An Egyptian-Aramaic Papyrus Contains Rosh Hashanah Prayers from the 8th Century BCE

After the destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians in the 8th century BCE, some of its subjects—member of the Ten Lost Tribes—settled in what is now the Syrian city of Palmyra, where they eventually adopted the local Aramaic language. In the 6th century BCE, likely fleeing an expansionist Babylonia, Israelites and Arameans in Syria resettled in Egypt, where they continued to live side by side. One such Israelite-Aramean community produced a remarkable text, which scholars have only recently been able to make sense of, as Karel van der Toorn writes:

It is one of the most spectacular discoveries in ancient Near Eastern studies of recent years—an Egyptian papyrus from the mid-4th century BCE containing three psalms that originated in the [northern] kingdom of Israel before the fall of Samaria (722 BCE). They provide unique insight into the beliefs and practices of the early Israelites.

The scribes of the scroll used Egyptian Demotic script to write texts in the Aramaic language. The Israelite psalms are also in Aramaic, though several irregularities show they were originally in Hebrew. One of them bears a close resemblance to Psalm 20. The two others are completely new to us. They stand side by side in the papyrus, connected by a common theme.

These songs were to be sung at the autumn harvest festival and the God they invoke is called Yaho [a variation of the Tetragrammaton] or Adonay, [“my Lord”]. There are references to sacrifices of lambs and sheep, bowls filled with wine, and music of lyres and flutes. On the day of the new moon, [i.e., the first day of the Hebrew month], there is a solemn banquet for the God and his worshippers during which Yaho determines destinies for the year to come. “The Merciful One exalts the great, Yaho humiliates the lowly one.” The psalms celebrate his kingship over all other gods. In combination, these various elements point to a setting in the New Year festival—the historical antecedent of Rosh Hashanah. . . .

Understanding these texts has taken over a century. . . . Because the Aramaic texts were written in the Demotic script, experts classified the scroll initially as an Egyptian papyrus. After Lord Amherst of Hackney acquired the text in the 1890s, Egyptologists tried in vain to break its code. Papyrus Amherst 63 was a particular mystery. It took the collaboration of an Aramaic scholar and a Demotic specialist to solve the riddle.

Read more at Ancient Near East Today

More about: Ancient Egypt, ancient Judaism, Aramaic, History & Ideas, Psalms, Rosh Hashanah, Ten Lost Tribes

American Aid to Lebanon Is a Gift to Iran

For many years, Lebanon has been a de-facto satellite of Tehran, which exerts control via its local proxy militia, Hizballah. The problem with the U.S. policy toward the country, according to Tony Badran, is that it pretends this is not the case, and continues to support the government in Beirut as if it were a bulwark against, rather than a pawn of, the Islamic Republic:

So obsessed is the Biden administration with the dubious art of using taxpayer dollars to underwrite the Lebanese pseudo-state run by the terrorist group Hizballah that it has spent its two years in office coming up with legally questionable schemes to pay the salaries of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), setting new precedents in the abuse of U.S. foreign security-assistance programs. In January, the administration rolled out its program to provide direct salary payments, in cash, to both the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF).

The scale of U.S. financing of Lebanon’s Hizballah-dominated military apparatus cannot be understated: around 100,000 Lebanese are now getting cash stipends courtesy of the American taxpayer to spend in Hizballah-land. . . . This is hardly an accident. For U.S. policymakers, synergy between the LAF/ISF and Hizballah is baked into their policy, which is predicated on fostering and building up a common anti-Israel posture that joins Lebanon’s so-called “state institutions” with the country’s dominant terror group.

The implicit meaning of the U.S. bureaucratic mantra that U.S. assistance aims to “undermine Hizballah’s narrative that its weapons are necessary to defend Lebanon” is precisely that the LAF/ISF and the Lebanese terror group are jointly competing to achieve the same goals—namely, defending Lebanon from Israel.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, U.S. Foreign policy