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

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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Read more at 19FortyFive

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship