Glimpses of Israel - Arad

by Joseph Hunting

Two thousand five hundred years ago Ezekiel made an amazing prediction concerning the resettling of 'the old estates'. "I will settle you after your old estates, and will do better unto you than at your beginnings ..." (Ezekiel 36:11).

After nearly two thousand years of dispersion of the people of Israel, many of the cities and settlements of Bible times disappeared into oblivion. Some just eroded away with time, and others were covered with the dust and debris of centuries -- until the State of Israel re-emerged in 1948. Then they began to reappear like mushrooms, and many of the ancient Bible places became familiar names on the modern map of Israel. Such places as Eilat, Ashdod and Ashkelon are proof positive of Ezekiel's prophecy coming to pass.

Among the 'old estates' of Bible times being resettled is Arad. But before we explore this modern oasis in the Judean wilderness, let us briefly look at its past history. During Israel's wilderness journeyings, the king of Arad, a Canaanite monarch, captured some Israelites and held them as hostages. "And Israel vowed a vow unto the Lord, and said, If thou wilt indeed deliver this people into my hand then I will utterly destroy their cities. And the Lord heakened to the voice of Israel and delivered up the Canaanites ..." (shades of Entebbe). Years later, Moses' father-in-law and some of the tribe of Judah settled near Arad.

Modern Arad, nearly 2,000 feet above sea level, was reborn in 1961 with the discovery of an important natural gas field, appropriately named Zohar (meaning 'brightness'). The new city was built on a hill overlooking the spectacular Judean wilderness. The atmosphere and climate are both refreshing the invigorating compared with the searing heat of Sodom, just seventeen miles away.

And so the city of a Canaanite king captured by Joshua has joined scores of other Biblical towns and cities being settled after their old estates, whose end is better than their beginnings.