The Tomb of the Maccabees, Found at Last?

According to ancient sources, the burial site of the heroes of the Hanukkah story was marked with imposing stone pyramids. A 19th-century French archaeologist thought he had discovered the tomb at a site known as Horvat ha-Gardi, but his conclusion was soon called into question. Now, writes Robin Ngo, modern archaeologists are revisiting his work:

When . . . Victor Guérin excavated Horvat ha-Gardi in 1870, he found a large ashlar structure and a burial chamber, all covered with what he believed was a pyramid-like construction such as that described in the book of Maccabees. He contended that he identified seven tombs, one for each member of the Maccabee family. “The ruins of the tomb correspond perfectly to the tomb of the Maccabees as described in the historical sources,” Guérin wrote. . . .

Recently, the Israel Antiquities Authority decided to re-investigate the site of Horvat ha-Gardi. The aim of the project . . . is to “embark upon a campaign in search of the tomb of the Maccabees, in order to solve the riddle surrounding the place once and for all, and to do so utilizing the tools of modern research.” . . . The team re-exposed the burial chamber, huge pillars that could support a second story, a forecourt, and other related buildings.

Commenting on the investigation, [its directors] said, “The appearance of the place is impressive. . . . The archaeological evidence currently at hand is still insufficient to establish that this is the burial place of the Maccabees. If what we uncovered is not the tomb of the Maccabees itself, then there is a high probability that this is the site that early Christians identified as the royal funerary enclosure.”

You have 2 free articles left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Bible History Daily

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Hanukkah, History & Ideas, Maccabees

The Struggle for Iraq, and What It Means for Israel

Oct. 17 2018

Almost immediately after the 2003 invasion, Iraq became a battleground between the U.S. and Iran, as the latter sent troops, money, and arms to foment and support an insurgency. The war on Islamic State, along with the Obama administration’s effort to align itself with the Islamic Republic, led to a temporary truce, but also gave Tehran-backed militias a great deal of power. Iran has also established a major conduit of supplies through Iraq to support its efforts in Syria. Meanwhile, it is hard to say if the recent elections have brought a government to Baghdad that will be pro-American or pro-Iranian. Eldad Shavit and Raz Zimmt comment how these developments might affect Israel:

Although statements by the U.S. administration have addressed Iran’s overall activity in the region, they appear to emphasize the potential for confrontation in Iraq. First and foremost, this [emphasis] stems from the U.S. perception of this arena as posing the greatest danger, in light of the extensive presence of U.S. military and civilian personnel operating throughout the country, and in light of past experience, which saw many American soldiers attacked by Shiite militias under Iranian supervision. The American media have reported that U.S. intelligence possesses information indicating that the Shiite militias and other elements under Iranian auspices intend to carry out attacks against American targets and interests. . . .

In light of Iran’s intensifying confrontation with the United States and its mounting economic crisis, Tehran finds it essential to maintain its influence in Iraq, particularly in the event of a future clash with the United States. The Iranian leadership has striven to send a message of deterrence to the United States regarding the implications of a military clash. . . .

A recently published report also indicates that Iran transferred ballistic missiles to the Shiite militias it supports in Iraq. Although Iran has denied this report, it might indeed attempt to transfer advanced military equipment to the Shiite militias in order to improve their capabilities in the event of a military confrontation between Iran and the United States and/or Israel, or a confrontation between [the militias] and the central government in Baghdad.

From Israel’s perspective, after years when the Iraqi arena received little attention from Israeli decision makers, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman have mentioned the possibility of Israel’s taking action against Iranian targets in Iraq. In this context, and particularly in light of the possibility that Iraq could become an arena of greater conflict between the United States and Iran, it is critical that there be full coordination between Israel and the United States. This is of particular importance due to [the American estimation of] stability in Iraq as a major element of the the campaign against Islamic State, which, though declared a success, is not yet complete.

You have 1 free article left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Barack Obama, Iran, Iraq, ISIS, Israel & Zionism, U.S. Foreign policy