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October 22, 2016 / 20 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘temple’

Archaeologists Restore Second Temple Courtyard Flooring with Help from Mathematician

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016

Archaeologists from the Jerusalem-based Temple Mount Sifting Project are confident that they have successfully restored a unique architectural element of the Second Temple: a series of regally decorated floor tiles that adorned the porticos atop the Temple Mount, which were likely featured prominently in the courtyards of the Second Temple during the rule of King Herod in Jerusalem (37 to 4 BCE).

Frankie Snyder, a member of the Temple Mount Sifting Project’s team of researchers and an expert on ancient Herodian style flooring, said he succeeded in restoring the ornate tile patterns “using geometric principles, and through similarities found in tile design used by Herod at other sites.” Snyder, who has an academic background in both mathematics and Judaic Studies, explained that “this type of flooring, called ‘opus sectile,’ Latin for ‘cut work,’ is very expensive and was considered to be far more prestigious than mosaic tiled floors.”

Assortment of Herodian floor tiles / Courtesy City of David

Assortment of Herodian floor tiles / Courtesy City of David

“So far, we have succeeded in restoring seven potential designs of the majestic flooring that decorated the buildings of the Temple Mount,” said Snyder, who noted that there were no opus sectile floors in Israel prior to the time of King Herod. “The tile segments were perfectly inlaid such that one could not even insert a sharp blade between them.”

“It enables us to get an idea of the Temple’s incredible splendor,” said Dr. Gabriel Barkay, co-founder and director of the Temple Mount Sifting Project. The restored tiles will be presented to the general public on September 8, at the 17th Annual City of David Archaeological Conference.

Zigzag Module, Herodian floor tiles / Courtesy City of David

Zigzag Module, Herodian floor tiles / Courtesy City of David

“This represents the first time archaeologists have been able to successfully restore an element from the Herodian Second Temple complex,” said co-founder and director of the Temple Mount Sifting Project Zachi Dvira.

The Temple Mount Sifting Project was established in response to the illegal removal of tons of antiquities-rich earth from the Temple Mount by the Islamic Waqf in 1999. It is located in the Tzurim Valley National Park, and is supported by the City of David Foundation and the Israel Archaeology Foundation. The initiative is run under the auspices of Bar-Ilan University and the Israel Parks & Nature Authority.

To date, approximately 600 colored stone floor tile segments have been uncovered, with more than 100 of them definitively dated to the Herodian Second Temple period. This style of flooring is consistent with those found in Herod’s palaces at Masada, Herodian, and Jericho, as well as in majestic palaces and villas in Italy, also attributed to the time of Herod. The tile segments, mostly imported from Rome, Asia Minor, Tunisia, and Egypt, were created from polished, multicolored stones cut in a variety of geometric shapes. A key characteristic of the Herodian tiles is their size, which corresponds to the Roman measurement of one foot, approximately 29.6 cm.

Herodian floor tiles Opus Collection / Courtesy City of David

Herodian floor tiles Opus Collection / Courtesy City of David

The possibility that large expanses of the Temple Mount during the Second Temple were covered with opus sectile flooring was first raised by archaeologist and director of the Jerusalem Walls National Park with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority Assaf Avraham in 2007.

Avraham’s theory was based on a description given by the Romano-Jewish historian Josephus (1st Century CE) who wrote, “… the uncovered [Temple Mount courtyard] was completely paved with stones of various types and colors…” (The Jewish War 5:2). Additionally, Talmudic literature records the magnificent construction of the Temple Mount, describing rows of marble in different colors — green, blue and white.

“Now, as a result of Frankie Snyder’s mathematical skills, we have succeeded in recreating the actual tile patterns,” said Dr. Barkay, stressing that “this represents the first time that we can see with our own eyes the splendor of the flooring that decorated the Second Temple and its annexes 2,000 years ago.”

Barkay related that in describing the Temple that Herod built, “the Talmud says that ‘Whoever has not seen Herod’s building has not seen a beautiful building in his life,'” so that although our generation has not yet merited to see the Temple in its glory, “with the discovery and restoration of these unique floor tiles we are now able to have a deeper understanding and appreciation for the Second Temple, even through this one distinctive characteristic.”

Since the Temple Mount Sifting Project’s inception in 2004, more than 200,000 volunteers from around the world have taken part in the sifting, representing an unprecedented phenomenon in the realm of archaeological research.


Three Girls Arrested for Walking Around the Temple Mount

Sunday, September 4th, 2016

Three young Jewish women were detained for an interrogation on Sunday afternoon while they were conducting a walk around the gates of the Temple Mount, the Honenu legal aid society announced. Honenu attorneys are looking into the reason for their arrests.

David Israel

Jewish Man Arrested for Saying Shema on Temple Mount

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

A young Jewish man was arrested on the Temple Mount Thursday afternoon, for suspicion of saying “Shema Israel,” legal aid society Honenu reported. The detainee is being represented by a Honenu attorney.

The latest time to say the Shema on Thursday according to Jewish law was 9:27:29 AM, which suggests the young man was only reading the verse, rather than uttering it as part of his daily prayer, and should argue for a reduced sentence (Berachot 10b).

On the other hand, the young man could have been a Hasid, in which case he may have considered his uttering of the Shema to be part of his morning prayer, and his punishment should thus be more severe.

Regarding Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, the 2010 US State Dept. report on religious freedom round the world apparently finds it disturbing that “a government policy since 1967, upheld repeatedly by the Supreme Court and routinely enforced by the police, denies religious freedom at the Temple Mount to all non-Muslims, although the government ensured limited access to the historic site to everyone regardless of religious beliefs. Only Muslims were allowed to pray at the site, although their access has been occasionally restricted due to security concerns. The police accompanied Jewish visitors to the site and removed them if they appear to be praying. Since 2000 the Jordanian Waqf that managed the site restricted all non-Muslims from entering the Dome of the Rock shrine and Al Aqsa Mosque.”

However, the 2014 DOS report on religious freedom appears to approve of the fact that the Israeli government limits Jewish religious observance at the Temple Mount, “though some Jewish groups sought to either legally overturn this policy or modify it to permit Jewish prayer, actions that were at times followed by a violent response from Muslim worshippers.”

David Israel

Reports: Police Using Systematic Harassment of Jews Outside Temple Mount

Monday, August 29th, 2016

A Jewish woman, 18, was detained overnight Sunday, then brought before a judge and sent back to jail for the crime of praying outside the Cotton Gate leading into the Temple Mount, the Temple Organizations Headquarters reported. Several Jewish groups are accusing police of an ongoing campaign of harassment against Jews who stand in prayer outside the Temple Mount, despite the fact that the current status quo that permits Arabs to pray inside the sacred compound while forbidding Jews from doing the same does not cover the area outside.

The young woman, a resident of a Mt. Hebron community, was charged by police of disturbing the public order for walking around the Temple Mount and, police claim, even tried to enter the compound. The woman denied the charge of attempting to enter the Temple Mount, and insisted that walking around the site is not against the law.

The woman and a female minor were arrested Sunday afternoon. The minor was released and ordered to return to court Monday. Her friend refused to sign a restraining order that would keep her outside the Old City, and was therefore kept behind bars overnight.

Honenu legal aid society attorney Nati Rom filed an urgent appeal which was denied at 10 PM by Magistrate Court Judge Miriam Kaslasi, who said the woman will stay in jail overnight pending her signing the restraining order.

At the hearing on Monday morning Judge Kaslasi partially accepted police requests and issued a 7-day order restraining the minor from entering the Old City, and a 15-day order against her friend. But the two were not compelled to sign a personal bond in order to be released.

Later on Monday, Honenu reported that a Jewish man who wanted to pray outside the Iron Gate of the Temple Mount was detained, but released after only 20 minutes.

Honenu attorneys have been complaining repeatedly that Jerusalem Police are so fearful of Arab rioting that they have begun to target Jews who are not attempting to disrupt the unholy status quo of the Temple Mount, but are merely engaging in action that might potentially anger the Arabs — regardless of the fact that the action is absolutely legal.

Attorney Sinaia Harizi-Moses, who represented the two women Monday on behalf of Honenu, said “Police systematically abuse the power of their office to thwart the legal rights of citizens, creating a most problematic reality.”

Attorney Rom said his client, who has no criminal record, spent the night in jail for no reason at all. “The police on their own rescinded some of their claims the next day and released the two young women,” he noted, adding that this has become a common police tactic against Jews whose legal conduct might upset Arabs.


The Ancient Susiya Synagogue

Sunday, August 21st, 2016

The Israel Museum has reconstructed part of the inside of the ancient Susiya (Susya) synagogue. You can see what a magnificent building it must have been.

The excavated Jewish synagogue in Susiya dates from the 4th to the 7th century CE and was in continuous use until the 9th century CE.

(The Israel Museum) The magnificent synagogue of Susiya in the southern Hebron hills stood for hundreds of years and underwent many renovations. Its bema (podium) was built next to the long northern wall, which featured three arched niches. The central one likely held the Torah Ark, and the two others each held a menorah. The bema’s carved and incised motifs included menorahs, animals, and plants. Numerous donor inscriptions on the walls and floor attest to the community’s active participation in the building’s construction.

Susiya Synagogue in the Israel Museum 2

The Susiya Synagogue in situ:

1024px-SusyaSynogogueInterior Source: Yaacov / Wikipedia

Susiya Synagogue Explanation

Photo of the Day

Rightwing Academics Petition Supreme Court over Waqf Harassment on Temple Mount

Friday, August 19th, 2016

The group Professors For a Strong Israel and NGO Regavim have petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court asking that the court order the Prime Minister and the Interior Security Minister to act to quash the systematic provocations carried out by the Waqf staff against Jewish visitors on the Temple Mount. The appeal says the Waqf has hired dozens of new “guards” who follow Jewish groups as they walk around the Temple Mount compound, taunting and cursing them, taking their pictures and even rubbing against them intentionally, all in an effort to intimidate the visitors.

Prof. Ronen Shoval, chairman of PFSI, told Israel Radio Friday morning that “there has been a disproportionate increase of the number of Waqf personnel on Temple Mount. Their presence there is not passive, they’re there to look for frictions, in a manner that assaults the fundamental rights of Jewish visitors on the Temple Mount.”

“It’s become a form of abuse, and invasion of privacy,” Shoval added. “Not only is ascending to the Temple Mount being made [needlessly] complicated and difficult, limiting the time and length of visits, but once they’re up there, the Jews who ascend to the Temple Mount are actually being persecuted.”

“Unfortunately there’s no place in all of the Land of Israel where a Jew is feeling more in exile than on the Temple Mount,” Shoval concluded. “All the Jews who go up there suffer persecution by the Waqf personnel.”


Soul Talk With Rabbi David Aaron & Leora Mandel – How To Mourn For A Temple I Never Saw [audio]

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

Tisha B’Av, the ninth of Av, is the saddest day in the Jewish calendar. It is a day on which mourn the loss of the temple.

How can I mourn over something of which I have no concept, as I never experienced what it was within my own lifetime?

Join Rabbi David Aaron on Soul Talk to get a deeper understanding of what the Temple was and how its loss affects us today.

Send us an e-mail with your questions: soultalk@israelnewstalkradio.com.

Soul Talk 14Aug – PODCAST

Israel News Talk Radio

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