A Workshop for Making Stone Vessels Testifies to Ancient Jews’ Observance of Ritual Purity Laws

Digging in a cave in northern Israel known as Einot Amitai, archaeologists have discovered what appears to be 2,000-year-old stoneware factory. Robin Ngo comments on its significance:

“Stone vessels played an integral role in the daily religious lives of Jews during [the 1st century CE],” explained the archaeologist Yonatan Adler, a senior lecturer at Ariel University. “It was a Jewish ‘stone age’ of sorts.”

Adler and Dennis Mizzi [of] the University of Malta are co-directors of the excavation at Einot Amitai. . . . Located on the western slopes of Har Yonah near Nazareth, Einot Amitai features a massive cave hewn into a chalkstone hill. The archaeologists discovered in their inaugural excavation season this summer chalkstone vessels at different stages of production, suggesting that the cave functioned as a workshop.

While vessels—from tableware to cooking pots to storage jars—were usually made of clay in antiquity, Jews throughout Judea and Galilee in the 1st century CE used vessels made of stone.

According to the purity laws observed by Jews in ancient times, metal or clay vessels could become ritually contaminated, in which case they often had to be destroyed. Stone vessels, which couldn’t contract impurity, were therefore seen as advantageous—a fact noted in the New Testament:

The gospel of John alludes to the Jewish custom of using stone vessels: “Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from 20 to 30 gallons.”

Read more at Bible History Daily

More about: Ancient Israel, ancient Judaism, Archaeology, New Testament


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