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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).

Read more at Jerusalem Post

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

The Palestinian National Movement Has Reached a Point of Crisis

With Hamas having failed to achieve anything through several weeks of demonstrations and violence, and Mahmoud Abbas reduced to giving rambling anti-Semitic speeches, Palestinian aspirations seem to have hit a brick wall. Elliott Abrams explains:

[Neither] Fatah [nor] Hamas offers Palestinians a practical program for national independence. . . . [The current situation] leaves Palestinians high and dry, with no way forward at all. Whatever the criticism of the “occupation,” Israelis will certainly not abandon the West Bank to chaos or to a possible Hamas takeover. Today the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state is simply too dangerous to Israel and to Jordan to be contemplated. . . . There are only two other options. The first is the “one-state solution,” meaning union with Israel; but that is a nonstarter that Israel will reject no matter who is its prime minister. The other option is some kind of eventual link to Jordan.

In polite diplomatic society, and in Palestinian public discourse, such a link cannot be mentioned. But younger people who visit there, Palestinians have explained to me, can see a society that is half-Palestinian and functions as an independent nation with a working system of law and order. Jordanians travel freely, rarely suffer from terrorism, and [can vote in regular] elections, even if power is ultimately concentrated in the royal palace. The kingdom has close relations with all the Sunni states and the West, and is at peace with Israel.

The fundamental question all this raises is what, in 2018, is the nature and objective of Palestinian nationalism. Is the goal sovereignty at all costs, no matter how long it takes and even if it is increasingly divorced from peace, prosperity, and personal freedom? Is “steadfastness” [in refusing to compromise with Israel] the greatest Palestinian virtue now and forever? These questions cannot be debated in either Gaza or the West Bank. But as Israel celebrates 70 years and the “occupation” is now more than a half-century old, how much longer can they be delayed? . . .

The catastrophic mishandling of Palestinian affairs by generations of leaders from Haj Amin al-Husseini (the pro-Nazi mufti of the British Mandate period) to Yasir Arafat and now to Mahmoud Abbas has been the true Palestinian Nakba.

Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Jordan, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinians