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.

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Read more at Times of Israel

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

 

Will Costco Go to Israel?

Social-media users have mocked this week new Israeli finance minister Bezalel Smotrich for a poorly translated letter. But far more interesting than the finance minister’s use of Google Translate (or some such technology) is what the letter reveals about the Jewish state. In it, Smotrich asks none other than Costco to consider opening stores in Israel.

Why?

Israel, reports Sharon Wrobel, has one of the highest costs of living of any country in the 38-member Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

This

has been generally attributed to a lack of competition among local importers and manufacturers. The top three local supermarket chains account for over half of the food retail market, limiting competition and putting upward pressure on prices. Meanwhile, import tariffs, value-added tax costs and kosher restrictions have been keeping out international retail chains.

Is the move likely to happen?

“We do see a recent trend of international retailers entering the Israeli market as some barriers to food imports from abroad have been eased,” Chen Herzog, chief economist at BDO Israel accounting firm, told The Times of Israel. “The purchasing power and technology used by big global retailers for logistics and in the area of online sales where Israel has been lagging behind could lead to a potential shift in the market and more competitive prices.”

Still, the same economist noted that in Israel “the cost of real estate and other costs such as the VAT on fruit and vegetables means that big retailers such as Costco may not be able to offer the same competitive prices than in other places.”

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Costco, Israel & Zionism