Archaeologists Uncover an Ancient Idumean Structure in the Negev

Digging near the ancient city of Lachish, a team of Israeli researchers have found a mysterious building—which they believe to be either a palace or a temple—dating approximately to the 3rd century BCE. The site has been connected to the Idumeans or Edomites, who, according to tradition, were descended from the biblical Esau. Daniel Eisenbud writes:

[D]uring the Persian period in the 5th century BCE, the Idumeans—a Semitic people originating in [what is now] southern Jordan—settled in the Judean foothills. After the area was conquered by the Hasmoneans in 112 BCE, the Idumeans converted [to Judaism] and assimilated into the Judean population. . . .

“If this was indeed an Idumean palace or temple, it is a rare and exciting find,” [the archaeologists] said in a joint statement. “Similar structures in this country can be counted on the fingers of one hand. It seems that the building was intentionally dismantled, possibly during the Hasmonean conquest of the region.”

Two well-preserved stone incense altars were discovered in one of the rooms. One of them, bearing the carved image of a bull, is depicted as standing in what is apparently the façade of a temple adorned with prominent columns. . . . In addition to the incense altar, delicate pottery vessels were also uncovered, including painted bowls, juglets, and oil lamps.

[Besides the Idumean structure and artifacts], also found at the site were numerous underground spaces used as quarries, or to house ritual baths (mikva’ot), oil presses, and dovecotes. Additionally, hiding tunnels from the time of the Jewish revolts against the Romans were discovered, with one containing an intact cooking pot from the Bar Kokhba Revolt (132–135 CE).

You have 2 free articles left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Bar-Kokhba, Edomites, History & Ideas, Maccabees

The Struggle for Iraq, and What It Means for Israel

Oct. 17 2018

Almost immediately after the 2003 invasion, Iraq became a battleground between the U.S. and Iran, as the latter sent troops, money, and arms to foment and support an insurgency. The war on Islamic State, along with the Obama administration’s effort to align itself with the Islamic Republic, led to a temporary truce, but also gave Tehran-backed militias a great deal of power. Iran has also established a major conduit of supplies through Iraq to support its efforts in Syria. Meanwhile, it is hard to say if the recent elections have brought a government to Baghdad that will be pro-American or pro-Iranian. Eldad Shavit and Raz Zimmt comment how these developments might affect Israel:

Although statements by the U.S. administration have addressed Iran’s overall activity in the region, they appear to emphasize the potential for confrontation in Iraq. First and foremost, this [emphasis] stems from the U.S. perception of this arena as posing the greatest danger, in light of the extensive presence of U.S. military and civilian personnel operating throughout the country, and in light of past experience, which saw many American soldiers attacked by Shiite militias under Iranian supervision. The American media have reported that U.S. intelligence possesses information indicating that the Shiite militias and other elements under Iranian auspices intend to carry out attacks against American targets and interests. . . .

In light of Iran’s intensifying confrontation with the United States and its mounting economic crisis, Tehran finds it essential to maintain its influence in Iraq, particularly in the event of a future clash with the United States. The Iranian leadership has striven to send a message of deterrence to the United States regarding the implications of a military clash. . . .

A recently published report also indicates that Iran transferred ballistic missiles to the Shiite militias it supports in Iraq. Although Iran has denied this report, it might indeed attempt to transfer advanced military equipment to the Shiite militias in order to improve their capabilities in the event of a military confrontation between Iran and the United States and/or Israel, or a confrontation between [the militias] and the central government in Baghdad.

From Israel’s perspective, after years when the Iraqi arena received little attention from Israeli decision makers, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman have mentioned the possibility of Israel’s taking action against Iranian targets in Iraq. In this context, and particularly in light of the possibility that Iraq could become an arena of greater conflict between the United States and Iran, it is critical that there be full coordination between Israel and the United States. This is of particular importance due to [the American estimation of] stability in Iraq as a major element of the the campaign against Islamic State, which, though declared a success, is not yet complete.

You have 1 free article left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Barack Obama, Iran, Iraq, ISIS, Israel & Zionism, U.S. Foreign policy