“Therefore prophesy, O mortal, and say to Gog: Thus said Hashem: Surely, on that day, when My people Yisrael are living secure, you will take note.” Ezekiel 38:14 (The Israel Bible™)
As Iran and Israel come into direct conflict in Syria and world leaders wonder what to do about Iran’s nuclear program, rabbinic authorities look to prophecy to find clear answers for a developing situation that one end-of-days expert says is “about to get Biblical.”
The gravity of the rising tensions between Israel and Iran was described by an unnamed senior US official in an interview with NBC News.
“On the list of the potentials for most likely live hostility around the world, the battle between Israel and Iran in Syria is at the top of the list right now,” the official said.
“Things are about to get Biblical,” Rabbi Winston told Breaking Israel News. “Some people thought the Bible was dead. They thought they could sit back and relax.That is clearly not the case in Syria and soon, that will be clear to everyone.”
The concern that Israel and Iran may become enmeshed in a war in the near future is due to recent escalation of Israel’s conflict with Iran from indirect aggression to direct confrontation. Previously, Iran’s aggression against Israel was expressed as one of the world’s leading state sponsors of terrorism with Israel, the primary target of Islamic terrorism. Iran supports Hamas in Gaza and provides missiles to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
This proxy aggression was suddenly transformed into direct confrontation in February when an Iranian drone armed with missiles sent out from a Syrian military base was shot down by the IAF over Israel. Israel retaliated with an airstrike against the T4 base from where the drone originated, killing seven Iranian military personnel.
The confrontation between Israel and Iran is heating up even more. On Sunday, an airstrike allegedly carried out by the Israeli Air Force against a military base near Hama in Western Syria killed over 20 military personnel and destroyed a shipment of arms recently delivered from Iran to forces of President Bashar al-Assad. The Iranian ISNA news agency reported that 18 Iranians including a commander, were killed in the airstrike. This is the second time in one month that Israel has reportedly struck a Syrian base manned by Iranian personnel.
Iran is establishing military bases in war-torn Syria in an apparent attempt to create a land bridge to the Mediterranean that will allow them to dominate the region. According to the US officials cited by NBC News, Russia is now running the air war for Assad while Iran is running the land war.
Iran now has a substantial military presence in Iran to support its leadership role in the Syrian civil war. On Friday, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, told the UN Security Council that Iran has gathered more than 80,000 Shiite jihadists in Syria. In the past two weeks, military flights from Iran to Syria have increased drastically, supplying the Assad regime with weapons and materiel.
In what seems to be political preparation for a war with Iran, the Knesset passed a law on Monday giving the prime minister authority to declare war or to order a major military operation after consulting with the minister of defense. Before this law was passed, a vote by the full cabinet was required to initiate such military actions.
According to Rabbi Winston, Iran’s military presence in Syria is the match that will set off an even greater explosion in Syria.
“It is important to remember that Syria was once part of Israel,” Rabbi Winston said. “King David instilled a level of kedusha (holiness) into the land when he conquered it. Iran is attacking specifically any holiness in the world and they are beginning in Syria, which was the fringe of Israel’s sanctity. Of course, their ultimate goal is to wipe out all of God’s holiness in the world.”
Rabbi Winston cited a prophecy in the Yalkut Shimoni, a compilation of rabbinic commentary on the Bible believed to have been composed in the 13th century, that mentioned Persia (known today as Iran) as the catalyst that will set off an apocalyptic multinational war.
“Rabbi Yitzchok said: The year in which Melech Hamashiach (Messiah king) will be revealed, all the nations of the world will be provoking each other…The king of Persia will provoke the King of Arabia. The King of Arabia, will go to Edom to take counsel and the King of Persia will threaten to destroy the entire world. The nations of the world will be outraged and panic. They will fall on their faces and will experience pains like birth pangs. Israel too, will be outraged and in a state of panic ask, “Where do we go?” (Yalkut Shimoni, Isaiah, 60:499)
Persia is also explicitly identified by the Prophet Ezekiel as an end-of-days foe of Israel.
I will turn you around and put hooks in your jaws, and lead you out with all your army, horses, and horsemen, all of them clothed in splendor, a vast assembly, all of them with bucklers and shields, wielding swords. Among them shall be Persia, Nubia, and Put, everyone with shield and helmet; Ezekiel 38:4-5
“The conflict with Iran isn’t like a normal political crisis such as the Cuban missile Crisis or even North Korea,” Rabbi Winston explained. “Kim Jong Un was afraid and in his political maneuvering, he was just looking for a good way to back down. This isn’t the case with Iran. This is a Biblically based, prophetic crisis.”
“It is important to remember that Iran is actually the modern-day incarnation of Biblical Persia and Israel is the result of God’s covenant with the Jews,” the rabbi said. “You have one country whose existential drive is to stay alive in order to bring God’s word to the world. And set against us you have another country whose existential drive is to watch the world burn so they can move on to the next stage of their destiny.”
Rabbi Hillel Weiss, spokesman for the nascent Sanhedrin (an initiative to reinstate the Biblically mandated court of 71 elders), insists that due to the Biblical nature of the conflict, there are alternative outcomes.
“Iran is a thin veneer covering Persia, a nation with an ancient heritage that appears in the Bible,” Rabbi Weiss said. “In the story of Purim, we see that Persia set out to destroy the Jews. In the end, Persia initiated the building of the Second Temple. In the same manner, the current situation can turn around. If Iran returns to its Persian roots, they can play a major role in bringing the geula (redemption).”
Towards this end, the Sanhedrin and the Mikdash (Temple) Educational Center are minting a special edition coin specifically aimed at reawakening this Temple mandate among the Persians.