While fertility rates around the world plummet, one nation stands out in stark contrast to this trend – Israel, where birth rates have been steadily rising for the past several decades in a phenomenon which appears to fulfill a promise made to Abraham in the Book of Genesis.
I will bestow My blessing upon you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven and the sands on the seashore; and your descendants shall seize the gates of their foes. Genesis 22:17
In the 1950s the global birth rate was 36 per 1,000. Today the global birth rate has declined to 18.5 births per 1,000 in 2016. In contrast the total Jewish fertility rate in Israel increased by 20 percent between 1998 and 2017, rising from 2.6 children per woman to 3.1 per woman.
This makes Israel’s fertility rate amongst the highest in the developed countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). By 2030, it is expected that Israel will double the population it has today. By 2050 conservative forecasts say that Israel will have 23 million inhabitants. Less conservative forecasts predict 36 million inhabitants by then.
End-times scholar Rabbi Pinchas Winston sees clear messianic signs in the shifting birthrates. “When Jacob rises Esau falls, so it is only natural that as Jewish fertility increases, that of the rest of the world declines,” he explained to Breaking Israel News.
He added that the ingathering of exiles is another redemptive marker. “As prophesied, God has gathered us from the four corners of the Earth and He is now multiplying us. When the majority of the Jews live in the Land of Israel, the spiritual power shifts to the Jewish people.
“We have already reached that point. Israel is still small number-wise, but our power is not in our numbers. Our power comes from living on a spiritual level.”
The growth in the Jewish population is especially significant for its repercussions on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Arab Israeli birth rates traditionally outpaced Jewish ones by a wide margin. But in 2015 the fertility rates of Jewish and Arab women reached parity for the first time ever, according to figures released by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics. Both Jewish and Arab women had given birth to an average of 3.13 children.
While the Jewish fertility rate increased 20 percent between 1998-2017, the Arab rate decreased by 20.5 percent during the same period. In fact, fertility across the Muslim world has plummeted. In the past 30 years Turkey’s fertility rate has dropped from 4.07 to 2.08 children per woman, Tunisia has dropped from 4.82 to 2.14, and Morocco from 5.4 to 2.52.
For years, the political left warned the Israeli public that rapidly growing Arab population would swamp the Jewish one, demanding Israel surrender Judea and Samaria to “maintain a Jewish majority”. But with the Jewish birthrate overtaking that of the Arabs, the left has now switched to the opposite tack, warning that Israel’s burgeoning Jewish populace will lead to “dangerous overcrowding” and calling for a clampdown on the famously high Orthodox birthrate.
Prof. Alon Tal, chairman of Tel Aviv University’s public policy department, has even published a book on the topic entitled “The Land Is Full: Addressing Overpopulation in Israel”.
In fact, Jewish population growth has been negligible throughout the exile, making its current increase all the more remarkable. In 50 CE the Jewish population was estimated to be 5 million. Today it stands at some 12 million, an increase of only 240 percent in 2000 years. Of that 12 million, only half live in Israel. In contrast, the Chinese population in 50 CE was estimated to be about 30 million and today it is well over a billion – an increase of over 3300 percent.
The current fertility boom in Israel may be seen as the termination of the curse of the exile and the beginning of the fulfillment of the blessing God gave to Abraham.