What Did the Ten Commandments Look Like? And How Were They Arranged?

In portraying the tablets on which the Ten Commandments were inscribed, Jewish and Christian iconography has traditionally shown them as two stones, side by side, with curved tops. Yet the Bible says nothing about their shape or disposition, while the Talmud simply states that they were rectangular. Out of deference to the latter, the chief rabbinate of Israel has decided to change its logo to display the tablets as rectangles. Shalom Bear cites an archaeologist with a different opinion:

Stephen G. Rosenberg . . . has posited that the two tablets weren’t two stones at all, but rather two sides of the same stone. In part he bases [his opinion] on the choice of words used for describing the tablet(s) in Hebrew, luḥot, which is similar to another biblical word, leḥi, [meaning] cheek.

Rosenberg’s theory is that half the commandments were written on one side (cheek) of the stone, and the other half were written on the opposite side (cheek) of the same stone, similar to the way in which many other ancient codes of law (such as the Code of Hammurabi) were engraved onto stone.

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More about: Archaeology, Hebrew, Israeli Chief Rabbinate, Religion & Holidays, Religious art, Ten Commandments

 

For Israelis, Anti-Zionism Kills

Dec. 14 2018

This week alone, anti-Zionists have killed multiple Israelis in a series of attacks; these follow the revelations that Hizballah succeeded in digging multiple attack tunnels from Lebanon into northern Israel. Simultaneously, some recent news stories in the U.S. have occasioned pious reminders that anti-Zionism should not be conflated with anti-Semitism. Bret Stephens notes that it is anti-Zionists, not defenders of Israel, who do the most to blur that distinction:

Israelis experience anti-Zionism in a different way from, say, readers of the New York Review of Books: not as a bold sally in the world of ideas, but as a looming menace to their earthly existence, held at bay only through force of arms. . . . Anti-Zionism might have been a respectable point of view before 1948, when the question of Israel’s existence was in the future and up for debate. Today, anti-Zionism is a call for the elimination of a state—details to follow regarding the fate befalling those who currently live in it. . . .

Anti-Zionism is ideologically unique in insisting that one state, and one state only, doesn’t just have to change. It has to go. By a coincidence that its adherents insist is entirely innocent, this happens to be the Jewish state, making anti-Zionists either the most disingenuous of ideologues or the most obtuse. When then-CNN contributor Marc Lamont Hill called last month for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea” and later claimed to be ignorant of what the slogan really meant, it was hard to tell in which category he fell.

Does this make someone with Hill’s views an anti-Semite? It’s like asking whether a person who believes in [the principle of] separate-but-equal must necessarily be a racist. In theory, no. In reality, another story. The typical aim of the anti-Semite is legal or social discrimination against some set of Jews. The explicit aim of the anti-Zionist is political or physical dispossession.

What’s worse: to be denied membership in a country club because you’re Jewish, or driven from your ancestral homeland and sovereign state for the same reason? If anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are meaningfully distinct (I think they are not), the human consequences of the latter are direr.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism, Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Palestinian terror