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August 27, 2014 / 1 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘King Solomon’

Archaeologists Find Shiloh Altar Used During Temple Era

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

A dramatic discovery at the ancient site of Shiloh, located in Samaria, provides the first–ever evidence that it continued to be a religious center after it was destroyed by the Philistines and Jews returned to the city, home of the Tabernacle.

The altar is thought to have been used to offer sacrifices even after the First Temple was built in Jerusalem.

The stone from the Iron Age, coinciding with the period of the first kings of Israel, was found in a wall built later in the Byzantine period.

Archaeologists think that Byzantines took the stone altar from its original site, which might have been in the same location as the Tabernacle. There are two conflicting theories on its location, one stating it is on the northern side of ancient Shiloh and the other placing it on the southern side.

Avital Faleh, administrator of the Tel Shiloh site, told The Jewish Press Wednesday that the wall was on the southern side and that it is more reasonable that the Byzantines carried the altar from nearby rather than several hundred yards, which would be the case if the Tabernacle were located on the northern side.

The stone was measured at two feet by two feet and almost 16 inches high.

Other altars used for sacrificial worship during the First Temple era have been discovered in Be’er Sheva and near Arad in the south and in Tel Dan and near Shiloh in the north. Faleh explained that the stone altar is almost identical with others that have been discovered.

The revelation on Tuesday of the discovery at Shiloh is the first evidence of post-Tabernacle sacrificial worship at the same site where the Bible states the first Tabernacle was erected after the Jews entered Israel following the Exodus from Egypt and the 40 years of living in the Sinai.

Joshua 18:1 states, “The whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh and erected there the Tent of Assembly, and the land was conquered before them.” The Tabernacle remained at Shiloh for 369 years, according to the Talmud.

The Philistines went to war against the Jews, destroyed the city, and captured the Holy Ark. The Tabernacle probably had been removed before the end of the war but was not used when sacrificial offerings were later offered at two other places, Nov and Gideon, until King Solomon built the First Temple.

However, it took years before Jewish communities, especially Shiloh that was the home of the first sacrifices Israel, adjusted to the cultural and religious change.

In July, archaeologists  said they believed they discovered the remains of the Biblical tabernacle site, after finding holes carved into the rock and which may have been used to hold beams for the Tabernacle.

The Jewish Press reported here in January, that the discovery of  an uncovered broken clay pitcher, embedded in a layer of reddish ashes, is from the time of the devastation of Shiloh, offering detailed evidence of the destruction.

Shiloh was the most significant religious center for Israel before the Philistines destroyed it. The Jewish people offered mandatory sacrifices, and it was there that lots were cast for tribal areas and the cities of the Levites.

Deuteronomy 12:4-7, states,  “You should not do any [act of sacrificial worship] to God, your God, other than at the site which God, your God will choose, to place His Name there, from amongst all your tribes. You should seek out His dwelling [place in the Tabernacle at Shiloh] and come there. You should bring there your burnt offerings, and your [obligatory peace] offerings, your tithes, [first fruits] lifted from your hand [by the priests]—your vows, your pledges, and the firstborn of your cattle and of your sheep [which are to be given to the priests]. [It is] there that you should eat [your sacrifices] before God your God. Then you and your households will rejoice in all the work of your hands. [You should bring offerings according to the means with] which God, your God, blesses you.”

Proof of ‘Solomon’s Copper Mines’ Found in Israel

Sunday, September 8th, 2013

Tel Aviv University archaeologists claim that recent excavations prove that copper mines in Israel thought to have been built by the ancient Egyptians in the 13th century BCE actually originated three centuries later, during the reign of the legendary King Solomon.

The description of “King Solomon’s copper mines” is based on a novel that placed them in the Israeli kingdom, but archaeologists, until now, have dated them to ancient Egypt.

“The mines are definitely from the period of King Solomon,” says Dr. Ben-Yosef. “They may help us understand the local society, which would have been invisible to us otherwise.”

Based on the radiocarbon dating of material unearthed at a new site in Timna Valley in Israel’s Arava Desert, the findings overturn the archaeological consensus of the last several decades. Scholarly work and materials found in the area suggest the mines were operated by the Edomites, a semi-nomadic tribal confederation that according to the Bible warred constantly with Israel.

Now a national park, Timna Valley was an ancient copper production district with thousands of mines and dozens of smelting sites.

Last February, Ben-Yosef and a team of researchers and students excavated a previously untouched site in the valley, known as the Slaves’ Hill. The area is a massive smelting camp containing the remains of hundreds of furnaces and layers of copper slag, the waste created during the smelting process.

In addition to the furnaces, the researchers unearthed an impressive collection of clothing, fabrics, and ropes made using advanced weaving technology; foods, like dates, grapes, and pistachios; ceramics; and various types of metallurgical installations.

The world-renowned Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit at the University of Oxford in England dated 11 of the items to the 10th century BCE, when according to the Bible King Solomon ruled the Kingdom of Israel.

The archaeological record shows the mines in Timna Valley were built and operated by a local society, likely the early Edomites, who are known to have occupied the land and formed a kingdom that rivaled Judah. The unearthed materials and the lack of architectural remains at the Slaves’ Hill support the idea that the locals were a semi-nomadic people who lived in tents.

The findings from the Slaves’ Hill confirm those of a 2009 dig Ben-Yosef helped to conduct at “Site 30,” another of the largest ancient smelting camps in Timna Valley. Then a graduate student of Prof. Thomas E. Levy at the University of California, San Diego, he helped demonstrate that the copper mines in the valley dated from the 11th to 9th centuries BCE — the era of Kings David and Solomon — and were probably Edomite in origin.

The findings were reported in the journal The American Schools of Oriental Research in 2012, but the publication did little to shake the notion that the mines were Egyptian, based primarily on the discovery of an Egyptian Temple in the center of the valley in 1969.

The Slaves’ Hill dig also demonstrates that the society in Timna Valley was surprisingly complex, and the smelting technology and the layout of the camp reflects indicate that thousands of people were needed to operate the mines in the middle of the desert.

“In Timna Valley, we unearthed a society with undoubtedly significant development, organization, and power,” says Ben-Yosef. “And yet because the people were living in tents, they would have been transparent to us as archaeologists if they had been engaged in an industry other than mining and smelting, which is very visible archaeologically.”

Archaeologists would probably never have found evidence of its existence if it were not for the mining operation even though the society likely possessed a degree of political and military power.

Ben-Yosef says this calls into question archaeology’s traditional assumption that advanced societies usually leave behind architectural ruins. He also says that the findings at the Slaves’ Hill undermine criticisms of the Bible’s historicity based on a lack of archaeological evidence.

It’s entirely possible that Kings David and Solomon exerted some control over the mines in the Timna Valley at times, he says.

Oldest Alphabetical Written Text Found near Temple Mount

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

Hebrew University archaeologists have found the oldest known alphabetical inscription from Jerusalem, dating back to the period of Kings David or Solomon, 250 years before the previously oldest known written text.

The inscription was found near the Temple Mount but is not in Hebrew and was from the pre-Temple period, in the language of one of the peoples who occupied Israel at the time, according to the archaeologists.

Reading from left to right, the text contains a combination of letters approximately 2.5 cm tall, which translate to m, q, p, h, n, (possibly) l, and n. Since this combination of letters has no meaning in known west-Semitic languages, the inscription’s meaning is unknown.

The archaeologists suspect the inscription specifies the jar’s contents or the name of its owner. Because the inscription is not in Hebrew, it is likely to have been written by one of the non-Israeli residents of Jerusalem, perhaps Jebusites, who were part of the city population in the time of Kings David and Solomon.

Hebrew University of Jerusalem archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar unearthed the artifact, in the Canaanite language and engraved on a large pithos, a neckless ceramic jar found with six others at the Ophel excavation site. He said it is the only one of its kind discovered in Jerusalem and is an important addition to the city’s history.

The previously oldest known script, in Hebrew, was from the period of King Hezekiah at the end of the 8th century BCE.

The inscription was engraved near the edge of the jar before it was fired, and only a fragment of it has been found, along with fragments of six large jars of the same type. The fragments were used to stabilize the earth fill under the second floor of the building they were discovered in.

An analysis of the jars’ clay composition indicates that they are all of a similar make, and probably originate in the central hill country near Jerusalem.

According to Prof. Ahituv, the inscription is not complete and probably wound around the jar’s shoulder, while the remaining portion is just the end of the inscription and one letter from the beginning.

This jar fragment from the time of Kings David and Solomon is the earliest alphabetical written text ever discovered in Jerusalem.

This jar fragment from the time of Kings David and Solomon is the earliest alphabetical written text ever discovered in Jerusalem.

King David Era Find ‘Buried’ by Authorities for Political Reasons

Friday, April 19th, 2013

The initial discovery was made by Benjamin Troper, the training coordinator of the Kfar Etzion field school, who suddenly, while aiding a troubled tourist down a deep cave south of Jerusalem, turned to look at the nearby wall and saw an ancient stone column.

“I had gone down that hole dozens of times,” Tropper told Makor Rishon, “but this was the first time, because I was helping the tourist, that I came down looking in that direction.”

What he saw was a bona fide ancient column with a capital, which he recognized from his years as tour guide and from the time he spent working in excavating ancient Jerusalem.

That’s the story of a remarkably rare archeological discovery, which no one has heard about. For some reason, possibly political, the Israeli authorities have been trying to silence this discovery which could usher in a breakthrough in our understanding of the periods of King David and his son, King Solomon.

The column capital Tropper ran, or rather climbed down into, is very likely part of a complete temple or palace buried underground.

Tropper, who expected nothing short of a medal for his fortunate discovery, called over the field school’s director, Yaron Rosenthal, who in turn alerted a senior employee of Israel’s Antiquities Authority. But no medals were to come any time soon.

The find is really big, according to Rosenthal. It may also be a singular opportunity to unearth a whole structure that hadn’t undergone “secondary use,” meaning that it hasn’t been altered by later dwellers of the area. Often, later period folks utilize the components of older structures as building blocks for their own structures.

But even better than that: there are still, to this day, raging debates between the school of archeologists who claim there was a great Jewish dynasty begun by David and Solomon, and the school that doubts there ever really existed two people by those names.

Rosenthal (you know which school he belongs to) believes the discovery will offer startling details about the everyday lives of those Jewish kings.

According to Rosenthal, the reaction of the Antiquities official was “astonishing.” He told him: “Yaron, please, you found it, but we know about it. Now forget the whole thing and keep your mouth shut.”

Apparently they’re very blunt over at Antiquities.

Later, Rosenthal found out that the authority had indeed been aware of the artifact for a year and a half. He is upset both for the fact that they avoided digging up the area to discover what’s down there, and for the fact that they took no steps to mark off the cave, to protect it from damage.

Over the past few months, the defense ministry was drawing the path of the section of the security fence that will separate the Palestinian Authority’s Bethlehem County from South Jerusalem. They knew about it at Antiquities, reports Makor Rishon, but kept mum and let the fence line be drawn about a hundred yards from the site, effectively leaving it in Palestinian hands.

According to Makor Rishon, Antiquities’ director-general Shuka Dorfman and former chief of the central front Gen. Avi Mizrahi were called in to look at the find, a year and a half ago and decided together to silence the discovery.

The question is, based on their track record, how respectful would the future owners of the area, the PA, of a site that could prove beyond doubt that it used to belong to a Jewish empire – the very empire the PA officially says never existed.

The Antiquities Authority’s response to the Makor Rishon inquiry has been that it is aware of the situation and is already making efforts to excavate the important find, while cooperating with all relevant entities.

That’s a huge relief.

Incidentally, inside the cave where the exposed column capital is situated, there is a water hole, where local Arab children go bathing. How long before one of them discovers the ancient relic and calls his daddy over?

The Martyred Woman of Valor: Dulcea of Worms

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

The Middle Ages boasted a number of outstanding Jewish women. The most remarkable among them was Dulcea of Worms, wife of Rabi Eleazar Rokeach. We learn out about her remarkable character and capabilities from an elegy her loving husband composed in the form of an alphabetic acrostic fashioned after King Solomon’s “Woman of Valor” in Proverbs 31. Dulcea of Worms, however, rose above the stature of the Biblical “Eishet Chayil” both in capabilities and character.

In the prose portion that precedes the eulogy we learn about Dulcea’s fate, her extraordinary courage and tragic martyrdom. Shortly after the Third Crusade swept through the Rhineland, two Germans armed with swords broke into Dulcea’s home, struck her, killed her two daughters, Bellette and Hannah, wounded her husband, her son, a teacher and the students. Despite her injury, Dolce immediately leapt up and ran into the street, calling for help and hoping to distract the attackers. She succeeded, for they followed her out of the house, enabling Rabi Elazar to lock the door and prevent the murderers’ re-entry, saving the lives of the injured in the building. Unable to re-enter and continue their intended massacre, the murderers savagely killed Dolce on the spot.

Rabi Elazar ben Yehuda Rokeach in his eloquent eulogy designates Dulcea as chasidah (saintly) and tzadeiket (righteous). In heartbreaking detail, he notes the tragic heroine’s domestic management and business finesse and praises her needlework, noting that she prepared thread and gut to sew together books, Torah scrolls, and other religious objects. He enumerates her knowledge of Jewish practice, her ability to teach Torah to other women and lead them in prayer.

A respected investment broker, Dulcea of Worms was active in arranging matches and negotiating the financial arrangements involved. Moreover, Dulcea was the head of the chevra kadisha for the women in Worms, preparing the dead for their funeral.

Dulcea came from the elite leadership class of medieval German Jewry. She was the daughter of a cantor and the wife of a major rabbinic figure, Rabi Eleazar ben Yehudah of Worms (1165–1230), also known as the Rokeach (the Pharmacist), after the title of one of his most famous works (Sefer ha-Rokeach).

Dulcea and her husband were members of a pietistic circle of Jews, the Chasidei Ashkenaz, that developed following the devastations of the First Crusade of 1096. In order to recover Jewish life among the survivors, Chasidei Ashkenaz authored many mystical and ethical works, known as Sefer Chasidim (The Book of the Pious). This volume was a major resource for everyday Jewish life in medieval Ashkenaz. Rabi Eleazar ben Yehudah was one of the authors.

Above all praise is Rabi Eleazar’s reverence for Dulcea, the enabler of the spiritual activities of the men of her household. The mournful husband invokes for Dulcea at the conclusion of his lament the reward that she be wrapped in the eternal life of Paradise — a tribute to her heroic deeds, and ultimate martyrdom.

Shidduch Challenges: Where Is Your Soul Mate?

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

For a number of weeks now I have been discussing the crisis among singles. I hope the columns have provided some clarity and a better understanding of this dilemma.

In this concluding column I would like to focus on the big question so many have asked: Since our faith teaches that every person has a soul mate – bashert – designated by Heaven, how is it that so many cannot find their partners?

Searching for your soul mate becomes easier when you have faith. It is written that forty days before our creation G-d selects a match for us. That knowledge is very fortifying, for if a potential match doesn’t work out, there is no sense of personal rejection. We find consolation in the thought his person was probably not the one G-d chose for us. So although we must do our part in pursuing a match, if in the process we encounter disappointments, we don’t despair. We put it down to its not having been bashert.

At a singles gathering, an attractive woman in her thirties approached me. “Rebbetzin,” she said, “I’ve been on more dates than I care to count. I’m suffering from date burnout, and frankly, I’m tired. If everyone has a bashert, why is it taking me so long to find mine?”

I answered her with two stories – one from our ancient past and one from today.  “It is written in the Midrash that King Solomon had an exquisite daughter and, like all fathers, wanted a very special husband for her – someone who would be truly worthy of a princess. But the king foresaw his beautiful daughter was destined to marry an impoverished young man from a totally unsuitable family. To ensure this would never happen, he built a palace on an island and sent his daughter there. He stationed armed guards all around the perimeter and felt quite secure that these precautions would protect the princess from an inappropriate marriage.

“One day it happened that despite all the guards and protective walls, a young pauper, barefoot and dressed in rags, miraculously found his way into the well-guarded gardens of the palace. The next morning, when the princess took her daily walk, she came upon the pauper. ‘I am a traveler from the holy city of Acco,’ he explained.

“The princess had compassion for him and secretly arranged for his care. As she came to know him, she discovered he was a man of great depth and sensitivity – an outstanding Torah scholar and a gifted scribe. Soon the young man proposed marriage, which the princess readily accepted. In no time at all, the secret was out, and with great trepidation the guards informed King Solomon. But to everyone’s relief, when King Solomon heard the news he proclaimed, ‘Blessed be Almighty G-d who forever brings together the husband and wife who are destined for each other.’ ”

I paused for a moment and told the young woman, “You see, G-d has many wondrous ways of uniting those who are meant for each other. So, yes, everyone has a bashert, and G-d helps you to find him or her even under the strangest and most inexplicable circumstances.”

I then told her another story. “Many years ago, my daughter Slovie went to Israel on a mission for our Hineni organization, and while she was there, her future husband, who was visiting from Brazil, caught a glimpse of her and the rest is history. So G-d does bring together souls that are meant for each other even if they are separated by oceans and live in different parts of the world.”

I added, however, that it doesn’t end there. “G-d endows each and every person with free will, and since we live in a world in which values have become blurred, in which Hollywood rather than Torah values shapes our expectations, it is easy to make wrong decisions and reject our soul mates when we meet them. We tend to look for fluff rather than substance, good looks rather than a kind heart; deep pockets rather than a profound mind, so its little wonder our soul mates sometimes slip by.

“There is a well known story about a bachelor in his forties who traveled to the Holy Land to consult a great sage about this very same problem. He asked, ‘If everyone has a bashert why haven’t I found mine?’

The rabbi gazed at him with piercing eyes, “You did find her, but when you met her you thought her nose was too long.”

The young woman nodded. “What’s the answer, then?” she asked me. “What measures can we take to ensure we choose the person destined for us?”

“It’s not easy,” I replied, “but since it all comes from G-d, first and foremost we have to pray that when we meet him or her, He will open our eyes so we may know this is the “right” one and, moreover, that our ‘other half’ should recognize us. When my own children were ready to consider marriage, my father would caution us not to beseech G-d for any one specific person. The one you might consider to be absolutely perfect could turn out to be a disaster, so place your trust in Hashem and ask that He guide each child to his or her bashert.”

We Can Make A Difference

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

The High Holy Days are over. It was an awesome spiritual time – when we probed or souls, asked profound questions and tried to determine what our lives are all about.

We made resolutions – each in our own personal way – committed to being better Jews. We promised to become better ambassadors of Hashem, more meticulous with mitzvot, more devoted and zealous in doing acts of loving kindness, and in general, become more dedicated to our Torah and all that that implies.

And now comes the big question: Are we still determined to make that change? Are we controlling our anger or are we indulging our moods, making others miserable, suffering from our ups-and-downs? Are we exercising discipline in our speech or are we back to the pitfalls of lashon ha’ra, and once again resorting to crude and foul language? The list goes on and on. How many of these promises are still throbbing in our hearts and how many have been put away with our Yom Kippur machzorim until next year?

Was it only yesterday that we made those wistful commitments to become different? Have we already slid back to “same old, same old”? Can it be that our old habits have once again taken a grip on our lives?

To be sure, it’s not easy. We live in a consumer society and value that which is “pricey,” so we appreciate name-brand items, fine jewelry, spectacular homes, etc. But acts of chesed: a smile to someone who is downcast, a visit to the sick, a word of encouragement to the hopeless, an embrace to the lonely, a warm loving word… those little things which in reality are huge are of no consequence in our culture. In our consumer world they are valueless and go unnoticed.

Acts of chesed cannot be translated into dollars and cents; consequently, we consider them to be of no value. We cherish luxuries and are obsessed with accumulating things and more things, but ironically, the more we have, the more we desire and the less content we become. We are the generation that possesses more than any generation could have dreamt of; yet we are also the generation that is the unhappiest.

There is nothing surprising about all this. King Solomon and many of our sages taught this truth, but this gem of wisdom has been blown away by the winds of materialism and we no longer understand it. So yes, while on Yom Kippur we divorced ourselves from the craziness of the world and actually heard our souls challenging us, and even made genuine commitments to change, to live true Jewish lives, today it all seems like a faraway dream. The gap between our resolve and actually translating it into action remains more distant than ever. Once we exited the safe portals of our Yom Kippur sanctuary and the many voices of the outside world assailed us, we lost our spiritual underpinnings – our anchor melted away.

To be sure, we have other problems as well. Our yetzer ha’ra – that little voice in our minds and hearts – is relentless, ever on the attack. Insidiously, it whispers, “Those resolutions, those promises that you made they made sense in the isolation of the synagogue, but in the ‘real world,’ it just won’t work. All those mitzvos and acts of chesed that Jews are called upon to do are simply not practical. As it is, it’s difficult enough for you to manage your time. You cannot possibly undertake more.”

But our Yiddishe neshamos are so powerful that they will not let us go. Even when we are ready to run, there are always some quiet moments – sometimes just a split- second – when our neshamos talk and prod us to get back on track. They remind us that we are dissipating our time, wasting our days and years that we are investing our energy in “fluff” that has no substance or lasting value. We need only speak to individuals who have confronted or are battling terminal illness. Not one of them will ever say that they regret not having spent more time at the workplace or having made more money. Nor will they tell us that they regret not having pursued more pleasure. But they will all confide that they feel remorseful for not having been more connected with their Jewish roots, for not having made an effort to know G-d. Most painful of all, for having failed to fulfill their mission to impart a legacy of faith, love and honor.

The most devastating experience a neshamah can have is to arrive at the Next World and behold that which it could have accomplished, and then contrast that portrait with what it actually became. The agonizing, piercing cry of such a neshamah, “What on earth could I have been thinking of? How could I have done that?” reverberates through the seven heavens, and there are no answers.

But today we can still correct it, wipe the slate clean and recapture the days and years of our lives.

We need only bear in mind that life is not about accumulating things, but about elevating ourselves. It’s not about acquiring more, but about being more. Life is about making a difference in this world, fulfilling our Jewish destiny, the purpose for which

G-d created us. Every day, at the conclusion of our morning prayers, we beseech the Almighty to help us so that “our labors may not have been in vain and our lives may not have been lived for naught.” How tragic it is that so few of us are familiar with those words and even those among us who pray repeat them mindlessly and fail to absorb their deeper meaning.

But how do we realize such lofty goals? How do we remain grounded, yet spiritually elevated?

It is simpler than we realize. G-d has actually provided us with wings, available to all, with which to soar and rise above the morass of this world. We need only seize them.

When we study Torah on an ongoing basis, we are automatically transported into another world. We are reminded of our true purpose and of that which has lasting value. Our Torah is not only our road map for life, but it is the voice of G-d, directing us, speaking to us, telling us who we really are. Our mitzvos are not just random rituals and laws, but are life-transforming experiences that render us more generous, loving and kind. When we do chesed, it is we more than others, who benefit; when we give of ourselves, we become enriched and elevated. The formula is there; we need only take hold of it.

It sounds so simple – but is it?

The answer to that is an emphatic yes.

G-d promised us that if we take one step toward Him, He will take two steps towards us. He is ever ready to help us and will place in our hands that which we thought was beyond our reach. We need only will it and it will be.

In my next column, please G-d, I will share with you some real-life stories that demonstrate just that.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/rebbetzins-viewpointrebbetzin-jungreis/we-can-make-a-difference-2/2010/09/28/

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