet the volunteers. I sat by a lady from New Zealand. When I told her I had met a lady in Jerusalem in 2007 who was from New Zealand, I found out that very same person had been at HaYovel just four weeks before! Now that was a God-incidence for sure!
The last site of the day was on the mountains of Samaria at Elon Moreh, east of Shechem, overlooking Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal. It is the place where God appeared to Abram when he first came into the Promised Land. There he built an altar (Gen. 12:5-7). We could also look out and see the place where Joshua built an altar upon coming into the Promised Land. We had another good teaching at this site.
I hope you keep reading my blogs and also comment on them. Shalom!