The 1,800-year Israeli drought

Joseph Farah has a very interesting piece today on rainfall in Israel. I found the story fascinating:

Update: See the comments below for links to articles that state that there have been droughts in Israel since its re-establishment and that rainfall has actually decreased in the last century. The 1,800-year drought is still interesting to note, but the amount of rainfall is apparently not still increasing (although the trend may still show an overall increase).

Have you ever wondered why the Holy Land was a wasteland during the 1,800-year dispersion of the Jews that lasted until they returned in significant numbers beginning in the early 20th century?Have you ever wondered why Mark Twain was so disappointed at what he found in his travels through the area in the 19th century?

Have you ever wondered why, during that period of nearly two millennia, no other people successfully and permanently settled this land that is so much in dispute today?

Rabbi Kohen points out the land suffered an unprecedented, severe and inexplicable (by anything other than supernatural explanations) drought that lasted from the first century until the 20th – a period of 1,800 years coinciding with the forced dispersion of the Jews.

Kohen sees this as a miraculous fulfillment of prophecy found in the book of Deuteronomy – especially chapter 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.”

The climate in Israel dramatically changed during this 1,800-period – way before Al Gore discovered “global warming.”

Before the Jews entered Canaan, it was described in the Bible as a land flowing with milk and honey. If you read what Israel’s climate and natural landscape was like from the time Joshua crossed the Jordan right up until the time of Jesus, it sounds like a heavily forested land. There were amazing crops raised by the people who inhabited the land when the Jews arrived.

Sometimes I’ve wondered what happened to Israel to turn it into the dusty, arid land it was when the Jews came back in the 20th century. Until I read that prophecy in Deuteronomy, brought to my attention by Rabbi Kohen, I had no clue.

For 1,800 years, it hardly ever rained in Israel. This was the barren land discovered by Mark Twain. So-called “Palestine” was a wasteland – nobody lived there. There was no indigenous Arab population to speak of. It only came after the Jews came back.

Beginning in A.D. 70 and lasting until the early 1900s – about 660,000 days – no rain.

I decided to check this out as best I could and examined the rainfall data for 150 years in Israel beginning in the early 1800s and leading up to the 1960s. What I found was astonishing – increasing rainfall almost every single year – with the heaviest rainfall coming in and around 1948 and 1967.

Is this just a coincidence?

I’ll be quite honest with you: I don’t think so.

Nor do I think Israel can continue today to make bad stewardship decisions regarding the land bequeathed the Jews by God without consequences – serious consequences.

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8 Responses to “The 1,800-year Israeli drought”

  1. John says:

    You’d actually expect more rainfall in a war year – a lot more dust in the high atmosphere causes more clouds to nucleate and so on.

    What was very interesting when I was in Israel (well, one of the many things) was seeing that at every single site, the archaeology began within a few years of the modern state of Israel getting control of the area.

    The nation see their own mandate as to bring greenness out of the desert, even if that means diverting all the water in the Jordan into irrigation. And they’re doing a good job of that.

  2. casey says:

    That is interesting, too.

    As for the rainfall, I do see your point about the particularly high amount of rainfall in 1948 and 1967, but how would you explain the 1,800 year drought that coincided with the forced dispersion of the Jews?

  3. Sicarii says:

    What God has promised, He shall do according to His word! What an amazing fact!

    Thank you for sharing it.

    Next week is the ‘peace’ talks — given the weak Olmert administration and Rice’s involvement to push for something symbolically good of the Bush administration and her own tenure, I don’t have high hopes of anything positive for Israel coming out of these talks.

    I think I might actually be heart-broken.

    God bless.

  4. SJN says:

    Farah states, “I decided to check this out as best I could and examined the rainfall data for 150 years in Israel beginning in the early 1800s and leading up to the 1960s. What I found was astonishing – increasing rainfall almost every single year – with the heaviest rainfall coming in and around 1948 and 1967.”

    Why doesn’t he list his sources? Maybe because he’s making it all up.

    Israel experienced a drought that lasted almost a decade in the 1930s.

    Within the last century the rainfall in Israel has decreased by one fifth…

  5. casey says:

    I doubt he’s making it up (he does say that his research stopped with the 1960’s), but thank you, SJN, for sharing that information. I appreciate you taking the time to do that. Even with a 10-year drought in the 30’s, after an 1,800-year drought the trend would still be one of increasing rainfall.

  6. John says:

    I honestly don’t know about the 1800 year drought. I’m not sure how he’d prove it either. It’s quite possible it’s just by looking as descriptions of the vegetation in the Bible and on the ground, in which case the effect of having a government that actually cared about the land makes a significant difference.

    Certainly, in “Bible times”, there was a big need for cisterns for water storage (I’ve seen quite a few of them) and lots of wadis (both of which suggest irregular rainfall). It seems plausible to me that after the heavy destruction of the infrastructure in AD70, and again in AD135, and without an interested government until 1948, it took 1800 years to catch up.

    The idea of an 1800-year drought is also plausible, but I doubt there’s numerical data to back it up.

  7. casey says:

    Thanks, John. You’re right. Maybe one of these days I’ll get my hands on that book by Rabbi Kohen.

  8. John says:

    Thinking about it, it’d probably be possible to work out rainfall patterns for the past 1800 years by examining sedimentation around the Dead Sea. In drought years, it should shrink in size and you’d get more sedimentation of salt around it.

    I haven’t done that, but I had the impression that the Dead Sea in 1948 was about the same size as in AD70 or so. I could be wrong, but places like Qumran and Masada are still not that far from it. It’s certainly shrinking now, but that’s because Israel is using almost all the water from the Jordan for irrigation.