What an Ancient City’s Second Gate Tells Us about Biblical Israel

Jan. 11 2017

After seven years of excavations, a team of Israeli archaeologists has discovered a city that existed during the reign of King David; their findings suggest that he ruled over a kingdom larger and more sophisticated than many scholars have previously thought. Robin Ngo writes:

Overlooking the Elah Valley [where David battled Goliath], about twenty miles southwest of Jerusalem, lies . . . Khirbet Qeiyafa. . . . Among the incredible finds at Qeiyafa was a second city gate from the 10th century BCE; no other site from this period in Israel has more than one gate. . . .

The dig’s directors, Yosef Garfinkel and Saar Ganor, identify Khirbet Qeiyafa with the biblical Sha’arayim, [whose name is] Hebrew for “two gates” (Joshua 15:36; 1 Samuel 17:52; 1 Chronicles 4:31). The two monumental four-chambered city gates at Khirbet Qeiyafa are located on the western and southern sides of the site and measure approximately 35-feet wide and 42-feet deep into the city. The western gate controls access to the road [to] Philistia, while the southern one opens down to the Elah Valley that eventually connects to Jerusalem.

“Some scholars view King David’s kingdom as a simple agrarian society, sparsely inhabited, with no fortified cities, no administration, and no writing,” write Garfinkel, Ganor, and Joseph Baruch Silver. “These scholars find it very hard to accept the new discoveries at Qeiyafa, which have completely dismantled those hypotheses.”

Read more at Bible History Daily

More about: Archaeology, Hebrew Bible, History & Ideas, King David

In Dealing with Iran, the U.S. Must Make the Best of a Bad Deal

Jan. 23 2017

Were Donald Trump to tear up the nuclear deal with Tehran, Washington would gain little leverage while Iran would still have pocketed enormous sums of money, would continue to benefit from the lifting of international sanctions, and could continue work on its nuclear program unimpeded. Therefore, argue Emily Landau and Shimon Stein, U.S. interests would best be served by working to constrain the Islamic Republic within the parameters of the agreement:

[M]uch can be achieved simply by changing the U.S. approach to the deal and to Iran, and by altering the rhetoric. Given the strong reservations voiced by Donald Trump and his administration toward Iran, the new president should send an unequivocal message, . . . warning it against any erosion of the deal and the consequences that will follow from any violation. The next step will be to work with the [the other parties to the deal] to clear up [its] ambiguities—especially regarding inspections at suspicious military facilities and looking for unknown facilities—and set clear guidelines for responding to every type of Iranian violation.

The Trump administration should press to end the secrecy surrounding many of Iran’s nuclear activities and plans. . . . But the Trump administration must also carve out a more comprehensive approach to the Islamic Republic, taking into account the dynamics between the United States and Iran that have unfolded over the past eighteen months since the nuclear deal was presented and that underscore the absence of any convergence of interests between the two states. . . .

New policies that reflect the Trump administration’s determination to pursue an uncompromising course in dealing with Iran—both on the nuclear front and with regard to its regional behavior—could in the long run help to reduce the likelihood of an Iranian breakout, and contain Iran from further destabilizing the region in its drive to realize its hegemonic ambitions.

Read more at National Interest

More about: Donald Trump, Iran nuclear program, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy