Hebron Remained Jewish in the Second Temple Period

Oct. 10 2017

Since 2014, archaeologists have been excavating the site of an ancient settlement, dating to the 1st century BCE and located adjacent to the modern-day city of Hebron. The discovery of two mikvehs provides proof that this was a Jewish town. Bible History Daily reports:

Mentioned about 100 times in the Hebrew Bible, biblical Hebron held . . . the burial ground of the biblical patriarchs and matriarchs, was a fortified city when Moses sent spies to Canaan, and served as David’s first capital in the kingdom of Judah.

According to the ancient Jewish historian Josephus, during the First Jewish Revolt against Rome (66–70 CE), the Zealot leader Simeon Bar-Giora captured Hebron, but the Roman army under the command of the general (and later emperor) Vespasian then retook the Judean town and burned it to the ground. . . .

The site of Tel Hebron resides 3,000 feet above sea level in the Judean hill country, about twenty miles south of Jerusalem. Excavations [have] revealed four occupational phases at Hebron during the Second Temple period, from the time of the late Hasmoneans (ca. 100–37 BCE) to the Bar-Kokhba revolt (132–135 CE). Residential houses, pottery workshops, and wine and oil presses were [also] uncovered.

Read more at Bible History Daily

More about: Archaeology, Hebron, History & Ideas, Second Temple

Winning Islam’s War of Ideas, Saudi-Style

March 19 2018

Since September 11, 2001, U.S. policymakers have understood the need to confront jihadism not only militarily but also ideologically; yet, writes John Hannah, they have had little success. Now Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’ reformist crown prince, appears willing and able to take up the fight, and Hannah urges Washington to support his efforts:

By an order of magnitude, al-Qaeda in 2018 enjoys a larger presence in more countries across Africa, the Middle East, and Asia than it did the day the Twin Towers were felled. . . . What’s consistently been missing from America’s strategy have been powerful partners in the Muslim world who can reliably be counted on to speak out authoritatively on matters of Islamic theology in ways that the United States simply cannot. That’s where Saudi Arabia comes in. It’s the birthplace of Islam and host to the faith’s two holiest mosques. Combined with abundant oil wealth, these assets bestow on the Saudis a measure of soft-power influence unrivaled in the Muslim world. . . .

For months, the crown prince and his closest advisers have relentlessly hammered the theme that Saudi Arabia’s modernization requires an embrace of “moderate Islam.” He’s slammed the extremist ideology that the kingdom did so much to empower after the Iranian revolution and acknowledges that “the problem spread all over the world.” . . . At home, the powers of the kingdom’s notorious religious police have been scaled back. Prominent hardline clerics have been jailed. On the all-important issue of female empowerment, the pace of change has been breathtaking. . . .

Now the U.S. imperative should be pressing Mohammed bin Salman to take his campaign for moderate Islam on the road. . . . There should be multiple elements to such an effort, but some immediate tasks come to mind. First, school textbooks. The Saudis promised to eliminate the hate-filled passages a decade ago. Progress has slowly been made, but the job’s still not done. Mohammed bin Salman should order it finished—this year. Behind the scenes, U.S. experts should provide verification.

Second, working with trusted partners in indigenous communities known for their religious moderation, the Saudis should conduct a thorough audit of the global network of mosques, schools, and charitable organizations that they’ve backed with an eye toward weeding out radical staff and content. Third, [they should] initiate a worldwide buyback of Saudi-distributed mistranslations of the Quran and other religious materials notorious for propagating extremist narratives.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Moderate Islam, Politics & Current Affairs, Radical Islam, Saudi Arabia, War on Terror