An Ancient Moabite Altar Sheds Light on a Biblical War

Aug. 26 2019

In 2010, archaeologists discovered a 2,800-year-old altar in a pagan sanctuary in the ancient city of Atarot, now in Jordan but once in the biblical kingdom of Moab. Scholars have recently deciphered and published the Moabite inscription on the altar, as Owen Jarrus reports:

The altar appears to date to a time after Mesha, king of Moab, successfully rebelled against the kingdom of Israel and conquered Atarot [from it]. By this time, Israel had broken in two with a northern kingdom that retained the name Israel and a southern kingdom called Judah. The Hebrew Bible mentions the rebellion, saying that [as a vassal state] Moab had to give Israel a yearly tribute of thousands of lambs and a vast amount of rams’ wool. The rebellion is also described in the so-called Mesha stele discovered in 1868 in Dhiban, Jordan, which claims that Mesha conquered Atarot and killed many of the city’s inhabitants.

One of the two inscriptions written on the altar appears to describe bronze that was plundered after the capture of Atarot. “One might speculate that quantities of bronze looted from the conquered city at some later date were presented as an offering at the shrine and recorded on this altar,” the researchers write.

The inscription provides confirmation that the Moabites succeeded in taking over Atarot, says the study’s co-author Christopher Rollston.

Read more at LiveScience

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Hebrew Bible, Paganism

The Right and Wrong Ways for the U.S. to Support the Palestinians

Sept. 29 2023

On Wednesday, Elliott Abrams testified before Congress about the Taylor Force Act, passed in 2018 to withhold U.S. funds from the Palestinian Authority (PA) so long as it continues to reward terrorists and their families with cash. Abrams cites several factors explaining the sharp increase in Palestinian terrorism this year, among them Iran’s attempt to wage proxy war on Israel; another is the “Palestinian Authority’s continuing refusal to fight terrorism.” (Video is available at the link below.)

As long as the “pay for slay” system continues, the message to Palestinians is that terrorists should be honored and rewarded. And indeed year after year, the PA honors individuals who have committed acts of terror by naming plazas or schools after them or announcing what heroes they are or were.

There are clear alternatives to “pay to slay.” It would be reasonable for the PA to say that, whatever the crime committed, the criminal’s family and children should not suffer for it. The PA could have implemented a welfare-based system, a system of family allowances based on the number of children—as one example. It has steadfastly refused to do so, precisely because such a system would no longer honor and reward terrorists based on the seriousness of their crimes.

These efforts, like the act itself, are not at all meant to diminish assistance to the Palestinian people. Rather, they are efforts to direct aid to the Palestinian people rather than to convicted terrorists. . . . [T]he Taylor Force Act does not stop U.S. assistance to Palestinians, but keeps it out of hands in the PA that are channels for paying rewards for terror.

[S]hould the United States continue to aid the Palestinian security forces? My answer is yes, and I note that it is also the answer of Israel and Jordan. As I’ve noted, PA efforts against Hamas or other groups may be self-interested—fights among rivals, not principled fights against terrorism. Yet they can have the same effect of lessening the Iranian-backed terrorism committed by Palestinian groups that Iran supports.

Read more at Council on Foreign Relations

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, U.S. Foreign policy