March 2, 2020
WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST
Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.
ON THE EVE OF THE BIG ELECTION
Just around the corner is the third election for the next Prime Minister of Israel. The rhetoric from the first two elections is still floating around Israel and most of the voters are sick of the mess. Under indictment for corruption, Netanyahu keeps saying he’s got America in his hip pocket. President Trump threw in the recent peace plan to support Netanyahu’s claims. Interestingly enough, this maneuver has to some extent been discrediting to Trump. The American President is now seen in large segments of the Israeli population as a manipulator whose trust is questionable.
Consequently, the sparks keep flying. Who will win? I see my task as only to attempt to present an objective view of what is happening in the Middle East. In other words, I’m not into gambling so I’ll pass on calling how the election will turn out.
For a breath of fresh air, this week let me take you in a different direction. For you who are interested in archaeological excavations, you will find a recent dig near the town of Neve Daniel to be fascinating. Archaeologists David Amit and Yuval Peleg turned up mikveh baths that date back to the Second Temple period. A mikveh was a ritual bath for purification during Passover, Shvuot, and Sukkot times in Jerusalem as well as many other times. The two baths found by Amit and Peleg are located at the place where pilgrims catch their first glimpse of the Holy City.
Out in the middle of nowhere, these two baths are located close to the main road leading into Jerusalem. Chiseled out of solid rock, the two sets of stairs lead downward and through entrances cut out of the same rock. In the middle remain two pool areas. During the coming month of March, the Jewish festival of Purim would have been another one of the times when people might come for purification.
Many in the Christian world believe that baptism grew out of the custom of mikveh baths because both are cleansing baths and personal purification. Since 1968 during the many years I have been involved in Israel, I watched these discoveries reveal the ancient face of this country that extends back for thousands of years.
Hey, maybe this week would be a good time for all the politicians in Israel to take a nice cleansing mikveh bath. They all need one.
You might find my collection of Holy Land experiences to be helpful.
BIBLE LANDS: An illustrated Guide to Scriptural Places
Barbpir books Publishers