A Rare First Temple-Era Weight Discovered Near the Temple Mount

Nov. 26 2018

A volunteer sifting ancient debris from the vicinity of the Temple Mount uncovered a small stone with the word beka—a measurement of weight equal to a half-shekel—inscribed on it in Hebrew. In First Temple times, such stones were used in scales to weigh precious metals. Amanda Borschel-Dan writes:

The beka [was] used by pilgrims paying their half-shekel tax before ascending to the Temple Mount. . . . The word beka appears twice in the Torah: first as the weight of gold in a nose ring given to the matriarch Rebecca in the book of Genesis, and later in the book of Exodus as a weight for the donation brought by the Jewish people for the maintenance of the Temple and the census, as recorded in Exodus 38:26. . . .

The beka stone was discovered in dirt taken from 2013 excavations under Robinson’s Arch. According to Eli Shukron, [the director of the excavation], the earth came from a drainage canal under the foundation of the Western Wall.

During this era, unlike several hundred years later, there was no half-shekel coin. Pilgrims brought the equivalent weight, a beka, in silver to pay their tax, which would have been measured out on scales in the very spot under the Temple Mount where the tiny stone weight was unearthed.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, First Temple, History & Ideas

Hizballah Prepares for War, and UN Peacekeepers Do Nothing

Dec. 10 2018

According to last year’s UN Security Council Resolution 2373, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL)—the peacekeeping force created after the Second Lebanon War to keep both Israel and Hizballah out of southern Lebanon—is authorized “to take all necessary action in areas of deployment of its forces, and as it deems within its capabilities, to ensure that its area of operations is not utilized for hostile activities of any kind.” If anything ought to rouse UNIFIL to action, writes Elliott Abrams, it should be the IDF’s recent discovery and destruction of tunnels dug by Hizballah to move troops into the Galilee:

The existence of these tunnels, dug from precisely the area of southern Lebanon that UNIFIL is meant to patrol, means that this area is indeed “utilized for hostile activities.” What, then, is the meaning of [UNIFIL’s statement in] response that it “will communicate its preliminary findings to the appropriate authorities in Lebanon”? The meaning is that UNIFIL will likely do nothing.

UNIFIL is not supposed to be merely a means of communication, or the Security Council would have bought cell phones instead of paying for a military force. Moreover, there are no “appropriate authorities” in Lebanon; if there were, Hizballah would never have been able to dig its tunnels.

The tunnels are hardly the only brazen Hizballah violation of the Security Council resolutions undertaken right under UNIFIL’s nose. Consider this: Hizballah is blocking roads in southern Lebanon to smooth the path of missiles it is moving into the area. . . . Then there is the village of Gila, just north of the Israeli border, where there is a Hizballah headquarters and according to the Israelis about twenty warehouses with weapons, combat positions, lookout points, and dozens of underground positions. All this was built in an area supposedly patrolled by UNIFIL. . . .

This is a test of UNIFIL and its new commander, [Stefan Del Col, who took over in August]. “Communicating” to “appropriate authorities” is a euphemism for doing nothing at all. Hizballah is preparing for war. UNIFIL is supposed to get in its way. If it cannot hinder Hizballah’s war preparations in any way, and is even ignorant of them, UNIFIL is a waste of time and money.

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More about: Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Lebanon, United Nations