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From Desolation to Restoration • Israel Throughout History

The destruction of the land started with Rome.

Josephus records that the Roman armies cut down vast numbers of Israel’s trees and destroyed the forests in order to build siege works for their conquest. Legend has it that the Romans even uprooted the grapevines and took them back to plant in Italy.

Not only were the forests cut down, but the large, grazing herds of wildlife in Israel were hunted or driven elsewhere to find forests and grasslands that could sustain them. This only served to exacerbate the desertification of the land and, with no trees or root structures in place, the ground could no longer hold water and unchecked erosion began.

With no trees or grass to shade the soil, the sun began to parch the land.

Experts estimate that an inch of topsoil has been lost to erosion every year for the last 1,000 years. Added together, all that eroded soil would be enough to bury a 7-story building.

If you come to Israel today, you’ll find this fact supported when you look at the rocky and barren mountains. Without root structures on their slopes, the hillsides slowly lost their soil as it washed down onto the valley floors.

The final blow came . . .

during the reign of the Ottoman Turkish Empire. In the late 19th and early 20th century, they invested heavily in building railroads to connect various Middle Eastern cities. The Ottomans instituted a property tax based on number of trees to increase the lumber supply. What was still left of Israel’s forests began dwindling rapidly as trees were cut down and used to lay new tracks or turned into charcoal to power steam locomotives.

This was the nail in the coffin of Israel’s land destruction. It seemed like the desolation and desertification that started with the Romans was now beyond the point of no return.

But that's not the end of the story.

Just like the miracles that happened in Israel back in Bible times, there are miracles still happening today. Since the establishment of the modern state of Israel in 1948 and the return of Jewish people from around the world, the desolate, barren landscape of Israel is coming back to life, just as God promised in the pages of Scripture.

It hasn’t been easy and many brave pioneers have given their blood, sweat, and tears to see Israel green and fertile once again.

Now, you have an opportunity to be a part of this epic story. You can plant a tree today and forever be a part of restoring the ancient forests of Israel. Our Greening Israel team is here to help you plant and care for your tree until it’s old enough to thrive on its own.