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.

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

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

Maintaining Security Cooperation with the PA Shouldn’t Require Ignoring Its Support for Terror

In accordance with legislation passed last year, the Israeli government has begun to deduct from the tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA) an amount proportional to what the PA pays to terrorists and their families. Last year, a similar law went into effect in the U.S., suspending all payments to the PA so long as it continues its “pay-for-slay” policy. The PA president, Mahmoud Abbas, has retaliated by refusing to accept any tax revenue collected by Israel—raising concerns that the PA will become insolvent and collapse—while insisting that payments to terrorists and their families are sacrosanct. To Yossi Kuperwasser, Abbas’s behavior amounts to mere extortion—which has already worked on the Europeans to the tune of 35 million euros. He urges Israel and the U.S. not to submit:

Abbas [believes] that influential Israeli and European circles, including the security establishment, view strengthening the Palestinian Authority, and certainly preventing its collapse, as being in Israel and Europe’s best interests. They will therefore give in to the pressure he exerts through the creation of an artificial economic crisis. . . .

[T]he PA leadership’s insistence on continuing wage payments to terrorists and their families, even at the price of an artificial economic crisis, shows once again that . . . the Oslo Accords did not reflect a substantive change in Palestinian national aspirations or in the methods employed to achieve them. . . . If paying wages to terrorists (including the many terrorists whose attacks took place after the Oslo Accords were in force) is the raison d’être for the PA’s establishment, as Abbas seems to be saying, . . . one cannot help asking whether Israel has to insist on maintaining the PA’s existence at any price.

True, Israel cooperates on security issues with the PA, but that serves the interests of both sides. . . . The short-term benefits Israel gains from this security cooperation, [however], are of less value than the benefits enjoyed by the Palestinians, and worth even less when measured against the long-term strategic damage resulting from Israel’s resigning itself to the constant incitement, the promotion of terror, and the political struggle against Israel carried out by the PA. Israel should not do anything to hasten the PA’s breakdown, because it has no desire to rule over the Palestinians and run their day to day lives, but it also should not feel more obligated to the PA’s continued existence than do the Palestinians themselves, thereby leaving itself open to continuous extortion.

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Read more at Israel Institute for Strategic Studies

More about: Israeli Security, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror