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Third-Century Inscriptions May Connect a Galilean Village to Talmudic Legends

March 1 2017

Recent renovations of a 19th-century synagogue in Pek’in have uncovered evidence supporting the tradition linking it to the city known in talmudic times as Beka. Ilan Ben Zion writes:

The inscriptions, [in Hebrew, were] etched into a limestone block buried beneath a courtyard. . . . The village of Peki’in, in the northern Galilee, is believed to have been the site of a Jewish community since the Roman era, and Jewish tradition associates the modern village with a town mentioned in Josephus’ Jewish War and the Talmud. According to the latter, the town was a center of Jewish scholarship during the Roman period, and the sage Rabbi Shimon bar Yoḥai hid in a cave there for thirteen years.

The association of the modern village of Peki’in with the ancient town mentioned in the Talmud has been challenged by scholars in recent years. . . . [H]owever, earlier excavations at the Peki’in synagogue in the early 20th century turned up several ancient decorated stones believed to have been part of an ancient synagogue. The reliefs date to the late 2nd or early 3rd century, around the same time as the newfound [inscription]. They include a menorah flanked by a lulav and shofar, a common motif in the post-Temple period, and a Torah ark with closed doors.

They were both incorporated into the new synagogue built in 1873.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: ancient Judaism, Archaeology, Galilee, History & Ideas, Synagogues, Talmud

 

In Dealing with Iran, the U.S. Can Learn from Ronald Reagan

When Ronald Reagan arrived at the White House in 1981, the consensus was that, with regard to the Soviet Union, two responsible policy choices presented themselves: détente, or a return to the Truman-era policy of containment. Reagan, however, insisted that the USSR’s influence could not just be checked but rolled back, and without massive bloodshed. A decade later, the Soviet empire collapsed entirely. In crafting a policy toward the Islamic Republic today, David Ignatius urges the current president to draw on Reagan’s success:

A serious strategy to roll back Iran would begin with Syria. The U.S. would maintain the strong military position it has established east of the Euphrates and enhance its garrison at Tanf and other points in southern Syria. Trump’s public comments suggest, however, that he wants to pull these troops out, the sooner the better. This would all but assure continued Iranian power in Syria.

Iraq is another key pressure point. The victory of militant Iraqi nationalist Moqtada al-Sadr in [last week’s] elections should worry Tehran as much as Washington. Sadr has quietly developed good relations with Saudi Arabia, and his movement may offer the best chance of maintaining an Arab Iraq as opposed to a Persian-dominated one. But again, that’s assuming that Washington is serious about backing the Saudis in checking Iran’s regional ambitions. . . .

The Arabs, [however], want the U.S. (or Israel) to do the fighting this time. That’s a bad idea for America, for many reasons, but the biggest is that there’s no U.S. political support for a war against Iran. . . .

Rolling back an aggressive rival seems impossible, until someone dares to try it.

Read more at RealClear Politics

More about: Cold War, Iran, Politics & Current Affairs, Ronald Reagan, U.S. Foreign policy