Israel is a unique country in many ways. The amazing beauty, ancient history and rich culture go back thousands of years. Slightly smaller than the state of New Jersey, Israel has many types of landforms, from beaches to plains to valleys to mountains to deserts to forests. With its long summer and short winters, Israel is a key tourist spot. Here are ten interesting facts about the country.
1. Location – Israel is a country located on the eastern side of the Mediterranean Sea in southwestern Asia. Since Bible times the land promised to Abraham by God has been revered by the Jews as their homeland, and to Christians and Messianics as site of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Lebanon is on the north border, Syria in the northeast, the east border is Jordan, on the southwest is Egypt.
2. Ancient History – This land was inhabited by the Canaanites and other Semitic people nearly four thousand years ago. The first Hebrew was Abraham, father of Isaac, who fathered Jacob, also called Israel; it was Abraham who first moved to this area in the year 1921 BC. Later in -1105, Saul became their king, followed by King David, and then David’s son, Solomon. It was David, who built the altar on Mount Moriah, to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, which is where the first Temple was built by Solomon. The Temple Mount was then established. The kingdom was divided into two countries shortly after Solomon’s reign, Israel and Judah. There have been many wars in this small nation and at different times, they have been overruled by the Assyrians, Persians, Greeks and Romans. Until the 20th century, the Romans remained in power. During this time, around 130 AD the Romans changed the name of Jerusalem to Aelia Capitolina, and Israel became Palestine, attempting to erase all memory of Israel. The Palestinians were made up of a mixture of Jews and Arabs. Many from the tribe of Judah, including Benjamin and Levi, of the original 12 tribes, remained continually in the land of Israel, renamed Palestine. The Jewish culture survived always. The tribe of Ephraim
Israel To the East
was the lead tribe of the so-called 10 lost tribes that were scattered across the earth by the Assyrians.
In the book of Ezekiel, chapter 37, he prophesied the Vision of the Dry Bones, and in verse 11, the Word of the Lord spoke, ‘ Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say, ‘ Our bones are dried up, and our hope has perished. We are completely cut off.” ‘ Then in verse 12, he says, “Therefore prophesy, and say to them, ‘ Thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, I will open your graves, My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel.” ‘ Then He says in verse 14, “And I will put My Spirit within you, and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken and done it, “declares the Lord.’ “
Then in verse 15,’ the Word of the Lord came again to me saying, ” And you, son of man, take for yourself one stick and write on it, ‘For Judah and for the sons of Israel, his companions’; then take another stick and write on it, ‘ For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and all the house of Israel, his companions.’ This follows in verse 17: ‘ Then join them for yourself one to another into one stick, that they may become One in your hand.’ It is the will of God that will bring the house of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, and joins them to the stick of Judah and make them one stick, and they may become one in My hand.” ‘ ” Behold, I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king will be king for all of them; and they will no longer be two nations, and they will no longer be divided into two kingdoms…” Ezekiel 37: 15- 22
3. Modern History – The Jewish people have always called the land of Israel their homeland. In the 1880′s, a group of people called Zionists began a movement for the Jews to regain their home. Jews began to settle in Israel’s desert zones, which was governed by the Turkish and then the British governments. In 1948, the British rule ended and the inhabitants declared independence for the new Jewish state, the re-birth of Israel. Immediately after this declaration of independence, all neighboring countries attacked Israel. This began a war that lasted a year and miraculously Israel survived; at which time peace was made through negotiations which Arab nations have never really accepted. In the Koran, once a territory is possessed by conquering or by a mandate, it is considered a possession forever, which makes negotiations for boundaries impossible with Ishmaelites.
In 1964, Yasser Arafat attempted to link the Arab Palestinians to Philistine from ancient history, yet no Palestinian can trace their family history to any of the Philistines. There is much evidence that most Arabs came in the late 19th century, when Theodore Herzl led the early Zionists to return to the land called Palestine. The influx of Jews to the land brought commerce, trade, and industry; when the Arabs saw the economy growing, it brought more Arabs and Jews. There has never been a state called Palestine.
Ephraim is hearing the call to return, to be one with Judah…and they will be One in His hand. The Spirit of Elijah is here, preparing the way for HaMashiach Yahshua soon, the Messiah. Halleluyah Hashem!
4. National Government – Israel is a parliament democracy where all citizens who are 18 years and older can vote. Their parliament is called the Knesset, which is comprised of 120 members. The members can serve for a maximum of four years. The Knesset makes the laws, approves taxes and budgets and taxes and decides policies on a national level. Voting is done by party preference, rather than for individual candidates. There s no limit to the number of candidates. The state of Israel has no written constitution, but uses the “Basic Laws” written by the Knesset. The leader of Israel’s government is the prime minister. He or she will then appoint ministers to the cabinet, which are approved by the Knesset. The head of state is the President of Israel. Most of his duties are ceremonial and he serves for a maximum of seven years.
5. Politics – There have been many political parties in Israel, due to the large number of opinions in the country. In 2009, twelve party seats won in the Knesset. There are three main political parties – the Zionists, which includes the more conservative people, the social democratic party and the religious Zionists. There are some smaller parties such as Orthodox Jewish parties, special-interest parties and Israeli Arab parties.
6. Tourism – Tourism is one of the most important sources of income for Israel. Tourists come from all over the world to visit Israel because of the many historical, archaeological and religious sites there. The museums, beaches, nature reserves and resorts in Israel are known world-wide and draw people from all cultures. Many of Israel’s service industries, such as restaurants, cafes and hotels, artisans and craftsmen, are supported by the tourists. In 2013, there were over a record 3.5 million foreign tourists in Israel.
7. Manufacturing and Agriculture – There are factories in Israel that produce a wide range of goods such as processed foods, plastics, chemical products, electronic equipment, fertilizer, scientific instruments, textiles and clothing. Diamond cutting is a big industry also. A large percentage of Israel’s work force is people who were formerly farmers. Machines have taken over much of Israel’s farming industry.
8. Religion – There is a wide range of religious affiliation in Israel. Of those over twenty years of age, 55% say that they are traditional Jews, while 20% consider themselves secular Jews. There are about 16% of the population that are Muslims, 2% are Christians and 1.5% are Druze.
9. Education – Children between the ages of three and eighteen are required to attend school. There are five types of schooling – state secular, state religious, ultra orthodox, communal settlement schools and Arab schools. The largest school group is the public secular group and it is attended by both Jewish and non-Arab students. There are 42 universities or colleges in Israel.
10. Culture – Israel is truly a melting pot of Jewish customs and beliefs. Jews have come back to Israel from all over the world and brought their various religious and cultural traditions with them. Israel is the only country that revolves around the Hebrew calendar.
There is truly no place like Israel – the Holy Land of the world. Considering the short time that the country has had its independence, it is a miracle that they have done so well. They have a stable government, strong currency and deep cultural and religious roots.
‘For thus says the Lord of hosts, “After glory He has sent me against the nations which plunder you, for he who touches you, touches the apple of His eye.” Zechariah 2:8