December 24, 2012 1 Comment
Prime Minister Netanyahu sends a special Christmas greeting to Christians around the world and in Israel … complete with an invite to the Holy Land!
December 24, 2012 Leave a comment
Ferrell Jenkins has some good news on and for Israel:
Having watched the rise and fall of the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret) over a period of 45 years, it is exciting to learn that winter storms have pushed the lake to the sharpest December rise in 20 years.
According to an article in Haaretz the lake “is expected to have risen 26 centimeters [9.84"] since heavy rains began Thursday, it sharpest December rise in 20 years. [1991 and 1992]“
As a result of the increased flow in northern streams, the Kinneret’s water level rose sharply, reaching 212.07 meters [695.77 feet] below sea level Saturday morning.
And when they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. (Matthew 14:34 ESV)
Rain also fell as far south as Ashdod and Kiryat Gat, “but failed to affect the Negev this time.” This reminds us of the days of the Patriarchs whose lives were often disrupted by lack of rain in the Negev.
According to the report, almost 20 inches of snow has fallen on Mount Hermon.
Geographer Carl Rasmussen says,
All of us who have traveled in Israel and the surrounding countries are well-aware of the importance of the winter rains for the well-being of the inhabitants of the area, local agriculture, and the water supply in general.
December 23, 2012 1 Comment
KIBBUTZ KETURA, ISRAEL – Seven years after I revealed her success in sprouting a 2,000 year-old date palm seed found on Masada, botanist Dr Elaine Solowey of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies has done it again.
1,500 years after the last frankincense tree disappeared from the Holy Land, Dr Solowey has managed to grow the first shoots of a tree whose scented white sap was once worth more than gold.
At Kibbutz Ketura deep in Israel’s Negev Desert, Dr Solowey is carefully nurturing the fragile sapling in her greenhouse, where she is also growing myrrh and balm of Gilead – probably the “gold” brought by the Three Wise Men to the infant Jesus in Bethlehem.
“This is the first frankincense tree to set seed in Israel in 1500 years,” Dr Solowey told me as she presented the tiny sapling for its first public photo-call this week. “It was necessary to bring this variety back to the country because the last people growing these trees near the Dead Sea left and the trees left with them.”
Read on here.
December 12, 2012 Leave a comment
The website of the Custody enables one to follow the life and reality of the Holy Land, in eight languages: English, Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Hebrew and Russian.
From now, the Custody of the Holy Land has also been on Twitter, enabling all to participate in real time and in eight languages the events, celebrations and initiative that occur every day in the Holy Land.
Follow us on Twitter and on our website.
And the Twitter account is here.
November 10, 2012 Leave a comment
Plenty of photos here.
The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, who arrived in Jerusalem on Friday, was accompanied by a solemn procession of clerics and laypeople on his way from the Jaffa Gate to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre inside the Old City.
Thousands of believers gathered in front of the church, which is the holiest site for Christians across the world, to greet Patriarch Kirill and Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III, who met him. The two patriarchs held a short divine service.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre has for centuries been one of the most important pilgrimage destinations for millions of Christians as the purported site of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Patriarch Theophilos III addressed Patriarch Kirill, for whom it is the first visit to the Holy Land since he was elected to head the Russian Orthodox Church in 2009, with a solemn speech, in which he noted the importance of brotherly relations between the two Orthodox Churches.
Patriarch Kirill said each Christian dreams of visiting the Holy Land. “For the first time I have come to the Holy Land to offer prayers on behalf of the entire Russian Church that chose me as its Primate,” the patriarch said, adding that he will in particular pray for peace around the world. During his six-day stay, Patriarch Kirill is expected to visit Christian holy sites in Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre earlier in November threatened to close its doors as its bank account was frozen over a debt to an Israeli water company. The church had been exempt from water charges in a tacit agreement with Jerusalem authorities for decades but the Hagihon company, which took over water supply to Jerusalem in the late 1990s, recently demanded payment of a $2.3 million bill dating back 15 years, including interest.
Theophilos III even wrote letters to the leaders of Russia, Israel, the United States, Greece, Cyprus and Jordan with an appeal to intervene with the standoff and put a stop “to this flagrant act against the church.” Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the presidential administration will thoroughly study Theophilos’s request for help.
The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem shares control of the church with the Armenian Orthodox Patriarchate and the Roman Catholic Franciscan Order through complicated arrangements essentially unchanged for centuries. The site, located within the Christian Quarter of the walled Old City of Jerusalem, attracts more than 1 million pilgrims annually.
November 8, 2012 4 Comments
Moscow (AFP)- Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill on Friday will make his first visit to the Holy Land since becoming head of the powerful church in 2009, in a trip which underlines his global influence as a religious leader.
Kirill’s first official visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories will be held “under the sign of peace,” spokesman of the Russian Orthodox Church, Father Alexander Volkov, told AFP.
The visit will see Kirill meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres, the Palestinian Authority president Mahmud Abbas and King Abdullah II of Jordan in a new sign of his importance as a global religious figure.
His trip “is the most important (religious) visit (to Israel) since that of the Pope Benedict XVI” in 2009, Israel’s foreign ministry said.
Spokesman Volkov however ruled out any political dimension of the visit amid the search for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and analysts stressed its symbolic nature despite the growing power of the church at home.
The “visit has not and cannot have a political aspect,” Volkov said.
“It is chiefly a diplomatic visit, which will have no major consequences,” religious affairs analyst Vladimir Oivin said.
“The Patriarch will try to play a pacifying role” in the region, but his initiative “will probably have few results,” he added
During his six-day stay, Kirill, 65, is due to celebrate Mass with Jerusalem’s Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theoplilos III and meet with other local Christian leaders.
He will also visit main Christian sites, such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre — currently in the middle of a conflict between its co-owner, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, and an Israeli water supply company.
The Greek Patriarchate has been seeking Russian President Vladimir Putin’s help amid a dispute with Hagihon water supply company which saw Patriarchate’s bank accounts frozen as the company claimed 9 million shekels ($2.3 million, 1.8 million euros) in arrears.
Analysts said that Putin-backed Kirill’s eventual intervention with the matter would demonstrate significant influence he wields beyond his country over a community totalling some 150 million Orthodox Church members.
Amnon Ramon, an expert on Christianity at the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies and the Hebrew university, said that the Russian Church with Putin’s backing has become a globally-important Christian community.
The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate “might use the powerful Russian leverage to resolve issues such as the dispute over the water bill of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre,” he said.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, some 1.2 million Russians — a quarter of them Christians — immigrated to Israel in the 1990s.
Israel is currently home to some 120,000 Arab Christians and 250,000 Orthodox Christians, according to different estimates.
The Russian Orthodox Church has seen a huge upsurge in power after the fall of the atheist Soviet Union and its leaders take a strong stand on moral issues that the Kremlin hardly ever ignores.
I wonder if he’ll help pay the Sepulchre’s water bill?
November 5, 2012 Leave a comment
You can read or download the last three years of Palestine Exploration Quarterly for free with a simple registration, for a limited time. You can see the table of contents here. The issues from 2009-2011 appear to be free without registration from the table of contents.
This is a must if you, like me, are into Biblical archaeological matters!
November 3, 2012 4 Comments
And their bank account blocked:
Standoff over unpaid water bill could result in closure of revered church believed to be site of Jesus’s crucifixion and burial.
One of the most venerated sites in the Christian faith, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Jesus is believed to have been crucified, buried and resurrected, is facing a financial crisis over an unpaid water bill in a row that could result in its closure.
The church, which attracts more than 1 million pilgrims each year, has been issued with a 9m shekel (£1.5m) water bill, backdated 15 years to when the supply was taken over by a new company, Hagihon.
As a result of the church’s failure to pay, Hagihon has secured the freezing of the bank account of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, which is jointly responsible for the church’s administration.
The standoff was confirmed by the spokesman for Theophilos III, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch, following a report in the Israeli paper Maariv. “It is completely true,” Issa Musaleh told the Guardian. “They have frozen our account. This is a flagrant act against the church.”
According to Maariv, the move has resulted in standing orders being rejected and cheques bouncing. Services which have been affected include telephones, internet and electricity, as well as companies supplying food.
“The church is completely paralysed. We can’t pay for toilet paper. Nothing. Hagihon has declared war on us,” a Patriarchate official told Maariv…
Read on here.
Thousands of Christian pilgrims and tourists jostle each day inside the gloomily lit spaces beneath the church’s dome. Despite the chaotic queues for the most revered sites within the church and the cacophony of chanting priests, tour guides and camera-clicking tourists, for many it is a deeply emotional and spiritual experience.
The original church was built on the site of Jesus’s crucifixion, which was then outside the city walls, in the fourth century.
November 1, 2012 Leave a comment
Fall is olive harvesting season in Israel. And in the West Bank, still today, olives are harvested in the ancient way with harvesters all over the countryside taking up rods and sticks, beating the trees to knock the olives from their branches as you will see in this video short. But, why is it important for us to visualize this picture?
The prophet Isaiah uses the olive harvest as a metaphor to describe coming judgment. In his description, the tree is the earth, the beating with rods is God’s wrath and the falling olives are people. While Biblical metaphors of judgment are often not our favorites, they are extremely numerous and important because without seeing and accepting the reality of the problem we can’t be protected by the solution.
Isaiah’s message is two-fold, to give strong warning of judgment, but also to bring hope…there will be a remnant…a few olives will remain! The important question then is how can we be part of the remnant? In chapter 53, Isaiah reveals that salvation will come through the coming of a person — one who will take God’s wrath and punishment for sin upon himself.
When I see an olive tree being beaten, I see Jesus being beaten before his accusers. With each blow, I see my many sins fall like olives, and because of Him…I am saved! But what of others? Isaiah’s message was powerful and urgent…judgment IS coming…listen and return to God to be saved. May our hearts and words to this world be the same…judgment IS coming…but salvation has come…BELIEVE in Jesus and be saved!