Netanyahu Hosts Bible Study in the Book of Ruth
Joel C. Rosenberg
You may recall that in December 2011, I posted a story from the Jerusalem Post that gave me fresh hope about the future of Israel. “Taking a page out of David Ben-Gurion and Menachem Begin’s playbook, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will begin hosting a regular Bible study group in his official residence for researchers, public officials and invited guests,” reported the Post. “Netanyahu announced the establishment of the study circle on Friday at a ceremony marking 30 days since the passing of his father-in-law, Shmuel Ben-Artzi. The study group will be named after Ben-Artzi, a noted poet and Bible teacher. Both Ben-Gurion and Begin, when they each served as prime minister, hosted regular Bible study groups. Netanyahu said he was establishing the class to perpetuate love of the Bible.”
Apparently, it took a while to make it all happen, and since then Mr. Netanyahu also experienced the death of his own father. But on Wednesday, Mr. Netanyahu, his wife, his sons, and several close friends and Jewish scholars kicked off their first home Bible study. It was scheduled to last for an hour, but went on for two — and focused on the Book of Ruth.
Today, the Post updated the story — here are some excerpts:
- “On Wednesday afternoon in Baghdad, a few thousand kilometers away from the Prime Minister’s Jerusalem Residence, the world powers known as the P5+1 – the US, China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany – sat down for much anticipated talks with the Iranians about their nuclear program. At the same time, just a few hundred meters away from the Prime Minister’s Residence, 100 or so people loudly demonstrated for the rights of Ethiopian immigrants and against discrimination. And all the while, for two hours on a mild afternoon, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu – with a small black kippa on his head – sat in the covered courtyard of his home with 16 rabbis, academics, Bible scholars, archeologists and linguists, and discussed the meaning of the Book of Ruth, which will be read on Shavuot on Sunday in synagogues around the world. His wife, Sara, sat next to him, and his two sons sat on a bank of chairs set to the side.
- “There was something at once heartening and slightly humorous about Netanyahu setting aside precious time in the late afternoon to talk about Biblical figures Tamar and Yehuda, Naomi and Boaz, Ruth and David, while Iran loomed so large, and domestic issues beckoned so seriously. It was heartening in that it is uniquely elevating seeing the prime minister of the Jewish state taking time out to study the Bible, the heart of Jewish existence. One cannot talk about Jewish historic rights to this place, which the prime minister does constantly, without appreciating and understanding the Bible….
- “[The Rabbi] wanted to read only a few verses from the Book of Ruth, but the prime minister urged him on to read more. This is better then the usual matters he has to deal with, Netanyahu quipped as the session – originally scheduled for an hour – went 60 minutes longer than planned….
- “Wednesday’s meeting, the first of a number of study sessions that are to take place throughout the year, was more symbol than substance, more message than meat. And Netanyahu made clear what the message was: ‘Ben-Gurion and Begin believed that the Bible should be the heritage of the entire nation – secular and religious, young and old, men and women. The Bible is the foundation of our existence. It unites the Jewish people, as it has throughout the generations. It also serves not only as a foundation but also as a map and compass,’ he said. ‘The Bible is always relevant vis-à-vis today’s problems and challenges. It inspires, it is a source of life for our people and I think that it is important to expand Bible study and love of the Bible among all parts of the nation. This is also the goal of this circle.”
I am so encouraged by these reports. Lynn and I have been praying for Mr. Netanyahu and his family since he first invited me to work with him in 2000. Would you join me in praying for the entire Netanyahu family, as well as in reading the Book of Ruth this weekend?
- Let’s pray that the study of the Word of God has a powerful, personal impact on the Prime Minister and his family and each of his colleagues and guests.
- Let’s pray that many Israelis would follow the Prime Minister’s lead and begin reading the Holy Scriptures again.
- Let’s pray that Bible studies in people’s homes would spring up all over the Land of Israel.
- Let’s pray that more and more Israelis would develop a new and deeper curiosity about Bible prophecy, both the dramatic prophecies in the Scriptures that have already been fulfilled, and those that will come to pass soon, including the all-important prophecies about the Messiah.
May the Lord do a great work in drawing the nation of Israel back to His Holy Word.