So it is natural to be interested in where they came from and where they will return. As such I am amazed to find myself in the heart of the territory bequeathed to Joseph's son Ephraim. Ephraim is the leading son and leading tribe of the 10 tribes that split from Judah during the events recorded in 1 Kings chapter 12. One day the prophets in the Old testament promise the return of the 10 lost tribes, including Ephraim. They will join the 2 tribes in the House of Judah making 12 tribes in total. This event is also alluded to in the New Testament. So here I am in Ephraim's ancient land.
As a tourist getting here is not so easy because this area does not have such a regular bus service as it is part of what is called by the nation's of the world as the 'west bank'. It is on the east of Israel, so why is it called the west bank? Because many people that don't believe the bible, especially the media, like to refer to this area as the 'west bank' of the nation of Jordan! The Kingdom of Jordan is on the East side of Israel. So the term 'west bank' is actually fundamentally bogus, anti-biblical and antisemitic since it delegitimises Israel's biblical and historical ownership of this land by infering that it is the 'west bank' of the Kingdom of Jordan.
The territory called the 'west bank' by Israel's detractors was gained by Israel during the 6 day war in 1967 after Israel was attacked by Jordan, Syria and Egypt. The 'west bank' is the heartland of Israel, containing the hill country of Judea and Samaria (Shomron).
As mentioned before, Israel was made up of 12 tribes that split into two parts, called 'houses'. The northern 10 tribes where known as the 'House of Israel' and their main mountainous area was called the Shomron. The Southern 2 tribes of Benjamin and Judah were referred to as the 'House of Judah' from whence the term, 'Jew' or Yehudi is derived. So this area referred to as the 'west bank' comprises the main hill country of the two main houses of Israel referred to the 'house of Israel' in the north and the 'house of Judah' in the South with Jerusalem in the middle. The northern area is called the 'Shomron' and the southern area is called 'Yehuda'.
On this visit I have wanted to concentrate my 3 month visit in the Shomron and meet the brave Jewish people that are pioneering the return of the people of Israel to these ancient mountains. Due to the poor, infrequent public trasport, lack of hostels and severe security situation due to many hostile arab villages it is much more difficult to tour this land as a backpacker. Without a car and a tour guide the obstacles to travel can be quite intimidating.
As I explained in the previous post, by God's kindness and favour I was directed to a wonderful guest house in a town in the Shomron called Karnei Shomron. Without this I may not have been able to do what I had planned, to visit the land of Joseph and the mountains of Ephraim in particular.
For information about the guest house visit the kolhator.org.il website. 'KolHaTor' means 'voice of the turtledove' and is taken from the Song of Songs. It also is the name of a book by Rabbi Hillel Shaklover which relates the teaching of the Vilna Gaon. The subject is the process of redemption and establishment of the Kingdom of God in the regathering of Israel to the land. It talks about the role of the suffering Messiah, Mashiach Ben Joseph to initiate the restoration of Israel including bringing in the 10 lost tribes. And it contrasts and compares the role of Mashiach Ben David. The book is about the process of redemption and the necessity of regathering all Israel, building up the land of Israel, Zion and the Temple in order for Messiah, Son of David to come.
Ok, back to the more mundane and my journey at hand...
On Monday 4th August, after taking the bus from Jerusalem to Karnei Shomron and then hitching a free ride near the street address I found my host, Ovadyah, a true servant of the Lord. I had arrived the night before Tisha b'Av, the Jewish day of fasting due to the sin of the spies that brought a bad report and caused the children of Israel to wander for 40 years in the Wilderness. It is also the very day that the two temples were destroyed. However I had lost track of time and didn't know what day it was on the Biblical calendar as I also usually fast on this day. There was a lot on my mind. Was my trip to Israel going to be a fruitful one? Was I walking in His will? Not knowing at the time what particular fast it was I decided it was a good time to fast anyway in order to seeks the will of the Lord concerning my trip. If the Lord indeed had a purpose for me to be here at this particular time then He would have to open something up, otherwise I might as well go home.
I arrived to find an American family from Texus visiting Israel for the first time and a chap from South Africa named Johan, also visiting for the first time. They had just met here at the guest house a few days prior and we're touring the Shomron together. While they were doing that I fasted, caught up and put together last week's blog and sought the face of the Lord concerning His will. The answer came the following day, Wednesday, as I was excitedly told that there was someone that needed a hand thus enabling me to see part of the Shomron up close and personal.
I might add that the summer was in full swing and I had just left Victoria, Australia while winter was at its coldest. I had caught the flu just before leaving Australia. I would be working in the hot sun. I will talk more about that in the next blog. This trip was not going to be a holiday camp, but a dirty, dusty and sweaty acquaintance with the land of Joseph. I was going to be there boots and all. And I would be going to a place without electricity. My emotions ranged from glad and quietly excited to introspective and quietly concerned. But I felt compelled to follow the bread crumbs that the Lord had provided. If you want an adventure you have to step into the unknown. And if you don't want an adventure sometimes the good Lord in His kindness will give you one. It is during times of weakness when His strength is made perfect. How wonderful to have the Creator of the Universe guide our steps. Perhaps I could be of some assistance to the faithful souls settling the land. And perhaps I would learn from them, and see the land and their struggle through their eyes. I was here boots and all. I had crossed an ocean to visit the land and I had crossed the Jordan to meet the people plowing it and making it fruitful.
יֹורְדֵי הַיָּם בָּאֳנִיֹּות עֹשֵׂי מְלָאכָה בְּמַיִם רַבִּֽים׃
הֵמָּה רָאוּ מַעֲשֵׂי יְהוָה וְנִפְלְאֹותָיו בִּמְצוּלָֽה׃
23 They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;
24 These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep.
2014 Trip to Israel - Jerusalem to Karnei Shomron