The Restoration of Israel

Online Course Part 1: How did the modern State of Israel become a reality? What is the Jewish People’s connection to the Land of Israel? What is the significance of the Abrahamic Covenant?

In Part-1 of the course, “The Restoration of Israel”, we will explore key moments that helped shape Israel over thousands of years. Throughout Scripture, Israel is promised a last-day restoration in the land. This promise rests on the faithful character of God, that He can be trusted to carry out His promises. The Restoration of Israel studies track consists of a set of required readings through both the Old and New Testaments, giving the participant an increased understanding of the Jewish roots of our Christian faith, the implications of Scripture as it relates to modern Israel and an increased connection to the Bible from a personal faith standpoint.

* This course is a joint effort of the Israel Impact Tour & Israel Answers (www.israelanswers.com).


Israel Impact Tour, Mount Bental, Israel.
What is the Jewish people’s connection to the Land of Israel?

Jews have maintained a continuous presence in the Land of Israel for more than 3,000 years – a fact that is supported by substantial archeological and historical evidence.

  • There was a politically independent Jewish Kingdom from approximately 1000 BC until 586 BC – and from 165 BC until 63 BC, when the Kingdom became a client state of the Roman Empire.
  • Roman emperors have long acknowledged Jewish traditions and Jerusalem’s centrality in Judaism. Augustus issued the following edict in 1 BC: “Jews shall use their own customs in accordance with their ancestral law…and their sacred offerings shall be inviolable and shall be sent to Jerusalem; and they shall not [be required to appear] in court on the Sabbath.”
  • Jews got their name from their land of origin, Judea. It was not until the Romans expelled many Jews from Israel in 135 AD that they renamed the area Palestine in an attempt to de-Judaize it.
  • There is extensive documentation of the Jewish presence in Jerusalem and the Land of Israel.

Jerusalem has been the Jewish people’s capital for more than three millennia.

  • There are nearly 700 mentions of Jerusalem in the Hebrew Bible.
  • More than a hundred generations of dispersed Jews prayed three times a day to return to Jerusalem.

The sacred texts of both Christianity and Islam confirm the Jewish people’s connection to the Land of Israel.

  • The New Testament confirms the Jewish connection to the land in St. Stephen’s sermon in Act 7 and in Hebrews 11.
  • “…and said to him, ‘Get out of your country and from your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you.’ Then he came out of the land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Haran. And from there, when his father was dead, He moved him to this land in which you now dwell.” (Acts 7:3-4)
  • “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise.” (Hebrews 11:8-9)
  • The Koran refers frequently to Jews and identifies them with Israel and the Promised Land.
  • “And thereafter We said to the Children of Israel: ‘Dwell securely in the Promised Land.” (Sura 17:104 The Night Journey).
  • The Koran describes Solomon’s construction of the First Temple (Sura 34:13) and recounts the destruction of the First and Second Temples (Sura 17:7).

Jews have been a majority in Jerusalem for the last 150 years.

  • The Jewish population was decimated by the Crusaders in the 12th century AD, but it eventually rebounded. By the 1880s, when the Ottoman Empire ruled the city, Jews once again became the largest religious group in Jerusalem. At that time, there were 9,000 Jews and 7,000 Arabs living in the city.

The Hebrew Bible relates that the patriarch Abraham came to the Land of Canaan with his family and followers in approximately 1800 BC. His grandson Jacob went down to Egypt with his family, and after several centuries there, the Israelites went back to Canaan under Moses and Joshua, entering it in about 1300 BC.

A few decades after the fall of the Kingdom of Judah and the Babylonian exile of the Jewish people, approximately 50,000 Jews returned to Zion following the Cyrus Declaration from 538 BC. The Jewish priestly scribe Ezra led the Jewish exiles living in Babylon to their home city of Jerusalem in 459 BC.


Second Temple period

Jews returned to the Land of Israel throughout the era of the Second Temple. Herod the Great also encouraged aliyah and often gave key posts, such as the position of High Priest to returnees.


200–500 AD

In late antiquity, the two hubs of rabbinic learning were Babylonia and the land of Israel. Throughout the Amoraic period, many Babylonian Jews immigrated to the land of Israel and left their mark on life there, as rabbis and leaders.


10th–11th century

In the 10th century, leaders of the Karaite Jewish community, mostly living under Persian rule, urged their followers to settle in Eretz Yisrael. The Karaites established their own quarter in Jerusalem, on the western slope of the Kidron Valley. During this period, there is abundant evidence of pilgrimages to Jerusalem by Jews from various countries, mainly in the month of Tishrei, around the time of the Sukkot holiday.


1200–1882

The number of Jews migrating to the land of Israel rose significantly between the 13th and 19th centuries, mainly due to a general decline in the status of Jews across Europe and an increase in religious persecution. The expulsion of Jews from England (1290), France (1391), Austria (1421), and Spain (the Alhambra decree of 1492) were seen by many as a sign of approaching redemption and contributed greatly to the messianic spirit of the time.

Aliyah was also spurred during this period by the resurgence of messianic fervor among the Jews of France, Italy, the Germanic states, Poland, Russia, and North Africa.[citation needed] The belief in the imminent coming of the Jewish Messiah, the ingathering of the exiles and the re-establishment of the kingdom of Israel encouraged many who had few other options to make the perilous journey to the land of Israel.

Pre-Zionist resettlement in Palestine met with various degrees of success. For example, little is known of the fate of the 1210 “aliyah of the three hundred rabbis” and their descendants. It is thought that few survived the bloody upheavals caused by the Crusader invasion in 1229 and their subsequent expulsion by the Muslims in 1291. After the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453 and the expulsion of Jews from Spain (1492) and Portugal (1498), many Jews made their way to the Holy Land. Then the immigration in the 18th and early 19th centuries of thousands of followers of various Kabbalist and Hassidic rabbis, as well as the disciples of the Vilna Gaon and the disciples of the Chattam Sofer, added considerably to the Jewish populations in Jerusalem, Tiberias, Hebron, and Safed.

The messianic dreams of the Gaon of Vilna inspired one of the largest pre-Zionist waves of immigration to Eretz Yisrael. In 1808 hundreds of the Gaon’s disciples, known as Perushim, settled in Tiberias and Safed, and later formed the core of the Old Yishuv in Jerusalem. This was part of a larger movement of thousands of Jews from countries as widely spaced as Persia and Morocco, Yemen and Russia, who moved to Israel beginning in the first decade of the nineteenth century—and in even larger numbers after the conquest of the region by Muhammad Ali of Egypt in 1832—all drawn by the expectation of the arrival of the Messiah in the Jewish year 5600, Christian year 1840, a movement documented in Arie Morgenstern’s Hastening Redemption.

There were also those who like the British mystic Laurence Oliphant tried to lease Northern Palestine to settle the Jews there (1879).


Key dates from 1882-1967 that helped the modern State of Israel become a reality:


1882

The First Aliyah followed pogroms in Russia in 1881-1882, with most of the olim (immigrants) coming from Eastern Europe; a small number also arrived from Yemen. Members of Hibbat Zion and Bilu, two early Zionist movements that were the mainstays of the First Aliyah.

Most chose agricultural settlement as their way of life and founded moshavot — farmholders’ villages based on the principle of private property. Three early villages of this type were Rishon Lezion, Rosh Pina, and Zikhron Ya’akov.

The First Aliyah settlers encountered many difficulties, including an inclement climate, disease, and crippling Turkish taxation. They required assistance and received scanty aid from Hibbat Zion, and more substantial aid from Baron Edmond de Rothschild. He provided the moshavot with his patronage and the settlers with economic assistance, thereby averting the collapse of the settlement enterprise. The Yemenite olim, most of whom settled in Jerusalem, were first employed as construction workers and later in the citrus plantations of the moshavot.

In all, nearly 35,000 Jews arrived during the First Aliyah. Almost half of them left the country within several years of their arrival, some 15,000 established new rural settlements, and the rest moved to the towns.


1897

The first Zionist Congress was called by Theodor Herzl as a symbolic Parliament for those in sympathy with the implementation of Zionist goals. Herzl had planned to hold the gathering in Munich, but due to local Jewish opposition he transferred the gathering to Basel, Switzerland. The Congress took place in the concert hall of the Basel Municipal Casino on August 29, 1897.

There is some dispute as to the exact number of participants at this First Zionist Congress, however, the approximate figure is 200 people from seventeen countries, sixty-nine of whom were delegates from various Zionist societies and the remainder individual invitees.

Following a festive opening in which the representatives were expected to arrive in formal dress, tails and white tie, the Congress got down to the business at hand. The main items on the agenda were the presentation of Herzl’s plans, the establishment of the World Zionist Organization and the declaration of Zionism’s goals-the Basel program.

In the version submitted to the Congress on the second day of its deliberations (August 30) by a committee under the chairmanship of Max Nordau, it was stated: “The aim of Zionism is to create for the Jewish people a home in Eretz­Israel secured by law.”

To meet halfway the request of numerous delegates, the most prominent of whom was Leo Motzkin, who sought the inclusion of the phrase “by international law,” a compromise formula proposed by Herzl was eventually adopted:

Zionism seeks to establish a home for the Jewish people in Eretz­Israel secured under public law. The Congress contemplates the following means to the attainment of this end:

1. The promotion by appropriate means of the settlement in Eretz-Israel of Jewish farmers, artisans, and manufacturers.
2. The organization and uniting of the whole of Jewry by means of appropriate institutions, both local and international, in accordance with the laws of each country.
3. The strengthening and fostering of Jewish national sentiment and national consciousness.
4. Preparatory steps toward obtaining the consent of governments, where necessary, in order to reach the goals of Zionism.

At the Congress, Herzl was elected President of the Zionist Organization and Max Nordau one of three Vice-Presidents. Thereafter, the Zionist Congress met every year (1897­1901), then every second year (1903-1913, 1921-1939). Since World War II, meetings have been held approximately every four years.


1917

The Battle of Jerusalem occurred during the British Empire’s “Jerusalem Operations” against the Ottoman Empire, when fighting for the city developed from 17 November, continuing after the surrender until 30 December 1917. Before Jerusalem could be secured, two battles were recognised by the British as being fought in the Judean Hills to the north and east of the Hebron–Junction Station line. These were the Battle of Nebi Samwill from 17 to 24 November and the Defence of Jerusalem from 26 to 30 December 1917. They also recognised within these Jerusalem Operations, the successful second attempt on 21 and 22 December 1917 to advance across the Nahr el Auja, as the Battle of Jaffa, although Jaffa had been occupied as a consequence of the Battle of Mughar Ridge on 16 November.


1929-1939

Between 1929 and 1939, with the rise of Nazism in Germany, a new wave of 250,000 immigrants arrived; the majority of these, 174,000, arrived between 1933 and 1936, after which increasing restrictions on immigration by the British made immigration clandestine and illegal, called Aliyah Bet. The Fifth Aliyah was again driven almost entirely from Europe, mostly from Central Europe (particularly from Poland, Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia), but also from Greece. A small number of Jewish immigrants also came from Yemen. The Fifth Aliyah contained large numbers of professionals, doctors, lawyers, and professors, from Germany. Refugee architects and musicians introduced the Bauhaus style (the White City of Tel Aviv has the highest concentration of International Style architecture in the world with a strong element of Bauhaus) and founded the Palestine Philharmonic Orchestra. With the completion of the port at Haifa and its oil refineries, significant industry was added to the predominantly agricultural economy. The Jewish population reached 450,000 by 1940.


1947

The United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine was a proposal by the United Nations, which recommended a partition of Mandatory Palestine at the end of the British Mandate. On 29 November 1947, the UN General Assembly adopted the Plan as Resolution 181 (II).[2]

The resolution recommended the creation of independent Arab and Jewish States and a Special International Regime for the city of Jerusalem. The Partition Plan, a four-part document attached to the resolution, provided for the termination of the Mandate, the progressive withdrawal of British armed forces and the delineation of boundaries between the two States and Jerusalem. Part I of the Plan stipulated that the Mandate would be terminated as soon as possible and the United Kingdom would withdraw no later than 1 August 1948. The new states would come into existence two months after the withdrawal, but no later than 1 October 1948. The Plan sought to address the conflicting objectives and claims of two competing movements, Palestinian nationalism and Jewish nationalism, or Zionism.[3][4] The Plan also called for Economic Union between the proposed states, and for the protection of religious and minority rights.


1948

On May 14, 1948, in Tel Aviv, Jewish Agency Chairman David Ben-Gurion proclaims the State of Israel, establishing the first Jewish state in 2,000 years. In an afternoon ceremony at the Tel Aviv Art Museum, Ben-Gurion pronounced the words “We hereby proclaim the establishment of the Jewish state in Palestine, to be called Israel,” prompting applause and tears from the crowd gathered at the museum.


1967

Jerusalem Day is an Israeli national holiday commemorating the reunification of Jerusalem and the establishment of Israeli control over the Old City in the aftermath of the June 1967 Six-Day War. The day is officially marked by state ceremonies and memorial services.


Does Israel violate international law?
  • In the midst of a region filled with tyranny, violence, and human rights abuses, Israel strictly abides by the tenets of international law.
  • The Israel Defense Forces incorporate the principles of international law into their basic doctrine. All of Israel’s government and military decisions are overseen by the nation’s Supreme Court.
    Israel’s enemies have distorted its human rights record.
    The misuse of international law to target Israel has distracted attention from real human rights abuses around the world.
  • By contrast, Palestinian leaders in the West Bank and Gaza are systematic violators of international law.
  • In Gaza, Hamas oppresses women, persecutes minorities, and murders its political opponents.
  • The Palestinian Authority frequently employs torture and jails political opponents in the West Bank simply for disagreeing. Learn more about the Palestinian Authority’s “Democratic Deficit”.

What is the significance of the Abrahamic Covenant?

The Abrahamic Covenant has greatly influenced the course of human history, as it was the watershed moment in God’s decision to save the world from sin (Galatians 3:8). The promise is affirmed as an everlasting covenant throughout the Bible (Genesis 17:7-8); Psalm 105:9-12), and the Apostle Paul confirmed that it could never be annulled (Galatians 3:17). Most theologians agree that the covenant was unconditional, although some believe it was conditional upon Abraham showing his willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac (Genesis 22:15-18) – an act that Abraham fulfilled completely. The return of the Jewish people to the Land of Canaan – their everlasting possession – is in fulfillment of the promises contained in the Abrahamic Covenant.


Why is the Land of Promise in the Abrahamic Covenant so important?
  • The God of the Bible is the God of the whole earth. Yet, His promise of this one little piece of land to one family – the descendants of Abraham through Isaac and then Jacob – is confirmed and repeated in the scriptures 46 times. Clearly, this attention affirms the importance of the land in God’s purposes. Land is a necessary element for forming a nation, and here it provided an essential foundation for the children of Israel to grow in numbers and build a national identity with national institutions.
  • The land also provided a stage on which the Almighty God carried out his plan of world redemption. Since the gifts and callings of God are irrevocable (Romans 11:29), and Israel would never cease to be a nation before Him (Jeremiah 31:36), their possession of this land is also everlasting (Genesis 17:8). Indeed, God’s faithfulness to this Covenant is held up before discouraged believers in the Book of Hebrews as proof that He will be faithful to the promises made to them in the New Covenant (Hebrews 6:13-20).


Click here to take the Quiz for “The Restoration of Israel”

arrow