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FRIDAY FEATURETTE - Water, Water Everywhere

The Mixed Blessing of Abundant Precipitation

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Posted on: 
24 Jan 2020
FRIDAY FEATURETTE - Water, Water Everywhere
Capping off one of the wettest winters in decades, torrential rains have poured down on Israel all this week, bringing the Sea of Galilee to its highest level in years and also filling many small streams, ponds, tributaries and rivers all over the Holy Land. Coming as it does after years of near-drought conditions, the rains (and snow on Mount Hermon in the north) have been welcomed, but there has also been a price to pay in the form of several deaths and billions of shekels in property damage, including massive destruction in the coastal city of Nahariya.

The IDF has also suffered damage including to 8 F-16 jets which were caught in underground shelters when the rains hit. Ironically, the shelters, built to protect the jets from falling rockets and bombs, quickly filled up with water, “drowning” the planes and causing severe damage to their computerized components and engines.

With the end of January approaching, Israelis are aware that the traditional end of winter is also looming and with it the end of the season when their country receives all of its rainfall. This brings mixed feelings as sunshine and warm temperatures are much more pleasant, but everyone knows how much the country needs water.

Along with the unusually high volume of rain, there has also come a flood of commentary about the possible prophetic significance of the unusually heavy rains. In the amusing but harmless category there have been questions raised in online forums about the possible need for the Israeli government to set up a process for issuing fishing licenses for the Dead Sea, since so much fresh water is flowing into it from these rains. On the other end of the spectrum there have been deeply hurtful and unhelpful blogs written accusing the city of Nahariya of some uniquely terrible sin which caused God to send a rainstorm to punish it, just as He sent showers of burning sulphur and brimstone to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, as described in Genesis 19.

All of this speculation and commentary is belied by the fact that Israel’s neighbours are also experiencing similar conditions this winter, with Egypt, Turkey, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Iran and even far away Spain, Portugal and France all suffering from destructive flooding after days when several months worth of rain fell in just a few hours, completely overwhelming the absorptive capacity of the ground and the channelling capacity of man-made infrastructure meant to alleviate flooding.

These storms have caused widespread destruction in dozens of cities and villages all over the region, including some towns which have been completely washed away so that an observer would never be able to tell that there had ever been a town full of people there in the first place. On the other hand, I an arid region where millions of people living in ever-present fear of not having enough fresh water is blamed for a variety of chronic health, economic and general quality of life problems, this winter’s heavy rains have also filled reservoirs and re-charged aquifers, giving hope for better days ahead.

Back in Israel, the rains continued on Friday morning as they had been falling all this past week, drenching but not yet drowning the Holy Land’s grateful but weary inhabitants and giving them many things to pray about as the Sabbath approaches.


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