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).

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

No, Israel Hasn’t Used Disproportionate Force against Hamas

Aug. 15 2018

Last week, Hamas and other terrorist organizations in Gaza launched nearly 200 rockets and mortars into Israel, in addition to the ongoing makeshift incendiary devices and sporadic sniper fire. Israel responded with an intensive round of airstrikes, which stopped the rockets. Typically, condemnations of the Jewish state’s use of “disproportionate force” followed; and typically, as Peter Lerner, a former IDF spokesman, explains, these were wholly inaccurate:

The IDF conducted, by its own admission, approximately 180 precision strikes. In the aftermath of those strikes the Hamas Ministry of Health announced that three people had been killed. One of the dead was [identified] as a Hamas terrorist. The two others were reported as civilians: Inas Abu Khmash, a twenty-three-year-old pregnant woman, and her eighteen-month daughter, Bayan. While their deaths are tragic, they are not an indication of a disproportionate response to Hamas’s bombardment of Israel’s southern communities. With . . . 28 Israelis who required medical assistance [and] 30 Iron Dome interceptions, I would argue the heart-rending Palestinian deaths indicate the exact opposite.

The precision strikes on Hamas’s assets with so few deaths show how deep and thorough is the planning process the IDF has put in place. . . . Proportionality in warfare, [however], is not a numbers game, as so many of the journalists I’ve worked with maintain. . . . Proportionality weighs the necessity of a military action against the anguish that the action might cause to civilians in the vicinity. . . . In the case of the last few days, it appears that even intended combatant deaths were [deemed] undesirable, due to their potential to increase the chances of war. . . .

The question that should be repeated is why indiscriminate rocket fire against Israeli civilians from behind Gazan civilians is accepted, underreported, and not condemned.

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More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, IDF, Israel & Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict