At Christmas time, we read the Holy Scriptures that a Savior was born to save the people of the world. We hardly think of the origin of the scriptures or the ancient ones that are still out there somewhere, waiting to be discovered. It seems that there has been a great discovery in Iraq. Surprises happen when one is least expecting them.
When American soldiers were in Iraq, they may have discovered an old scroll that those who had hidden it hoped that someday…even if it was to be 200 years later…would be found. The people of the world would know that there was a thriving Jewish people who were forced to leave everything behind…including their most sacred objects. These were hidden away in hopes of preserving them.
This is the story behind the find according to a writing by Daniel Estrin for the Associated Press:
“…The scroll is a remnant of Iraq’s 2,500-year-old Jewish community, one of the world’s oldest, which all but disappeared when large numbers of Jews left for Israel following the creation of the Jewish state in 1948. Only a handful of Jews are left in Iraq today, following decades of war and instability.
Like other ancient Jewish texts from Arab lands, the scroll’s path to Israel remains unclear, with Israeli officials offering different theories.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the scroll’s journey from Iraqi intelligence storage to a synagogue in the ministry “represents the fate of the Jews.” Jews have been persecuted, he said, but “in the end they come to Israel.”
Iraqi authorities forbade Jews who left for Israel from taking ritual objects and other property with them. During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, American soldiers discovered ancient Iraqi Jewish Torahs and other community documents in the waterlogged basement of Iraqi intelligence headquarters in Baghdad and took the manuscripts to the U.S. for restoration. They have gone on display in the U.S., and American officials have promised to return the items to Iraq.
Foreign Ministry officials say the scroll is Jewish property and belongs in the Jewish state. To celebrate the scroll’s restoration, Lieberman and an Israeli chief rabbi marched with the scroll around the perimeter of the Foreign Ministry building, with some 300 ministry employees, from workers in the diplomatic mailroom to ambassadors, trailing behind them throwing candy, clapping and singing.
The head of storage at Foreign Ministry headquarters in Jerusalem, Amnon Israel, said he stumbled upon the scroll, moldy and torn and without any label marking its origin, in the ministry’s storage room on his first day on the job in late 2013.
He was told that American soldiers took the scroll from Iraqi intelligence storage during the war and handed it to Israeli diplomats in Jordan for restoration in Israel. On the back of the Torah scroll, in a section from the Book of Exodus, is a round black splotch that Israeli foreign ministry officials say is an Iraqi intelligence stamp.
But Israel, the storage head, says he is not sure that’s the real story.
An Israeli official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the Iraqi Torah’s existence in Israel is a potentially sensitive diplomatic issue, said someone brought the scroll to Israel’s embassy in Jordan around 2007. Security officials at the embassy X-rayed the scroll to make sure it was not booby-trapped before showing it to the Israeli ambassador, the official said.
In 2011, after an Egyptian mob ransacked the Israeli embassy in Cairo, Israel’s Foreign Ministry ordered diplomats in Jordan to transfer all non-essential items from the embassy in Amman to Israel.
“There was great fear that people in Jordan would hold demonstrations and burst into the embassy in Jordan, and there was an order to take out any object that didn’t necessarily need to be kept at the embassy,” Israel said.
The scroll was brought to the Foreign Ministry in 2012, where it sat undisturbed in the storage room. Only when Israel invited Jerusalem scribe Akiva Garber to inspect the scroll did it become clear the Torah was from Iraq…”
It is interesting that the Holy Scriptures have passed through wars, many countries, and still many years later surface to once again show that God has preserved his Word. He wants the world to know the truth of His love and goodness. At this Christmas time, amid all the hustle and bustle of shopping and parties, take time to be quiet and reflect. God wants our hearts to be calm and at peace with the good news that a child is born Who will be the Savior of the World. God’s Word will not return void. It will speak to you with a message that He wants you to know.
So pick up that Bible that may have a touch of dust and read…asking God to speak to you through His Holy Word.
Isaiah 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
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