Hebrew Voices #12 – Nazarene Grape Pickers (Rebroadcast)

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.

I look forward to reading your comments!

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Transcript

Hebrew Voices #12 - Nazarene Grape Pickers

You are listening to Hebrew Voices with Nehemia Gordon. Thank you for supporting Nehemia Gordon's Makor Hebrew Foundation. Learn more at NehemiasWall.com.

Nehemia: Shalom, this is Nehemia Gordon with Hebrew Voices. Today, I’m going to be meeting with the grape pickers. These are people who come from overseas, mostly, I believe, from the United States, and they’ve come to volunteer to help out Jews who are trying to grow crops on the land, and these Jews live in areas where it’s difficult to get any kind of assistance, any kind of labor, really. So, these people, they come from overseas, and the interesting thing about these people, they come as volunteers and they’re not Jews. And we’re going to find out today, why are these people coming from the US and other places to pick grapes and pick olives for these Jewish farmers? It’s just kind of strange.

I kind of first heard about these guys a number of years back, when I was watching this documentary. In the documentary, they called them Zionist Christians. These Zionist Christians come to help out Jews gather in their crops. Right now, as I’m speaking, I’m in a rental car. I’m driving, and I’m leaving Jerusalem. I’m actually leaving Jerusalem right now. And as I leave Jerusalem, I am entering into the West Bank. There’s this giant cement wall, I guess is the best way to describe it, with like pillboxes and guard towers. I’m a little nervous. It’s kind of funny, I’m going to meet these Americans who are out in this area where I’m nervous to go.

So, I’m following the road here. I’m on road 437. It’s going to Beit El, that’s Bethel where Jacob slept on the pillow, the stone, and he saw the angels going up to heaven and down from heaven. Then today, actually, where we’re going is to some olive groves outside of Shiloh. Shiloh is where the Tabernacle stood, and then it was destroyed by the Philistines, actually, in the time of the High Priest Eli, the time of also the Prophet Samuel, after the battle of Aphek. The Philistines defeated the Israelites, and then we find out in the Book of Jeremiah that after the battle of Aphek, they went and they destroyed the Tabernacle at Shiloh.

So, I’m driving on this road, and I’ll tell you why I’m nervous. There have been a lot of Molotov cocktails thrown here at Jewish cars, a lot of stones that are thrown at the cars, and that’s actually a pretty typical occurrence. In fact, my estimate is that there’s probably a 50 percent chance that I’m going to get some stones through the window of this rental car. Hopefully, the insurance will cover that. [laughing] I hope that it will. And, are there going to be Molotov cocktails? I’m really hoping and praying not.

But I’m not going to be afraid in my own country to travel around. Like I say, I am afraid, but I’m doing it anyway. And it’s kind of weird, because I say we’re in the West Bank, but this is Jewish territory where I am right now. And I can see up there on the hilltop - maybe a few hundred feet from the road - is Palestinian territory. And that’s where it gets a little hairy, that we’re in such close proximity. It’s really hard to comprehend unless you’ve been here, the closeness of the proximity in which the Jewish territory and the Palestinian territory are intertwined.

I grew up in Chicago, and it would be like saying Skokie was enemy territory. Or really, more like Evanston was enemy territory. If I’m driving on side of McCormick I’m in Israel, and if I’m on the other side of McCormick Avenue, or Boulevard, then I’m in Palestine. But they don’t throw stones from Skokie [laughing] or Evanston at Chicago.

Anyway, so here I am. Right now, I was just passed on the road by a guy with a Palestinian license plate. Look, most of these guys are fine. They’re not going to do anything. It doesn’t take too many, though, to actually cause trouble. I should be okay. I’m hoping I’m okay. I’m actually coming upon Kikar Adam, which is a traffic circle out here where there was a stabbing. They actually stabbed a female soldier, age of my niece, a little 19-year-old girl. She got stabbed last week - although there’s probably been more stabbings in Jerusalem than there have been here, [laughing] to be honest with you. So, I should feel safer here, but I guess I’m driving, and the Molotov cocktails…

But all right. Look, I’m really excited about seeing these grape pickers. Today, they’re actually olive pickers. And the reason I’m excited is there’s a verse. There’s this verse in the Bible that actually talks about… I think about the people, possibly, that I’m going to meet. It’s in the Book of Jeremiah chapter 31, and in verse 5 it says, “You shall yet plant vines upon the mountains of Samaria. The planters shall plant and shall eat them as common things.”

You have to understand, when Jeremiah’s writing this, Samaria has already been ethnically cleansed of all Jews. They were conquered by the Assyrians, and the Assyrians rounded up all the Jews and took them as prisoners, all the way to Babylon and Assyria and that area that today is Iraq and Iran, and possibly even Afghanistan.

So when he’s saying they’re going to plant vines in Samaria, people are hearing Jeremiah in 586, 587 BCE, and they think he’s crazy. “What are you talking about? We’re going to plant vines in Samaria? There’s nobody left in Samaria. They’re all exiles, prisoners in Babylon.” Then he goes on, but his prophesy is it will happen. [laughing] And the exciting thing is, today it happened. We’re going to go see vineyards and olive orchards that were planted, as was prophesied! Like, he’s saying this thing, 586, 587 BCE, and it’s come true. That, to me, is why I’m excited to go and visit these people.

But then interestingly… this is talking about, I think, Jews, Israelites, whatever you want to call them, and there we’ll talk about that. But verse 6, Jeremiah 31, “For there shall be a day that the watchmen upon the mountain of Ephraim shall cry, ‘Arise ye and let us go up to Zion, unto Yehovah, our God.’”

So it’s really interesting there. What are they talking about? Who are these watchmen? And it’s a very specific word in Hebrew. We have a word that refers to a military sense of a guard, that’s shomer, and here, the word is notzrim. Notzrim are specifically the people, the watchmen who watch over the ripe crops. Back in the old days, you had these - I guess you’d call them today, Bedouin - people who were kind of roaming around the countryside. And they’d come along and they’d find these ripe grapes and they’d steal them, or ripe olives and they’d pillage them. So when the crops became ripe you actually had people who would camp out in the fields and guard the crops, and that’s called notzrim in Hebrew. It’s a specific type of guarding.

Why is that so interesting to me? Because he’s talking about these notzrim, they’re going to come up. And by the way, I’m right now at the traffic circle where the girl was stabbed, and I see what’s going on. It’s interesting until you’re actually here, you don’t get the full sense of it.

There’s a big traffic jam here, so this is a great place to attack somebody. Before, I was driving at 100 kilometers an hour on the road, now I’m at a standstill. If somebody wanted to throw a Molotov cocktail at me or stone my car, there would be nowhere I could go. I mean, it’s gridlock here. I want to make sure that I take the correct road.

So what excites me about this verse in the Book of Jeremiah is… Oh boy, that’s a big truck. All right, you’ve got to use your horn here. All right, now I’m on the highway. Let’s see. I think I took the wrong turn. I’m very nervous. I’m scared, actually. It says I’m in area A. Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh. Okay, I’m in the wrong area. I need to get the hell out of here. This is bad. I am turning around.

Okay. So, I just took a road that would take me into Palestinian territory, and there have been quite a few instances where Jews did the exact mistake I did and barely got out with their lives. Their cars were burned, and there have been some who didn’t get out with their lives, [laughing] so I’m turning around! And now I’m really nervous! Because I literally just almost drove into a death trap, because I don’t really know where I’m going. I really have no clue where I’m going. I know where I want to go, which is to… Let me see who these kids are. These are Arabs. I’m really nervous here. I need to focus on what I’m doing.

Okay, so now I think I’m back on the Jewish road. [laughing] Okay. I was in Palestine just now! That’s pretty scary for me. Okay. So anyway, I’m back on the road and I’m heading up to Shiloh to meet with the grape pickers. And why am I excited? Because there’s this verse in the Book of Jeremiah I just read to you guys, and it talks about how the notzrim, the people who guard the grapes, who guard the olives, the people who guard the ripe crops, they will come and say, “Let us go up to Jerusalem.”

Now, the context in the Book of Jeremiah is he’s talking about the hills of Samaria. And this was a time when… Remember, there had been two kingdoms, the kingdom of Israel and the kingdom of Judah. And the kingdom of Israel - the people who lived in that kingdom in the mountains of Ephraim, they didn’t say, “Let’s go to Jerusalem.” Jerusalem was their enemy! It was like North Korea and South Korea. We say in Hebrew, lehavdil, like, not to compare the two. But it’s a good comparison in a way. It was like North Korea and South Korea. North Korea - the northern kingdom of Israel had been conquered by the Assyrians and taken as captives to Assyria. And the people of Judea, the thought that one day Samaria will be resettled by Israelites, and not only will it be resettled, but there’ll be a peace with the Jews of Jerusalem, what’s Jeremiah talking about? People heard this and they thought he was crazy. And today, the prophesy has been fulfilled. There are actually people who have planted the vineyards and planted the olive groves in the mountains of Ephraim, just like he talks about.

The interesting thing though, to me, is these notzrim, these people who guard the vineyards and the olive groves. And what’s interesting to me about it is that that word notzrim could also be translated as Nazarenes. And it is. It means literally, also Nazarenes. Nazarenes were the original Jewish followers of Jesus, or Yeshua. In Hebrew, He’s called Yeshua haNotzri, Jesus of Nazareth. And the original Jewish followers, and some gentile followers who kept the commandments of Moses, of the Torah, were called Nazarenes.

And they continued up until around the 5th century, possibly later. But we know for sure that they were around in the 5th century. They were eventually persecuted by the Catholic Church for following the Torah, and mainly for circumcising their children, and keeping the seventh day Sabbath. So, think about that. The verse in Jeremiah says these vine watchers, the people who protect the vines, the people who protect the crops, they will be in the hills of Samaria, and they’ll say, “Let us go up to Jerusalem,” but it also could be Nazarenes. And it excites my imagination that there are these gentiles who are Nazarenes. Is it possible that the Nazarenes are part of God’s prophesy and plan for mankind?

Now, you ask any Jew and he’ll say, “Of course not. Nazarenes are a break-away religion from Judaism. They’re heretics. They believe in a Messiah that Jews don’t believe in, that we’re waiting for the Messiah to come. They say the Messiah’s already come and will return.” But I don’t know. I’m excited by the possibility that these people could be a fulfilment of prophesy. I’m not saying they are, but it could be, and I want to meet them and find out what they’re all about. What are these Nazarenes doing here? And do they even know that there’s this verse, this prophetic verse about what they’re actually doing, whether they’re the ones being specifically spoken of, or not? Did they know that their exact activities are being described in the Book of Jeremiah chapter 31? I’ve got to go meet these guys. I’m excited.

I hope I don’t get killed here. I’m on this road. There’s an armored personnel carrier in front of me – Israeli – so I feel a lot safer right now. A bus is passing me in the opposite direction, and it has bulletproof armoring. And I’m here in this little Hyundai Getz rental car.

All right, guys. I’m going to focus on my driving for now, and hope I don’t get lost and end up in a place that’s too dangerous. And we’re going to go talk to the Nazarenes in Shiloh.

I’m speaking here to David Johnson, and we are on this hillside in Samaria. I don’t know, let me let the people hear the sound of the beating. They’re beating the trees, the olive trees, to get the olives to come down. They beat the tree and the olive falls down. That’s actually described in the Torah in the Book of Deuteronomy. It talks about beating the olive trees. And there’s another word which is translated roughly as to milk the olive trees, which is when you have, I guess, the final olives left. After they beat, they’ll then come and do this milking motion which removes the final olives. So, I love seeing this, because the Hebrew language comes alive. As a city slicker, I don’t get to experience this all the time.

So, tell us about what are you doing, who are you, what are you doing here?

David: My name’s David. I’m from Canada. I’m really excited to be here, helping to accommodate this trip, and leading people around the Land of Israel, around the hills of Samaria. I’m just helping to get this harvest off, and it’s really exciting to us.

Nehemia: Now, I speak this man’s language, so I’m going to attempt to communicate to him in his dialect. How are you doing, eh?

David: Oh, yeah. I’m doing great, eh? It’s a beautiful day.

Nehemia: So, what brought you from the peaceful tranquility of Canada to this West Bank hillside? I don’t call it the West Bank - that’s what the politicians call it. This is Samaria, it’s the ancient region of Israel, Judea and Samaria. What brought you here to Samaria? Canada’s such a nice place, although it’s actually kind of cold there. I don’t know why you’d want to live in Canada. But what brought you here?

David: Well, it’s the beginning of November right now, and it’s getting cold in Canada. But what brought me here is really delving into the Bible in a greater way, delving into the prophets of Israel and realizing that they weren’t just talking about their time, they were talking about our time. Just connecting with the past, the present and the future of the Bible in the Land of Israel, it’s the only way to connect with the Bible. We realize, when we’re reading the stories, we’re right here.

We see the Bible as a whole book, and we just want to read it as a whole book with real continuity from beginning to end. So we see everything tying together really well, and we just see the God of Israel giving this book to the Jewish people. They’ve been the faithful keepers of the Bible for so many millennia. We want to be here to learn from the Jewish people, we want to be here to assist the Jewish people in the harvest, and everything that’s going on with the restoration of the Land of Israel.

Nehemia: So, you see what’s going on here as part of fulfilment of prophesy of restoration?

David: Absolutely.

Nehemia: Wow. What are some prophesies, if you know off the top of your head, that you want to share?

David: Yeah, off the top of my head, I can think of a few. Israel was in real times of desolation. God said, “You’ll still plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria.” And He said, “Foreigners will be your vine dressers.” We look at some of those prophesies coming about today. During those times of desolation, God gave them as a sign of restoration to the people of Israel. So now I look back and I’m like, “Wow. In our generation, we’re seeing this sign given from the God of Israel, and it’s coming about. So we see this is the time of restoration.”

Nehemia: So you really excited me right now, and I’ll tell you why, because that prophesy about the foreigners coming and working the land and being vine dressers – I’m not sure it’s the correct translation – but something like, working the vineyards. I did this program with my friend, Keith Johnson, who’s a Methodist pastor and I think we looked at that passage. And it was controversial, because some Jews read that passage in the Middle Ages and they said, “What is this about? The gentiles are going to be our slaves? They’re going to work the vines while we do something else?” They didn’t understand what it was about. And you’re telling me that you guys are actually doing this, and it’s not because you’re slaves? Because it is what the Prophets spoke about. They spoke about how these people from the nations would come and they’d work in the agriculture of Israel for the Jews. And you’re actually doing it not out of servitude but out of love. I’m excited about that!

David: Yeah. Nehemia, I’ve got to tell you about these families here. These families saved for years to pay to come and volunteer to assist the Jewish people in restoring the Land of Israel, planting vineyards, harvesting olives, picking the grapes, whatever we can do to help. I mean, even just moving rocks, like backbreaking work, these families are here to help. And I’m inspired by the people I work with here. There are hundreds of individuals, and in the last 10 years we’ve brought 2,000 volunteers. And every year we just bring tons of people, and it’s exciting.

Nehemia: Wow, that’s amazing. Anything else you want to share with the people?

David: We just want to invite you. I mean, this is an amazing place to be.

Nehemia: So, who can join this?

David: Well, just connect with our website, connect with www.hayovel.com. Take a look at it. Click on the VOLUNTEER or GET INVOLVED button. Just take a look at our trips coming up. We have a pruning trip for men. We have a harvest trip planned for next year, and it’s amazing.

Nehemia: So, anybody can join this. Any Christian can join this. You don’t have to be part of a certain denomination. I know I have some listeners who are Catholics. Are they welcome to come?

David: Oh, yeah. We’ve had Catholics - very pro-Israel Catholics. There are some really excited Catholics out there.

Nehemia: All you have to do really to be part of your organization is come with love and the desire to serve… and be Christian, I guess, right?

David: Yeah. You’ve just got to apply online. We have a little application process. We’ll get connected with you, give you the information you need. It’s pretty simple.

Nehemia: That’s awesome. And how long do people typically come for?

David: Our shortest trip we offer is three weeks, to our longest trip - it can span up to 12 weeks, depending if someone’s coming for their first time or not.

Nehemia: Wow. So, guys, I highly recommend this. A lot of people come over here, and they’ll do the bus tour, and they’ll go in the air-conditioned bus from place to place. And here, you actually get to walk… I’ll be honest with you - most Israelis don’t get to experience this. Most people in Israel who are living in the comfort of Tel Aviv and the cafés, they wouldn’t dare even drive through these hills. I’m not trying to be funny. They’re kind of like the people outside of Israel; they’re afraid to come here. And I just feel so peaceful here. This really is a blessing to be part of this, to walk through these hills and to get your hands in the trees and in the soil, and to be part of this, to be part of this fulfilment of Biblical prophecy. Well, thank you very much, David.

David: Sure, Nehemia. It’s an honor.

Nehemia: Shalom.

David: Shalom.

Nehemia: I’m talking here to Olivia. Olivia, where are you from?

Olivia: I’m from Missouri.

Nehemia: You’re from Missouri, okay.

Olivia: Yes.

Nehemia: And you’re a pregnant woman who’s out here among the olive trees, beating olive trees. What are you doing here, Olivia? What are you and your baby doing here?

Olivia: I came here because I love Israel. And I don’t know, it’s just a passion that I have to be here, and to be a part of the restoration of the Land of Israel. And I want my family and my children to be a part of that as well, to grow up in that.

Nehemia: So your unborn child is literally being a part…

Olivia: Yeah.

Nehemia: … of this prophetic fulfilment, before the child’s even born. That’s amazing. Well, thank you so much.

Olivia: You’re welcome.

Nehemia: What’s your name?

Luke: I’m Luke Hilton.

Nehemia: Yeah, and where are you from, Luke?

Luke: I’m from Missouri in the United States.

Nehemia: And what are you doing here on this mountainside in Samaria, beating an olive tree with… Is this a bamboo stick or a reed, or something?

Luke: Yeah, so I’ve been here for several months. We just actually finished the grape harvest yesterday, and we’re now harvesting olives. So what we’re doing, like part of the volunteer organization here is, we just bring Christians from all over the world just to love, and to serve, and to bless, and to help in the farms here, in the agricultural communities for the Jewish farmers here.

Nehemia: So what motivated you to come from Missouri to here, like why?

Luke: It actually started when I was 16 years old. I grew up in a very conservative Christian Bible-believing home, and I didn’t know a whole lot about Israel. But the Wallers, who run HaYovel, were good friends of my family, and they invited us to come over, and I saw it as a very exciting opportunity as a young man, to see the place where my Bible was written and just to get connected to the roots of my faith. But I don’t think I understood too much on a deeper level about Israel. I came here not knowing much at all.

Nehemia: So, what do you know now?

Luke: So, my whole perspective and my faith has totally been changed, and you could say that the Bible and my whole faith has become… Sometimes I like to say it’s become like 3D, like it’s totally come alive for me, because not only have I come here to serve and to bless the land and the people of Israel and to build them up and the agriculture here communities, but like my faith… And I’ve been blessed like more than I could ever bless anybody or the land here. Like what I have seen and gained, a deeper understanding of my faith in the Bible and in the prophesies, and everything, has totally like exponentially grown. And what I see and hear now is just so much of a deeper level. There’s no place like Israel. And especially the heartland of Israel, like Judea and Samaria, what the world would want to call the West Bank, but what we know… this is the Biblical heartland of Israel. This is where most of the Bible was written or took place, right here.

Nehemia: Wow, so that’s interesting. So you say you came here to bless Israel, and you got blessed yourself.

Luke: That’s right, yeah. Very much so.

Nehemia: That’s amazing. Tell me how this fits into your understanding of prophesy. I’m Jewish, I’m not Christian, explain to me… I know a lot of the Jews who hear about you being here would say, “This must be some kind of a ploy to convert us to Christianity.” So, what is the fulfilment of prophesy, like, what are you doing here?

Luke: Right. So, first of all, the whole organization and all the volunteers we bring here, their sole purpose and mission is just to love and to serve and to bless the people here. We do not do any sort of evangelism or proselytation, anything like that.

But back to the prophesy, when I first came, I didn’t have much of an understanding about prophesy, because I read Jeremiah and Isaiah and Ezekiel, and it was a lot of stuff that’s hard to understand, like it’s hard to connect to, sometimes. But my first and my second trip to Israel, when I came here and I touched the vineyards, which Jeremiah said were going to be planted right here on these mountains, 3,000 years ago…

Nehemia: That’s Jeremiah 31:5. I told the people about that on my way up here.

Luke: … and Ezekiel said the mountains are going to blossom and bloom. And Amos and Joel said the agriculture is all going to come back and there’s going to be wine dripping from these mountains again, and there’s going to be oil coming back. So, like, when I actually touched those things, and I also participated in them, Isaiah said there would be foreigners coming in and helping in this, that’s where my faith connected to real-time prophesy, and I actually saw it happening right here, today. And since then, just like everything you see and touch here is a reality happening right in front of your eyes.

Nehemia: Wow. And that’s really interesting to me, because I know some of the Jewish sources in the Middle Ages, you know, these were Jews who by law weren’t allowed to engage in agriculture. They were forced to have city jobs because they were basically slaves of the prince, or the king that they lived under, and he wanted to keep an eye on them, and also, to keep them separate from the major population, which was farmers. And I know they read some of these prophesies about, for example, the good figs, and they said, that’s obviously a metaphor. And here we are, we’re standing among the crops!

Luke: It’s not a metaphor anymore, yeah.

Nehemia: And we’re seeing it literally coming to life, not in some metaphorical way. But literally, it’s happening.

Luke: I’ll tell you, the stories of the farmers that we work with, I think there are probably 10 farmers here, all over Judea and Samaria. The stories of these farmers, they’re not like generations of farmers. These are guys that had city jobs. Like one example, he lived in a big city, he knew nothing about farming, but he was a religious Jewish man and he read the prophesies, and he saw that Jeremiah said there were supposed to be vineyards, and he could look up to these mountains from the coast, and he said, “One day, I want to plant a vineyard on the mountains of Samaria.” And today, he not only has many, many dunams, acres of vineyards but he has award-winning wines that are winning competitions all over the world. And that’s the story of every single farmer here.

Nehemia: Wow. And I want to tell people who are listening the context of what you just said, when he looks up to the mountains. So, the major population center of Israel… Israel really is a mega city, which is greater Tel Aviv. Probably, maybe a third of the population lives in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area. And so when you say, “Looks up to the mountains,” I could just imagine he’s sitting there in the café in Tel Aviv, sipping his latte with his nice, comfy, middle-class job, and he looks up and something in his heart is stirred. Something in the ancient prophesies of our people, of the Jewish people of the Bible, about how you can actually grow crops up there, and that is the fulfilment of those prophesies.

Luke: But everything that these farmers have done has been 100 percent faith, and they’ve done it because the prophesies and God said it would happen. But today, every single one of them is defying physics, they’re defying the agricultural experts, and every single one of their products are winning medals, and they’re the top line of products all over the world.

Nehemia: You mean Jewish wine isn’t Manischewitz anymore?

Luke: No. Not anymore. It’s slowly making a comeback.

Nehemia: I like Manischewitz, I’ll be honest. But I have no taste when it comes to wine. And you’re actually saying Israel is not just growing grapes to fulfil a prophesy, it’s actually… these grapes are blessed. They’re award-winning wine.

Luke: 2,000 years ago, you go anywhere in this whole area, you’ll find wine presses, you’ll find olive presses. So they think a lot of this would have had vineyards and olive groves 2,000 years ago, and they would have served as some of the products for the offerings for the Temple. And today, we see that these things are slowly coming back, some of the finest products all over the world.

Nehemia: And one of the things that, I don’t know if you know this, is that when the Turks ruled this country for 400 years - do you know about this? - they had a law that taxed land based on the number of trees.

Luke: Right.

Nehemia: And so what the Arabs did here is they cut down all the trees. They deforested the whole country. And anywhere where the Jews haven’t come and planted trees, just about anywhere, is essentially desert. And I was on this hike a while back, a couple of years back, and we were hiking in the mountains of Judea in an area where the deciduous Mediterranean forest was allowed to naturally grow back. They weren’t doing any agriculture there. They were just letting it naturally grow.

And we were walking through this thicket, and there were thorns everywhere. It’s not like a forest in the US, but it was a thick forest, a Mediterranean-style forest, and we came to this hilltop, and below on the hill was a gate, a fence. And it was the border between the Israel territory and the Palestinian territory. And everything beyond the Israeli gate was desert. That’s because they cut down the trees, they use it for firewood and they over-graze it with sheep. And Israel let’s things grow and encourages things to grow, and our cousins turn things into deserts.

Luke: Right, for sure.

Nehemia: And for you to be part of this - this is amazing to me. I’m excited. This is prophesy. Thank you so much for talking to me.

Luke: Absolutely. Thank you very much.

Nehemia: Shalom. I am here in the hills of Samaria in the mountain of Ephraim with Joshua Waller from the HaYovel organization. Shalom, Joshua.

Joshua: How are you doing?

Nehemia: Joshua, that doesn’t sound like an accent that we normally hear in Samaria. Where are you from?

Joshua: Originally from Tennessee.

Nehemia: You’re from Tennessee.

Joshua: Farming hills of Tennessee, that’s me.

Nehemia: And you run this HaYovel organization and you’re the director of operations. What do you guys do here?

Joshua: Here today, we’re actually harvesting olives. We just finished the harvest of the vineyards, which was very awesome. We harvested about over 300 tons of grapes this year.

Nehemia: You personally did 300 tons?

Joshua: This crew, the 250, 300 volunteers, yeah, this year.

Nehemia: Wow, 250, 300 people were here, and these are all Christians, mostly where, from the US, or…?

Joshua: This year, we have… Oh, it’s all over the place. You have South Africa, from all over Europe, as far north as Latvia, like all over the place. 25 countries participated.

Nehemia: 25 countries participated here, all Christians coming to pick olives and grapes. What else do you guys do?

Joshua: That’s our main deal. We’re here, we’re helping in the vineyards and olive groves. That’s the main agriculture happening on the mountains of Samaria right now. So, that’s our main deal. We’ll help with pomegranates a little bit, here and there. Flowers, or things like that, so that’s the farming here. We have one farmer here that’s cool - he’s got flowers, and I always tell people, it’s crazy. You know redemption’s on its way when you hear stories like this, because you have this ancient town of Shiloh, I can see right now while we’re standing here. But just a farmer to the side, you see some greenhouses over here?

Nehemia: Yeah.

Joshua: He has tulips. And it’s crazy. It’s okay for somebody in Shiloh to have tulips. I mean, it’s crazy enough that the restored town of Shiloh is back after these thousands of years of desolation. The ancient ruins of Shiloh, there’s a beautiful Jewish community sitting there on top of it.

Nehemia: And Shiloh is where the Tabernacle was. That was actually the functional capital of the tribes of Israel at one point, yeah.

Joshua: So, an incredibly restored place. The Jewish people are back here. But more than that, you have this guy that’s planted flowers - not only just flowers but tulips - and from here, you wouldn’t believe where he exports them to. Where does he export them to?

Nehemia: To Holland?

Joshua: To Holland.

Nehemia: No way! [laughing]

Joshua: He exports his tulips to Holland…

Nehemia: What?

Joshua: …from this little place, Shiloh.

Nehemia: You are kidding me.

Joshua: I love that story, because it says exactly what’s happening here in the restoration of Israel’s agriculture. Right now, we’re in the olive groves. There are olives spread out all over these mountains. There are vineyards that are back. Everything that was spoken of in Joel 2 is back. And Joel says it as in a form that it’s going to be the desolation. Today, all the things that were spoken of as the desolation are here, which means we’re no longer in the time of desolation. We’re now in the time of restoration, and the signs are here in the land to prove it.

Nehemia: Wow. Why do you, as a Christian, come to help the Jews here? I know there are some Christians who come and help out the Palestinians, and the reason they’re helping the Palestinians is they’re - at least the way they describe it, what I’ve heard - is that they’re poor, it’s their Third World kind of conditions. Why are you helping out the Jews here in Samaria?

Joshua: So, the fact is that these people need the help. These guys here don’t have any help, and actually, as we all know, with BDS and a lot of things that are coming against the Jews, which is really…

Nehemia: Tell my listeners what BDS is. They may not know.

Joshua: BDS is the boycotting of Israeli products here from Judea and Samaria, and that’s terrible. We saw these trends happen when? Right before the Holocaust. This was the same exact trend, and everybody says, it’s not on our watch. Guys, this is our watch. We’re not going to allow it to happen. We’re not allowing our sphere of friends to allow it to go into this direction. If we’ve got friends in government places, which we do, we’ll make an impact there.

Nehemia: I want to share that - my perspective on that as a Jew. And it’s interesting you say that. I hadn’t made that connection, that one of the first things the Nazis did when they took over Germany, it was the Nuremberg Laws, and even before the Nuremberg Laws they boycotted Jewish products, Jewish stores. And what you’re saying is, that is alive and well, that idea of boycotting Jewish products.

And the irony, what I’ve heard from Palestinian sources, is they suffer more than the Jews…

Joshua: Oh, big time.

Nehemia: … because it hurts the entire economy, and the poorer people get hurt worse.

Joshua: Right.

Nehemia: So, you’re here to help the Jews because they need the help, but you’re a Christian. So, some of my listeners are like, “What?” Certainly my Jewish listeners are confused. Why would Christians come and help Jews harvest olives and grapes and pomegranates?

Joshua: It’s not a bad question, and everybody asks the same question. I usually give a similar answer. I’ll tell you this. I grew up in the hills of Tennessee, we’re a farming family. And that was our total background, farming, and we were really close to the land. And as well as that, we also grew up as a Bible-believing family, a Christian family.

And reading through the Bible as many times as I have, and just being very connected with it, I tell people, I’ve never read once in the entire Bible anything about being a farmer in Tennessee. Everything that I’ve read is about being a farmer and seeing… Like the climax of any farmer in the world, for me, would be to be sitting where we’re sitting right now, and to be a part of the biggest farming expedition in world history.

Nehemia: Wow.

Joshua: This is what the prophets saw. Like, what we’re seeing today, the prophets could only dream about. They only envisioned, they only like encouraged the people that one day we’re going to see what you and me are sitting here in the middle of it right now. And that’s the huge honor for us.

Nehemia: So that’s really important, what you’re saying is that the agriculture of the Land of Israel has prophetic significance. When the Jewish nation, Judea was destroyed, it was the desolation of the agriculture that was the sign that the people were being punished, and it was a promise that the agriculture would be restored that was a sign of the redemption and the restoration.

Joshua: Right.

Nehemia: And you said, “We’re living in the restoration, and this is living proof.”

Joshua: What does that mean? Look at Ezekiel 36. It says He’s going to bring the people back. What is also in that chapter, He says, “The vines are going to shoot forth.” “They’re going to shoot forth their branches for the people are coming home.” And this is exactly what we’re seeing happen today.

Nehemia: It’s literally happening here.

Joshua: Yeah. This is the biggest sign, to me, of the redemption – there are a couple – is 1. The Jewish people returning. There are more Jewish people inside Jerusalem today than ever in history before. Like, we’re sitting upon the most climatic time of all history concerning the Jewish people, the restoration of Israel, and this whole redemption process. We’re at a climax right now. There’s never seen a time in history that looks like it does right now.

Even though, at the same time, we’ve never seen a climax of the enemies as great as they are. At the same exact time, the climaxes are rising together. We’ve got this major climatic surge coming out in the good, and the holy, and the righteousness, and the blessing flowing from the Land of Israel. But at the same time, we’ve got this climatic, ugly, demonic rage against it, and they’re both raising their heads. Right now, we’re seeing it massively. Even from where we’re standing, we’re seeing the Jewish people coming, restoring the land, building it up, and every form of the prophesy - it’s all here.

So for us as a people, we’re excited about standing with the Jewish people, even though it doesn’t look so good right now. It’s not the cool thing to do. It looks terrible. We’re in for the long haul, and we’re ready to stand and make an impact here on these mountains as best we can.

Nehemia: Halleluyah.

Joshua: My name’s Joshua, and I refuse to look at anything except through the eyes of Joshua-Caleb kind of approach, right?

Nehemia: Okay.

Joshua: I think that goes for everybody. If you’re a believer in the world, you believe in God, this is the way we have to look at Israel. We have to look at it not through the lens that the terrorism and the evil wants us to look through. We’ve got to look through a lens of the promises of God. We can’t look at the enemies and say, “Oh, they’re giants. Oh, they’re crazy big. It’ll never happen.” We’ve got to look through the lens that says, “No, God promised it. This is the story. This is exactly what’s supposed to happen.”

And for us, today, we’re going to have to take on this Joshua and Caleb approach to the Land of Israel. And that is so important for us to really get a hold of this.

Nehemia: So, remind my listeners about Joshua. I remember, but remind them about Joshua and Caleb versus the other 10 spies.

Joshua: Yeah, so Joshua and Caleb, they had the good report. They came back into this land with the other 10 guys. They said, “No, there are giants in the land.”

Nehemia: They said, “There are giants. We can’t defeat them.” What was the significance of the giants? Caleb saw that, and Joshua saw that, and they said, “This is a rich land that can sustain giants. It can feed giants. If there isn’t enough food, everybody’s going to be short. They’re not getting enough nutrition.” And the other people said, “Oh, there are giants. We can never defeat them.” So, they both looked at the same evidence and they drew different conclusions. And you’re saying we should have the spirit of Joshua and Caleb and bring a good report of the land.

Joshua: And come here, and that applies directly today. Exactly the same story is here today. We have the opportunity to either be a part of the promises of God here in the Land of Israel, the land of the living, or siding with the nations and just go along with the flow, which is not going to end so great. Maybe it looks nice, it looks okay right now, but that’s not the end of the story. We know that Israel becomes a nation, and we know the restoration process of the redemption of all Israel is coming, like the Jewish people are flooding from every corner of the world. It’s a massive miracle of God to bring these people back, and we need to see it that way.

We can’t let the terrorism that’s happening here throw us off base and allow us not to participate. That’s the last thing in the world that anybody that believes in God needs to do. The enemies - that’s why they do terrorism.

There’s a story. The story is Ezra and Nehemia. What’s happening today is an exact outline of what happened in the book of Ezra and Nehemia. What happened then? Even down to, like, building freezes and stuff like this.

Nehemia: That’s exactly right. [laughing]

Joshua: It’s all the way down.

Nehemia: Wow.

Joshua: It’s exactly the same thing.

Nehemia: Wow! Right.

Joshua: And so today, today we’re seeing that. What are we going to do? Are we going to actually be Ezra and Nehemia? Are we actually going to come and just face that opposition? And at the end of the day, they’re going to have a Temple. They’re going to build the walls of Jerusalem, and they’re going to restore the place, even in the face of opposition. So, it’s not a time to back down, it’s a time to put the sword on your side and work with one hand, while you have the other hand on your weapon. That’s the time we’re living in. It’s not a time to shrink back, it’s a time to press forward. And that’s what the nation of Israel’s doing, and that’s what I’m encouraging people across the world to do in support with Israel, and to dig into that story of Ezra and Nehemia, check out what those lines are, and you’re going to be shocked to see the results.

Nehemia: One of the guy’s names is Geshem the Arab, and one of the other people was Sanballat. And the story, the part of the story I love, and I give credit to my friend, Keith Johnson, for teaching me about this. I’d read it but I didn’t see the significance. So, there is the story where Sanballat and his companions invite Nehemia, who I’m named after – Nehemia – they invite him to come down to the plains of Ono for a peace conference. And really, it’s a trap to kill him, and he sends back the message, as my friend Keith says, “Oh, no!” [laughing] because the plains of Ono, “Oh, no. I’m busy doing God’s work.” And that was really his response. “I’m too busy building the wall around the city, building God’s city. I don’t have the time or the energy to deal with your negativity, and I know anyway, it’s a trap.” And wow, what an amazing parallel today. Wow! That’s incredible, and that’s how you see it. You see it in these prophetic terms. I’m really encouraged by that, because I see everything around me in Israel in prophetic terms, and so to hear that from a Christian who loves Israel, that really encourages me. And I hope it encourages the listeners. How can people get involved in your organization and what you do?

Joshua: There’s a website, hayovel.com, that’s H-A-Y-O-V-E-L.com. That’s how you spell it.

Nehemia: And we’ll post a link on nehemiaswall.com - hayovel.com.

Joshua: It just means the Jubilee. It’s an agricultural term, we all know it. We have the shmittahs and the Jubilees, and it’s all an agricultural deal. That’s what we’re all about. We’re about restoring Israel’s agriculture, and the best way that we could possibly be involved is what we want to do. So to get involved, all the information’s on our website.

Nehemia: Wow. What I love about your name - I don’t know if this was intentional or not - is that in the Jubilee all the people who were dispossessed from their land get to return to their ancestral land. And that’s what we’re seeing in front of us. The Jews have returned to their ancestral land, and these people from around the world are coming here, these people who love the God of Israel and the people of Israel, these Christians are coming to help them maintain their possession of this land, that’s finally been restored to them after this long and dark exile.

Joshua: Exactly. Yeah, that’s why we’re so excited that God will even favor us to be a part. This is really a miracle for us, and we’re humbled by it that God would favor us in such a way that we could come here, just to have the opportunity just to touch the dust. I mean, because really, you look in the Psalms 112, I believe, it talks about the… or 102:12, it talks about the showing favor to the dust of Israel.

Nehemia: Wow.

Joshua: And it’s like, this is such an honor. I mean, since when did anybody pick up dust and just like tread…

Nehemia: Right. So, you getting your hands in the soil and the dirt - that’s the prophetic fulfilment from the Book of Psalms. And I’ll share this story. When I first came to Israel in 1990 before I actually made aliyah, before I immigrated, I was 17-years-old, and I went to be a volunteer on a kibbutz. And I don’t know if you know this, or you probably do, that what you’re doing here in a sense, is a continuation of a very old tradition in Israel, where people come from around the world to volunteer in the agriculture of Israel, especially it started out on kibbutzim. On the kibbutz I worked on, all the volunteers were Jews. On the next kibbutz over, they were all like these Scandinavian Christians. I think they were there to party.

But I was there to work the land, and when I first got there, they put me in this factory. It was really good conditions. It was air-conditioned. I had a nine-to-five job, got lots of breaks. It was like a really cushy job. They thought, “This is the perfect job for some middle-class American.” And after three days I went to my supervisors on the kibbutz and I said, “Guys, I didn’t come here to work in a factory. I came here to get my hands in the soil of the earth of the Land of Israel.” And what inspired me was reading in the Torah all those commandments where it talks about, “And it will be when you come to the Land which I give you,” and I thought… I grew up in Chicago, and I’m thinking, “The land He gave us. It’s all about the agriculture of the land. There’s all these commandments relating to the agriculture.”

And so, I was really excited, and I used to get up really early, started work at 4:50 in the morning, worked till it was too hot to work anymore.

Joshua: Right.

Nehemia: And I loved every minute of it. It was really, to me, a prophetic fulfilment every day, everything I did in the fields. And I would come home covered in dirt. Before I would eat lunch, I would have to spend 5 or 10 minutes washing my hands and my arms from the dirt. And look, I’m a city slicker. I’m not used to that. But I loved it, it was alive. I was alive. It was real. I was experiencing what my ancestors experienced here in the Land of Israel. And you get to be part of that, is what you’re saying, and that’s one of the things you’re doing here.

Now, I’ve got to ask this question, and it’s something I know a lot of my listeners are wondering. Are you part of some denomination that you’re here? Like, can anybody join this? What is your orientation? Do you have to part of some kind of specific group or movement to get involved in HaYovel?

Joshua: The answer is… no. Really, everybody tries to put people in boxes, right?

Nehemia: I love putting people in boxes.

Joshua: What we’re doing is large. It’s large scale. We are totally focused in on bringing Christians specifically to Israel, so that’s our target. We want to bring Christians. We’re all Christian, for sure. That’s who we are, but we’re not narrowed down into a denomination at all. If you love Israel and believe in the promises of God for the people of Israel, the restoration of Israel’s agriculture, and the list goes on, and on, and on, believe in God and the promises of God for this place, we want you here. And there’s no box that we can wrap any smaller. It’s a big one.

Nehemia: And you were telling me before we recorded this that you’ve had people who are Catholics and Protestants and all kinds of different denominations and perspectives, and everyone is welcome as long as the goal is to come and serve and bless the people here.

Joshua: That’s our goal.

Nehemia: And how many different volunteer organizations are there in Judea and Samaria for Christians?

Joshua: There’s one.

Nehemia: You’re the only one?

Joshua: There’s only one and this is it, yeah. Sadly, really. It really is.

Nehemia: And how does the world see what you’re doing? Because I see this as an amazing fulfilment of Biblical prophecy!

Joshua: We’re here to build up the Jewish state.

Nehemia: Okay.

Joshua: And it’s a positive thing. We’re here to see the Jewish state built up, and by building up the Jewish state, these neighbors will see prosperity. That’s the fact of the matter. The world will refuse to believe that, and they’ll it an apartheid state. They’ll call it all this garbage. The fact of the matter is, if the Jewish people are restored back to the land, there’ll be peace brought to the world. And that’s something that nobody will understand, and they’re going to fight it tooth and nail, because that’s part of the prophecy, this is what’s going to happen. But the fact is, when the Jewish people are back in their land and the people surrounding, the nations surrounding, under that governing power of the Jewish hold on this land, there’ll be peace.

Nehemia: Wow. And I’ve got to say from where we’re standing here, I see a Jewish town up on this one over hill over here, and another Jewish town over there. And we’re on this mountainside and there are no Arabs here. No one’s being dispossessed of their land. I was visiting in Singapore, and they have all these different ethnic groups that live together and they co-exist. And they have this paradise. And Gaza could be that paradise, if the Gazans just willed it. If they didn’t want to live as terrorists, if they wanted to live in peace, they could be a major port for the entire eastern Mediterranean and they could be all filthy rich, and we could be going and working for them. But that’s not what they’ve chosen to do.

Joshua: Right.

Nehemia: They’ve chosen to wage war. Let’s get off of politics. I want to ask you a religious question. So a lot of people here in Israel, I think a lot of my Jewish listeners especially, they’ll hear you’ve come to bless Israel, and they’ll say, “Well, the way to bless Israel, every Christian knows, is to convert the Jews.” In fact, I saw this meme on the Internet recently where it said, “You’re not blessing Israel unless you share Jesus.” So, what is your perspective on that? Does your organization evangelize, is that what you’re here for? What is the purpose?

Joshua: I would say first off, absolutely not. We’re not here to evangelize. We’re here to be a blessing…

Nehemia: I’ve got to stop you. So, they’re dragging here this bag. How much does that weigh?

Woman: A lot.

Nehemia: A lot. So, there are three men - I guess two boys and a man - who are dragging… I want to get a picture of it. Can you turn around and smile, or are you too much in your work? They’re dragging these olives, [laughing] a lot of olives.

Joshua: No, you’re good. So, no. Our policy is here, and our stance is, that we want to be a blessing to the Jewish people for once, after 2,000 years of crazy history. We’re not here to bring any of our theology or doctrine. We’re solely 100 percent coming here to be a blessing and to serve the Jewish people and help in their fields. That’s our 100 percent state. There’s no kind of agenda, there’s no nothing, except the one and only goal is to see these farms flourish, and to see the agricultural cycles be once again restored on the mountains of Israel. And that’s our total 100 percent motive. If there are people that come to HaYovel and they have different motives, for one, they’ll be on the next plane out. Two…

Nehemia: So you don’t tolerate it if you get a volunteer who says, “Yeah, I know they say that we’re not going to evangelize, but as soon as I get there, I’m going to start witnessing… ”

Joshua: If somebody shows up here with a suitcase load of tracts and all that, within hours, they’re gone.

Nehemia: Wow.

Joshua: We’re very clear and we’re very precise, and they know that before.

Nehemia: And that’s something you say to people in advance.

Joshua: Oh, totally, yeah.

Nehemia: Okay.

Joshua: It’s a huge application process. That’s not what our organization does. What we are here to do is to be a blessing in the service of these Jewish communities. And we’re able to be such a shrink there. Like, right now especially, with the world the way it is, a lot of people are not coming to Israel. Sadly, they’re not looking through the lens of Joshua and Caleb, they’re looking through the lenses of the 10 and they’re saying, “Oh, I’m scared.”

Just the other day I had somebody tell me, “Oh, I’m sorry. I prayed about it and I don’t think I’m going to be able to go there.” And you know what I would say? I’d say, “If you’re scared, do not come. Don’t come if you’re scared. But start praying a little more, and figure out what spirits you’ve actually got going on inside. You need to understand who you are and what God has really required of you and get on the right side of the fence and be a part of this deal.” And that’s our goal. We’re here to strengthen and to gird. That’s our 100 percent mission.

Nehemia: Now, how many years did you say you were coming here?

Joshua: I’ve been here for 10 years.

Nehemia: And are you afraid here?

Joshua: Absolutely not.

Nehemia: I mean, you know, I’ve got to say I was a little nervous coming on the road, and the big thing is that I actually took the wrong turn at Kikar Adam and turned into the Palestinian area. [laughing]

Joshua: That’s the road to Ramallah.

Nehemia: I almost went into Ramallah. I went past the sign that said, “You are entering Area A”, and I thought, well, that can’t be right, because nobody stopped me.

Joshua: Everybody does that.

Nehemia: Surely, that can’t be the Palestinian… And it was Area A not B, which is full Palestinian control, the Israeli army doesn’t go in there. And then the next sign said in Hebrew, “No entrance for Israelis.” And I did a quick U-turn on the highway and I turned right back. And once I got back on the road then I felt a lot safer, right?

Joshua: Right.

Nehemia: I guess a lot of people make that mistake. There should be a sign there that says, No left turn for Israelis.

Joshua: Right. [laughing]

Nehemia: That would probably just invite more people to turn left, though.

Joshua: Right, exactly.

Nehemia: We don’t like to follow rules in Israel. So, I love what you shared, because what you’re saying is, you’re not an obstacle for peace - you’re actually a viable realistic route to peace. You know, the peace process that’s been going on since 1993, that’s led to so much suffering and death, and what you’re saying is, “Here’s a way where we can actually have peace, that this will eventually end in peace. The prophets tell us that and we invite the neighbors who are quite far away, but we’ll have to do it over a really loud loudspeaker, or over the internet, to invite these people to be part of this, to live in harmony with the people here, and not to choose war, to choose peace.” And I love that you are a real, viable option for peace.

Joshua: [laughing] Yeah. I mean, that’s the topic of the world. Everybody’s trying to bring peace to the Middle East, and it’s something that contains most of media today. Like, it’s unbelievable that the people around the world are so focused on this. It’s like there’s much worse crises going on around the world. But it’s a God thing, all the nations are beginning to focus on Israel for a reason. Like all the prophets talk about this great light that’s inside Israel. And if you look at it, it’s crazy to look at it this way. But at the same time, the morals of the whole, entire world are going in the dumps, they’re going just totally down.

In Israel the exact opposite’s happening. There’s a return to God happening here, there’s a building of family, there’s a return to the life, and I mean, you’re going to have small sections of people trying to fit in with groups around the world, but that’s a minority here in Israel. Here in Israel, you have 99 percent fasting, like in the 90s percent fasting on Yom Kippur, you have a culture that is Godly, that’s loving family, that loves family values. And it’s only growing. If you look at the percentage in Israel, it’s only growing.

There’s not another country in the world that’s growing in these good morals. Every other country is slowly… not even slowly now, it’s almost like a waterfall just collapsed around the world, especially in the United States. There’s a collapse of moral dignity and goodness. Here in Israel, it’s the opposite. And it’s as if God is putting Israel in a place to be that light, to be the light unto all these nations that are just going off the cliff.

And I think it’s an amazing time to live in, and to actually have my feet inside Israel is a real honor, to be able to stand in this place, where we know that God is going to bring… He’s bringing this redemption. And we’re seeing it. We’re seeing it, and a lot of people don’t get it, but if we can truly get a hold of when a prophet says you’re going to plant vines in the mountains of Samaria, you’re going to see an agriculture redemption, and you see it, it means something.

Nehemia: Halleluyah, amen. And I want to read that prophesy you just quoted. It’s from Jeremiah chapter 31 verse 5, it says, “You shall yet plant vines upon the mountains of Samaria.” And that’s literally what you’re part of. And it goes on and it says, “The planters shall plant and shall eat them as common things…” in verse 6, “For there shall be a day that the watchmen upon the Mount Ephraim…” that’s where we’re standing right now, “the watchmen upon the Mount Ephraim shall cry, ‘Arise ye, and go up to Zion unto the Lord, our God.’”

And when Jeremiah was saying these things, it was a time when Jerusalem was under siege, and they were clearing people out of Israel, and at that time, the 10 tribes who lived in this area in Samaria, they had already been taken into exile as prisoners to Assyria by the Assyrians, and Jeremiah was in Jerusalem surrounded by Babylonians, talking about how not only will we be back in this land and we’ll be buying and selling land, and planting, but there’ll be a time when our brothers in the northern kingdom, who were our enemies at one time, they’re going to plant their vineyards, and then they’re going to look up to Jerusalem - which they saw as an enemy. You know, the kingdom of Israel looked at the kingdom of Judah as an enemy for about 300 or 400 years - at that time in this prophetic period that he talks about, they’re going to come up to Jerusalem like they weren’t doing before they were sent into exile.

And people must have heard Jeremiah and thought the guy was nuts. And one of the things I wanted to ask you about, because when I read this, I read it in Hebrew. And one of the things that really excites my imagination - although I say this with a lot of hesitation, I’ll be honest with you - one of the things that excites my imagination is that word “watchmen” in verse 6, because the Hebrew word for watchmen, there are two types of watchmen in Hebrew. There are people who watch the wall, that’s like a military function, and then there are watchmen who watch the crops. They’re people who, when the crops are ripe, back in the old days if you didn’t have somebody watching over the crops, somebody would come in the middle of the night and steal your crops. There were people wandering through the hills and Bedouin, and things like that. Especially grapes - they’d come and they’d just steal your grapes. And you’d wake up in the morning and they’d just be gone. Is it still like that?

Joshua: Totally like that.

Nehemia: Seriously? [laughing]

Joshua: I mean today, if we don’t come and pick these olives, in many areas the Arab community surrounding will come and take the olives.

Nehemia: They’ll just steal the olives. So they would put these watchmen, and the Hebrew word for watchmen who look over the crops is a different word than for the people who look over the wall. The word is notzrim. And what excites me about that is notzrim are the watchers over the crops, but it also, in modern Hebrew, notzrim are Christians, and quite literally, Nazarenes, and it comes from the Hebrew name for Jesus. Jesus Christ in English is Yeshua haNotzri, Jesus of Nazareth. And people who followed him, even in the New Testament, they’re called Nazarenes which in Hebrew was Notzrim.

So, what this verse could be talking about, literally obviously to Jeremiah’s listeners, it was the people from the 10 tribes who had been taken as exile that they would return, and they’d be watching over the crops, and they’d come up to Jerusalem. But he also could be talking about, it’s very possible - you. I mean, he could be talking about Notzrim in the Nazarene sense. I don’t know, this is kind of… Look, I’m outside the Jewish box saying this. Some of my Jewish brothers and sisters would be saying, “No, you can’t say that. The Christians are historically our enemies. How could there be a prophesy about the people who persecuted us for 2,000 years?” What do you think about that?

Joshua: It’s a big question, and I’m not the one that’s going to say if it is or it’s not. I’m here, and that’s not what drives me either way or the other. I think it’s kind of cool. But what really drives me is that I’m seeing the prophetic redemption no matter what. No matter what, if it’s me or it’s whatever, thank God I’m allowed to touch it, like, that I’m able to be here and be a part of it. It doesn’t matter what the theological stance is one way or the other. I’m able to be here and be a part of it, and that’s awesome.

There are people in the communities here, the Mayor of the community of Shiloh, the former Mayor, David Rubin, he would say that. He tells our group that all the time.

Nehemia: He says they’re the Notzrim of this verse?

Joshua: That’s what he says, yeah.

Nehemia: Wow! So, I’m not the first one to come up with this. Look, I read it in Hebrew and it popped off the page. We’re talking about planting vines in Samaria and harvesting the crops. And he’s an Orthodox Jewish person, right?

Joshua: That’s right, yeah.

Nehemia: And he said… Wow! So you heard it right here, people. This isn’t just some whacky Karaite thing that these people might be a fulfilment of that prophecy of Jeremiah. Even the Orthodox Jew says, “Hey, it’s them.” And they’re certainly a prophetic fulfilment of something, and I’m really excited. Anything else you want to share with the people?

Joshua: This is an incredible thing that’s happened here. Come and participate, take the Joshua and Caleb lens. Stick it on and get over here.

Nehemia: Guys, go to hayovel.com and become part of this, and support it in any way you can. I think it’s really a special thing, it really is. It’s a prophetic fulfilment. And you can be part of that. So, hayovel.com.

Joshua: All right. I would say that, and the last thing in closing, I would say that there’s a place - because I know you say you have a lot of Christians on here as well, right?

Nehemia: Yeah, absolutely.

Joshua: So, all the Christians out there, there’s totally, 100 percent, a place for us. I think there’s many times we get, “So what’s happening, what’s our place and where are we fitting in this whole deal?” Totally, there’s a place. There’s a place for us to go to our communities, to build support for Israel, to be involved. That’s what we’re doing here. We’re undergirding and strengthening the building up of Israel, and that’s 100 percent right now what needs to happen in the Christian world.

So you all have a job. Don’t think you don’t have a job. I mean, these Jewish people here obviously have a very specific job of building up the land, moving here, settling the land. And our job is to come and back it up. We want to see these guys be pressed forward, so that’s really the mandate for every Christian out there. Don’t sit on your couch. Don’t just listen to this interview. Do something about it. Go, get involved in any way you can to build up and strengthen this effort for the heartland, for the entire land of Israel.

Nehemia: Look, you guys. You heard it here from Joshua. You heard it from the Book of Jeremiah chapter 31 verse 6. You heard it from the former Mayor of Shiloh, reading Jeremiah 31:6. You know, you have a role, and maybe this is what God’s role is for you right now, in this prophetic fulfilment. And people, actually, when they’re done with this, they might say they want more, and it’s my understanding that they can actually invite you. You’re not here in Israel all the time. They can actually invite you to come and speak at their churches, at their fellowships, at their congregation.

Joshua: Sure.

Nehemia: And what are some of the things that you talk about, what’s going on here?

Joshua: I actually have a twin brother. His name is Caleb.

Nehemia: You seriously have a twin brother?

Joshua: Yes, yeah.

Nehemia: You’re not joking?

Joshua: No, I’m not joking.

Nehemia: [laughing] His name is Joshua and his twin’s named Caleb?

Joshua: Yeah. So, we go around and we actually give…

Nehemia: Are you identical twins?

Joshua: No, we’re not.

Nehemia: Oh, you’re not.

Joshua: Thank God, he’s much different than I. He has the Caleb report and I have the Joshua, but we go around and we give… Which is the two of the same opinion, two of the same things, but his way... I don’t know what I would do if I always got, “Did you do that?” “No, I did not do that,” right? So, it’s a good thing that we’re not identical.

Nehemia: Okay.

Joshua: But we go around and we give reports, and we call it The Joshua and Caleb Report.

Nehemia: Wow.

Joshua: … pawned off of the old stories of the Bible. But it’s identical. That’s what we’re doing. It’s going to be a report of the goodness of the land, and how to get tapped into it.

Nehemia: So, guys, go to hayovel.com and write to Joshua and Caleb. And bring them to your church, bring them to your fellowship. If you’re Jewish, bring them to your synagogue, because these are people who are standing up for the people of Israel, and they’re helping to be part of what we Jews see as the Messianic fulfilment of the restoration of Israel in the land. So bring them. You’re willing to speak at synagogues, right?

Joshua: Absolutely, yeah. We speak everywhere.

Nehemia: And you told me before, you’ve spoken in places as far off as the Congo.

Joshua: Oh, anywhere in the world. Where there are people that love Israel, love the restoration, we’re there.

Nehemia: Wow! Wonderful, thank you so much.

Joshua: Thank you.

Nehemia: This episode of Hebrew Voices was sponsored by Chris from Singapore. Todah. Thank you.

You have been listening to Hebrew Voices with Nehemia Gordon. Thank you for supporting Nehemia Gordon’s Makor Hebrew Foundation. Learn more at NehemiasWall.com.

We hope the above transcript has proven to be a helpful resource in your study. While much effort has been taken to provide you with this transcript, it should be noted that the text has not been reviewed by the speakers and its accuracy cannot be guaranteed. If you would like to support our efforts to transcribe the teachings on NehemiasWall.com, please visit our support page. All donations are tax-deductible (501c3) and help us empower people around the world with the Hebrew sources of their faith!

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Related Posts:
When is Shemitah (Sabbatical Year)
Torah and Prophet Pearls
Hebrew Voices Episodes
Support Team Studies
Nehemia Gordon's Teachings on the Name of God

SHOW NOTES

Isaiah 61:5
Jeremiah 31:5-6
Deuteronomy 24:20
Ezekiel 36:8
Numbers 14:6
Amos 9:13
Nehemiah 6:2

HaYovel - Serving Israel's Farmers

Harvesting olives by "beating" the trees in the hills of Samaria.

Harvesting olives by "beating" the trees in the hills of Samaria.

Harvested olives in Samaria.

Harvested olives in Samaria.


  • Zhui Feng says:

    Oh Nehemia, you went down the wrong road but, I was glad to hear you quickly repented!
    Isn’t area Aye the Canadian section of Palestine? That’d be my story if I got caught there!

    Glory, Glory, Hallelujah! How I hunger and thirst for righteousness! It is refreshing to hear about something like this.
    No judgmentalism, just peace and love.

    It’s sad to hear though, that they didn’t keep the last shemitah.
    Those who wine about that have that right!
    The land lies parched and dry.
    Centuries of sexual sin and blood shed have defiled the land. ?
    You know, the prophecy in Jeremiah 31 almost sounds like the exiles have been reincarnated. Nah!

    ?”I heard it through the grape. ? ?Yehovah says your gonna be mine! ?
    ?Yeah I heard it through the grape vine?
    ?I’ll be jealous for those who are mine.?
    ?Yeah I heard it through the grape vine?

    If I can help Israel solve their water and energy problems I certainly will!
    Hey, I got a what if?….
    In the last days they will build springs of water in the Valley of Bacca.
    Now where is that?

    Shalom Kids!
    And may The Kingdom Come!
    But, First,….

  • Debra Harding says:

    Shalom Nehemia l enjoyed listening to your visit with Ha Yovel. It’s amazing how God has them fulfilling biblical prophecy, supporting Jewish people and building relationships of love and service. A question l would like to ask you is how do you see Jewish people who have come to believe in Yahshua and who come to serve in Israel? Do you view them different to Christians and would you see them favourably like the people at Ha Yovel? As you would know there is much contention around Jewish people having Yahshua as their Messiah. Very interested to know how you view them. Thanks. Debra

  • daniel says:

    Very interesting. A week before this posted I was prompted to search the net for group tours in Israel that did something off the beaten path – and got multiple hits on HaYovel! So, I’ve been watching a lot of youtube videos, made a donation to HaYovel , and now I check my email and Nehemia is interviewing Josh Waller in Samaria! Must be a God-incident.

  • Sheila Price says:

    I’ve tried to send the question below to the ‘contact us’ page, 3 times, but it kept telling me to go to nehemia’s wall.com… anyway, finally decided to post the question here, as others may wonder the same thing…

    I’m just curious as to where I go to find the original air date on any given topic. I receive the rebroadcasts each week, but I’m not seeing what the original air date is on them… such as #12 Nazarene Grape Pickers. I like to make notes in scripture as to when we first realize a prophesy has been fulfilled. i.c. Jeremiah 31-5-6, or the political forming of the nation, Israel in 1948, etc.

  • John Kenneth Stava says:

    Thanks for this! Awesome!

  • pathhacker says:

    Nehemia, thank you for rebroadcasting this article/interview. I really enjoyed it and would not go to bed until it finished. And I could not sleep all night and had to get up at 5am to read and learn more about Yahovel and to see if I could be a part of a future one. I am a Christian, or am I a notzrim? who is learning from you and so thankful for your ministry. Would love to know what is coming up in your ministry in 2020. Please keep updating us.

  • Sandy Pierce says:

    Thank you SO much for your Hebrew Voices information. What a life changing experience for a farm worker in central New York.!!!!!

  • Eric John Nagel says:

    Most wonderful, Thanks as all ways for your dedication. It occurred to us in our Torah study and seems to make sense in listening to this piece that these people and all the others who feel the way they do, that we are Covenant people, if we would substitute that term for Messianic, Christian, or Jewish… it seems to me that we become one Stick instead of a bundle of twigs. We are the Covenant People of Yehovah!

  • Donald McGrew says:

    Are they keeping the Sabbatical and Jubliee year?

    • Sarah says:

      Sadly, no. They found someone to say it was OK for them to pick the grapes during what had been declared the shmita year and sell the wine “at cost” so they went. Sadder still, that action split our local group because of intentional disobedience.

  • Neville says:

    Wonderful piece, Nehemia. Thank you for pursuing this particular story, and for the transparent uncut way in which you present these shows.

    I hope this goes at least a little way toward showing you that not all of the Notsrim, the followers of Y’shua, are Constantines or Luthers, and that you will see through the labels to the hearts.

  • Shabbat Shalom from Scandinavia, Finland! Prophecy in Psalm 147:1-4 came to my mind together with Jeremiah 31. Been following HaYovel for some years and that’s YAHsome! I am in tears here listening to this and as much excited as you Nehemia. Praise Yehovah for providing you boldness of a Lion in order to get to Samaria.

    I wish I could have been there with you. Well, what I could say more? Prophecy is being fulfilled halleluYah and I want to get my hands on the Land’s dirt as well and produce the world’s finest agricultural products for the Brothers dwelling together. I know I will be there in the hills of Ephraim when Yah wills…

    -Outcast Notzri Brother from the Northern Kingdom

  • Georgia says:

    I also have met the Waller family, and have friends who have gone with them many times and felt so at home in Israel. My friends talked of how amazing it was to just put their hands in the dirt of the land and begin to work the fields in the spring with pruning and preparing the ground, and then to help reap the harvest in the fall. It is wonderful to see prophesy fulfilled in this way!

  • Judith Damminga says:

    beautiful music thanks for sharing!!

  • Janice says:

    Those who came to believe in Jesus (Yeshua) as the Jewish Messian (Annointed One, Holy One of Israel) and observe and teach the Covenant as given through MOses; were 1st called Nozrim, not christians, that name is Greek and spoken outside the land of Judea by foreinors; we should return to out Ancient Hebrew Name – Notzrim; branches or offshoots.

  • miller3@wans.net says:

    I so enjoyed listening to this. My Christian daughter has spent a season there with HaYovel harvesting grapes and olives. At first I thought, why PAY for transportation, food, lodging, etc. to go WORK at harvesting somebody else’s crops. When she explained it was an opportunity to participate in and bless Israel and showed me the Scriptural support, I rejoiced. What a great ministry. And what fun to share Nehemia’s encounter with them.

  • deza4truth says:

    As exciting as it is, it’s been revealed for some time. HaYovel is, of course, a fulfillment of Scripture!! I have friends deeply involved with this beautiful ministry!

  • Rocky Jackson says:

    Wonderful!

  • PaulDaystar says:

    Awesome Thankyou Toda Raba
    Blessings from Alaska
    Great memories from the land of Yudah
    Shalom