In this episode of Hebrew Voices, Nazarene Grape Pickers, Nehemia Gordon drives to the “west bank” to learn why people from all over the world are going there to assist the Jewish farmers of Judea and Samaria. Settle down in the passenger seat and enjoy the ride, as Nehemia reflects on the significance of the roads into the area – out near Bethel, and alongside the olive groves of Shiloh where the Tabernacle once stood. You won’t get too comfy though because Nehemia also explains the close proximity of Jewish and Palestinian territories in the area and the risk of rocks and Molotov cocktails being thrown at cars passing through.
After taking a wrong turn into Palestinian territory (oops!), Nehemia turns around and finds his way to an olive grove on a Samarian hillside. There, he meets with Joshua Waller, director of operations for HaYovel—a Christian organization that over the last ten years has brought more than 2,000 volunteers from 25 countries to work in the vineyards and olive groves of the region.
Waller explains that no evangelizing is allowed; HaYovel’s only goal is to “bless the Jewish people and see the farms flourish.” Gordon also chats with other volunteers and discusses Jeremiah 31:5 with them. Do they see themselves as “notzrim” guarding the vines? Gordon explains ancient and modern usages of “notzrim” and the prophetic period in which the verse was written.
We also learn surprising things about the Judean farmers who are restoring the Land. These producers of award-winning wines and the finest products in the world typically don’t come from agricultural backgrounds or generations of farmers. They left their city jobs because of a burning desire to see prophecy fulfilled. And along with a few thousand “foreign” friends are doing just that.
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