An Ancient Depiction of a Nine-Branched Menorah Discovered in the Negev

April 9 2019

While the menorah in the Jerusalem Temples, like that described in the book of Exodus, had seven branches, the menorah traditionally used for the holiday of Hanukkah has nine. The former type is one of the most common motifs of ancient Jewish art; the latter rarely appears at all. But during excavations of a Second Temple-era village near the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, archaeologists have found a potsherd depicting a nine-branched candelabrum. Amanda Borschel-Dan writes:

The site is dated to the 1st century CE and was settled until the Bar Kokhba Revolt in 135 CE; . . . underground hidden passageways discovered there may have been used by Jewish rebels. Unearthed on the southernmost border of [the Roman province of] Judea, . . . the site’s finds indicate a continuation of Jewish religious practice on the edges of the kingdom, such as ritual baths, stone vessels associated with the laws of purity, and an abundance of pottery and lamps decorated with typical Jewish themes such as grape leaves. Additional finds include olive and date pits and baking facilities. . . .

In addition to the site’s size and [the fact that it has been well preserved], the archaeologist Shira Bloch emphasized that its significance is also drawn from the clear evidence that despite being on the outskirts of the kingdom, the residents “kept their Judaism.” . .

The jewel of the excavation so far is the depiction of the nine-stemmed menorah. Bloch clarified that while it may be tempting to call it a “hanukkiah,” a menorah which has a total of nine flames that is used during the . . . holiday of Hanukkah, there is no evidence of holiday celebrations there at that time and therefore one cannot assign that purpose to the image.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Menorah, Second Temple


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