The Cliffside Caves Used by Jewish Revolutionaries Fighting the Roman Empire

March 2 2020

In his account of the Judean revolt against Rome in the 1st century CE, the historian Josephus—who also served as a commander of Jewish forces—mentions nineteen Galilean villages that were fortified against the Romans. Archaeologists have identified four or five of them. Analyzing these excavations and others, Yinon Shivtiel concludes that the rebels used hundreds of both natural and artificially expanded caves in the region’s steep cliffs as hideouts and fortresses:

In the Galilee, hiding complexes have been discovered in dozens of well-known Jewish settlements from the Second Temple period, all within the boundaries of the Lower and Upper Galilee as described by Josephus. One of the key places where a hiding complex was discovered was in Yodfat (Jotapata), where . . . Josephus turned himself over to the Romans.

The archaeological finds in the hiding complexes resemble those found in the cliff shelters, supporting the view that these were also intended for sheltering against the Roman army. . . . In the preparation of these sites for hiding, the channels were hewn very narrowly and required crawling from room to room. The tunnels, with few entrances and exits, were designed for underground concealment for a limited period and offered the possibility of temporary escape. Seventy-four of these have been found in the Galilee. Hundreds more have been discovered in the Judean foothills, the Benjamin region, and southern Samaria. Nearly all are in close proximity to ancient Jewish settlements.

The distinctly [military] use of these hiding complexes necessitated the camouflage of entrances and exits, such as entry via cisterns. In many cases, the tunnels were hewn through or into ancient underground facilities like ritual baths, oil presses, storage pits, or cisterns, all part of the standard facilities of the Jewish population whether in the Galilee or in Judea.

Read more at ASOR

More about: Ancient Israel, Ancient Rome, Archaeology, Josephus, Judean Revolt

American Aid to Lebanon Is a Gift to Iran

For many years, Lebanon has been a de-facto satellite of Tehran, which exerts control via its local proxy militia, Hizballah. The problem with the U.S. policy toward the country, according to Tony Badran, is that it pretends this is not the case, and continues to support the government in Beirut as if it were a bulwark against, rather than a pawn of, the Islamic Republic:

So obsessed is the Biden administration with the dubious art of using taxpayer dollars to underwrite the Lebanese pseudo-state run by the terrorist group Hizballah that it has spent its two years in office coming up with legally questionable schemes to pay the salaries of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), setting new precedents in the abuse of U.S. foreign security-assistance programs. In January, the administration rolled out its program to provide direct salary payments, in cash, to both the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF).

The scale of U.S. financing of Lebanon’s Hizballah-dominated military apparatus cannot be understated: around 100,000 Lebanese are now getting cash stipends courtesy of the American taxpayer to spend in Hizballah-land. . . . This is hardly an accident. For U.S. policymakers, synergy between the LAF/ISF and Hizballah is baked into their policy, which is predicated on fostering and building up a common anti-Israel posture that joins Lebanon’s so-called “state institutions” with the country’s dominant terror group.

The implicit meaning of the U.S. bureaucratic mantra that U.S. assistance aims to “undermine Hizballah’s narrative that its weapons are necessary to defend Lebanon” is precisely that the LAF/ISF and the Lebanese terror group are jointly competing to achieve the same goals—namely, defending Lebanon from Israel.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, U.S. Foreign policy