On Hanukkah, Israeli Spelunkers Discover Ancient Etchings of a Menorah and a Cross

The etchings were found on the walls of an ancient limestone cistern, as Ilan Ben Zion writes:

A group of Israel Caving Club members were exploring hidden caves in the Judean lowlands . . . when they discerned the carvings: a three-footed menorah with seven branches similar to the one that stood in the Jerusalem temple, a cross, and a depiction of an ancient key. Other as-yet-unidentified carvings were also found. . . .

Sa’ar Ganor, an archaeologist with the Israel Antiquities Authority, . . . studied the engravings and determined that the menorah was likely carved sometime during the Second Temple period—about 530 BCE to 70 CE—and the cross likely in the Byzantine period, around the 4th century CE.

“It’s rare to find a wall engraving of a menorah,” which is a “distinctly Jewish symbol,” Ganor said. . . [O]nly two menorah engravings exist in the region where it was found: one in an oil press at Beit Loya and the other in a tomb near Beit Guvrin—both east of the modern city of Kiryat Gat.

Read more at Times of Israel

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

Israel’s Economy Thrives While the Middle East Disintegrates

Jan. 19 2018

Now that the data have come in from 2017, it is clear that the Israeli economy had another successful year, expanding at a rate higher than that of any other advanced country. Israel’s per-capita GDP also grew, placing it above those of France and Japan. Daniel Kryger notes some of the implications regarding the Jewish state’s place in the Middle East:

The contrast between first-world Israel and the surrounding third-world Arab states is larger today than ever before. Israel’s GDP per capita is almost twenty times the GDP per capita of impoverished Egypt and five times larger than semi-developed Lebanon.

Like any human project, Israel is a never-ending work in progress and much work remains to integrate ḥaredi Jews and Israeli Arabs into Israel’s knowledge economy. Properly addressing Israel’s high costs of living requires more economic and legislative reforms and breaking up inefficient oligopolies that keep the prices artificially high. However, by any standard, the reborn Jewish state is a remarkable success story. . . .

Much has changed since OPEC launched its oil embargo against the West after the failed Arab aggression against Israel in October 1973. Before the collapse of the pro-Arab Soviet empire, China and India had no official ties with Israel and many Western and Japanese companies avoided doing business with Israel. Collapsing oil prices have dramatically eroded the power of oil-producing countries. It has become obvious that the future belongs to those who innovate, not those who happen to sit on oil. Israel has today strong commercial ties with China and a thriving partnership with India. Business delegations from Jamaica to Japan are eager to do business with Israel and benefit from Israel’s expertise. . . .

[For its part], the boycott, divest, and sanction (BDS) movement may bully Jewish and pro-Israel students on Western campuses. However, in real life, BDS stands no chance of succeeding against Israel. The reason is simple: reborn Israel has . . . become too valuable a player in the global economy.

Read more at Mida

More about: BDS, Israel & Zionism, Israeli economy, Middle East, OPEC