The 2,000-year saga of the return of Jacob’s sheep to the Holy Land as prophesied by Ezekiel was officially launched with the first of 11 flights that took place last week. The timing of this tremendous occurrence is deeply Biblically significant and may in fact shed light on the fascinating history of the patriarch’s herd.
On November 30, 119 sheep landed in Israel, coincidentally the same day rains at last began to fall in Israel, ending a difficult drought. This was precisely as Ezekiel had prophesied.
I will deliver them out of all places whither they have been scattered in the day of clouds and thick darkness. Ezekiel 34:12
This remarkable story began when Gil and Jenna Lewinsky, a couple that met in Israel and moved to Canada, first set eyes on the unique sheep three years ago. Despite never having farmed, something about the sheep spoke to their souls. They bought a herd of 70 and began a not-for-profit farm. In their hearts, they knew the sheep were destined for greater things than producing wool and milk. Though the breed has its genetic roots in the Holy Land, there are no Jacob’s Sheep in the Middle East today. The Lewinskys changed all that when they decided to bring Jacob’s flock home.
It took three years of wrestling with the bureaucracy of importing livestock, before the actual journey could begin. Since Canada is not listed as a country permitted to export livestock to Israel, the petition was initially rejected in 2015.
About ready to give up, the Lewinskys received a blessing for the endeavor from Rabbi Amram Vaknin, a well-known mystic from Ashdod. The rabbi was thrilled when he saw photos of the sheep and the undeniable resemblance to their Biblical ancestors.
“Rav Vaknin stated that the sheep have a special blessing on them from Jacob in the Bible,” Gil told Breaking Israel News. “The rabbi said that the shofar horn from the Jacob Sheep is the most holy in the whole world.”
After the intervention of diplomats of the Israeli Embassy in Ottawa, the petition to bring the herd of Jacob’s Sheep was reconsidered and accepted. The actual journey began three months ago when the sheep boarded a truck for a 3,000 mile journey from British Columbia to Toronto. In a distinctly Ezekiel-inspired manner, the journey was accompanied by thunder and lightning. After a stressful four-month quarantine, they prepared to board planes for Israel.
Even this part of the journey was fraught with difficulty. El-Al Airlines had generously agreed to subsidize 90 percent of the flight from Toronto to Israel, the largest airlift of animals in Israeli history, but a strike by the pilots forced the Lewinskys to make other arrangements, costing them an additional $80,000.
That rainy day one week ago, when the first shipment of sheep arrived, was also the 28th day of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan. This was the day, untold thousands of years ago, when Noah, after a similar journey with his menagerie, offered up a sacrifice to God after weathering the storm.
Gil also pointed out that during their arduous journey with 119 sheep, not one sheep died or failed the rigorous tests given by the Department of Agriculture. Normally, about 12 percent of animals fail such tests.
“The number 119 is seven times 17,” explained Gil. “The Gematria (Hebrew numerology) for the Hebrew word for ‘sacrifice’ (זבח) equals 17.” What’s more, “Seven is a complete natural cycle, or perfection,” indicating significance to each number in the equation.
Gil also noted that Psalm 119, which is especially long with 176 verses, ends with a reference to sheep.
I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Thy servant; for I have not forgotten Thy commandments. Psalm 119:176
Taking the Biblical implications one step further, this week, Jews in synagogues all over the world will read the Torah portion of Vayetzei (Genesis 28:10 – 32:3), in which Jacob makes a deal with his deceitful uncle Laban to claim the spotted sheep for his own.
And the flocks conceived at the sight of the rods, and the flocks brought forth streaked, speckled, and spotted. Genesis 30:39
This verse alone is proves the Biblical heritage of the Lewinskys’ sheep as “They are the only sheep breed in the world to produce spots and speckles in offspring,” Gil explained to Breaking Israel News.
Just as the return of Jacob’s descendants took many years and had many meanderings, so too for his flocks. The group of sheep that arrived last week will be staying in quarantine for the next month near Ofakim and Ein Habasor in the South of Israel, but the Lewinskys are still searching for a permanent home.
According to breed aficionados, the sheep originated in the north of Biblical Israel, and were sold to Egypt. By way of North Africa and Morocco, the sheep made their way to Spain, and finally to Britain, where they were favored by landed gentry for their distinctive spotted appearance and four horns.