Israeli Archaeologists Find a First Temple-Era Palace in the Judean Hills

After five years of excavations in the vicinity of Ein Ḥanyah—one of the largest springs in the Judean hills—the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) has announced some of the findings, which range from the first millennium BCE to the Byzantine period. Michael Bachner describes some of them:

The main find . . . was a fragment of a proto-Ionic column capital, an artistic element typical of structures and estates of the kings of the First Temple period. . . . Similar capitals have been found in the City of David in Jerusalem and at Ramat Raḥel, where one of the palaces of the kings of Judah was uncovered, . . . as well as in Samaria, Megiddo, and Ḥatsor, which were major cities in the ancient kingdom of Israel.

Archaeologists [conjectured] that the site at Ein Ḥanyah may have been a royal estate during the First Temple period. . . .

[A]nother significant find from that period was a rare silver coin, described as one of the most ancient discovered so far in the Jerusalem area. It is an ancient Greek drachma, [which experts say was] “minted in Ashdod by Greek rulers between 420 and 390 BCE.”

The site also has significance for the history of Christianity:

“We believe that some early Christian commentators identified Ein Ḥanyah as the site where the Ethiopian eunuch was baptized, as described in Acts 8:26-40,” said the IAA’s Jerusalem-district archaeologist, Yuval Baruch.

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More about: Ancient Israel, Davidic monarchy, First Temple, History & Ideas, New Testament

Jerusalem’s Economic Crisis, Its Arabs, and Its Future

Oct. 18 2018

The population of Israel’s capital city is 38-percent Arab, making Arab eastern Jerusalem the largest Arab community in the country. Connected to this fact is Jerusalem’s 46-percent poverty rate—the highest of any Israeli municipality. The city’s economic condition stems in part from its large ultra-Orthodox population, but there is also rampant poverty among its Arab residents, whose legal status is different from that of both Arab Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank. Haviv Rettig Gur explains:

Jerusalem’s Arab inhabitants are not Israeli citizens—in part because Palestinian society views acceptance of Israeli citizenship, [available to any Arab Jerusalemite who desires it], as acceptance of Israeli claims of sovereignty over the city, and in part because Israel is not eager to accept them, even as it formally views itself as having annexed the area. Nevertheless, they have a form of permanent residency that, unlike West Bank Palestinians, allows them unimpeded access to the rest of Israel. . . .

There are good reasons for this poverty among eastern Jerusalem’s Arabs, rooted in the political trap that has ensnared the Arab half of the city and with it the rest of the city as well. Right-wing Israeli political leaders have avoided investing in Arab eastern Jerusalem, fearing that such investments would increase the flow of Palestinians into the city. Left-wing leaders have done the same on the grounds that the Arab half would be given away in a future peace deal.

Meanwhile, eastern Jerusalem’s complicated situation, suspended between the Israeli and Palestinian worlds, means residents cannot take full advantage of their access to the Israeli economy. For example, while most Arab women elsewhere in Israel learn usable Hebrew in school, most Arab schools in eastern Jerusalem teach from the Palestinian curriculum, which does not offer students the Hebrew they will need to find work in the western half of the city. . . .

It is not unreasonable to argue that Jerusalem cannot really be divided, not for political reasons but for economic ones. If Jerusalem remains a solely Israeli capital, it will have to integrate better its disparate parts and massively develop its weaker communities if it hopes ever to become solvent and prosperous. Arabs must be able to find more and better work in Jewish Jerusalem—and in Arab Jerusalem, too. Conversely, if the city is divided into two capitals, that of a Jewish state and that of a Palestinian one, that won’t change the underlying economic reality that its prosperity, its capacity to accommodate tourism and develop efficient infrastructure, and its ability to ensure access for all religions to their many holy sites, will still require a unified urban space.

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More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli Arabs, Israeli economy, Jerusalem