Donate

Ancient Israelites Could Carve in Ivory, Too

Aug. 30 2017

In the 1920s and 1930s, archaeologists discovered elaborate carvings in ivory, dating to the 8th or 9th centuries BCE, near the city of Samaria, once the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel. New research upends long-standing assumptions about how the carvings got there. Bible History Daily reports:

In excellent condition, the ivories depict scenes of exotic wildlife and flora, mythological creatures, foreign deities, and much more. . . . When the Samaria ivories were first excavated, they were immediately explained as Phoenician products and therefore considered foreign to their discovery site. However, there is currently no archaeological evidence to indicate that the Samaria ivories were, in fact, Phoenician. Recently some scholars have challenged the long-accepted assumption about the ivories’ origins. . . .

[More recent] discoveries suggest that there was a local tradition of wood, bone, and ivory carving of inlays (decorative materials inserted in something else), featuring recurring themes, during both the Bronze and Iron Ages in the southern Levant. The early interpretation of categorizing the Samaria ivories as Phoenician has impacted the subsequent discovery of other southern Levantine ivory artifacts. The [presumptive association of] any such ivory find with the Phoenicians has caused the region’s local ivory tradition to be overlooked.

Read more at Bible History Daily

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, History & Ideas, Phoenicia, Samaria

The Movement to Return Jewish Worship to the Temple Mount Has Gone Mainstream

Sept. 25 2017

During the eruption of violence against Israelis in Jerusalem this summer, and the subsequent struggle over metal detectors, the Islamic authorities briefly boycotted the Temple Mount. As a result, Jewish visitors, normally prohibited from praying there, immediately began to do so. Meir Soloveichik puts the episode in context and describes its meaning:

The Temple Mount is fast becoming a pilgrimage site for religious Jews. In the past, most abstained from visiting out of concern that they might enter a sacred area in a state of ritual impurity, but many now believe that, with a knowledge of the layout, history, and religious laws pertaining to the location, it is permissible to visit certain parts of the Temple Mount plaza. They thus visit the site under religious guidance—immersing first in a ritual bath, or mikveh—and tread only in specific areas. What was once a trickle of pilgrims has become a stream, and this year they numbered in the many thousands. . . .

[Indeed, a] sea change has taken place in the past fifteen years: . . . the segment of Jews visiting the Temple Mount is becoming more and more mainstream, supported by rabbis noted for their liberalism in social or religious affairs. . . .

Visiting Jews were, for a brief and brilliant moment [this summer], able to utter several words of prayer without interference. The Israeli media published photos of a diverse group of Jews standing on the Temple Mount reciting the kaddish, so close to where their ancestors, on Yom Kippur, had once stood listening to the high priest pronounce the Name of God. Soon after this kaddish, the [status quo ante] returned; Jews again were no longer free to pray at the site toward which all Jewish prayer has been directed for thousands of years. But images of that one unimpeded kaddish remain; to study them is to look back on the miraculous and heartbreaking past half-century in Jerusalem, to celebrate what has been achieved, and to mourn what might have been.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Judaism, Palestinian terror, Religion & Holidays, Temple Mount