“Ben-Gurion…believed that the Bible should be the heritage of the entire nation—secular and religious, young and old, men and women,” said Netanyahu at the first gathering in the courtyard of his official residence in Jerusalem. “ The Bible is the foundation of our existence. It unites the Jewish People, as it has throughout the generations. It serves not only as a foundation but also as a map and a compass. The Bible is always relevant visà-vis today’s problems and challenges. It inspires, it is a source of life for our people and…it is important to expand…love of the Bible among all parts of the nation.”
Those attending included Netanyahu’s wife and two sons along with 16 rabbis, academics, Bible scholars and archeologists. The subject was the Book of Ruth.
Rabbi Yehuda Ben-Yishai, whose daughter Ruth was killed with her husband and three children in a Palestinian terrorist attack in the settlement of Itamar last year, said the Bible helps us find “the light” in the darkest situations. “We came out of it all right,” he said, referring to the attack.
Though Israel is a secular democracy, it is founded on biblical principles such as the ingathering of the exiles, Jerusalemas the Holy City, the inheritance of the Promised Land, and ethics such as mercy and the love of one’s neighbor. The Bible provides Israel and the Jewish people with their national and spiritual identity and lays the foundation of their mission to be “a light to the nations” (Isaiah 49:6).
“The Bible is a parable for humanity,” Netanyahu said. “If the Jews are able to cross the river of time and in their vast odyssey cross the chasm of annihilation and come back to their ancestral home, that means there is hope for humanity.”