* Come to Israel with The Joshua Fund next May and step into the story!
By Joel C. Rosenberg
(Washington, D.C., January 6, 2011) -- This week the New York Times published an intriguing article on Iraqi efforts to preserve, protect, restore and rebuild the ancient city of Babylon and make it a draw for tourists, with U.S. taxpayer assistance. The Times reports that a modern Babylon museum will open later this month. Reporter Steven Lee Myers also posted a fascinating four minute video walking through some of the rebuilt ruins of Babylon, and explaining Iraqi efforts to protect and restore numerous Biblical sites.
What's more, Times' reporter Stephen Farrell posted an equally compelling three and a half minute video on the tomb of the Hebrew Prophet Ezekiel in the Iraqi town of Kifl, describing how Muslims pray at the tomb of this Jewish prophet, and how the Iraqi government wants to study the site more, preserve the it better, and draw more tourists there. (All links are posted on my blog.)
"The Babylon project is Iraq's biggest and most ambitious by far, a reflection of the ancient city's fame and its resonance in Iraq's modern political and cultural heritage," the Times reports, noting that "in November, the State Department announced a new $2 million grant to begin work to preserve the site's most impressive surviving ruins. They include the foundation of the Ishtar Gate, built in the sixth century B.C. by Nebuchadnezzar's father, Nabopolassar, and adorned with brick reliefs of the Babylonian gods Marduk and Adad."
"The American reconstruction team has refurbished a modern museum on the site, as well as a model of the Ishtar Gate that for decades served as a visitors' entrance. Inside the museum is one of the site's most valuable relics: a glazed brick relief of a lion, one of 120 that once lined the processional way into the city. The museum, with three galleries, is scheduled to open this month, receiving its first visitors since 2003."
Honestly, I'd love to put together a Joshua Fund "Prayer & Vision" tour to visit Babylon and Ezekiel's tomb. Not quite ready for that yet, but please join us in Israel in May for an amazing tour of Israel and the 2011 Epicenter Conference.
Other stories worth tracking this week:
* Keep an eye on the Kremlin in 2011: Russian leader cancels trip to Israel scheduled for this month, but will visit Palestinian areas instead
* Putin has confirmed he's running for President in Russia again in 2012. Currently, he's Prime Minister.
* *2009 cable: Israel preparing for 'large scale war,' says army chief - Iranian Shihab missiles could reach Israel in 10-12 minutes
* Saudi Arabia 'nabbed Israeli-tagged vulture for being Mossad spy'
[Picture: A new, modern museum will open in the ancient city of Babylon this month. Photo credit: Joao Silva, NYT]