A Cuneiform Tablet Is Rare Evidence of Babylonian Presence in Samaria

While the Hebrew Bible and other ancient texts document the fall of the kingdom of Judah to the Babylonians in 597 BCE, much less is known about the fate of the northern part of the Land of Israel. A newly discovered inscription sheds light on the question, as Rachel Bernstein writes:

The cuneiform tablet documenting a slave sale refers to a pym weight, a polished stone weighing about one quarter of an ounce. Since these stones were in common use in biblical Israel but not in ancient Mesopotamia, [the two scholars who analyzed the artifact] concluded that the text was written in the Levant, and reflected a business transaction regarding movable property, namely slaves, in the biblical kingdom of Israel.

That kingdom—one of two successor states to the united kingdom of Israel [that had been ruled by David and Solomon]—was founded around 930 BCE. The “northern kingdom,” also called the kingdom of Samaria to differentiate it from the southern kingdom of Judah based in Jerusalem, fell to the Assyrians . . . in 722 BCE.

While the presence of Babylonians in the region has been assumed by many scholars, archaeological evidence attesting to their presence has remained scant. . . . [M]uch of the population of the northern kingdom was deported by Assyria and a new population sent to replace the so-called Ten Lost Tribes.

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More about: Archaeology, Babylon, History & Ideas, Samaria, Ten Lost Tribes

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