Give Me Oil in my Lamp

Zion Oil & Gas is back in the news. As readers may recall, this company has been in the news on and off for the past couple of years; CEO John Brown believes that the Bible provides a code which will lead to the discovery of oil reserves in Israel, and for the past few months he has been drilling away. Last year Hal Lindsey encouraged his readers to buy shares in the company – but as was revealed exclusively on this blog, he failed to disclose that his cousin, Ralph DeVore, owned a large share of the company, and that Lindsey’s puffing of the shares would therefore directly benefit his family. DeVore later fell out with Brown; Lindsey has been curiously quiet on the subject of oil in Israel since then. However, others at WorldNetDaily have since taken up the baton. Over to the inevitable Aaron Klein:

KIBBUTZ MA’ANIT, Israel – Is Israel sitting on an enormous oil reserve mapped out in the Old Testament that when found will immediately change the geopolitical structure of the Middle East and confirm the validity of the Bible to people around the world?

So believes John Brown, an evangelical Christian and founder and chairman of Zion Oil and Gas, a company he and others poured several million dollars into to drill a hole 15,000 feet deep that will as soon as next week tap a rock interval that may contain oil.

Or may not. Long-time WND followers may recall this article, from 1998:

IRVING, TX. — A $30 million, six-to-eight-month project to uncover the world’s largest oil field atop a salt dome at the southwest end of Israel’s Dead Sea, is expected to begin in early 1999, according to respected Texas oil man, Harold “Hayseed” Stephens.

… Stephens, a one-time “hell-raiser” and former pro football quarterback with the New York Titans, explained Israeli oil officials had approved his lease in early September and drilling equipment would likely arrive at the site early in the New Year.

…The Hebrew translation of Isaiah 45:3 reads: “I will shoot up to you deposits stored in valuable dungeon-type containers, so that you will know that I Am the Lord your God, who called you by name.” However, Stephens had his own version: “I will shoot up (Texas terms: I will gush up to you) deposits (oil deposits) that are stored in the valuable dungeon-type containers (oil traps) so that you will know that I Am the Lord your God Who called you by name.”

It seems it’s always just around the corner. That article also noted:

…Prominent born-again Christian oilmen have drilled in specific locations in Israel based on their interpretation of various Scripture references. Among them have been Gilman Hill, Andy Sorelle, Jr., and Canadian Lyle Harron. Hill invested $6 million at a drill site near Mount Carmel in the ’70s. It came up dry. Sorelle also drilled during the 80’s, on the Mediterranean, and spent millions on various leases throughout Israel. Harron spent nearly a decade at a Netanya lease, just north of Tel Aviv. Even the late Armand Hammer was dedicated to finding “black gold” offshore in the Mediterranean.

So why is Brown any different? Back to Klein:

Brown says he used a strategy explained to him by James Spillman, an evangelical minister and Bible scholar who lectured at his local church, to determine exactly where on the biblical map the oil might be.

WND encourages us to buy a book by the aptly-named Spillman and his son Steve, entitled Breaking the Treasure Code: The Hunt for Israel’s Oil. James Spillman is deceased, but Steve Spillman is today due to appear on Farah Live.
So how does the Bible lead the way to oil? This is the late James Spillman’s “anatomy” theory, which we have seen before:

Brown, pointing to the Bible he says he always carries with him, referred to several biblical passages he is certain indicate where to find petroleum. He stressed that two passages, detailing God’s blessings to each of biblical patriarch Jacob’s 12 sons, are very specific:

“Let Asher be blessed … and let him dip his foot in oil.” – Deuteronomy 33:24

“Joseph is a fruitful bough by a well … blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that couches beneath shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head.” – Genesis 49: 22-26

…Mapping the tribes’ biblical territory indeed shows that Asher’s area resembles a giant foot “dipped” into the top, or “crown” area of the land of Joseph’s son, Manasseh.

And what will this mean? The book’s blurb on WND‘s shopping area tells us:

A major oil discovery in Israel will not only have a profound effect on that nation’s economy but also a potentially explosive political effect on the surrounding Arab nations. More importantly, says Spillman, the discovery of a huge oil reserve in Israel and its geo-political implications could be a precursor to last days events mentioned in Ezekiel 38, leading to the battle of Armageddon.

That’s the final bloody battle in which millions will perish, including most Jews, but for which we’re all supposed to look forward to.

John Brown in fact actually believes he is mentioned in the Bible, as his testimony on an older Zion Oil website explains (square brackets in original):

While visiting Israel with Alger Wolfe in May 1983, John Brown’s prayer to the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was for oil to be found in Israel. This prayer and G-d’s specific instruction to John were based on the Biblical portion describing the Dedication of the First Temple in Jerusalem and Solomon’s prayers thereat. (I Kings 8:22-66)

…”Moreover concerning a stranger [John Brown], that is not of thy people Israel, but cometh out of a far country [U.S.A.] for thy name’s sake: (for they shall hear of thy great name, and of thy strong hand, and of thy stretched out arm); when he shall come and pray towards this house; hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and do according to ALL that the stranger calleth to thee for [Oil for Israel]: that all the people of the earth may know thy name, to fear thee, as do thy people Israel and that they may know that this house, which I have builded, is called by thy name.” (I Kings 8:41-43).

Some, however, take an alternative, controversial view that the Bible does not revolve around Americans and their energy wants. One such is Gordon Franz of Associates for Biblical Research, an organisation which can fairly be termed Biblically fundamentalist. Writing last year, Franz argued:

It is clear from the context that the oil in this passage is olive oil. The Hebrew word “shemen” is used 190 times in Scripture for “generally olive oil whether pure or prepared for various uses as perfume or ointment” (Austel 1980: 2: 937), and is never used for petroleum oil. Interestingly, the early rabbinic writings understand it to mean olive oil as well. In the tractate Menahoth on regulations concerning the meal offering in the Temple, the rabbis taught,”And let him dip his foot in oil: this refers to the territory of Asher which flowed with oil like a fountain” (Menahoth 85b). The context is talking about olive oil.

Franz also notes Spillman’s long-term influence:

A number of years ago an expose appeared in the Wall Street Journal with the headline, “Prophets and Profits Motivate Evangelicals Hunting for Israeli Oil” (Getschow 1985:1). The article describes some of the personalities and operations, and then goes on to list several states that have prohibited the sale of their “penny stocks” because of the suspect nature of these groups and their operations. At one prophecy conference, a book by Rev. Jim Spillman entitled The Great Treasure Hunt (1981) outsold the Bible (Getschow 1985: 16).

The new book is self-published by Steve Spillman’s True Potential Publishing, which is devoted to James Spillman’s work; an extract can be viewed here. It’s worth also taking a look at some of James Spillman’s other books, such as The Resurrection Clock:

What is the real meaning of the seventh day? Does quantum physics confirm the Bible regarding the Sabbath?

God has created a clock that will strike twelve at the very atomic moment of resurrection. The chimes of the Resurrection Clock are Sabbath days. Is each Sabbath telling us that our eternity is near? How close is the resurrection? Is it five minutes to twelve? One minute? The Resurrection Clock is ticking…

A short bio of James Spillman is rather uninformative, but further details can be gleaned from the web. Here’s one story:

In years gone by, Jim Spillman, a friend and a man of God, was one of the pastors at Melodyland Church, across from Disneyland in Southern California. One time a young lady whom he knew came up to him before a service and said, “Pastor, I think this is my day to be healed!” He noticed that one of her eyes was a little irregular and they did not move together.

It was a glass eye. However, after prayer from Spillman:

…While she was being prayed for, one of the ushers saw the glass eye come out of the right socket and begin to roll down the aisle. He retrieved it and put it in her right hand. He then noted some white, swirling substance in her right eye socket and saw an eye being formed under her eyelid.

This is well documented and was reported on Channel 9 in Los Angeles (1972), including testimonies by her parents and her doctor.

Probably not the only person to have rolled their eyes at Spillman, but with a testimony like that, how could one not want to invest in Zion Oil & Gas?

For those wanting daily updates, be sure to check out Zion Oil & Gas’s news section, and riveting daily reports:

September 22, 2005: Day #65 of completion operations. Finished in hole with bit and scraper, tagged top of cement at 4253 meters. Washed and reamed to 4270, drilled hard cement to 4346. Shut in for night.


(Image from Jesus’ General)

10 Responses

  1. Not only was god so interested in petrochemical extraction that he included mention of it in the holy book, but he also spends considerable time discussing terabyte hard drive storage and gene splicing.


  2. Have you folks ever check out NESS Energy Zion Oil Twin. A long running good Christian Scam. Going strong 10 years + – . .

  3. That’s the Stephens outfit, I think.

  4. Thanks, great graphic, too. Nice to read a geologist’s take.

  5. […] will be the one to uncover this massive bonanza for the Israelis (see my blog entry, and critique, here). All last summer, the Zion Oil website gave daily updates on how an exploratory drill was […]

  6. […] Brown is not the only evangelical to devote his resources to finding oil in Israel; before him, there was James Spillman and Hayseed Stephens. I covered both of these characters in a blog entry here. […]

  7. […] blogged on Sha’s father Hayseed Stephens here; he was also the subject of a Skeptical Inquirer article back in […]

  8. […] actually a story which this blog has been following for a while, and I looked at Spillman’s ideas here. But although Spillman’s reasoning was somewhat dubious (Deut 33:24, “Let Asher be blessed […]

  9. […] have more background on Brown here. However, while this kind of thing will go down well with the likes of Hagee and CUFI, Zion Oil is […]

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