Archive for the ‘Israel and the Jewish People’ Category

History of Israel and Palestine

The information below is taken from multiple internet sites so the information is easily accessed for those who want to know.

It always confounds me that people continue to believe the political rhetoric bouncing around the international community with regard to Israel’s occupation of Palestine. Some years ago I was invited by an Arab Israeli woman to speak at a presentation about the history of Israel and the Arab people because she said that I understood more than most the situation in the Middle East. I won’t say that I do because I have very limited understanding of the big picture, but I know enough history and much of it has been covered up by lies perpetuated by the Arab world, especially the so-called Palestinians and their Hamas leaders.

This particular young Arab woman and another one from Jordan explained to me their own family history. Both had grandparents living in Palestine in 1948. Both had a choice to make. One grandfather chose to stay in Israel, become a citizen and continue to raise his family. Today he has a son who manages a bank and granddaughters who work along side Israeli Jews in Tel Aviv as a doctor, lawyer and engineer.

The other grandfather who made his home in Gaza chose to leave Palestine and make his home in Jordan. Because Jordan doesn’t recognize Israel as a legal state, this young woman has relatives that she has never met living in Gaza. She is quite happy being Jordanian and believes her grandfather made the right decision in spite of the separation of family members.

What is Palestine?

Palestine is the name given to the Promised Land of Israel over 2000 years ago during its Roman occupation in order to infuriate the Jewish people.  It has never been the name of a legitimate nation or state, but a geographical term used to describe the region at certain times in history when there was no nation or established state.   Palestine comes from Peleshet meaning ‘rolling’ and is translated Philistine in the Bible.   Peleshet was first used to describe the people who migrated from the area around the Agean Sea and the Greek Islands.  These people created five city-states, one of which is Gaza.  

Modern Zionist Movement

Theodore Hertzl, born May 2, 1860, is considered the father of the Zionist movement promoting Jewish immigration to Palestine.  As a German journalist for a French newspaper, he covered the Dreyfus affair in which a Jewish French Army captain was falsely convicted of spying for Germany.  It was a profound antisemitic incident that divided France for many years.  While in Paris he witnessed crowds chanting “Death to the Jews!” that changed him from a German supporter to one who began challenging wealthy German to Jews to leave Germany and return to Palestine to establish a Jewish state.  He feared that as quickly as France turned on the Jewish people, Germany would too.  Hertzl died in 1904 before he could witness the events that would directly lead to the establishment of the state of Israel.

Balfour Declaration

On November 2, 1917, the British government issued the Balfour Declaration.  This public statement supported the establishment of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine.

“His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”

This was the first time in modern history that a major government supported a ‘national home’ for the Jewish people.  The wording in the document had no precedent in international law and was intentionally vague with regard to an actual Jewish state.  There were no specific boundaries given though the British government explained the wording did not mean a Jewish home would cover all of Palestine.  The British also wanted to protect the civil and religious rights of the Palestinian Arabs as well as those in the growing Jewish communities.  No one wanted antisemitism to increase or label the Jews as ‘strangers in their native land.’  In essence this was the beginning of the two-state solution that is always being discussed by the international community today.

In 1922 the League of Nations confirmed the Balfour Declaration and it became known as the British Mandate or British Rule.  The boundaries of Palestine included Trans-Jordan which was eventually removed by Winston Churchill.  Between 1919 and 1923, 40,000 Jews arrived in Palestine trying to escape the chaos caused by the Russian Revolution as 100,000 Jews were killed during this time.  

Pioneers in Palestine

Early Jewish immigrants to Palestine were pioneers in the land and began establishing self-sustaining economies.  The Jezreel Valley was drained and converted to agricultural land.  The Jewish National Fund, a charity that collected money worldwide,  purchased more land for growing the ‘national homeland.’ An underground Jewish militia was created to defend outlying Jewish settlements.  During the mid-1920s, more Jewish people arrived in Palestine.  They set up businesses and created the Jewish National Council which oversaw education, health and security.   The Hebrew University was established in Tel Aviv and Technion in Haifa.  While Jewish immigration increased; the Arabs began rioting. 

Who Owns the Land?

In 1929, animosity between Muslims and Jews intensified over the Western Wall (Wailing Wall, Kotel).  Jews were banned from using any furniture such as chairs for the elderly as the religious Muslims claimed the area was their property and that the Jews were seeking control of the Temple Mount.  More riots ensued in the area and eventually the ancient Jewish community in Hebron came to an end.

The Bible first mentions Hebron with the Cave of Machpelah or the Cave of the Patriarchs.  About 4000 years ago Abraham purchased this cave in which are buried Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Leah.  Today it is enclosed by a mosque proving who actually owns the land as Islam did not exist until 600 A.D.   King David ruled Israel from Hebron about 1000 B.C. for seven years before moving the capital to Jerusalem.

Growing the National Homeland

Between the two world wars, using the terms of the Mandate, the British rejected all majority rule or any other measures that would give the Arab population control over Palestinian territory.  In this way they continued to support a growing Jewish ‘national homeland’ along with an Arab presence.   

Before World War II, Jewish immigration increased with an agreement between the Nazis and the Jewish Agency Ha’avara.  Jewish possessions were confiscated in order to purchase 14 million pounds worth of German goods for export to compensate the Jewish immigrants entering Palestine.  Although many Jews wanted to leave Nazi Germany, the Nazis prevented them from retaining any money keeping them from paying the British government the necessary immigration fees.  Still, Jewish immigration continued and the purchased goods helped the economy to flourish. The British used the taxes paid by the Jewish population to build a port and oil refineries at Haifa and the industrial age began in Palestine.

In the 1930s, 250,000 Jews immigrated to Palestine.  Most were German doctors, lawyers and professors.  With the rise of the Nazis and antisemitism, more and more Jews tried to leave Europe, but every country in the world closed their borders to Jewish immigration, including Britain closing Palestine to any further Jewish immigration. 

The White Paper

The “White Paper of 1939” written by Nevill Chamberlain in response to the Arab Revolt (1936-39)  called for the establishment of a Jewish national home in an independent Palestinian state with both Jews and Arabs jointly governing the area.  It effectively rejected the idea of partitioning Palestine.   It also claimed that with 450,000 Jewish people having settled in Palestine, the Balfour Declaration of a ‘national homeland’ had been met.  The document limited Jewish immigration and restricted Jewish rights to purchase land from Arabs.  Both the Arab and Jewish leaders rejected this proposal. 

Civil War in Palestine

On April 2, 1947, Great Britain sent the issue of Palestine to the United Nations General Assembly.  In July 1947, the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine met with Jewish and Zionist leaders.  The Arabs boycotted the meetings.

The report from the meeting proposed “an independent Arab State, an independent Jewish State, and the City of Jerusalem” to be governed by the international community.  On November 29, 1947, this resolution was adopted by the United Nations and Jewish immigration began again.

The UN General Assembly’s vote created a rift between the Jewish community and the Arabs in Palestine.  Civil war broke out and the Arab nations created the Arab Liberation Army and Egypt joined in this ‘holy war.’ They blockaded all of the Jewish residents of Jerusalem.  Though the Jewish paramilitary (Haganah) had about 100 armored vehicles to try to supply the city, they were destroyed along with hundreds of military men.

The Arabs who lived in Haifa, Jaffa and Jerusalem or other Jewish-dominated areas evacuated east to other Arab areas.   Because the United States withdrew their support for the partition plan, the Arab League believed they could put an end to the plan.  The British decided, however, on February 7, 1948, to support the annexation of Arab Palestine.  The British Mandate would end in May 1948.

The State of Israel is Born

David Ben-Gurion reorganized the Haganah.  Every Jewish man and woman had to receive military training.  Golda Meir raised money from Jews in the United States and through Stalin’s support, they were able to purchase military weapons in Eastern Europe.  Ben-Gurion created an offensive plan, rather than defensive, to establish Jewish land continuity by conquering mixed areas. Tiberias, Haifa, Safed, Beisan, Jaffa and Acre fell, resulting in more than 250,000 Palestinian Arabs leaving the area. This refugee situation caused the larger Arab states to intervene.

On May 14, 1948, the British forces left Palestine ending the Mandate.  The Jewish People’s Council gathered at the Tel Aviv Museum and proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel in the Land of Israel.  Immediately, the United States and Russia recognized the new state.  The Arab League of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq refused to accept the UN partition plan and began the first Arab-Israeli war.  

The First Arab-Israeli War

The Arabs used the British military equipment left behind and went on the offensive.  Because Israel had not been a state before May 15, they could not buy heavy arms.  The UN declared an arms embargo, but Czechoslovakia violated it and supplied the new Jewish state with heavy military equipment and planes.  The Haganah became the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).  

Jewish immigrants, many of them WWII veterans and Holocaust survivors, began arriving in Israel.  They joined the IDF.  After an initial loss of land and its occupation by the Arabs,  the Israelis eventually took back that land along with some of the land that had been included in the proposed Arab state.  At the end of November 1948,  local ceasefires were arranged between the Israelis, Syrians and Lebanese. On December 1, 1948,  King Abdullah announced the union of Jordan with Arab Palestine west of the Jordan River; only Britain recognized the annexation.

Israel signed a truce, no actual peace treaty, with Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.  Israel’s new borders  (The Green Line) were established even though the borders were not recognized by the Arabs as legal international borders.  Israel had taken control of the Galilee, Jezreel Valley, West Jerusalem, the coastal plain and the Negev.  The Syrians still controlled a strip of land along the Sea of Galilee originally given to Israel.  The Lebanese occupied a small area on the border between Israel and Lebanon on the Mediterranean Sea and the Egyptians kept the Gaza strip as an occupied zone.  Jordan remained in the West Bank where it was originally given land.    

On May 11, 1949, Israel was admitted as a member of the United Nations.  Out of an Israeli population of 650,000, only 6,000 men and women were killed in the War of Independence.  According to the UN, 726,000 Palestinians fled or were evicted by Israel.  Those who remained had the option of leaving or becoming Israeli citizens.  

Jerusalem of the Jews

On May 15, 1967, Naomi Shemer’s song “Jerusalem of Gold” began to dominate the Israeli airwaves.  Two days later Syria, Egypt and Jordan and eventually Iraq gathered their troops along the Israeli borders.  On May 26, 1967, Egyptian President, Abdel Nasser, declared that the “basic objective of the battle will be to destroy Israel.”  

On June 5, 1967, the morning before the new Israeli defense minister was sworn in, the Israeli air force launched pre-emptive attacks destroying the Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian air forces.  They also defeated the armies of Egypt, Jordan and Syria.  By June 11, the Arab armies were defeated and a cease-fire was called for by the UN.  This became known as the Six-day War, once again started by Arab nations losing more land.

Israel gained control of the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and the Jordanian-controlled West Bank.  The Sinai oil fields made Israel self-sufficient in energy.  East Jerusalem was annexed by Israel.  Residents were given permanent residency status and the option of applying for Israeli citizenship.  For the first time since the end of the British Mandate, Jews were free to visit the Old City of Jerusalem. For the first time in centuries, they were allowed to pray at the Western Wall.  In Hebron, Jews regained access to the Cave of the Patriarchs for the first time since the 1300s.  Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem also became accessible.

Land for Peace

On November 22, 1967, the UN Security Council adopted the ‘land for peace’ concept which called for “just and lasting peace” based on Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories in return for the end of all states of belligerency, respect for the sovereignty of all states in the area and the right to live in peace within secure, recognized boundaries.  The resolution was accepted by both sides, but with different interpretations.  This has been the basis of all subsequent peace negotiations.  

“Land for Peace” is based on Israel Giving Up Land for ‘peace from their neighbors.’  This concept implies that Israeli withdrawal is linked to its neighbors’ willingness to formally make peace.  This never actually takes place because even though Israel gives up land, its neighbors still do not recognize their sovereignty as a nation. 

On June 19, 1967, Israel offered to give up the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan in exchange for peace.  Their offer was rejected by the Arab States: “no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it.”

Yom Kippur War

On October 6, 1973, Egypt and Syria attacked Israel in what is known as the Yom Kippur War.  They wanted to regain the land they lost in the war of 1967: Egypt wanted the Sinai and Syria wanted the Golan Heights even though they were offered the return of these lands for peace.  Because the war was started on a high holy day, Israel’s losses were great, however, in less than 24 hours, they mobilized two armored divisions which soon had the Syrians retreating. The Israelis captured territory deep inside Syria almost to Damascus.  Ten days after the start of the war, Israeli forces penetrated Egyptian defense lines and came close to Cairo. Eventually through diplomatic talks, Egypt and Syria regained a portion of their territory and UN buffer zones were established between them and Israel.  Israel withdrew from the Sinai as part of the peace agreement facilitated by the United States and retained control over two-thirds of the Golan Heights.  In 1981, Israel annexed the Golan Heights.

Testing Land for Peace

In 2005, the forced eviction by Israel of its settlers and military forces from the Gaza Strip was a ‘test case’ of ‘land for peace’ with the Palestinians.  Seventeen Israeli settlements  known as Gush Katif with 8,600 residents were forcibly removed from their homes on August 15, 2005.  On September 12, 2005, the Israeli Army withdrew from each settlement up to the original Green Line.  All schools, libraries, community centers, office buildings factories, and greenhouses which could not be taken apart were left.  Synagogues were burned by the Palestinians, “The looting and burning of the synagogues was a great joy… It was in an unplanned expression of happiness that these synagogues were destroyed.”

Later, it was reported that the evacuated Jewish communities of the Gaza Strip were transformed into military bases used by Palestinians to fire rockets at Israeli cities and train for attacks against the Jewish state.  The ‘test case’ for ‘land for peace’ didn’t work.

After the withdrawal from Gush Kativ, the Palestinian Authority took control of Gaza.  On January 25, 2006, Hamas won the elections in Gaza and the West Bank.  Rockets launched against Israeli targets continued from the beginning of the expulsion and have increased since that time.  The area is now being used to smuggle weapons into Gaza through tunnels that are also used to kidnap Israeli soldiers.  

Jerusalem and the Golan

After nearly three thousand years, on December 6, 2017, United States President Donald Trump announced the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and ordered the planning of the relocation of the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. On March 28, 2019, he recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Even though Israeli control over the area has not been challenged, this policy will not change 50 years of international views of the Golan Heights as being occupied territory.

What is important to remember is that Israelis and Arabs do live side-by-side peacefully in Israel. It is the media and the international community that would like the world to believe otherwise. The West Bank and Gaza Strip are governed by the terrorist group Hamas and their ultimate goal, along with most of the surrounding nations is not peace with Israel, but a complete destruction of the country and its people.

2019, Tentstake Ministries Publishing

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The Vineyard of Elohim

“Now the vineyard of Adonai-Tzva’ot is the house of Isra’el, and the men of Y’hudah are the plant he delighted in…(Isaiah 5:7). 

Hebrew Word Pictures

Vineyard or kerem – כרם – kaf, resh, mem

open the mighty authority

The vineyard is a symbol of the nation of Isra’el who was delivered from the harsh soil of Egypt and transplanted in the land of Canaan.  Elohim cleared the land of pagan cities and ‘giants’ so that that His vineyard might be planted in a fertile place.   

The vineyard put out many branches and shoots and filled the land, but there was one area in which Elohim took special delight and planted His choicest vines, the people of Judah.   He watched over them and tended them like the perfect gardener.   

“I want to sing a song for someone I love, a song about my loved one and his vineyard. My loved one had a vineyard on a very fertile hill.  He dug up its stones and cleared them away, planted it with the choicest vines, built a watchtower in the middle of it, and carved out in its rock a winepress. He expected it to produce good grapes, but it produced only sour, wild grapes” (Isaiah 5:1-2).

However, instead of bringing Elohim joy by producing good grapes, the grapes were wild and sour.  Elohim became frustrated with His vineyard.  Though He had done everything He could to insure choice fruit, Judah becomes degenerate and produces bad fruit.   They reject Torah and despise the Word of the Holy One of Isra’el. 

“Many shepherds have destroyed my vineyard, they have trampled my plot of land, they have turned my desirable property into a desert waste. Yes, they have made it a waste; wasted, it mourns to me; the whole land is wasted, because nobody really cares” (Jeremiah 12:10-11).  

Instead of justice for the righteous, there is bloodshed.  They add house to house and join fields until there is no room for anyone.  They live in splendor, but alone on their own land.  They become drunks getting up early to drink intoxicating liquor and staying up late inflamed with wine.  They have parties with lots of music, but pay no attention to Elohim and the work of His hands.  They nit-pick sin with a thread, but their own sinful lives fill a cart they pull behind them with a rope.   They exchange sweet for bitter, bitter for sweet; they change darkness for light and light for darkness and they call evil good and good evil. 

Now, citizens of Yerushalayim and people of Y’hudah, judge between me and my vineyard. What more could I have done for my vineyard that I haven’t already done in it? So why, when I expected good grapes, did it produce sour, wild grapes? Now come, I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will remove its hedge, and [its grapes] will be eaten up; I will break through its fence, and [its vines] will be trampled down. I will let it go to waste: it will be neither pruned nor hoed, but overgrown with briars and thorns. I will also order the clouds not to let rain fall on it” (Isaiah 5:3-6).

Elohim decides to remove the hedge of protection around His vineyard.  The Hebrew word for ‘hedge’ is suk and denotes something that surrounds and encloses like a stone wall, fence or a thorns.  In Jewish thought the Torah is also considered a ‘fence’ that protects Elohim’s people.

“Accept correction, Yerushalayim, or I will be estranged from you and turn you into a desolate waste, a land without inhabitants.  Thus says Adonai-Tzva’ot: They will glean the remnant of Isra’el as thoroughly as in a vineyard — one last time, like a grape-picker, pass your hand over the vines. To whom should I speak? Whom should I warn? Who will listen to me? Their ears are dull, they can’t pay attention. For them the word of Adonai has become unattractive, an object of scorn” (Jeremiah 6:8-10).

The grapes are eaten up by animals and the vines are trampled down.  The vineyard  becomes overgrown with briars and thorns and a drought turns the vineyard into a wasteland.  Isra’el became a desolate vineyard; the Jewish a fruitless vine.  Yet, Elohim as the Gardener remained faithful to His vineyard and decides to ‘woo’ her out of her deserted state.  She will return to Him as her Ishi or Husband. 

“But now I [yod-hey-vav-hey] am going to woo her[Isra’el] — I will bring her out to the desert and I will speak to her heart. I will give her her vineyards from there and the Akhor Valley as a gateway to hope. She will respond there as she did when young, as she did when she came up from Egypt. “On that day,” says Adonai “you will call me Ishi [My Husband]; you will no longer call me Ba‘ali [My Master]” (Hosea 2:16-18). 

Hebrew Word Pictures

Grape or enav – ayin, noon, bet

– to see the life of the family

“I am the real vine, and my Father is the gardener. Every branch which is part of me but fails to bear fruit, he cuts off; and every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes, so that it may bear more fruit. Right now, because of the word which I have spoken to you, you are pruned. Stay united with me, as I will with you — for just as the branch can’t put forth fruit by itself apart from the vine, so you can’t bear fruit apart from me.  I am the vine and you are the branches. Those who stay united with me, and I with them, are the ones who bear much fruit; because apart from me you can’t do a thing. Unless a person remains united with me, he is thrown away like a branch and dries up. Such branches are gathered and thrown into the fire, where they are burned up” (John 15:1-7).

Yeshua came to thirsty Isra’el and removed their spiritual drought.  He is the Branch or netzer, the true vine who brings spiritual life back to the vineyard. He is the fruit from the root of Judah, the vine of David.   On his grapevine are many branches that push out.  Branches that fail to bear fruit are cut off and thrown into the fire where they are burned up. 

“Beware of the false prophets! They come to you wearing sheep’s clothing, but underneath they are hungry wolves! You will recognize them by their fruit. Can people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every healthy tree produces good fruit, but a poor tree produces bad fruit.  A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, or a poor tree good fruit. Any tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and thrown in the fire! So you will recognize them by their fruit” (Matthew 7:15-20). 

Sweet Grapes

Branches that bear fruit are pruned by his Father, the Master Gardener, so they may bear more fruit for the Kingdom.  Grapes on the vine in Yeshua’s vineyard understand life in family of Elohim includes Yeshua’s Jewish brothers and sisters, the original vineyard, as well as those who are grafted into the vine.    These branches remain united with Yeshua because apart from him, there is no life or fruit.

“If you have really turned from your sins to God, produce fruit that will prove it!” (Matthew 3:8).

“This is how my Father is glorified — in your bearing much fruit; this is how you will prove to be my talmidim [disciples]” (John 15:8).

You did not choose me, I chose you; and I have commissioned you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last; so that whatever you ask from the Father in my name he may give you. This is what I command you: keep loving each other!” (John 15:16-17)

“But the wisdom from above is, first of all, pure, then peaceful, kind, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. And peacemakers who sow seed in peace raise a harvest of righteousness” (James 3:17-18).

For you used to be darkness; but now, united with the Lord, you are light. Live like children of light, for the fruit of the light is in every kind of goodness, rightness and truth — try to determine what will please the Lord” (Ephesians 5:8-10).

Therefore, from the day we heard of it, we have not stopped praying for you, asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will in all the wisdom and understanding which the Spirit gives; so that you may live lives worthy of the Lord and entirely pleasing to him, being fruitful in every good work and multiplying in the full knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:9-10).

Restored Vineyard

“On that day [Messianic era], a pleasant vineyard — sing about it!  I, Adonai, guard it. Moment to moment I water it. So that no harm will come to it, I guard it night and day…. The time is coming when Ya‘akov will take root; Isra’el will bud and flower, and fill the whole world with a harvest” (Isaiah 27:2-3, 6).

©2017 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.

The Budding Fig Tree

The Fig Tree‘s Start

“The serpent said to the woman, “It is not true that you will surely die;  because God knows that on the day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it had a pleasing appearance and that the tree was desirable for making one wise, she took some of its fruit and ate. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her; and he ate.  Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized that they were naked. So they sewed fig leaves together to make themselves loincloths” (Genesis 3:4-7). 

When the eyes of Adam and Eve were opened to their physical condition, they sewed fig leaves together to cover their spiritual nakedness.  This is the first mention of the fig tree and its leaves as an allusion to the spiritual condition of the nation of Isra’el from whom would come the ‘Seed’ of redemption.

Ficus Carica

The common fig tree is called  Ficus carica.  This tree has a long juvenile period and does not produce fruit for the first four to five years after being planted.  In other words,  the fig remains a child-tree for a period of time before maturing into adulthood.  Adult fig trees produce two crops every year.  The early crops are frequently small, acidic and inferior, only good for preserving.  The latter crop of figs has edible fruit.  Interestingly, fig trees produce their fruit before leaves.  

“I found Isra’el like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the first ripe fruit on the fig tree in its first season…”  (Hosea 9:10).

Elohim saw the Israelites who came out of Egypt as being the first fruits of a nation.  As an immature fig tree, they fell into idolatry which resulted  in captivity and their dispersion among the nations.  They assimilated into the nations around them until Abraham’s descendants lost the faith of their ‘father.’    As Yeshua sat on the Mount of Olives with his disciples, they wondered what Isra’el would be like at the time of his return, the end of the age.  He mentions three signs, one of which is the fig tree.

“The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Yeshua was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs.  Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it” (Mark 11:12-14).

The day before this event, Yeshua had ridden into Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey.  He had been hailed as the coming King by the Jews in Jerusalem.  He had been welcomed into Jerusalem with “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD and “Blessed is the coming Kingdom of our father David” (Matthew 21:9-10). 

The ‘next day’ he was leaving Bethany with his disciples and discussing sign of the end of the age.  Bethany is in the present-day West Bank at the site of the tomb of Lazarus east of Jerusalem on the south-eastern slope of the Mount of Olives.   He is hungry and sees a fig tree in the distance.   Because there are no figs, he ‘curses’ the tree to never bear fruit again – even though it was not the season for figs. 

Hebrew Word Pictures

Fig or te’enah  – tav, alef, noon, hey

– sign of the first life revealed

Baskets of Figs

“There, in front of the temple of Adonai, two baskets of figs were placed. One of the baskets had in it very good figs, like those that ripen first; while the other basket had very bad figs, so bad that they were inedible. Then Adonai  asked me, “Yirmeyahu, what do you see?” I answered, “Figs — the good figs are very good; but the bad ones are very bad, so bad they are inedible” (Jeremiah 24:3).

Jeremiah sees two baskets of figs.  Both baskets sit in front of the Temple in Jerusalem.  One basket has good figs like those that ripen early; the other has very bad figs so bad they could not be eaten. 

“‘But concerning the bad figs that are so bad as to be inedible, Adonai says: ‘I will make Tzidkiyahu the king of Y’hudah and his leaders resemble them, likewise the rest of Yerushalayim remaining in this land and those living in the land of Egypt. Everywhere I drive them I will make them an object of horror, repulsive to all the kingdoms of the earth, a disgrace, a byword, a laughingstock and a curse; and I will send sword, famine and plague among them until they have disappeared from the land I gave them and their ancestors’” (Jeremiah 24:8-10).

The bag figs are the survivors in Jerusalem, the leading officials and the last king of Isra’el, King Zedekiah.  Though his name means ‘my righteousness is Yah,’ he had only become king because of Nebuchadnezzar.  King Zedekiah’s nephew surrendered Jerusalem to Babylon in order to save his own life.  Elohim compared the leadership of Isra’el to bad figs, detestable to all the kingdoms of the earth.  Because of their spiritual apostasy, they would be banished and destroyed by sword, famine and plague until they were gone from the land.

The bad figs in Yeshua’s day were still the spiritual leaders with whom he was constantly in conflict.  Everything within the Temple services, the lineage of the high priest and the Levitical priesthood had been perverted.  After the event with the fig tree, Yeshua returns to the Temple and judges the moneychangers and their corrupt practices.   The chief priests and Torah teachers looked for a way to kill him.

The next day as the disciples passed the fig tree, Peter sees the fig tree and says, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you ‘cursed’ has withered!”   The withering of the tree exemplified what was happening in the Temple and spiritual apostasy of Isra’el through their leadership.

‘Cursing’ the Fig Tree

The fig tree produces fruit then leaves which is why Yeshua expected to find fruit on the fig tree.  It was unnatural for a fig tree with leaves not to have fruit.  He used this unusual occurrence to prophesy about the nation of Isra’el and its spiritual condition.

According to Vines Expository Dictionary of Greek Terms, there are several Greek words for ‘curse’: ara, katara, anathematizo and epikaratos. None of these words is used in the accounts in Matthew 21:19 or Mark 11:14.  None of these words meaning ‘devoted to destruction,’ ‘wishing evil against,’ or ‘speaking evil against’ is used.  Yeshua never ‘cursed’ the fig tree. He never wished evil against it or devoted it to destruction.  He only spoke to the tree and told it that it would not bear fruit.  The Greek word in both Matthew and Mark is lego meaning ‘said, tell, declare.’  The Greek word for ‘curse’  in Peter’s exclamation is kataraomai and means ‘to pray against.’

The cursing of the fig treehas evolved from a skewed perspective of Isra’el and the Jewish people.  From this simple anti-semitic twist, many believe the Jews killed Jesus and are cursed.  They believe Isra’el has been replaced by the Church and the chosen people of Elohim have been set aside for a new religious group called Christians because they are cursed. This is not the truth; Yeshua never cursedthe fig tree.  A cursed fig tree would remain cursed and without hope. This is not what happened to the fig tree; this is not what is prophesied for Isra’el.  If the tree had not withered, Yeshua could not have used it as a prophetic sign for the end of the age.

As a symbol of apostate Isra’el, Yeshua doesn’t curse the fig tree and send Isra’el to destruction. Though he knew his people were being led by ‘blind guides,’ and were spiritually hungry, he did not speak a curse upon them.  Instead, he prophesied that the budding of new life on the fig tree would be a sign of his close return.

“The word of Adonai came to me: “Here is what Adonai the God of Isra’el says: ‘I will regard the exiles from Y’hudah, whom I sent away from this place to the land of the Kasdim, as good, just as I do these good figs. “‘I will look after them for their good, I will bring them back to this land; I will build them up and not tear them down, plant them and not pull them up. I will give them a heart to know me that I am Adonai. They will be my people, and I will be their God; for they will return to me with all their heart” (Jeremiah 24:4-7). 

Jeremiah’s prophecy for the ‘good figs’ and the regathering of the Jewish people back to the land of promise after 70 years of captivity in Babylon was fulfilled, however, they still have not returned wholeheartedly to Elohim.  This becomes the prophecy of Yeshua for the fig tree and spiritual Isra’el. 

The early crop of fig fruit may be compared to the small group of disciples turned apostles.   The ‘acid’ of the Spirit filling their lives burnt holes in the spiritual corruption of Isra’el.   They were inferior to the leadership that deceived the ‘lost sheep of the house of Isra’el.’   Yet, the testimony of these first few figs brought forth the fruit of the first century congregation of followers of Messiah.  Their actions and words are preserved in the gospels and the letters.

“Now let the fig tree teach you its lesson: when its branches begin to sprout and leaves appear, you know that summer is approaching.  In the same way, when you see all these things, you are to know that the time is near, right at the door.  Yes! I tell you that this people will certainly not pass away before all these things happen. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:32).

According to Yeshua’s prophecy, at an ‘appointed time’ near the end of the age and the restoration of the Kingdom, Isra’el would be restored as a nation.  The fig tree would bud.  This happened in 1948 when Isra’el became a nation again.  They would begin to have life when the leaves appeared which happened in 1967 when Isra’el regained control of Jerusalem and their ‘spiritual’ center.   The Messianic Jewish movement of Jewish people putting their faith in the Jewish Messiah, Yeshua took root.   This remnant of faithful returned to the Land and to Elohim wholeheartedly.    However, according to Yeshua, there will be no latter spiritual fruit until after the great apostasy and all of Isra’el cry out for him and welcome him back.  These edible figs will nourish the nations through the Messianic era.

“Look! God is abandoning your house to you! I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of Adonai!’ (Luke 13:35).

©2017 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.

The Olive Tree of Israel

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