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ICEJ releases song of prayer for return of Israeli hostages

The song ‘Afikim Ba Negev’ was inspired by Psalm 126

Banner for ICEJ prayer song Afikim (Credit: ICEJ).

The International Christian Embassy – Jerusalem released a new song entitled "Afikim Ba Negev” which is based on Psalm 126 and serves as a prayer for the return of the Israeli hostages still held in Gaza.

The video was produced as part of a growing local and international humanitarian cry to free the Israeli hostages. Based largely on the text of the Hebrew text of Psalm 126, the song "Afikim Ba Negev" (Streams in the Negev) offers a powerful prayer for the return of the hostages. The song was released this week at the start of the Jewish holiday of Purim, when Jews around the world celebrate the deliverance of the Jews in the Persian Empire, as told in the Book of Esther. 

Psalm 126 is part of the “Pilgrim Psalms,” which often begins with the phrase, “A song of ascent...” referring to the ascent to the Temple in Jerusalem. 

The psalm is a song of longing for the Jewish captives in Babylon to return home to the Land of Israel, comparing it to the return of “streams in the Negev” during the rainy season. The Psalmist describes the return of Jews from Babylonian captivity, stating, “We were like those that dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing.” 

“Afikim Ba Negev” was composed and performed by ICEJ Music Director Vesna Bühler, who has lived in Israel for the past 30 years with her husband, ICEJ President Jürgen Bühler. Vesna and Jürgen have two sons currently serving in the Israel Defense Forces. 

Two Israeli musical producers, Shay Reuveni and Eli Keshet, were involved in arranging the song for the special video release. 

“As a mother myself, I was deeply moved by meeting with families of the hostages and seeing their anguish and tears, and yet their unbelievable faith and strength,” said Vesna.

“I wanted to express their longing for their loved ones in song and no one captured that yearning better than Israel’s greatest psalmist. The original Hebrew in Psalm 126 is especially emotive and I wanted to bring these ancient words to life in a melody for all Israel.” 

With the fate of over 130 Israelis still held hostage in Gaza continuing in uncertainty, millions of people worldwide are joining Israelis in calling and praying for their safe return. Along with the release of “Afikim Ba Negev,” several prayer movements and petitions for the release of the hostages have been started by believers in Israel and around the world in the past few weeks. 

Last week, tens of thousands of Israelis and Jews worldwide took part in a mass ‘Shema Yisrael’ prayer gathering, which was broadcast live from the Western Wall plaza with members of the hostages’ families. 

Along with the reciting of the daily Shema prayer, there was a special recitation of Psalm 22, read as a prayer of deliverance on behalf of the hostages. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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