An Ancient Canaanite Temple Sheds Light on Judaism’s Early Competitors

Feb. 19 2020

As the Hebrew Bible frequently mentions, the worship of Baal and other pagan deities was the norm in the land of Canaan before the Israelite conquest, and continued to appeal to Israelites themselves for centuries thereafter. Archaeologists discovered a temple dedicated to the worship of these gods in Lachish, about 24 miles southwest of Jerusalem—built in the times before Kings Saul and David. After a five-year excavation, they have published a comprehensive report on their findings. Amanda Borschel-Dan writes:

During the middle and late Bronze Ages, the people of Lachish controlled large parts of the Judean lowlands, and the city was among the foremost Canaanite cities in the Land of Israel. Mentioned in the Bible, Lachish was built around 1800 BCE and later destroyed by the Egyptians around 1550 BCE. The city rose and fell twice more [before its final destruction] in 1150 BCE. The 12th-century-BCE Canaanite temple, while not a massive compound, is a once-in-a-lifetime find for archaeologists.

In a departure from the typical Canaanite temple structure, the compound also includes side rooms. [It] was divided into a front area that was marked by two columns and two towers, which led into a large hall. From there, an inner sanctum was delineated by four supporting columns “and several unhewn ‘standing stones’ that may have served as representations of temple gods,” stated the [archaeologists’] press release.

In addition to the standing stones . . . [many] other ritual items were discovered, such as “bronze cauldrons, jewelry inspired by the ancient Egyptian goddess Hathor, daggers and axe-heads adorned with bird images, scarabs, and a gold-plated bottle inscribed with the name Ramses II, one of Egypt’s most powerful pharaohs.”

Perhaps the most fascinating finds are a pair of “smiting gods,” which were discovered inside the temple’s inner sanctum, comparable to the Jerusalem Temple’s “Holy of Holies.” . . . Smiting gods are found in the Levant in temples from the [period]. The [archaeologists] write that the figurines are commonly identified with two Canaanite gods, Baal and Resheph, who are both known as war gods.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Archaeology, Canaanites, Idolatry, 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