by: Janet Aslin, BFP Staff Writer
“So they will say, ‘This land that was desolate has become like the Garden of Eden…’” Ezekiel 36:35
It was just a 25-minute drive from Jerusalem, but I felt like I had entered another world. A small group of friends had embarked on a day trip to the biblical heartland of Judea. When we arrived at the Arugot Farm, we gazed in awe at its location atop a mountain overlooking the wide expanse of Judean landscape. We were about to experience prophecy being fulfilled.
We were in the place the Bible calls the Wilderness of Ziph, where the future King David hid from King Saul and composed many of his psalms. Millennia ago, Abraham journeyed through these mountains. Four short years ago, this spot was empty—one could even say it was desolate. Today, four modern Jewish families have come to transform this empty land into the fruitful place the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Amos said it would become.
We were met by Ari Abramowitz, who took us around and explained what we were seeing. Abramowitz and his wife, along with Jeremy Gimpel and his family, are two of the four pioneering Jewish families in residence. Abramowitz explained that the land itself is in a strategic area of the Gush Etzion bloc and has been zoned by the State of Israel for agriculture and tourism.
Its founders see the farm as a place where people from around the world can come for “a uniquely life changing experience which provides illuminating context to the history, holiness, and glory of Judea for anyone seeking to connect to the destiny of Israel in the deepest way imaginable.” (thelandofisrael.com/the-arugot-farm/)
One of the first challenges came from a lack of water, a critical need if one is living in a desert and plans to grow anything. The nearest place from which a water line could be extended was 1.86 miles (3 km) away. In an action that would become a pattern, Gimpel and his wife gave the money they had been saving for a much-needed van to pay for bringing water to the farm. Similar accounts can be told of each family. They are totally invested, 100% involved and have no plan B if things don’t work out on their mountaintop.
Another challenge arose when several left-wing organizations opposed the Arugot Farm endeavor by bringing a lawsuit against them. The organizations believe settlements like these are an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians who have claimed the land for a future state. The word “settler” has received a bad rap from the media. The press has implied that the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria are somehow there illegally. How can it be illegal when the Jewish people return to the land of their inheritance? As far as the word “settler” is concerned, the Lord Himself uses the term, as evidenced in Isaiah 14:1, “For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will still choose Israel, and settle them in their own land” (emphasis added).
Finally, Abramowitz shared some of the security concerns they have faced during their first year as permanent residents. Daily they seek to establish and maintain neighborly relationships with the local Arabs and Bedouins. This is an ongoing opportunity and challenge.
Many of the newer communities in this area consist of caravans (or mobile homes), which are easy to place on the land. They also look a bit temporary. A striking feature of the Arugot Farm is the air of permanence one feels when looking at the solid structures that incorporate beautiful local stones. They are built to last!
The house of prayer with its domed roof is being built completely from local stones, which are fitted together by local Arab craftsmen. When completed, it will be a place where all can come to learn Torah (Gen.–Deut.) and pray. They have intentionally chosen not to refer to this building as a synagogue in order to promote unity between Jewish and Christian visitors.
The most striking feature of the farm is the pool—shimmering like a jewel in the heat of the desert. It is a special pool, one that requires no chemical treatment to keep the water pure! Its secret comes from the book of Isaiah, which speaks about desert pools surrounded by reeds (kaneh) and rushes (gomeh) (Isa. 35:7). Scientific evidence recently confirmed what Isaiah wrote—these specific plants keep the water clean.
In a recent podcast, Gimpel said it is like they are “living inside a dream and building that dream at the same time.” The work is ongoing and there may be adjustments as the dream is built, but one thing is certain, the Arugot Farm is a visible demonstration of the faithfulness of God who is bringing the Jewish people back to Judea.
A visit to the Arugot Farm will be a highlight of any trip to Israel. You can find details on the website at thelandofisrael.com/the-arugot-farm/.
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