When Past and Present Collaborate

The Fellowship  |  July 6, 2017

Water pooled together in a small brick structure with trees around.
When Past and Present Collaborate

This is not a post about politics, although it does involve governments and protests. It’s actually a beautiful story about providence, the past, and the present.

I’m still uncovering the complex past of the part of Israel I now call home. It’s a fascinating past, an inspiring past, and often times, a surprising one.

I already knew that my community sits atop an active archaeological site. Anyone building here is required to sign a legal document declaring that if anything significant is discovered while digging the foundation of a new home, all construction must cease immediately until an adequate assessment of the area is carried out. We live along a line of aqueduct shafts that were built in Temple times and carried water all the way to the Temple at times when water shortages often occurred, such as during the three pilgrim holidays. But these historical facts were unknown nearly two decades ago.

During those years, there was an initiative by the Israeli government to give this area away to the Palestinians. No one had built on the land yet, and while it is a legal part of our city, the government of Israel was willing to part with this land. I’m guessing they figured they’d get peace in return. Whatever the reason, this area was up for grabs and the local Jewish residents were not okay with that.

Two of those residents just became my new neighbors, but at the time they were just teenagers who were extremely passionate about Israel. They joined other teens and moms who refused to let the land go and set up tents to camp out on it so that the area could not be given away. They piled up stones and created a rudimentary structure as a last ditch attempt to say – “we are here – don’t give us away!” But the government did intend to give them away along with the land they pitched their tents on.

Tractors were sent in to demolish the stopgap structures. It seemed like the peaceful protest would soon come crashing to an end. The stones would surely fall. The tents would be plowed over. By all natural means, that is what should have happened.

But, that’s not what happened.

Just as the first tractor rolled in to destroy all that had been built, its wheel became mysteriously stuck – caught in a very large, very deep hole. The driver and his crew inspected and it became clear that this hole wasn’t just any hole. The hole was part of something ancient. They were standing on archeological ground, or as I like to call it, on holy ground.

That discovery, the first of a series of shafts built as part of the ancient aqueduct system, halted the operation to destroy and give away the land. It was now a bona fide archeological site that could not be handed over to the Palestinians.

Looking deeper, what actually happened is that some people who were dedicated to the land of Israel and the Holy Temple built something that would save some people equally devoted to the land and the very same God – some two thousand years later. Through events that can only be described as divine intervention, the past collaborated with the present to save an important part of Israel.

It’s just one more reminder that our lives and our land are part of a very long chain of events and individuals who once called our home their home. We are part of this very same people. Anyone who suggests otherwise need only visit my backyard.