Why Aren’t Jewish People Coming Back to Israel?

The Children of Israel are trapped in foreign nations and need to come home.

By David Lazarus | | Topics: Aliyah, Weekly Torah Portion
New immigrants from North America arrive on a special "Aliyah Flight" Photo: Flash90

In this week’s Torah portion we learn how the Children of Israel got stuck in Egypt and why this is a prophetic foreshadow of what is happening to the Jewish people today.


Why did Israel spend 400 years in Egypt?

Egypt was a temporary refuge because there was a famine in the land of Canaan. Jacob brought his family down because “there is bread in Egypt.”

But the Children of Israel began to feel at home in the foreign land. Pharaoh loved Joseph. When Jacob went down to Egypt he received a royal welcome. The whole family was favored because of Joseph and the Children of Jacob got too comfortable in a land not their own.

This point is emphasized in the final verse of our Torah portion Vayigash:

“Israel settled in the country of Egypt, in the region of Goshen; they acquired holdings in it and were fertile and increased greatly.” (Genesis 47:27)

Rabbi Moses ben Nachman, known as Nahmanides, in his 13th commentary to the Bible, saw this Torah portion as a foreshadowing of the future exiles of the Jewish people and their unwillingness to return home to their land in Israel.

“Jacob went down there because of the famine thinking he would be saved with his son in the house of one who favored them, for Pharaoh loved Joseph as his own son. They intended to return from there with the conclusion of the famine in Canaan as they said, “We have come to dwell as strangers in the land as there is no grazing for your servants’ flock since the famine is severe in the land of Canaan’ (Genesis 47:4).

But behold, they did not return and [Jacob’s] exile was prolonged. He died there, they brought up his bones [to Canaan], and the elders and officers of Pharaoh brought him up and mourned greatly. The Children of Israel sought to become permanent citizens in a place where they were supposed to be foreigners. They became so permanent there that they did not want to leave until God took them out with a mighty Hand.” (Ramban al HaTorah, Gen. 47:28)


Jacob’s Children are slaves again

The same thing happening again in our days. In particular, US Jews have become very comfortable in a land not their own. They are not coming back to Israel in anywhere near the numbers they could or should.

After the horrors of 2000 years of antisemitic violence in exile around the world, I appreciate the safety, comfort, and affluence North America afforded the Jews. And there is no question that America has been blessed for doing so.

But there is also no question that Jews in exile are losing their biblical faith and the moral clarity that comes with knowing that Israel has a divine role in world history.

It is hard to understand why Messianic Jews, especially those from the US where there are an estimated 100,000 Jews who believe in Jesus, have not flocked to Israel. Surely more than most they understand the unique calling of Israel. The future of Messianic Judaism can only be sustainable in the Land of Israel. Obedience to our calling to settle the Land would be a sterling example to our people of our faith in Jesus and a defining moment in the history of the Messianic movement and the future of Israel.

I will be spelling this out in a soon to be published article on The Future for Messianic Jews in the Last Days.

Like the generations of Israel in Egypt, Jews in exile today have grown comfortable. We have forgotten that exile is a punishment where we wait for the opportunity to go home.

Sure, there is plenty of “bread” in the US as the Americans like to call their money, but the famine in our own Land is over. It’s time to go home.


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7 responses to “Why Aren’t Jewish People Coming Back to Israel?”

  1. Masami Cobley says:

    I hear that it is the law in Israel that is banning Messianic Jews’ Aliyah at the moment. I hope that the new government will lift the ban.

    • David Lazarus says:

      Thanks Masami Cobley for encouraging comment. Actually, there is not a ban on Messianic Jewish immigration. What is happening is that for many years the Orthodox Religious parties in our government have been granted the Ministry of Interior where immigrants are processed. They have been influenced by anti-missionary organizations and have taken it upon themselves to target Messianic Jews who they see as “missionaries” making it hard for them to immigrate. Sometimes they use unlawful and unscrupulous tactics. Messianics who involve lawyers are often able to make Aliyah.

      Here is a bit of the history on how our government has been trying to restrict what they see as “missionaries.” That’s a term most Messianics are very uncomfortable with.

  2. Mr R I Benson says:

    While this is a good article which makes it clear how much assimilation is affecting Jewish communities still in exile in the nations, I think it a more than unfair to criticise Messianic Believers in those same nations for not making aliyah. Every Israeli government department involved in immigration and absorption makes it as difficult as possible – and in many cases downright impossible – for these Believers in Yeshua to return to the land of the their forefathers. And sadly this new coalition seems destined to add even more barriers due to the vicious anti-Messianic attitude of many of the incoming MKs.

    • David Lazarus says:

      Shalom Mr, Benson and thanks for your thoughtful comment. I am glad you brought it up. It is true that it has become increasingly more difficult for Messianic Jews to immigrate to Israel. Not impossible, but difficult.

      There is a long story as to why it became so difficult for Messianics to immigrate. I hope to write up something on that. Here is part of the story:

      For now let me just say that years ago in the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s in the US many thousands of Jews began discovering that Jesus is the Messiah. At the time there were no restrictions for Messianics to immigrate. But only handful did.

      I know that what I am saying here is not popular. I want to encourage my Messianic brothers to keep trying. I firmly believe that our future is divinely connected to this Land and we must find a way to come for our own future welfare as a movement and for Zion’s sake.

  3. Rabbi Gabriel Lumbroso says:

    I made aliyah in 1973 and went to school in kibbutz Nitzanim during the Yom Kippur war. I was then 15. I was then a full citizen, A couple of years later I had to return to France and never made it back. I heard that after 10 years of absence you lose your israeli citizenship. I believe HaShem will have His time for me to return, but in the mean time I make my peace by seeing myself as one of those Jewish disciples to whom Yeshua said, “Go into all the world and proclaim the Besorah of the Kingdom to everyone.”

  4. Robert's World says:

    The Scriptures are clear that God will have the Jews come back to the land; it will happen one way or another; unfortunately, one way will be antisemitism in these various Gentile countries making life tenuous or unbearable for Jews living there. They will then consider seriously whether they should go to Israel and find themselves left with only one choice.
    Others will consider leaving countries where impoverishment makes Israel look more enticing.
    Finally, hopefully the Israeli government will do all it can to generate increased affordable housing, an attractive growing economy, and security.

  5. Susan says:

    Praise God! What you are saying is so true. The longer there is feet dragging, the harder God will have conditions in the diaspora nations; however, only a percentage left Egypt.

    And we Gentile believers, as I understand Scripture, are to help facilitate the return. If we benefited from Israel’s stumbling, how much more will we benefit by their return and acceptance of THEIR prophesied Messiah!

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