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Israeli Farmers Are Bringing the Bible to Life in Biblical Judea

07-05-2022
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Arugot Farm, Photo Credit: CBN News.
Arugot Farm, Photo Credit: CBN News.

THE ARUGOT FARM, JUDEA — Much of the world calls the land of Judea and Samaria the West Bank. To many Christians and especially the Jews living there, it’s considered the land of the Bible. 

Resting on Judean hills not far from Jerusalem lies the Arugot Farm. For six years, its founders have built a complex on land where previously there was just barren hills. Located in Judea, its founders, Rabbis Jeremy Gimpel and Ari Abramowitz, see this place as the Bible coming to life. 

“We're in the heart of the land of Judea,” says Gimpel. “Bethlehem is about 15 minutes that way. Right over there as those buildings kiss the sky, that's Jerusalem. Forty-five minutes directly this way is Hebron. And if you triangulate that, Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Hebron, and you bring it right here, we are in the heart of the land of Judea.” 

Gimpel talks about the connection to King David. 

“As a young boy, David would take his sheep out and pasture his sheep in these lands. And according to the Jewish tradition, most of the book of Psalms was written here in these mountains before David became king. So, in his time of trouble, where did he run to? To the place that he knew best. He knew where the caves were. He knew where the waterholes were. He knew how to live here. He knew how to survive here. And so, these are historic holy mountains,” he says. 

The UN and many countries consider the mountains where David wrote the Psalms occupied territory and see the Jews who live there as an obstacle to peace.    

“Why do they call it the West Bank? Because it's much easier to say, ‘Let's get the settlers out of the West Bank’ than ’Let’s remove the Jews from Judea’, right?" The reason Jews are called Jews is because we're from Judea. This is our indigenous land. The first Jew that was called the Jew was Mordecai, the Jew, but he was from the tribe of Benjamin. So why was he called the Jew? Because he was exiled from Judea. So, this is the most natural holistic place for a Jew to actually grow and thrive, right here in Judea,” says co-founder Rabbi Ari Abramowitz. 

Local leaders asked these farmers to settle the land to create a tourist attraction and strategic buffer. It’s become much more. 

“When I came out here after just a few weeks, all of the strategy and the military, none of that mattered at all,” says Abramowitz. “So, for me, I think for Jeremy, too — when we came out here, I was like, this is what it is to be a Jew. Maybe not for every Jew, but for at least me and for us out here, this is just the place where it's like, oh, this is just the most natural thing that could ever possibly happen.”

“Both Ari and I felt called to come here and then pave this road and open the place up where the Psalms were written. I mean, imagine that King David taught every Catholic in the world, every Christian in the world, every Jew in the world, when someone is sick, they open up the book of Psalms and he taught us all how to pray to God. And those prayers entered the world here. So, this place has meant to be a center for prayer and worship and song and music and art and Torah that's open to everyone from every background,” says Gimpel.

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One common perception about this land is that Jews and Arabs can’t co-exist. That’s not the case here. 

“Now if you go to our Bedouin village near us — Arab village over there — and you say to them, what do you think of these Jews here? They will say, they're beloved friends of ours. They're a blessing to us. And they're a blessing. I know that they would say that because they've come here. And they said that they would stand with us,” says Abramowitz. 

The two founders took us to the top of the mountain to see a building dedicated to prayer.  

“This is the top of the mountain. And according to Jewish law on the top of a mountain, you need to build a structure that's dedicated to the God most high. And so, this is our house of prayer and it's taken us seven years to build,” says Gimpel. 

 “I consider this place the diamond in the crown. Of everything, we've done, possibly the diamond in the crown of Judea, right? This is the soul of our place; it’s really right here,” says Abramowitz. 

“What's so beautiful is that, you know, we are surrounded by many different types of people, but the mattresses that you see here and the pillows and our house of prayer was donated to us by the Muslim Arab village right down here,” says Gimpel. “They so much appreciated us coming here because when we came here, we repaved the roads that lead to their village as well. Police officers are now patrolling down the roads, making sure people are driving safer. We've been a blessing of this place.”

“One of the most important elements or facets or dimensions, really, of this place is as we were talking about before the words of the prophets that when we return to the land, God will remove from us a heart of stone and put within us our heart of flesh and circumcise our hearts,” says Abramowitz. 

In addition to the house of prayer, the farm includes several homes, a pool Abramowitz and Gimpel says fits the description from the book of Isaiah and also hundreds of trees and a vineyard. They also host an online Bible study called the Land of Israel Fellowship. Throughout the building, the Book of Amos served as their blueprint. 

The two rabbis see their farm as prophecy coming to life. 

“This is prophecy,” says Abramowitz. “I mean, there's a village over there called Ma’aale Amos … this is undoubtedly, irrefutably, the very land in which the prophet Amos, Mos, had his prophecy, right. He was actually a cowboy, right. And so, his prophecy was in these mountains and the last three verses of his prophecy says, ‘I'll return the exiles of my people. And they will rebuild desolate cities and they will plant vineyards and drink their wine and they will plant gardens and eat their fruit. And I will plant them upon their land. And they'll never be uprooted again.’ And so here, we have vineyards, right in the very land in which he prophesies the vineyards. And we've planted them and we're drinking their wine. And you see these mountain sides right here with all the cardboards together, those are fruit trees.”

Gimpel adds, “I've been living now on this mountain for three and a half years. And I walk around in, sort of, a state of wonder, how did I get here? Is this real? Is this a dream? It’s our life? How could this be? And I think that Amos was in these mountains here and he had this vision that there would be rebuilt cities and vineyards and fruit trees. And then I wonder, I mean, this building that's being built here in this vineyard that's planted here, was this exactly what he saw? But we built it with the inspired words. He guided us to plant that.”

“The actual chapter eight of the book of Amos, really, I think summarizes our whole mission here,” says Abramowitz. “If you want to know what is our business plan, the book of Amos, and what does he say? He says, ‘there'll be a hunger in the land and the hunger will not be for bread. And the thirst will not be for water, but to hear the words of HaShem.’ And that's what the Vineyards are about and that's what the Garden of Eden Oasis is about… the retreat center and the house of prayer; everything we're doing is to satisfy this hunger that isn't for bread and the thirst is not for water, but to hear the words of God and the words of God are echoing from the mountains of Judea to the entire world. Beautiful."

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