Archaeological Clues for Delineating the Borders of Ancient Judah

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.

Read more at Bible Odyssey

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


How to Turn Palestinian Public Opinion Away from Terror

The Palestinian human-rights activist Bassem Eid, responding to the latest survey results of the Palestinian public, writes:

Not coincidentally, support for Hamas is much higher in the West Bank—misgoverned by Hamas’s archrivals, the secular nationalist Fatah, which rules the Palestinian Authority (PA)—than in Gaza, whose population is being actively brutalized by Hamas. Popular support for violence persists despite the devastating impact that following radical leaders and ideologies has historically had on the Palestinian people, as poignantly summed up by Israel’s Abba Eban when he quipped that Arabs, including the Palestinians, “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

Just as worrying is the role of propaganda and misinformation, which are not unique to the Palestinian context but are pernicious there due to the high stakes involved. Misinformation campaigns, often fueled by Hamas and its allies, have painted violent terrorism as the only path to dignity and rights for Palestinians. Palestinian schoolbooks and public media are rife with anti-Semitic and jihadist content. Hamas’s allies in the West have matched Hamas’s genocidal rhetoric with an equally exterminationist call for the de-normalization and destruction of Israel.

It’s crucial to consider successful examples of de-radicalization from other regional contexts. After September 11, 2001, Saudi Arabia implemented a comprehensive de-radicalization program aimed at rehabilitating extremists through education, psychological intervention, and social reintegration. This program has had successes and offers valuable lessons that could be adapted to the Palestinian context.

Rather than pressure Israel to make concessions, Eid argues, the international community should be pressuring Palestinian leaders—including Fatah—to remove incitement from curricula and stop providing financial rewards to terrorists.

Read more at Newsweek

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Palestinian public opinion