Issue 2021

SECRETS OF THE CAVE OF THE PATRIARCHS EXPOSED

SECRETS OF THE CAVE OF THE PATRIARCHS EXPOSED

by Nadav Shragai, November 2, 2021

The Cave of the Patriarchs — the Machpelah — is a series of caves in Hebron and is said to be the second holiest site in Judaism after the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. It is where the Patriarchs and Matriarchs are buried; i.e., Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Leah. In this article, Nadav Shragai writes of Noam Arnon’s comprehensive doctoral dissertation on the Cave of the Patriarchs, which covers the 2500 year history of the site, using geographical, geological, archeological, Jewish and historic sources. Most of the existing information is about the above ground structure. Little is known of the underground caverns below the Herodian above ground structure, because access to them has been limited by the Muslims. It was recorded that these caves were visited by Col. Richard Meinertzhagen in November 1917, by jack Seklan in 1933 and by several others more recently. Arnon’s thesis puts together what information is available, a fascinating project.

AUTHOR: Nadav Shragai is an Israeli journalist and author of books focusing on Jerusalem.

This article was published November 2, 2021 by Nadav Shragai and is archived at https://www.israelhayom.com/2021/11/02/the-secrets-of-the-cave-of-the-patriarchs/.

 


SECRETS OF THE CAVE OF THE PATRIARCHS EXPOSED

by Nadav Shragai, November 2, 2021

Noam Arnon’s comprehensive doctoral dissertation on the Cave of the Patriarchs proves there is much more to the ancient site than meets the eye.

 


An aerial view of the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron (Reuters/Ian Rosenberg)
On August 25, 1859, the Italian archaeologist and engineer Ermette Pierotti, tried to sneak into the sanctuary at the Cave of the Patriarchs with the assistance of some Muslim friends. But before they had even made it down five steps, they were caught by the guards who dragged them back out. “The beatings I received and the curses I was subjected to in no way diminished the satisfaction that I felt,” Pierotti wrote in his diary, “I can say that I managed to see something of the cave – ossuaries of white stone… a wall of rock separating the lower and upper caves. When the day comes that someone is able to enter this dark place, they will see that my description was accurate.”

Col. Richard Meinertzhagen, an officer under the command of General Allenby, made a somewhat more successful visit when the British captured Hebron in November 1917. He entered the subterranean caverns through an opening on the southwestern side of the famous above-ground structure to make sure there were no enemy forces hiding out there.

Next to Abraham’s tombstone, Meinertzhagen found a door opening up into a narrow passageway that led to an “underground hiding place where there was a large rock surrounded by four flat-topped pillars with winding grooves.”

Pierotti and Meinertzhagen, who visited the underground caverns below the above ground (Herodian) structure – Muslims today prevent any access to them – are not the only ones to have succeeded in peeking into the depths of the earth to try and unlock the site’s secrets. All of them sought to confirm whether it is indeed the biblical Cave of the Patriarchs in the field that Abraham purchased from Ephron the Hittite.


Noam Arnon (Saria Diamant)
A 600-page doctoral thesis composed over the past eight years by Dr. Noam Arnon, reveals and explores the details of these visits, and much more. Arnon’s research covers a period of 2,500 years in the history of the site, and, like his previous works on the Cave of the Patriarchs, deals with a broad complex of geographical, geological, archaeological, and Jewish and historical sources, that were not all available to those researching the cave in the past.

Up to the seventh step

Over the generations, the cave of the Patriarchs had a place of honor in heritage, tradition, and legend, but it was in religious faith and mysticism where it stood out. Arnon’s work (completed at the Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology at Bar Ilan University) now compiles for the first time a scientific database about the cave and its secrets. Its advantage lies in Arnon’s intimate knowledge of the site, which he has lived, breathed, and researched for almost five decades.

Reminder: Over the course of 700 years, ever since the conquest of the Land of Israel by the Mamluks in 1267, access to the site has been denied to Jews and other non-Muslims. Jews were only allowed as far as the “Seventh Step” on the stairway leading down to the structure, and this became synonymous with the discrimination against Jews at the site. Researchers exploring the site such as the British archaeologist Ernest Mckay, the French scholar, Father Louis-Hugues Vincent, or the British delegation led by Claude Reignier Conder in 1882 dealt in detail with the famous 2,000-year-old above-ground structure, but had great difficulty in gaining access — if at all — to the underground caverns below it.

Arnon, a resident of Beit Hadassah in Hebron, who is better known to the wider public as the spokesman of the Hebron Jewish Community touches on this issue as well. A fascinating part of his research deals with the secret visits made by him and others to the caves underneath the main building, as well as visits that took place openly with permission.

One of the earliest visits to the cave of the Patriarchs (in the second century CE) is documented in the Talmud, which tells of Rabbi Bana’ah who would mark out burial caves so that people would not suffer ritual contamination. A thousand years later in the 12th century, these caverns were entered by monks from the canonical order who located in the depths of the earth several rooms of different shapes and sizes that contained urns full of bones. The site was also visited in the 12th century by Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela, Rabbi Petachiah of Regensburg, and Rabbi Yaakov ben Netanel HaCohen.

Pierotti and Meinertzhagen reached the depth of the Cave only centuries later and the next documented visit was that of a young British Jew, Jack Seklan, in 1933.

A secret kept for 80 years

Arnon found out about Seklan through his daughter Yehudit, who lives in Ofra, after her father decided it was time to reveal the secret he had been keeping for almost 80 years. They met in 2012 when Seklan was already 97, but still sound of mind and with a fantastic memory. He described in detail to Arnon how, accompanied by the British officer in charge of the site, he descended three flights of stairs into the subterranean hall deep underground where they found another door.

“From that door,” recalls Arnon, “they descended another few steps and reached a barred window overlooking an underground hall. Seklan told me that the hall was quite large and built out of natural rock or stone. In the dim light, he managed to make out tombstones similar to those on the upper floor that is now open to the public. But unlike the upper tombstones that are covered with a magnificent parochet, the tombstones below ground were bare. The Muslim guide explained to them that these were the graves of the forefathers themselves and Seklan prayed kadish.”

Arnon recalls how he was stunned by what he was hearing from Seklan. “We arranged to meet again the following Sunday so that I could show him drawings and photos and try to locate with him the caverns that he had described. On the Saturday night before our second meeting, I received a phone call from his daughter informing me that Seklan had been run over and killed by a jeep as he left Shabbat prayers at the Great Synagogue in Jerusalem. I just held my head in my hands. I was sorry for the man, who was truly a man of deeds, and also for the missed opportunity. I was glad at least that on the eve of his death he had revealed his secret.”

Arnon received a similar account from Arieh Ariel, the grandfather of Tamar Ariel, Israel’s first religious female pilot, who was killed in an avalanche in Nepal in 2014. Arnon met Ariel eight years ago at his home on Moshav Massuot Yitzhak near Ashkelon. He told Arnon how as a nine-year-old he accompanied his father on one of his visits to Hebron after the 1929 massacre. Together they joined British archaeologists who were visiting the caverns underneath the above-ground structure. “We went down the stairs and I remember that they said: ‘these are the graves of the forefathers,'” Ariel told him.

About a month after the Six-Day War, Arieh Golan, a sergeant in the Paratrooper Corps reconnaissance unit, Sayeret Tzanchanim, entered the caves at the head of a force searching for terrorists and weapons. He too provided Arnon with a detailed description. The most famous incident in which Jews entered the caves occurred a few months after the Six-Day War. Defense Minister Moshe Dayan was worried that the fact that Jews had set up a synagogue at the Cave of the Patriarchs could lead to inter-racial violence between Muslims and Jews. Dayan turned to Yehuda Arbel, the head of the Jerusalem District of the Shin Bet, and asked him to try and find a solution to separate the sides.

Dayan, who knew a thing or two about archaeology, noted that the Cave of the Patriarchs itself was located below the floor of the mosque at a lower level. “If we find an exterior entrance to the caves,” Dayan told Arbel, “then we will have solved the problem – the Muslims will pray above and the Jews below.”

Arbel waited for the right opportunity, which arrived just 10 days later when a grenade was thrown at Jewish visitors, resulting in the town being placed under curfew and the mosque at the Cave of the Patriarchs being closed. Arbel lost no time; he lowered his 13-year-old daughter Michal down via rope through the “candle shaft” on the floor of the Hall of Isaac so that she could document the underground passages. First of all, however, Arbel spent weeks training Michal how to draw and document built spaces.


Jacon’s Tomb in the Cave of the Patriarchs (Saria Diamant)
Michal, who today is Dr. Michal Arbel, a lecturer in Hebrew literature, was lowered down via an opening just 28 centimeters wide on October 10 of that year. She was equipped with matches and candles in order to make sure there was enough oxygen to breathe, and, in addition, with a camera, paper, and pencils. The operation lasted for three-and-a-half hours. Michal identified three tombstones on the western wall, two of them smooth and one bearing an inscription. She also found an opening on the eastern side that led into a passageway. Michal drew every detail she managed to see, and her father passed the drawings on to Defense Minister Dayan. The young girl was lowered into the structure another two times, once on October 18 of that year, and again in November. However, she never reached the double chamber itself.

First Temple era pottery

Another secret operation at the site was carried out by the army in February 1973. Titled “Operation Adar” it was initiated for research purposes by the head of the IDF central command, Rehavam Zeevi. Lieutenant Avner Tzadok was chosen for the mission due to his small frame. Wearing just swimming trunks, his body was covered in grease to help him squeeze through the narrow opening. The photographs taken by Tzadok along with other items discovered during the operation remain, to Arnon’s disappointment, classified to this day.

The cave itself was exposed only in 1981, during an operation organized one night during slichot – the prayers for forgiveness during the High Holidays. The chants of the worshippers, who sang the prayers with great fervor and particularly loudly, provided cover for Arnon and a team of volunteers to chisel their way through the stone on the floor of the Hall of Isaac. Cloaked in excitement they found themselves descending a steep stairway at the end of which was a long, dark and narrow tunnel that they crawled through until they reached a large underground hall.

“We started looking for an entrance to the original cave, the one we knew from historical descriptions,” recalls Arnon. “We found various stones in the corners and on the walls. Some of them had Latin and Arabic inscriptions. Suddenly we felt a gust of wind coming up from the floor at the entrance to the room. With great effort, we lifted the stones from the floor, and in front of our eyes we saw the entrance to a cave carved out of the stone.”

Arnon and his friends went deep into the cave. “It transpired that we were indeed in the Cave of the Patriarchs which consists of two caves, one in front of the other, in the style of the shaft tombs that were characteristic of the period of the forefathers. The first cave was larger and full of earth, almost up to its ceiling, but a passageway from that cave led to a second, much smaller cave. On the floor of the smaller cave, also full of earth, between fragments of ancient pottery, we found ourselves crawling among remains of human skeletons.”

The double cave was dated back to the middle bronze age, the time of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The group removed four earthenware pieces from the cave which were examined by the chief archaeology officer for Judea and Samaria, Dr. Zeev Yavin, who found them to be from the First Temple period. It was only recently, some 40 years after that adventure, that a scientific analysis was conducted by Prof. David Ben Shlomo, head of the Land of Israel Studies and Archeology Department at Ariel University, and Prof. Hans Mommsen of the University of Bonn, a leading expert on identifying pottery through compositional analysis.

The analysis found that the items of pottery that were brought to the cave from various sites around Israel – the Hebron Hills, Jerusalem, and the Shfela (Judean Foothills) – by people who lived in these areas and had gone to the cave. This shows us that most likely the cave was a pilgrimage site during First Temple times.

Yavin, together with Doron Chen (a lecturer in archaeology) entered the cave a few months later with a delegation led by the then commander of the region, Benjamin Ben-Eliezer. The two conducted an independent review and a few years later published a scientific study. Yavin too reached the conclusion that the caves were a bronze age burial site from the time of the forefathers. The bones in the cave were left there and were not analyzed. Yavin summarized his findings, writing: “An ancient tradition saw one of these caves [there are others in the area] as the burial site of the forefathers and therefore the monument was built above it.” He also found a clear affiliation between the upper tombstone chamber and the caves below it.

jug.from.site
Pottery found at the site (Yitzhak Fisch)
‘Abraham is buried here’
 

But that wasn’t enough for Arnon, and in 2014 the Midreshet Hebron college ordered a ground-penetrating radar analysis from the Geotech company. Interpretation of the results found that just as in the southern part of the Temple Mount (in the area around Solomon’s Stables) vaults had been built at the Cave of the Patriarchs and the floor of the upper structure was built on top of them.

Q: Who really built the upper structure?

“Herod. The walls of the cave are double walls, and between them, there is a layer of concrete and stones. We climbed up there and removed some material. We found charcoal grains there and sent samples to the Weizmann Institute, which dated them back to the first century BCE It could be Hasmonean or Herodian era. But to me, given the historical circumstances, the style of building, and comparison with other buildings, it is clear that it was Herodian.”

The Cave of the Patriarch, notes Arnon “is the only Herodian structure in Israel that has survived in its entirety and it is much smaller than the Temple Mount; just one 77th the size of the Mount, two dunams versus 144 dunams.” He raises the hypothesis that “Herod’s workers conducted a trial run in Hebron for the construction on the Mount” explaining that the upper structure of the Cave of the Patriarchs was built without any foundations on top of the native rock, which in certain parts of the building, under the southern and eastern walls of the structure, can still be seen. “It is probably the “edge of the field” that Abraham purchased from Ephron the Hittite, which is mentioned in the Book of Genesis,” he says.

Q: And it is under that structure that the patriarchs and matriarchs are buried?

“We didn’t find a grave on which it was written ‘Abraham is buried here,’ but when you weigh all the historical and archaeological data, the writings of travelers, biblical sources, topography; all of that together shows us that this is indeed the case.”

Q: People will surely ask themselves: If Arnon reached the conclusion that it isn’t the biblical site of the Cave of the Patriarchs, would he write that?

“Yes, he would write that.”

Q: You write in your thesis that there is no possibility of conducting ‘open research’ at the site. Was there covert research conducted at the site?

“I can’t answer that.”

Arnon’s thesis also reveals some Greek and Hebrew names from the Byzantine period (the 4th and 5th-century BCE) that were photographed by the Waqf after it peeled off the plaster from the walls of the structure. The names were those of Jews who had engraved them on the walls, such as “Nachum, Tanchum, and Yaakov.”

One of Arnon’s most interesting findings regards the existence of a synagogue on the site for some 600 years on the northern side of the structure, alongside a church that operated on the southern side. This, he says, is an example of Jewish-Christian cooperation that has support from historical sources, and is also supported by other testimonies and findings from the Hebron area. “This reality,” says Arnon, “softens somewhat the plentiful information about the long rivalry between the two religions across the span f history.”

The findings on the ground regarding the synagogue, notes Arnon, correspond with sources from the Cairo Genizah, which revealed the existence of a Jewish community in Hebron at the time – a community that held prayers at the Cave of the Patriarchs and was headed by Saadia of Hebron. Saadia haseveral titles, all of which were connected to his roles at the cave. The synagogue it appears was destroyed during the Crusader conquest of the Land of Israel.

In his research, Arnon deals with Flavius Josephus’ descriptions of the Cave of the Patriarchs and finds similarities between the archaeological findings at the cave and those at Tel Rumeida. He has no doubts that the Cave of the Patriarchs as we know it today is the same cave of the Patriarchs that is described in the Book of Genesis, but he clarifies that when it comes to the story of the cave, there is still plenty to discover and the limitations placed by the Muslims on research at the site leave much to be done by future generations.


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EXQUISITE BALM OF GILEAD DISCOVERY IN JERUSALEM

by the Israel Bible Staff, October 21, 2021.

Archaeologist Eli Shukron announced that a 2000-year old seal engraved with a bird and a branch with five fruits was found while excavating the Emek Tzurim National Park along the foundation stones of the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City. As the Israel Antiquities Authority noted, “[The] seal portrays the biblical persimmon plant–not related to the familiar fruit of the same name–used during the Second Temple period as one of the more expensive ingredients for producing incense, perfume, medicines and ointments. […] This is an important find, because it may be the first time that a seal has been discovered in the entire world with an engraving of the precious and famous plant, which until now we could only read about in historical descriptions.”

AUTHOR: This article was written by the Israel Bible Staff. It is archived by the Israel Bible at https://theisraelbible.com/balm-of-gilead-discovery-jerusalem/.


EXQUISITE BALM OF GILEAD DISCOVERY IN JERUSALEM

by the Israel Bible Staff, October 21, 2021

amethyst seal A 2,000-year-old amethyst seal, bearing an engraving that depicts the Balm of Gilead or biblical persimmon plant, was found in Jerusalem, October 2021. (Credit: Eliyahu Yanai/City of David)

amethyst seal A 2,000-year-old amethyst seal, bearing an engraving that depicts the Balm of Gilead or biblical persimmon plant, was found in Jerusalem, October 2021. (Credit: Eliyahu Yanai/City of David)

Is there no balm in Gilad? Can no physician be found? Why has healing not yet Come to my poor people? (Jeremiah 8:22)

The Land of Israel continues to give forth its precious treasures! Just last week the City of David tweeted a New Discovery Alert of an incredible recent find in Jerusalem. A stunning stone was found at the Pilgrim’s Road containing the first depiction of the famous Balm of Gilead plant on a 2,000-year-old amethyst seal from the time of the Second Temple!

“This is an important find, because it may be the first time that a seal has been discovered in the entire world with an engraving of the precious and famous plant, which until now we could only read about in historical descriptions,” said archaeologist Eli Shukron, who conducted the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and the City of David.

This is an enhanced image of the 2,000-year-old amethyst seal, showing clearly the bird, likely a dove, and the persimmon plant.

This is an enhanced image of the 2,000-year-old amethyst seal, showing clearly the bird, likely a dove, and the persimmon plant.

precious plant with many important usages in ancient times as described throughout the Bible. It is first mentioned in Genesis, after Joseph’s brothers threw him into the pit:

Then they sat down to a meal. Looking up, they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilad, their camels bearing gum, balm, and ladanum to be taken to Egypt. (37:25)

Balm from Gilad was a valuable commodity the merchants were looking to trade in Egypt, perhaps for its medicinal qualities. Jeremiah 8 records God’s warning to Israel of what Babylon would do to them. Upon hearing the devastating news, the prophet laments,  “Is there no balm of Gilead?” meaning, can nothing be done to prevent the calamity?

According to legend, the fabled plant was a gift from the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon, according to Josephus. Its orchards were owned by King Herod, looted by Marcus Antonius, and gifted to Cleopatra. Its branches were carried by Titus along with the Golden Menorah in the Roman Empire’s triumphant march to Rome after the conquest of Jerusalem.

The famous Balm of Gilead came from a plant that grew in abundance near Jericho. There it was turned into oil which was used for incense in the Temple. However, after the destruction of the Temple, the wondrous plant disappeared.

With the miraculous modern restoration of the People of Israel to the Land of Israel, the Balm of Gilead has been rediscovered thanks to the pioneering efforts of a farmer named Guy Erlich. Erlich spent years researching the botany, geography and history of the Holy Land and rediscovered the lost plant.

Erlich has since set up Balm of Gilead Farms[2] near the Dead Sea where he is cultivating thousands of ancient plants for both historical and religious purposes.

According to Rabbi Israel Ariel, the chairman of the Temple Institute in Jerusalem:

 

“In my opinion, the Balm of Gilead Farm is an important initiative, in both the Zionistic and the religious and spiritual sense.

It is essential in our times to learn as much as we can regarding the incense of the Temple, for we are the generation of the rebirth. Therefore, it is of great importance that we continue this research; we must prepare for the eventual regular supply of quality and authentic components for the incense blend, to be used in the Third Temple.”

May the discovery of the purple seal prove to be an important step in the full restoration of the miraculous healing that the Balm of Gilead has long represented, Amen.

 


Footnotes

[1]  https://www.israel365news.com/200650/rare-biblical-balm-of-gilead-engraving-found-on-2000-year-old-seal-in-jerusalem/

[2]  https://www.balmofgileadfarm.com/

[3]  https://www.israel365news.com/124843/stash-original-temple-incense-found/

 


Editor’s Addendum:

This a picture of the ancient persimmon plant.

Enhanced image of 2000-year-old amethyst seal bearing image of a bird and the ancient persimmon plant.

Enhanced image of 2000-year-old amethyst seal bearing image of a bird and the ancient persimmon plant.

 


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ISRAELI ARCHAEOLOGISTS DISCOVER ANCIENT WINEMAKING COMPLEX

by The Jewish Voice, October 12, 2021

This article contains photos of some recent finds in a winemaking location dating back some 1,500 years discovered in Yavne, south of Tel Aviv. These include “five wine presses, warehouses, kilns for producing clay storage vessels and tens of thousands of fragments and jars.” “Israel’s Antiquities Authority said the discovery shows that Yavne was a wine-making powerhouse during the Byzantine period. Researchers estimate the facility could produce some 2 million liters (over 520,000 gallons) of wine a year.”

Yavne is important in its own right. After the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem in 70 CE, Yochanan ben Zakkai moved the Sanhedrin, the legislative body that ruled on Halacha (Jewish law), to Yavne, where new religious services were formulated as substitutes for Temple services that could no longer be performed.

AUTHOR: This article was written by the Jewish Voice Staff, without attribution.

This article was published October 12, 2021 by The Jewish Voice and is archived at https://thejewishvoice.com/2021/10/watch-israeli-archaeologists-discover-ancient-winemaking-complex/.


ISRAELI ARCHAEOLOGISTS DISCOVER ANCIENT WINEMAKING COMPLEX

by The Jewish Voice, October 12, 2021-2

 

Avshalom Davidesko from the Israel’s Antiquities Authority examines a jar in a massive ancient winemaking complex dating back some 1,500 years in Yavne, south of Tel Aviv, Israel, Monday, Oct. 11, 2021. Israeli archaeologists said the complex includes five wine presses, warehouses, kilns for producing clay storage vessels and tens of thousands of fragments and jars. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
 

(AP) — Israeli archaeologists on Monday said they have unearthed a massive ancient winemaking complex dating back some 1,500 years.

The complex, discovered in the central town of Yavne, includes five wine presses, warehouses, kilns for producing clay storage vessels and tens of thousands of fragments and jars, they said.

Israel’s Antiquities Authority said the discovery shows that Yavne was a wine-making powerhouse during the Byzantine period. Researchers estimate the facility could produce some 2 million liters (over 520,000 gallons) of wine a year.

Jon Seligman, one of the directors of the excavation, said the wine made in the area was known as “Gaza” wine and exported across the region. The researchers believe the Yavne location was the main production facility for the label.

“This was a prestige wine, a light white wine, and it was taken to many, many countries around the Mediterranean,” he said, including Egypt, Turkey, Greece and possibly southern Italy.

Seligman said wine was not just an important export and source of enjoyment in ancient times. “Beyond that, this was a major source of nutrition and this was a safe drink because the water was often contaminated, so they could drink wine safely,” he said.

The antiquities authority said the complex was uncovered over the past two years during excavations being conducted as part of the development of Yavne, a town located south of Tel Aviv.

This next is an excellent and informative video on ‘the largest complex of winepresses known in the world from the byzantine period’. Click on it. When it is over, click the back arrow to return to the article on the winemaking complex. If this doesn’t work on your computer, view it in the original article published on the Jewish Voice website: https://thejewishvoice.com/2021/10/watch-israeli-archaeologists-discover-ancient-winemaking-complex/.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3uoZsz9DhhI&t=4s

 

An aerial picture taken by a drone shows a massive ancient winemaking complex dating back some 1,500 years in Yavne, south of Tel Aviv, Israel, Monday, Oct. 11, 2021. Israeli archaeologists said the complex includes five wine presses, warehouses, kilns for producing clay storage vessels and tens of thousands of fragments and jars. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
 

Israel Antiquities Authority employees work in a massive ancient winemaking complex dating back some 1,500 years in Yavne, central, Israel, Monday, Oct. 11, 2021. Israeli archaeologists said the complex includes five wine presses, warehouses, kilns for producing clay storage vessels and tens of thousands of fragments and jars. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
 

An Israel Antiquities Authority employe holds a jar from a massive ancient winemaking complex dating back some 1,500 years in Yavne, central, Israel, Monday, Oct. 11, 2021. Israeli archaeologists said the complex includes five wine presses, warehouses, kilns for producing clay storage vessels and tens of thousands of fragments and jars. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
 


 

ARABS HAVE DESTROYED 80% OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES IN JUDEA AND SAMARIA

by Yoni Kempinski, October 8, 2021.

Yoni Kempinski writes that Arabs in Judea and Samaria have undertaken systematic destruction of 3,000 years of Jewish history in Judea and Samaria. Jewish heritage sites in Judea and Samaria are being systematically vandalized and destroyed by local Arabs, according to a watchdog group which monitors archaeological sites in the area.

“Adi Shragai, operations organizer for the Shomrim Al HaNetzach organization, said in an interview with Arutz Sheva that the phenomenon of Arab vandals targeting archaeological sites in Judea and Samaria has grown worse in recent years. Unlike archaeological sites inside the pre-1967 Green Line, which fall under the direct protection of the Israel Antiquities Authority, sites in Judea and Samaria are under the authority of the Staff Officer of Archaeology, an office in the Defense Ministry’s Civil Administration for Judea and Samaria.” Here, enforcement of the law has been poor.

AUTHOR: Yoni Kempinski made aliyah from Toronto Canada in 1985. He started at Arutz Sheva as video producer and anchor. He is now Deputy Editor and Correspondent.

This article was published October 8, 2021 by Arutz Sheva and is archived at https://www.israelnationalnews.com/news/314699/.

Archived at https://think-israel.com/arabs-have-destroyed-80-of-archaeological-sites-in-judea-and-samaria/


”ARABS HAVE DESTROYED 80% OF ARCHEOLOGICAL SITES IN JUDEA AND SAMARIA’

by Yoni Kempinski, October 8, 2021

Arabs in Judea and Samaria have undertaken systematic destruction of 3,000 years of Jewish history in Judea and Samaria, NGO reports.

 

Adi Shragai
 

Jewish heritage sites in Judea and Samaria are being systematically vandalized and destroyed by local Arabs, according to a watchdog group which monitors archeological sites in the area.

Adi Shragai, operations organizer for the Shomrim Al HaNetzach organization, said in an interview with Arutz Sheva that the phenomenon of Arab vandals targeting archeological sites in Judea and Samaria has grown worse in recent years.

“Unfortunately, in the last few years we’ve received more and more reports from hikers and people in the field regarding the destruction of antiquities in Judea and Samaria, with no law enforcement. We understood immediately that something significant – and terrible – is happening here.”

The targeted destruction of archeological sites in Judea and Samaria, Shragai said, is carried out in part by Arab antiquities thieves, but also as part of illegal Arab land grabs, with unauthorized construction targeting historical sites. Arab farmers also often target archeological sites for destruction, preparing the land for agricultural work.

Unlike archeological sites inside the pre-1967 Green Line, which fall under the direct protection of the Israel Antiquities Authority, sites in Judea and Samaria are under the authority of the Staff Officer of Archeology, an office in the Defense Ministry’s Civil Administration for Judea and Samaria.

Due to the office’s limited resources, Shragai said, enforcement of laws protecting archeological sites in Judea and Samaria has been lax.

“The Civil Administration isn’t enforcing the laws, so our goal has been the establishment of a Judea and Samaria division of the Israel Antiquities Authority.”

Large sites, such as Sebastia in Samaria, have been targeted by vandals, Shragai continued, with major sites destroyed or damaged, with some vandalized with graffiti. In some instances, the Palestine Liberation Organization flag has been raised over the sites.

During a recent tour with Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel (New Hope) of the Tel Arumeh site in the Shechem (Nablus) region in Samaria, for instance, it was discovered that a four-story mosque dedicated to terrorists, dubbed the ‘Martyrs’ Mosque’, had been built.

“In the middle of the tour with the minister, we saw how [the vandals] had levelled the top of the site, destroying antiquities.”

The site, which houses the ruins of a Hasmonean fortress, is also mentioned in the Bible as the home of Gideon.

Unfortunately, Shragai said, the damage is more the rule than the exception. A recent survey of 365 major archeological sites across Judea and Samaria found that some 80% had suffered either moderate or serious damage at the hands of vandals.

“This is a catastrophe for our national heritage. This is reminiscent of what ISIS does. Three-thousand years of Jewish history has been erased in just a short time. You can’t restore destroyed archeological sites.”

 


Editor’s Addendum:

These are some of the comments that added useful information.

 

Eliezer Kaufman

And all the time the current and previous governments have authorized the civil administration and the IDF to turn a blind eye to all this and NOT devoted resources to preventing this – what sort of people do we have in government? They certainly are NOT for supporting the existence of a Jewish State and our heritage – looks like the country is falling apart – how about letting the Supreme Court dealing with this issue of incompetence and getting the Jews in the Diaspora raising a rumpus! 8 October, 2021

 

Moshe Moses

Its Time the New Government of Israel Wakes Up to this Cultural Destruction in Judea and Sameria of Israels and the Jewish Peoples History the Land G-d Gave to Abraham Over 3500 Years Ago Read the Hebrew Bible the Place this Where Abraham Issac Jacob Sarah Rebecca Rachel and Leah Jewish Peoples Patriarchs and Matriarchs are Buried in Hebron Judea and Sameria in the Cave of Ma’arat HaMachpela this Cave which Abraham Bought to Bury his Wife Sarah also History of King David the 12 Tribes of Israel all in Judea and Sameria full of Jewish History. Evil Frankenstein Thieves Have no History their Name Palestinian its a Roman Name Taken By Yassar Arafat The Blood Thirsty Murderer of Israelis In Actuality he is Arab who Came from Egypt after 1967 Arab Israel War The So Called Palestinians are Arabs Who Came to Israel from Egypt Syria and Other Parts of the Middle East in Search of Work After 1948 Israel Independence to Israel they are Not Indigenous People the Jews are the Only Indigenous People that Why the Frankenstein’s Deliberately Destroy Jewish History in Judea and Sameria as to Erase it and so they Can Steal Jewish Land and Claim it and with as Their Own with the Help of European Union Frankenstein’s Accomplices. Thank G-d For Shomrim Al HaNetzach Bringing the Info to Government of Israels Attention More Monitoring will be Done.

 

Avi

It is hard to understand how and why the Israel government manages to be so passive on issues such as this that are crucial to the Jewish State’s very survival, not to mention the loss to science, archeology, history, tourism, etc. Who are those incompetent ignorant people in charge of these issues, yet doing nothing about them?

 

Stan

The invented Palestinians were and still are a political party created to disrupt all Jewish life,Arabs who wish to coexist and distance themselves from the pa land of anarchy the Hamas land of anarchy ,trying to erase the true history of the region from thousands of years, .In Israel like the Druz and other Muslims have prospered and are loyal to Israel,there is no ancient history of the pa or hamas in the region ,unless you are talking about the railroad the ottomans were building with Arab labor.

 

Fivish

Where is the outcry forn the international community of historians and cultural heritage experts? No, they are complicit in the antisemitic destruction of all that is Jewish. Where is the Israeli government protecting its nations history? There is ambivalence in high places which must not prevail.

 

A

This is the price for not expelling arabs from Judea, Samaria and Gaza 54 years ago.

 

blue

There was just as much ancient Judean archeology found in the Sinai peninsula and when all the Peninsula was returned to Egypt Israel emptied out its museums and storage rooms of all the finds in the Sinai peninsula and gave it to Egypt to the last pottery.

 


 

HAVE ARCHAEOLOGISTS UNCOVERED THE REMAINS OF NOAH’S ARK? DIMENSIONS MATCH BIBLICAL DESCRIPTION

HAVE ARCHAEOLOGISTS UNCOVERED THE REMAINS OF NOAH’S ARK? DIMENSIONS MATCH BIBLICAL DESCRIPTION

by Josh Plank, October 3, 2021

Josh Plank writes, “Researchers studying a boat-shaped formation in the mountains of Turkey have announced plans to conduct archaeological excavations at the site after new data suggests that the formation could be a man-made structure that appears to match the biblical description of Noah’s ark. “The researchers “are hoping to perform further scans of the site, collect core drilling samples, and ultimately conduct archaeological excavations to determine what really lies beneath the mysterious formation.” “According the biblical book of Genesis, Noah’s ark came to rest on the ‘mountains of Ararat’ after the great flood. The Durupinar site is located in the foothills of the Akyayla Mountain, about 32 kilometers (20 miles) south of the summit of Mount Ararat.”

AUTHOR: josh Plank is an author at World Israel News.

This article was published October 3, 2021 by World Israel News and is archived at https://worldisraelnews.com/have-archaeologists-uncovered-the-remains-of-noahs-ark-dimensions-match-biblical-description/


HAVE ARCHAEOLOGISTS UNCOVERED THE REMAINS OF NOAH’S ARK? DIMENSIONS MATCH BIBLICAL DESCRIPTION

by Josh Plank, October 3, 2021

“This is not what you would expect to see if this site is just a solid block of rock or an accumulation of random debris from a mudflow,” said one researcher.

 

The boat-shaped Durupinar formation in Turkey. (NoahsArkScans.com)
 

Researchers studying a boat-shaped formation in the mountains of Turkey have announced plans to conduct archaeological excavations at the site after new data suggests that the formation could be a man-made structure that appears to match the biblical description of Noah’s ark.

According to the researchers, ground-penetrating radar (GPR) surveys conducted at the “Durupinar site” in 2019 by Oregon-based Topa 3D show parallel lines and angular shapes, which are “strong indications of man-made construction,” between 8 and 20 feet below the surface.

“This is not what you would expect to see if this site is just a solid block of rock or an accumulation of random debris from a mudflow,” said Andrew Jones, a native of California who has been studying the site since the 1990s and now lives in Turkey to continue his investigations.

“But they are what you would expect to see if this is a man-made boat matching the biblical requirements of Noah’s ark,” he said.

In a statement released last month, the research group said the patterns unveiled by the GPR surveys appear to resemble rooms, possibly underneath a deck-like platform.

“I knew that the scientific consensus was that the Durupinar site is a geological oddity. Before learning about these scans, it seemed like those who continued to argue in favor of the Durupinar site just couldn’t accept the truth and let it go,” said Ryan Mauro, president of the Doubting Thomas Research Foundation.

“It’s a whole new ballgame now. Those judgments dismissing the site were made decades ago and based on limited data compared to what we have now,” he said.

Jones and Mauro, along with a team of Turkish scientists led by Dr. Fethi Ahmet Yuksel, are hoping to perform further scans of the site, collect core drilling samples, and ultimately conduct archaeological excavations to determine what really lies beneath the mysterious formation.

The group has already obtained a permit to begin their investigation and launched a website, NoahsArkScans.com, to increase public awareness and raise the necessary funds.

In 1959, a Turkish army captain named Ilhan Durupinar first noticed the boat-shaped formation in aerial photographs collected by the Turkish military.

According the biblical book of Genesis, Noah’s ark came to rest on the “mountains of Ararat” after the great flood. The Durupinar site is located in the foothills of the Akyayla Mountain, about 32 kilometers (20 miles) south of the summit of Mount Ararat.

Next is a video entitled “Noah’s Ark Found?”
https://youtu.be/gjfH_Q4pQRI

COSMIC AIRBURST DESTROYED SODOM, CONSISTENT WITH BIBLE, NEW EVIDENCE SUGGESTS

COSMIC AIRBURST DESTROYED SODOM, CONSISTENT WITH BIBLE, NEW EVIDENCE SUGGESTS

COSMIC AIRBURST DESTROYED SODOM, CONSISTENT WITH BIBLE, NEW EVIDENCE SUGGESTS

By Josh Plank, October 1, 2021

Josh Plank writes, “A cosmic airburst obliterated a Middle-Bronze-Age city northeast of the Dead Sea approximately 3,600 years ago, an event which may have been recorded as the biblical account of the destruction of Sodom, according to research published last week in the journal Scientific Reports. The report was written by a group of 21 co-authors including archaeologists, geologists, geochemists, geomorphologists, mineralogists, paleobotanists, sedimentologists, cosmic-impact experts, and medical doctors. “Examining evidence from 15 years of archeological excavations at the site of the destroyed city, known as Tall el-Hammam, the authors concluded that the only plausible formation mechanism that can account for the city’s unique destruction is the tremendous detonation of an incoming space rock.” The description in Genesis of the destruction of an urban center in the Dead Sea area is consistent with having been an eyewitness account of a cosmic airburst, researchers concluded. AUTHOR: josh Plank is an author at World Israel News.

This article was published October 1, 2021 by World Israel News and is archived at https://worldisraelnews.com/cosmic-airburst-destroyed-sodom-consistent-with-bible-new-evidence-suggests/.


COSMIC AIRBURST DESTROYED SODOM, CONSISTENT WITH BIBLE, NEW EVIDENCE SUGGESTS

By Josh Plank, World Israel News

A “cosmic airburst” obliterated a Middle-Bronze-Age city northeast of the Dead Sea approximately 3,600 years ago, an event which may have been recorded as the biblical account of the destruction of Sodom, according to research published last week in the journal Scientific Reports.

The report was written by a group of 21 co-authors including archaeologists, geologists, geochemists, geomorphologists, mineralogists, paleobotanists, sedimentologists, cosmic-impact experts, and medical doctors.

Examining evidence from 15 years of archeological excavations at the site of the destroyed city, known as Tall el-Hammam, the authors concluded that the “only plausible formation mechanism” that can account for the city’s unique destruction is the tremendous detonation of an incoming space rock.

The site’s 1.5-meter-thick carbon-and-ash-rich destruction layer contains materials such as shocked quartz, melted pottery and mudbricks, diamond-like carbon, soot, melted plaster, carbonized pieces of wooden beams, charred grain, and fragments of human bones.

“The data also suggest an airburst occurred a few kilometers SW of Tall el-Hammam causing, in rapid succession, a high-temperature thermal pulse from the fireball that melted exposed materials, including roofing clay, mudbricks, and pottery. This was followed by a high-temperature, hypervelocity blast wave that demolished and pulverized mudbrick walls across the city, leveling the city, and causing extensive human mortality,” the authors said.

According to the report, 15 other cities and over 100 smaller villages were simultaneously abandoned and remained largely uninhabited for some 300–600 years.

The event also distributed salt across the region, severely limiting agricultural activity.

“The description in Genesis of the destruction of an urban center in the Dead Sea area is consistent with having been an eyewitness account of a cosmic airburst, e.g., (i) stones fell from the sky; (ii) fire came down from the sky; (iii) thick smoke rose from the fires; (iv) a major city was devastated; (v) city inhabitants were killed; and (vi) area crops were destroyed,” said the authors.

The report places the destruction of Tall el-Hammam in approximately the year 1650 BCE.

In comparison, Rabbi Mattis Kantor, author of Codex Judaica, places the destruction of Sodom in the year 1713 BCE.

According to chapter 19 of the biblical book of Genesis, “The Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven. And he overthrew those cities, and the entire plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and the vegetation of the ground.”

‘LET THE STONES SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES’

by Roger Hertog September 30, 2021

As Roger Hertog writes, “… biblical archaeology [is] a subset within the larger field dating back to the 19th century, and somewhat controversial in that some of its practitioners have aimed to codify the authenticity of the Bible. In the process, its discoveries have indeed helped to validate the Jewish historic claim to the Holy Land, challenging those who see modern Israel as a nation of interlopers.” What has proven challenging is identifying structures that some say conform to Biblical descriptions and others deny the connection. For example, conventional thinking asserts David and his predecessor Saul were not kings as described in the Bible but “tribal chieftains” with hilltop strongholds. So when Eilat Mazar, who was not strongly religious, uncovered the remains of a 3000-year old stone structure she identified as King David’s Palace, many denied the possibility. ‘Gedaliah son of Pashhur’ and ‘Jucal son of Shelemiah’, names mentioned in the Bible as hearing the words of Jeremiah were found on 2700-year old seals at the dig. Besides the tunnels under the complex, intricate wall designs also add credence, but many continue to deny Mazar’s claims. They might be right but possibly they talk this way because they are committed politically to denying that the Jews have lived in Judea a very long time and that the Bible is historical evidence of this. The verdict is still not in, but look at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3sRaY8zv3Xc, a delightful reconstruction of what might have been.

AUTHOR: Roger Hertog is vice chairman emeritus of AllianceBernstein LP, president of the Hertog Foundation, and past chairman of the Tikvah Fund.

This article was published August 10, 2021 by Israel National News and is archived at https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/let-the-stones-speak-for-themselves/


‘LET THE STONES SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES’

by Roger Hertog, September 30, 2021

Eilat Mazar offered me a chance to help link the Bible to modern times. It was one of my best investments


Archaeologist Eilat Mazar in the 2018 winter Ophel Excavations in Jerusalem. (YouTube screenshot)

The first time I heard the name Mazar was shortly after the Six-Day War, as a participant in a UJA-Federation mission to Israel. We met with a variety of leaders in government, academia, and business. But my introduction to Benjamin Mazar, at the time head of the archaeology department at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, stands out, having captured my imagination as a 29-year-old Zionist, naturally drawn to the state of Israel because of my parents’ experience fleeing the Nazis in the late 1930s.

In the immediate aftermath of the reunification of Jerusalem, Benjamin had the enviable task of exploring areas of Jerusalem that had been off limits to Jews for centuries. He was a fabulous storyteller with an intricate knowledge of the Bible and gave us a tour of several sites where he hoped to uncover artifacts.

It was a transformative experience to tour East Jerusalem with someone who could point to where the Romans were encamped millennia ago, as if he were present at the time.

Little did I know that some 30 years later Benjamin’s granddaughter, Eilat, would present me with the opportunity of a lifetime: A chance to connect modern day Israel with the ancient kingdom of David inscribed in the book of Prophets.

I didn’t then fully understand the implications of biblical archaeology, a subset within the larger field dating back to the 19th century, and somewhat controversial in that some of its practitioners have aimed to codify the authenticity of the Bible. In the process, its discoveries have indeed helped to validate the Jewish historic claim to the Holy Land, challenging those who see modern Israel as a nation of interlopers.

Some archaeologists have argued that David and his predecessor, Saul, were merely “tribal chieftains” with hilltop strongholds rather than kingdoms, thus relegating the Jews of that era as just one of the nomadic groups in the region. What made Eilat such an eloquent person was that she never engaged in a real conflict with any of them. She would only say “Let the stones speak for themselves.” Time and scholarship will tell the story.

After Benjamin’s passing in 1995, Eilat, who had learned at his side, was ready and able to continue his work. Like him, she was not devoutly religious, but she felt a strong connection to the Bible as a blueprint to Israel’s ancient past.

In the early 2000s, she was devoted to finding the Palace of King David in Jerusalem, a “holy grail” of sorts among renowned archaeologists and historians searching for clues to the significance of the era. Benjamin had been supportive of her vision and contributed insights to her research, focused on the excavation in the City of David area, adjacent to the Western Wall and Temple Mount and bordering the Arab village of Silwan.

Plans to excavate the area faced skepticism among Eilat’s peers, as well as financial, logistical, and bureaucratic hurdles. The Eldad Association, the authority in charge of the area, planned to build a visitor center right where Eilat wanted to dig. She had long worried that the pace of construction in the area would render the project impossible.

After a potential funding source fell through, I learned of the dilemma through Dan Polisar via my role as a board member of the Shalem Center, where Eilat was a senior fellow. Fortunately, I was in a position to offer help, and soon met with Eilat in the United States. She brought with her extensive documentation, unfurling her maps and drawing from the encyclopedia of biblical history in her mind.

She was convinced that a passage in the book of Samuel contained clues to a palace in the northern part of Jerusalem’s oldest area. She was also inspired by the work of British archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon, who in the 1960s discovered in that area what she believed to be a wall built by King Solomon dating to the tenth century B.C.E.

“The Bible tells us that Hiram of Tyre (who would later help King Solomon build the Temple)[1] constructed the palace for David,” Eilat later wrote in an article[2] in the Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR). “King Hiram of Tyre sent envoys to David, with cedar logs, carpenters and stonemasons; and they built a palace for David” (2 Samuel 5:11). [3]

When I inquired of Dan Polisar about other archaeologists’ theories, I learned that most said Eilat’s views were fanciful, and that her dig would be a waste of time and money. Some said the area in question had been nothing more than a grazing area for sheep.

But Eilat was a force of nature. If her grandfather had a passion for biblical archaeology, Eilat not only shared it but added to it conviction and an inability to be deterred. I decided to but place my bet with Eilat Mazar.

After a visit to see the site firsthand, my wife, Susan, and I agreed to underwrite the project. I recall standing at the visitor center and trying to imagine that “somewhere beneath this Coke machine could be David’s Citadel!” In 2005, the Eldad Association agreed to the dig in hopes of adding to the site’s historical appeal.

Eilat’s enthusiasm was contagious. Sure enough, her team from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she was a professor, quickly began to unearth treasures. I recall the first excited call in which she reported artifacts from the fourth to seventh century B.C.E, including one bearing the name of Yehuchal, a figure mentioned in the biblical book of Jeremiah. At that point we agreed to double our investment.

“Almost from the start, ancient remains, preserved beyond all expectations, were unearthed,” Eilat wrote in BAR. “Surprisingly, I felt very much at ease throughout the entire excavation. Perhaps what helped me most was the recognition of the importance of what we were doing… I would let the stones speak for themselves.”

In August of 2005, Eilat announced her belief that what would come to be called the Large Stone Structure, in close proximity to the Stepped Stone Structure excavated by Kenyon decades earlier, was part of King David’s palace. She argued that the two sites were once part of a single complex, and that it made sense that the palace might be outside the protective walls of Jerusalem due to the city’s increasing expansion.

Here’s how Eilat later addressed the skeptics in BAR.

“Did King David, now the ally of the Phoenicians, renowned for their building capabilities, authorize them to build a magnificent new palace for him outside but adjacent to the northern boundary of the old Canaanite city, shortly before the construction of the projected new Temple to its north?

“The Biblical narrative, I submit, better explains the archaeology we have uncovered than any other hypothesis that has been put forward. Indeed, the archaeological remains square perfectly with the Biblical description that tells us David went down from there to the citadel. So, you decide whether or not we have found King David’s palace.”

Even the naysayers welcomed her contributions. As noted in a 2005 article in The New York Times, “Other scholars who have toured the site are skeptical that the foundation walls Eilat Mazar has discovered are David’s palace, but they acknowledged that what she found was rare and important — a major public building from around the 10th century B.C.E. with pottery shards that date from the time of David and Solomon…”

Israel, and indeed the global archaeological community, lost one of its shining lights on May 25 of this year, when Eilat succumbed to illness at the too-young age of 64.

While she was never 100-percent certain in her theories, her courage drove her to push for the answers. Her work inspired not only Jews but others, including U.S. policy makers, who believe in the ancient Jewish ties to the Holy Land.

I last spoke to Eilat a few months before she died. She never mentioned she was ill. She did speak of her satisfaction with all she had accomplished. Although her time was relatively short, she lived the life she most desperately wanted, and had a career coveted by many of her peers.

Her work will live on through The Roger and Susan Hertog Center for the Archaeological Study of Jerusalem and Judah at the Hebrew University.[4]

The biblical understanding of Jerusalem as the heart of David’s Judean dynasty is central to the debate about both the city’s historical and religious significance, and these discoveries are invaluable contributions to this debate. George Orwell wrote: “Those who control the present control the past, and those who control the past control the future.”

Susan and I are proud to support the Center, so that future Eilat Mazars can pursue their dream of linking the past and the present, to ensure the Jewish state’s future.

 

Footnotes

[1]  https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-sites-places/temple-at-jerusalem/searching-for-the-temple-of-king-solomon/

[2] https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-topics/hebrew-bible/did-i-find-king-davids-palace/

[3] https://www.sefaria.org/II_Samuel.5.11?lang=he-en&utm_source=blogs.timesofisrael.com&utm_medium=sefaria_linker

[4]  https://www.afhu.org/2021/08/13/the-roger-and-susan-hertog-center-for-the-archaeological-study-of-jerusalem-and-judah/

 


 

MEDIEVAL HEBREW DOCUMENT COULD REVEAL WHY DEAD SEA SCROLLS WERE FOUND IN QUMRAN

By Tom Metcalfe, September 27, 2021

Israeli researchers are finally discovering how and why the Dead Sea Scrolls ended up in Qumran. Tom Metcalfe writes about Dr. Daniel Vainstub’s explanation, based on an ancient Hebrew document that was hidden in Cairo some 1,000 years ago. Vainstub believes that the annual meeting of some 3000 or more members of the Sect from communities all over the country took place in Qumran, because it had the requisite enormous ritual bath and sufficient water reservoirs. Vainstub says also that one of the Qumranic documents, the Damascus Document, contains the rules and regulations applicable to the annual gathering. He suggests they brought scrolls to and took scrolls from Qumran at these annual meeting. It would certainly explain why such a large well-equipped place showed little or no sign of people living there full time in an ordinary community.

Dr Vainstub has written a scholarly article detailing his theory entitled The_Covenant_Renewal_Ceremony_as_the_Main_Function_of_Qumran”; it is available at https://www.academia.edu/50851440/

AUTHOR: Tom Metcalfe is a freelance journalist and regular Live Science contributor who is based in London in the United Kingdom. He writes mainly about science, space, archaeology, the Earth and the oceans.

Daniel Vainstub is at Ben-Gurion University in Beer Sheva, Israel in the Department of Bible, Archaeology and Ancient Near East. Contact him at vainstub@bgu.ac.il/.

This article was published September 27, 2021 by Life Science and is archived at https://www.livescience.com/medieval-damascus-document-dead-sea-scroll-mystery/. read more…

GOLD EARRING DISCOVERED BY ARCHAEOLOGISTS CONFIRMS BABYLONIAN CONQUEST OF JERUSALEM

GOLD EARRING DISCOVERED BY ARCHAEOLOGISTS CONFIRMS BABYLONIAN CONQUEST OF JERUSALEM

by Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz | August 12, 2019

Adam Berkowitz writes that they have discovered an earring in Jerusalem on Mount Zion, which is evidence of the Babylonian conquest of the city in 586 BCE. Dr. Rafi Lewis, co-director of the project said that “this find is quite literally priceless. We can establish the context as the destruction of the First Temple without any doubt. We have made similar finds outside of the city but this is the first time we made such finds inside the city.”

Dr. Lewis noted that in the field of archaeology, the Bible and science could coexist. “The Bible is certainly one of our sources,” Dr. Lewis said. “You have to treat it respectfully. It represents something spiritual and was not written as a history book. It was written as a religious book but there is a historical base and root. But we cannot reject the Bible when studying archaeology. I would not rely on the Bible exclusively just like I would not rely on any other source exclusively. We need as many sources as possible and the Bible can be one of them.” read more…

BIBLICAL DISCOVERY: ISRAELI ARCHAEOLOGISTS FIND 1ST INSCRIPTION RELATED TO BOOK OF JUDGES

BIBLICAL DISCOVERY: ISRAELI ARCHAEOLOGISTS FIND 1ST INSCRIPTION RELATED TO BOOK OF JUDGES

 by TPS, July 12, 2021

“This is the first time that the name Jerubbaal has been found outside the Bible in an archaeological context. [A]n inscription dating from the time of the biblical Judges some 3,100 years ago and relating to the Book of Judges has been recovered from excavations at Khirbat er-i, near Qiryat Gat. “The inscription was written in ink on a jug a small personal pottery vessel that holds approximately one liter, and may well have contained a precious liquid such as oil, perfume or medicine. Apparently, much like today, the vessel’s owner wrote his name on it to assert his ownership. “The inscription has been deciphered by epigraphic expert Christopher Rolston of George Washington University, Washington DC. It clearly shows the Hebrew letters yud (broken at the top), resh, bet, ayin, lamed, and remnants of other letters indicate that the original inscription was longer.” AUTHOR: This article was written by TPS of the United With Israel staff. read more…

MAGNIFICENT BUILDING FROM SECOND TEMPLE-PERIOD REVEALED

MAGNIFICENT BUILDING FROM SECOND TEMPLE-PERIOD REVEALED

 by Arutz Sheva Staff, July 08, 2021

“The Western Wall Heritage Foundation and the Israel Antiquities Authority are enabling the public to view impressive new sections of the most magnificent public buildings uncovered from the Second Temple period. … Part of the structure, to the west of Wilson’s Arch and the Temple Mount, was discovered and documented by Charles Warren in the nineteenth century, followed by various archaeologists in the twentieth century. Now that its excavation is complete, we know that it contained two identical magnificent chambers with an elaborate fountain between them.” Dr. Shlomit Weksler-Bdolach, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, noted that “The building, which apparently stood along a street leading up to the Temple Mount, was used for public functions it may even have been the city council building where important dignitaries were received before entering the Temple compound and the Temple Mount. read more…

BIBLE SCROLL FRAGMENTS AMONG DAZZLING ARTIFACTS FOUND IN DEAD SEA CAVE OF HORROR

BIBLE SCROLL FRAGMENTS AMONG DAZZLING ARTIFACTS FOUND IN DEAD SEA CAVE OF HORROR

By Amanda Borschel-Dan, March 16, 2021

Amanda Borschel-Dan writes of 2000-year old biblical scroll fragments, Greek translations of the books of Zechariah and Nahum, that have been found in Judean Desert Caves. The finds are part of a concerted effort since 2017 to rescue such ancient artifacts, given the massive looting that has been going on ever since Bedouin shepherds discovered the Dead Sea scrolls some 70 years ago. The intent is to preempt artifact thieves rather than try to track artifacts that have been looted. The article contains impressive photos of some of the finds, including a skeleton of a young girl and scraps of fabric and sandals. Additional information is to be found at https://www.israelhayom.com/2021/03/16/new-dead-sea-scrolls-discovered-in-judean-desert-caves/, in an article written by Yori Yalon.

AUTHOR: Amanda Borschel-Dan is The Times of Israel’s Jewish World and Archaeology editor.

This article was published March 16, 2021 by Times of Israel and is archived at https://www.timesofisrael.com/bible-scroll-fragments-among-dazzling-artifacts-found-in-dead-sea-cave-of-horror/.


Bible scroll fragments among dazzling artifacts found in Dead Sea Cave of Horror

Parts of books of Nahum and Zechariah, world’s oldest woven basket, 6,000-year-old mummified child, Bar Kochba Revolt coins among stunning finds from daring Judean Desert rescue op

In a stunningly rare discovery, dozens of 2,000-year-old biblical scroll fragments have been excavated from Judean Desert caves during a daring rescue operation. Most of the newly discovered scroll fragments — the first such finds in 60 years — are Greek translations of the books of Zechariah and Nahum from the Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets, and are written in two scribal hands. Only the name of God is written in Hebrew in the texts.

The fragments from the Prophets have been identified as coming from a larger scroll that was found in the 1950s, in the same “Cave of Horror” in Nahal Hever, which is some 80 meters (260 feet) below a cliff top. According to an Israel Antiquities Authority press release, the cave is “flanked by gorges and can only be reached by rappelling precariously down the sheer cliff.”

Along with the “new” biblical scroll fragments from the Books of the Minor Prophets, the team excavated a huge 10,500-year-old perfectly preserved woven basket — the oldest complete basket in the world — and a 6,000-year-old mummified skeleton of a child, tucked into its blanket for a final sleep.

Since 2017, the IAA has spearheaded an unprecedented rescue operation to salvage ancient artifacts from caves throughout the Judean Desert against the rampant looting that has occurred in the area since the much-heralded — and lucrative — discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls by Bedouin shepherds some 70 years ago. On Tuesday morning, a sample of the dazzling discoveries were unveiled for the first time.

In a stunningly rare discovery, dozens of 2,000-year-old biblical scroll fragments have been excavated from Judean Desert caves during a daring rescue operation. Most of the newly discovered scroll fragments — the first such finds in 60 years — are Greek translations of the books of Zechariah and Nahum from the Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets, and are written in two scribal hands. Only the name of God is written in Hebrew in the texts.

The fragments from the Prophets have been identified as coming from a larger scroll that was found in the 1950s, in the same “Cave of Horror” in Nahal Hever, which is some 80 meters (260 feet) below a cliff top. According to an Israel Antiquities Authority press release, the cave is “flanked by gorges and can only be reached by rappelling precariously down the sheer cliff.”

Along with the “new” biblical scroll fragments from the Books of the Minor Prophets, the team excavated a huge 10,500-year-old perfectly preserved woven basket — the oldest complete basket in the world — and a 6,000-year-old mummified skeleton of a child, tucked into its blanket for a final sleep.

Since 2017, the IAA has spearheaded an unprecedented rescue operation to salvage ancient artifacts from caves throughout the Judean Desert against the rampant looting that has occurred in the area since the much-heralded — and lucrative — discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls by Bedouin shepherds some 70 years ago. On Tuesday morning, a sample of the dazzling discoveries were unveiled for the first time.

Israel Hasson, director-general of the Israel Antiquities Authority, in the desert operation. (Israel Antiquities Authority)

“The newly discovered scroll fragments are a wake-up call to the state. Resources must be allocated for the completion of this historically important operation. We must ensure that we recover all the data that has not yet been discovered in the caves before the robbers do. Some things are beyond value,” Hasson said.

In an optimistic attempt to be one step ahead of looters, the inter-departmental national project was launched in 2017 to survey Judean Desert caves. A few promising caves were subsequently excavated at some colorfully named locations, including the Cave of Horror — where over 40 skeletons have thus far been uncovered — and the Cave of Skulls. About 20 more promising caves could be excavated in the next stage of the operation, provided the budget is allocated.

The operation was undertaken by the IAA, in cooperation with the Staff Officer of the Archaeology Department of the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria, and funded by the Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage. About half of the Judean Desert, including the original source of most of the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran, is located in the West Bank beyond the Green Line.

“For years we chased after antiquities looters. We finally decided to pre-empt the thieves and try reaching the artifacts before they were removed from the ground and the caves,” said Amir Ganor, head of the IAA’s Theft Prevention Unit.

So far, some 80 kilometers (50 miles) and 500 caves have been systematically surveyed by three teams led by IAA archaeologists Oriah Amichai, Hagay Hamer and Haim Cohen. Ganor estimates that about 25 percent of the Judean Desert has not yet been surveyed. Using drones and high-tech rappelling and mountain-climbing gear, archaeologists and a team of volunteers from pre-military academies have been able to access many hitherto “unreachable” caves — some of which hadn’t been entered by a human being for almost two millennia.

The biblical scrolls are among the highlights of the newly excavated artifacts, but are by no means the only extraordinary discoveries:

‘New’ biblical scrolls

Opening a scroll section in the Israel Antiquities Authority’s conservation laboratory. (Shai Halevi, Israel Antiquities Authority)

Looters and archaeologists alike have combed the Judean Desert since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls some 70 years ago. Aside from two silver scrolls engraved with the biblical Priestly Blessing (from the late 7th to early 6th century BCE) discovered in Ketef Hinnom in Jerusalem, the Dead Sea Scrolls are considered the earliest known copies of the biblical books and span from circa 400 BCE to 300 CE.

The latest identified finds, two dozen 2,000-year-old biblical scroll fragments from the books of Zechariah and Nahum, were discovered in clumps and rolled up in the Cave of Horror. The conservation and study of the fragments was conducted by the IAA’s Dead Sea Scrolls Unit under Tanya Bitler, Dr. Oren Ableman and Beatriz Riestra.

The team has so far reconstructed 11 lines of Greek text that was translated from Zechariah 8:16–17, as well as verses from Nahum 1:5–6. They join nine, much more extant fragments that were discovered by Yochanan Aharoni, who first surveyed the Cave of Horrors in 1953.

On the new fragments, as well as in the Greek translation scroll discovered by Aharoni, only the name of God appears in Hebrew. It is written in the Paleo-Hebrew script used during the First Temple period, as well as by some adherents of the Bar Kochba revolt (132–136 CE), including on coinage, and in the Qumran community.

Sections of the scroll discovered in the Judean Desert after conservation. (Shai Halevi, Israel Antiquities Authority)

Among the academic fruit already born of the new discovery is the realization that the “new” Greek translation is different from the traditional Masoretic texts.

“These differences can tell us quite a bit regarding the transmission of the biblical text up until the days of the Bar Kochba Revolt, documenting the changes that occurred over time until reaching us in the current version,” said the IAA.

Sections of the Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets scroll discovered in the Judean Desert expedition prior to their conservation. (Shai Halevi, Israel Antiquities Authority)

Oldest basket in the world

IKEA would do well to take note of the craftsmanship shown on a stunning woven basket dating from some 10,500 years ago — some 1,000 years prior to the first known pottery vessels — which was hailed by the IAA as “currently unparalleled worldwide.”

The basket as found in Muraba‘at Cave. (Yoli Schwartz, Israel Antiquities Authority)

The massive 90-100 liter (24-26 gallon)-volume receptacle was discovered by youth volunteers from the Nofei Prat pre-military leadership academy. The exciting discovery took place in one of the Muraba’at Caves, which have previously offered up caches of Roman-era papers and Bar Kochba Revolt remnants, which are found in the Nahal Darga Reserve.

The basket is being studied by the IAA’s Dr. Naama Sukenik and Dr. Ianir Milevski and was dated using carbon-14, by Prof. Elisabetta Boaretto of the Scientific Archaeology Unit of the Weizmann Institute of Science.

Archaeologists Chaim Cohen and Dr. Naama Sukenik with the world’s oldest basket, as found in Muraba‘at Cave. (Yaniv Berman, Israel Antiquities Authority)

Due to the arid climate of the region, the huge Pre-Pottery Neolithic period basket, woven in a unique style from plant material, was preserved whole. “As far as we know, this is the oldest basket in the world that has been found completely intact and its importance is therefore immense,” said the IAA.

Unfortunately, the basket was discovered empty. “Only future research of a small amount of soil remaining inside it will help us discover what it was used for and what was placed in it,” said the IAA.

Conservation work on the basket in the Israel Antiquities Authority’s laboratories. (Yaniv Berman, Israel Antiquities Authority)

Mummified child

Some 6,000 years ago, a parent tucked his child in with a blanket for its eternal sleep. The complete skeleton is being researched by the IAA’s Ronit Lupu and Dr. Hila May from the Tel Aviv University School of Medicine, who estimate it was 6-12 years old, based on a CT scan.

6,000-year-old skeleton of a child who was buried wrapped in cloth. (Emil Aladjem, Israel Antiquities Authority)

Fittingly, the cloth-wrapped child was discovered in the Cave of Horror. According to prehistorian Lupu, after moving two flat stones, the team discovered that a shallow pit had been intentionally dug beneath the stones that held the child’s skeleton, which was placed in a fetal position and covered with a cloth around its head and chest.

Prehistorian Ronit Lupu in the desert operation. (Yoli Schwartz, Israel Antiquities Authority)

“It was obvious that whoever buried the child had wrapped him up and pushed the edges of the cloth beneath him, just as a parent covers his child in a blanket. A small bundle of cloth was clutched in the child’s hands,” said Lupu. Due to the arid conditions in the cave, the child was naturally mummified. The cloth and other organic materials, including hair and even skin and tendons, were likewise preserved.

Bar Kochba stash and cache

A rare cache from the Bar Kochba period. (Dafna Gazit, Israel Antiquities Authority)

Several of the caves offered random finds left behind by Jewish rebels who fled to the caves at the end of the Bar Kochba Revolt, including a cache of coins that were overstruck with Jewish rebels’ symbols such as a harp and a date palm, an array of arrowheads and spearheads, pieces of woven fabric, sandals and lice combs, which illustrated the everyday items taken by the fleeing Jews.

Ofer Sion, head of the IAA’s Surveys Department, said, “The high cliffs of 300-400 meters [985-1,300 feet] in a single drop with these enigmatic ravines that no one reaches were the ultimate haven. And in one period in human history, families fled to the caves in the Judean Desert, and we really don’t know anything else.”

Finds from the caves: fragments of Qumran jars and arrowheads from the prehistoric and Roman periods. (Dafna Gazit, Israel Antiquities Authority)

Archaeologist Oriah Amichai explained that the families clearly planned what they would be taking from home, “when one day, when the war will be finished, what they will be able to use to build a new life. We come here and reconstruct the lives of those who didn’t survive in the end,” she said.

The ongoing operation intends to continue searching for vestiges of the past that connect with all Israeli citizens, regardless of creed. As emphasized by Avi Cohen, the CEO of the Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage, “These finds are not just important to our own cultural heritage, but to that of the entire world.”

Archaeologist Oriah Amichai holding part of an ancient mat from the desert. (Yoli Schwartz, Israel Antiquities Authority)
THE PILGRIMS PATH; THE JUDAIZATION OF JERUSALEM?

THE PILGRIMS PATH; THE JUDAIZATION OF JERUSALEM?

by Adam Ross, July 10, 2019

Adam Ross writes, “Archaeologists laud the path used by pilgrims to visit the Temple as one of the most significant finds from ancient Jerusalem. It was the walkway used 2,000 years ago by pilgrims to Jerusalem. It ran from the Pool of Shiloah to the Temple Mount.” “Discovered by accident in 2004, inside David’s City (Ir David), it took 13 years to excavate. Consisting of 10,000 tons of stone, it is 25 feet (over 7.5 meters) wide and 2,000 feet (over 600 meters) long. It was walked by tens of thousands of Jews during each of the pilgrimage seasons of Sukkot, Pesach and Shavuot.” There is nothing like this in Jerusalem, Dr Joe Uziel, who has worked for six years on the project, told Aish.com. This isn’t just another street. We are talking about the path that pilgrims took on the final part of their journey to reach the Temple. It is made up of 10,000 tons of stones and a monumental connection to ancient Jerusalem. This discovery has not been welcomed by the Palestinian Authority, which has accused Israel of attempting to Judaize the Old City. “Doron Spielman, Vice President of the City of David where the excavations are taking place, answered the claims. ‘You can’t Judaize what is already Jewish.'”

AUTHOR: Adam Ross has recently returned to Israel having served as the campus rabbi at Leeds University for Aish UK. His background is in media and news broadcasting. Since moving to Israel in 2005, Ross has been involved in Jewish education, teaching at many post college programs. He has a weekly blog with thoughts and stories for the Shabbat table at www.athoughtforshabbat.wordpress.com

This article was published July 10, 2019 by the Aish organization and is archived at https://aish.com/the-pilgrims-path-the-judaization-of-jerusalem/.


THE PILGRIMS’ PATH: THE JUDAIZATION OF JERUSALEM?

by Adam Ross, July 10, 2019


Path used by pilgrims to visit the Temple

Path used by pilgrims to visit the Temple

Archaeologist laud the path used by pilgrims to visit the Temple as one of the most significant finds from ancient Jerusalem.

It all began with a burst pipe.

When a sewage pipe burst under the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan in 2004, construction workers were dispatched to fix it, and as is common practice in the city, a team of archaeologists were sent with them. What they discovered left them speechless: a set of stairs ascending from the nearby Shiloah Water Pool. Thirteen painstaking years of excavations later have now confirmed the identity of these steps as the start of a major thoroughfare for pilgrims visiting the ancient city, leading all the way to the Temple Mount.

An excavator works to reveal the road buried underground

An excavator works to reveal the road buried underground

The path which is over 25 feet wide and almost 2000 feet long stretches from the Shiloah pool, where pilgrims would purify themselves, right up to the southern corner of the Western Wall where they would enter the Temple Mount through the Hulda Gate. Pilgrims would come to the Temple for the three major pilgrimage holidays, Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot. According to the Roman era historian Josephus, some 2.7 million Jews from across the Land of Israel would visit the Temple annually.

Last week, at a special ceremony a delegation led by US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, the ambassador unveiled a 1100-foot section of the path. Touted as one of the most significant finds in Jerusalem, archaeologists say it’s impact on our connection to the city during Temple times is “monumental.”

Nothing like this in Jerusalem

“There is nothing like this in Jerusalem,” Dr Joe Uziel, (44) who has worked for six years on the project, told Aish.com. “This isn’t just another street. We are talking about the path that pilgrims took on the final part of their journey to reach the Temple. It is made up of 10,000 tons of stones and a monumental connection to ancient Jerusalem.”

Dr. Joe Uziel on the steps of the platform along the Pilgrims Path, Courtesy Israel Antiquities Authority

Discoveries found at the site include a clay fragment bearing a drawing of the Temple menorah, several pots and jugs, as well as a gold bell, experts say was likely an adornment to the hem of the clothing of someone in ceremonial dress.

“At one part of the path we found a set of stairs leading to a platform,” Uziel explained. “There are many theories on what this could be, one of the most plausible is some kind of speakers platform, perhaps for preaching or giving instructions to the pilgrims as they approached the Temple Mount. Tens of thousands of people would have walked this path at a time.”

Truth as the bedrock for peace

During the ceremony last week, breaking through a specially erected plaster wall, to reveal the path, US Ambassador Friedman said its discovery had an important significance towards building a resolution to the modern Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

US Ambassador David Friedman speaking at the unveiling

US Ambassador David Friedman speaking at the unveiling

between Israel and the Palestinians must be based upon a foundation of truth. This brings to life the historical truth of a momentous period in Jewish history and brings an end to the baseless efforts to deny the historical fact of Jerusalem’s ancient connection to the Jewish people.”

In response to the discovery and its unveiling, Saeb Erekat, the PA official spokesman accused Israel of “Creating a narrative below the ground to justify its occupation above the ground.” Echoing this, the Wafa Palestinian news network said the opening of Pilgrimage Road was an attempt to Judaize the Old city, and “impose the Israeli narrative, falsify history and impose its sovereignty on the ground by force.”

Doron Spielman, Vice President of the City of David where the excavations are taking place, answered the claims. “You can’t Judaize what is already Jewish. The claims of falsification of facts is spoken out of fear not only by the Muslim leadership but also by the radical left, holding on to a false history that has been taught since the late 1990s and paints an exclusively Islamic view of Jerusalem.”

Staircase leading from the Shiloah Pool

Staircase leading from the Shiloah Pool

“What we are seeing more and more is that this in complete disregard of the historical record. We are peeling back the layers of history to reveal a Jewish presence here that significantly predates the Islamic period.” He added, “When you walk upon these stone, you are face to face with empirical evidence of the Jewish connection to Jerusalem.”

Dr Uziel said, “We make sure to publish our data in peer reviewed international journals to show that what we have found is true. The presence of coins found lodged between the paving stones carry the date of the year 30 CE and are solid evidence of the period of this path.”

 


 

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