Israel and the Bible

September 1, 2020

by: Rebecca J. Brimmer, Bridges for Peace

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Israel is often called “the Land of the Bible.” The land itself brings the Bible to life. Modern cities and towns have ancient biblical names. The plants, trees, birds and animals are talked about in the Bible. Father Bargil Pixner, a Catholic priest, described the land as the “fifth gospel.” Everywhere you turn in Israel, you will encounter the Bible.

Education

When you study geography or history in Israeli schools, the Bible is one of your reference books. Field trips are often to biblical sites. Where better to learn about David and Goliath than in the very place the battle occurred? Even in secular circles, Bible study is popular. A nationwide Bible quiz program attracts participants from both the religious and secular communities. Religious men devote themselves to study. Many work a full-time job and then study Torah (Gen.–Deut.) in the evenings.

Valley of Elah where David fought Goliath

Culture

A visit to the zoo in Jerusalem is a must. The animals live in beautiful habitats. The habitats have explanatory signs that include a Scripture reference for each animal. My favorite thing is a huge rock called the Moses Rock. It dominates the landscape. Water flowing from the rock streams through the zoo—a graphic idea of the rock that provided Israel with water in the desert. 

Art museums feature biblical scenes. The Israel museum exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls, mostly Bible texts from 2,000 years ago, draws thousands of visitors each year.  Nearby is the Bible Lands Museum that features artifacts from the entire Levant. 

Noah’s Ark at the Biblical Zoo

Music, even popular music, often features biblical and spiritual themes. Driving down the road one day, I was listening to Army Radio, a popular Hebrew language station. A song started playing that immediately caught my attention. It was all about the great gifts that God gives and ends with a prayer for peace. I loved the song, but even more, I loved that God was being honored, thanked and prayed to on a secular radio station. 

Street names are often biblical in nature. In the center of Jerusalem, we find the following streets: Tribes of Israel (Shivtei Israel), Prophets (Hanevi’im), Deborah the Prophetess (Devorah haNevia) and Jeremiah Street.  

Leadership

Dead Sea Scrolls

Israeli military leaders study the ancient battles to gain strategic ideas for future battles in the same locales. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is not considered religious, hosts regular Bible studies in his office and home. His speeches often refer to the Bible. He is not the only one. I attended a Hanukkah (Feast of Dedication) program for families who had lost a son in battle. The audience was mixed, including religious, secular, rich, poor, immigrants from Ethiopia, Russia, Ukraine and more. Each speaker spoke about the miracles of God in the land of Israel. Prayers were said and the Bible explained. Current and former military officers were among the speakers.

Not Just for the Synagogue

Israeli homes become a little sanctuary each Shabbat (Sabbath). According to polls, approximately 75% of the population keeps the Shabbat with prayers, Bible discussions and songs. The holidays in Israel are biblical holidays. Each of them has biblical customs and biblical passages which are read and studied. 

Shabbat dinner

Come to Israel and encounter the Bible anew. In Israel, it is part of the very fabric of the land and people. In the meantime, let’s get the Bible off the shelf and into our hearts.

Photo Credit: All photos: bridgesforpeace.com

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