Israel was beset with calamities toward the end of the first century.
Everyone knows the history:
- Jerusalem and the Temple were sacked in A.D. 70 – hundreds of thousands of Jews were killed.
- Later, the Romans conducted a scorched-earth policy against Jews in the beginning of the second century, renaming the country Palestine and Jerusalem Aelia Capitolina.
- A large percentage of the Jewish population was scattered throughout the world.
But what is lesser known is what befell the land of Israel. For that story, however, science may tell us the story.
For some unknown reason, it just stopped raining in Israel after the Jewish population in the land dwindled to a small remnant.
We could surmise such a mysterious and dramatic climate change took place because of the tremendous desertification that took place.
But now there’s scientific evidence that the level of rainfall dropped to almost nothing around A.D. 100.
In 2008, as WND reported earlier this week, an international team of researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Hebrew University and Geological Survey of Israel, both of Jerusalem, examined changes of oxygen isotopes in layers of rock formations and concluded the data suggested Israel’s climate experienced noticeable drying between A.D. 100 and 700, with dramatic dips in rainfall between 100 and 400.
The work involved geochemical analysis of a stalagmite from the Soreq Cave in the Stalactite Cave Nature Reserve near Jerusalem, where rain flushed organic matter from the surface into the cave, and it was trapped in mineral deposits that formed layers on the stalagmite. Geology graduate student Ian Orland determined the falling rainfall for the years the stalagmite was growing, from approximately 200 B.C. to A.D. 1100.
Interestingly, I first heard about this study after reading a book by Brooklyn Rabbi Menachem Kohen, author of “Prophecies for the Era of Muslim Terror,” who said this climate change in Israel was prophesied – something I hadn’t previously noticed.
He pointed to Deuteronomy 28:23-24: “And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron. The LORD shall make the rain of thy land powder and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon thee, until thou be destroyed.”
What had been a lush and fertile land, called “a land of milk and honey” in the Bible, endured a 1,800-year desertification process as rainfall levels plummeted.
First-century Roman Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, who knew the area well, wrote about the climate in Israel at the time in his book series. He wrote in “The Jewish Wars: Book 3” (chapter 10:8):
“Its nature is wonderful as well as its beauty; its soil is so fruitful that all sorts of trees can grow upon it, and the inhabitants accordingly plant all sorts of trees there; for the temper of the air is so well mixed, that it agrees very well with those several sorts, particularly walnuts, which require the coldest air, flourish there in vast plenty; there are palm trees also, which grow best in hot air; fig trees also and olives grow near them, which yet require an air that is more temperate. One may call this place the ambition of nature, where it forces those plants that are naturally enemies to one another to agree together; it is a happy contention of the seasons, as if every one of them laid claim to this country; for it not only nourishes different sorts of autumnal fruit beyond men’s expectation, but preserves them a great while; it supplies men with the principal fruits, with grapes and figs continually, during ten months of the year and the rest of the fruits as they become ripe together through the whole year.”
But, by 1869, Mark Twain famously visited the Holy Land and wrote about it in his book, “Innocents Abroad”: “Of all the lands there are for dismal scenery, I think Palestine must be the prince. The hills are barren, they are dull of color, they are unpicturesque in shape. The valleys are unsightly deserts fringed with a feeble vegetation that has an expression about it of being sorrowful and despondent.”
Twain called it “… [a] desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds … a silent mournful expanse. … a desolation. … we never saw a human being on the whole route. … hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.”
So, what happened in Israel in the first century that may have caused the change in climate?
Was the Roman Empire producing excess levels of carbon dioxide?
I don’t think so. But the catastrophic drop in rainfall levels may have been linked with human activities.
Around 40 years before the Temple was destroyed, the most famous person in the history of the world was crucified on a hill in Jerusalem. He had come to save the world from its sin. He was the heralded Messiah of Israel. But He was rejected by most and nailed to a cross. He rose from the dead three days later and promised to return to usher in His Kingdom in the future.
But there was judgment in the land, just as He promised there would be. There was judgment even on the land itself.
So, it was sin and rejection of God that caused the climate change in Israel near the end of the first century.
The good news is that the Jews are back in the land. The resurrected nation of Israel turns 70 years old this year. And even the land is reviving in miraculous fashion, with the deserts blooming. These are all signs one would expect before the return of Messiah Jesus to the world He saved through His atoning sacrifice.
Isn’t that an amazing story?
I don’t know about you, but it gives me chills.