The Tomb of the Maccabees, Found at Last?

According to ancient sources, the burial site of the heroes of the Hanukkah story was marked with imposing stone pyramids. A 19th-century French archaeologist thought he had discovered the tomb at a site known as Horvat ha-Gardi, but his conclusion was soon called into question. Now, writes Robin Ngo, modern archaeologists are revisiting his work:

When . . . Victor Guérin excavated Horvat ha-Gardi in 1870, he found a large ashlar structure and a burial chamber, all covered with what he believed was a pyramid-like construction such as that described in the book of Maccabees. He contended that he identified seven tombs, one for each member of the Maccabee family. “The ruins of the tomb correspond perfectly to the tomb of the Maccabees as described in the historical sources,” Guérin wrote. . . .

Recently, the Israel Antiquities Authority decided to re-investigate the site of Horvat ha-Gardi. The aim of the project . . . is to “embark upon a campaign in search of the tomb of the Maccabees, in order to solve the riddle surrounding the place once and for all, and to do so utilizing the tools of modern research.” . . . The team re-exposed the burial chamber, huge pillars that could support a second story, a forecourt, and other related buildings.

Commenting on the investigation, [its directors] said, “The appearance of the place is impressive. . . . The archaeological evidence currently at hand is still insufficient to establish that this is the burial place of the Maccabees. If what we uncovered is not the tomb of the Maccabees itself, then there is a high probability that this is the site that early Christians identified as the royal funerary enclosure.”

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Read more at Bible History Daily

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Hanukkah, History & Ideas, Maccabees

 

The Arab Press Blames Iran Rather Than Israel for Gaza’s Woes

Following the fighting between Israel and Islamic Jihad over the weekend, many journalists and commentators in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia didn’t rush to condemn the Jewish state. Instead, as the translators at the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) note, they criticized the terrorist group for “operating in service of Iranian interests and thus inflicting suffering on the Gaza Strip’s residents.” One Saudi intellectual, Turki al-Hamad, wrote the following on Twitter:

It is apparent that, if at one time any confrontation between Israel and the Palestinian organizations would attract world and Arab attention and provoke a wave of anger [against Israel], today it does not shock most Arabs and most of the world’s [countries]. Furthermore, even a sense of human solidarity [with the Palestinians] has become rare and embarrassing, raising the question, “Why [is this happening] and who is to blame?”

I believe that the main reason is the lack of confidence in all the Palestinian leaders. . . . From the Arabs’ and the world’s perspective, it is already clear that these leaders are manipulating the [Palestinian] cause out of self-interest and diplomatic, economic, or even personal motives, and that the Palestinian issue is completely unconnected to this. The Palestinian cause has become a bargaining chip in the hands of these and other organizations and states headed by the [Iranian] ayatollah regime.

A, article in a major Arabic-language newspaper took a similar approach:

In a lengthy front-page report on August 7, the London-based UAE daily Al-Arab criticized Islamic Jihad, writing that “Gaza again became an arena for the settling of accounts between Iran and Israel, while the Palestinian citizens are the ones paying the price.” It added that Iran does not want to confront Israel directly for its bombings in Syria and its attacks on Iranian scientists and nuclear facilities.

“The war in Gaza is not the first, nor will it be the last. But it proves . . . that Iran is exploiting Gaza as it exploits Lebanon, in order to strengthen its hand in negotiations with the West. We all know that Iran hasn’t fired a single bullet at Israel, and it also will not do this to defend Gaza or Lebanon.”

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Read more at MEMRI

More about: Gaza Strip, Iran, Islamic Jihad, Israel-Arab relations, Persian Gulf