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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

Hamas’s Dangerous Escalation in Gaza

June 22 2018

As Hamas has stepped up its attacks on communities near the Gaza Strip—using incendiary devices attached to kites and balloons—Israel has begun to retaliate more forcefully. In response, the terrorist group has begun firing rockets and mortars into Israel. Yoav Limor comments:

What made Wednesday’s rocket salvo different is that ‎unlike previous flare-ups on the border [since 2014], this time it ‎was Hamas operatives who fired at Israel, as opposed ‎to Islamic Jihad or the ‎rogue terrorist group in the coastal enclave. ‎Still, Hamas made sure the attack followed most of ‎the familiar “rules”—only [firing] at night and only at the ‎ communities in the vicinity of Gaza, and apparently while also ‎trying to minimize any casualties, to avoid further ‎escalation. ‎. . .

The first reason [for the shift in tactics] is Israel’s own change of policy ‎with regard to kite terrorism. It took Israel far ‎too long to define the incessant waves of incendiary ‎kites sent over the border as actionable acts of ‎terror, but once it did, the IDF began ‎systematically countering them, including firing ‎warning shots at terrorist kite cells and targeting ‎Hamas assets in Gaza in retaliation.‎

The second reason is Hamas’s own frustration and ‎distress in Gaza. Since the border-riot campaign was ‎launched on March 30, some 150 of its operatives ‎have been killed and the Israeli military has ‎carried out over 100 strikes on Hamas positions in ‎the coastal enclave, all while Hamas has nothing to ‎show for it. ‎In this situation, Hamas is searching for [some sort of victory] by declaring that “bombings will be ‎met with bombings,” as Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum ‎said Wednesday, in order to portray itself as defending Gaza from ‎Israel.‎ . . .

Hamas is banking on Israel opting against a military ‎campaign in Gaza at this time so as not to split its ‎focus from the [developments in Syria], but it is sorely ‎mistaken if it thinks Israel will simply contain ‎kite terrorism or shy away from action given the new ‎equation it has presented. ‎At some point, Israel’s patience will expire.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security