Category Archive: Israel

Apr 07

Section of 2nd Temple-era column found at Temple Mount dig

Capital topped a column that stood 41 feet high, forming part of the double colonnade that surrounded the Temple Mount plaza to provide shade for the pilgrims who visited the mount • Temple Mount Sifting Project work stops due to funding crisis.

Yori Yalon|

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The capital of a carefully-adorned column that stood on the Temple Mount in the time of the Second Temple has been discovered through the Temple Mount Sifting Project.

The capital, whose size indicates that the column had a circumference of 75 centimeters (30 inches) at its top, is a section of one column that formed part of the double colonnade that surrounded the Temple Mount plaza.

In his book “The War of the Jews,” Romano-Jewish historian Josephus describes the columns that surrounded the Temple Mount plaza: “All the cloisters were double, and the pillars belonging to them were 25 cubits in height, and supported the cloisters. … The natural magnificence and excellent polish and the harmony of the joints in these cloisters afforded a prospect that was very remarkable.”

Dr. Gabriel Barkay, the director of the Temple Mount Sifting Project, said that “this is a capital in the Doric style, one of the characteristics of the art in the time of the Hasmonean dynasty. This appears to be the capital of a column formed part of the eastern colonnade of the Temple Mount, which Josephus and even the New Testament called ‘Solomon’s Porch.’ A column like this is impressive testimony of the immensity of the structures on the Temple Mount in the Second Temple era, and fits in well with Josephus’ narrative, which describes what he saw with his own eyes.”

Barkay explained that a 25-cubit column would have stood 12.5 meters (41 feet) high.

“The columns were erected in two parallel rows, and were topped with cedar rafters that supported the roofing. One can imagine the pilgrims arriving at the Temple Mount for the three major festivals, amazed at the immense structure that appeared before them after they passed through the gates to the Temple Mount into the plaza that surrounded the Temple. The columns around the plaza provided shade for the thousands of visitors that would be on the mount at once,” Barkay said.

The Temple Mount Sifting Project recently came to a halt due to a lack of funds. The project has been under way for more than a decade, sifting through the rubble discarded by the Islamic Movement in a major dig in 1999. On Monday, a campaign to raise funds to continue the project launched on the Giveback website.

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Apr 07

EU nations, Israel eye world’s longest undersea gas pipeline

Mediterranean, European countries see new gas pipeline as way to boost cooperation and boost supply.

AFP, 03/04/17 14:19

Italy, Israel, Greece and Cyprus pledged Monday to move ahead with the world’s longest undersea gas pipeline from the eastern Mediterranean to southern Europe, with support from the European Union.

If carried out as planned, the long-discussed $6.2 billion pipeline would take gas from Israel and Cyprus’s recently discovered offshore gas reserves to Europe and could help reduce the continent’s dependence on Russian energy at a time of ongoing tensions.

In a joint news conference in the Israeli commercial capital Tel Aviv, energy ministers from the four nations, as well as the EU’s Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Canete, pledged their commitment to the project.

Feasibility studies had been completed, the ministers said, but work on developing it would not begin for several years – with current expectations for it to go online in 2025.

“This is going to be the longest and deepest sub-sea gas pipeline in the world,” said Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud).

Gas prices have fallen, however, and the project’s financial feasibility is based on expectations they will rise again, Elio Ruggeri, chief executive of IGI Poseidon – one of the companies developing the plan – told AFP.

Both Israel and Cyprus have started to extract gas from their offshore fields in recent years, with far larger fields expected to come online in the future.

Officials from the countries have sought to market the gas to Europe as an alternative to dependence on Russian imports, and Canete admitted it would help limit reliance on the Nord Stream pipeline via Russia.

“The north stream is a pipeline (which) adds nothing to the security of supply,” said Canete. “Cyprus and Israel are very reliable suppliers.

“We highly value gas supply from the region as a vital source of our gas supply that can make a valuable contribution to our strategy to diversify sources, routes and suppliers.

“This is a pipe that unites and will have the full support of all the members of the European Union.”

The four ministers agreed to meet every six months for the coming years.

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Apr 02

Secret of Dead Sea Copper Scroll Unlocked, Revealing Location of Lost Temple Treasures

By Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz March 28, 2017 , 1:30 pm

“Within two full years will I bring back into this place all the vessels of Hashem‘S house, that Nevuchadnetzar king of Bavel took away from this place, and carried them to Bavel;” Jeremiah 28:3 (The Israel Bible™)

Part of the mysterious Copper Scroll found at the Qumran caves (Wikimedia Commons)

A Noahide and former criminal investigator believes he has deciphered an enigmatic 2,000-year-old message known as the Dead Sea Copper Scroll, concluding that it is a treasure map leading to the hiding place of the lost Temple utensils. But while archaeological experts agree with his theory, the political complications of the region make it unlikely that the treasures will be revealed any time soon.

The Copper Scroll, discovered in 1952 near Qumran on the shores of the Dead Sea, is an archaeological mystery. Though considered part of the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, the Copper Scroll differs in that it was found in situ – on location – and that unlike the other Dead Sea Scrolls, written on papyrus, the Copper Scroll, as its name suggests, was inscribed into a thin sheet of copper. The Hebrew used in the scroll also indicates it was written in a later period than the Dead Sea Scrolls.

There is a great deal of controversy surrounding the Copper Scroll. While the other Dead Sea Scrolls contain religious and Biblical works, the Copper Scroll is simply a list of 64 locations and corresponding amounts of gold and silver.

The predominant opinion states that the gold and silver listed in the scroll was money accumulated from the Bar Kochba Revolt against the Romans after the destruction of the Second Temple. But the expert opinion has a glaring flaw: one of the locations is described as holding priestly vestments.

At first glance, Jim Barfield seems like the most unlikely person to unlock the mystery of the Temple vessels’ hiding place. He is not Jewish, does not speak Hebrew, and is not an archaeologist. But Barfield’s other qualifications enabled him to unravel a mystery that has baffled archaeologists for over fifty years.

In 2006, Barfield set out to discover the truth of the Copper scroll, following in the footsteps of Vendyl Jones, a Texas preacher turned Biblical archaeologist. Jones believed Qumran to be the hiding place for the Temple vessels and spent 30 years searching. Using the Copper Scroll as a guide, Jones discovered a small vial of Persimmon Oil used to anoint kings and high priests and a large quantity of what he believed was Temple incense. Barfield met with Jones, now deceased, and discussed the scroll, taking up the challenge.

“Like Jones, I am a Noahide,” he explained to Breaking Israel News. “I want to return the Temple artifacts to the Jewish People. It’s time.”

Barfield approached the Copper Scroll as he would an investigation, searching for ruins that matched the ‘clues’ in the Copper Scroll and recording his findings in an investigative reports. Very quickly, he began to find results.

When a young man, Barfield piloted helicopters in the US Army. He used his map-reading skills to triangulate, using the references in the Copper Scroll to pinpoint locations around Qumran. In 2007, he went to Qumran and actually found those locations. In one case, the scroll described steps, 40 cubits long, heading east. Barfield did indeed find stairs conforming to the description. He also discovered the remains of a pool, precisely 40 cubits long, exactly where the scroll said it would  be. But lacking government permission, he could go no further.

In 2007, Barfield met with Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) director Shuka Dorfman. Dorfman was unreceptive at first, but as Barfield laid out his proofs, explaining the signposts described in the Copper Scroll, Dorfman became enthusiastic and arranged a meeting with veteran archaeologist Yuval Peleg.

Peleg was also skeptical at first, noting that he was intimately familiar with the site at Qumran. But after reviewing Barfield’s work, he too was overcome with curiosity. He agreed to dig some exploratory holes at the site with Barfield. Less than an hour after beginning shallow test pits, Peleg received a mysterious phone call. Without any explanation, Peleg shut down the dig.

A map of the Qumran caves and possible locations of Temple treasures. (Courtesy Jim Barfield)

But the effort was not in vain. Barfield took away a small piece of what he thought was mortar from an unusual rock formation in the vicinity of where he believed the cave entrance to be. He reasoned that if the Temple’s greatest treasures were being hidden away for future generations, they would be carefully sealed up to withstand the test of time. Barfield sent the piece of unidentified stone to be tested. The laboratory confirmed that the sample was not natural stone but indeed man-made mortar.

This finding conforms precisely to a description in the Book of Second Maccabees, a second-century Greek text telling of the revolt against Antiochus. The book describes the prophet Jeremiah who, with the help of five men, hid the holy objects of the Temple to protect them from the conquering Babylonians, “sealing the cave carefully” and recording the locations on a copper tablet.

Jeremiah came and found a cave-dwelling, and he brought there the tent and the ark and the altar of incense; then he sealed up the entrance. 2 Maccabees 2:5

Barfield requested to scan the area using a massive metal detector that can detect metal up to 50 feet deep, but his request was denied. While the non-intrusive method of investigation would have laid to rest any doubts as to whether Barfield’s theory was correct, the IAA routinely refuses any requests to investigate the Qumran Area. Though frustrated, Barfield understands their position.

“The way things stand today, if we do find anything of value, whether it is monetary or spiritual, there will immediately be efforts to take it away from Israel,” Barfield explained. “Jordan will claim the land used to belong to them, the Palestinians will claim they were here before the Jews so the Temple vessels belong to them. And the world will believe them. And even Egypt will come along and claim it was gold and silver the Jews took out from the Exodus. By keeping it in the ground, the Israeli government is protecting it.”

For the time being, Barfield’s investigation is stalled, awaiting government permission. Building the Third Temple is an explosive political issue, and finding the actual Temple vessels would thrust that issue into the forefront. With the answer tantalizingly close, Barfield believes public opinion can tip the scales and help defuse the opposition.

As more and more people visit the Temple Mount and the nascent Sanhedrin holding Temple reenactments with reinstated Kohanim (priests), it seems that it is only a matter of time

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Mar 30

Israel’s airstrike on Syria spooks Middle East

By Nicholas Blanford, The Arab Weekly   |   March 27, 2017 at 11:48 AM


BEIRUT, March 27 (UPI) — Israeli warplanes carrying out airstrikes on a shipment of Iranian arms to Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas in Syria managed to evade Syrian air-defense missiles but the incident is a graphic demonstration of how the war has the potential to further inflame the region.

There are likely to be further Israeli airstrikes against Hezbol­lah in Syria, reflecting deepening Israeli concerns that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and their Lebanese ally are establish­ing a new front on the divided Go­lan Heights from which to fight the Jewish state.

These developments are increas­ing the chances of a miscalculation that could trigger a war that both sides insist they do not want. As tensions mount amid an unprece­dented cluster of interlocking con­flicts across the hair-trigger region, clashes like the aerial action over Palmyra could easily escalate out of control.

The Israeli airstrikes climaxed after weeks of verbal threats from all sides, aggravated originally by the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump vowing to roll back Iran’s influence across the Middle East.

Israel has signaled repeatedly that it would not allow Iran to es­tablish a permanent presence in Syria nor permit Hezbollah to ob­tain game-changing weapons, such as advanced air-defense systems, anti-ship missiles and long-range guided missiles.

Israel first launched airstrikes against suspected Hezbollah arms consignments in January 2013. Since then there have been at least 19 airstrikes, most of them in the Damascus area and further north in the Qalamoun region where there are a large number of Syrian mili­tary bases, including missile sites.

Israel’s March 16 operation, involving four jet fighters, was its deepest strike inside Syria since 2013. The Israeli jets flew north over Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, Hez­bollah’s heartland, before entering Syrian air space and launching sev­eral missiles, reportedly at a con­voy carrying unspecified weapons for Hezbollah.

The target was in the Palmyra area of northeastern Syria and several reports claimed the convoy originated from the T-4 airbase at Tiyas, west of the oasis town. In response, Syria launched at least four anti-aircraft missiles, believed to be relatively antiquated Russian-built SA-5s.

Syria claimed one aircraft was shot down and another damaged. Israel insisted all four aircraft re­turned safely.

Unusually, Israel deployed an Ar­row anti-missile system for the first time in a combat situation to shoot down a Syrian missile that entered Israeli airspace. Fragments of the Arrow missile, which is designed to shoot down ballistic missiles at high altitudes, landed inside Jor­dan.

This, along with the air raid si­rens and sound of explosions in the night sky above Jerusalem, ap­parently compelled Israel to pub­licly admit for the first time that its aircraft had struck targets inside Syria.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made no secret that there may be more such attacks.

“When we identify attempts to transfer advanced arms to Hezbol­lah and we have intelligence in­formation and we have the opera­tional plan, we act to prevent it,” he said. “That’s what happened and that’s what will happen.”

The T-4 airbase is not an obvious location for gathering armaments destined for Hezbollah. It lacks underground facilities and is rela­tively distant from the Lebanese border. The main locations in Syria for Hezbollah arms repositories are believed to be in military bases near Adra and Qutayfah north of Damascus.

In the past, Iranian weapons for Hezbollah have supposedly been flown into Damascus airport or the nearby Mezzeh airbase. However, Israeli airstrikes at facilities at those locations as well as Qutayfah may have spurred Iran to seek to outmaneuver the watchful Israe­lis by using T-4.

Even so, T-4 is at least 175 miles from the Lebanese border over open terrain, making any arms vul­nerable to Israeli interception.

In earlier Israeli airstrikes in Syria, Damascus either publicly condemned the attacks or ignored them. However, the question now is whether the decision to launch anti-aircraft missiles at the Israeli jets was a one-off gesture of dis­pleasure or whether it marks a change in policy.

Bashar Jaafari, Syria’s U.N. envoy, said the Palmyra strike “changed the rules of the game” and that Is­rael should “think a million times from now on” before staging more attacks.

Israel, however, continues to signal its determination to target advanced weapons destined for Hezbollah. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned after the March 16 clash that the Israe­li Air Force would wipe out Syria’s air-defense system if its jets were targeted again.

With the Assad regime gaining the upper hand in much of Syria against rebel forces and with Iran and Hezbollah eyeing the Golan as a springboard against Israel, the risk of miscalculation is growing.

Hezbollah and Israel know only too well from experiences dating to the 1990s how easily a minor incident can quickly escalate out of control — such as in July 2006 when a Hezbollah border raid in south Lebanon triggered a massive Israeli response that flared into a highly destructive 34-day war

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Mar 27

IDF Chief of Staff: Next War Will Be With Hezbollah

By Ilana Messika March 20, 2017 , 10:30 am

“A time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.” Ecclesiastes 3:8 (The Israel Bible™)

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot said Sunday that Israel’s next war would be fought against Hezbollah, the Lebanese terror group that currently operates in in the Bekaa Valley, the southern suburbs of Beirut and southern Lebanon, adjacent to the Israeli border.

Speaking at a ceremony marking the transfer of leadership over the IDF Northern Command from Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi to Maj. Gen. Yoel Strick, Eizenkot said the IDF was not fooled by the recent silence from Hezbollah and that the IDF continues to follow developments in Lebanon and Syria with extreme vigilance.

“The Hezbollah group continues in its efforts to mobilize and arm itself with increasingly precise and deadly weaponry in order to harm the Israeli heartland. We endeavor to protect the security interests [of Israel] and operate in order to prevent transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah, and we will continue to do so in the future,” Eisenkot said.

In 2006 the two sides fought a 50-day war after Hezbollah kidnapped three Israeli soldiers in a cross-border attack. The Israeli air force destroyed much of Hezbollah’s military capability during the fighting but the group has steadily increased its strength over the ensuing years.

More recently, the terror group has kept the border with Israel quiet, but military officials in Israel view Hezbollah as a well-trained, well-equipped army. The group has taken an active role in the Syrian civil war, with Hezbollah forces fighting to keep President Bashar al-Assad in power. At the same time, Iran has helped the group expand its missile capability, both in terms of quantity and quality, and Hezbollah members have gained valuable combat experience in Syria.

Eizenkot’s remarks followed a report yesterday (Sunday) by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirming that Israeli warplanes bombed a car on a road last Friday near the Syrian town of Quneitra, located in the Golan Heights near the Israeli border. The driver was killed in the attack, but neither Damascus nor Jerusalem has responded to the report.

Also last week, IAF aircraft attacked and destroyed a shipment of what has been reported as a strategic weapons shipment destined for Hezbollah. The IDF spokesperson confirmed the attack, but did not release any information relating to the target. The attack was in response to the Arrow missile defense system successfully intercepting incoming Syrian missile as an apparent message to Russian President Vladimir Putin that Israel will act to block weapons shipments and will not tolerate Iranian involvement near the Syria-Israel border.

Netanyahu met with Putin on March 9 to discuss Iran’s aspirations to establish dominion over parts of Syria, including plans to construct a naval base at Latakia, following the conclusion of the civil war.

Netanyahu told Putin that Israel does not oppose any political arrangement for Syria as long as doesn’t include the permanent presence of Iran or one of its proxies near the Israeli border.

The prime minister and Defense Minister Liberman have repeatedly stated that Israel will not permit Iran to transfer advanced weaponry to Hezbollah and would act to defend the country’s security.

Incoming Maj. Gen. Yoel Strick stated that the reality in the north continues to shift at a very rapid pace and that the IDF will continue to enhance deterrence capabilities to prevent war. But added that if war should be break out the army would respond with determination and force.

Kochavi also emphasized a turbulent Middle East, but also said that Israel strives to maintain a unique balance of military strength with humanitarian concern.

“On one hand, [we] thwart enemy cells, and on the other [we] bring wounded civilians and children from an enemy country to Israel for medical treatment,” Kochavi said.

Kochavi will be promoted to deputy Chief of Staff.

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Mar 10

The Ark of the Covenant, which supposedly has contained the tablets with the Ten Commandments, is the subject of a new search

Mar 6, 2017


The fabled Ark of the Covenant is a wooden and gold box that is believed to hold the two stone tablets called the Ten Commandments.

It was lost to history and has never been re-discovered, but archaeologists suspect that it could be at the ancient site of Kiriath-Jearim in West Jerusalem.

Kiryat Ye’arim is located in Jerusalem, Israel Photo Credit

Researchers from France and Israel are getting together to search for this historical artifact.  They believe the Ark rests in a Biblical site that has not yet been extensively explored.  Kiriath-Jearim in West Jerusalem will be opened for research between August 7th and September 1st.  According to the Book of Samuel, the box was stored there for only two decades.

But the ancient site is mentioned many times in the Bible as a place of worship; it is also known as Ba’alah, Ba’ale Judah, and Kiryat Ba’al.  The site has not undergone any archaeological excavation; researchers are excited about being the first to explore this vast central site nestled in the Jerusalem hills.

Another place where the sacred Ark is rumored to be is in Ethiopia, where the Orthodox Church claims to have the Ark in the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion in the city of Aksum.

It is also thought to be in a cave on Mount Nebo in Jordan – the basis for this claim comes from an ancient text which states that the prophet Jeremiah buried it there.  Mount Nebo is believed to be the area where Moses saw the Promised Land.

Moses and Joshua are bowing before the Ark, painting by James Tissot, c. 1900

The Ark is thought to have been built a year after the Israelites had left Egypt. The Book of Exodus contains a description of how it was built.  It was large and had to be carried on poles. Linked to miracles in the Old Testament, it seems to have vanished from history around 597-586 BC, when the Babylonian Empire conquered the Israelites.

Scientists believe that even if something which resembles the Ark is found, its authenticity can hardly be proved or disproved through a scientific study. They consider it a Biblical artifact which rests on the border of myth and reality, Mail Online reported. The search for the Ark of the Covenant inspired the plot of The Raiders of the Lost Ark movie in 1981, one of the popular Indiana Jones series.

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Mar 07

Prominent Rabbi Predicts Earthquakes, Plane Crashes and War, But Israel Safe From Chaos

By Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz March 6, 2017 , 12:30 pm

“For the Lord GOD will do nothing but He revealeth His counsel unto His servants the prophets.” Amos 3:7 (The Israel Bible™)

As more of Rabbi Nir Ben Artzi’s past predictions come true, a recent sermon, predicting disasters including earthquakes, storms, and plane crashes as a result of divine judgement in response to political events, takes on powerful relevance to today’s times.

In his weekly sermon on Friday, Rabbi Ben Artzi,a prominent Israeli mystical rabbi, warned that these are exceptional times, with dire consequences waiting to happen. The mystical rabbi goes went great detail explaining current events in a new light, describing the cause-and-effect from an end-of-days perspective.

“The times will continue to be difficult and the judgements will continue to grow stronger: floods, volcanic eruptions, fires and heat, evil spirits, storms and earthquakes. Buildings will disappear into the ground – the ground will open up and swallow places in the world. Planes will collide and get lost, ships will get lost and sink.”

His predictions follow a number of similar incidents. Last summer saw a wave of major earthquakes, including a 7.8 magnitude quake in Ecuador that killed over 500 people, and a 7.3 magnitude quake in Japan that killed over 50. Seismologists predict many more, in a phenomenon prophecy connects to the end-of days. And while lost planes are uncommon in these technologically-advanced days, it is nearly three years to the day since Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 vanished into thin air.

Rabbi Ben Artzi’s other predictions focused on the Middle East, ranging from impact of Donald Trump’s presidency on Israel to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and radical Islam.

The rabbi had words of reassurance for Trump supporters who believe the president will be good for the Jewish State, asserting, “Trump is doing his real work in secret, in order to fix all the things that were made crooked.

“He doesn’t like to make this things public, and if he hasn’t yet done what he promised, he will.”

One prominent campaign promise that has yet to materialize is the much-discussed moving of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This weekend, however, with little fanfare or coverage in the media, a delegation of two congressmen arrived in Israel to begin scouting locations for the embassy in Jerusalem and putting the move into motion.

Moving on to the possibility of a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, Rabbi Ben Artzi predicted there would be no advances in negotiations, explaining that coexistence runs counter to the spiritual inclination of the Arabs.

“The Palestinians and Hamas don’t want peace,” he pronounced. “It is inscribed in their hearts to hate the Jews and to expel them from Israel. The Palestinians can live anywhere else in the Middle East, but they choose to cope with the difficulties in Israel in order to have a chance to harm the Jews.”

Despite their nefarious goals, however, he continued, the Arab world, even avowed enemies ISIS and Iran, will fail to harm Israel.

In fact, ISIS has an unexpected place in the divine plan – its role is actually to protect Israel from its enemies.

“ISIS will not be wiped out. God does not want it wiped out,” the rabbi said. “ISIS creates complications all over the world in certain countries so that they will leave Israel alone. ISIS and the Muslims hate Christians more than they hate Jews.”

Indeed, despite the combined effort of all the world’s superpowers, including US forces and the Russian military, ISIS has yet to be defeated. Since its founding in 2014, ISIS has committed dozens of terror attacks in Europe and Turkey and killed hundreds of civilians, apart from its genocidal plan to wipe out all non-Muslims within its territories.

As for Iran, Israel has little to fear — but America does, the respected leader said.

“Iran is still working to produce nuclear weapons,” the rabbi said. “America can use the [nuclear] agreement to reveal all the nuclear sites in Iran. But Israel is not in danger from these nuclear weapons. The threat of Iranian nuclear weapons is to America and the rest of the world.”

Rabbi Ben Artzi has made similar predictions in the past that have come true in shocking detail. Last month, Breaking Israel News reported a prediction made by the rabbi that black magic will make a comeback in the world, focused on world leaders like US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Less than two weeks later, opponents of President Trump gathered outside Trump Tower in New York City in an attempt to curse the president and his supporters, sending out a call on social media for others to join in, with detailed instructions on how to perform the black magic.

Another of the rabbi’s predictions that materialized concerned Russia providing Iran with the advanced S-300 anti-aircraft weapons system last summer.

“These missiles, which can shoot down practically any plane, will get a virus in their computers, and go crazy,” Rabbi Ben Artzi reassured his followers in September. “They will blow up inside their bunkers. The launcher will blow up underneath them.”

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Feb 28

Minister Offers Turkey Trade: Elephants for Ancient Hebrew Carving Proving Biblical Account of King Hezekiah

By Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz February 23, 2017 , 1:30 pm

“Now the rest of the acts of Chizkiyahu, and all his might, and how he made the pool, and the conduit, and brought water into the city, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Yehuda?” II Kings 20:20 (The Israel Bible™)

Facsimile of the Siloam Hebrew inscription. (Wikimedia Commons)

An Israeli minister on an official trip to Turkey tried to strike an unusual bargain with a Turkish official: two Sabra elephants for the return of a priceless Israeli artifact dating back to Biblical times that has been languishing in a Turkish museum for almost 150 years.

Miri Regev, Israel’s Minister of Culture and Sport, was in Gaziantep accompanying an Israeli basketball team for their match against a Turkish team. The day after the game, Regev had an informal meeting with the mayor of the city, Fatma Sahin. During the conversation, Sahin mentioned that the city’s zoo was suffering from a pachyderm problem: they only had one elephant and wanted more.

The Turkish mayor said jokingly, “We’re willing to work for it.”

A native Israeli used to bargaining in the open-air shuk, Regev jumped on the opportunity. Via a translator, she said to Sahin, “We’ll make a deal. We’ll give them two elephants, and they’ll give us the inscription of Hezekiah.”

Though Regev’s comment may have sounded like light-hearted banter, the Israeli government’s interest in the inscription is serious. The inscription of Hezekiah records the construction of the tunnel of the Shiloah spring that runs under the Temple Mount and essentially confirms the Biblical account of the project.

Now the rest of the acts of Chizkiyahu, and all his might, and how he made the pool, and the conduit, and brought water into the city, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Yehuda? II Kings 20:20

Written in Paleo-Hebrew in the 8th century BCE, it is one of the oldest extant records of its kind. Discovered by an Arab youth in 1880, it was taken by the British Consul to the Ottoman capital and has been on permanent exhibit in the Istanbul Archaeology Museum since.

The inscription has been translated as follows:

… the tunnel … and this is the story of the tunnel while …the axes were against each other and while three cubits were left to (cut?) … the voice of a man …called to his counterpart, (for) there was ZADA in the rock, on the right … and on the day of the tunnel (being finished) the stonecutters struck each man towards his counterpart, ax against ax and flowed water from the source to the pool for 1,200 cubits. and (100?) cubits was the height over the head of the stonecutters …

The inscription’s significance is undeniable: it confirms the Biblical account of a Jewish king constructing the existent water system in Jerusalem. The construction of the conduit was an important factor in safeguarding the mountaintop city’s only source of water against an imminent attack by the Babylonian King Sennacherib. It was a remarkable feat of engineering for its time, requiring four years to complete. Two teams dug through solid stone from opposite ends, finally meeting in the middle.

It is not known how Sahin responded, but previous requests by the Israeli government were rebuffed. In 1998, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered to trade Turkish antiquities in Israeli museums for the precious Hebrew inscription, but his offer was rejected.

Another request in 2007 by former President Shimon Peres to borrow the inscription for a short period was initially accepted by the Turkish president Abdullah Gül, but the loan never materialized.

In 2007, Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski met with Turkey’s ambassador to Israel, Namık Tan, and requested that the tablet be returned to Jerusalem as a “goodwill gesture.”Turkey rejected the request. President Abdullah Gul said that Turkey would arrange for the inscription to be shown in Jerusalem for a short period, but this has yet to happen

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Feb 28

Is the Temple Menorah Hidden in the Vatican? Ancient Legend Says ‘Yes’

By Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz February 22, 2017 , 12:30 pm

“And he said unto me: ‘What seest thou?’ And I said: ‘I have seen and behold a candlestick all of gold with a bowl upon the top of it and its seven lamps thereon.’” Zechariah 4:2 (The Israel Bible™)

Arch of Titus Menorah Relief in Rome (Wikimedia Commons)

An ancient legend which holds that the Temple menorah is hidden away in the depths of the Vatican is coming to light again with the announcement of an upcoming exhibit jointly hosted by the Papal seat and Rome’s ancient Jewish community. Intended to showcase the growing Jewish-Vatican relationship, the theme of the exhibit actually brings this sore subject to the forefront, raising suspicions that despite a long tradition of Vatican protests, the rumors persist for good reason.

Arnold Nesselrath, a Vatican Museums official, announced the theme of the upcoming exhibit on Monday, noting that the connection between the Vatican and the menorah is graphically illustrated in an image frescoed on a wall of the Vatican’s Borgia Apartment. The apartment was built for Pope Alessandro VI, whose papacy began in 1492, the same year Spanish Jews were given the choice of forced conversion to Catholicism or expulsion.

Organizers said in the statement that the exhibit “recounts the multi-millennia, incredible and suffered history of the menorah.” The story of the menorah’s suffering began in 70 CE, when the Temple was destroyed and the menorah, standing over 5 feet tall and made from over 130 pounds of solid gold, was taken into exile in Rome by the Emperor Titus.

This event is illustrated in the famous Arch of Titus Menorah Relief, which depicts Roman soldiers carrying the menorah away after the destruction of the temple. Jewish sources also contain many first-hand accounts reporting the Menorah being seen in Rome soon after the destruction of the Temple.

Josephus Flavius, a first-century Roman-Jewish scholar of priestly descent, reported that the Temple artifacts were indeed taken to Rome and placed in Vespasian’s Temple of Peace, completed in 75 CE.

The historic trail of the menorah seems to have been lost during the 5th century. Historians  conjecture that the artifact was taken by the Vandals who sacked Rome in 455, after which it was melted down and the gold dispersed. But there are no historical accounts from this time relating the event.

Since that time, there have been several unverified sightings of the Menorah in the Vatican, but most are second-hand or anecdotal claims that point fingers without providing actual proof.  In the second half of the 12th century a Spanish Jew known as Benjamin of Tudela made a tour of the known world, traveling as far east as Mesopotamia. He claims in his journal that the Jews of Rome knew that the Temple vessels were hidden in a cave in the Vatican.

These rumors continue until today. The Vatican receives hundreds of letters every year from Jews and non-Jews requesting the vessels be returned to the Jewish People. Though the Vatican responds there is no proof of the Temple vessels being in their possession, requests for their return continue. In a meeting with Pope John Paul II in 1996, Shimon Shitrit, then the Israeli Minister of Religious Affairs requested the Vatican’s aid in searching for the Temple vessels as “a goodwill gesture”. Haaretz reported that “a tense silence hovered over the room after Sheetreet’s request was heard.”

Following Shitrit’s bold appeal, Israel’s Chief Rabbis Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar made a similar request upon their first visit to the Vatican. This was repeated when then-President Moshe Katsav visited the Vatican. In 2004, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) sent a team to Rome to search the Vatican storerooms for signs of archaeological artifacts. They reported finding nothing unexpected.

And still, the rumors persist. In 2013, just before the newly-elected Pope Francis came to Israel for his first official visit, Rabbi Yonatan Shtencel, a resident of Jerusalem, made a sensation in the media when he wrote a letter to the Vatican requesting that the Pope take the opportunity to return the golden menorah stolen from the Temple. Shtencel turned to the new Pope as a leader with a “willingness to listen to other nations”.

“It is time for the holy vessels, stolen at the time of these difficult historical events and taken to Rome as spoils of war and remaining to this day in the hands of the Vatican authorities and under your control, to change status,” Rabbi Shtencel wrote. He stated that by doing so, the many years the Vatican had possessed the vessels would change from theft to a “trusteeship” for the Jewish People.

Archbishop Guiseppe Lazzaratto  responded, saying the Vatican had given the matter “serious attention”. Though he did not admit the Temple vessels were in the Vatican, neither did he deny it. He reaffirmed the growing affinity between the Church and the Jews, noting that withholding the vessels would go against that trend.

“If you can provide me with any evidence that the sacred vessels are indeed kept in the archives or somewhere else in the Vatican, I will be very pleased to forward your request to the Prefect of the same archives and to Pope Francis himself,” he replied.

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Feb 17

Trump Renounces US Commitment to Two States

By Tazpit Press Service February 16, 2017 , 8:30 am

“And I will plant them upon their land and they shall no more be plucked up out of their land which I have given them saith Hashem thy God.” Amos 9:15 (The Israel Bible™)

President Donald Trump has announced that US Middle East policy is no longer wedded to the two-state solution.

Speaking at a joint press conference at the White House, at the conclusion of his meeting with PM Netanyahu, the American President said he doesn’t care whether a peace agreement is based on a one state or two state solution, as long as it works. “I’m looking at two states and one state. I am very happy with the one that both parties like. I thought for a while the two state might be easier to do, but honestly if Bibi and the Palestinians, if Israel and the Palestinians are happy, then I am happy with the one they like the best,” Trump said.

He also said that both parties understood that any peace agreement entails compromise from both sides.

Regarding settlements, the US President said he had asked Netanyahu to “go easy” for a while.

He also criticized the UN over the way it treated Israel, saying it was unfair.

He reiterated his commitment to work towards achieving a peace agreement. “Our administration is committed to working with Israel and our common allies in the region towards greater security and stability.  That includes working toward a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.  The United States will encourage a peace and, really, a great peace deal.  We’ll be working on it very, very diligently.  But ultimately it is the parties themselves who must directly negotiate such an agreement.  We’ll be beside them; we’ll be working with them, but it’s up to them.”

The Israeli Prime Minister opened his remarks by thanking President and Melania Trump for “the truly warm hospitality you have shown me, my wife Sara and our entire delegation.”

After emphasizing the strong bonds of common values that are the foundations of the “remarkably strong” alliance between Israel and the US, he said those values were under attack from radical Islam.

“Our alliance is based on a deep bond of common values and common interest, and increasingly, those values and interests are under attack by one malevolent force: radical Islamic terror. Mr. President, you’ve shown great clarity and courage in confronting this challenge head on,” Netanyahu said.

“You call for confronting Iran’s terrorist regime, preventing Iran from realizing this terrible deal into a nuclear arsenal, and you have said that the United States is committed to preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons. You call for the defeat of ISIS. Under your leadership, I believe we can reverse the rising tide of radical Islam, and in this great task, as in so many others, Israel stands with you, and I stand with you.

“Mr. President, in rolling back militant Islam, we can seize an historic opportunity, because for the first time in my lifetime and for the first time in the life of my country, Arab countries in the region do not see Israel as an enemy, but increasingly – as an ally.”

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