Israel’s hung political situation due to election results, is having some unintended results. It doesn’t look like it is going to end anytime soon, Israeli media is calling it a 99% chance that Israel is going back to elections for a third time, probably sometime in March. The next few days will determine that for certain. Due to political posturing Naftali Bennett became Israel’s defence minister on November 12 — just under a month ago. The defence ministry is a sought after and very important portfolio, especially so in Israel. Naftali Bennett had tried to get the post previously, but had been turned down by Netanyahu. Now he has been appointed to the job in the intern government headed by Netanyahu of the Likud party. Bennett is from the small New Right party. Naftali Bennett is more right wing and a national religious Zionist.
New Jewish apartments and homes built above the ancient wastes of Hebron
(Photo: David Billington).
So why is the minister of defence an important post? The defence of Israel is of course paramount to the small country. There is the threat of Iran which is currently on the boil, Hezbollah is a threat on Israel’s northern border and has the ability to indiscriminately pummel the country with missiles and Lebanon, where Hezbollah is based is currently in turmoil. Then there is the problem of the terror organization Hamas which runs the Gaza strip and is a constant thorn in Israel’s side. Overnight last night Israel attacked some targets in the strip due to rocket fire on Israel’s south. Obviously all these reasons are why the defence ministry is important, however there is one more reason which is in a way more important than all these.
During the Six Day War Israel took over the area of Judea and Samaria known in the mainstream media as the West Bank and East Jerusalem. It is the Biblical Heartland of Israel and the majority of Biblically significant towns are located in this area. It was the area the tribes first settled in when they came over the Jordan into the land, as it was the area most protected from Canaanite chariots and other later invaders because of the mountainous terrain. It is also the part of the land that Abraham, Issac and Jacob principally dwelt upon. Towns such as Shechem, Shiloh, Bethel, Michmash, Gibeah, Anathoth, Bethlehem, Tekoa, Hebron and many more. When God through the prophets addressed the mountains of Israel and said that a time would come when he would settle the Israelites according to their “old estates” and that the cities would be inhabited, those cities and estates would be upon the mountains of Israel, centred in the midst of the land in Judea and Samaria. Consider the words of Ezekiel in chapter 36 verses 8–12.
"But ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people of Israel; for they are at hand to come. For, behold, I am for you, and I will turn unto you, and ye shall be tilled and sown: And I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, even all of it: and the cities shall be inhabited, and the wastes shall be builded: And I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bring fruit: and I will settle you after your old estates, and will do better unto you than at your beginnings: and ye shall know that I am the Lord. Yea, I will cause men to walk upon you, even my people Israel; and they shall possess thee, and thou shalt be their inheritance, and thou shalt no more henceforth bereave them of men.”
New Jewish apartments built above the ancient wastes of Biblical Hebron.
(Photo: David Billington).
In Isaiah 61 verses 3 to 5, the prophet says the waste cities and former desolations would be built up.
" To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified. And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations. And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers."
Many of the Jews who have moved to Judea and Samaria and built communities there, raising the ancient wastes and former desolations in the midst of an immense struggle and often terrorism, did so for ideological reasons, this has given these communities a special character. This area has turned into the most contested real estate in the world. Israel has built new and rebuilt many old, indeed ancient communities in this area, but never annexed it to be part of the “official” state of Israel. This means that the whole area is under the jurisdiction of the defence minister. All civil administration including building has to pass through the office of the defence ministry. Sitting at the head of that ministry is now Naftali Bennett a religious Zionist.
Beit Hadassah, before 1929 a Jewish hospital, today Jewish apartments.
(Photo: David Billington)
Hebron is obviously a very significant Biblical city. Abraham, Issac, Jacob, Rebekah and Leah are all buried there in the cave of Machpellah. It was the city of giants that played such a devastating role in the sin of the spies and later the city that took the faith of Caleb to conquer and take for his inheritance. It was a Levitical city of refuge, Samson carried the gates of Gaza uphill to Hebron, literally possessing the gate of his enemies and taking them to the city of the promises, the city of faith, where David first reigned as king. It has always been a city of faith. There is a new Jewish community adjacent to Hebron today, called Kiryat Arba. Besides this, in the heart of Hebron, is a small resilient Jewish community of about 1000 surrounded by 215,000 Palestinian Arabs. This community has had to struggle for every house, every single building has been an epic struggle. There was a Jewish community in the city until 1929 when many of the members were massacred, the rest were expelled by the British and only after the Six Day War was the community restored, when women and children inhabited the abandoned Jewish hospital building in 1979 and lived there for a year without basic amenities. Before 1929 this building, Beit Hadassah, had been used to treat both Jews and Arabs in the area. Today about 30 Jewish families live in Beit Hadassah where there is also a synagogue and a playground. Every single residence in Hebron has also been a similar struggle.
For this small and significant community, raised upon the ancient wastes, the news that Naftali Bennet had approved a new Jewish neighbourhood in Hevron is huge. According to Israel National News, the Historic Jewish marketplace is to become home to Jews again following the defence minister's order, "The marketplace was owned by Jews prior to the 1929 Hevron massacre in which the Jewish community was destroyed.” The report says that, "The new neighborhood will create a territorial continuum from the Cave of the Patriarchs to the Avraham Avinu neighbourhood and double the number of Jewish residents in the city."
The struggle for the West Bank / Judea and Samaria is not just a struggle between Jews and Arabs. It is a struggle between Israel and the European Union. Through various organizations the EU funds Palestinian Arab construction on the mountains of Israel. Indeed every stone in Judea and Samaria is contested and struggled for. In the latter days when the former desolations have been built again, Ezekiel prophesies that a vast confederacy headed by Rosh or Russia will descend on the mountains of Israel coming against the people settled there only to be destroyed by the God of Israel. In Ezekiel 38:8,11,12 the prophet speaks to Rosh:
"After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them. … And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates, To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land.”
Highlighting the European Union involvement in the struggle for the mountains of Israel, it was reported this week on Israel National News, under the heading, "Bennett to EU: 'We'll destroy your construction in Area C’, Defense Min. Bennett: Funding illegal construction in Judea and Samaria a 'waste of money.’" The article reported:
"Defense Minister Naftali Bennett (New Right) met this week with European Union's (EU) ambassador in Israel, telling him that Israel's defense organizations are no longer willing to make peace with the uncontrolled illegal construction in Area C encouraged and funded by Europe.
"According to a Makor Rishon report, Bennett said that the defense system intends to destroy all illegal construction in areas under complete Israeli control, including that which Europeans funded.
"Attending the meeting were representatives from Germany, France, Italy, Holland, and Denmark.
"In a security briefing, Bennett spoke with the representatives about the actions Israel took to prevent Iran from entrenching itself in Syria, the situation with Gaza, and the illegal construction in Area C of Judea and Samaria, which he described as "a waste of money.””
The article explained the different areas that Judea and Samaria are divided into.
"Under the Oslo Accords, Judea and Samaria were divided into three parts: Area A is under full Palestinian Authority (PA) civil and security control. Area B is under PA civil control, while Israel controls security. Area C is under full Israeli civil and security control.
"While Arabs live in all three areas, Jews are confined to Area C only, and accidentally entering Area A presents a risk to a Jew's life.
"For several years, the EU has been breaching the Oslo Accords by funding an "illegal PA takeover" of Area C, in an attempt to allow the PA to annex it illegally.”
The Future Role of Hebron
No doubt Hebron will play an important role in the restoration of the Kingdom again to Israel, being the inheritance of Abraham, Issac and Jacob and the city where David first reigned as king and the place where he assembled the heads of the tribes and became king over all of Israel. What the exact role of Hebron will be in the coming restoration of the kingdom we pray we will be worthy through Jesus Christ to see. Interestingly John Thomas in his work, “The Mystery of the Covenant of the Holy Land Explained” defined the “The stone kingdom” as,
“Consisting of Judah, the Third Part, cut out of the Mountains, organised and refined. David’s original kingdom before the submission of the Ten Tribes, when his throne was in Hebron.”
This is the little stone that will smite the Roman image of the Babylonian head of gold in Daniel 2 — the same event as Ezekiel 38 — the destruction of Gog.
Step by step events big and small move into the places defined by the prophets of Israel so many thousands of years ago. Come back next week God willing, as we continue to consider the finger of God at work in our world, in the Bible in the News at www.bibleinthenews.com — this has been David Billington with you.