Written in January 2019
An extremely rare, minuscule biblical stone weight inscribed in ancient Hebrew script with the word “beka” was discovered in rubble taken from excavations at the foundations of the Western Wall. The “beka,” a First Temple-period weight measure used by pilgrims paying their half-shekel tax before ascending to the Temple Mount, was recently discovered by a volunteer in the City of David’s wet sifting project in Jerusalem’s Emek Tzurim National Park.
In Exodus 38.26 we find the word ‘beka’ used of the weight for the gift brought by the Jewish people for the maintenance of the Temple: “a bekah for [a]each man (that is, half a shekel, according to the shekel of the sanctuary), for everyone included in the numbering from twenty years old and above, for 603,550[people]
Archaeologist Eli Shukron, who directed the excavations on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority Shukron said in a press release, “When the half-shekel tax was brought to the Temple during the First Temple period, there were no coins, so they used silver ingots. In order to calculate the weight of these silver pieces they would put them on one side of the scales and on the other side they placed the Beka weight. The Beka was equivalent to the half-shekel, which every person from the age of 20 years and up was required to bring to the Temple.”
“This is a word that is used both inside and outside of the Bible. You can see beka written in the Bible and what it was used for, and there you have it,” he said.
“This three thousand-year-old Beka weight, inscribed with ancient Hebrew was likely used in the First Temple, anchoring once again, the deep historical connection of the Jewish People to Jerusalem,” said Doron Spielman, Vice President of the City of David Foundation which funded the excavation.
Israel has a passion for archaeology and delights in finding items which connect the Jewish people today to the Hebrews who lived in the land in the times of the Bible. Discovering items with Hebrew writing on them in Jerusalem is seen as a justification for Israel’s claim to sovereignty over this city and the land of Israel. It is also seen as an answer to the claim that today’s Israelis are an alien invading force taking the land from its rightful Arab owners.
This is a fulfilment of the words of the Psalmist written perhaps at the time this beka stone was dropped in the ground in Jerusalem: ‘But You, O Lord, shall endure forever, and the remembrance of Your name to all generations. You will arise and have mercy on Zion; for the time to favour her, yes, the set time, has come. For Your servants take pleasure in her stones, and show favour to her dust. So the nations shall fear the name of the Lord, and all the kings of the earth Your glory. For theLordshall build up Zion; He shall appear in His glory. He shall regard the prayer of the destitute, and shall not despise their prayer. This will bewritten for the generation to come, that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord.’ Psalm 102.12-18.
The Psalmist sees a time coming when the Lord will have mercy on Zion and the Jewish people will return to their ancient capital city. At that time it says that ‘Your servants take pleasure in her stones and show favour to her dust.’ As the archaeologists search through the dust of Jerusalem they discover stones and fragments which point to the truth of the Bible record and also vindicate the claim of the Jewish people to Jerusalem as their capital city now, despite the fierce opposition of the nations of the world.
The Psalmist goes on to say that this shall be written for ‘the generation to come.’ The Hebrew phrase is ‘le dor acharon’ which can also be translated the ‘last generation.’ The last generation before what? Again the Psalmist gives us the answer to this ‘The Lord shall build up Zion; He shall appear in His glory.’
This verse tells us two important things. Firstly the one who is behind the end time building up of Zion (the restoration of Israel and Jerusalem to the Jewish people) is the Lord Himself. He is delivering on His covenant that He would give to Abraham and his descendants through Isaac and Jacob (the children of Israel) a multitude of descendants and the title deeds of ownership of the land of Israel (Genesis 15, 17, 26.2-5, 28.13-15, Exodus 6.2-8). If Israel is dispersed and scattered from the land as a result of disobedience to the Lord or unbelief, God will cause them to return in His time (Deuteronomy 28, 30), because of the covenant made with their fathers (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob). Whatever modern Israelis believe or do not believe about God and the promises of the Bible, the Lord is at work, overruling historical events and bringing back the people of Israel to the land of Israel and restoring Zion.
As we read in Jeremiah 31.10: “Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, (Hebrew ‘Goyim’ = Gentiles) and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd does his flock.’ Jeremiah 31.10 According to Jeremiah 30.24 this will happen in the period known as the last days: ‘In the latter days (be acharit ha yamim) you will consider / understand it.’
So again we ask the question, ‘The last days, the last generation before what?’ The Psalmist says ‘The Lord shall build up Zion, He shall appear in His glory.’ The one who appears is the Messianic King, who is also the Lord appearing in glory. This ties in with a number of prophecies in the Hebrew Bible, including Zechariah 14, when the Lord comes at the last battle over Jerusalem: ‘Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east.’ Zechariah 14.3-4.
Psalm 2 is a Messianic Psalm which speaks about God’s intervention at a time when the nations of the world are coming together to oppose God’s purposes and the Messiah:
‘Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us.” Psalm 2.1-3
‘His Anointed’ in Hebrew is m’shiacho which means His Messiah. In other words these nations are going to be anti-Messiah or anti-Christ. They want to remove the restraining influence of God’s law and take counsel against God’s purposes. Exactly what the nations are doing today as the spirit of antichrist and lawlessness takes possession of the world system. Jesus gave one of the signs of the last days as lawlessness, saying ‘Because wickedness is increased, most men’s love will grow cold.’ The word for wickedness in Greek is ‘anomia’ which means against the ‘nomos’ or law of God. The nations will also be against God’s purposes for Israel.
On 3rd December 2018 the UN General Assembly, which represents the nations on earth in our time, approved six anti-Israel resolutions, including two that reject Jewish ties to the Temple Mount and Jerusalem. The Temple Mount, the location of the two ancient Jewish temples, which stood on the site in Jerusalem’s Old City for a total of nearly a thousand years, was referred to only by its Muslim name, the Haram al Sharif. UN Secretary General Guterres said that Israeli and Palestinian leaders must recognise a two-state resolution to the conflict ‘with borders based on the 1967 lines and Jerusalem as the capital of both states – East Jerusalem being the capital of the Palestinian state.” This means that Israel must withdraw from the Old City of Jerusalem and all its settlements around the city on the eastern side. This is also the minimum demand for peace from the Palestinian side, but Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu has said many times that Jerusalem united under Israeli sovereignty remains the capital of Israel.
This conflict lines up with Zechariah 12.2-3, another prophecy of the last days, where God says:
“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.”
All the nations of the earth speaks of the United Nations. As they come against God’s purposes for building up Zion, they will discover His wrath and indignation. Back in Psalm 2 we read:
‘He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure: “Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree”:
The Lord has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’” Psalm 2.4-9
He advises the nations to be wise and ‘kiss (worship) the Son’ and trust in Him as they repent and believe. Psalm 2.10-12. The references to the Son in this Psalm point again to Yeshua, Jesus the Messiah, who is the Son of God, and who is coming as Messiah of Israel to claim His inheritance in Zion and in the nations. He will rule over the nations at His coming and settle once and for all the issue of who Jerusalem belongs to.
All of this ties in with the words of Jesus in the New Testament. He spoke about the dispersion of the Jewish people from Jerusalem following the destruction of the Temple and of Jerusalem in Luke 21.20-24 and also implied their return to Jerusalem:
‘But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.’
From this we see that the dispersion of the Jews will not be a permanent condition. The day will come when Jerusalem will no longer be ‘trampled’ or ruled by the Gentiles and ‘the fig tree’ of Israel’s national life will blossom again:
‘Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors!’ Matthew 24.32-33, see also Luke 21.29-33.
The fig tree is used as a symbol of Israel’s national life in Hosea 9.10 and Jeremiah 24. Jesus spoke of the fig tree that would be ‘cut down’ if it did not bear fruit (Luke 13.6-9). He cursed the fig tree that did not bear fruit as a result of which it withered away (Matthew 21.19). Both these passages spoke of the coming withering of the national life of Israel after the disaster of the Jewish revolt and the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem in AD 70.
So the budding of the fig tree is the reversal of this process, causing the revival of the national life of the Jewish people in the land of Israel, which has taken place in our time. Jesus said when you see this happening you know it is a sign of something much greater to follow, the return of the Messiah. The budding of the fig tree – the rebirth of Israel as a nation along with all the other signs of the second coming which are taking place in our time – is a wake up call to the world that Jesus is coming back.
So to come back to our theme from Psalm 102, when the Lord builds up Zion, bringing the return of the Jewish people to Jerusalem and the land of Israel, He will appear in His glory. This wonderful event is on its way as we see the Jewish people back in the land and taking pleasure in the stones of Jerusalem, while the antichrist nations gather together to fight against the Lord and His purposes. The last word will be with the returning Messiah, as He appears in power and glory to bring an end to war over Jerusalem and to set up His Messianic kingdom.
‘And the Lord shall be King over all the earth in that day.’ Zechariah 14.9