A Rare First Temple-Era Weight Discovered Near the Temple Mount

Nov. 26 2018

A volunteer sifting ancient debris from the vicinity of the Temple Mount uncovered a small stone with the word beka—a measurement of weight equal to a half-shekel—inscribed on it in Hebrew. In First Temple times, such stones were used in scales to weigh precious metals. Amanda Borschel-Dan writes:

The beka [was] used by pilgrims paying their half-shekel tax before ascending to the Temple Mount. . . . The word beka appears twice in the Torah: first as the weight of gold in a nose ring given to the matriarch Rebecca in the book of Genesis, and later in the book of Exodus as a weight for the donation brought by the Jewish people for the maintenance of the Temple and the census, as recorded in Exodus 38:26. . . .

The beka stone was discovered in dirt taken from 2013 excavations under Robinson’s Arch. According to Eli Shukron, [the director of the excavation], the earth came from a drainage canal under the foundation of the Western Wall.

During this era, unlike several hundred years later, there was no half-shekel coin. Pilgrims brought the equivalent weight, a beka, in silver to pay their tax, which would have been measured out on scales in the very spot under the Temple Mount where the tiny stone weight was unearthed.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, First Temple, History & Ideas

 

Israel Is Courting Saudi Arabia by Confronting Iran

Most likely, it was the Israeli Air Force that attacked eastern Syria Monday night, apparently destroying a convoy carrying Iranian weapons. Yoav Limor comments:

Israel reportedly carried out 32 attacks in Syria in 2022, and since early 2023 it has already struck 25 times in the country—at the very least. . . . The Iranian-Israeli clash stands out in the wake of the dramatic events in the region, chiefly among them is the effort to strike a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and later on with various other Muslim-Sunni states. Iran is trying to torpedo this process and has even publicly warned Saudi Arabia not to “gamble on a losing horse” because Israel’s demise is near. Riyadh is unlikely to heed that demand, for its own reasons.

Despite the thaw in relations between the kingdom and the Islamic Republic—including the exchange of ambassadors—the Saudis remain very suspicious of the Iranians. A strategic manifestation of that is that Riyadh is trying to forge a defense pact with the U.S.; a tactical manifestation took place this week when Saudi soccer players refused to play a match in Iran because of a bust of the former Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Suleimani, [a master terrorist whose militias have wreaked havoc throughout the Middle East, including within Saudi borders].

Of course, Israel is trying to bring Saudi Arabia into its orbit and to create a strong common front against Iran. The attack in Syria is ostensibly unrelated to the normalization process and is meant to prevent the terrorists on Israel’s northern border from laying their hands on sophisticated arms, but it nevertheless serves as a clear reminder for Riyadh that it must not scale back its fight against the constant danger posed by Iran.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, Syria