Articles
The Death of the Documentary Hypothesis Lawrence of Arabia ... and Judea?
Kings of Controversy The Birth & Death of Biblical Minimalism
The Invention of the Alphabet Mesha Stele
Life Magazine: Israel 1948 Echoes of a Shofar
Shimson's Temple of Dagon? The only Jewish cemetery outside of Israel
2000 Years of water in Jerusalem Cecil B. DeMille got it right
Did I find King David's palace? Escaping Jerusalem, through the mines ...
Nehemiah, the Man Behind the Wall Vatican to vet Anati?
The Devil is not So Black ... Searching for the Better Text
Who owns Jerusalem? Was Jerusalem a major trade center?
Archival color films of Israel's early days Palestine Betrayed
King David's Palace Early hannukiah
Dead Sea Scrolls, the Video The Deir Alla Inscription (Bilaam lived)
Archaeologist sees proof for Bible in ancient wall Kaifeng Jews Return
2000 year old papyrus 2nd Temple stepped street
Sodom and Gomorrah Archaeological Photos
Biblical Archaeology Review daily news Cave of Letters
Lost Tribes of Israel: The Lemba The Falashas
Jews of China The Mountain in Sinai
Camel powered carts 6000 years ago? Model of Herod's Temple
Tel Dan Stele Ed Koch on FDR's anti-semitism
Mount Zion Inscription Pre-Canaanite wall in Jerusalem
Second Temple Shul Herod's quarry in Jerusalem
Sodom & Gomorrah "found" Maccabean era Greek stele
Ancient Mikvah Jerusalem: Myths and Facts
Rabbis ordained in Germany Hezekiah's Tunnel
Barley in the Bible Jews and Japan
5000 years ... King Solomon's Mines
Noah's Flood -- Blame it on Canada? Images in early Synagogues
Herod's Tomb Hillel
Tracing the evolution of our texts Sheba
Rosh Ha'shannah at Goebbels' Herod's Final Journey
Masada's Last Days The Coliseum
The "Mandate" Bethlehem, a First Temple city
External account of Saul's selection... Two-Gun Cohen
The Nuremberg Mind Scarab in Yerushalaim
Anti-semitism in the White House Second Temple era seal
Before the Merneptah stele... "We did not know!" (Yeah, right)
Bell from a priestly garment? Latest from Goliath's home town
Computer confirms Documentary Hypothesis Oldest known Sefer Torah?
IBM's Roll in the Shoah Jews who faught the nazis in Libya
Hollywood and Hitler, a love story The Hyksos Expulsion
Pictures of Freedom "Above and Beyond"
The Jews of Gettysburg "This is all we can do for you now."
LBJ and The Jews "How did we not know?"
Noah and the Round Ark Egyptian Sphinx found in Northern Dig
UCSD Exodus Conference (2013) Did the Exodus happen?
The origins of tefillin Authoritative (Israeli) Rabbinic decisions-2009

 


Authoritative (Israeli) Rabbinic decisions-2009

1.      If a religious EMS worker sees two badly wounded (after some terror attack), man and woman, he needs to treat the man first, "to save his mitzvahs".

2.      A married couple disagreed on whom to vote for (like, Hilary vs Tramp?), so they went to the rabbi; he adjudged that the woman must refrain from voting to preserve the "peace of the house".

3.      It's forbidden to kill fleas on Sabbath.

4.      Soldiers must not eat military food cooked by Russian immigrants, because their Jewishness is suspect.

5.      Thou shalt no invite an immigrant from previous USSR to Sabbath dinner, without thoroughly investigating their Jewishness.

6.      Sitting in a toilet booth, its forbidden to converse with someone on the other side of the partition.

7.      It is righteous to kill anyone who shows contempt for yeshive bochers.

8.      It's forbidden to read a Hebrew newspaper while in/on the toilet (but English paper is ok).

9.      Women should sit at the back of the bus (like, 1950 Alabamy?). If woman has no bus ticket, she is to descend, go to the front to the driver, purchase ticket, then return to the back via the outside, so that she would not have to walk between the front-seated men.

10.  Marital sex can only be performed in totally dark room, preferably empty of anything other than bed, even empty of any distracting flies.

11.  It's preferable to eat pork than to swim in a mixed (men & women) pool.

12.  When your smart phone falls down, on picking up it has to be kissed, because nowadays it might contain the text os a siddur.

13.  Bride & groom are forbidden to kiss under the chupa.

14.  It's permitted to download stuff (pornography?) on shabbes, provided that (1) the download started before shabbes, (2) the screen in turned off, and (3) the website is staffed by goyim.

15.  It's forbidden for a man to pass between two women. A man passing between two women is as if he was passing between two donkeys.

16.  Women are forbidden to pray while cleaning house. To pay, they must put on clean clothes, wash their hands and be in a clean place. They're forbidden from eating before praying.

17.  Young children can be allowed to play with Lego during shabbes.

18.  Men are now allowed a single small heart-shaped tattoo on the arm. A tattooed woman is considered a prostitute.

The original newspaper clippings.

The origins of tefillin

Dating from the Roman period, tefillin, as the name "phylacteries" clearly implies, are magical amulets, designed to ward off evil.

Talks from the 2013 USCD Exodus Conference

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William Dever - The Exodus and the Bible: What Was Known, What Was Remembered, What Was Forgotten

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Richard Friedman - The Exodus Based on the Sources Themselves

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Baruch Halpern - The Omerta on the Exodus

The Death of the Documentary Hypothesis

The Documentary Hypothesis is dead. Or is it? Prof. David Bokovoy has some thoughts on this matter.

Part of a Sphinx found in Northern dig

Evidence of an ancient Egyptian leader in northern Israel.

Noah and the Round Ark

We all know about the relationship, or supposed relationship, between the Biblical story of the flood, Noah and the ark and the Sumerian Gilgamesh epic.

Well, there seems to be a bit more to it.

There is an even older, Akkadian, flood story. This one has detailed instructions on how to build an ark. Except this ark is round....

Antisemitism in the White House

Anti-semitism is not unheard of in the White House, says Rafael Medoff.

However, in only one modern Presidency did the President's anti-semitism actually affect governmental policy. That President was FDR.

"How did we not know?"

What was happening in Europe during the war.

But we did ... blame it on the New York Times.

"This is all we can do for you now."

    Sometimes it really isn't luck ....

The Jews at Gettysburg

"To Jews of the time, the fact that they had fought and died on both sides of the bloody battlefield of Gettysburg demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt their patriotism, honor and manhood."

"Above and Beyond"

Sample Reel for forthcoming documentary feature "Above and Beyond: The Birth of the Israeli Air Force" currently in production by Playmount Productions.

Philip Slater's The Pledge also details the story of an air base, behind the Iron Curtain, staffed almost entirely by Americans flying for Israel. That scene in Cast a Giant Shadow where Frank Sinatra steps off an Areolinas de Panama airplane? Yup, really happened....

The Hyksos Expulsion - Tel Habuwa excavations reveal the conquest of Tjaru by Ahmose I

The Hyksos, semitic conquerors of northern Egypt (a/k/a "Lower Egypt"), ruled from Avaris. Avaris is in the eastern Nile delta. This area is also known as Goshen. One of the last Hyksos kings, according to the Egyptian King List, was named Yacob (Jacob). So, the Hyksos may very well be the source of much of the exodus story. 

Josephus (Against Apion) flatly asserts that the Hyksos (he translates the word as "shepherd kings" but the Egyptian seems to mean "rulers of foreign lands") are ancient Israelites, the forbearers of Israel. He doesn't argue it; he simply states it as if it was well known and obvious. (He later claims that Manetho was so anti-Israelite because the Jews had once ruled his people; Manetho was an Egyptian.)

Recent excavations demonstrate that the Egyptian's reassertion of sovereignty over Lower Egypt was not as peaceful or uneventful as some historians depict it.

Hollywood's Creepy Love Affair With Adolf Hitler, in Explosive New Detail (Mort Homer)

New evidence of Jewish movie moguls' extensive collaboration with Nazis in the 1930s.

Jews who faught the nazis in Libya

"We were neither saints nor knights. We were simple Israeli boys who understood that we stand now for the Jewish people." Hanoch Bartov

IBM and the Shoah

Newly-released documents expose more explicitly the details of IBM's pivotal role in the Holocaust -- all six phases: identification, expulsion from society, confiscation, ghettoization, deportation, and even extermination. Moreover, the documents portray with crystal clarity the personal involvement and micro-management of IBM president Thomas J. Watson in the company's co-planning and co-organizing of Hitler's campaign to destroy the Jews.

Oldest known Sefer Torah?

Late 12th or early 13th century Sefer Torah at the University of Bologna Library.

Bell from hem of priestly garment?

A 2,000-year-old golden bell, as described in Exodus, was found by Israeli archaeologists excavating an ancient sewer line in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Hear this bell. (This link from Andrew Guidroz III)

Ancient Bell found in Old City sewer

Second Temple Bell

Latest on the excavations at Gath, home of Goliath

Coming from Greece, the Philistines "did not forget their roots. Even five centuries after their arrival, for example, they were still worshipping gods with Greek names." So, it looks like Jewish-Greek problems are ... traditional.

There appears to be evidence confirming the account in Kings of Gath's destruction by Hazael.

Computer Confirms Documentary Hypothesis

Computer software developed at Israel's Bar Ilan University is designed to unveil information about authors. It can correctly analyze texts and determine the gender of an author. It is similar to plagiarism detecting software.

The Bar Ilan software seems to agree with source critics ....

"We did not know!" (from Jeffrey Parker)

Recordings of German prisoners of war show that, in private, they chatted casually and chillingly about mass-murdering Jews.

"Soldaten: Secret WWII Transcripts of German POWs" by Soenke Neitzel & Harald Welzer

Earliest known extra-Biblical reference to Israel?

The Merneptah Stele has long been touted as the earliest extrabiblical reference to Israel. The ancient Egyptian inscription dates to about 1205 B.C.E. and recounts the military conquests of the pharaoh Merneptah. But there seems to be an even earlier reference ....

Also, William Dever's excellent Mernephtah's Isreal.

Second Temple Era Seal Unveiled

"This is the first time an object of this kind has been found. It is direct archaeological evidence of Jewish activity on the Temple Mount during the Second Temple era."

Scarab in Yerushalaim

A 13th century BCE Egyptian scarab (seal) is found in The City of David. This is approximately the period many scholars hold to be the time of the exodus. Could Egypt's suzerainty over Yerushalim have ended (been over-thrown) at about this time and, hence, become the root of the exodus story?

Also see: City of David Archaeologists Unearth Late Bronze Age Egyptian Scarab

The Nuremberg Mind

The tale of Hans Heinz Triest ... from "victim" to guard at Nuremberg and the personalities of the criminals.

Two-Gun Cohen (from Jeffrey Parker)

Chinese spy master

Bethlehem documented as a First Temple period city

The Israel Antiquities Authority announced the discovery of a 3rd millenium BCE document seal specifically mentioning Bethlehem.

The Qeiyafa Ostracon

External account of Samuel's selection of Saul as Israel's first king?

The San Remo Mandate (Jeffery Parker)

Where the "Mandate" came from, what it meant and the conditions it placed on Britain.

Masada's Last Days

Ehud Netzer's re-examination of the evidence atop Masada. If the defenders fired the plateau, why is evidence of fire so spread out? How was the last defensive wall built?

We didn't build the Roman Coliseum, we just financed it 

Herod's Final Journey

The Israel Museum's exhibit of Ehud Netzer's work at Herodium, with slide show.

Biblical Archaeology Review reports: Archaeologists Discover African Kingdom Linked with Biblical Sheba

"German archaeologists working in the Ethiopian highlands of East Africa have identified the remains of settlements from the first millennium B.C.E. that had strong cultural and religious connections with the Biblical land of Sheba (modern Yemen). Recent excavations and surveys have focused on the ancient town of Yeha, believed to be one of the major centers of the Diamat kingdom that flourished around 700 B.C.E.

"Since 2008, archaeologists excavating at Yeha and surrounding sites have uncovered buildings, burials and pottery that indicate cultural connections with the Sabean culture of ancient Yemen. Among the discoveries was a perfectly preserved sacrificial altar adorned with a Sabean royal inscription. In the coming years, researchers hope to uncover additional clues about the ethnic, cultural and linguistic makeup of the East African kingdom of Diamat."

Read more about the discovery of this ancient African kingdom.

American soldiers who liberated Europe, are having the High Holiday services in the former home of Nazi Joseph Goebbels, after his death.

The Bible Project

In Jerusalem, at Hebrew University, scholars -- mostly Orthodox -- trace the evolution of our texts.

The Aleppo and Leningrad codices (oldest known complete manuscripts)
The Masoretic text and the Dead Sea Scrolls

Hillel: The preeminent rabbi of first century Palestine

What do we actually know about Hillel? How do we explain the virtually constant disputes with Shammai? R. Louis Jacobs looks at the history and the differences between the schools.

Herod's Tomb

Ehud Netzer on his discoveries at Heriodium.

"Jewish Worship, Pagan Symbols"

Several early synagogues contain very similar zodiacal (i.e., pagan) mosaics combined with clear Jewish themes (the Ahron, the Menorah, etc.) on their floors.

What is the meaning of this combination of Jewish and pagan symbols and the use of images in synagogues reaching back to the Mishnaic period?

Noah's flood -- Blame it on Canada

Biblical Archaeology Review:

A flood on the Arabian Peninsula around 6,000 BC was likely triggered by the collapse of a glacial dam in present-day Canada. Archaeologist Jeffrey Rose presents this theory in the latest issue of Current Anthropology.

Scientists generally agree that when Canada’s massive Lake Agassiz overflowed its banks 8,000 years ago, the meltwater rushed into the Arctic or North Atlantic Ocean and caused an abrupt rise in sea levels worldwide. Some have even gone as far as to connect this with ancient flood myths, including the story of Noah’s Ark from the Bible.

Widespread flooding on the Arabian Peninsula created what we know as the Persian Gulf, and drowned lands along the shoreline that Rose argues had been inhabited for millennia. This flooding placed precious archaeological evidence of the developing civilizations of the Middle East under water.

Read more about ancient flooding on the Arabian Peninsula.

King Solomon’s Mines, from Biblical Archaeology Review, 26 November 2010:

"Thomas Levy’s excavations at Khirbat en-Nahas in southern Jordan are the subject of a documentary 'NOVA: Quest for Solomon’s Mines'....

"Levy, a professor at the University of California at San Diego and the associate director of the Center of Interdisciplinary Science for Art, Architecture and Archaeology (CISA3), was originally researching the role of ancient technology on the evolution of society. Surprisingly, his research in Jordan led him to discover thousands of tons of slag, a by-product of smelting ore, and an assortment of blowpipes. Through radiocarbon dating, he and his team confirmed the presence of an industrial-scale metal production of copper precisely in 10th century BC.

“'It would have been like the Pittsburg of Palestine,' commented Levy. 'We don’t have proof that we have found Solomon’s mines, but what we have proof of is that there were kingdoms in the 10th century,' he continued. 'I think he existed.'”

Watch the NOVA documentary in streaming video. 

Kings of Controversy

"Was the Kingdom of David and Solomon a glorious empire—or just a little cow town? It depends on which archaeologist you ask."

To Biblical literalists, David and Solomon built a great kingdom with a glorious Jerusalem at its center. To Biblical minimalists, David and Solomon are folk tales, made up centuries later, and Jerusalem was a hill top village.

To "moderates" (a term to be understood as "minimalists with large grants"), David and Solomon are reflections of later kings, particularly Hezekiah, possibly Josiah.

The world's big "moderate," Israel Finkelstein, like Wellhausen, substitutes reason and his own thesis for evidence but the evidence is not plentiful. But, evidence there is and Finkelstein's time line fares poorly in light of recent findings.

As I read the conflicting views of Eilat Mazar, David Ilan, Israel Finkelstein and Yosef Garfinkel, I thought "scientists" were supposed to form their theories on the evidence, not understand the evidence in light of their theories. (I heard it said that Arthur Eddington once remarked "an entire generation of physicists had to die before Einstein could be accepted.") While there is not huge amounts of evidence for the Biblical account, there is some. And, the minimalist position has none whatsoever. Despite that, minimalists continue to insist that the early kings are mythic and, ultimately, their thesis ends up destroying itself.

The Birth and Death of Biblical minimalism

Born 30 years ago, Biblical "minimalism" maintains that the historical accounts in the Bible, especially the stories of David and Solomon are fictions. Minimalists also maintain that the Bible was not written down until the Greek incursion.

The evidence, however, including evidence that minimalists themselves adduce flatly contradicts the thesis.

The Invention of the alphabet

Phoenicians are usually credited with the invention of the alphabet (the existing, known writing system, Egyptian hieroglyphics, was a combination of pictures and sound-symbols).

"Phoenicians" are Semitic, Canaanites.

Orly Goldwasser, professor of Egyptology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, argues that the Semitic inventors of the alphabet were southern Canaanites. They were, initially, illiterate miners working in Egyptian turquoise mines.

Anson Rainey, emeritus professor of Ancient Near Eastern Cultures and Semitic Languages at Tel Aviv University, disagrees. He argues that it was highly literate northern Canaanites who created the alphabet.

 How the Alphabet Was Born from Hieroglyphs

Who invented the alphabet?

Ed Koch on FDR's anti-semitism

FDR, inexplicably admired by Jews, made excuse after excuse after excuse for not taking any kind of action to stop the extermination of Jews. If you are already willing to believe, some are almost plausible. Almost.

But there is no explaining away his repeated refusal to admit Jews who had already made it to American waters. Repeated.

Ed Koch reveals the facts about FDR.

5000 years ... (received from Mike Spiers)

Who has dominated Israel and when.

Jews and Japan

Jews, more accurately Israelites (i.e., the Northern Kingdom), may have been early immigrants to Japan. Israelite religion may have helped form Shinto (Japan's national religion) and even influenced the first emperor.

Barley in the Bible

Barley is the first domesticated grain in the near east. The earliest archaeological evidence of wild barley is at the southern end of the Sea of Galilee.

Barley figures prominently in Torah. The land is described as "a land of wheat and barley" (Devarim 8:8). "A homer of barley shall be valued at 50 shekels of silver" (i.e., expensive). Ruth gleaned barley (Ruth 2:17). And so on.

Passover celebrates the beginning of the barley harvest (Shmot 23:15; Vayikra 23:4–14).

But, as far as I know, barley has only two uses (other than as animal fodder). One is beef barley soup (not a Biblical dish) and the other is not bread.

Did the Ancient Israelites Drink Beer?

Hezekiah's Tunnel

A mountain fortress like Jerusalem is notoriously difficult to assault. So, a prime method of taking one is to lay siege to the fortress, starving it into either submission or rendering its troops feeble and ineffective.

The most important defense against siege is ensuring a water supply (humans can go much longer without food than without water). In Torah, we read that King Hezekiah built a tunnel to bring water into Jerusalem from the Gihon springs. Not only does such a tunnel make daily water gathering much easier, it provides a water source in case of siege.

Hezekiah's tunnel is not just a Bible story; it actually exists.

Life Magazine: Israel 1948 (courtesy of Mike Spiers)

Rare photos from Life Magazine of Israel, especially the fall of Jerusalem, 1948. In one frame, there is a downed Egyptian fighter plane; note the markings...

Echoes of a Shofar

In 1930, the British Mandatory Authority promulgated a law forbidding blowing a shofar at the Kotel. The same law Jews were banned from praying loudly or bringing a Torah scroll. Didn't want to offend the Arab population, those considerate Brits.

Despite the law, the shofar was sounded at the Kotel every Yom ha'Kippurim.

Listen to six re-enacting their "crime."

Rabbis ordained in Germany

You don't have to approve of "liberal" Judaism. You don't have to approve of women being ordained. This is Germany and they're schooling Rabbis!

Biblical Archaeology Review: Temple and Evidence of Earthquake Uncovered at Gath:

During excavations at the Tel Tzafit National Park near Kiryat Gat, researchers and archaeologists have discovered a Philistine temple and evidence of a major earthquake that occurred during Biblical times. The site of Kiryat Gat is ancient Gath, home of the Biblical figure Goliath. The discovery of the temple, the first to be found in Gath, will allow researchers to learn more about the architecture of Philistia during the time when the Biblical hero Samson is thought to have destroyed the temple of Dagon.

“We’re not saying this is the same temple where the story of Samson occurred or that the story even did occur,” said Professor Aren Maeir of Bar-Ilan University. “But this gives us a good idea of what image whoever wrote the story would have had of a Philistine temple.”

Scientists have also found wreckage at Gath that they believe to be results of an earthquake measuring 8 on the Richter scale.

“We know that there is a very famous earthquake mentioned in the book of Isaiah and the book of Amos ... What we have here is very strong arch-evidence of a dramatic earthquake, a natural event that left a very significant impression on the biblical prophets of the time,” Meier said.

The Jerusalem Post reports on the temple found in Philistine home of Goliath.

How the Reed Sea might have parted

Take a 63 mph wind from the east, a khamsin, add a bend in a river ... and the Biblical depictation of the parting of the waters could have happened.

The Biblical Archaeology Review reports:

A study conducted by the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the University of Colorado has found that an east wind of 63 mph lasting 12 hours could have parted the Red Sea at a specific point of the ancient delta of the Nile River. A dry land bridge would have been exposed by this wind for a short period of time, and when the wind stopped, the water would have rushed back over the spot.

Carl Drews, the lead researcher, consulted ancient maps of the Nile River delta, and found a spot where a river once connected with a coastal lagoon, forming a U shape.

Drew commented, “It formed this bend in the body of water facing east.” “When the wind blew from the east, the water would split around the bend--you can imagine that peninsula cutting the water like a ship’s prow,” he continued.

Drew later confirmed his hunch by running a computer simulation which showed that a 63 mph wind blowing for a duration of 12 hours would create a dry land bridge 2 miles long and three miles wide at the U-shaped spot he identified on the ancient map.

“Whatever your religious beliefs, it’s interesting that there’s this ancient story that has a scientific basis,” Drew commented.

More details on Drews' study.

Water to Solomon's temple

Visible in 19th century photographs but lost in the 20th, the aqueduct that carried water to the Temple Mount. The excavation is being assisted by the ... wait for it ... Gihon Corporation.

Did I find King David's Palace?

Eilat Mazar details her discoveries in The City of David.

Escape Clause

Josephus' account of the fall of Jerusalem claims that some survivors fled to "mines." The Romans, he claims, tore up the ground searching for them.

Well, they've been found.

Nehemiah, The Man Behind the Wall

Few people are familiar with the Biblical figure Nehemiah, and yet he was instrumental in the rebuilding and reestablishment of Jerusalem in the fifth century B.C. following the Babylonian exile.

The Devil is not so black as he is painted

Biblical Archaeology Review talks to Israel Finkelstein, one of the leading Biblical archaeologists of the modern age, about the Exodus, David’s monarchy and Finkelstein’s views about the historical accuracy of the Bible.

Regarding the Exodus, he says:

So this is my first answer: The story is nuanced. If you look at the archaeological evidence from the Sinai and from Israel and at the text, there is not a clue for a major migration of people from Egypt into Canaan at the end of the Late Bronze Age [c. 1200 B.C.E.]. This is the second answer. I am speaking positive archaeology here, plus extrabiblical texts: What we know about the strength of the Egyptian control over the Sinai and Canaan from archaeology—fortresses and the like—does not let us read Exodus in a simplistic way. To give you an example, the el-Amarna cuneiform tablets, which describe the situation in Canaan in the 14th century B.C.E., mention that 50 or 100 Egyptian soldiers were enough to pacify a revolt in Canaan. So there is no way for a large group of wanderers to enter Canaan from the desert without provoking a swift Egyptian reaction.
The third answer is ...

There are more "answers."

Searching for the Better Text

The received text, the Septuagint, the Samaritan text, the Dead Sea texts,  the Masoretic text, what is a reader to do?

Prof. Harvey Minkoff explains how errors can enter a Biblical text and what can be done about it. Discrepancies in Isaiah show there were divergent texts (possibly copyist errors, sometimes use of full orthography instead of classical, editing, polemical insertions, most important: differing traditions) between copies found at Qumran and copies elsewhere. "No one has ever seriously suggested that the Dead Sea Scrolls contain anything like an eleventh commandment; but the scrolls do help clarify numerous difficult phrases in the Hebrew Bible...."

Literalist or not, these findings need to be considered, it is more than just the ability to read vowel-less texts in multiple ways. Though, this is important. Minkoff notes:

One Dead Sea Scroll that testifies to the older scribal tradition contains Deuteronomy 24:14. The traditional Hebrew text contains the full spelling SKYR (sakir), meaning “workman”; most translations give “You should not oppress a workman.” But this manuscript, called 1QDeutb, contains the “defective” form SKR (sakar), which can also mean “wages”; following this scroll, the New English Bible renders the passage as “You shall not keep back the wages of a man.”

Along the way, Minkoff explains how the Samaritan and Greek (Septuagint) traditions developed in divergence from the Judean/ Babylonian tradition.

Archival films of Israel (received courtesy of Jeffrey Parker)

Here is some extremely rare color video footage, never been seen before, and discovered quite by accident in Boston.

The sound track is in Hebrew, but the captions are in English, so everyone can enjoy/experience the color movies from pre-statehood through to post six day war, with some modern commentary.

It is grainy, jumpy and fast moving - and should be watched a couple of times. Well worth the 12 minutes to watch.

"Monosson in the news"

Was Jerusalem a major trade center?

Jerusalem was a major city in the late Iron Age. This is not a matter of dispute.

But, was Jerusalem's growth because it was a trade center? Juan Manuel Tebes argues that: No, Jerusalem was not a trade center; there simply isn't any evidence of this. There were significant trade centers in Israel (as I have argued elsewhere, Canaan was a major land bridge in the ancient world), Jerusalem, however, was not one of them. Jerusalem's growth, then, is due to political considerations (seat of the monarchy) and the centralization of the cult there.

The Dead Sea Scrolls video

Jerusalem: The City of David / Temple Mount

Dr. Eilat Mazar excavated the City of David in the 1970s and 80s, finally unearthing the 3,000-year-old archeological jewel, King David’s palace (2005). The Hebrew University has just uncovered another Old City treasure: a royal compound dating to the 10th century B.C.E., Schlomo ha'Melech's time.

Did I Find King David's Palace? Eilat Mazar, Biblical Archaeology Review

Myths and Facts: Muslims and Our Capital

Eli E. Hertz's analysis of Muslims claims on Jerusalem.

Please remember, as you listen to the oral diarrhea of Muslim claims to "East Jerusalem" that "East" Jerusalem is Jerusalem. So called "West Jerusalem" started as an expansion, suburbs, of Jerusalem and real development was a response to Jordanian occupation of the City. 

The Deir Alla Inscription

A 1967 excavation revealed a multi-chambered structure that had been destroyed by an earthquake during the Persian period. A previously unknown prophecy ascribed to the seer and prophet Balaam was found. It is written in an unattested peripheral local dialect, with Aramaic and South Canaanite characteristics and employed idiosyncratic script. The Deir Alla Inscription is dated to c. 840-760 BCE and it was painted in inks on fragments of a plastered wall. 119 pieces of inked plaster were recovered. The site is east of the Jordan, however, it is on the Ammonite side of the rive Jabbok (north of Moab).

Balaam is said to receive visions in the night; the account closely parallels the account in Bamidbar.

 

Lvious.org: The Deir 'Alla Inscription
Detailed discussion by William H. Shea of The Biblical Research Institute: The Inscribed Tablets From Tell Deir Alla
Aish.com: The Historicity of Balaam

2,000 Year Old Hebrew Papyrus

Papyrus does not keep well, so finding a Second Temple era papyrus is quite a find. The document is written in ancient Hebrew script ("Biblical Hebrew"), characteristic of the Second Temple period and, rarer still, was found in situ. In the upper line is the text: “Year 4 to the destruction of Israel.”

Stepped Street From Second Temple Period

Originally discovered about 100 years ago, the street has been covered and filled. It is located 550 meters south of the Temple Mount. The road represents the central thoroughfare of Jerusalem that ascended from the north-west corner of the Second Temple Shiloach Pool to the north.

Maccabean era Greek stele

Greek stele from Maccabean times mentions Seleucus IV and Heliodorus, both mentioned in II Maccabees.

2,000 Year Old Mikvah, in Jerusalem

The mikvah was discovered inside the western hall of a structure just 20 meters from the Western Wall.

Early hannukiah, discovered in Jerusalem c. 1900

Rabbi Yehudah Prero teaches us: "Chanukah is not mentioned explicitly at all in Scripture. Even in the Talmud, there is little discussion about Chanukah. The Gemora in the tractate of Shabbos (21b) writes: "What is (the reason for) Chanukah? For our Rabbis have taught 'On the 25th of Kislev, the days of Chanukah, which are eight (start), on which eulogies and fasting are not permitted.' For when the Greeks entered the sanctuary of the Temple, they made all of the oil there ritually impure (and therefore unfit for use in the Temple). When the Hashmonean dynasty gained the upper hand and defeated them, they searched and found only one flask of oil on which the seal of the High Priest remained (which indicated it was not defiled). There was only enough in this flask to light (the Menorah in the Temple) for one day. A miracle occurred and they were able to light (the Menorah) with it for eight days. The next year, they established and made (these days) a holiday, with Hallel (praises of G-d) and expressions of thanks (to G-d)."

Sodom and Gomorrah "found"

Genesis Research (an unabashedly Christian site but this is a good article) give arguments and evidence for two sites on the east shore of Yam Malach ... with pictures!

Herod's quarry in Jerusalem

An ancient quarry from the end of the Second Temple period was uncovered in excavations being conducted on Shmuel HaNavi Street in Jerusalem.


“The immense size of the stones (maximum dimensions: length 3 m, width 2 m, height 2 m) indicates it was highly likely that the large stones that were quarried at the site were destined for use in the construction of Herod’s magnificent projects in Jerusalem, including the Temple walls." The dimensions of the stones that were produced in the quarry that was revealed are suitable for the Temple walls
.

Second Temple Synagogue site with menorah relief

 

Ancient Aramaic Inscription Unearthed on Mount Zion

A stone cup looking like a type used for ritual purity with a clear, unworn Aramaic inscription was found in the upper city. The upper city is believed to have been the priests' quarter. The find took place near the Zion Gate of the Old City. Very few artifacts from the second template have been discovered in Jerusalem. Also found, an intact mikveh and housing complex.

Also see A Unique Inscription from Second Temple Times Found in Jerusalem: Report on the Mount Zion Excavations 2009 which describes the dig and has more photos of the site.

Canaanite fortress wall, Jerusalem

79' section of 26' high wall dated to 17th century BCE connecting nearby hill top to the only local water source (a defensive perimeter for the spring?). Located outside old city walls, in East Jerusalem.

 

The wall raises some interesting technological questions, like "How did they build straight walls 26' high?"

Tel Dan Stele

Steles play a very prominent role in near Eastern history and Torah; whenever you read of someone erecting stones, a monument or an edut ("witness") you are reading about the construction and inscription of a stele.

The stele discovered at Tel Dan contains the first extra-Biblical reference to "the House of David." It is, therefore, a possible verification of Biblical accounts and evidence that David is not a simple myth, as revisionists are likely to claim (revisionists operate on the thesis that "absence of evidence is evidence of absence").

Tel Dan Stele provides brief history, a translation and a concordance to accounts in 2 Kings. It also provides dissenting opinions.

Bible History Online shows a close up of the section of the stele with "House of David" inscription.

William M. Schniedewind's detailed paper, Tel Dan Stela: New Light on Aramaic and Jehu's Revolt, discusses the implications of the stele in detail. The paper has a large dose of anti-revisionist polemics.  

The Tel Dan Stela and the Kings of Aram and Israel

 

Mesha Stele (a/k/a the "Moabite Stone")

This stele, approximately contemporary with the Tel Dan stele, tells of Mesha's, king of Moab, rebellion against Omri, king of Israel. But, it tells the story from the Moabite point of view (in Torah, Omri wins but according to this stele, Mesha does -- Halpern's "Tiglath-Pileser Principle" again!). The similarity of Moabite to Biblical (ancient) Hebrew demonstrated by this find is of great import (same alphabet, same calligraphy, same syntax and semantics...).  

Like the Tel Dan stele, Mesha’s stele may contain important confirmations of Biblical materials from the monarchic period. The stele is particularly important because of the close relationship, previously unsuspected, between Moabite script and language and Biblical Hebrew. The close similarities raise very provocative questions about Moab and Israel/Judea.

Mesha Stele discusses the consistency of the stele's account with 1 and 2 Kings, Numbers 21:29, etc. The article also discusses the relationship of Moabite to ancient Hebrew.

Translation by K. C. Hanson (Adapted from Albright 1969:320-21)

Ruth's Jordan Jubilee features photos of stele and the site where it was excavated, along with a history of the find. Interesting stuff.

Another good photo and discussion, especially of the consequences of the similarities of the languages.

 

World’s Largest Temple Model Inaugurated next to Temple Mount

Known to the Christian world as "Herod the Great" and to the Jewish world as "Herod the butcher." In 1973, in the spirit of inter-faith understanding, the Military Historian Gunther Rothenberg suggested the compromise "Herod the Gread Butcher." Herod is seen by Jews as ... less than exemplary, as a monarch much less as a person.

Except for the Temple he built ....

1:60 model of Herod's temple erected overlooking Temple Mount.

 

Camel powered carts 6000 years ago?


Camels are not known to have been domesticated in the near east until 3000 years ago (give or take a century). More accurately, camels are known not to have been domesticated in northeast Africa and Canaan (the Egyptian sphere of influence) until the late second/early first millennium B.C.E. (This would be just about the same time as the institution of the monarchy in Israel, give or take a century). 

Camels start appearing in the narrative in Bereshit 12:16, when Abram travels to Egypt because of famine in Canaan (and sells his wife, Sarai, the first time). Then, in 24:10, after Yitzhak is born, Abraham sends his servant back to Sumer (Iraq) to find a wife for Yitzhak with 10 camels.. We find them at 32:8 ff, as Jacob prepares to leave Laban and meet Esau, ending their estrangement (it is on this journey that Jacob wrestles with the messenger). In Va'yikra 11:4, the camel is an example of an animal that because "he cheweth the cud but parteth not the hoof," is traif, forbidden as food. There are more.

The problem with each and every reference to camels is that camels were not domesticated at the times of these events, indeed may not even have been found in the area at the time. Therefore, they could not have been used as beasts of burden in these stories. Now, since we know that the stories do accurately reflect the language, customs and civil law of the early 2nd millennium B.C.E., the question is "How can the text refer to 'camels' when it is another 1000 years or so before camels were known in the area?" So, camels appearing in the stories of the patriarchs -- indeed, anywhere in the Torah narrative -- would have to be later additions or emendations to the text.

Yet, there is possible evidence of domestic use of camels 1-3000 years before that in central Asia (Turkmenistan).

A little more background on camels can be found at How Things Work: Camels. (Did you know that camels originated in North America? They migrated to eastern Asia and, then, westward across Asia. Perhaps this accounts for why domesticated camels do not arrive in Canaan until so much later -- camels don't move all that quickly.)

 

 
 Biblical Archaeology Review "Searching for Sodom and Gomorrah"
The "traditional" site of the evil twins is at the north end of the Salt (Dead) Sea. Well, it seems, there are a couple of other candidate sites. One is at the south end of the sea. It seems the geology has changed some since Abraham’s time and that turns out to be kind of important. The evidence for each location is presented. Also discussed is what might have caused the almost simultaneous destruction of the cities. Interesting read.

Must See Archaeological Photos

Top Ten Archaeological Discoveries of the Twentieth Century Relating to the Biblical World includes a photo of the shard from the Tel Dan stele with the “House of David” inscription, the first external confirmation of Kind David.  

Professor Schoville, the author, mentions that the Pilate stone (number seven on his list) was in “secondary use.” “Secondary use” indeed. If this stone replica is the same I saw on my visit to Caesarea in 1978, I know what that “secondary use” was. The stone I saw, a seat marker according to the docent who showed us around (I guess "reserved seating" has a long history), had been found, face down, in use as a paving stone. It was found in the center of the amphitheater’s entrance. At that place, the maximum number of people would walk on it. The docent made an observation on the level of respect in which the Romans obviously held Pilate. If this stone is not the seat marker, the fact that it had not been broken (as was Roman tradition) but was re-used and for a common purpose, again, speaks volumes.

 
 Biblical Archaeology Review daily news in the world of Biblical archaeology
 

Richard Freund's excavation of the Cave of Letters: R. Dr. Freund argues he's found relics from the Second Temple, a NOVA presentation.

Journey to the Cave of Letters

This is also available on DVD as Ancient Refuge in the Holy Land: NOVA (and on Netflix Instant watch as of 17 July '09).

Lost Tribes of Israel (also a NOVA presentation)  

An anthropologist looks for the lost city of Africa 's Lemba tribe and investigates their claim to an ancient Jewish heritage.

         The Lost Tribes of Israel
Haruth Communications hosts a web site, with a series of articles, devoted to The Lemba
Also see The Freeman Institute's The Black Jews of Southern Africa and Encyclopedia.com on African Lemba Tribe

And, while we're on the subject of lost Jews, let's nor forget the Falashas:

The Black Jews
From The Jewish Virtual Library, The History of Ethiopian Jews
Origins & History Of The Tribe of Falasha

Jews of China

Africa is not the only place Jews have turned up unexpectedly (that we turn up in Africa should be no surprise, we lived in northeast Africa for 430 years (Shmot 12:40), after all; furthermore Sheba -- Solomon's wife, the Queen of Sheba -- is Ethiopia, a major trading partner and political ally at that time and, possibly, for centuries before and after). Jews have been in the far east for centuries. Marco Polo records having met Jew on his journeys in China. India has long had a significant Jewish population (the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia claims the Jewish population of Calcutta was 2,150; read more). And, there are formulae in Japanese Buddhism that make no sense in Japanese but happen to be perfect Hebrew (in the mid-1970's a Japanese historiographer used this as evidence that the Japanese are related to ancient Israel -- wish I remembered the name of the author).

PowerPoint on The Jews of Kaifeng (You will need PowerPoint or a PowerPoint viewer.)
A short history of Chinese Jewry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Jews_in_China
History of the Jews of Kaifeng : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaifeng_Jews

Jews of Kaifeng, China reclaim their heritage

Video of their arrival in Israel: Chinese Jews from Kaifeng arrive in Israel 2009 - a moving documentary

The Mountain in Sinai

Traditional Mount Sinai
Biblical Mount Sinai -- interesting, but somewhat lengthy, wikipedia article. Anati's proposed site in the Negev is discussed along with other candidate site
Emmanuel Anati proposes a site for The Mountain in the Negev. While the proposed site appears to have been inactive at the
most likely times for an exodus (just after the Hyksos expulsion in the 17th century BCE, the 15th century BCE and the traditional date of the 13th century BCE) it does possess many of the required attributes.

Where Is Mount Sinai?

Emmanuel Anati addresses the dating of the Exodus vs. the known habitation periods of har Karkom, his proposed site for the mountain of the Revelation (the mountain in Sinai, Horeb). He also addresses the location of the mountain vs. proposed routes for the exodus. This is probably the best summary of his arguments that har Karkom is Horeb/Sinai and is an easy read.

Anati's Har Karkom to receive Vatican sanction?

Anati's view that Mt. Sinai is in the Negev (Har Karkom), not the Sinai Peninsula may soon be adopted by the Vatican.

Anati has not only moved Mt. Sinai from the traditional Christian location but 700-1000 years earlier than previously believed. (Of course, this is a consequence of the site; that is when the site was in use.)

Reported in the Jerusalem Post, "He said more than 1,200 finds at Karkom – including sanctuaries, altars, rock paintings and a large tablet resembling the Ten Commandments – indicated that it had been considered a sacred mountain in the Middle Bronze Age. In addition, he said, the topography of its plateau perfectly reflected that of the biblical Mount Sinai."