What Archaeology Tells Us about King Hezekiah’s Religious Reforms

In the second book of Kings, Hezekiah, who ruled during the late-8th and early-7th centuries BCE, is one of the few monarchs who comes off as a hero. He defended the kingdom of Judah against the Assyrian onslaught, listened to the words of the prophet Isaiah, and cracked down on idolatry and the bringing of sacrifices outside the Jerusalem Temple. David Rafael Moulis explains some of the archaeological evidence for these reforms:

A large 9th-century horned altar was discovered [in Beersheba]—already dismantled. Three of its four “horns” [rectangular projections on the four corners of the top of the altar] were found intact, embedded in a wall. Their secondary use indicates that the stones were no longer considered sacred. The horned altar was dismantled during Hezekiah’s reign, which we know because some of its stones were reused in a public storehouse that was built when the Assyrians threatened Judah and was destroyed by the Assyrian army in 701. . . .

Next we move to Lachish. The second most important city in Judah after Jerusalem, Lachish was a military and administrative center in the Judean hills. . . . In 2016, an 8th-century BCE cultic place at Lachish was uncovered next to the main city gate. Archaeologists have called this cultic place a “gate-shrine.” In it were found two small horned altars, whose horns had been cut off and embedded in an adjacent wall. Further, a square toilet was found installed in the shrine but was never used. The toilet was more of a symbolic act of desecration (see 2Kings 10:27)—part of Hezekiah’s cultic reforms.

The best candidate for the elimination [of these cultic sites and others] is King Hezekiah, who probably ordered the abolition of all official cultic sites. Only the Jerusalem Temple and small, household shrines were spared.

Read more at Bible History Daily

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Book of Kings, Hezekiah, History & Ideas, Idolatry

Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security