The Bible Teaching Ministry of David Hocking
“The Word of our God shall stand forever” Isaiah 40:8

Archive for May, 2013


Friday, May 31st, 2013

(Israel Today Staff)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week ordered the defense establishment to urgently get gas masks and protective kits into the hands of all Israelis, according to Israel’s Channel 10 News.

Currently, only an estimated 42 percent of Israelis have up-to-date gas masks and protective kits. Budgetary constraints in recent years prevented both the manufacturing and distribution of enough masks to protect the entire population.

But, with the probability of an unconventional attack on Israel increasing significantly in the past year, and with the recent proven use of chemical weapons in Syria, distributing gas masks to all Israelis has become more than just a “feel-good” measure.

The considerable cost of fulfilling Netanyahu’s order will likely be covered by an increase in the national insurance every Israeli pays, though few are expected to complain over this particular tax boost.


Friday, May 31st, 2013

by Elad Benari (Arutz Sheva News)

PLO negotiator accuses Israel of “destroying” John Kerry’s peace efforts by building new homes in Jerusalem.

The Palestinian Authority on Thursday attacked Israeli plans for 1,000 new homes in Jerusalem as “destroying” efforts by Washington’s top diplomat to revive the peace process, AFP reported.

The United States also warned that such a plan would run counter to efforts to reach a peace deal.

On Wednesday, Channel 10 News reported that Israel had approved tenders for the construction of 300 new homes in the Ramot neighborhood Jerusalem and plans to build more housing units in the Gilo neighborhood as well.

“We consider the recent decision of the Israeli government to build a thousand homes in east Jerusalem as effectively destroying the efforts of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry,” the PLO’s top negotiator, Saeb Erekat, told AFP.

He accused Israel of having “a systematic plan for destroying Kerry’s efforts which involves an escalation of settlement building, a displacement of the population of the Jordan Valley, an increase of settler attacks against our people and confiscation of our land.”

The U.S. State Department called the move “counterproductive”, according to AFP.

“Israelis must recognize that continued settlement activity and new housing construction in East Jerusalem is counterproductive to the cause of peace,” spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

“The U.S. position on settlements is clear and has not changed: we do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity, which would undermine peace efforts and would contradict Israeli commitments and obligations,” she added.

However, Ofir Gendelman, a spokesman for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, said the plans were not new, and accused the PA of looking for any excuse to avoid peace talks.

“The Palestinians keep making up excuses in order to run away from peace negotiations with Israel,” Gendelman was quoted as having written on Twitter.

“The Palestinians recycle old claims which are based on false information. They run to the media to avoid discussing outstanding issues,” he said, calling for them to “resume peace talks immediately”.

Gendelman said the plan to build new homes in Gilo and Ramot was “not new” and had been “reposted due to administrative requirements.”

The Channel 10 report on Wednesday explained that the tenders in question were published last November, right after the Palestinian Authority’s unilateral move at the United Nations which got it upgraded to the status of a non-member observer state, and before Kerry began his latest push for the renewal of peace talks.

Housing ministry spokesman Ariel Rosenberg also said there had been no tenders for new Jerusalem housing invited this year.

“Since the start of this year, there have not been any tenders in east Jerusalem but last year there were more than a thousand,” he told AFP.

In recent weeks, Kerry has been pushing the sides to resume peace talks, and reports last week indicated that he has proposed that Israel freeze construction east of the 1949 armistice line so the talks can resume.

It was not clear if Netanyahu responded favorably to Kerry’s suggestion of a new construction freeze. Israel formerly froze construction for several months in an attempt to bring the PA back to the negotiating table. The PA agreed to talks shortly before the freeze ended, but refused to continue meeting when the construction ban was not renewed.

Netanyahu has reportedly put a stop to new construction in Judea and Samaria (Shomron), but has not issued a public ban on construction, and has not stopped construction for Israelis in Jerusalem.


Friday, May 31st, 2013

by Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger

The special ties between the US and the Jewish State are uniquely driven by people-to-people, bottom-up relationship, shaped by the American public more than by the American government. US ties with the Jewish state have been exceptionally-forged by shared Judeo-Christian values.
“Americans’ sympathy for Israel is at a high-water mark,” determined a March 15, 2013 Gallup poll. According to Gallup, there is “a steady increase in relative support for Israel over the past decade…. Americans’ sympathies lean heavily toward the Israelis over the Palestinians…. Today’s 64% (compared to 12% sympathizing with the Palestinians) ties the highest Gallup has recorded in a quarter century, last seen in 1991 during the Gulf War.”

A sustained and deep identification with the Jewish state has always characterized both chambers of the US Congress, which are the most authentic representatives of the US constituent – the chief axis of the US Federalist system. Moreover, the Federalist system derived its name from the Latin term, Foedus, which means “the covenant” in a Biblical sense.

Thus, the unique roots of the enhanced American support of the Jewish state precede the 1948 founding of Israel, the 1939-1944 Holocaust and even the 1776 declaration of independence by the USA.

The foundations of America’s unique empathy with the Jewish state transcend formal treaties and the mutually-beneficial, surging US-Israel defense cooperation in the face of intensifying mutual threats. America’s covenant with the Jewish state supersedes the rapidly growing win-win US-Israel partnership on behalf of joint commercial interests.

The source of the special US-Israel covenant dates back to the 14th century, through the Pilgrims of the 16th century, the 1752 Liberty Bell, the Founding Fathers of the 18th century, the abolitionist and civil rights movements, the 1886 Statue of Liberty and contemporary USA, which is the most Judeo-Christian Western democracy.

For instance, according to a June 3, 2011 Gallup poll, 92% of Americans believe in God. Most polls determine that 80% believe that Judeo-Christian values constitute the foundations of the American culture. On October 31, 2011, the US House of Representatives voted 396-9, reaffirming “In God We Trust” (IGWT) as a national motto. President Eisenhower signed this into law on July 30, 1956.
A daily prayer starts deliberations in the House of Representatives; more than 40% of Americans participate in Sunday church services; the number of Christian TV stations has surged from nine in 1974 to almost 300 in 2013; fifteen million copies of the Bible are sold annually; over 80% of Americans wish to retain “one nation under God” in the pledge of allegiance, consistent with “endowed by the Creator” in the Declaration of Independence.

The seeds of Judeo-Christian USA were planted in 1382, when John Wycliffe, an Oxford professor, produced the first English language Bible manuscript, making it available to the public at-large. Wycliffe’s groundbreaking initiative inspired the Puritan movement, which was the hub of the early 17th century Bible-oriented Pilgrims who landed in America.

In 1620 and 1630, the “Mayflower” and the “Arabella” docked in “the modern day Promised Land.” They departed from England – the “modern day Egypt” – rebelled against their “modern day Pharaoh” and sailed through the “modern day Red Sea.” The Pilgrims referred to their mission in Biblical terms, referring to John Winthrop, the commander of the Arabella, as “the American Nehemiah.”
Therefore, the map of the USA is replete with thousands of sites bearing Biblical names. For example, there are 18 Jerusalems, 32 Salems, 18 Hebrons, 24 Bethels, 61 Shilohs, 7 Bethlehems, 14 Canaans, 9 Carmels, 38 Goshens, 4 Rehoboths, and 6 Mount Zions, etc. The 1752-erected Liberty Bell, the iconic symbol of American independence, bears the following inscription: “Proclaim liberty throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof (Leviticus 25:10).”

Thomas Paine’s January 10, 1776 “Common Sense” cemented the rebellion against Britain, stating: “For the will of the Almighty as declared by Gideon, and the prophet Samuel, expressly disapproves of government by kings….” George Washington and John Adams were referred to as Moses and Joshua, and the Founding Fathers considered themselves to be the people of the modern-day-Covenant.

In 2013, Moses – who inspired Columbus, the Pilgrims, the Founding Fathers and the Abolitionist movement – is featured at the center of the House Chamber on Capitol Hill and the US Supreme Court. Monuments of Moses’ Tablets – which inspired the Statue of Liberty (1886) – were erected in 1961 and 2012 on the grounds of the Texas and Oklahoma State Capitols.
On December 24, 1968, the Apollo 8 crew – the first manned space mission – read the first ten verses of Genesis during the most TV broadcast at the time. On December 24, 2009, celebrating the passage of Obama Care, the liberal Democrat, Senator Tom Harkin said: “To put it in Biblical terms, Harry Reid has the patience of Job, the wisdom of Solomon and the endurance of Samson.”
Since 1948, US-Israel relations have produced a multitude of crises, all of them rectified rapidly, due to the healthy tissue of bilateral ties, nurtured by foundations of shared-values.

Shabbat Shalom and have a pleasant weekend,


Thursday, May 30th, 2013

by Ryan Jones (Israel Today News)

Reports: Syria ordered to attack Israel if Assad falls

Israeli officials this week said they would “know what to do” if Russia goes through with the planned sale of an advanced anti-aircraft system to Syria. Given Israel’s recent pinpoint air strikes in Syria, the remarks were taken as a thinly veiled threat to destroy the Russian arms the moment they touch Syrian soil.

“Delivery [of the S-300] has not taken place – I can attest to this – and I hope it does not. But if, by some misfortune, they arrive in Syria, we will know what to do,” Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon told reporters.

Israel had tried to convince Russia to cancel the arms sale, arguing that the S-300 would enable embattled Syrian dictator Bashar Assad to more easily transfer chemical weapons to his Hizbullah allies. Two earlier Israeli air strikes purportedly prevented similar transfers.

There is also the risk that should Assad fall, the S-300 itself will fall into the hands of Hizbullah or one of the radical Islamic groups making up the Syrian rebel army. Israeli officials noted that, in the hands of terrorists, the S-300 could be used to quite easily bring down civilian airliners.

But at a meeting in the Black Sea resort of Sochi last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin rebuffed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s concerns, insisting that Assad is a stabilizing factor in the region and that his regime must be given every chance to remain in power.

Meanwhile, Assad on Thursday claimed on Hizbullah’s Al-Manar TV that he had already received the first shipment of S-300 missiles and radar systems. The Syrian dictator went on to warn Israel that any further air strikes would result in an immediate Syrian retaliation.

Following Israel’s last air strike against a suspect chemical weapons storehouse at Damascus airport, Arab media reported that Syria had aimed the bulk of its considerable long-range missile arsenal at the Jewish state.


Thursday, May 30th, 2013


In interview with Al Manar, Assad says he won’t stop Syrian groups attacking Israel in order to liberate the Golan.

Syria received the first shipment of long-range S-300 anti-aircraft missiles from Russia, and would receive the rest “soon,” Syrian President Bashar Assad told Lebanese network Al Manar, Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar reported.

In an interview set to air on the Hizbullah TV network on Thursday evening, Assad repeated past threats to respond immediately should Israel strike in Syria.

Steinitz: Syria can use S-300 to hit civilian planes

He added that the Syrian government will not stand in the way of any Syrian groups that would attack Israel in order to liberate the Golan Heights.

An Israeli official told Reuters on Thursday that Jerusalem is looking into the reports Syria has received the first shipment of S-300 missiles. “I have no information beyond what has been reported, which we are looking into,” he said on condition of anonymity.

Russia has said it would deliver the missile system to the Syrian government over Western objections, saying the move would help stabilize the regional balance.

The United States, France and Israel have all called on Russia to stop the delivery.

“Clearly this move is a threat to us,” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said on Tuesday as he stood outside the IDF Home Front Command’s base in Ramle. The defense minister added that if and when the S-300 missiles are delivered, Israel will “know what to do.”

Moscow, ally of Assad’s government, appeared to grow more defiant after the European Union let its arms embargo on Syria expire earlier this week, opening up the possibility of arming the rebels battling to topple the President.

More than 80,000 people have died in Syria since peaceful protests against four decades of Assad family rule led to a civil war that has pitted the President’s forces and his ally, Hizbullah, against Syrian rebels and a flow of Sunni Islamist militants who have come to help them from abroad.

Moscow says the lapsing of the EU embargo complicates US and Russian-led efforts to set up a peace conference between the Syrian government and its opponents, who want an immediate end to four decades of Assad family rule.

The Syrian leader said he planned to go to the “Geneva 2″ conference, al-Akhbar reported, though he was unconvinced of a fruitful outcome and said he would continue to fight militants seeking his ouster.

Western experts say the air defense system could significantly boost Syria’s ability to stave off outside intervention in the more than two-year civil war that has killed over 80,000 people.

The S-300s can intercept manned aircraft and guided missiles and their delivery would improve the Assad government’s chance of holding out in Damascus. Western nations say the Russian arms deliveries could increase tension and encourage Assad.

Officials in Israel say the S-300 could reach deep into the Jewish state and threaten flights over its main commercial airport near Tel Aviv.

Al-Akhbar said Assad also stressed ties between his forces and Hizbullah militants now openly fighting on the Syrian side of the Lebanese-Syrian frontier.

“Syria and Hizbullah are part of the same axis,” al-Akhbar quoted him as telling al-Manar “The Syrian army is the one fighting and leading the battles against the armed group, and this fight will continue until all those who are called terrorists are eliminated.”

The Syrian President also harshly criticized Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, who he says are funding opposition forces fighting to topple his regime, and said there are some 100,000 armed Arab and other foreign nationalities in Syria fighting for the rebels.

Wednesday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem told Beirut-based news channel Al-Mayadeen that Assad intends to remain President until 2014, after which he will run for a third term if the people want him to, AFP reported.

“Will President Assad run for a third term or won’t he, that will depend on conditions in 2014 and the will of the people,” Muallem said.


Thursday, May 30th, 2013


Foreign minister John Baird announces Canada will stop all trade with Iran to protest Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, human rights record.

OTTAWA – Canada will freeze all remaining trade with Iran to protest the Tehran’s nuclear ambitions and its human rights record, Foreign Minister John Baird said on Wednesday.

Canada, which has had increasingly poor relations with Iran for more than a decade, had already imposed a series of trade sanctions. In 2012, bilateral trade was worth around C$135 million ($130 million).

Baird said Canada was particularly concerned by the failure of the United Nations’ nuclear agency this month to persuade Iran to let it resume an investigation into suspected atomic bomb research.

“The absence of progress … leads Canada to ban effectively immediately all imports and exports from Iran,” Baird told reporters.

Last September, Canada suspended diplomatic ties with Tehran, calling Iran the biggest threat to global security.

“Canada continues to have grave and sincere concerns over Iran’s nuclear program, and their abhorrent human rights record and their continued support for international terrorism around the world,” Baird said.

Statistics Canada data for 2012 shows exports to Iran were worth around C$95 million, mostly in the form of cereals, oil seeds and fruit as well as chemical products and some machinery. Iranian exports totaled C$40 million with fruits, nuts and textiles dominating.


Thursday, May 30th, 2013


US senator says he is confident the US can send weapons to fighters without the risk they fall into the wrong hands.

WASHINGTON – US Senator John McCain said on Wednesday, two days after meeting with rebels in Syria, that he is confident the United States can send weapons to fighters in Syria without the risk they will fall into the wrong hands.

“We can identify who these people are. We can help the right people,” McCain said on CNN’s program “Anderson Cooper 360.”

US backs lifting EU ban on arming Syrian rebels

McCain, a Republican, is an outspoken advocate for US military aid to the rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad and has angrily denounced Democratic President Barack Obama – McCain’s opponent in his failed 2008 presidential race – for shying away from deeper US involvement in the conflict, which has claimed 80,000 lives.

Critics of some lawmakers’ push to arm the rebels have expressed concerns that weapons could end up in the hands of militants who might eventually end up using them against the United States or its allies.

But McCain said such radical fighters make up only a small part of the rebels forces.

For example, he said, Syria’s Islamist al-Nusra Front, identified as an alias of al Qaeda in Iraq, accounts for only about 7,000 of the 100,000 fighters battling the government of Assad.

“Every single day, more and more extremists flow in… “They’re flowing in all the time, these extremists. But they still do not make up a sizeable portion,” the Arizona senator said.

The Obama administration, saying it is keeping all options on the table, has sent food and medical supplies to Assad’s opponents. US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also have been trying to organize an international peace conference on Syria.

McCain said he was escorted during his visit on Monday by General Salem Idris, leader of the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army, and that he had a long meeting with Idris and a group of his battalion commanders.

“They’re very disturbed about the dramatic influx of Hizbullah fighters, more Iranians and of course stepped up activities of Bashar Assad,” McCain said.

US public opinion is strongly against direct military involvement in Syria, but McCain said no one, including Idris and his commanders, wants American “boots on the ground.” However, he said the rebel forces made clear they want US weapons. ” Their message was … They do not understand. They do not understand why we won’t help them,” McCain said.


Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

By Michael Curtis (The American Thinker)

As a result of criticism, the Church of Scotland has agreed to change its controversial report of its committee which called for political action, including boycotts and disinvestment in Israel, because of “illegal settlements in the occupied territories.” Though the Church has made clear that it has never challenged the right of Israel to exist, it has raised once again two issues: the claim of Israel to possess particular territory by the establishment of settlements; and the concerns faced by Palestinians in the “occupied Palestinian territories.”

The question of whether Israeli settlements are immoral or politically unwise or present an obstacle to any peace process is arguable. However, what has been most important for many in the international community is the illegality of the settlements according to international law.

About this, two things can be said. One is that it should be recognized at the outset that the whole issue is not really one of legality but is a crucial part of political factors: a) the territorial dispute between Israel and the Palestinians and other Arabs over areas to which both parties make claims; b) the question of who has legitimate sovereignty over the territory; c) a Palestinian state; and d) the desire of Israel for security. The other is that there is no clear universally accepted international law on the question of the settlements.

Many resolutions by international bodies have considered the settlements to be illegal. The most recent critical report was presented in January 2013 by a panel set up by the United Nations Human Rights Council. The panel of three judges, headed by Christine Chanet of France determined that the settlements violated the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949. Moreover, Judge Chanet said that according to Article 8 of the statute of the International Criminal Court the actions of Israel constituted “war crimes.” (Editor’s Note: The U.N. Human Rights Council is one of the most notoriously anti-Israel bodies in the notoriously anti-Israel United Nations, having criticized the Jewish state far more often than it has any other nation.)

It is appropriate to pay due respect if not total reverence to the historical as well as the political context in two ways: the relevant international agreements; and the facts on the ground. The crucial San Remo Treaty of 1920 that wrote the charter of the League of Nations dealt with the territory of the recemtly collapsed Ottoman Empire, and created a political structure in a geographical area it called “Palestine.” The Mandate was given to Britain in 1922 by the League of Nations. Article 6 of the Mandate said that the Administration of Palestine, in fact Britain, “shall encourage close settlement by Jews on the land including State lands not required for public use.” It did not speak of Jewish settlement on the east bank because Britain had established there a new entity, the emirate, later the kingdom, of Jordan. The Palestinian Mandate recognized the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine, and called for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people without specifying borders. The so-called “Green Line” is not a border but is where the contending armies stopped fighting and accepted a cease-fire in the war of 1948-49. It has no administrative, geographical, or topographical significance.

A simple definition of an Israeli settlement is a residential area built across the Green Line. This ignores the existence of Jewish settlements before the State of Israel was established. They include others such as Hebron, many centuries old, the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, and those established during the British Mandate, such as Neve Ya’acov, north of Jerusalem, the Gush Etzion bloc in the West Bank, some north of the Dead Sea, and Kfar Darom in the Gaza region. The only political body that prohibited Jewish settlement was the Jordanian administration, which between 1949 and 1967 claimed to have annexed the West Bank.

The simple definition also disregards the variety of the settlements. Some are small farming communities and frontier villages; others are urban suburbs, or towns, such as Modi’in Illit, Maale Adumim, and Betar Illit, with a considerable population. Some have been established for security reasons. A considerable number are outposts, small, unauthorized settlements, a few mobile homes, usually on hilltops.
Currently there are some 121 settlements and more than 100 unauthorized outposts. East Jerusalem and the adjacent West Bank blocs of Givat Zeev and Maale Adumin are on the West side of the line. Israel withdrew all the settlers from Sinai in 1982 and the 8,000 settlers from the Gaza Strip in 2005. About 534,000 now inhabit the settlements which occupy less than three per cent of the disputed land. Critics of the settlements have always referred to Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The controversial interpretations of it concerning the actions of Israel are ironic in view of the reality that it was adopted to prevent crimes such as the Nazi deportation of European Jews to their deaths. Article 49 (1) prohibits “Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or that of any other country, occupied or not.”In addition, Article 49 (6) states “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”

About this argument a number of responses can be made. First and most important, no Israeli is being deported or transferred to the settlements; for various reasons Israelis are going to them voluntarily. Some stem from economic factors with settlers taking advantage of public and private incentives and beneficial mortgages. Others have been set up by religious members of Gush Emunim (Bloc of the Faithful) who view themselves as returning to the biblical Jewish homeland.

The areas of the settlements are neither under the legitimate sovereignty of any state, nor on private Arab land. They are also not intended to displace any Arab inhabitants nor have they done so. This was shown in 2012 by the Israeli High Court when it ordered the evacuation of settlers from illegal homes in Ulpana, an unauthorized outpost on the outskirts of Beit El. Secondly, no Palestinian Arab is being deported from place of residence to anywhere else. Thirdly, no crime, much less a “war crime” has been committed. Fourthly, on a technical level the Geneva Convention applies to actions by a signatory “carried out on the territory of another.” Article 49 speaks of a “High Contracting Party” with a sovereign claim to territory. The West Bank, as Eugene W. Rostow stated in article on April 23,1990, “is not the territory of a signatory power, but an unallocated part of the British Mandate.”
The competing claims of Israel and Palestinians and other Arabs can only be resolved by peaceful negotiations. If Palestinians can make legitimate claims to the disputed land so can Israel by virtue of its historic and religious connections. The international community appears to have forgotten the clear statements of the various Armistice Agreements of 1949 which provided that the Armistice Demarcation lines were “not to be construed in any sense” as political or territorial boundaries.” No provision of those Agreements was in any way to prejudice the rights and claims of the parties in “the ultimate peaceful settlement of the Palestine problem.” The Israeli presence in the disputed areas is lawful until a peace settlement, because Israel entered them lawfully in self-defense


Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Robin Gallaher Branch

Luke, the writer of Luke-Acts, tells the story of Tabitha, a disciple brought back to life after prayer from the apostle Peter. After she is washed and laid out in an upper room, Peter takes her hand and commands her to get up (Acts 9:36-42).

In seven verses, Luke presents Tabitha as much loved, and the miracle of her return to life leads many to believe (v. 42). Luke’s terse account contains praise, humor, honor, sadness, joy and insights on the faith of the early church. Tabitha is so beloved and so essential to the life of her believing community in Joppa, a port city near the heart of modern Tel Aviv, that others cannot imagine life without her. Tabitha simply cannot stay dead. Her faithful community will not permit it!

Throughout Luke’s story, Tabitha remains silent. Luke speaks for her. In what could be considered a humorous touch, her only living actions are opening her eyes, seeing Peter, sitting up, being helped up by him, and being presented alive to the believers and widows (vv. 40-41).

By silencing her, Luke honors her. Others give her accolades and loudly mourn her death (v. 39). Perhaps the best and truest praise one receives comes extemporaneously from others. This certainly applies to the treatment of Tabitha in the Bible.

Luke introduces her with a double name: Tabitha and Dorcas (v. 36). The Aramaic and Greek mean gazelle. Perhaps the doubling shows her ministry to Jewish and Hellenistic believers, something noted earlier in Acts 6:1 and emphasized from chapter 10 on; if so, the placement of Tabitha’s story serves as a transition in the fulfillment of Jesus’ command to his disciples to “be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Perhaps her name indicates a woman of energy, grace, beauty and quick movements.

Luke praises her as a disciple (mathetria) who was always doing good and helping the poor (Acts 9:36); her specific designation as disciple proves that Jesus had female disciples. In fact, there are three places where the words disciple or disciples include women: Acts 9:1-2, 36; 18:24-26b.

Luke indicates that Tabitha took God’s commands about society’s most vulnerable seriously. (“Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor.” Zechariah 7:10. See also Deuteronomy 24:17, 20-21; Ezekiel 22:7; James 1:27.) Looking after the marginalized is one of God’s characteristics, too, for God is shown in Psalm 146:8-9 as lifting up those bowed down, watching over the alien and sustaining the fatherless and widow.

Luke is generally quite selective with his praise, heightening the value of the accolades given to Tabitha in the Bible. In addition to Tabitha, Luke-Acts commends a few other notable characters. Consider these examples: Luke describes Zechariah and Elizabeth as upright in the sight of God (Luke 1:6), Joseph as a good and upright man from Arimathea (Luke 23:50-51) and Barnabas as a good man and full of the Holy Spirit and faith (Acts 11:24).

Acts 9 highlights Luke’s characteristic writing style with its balance of opposites. Luke pairs Tabitha’s story of dying and being brought back to life with that of Aeneas, who is healed by Peter after being bedridden for eight years (vv. 32-35). Neither Tabitha nor Aeneas seeks a miracle. While visiting Lydda, Peter sees Aeneas and says, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you” (v. 34); concerning Tabitha’s death, the disciples of Joppa urge Peter to “please come at once!” (v. 38). Acts 9:1-31 tells of Saul’s conversion and verses 32-43 close and balance the chapter with stories about Peter; like Peter, Saul becomes a great apostle of the faith. Seen another way, Acts 9 contains a man’s miraculous conversion and a woman’s miraculous restoration to life.


Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

by Elad Benari (IsraelNationalNews)

A $4 billion U.S. plan to boost the PA’s met with a cool response as PA leaders insist on a political dimension to the stimulus.

A $4 billion U.S. plan to boost the Palestinian Authority’s economy was met with a cool response on Monday, as PA leaders insisted on a political dimension to the stimulus while Israel was mum as details remained unclear, AFP reports.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry unveiled the plan at the closing session of the World Economic Forum in Jordan on Sunday, tasking Tony Blair, the Quartet’s special envoy to the Middle East, with attracting the mammoth sum in private investment. The plan is part of Kerry’s ongoing efforts to kickstart the peace process which has been stalled since 2010.

The PA’s leadership warned on Monday, however, that it would “not offer political concessions in exchange for economic benefits,” according to a statement from Mohammad Mustafa, president of the Palestine Investment Fund and economic adviser to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

“We will not accept that the economy is the primary and sole component,” the statement said, according to AFP.

It added, “We wish it to be part of a political framework that will ensure the creation of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders with east Jerusalem (as) its capital and the rights of refugees and a reference to a political solution — these are the priorities.”

Fawzi Barhum, a spokesman for the Hamas terror group which rules Gaza, said on his Facebook page that “the so-called economic plan mentioned by Kerry deludes the public and gives more time to the Israeli entity.”

Kerry said economic experts believe the Palestinian Authority’s economy will grow “by as much as 50 percent over three years,” and unemployment will decline, but did not provide many details of the plan.

America’s top diplomat tasked Blair with drawing up a plan to revitalize the PA-assigned areas of Judea and Samaria through boosting industries such as tourism, construction, information technology and agriculture.

A statement from the British envoy’s office said it was “analyzing the potential of various sectors of the Palestinian economy and identifying measures that could be taken to spur transformative economic growth.”

It said the goal was to boost the economy “by 50 percent within three years and reduce unemployment from 22 percent to single-digit figures.”

However, Blair’s office stressed that “the plan will complement, support and run in parallel with a renewed political process, and is not intended to replace that political process.”

Israel, meanwhile, has not officially reacted to the plan, a substantial portion of which is expected to take place in “Area C” which is under the Jewish state’s control.

The PA has complained of a financial crisis, the worse in its history, with Prime Minister Salam Fayyad having warned the entity may fail and cease to exist. At the same time the entity has continued to provide huge monthly salaries to terrorists serving time in Israeli prisons.

Kerry, as part of his attempts to revive the peace process, has been fighting to send the PA nearly $700 million in aid, despite major budget cuts and a fierce debate over where existing money should go.

A report in March said that the United States had quietly unblocked almost $500 million in aid to the PA which had been frozen by Congress for months.

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