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.

You have 2 free articles left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Jerusalem Post

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

Hizballah Is in Venezuela to Stay

Feb. 21 2019

In a recent interview, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo mentioned the presence of Hizballah cells in Venezuela as further evidence of the growing unrest in that country. The Iran-backed group has operated in Venezuela for years, engaging in narcotics trafficking and money laundering to fund its activities in the Middle East, and likely using the country as a base for planning terrorist attacks. If Juan Guaido, now Venezuela’s internationally recognized leader, is able to gain control of the government, he will probably seek to alter this situation. But, writes Colin Clarke, his options may be limited.

A government led by Guaido would almost certainly be more active in opposing Hizballah’s presence on Venezuelan soil, not just nominally but in more aggressively seeking to curtail the group’s criminal network and, by extension, the influence of Iran. As part of a quid pro quo for its support, Washington would likely seek to lean on Guaido to crack down on Iran-linked activities throughout the region.

But there is a major difference between will and capability. . . . Hizballah is backed by a regime in Tehran that provides it with upward of $700 million annually, according to some estimates. Venezuela serves as Iran’s entry point into Latin America, a foothold the Iranians are unlikely to cede without putting up a fight. Moreover, Russia retains a vested interest in propping up [the incumbent] Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro and keeping him in power, given the longstanding relationship between the two countries. . . . Further, after cooperating closely in Syria, Hizballah is now a known quantity to the Kremlin and an organization that President Vladimir Putin could view as an asset that, at the very least, will not interfere with Russia’s designs to extend its influence in the Western hemisphere.

If the Maduro regime is ultimately ousted from power, that will likely have a negative impact on Hizballah in Venezuela. . . . Yet, on balance, Hizballah has deep roots in Venezuela, and completely expelling the group—no matter how high a priority for the Trump administration—remains unlikely. The best-case scenario for Washington could be an ascendant Guaido administration that agrees to combat Hizballah’s influence—if the new government is willing to accept a U.S. presence in the country to begin training Venezuelan forces in the skills necessary to counter terrorism and transnational criminal networks with strong ties to Venezuelan society. But that scenario, of course, is dependent on the United States offering such assistance in the first place.

You have 1 free article left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Mike Pompeo, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy, Venezuela