The year 2023 has been one of tension and crisis for Israel, each earth-shaking event followed by another one incrementally more traumatic. The Hebrew prophets wryly comment about such times: “As when a man flees from a lion and a bear confronts him, or he goes home, leans with his hand against the wall, and a snake bites him” (Amos 5:19)
Over this past year the nation of Israel has witnessed heated street demonstrations and riots; public discourse teetering on the brink of civil war; savage atrocities and genocidal war crimes committed by Hamas jihadi gangs under the tutelage and support of the Islamic Republic of Iran, resulting in over 120,000 Jewish refugees in the south of Israel; a nuclear explosion of worldwide anti-Semitism; daily rockets and drone attacks from Iran’s Lebanese proxy Hezbollah, causing over 80,000 Israelis close to the northern border to flee, becoming refugees within their own country; and recently, drone and missile attacks against Israel coming from another Iranian proxy – the Houthi Shi’ite dictatorship in a divided Yemen. The Middle Eastern cauldron is about to boil over.
- Who are the Houthis and what is Yemen? How does that country fit into Iran’s plan for Middle East domination, the destruction of Israel and the weakening of Western interests? Is there a biblical prophetic dimension here?
Ham in the Middle East
After the Great Flood, Noah’s sons moved to different parts of the Middle East and the Mediterranean Basin, raising families and founding nations: “Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. And sons were born to them after the Flood . . . The sons of Ham were Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan. The sons of Cush were Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabteca; and the sons of Raamah were Sheba and Dedan” (Genesis 10:1, 6-7).
The descendants of Ham (the Hamitic peoples) included Cush (Sudan and Ethiopia), Mizraim (Egypt), Put (Libya) and Canaan (Lebanese Phoenicians), as well as the warrior kings like Nimrod who established Babel, Erech, Akkad, Calneh and Nineveh. Ham’s line has the dubious honor of siring three of Israel’s major enemies in the Bible — Egypt, Assyria and Babylon. In the Bible these three are not considered Semitic countries.
For those who are curious about some recent teachings on the ‘Highway of Isaiah 19,’ it is worth noting that according to the Bible, neither Egypt nor Lebanon are Semitic or Abrahamic countries but actually Hamitic ones (see also Psalm 78:51; Psalm 105:23; Psalm 105:27; Psalm 106:22). The families descended from Ham through his son Canaan (according to Genesis 10:15-19) included Sidon, Heth (the Hittites), the Jebusites, the Amorites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, with their borders extended “as far as Gaza; and going toward Sodom and Gomorrah . . .” Ham’s son Canaan fathered Sidon of the Phoenicians (Lebanese coast), the Jebusites (ancient inhabitants of Jerusalem) and the Amorites (parts of today’s Israel and Jordan). The descendants of Ham were the native populations of Libya, Egypt, Canaan, Lebanon, Yemen, significant parts of Arabia and some areas of Jordan. From the Bible’s perspective the Middle East has a solid Hamitic (and not Ishmaelite) stamp.
Ham and Yemen
Ham’s sons Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabteca, and Raamah’s sons Sheba and Dedan, relocated to an area just south of the Hejaz, known today as the west coast of Saudi Arabia. They settled in what is now modern Yemen bordering Oman. According to Genesis 10, the majority of Yemen’s population has Hamitic roots – not Semitic and not Abrahamic origins.
Shem had five sons who are mentioned in Scripture. None of these are descendants of Abraham:
- Elam (in Iran)
- Asshur (northern Iraq)
- Arphaxad (one of whose descendants eight generations later was Abraham)
- Lud (possibly Turkey or western Iran)
- Aram (modern Syria).
Shem’s third son was Arphaxad, who sired Salah. Salah fathered Eber who in turn fathered Joktan (known in Arab history as Qahtan or Ḳaḥṭan) whose family moved to that same Arabian desert. Joktan’s thirteen sons are mentioned in Genesis 10:21-29. Four of these sons have regions, cities or oases named after them: Hazarmavet (later morphed into Hadramawt), Hadoram, Sheba and Havilah.
Hazarmavet/Hadramawt is a region in South Arabia, comprising eastern Yemen, western Oman and southern Saudi Arabia. It was one of the six ancient South Arabian kingdoms of ancient Yemen, along with Sabaʾ, Maʿīn, Himyar, Qataban and Awsān. The name is retained in the name of the Yemeni Governorate of Hadhramaut. The people of Hadhramaut are today called Hadarem, (based on the biblical name Hadoram) and comprise 1,300 distinct tribes totaling two million inhabitants.
Havilah was the second son of Cush. The area wherein he settled was known in the days of Moses for its gold deposits of high quality: “Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is Pishon; it flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. The gold of that land is good; the bdellium [bdolach] and the onyx stone [even shoham] are there as well” (Genesis 2:10-12). Havilah’s probable location (see 1 Samuel 15:7) is near Khawlān al-ṭiyāl, south-east of the Yemeni capital of Sana’a.
Ham and the Queen of Sheba
Sheba (southwestern Arabia/Yemen) and Dedan (northern Arabia) are mentioned in many places in the Bible. These descendants of Ham were known for their dual livelihoods:
- operating camel caravans along the desert trading routes, carrying gold, spices, oil and embroidered work to Mesopotamia, Syria and Egypt. The Queen of Sheba’s visit to King Solomon was also connected with developing closer trade ties – an ancient ‘Hamitic-Abrahamic Accords’
- attacking other merchant caravans and peaceful settlements, robbing their goods and enslaving their inhabitants
Here are eight biblical passage spanning a thousand years which reflect these desert realities in the Land of Sheba:
- “The caravans of Tema (see also Isaiah 21:13-14; Jeremiah 25:17-24) looked; the travelers of Sheba hoped for them” (Job 6:19)
- “And Sheba attacked and took them. They also killed the young men servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you” (Job 1:15)
- “The traders of Sheba and Raamah, they traded with you; they paid for your merchandise with the best of all balsam oil/perfume, and with all kinds of precious stones, and gold” (Ezekiel 27:22)
- “May the kings of Tarshish and of the islands bring gifts! May the kings of Sheba and Seba offer tributes . . . So may [the Davidic king] live, and may the gold of Sheba be given to him. And they are to pray for him continually; They are to bless him all day long!” (Psalm 72:10, 15)
- Now when the Queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon in relation to the name of YHVH, she came to test him with riddles. So she came to Jerusalem with a very large entourage, with camels carrying balsam oil and a very large quantity of gold and precious stones. When she came to Solomon, she spoke to him about everything that was in her heart (1 Kings 10:1-2)
- A multitude of camels will cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah. All those from Sheba will come; they will bring gold and frankincense, and proclaim good news of the praises of YHVH (Isaiah 60:6)
- “For what purpose does frankincense come to Me from Sheba, and the sweet cane from a distant land?” (Jeremiah 6:20)
- “I will also sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the sons of Judah, and they will sell them to the Sabeans, to a distant nation,” for the Lord has spoken” (Joel 3:8)
There is a long history of the inhabitants of Sheba (modern Yemen) attacking trading routes. In Bible days it was camel caravans; today it is world shipping lanes. Based on the Last Days focus in Joel 3:8 (quoted just above), it seems that Yemenite piracy is a reality in our day as well.
Gog. Magog and Sheba
The prophet Ezekiel was once given a prophetic word concerning a great battle at the End of Days between Gog/Magog and the Jewish state: “This is what ADONAI YHVH says: ‘Are you the one of whom I spoke in former days through My servants the prophets of Israel, who prophesied in those days for many years that I would bring you against them?’” (Ezekiel 38:17).
Ezekiel reaches through the fog of history future and mentions some of the enemies who will attack Israel on that day. Their motive will be to seize plunder, to carry away silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods and to capture great spoils.” YHVH addresses Gog and Magog, as well as two of these terror-creating robbers (Sheba and Dedan) participating in that apocalyptic axis of evil:
- ‘This is what ADONAI YHVH says: “It will come about on that day, that thoughts will come into your mind and you will devise an evil plan, and you will say, ‘I will go up against the land of unwalled villages. I will go against those who are at rest, who live securely, all of them living without walls and having no bars or gates, to capture spoils and to seize plunder, to turn your hand against the ruins that are now inhabited, and against the people who are gathered from the nations, who have acquired livestock and goods, who live at the center of the world.’ Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish with all its villages will say to you, ‘Have you come to capture spoils? Have you assembled your contingent to seize plunder, to carry away silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods, to capture great spoils?’”’ (Ezekiel 38:10-13)
Yemen’s present and future attacks on Israel are rooted in the heart and spirit of this Last Days passage.
Mocha in the Garden of Aden
Yemen is world-famous for its coffee. Mokha (al-Mukhā), also spelled Mocha, or Mukha, is a port city on the Red Sea coast of Yemen. Until Aden and al-Hudaydah eclipsed it in the 19th century, Mokha was the principal port for Yemen’s capital, Sana’a. From the 16th century through the 19th century, the city was famous for Mocha coffee. The coffee was not grown in Mocha, but was transported from Ethiopia and inland Yemen to the port in Mocha, from where it was shipped abroad. Even today, Mocha beans (also called Mocha Sanani beans, meaning from Sana’a) continue to be prized for their distinctive flavor.
After the jihadi armies of Muhammad hacked their way into the Promised Land (632-640 A.D.), they imported Muslims from Arabia and Yemen to Islamize the land. This jihadi war crime is one of the origins of today’s Palestinian dynamics. The Muslim leaders imported to the Banu Kalb tribe from Yemen, and settled them in Tiberias and the Bet Guvrin area. The Banu Lakhm and Banu Judham/Jurham tribes – previously Christian Arabs but now Muslims – were transferred from Yemen and settled to the south of Jerusalem.
Rule Britannia and Egyptian gas attacks
In modern times, Yemen was a backwater ruled by an iron-handed Turkish Caliphate. But in November 1839 Britain stretched forth its royal scepter, capturing the town of Aden (part of Yemen) and establishing it as a British anti-piracy station (shades of coming Houthi attacks . . . ). Commanding the southern entrance to the Red Sea, Aden was an important strategic British air and naval base (and, from 1869 a coal depot) guarding the route to India. It was also crucial for safeguarding access to Middle Eastern oil supplies. During November 1839, 5,000 Yemini tribesmen tried to retake the town, but were repulsed and 200 were killed. In 1937 Aden became a British Crown Colony. In February 1959 Britain granted independence to the Federation of South Arabia (formed from the Aden colony and the surrounding protectorates), in an attempt to suppress unrest fueled by Arab nationalism and anti-colonialism. Most of this stemmed from the socialist and pan-Arabist doctrines of Egyptian leader Gamel Abdel Nasser. But in 1967 the British were forced to withdraw from Aden, and their dominance of the Middle East gave way to Russians and Americans seizing the geopolitical helm.
In the early 1960’s Nasser was busy spreading socialist revolution throughout the Middle East, as well as building up his forces to annihilate Israel. He had very destructive plans for Yemen. On June 8, 1963 the Egyptian army targeted Kawma, a northern Yemeni village of 100 inhabitants with a halogenous poison gas – either phosgene, mustard gas, chlorine or cyanogen bromide, killing about seven people and damaging the eyes and lungs of twenty-five others. On December 11, 1966, fifteen gas bombs killed two people and injured thirty-five. On January 5, 1967, the biggest Egyptian gas attack came against the village of Kitaf, causing 270 casualties, including 140 fatalities. Estimates of total casualties caused by Egyptian poison gas attacks in the Yemen war were approximately 1,500 fatalities and 1,500 injuries.
The 60 year clash (1962-2022) between the Royalist Yemeni rulers (supported by Saudi Arabia, Britain, Jordan and covertly by Israel) and the Nasserite Yemenis (supported by Egypt and Russia) eventually exploded into the splitting of Yemen into two different belligerent countries: the Republic of Yemen and the Houthi-led Supreme Political Council. As well, there are two smaller enclaves which are again divided: the first enclave has three competing groups – Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS), and Ansar al-Sharia (Yemen). The second enclave is the Southern Transitional Council backed by the United Arab Emirates. The Yemeni Civil War continues at present.
- Yemen is a broken and divided state, a hotbed of extreme jihadi terrorism, the proxy of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards and now an attacker of the State of Israel.
Persia encircling the Middle East
The Houthi movement al-Ḥūthīyūn, officially known as ‘Anṣār Allāh’ [‘the supporters of Allah]), is a Shia Islamist political and military organization that emerged from Yemen in the 1990s. It is predominantly made up of Zaydi Shiites, and their support comes largely from the Yemeni Houthi tribe. Starting in 1994 their first leader Hussein al-Houthi led an opposition movement to Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh, whom they accused of corruption and being backed by Saudi Arabia and the United States. In 2003, influenced by the Lebanese Shi’ite terror group Hezbollah (who are in turn under Iranian tutelage and control), the Houthis adopted their official slogan: “Allah is the greater! Death to America! Death to Israel! A Curse Upon the Jews! Victory to Islam!” (‘Allāhu ʾakbar, al-mawt li-ʾAmrīkā, al-mawt li-ʾIsrāʾīl, al-laʿnah ʿalā ʾl-Yahūd, an-naṣr lil-ʾIslām’).
Saudi Arabia is involved in a behind-the-scenes life and death struggle with Shi’ite Iran, who wants to destroy the Royal House of Saud, crush the Sunni majority of Islam (80% of the total), and establish Iranian control over Mecca and Medina. Iran has been using the Houthis as a proxy, attacking Saudi oil fields, military bases and ports, and recently firing missiles and armed suicide drones against Israel.
Iran and Yemen have a Last Days role to play in attacking Israel, as Ezekiel 38:1-13 clearly states:
- Now the word of YHVH came to me, saying, “Son of man, set your face toward Gog of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him, and say, ‘ . . . I will turn you around and put hooks into your jaws, and I will bring you out, and all your army, horses and horsemen, all of them magnificently dressed, a great contingent with shield and buckler, all of them wielding swords; Persia [Iran], Cush, and Put with them, all of them with buckler and helmet – many peoples with you . . . Sheba and Dedan [Yemen] and the merchants of Tarshish with all its villages will say to you, ‘Have you come to capture spoils? Have you assembled your contingent to seize plunder, to carry away silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods, to capture great spoils? (Ezekiel 38:1-13)
The nefarious strategies of the Persian puppet master are coming front and center in world news, though most do not discern the Scriptural roots and outcome.
Isaiah 19 and Abraham Accords – not quite yet
It is popular in some circles to proclaim that peace is breaking out in the Middle East – that the highway mentioned in Isaiah 19 is soon to find blessed fulfilment in a network of prayer houses and hiding places for the Jewish people throughout Egypt. This perspective is optimistic, but it is not exegetically based. For background here, see my newsletter: https://davidstent.org/the-isaiah-19-highway-prophecies-amidst-the-potholes/ . War is actually in progress in the Middle East, and it is not about to stop dead in its tracks. The Abraham Accords are also not destined to last. For background here, see my newsletter: https://davidstent.org/strange-bedfellows-in-the-middle-east/. These Accords were signed between the Jewish state (descendants of Abraham) and the United Arab Emirates (descendants of Shem but not of Abraham).
- Spiritually inaccurate teachings like those mentioned above only tend to confuse followers of Yeshua as we face some of the greatest challenges and opportunities of all time. Let’s focus on an eagle-eyed clarity and a Scriptural faithfulness as we pray pro-actively for events before us.
How should we then pray?
- Ask the God of Israel to grant increased understanding and revelation to Israel’s leaders about how to proactively deal with the challenges of Lebanon, Yemen and Iran
- Pray for a biblically sound prophetic ministry to be restored to the leaders of Israel, and that the world-wide body of Messiah would be moved by the Holy Spirit to focus with intercessory intensity as we progress deeper into World War III
- Pray for the physical rescue of the approximately 136 Israelis (including babies) kidnapped by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and PFLP/PLO. At this moment some hostages are being tortured, raped and starved (this based on testimonies of recently released hostages). Hamas is also holding onto many corpses as bargaining chips
- Pray for Hamas’ cruel terror dictatorship in Gaza to be decisively shattered and for all chains broken off the Palestinians living there – that there might be a ‘Free Palestine’ indeed, not under jihadi control – and for Iran’s role in jihadi deception, dissimulation and anti-Semitism to be exposed and rejected by world leaders
- Pray that Israel’s leadership be granted justice, clarity, moral courage, discernment and divine strategies in utterly destroying the jihadi threat in all of its aspects, and for minimal loss of life for Israel’s defense forces and for those Gazans who are truly innocent
- Pray for the raising up of Ezekiel’s prophetic Jewish army throughout the earth
Your prayers and support hold up our arms and are the very practical enablement of God to us in the work He has called us to do.
In Messiah Yeshua,
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