Coins Found from the Time of the Maccabean Revolt

Israeli archaeologists recently discovered a trove of silver coins dating from the time of the Jewish revolt against Syrian-Greek rule. They were discovered in the town of Modi’in, which was the hometown of the Hasmonean dynasty that led the uprising. Sue Surkes writes:

The sixteen coins from the Hasmonean period (ca. 167-63 BCE) were concealed in a rock crevice up against a wall of a large agricultural estate, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced on Tuesday.

The excavation’s director Abraham Tendler said the shekels and half-shekels were minted in the city of Tyre, now part of Lebanon, and bear the images of the [Seleucid] king, Antiochus VII, and his brother Demetrius II. . . .

The discovery of the silver coins provides, [according to Tendler], “compelling evidence that one of the members of the estate who had saved his income for months needed to leave the house for some unknown reason. He buried his money in the hope of coming back and collecting it, but was apparently unfortunate and never returned. It is exciting to think that the coin hoard was waiting here 2,140 years until we exposed it.” . . .

Numerous bronze coins minted by the Hasmonean kings were also discovered in the excavation in addition to the sixteen silver ones, the authority reported. They bear the names of kings such as Yehoḥanan, Judah, Jonathan, or Mattathias with the title “high priest and head of the Council of the Jews.”

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

No, Israelis and Palestinians Can’t Simply Sit Down and Solve the “Israel-Palestinian Conflict”

Jan. 17 2019

By “zooming out” from the blinkered perspective with which most Westerners see the affairs of the Jewish state, argues Matti Friedman, one can begin to see things the way Israelis do:

Many [in Israel] believe that an agreement signed by a Western-backed Palestinian leader in the West Bank won’t end the conflict, because it will wind up creating not a state but a power vacuum destined to be filled by intra-Muslim chaos, or Iranian proxies, or some combination of both. That’s exactly what has happened . . . in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. One of Israel’s nightmares is that the fragile monarchy in Jordan could follow its neighbors . . . into dissolution and into Iran’s orbit, which would mean that if Israel doesn’t hold the West Bank, an Iranian tank will be able to drive directly from Tehran to the outskirts of Tel Aviv. . . .

In the “Israeli-Palestinian” framing, with all other regional components obscured, an Israeli withdrawal in the West Bank seems like a good idea—“like a real-estate deal,” in President Trump’s formulation—if not a moral imperative. And if the regional context were peace, as it was in Northern Ireland, for example, a power vacuum could indeed be filled by calm.

But anyone using a wider lens sees that the actual context here is a complex, multifaceted war, or a set of linked wars, devastating this part of the world. The scope of this conflict is hard to grasp in fragmented news reports but easy to see if you pull out a map and look at Israel’s surroundings, from Libya through Syria and Iraq to Yemen.

The fault lines have little to do with Israel. They run between dictators and the people they’ve been oppressing for generations; between progressives and medievalists; between Sunnis and Shiites; between majority populations and minorities. If [Israel’s] small sub-war were somehow resolved, or even if Israel vanished tonight, the Middle East would remain the same volatile place it is now.

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More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israel & Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Middle East