28 Nov, 2020
JERUSALEM WEATHER

As the UN predicts a global famine of “Biblical proportions”, it would be appropriate to look to the Bible for clues that might help avert disaster.

UN World Food Programme: 2021 Famine Fueled by Pandemic May Leave 300 Million Hungry

Last month, when the United Nation’s World Food Programme won the Nobel Peace Prize, its executive director, David Beasley, took the opportunity to warn that without drastic measures fueled by a massive influx of funding, the world faces “famines of biblical proportions in 2021.”

“The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the World Food Programme (WFP) is a humbling, moving recognition of the work of WFP staff who lay their lives on the line every day to bring food and assistance for close to 100 million hungry children, women and men across the world. People whose lives are often brutally torn apart by instability, insecurity, and conflict,” Beasley said in response to the award. “Every one of the 690 million hungry people in the world today has the right to live peacefully and without hunger. Today, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has turned the global spotlight on them and on the devastating consequences of conflict.”

Beasley warned that the situation is dire indeed, exacerbated by the pandemic.

“Climate shocks and economic pressures have further compounded their plight,’ he said. “And now, a global pandemic with its brutal impact on economies and communities is pushing millions more to the brink of starvation.”

In an interview with AP last week, Beasley repeated the warning he gave  to the U.N. Security Council in April, in which he cautioned the world leaders that due to the lingering pandemic, next year is anticipated to be worse than this year, and without billions of dollars “we are going to have famines of biblical proportions in 2021.” Beasley predicted a disaster timeline covering the next 12 to 18 months. He noted that there are currently 135 million people facing “crisis levels of hunger or worse” while deficits and difficulties generated by COVID-19 could push an additional 130 million people “to the brink of starvation by the end of 2020.” He estimated that the number of people facing crisis levels of hunger due to the second wave of shutdowns is increasing toward 270 million.

“There’s about three dozen countries that could possibly enter the famine conditions if we don’t have the money we need,” Beasley said. “If we can’t reach these people with the life-saving assistance they need, our analysis shows that 300,000 people could starve to death every single day over a three-month period. This does not include the increase of starvation due to COVID-19”. 

Beasley said WFP needs $15 billion next year: $5 billion just to avert famine and $10 billion to carry out the agency’s global programs.

Biblical Famines

Beasley’s warning of a famine of Biblical proportions” requires a bit of context. Famines figured prominently in the early stages of the Bible. The first famine mentioned was so grievous that it compelled Abraham to go down to Egypt.

There was a famine in the land, and Avram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land. Genesis 12:10

Another is mentioned as having struck in the days of Isaac, causing him to go to Gerar 

There was a famine in the land—aside from the previous famine that had occurred in the days of Avraham—and Yitzchak went to Abimelech, king of the Philistines, in Gerar.Genesis 26:1

Abraham was forced to leave the Holy Land, returning after the famine ended, but Isaac was instructed by God to stay in Israel. 

But the most prominent Biblical famine described in Genesis was the seven-year stretch predicted in Pharoah’s dream as interpreted by Joseph

Immediately ahead are seven years of great abundance in all the land of Egypt.After them will come seven years of famine, and all the abundance in the land of Egypt will be forgotten. As the land is ravaged by famine, no trace of the abundance will be left in the land because of the famine thereafter, for it will be very severe. Genesis 41:29-31

But the recent “Biblical famine” predicted by Beasley could presage a new stage in the final redemption.  Rabbi Yitzchak Batzri, a noted kabbalist from Jerusalem, quoted the Prophet Amos, who prophesied that famine should be expected at the end-of-days as an essential, albeit painful, stage of the process.

Behold the days come saith the Lord GOD that I will send a famine in the land not a famine of bread nor a thirst for water but of hearing the words of Hashem. Amos 8:11

“There will be a famine for food in the days before Moshiach (Messiah), a famine like the world has never seen before,” Rabbi Batzri said to Israel365 News.

But it’s not all bad news, he continued. “What the prophet is saying is that this famine, as awful as it will be, comes to serve a divine purpose.”

The rabbi explained that lack of food and water will inexorably drive the other nations to connect with Israel, just as Pharoah enlisted Joseph to save Egypt. 

“Just as Joseph’s ascension preceded the Exodus, Israel taking a leading role in helping the nations cope with famine will be a necessary stage in the Messianic process,” Rabbi Batzri said. 

“They will come for food, but from the famine, they will learn that the physical is not as important as the spiritual,” Rabbi Batzri explained. “When they come to us, the nations will discover that what they really lack is the special light of Torah that can only come from Israel.”