I got stoned in Jerusalem. It was my fault.
I was editor of Illustrated Bible Life, a Bible-background magazine used by Sunday school teachers. I came up with the idea of taking some teachers to the Holy Land, to prep them for a unit of lessons about Jesus.
When the tour was over, I stayed in Israel with a photographer, a guide, and an editorial assistant. That’s when I got stoned.
We drove a rented car to Jerusalem’s east side to get some photos of Hezekiah’s Tunnel—an underground channel chiseled through solid rock. It allowed spring water to flow into what used to be the walled city of Jerusalem in King Hezekiah’s day.
Here’s the problem in two parts.
First, Palestinians lived in that neighborhood in East Jerusalem. They were upset because the Israelis were taking their land—one plug at a time—and giving it to Jews.
Second, we were driving a car owned by an Israeli company—which anyone could tell. That’s because in Israel the license tags were color-coded by race.
As our guide drove up the dirt road back toward Central Jerusalem, I saw a man dressed in traditional Arab clothing. He was charging the car while raising a stone the size of a cantaloupe. He chucked it into the driver’s side windshield, but didn’t manage to power it through.
We drove perhaps ten minutes or so before we found a police station. During that drive through Palestinian neighborhoods, people looked at our windshield and our license tag. And they smiled.
That’s the only time I’ve gotten a real taste of the animosity that people are feeling there.
Jews in Israel fear for their existence as a nation. Surrounded by 14 Arab nations and the deep blue sea, they are vulnerable to nearly instant attack from every direction.
Jews in Bible times had the same problem. They were invaded by everyone and his brother. Egyptians, Greeks, Persians from what is now Iran, Midianites from what is now Jordan and Saudi Arabia, along with Assyrians and Babylonians from what is now Iraq.
Babylonians did what Jews today fear that their Arab neighbors might do: erase Israel from the world map.
It happened in 586 ʙ.ᴄ., after the Jews stopped paying taxes to the Babylonian Empire. The Babylonians came to collect—everything. They looted the country, leveled the cities, including the Jerusalem capital, and they led an estimated 14,000 survivors off to exile in what is now Iraq. Israel was dead.
About 1000 years earlier, Moses had predicted it would happen.
“If you refuse to obey all the words of instruction that are written in this book….the Lᴏʀᴅ will scatter you among all the nations from one end of the earth to the other” (Deuteronomy 28:58, 64 ɴʟᴛ).
The Jews broke from God by worshiping idols. God did what he said he would do.
A generation later, God brought his people home, for there is grace enough to forgive even those sins wicked enough to kill a nation. But God's Word and holiness stand true, and there were consequences for the choice to disobey—consequences that were foretold and then came to pass.
And that's how the scattering of the Jews fulfilled prophecy.
Continue your historical journey with A Quick Guided Tour Through the Bible.