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.

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

The Evidence of BDS Anti-Semitism Speaks for Itself

Oct. 18 2019

Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs recently released a lengthy report titled Behind the Mask, documenting the varieties of naked anti-Semitic rhetoric and imagery employed by the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction the Jewish state (BDS). Drawn largely but not exclusively from Internet sources, its examples range from a tweet by a member of Students for Justice in Palestine (the “world would be soooo much better without jews man”), to an enormous inflated pig bearing a star of David and floating behind the stage as the rock musician Roger Waters performs, to accusations by an influential anti-Israel blogger that Israel is poisoning Palestinian wells. Cary Nelson sums up the report’s conclusions and their implications, all of which give the lie to the disingenuous claim that critics of BDS are trying to brand “legitimate criticism of Israel” as anti-Semitic.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, BDS, Roger Waters, Social media