Israel Seminars - Ronny Simon - Israel seminars

Israel Seminars

​Many Christians in general and evangelical Christians in particular are interested in Israel's history from more than just a religious perspective. For a variety of reasons, many of those interested will not consider a trip to Israel. For that exact reason "Israel Seminars" was founded. We will bring to your church, Bible College, university or any other institution a complete  academic program regarding Israel's Biblical history. 

Israel Seminar's educational concept is to place the Biblical Israel in a broader regional context. Based on the location of Israel, a land bridge and a bottleneck, the country was always under the influence and in the shade of powerful neighbors.
It is our purpose to integrate Israel's story with regional developments as every significant event in the region affected the country and its people.
Therefore, while telling the story of Israel we will dedicate some time to elaborate on the region and regional players that had an influence on Israel as a land and people.


 
The geography of the Bible land
"…A land with streams of water with springs flowing…..the rocks are iron"
Deuteronomy 8;8
 
Knowing the land, its topography, climate flora & fauna is necessary in order to understand its history.
One will have a hard time to understand Israel's strategic significance without understanding its location, the international road system and the key players in the region.
Israel's location was a key factor through all of its history. Since the land controlled a large section of the international highways, it was subjected to frequent invasions. At times of peace, the location was of great blessing, as in the days of King Solomon when Israel experienced times of great prosperity.
We intend to introduce the land of Israel to the participants in detail. Only so one will have a clear vision of what was a journey through the country like. Knowing the mountains, valleys, rivers and springs will lay the foundations to the broader understanding of Israel's history.

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The sources of information
One of the main ways to supplement the information provided by the Bible is by focusing on archeological excavations.
For over a century now, many sites in the Middle East where and still undergo through extensive digs. Much of the knowledge from those sites can illuminate different Biblical eras. The Tablets from Mari (Modern days Northern Syria) can shed light on the journey of Abraham to Canaan. The execration texts (Egypt) draw a clear picture of the demographics of Canaan during the days of the patriarchs.
The Al Amarna tablets are the best source to recognize the geo-political situation in Canaan at the eve of the conquest by Joshua.
Documents from Nuzi, Babylon and Nineveh can clarify daily life, law and administration in ancient Israel etc.
Knowing other sources makes a significant contribution to our knowledge of Biblical days.
Therefore, the academy's plan is to demonstrate how archeology can benefit us in better understanding scriptures.
Besides archeology, other sources will be used extensively especially dealing with the Roman era. The main sources are the writings of Josephus Flavius, and other Roman and Greek writers.

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The days of the Patriarchs – ancient Israel
"…Leave you country…and go to the land I will show you".
Genesis 12; 1

Biblical sources: The book of Genesis

In this course, the student will learn about the tribe\clan and its social structure as reflected in the lives of the Patriarchs. The nomadic lifestyle and its challenges will be another aspect we will touch on.
Side by side with understanding the life of the nomads, the course will focus on the large Canaanite city states that dotted Israel, there appearance and social – economical life. After understanding the principals by which each society lived, we will elaborate on the interaction between the two as reflected in the scriptures. In the book of Genesis, the Bible focuses on Abraham Isaac and Jacob and their extended families.
Only seldom the Bible gives us a glimpse into the lives of the other civilizations that lived in the land. Through viewing their lives we can learn more about the Hebrews and there interaction with the others.

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The Middle East: The Era of Revolutions and Blood Shed
The main topics & subjects we teach
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I will be happy to answer
further questions

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Main topics & subjects
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Univirsities and churches I spoke in
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Liberty Christian University Lynchburg, VA.

World Outreach Church Murfreesboro, TN.

Grace university Omaha, NE.

Calvary Chapel of Spokane WA.

Moody Bible Institute Chicago, IL.

Calvary Chapel of Fort Lauderdale FL.

Middle Tennessee State University Murfreesboro, TN.

First Baptist Church Colombia, SC.

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The eve of the conquest
"But the people who live there are powerful and the cities are fortified and very large"
Numbers 13; 28.
 
The book of Joshua tells us the story of Israel's conquest of Canaan. However, during over the four hundred years of the Israelites absence from Canaan, much took place in the land. The land that Jacob and his clan migrated from centuries earlier was not of the same nature that the land Joshua assaulted.
While the Israelites were in bondage in Egypt, major political events took place in the region. The Egyptian – Hittite wars had determined the region's political structure for a long time. The powerful kingdom of Mithany had collapsed and was conquered by the Hittites. The "People of the sea" had made their first assault into Egypt and Hatti alike.
In this course, the student will study about Canaan as an Egyptian province. The Egyptian diplomacy in the region created an amazing patch work of small kingdoms and principalities that were in constant war against each other.
The Al Amarna tablets tell a most fascinating story of the dynamics in Canaan just before Joshua crosses the River Jordan. Those were also the days when the kingdoms of Edom and Moab were founded and Aramaic tribes were making their progress in founding their own home land.

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The days of Joshua and the Judges
"In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit"
Judges 17; 6

Biblical sources – the books of Joshua and Judges.

The conquest of Canaan had opened a new era in Israel's history. That was the first time that the Hebrews controlled a large part of the "Promised Land" and the facing the challenge of transforming the tribal culture unto a national one.
In this course the students will study the military campaigns of Joshua against the local rulers. That will be followed by describing the life of the tribes of Israel, the position of Shiloh and the Arc of the Covenant in the nation's life.
The main question we will deal with is – "were the Israelite a nation or a loose coalition of tribes?"
The division of the nation to tribes with no agreed leadership was their weak point that opened Israel's territory for frequent assaults by neighboring forces.
We will also focus on the challenges of the transition from a nomadic way of life to a rural\urban one. All of the above happened under the pressure of the Philistines, the Canaanite city states and random enemies that invaded Israel's territory. The lives and careers of Gideon, Samson and Samuel will help us to analyze the era of the Judges.

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The days of the united monarchy
"…The Lord gave David victory wherever he went"
2 Samuel 8; 6
 
Biblical sources: The books of 1&2 Samuel, 1st Kings.

The transition from a tribal society to a united monarchy was a necessity more than it was a choice. In this course the student will learn the challenges of creating an administration, standing army and the other aspects of a monarchy.
We will also focus on the place of religion in the monarchy, the building of the Temple and developing the rituals and priesthood that served in the Temple.
The course will focus on David's reign and his transformation from a local chieftain roaming the hill country of Judea to the King that made Israel a powerful regional player.
Solomon's career is also an important aspect the course will focus on. The main projects the King was involved in – Temple & palace, the army based of war chariots, and the fleet had drained the kingdom's treasury. We will study Solomon also as the monarch that started Israel's decline and its partition.

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The Kingdom of Judah (The southern kingdom)
"He committed all the sins his father has done before him. His heart was not fully devoted
to the Lord his God…"

1 Kings 15; 3

Biblical sources: 1&2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, Isaiah, Jeremiah

This course will focus on the over three centuries of the southern kingdom's existence.
The student will learn about the crisis that followed the monarchy's partition and the slow recovery that followed. Through the career of several kings like Hezekiah, Joash  Uzziah, Josiah and others, the student will study about the form of religion and worship the Judeans had practiced. The focus of the course will be on the economy, society and the religious life in the southern kingdom. One of the main outlines will view the special position of the prophets in the kingdom's life. In the aftermath of the northern kingdom's fall, Judah stood face to face with the rising Assyrian empire, a key factor that will be one of the key stones to understand the challenges Judah was facing.
Another aspect of the course will deal with the relationship between the sister kingdoms of Judah and Israel.
The fall of Judah and the three waves of exile including Jeremiah's role in the last days of the kingdom, will be the closing outline.

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The era of the kingdom of Israel, (The northern kingdom)
"He did evil in the eyes of the Lord walking in the ways of Jeroboam and in his sin…"
1 Kings 15; 34

Biblical sources: 1&2 Kings, Amos, Hosea

This course will elaborate on the kingdom of Israel, the bigger and more powerful than Judah. The course will specify the long going conflict between the kingdom of Israel and the Arameans (Syrians), under king Omri and his son Ahab. Much attention is given to the rise of Assyria and the threat it presented to the whole region. It was a polarized world than, with Egypt on one side and Assyria on the other. A special chapter will be dedicated to the prophets Elijah and Elisha and their role in the kingdom's history.  
With the fall of the Israel and the exile of the people, other ethnicities were brought over by the Assyrian authorities that will be known in later times as the Samaritans. The student will be acquainted with the course of events that followed the Exile.
The closing chapter will deal with the Assyrian exile policy in the light of the Biblical narrative and the fall of Samaria.

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Removed & returned – the days of Ezra & Nehemiah
"Anyone of his people among you may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem
in Judah and build the temple of the Lord…"


Biblical sources: Ezra, Nehemiah, Daniel, Ester, Haggai, Malachi, Zechariah

This course is crucial in comprehending the foundation of Judaism. The lesson of the exile was one of the main issues the prophet Ezekiel focused on while teaching and encouraging the exiles. While in Babylon, anticipating their return, the people were keeping their social structure, identity of the priesthood and other manifestations of national and religious independence.
A key point of the course is the building of the altar by Zerubabel and Joshua and the completion of the second Temple.  
An important chapter the course focuses on is the change in the demographics in Judea following the expulsion of the Judeans and the infiltration of other ethnicities to the former kingdom's territory
The student will study about the rise of Persia and King Cyrus' declaration as well as the Persian policy towards holy places in general.
The preparations to return to Zion will be one of the key aspects the course will touch on.
In details we will view Ezra's contribution to the foundation of the new form of Judaism.
Another hero of the era that will be studied in details is Nehemiah and his two missions to Judea. Through the stories of Ezra & Nehemiah, it is possible to learn about the adversaries of the Jews and the obstacles they had to over come for re - gaining their religious autonomy.

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The Greek conquest under Alexander "the great" and its consequences.

The Greek conquest of the region had brought with it an unprecedented challenge. That was the first time that a nation went to conquer the world with the intention of changing the nature and life style of the people that were conquered. "Hellenizing" the world also meant to introduce another religion to the occupied nations. That was a moment of truth to the Jews in Israel. The course will specify some of the Greek principles and their contradiction of the Jewish discipline.
With the death of Alexander and the disintegration of his empire, Israel was once again a battle field between the traditional adversaries; Egypt on the south and Syria on the north. The student will also study about the Jewish society and its response to the Greek influence as in this era the foundations to the Jewish society in the days of Jesus, were laid.  
 
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The revolt of the Hasmoneans and their kingdom.

Over a century of war and conflict on Israel's soil ended with a decisive victory by the King of Syria, Antiochus III over the king of Egypt. Only a few years later the Roman army had set foot in Asia. The Syrian army, defeated by the Roman in their first engagement, dedicates all of its attention to stop Rome. The finances required for the effort were taken from temples around the Syrian kingdom, including the temple in Jerusalem. That would be the main reason for the Jewish uprising against the Selucids, the Syrian- Greek regime.
In this course the student will learn about the course of the revolt, its victories and failures that resulted in establishing an independent Jewish kingdom.
The student will be acquainted with the different aspects of the Hasmonean kingdom.
Focusing on military affairs, religion, social affairs and the economy, will give the student a clear idea about the events that led to the Roman conquest of Israel. Another aspect of the course will elaborate on the growing tension and animosity between the Jewish regime and the other ethnicities in the country. The Hasmonean royal family and the intrigues and conflict that typified their reign, will also be outlined as that was one of the reasons for their downfall.

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The Roman conquest of Judea - part I

Biblical sources: The Gospels

In this course, the focus will be on the aftermath of the Roman conquest by Pompeii. Twenty year of bitter struggles had wiped out the elite of the Jewish society. The Hasmonean kingdom was lost and the former masters of the land had found themselves subjects of the Roman Empire.
Rome's choice to appoint Herod, a member of an Edumean converts family as king over the Jews was a catastrophe from a Jewish stand point.
Herod's reign was eventful and restless yet also a time of prosperity and tranquility.
The student will study Rome's administration in Judea and the crisis in the Jewish society as a result of Herod's reign.
Issues like Temple, priesthood, synagogue rabbi and other aspects of the Jewish religious and national life will be outlined.
The closing chapter will touch on Herod's death and the official proclamation of Judea as a Roman province.

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The Roman conquest of Judea – part II

Biblical sources: the Gospels & the book of Acts

In this course, that concludes the program, the student will study about the province of Judea under Roman governors and the rapid deterioration in the Jewish – Roman relationship that will lead to the "Great revolt".
The student will be acquainted with the Jewish society and its differences- Pharisees, Sadducees, Zealots etc.
The focus of the course will be the reasons for the revolt, the chances of success and the course of the revolt.
The closing chapter will touch briefly on the crisis in the Jewish world in the aftermath of the war and its disasters consequences. In other words, what means were the Jewish leaders using to maintain a national and religious life after the destruction of the temple and the end of the sacrificial system?

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​The following subjects will supplement the regular curriculum.
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The Jewish world – religion & people.  
 
It is our view that having a basic understanding of elementary Judaism is necessary to add some of the flavor of the Jewish faith to the students' education. In this course the student will be acquainted with the principles of the Jewish faith and the changes it underwent over the years. The student will study the concept of commentaries on the scriptures, the basic books of the "oral law" and some daily practices.  
One of the outlines elaborates on the main crises in the Jewish world, the Hasidic movement and the conflict between the Jewish orthodox world and the state of Israel.
Besides, certain elements of daily life traditions and customs will be introduced as: synagogue, Rabbi, Shabbat, phylacteries, tassels etc. The closing chapter will touch on the Jewish calendar and holidays.

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The "Dead Sea scrolls"
 
The Dead Sea scrolls are believed by many to be the most important discovery ever made in Israel. The scrolls shade bright light on some aspects of second Temple's day Judaism. The wealth of information one can learn from the scrolls is essential to understand the Jewish society in the days of Jesus.
In this course the student will study a selection of scrolls of the Biblical text as well as others. Through understanding the significance of the scrolls one can better realize Israel of those days.

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The city & City life in the Biblical era.
 
In this course the student will be acquainted to the city and city life. The challenges for finding a location based on water source and road. The necessity to build the town in layers to the formation of a "Tell" will be one of the main aspects of the course. The town's gate house, walls, water system, high place and so forth will be discussed while connecting those locations to Biblical references.
The transition from the "Tell" to the Greco-Roman town will be elaborated. The Greco-Roman city was planed to represent a different life style that was known in the region. The student will study about the theatre and the amphitheatre, Cardo, Hippodrome, stadium, forum and market place together with the revolutionary ideas that were introduced by the Romans in water engineering. The last chapter will touch briefly on the changes in the city's institutions in the course of the conversion of the Roman Empire to Christianity.
The course will focus on the differences between the Roman towns and the Jewish towns as these were the two main societies in the land during the days of Jesus.

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