Jacob sheep are seen returning to Israel and the balm of Gilead is being cultivated again after thousands of years. Could these be signs that Israel is preparing to build the third temple?
Jacob sheep, named after the “streaked, speckled and spotted” sheep chosen by Jacob as his wages for years of service for his father-in-law Laban, have returned home to Israel. The first batch of the sheep was flown in on Nov. 30 from Canada, where a Jewish couple had been raising the breed since 2014.
Gil and Jenna Lewinsky had a chance meeting with a Jacob heritage farmer in Canada. Upon learning that Jacob sheep were extinct in Israel, the couple decided to raise the breed and bring them back home to where they traced their roots 5,000 years ago.
“We were not born shepherds,” Jenna told The New York Times. “We had to learn everything from scratch.”
After going over some hurdles like securing a permit to export the sheep to Israel and unexpected transport costs, the first few batches of the sheep were finally brought home in late November.
Meanwhile, a farmer named Guy Erlich is cultivating the Balm of Gilead, a plant mentioned in the Bible that is used for worship in the temple. The plant is known to have medicinal properties. It is also used in cosmetics.
Erlich said the Balm of Gilead is “the first ingredient of the incense of the Holy Temple and since the Second Temple period, it says (it was used) as the anointing oil of the kings of Israel.”
“At the sixth century, it disappeared from here, together with the Jewish people," he explained.
Erlich decided to cultivate the plant in the hope of creating an industry from it. His first plant was from Saudi Arabia.
"This is the balm of Gilead Farm," he told CBN News. "This is the nursery. The vision was to make agriculture of the Balm of Gilead and then to make an industry out of it."
Although conditions along the Dead Sea shores—salty soil and heat—are not agreeable to the plants, the Balm of Gilead surprisingly grew. Erlich, now with six acres of the plant, is the “biggest Balm of Gilead farmer in the world.”
Is Israel preparing for the third temple? Some groups have been doing a number of preparations, according to Liz Healy, an American who studies the Temple Mount.
In an interview with CBN News, she said the Temple Institute has set up a red heifer farm. In the Old Testament times, the red heifer was burned and its ashes mixed with running water. The mixture was then used to purify the Jews so they could enter the temple, Healy explained.
“There is a group specifically that has re-established the Levitical priesthood,” Healy said. “They started a school a few months ago and they have a registry for those who are from the Levitical line that they could come and be trained and be ready to do the service in the temple.”