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


Hamas Sets Its Sights on Taking over the PLO

Oct. 20 2017

Examining the recent reconciliation agreement between the rival Palestinian organizations Fatah and Hamas, Eyal Zisser argues that the latter sees the deal as a way to install its former leader, Khaled Meshal, as head of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and thereby the Palestinian Authority. It wouldn’t be the first time something like this happened:

Even the former Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat . . . took the PLO leadership by force. His first steps, incidentally, were with the Fatah organization, which he cofounded in January 1965 in Damascus, under Syrian patronage. Fatah was meant to serve as a counterweight to the rival PLO, which had come into existence [earlier] under Egyptian patronage. Arafat, however, was relegated to the sidelines in the Palestinian arena. It was only after the 1967 Six-Day War that he exploited the resounding defeat of the Arab armies to join the PLO as the leader of Fatah, which led to his gaining control over [the PLO itself].

Meshal [most likely] wants to follow in Arafat’s footsteps—a necessary maneuver for a man who aspires to lead the Palestinian national movement, particularly after realizing that military might and even a hostile takeover of [either Gaza or the West Bank] will not grant him the legitimacy he craves.

It is hard to believe that Fatah will willingly hand over the keys to leadership, and it is also safe to assume that Egypt does not want to see Hamas grow stronger. But quasi-democratic developments such as these have their own dynamics. In 2006, Israel was persuaded by Washington to allow Hamas to run in the general Palestinian elections, thinking the Islamist group had no chance of winning. But Hamas won those elections. We can assume Meshal will now look to repeat that political ploy by joining the PLO and vying for its leadership.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Fatah, Hamas, Khaled Meshal, Palestinian Authority, PLO, Politics & Current Affairs, Yasir Arafat