A Morning Out With David and Goliath

Imagine learning the Bible not as a religious exercise, but as local history. In Israeli public schools, that’s the reality

Illustration. Israeli kids walk in the Elah Valley, where the Israelites and Philistines repeated fought one another in Biblical times. 
Illustration. Israeli kids walk in the Elah Valley, where the Israelites and Philistines repeated fought one another in Biblical times.  Photo: Hadas Parush/Flash90

My seventh-grade son is out on a field trip today. They’re visiting the site where David and the Israelites fought Goliath and the Philistines. Mind you, he goes to an average public school, not a religious institution.

It strikes me that where I grew up in America, and likely in the US in general, public schools wouldn’t spend field trip time and resources exploring what many deem to be fairytales.

But in Israel, children in public schools are taught the Bible. And not always as a religious text. Yes, it’s used to instill faith and morals in our kids. But it’s used also to teach them their culture and history.

It’s notable that our the children’s homework in Tanakh (Bible) isn’t all that different from their homework in History (when they happen to be learning about the history of this land).

In Israel do Scripture and History thus collide. And even for those who might not believe in the spiritual aspects of the Book (my children’s more secular teachers included), its historical narrative rings true. The archaeological evidence of it surrounds us.

When they go out to learn and explore local history, they are learning and exploring the story of Israel and her God, even if inadvertently. The Lord has made it so that the land itself draws His people nearer to Him.

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