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.

Read more at Jewish Press

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

Reviving the Peace Process Brings Great Costs and Little Potential for Success

June 26 2017

Now that President Trump has sent envoys to meet with Mahmoud Abbas, it seems clear that he will try to revive negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, which he has declared to be “maybe not as difficult as people have thought over the years.” Even those less sanguine argue that there is little harm in trying. Not so, writes Elliott Abrams:

To begin with, it is always harmful for the United States to fail—and for a president to fail. Influence in the world is hard to measure, but when a president devotes himself . . . to any project and fails to pull it off, his influence and that of the United States are diminished. . . .

What’s more, the United States has been championing the “peace process” now for about 30 years. . . . On the Palestinian side many view the “peace process” as a formula for sustaining the occupation. Many Israelis see it as a shield protecting Palestinian malfeasance and worse: when they demand a stop to official Palestinian glorification of terrorism, they hear, “Don’t rock the boat now, negotiations may start.”

A further reason to be wary of another big peace effort is the opportunity cost. When each successive American administration works for a comprehensive peace deal, it tends to neglect the many opportunities to make less dramatic but still consequential real-world progress. . . .

During the George W. Bush administration, those of us on the American side often demanded concessions from Israel to “set the tone for talks” or to “get things moving in the talks.” These steps often gave Abbas symbolic victories, but they rarely contributed to state-building. For example, we were more concerned with getting Israel to release some Palestinian prisoners—who may have committed acts of violence—than we were about getting Israel to remove checkpoints or barriers that prevented Palestinian mobility in the West Bank and thereby made both normal life and economic activity harder. How returning convicted criminals to the streets contributed to building a Palestinian state was never explained.

Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: Donald Trump, Israel & Zionism, Mahmoud Abbas, Peace Process