An Ancient City Gate and a Rare Tower from the Time of King David

July 18 2018

Digging in the upper Galilee, in what many experts believe to be Bethsaida—a town best-known from the New Testament—archaeologists have discovered a Bronze Age city gate and tower. Rami Arav, the director of the excavation, believes they once protected the capital of the biblical kingdom of Geshur. Amanda Borschel-Dan writes:

“In the entire archaeology of the Land of Israel from the 10th through 8th centuries BCE, there are no towers on city walls. Israelites did not have this feature. This is the earliest example,” . . . Arav said.

The Davidic-period gate was in use from around the 11th century BCE to 920 BCE when the settlement was destroyed. The Geshur settlement, which became a fortified city with a well-preserved royal palace, was re-inhabited after 875 BCE. “During this approximately 50-year period, the site was laid in ruin and not inhabited,” according to the dig’s 2016 field report. . . .

At the site, one can see the remains of a 3,500-year-old Bronze Age settlement, in the form of ancient dolmens (tombstones). . . . [T]he excavations have [also] uncovered a prosperous Hellenistic community. In addition to the city gate and wall excavation, this year’s dig also explored under the floors of a Roman temple uncovered in an earlier season. The temple . . . was probably dedicated to the worship of Julia, the daughter of Caesar Augustus, mentioned in Josephus’ Antiquities.

The site also displays a Jewish community in the Hasmonean and Herodian periods, occupation in the early Roman period, settlement in the Mamluk period, and a village in the late Ottoman period. . . .

As early as the late 11th or 10th centuries BCE—the putative time of Kings Saul, David, and Solomon—Bethsaida was the heart of the small kingdom of Geshur, populated by Arameans. Through the politically-motivated marriage of King Talmai of Geshur’s daughter Maachah to King David, [the Hebrew Bible states], Bethsaida allied itself with the Davidic monarchy. . . . Maachah was the mother of Absalom, who murdered his half-brother Amnon and fled to his mother’s homeland, Geshur. Ties were renewed when Absalom’s daughter, [also named] Maachah, married Solomon’s son Rehoboam, king of Judah.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Archaeology, History & Ideas, King David, New Testament

 

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter