Historical Anniversary Dates for Israel

By Randy Nettles


The current year of AD 2017 is upon us, and with it comes several important historical anniversary dates for the nation of Israel specifically; and the Gentile nations in general. 2018 is a very significant year as well.

August 31, 2017 marks the 120th anniversary of the First Zionist Congress organized by Theodore Herzl in 1897. Held in Basel , Switzerland , the gathering defied the purpose of Zionism as a movement aimed at obtaining a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine.  guaranteed by public law.

 Israel will celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, which was issued on November 2, 1917, during World War I. It was put forth by David Lloyd George, prime minister of England , and Arthur Balfour, his foreign secretary. It promised that England would support and help facilitate the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine . The Balfour Declaration was the single most important document in the establishment of the state of Israel .

 Israel will also celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the capture of Jerusalem on December 9, 2017. On this day in 1917, the British army captured Jerusalem and took control of the city from the Ottoman Turks. The Ottoman Empire encompassed most of the area now known as Turkey. The Ottoman Empire, which controlled Palestine ( Israel ), joined Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Bulgaria in declaring war on the Allies during World War 1.

 The Allies consisted of the British Empire, Russia, United States, France, Italy, Serbia, and other countries. The Ottomans, a Turkish dynasty dating back to about 1300, conquered Constantinople in AD 1453. In 1516, the Turks defeated the Egyptian armies, giving them control of Syria and also Palestine . The Ottoman sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent, used his power in the region to build the walls that still surround Jerusalem. The flag of the Ottoman Empire flew over Palestine for four centuries. The British capture of Jerusalem proved to be a major step toward Israel becoming a nation.

 On April 6, 1917, the U.S. joined its allies to fight in World War I. Most Americans did not want to get involved in the war, but after Germany sank five American vessels in the Atlantic Ocean , Woodrow Wilson asked Congress for a declaration of war. Soon American troops were sent to Europe, Germany surrendered, and President Wilson was influential in peace negotiations. Germany formally surrendered to the Allied Powers on November 11, 1918 at the Treaty of Versailles.

Another historical event in 1917 was the Russian Revolution, which dismantled the Tsarist autocracy and led to the eventual rise of the Soviet Union . The Russian Empire collapsed with the abdication of Emperor Nicholas II, and the old regime was replaced by a provisional government during the first revolution of February 1917. In the second revolution that October, the Provisional Government was removed and replaced with a communist state.

 This revolution dissolved the resolution of the military effort against Germany and led to   Russia’s surrender to the Central Powers in 1918. The Allied Powers won the war regardless of Russia ’s surrender. The Ottoman Empire, Austria-Hungary, Germany and Bulgaria all lost lands to the Allies. Many new countries were formed in the years following World War I.

 Several important events regarding the Jews occurred in 1947.

1)  The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered on the northwestern side of the Dead Sea in Israel . The scrolls are believed to be dated back to the period between 250 BC and Ad 68, and were apparently written by the Essenes, a Jewish priestly sect living at Qumran in the Dead Sea region. Many consider the Dead Sea Scrolls to be the most important archaeological discovery of all time.

2)  On November 29, 1947, the United Nations voted to partition Palestine into two states. The Negev Desert (in southern Palestine ), and the coastal region and eastern Galilee (in northern Palestine ) were set aside for Jews, while Arabs were given the Gaza Strip (the southern coast) and the remaining areas of Palestine . Jerusalem was designated as an international city. The motion, which the United States and the Soviet Union supported, was denounced by the League of Arab States, which supported the cause of the Palestinian Arabs.

 The British mandate over Palestine was scheduled to end on May 15, 1948; at which time the English troops would be leaving. In anticipation of the end of the British presence in Palestine , David Ben Gurion called to order a historic meeting on May 14, 1948 (Iyar 5, 5708 on the Jewish calendar) and read Israel ’s Declaration of Independence. For the first time in more than two thousand years, there was an independent Jewish state of Israel . On April 20, 2018 (Iyar 5, 5778 on the Jewish calendar), Israel will celebrate its 70 year anniversary as a modern nation. Iyar 5 is now known as Independence Day for Israel .

The day after Israel declared its independence, it was attacked by five Arab nations: Egypt, Iraq,  Lebanon , Syria , and Jordan. By the end of 1948, the Israeli army had defeated the Arab nations and in so doing had conquered half of the territory the United Nations had planned for the new Arab nation. The other half was divided between Jordan and Egypt. Israel controlled the western half of Jerusalem and Jordan the eastern half, including the Old City and the Temple mount. On May 11, 1949, the nation of Israel was admitted to the United Nations. The United States and the Soviet Union voted for this action.

In 1967, Egypt and Syria , sent troops to the Sinai Peninsula and forced the United Nations Emergency Forces based there to leave. On June 5, 1967 (Iyar 26, 5727 on Jewish calendar), Israel responded with a preemptive strike, demolishing the Egyptian air force in just three hours. Israeli forces captured the Gaza Strip and the Sinai, then conquered the Old City of Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights.

The conquest took six days and became known as the Six Day War. Israelis celebrated their rescue of the holy sites in Jerusalem and planned to exchange the captured Arab territories for recognition of the state of Israel and a peace treaty. The Arab nations, however, continued to reject Israel ’s existence, and as a result the captured territories were not relinquished. On May 22, 2017 (Iyar 26, 5777 on Jewish calendar), Israel will celebrate the 50th anniversary of this momentous event. Iyyar 26 is now celebrated as Jerusalem Day.

 An important and historical day on the Jewish (religious) calendar is the 24th of Kislev, which is the ninth month. Israel has witnessed four major historical events in the past on this day.

1)      The foundation of the Second Temple was laid on December 11 (on our Gregorian calendar), 520 BC by the Jewish exiles returning from Babylon . “From the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, even from the day that the foundation of the Lord’s Temple was laid, consider it….From this day I will bless you” (Haggai 2:18-19).

2)      The abolition of the Temple sacrifice by the Greek-Syrian king, Antiochus IV, known as “Epiphanes”, on December 12, 167 BC. He forbade the Jews to offer “sacrifices and atonements’ in the Temple of God , and also commanded that they “should prohibit the Sabbath and festival days to be celebrated” (1 Maccabees 1). The last true daily sacrifice took place on the twenty-fourth of Chisleu (Kislev). The pagan sacrifices began the next day on the “five and twentieth day of the ninth month” (1 Maccabees 4:54).

3)      The recapture of the Temple and cleansing of the sanctuary occurred on December 9, 164 BC…almost three years to the day when the Temple was first desecrated by King Antiochus. Antiochus was a type of Anti-Christ who desired to be worshipped as a god. A Jewish rebellion, led by an old man named Mattathias and his five sons, resulted in a spectacular war of religious independence.

The sons, led by Judas Maccabaeus (the Hammer), and the Jews reconquered the Temple site on the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month. “Early in the morning on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month of Chisleu…they rose and offered sacrifice, as the law directs, on the altar of burnt offering which they had built. At the very season and on the very day that the Gentiles had profaned it, it was dedicated with songs and harps” (1 Maccabees 4:52-54). This event is commemorated annually at the feast of Hanukkah.

4)      Jerusalem was freed from Turkish (Ottoman Empire) rule during World War 1 on December 9, 1917 by the Allied Expeditionary Force, under the command of General Allenby. This was discussed earlier in this article.

Israel has also just recently witnessed another important historical event on the 24th of Kislev. The date on the secular calendar was December 23, 2016. The event was the signing of Resolution 2334 by the U.N. security council regarding Israeli settlements, including Jerusalem and the Western Wall. There have been many articles and news stories concerning this resolution, which the U.S. abstained from voting on; so I will not go into any further details regarding it. The only detail I will mention is the timing of it. The resolution was voted on at approximately 1:28 p.m. Eastern time at the U.N. Headquarter in New York , N.Y. This would mean that it was 8:28 p.m. in Jerusalem , Israel .

 A day in the secular calendar begins and ends at midnight. In Israel, as in Judaism and the Jewish calendar, a day is calculated from sundown to sundown. The signing of this resolution occurred on the 23rd of Kislev 23 here in the United States but in Jerusalem it had already turned into Kislev 24 by a few hours. It seems remarkable that this event took place on this day of the Jewish calendar, when so many other significant events have occurred in the past for Israel and Jerusalem . God is truly in control of human history and the timing of historical events.

Last but not least is a possible future event which could happen on the 24th of Kislev. The year is unknown. It is the Russian (and allies) invasion of Israel , known as the War of Gog and Magog, as described by the prophet Ezekiel. Ezekiel 38:19-20 and Haggai 2:6-7 describe an earthquake will occur during this war and will be so catastrophic that the whole world will be affected.

 Here is what the prophet Haggai had to say about a future war (notice the similarity in the wording of the prophecy of Haggai to the words of Ezekiel’s prophecy in Ezekiel 38 and 39):  

“Consider no from this day and upward, from the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, even from the day that the foundations of the Lord’s Temple was laid, consider it….From this day I will bless you. And again the word of the Lord came into Haggai in the four and twentieth day of the month, saying …I will shake the heavens and the earth; and I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen, and I will overthrow the chariots, and those that ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother”  (Haggai 2:18-22)

 Regardless of the timing of the War of Gog/Magog, we know it’s getting close because of current events in the Middle East and Israel . Some of the countries described in Ezekiel 38-39 are coming together as allies, including Russia (Magog), Iran ( Persia ), and Turkey (Togarmah). No doubt other Eastern European and Muslim countries will be allying themselves with Russia against Israel in the near future.

For whatever reason, the United States of America nor any other country will come to the aid of Israel during this time. The super-power who intervenes to save Israel in its greatest hour of need will be their great defender, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The prophecy recorded in Ezekiel indicates that God’s purpose in this extraordinary intervention in history is to glorify and sanctify His Holy Name in the sight of Israel and the Gentile nations.

 “Behold, it is come, and it is done, says the Lord God; this is the day whereof I have spoken” (Ezekiel 39:8).

 Randy Nettles

nettlesr@suddenlink.net