A Single Word on an Ancient Jar Could Upend Historians’ Understanding of the Borders of Biblical Israel

Jan. 14 2020

Examining clay vessels discovered in the ruins of ancient city of Abel Beth Maacah, archaeologists were surprised to find a one-word Hebrew inscription. The Times of Israel reports:

On [one] jar, believed to be a wine vessel, was simply written: “l’Benaya’u,” meaning “belongs to Benaya’u.” But that single word could lead experts to rethink their views on the territory of the ancient kingdom of Israel.

Abel Beth Maacah, mentioned in the Bible, is located just south of Israel’s border with Lebanon, near the modern-day town of Metula. Benaya’u is a Hebrew name analogous to the modern Benayahu. But while the pot is believed to be from the 9th or 10th century BCE, the kingdom of Israel had not previously been thought to stretch so far north during that period.

At the time, Abel Beth Maacah was situated in a liminal zone between three regional powers: the Aramean kingdom based in Damascus to the east, the Phoenician city of Tyre to the west, and the Israelite kingdom, with its capital in Samaria, to the south. Archaeologists had previously believed the area of the town was largely empty during the 10th-9th century BCE, and that it only came under Israelite rule during the 8th century BCE.

The earlier date would suggest an Israelite presence in the city during, or at last closer to, the reigns of David and Solomon.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Hebrew Bible

Europe Dithers While Iran Enriches

Jan. 20 2020

In May, when Tehran announced that it would no longer abide by the limits set by the 2015 nuclear agreement on its enrichment of uranium, Europe found legal excuses not to react. When, earlier this month, the Islamic Republic went a step further, renouncing any limits on enrichment, the EU—led by France and Germany, both parties to the deal—at last initiated a formal process that might lead to the re-imposition of sanctions. Bobby Ghosh comments on the dangers of European apathy:

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Read more at Bloomberg

More about: European Union, France, Germany, Hassan Rouhani, Iran, Iran nuclear program