Archaeologists have uncovered a handful of synagogues from the talmudic period (ca. 70 – 600 CE), mostly in the northern parts of Israel. Some of these synagogues contain elaborate mosaics, with representations of various religious symbols and objects, as well as biblical scenes. Surprisingly, some also have depictions of the signs of the zodiac and, in at least two cases, of a pagan deity. Mike Rogoff analyzes various theories of why this was not seen as a violation of the Second Commandment (which seems to prohibit making any “graven image” or “likeness” of terrestrial or celestial bodies), and puts forth his own conclusions (free registration required):
What Are Pagan Deities Doing on the Floors of Ancient Synagogues?
Egypt Still Hasn’t Escaped Nasser’s Toxic Legacy
To mark the 50th anniversary of the death of the Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser, Daniel Pipes reflects on his reign: