News Letter 5850-004
26th day of the 1st month 5850 years after the creation of Adam
The 1st Month of Aviv in the Fifth year of the Third Sabbatical Cycle
The 7th day of Counting the Omer
The Third Sabbatical Cycle of the 119th Jubilee Cycle
The Sabbatical Cycle of Earthquakes, Famines and Pestilence
April 26, 2014
Shabbat Shalom Family,
Today is the 7th day of counting the Omer. It is the first of the weekly Sabbaths that occur within that count. We read in Luke of Yehshua declaring the Sabbatical year in 28 C.E. and then in Luke 6 of them eating the grain which was standing and had not been harvested because it was a Sabbatical year.
Luke 4:16 And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And, as His custom was, He went in to the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up to read.17 And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And unrolling the book, He found the place where it was written,18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on Me; because of this He has anointed Me to proclaim the Gospel to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim deliverance to the captives, and new sight to the blind, to set at liberty those having been crushed,19 to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”20 And rolling up the book, returning it to the attendant, He sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fastened on Him.21 And He began to say to them, Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your ears.
Luke 6:1 And it happened on the second chief Sabbath, He went through the grain fields. And His disciples plucked the heads of grain and ate, rubbing them in their hands.
Each day there are Psalms that are read during this counting of the Omer. We have them listed for you in the back of our book Remembering the Sabbatical Year of 2016. Please read them and be blessed each day as you count the days leading to Shavuot.
This year I will be speaking in Ohio for Shavuot:
Shavuot Weekend 2014 is June 6-8, 2014. We will hold our annual Shavuot camp-out weekend with fellowship and teaching.
Joseph Dumond of sightedmoon.com and author of The Prophecies of Abraham, Remembering the Sabbatical Years, and the soon to be released The 2300 Days of Hell will be our guest speaker for the weekend.
The grounds will open at 2 pm on Friday with a shared supper at 6 pm followed with Josephs’s Opening Session at 7:30 pm. We will have teaching sessions on Shabbat and Shavuot as well as plenty of time for fellowship. The main meals (lunch on Shabbat and Shavuot) will be shared meals as well.
You are welcome to camp on the grounds, stay in a local motel, or commute to and from the grounds.
We will be taking up a love offering.
RSVP by Friday, May 23, 2014 by e-mailing email@example.com or calling 740-666-0930. Please feel free to contact us for more information or with any questions.
More about our guest speaker:
Joseph Dumond has been speaking publicly about the Sabbatical and Jubilee Cycles since August of 2005. On his website, he published a series of Newsletters which were later turned into his first book entitled The Prophecies of Abraham which deals specifically with the patterns recorded in the Patriarch’s lives based on the Sabbatical and Jubilee’s Cycles in history.
Since then, he has gone on to write Remembering the Sabbatical Years of 2016 which was released in 2013. This book deals specifically with every objection and question raised regarding the Sabbatical and Jubilee years. Joseph is soon to release his latest literary work entitled The 2300 Days of Hell which will deal specifically with the Covenant made with many, the 2 Witnesses, the 2300 days of Daniel 8, Daniel 9:24-27, as well as the 1260, 1290, & 1335 days of Daniel chapter 12; all of which can only be understood by first understanding the Sabbatical and Jubilee year cycles as well as the Holy Days of Leviticus 23. This book also repeatedly warns of the prophesied destruction coming soon to the Saints who will not obey Yehovah and guard His Torah.
Joseph’s passion and calling is this work. He has been shown these patterns by Yehovah and how they have effected Israel the people, both houses – Judah and Ephraim – as Scripture records right up to our modern day as well as how they will impact our very near future. He has worked tirelessly to promote these teachings and to present them to unsuspecting Ephramites and Judaic millions who have no idea what is about to be unleashed upon them! Why? Because they have not kept the Sabbatical Cycles nor the Covenant they agreed to at Mount Sinai. Judgment does, indeed, begin in the Household of Yehovah.
Joseph resides near Toronto, Canada with his wife of 36 years and has 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren.
The following is the report I wrote as it happened during my latest trip back to Israel to observe Passover:
I am sitting up on the roof of the Jerusalem Hostel writing this to you. It has been a very busy week here for me. As usual, there is never enough time to do everything that you would like to do, besides those things you have to get done.
We flew here on EL AL, which I love to do, as it helps to support Israel and it is one of the most secure planes to fly on. Everyone on the plane knows that shortly after the meal we all go to sleep so we can awaken and be on Jerusalem time and not suffer jet lag.
I had just fallen asleep (or had been asleep just a short time) when a commotion began to take place right beside me. I was in the middle seat in the middle of the plane. There were nine seats across from side to side. A man who was sitting at the widow seat had collapsed beside us. Beside me on the aisle was an elderly woman who was very frail, going to visit her son in Beit Shemesh. Because of her age this might be her last time, she said.
A call for a doctor was announced and, along with two pursers, two doctors stepped forward and began to work on this man. The man on the floor was in a great deal of pain, going in and out of consciousness. I was concerned about the elderly woman beside me because of the jostling going on, in the attempt to revive and help this man. At times he had no pulse and his blood pressure was extremely low or not registering at all. The doctors continuously asked him if he knew where he was and what he was doing. His words became slurred and not always coherent.
It was only after about an hour of watching this that I even thought of praying for this man. So I began to pray quietly and silently to myself. It was just a few moments later that he began to get up and to say he was okay and just wanted to get back into his seat. I watched this in amazement and was glad to see things settling down for the sake of this elderly woman beside me. I ended up walking behind him off the plane and down towards customs. You could not tell from looking at him that he had this scary experience just a few hours before.
Due to not knowing the exact day of the High Holy Days and the potential for them ending up on as many as three different days, I did not book a room in advance until I knew for sure. I will not travel on Shabbat or the High Holy Days nor on those days Judah would be keeping them in Israel, out of respect. We were able to get a room at the last minute at the Maronite Hostel inside the Jaffa Gate. It is a Christian Convent but most of those who were coming for Easter had not arrived there and would only show up on “Good Friday.” I had to be out by then, but I was leaving after the first High Holy Day, Tuesday, to go to the vineyard.
As soon as I landed I had to get to the Jerusalem Hostel where we were going to keep the memorial supper and the washing of feet on that Sunday evening. We explained the meaning of this night for the new people who had joined us, having bumped into them at the door as I arrived. They had some new people there who were just learning these truths. By reviewing and actually doing the order of the events that took place this evening on the 13th many came to understand what it means and that this night was not the Passover night. By doing the foot washing and humbling ourselves to one another and then explaining how on the 14th the Messiah and the lambs were killed, everyone there understood just how special this night was, indeed. After this, I went to my room.
When you stay in the Christian Quarter inside the old city, you are awakened each day at 4:24 AM with the call to prayer by the many loud speakers the Islamic faith has everywhere. They do this again at 5 AM.
Then the Christian churches begin to sound their bells, calling their followers to come to church. They start at 5:30 AM, again at 6 AM and then again at 7 AM. The Maronite Hostel is smack-dab in the middle of them all, just yards from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
I had forgotten about this treat at the Maronite: the view from the rooftop is priceless as you look down at the Dome of the Rock and the Kidron Valley where you can see the actual crucifixion site on the Mount of Offense.
Even though I had to be back at the hostel by 10:30 PM for their curfew, I was not able to sleep. I was so excited to be here. Just as I dozed off, the calls to prayer began. I had no sleep on the plane the night before and now, my first night in Israel, I again had hardly any sleep.
I had wanted to once again go back to the actual crucifixion site, but many times this is not possible. A small group had asked me to take them and show them the things I had come to know. I love doing this, so we started to walk down to the City of David, explaining all those things you had to understand in order to figure out where the Messiah was killed. We did this on the Passover preparation day of the 14th.
It was very special and once again it chokes me up as my emotions surface, explaining the seriousness of this day and what we are to remember. To be able to do this at the time the crucifixion actually took place in the exact site it took place as we read our Bibles….is even more emotional.
I showed the group how far the walk was from Pilate’s judgment seat up to Agrippa’s palace. Yehshua made this trip up and back down in the darkness of the night or the wee hours of the morning.
I showed this small group how far it was from the Temple to Pilate’s judgment place, also known as “The Pavement.” I also showed them where Caiaphas’ house was in relation to the Temple and showed them how far the crucifixion site was from the temple and Pilate’s Pavement. This is the distance Joseph of Arimathea had to walk (or perhaps even run) in order to claim the body of Yehshua after He had died in order to bury it before sundown.
Having now walked this distance, these people understood the time involved between each of these events and why it took most of the night, beginning at the time Judas gave that infamous kiss of betrayal.
I could see the emotion on their faces as they realized what had taken place here; how Yehshua was dragged from place to place in shackles and, after being whipped, was then forced to carry His own execution stake; the very stake He was to be nailed to, then hoisted up into the tree He hung from until His death.
I then asked them if they thought they would be able to carry me as a dead person, and if so, just how far could they carry me? “Not far,” was the answer. We then left to find the tomb Yehshua would have been buried in. When they learned that this tomb was only 25 yards away, the stark realization of this 14th day of Aviv finally sunk in.
We were granted a generous amount of time here so we walked, sat and talked for a few hours before leaving. For me, this was a gift from Yehovah; to be able to be here at this time and to be able to have the time to just sit and pray without being rushed away.
One of the ladies wrote:
Hope you had a pleasant time at the Vineyard.
We had a very profound time with you and your teachings.
Thank you so much!
Thank you so much again for driving us to the vineyard. I really was dreaming about this to happen and joining you for Passover in Jerusalem. I really enjoyed every bit of that short trip together……. thanks a million!!!
This a rainbow we saw from beneath Absalums Tomb.
I shared the Passover meal with my friends from Holland, Schalk and Elsa Klee, who write a newsletter entitled Set Apart People. It was so nice to be there with them as well as others from New Zealand, Canada, Thailand, Germany and the USA. All of them were here in Israel to keep the Hag. Many of them come for all three hags but some come only as often as they are able.
Having now kept the memorial by walking out the events of the 14th of Aviv, and after spending time at the actual crucifixion site, Schalk walked us through the evening of Passover when the angel passed over the firstborn of Israel. We kept our Passover as the 14th ended and the 15th began, as this is when we are instructed to keep it.
HaSatan tried to ruin the evening by taking over the event through the disruptive actions of others. Again, after the silent prayers of a few, this person became quiet and then apologetic. He then became thankful that he had now learned some things he did not know before.
Schalk presented the seder as though he was teaching it to his own children, with the rest of us being honored guests. We were then blessed to do the vigil that Set Apart People had recently written about in their newsletter. It shows us how we are to stay up all night and watch, being vigilant for whatever may come. So, I agreed to this, which resulted in the loss of yet another nights sleep.
You can read that Newsletter here: http://www.setapartpeople.com/a-night-of-watching-a-study-of-exodus-1242
Many faded away during the evening until eventually it was just Schalk, his wife Elsa and myself. As we shared this precious time with only ourselves awake, we talked about many things dear to our hearts. I enjoyed this special time alone with them as a priceless memory that you know you will always treasure.
We then had to present ourselves at the Temple that morning, on the High day of the 15th. Once again we shared another special time of prayer directly below where the Temple once stood. Despite our tiredness, we wondered how the 12 tribes of Israel would have marched out and continued for three days and nights as they fled Pharaoh. The whole “lack of sleep” over the course of the past few days was weighing even more heavily on me at this point.
Those who have come to Israel before know to gather at Independence Park, in the afternoon on the Sabbath, no matter where they are staying. So, when you come to Israel one day and you are looking for like-minded brethren to enjoy Shabbat with, go to the park and look for them. You will know them by their fruit.
Here I met a large group of people who had come from Germany and Switzerland who were eager to learn about the Sabbatical and Jubilee years. I spent the rest of the day explaining these cycles to many of them and I look forward to their questions as they continue to study this important subject.
That Tuesday evening I finally got my first full night of rest. I never even heard the various calls for prayer the next morning – I was that tired.
We rented a car and headed down to our vineyard in Be’er Milkah. All of Israel at this time of year is green and so absolutely beautiful, it is stunning! We took pictures along the way of the various flowers in bloom and also of the barley that was being harvested, even though the Wave Sheaf day had not yet arrived. We took pictures of standing wheat that was not yet ripe and of barley that was being harvested. We also continuously included photos of the beautiful flowers we were seeing.
Here we are looking at the ripe barley and some of the flowers that are growing in the Kidron Valley.
There were also storks everywhere we looked. You know the Scripture: The stork knows the season but my people do not know. This is because Israel does not keep the Holy Days, and the storks migrate through Israel at Passover and Sukkot each year.
Jer 8:7 Yea, the stork in the heavens knows her seasons; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow watch the time of their coming; but my people do not know the judgment of Jehovah.
It was not until we were past Be’er Sheva that we could see the stark difference in the landscape. But even here, the desert was brilliant with greenery! There were yellow, purple and red flowers everywhere the eye could see. It was amazing!
Does not Isaiah say the desert will bloom?
Since we began this project of the Vineyard here in the Negev, a place I would never have picked, it has had rains and flooding rains each of the past three winters. Amazing, considering it had not rained here for over seven years before that.
Isa 35:1 The wilderness and the desert shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the crocus.
Isa 35:2 It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing; the glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the honor of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of Jehovah and the majesty of our God.
Upon our arrival in Be’er Milkah, the very first person I met (he actually had the road blocked and was unloading palm leaves) was my old friend Yo Tom. What a pleasant surprise it was to meet him out here in the middle of nowhere!
We then drove down to the vineyard and it was absolutely stunning to behold! Here, where I had spent so much time during Sukkot 2012 pounding fence posts into the brown desert dunes that covered the property, there was now a brilliant yellow blanket of desert flowers blooming all over the vineyard! There were now rows and rows of grape vines struggling to get their leaves above these flowers. It was amazing! The picture below (left) of me pulling the yellow flowers (weeds) was taken during this Passover week of 2014. The one on the right is the desert dunes of the same place in October 2012.
I was only out of the car a few moments when I was reminded of the persistence of the many, many flies that dog your every move. The two apartments located on the property now had a porch area in which to sit.
After greeting Rinah and talking with her for a few moments, I walked out into the middle of the vineyard. I don’t know why – maybe because I was still very tired, or maybe because I am just a big baby – but as soon as I began to thank Yehovah for all of this, I began to cry. It was so unbelievable to see this project, something that many of you have helped to make happen, actually taking place. This is the very place where the spies came to spy out the land in Numbers chapter 13 and then hauled back one bunch of grapes so large they had to be strung out on a pole between two of the men! The Nabateans had the most prosperous vineyards here during the Roman empire and each grape was said to be the size of grapefruits!
There are only two vineyards in the world planted in the desert like this. One is ours; the other belongs to a neighbor who lives just two doors down. He has now placed his first crop into barrels and is expected to begin sales this fall. So, here we have an 80 year vineyard expert that we have been seeking advice from, and is also now learning from us how to do certain things.
The roots of the vines are going deep and wide and are very vigorous in their growth. There were some initial concerns, but with the drip system we have set up, this has produced some very positive results that even our adviser is pleasantly surprised about.
It was not long after we arrived that Boaz and I began our “negotiating” again. I am glad the ladies who came along were able to see how hard I argue to maintain that 2016 will indeed be the next Sabbatical year, and how I will not compromise on this at all. Brethren, there are many things that go on behind the scenes that I never report about. Phone calls and Skype calls as we work through the details of making the vineyard a kashrut farm. It must be kashrut in order to be able to sell the wine afterwards. So there are many small minefields we must negotiate through and around. But I am thrilled to report that we are doing it!
We talked well into the evening and then again watched as the full moon rose up over the vineyard. I almost wanted to begin work this night while I had a full light over the vines, but I needed some sleep.
We began our work at the vineyard early that Thursday morning, before it got too hot. You do not realize how difficult it was to weed out all those beautiful yellow flowers! We managed to get one row done by noon – just one row. All of us who were working on it were sore, and my hands were blistered up not long after starting.
We had a long lunch and a siesta, then went back out from 3 pm until about 7 pm and managed to get one more row weeded. We were very sore by then. While we were finishing up this 2nd row, a couple who had helped us to lay the pipes and string the fence showed up from Holland. They had just recently married and were on their honeymoon here in the vineyard. They too, were amazed at the growth and the amount of work that, for the most part, Boaz had been able to get done on his own. We are all amazed!
As we ate supper that night we were treated to a flock of about 50 storks circling over the vineyard. It was beautiful to see these huge birds with a wing span of over 6 feet circling above us. Boaz reminded our newlywed couple what the storks bring and we all laughed.
That evening, Boaz and I again discussed the details of the vineyard. The portion I have leased from Boaz until 2045 will be pruned this year in 2014, which the Jews, following the calculated calender, consider the next Shemitah year. However, beginning at Aviv 1, 2016, not one of our vines will be pruned and not one bunch of grapes harvested until after Aviv 1, 2017. Boaz is concerned this will harm, if not kill, the vines. I assured him that if these vines do die because of this, then they will die and that will be the end of it. But no matter what, we will keep the Sabbatical year in 2016. We also agreed that rows #1 and #5 were now in our possession. Initially we owned 4 rows altogether, but part of our original agreement was that because Boaz is either doing the work himself or having to hire labor since I am not able to be there, that I would pay by giving Boaz 5% of our 10%. So, we agreed that I will give him two of the rows. I am expecting Yehovah to work a miracle with just our 150 vines and that we will out-produce the rest of vineyard which has over 2,500 vines!
In the photo above I am standing seen talking with Etian, a young IDF sentry on duty at Be’er Milkah. We are standing on this ancient well that is approximately 3,800 years old. You can Google the vineyard by clicking on the link. We are to the right of the grey area. If you zoom out, you will see Be’er Milkah and the Egyptian Sinai border. You will also see just how close we are to that border. Just over the sand dunes, about 20 minutes away, is Isaac’s well and another called Jacob’s well.
If you go the other direction again, about 20 minutes away, you can find the well of Moses and the well of Aaron. Not far from there are the carvings which portray Moses holding the Ten Commandments over his head. What an extremely interesting area this is!
Here is what we know about Milkah from the Bible:
Gen 11:27 Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah fathered Abram, Nahor and Haran. And Haran fathered Lot. 28 And Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his birth, in Ur of the Chaldeans. 29 And Abram and Nahor took wives for themselves. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai. And the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah, and the father of Iscah. 30 But Sarai was barren. She had no child. 31 And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot, the son of Haran, his son’s son, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife. And he went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan. And they came to Haran and lived there.
Gen 22:15 And the Angel of Jehovah called to Abraham out of the heavens the second time, 16 and said, I have sworn by Myself, says Jehovah; because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only one; 17 that in blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply your seed like the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is upon the seashore. And your Seed shall possess the gate of His enemies. 18 And in your Seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice. 19 Abraham returned to his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beer-sheba. And Abraham lived at Beer-sheba. 20 And it happened after these things that it was told Abraham, saying, Behold Milcah! She also has borne children to your brother Nahor: 21 Huz his first-born, and Buz his brother, and Kemuel the father of Aram, 22 and Chesed, and Hazo, and Pildash, and Jidlaph, and Bethuel. 23 And Bethuel fathered Rebekah. These eight Milcah bore to Nahor, Abraham’s brother. 24 And his concubine, named Reumah, she also bore Tebah, and Gaham, and Thahash, and Maachah.
Gen 24:14 And let it be that the young woman to whom I shall say, Let down your pitcher, please, so that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give your camels drink also. Let her be the one that You have appointed for Your servant Isaac. And by it I shall know that You have shown kindness to my master. 15 And before he had finished speaking, it happened, behold, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, with her pitcher upon her shoulder. 16 And the young woman was very beautiful to look upon, a virgin, neither had any man known her. And she went down to the well, and filled her pitcher, and came up.
Due to terrorist activity in the Elah valley as well as at Hebron, we had to take an alternative route back to Jerusalem so we drove back via the two great craters in the Negev.
We arrived back in Jerusalem just as the Sabbath began. We then flew home to Canada the next morning and arrived here on the day the Wave Sheaf offering is made. We then drove straight up to our home group where Rico Cortez, Stephen Spykerman and Andrew Hodkinson were teaching. It was all I could do to keep my eyes open, but it was nice to see so many new people out and also many of our long-time friends.
One last bit of information before I end this Newsletter for this week:
One of the things we have wanted to do, but could never afford to do, was to bring the widows and the orphans to Israel for one of the 3 hags. In an amazing discussion with other people representing nine nations this week, we found out that all of them think this is a great idea and would like to help do what it would take to see it come about. We are not asking for financial support at this time but we would like to know if you, too, may be interested in helping us with this project when we decide. We would need to purchase or lease a building which we could control and then for minimum costs, house the widows and orphans that normally could not come to Israel. This building would be our rooms for lodging as well as our meeting rooms. It would also be central for bus tours, groups and walking tours of the Old City. If you like this idea and can support it, then please drop us a note and we will see how strong that support is before we move forward.
And one more thing: Rinah is now making geranium oil from the plants she had planted next to the vineyard. They are doing great and I have some of the oil she made right in front of me. You can write Rinah at Sheafa Israel and order some for yourself.
Triennial Torah Portion
We continue this weekend with our regular Triennial Torah reading Cycle
Gen 35 1 Sam 28-30 Ps 71 Mark 14:1-31
Aftermath of Shechem’s Fall; Reuben Loses His Birthright (Genesis 35:1-26)
Just as God protected Israel (Jacob) from the sword of Esau, He also protected Israel from the revenge of his neighbors in Canaan. By referring back to the deliverance from Esau (verse 1), God reminds Jacob that he does not need to be afraid now, that Israel should travel to Bethel, and that God will provide him protection once again. True to His word, terror is upon the cities of the land and the inhabitants do not pursue Jacob’s family.
To show God the proper respect and praise for this promise of protection, Jacob makes sure to command his household to put away the foreign gods among them. These were most likely the idols Rachel had earlier stolen as well as household idols of some value that Simeon and Levi probably took in their plunder of Shechem described in the preceding verses (compare 34:29). Once Jacob reaches Bethel, he also builds an altar in honor of the true God to thank Him for His blessing. God seems pleased with Jacob’s faith and obedience, as He reaffirms with Jacob the promises made to Abraham and Isaac. God even repeats His renaming of Jacob with the new name of Israel, having originally done so in chapter 32.
God gives again the promise of a line of kings (given before in Genesis 17:4-6). But in giving the promise of national blessing, God adds something mentioned for the first time in Scripture—the promise of a single nation and a company (or “group” in the Moffatt Translation) of nations. The Ferrar Fenton Translation says, “a Nation and an Assembly of Nations.” The New International Version reads, “a nation and a community of nations.” We will see more about this prophecy when we get to Genesis 48, where the birthright blessing passes on to Joseph’s sons Ephraim and Manasseh—Manasseh becoming the great single nation and Ephraim becoming the company or group of nations.
We are also told in chapter 35 of the death of Rachel in giving birth to Benjamin and her burial at Bethlehem. This tragic event is followed by the shameful incident in which Reuben defiles his father’s bed by sleeping with Bilhah, the mother of his brothers, Dan and Naphtali. Reuben was Jacob’s firstborn by Leah, which bestowed on him the double-portion birthright inheritance. Yet as just mentioned, the birthright would actually pass to the sons of Joseph. According to 1 Chronicles 5:1-2, this sin of Reuben is what caused Israel to give the birthright to Joseph instead. So not only was this a sin of defilement and adultery, it had long-lasting consequences on future events, determining the ultimate recipients of the promises of wealth God made to Abraham.
Death of Isaac; Family of Esau (Genesis 35:27-36:43)
When Jacob returned to Hebron, his father Isaac was still alive and would live another 15 years or so before dying at the age of 180.
When Isaac died, Esau and Jacob came together again to bury him with his father, mother and wife—that is, Abraham, Sarah and Rebekah—at the cave of Machpelah (compare Genesis 49:31). Leah and Jacob would later be buried there also (49:29—50:13).
Saul Consults a Medium and Pays the Price (1 Samuel 28:3-25; 31; 1 Chronicles 10)
The Philistines move from Aphek, where they had dismissed David (1 Samuel 29), to Jezreel (29:11) to confront Saul and the Israelites. They gather at the town of Shunem, a place we will again read about in the days of the prophet Elisha (see 2 Kings 4:8ff), while Saul pitches his camp at Mount Gilboa, about four miles south (1 Samuel 23:4).
David had previously stated regarding Saul, “As the LORD lives, the LORD shall strike him, or his day shall come to die, or he shall go out to battle and perish” (26:10). Saul’s time to die is now at hand. It is a very gloomy and depressing time for him. Samuel has died and any appeal to God goes unanswered. God explains to us, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2). Saul does not have the confidence he possessed when God’s Spirit was working with him (compare 1 Samuel 11:6; 16:14). The day before the battle (28:19), he becomes fearful and desperate and, instead of true repentance, once again turns away from God—this time by essentially turning to Satan for an answer.
God’s instructions to Israel are quite clear in this matter:
“Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek after them, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 19:31).
“And the person who turns to mediums and familiar spirits, to prostitute himself with them, I will set My face against that person and cut him off from his people” (20:6).
“There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD, and because of these abominations the LORD your God drives them out from before you” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12). The original King James Version renders “medium” as “consulter with familiar spirits.”
Saul in fact, during his reign, did obey God’s instruction in this matter by removing these “abominations” from the land (1 Samuel 28:3). Evidently, though, there is at least one who evaded detection, a woman of the town of En Dor.
Now we come to a two-part question that many, including many biblical scholars, do not know how to answer: Does the woman really conjure up a spirit? And is that spirit actually the prophet Samuel? Let’s look at some facts:
Some would argue that there is no entity really brought up here because Saul does not actually see one himself—he only reasons that Samuel is present from the woman’s description. But whether or not the woman is a fraud and trickster, what happens surprises even her (verse 12). And even though Saul does not see anyone, the account says that “the woman saw Samuel” (verse 12). Moreover, there is clearly spoken communication from this “Samuel” (verses 15-16). But is this truly Samuel, the deceased prophet of God? It would not have to be from the wording here. For instance, a person on a hallucinogenic drug might say he saw something that was not really there, and we would consider that he did “see” it—seeing in this context being a matter of perception rather than sensory input from light actually entering the eye. Since the Bible says the entity spoke, something was definitely present. But what the woman sees is not actually visible to the naked eye—or Saul would be able to see it too. This means that the image the woman sees must be projected into her mind through supernatural means. So we ask: Is the prophet Samuel the one doing this?
First of all, the Bible very clearly points to a future resurrection of the dead. Many “orthodox” believers, however, maintain that this is simply the rejoining of a conscious, disembodied soul with a new body. Yet the Bible repeatedly describes the current state of the dead as one of “sleep” (Daniel 12:2; 1 Corinthians 11:30; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-15; 2 Peter 3:4). Ecclesiastes makes it even more clear: “For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing…. for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going” (9:5, 10). Thus, a dead person is completely unconscious. The resurrection is an awakening—a return to consciousness.
What this means is that there is no such thing as ghosts, as they are commonly defined—the spirits of the dead still wandering the earth. But there certainly are spirit beings who, unable to materialize, can appear as ghostly apparitions (compare Luke 24:39—where Christ shows His disciples that He is not one of these). The Bible elsewhere calls these beings unclean spirits—or demons. They are fallen angels, spirit beings who have rebelled against God under the arch-demon, Satan the Devil.
Now, the woman of En Dor is a medium, consulting with, as already noted, “familiar spirits” (1 Samuel 28:7 KJV). Are these dead people? No. For we have already seen that there is no consciousness in death. Consider also: Why would God impose the death penalty for communicating with dead friends and relatives if that were really possible? One scholar explains: “The reason the death penalty was inflicted for consulting ‘familiar spirits’ is that these were ‘evil spirits,’ or fallen angels impersonating the dead…. God hardly could have prescribed the death penalty for communicating with the spirits of deceased loved ones if such spirits existed and if such a communication were possible. There is no moral reason for God to outlaw, on pain of death, the human desire to communicate with deceased loved ones. The problem is that such communication is impossible, because the dead are unconscious and do not communicate with the living. Any communication that occurs is not with the spirit of the dead, but with evil spirits” (Samuele Bacchiocchi, Immortality or Resurrection?, 1997, p. 168).
Furthermore, it would be quite odd for God to send a message to Saul through the prophet Samuel when the account very clearly states that God will not answer Saul’s inquiries “either by dreams or by Urim or by the prophets” (verse 6). And consider that this is because of Saul’s disobedience (compare Isaiah 59:2). So why would God now go ahead and answer him in the face of even greater disobedience on Saul’s part in the use of a medium? That just does not seem reasonable.
Thus, the being the medium sees ascending out of the earth (1 Samuel 28:13) is nothing more than a demon. Even “the church fathers [early Catholic theologians] believed that a demon impersonated Samuel and appeared to Saul” (Nelson Study Bible, note on 28:12). Saul only perceives that it must be Samuel. He certainly wants it to be Samuel! The apostle Paul is inspired to write: “And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into [or disguises himself as] an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into [or disguise themselves as] ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). So it would not be unusual for a demon to appear as Samuel. And we know from all other scriptures that pertain to this subject that this is not the prophet Samuel speaking.
Let’s look at the conclusion of Saul’s deed. He certainly doesn’t come away with anything profitable. In fact, he is so disheartened that he can barely eat! These scriptures should once again remind us of God’s instructions against consulting with the evil spirit realm.
Continuing on, in 1 Samuel 31 and 1 Chronicles 10, we arrive at the very sad conclusion to Saul’s reign as king over Israel. Severely wounded, he commits suicide. Yet not only Saul, but also three of his sons, including David’s close friend Jonathan, die in this battle. Afterward, in a particularly heinous incident, the Philistines cut off Saul’s head and put it on display in the temple of Dagon while his body and those of his sons are fastened to the wall of Beth Shan, at the junction of the Jezreel and Jordan valleys, to advertise their victory.
In a daring move, the men of Jabesh Gilead swoop in under cover of darkness and recover the bodies of Saul and his sons. In our highlights on 1 Samuel 11, we mentioned that Saul may have had ancestral roots in Jabesh Gilead in relation to Judges 21. Furthermore, this was the city that had been rescued from the Ammonites by Saul in his first act as king, and the Jabesh Gileadites apparently had a very fond remembrance and debt of gratitude to him, which they repaid in their recovery and burial of his and his sons’ bones and a week of fasting. The bodies they burned—quite unusual among the ancient Israelites and perhaps done because these bodies had been mutilated by the Philistines. Years later, David will have the bones of Saul and Jonathan exhumed and reburied in Benjamin, in the tomb of Saul’s father Kish (2 Samuel 21:11-14).
The account in 1 Chronicles 10 describes the reason for the death of Saul: “So Saul died for his unfaithfulness [or ‘transgressions’ KJV] which he had committed against the LORD, because he did not keep the word of the LORD, and also because he consulted a medium for guidance. But he did not inquire of the LORD; therefore He killed him [by the circumstances He directed], and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse” (verses 13-14).
One may ask, Did not David also commit transgressions before God?
Yes, allhave sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). The difference is in the heart. When David sins, he has a pattern—a habit—of acknowledging his sins before God and repenting. By contrast, Saul took no responsibility for his actions, seeking to deny his sins or reverse their consequences instead of repenting of them. Moreover, Saul’s habit was that of continually seeking his own will. Remember that when Saul did not follow God’s instruction, Samuel said, “But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart [David], and the LORD has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you” (1 Samuel 13:14).
As for Jonathan’s death, we don’t know why God allowed it. Perhaps his presence would not have fit into God’s continuing plan for David’s life. In the same way, we might wonder why God allowed Herod to put James the brother of John to death early in the New Testament era, while Peter was miraculously delivered from Herod. God has not revealed His reasons, but we can always be confident that His decisions are for the ultimate good of His servants (see Romans 8:28).
David Defeats the Amalekites (1 Samuel 30)
Having left the gathering of Philistine forces at Aphek, David and his troops march the 50 miles back south to Ziklag—about a two-day march, and they arrive the third day (verse 1). Upon returning, they find that the city has been invaded by the Amalekites. Why God has allowed this to happen is not revealed. Perhaps it is to bring further destruction upon the Amalekites. Perhaps it is to keep David from returning north to aid the Israelites against the Philistines. Whatever the case, God does allow it to happen and once again shows His mercy and power to David. Here’s what we do know: 1) Instead of acting out of vengeance and anger, David appeals to God for an answer. 2) God delivers everything back to David—plus enough spoils to share with more than a dozen cities that David has frequented. 3) David’s mercy is also evident as the spoils are shared with the men who were willing but not able to continue the journey to fight the Amalekites, to the dismay of others referred to as “wicked men” or, literally, “men of Belial.”
Don’t forget, when David was anointed to be the next king of Israel by Samuel, the Spirit of God came on him “from that day forward” (1 Samuel 16:13). As long as David stays close to God and appeals to Him, the fruit of that Spirit is evident. But there are also times, as with all of us, when David uses his own carnal reasoning (compare Romans 8:7). And as is also the case with all of us, he and many others suffer pain and futility due to such reasoning and the wrong actions that flow from it.
Through the ups and downs, good and evil, blessing and curses that we read of David, we can conclude David’s ultimate destiny, not by our reasoning alone but through the inspired Word of God. It reveals that after the return of Yeshua Messiah to the earth, the people of Israel will once again be united as one nation, and David will be their king (Ezekiel 37:22-24).
A Plea for Help Against Foes in Old Age; The Blessed Reign of the King’s Son (Psalms 71-72)
Psalm 71 is “a prayer for God’s help in old age when enemies threaten because they see that the king’s strength is waning…. The psalm bears no title, but it may well be that Ps 70 was viewed by the editors of the Psalms as the introduction to Ps 71 (compare vv. 1, 12-13 with 70:1-2, 5), in which case the psalm is ascribed to David (in his old age; see vv. 9, 18). This suggestion gains support from the fact that Ps 72 [which immediately follows and closes Book II of the Psalter] is identified as a prayer by and/or for King Solomon” (Zondervan NIV Study Bible, note on Psalm 71). And Psalm 72 ends by describing the psalms that have come before as prayers of David (see verse 20). The Greek Septuagint translation adds a superscription to the beginning of Psalm 71, labeling it “of David.”
The opening of Psalm 71—the declaration of trust in God, the plea for His righteous deliverance, that He would bend His ear and be a strong refuge, and the identification of Him as the psalmist’s rock and fortress (Psalm 71:1-3) is essentially repeated from David’s opening to Psalm 31 (verses 1-3). As David’s suffering in that psalm foreshadowed the sufferings of the Messiah, it is likely that Psalm 71 is similarly prophetic, though Yeshua’s sufferings came when He was a young man, in terms of His human life.
One difference we may note here in verse 3 is the statement, “You have given the commandment to save me.” The psalmist recognizes that God has all the forces of the universe and heavenly realm at His disposal. He has but to command the psalmist’s deliverance for it to be effected—and indeed the psalmist knows that God has so commanded it. His words bring to mind the centurion’s response when Yeshua offered to come to his home to heal the servant. The centurion said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed” (Matthew 8:5-8).
Psalm 71 is a welcome comfort for believers enduring a lingering trial that drains their strength, whether physically, emotionally or mentally. God is our Rock, our safe place.
The psalmist, who is likely David, is a man who has trusted God his whole life. His relationship with God began in his youth and has continued ever since (verses 5-6, 17). The statement about God having brought him forth from his mother’s womb (verse 6) is also found in Psalm 22 (verse 9), another messianic psalm of David.
The psalmist in 71:7 says “he has become ‘a portent’ [NIV] (mopeth ‘a wonder’ [NKJV]) to his contemporaries, i.e., a sign of trouble, chastisement, and divine retribution” (Expositor’s Bible Commentary, note on verses 5-8). Many see his troubles and weakness as evidence of God’s punitive judgment on him, as would later be wrongly assumed regarding Yeshua Messiah (see Isaiah 53:4). Enemies deduce that now is a good time to rise up against him because they think “God has forsaken him…[and] there is none to deliver him” (Psalm 71:11).
Verses 12-13 are a restatement of David’s urgent plea for deliverance and the confounding of his enemies in Psalm 70:1-2, thus serving to connect Psalms 70 and 71. As noted above, Psalm 70, a reprise of the end of Psalm 40, appears to condense the themes of Psalm 69 and to introduce Psalm 71.
The psalmist will continue to hope and praise God (verses 14-16). He makes a final plea for God to not forsake him so that he may sing of God’s power and strength to the present generation and those yet to come (verses 17-18; compare 22:30). And he is confident that God will save him (71:19-24).
In verse 20, when the psalmist says that God will bring him back up “from the depths of the earth,” he is speaking metaphorically of being rescued from his life-threatening situation and his despondency (compare 40:2; 69:2, 14-15). Yet, being old, he could also be contemplating the end of his life and looking forward to his future resurrection from the grave. Given the messianic nature of this and related psalms, it also seems logical to view this as Yeshua Messiah looking forward to His own resurrection.
We begin chapter 14 with a time marker:
The Passover and the Unleavened Bread was after two days. We are told the chief priests and scribes are seeking how to take Yeshua through treachery and put Him to death. What a stark contrast to the first Passover in Egypt both in attitude and conduct!
Yeshua is anointed with oil of genuine nard by a woman. The perfume was very costly and some complained of it being wasted. Can we imagine this? They scolded her for “wasting” the oil on Yeshua when it could have been sold and the money given to the poor.
Yeshua said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, and you are able to do good to them, whenever you wish. But you do not always have Me.” This deed caused her to be remembered forever among the proclaiming of the Good News.
Judas Iscariot decides to deliver up Yeshua to the chief priests for silver.
Some of the taught ones begin preparation for the Passover service to be spent with Yeshua. He gives them instruction on what to do and where to go, and later that evening they are all together having a meal. This is when Yeshua let it be known that one of them would deliver Him up for slaughter.
Yeshua took bread, blessed Yehovah, and broke it and said, “Take, eat, this is My Body.”
Yeshua took the cup, gave thanks. He gave it to the taught ones and said, “This is My blood, that of the RENEWED covenant, which is shed for many.”
They sang a song and went out to the Mount of Olives.
Yeshua tells them they will be scattered and stumble in Him. Peter denies it and says he would never deny Yeshua. This is when Yeshua tells Peter he will indeed deny him THREE times before the night is over!