The New Frontier
“Go South, Young Man”
The Arava desert is
the below-sea-level portion of the Southern region of Israel. The Negev is
the desert above sea level.
“Everything has its
season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Eccl. 3:1).
“There is a
national need to establish Tamar at the hub of the Arava . . . and a place
for people of the nations to learn together.” When we quoted these
words of Shuka Dorfman, Director of the Israel Antiquities Authority in the
Bible Light on the News (Vol. 13 No. 1), we had no inkling we would
be invited to have an initial part in establishing a center and library for
In an e-mail to me in
Jerusalem, Dr. DeWayne Coxon, Israeli-appointed Curator of the 53-acre
Biblical Tamar Park, said, “We need a strong study emphasis at Tamar
and I am wondering if Bible Light Int’l would be interested in establishing
an Elmer Josephson memorial library and study center at Tamar. Elmer and you
had a connection to Tamar even before I came. It could be a part of the
“Welcome Center/Museum” complex. I know that Sapir [Israeli Council
in the area] would welcome such an educational center.”
From this initial
invitation, the thoughts and plans began tumbling over each other. This
opportunity is not only to be a part of “restoring the waste places,”
but to help shine “a light to the nations.” Ministers visiting Tamar
for a retreat or sabbatical have expressed disappointment that there are not
enough books to read. With your help we can change that!
But I’m getting ahead
of my story! What is the purpose for a learning center, and why in Tamar?
What this learning
center can mean to the nations is an overwhelming vision. The Prince of
Prophets, Isaiah, in chapter 35 spelled it out. (Watch our website for a
Bible Study.) Think of the world-wide potential as visitors from all nations
take “seed” to their homeland.
And what is the central
source of the seed – the granary, or big seed container from which it
comes? The Bible, of course. In the words of Zev Kedem: “The Bible
raises universal consciousness and defines the only God-oriented ethical
basis for universal justice and sanctity of life. It presents a simple
single finite ethical foundation that is much needed in times of immoral
confusion, fast changing world events and erosion of moral values, as
technology and weapons of mass destruction threaten the survival of
It all began with
Abraham and the covenant El Shaddai made with him and his seed. Three times
in Genesis 17, He said it is an everlasting covenant. Verse 7, “I
will establish my Covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in
their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a G-d unto thee and to
thy seed after thee.” The purpose of the Land portion of this contract
is a base, a Word Center for the whole world, to bring redemption to every
phase of life on this planet.
Ancient and Modern History
Tamar was the
southern-most city of the Kingdoms of David and Solomon. We know this
because of Tel Tamar. A tel is a mound under which generations of
civilizations are buried. In this country, that expands 4,000 years.
Tamar’s ancient history
dates to Abraham, symbolized today by the ancient Jujube tree still growing
there. It is at least 2300 years old and its roots go back to Abraham’s
time. The largest natural spring of the desert is located here – so the tree
can’t help but live!
The first time I
visited this area, it was a place where hardly anyone could live. We knew a
family in Miami, Florida who settled here. Against many odds (some made by
their own mistakes and some by others) this family, led by Simcha
Pearlmutter, adamantly continued to pioneer. The going was very rough, but
the promise of abundant water, plus historical facts of the city, gave hope
of life again flourishing here in this out-lying region.
Tamar means “date” and
refers to the fruit of the date palm. The Hebrew word for tree is “etz”, so
“etz Tamar” refers to date palm trees, which Bible Light friends have made
possible at Tamar.
Being the crossroads of
civilization, this area was vital to the old spice route in ancient times.
It served as fortress for many “conquerors”.
9:17-18 tells us King Solomon built Tamar in the wilderness. The gates of
this city have been exposed. Those close to the project say the Queen of
Sheba stayed here while going to and from Jerusalem! If the rocks could
talk, what stories would we hear? And they are talking today!
Archaeology – Stone Cry Out
at Tamar reveal layer after layer of occupation. Most archeological sites in
Israel do not go to the depths of Tamar’s because present day structures are
on top of them. Since before Jesus’ time in this land, no new construction
was built on top of this ancient tel. This makes Tamar the most pristine of
A jewel of great price
to the descendants of Abraham is the only Israelite house discovered in
either the Negev or the Arava. And it is at Tamar. Early in 2006, not only
were items discovered dating to the Iron Age (the time of Kings David and
Solomon), but with Phoenician designs on them, never before found in the
Arava. The progress is significant in the excavation of this tel. Christians
and Jews working together discovered these proofs of the age of the city.
Under the leadership of Dr. Coxon, Christians have stuck it out for a long
25 years of securing, maintaining and beautifying this ancient oasis, the
waters of which were drunk by the Israelites under Moses. Now, it’s our turn
Biblical Tamar Park is
as rich in history as it is in treasures, boasting the largest collection of
artifacts from an archeological site in Israel stored presently at the
Jerusalem Museum. For this reason, there are plans for a museum to be built
at Biblical Tamar Park along with the replication of the Israeli Four-Room
House discovered there. The museum planned will house eight rooms, one for
each archaeological period with their 25,000 artifacts. There will also be a
lecture hall, a welcome center/gift shop and a restaurant. In keeping with
the purpose of restoring Tamar is an educational center in which the Bible
Light Library and Learning Center will have an integral part.
The vision, not only of
Coxon but the concerned governmental powers, is for a museum and antiquities
park with accommodations for tourists, affording refuge from winter
Today we put quotes
around “city” because Tamar is an ancient city being excavated. During this
restoration time, the area is more like a camp ground with caravans to
accommodate visitors and workers. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Solomon –
and the Lord only knows who else – were here before we were! It is exciting
to be here and see the layers of civilizations revealed.
calling Tamar, “The Gateway to the Arava” and is also known as
the “gem” of the area, as expressed by Yigal Israel, Former
District Archaeologist of the Southern Negev, “Tamar is the most
important historic Jewish archaeology site in the Arava. Its history dates
to at least the time of Solomon and was considered a Jewish city for 1,000
Did you know that
Jericho is not the only city in the Bible called, “The City of Palms”?
Judges 1:16, “And the children of the Kenite, Moses’ father-in-law, went
up out of the city of palm trees with the children of Judah into the
wilderness of Judah, which lies in the south of Arad.” Israeli
authorities have identified this as Tamar. I learned, also, that the Israeli
authorities want this place to become once more like “a city of palm
trees.” I didn’t know that when BLI began the project of planting date
It seems very
significant that our project in the Arava began with palm trees. That
project is finished and NOW, Bible Light has been given the challenge
of a library and learning center at this location. This is a great honor and
meets the goal of both Elmer’s and my heart to see a place in Israel where
people of all nations can learn of Israel, her history and the glorious
future, as He establishes His Kingdom on earth “as it is in heaven”
to bless ALL the nations of the earth.
Why the Learning Center?
“Be not overcome of
evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). Evil-doing blasts the
headlines every day. How CAN it be overcome? The answers are in the manual
for the man God created, a Book of which many are ignorant. And like most
manuals, it is never opened until all else fails! Aren’t we experiencing
mankind’s failure in our world today?
Large clumps of dates
ripening in the sun.
The palm is a symbol of
triumph and victory. In the heart of the date palm is a sword-shaped,
unopened frond called the lulav. It is waved during the Feast of Tabernacles
toward the four corners of the earth. This is symbolic of the message of the
Bible going forth from the Land of Promise.
The palm tree symbol was
on coins minted by the Maccabees to celebrate their victory over the Greeks.
This symbol was present when Jesus rode into Jerusalem. The multitudes waved
palm branches and laid them on the road before him, proclaiming the majesty
of the Kingdom. Ornately carved date palms adorned the inner walls of
Solomon’s Temple, symbolizing the Sanctuary of God’s Presence as the
spiritual oasis in man’s life on earth.
An oasis is a tranquil
retreat, a place of rest and refreshment, a joy and relief to sojourners of
the desert to find palm trees beckoning to their source of fresh water,
offering shade and plentiful fruit.
It seems natural and
fitting that our project of planting date palms in the desert would lead to
a greater vision of a library and learning center there.
A friend in Jerusalem,
John Hulley, has written an excellent book, “What is the Messiah waiting
for?” The following excerpt pinpoints, I believe, the timing and reason for
the Learning Center. Hulley believes we are on the edge of reconciliation
because new understanding of God’s Word will come. He quotes many passages
for this claim, such as Isaiah 11. He writes under the title:
truth leads to reconciliation
Since the new understanding
will be given to both houses, it should remove the religious obstacles
between them. What a time that will be! It may be the one foreseen in
glowing terms in the Talmud:
Great will be the day when
the exiles of Israel will be reassembled, as the day when heaven and earth
(Pesach 88a, BT)
In fact the rabbis teach
that in the end-time any or all of their oral tradition may be corrected,
along with most of the Bible, leaving only the Torah (=Pentateuch)
Probably many believers
[from the nations - Ed.] would make a similar distinction between Church
theology and the Bible. According to one evangelical leader our
interpretation of scripture is to be transformed:
The Lord will soon open our understanding of his word and purposes
to a depth beyond our present comprehension. The “books” are yet to be
“opened” as they will be. When they are, our understanding of even basic
truths, such as salvation, being born again, etc. will be enormously
As the two houses unify,
there will no longer be rival faiths. No more sects! No more denominations!
A great clarification is coming. Everyone will agree. How different that
time will be!
“For we know in part, and we
prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is
in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I
understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put
away childish things. For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face
(1 Corinthians 13:9-12).
Paul is saying that our
understanding of spiritual truth today is childish.
To make the point plainer he
goes on to compare it to ‘seeing through a glass darkly.’ The state of
glass-making in his day was primitive. In Europe some 16th century houses
are still preserved with the glass windows of the time. It is somewhat like
looking through glass bricks. Through them you can distinguish between
lighter and darker areas outside; but you cannot see enough to identify the
objects. Paul was saying that our spiritual understanding permits us to tell
light from dark – thank God! But as for detail, it is dim compared to what
it will be. Then we shall perceive that our grasp of truth has been very
limited, and we shall ‘put away childish things’. What we know now ‘shall be
done away’. (End of Hulley
Another friend in
Jerusalem, who is an orthodox Jew, is doing a lot of research on the lost
tribes. Yair Davidiy says, “Rabbinical Commentary more often than not
gives an acceptable almost literal explanation of Biblical verses and shows
how one part of Scripture throws light on another and how the Bible in
general can guide us in everyday existence.”
For some years Bible
Light has been having conferences and small “learning centers” with Jews and
Christians coming together around the Bible and learning from each other
without intimidation and without an agenda of conversion. These same
guidelines will be prevalent at the Arava learning center.
We have an opportunity
as no other generation to overcome evil with good. Israel is surrounded by
evil and her friends are few. Hamas, Hizbullah, their allies and master in
Teheran are producing what my friend, Yossi Klein Halevy, has called the
“theology of genocide” against Israel. This is a self-destructive path and
is actually ripping the mask off this culture of death. The distinction
between the evil death culture and the good sanctity-of-life culture is
becoming clearer every day.
Many are praying for
Israel and there are many individuals and groups here who say they are
intercessors and have come to do spiritual warfare. This is very well and
good. HOWEVER, we can put feet to our prayers in this project to bring about
better understanding of the restoration taking place in our day. We
can learn much from our brother, Judah, realizing we don’t have “the whole
ball of wax”. Judah can learn from us, also, when we drop our arrogant
attitudes and condemning ways and speak as “brothers.” May the Lord help us
A Word to the Wise
If you are making
decisions about your will, please consider this guide in Ecclesiastes 2:21,
“…man whose labor is in wisdom and in knowledge and in equity – yet shall
he leave it to one who has not labored therein.” The verse goes
on to say that is vanity and a great evil. That’s pretty strong? These are
the words of King Solomon who is called the wisest of men. My late husband,
Elmer Josephson, often said it is best to dispense of wealth while living.
He cited II Corinthians 5:10, “We must all appear before the judgment
seat of Christ that every one may receive the things done in his body,
according to that he has done, whether it be good or bad.” Elmer said
what we do now during our lifetime on this planet is what lays up
treasures in the Kingdom – or does not!
One of two stone pillars
marking the entrance to Biblical Tamar Park. Date palms will line the access
drive and groves will adorn each side of the entryway.
Bible Light friends
know we aren’t professional fund raisers. I just want to give you
opportunities to bless Israel and thereby bless the whole world. I know no
better way than a learning center at the crossroads of the nations such as
The Awesome landscape
of this area – from the red Edom mountains and the Dead Sea to the quiet
rolling of the desert terrain – is a perfect background for prayer and
The gates of
opportunity are swinging wide, even as the ancient gates of the buried city
are exposed. I pray you will catch the vision of these restoration days and
want to be a part.
What You Can Do?
To begin with there are
affordable items available to all in this project and any amount of donation
is appreciated. The building material is cement bricks, overlaid with stone.
You can purchase a brick for $250. For others who can and want to have a
substantial part, a “wall” for $5,000. And some donors may be able to
complete a room in the museum, such as one containing some of the library.
This can be arranged and would also be dedicated to you and/or your honoree.
As the Lord supplies and plans crystallize, more information will become
Contributors to this
project will receive a certificate of acknowledgement for helping build this
learning center in the heart of the Arava. To submit a donation online,
this link. For those who would like to mail in a donation, please send
the name of the person you would like to honor or memorialize (optional)
along with your donation to Bible Light Int'l, PO Box 370, Ottawa, KS
Let’s begin fashioning
the setting for what Israeli authorities are calling, “The Jewel of the