Birth of Israel
The birth of Israel is one of the most important Biblical prophecies to be fulfilled in history. Not only did the nation return from extinction, it also returned with its own ancient language. No other civilization in history has ever been scattered to other countries and then come back again as its own country and civilization.
And yet, this return of the Jews to their own country was foretold thousands of years before it occurred. The fulfillment of prophecy is one of the strongest verification of the Biblical narrative. The return of Israel after being scattered in what has become known as the diaspora where the Jews were literally hunted and killed throughout history.
There is a reason why the Jews are so hated, hated more than any people throughout history. And yet, they have survived and today thrive in their own land.
They have the only democracy in the Middle East, one of the highest GDP per capital in the Middle East including twice that of Saudi Arabia, even though they are surrounded by hostile countries.
Scripture makes clear the Jews are God’s “chosen people” not because of their righteousness or special favor from God but because out of them the Savior of the world would arise.
Ezekiel and the Birth of Israel
Ezekiel was an ancient prophet of Israel living during the 5th century BC during some of the most tumultuous times of his country. The Northern Kingdom had been carried away into captivity by the Assyrians generations previously, condemned to death if they were lucky; slavery if they were not. The southern two tribes of Israel, Benjamin, and Judah comprised the Southern Kingdom and were spared the onslaught of the Assyrians, only to be defeated by the Babylonians.
Ezekiel was born in Jerusalem into a priestly family and presumably enjoyed comfort and privilege during his early years. All of that changed when he was forcibly taken by Babylonian forces into the foreign country of Babylon – into an area now known as modern Iraq.
Ezekiel tried to keep Judaism alive among his captives living in a foreign country with different belief systems and foreign customs. Many in his enslaved group turned from their previous life and adopted the customs of their captors. It was Ezekiel’s mission to denounce this apostasy and to warn his brethren of serious consequences to themselves and to future generations if they continued in their disbelief. His words fell on the ears of a largely disbelieving populace, but we war eventually buried in a great tomb along the Euphrates River in a town today known as al-Kifl located about fifty miles south of Baghdad in modern-day Iraq. Since Ezekiel is also revered by Islam, the burial site has been preserved and renovated by the local Islamic government.
There is an old Talmudic tradition that the ancient prophets and sages were buried with copies of their writings. One such legend states Ezekiel was buried with the original book of Ezekiel to be revealed in the last days. Part of Ezekiel’s tomb was covered with sixty-six marble tiles approximately twelve square inches in size. These tiles did not elicit much attention for centuries until several were noted to be loose and in danger of falling and were removed for restoration. Amazingly, the inner surface of the tiles which had been facing the wall was noted to have ancient Hebrew writing on them. This writing was not chiseled into the rock as is the usual custom with stone inscriptions; rather, the writing was embossed meaning that the rock around each letter was removed. This technique is much more difficult than simply carving letters into stone as there is much more rock that needs to be removed and the embossed lettering is easily destroyed.
The history of the Ezekiel plates after their discovery supports their great historical importance. They were originally found about one-hundred years ago The entire set was taken to Lebanon by a Christian Arab. Before moving to Paris, he sold them to a businessman named David Hacohen in 1947 He smuggled the plates into Israel in 1953 and sold them to the second Prime Minister of Israel Yitzhak ben-Zvi. Ben-Zvi was a historian and considered these plates to be of great historical importance.
After his death, the plates then became the property of a historical museum set up in his honor who then promptly placed the plates in storage. Patrons of the museum recognized the importance of these plates and have convinced the curators to place the plates on display.
Upon examination, the ancient Hebrew Ezekiel plates upon translation are nearly identical to the modern version we have in our Bibles today.
The Ezekiel Prophecy and Founding of Israel
“Dave,” Jeff was breathlessly trying to tell me, “have you ever heard of Ezekiel’s prophecy about Israel?”
Jeff was back on the phone again. As I have learned to expect from these frequent phone calls at inopportune times, Jeff had was calling about another angelic dream visit.
“No, Jeff. Tell me what the angel told you last night.”
I was in the middle of rounds at the hospital looking through charts when the phone call came. Thankfully, I wasn’t with a patient and was able to secure a somewhat secluded phone behind the nurses’ station.
“Well Dave, this one was really weird. Seems as though this guy Ezekiel lived during the Jewish exile in Babylon and was warning Israel about how it wasn’t living right and all. Anyway, Ezekiel did this really strange thing. He was aware of this other prophet Jeremiah’s idea that the Jewish captivity in Babylon would last 70 years. Do you know the significance of that number?”
“No Jeff – did the angel tell you?”
“Yea. He said that the ancient Jews were commanded upon entering the Promised Land to not plant their crops every seventh year in order to rest the land. Unfortunately, they were not very good at keeping these commandments of God and most “forgot” to let their land lay fallow every seventh year. So, after 490 years, the Jews were taken into captivity for 70 years in order to rest the land for the years the Jews didn’t follow the Jewish law.”
“Wow, that seems pretty harsh!”
“It sure does. I guess God means what he says! The Jews in the Southern Kingdom were captured by the Babylonians in several stages starting in 606 BC, and finally, allowed to leave Persia in 536 BC under a decree by King Cyrus the Great of Persia letting all captive peoples return to their homelands. By that time, the Persians had destroyed the Babylonian Kingdom in 539 BC in the Battle of Opis and had no reason to keep the Jews captive. Only about 42,360 actually left Persia and undertook the long, arduous trip back to a destroyed Jerusalem. Most of the Jews living in Persia were born there, had assumed Persian customs and married their Persian neighbors; most didn’t want to leave.
“OK, well, that’s all very interesting, but what does that have to do with anything today?”
“You know, Dave, that’s exactly what I was thinking when the angel was going through all of this stuff with me. Like, a big So What! I mean, what relevance does that have to do with anything today?”
“Well, what relevance does it have?”
“OK, let me see if I can remember all of this. Like I said before, I was never a student of history – I mean, it all seems so unimportant to our daily lives today and who cares! But the angel was very concerned I remember this stuff and stamped it on my memory just like all the other stuff he has told me so far. Anyway, here goes.
“In the Biblical Book of Ezekiel, the prophet does some really strange things – stuff that nobody has figured out the significance of until just recently. Here goes; let me quote some Bible for you so you can see how strange all of this seems,
This shall be a sign to the house of Israel. Lie thou also upon thy left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it: according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon it thou shalt bear their iniquity. For I have laid upon thee the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days: so shalt thou bears the iniquity of the house of Israel. And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year”
“OK, what does all of that mean?”
“Here’s what the angel said. Ezekiel was instructed to lie on his left side for 390 days – one for each year of Israel’s Northern Kingdom sinfulness, and then to lie on his other side for 40 days for the sinfulness of the Southern Kingdom, for a total of 430 years. The angel then said that the 70 years the Jews were in Babylon before their release was credited against this total, giving a remaining debt of 360 years. That means the Jews still owed God 360 years’ worth of “jail time” for their sinfulness.”
“Well Jeff, that’s an interesting story about how God holds even his “chosen people” to a high standard of behavior. But why would the angel both to tell you about this?”
The Founding of Modern Israel
“Because that is not the whole story. Apparently, the 70 years the Jews spent in Babylon and Persia for their misbehavior was only a down payment. God punished Israel by dispossessing them of the Promised Land until they would be allowed to get it back again in 1948. But what is even more amazing is that the Ezekiel prophecy predicts the exact year that this would occur!”
“How is that possible; I mean, they have different calendars than we do; besides, Ezekiel was writing from about 600 BC – how would he know about Israeli independence in 1948?”
“Here’s the key. God declared that if the Jewish people refused to repent after experiencing judgment – like the Babylonian exile – then their penalty would be increased seven times; as a matter of fact, it seems God tried to emphasize this penalty by repeating it four times!” That would mean that the penalty would be the 360 remaining years times 7 for a total of 2520 years.”
“That hardly seems possible,” I said, not understanding how such a long time interval could have any relevance to the Jewish nation.”
“But it even gets weirder than this!” Jeff said. “Remember back when we were calculating the date of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem? There, we used the actual number of days in a solar year which is 365.24219879 days to the Jewish year at that time of 360 days.”
“Yes, I think I remember that math lesson – it was rather painful!”
“Well, anyway, when you convert 2520 solar years into Jewish years by multiplying 2520 by 360/365.24219879 and you get 2484 years (rounded off). Now, the edict from Cyrus the Great letting captives free from Persia was given in the Spring of 536.4 BC. So, you can now add 536 BC to 2483.8 years and you will get 1947.4. However, because there is no year “0” you have to add a year and you will get 1948.4. Do you follow me, Dave?”
“Yes, I think so.” I had been writing all of this down and check out his arithmetic with the calculator app on my cell phone.
“And do you know what is significant about 1948. regarding the Jews and the nation of Israel?
“I think it was founded in 1948 if memory serves.”
“Yes, exactly. The state of Israel was founded on May 14, 1948 – almost exactly right to the day! I thought that was pretty near, even though I am a skeptic. I mean how neat is that, for you to be able to derive the date of the founding of Israel – when the Jews go their land back – from relevant passages of the Bible.”
“That does seem to be significant. Just like you can derive the exact date of Christ’s crucifixion, you can also derive the year of Israel’s founding.”
“Yes, that’s right. But do you know what else the angel pointed out to me?”
“The angel noted that this land, which was promised to Abraham’s descendants all the way back in Genesis, still belongs to the Jews; it cannot be divided or partitioned to other ethnic groups that also claim the land as theirs. And the angel was not finished with me at that point. Sometimes, I get a headache when the angel tries to put so much new information to my brain. He explained that this new information – facts and figures – is “hardwired” into my brain so that I can’t forget them. Of course, Dave, while I am there in my dream in brilliant light in front of an angel, I am not writing anything down. Everything I tell you is from this new hardwired memory.”
“So what else did he tell you?”
“Do you what language they speak in Israel?
“I guess they all speak the language of the country they are from.”
Rebirth of Hebrew as Spoken Language
“Well, many of them do, but there are many Israelis that are second and third generation now; and they all speak and write Hebrew. Do you know what is so amazing about speaking Hebrew?”
“No, I’m afraid I don’t exactly know.”
“Hebrew was a dead language for centuries; nobody spoke it. Of course, The Torah was written in Hebrew, but it was not the spoken language of any people up until very recently.”
“So, you mean people could read Hebrew but simply didn’t speak it.”
“Exactly. But here’s the thing; many people can read a language but not be able to speak it. Also, there are many modern words that were simply not known thousands of years ago when the Old Testament was written.”
“So what happened to make the Hebrew language the spoken language in Israel?”
“It seems as though one person made the difference. Eliezer Ben-Yehuda was the prime moved into changing Hebrew from a dormant language into the living, spoken language by millions of people. He was born in what is now the Belarus state in Russia and was originally raised to be a rabbi by his parents. He became interested in languages, and eventually learned Yiddish, German, French, and ancient Greek. While studying languages, he became interested in Zionism and concluded that the revival of Hebrew could unite all the Jews throughout the world.
At that time, Yiddish was the common language of many of the Jewish people but Ben-Yehuda felt Hebrew was more appropriate to unite the Jewish people. Furthermore, he felt that the future of Hebrew and a Jewish homeland were intertwined writing, “The Hebrew language can live only if we revive the nation and return it to the fatherland.” And you know what! Ben-Yehuda studied for years at the Sorbonne in France, finally moving to Jerusalem to spend his remaining years. At that time, Jerusalem – and all of Palestine – was controlled by the Ottoman Empire until it was freed by the British in 1917 during World War 1.”
“So the popularization of Hebrew among the Jewish people must have made Ben-Yehuda a hero; you know, there are no other ancient languages which have been brought back to life after they died out. For example, Latin, the language of the Roman Empire spoken by millions of people at the time of Christ, is now a dead language.”
“You would think Ben-Yehuda would have been proclaimed a national hero – but he wasn’t. As a matter of fact, quite the opposite. You see, many of the Jewish rabbis thought it was sacrilege to bring the sacred Hebrew from the Scriptures into the common use of the people; he was even excommunicated by the rabbis of Jerusalem and got into trouble with the Ottoman Empire for sedition. And apparently, what he did wasn’t easy; he had to invent about two-thousand words for things not known to the ancient Hebrew, words for bicycle and tomato for example. Twenty percent of modern spoken Hebrew is composed of new words thought up by Ben-Yehuda.”
“So, whatever happened to him; now he is very famous in Israel; his home in Jerusalem is a major tourist attraction, for example.”
“He died in 1922 a famous man, and his funeral was attended by 30,000 people. And there is an interesting story concerning his graveside on the Mount of Olives the angel told me; I guess even an angel can understand irony.”
“Oh, – what’s the story!”
“Well, it turns out that not everybody in Israel reveres Ben-Yehuda; there are still some ultra-Orthodox Jews who feel he desecrated the language of the Patriarchs by making it the common language of the people. Apparently, news reached the family that Ben-Yehuda’s grave had been spray painted with graffiti from an ultra-Orthodox group.”
“That’s terrible; I’ll bet they were pretty upset that his tombstone had been desecrated in that fashion. Is nothing sacred!”
“The family asked what language was used in the graffiti? After being told the graffiti was in Hebrew, the family replied, “Ah, then Ben-Yehuda won!”
“I’m sure that was gratifying; imagine the irony – these ultra-Orthodox Jews probably born and raised there and could only speak the language made popular by the man whose grave they desecrated.”
“Yes, but there is more the angel told me about Ben-Yehuda. The angel told me that the primary reason he relayed all this information to me was not primarily to teach me a history lesson, but for me to learn about Scriptural prophecy. You seen, the angel wanted to point out that the amazing transformation of Hebrew from a dead to a spoken language was foretold thousands of years ago.”
“Really! Where is that in Scripture?”
“Well, here is what the angel told me. The restoration of the land of Israel was foretold by Jeremiah about twenty-six hundred years ago along with other Jewish prophets. In fact, there are literally hundreds of Old Testament prophecies concerning the restoration of Israel. As a matter of fact, Scripture foretells exactly in what order this restoration shall occur; namely, they would first come from eastern Arab countries, then from Western Europe – especially Germany. Then, during the end of the 1980s with the fall of the Soviet Union, they came in great numbers from the north – Russia. Today, they are coming from the south – from African countries such as Ethiopia. This exact order – east, west, north, then south – was predicted many centuries ago.
“Well, that seems rather amazing. These ancient prophets foretold the restoration of Israel through an ingathering of Jews from around the world. But this in-gathering would not be randomly but in a certain order that was also foretold.”
“That’s right. Most of the land back then was arid, unable to grow much of anything. Very few people lived in Palestine because the land was so inhospitable. But the Jews didn’t just come as squatters and start to live on land that was not theirs. No, they actually purchased the land upon which they lived. This purchase of land was also foretold in Scripture.”
“Do you mean that the original Jews actually bought the land upon which they settled to form the nation of Israel?”
“Yes, that’s right. Originally, all of Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire. They sided with the Germans during World War 1, and were defeated by the British when they occupied Jerusalem in 1917 who then assumed governance of the land. Much of this land was owned by Arabs who often leased the land to others; it was considered to be a wasteland of little practical use consisting of a desert in the south and marshland heavily infested with malaria-carrying mosquitoes in the north. This is documented by the British Palestine Royal Commission who were not exactly friends of the Jews.
In order to purchase this land, the Jewish National Fund set up blue and white (Israel’s national colors) collection boxes all over the world which was used to purchase property in the Holy Land. By 1948 almost 90 percent of the land that was available for sale had been bought by the Jewish people, with the rest being ownerless desert. In 1922, the League of Nations stipulated that Britain “should work together with the Jewish Agency to encourage intensive settlement of the land by Jews, which should include the land owned by the state and the uncultivated or wasteland, as long as this land is not needed for official purposes.” The angel noted that most people believe the fiction that the Jews somehow stole the land from the Palestinians while the reality is that most of it was legally purchased.”
“Well, that’s kind of interesting. All you hear about today is how the Jews are “occupiers” of land that was somehow stolen from the Palestinians.”
“That’s right. Things really got bad after World War 1 when all of Europe was in ruins; even the victorious nations of France and England lay in ruins. Nations were totally unprepared to handle the millions of refugees wanting to return to their homes that no longer existed. The chaos of the Holocaust produced and intense desire for their own country – but that desire faced strong opposition. The British were facing increasing pressure from Arab nations to half the influx of Jews into Israel and established intermittent camps on the island of Cyprus for Jews to attempted to immigrate to Israel in violation of their policy. These camps operated from August 1946 to January 1949 and held about 51,000 people. Many who survived the Holocaust ended up dying in their camps.”
“But didn’t both the Palestinians and the Jews want to have their own state? I’ve heard the Palestinian Arabs were never offered a state and have therefore been denied the right to self-determination.”
“Well, no Dave. The angel showed in my mind what was happening at that time. There were at least two times England tried to partition Palestine,”
- “First was in 1937 with the Peel Commission which concluded that the only solution to resolve the contradictory aspirations of the Arabs and the Jews was to partition Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states. However, the Arabs rejected this plan because it forced them to accept the creation of a Jewish state, and required some Palestinians to live under “Jewish domination.” The Zionists were not happy with the plan because it restricted the Jews to only 1,900 square miles out of the 10,500 square miles remaining in Palestine; however, the Jews agreed to at least negotiate while the Arabs refused and the entire two-state solution fell apart.”
- “And the same thing happened two years later in 1939 when the British White paper called for the establishment of an Arab state in Palestine within 10 years, and for the limiting of Jewish immigration to no more than 75,000 over the following five years. Afterward, no one would be allowed without the consent of the Arab population. Amazingly, although the Arabs had been granted a concession on Jewish immigration, offered independence, and an ability to strictly limit Jewish immigration – they again refused to negotiate. In short, they again refused a Palestinian state and an opportunity for self-determination.”
“So, you’re saying that at least twice, the British administrators of Palestine offered the Arab Palestinians their own state with self-determination and they refused!”
“Yes, that’s exactly right. It’s amazing I never knew these things. Somehow, all of this information is left out of our history books.”
“Then what happened?”
“So the English sought support from the newly established United Nations to figure something out for the land which they controlled!”In July of 1947, the British navy intercepted the refugee ship Exodus which was bound for Israel with more than 4,500 Jews on board in international waters. The British sailors forcibly boarded the ship killing several passengers and crew members forcing everybody on board to return to Europe. This was a public relations nightmare for the British government who were seeing themselves in a no-win situation and became more eager to divest themselves of the entire mess. The British were tired of facing international pressure from various interest groups to do something about the Arab-Jewish conflict and so turned to the United Nations for help.
“Sounds like kind of a cop-out; they keep the land and control, but request police help from somebody else.”
“At that time, the English were just getting over the destruction from another World War and were ready to divest themselves of overseas colonies and concentrate on their own problems. So the UN took the problem up and on November 29, 1947, they established the Mandate Palestine partition plan which divided the area between the Palestinians and Jews. In this plan, the Jewish state was to receive about 56 percent of the land excluding Jerusalem which was designated an area to be administered by the United Nations. The plan was accepted by most of the Jews but outright rejected by the Arabs. The plan was to take effect in October 1948; but then the unexpected happened.”
“What happened next?”
“The British were becoming increasingly impatient and decided to pull out all troops and officially end the British Mandate on May 14, 1948. That posed a particular problem for the Jews because the British refused to hand over any authority or territory to Jewish control ahead of their departure. David Ben-Gurion – the Jewish leader at the time – knew that the day after the British left, the Jews would be attacked by their Arab neighbors. They quickly raised money to purchase arms and military supplies which were then smuggled into the country. The stage was set for a confrontation.”
“Obviously, Israel is now a country so something must have happened.”
“Exactly. What happened was David Ben-Gurion standing in front of a portrait of Theodor Herzl read Israel’s Declaration of Independence that had just been approved by the People’s Council, and then declared the “establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz-Israel, to be known as the State of Israel.”
“And do you know what else? Israel could not have come into existence without the early withdrawal of the British troops and administrative personnel that day; Israel – a country that had not existed as an independent political entity for about 2600 years – was literally reborn in a day. The next day, tiny Israel was attacked by the combined power of four Arab nations – Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, and Iraq. All that is history, but what is interesting is what the angel told me next.”
“Apparently, the establishment of Israel in a day was forecast centuries previously by Isaiah,
Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no soon is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children.
I sat for a moment and pondered what Jeff was telling me about his latest angelic visit. Certainly, Jeff had known none of this before; he had absolutely no interest in the history of Israel and had been only interested in his personal life and what pleasure he could get out of this world. The fact that he had all of this knowledge meant he had to be getting it from somewhere? But an angel?
The story he was telling was certainly inspiring – if you were Jewish, of course. Here is a people who had been in slavery, bondage, or persecution for 2600 years who somehow maintained their identity, their language, and customs, who suffered through unspeakable suffering during the Holocaust, and who managed to come together as a people from all nations and re-establish their country among hostile neighbors.
Jeff also pointed out that the angel told him there were literally hundreds of prophecies in the Old Testament concerning the re-establishment of Israel; how it would be a place of gathering for Jews from around the world. Interestingly, while most know of the self-identified Jews who may worship in synagogues today, there are other ethnic groups throughout the world who retain customs and a belief system strangely similar to ancient Judaism. These other ethnic groups live in diverse places like Ethiopia, India, and Zimbabwe and are now recognized as being of Jewish descent by prominent Israeli rabbis; many of these are also emigrating to Israel.
Jeff and Evelyn
Jeff then finished up with a few pleasantries but then dropped something else on me; apparently Jeff, the forever bachelor and hedonistic self-absorbed pagan I had known for years had become involved in a serious relationship. One of the nurses who took care of him at the hospital had fallen in love with Jeff and they were actually talking about getting married – or at least living together. He hurriedly said his goodbyes because he had to go out on another date.
Of course, the obvious question I posed to Jeff was whether he had told Evelyn, his new love interest, about his dreams and particularly about his possible demise within a year. Of course, he had not; that was not something you shared with someone you were trying to impress. He was “winging it” and might tell her at some point.
I then pondered the history of Israel and Jewish people in general. They are a diverse group – just as are Christians. Some Jews are very secular and couldn’t care less about their Jewish heritage, others keep strict dietary laws reflecting ancient commandments put down in Levitical scripture, while others have separate, withdrawn communities and refuse to interact with “Gentiles.” Christians and Jews initially formed interwoven communities; most of the early Christians were in fact Jews. But gradually over decades and then centuries of time, the two communities for various reasons separated and have even become hostile to each other.
Christians have largely forgotten their Jewish heritage which is unfortunate since much of the Bible was written by and for the Jewish people but also applies to all mankind. Jeff’s next angelic instructions would concern some of these Jewish customs that have enormous importance for the Christians of today – but which are ignored and unknown by most modern, observant Christians. In the rush to separate the early church from its Jewish roots, we have ignored critically important events that may impact our near future.
But there is one way to remember your Jewish roots. On a dark, moonless night you need to cast your vision skyward; there, you will see a beautiful vision of delicate stars dancing across the sky. Ancient civilizations saw such stars as well – this is important for God’s message of forgiveness was placed in the stars.
 Jeremiah 25:11
 Leviticus 25:3-5
 Ezra 1:1-3
 Ezekiel 4:3-6
 Lev. 26:18, 26:21, 23-24, 27-28
 Jeremiah 31:7-17
 Ezekiel 20:37, Hosea 6:1
 Isaiah 43:5 – 6: 21; Psalm 107:2-3
 Jeremiah 32:44
 http://www.wildolive.co.uk/Stolen land.htm
 Bard, Mitchell. Myth and Facts: A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 2001, p. 52.
 Clifford, Clark, “Counsel to the President: A Memoir”, 1991, p. 20
 Isaiah 66:8