By Joseph Shulam
January 4th 2024.
Welcome to the year of our Lord 2024, Israel is in the middle of a harsh and difficult war with a bitter enemy who has no limit to his hate and cruelty. An enemy that is driven by no objective but hate, a deep hate based on totally mythological reasons. The objective facts on the growth of this enemy don’t have rhyme or reason. For this enemy it is just unreasonable and unrestrained hate for Jews. There is not an issue of land, nor an issue of gain. Only an issue of hate for Jews. I say this with deep concern and deep consideration because if I look at the facts on the ground the Arabs ( Palestinians) should kiss the feet of every Jew in the land of Israel.
I remember well the period after the 1967 Six Days War. I remember going the first time to Gibeon, the Canaanite town the Gibeonites came from and deceived Joshua and the children of Israel by pretending to have come from a far country. Gibeon in 1967 was an Arab village without electricity, without a sanitary system, without running water in the houses. It was a village of Arab farmers living in old crusader homes, drinking water from a well, working the fields with an ox and a donkey hitched together on a wooden plow with an iron tip. I remember the threshing floor of the village being dragged around with a blind folded donkey threshing wheat and winnowing the chaff and the wheat grains against the wind to separate.
The hill where we live now, overlooking Jerusalem from the West toward the east was not even a village, it was just a beautiful hill with archaeological remains from the Roman period. Come and visit Gibeon today and see the wonderful big private homes where the families of those Arab / Palestinian farmers plowed with an ox and a donkey hitched on the same plow. The children of those farmers are medical doctors, businessmen and women, professors in the University. The prosperity of the local Arabs / Palestinians is unmatched in any Arab country.
This war started on the 7th of October 2023. Before this date there were 20,000 so-called Palestinian workers crossing the border from Gaza to Israel to work in different jobs, mainly construction work. Gaza would starve without Israel providing work for these men. One Arab/Palestinian working in Israel can bring home enough money every month to feed 3 families in comparison to what the equivalent work would earn in Gaza. Every time that I went to any of the hospitals in Israel there were Arabs from Gaza with their old folk and with their children getting free medical treatment by Israeli hospitals.
We have an American family named Miles that has been associated with our Congregation for 35 years. The ministry of this family is to bring babies and children from Gaza for treatment and life saving surgery of little Arab / Palestinian babies with severe medical problems like heart problems to Israel. The Miles family brings these babies and children to the Israeli doctors and hospitals, which treat the Gaza families for free. Johnatan Miles raised only a few thousand dollars to pay for the use of the surgery theater. Johnatan Miles and his family even lived for a few years in the Palestinian refugee camps in Gaza. Netivyah is partnering with Johnathan and his ministry in renting a house with four apartments near the Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem. The house is used by mainly these Arab families and their children that Johnathan brings from all around the Arab world to Israel. Here they receive excellent, modern and free medical treatment for children that would be dead without it! Received for free by Jewish and local Arab Israeli doctors for free.
Dear brothers and sisters, the cruelty and horrors that the Hamas used on the 7th of October 2023 in the villages and Kibbutz communities around Gaza is unimaginable. Mutilation and sexual abuse, killing fathers and mothers. Sisters being raped and then mutilated while alive with knives before shooting them. These are things that even the Nazi Germans in the worst German Concentration camps didn’t dare to do!! 1300 men, women, children were killed in one day in the villages and towns around the Gaza border. In one day!!
Yes! It was a horrible massacre engineered by the Hamas terrorist organization. Near 300 hostages were dragged to Gaza, among them, babies whose parents were killed. Old men and women with chronic illnesses. Young women who were taken to Gaza and gang raped repeatedly. As I write this Jerusalem prayer list, there are still more than 140 hostages that have not been released from the hands of Hamas in Gaza. Yes, Israel has decided to flatten Gaza and make sure that there is not going to be one Hamas terrorist left there! This decision is based on the command of God in the Law of Moses to remember what Amalek did to Israel during the 40 years of wilderness wandering with Moses on their way to inherit the Land promised. The land given by God to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as an eternal inheritance from the promises that God gave to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and their dependents.
Now to the texts of our Torah portion for this Shabbat, Exodus. We are starting a new book, the book of Exodus.
The Torah reading : Exodus 1:1 – 6:1.
From the prophets :Isaiah 27:6 – 28:13, and 29:22 -23.
From the New Testament: Matthew 2: 1-12.
As the reading of Exodus starts, the children of Jacob, after his, go down to Egypt. Joseph is ruler( second only to the great Pharaoh )in all of Egypt. His brothers,( yes, the same ones who wanted to kill him and sell him as a slave in Egypt) are now bringing their families and tribes to Egypt. Joseph gives them the privilege to live on the Nile River delta in northern Egypt on the shores of the Mediterranean. They are given the best and fertile lands in Egypt for their living. Everything is wonderful for Joseph’s family in Egypt; they increase and multiply in the land of the Pharaohs. Joseph dies in Egypt and his body, in accordance with the best Egyptian tradition, is embalmed like every nobleman in Egypt.
Years pass and the children of Israel are prospering and have a good life in the land of Goshen by themselves. Now a New Pharaoh raises that doesn’t know Joseph. The text of Exodus 1 tells us the reasons that the new Pharaoh and Egyptians were concerned:
1) The children of Israel in Egypt increased in numbers.
2) They lived in the land of Goshen separated from the Egyptians. That separation, engineered by Joseph, was wise because they preserved their language and faith in one God and didn’t mingle with the idol worshiping Egyptians.
After Joseph’s death the political system in Egypt changed, and the Egyptian empire expanded throughout almost half of the African continent from Tunisia on the Mediterranean Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba in the east and all the way to Lake Victoria in the South and the Indian Ocean in the east. It included the whole land of Canaan all the way up to Assyria and the Arabian Desert in the North East. When Empires expand and grow so large, fear and distrust quickly enters in the mind of the leadership of even the closest friends and allies.
I like the words from Porgy and Bess, by George Gershwin.
“Yes, I got plenty of nothing — And nothing’s plenty for me — I got no car, got no mule. I got no misery! Folks with plenty of nothing —They’ve got no lock on the door — Afraid somebody’s going to rob ’em — While they are out making more — What for?”
I got no lock on the door, that’s no way to be — They can steal the rug from the floor, that’s OK with me ‘Cause the things that I prize like the stars in the skies are all free!”
I got plenty of nothing — And nothing’s plenty for me, I got my girl, got my song — Got heaven the whole day long — Got my girl, got my love, yes got my song!
Oh, I got plenty of nothing — And nothing’s plenty for me — I got the sun, got the moon
Got the deep blue sea —
The folks with plenty of plenty — Got to pray all the day — Seems with plenty you sure gotta worry — How to keep the devil away, away!”
Of course, the song exaggerates, but the principles are true. Egypt expanded and became a mega empire. Managing this empire was difficult and the leadership became paranoid. In smaller countries with much less to manage, the leaders got that proverbial liquid to go up to their heads.
Here is the beginning of Pharaoh’s Paranoia:
“Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, “Look, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we; come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and it happen, in the event of war, that they also join our enemies and fight against us, and so go up out of the land.” Therefore, they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh supply cities, Pithom and Raamses.” (Exodus 1:8-11 NKJV).
The pharaoh didn’t know Joseph, but much more important that Pharaoh didn’t know the God of Joseph. The God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. He didn’t know the God who created the world, the universe, the Sun and Moon that the Egyptians worshiped!
When has Israel in its near 4000 years of history sought to become an empire? We as Jews (and Christians) don’t have to fret and desire to dominate other nations or expand and become a world power to abuse and enslave other people. We have the Word of God that promises that one day in history all the nations will come to worship the God of Israel who is the father and ABBA of all of humanity. We don’t need weapons to conquer and dominate other nations, and we have never looked for opportunities to become a world empire. We have our God and our Savior Yeshua and a fantastic insurance policy for a blissful and wonderful eternity with all the faithful people who ever lived on the face of this world. What else do we need? (Yes, we like to use nice things, and have a good car, and go to a show sometimes, and eat good kosher food) But, to dominate and abuse other nations is not the Jewish dream for the future. God’s Kingdom is our dominion and our citizenship. This kingdom does not need a passport issued by some semi-corrupt government.
Big boy Pharaoh, with his dozens of funny gods that were always fighting and competing with each other, saw the success and the peaceful lives of the sons of Jacob and their dependents and was filled with fear. (I don’t know if his wives calmed him down and told him PharaonChik, “Calm down. These Israelites. The worst that they can do to you is sell you a zirconium in place of a diamond.” Pharaoh would answer his wives, “but look darling Nefertiti and Hamama, these Israelites came here with nothing but a few sheep and camels, and now they are driving Mercedes and Ferraris.”)
So, Pharaoh devises a system to put the yoke of slavery on the people of Israel, the dependents of Abraham. Pharaoh didn’t know about the following principle that has been the DNA of Israel from day one! Here is the verse that summarizes all of Israel and the People of God’s History:
“But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were in dread of the children of Israel.” (Exodus 1:12 )
Israel, and the Jewish people, like the mythological Greek Phoenix have fallen and resurrected many dozens of times in our history. There is no other ancient nation that exists in human history like the nation of Israel! There is no other nation that was exiled and driven out of their national God given homeland like Israel! After two thousand years of exile, the people of Israel, (now called Jews because we came from the land of Judea) are living to see the very fulfillment of the promises God, Creator of this whole solar system, the moon and the stars and the sun and this blue ball hanging in deep space has made to this nation! In fact the whole world can see how the Jewish nation rose out of the ashes of the crematoriums of the German death camps, like King David who had victory over the Philistine giant Goliath as the text says “And David had no sword in his hand!” Standing almost totally alone were men and women that came out of the death camps of Bergen – Belsen, Treblinka, and Sobibor , bloody birthplaces of hate and racism and anti-Jewish satanic spirit. A scripture that comes to my mind is this:
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;”. (1 Peter 2:9 NKJV).
Many don’t know that the Apostle Peter was actually paraphrasing a verse from Isaiah the prophet chapter 9:2, “The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, Upon them a light has shined.” (Isaiah 9:2 NKJV)
These words of Isaiah and Peter are a summary of all of Israel’s history. There is no other nation in the history of mankind that has been persecuted and killed by the sword, cross,fire, poisoned gas. By sheer hate and beastly sub-human cruelty like the people of Israel.
There is no other nation that has given and blessed humanity like the nation of Israel! Yes, dear brothers and sisters around the world, 100 hundred pages couldn’t summarize the contribution of the Jewish people to humanity. From the Torah (The Law of Moses) to Jesus Christ (even the Muslim Koran is contingent on the Torah and the Gospel!)
It is for me an enigma to understand why the Egyptian Pharaoh feared this small group of shepherds living far from the big Egyptian cities and temples of their gods. This same question is reverberating through the pages of history even to this very day?
From our Torah portion of this Shabbat, I would describe how I believe non-Jewish Disciples of Yeshua (Jesus) and every disciple of Yeshua ought to behave towards Israel:
“Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, of whom the name of one was Shiphrah and the name of the other Puah; and he said, “When you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstools, if it is a son, then you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.” But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them but saved the male children alive. So, the king of Egypt called for the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this thing, and saved the male children alive?” And the midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are lively and give birth before the midwives come to them.” Therefore, God dealt well with the midwives, and the people multiplied and grew very mighty.” (Exodus 1:15-20 NKJV)
We have a great example of two Egyptian women( midwives) whose actions were dangerous for their own lives:
1) they disobeyed the Pharaoh’s order to kill the male babies of the Jews.
2) These midwives feared God, the God of Israel, not the idols of Egypt.
3) They saved the male children born to the Hebrew women enslaved in Egypt.
There were also many thousands of Christians, Catholic and Protestant, who gave protection and supplied food and medicine to the Jews confined in the Ghettos of the cities and towns in Europe. On the grounds of Yad VaShem Museum of the Holocaust in Jerusalem there are planted several thousands of trees. Next to each tree there is a plaque with the name of a Christian. Many catholic priests and nuns, and Protestant farmers and pastors and evangelicals who all endangered their lives like the Egyptian midwives did in the days of Moses in Egypt. They sacrificed to save Jews from sure death in the Nazi death camps and in the streets of European cities and towns. I think that these are true disciples of Yeshua, believers in the Messiah the Son of David and the Son of Abraham, who died for our sins so that we can have eternal life and a better and just and righteous lives here on this earth.
I want to give you a serious challenge, a test like the Pharaoh gave to the two Egyptian midwives.
Last evening, we had a Netivyah Bible Instruction Ministry in Israel board meeting. There were given the normal financial reports, and also reports and discussion of the miracles that God has done through Netivyah to supply important tactical gear ( like bulletproof vests and helmets and warm clothing and shipping containers ) for the IDF soldiers to use for shelter and storage and protection from the rain, and tactical drones and other expensive tactical military gear. God has truly used Netivyah with miracle after miracle and we have provided many thousands of dollars of equipment for the IDF soldiers in the battlefields of Gaza and the north of Israel on the Lebanese border. We have deep gratitude for everyone from The USA and from Asia, and Australia and South America who have contributed for this war effort to provide tools and protection for our soldiers in the front lines.
The amount of money that some of this equipment cost is staggering. Each soldier is precious and we can provide equipment that saves lives. Like the bullet proof vests that cost $6,000US each and the tactical drones that fly with infrared and heat seeking ability to reveal the location of the enemy, before men and women expose themselves to gun-fire. Yes, we have provided hundreds of pieces of this equipment.
Last night hearing Daniel Stern’s report, I was shocked that so many elite military units don’t have that lifesaving equipment. The Israeli government should have, must have, ought to have supplied these things! But the fact is that our government ought to be taken to court and accused of criminal negligence! The truth is that for the last two and a half years or more the Israeli government has been preoccupied with a vain and unnecessary reform of our Supreme Court that could destroy the only democratic country in the whole Middle East. The streets and the highways of Israel were preoccupied with demonstrations and false accusations against the best and elite citizens of Israel, like the military and the air force pilots. But, our men in uniform have been neglected.
Yes, Netivyah has supplied as much as possible with the money that you have contributed . Brothers and sisters from Taiwan to Brazil and Australia and Europe and the USA, have sacrificially given generously for supplying the much needed tactical equipment, like the vests and drones and go-pro cameras for their helmets. Yes, we have given much thanks to you dear brothers and sisters from around the world.
But, there is a need for more of these bullet proof vests and drones that fly and provide instant and life saving information to our men in the most elite forces of the Israeli military. Many of our brothers and sisters in the faith are very active, specifically in these elite units and every year for many years we have given them important and useful gifts. Now I am asking you simple folk ( not only our wealthier brothers) to make an effort and provide Netivyah the means to furnish supplies so not one of our soldiers is left without the most basic safety protective equipment. You can contribute any amount from 1 dollar to thousands. Your contribution will go to life saving equipment for our men and for praising the name of Yeshua with every helmet or bullet proof vest or drone.
You can contribute through the PayPal buttons provided in this prayer list, through a bank account or just by sending a check. Those who live in the United States of America and need the IRS tax credit must contribute through Netivyah International and that will insure that you will get credit. Brothers and sisters from around the world can contribute either in the button that is related to Netivyah in Israel or the one to the USA.
God bless you one and all who bless the seed of Abraham, the Jewish Nation. This is the text that I have in mind when I say that giving to Israel is promised by God himself to bring you a blessing!
“I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3 NKJV)
As to my health and that of Marcia, my wife, here is a short report. After feeling bad with severe pain in my back and difficulty breathing I was taken to the emergency room in a hospital in Tennessee. The doctors found ,after a CT scan, two enlarged lymph nodes. In Israel, the hospital in Jerusalem found the same enlarged lymph nodes and there is a suspicion that these lymph nodes are cancer in my lungs. I need your prayers and I need the Lord’s grace and healing hands to touch me and Marcia, my wife. Marcia is essentially not able to function both because of her physical illnesses and also dementia. We need your prayers and your help. We need a full time live-in caretaker. We do need your help. I don’t remember when was the last time that I asked for help for me and my family. Please use the USA button to contribute or send checks to Netivyah International to give to the Shulam family.
Dear brothers and sisters, now is the time! Let us come together in prayer, especially for every person who is dealing up close with this horrible situation.
We invite every person who is ready and able to give to please do so, to provide necessary aid to those suffering from the war that Israel is experiencing right now!
We also encourage you to share with others you know for whom Israel is close to their hearts, and who may wish to take part as well in supporting our soldiers and civilians on the frontlines.
Share it now with people who want to help Israeli soldiers!
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