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An Ancient Latrine Provides Confirmation of a Biblical Narrative

Nov. 14 2017

The books of Kings and Chronicles describe King Hezekiah (late 8th century BCE) as a God-fearing religious reformer who “removed the high places, broke down the pillars, and cut down the sacred pole” (2Kings 18:4). According to most interpreters, this and other passages imply that Hezekiah not only cracked down on idolatry but banned the offering of sacrifices anywhere outside the Jerusalem Temple. Recent discoveries seem to confirm this narrative, as Robin Ngo writes:

Excavations at Tel Lachish fully exposed the massive city-gate complex, which measures about 80 feet by 80 feet. Discovered at the complex were remnants of storage jars—including some that bore the stamp l-m-l-k (“[belonging] to the king”)—that may be evidence of Hezekiah’s preparations against the Assyrian king Sennacherib’s impending attacks. Lachish was completely destroyed in 701 BCE.

Part of this gate complex, the archaeological team found, was a large room that appears to have been a shrine. The room contained two four-horned altars, whose horns [cube-like protrusions on the four corners of an altar’s top surface] had been intentionally damaged, and several ceramic lamps, bowls, and stands. [The scholars overseeing the excavation] believe that the destroyed altars corroborate biblical references to King Hezekiah’s reforms: his efforts to centralize worship in Jerusalem and abolish it elsewhere.

Most surprising of all was that in one corner of the room, the archaeologists discovered a seat carved of stone with a hole in the center—what [they] believe to be a toilet. This latrine . . . was unquestionably a form of desecration of this shrine room—a practice described in the Hebrew Bible: “Then they demolished the pillar of Baal, and destroyed the temple of Baal, and made it a latrine to this day” (2Kings 10:27).

[The researchers] believe the latrine excavated at Lachish was symbolically placed. . . . “Laboratory tests we conducted in the spot where the stone toilet was placed suggest it was never used,” [one] said in a press release; “hence, we can conclude that the placement of the toilet had been [merely] symbolic.”

Read more at Bible History Daily

More about: Archaeology, Hebrew Bible, Hezekiah, History & Ideas, Idolatry

 

In Pursuing Peace with Saudi Arabia, Israel Must Demand Reciprocity and Keep the Palestinian Question off the Table

Nov. 22 2017

The recent, unprecedented interview given by the IDF chief of staff to a major Arabic news outlet has fed the growing enthusiasm in Israel about the prospects of a peace treaty and mutual recognition between Jerusalem and Riyadh. Mordechai Kedar urges level heads and caution, and puts forward ten principles that should guide any negotiations. Most importantly, he argues that the two countries normalize relations before coming to any agreements about the Palestinians. To this he adds:

The most basic rule in dealing with the Saudis and their friends is that Israel must not feel that it has to pay anything for peace. . . . If the Saudis want to live in peace with us, we will stretch out our hands to offer them peace in return. But that is all they will get. Israel [has] been a state for 70 years without peace with Saudi Arabia and can continue being a state for another 7,000 years without it. Any desire for a quick peace (as expressed in the disastrous slogan “Peace Now”) will raise the price of that peace. . . .

[As part of any agreement], Israel will recognize the House of Saud’s rule in Mecca and Medina—even though the family does not originate from the Hejaz [where the holy cities are located] but from the Najd highland—in exchange for Saudi recognition of Israel’s right to Jerusalem as its historic and eternal capital city. Israel will recognize Saudi Arabia as an Islamic state in exchange for Saudi recognition of Israel as the Jewish state or a state belonging to the Jewish people. . . .

Israel will not allow incitement against Saudi Arabia in its media. In return, the Saudis will not allow anti-Israel incitement in Saudi media. . . .

It is important to keep the Americans and Europeans away from the negotiating table, since they will not be party to the agreement and will not have to suffer the results of its not being honored—and since their interests are not necessarily those of Israel, especially when it comes to the speed at which the negotiations move forward. The Americans want to cut a deal, even a bad deal, and if they are allowed into the negotiation rooms, they will pressure Israel to give in, mainly on the Palestinian issue.

Read more at Israel National News

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia