Archaeologists Believe They Have Discovered an Israelite Temple Contemporaneous with Solomon’s

In 2012, an excavation at Tel Motza, located just four miles northwest of the center of ancient Jerusalem, revealed a structure resembling the First Temple. Archaeologists, having completed a thorough examination of site last year, surmise it was in active use as an auxiliary place of worship from the 10th through the 6th centuries BCE, corresponding approximately to the time the First Temple stood. Amanda Borschel-Dan writes:

[The structure] would have been about two-thirds the size of the First Temple and was likely built by similar builders who came to the region from Syria [or Lebanon], as described in the Bible. . . . Due to Motza’s proximity to the First Temple in Jerusalem, the excavation’s principal researchers, Shua Kisilevitz and Oded Lipschits of Tel Aviv University, hypothesize that this separate cultic site would have been approved by the administration of the Jerusalem “main branch.”

“You could not have built a major monumental temple so close to Jerusalem without it being sanctioned by the ruling polity,” said Kisilevitz.

Among the other remains of worship activity, [besides a stone altar], are a stone-built offering table, and “a whole lot of artifacts,” including figurines, cult stands, and chalices, which would have both been brought by the penitents and been the “furniture” of the temple. Another telling clue is a nearby refuse pit, where the team discovered bone and pottery remains. Kisilevitz explained that it was used in a similar way that Jews today use a genizah for sacred texts.

Kisilevitz noted that the Bible records two religious reforms enacted [respectively] by King Hezekiah and [his great-grandson] King Josiah, and said wryly that the fact that there were two is very telling about the widespread cultic practices that were being forbidden. According to the biblical account, the kings consolidated worship practices at the Jerusalem temple and eliminated cultic activity beyond its boundaries.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Ancient Israel, ancient Judaism, Archaeology, First Temple, Jerusalem


Israel Is Courting Saudi Arabia by Confronting Iran

Most likely, it was the Israeli Air Force that attacked eastern Syria Monday night, apparently destroying a convoy carrying Iranian weapons. Yoav Limor comments:

Israel reportedly carried out 32 attacks in Syria in 2022, and since early 2023 it has already struck 25 times in the country—at the very least. . . . The Iranian-Israeli clash stands out in the wake of the dramatic events in the region, chiefly among them is the effort to strike a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and later on with various other Muslim-Sunni states. Iran is trying to torpedo this process and has even publicly warned Saudi Arabia not to “gamble on a losing horse” because Israel’s demise is near. Riyadh is unlikely to heed that demand, for its own reasons.

Despite the thaw in relations between the kingdom and the Islamic Republic—including the exchange of ambassadors—the Saudis remain very suspicious of the Iranians. A strategic manifestation of that is that Riyadh is trying to forge a defense pact with the U.S.; a tactical manifestation took place this week when Saudi soccer players refused to play a match in Iran because of a bust of the former Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Suleimani, [a master terrorist whose militias have wreaked havoc throughout the Middle East, including within Saudi borders].

Of course, Israel is trying to bring Saudi Arabia into its orbit and to create a strong common front against Iran. The attack in Syria is ostensibly unrelated to the normalization process and is meant to prevent the terrorists on Israel’s northern border from laying their hands on sophisticated arms, but it nevertheless serves as a clear reminder for Riyadh that it must not scale back its fight against the constant danger posed by Iran.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, Syria