What Became of the Treasures of the Second Temple?

April 3 2019

According to an eight-century-old rumor, which persists in some Jewish circles today despite the lack of evidence to support it, sacred items from the Second Temple lie in the vaults of the Vatican. The ancient historian Josephus recounts that the golden menorah, the table of the showbread, and other ritual objects were indeed transported to Rome after the Temple was destroyed in 70 CE, paraded through its streets in a triumphal procession—depicted famously in the Arch of Titus—and then placed in the recently built Temple of Peace. In the last post of a five-part series, Carl Rasmussen explores what happened to them next:

[I]n 192 CE the Temple of Peace [in Rome] was burned down. [The historian Clyde] Billington argues that “the [Jerusalem] Temple menorah and the other ‘treasures of the Jews’ were rescued and placed in the royal palace where, according to the Byzantine historian Procopius, they remained until the mid-5th century CE.” . . . In 445 CE . . . the Vandals conquered and looted the city of Rome and [took these treasures] to their capital city of Carthage in North Africa. Procopius of Caesarea also describes how . . . the Byzantine general Belisarius conquered Carthage in 534 CE. . . . [Then] the Temple treasures were brought to Constantinople [and] placed, for a time, in the newly built Nea Church [in Jerusalem], dedicated in 543 CE.

Some of the remains of the Nea Church have been excavated and are located in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem—but much is covered by the Jewish Quarter parking lot. . . .

At that point, the story becomes very complex because of the Persian invasion and capture of Jerusalem in 614 CE. It is complex partially because the Jews initially assisted the Persians, and may have gained possession of the objects then, but soon thereafter the Persians sided with the Christians. And eventually the Byzantine ruler Heraclius captured Jerusalem in 630 and treated the Jewish population harshly.

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Read more at Holy Land Photos

More about: Ancient Rome, Archaeology, Jerusalem, Josephus, 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