A Cuneiform Tablet Is Rare Evidence of Babylonian Presence in Samaria

While the Hebrew Bible and other ancient texts document the fall of the kingdom of Judah to the Babylonians in 597 BCE, much less is known about the fate of the northern part of the Land of Israel. A newly discovered inscription sheds light on the question, as Rachel Bernstein writes:

The cuneiform tablet documenting a slave sale refers to a pym weight, a polished stone weighing about one quarter of an ounce. Since these stones were in common use in biblical Israel but not in ancient Mesopotamia, [the two scholars who analyzed the artifact] concluded that the text was written in the Levant, and reflected a business transaction regarding movable property, namely slaves, in the biblical kingdom of Israel.

That kingdom—one of two successor states to the united kingdom of Israel [that had been ruled by David and Solomon]—was founded around 930 BCE. The “northern kingdom,” also called the kingdom of Samaria to differentiate it from the southern kingdom of Judah based in Jerusalem, fell to the Assyrians . . . in 722 BCE.

While the presence of Babylonians in the region has been assumed by many scholars, archaeological evidence attesting to their presence has remained scant. . . . [M]uch of the population of the northern kingdom was deported by Assyria and a new population sent to replace the so-called Ten Lost Tribes.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Archaeology, Babylon, History & Ideas, Samaria, Ten Lost Tribes

As Hamas’s Power Collapses, Old Feuds Are Resurfacing

In May, Mahmoud Nashabat, a high-ranking military figure in the Fatah party (which controls the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority), was gunned down in central Gaza. Nashabat was an officer in the Gaza wing of the Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, a terrorist outfit that served as Fatah’s vanguard during the second intifada, and now sometimes collaborates with Hamas. But his killers were Hamas members, and he was one of at least 35 Palestinians murdered in Gaza in the past two months as various terrorist and criminal groups go about settling old scores, some of which date back to the 1980s. Einav Halabi writes:

Security sources familiar with the situation told the London-based newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat that Gaza is now also beleaguered by the resurgence of old conflicts. “Many people have been killed in incidents related to the first intifada in 1987, while others have died in family disputes,” they said.

The “first-intifada portfolio” in Gaza is considered complex and convoluted, as it is filled with hatred among residents who accuse others of killing relatives for various reasons, including collaboration with Israel. . . . According to reports from Gaza, there are vigorous efforts on the ground to contain these developments, but the chances of success remain unclear. Hamas, for its part, is trying to project governance and control, recently releasing several videos showcasing how its operatives brutally beat residents accused of looting.

These incidents, gruesome as they are, suggest that Hamas’s control over the territory is slipping, and it no longer holds a monopoly on violence or commands the fear necessary to keep the population in line. The murders and beatings also dimension the grim reality that would ensue if the war ends precipitously: a re-empowered Hamas setting about getting vengeance on its enemies and reimposing its reign of terror.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Fatah, Gaza War 2023, Hamas