Featured

King Solomon’s Mines

haggard-king-solomons-mines

The story of King Solomon’s Mines is a fiction from the 19th century written by H. Rider Haggard. The book was inspired by the discovery of ancient copper mines in the south of the Aravah in “Timna” close to the Red Sea.

The Bible does not mention mines that Solomon have built. So the idea of referring those ancient mines to King Solomon came from three places in the Bible:

a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing; a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you can dig copper. (Deuteronomy 8:9)

From this verse in Deuteronomy we learn that there were mines of iron and copper in Canaan before the sons of Israel conquered it.

… King Solomon also built a fleet of ships at Ezion Geber, which is near Elath on the shore of the Red Sea, in the land of Edom (1 Kings 9:26)

The verse above tells that Solomon had ships in the Red Sea. So the copper mines near the Red Sea, could have been one of the resources of the wealth of the Israel in his time.

… All these articles which Huram made for King Solomon for the house of the Lord were of burnished bronze. 46 In the plain of Jordan the king had them cast in clay molds, between Succoth and Zaretan. 47 And Solomon did not weigh all the articles, because there were so many; the weight of the bronze was not determined. (1 Kings 7:45-47)

 

From the verses above we learn that great amount of bronze was cast in Israel in the Jordan valley. Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin.

When ancient mines were found in Timna, they were immediately referred to King Solomon. Nelson Glueck, The first archaeologist that excavated Timna, attributed the site to King Solomon and named it “King Solomon’s mines”.

raffaellosanziojudgementsolomon

Archeological finding refute relation to Solomon

For thirty years, it was well agreed that those copper mines were built by King Solomon, until the year of 1969.

In this year, the Israeli archaeologist Benno Rothenberg found an Egyptian temple in Timna, that was dated to 200-300 years before the time of Solomon.

More research and excavations revealed the techniques that were used in the site, and more Egyptian references.

When you visit in the site today, you can learn all about copper mining in ancient times and about the Egyptian dominance in this area.

It was well agreed among all scholars that the site was abandoned before the time of David and Solomon and therefore cannot be referred to them.

For the last 50 years, there is a movement of archeologist that try to refute the historical validity of what is written in the Bible.

It is such a strong approach in the academy, that almost every site that was identified with a Biblical story only 70 years ago is now considered incorrect.

Yigael Yadin, the famous Israeli archaeologist who was also the Chief of Staff of the IDF, excavated many sites in Israel and found in them evidence to the correctness of the Bible. From late 60’s of the last century the fashion changed and all his findings were being refuted one after the other.

 

Recent findings change the picture again

Timna-Textile1-1

In 2009 another archeological expedition arrived to Timna led by Dr. Erez Ben-Yosef from Tel Aviv University.  This group wanted to date the site and find out who were the people that were working in it.

In 2012 they concluded their work with new evidences that change everything that was known before.  See the article in: A New Chronological Framework for Iron Age Copper Production at Timna (Israel)

They were able to find organic material that they could date using  radiocarbon dating method. The organic samples include small pieces of cloth, ropes, and other textiles, various types of uncharred seeds (olive pits, grape and date seeds, pistachio, and more), and wood, including small twigs of acacia trees.

The extreme dry and hot climate of Timna, helped preserving this organic materials for thousands of years. Just like the case of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The examination let to the conclusion that most of the mining that was done in Timna took place after the Egyptians already left the place and is dated to the 10th century B.C.

Dr. Ben-Yosef also suggest that local Edomite tribes were living in the area and developed the skill of mining.

This brings now the new theory about the place: In the time of King Solomon (10th century B.C.) The Edomites were mining copper in Timna. The Israelites under King Solomon could be in political control over this place just as written in the Bible.

shutterstock_268227944
Solomon’s Pillars in Timna

 

Enigma: Who were the people living in the ancient Jewish village of Susya?

Screen Shot 2018-01-03 at 22.39.57.png

The village known as Susya is found a few miles south of the city of Hebron. The site was excavated first after the six-days war and an ancient synagogue was found. Between the years of 1984-1987 more thorough excavations were held and many interesting facts were discovered in the village and in the synagogue.

We know that the synagogue of Susya is one of four that were found in the area, all dated to the Byzantine period and early Arab period: from 3rd century to 9th century AD.

We know of many synagogues from that period in the north of Israel, mostly in the Galilee and Golan Heights. But the one in Susya is so unique, that it raises many questions about the people that were living in that village.

The findings of Susya

20171213_144205

The Synagogue

The synagogue of Susya and the other three synagogues in the area are very distinct.

First the plan of the building: Almost all synagogues in the north of the country have a rectangle shape with a Basilica plan. They are built on a North-South axis, and the people were praying to the south toward the direction of Jerusalem.

In the four synagogues in the area of Susya, the people were praying toward the north, which is the direction of Jerusalem, but the Synagogue of Susya itself is built as a rectangle with East-West axis. Although it has a basilica plan, it does not have two rows of columns that are very typical to synagogues or churches built in the Byzantine period.

As this is very unique, we cannot tell for sure what is the reason for this different plan. Some scholars believe that this is due to the different culture among the Jews in south of Judea that were remote from the Jews of the Galilee.

In almost all synagogues in the country from the Byzantine period, there are dedication inscriptions that mention the name of people that contributed the to building. The inscriptions are generally written in Aramaic or Greek. In Susya we see some inscriptions that are written in Hebrew, which is rare.

Ritual baths

More than 40 Mikva’s (Jewish ritual baths)  were found in the small village of Susya. This is very unique in the Byzantine period: In the Second Temple period we know of many Mikva’s in Jerusalem and also in Qumran. But in the Byzantine period there is no other example of so many Mikva’s as in Susya.

Menorah

Menorahs were found in Susya in many forms: Engraved on stones, on mosaic in the floor of the Synagogue and one very special: a real Menorah that was probably used for ritual ceremonies in the Synagogue and that imitates the menorah of the Temple that was already destroyed at that time.

20171213_143632

What do scholars say about the people of Susya

What can we tell about the people of Susya?

We know that at the time they lived there, the center of the Jewish life in the country was in the north – The Galilee. So they were probably separated, not completely, but far enough to have their own customs. This can explain the writing in Hebrew, and the different plan of the synagogue.

So what is the issue of the Mikvahs? more than 40 of them? and the Menorahs?

So this may have been a community of very devoted people.

Some scholars suggest that they saw themselves as priests, and maybe referred to the Cohen and the Zadok families of priests.

We cannot be really sure. When you find a unique archeological finding that is not known in any other locations, it is really hard to conclude about the meaning of it.

Yet another theory

There was another inscription that was found on the floor of the synagogue of Susya that may suggest another solution.

The inscription is a short Aramaic verse that look like a simple dedication inscription.

The translation to English is:

… be mentioned for good the comforter Yeshua the witness …

There are several interesting things about this short sentence:

One, the name Yeshua. This was probably a common name in that time, but it is also the name of Jesus from Nazareth.

Second: The adjectives “Comforter”. It is not common to call a person that contributed to a building “comforter”. We do not see this in other places.

And third, the word “witness” that can be better translated to “the one who testifies”. Again, not a word you expect to describe a person that gave money.

yeshua.png

One idea that some people came with is that the people living in Susya were in fact Jews that believed that Yeshua was the Messiah of Israel.

It is not unlikely that there were Jews believing in Yeshua living in the country in that period, as those were Jews from Israel that started the movement of Christianity in the first place.

We probably will not be able to prove one or the other theories about the people of ancient Susya, but we can come to the place and enjoy its beauty and the remarkable findings there.

Why is Israel the world leader of Irrigation and Seawater Desalination?

Since it was founded, Israel always held a position of a world leader in modern irrigation.

Theodor Herzl who was the “Visionary of the state” of Israel, wrote in his book: Altneuland (Old-new land) about his vision of using the water from the Jordan river to irrigate the desert.

This idea was implemented in the Israeli National Water Carrier project many years later. The National water carrier is a national project of taking water from the Sea of Galilee and use the water in the desert of the Negev. This project was one of the factors that led to the six days war.

Simcha Blass, An Israeli engineer, was the one that invented the plastic drip irrigation. Today it is used all over the world, and not so many know that it was invented in Israel.

For many years, Israel is an exporter of leading irrigation systems that include drip irrigation, sprinklers, water filters, pipes and many more.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

in the last decade, Israel became also the world leader in seawater desalination.

There are 5 different desalination facilities in the Mediterranean shore of Israel and one in the Red Sea shore. As for today, 75% of the drinking water in the taps come from desalinated water.

From a country that was always in shortage of natural water resources, it now exports water to its neighbours countries and help them build desalination facilities.

Why Israel from all countries?

I want to suggest two reasons to this question and they are both from the Bible:

‘A land for which the Lord your God cares’

First reason: The Blessing:

For the land which you go to possess is not like the land of Egypt from which you have come, where you sowed your seed and watered it by foot, as a vegetable garden; 11 but the land which you cross over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water from the rain of heaven12 a land for which the Lord your God cares; the eyes of the Lord your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year.

13 ‘And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the Lord your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, 14 then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil. 15 And I will send grass in your fields for your livestock, that you may eat and be filled.’ 16 “Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them, 17 lest the Lord’s anger be aroused against you, and He shut up the heavens so that there be no rain, and the land yield no produce, and you perish quickly from the good land which the Lord is giving you. (Deuteronomy 11:10-17)

When the sons of Israel are about to enter the land of Canaan, The Lord tells them that this country is different than the county from which they came.

It is completely dependent on the grace of the Lord and His eyes are always on it.

Rain and water is the most important resource in this land and they will need to rely completely on the Lord in order to be sufficient with water.

The blessing of the water in Israel, which is not a country rich with rain, is the blessing of The Lord.

I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.
(Genesis 12:2)

‘Rivers in the Desert’

Second reason: The Prophecies:

There will be on every high mountain
And on every high hill
Rivers and streams of waters (Isaiah 30:25)

The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them,
And the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose (Isaiah 35:1)

For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness,
And streams in the desert.
The parched ground shall become a pool,
And the thirsty land springs of water; (Isaiah 15:6-7)

“The poor and needy seek water, but there is none,
Their tongues fail for thirst.
I, the Lord, will hear them;
I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.
18 I will open rivers in desolate heights,
And fountains in the midst of the valleys;
I will make the wilderness a pool of water,
And the dry land springs of water.
19 I will plant in the wilderness the cedar and the acacia tree,
The myrtle and the oil tree;
I will set in the desert the cypress tree and the pine
And the box tree together,
20 That they may see and know,
And consider and understand together,
That the hand of the Lord has done this,
And the Holy One of Israel has created it. (Isaiah 41:17-20)

I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert. (Isaiah 43:19)

He turns a wilderness into pools of water,
And dry land into watersprings. (Psalms 107:35)

So many prophecies about water in the desert!

 

aaa3

 

…and the days are coming, says the Lord

Evidence for Global Climate Change in the Bible?

desert

When Joshua entered the land of Canaan, did he meet the same land with the same climate that we know today?

 The descendants of Joseph came to Joshua and asked, “Why have you given us only one portion of land as our homeland when the Lord has blessed us with so many people?”  Joshua replied, “If there are so many of you, and if the hill country of Ephraim is not large enough for you, clear out land for yourselves in the forest where the Perizzites and Rephaites live.” (Joshua 17:14-15)

When the sons of Joseph are about to conquer their inheritance in the land of Canaan, it seems that the land is covered with forests so they cannot cultivate the land. Where are those forests today?

Then the people went out into the field against Israel, and the battle took place in the forest of Ephraim. The people of Israel were defeated there before the servants of David, and the slaughter there that day was great, 20,000 men. For the battle there was spread over the whole countryside, and the forest devoured more people that day than the sword devoured. (2 Samuel 18:6-8)

When Absalom stirred a rebellion against David, his father, they end up fighting in the forest of Ephraim. later on Absalom was caught by his hair in a big terebinth tree in that forest. Certainly a thick forest!

Then he went up from there to Bethel; and as he was going up by the way, young lads came out from the city and mocked him and said to him, “Go up, you baldhead; go up, you baldhead!” When he looked behind him and saw them, he cursed them in the name of the Lord. Then two female bears came out of the woods and tore up forty-two lads of their number. (2 Kings 2:23-24)

In the story above, Elisha went from the Jordan valley up to the mountains of Bethel. What interests us in this story is the fact that there were bears living in the woods at that area. Today this area is semi-arid.

The land of Israel in the time of the Bible and today

The three stories above, and many others, leads the reader of the Bible to think that the land of Israel is covered with thick forest where numerous beasts live.

When the American author Mark Twain visited the holy land 150 years ago, he was therefore quite surprised to see just the opposite:

“….. A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds… a silent mournful expanse…. a desolation…. we never saw a human being on the whole route…. hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.”

(The Innocents Abroad, or The New Pilgrim’s Progress, Mark Twain 1867)

How can we explain the difference between what Mark Twain describes and what the Bible tells about the nature of the land?

The Human intervention theory

In the turn of the 20th century, the Ottomans that were the rulers of the whole middle east, started a project of building the Hejaz Railway – a railway for a train that would go from Damascus to Medina. One branch line from this railway went all the way to Haifa on the Mediterranean Sea.

When using a steam locomotive for a train, one needs a lot of wood for burning and generating the steam. It is evident that the Ottomans cut a lot of the woods in the country for the train to operate.

The theory of human intervention claims that because of the railway and also because of overgrazing of the goats of local shepherds, the woods declined dramatically in the end of the 19 century.

As much as the decline of forest in the end of the 19 century is evident, it cannot explain what Mark Twain told us about the land in the middle of the 19 century.

First, when he visited the land in 1867, the Hejaz railway was only a plan. But moreover, the population of the land was scarce. As Twain himself describes: “a desolation…. we never saw a human being on the whole route”. so ‘overgrazing’ does not sound like the real story here.

The Global Climate Change theory

According to this theory, the climate in the time of the bible was different than it is today, and the land of Israel got much more rain compared to our days at that time of Joshua and the kingdoms of Judea and Israel.

There are climatologists that try to show climate changes according to geological evidence. For example: this site.

Do we have any evidence showing that there was more rain in israel in ancient times?

Evidence from the Negev (desert of southern Israel)

In the arid mountains of the Negev, we can find very old terebinth trees of the species: Mt. Atlas mastic tree (Pistacia atlantica)

terebinth

What is interesting about this kind of tree is that it is very common throughout other areas of Israel that are not a desert. But in the mountains of the Negev, this is the only tree that can be found, and most of the individual trees are very old and are estimated to be hundred years old.

This fact led the scholars of botany to believe that those trees were abundant in the Negev a few hundred years ago, or even thousands of years, and the Negev was not so arid as it is today. during the last hundreds of years the Negev became what it is today, and only very old trees remained as living fossils.

Summary

Regardless of what you think about global warming and climate changes, it is quite clear that the land of Israel had more woods and probably more rain in the time of the Bible. The Negev in the time of the Bible was probably wetter and Israel had real natural forests which are rare today.

The weak is strong, the small is wise

RSCN0679

Four things are small on the earth, But they are exceedingly wise:
The ants are not a strong people, But they prepare their food in the summer;
The shephanim are not mighty people, Yet they make their houses in the rocks;
The locusts have no king, Yet all of them go out in ranks;
The lizard you may grasp with the hands, Yet it is in kings’ palaces.

(Proverbs 30:24-28)

The writer of this chapter 30 in Proverbs calls himself Agur the son of Jakeh. We do not know much about him. But he tells us some amazing things about our God and the world he created.

The four verses above describe four small animals that astonish the writer. Those animal, although small, are exceptionally wise.

As mentioned in a previous post and another post, the English translation may have had difficulties in identifying the animal species properly.

Let’s check what are those animals and why the writer chose them as examples:

Ants

This one is the easiest. There is no doubt that the Hebrew word “נְּמָלִים” (Nemalim) means ants. Another Biblical reference describing how diligent the ants are:

Go to the ant, O sluggard, Observe her ways and be wise (Proverbs 6:6)

ants-750x400

Shephanim (Hyrax)

This animal is common in mountains throughout all of Israel. Its scientific name is Procavia capensis, and also known as Rock Hyrax.

The Shephanim – in Hebrew: שָּׁפָן, is easy to identify as it appears as one of four animals that are not “Kosher” because of their external and internal properties:

the shaphan, for though it chews cud, it does not divide the hoof, it is unclean to you (Leviticus 11:5)

In our chapter we learn that the Shephanim (Hyrax) liveד in the rocks, just like in Psalms:

The cliffs are a refuge for the shephanim. (Psalms 104:18)

שפן סלעים

locusts

Locust is known in the Bible as one of the 10 Plagues of Egypt.

According to its taxonomy, locust is just a grasshopper. But under certain circumstances, the locusts change to form swarm that are extremely hazardous to crops.

In our chapter, the writer is amazed from the fact that such a small insect without a leader or king becomes a big harm to humans.

madagascar-locust-IMG_1294

Lizard

There is a disagreement among interpreters whether the animal mentioned in this verse is a gecko or a spider. In Hebrew Smamit – שְׂמָמִית

In any case, it is a small animal that can walk on walls and is found in the most magnificent palaces. It enters to places where most people are not allowed, and makes it its own home.

letaa

Summary

The four verses in our chapter tell us how magnificent is our Lord when he created such small and vulnerable animals, and yet they are so strong in this world.

This whole chapter is about the wonder of our world and how it leads us to know the providence of the Lord. The speaker introduce himself as a stupid man that knows nothing, but the wonders of the world teach him a lesson.

Who has ascended into heaven and descended?
Who has gathered the wind in His fists?
Who has wrapped the waters in His garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is His name or His son’s name?
Surely you know! (Proverbs 30:4)

Cohen and Levi. Priests and Sadducees

mishkan

In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. (luke 1:5)

In the first few verses of the book of Luke, we are told about the genealogy of John the Baptist: His father was from the division of Abijah and his mother from the daughters of Aaron. What does Luke tell us here? and why is this important?

Indeed, for the Jewish readers in the time of Luke, and Jews were the majority of people reading this text in the first century AD, that genealogy was very important and told a lot about the identity of John.

We will start with the conclusion: The parents of John the Baptist were of very dignified priest families.

Now, all is left is to explain this, and we go directly to the Bible.

Tribe of Levi in the desert and in Canaan

When the sons of Israel wandered in the desert, they belonged to twelve different tribes. One of those tribes was Levi. Tribe of Levi is unique and has a special duty:

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “Bring the tribe of Levi near, and present them before Aaron the priest, that they may serve him. And they shall attend to his needs and the needs of the whole congregation before the tabernacle of meeting, to do the work of the tabernacle. (Numbers 3:5-7)

In the desert, The lord instructed Moses, when conquering Canaan, to spare cities for the Levites in the lands of the other tribes. They shall not have their own inheritance but rather will live among the other tribes:

And the Lord spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho, saying: “Command the children of Israel that they give the Levites cities to dwell in from the inheritance of their possession, and you shall also give the Levites common-land around the cities. (Numbers 31:1-2)

In the book of Joshua we learn that there were 48 cities given to the Levites. To name a few: Hebron, Gezer and Shechem.

 

Three families from the tribe of Levi and their roles

The most common surname among Jews today is “Cohen“. Jewish men, sons of Cohen families, are not allowed to marry divorced women (Yes! in Israel today, by law. See Leviticus 21:7). On the bright side, Cohen’s are the ones who come to the stage in the synagogue to bless the “Priestly Blessing” (Birkat Kohanim. also known as Aaronic blessing).

The Jewish surname “Levi” is also very common. But they do not share the same rights and obligations like the “Cohen’s”

The above leads us to the understanding that Cohen (a priest) and Levi are not the same. There is some hierarchy in the tribe of Levi.

In the desert, we learn about three families in the tribe of Levi: Gershon, Kohath and Merari.

The sons of Levi were Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. (Genesis 46:11)

Aaron, who is the first priest of Israel (Priest in Hebrew – Kohen כֹּהֵן) came from the family of Kohath.

 

Aaron married Elisheba, the daughter of Amminadab, the sister of Nahshon, and she bore him Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. (Exodus 6:23)

In I Chronicles 23-26, the Bible describes in details all the different occupations and roles that the Levites and Kohanim used to have.

The Kohanim were working very hard in the temple with the sacrifices and worshiping with musical instruments. The Levites that were not Kohanim were helping them in the service and by keeping the order in the temple.

But later on, among the Kohanim we see different roles and responsibilities.

Zadok the first high priest

So David reigned over all Israel; and David administered judgment and justice to all his people. 16 Joab the son of Zeruiah was over the army; Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder; 17 Zadok the son of Ahitub and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar were the priests. (II Samuel, 8:15-17)

So there are many Kohanim, but Zadok and Ahitub got a special position.

There let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him king over Israel; and blow the horn, and say, ‘Long live King Solomon!’ (I Kings 1:34)

In the time of Solomon, Zadok is nominated to be the priest who can anoint the new king. We see here the beginning of what will become later “High Priest” – a priest with a special status.

Lilien_High_priest

The Sadducees

What we read above was regarding the first temple. During the second temple, a whole new social status emerged:

The Sadducees (Zedukim in Hebrew), were the group of priests that were responsible for the work in the Second temple. The name “Zedukim” might very probably be derived from “Zadok“, the first High Priest. They were considered the spiritual leaders of Judea until the destruction of the second temple by the Romans in 30 AD.

We do not know a lot about them. most of what we know is what other people wrote about them, because after the destruction of the second temple, as they lost their position in the temple, they became irrelevant as spiritual leaders.

One interesting fact that the new testament teaches about the Sadducees that is not known from any other source is that, in contrast to the Pharisees, they did not believe in the resurrection:

Then some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him; and they asked Him… (Mark 12:18)

Priestly Divisions

Now these are the divisions of the sons of Aaron… …the eighth to Abijah (I Chronicles 24, 1,10)

The work in the temple was very hard – people come with their sacrifices and they need to be served all the time. In order to help in this work, they move to work in shifts.

Zadok and David divided the work of the Kohanim between 24 men. All descendants of the family of Aaron – Kohath. Those are the priestly divisions or priestly shifts. David and Zadok made the choice by lot. The eighth lot fell to Abijah.

Summary

Looking back to where we started, “a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah“. This tells that not only Zacharias is a priest, but he is a direct descendent of one of the 24 divisions from the time of King David.

“he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.” The wife if from the family of Aaron – the family of the Kohanim. And she is called after Aarons wife – Elisheba. Elizabeth and Elisheba in Hebrew is the same name.

Joshua and Zionism – from trouble to hope

yarkon

1882 is considered the year in that started the Zionist movement. In this year, the first Zionist settlement was established.

The village was founded in a swamp area in the Sharon and was called Petah-Tikva.

Joshua leads the sons of Israel into Canaan

The Taking of Jericho

When the people of Israel entered Canaan from the east, they were not considered Zionists. Zion at that time was a place that they did not hear about yet.

They were commanded to conquer the country from the seven Canaanite nations that inhabited the land.

The first city they conquer and destroy was Jericho. Two spies were sent to the house of Rahab who hidden them. Then the people of Israel marched around the city during seven days and in the seventh day they blew the trumpets and the walls fell down. No doubt that God was with the people of Israel!

Joshua warns the people not to take anything from the city as it is under a ban.

Then, they went on to conquer the second city – Ai, But they fail badly… Something went wrong. Joshua cried to the Lord and asked – Why is that Lord? and the answer came clearly:

Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. For they have even taken some of the accursed things, and have both stolen and deceived; and they have also put it among their own stuff. 12 Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they have become doomed to destruction (Joshua 7:11-12)

The Lord instructed Joshua how to find the person that did wrong. It came out that it was Achan from the tribe of Judah.

Interestingly, in Chronicles, the name changes from Achan to Achar:

The son of Carmi was Achar, the troubler of Israel, who transgressed in the accursed thing (1 Chronicles 2:7)

This is interesting, because the Hebrew word for “trouler” in the Bible is “Ocher” which is from the same root of the name “Achar” and literally means “bring trouble or darkness“.

Achan with all his family were sentenced to be stoned. Where did that happen? let’s read:

Then they raised over him a great heap of stones, still there to this day. So the Lord turned from the fierceness of His anger. Therefore the name of that place has been called the Valley of Achor to this day (Joshua 7:26)

The Hebrew root A.Ch.R. appears three times in our story:

  • Achar (or Achan) – the name of the sinner
  • Ocher – adjective that means troubler or literally “darkens”
  • Achor – the valley where he was stoned.  Near Jericho.

achan

A prophecy of hope

Let’s move to another book in the Bible. Hosea.

Hosea, speaks about the restoration of Israel.

In the second chapter of the book he compares Israel to a treacherous wife. He describes all her harlotry and unfaithful ways.

But then the Lord takes her to the desert, and there, after all her lovers have left her, the Lord restores Israel. Then Hosea prophesies:

Then I will give her her vineyards from there,
And the valley of Achor as a door of hope (Hosea 2:15)

This verse takes us back to the story of Achan in the valley of Achor.

The Zionist movement begins

In the year of 1872, a few families from Jerusalem tried to buy a land in Jericho and to build a new agricultural village. The name they wanted to give to the village is Petah-Tikva – which means “Door of hope” to fulfill the prophecy of Hosea.

They were not successful in buying the land in Jericho, but ended up buying a swamp area in the Sharon from an Arab family in Jaffa.

The life was too hard in the swamp, and after three years the village was abandoned.

Seven years later, in 1882, the village was restored by new settlers. This year marks the beginning of the first wave of Zionists moving to Israel and building new settlements.

The location of Petah Tikva in the Sharon instead of Jericho is a fulfillment of another prophecy:

Sharon will be a pasture land for flocks,
And the valley of Achor a resting place for herds (Isaiah 65:10)

The Zionist movement, just like Joshua, brought the people of Israel back to their land.

And the city of Petah Tikva is a symbol of the restoration of Israel.