On Anniversary of Ancient Egypt Feeding Israelites During Famine: Israel ‘Returns Favor’ with Natural Gas

January 15, 2020

3 min read

Egypt and Israel’s energy ministers announced on Wednesday the first transmission of natural gas from Israel to Egypt. The Biblical roots and prophetic implications of this modern energy deal are so clear as to be notable to political commentators. 

The Leviathan gas field is a large natural gas field located in the Mediterranean Sea about 81 miles west of Haifa in waters 4,900 feet deep. Leviathan is one of the world’s larger offshore gas finds of the past decade and according to some commentators, the gas find has the potential to change Israel’s foreign relations with neighboring countries Turkey, and Egypt. Even by conservative estimates, Leviathan holds enough gas to meet Israel’s domestic needs for 40 years. 

The field began commercial production of gas two weeks ago and on Wednesday, natural gas began flowing from Israel to Egypt. 

The political implications of the gas deal that redefines Israel’s relations with its Arab neighbors in terms of cooperation and coexistence are clear to all but the Biblical significance of the event, not so evident to the average political pundit, was noted by Gil Hoffman, the chief political correspondent analyst for the Jerusalem Post.

‘What happened today is Biblically significant in a most timely manner,” Hoffman told Breaking Israel News. Hoffman noted that last week, Jews around the world read the section of the Torah relating how Joseph brought all his brothers and their families to live in Goshen, Egypt where he, as Pharoah’s second-in-command, provided all their needs during the remaining years of famine.

“It is now coming full circle,” Hoffman explained. “Israel is returning the favor. We are providing energy to Egypt. Now, the land of Israel is the source of life for Egypt just as they gave us life in the times of Joseph and his brothers.”

It is interesting to note that despite 400 years of slavery, the Bible recognizes Israel’s debt to Egypt for sustaining the house of Israel in a commandment.

You shall not abhor an Egyptian, for you were a stranger in his land. Children born to them may be admitted into the congregation of Hashem in the third generation. Deuteronomy 23:8-9

It is, therefore, most fitting that the first recipient of Israeli energy should be Egypt in recognition for the sustenance they provided Israel and his family in Biblical times.

This role of Israel as a beneficial provider of energy for other nations certainly fulfills prophecy as described by Isaiah.

For He has said: “It is too little that you should be My servant In that I raise up the tribes of Yaakov And restore the survivors of Yisrael: I will also make you a light of nations, That My salvation may reach the ends of the earth.” Isaiah 49:6

Indeed, the name of the massive gas field hints at the Messianic cornucopia. In Jewish tradition, the large fish that swallowed Jonah is identified as the leviathan for which the gas field is named.

Hashem provided a huge fish to swallow Yona; and Yona remained in the fish’s belly three days and three nights. Jonah 2:1

In the Talmud (Tractate Baba Batra 75a), it is written that God originally produced a male and a female leviathan. The Leviathan is described as an oceangoing monster though not necessarily a whale. God became concerned that in multiplying, the species would destroy the world. God killed the female Leviathan, preserving her flesh for the special banquet that will be given to the righteous on the arrival of the Messiah. The banquet will be held inside a huge tent made from the Leviathan’s skin.

This midrash (homiletic teaching) is the source of an unusual blessing recited during the holiday of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), in which we recite upon leaving the sukkah (tabernacle):

“May it be your will, Lord our God and God of our forefathers, that just as I have fulfilled and dwelt in this sukkah, so may I merit in the coming year to dwell in the sukkah of the skin of Leviathan. Next year in Jerusalem.”


Israel’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz released an official statement marking the occasion:

“This is an important development that will serve the economic interests of both countries. This development will enable Israel to export some of its natural gas to Europe via Egyptian LNG facilities and will come in the context of Egypt’s growing role as a regional gas HUB.”


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