The Discovery of an Ancient Pool May Help Explain an Obscure Talmudic Term

Dec. 12 2018

The Talmud mentions people washing in the krona in the Galilean city of Tsipori (Sepphoris); the obscure term is thought to refer to a bathhouse of some sort. Now Israeli archaeologists believe they may have found the krona itself, as Rachel Bernstein writes:

The newly discovered pool, which measures nearly 70-by-48 feet and is more than eleven-feet deep, dates to the 3rd century CE. . . . A small bronze statue of a bull was also found at the site, dating to the Roman period. The ancient city, one of the prime examples of the Roman-designed cities preserved in the land of Israel, sprawls on top of a hill in the western lower Galilee, about three miles northwest of Nazareth. . . .

A smaller pool was also found to the west of the large one, dating to the 2nd century CE. During the excavation, workers [also] found coins dating to the late Islamic period (14th and 15th centuries CE) as well as ceramic vessels and other coins dating from the late Roman and Byzantine periods (3rd to 5th centuries CE). . . .

Tsipori was well known in the Roman and Byzantine period as a Jewish city and a hub for Jewish administration, particularly since the 3rd century CE. The Romans also built a number of roads that connected the city to other major cities in the region, including to the port of Acre and to Tiberias, making it a flourishing point of trade for the area [as well as an important Roman] military stronghold.

The city had served as the seat of the Sanhedrin during the time of Rabbi Judah the Prince, [ca. 200 CE], who compiled the Mishnah, [the earlier stratum of the Talmud].

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More about: Archaeology, Galilee, History & Ideas, Talmud

The Riots on the Gaza Border are Carefully Coordinated Attacks on Israel, and Should Be Treated as Such

Jan. 16 2019

On Friday, the weekly riots at the Gaza security fence resumed in full force: 13,000 people participated, and a Palestinian woman was apparently killed by Israeli gunfire. The UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR) had established a commission of inquiry in May, not long after these riots began, “to investigate all alleged violations and abuses of international humanitarian law and international human-rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, . . . particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military assaults on the large-scale civilian protests that began on March 20, 2018.” In a report to the commission, Richard Kemp, a retired senior British officer, concludes, after investigating the situation at the Gaza border, that there is no evidence whatsoever of Israeli wrongdoing, and that the commission is operating under faulty assumptions:

The terms of [the commission’s] mandate are self-evidently biased against the state of Israel and the IDF. The context cited—“the military assaults on the large-scale civilian protests”—make clear that the UNHRC either failed to understand what was happening on the ground or deliberately misrepresented the reality. In addition, the commission’s mandate terms the Gaza Strip “Occupied Palestinian Territories,” which it is not. . . .

[T]he so-called “civilian protests” in reality were, and continue to be, a deliberate military operation, orchestrated and controlled by Hamas, [a] terrorist group that has been waging an armed conflict against Israel for many years. Their intention was and remains to kill and wound IDF soldiers, to break through the border fence, to murder and maim innocent civilians, to destroy property, and to compel the IDF to take defensive action resulting in the death of Gaza civilians for exploitation in the international arena. [Israel’s] “military assaults” were not what was implied by this prejudicial mandate. They were in fact lawful, proportionate, and restrained defensive actions. . . .

Suggestions that these demonstrations are [protests] against Israeli policy toward the Gaza Strip are demonstrably false and easily refuted by cursory viewing of Hamas and other public statements made at the time of the events. . . . Further, it is clear that Hamas intended this violence to continue its long-standing strategy of creating and intensifying international outrage, vilification, isolation, and criminalization of the state of Israel and its officials. . . .

[T]he starkest indication that these events were entirely under Hamas control is the simple fact that, when it suited Hamas’s political interests, the [demonstrations] occurred and were of a violent nature, and when such actions did not serve Hamas’s interests, the border was quiet. As the most recent example of this, in November 2018, Qatar began to make large cash payments to Hamas in Gaza. The most recent payment of $15 million was handed over in December 2018. These payments are reportedly part of an agreement with Hamas to diminish violence along the Gaza border. [After] the first payment, the border violence [was] reduced [and the] demonstrations [became] far more restrained.

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More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, IDF, Israel & Zionism, Laws of war, UNHRC