Archaeological Clues for Delineating the Borders of Ancient Judah

July 12 2017

From the 8th to the 6th centuries BCE, the Kingdom of Judah was the sole Israelite polity in the land of Israel; it was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE. The Persian empire, after seizing the territory for itself, created a province called Yehud, which existed from the 5th through the 3rd centuries BCE. Drawing on the distribution of ancient artifacts, Ephraim Stern argues that there is sufficient evidence to reconstruct the geographical borders of these areas:

Two types of Judean artifacts are particularly useful for reconstructing the borders of Judah: the pillar figurines unique to the kingdom, dating to the 8th-6th centuries BCE, and the rosette-stamp impressions from the late monarchic period, that is, the 7th and beginning of the 6th centuries BCE.

At least 1,500 pillar figurines have been found at Judean sites (almost half of them from Jerusalem itself). And the heavy concentration of rosette seals in Judah and [their absence from the] neighboring kingdom of Israel, even at a time when Judah and Israel maintained close relations and likely traded with one another heavily, establishes a clear northern border for Judah.

Although there are far fewer stamp impressions than pillar figurines from the period of the Judean monarchy, primarily because they were in use for a much shorter time, their distribution follows the same southern border. . . .

According to the biblical sources (for example, Nehemiah 3), the area of Yehud in the Persian period was divided into six districts. Seal impressions have been found in each of these districts, indicating that the biblical account is based on historical reality.

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Read more at Bible Odyssey

More about: Ancient Israel, Ancient Persia, Archaeology, History & Ideas, Judah

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

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Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism