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Israel: The oil of Zion

Prophecy and science converge in Israel's oil and gas boom.

If Brown is envious of Luskin’s good fortune, he doesn’t show it.

“He had the exact same scriptures I had,” Brown said. “Now he’s produced the oil and I think we’re up next.”

Zion focuses its operations along a stretch of land between Caesarea and Haifa in northern Israel. Brown selected it after reading the Spillman’s 1981 tract, “The Great Treasure Hunt.”

It prophesized huge quantities of petroleum under that land based on a passage from Deuteronomy, which reads: "Most blessed of sons be Asher. Let him be favored by his brothers and let him dip his foot in oil at the head of Joseph."

Brown said the scripture has guided him since he first visited Israel in 1983.

“I Iooked at a Biblical map, and it looked like there was an outline of a head,” he said. “It was perfectly clear to me that was where the oil was. And that’s where we are today.”

Many Biblical scholars say the scripture doesn’t reference petroleum at all, but rather olive oil, still abundantly produced in the region.

Brown is not very concerned about the distinction, even if Zion’s decade-long endeavor has yet to produce any petroleum.

“There’s no way I’m wavering,” he said. “In evangelical jargon, what I am is a faith guy and I act on it.”

Israel’s natural resources inspire a religious fervor even among secular adherents, domestically and around the world.

“This is a national treasure,” said Alon Ben-Meir, a professor at New York University and The New School, in reference to Israel’s natural gas. “It belongs to the people, not to anyone else.”

Israel, Lebanon, Palestine, Cyprus and Northern Cyprus can all lay claim to some of the natural gas within their respective maritime borders, which were never clearly defined. Israel is working with Cyprus but is locked in a bitter dispute with Lebanon, which is also banking on the newly-discovered gas fields to relieve its energy woes and pad government accounts.

“Lebanon is laying claim only now that great wealth has been discovered,” Rinberg said. “Now that we’ve done the work, they say, ‘Oh, you’ve stolen it from us.’”
In its ongoing quest, Zion Oil has begun operating one of the deepest exploratory wells on Israeli soil.

“People ask about Texas and the Middle East where you have loads of oil near the surface,” Rinberg said. “In Israel, we believe the oil is a lot deeper.”

Brown said he is enjoying the process of exploration and has no doubt that Zion will eventually meet with success.

“It was God’s decision that we come here,” Brown said. “If it were just economic, I wouldn’t be here, I’d be in Texas where all the oil is. We’re here to help Israel.”