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October 24, 2016 / 22 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘First Temple’

Seal of First Temple Era King Discovered in Old City of Jerusalem

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

Archaeologists have discovered a First Temple-era seal with the name of King Hezekiah, who ruled Judea at the time.

Hebrew University Dr. Eliot Mazer, who leads the ongoing excavations at the Old City site, said that the half-inch long seal, or “bulla,” is the “closest as ever that we can get to something that was most likely held by King Hezekiah himself.,” who ruled in the 8th century BCE.

The inscription on the bulla, one of several that have been found in the past several years, reads:

Hezekiah [son of] Ahaz, king of Judah.

The seal was embellished with motifs from Egyptian culture and was used to seal a scroll, indicating that King Hezekiah had signed the document.

He is best known today as for excavating the water channel from Silwan water springs to the Old City, an engineering feat.

King Hezekiah dug the tunnel after the invasion by the Assyrian empire.

The Bible records in 2 Kings 18:5 notes his historical significance:

After him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Rare Inscription from King David Discovered in Jerusalem Hills

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

This article has been updated.

A rare inscription from the time of King David was discovered at Khirbet Qeiyafain the Elah Valley, southwest of Jerusalem and near Beit Shemesh.

A ceramic jar approximately 3,000 years old that was broken into numerous shards was found in 2012 in excavations. Letters written in ancient Canaanite script could be discerned on several of the shards, sparking the curiosity of researchers, Prof. Yosef Garfinkel of Hebrew University and Saar Ganor of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Its artifacts department glued together hundreds of pottery shards to form a whole jar and solved the riddle – the jar was incised with the inscription, ” Eshbaʽal Ben Bada.”

Professor Garfinkel and Ganor said:

This is the first time that the name Eshbaʽal has appeared on an ancient inscription in the country. Eshbaʽal Ben Shaul, who ruled over Israel at the same time as David, is known from the Bible.

It is interesting to note that the name Eshbaʽal appears in the Bible…only during the reign of King David, in the first half of the tenth century BCE. This name was not used later in the First Temple period.

[Editor’s note: The name “Eshbaʽal” only appears in Divrei HaYamim (Chronicles) 1-8:34 & 1-9:39 and he is generally identified as Ish Boshet, the son of King Saul.]

They added that the correlation between the biblical tradition and the archaeological finds indicates this was a common name only during that period. “The name Bedaʽ is unique and does not occur in ancient inscriptions or in the biblical tradition,” they added.

The fact that the name Eshbaʽal was incised on a jar suggests that he was an important person, according to the researchers. He apparently was the owner of a large agricultural estate, and the produce collected there was packed and transported in jars that bore his name.

The researchers stated:

This is clear evidence of social stratification and the creation of an established economic class that occurred at the time of the formation of the Kingdom of Judah.

Khirbet Qeiyafa is identified with the biblical city Shaʽarayim. During several seasons of excavation, a fortified city, two gates, a palace and storerooms, dwellings and cultic rooms were exposed.

The city dates from the time of David – the late 11th and early centuries BCE. Unique artifacts that were previously unknown were discovered at the site.

According to Garfinkel and Ganor:

In recent years four inscriptions have been published: two from Khirbet Qeiyafa, one from Jerusalem and one from Bet Shemesh. This completely changes our understanding of the distribution of writing in the Kingdom of Judah, and it is now clear that writing was far more widespread than previously thought.

It seems that the organization of the kingdom required a cadre of clerks and writers and their activity is also manifested in the appearance of inscriptions.


Jewish Press Staff

The Fall of Tadmor (to ISIS)

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

Yesterday, ISIS forces captured the Syrian city of Tadmor (as it’s known in Arabic)/Palmyra (as it’s known in English).

What I found interesting is that Tadmor is mentioned in the Talmud Yerushalmi (Jerusalem Talmud) in Tractate Ta’anit 4;5 (at the end):

Said Rabbi Yochanan: Happy are those who see the fall of Tadmor, for she was a partner in the destruction of the First Temple and the destruction of the Second Temple; In the first destruction she sent 80,000 archers [to help destroy the Temple] and in the second destruction, 8000 archers. א”ר יוחנן אשרי מי שהוא רואה במפלתה של תדמור שהיא היתה שותפת בחרבן הבית ראשון ובחרבן הבית השני בחרבן ראשון העמידה שמונים אלף קשטים ובחרבן השני העמידה שמונת אלפים קשטים

Different versions of the text have some of the letters reversed [Tarmod instead of Tadmor], yet other sources which quote the Talmud use Tadmor. (see above photo).

In any event….Tadmor Fell Yesterday… I know it fell to ISIS, but Have a Happy Tadmor Day?


Why Do We Pray With A Set Text?

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

An opinion recorded in the Talmud states that prayers correspond to the daily sacrifices offered in the Temple that are mentioned in this week’s portion (Berachot 26b, Numbers 28:4). It’s been argued that this opinion may be the conceptual base for our standardized prayer. Since sacrifices had detailed structure, our prayers also have a set text.

Why should this be? If prayer is an expression of the heart, why is there a uniform text we follow?

Rambam writes that after the destruction of the First Temple and the consequent exile of Jews to Babylonia and Persia, Jews found it difficult to pray spontaneously. Living among people who did not speak Hebrew, a new generation of Jews arose who no longer had the ability to use Hebrew as a means of articulating their inner feelings to the Almighty. Responding to this, Ezra and the Great Assembly introduced precisely formulated prayer (Rambam, Code, Laws of Prayer 1:1).

Here Rambam is arguing that standardization of prayer allows all Jews regardless of background and ability to express themselves and to be equal in the fraternity of prayer since the well-spoken and the least educated recite the same prayers.

Rambam may also be putting forth the idea that with the appearance of standardized prayer, Jews dispersed all over the world were united through a structured formula of praying.

Finally, Rambam echoes the Gemara, which states that Ezra designed the prayer service to correspond to the standard sacrificial service offered in the Temple. In following this view, Rambam may be suggesting that after the destruction of the First Temple the rabbis sought to promote religious procedures that would link Jews living after the First Temple era with those who’d lived during the time of the Temple. Elements of the Temple service were therefore repeated in some form in order to bind Jews to their glorious past.

The halacha indicates that structure should inspire spontaneity in prayer, but Rambam’s analysis reveals the importance of standardization. Through the set text all Jews are democratized. No matter our station in life, we all say the same words. And through standardization of text Jews scattered throughout the world are reminded to feel a sense of deep unity with their brothers and sisters everywhere and with their people throughout history.

Prayer helps bring about a horizontal and vertical unification of our people, a unification so desperately needed today.

Rabbi Avi Weiss

New Finds from First Temple Period at Motza

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

Temple and rare cache of sacred vessels from Biblical times discovered at Tel Motza
Rare evidence of the religious practices and rituals in the early days of the Kingdom of Judah has recently been discovered at Tel Motza, to the west of Jerusalem. In excavations the Israel Antiquities Authority is currently conducting at the Tel Motza archaeological site, prior to work being carried out on the new Highway 1 from Sha’ar HaGai to Jerusalem…According to Anna Eirikh, Dr. Hamoudi Khalaily and Shua Kisilevitz, directors of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “The ritual building at Tel Motza is an unusual and striking find, in light of the fact that there are hardly any remains of ritual buildings of the period in Judaea at the time of the First Temple. The uniqueness of the structure is even more remarkable because of the vicinity of the site’s proximity to the capital city of Jerusalem, which acted as the Kingdom’s main sacred center at the time.” According to the archaeologists, “Among other finds, the site has yielded pottery figurines of men, one of them bearded, whose significance is still unknown.”

Photograph: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

…”The current excavation has revealed part of a large structure, from the early days of the monarchic period (Iron Age IIA). The walls of the structure are massive, and it includes a wide, east-facing entrance, conforming to the tradition of temple construction in the ancient Near East: the rays of the sun rising in the  east would have illuminated the object placed inside the temple first, symbolizing the divine presence within. A square structure which was probably an altar was exposed in the temple courtyard, and the cache of sacred vessels was found near the structure. The assemblage includes ritual pottery vessels, with fragments of chalices (bowls on a high base which were used in sacred rituals), decorated ritual pedestals, and a number of pottery figurines of two kinds: the first, small heads in human form (anthropomorphic) with a flat headdress and curling hair; the second, figurines of animals (zoomorphic) – mainly of harnessed animals…

Photograph: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

… “The finds recently discovered at Tel Motza provide rare archaeological evidence for the existence of temples and ritual enclosures in the Kingdom of Judah in general, and in the Jerusalem region in particular, prior to the religious reforms throughout the kingdom at the end of the monarchic period (at the time of Hezekiah and Isaiah), which abolished all ritual sites, concentrating ritual practices solely at the Temple in Jerusalem.”

So, is the Biblical narrative reliable?

Visit My Right Word.

Yisrael Medad

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.”

Jewish Press Staff Writer

Place Of Honor

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

I have a girlfriend I’ll call Esti who works for a kiruv organization. During the summer semester, this organization offered an experiential history program. They taught a subject for a week, and then the next week toured the places they discussed in order to experience history firsthand. If they studied the First Temple era, for example, they would then visit the City of David.

My friend chose to join the students on the tour that focused on the kabbalists in 16th century Tzfat. There, they visited the synagogue of Rabbi Yosef Caro, author of the Beit Yosef – later abridged to become the Shulchan Aruch.

“The holiness there was so powerful,” said Esti. “It was a very emotional experience.”

While the guide started his talk in the synagogue, Esti stood outside speaking with a student. When she entered, she took a seat on an empty bench in the back.

“What’s your name?” asked the tour guide.

She thought he was addressing someone else, so she did not answer.

“No, no, I want your name,” he said.


“Okay, now everyone look where Esti’s sitting,” he said, pointing at the bench in the back of the room. “This is a very special bench. Whoever sits on that bench is blessed with a boy within the year.”

It was the 25th of Av.

At that time, Esti was 43. She had her last child five years earlier, and had already started giving away baby clothes. Exactly a year later, on the 25th of Av, the family celebrated the Bar Mitzvah of one of her sons. They also celebrated the Shalom Zachar of her new baby boy and the naming of his twin sister.

“No one told me it was a two-for-one special,” said Esti.

The pregnancy was high risk and she had to be on bed rest. At one point, she was in serious danger of losing the babies. The doctor was incredulous when her condition stabilized. He went to check with the ultrasound technician to be sure.

The secular doctor asked, “Did you pray at a tzaddik’s grave?”

Well, not exactly. But I guess it was the next best thing.

The synagogue of the tzaddik, Rabbi Yosef Caro, is located in the old city of Tzfat.

Be sure to take a back seat!

Rosally Saltsman

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/jewish-columns/lessons-in-emunah/place-of-honor/2011/10/05/

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