In the Hebrew Bible, one reads the prophetic story of the Jewish nation, scattered around the world, to gather back home in the Jewish homeland. Rarely does one have the opportunity to step foot in the land of Israel to see the prophecy come alive. But one need not hop on a plane to see the landscapes that were barren just decades ago, now rich and fertile.
New and unique photojournalism book “Israel Rising: Ancient Prophecy / Modern Lens” tells the visual story of Israel’s miraculous journey from unforgiving desert to thriving nation, juxtaposing 175 pictures of the Holy Land taken between the 1880s and the 1940s to contemporary images of the same locations from the same angles. Its pages tell a story of a land dry, brown and dusty, now green and lush; embodying Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion’s vision to “make the desert bloom.”
“This land has changed dramatically since Israel became a nation in 1948,” said author Doug Hershey. “Just as Ezekiel prophesied and I have the old photos to prove it.”
In addition to the photos and starting with Ezekiel’s prophecies, the book explores historical accounts from Jewish, Christian and Muslim eyewitnesses of what the land and region has experienced and endured.
According to Hershey, the quotes tell of a “desolate land and region in severe poverty, with multiple empires conquering and reconquering, destroying and decimating coastal cities.”
“In the 10th century, a Muslim writer lamented that there weren’t worshippers in the mosque and most people who live in Jerusalem are Jewish. During the Ottoman rule, and even until the 1930s, eyewitnesses told of a declining population and the land suffering, with top soil being blown away,” he told Breaking Israel News.
Now, said Hershey, the photos speak for themselves.
“Thousands of years ago, the prophet Ezekiel foretold a future time in which the arid land of Israel would come alive for its people. Now, we see the fulfillment of this vision, from the hills of Shiloh where shepherds once roamed, to the booming city of Tel Aviv, founded on sand dunes, to the stellar beaches of Caesarea, transformed from a small village into one of Israel’s most stunning coastal cities and finally Jerusalem, the Eternal City of Peace, where in ancient times the power of worship resounded from the Temple,” he said.
As Israel celebrates its 70th anniversary, the book depicting the transformation of Israel has sold tens of thousands of copies on Amazon and is currently the #2 book in Torah, the #8 book on Israel, and the #11 book on Judaism.
Hershey, founder of Ezra Adventures, an Israel-focused travel and education company, recalls becoming inspired to write the book while on his favorite drive in Israel – driving south on Highway 90 – and noticing that the journey now, compared to the journey 14 years ago, has a completely different landscape.
“Today, this same journey is virtually green with desert orchards, vast greenhouses and small farms. The land is changing and today exports 1.5 billion flowers to the U.S. and Europe, grown mostly in the desert,” he said.
Along with photographer Elise Monique Theriault, Hershey journeyed by foot and helicopter to access the vantage points required to match the original photos, from the rooftop of Israel’s National Museum of Science, Technology and Space in Haifa, to Jaffa Port’s breakwater.
Through the book’s limited-circulation 100 year-old photos and their comparisons, one witnesses the virtually unseen changes, such as the vast desert farms in the Negev, now bustling coastal cities, and a fulfillment of the Hebrew prophets’ vision of ancient cities being rebuilt.
Hershey’s rare perspective on the connection between the Jewish Scriptures and present day Israel is informed by years of hands-on experience exploring these very areas, combining service projects, biblical sites and adventure options immersed in Israeli culture for his Ezra Adventures tours. Cultivating unique relationships in Israel and out, Hershey often speaks in churches and synagogues about the prophesied restoration of Israel.
His first book, The Christian’s Biblical Guide to Understanding Israel: Insight Into God’s Heart for His People, released in 2011, offered a comprehensive guide to understanding God’s special connection with Israel and why Israel is important, both in the Bible and today.
“The books chronicle an ancient people with ancient history – an anomaly in history. No other group has a 2,600 year-old history unfolding exactly as it was foretold,” Hershey said, adding, “it is an anomaly in history which can be clearly explained by the everlasting covenant with God written about in the Jewish Bible; which foretold that after the Jewish people return to the physical land, the land that was desolate and destroyed will respond. Seeing this come true today verifies the accuracy of biblical accounts in the same way that biblical archaeology in the land verifies history.”
Sample Images: https://www.ezraadventures.com/copy-of-israel-rising