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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘BCE’

Hebrew Seal Dating Back to First Temple Period Discovered

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), in its continuing archaeological excavations of the drainage channel between the City of David and the Jerusalem Archaeological Garden, has uncovered a Hebrew seal dating back to the First Temple period.

The seal was discovered on the floor of the remains of a building also dating to the end of the First Temple period; a building that IAA said was the closest one to the First Temple found thus far in excavations. According to a statement released by IAA, the seal “is made of a semi-precious stone and is engraved with the name of its owner: ‘Lematanyahu Ben Ho…’ (‘למתניהו בן הו…’ meaning: ‘Belonging to Matanyahu Ben Ho…’). The rest of the inscription is erased.”

At an early stage of the excavations, which is underwritten by the Ir David Foundation, the archaeologists involved recognized the potential for significant discoveries in the area, and thus decided that they would painstakingly sift through any soil removed from the site. This decision was vindicated, as the seal was discovered during the sifting process.

Seals were used by individuals in the First Temple period to sign letters and identify their owner, and were set in a signet ring for convenience.

Eli Shukron, the excavation director, said: “the name Matanyahu, like the name Netanyahu, means giving to God. These names are mentioned several times in the Bible. They are typical of the names in the Kingdom of Judah in latter part of the First Temple period – from the end of the eighth century BCE until the destruction of the Temple in 586 BCE.

“To find a seal from the First Temple period at the foot of the Temple Mount walls is rare and very exciting,” he added. “This is a tangible greeting of sorts from a man named Matanyahu who lived here more than 2,700 years ago.”

Archeologists Find Evidence of 8th Century Fortress Near Ashdod

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

The Israeli Antiquities Authority announced the discovery of massive walls — likely the remains of a fortress — near Ashdod, dated to the eighth and early seventh century BCE, according to a report in the Jerusalem Post.

“There are two possibilities regarding who inhabited the fortress at that time: one possibility is that it was controlled by the Assyrians who were the regional rulers in the Iron Age. Another possibility is that Josiah, king of Judah, occupied the fort at the time, who we know conquered territory from the Assyrians and controlled Ashdod-Yam in the seventh century BCE,” said Sa’ar Ganor, an archaeologist from the Israel Antiquities Authority.

When The Ship Of State Comes Apart – On Horatian Metaphor: Israel, Iran and “Palestine”

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

                                                O ship of state, new waves push you

                                                Out to sea.  Why stand there?  Hurry,

                                                Hurry to port! Can’t you see

                                                Your oars are gone….

 

            Horace was born in 65 BCE and died in 8 BCE.  His ode (I, 14) on the “ship of state” pertains to ancient Rome, but it might just as well refer to Israel after it concedes to “live with a nuclear Iran,” and also to “live with Palestine.” The more or less concurrent arrival of (1) Iranian nuclear weapons, and (2) an independent Palestinian state, could have an intolerable effect upon Israel. Indeed, this injurious interactive outcome – known technically in science, medicine and engineering as synergistic- would likely be far greater than the simple sum of these two discrete parts.

 

            So, now essentially sailing without oars, the Jewish State flounders without any real strategic understanding or determination. Although existential security issues are already serious enough for Israel without a nuclear Iran, and also without a 23rd enemy Arab state, the near-simultaneous appearance of these two developments would present Israel with a unique and literally unprecedented problem.

 

            The ship of Israel, though certainly built of noble timber, and from sturdy forests, may not hold together against such a probable dual assault.  Its sails are already badly shredded.  What, exactly, has brought Israel to this perilous point?

 

            Ironically, in an inexplicable juxtaposition of counsel, Israel has regularly sought direction from both misguided friends and sworn enemies.   Soon, if Prime Minister Netanyahu should buy into the Mitchell 5-point plan, Israeli police and soldiers will prepare to evict thousands of Jews from Judea/Samaria in compliance with Washington’s Road Map. Following extensive U.S. military training of Fatah“security forces,” a misguided process presently underway, Palestine could then become a locus of mega-terrorism against both Israeli and American cities.  This hazard, of course, would be substantially worsened by any subsequent Iranian nuclearization.

 

            Israel’s ship of state now sails without a true compass. Where once every Israeli understood an absolutely sacred post-Holocaust obligation to survive, this primary awareness has now given way in critical quarters to the twisted agendas of post-Zionism.  In both government and in the universities, emerging Israeli architects of Palestine have no real acquaintance with seaworthiness. Instead, vainly seeking the approval of an international community, these unwitting planners of Jewish ruins-in-the-making  will discover only the Jihadist “peace” of Fatah, Hamasand al-Qaeda.

 

            Taking a page from the advanced theoretical economics of President Shimon Peres, Jewish supporters of a “Two-State Solution” still argue that enhanced Palestinian social and industrial development could somehow compel a true intercommunal harmony. What they still fail to recognize, however, is that the deepest explanations of Israel’s growing existential predicament lies not in Plato or Marx, but in Nietzsche, Freud, Kierkegaard and Dostoyevsky. As always, the presumed imperatives of Reason will be thoroughly trumped by the inconsolable passions of Unreason.

 

            For Israel, the true compass should be easy to read. With any further capitulations on Palestine, Prime Minister Netanyahu would push Israel toward a ludicrously squalid disappearance. For Israel, the Obama Road Map portends only a catastrophic and still-preventable shipwreck. This twisted cartography draws succor from the most basic and persisting expressions of incorrect reasoning.  It lacks even a residual shred of Jewish dignity. 

 

            Outside its borders, Israel’s unchanging enemies, especially in Iran, Syria and Egypt, prepare stealthily but mightily for war. Earlier, Israel’s armed forces were sometimes allowed to take indispensable preemptive initiatives. But now the future of Israeli preemptions is at best uncertain.

 

            Should Iran proceed to final nuclear weapon status, the irreversible result of multiple Israeli and American failures to exercise “anticipatory self-defense,” Israel would be threatened not only by the new terror state of Palestine. It would also be imperiled by an existing enemy state now harboring both the intention and capacity to inflict another Final Solution.

 

            Fused together in an ominous synergy, a nuclear Iran and a Palestinian state could cause Israel’s ship of state to break apart. Neither outcome should ever be allowed by the vessel’s captain and crew.

 

LOUIS RENÉ BERES was educated at Princeton(Ph.D., 1971). He has published ten major books and several hundred monographs and articles dealing with international relations and international law.  Born in Zurich, Switzerland, on August 31, 1945, Professor Beres’ work is well-known to military and intelligence communities in Washington and Jerusalem. He is Professor of Political Science and International Law at Purdue, andalsoStrategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.

MFA Boston Vs. The Metropolitan Museum: Does The Bible Belong In Art Exhibits?

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

Beyond Babylon: Art, Trade, and Diplomacy in the Second Millennium BC

Hung November 18, 2008-March 15, 2009

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street, New York

http://www.metmuseum.org

 

Art and Empire: Treasures from Assyria in the British Museum

Hung Sept. 21, 2008-Sunday, Jan. 4, 2009

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

465 Huntington Avenue, Boston

http://www.mfa.org

                                               

When Ephron the Hittite discussed a real estate transaction with Abraham in Genesis 23:10 that would secure the late Sarah a burial plot beside Adam and Eve, what was he wearing? How had Hittite art and interior design changed by the time David secretly sent Uriah the Hittite, husband of Bathsheba, to the front lines to die in 2 Samuel 11? When Achan – the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah – stole from the booty of the decimated city of Jericho in Joshua 7:1, what color was the Shinarite (Babylonian) cloak that he poached?

 

These questions sound unusual, not because they are unimportant but because most readers of the Bible treat narrative details like irrelevant filler. But the Bible itself sanctions examinations of archeology and aesthetics. The book of Joshua not only specifies that the garment Achan looted was an “aderet” (loosely, a cloak) rather than pants or shoes, but also that the garment was “tovah,” or beautiful. Why should readers care if it was beautiful if they were not meant to consider its appearance?

 

The recently completed exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has the opportunity to merge biblical and artistic traditions. But when “Beyond Babylon: Art, Trade, and Diplomacy in the Second Millennium BC” did address the Bible, it did so in local descriptions of a few works rather than in the larger conception of the exhibit. By contrast, a recent exhibit of Assyrian art at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston did a far better job of contextualizing the show. In his introduction to the catalog, Malcolm Rogers, Ann and Graham Gund director of the MFA, noted that British archaeologist Austen Layard, who uncovered the Assyrian ruins in the 1840s, found artifacts that showed the Lachish siege in Judah (addressed in Joshua 10) on the walls of Sennacherib’s palace and cuneiform tablets in Ashurbanipal’s library with a flood story.

 

 

“Advice to the king to stop fasting.” 4 May, 670 BCE From Nineveh. 7 cm x 3.5 cm x 2 cm. MFA exhibit.

 

 

The MFA catalog also records a variety of aspects of Assyrian culture that are particularly relevant to Jewish and biblically minded readers. The first traveler to observe the location of the ancient city of Nineveh was the 12th century rabbi, Benjamin of Tudela. Another Layard find yielded an artistic representation of the biblical king Yehu (who surfaces in 2 Kings Chapters 9 and 10) paying tribute to the Assyrian king. And the city of Calah from Genesis 10:11 surfaces in a discussion of the ninth century BCE king Ashurnasirpal II.

 

The MFA exhibit mentioned the Assyrian sun god Shamash (sure to relate to the Hebrew shemesh, or sun), and it turned to Solomon’s temple and its lion motifs to explain “the splendour of some furniture in the Ancient Near East.” Many of the objects in the exhibit contained texts in Akkadian, a language like Hebrew and Aramaic, and the letters aleph, bet, and gimmel appeared on several of the pieces.

 

The most interesting piece in the show might have been one that the exhibit did not relate to the Bible. A two-and-a-half-inch tall clay tablet with cuneiform script on it, dating from 670 BCE, offers advice to King Esarhaddon to stop fasting. Balasi and Babu-ahhe-eriba, senior court officials and astronomers, suggest that the king, who was ill, should eat after having fasted for three days. “He should be encouraged,” the catalog translates, “by the fact that Jupiter has just risen heliacally and will be visible for a whole year.”

 

It is interesting that the MFA, after diligently noting the biblical context to so many of the works, does not make the connection between the piece from the city of Nineveh, the fasting king, and the book of Jonah. According to 2 Kings 14:25 Jonah lived during the time of King Yeroboam, whose life scholars date to the eighth century BCE. After Jonah had petitioned Nineveh to repent, and after the king of Nineveh did indeed call for a public fast (Jonah 3:7), it would make perfect sense for a future king of Nineveh, less than 100 years later, to have kept a tradition of fasting.

 

 

 

Milky chalcedony, perhaps with allusions to the Song of Solomon. 3 cm (h) x 1 cm (d). Mesopotamia, Middle Assyrian, 13th century BCE Pierpont Morgan Library, NY. Metropolitan Exhibit.

 

 

Biblical references at the Met’s show are much harder to come by, and emerge only several times in the 450-page catalog. A three-inch tall milky chalcedony from 13th century BCE Middle Assyria – in the collection of New York’s Pierpont Morgan Library – shows a deer jumping in a forest, which could be an “echo” of Song of Solomon 2:8-9, where the narrator’s beloved, compared to “a roe or a young hart,” leaps “upon mountains and skips upon hills.” A 1250-1050 BCE bronze stand, about five inches by four inches by five inches, features an image of a man playing his harp, which might be King David, though it might also be Homer or Kinyras (“the legendary musician-king of Cyrpus”).

 

A more plausible biblical connection arises in a gold pendant found in the Uluburun shipwreck, a Late Bronze Age ship discovered in Southern Turkey in 1984. The pendants, which contain images of suns and moons, might be the subjects of Isaiah 3:18-23, where the prophet condemns the “haughty” daughters of Zion, who “walk with stretched necks and winking eyes.” God smites the tops of their heads, and also takes away “their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon, the chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers, the bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings, the rings, and nose jewels.”

 

 

Medallion with four-rayed star and four curved rays, perhaps referring to quote from Isaiah. 10.3 cm x 11 cm x .1 cm. Uluburun shipwreck. Late Bronze Age, c.a. 1300 BCE Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archeology, Turkey. Metropolitan exhibit.

 

 

The catalog also mentions the cedars of Lebanon (Cedrus libani), which were used to build Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 5:5-6) and the House of the Forest of Lebanon (for which the catalog erroneously cites 1 Kings 11:21 when it means 1 Kings 10:21). Another Solomonic reference might have eluded the curators. Many of the vessels in the Met show have animal imagery, including lions, bulls, ducks, dolphins, dogs, and several kinds of birds. It seems pretty likely that Hiram, the Phoenician king of Tyre who helped build Solomon’s temple in 1 Kings 7, was drawing from this tradition when he created the washbasin (called yam, or sea, in the text). The basin rested upon a base, which was made of 12 oxen. The base also had lilies on it (another prominent Near Eastern form), as well as lions.

 

“Beyond Babylon” must be commended for gathering an important body of Near Eastern art and for its important catalog. But if the exhibit had at least entertained the possibility, as the MFA Boston show did, that the Bible could play an important role in the show’s vision, it could have not only shed more light on some of the pieces, but also brought a new awareness to biblical passages. For example, when the Israelites left Egypt after 10 terrifying plagues, they “borrowed” from their former taskmasters “vessels of gold, vessels of silver, and clothing.” Perhaps the vessels had bull horns on them or were eagle-shaped, and perhaps the clothing included caps with boar tusks woven together as armor. We can only hope that a future show will not be afraid to ask these questions.

 

Menachem Wecker welcomes comments at mwecker@gmail.com. He is a painter and writer, and resides in Washington, D.C.

When The Ship Of State Comes Apart: On Israel, Horatian Metaphor And The Post- ‘Palestine’ Middle East

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

O ship of state, new waves push you

Out to sea. Why stand there? Hurry,

Hurry to port! Can’t you see?

Your oars are gone….

Horace was born in 65 BCE, and died in 8 BCE. His ode (I, 14) on the “Ship of State” pertains to ancient Rome, but it might just as well refer to Israel after “Palestine”. Sailing without oars, the Jewish State still flounders without direction, adrift, obeisant to Washington.

Although security issues are serious enough for Israel without a 23rd enemy Arab state, the creation of Palestine wouldrepresent an irreversible error. Moreover, heaving around and around the shining Cyclades, Israel’s fatal embrace of a Palestinian state would also bode ill for the United States.

The ship of Israel, though built of noble timber, and from sturdy forests, can hardly hold together. Its sails are badly shredded. What has happened?

More than anything else, Israel, revealing an inexcusable irony, has incessantly sought direction from misguided friends and from sworn enemies. With “disengagement” from Gaza, Israel had already begun to hand over the ship’s tiller to new captains, some of whom were literally dying to sink the ship.

Soon, as Israeli police and soldiers prepare to evict thousands of Jews from Judea/Samaria in compliance with the “Peace Process,” Palestine will become the locus of authentic mega-terrorism against both Israeli and American cities.

The ship of Israel now sails without a compass. Where once every Israeli understood an absolutely sacred post-Holocaust obligation to survive as a State and as a People, this primary understanding has now given way in several quarters to the agendas of “post-Zionism.”

Embarrassed by the inconvenient and all-too-conspicuous faith of their fathers, Israeli architects of Palestine would have no real use for a seaworthy Jewish ship of state. Instead, seeking the approval of an “international community” − that is, a world that still has no real use for Jews − they would discover only the “peace” of Hamas.

Taking a page from the advanced theoretical economics of Shimon Peres, a president who proudly claims “no use for history,” Jewish supporters of a “Two-State Solution” still argue that Palestinian social and economic development will compel a true harmony. What they fail to understand is that the deepest explanations of Israel’s existential predicament lie not in Marx, but in Freud.

Outside its own borders, Israel’s enemies − nurtured and encouraged by post-Zionist anti-thinkers in Israeli, American and European universities − are now creating a new terror state. Palestine would be a country not only committed to Israel’s complete destruction, but also one (the only one) for which another Jewish genocide would define its very raison d’etre.

With his persistent capitulations on Palestine, Prime Minister Olmert pushes Israel toward a ludicrously squalid disappearance. The Road Map portends a catastrophic and preventable shipwreck. This twisted cartography draws succor from the most indecent forms of complicity. It lacks even a residual shred of Jewish dignity.

Outside its borders, Israel’s enemies, especially in Iran, Syria and Egypt, prepare relentlessly for war. While Mr. Olmert continues to fall cheerfully on his knees, bowing steeply before the entirely clueless American “decider,” many Arab/Islamic leaders now merely redouble their efforts to crash a sinking Jewish ship. Revolted by Israel’s effectively shameless pleadings, these leaders are all the more committed to ridding the region of a rusting vessel.

Once upon a time, Israel’s armed forces took essential preemptive initiatives, preventing certain enemy states from reaching any point of clear military primacy. But the future of Israeli preemption and survival is far less certain. Following the blatant American failure to articulate a viable strategic doctrine, Israel may yet allow Iran to go fully nuclear.

Should this happen, and should Mr. Olmert ignore the lifesaving imperatives of “anticipatory self-defense,” Israel would be threatened not only from the new terror state of Palestine, but also from an enemy state with the openly declared intention and capacity to inflict another Final Solution.

Ehud Olmert, yet another prime ministerial devotee of imagined seamanship, is preparing to hand the tiller to Israel’s foes. The People of Israel, still largely accepting the contrived enthusiasms of Government mendacity, venture farther and farther from safe harbors. Content with national servility − before their internal enemies, their external enemies, and even their “friends”− many Israelis contemplate their botched geopolitical seamanship with a strange and ominous equanimity. Yet, only if they should emerge from this weakened condition before Palestine actually comes into being, can the ship of state stay afloat.

Copyright© The Jewish Press, April 25, 2008. All rights Reserved.

LOUIS RENÉ BERES was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971). He understands that Oslo and the Road Map are obvious mothers of Palestine, and that Palestine is the final Arab/Islamic “solution” to the Israel Question. Professor Beres has published ten major books dealing with international relations and international law. His work is well known to military and intelligence communities in Washington and Jerusalem. Professor Beres is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.

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