An Ancient Pagan Waterspout Discovered in Northern Israel

In Tractate Avodah Zarah, the Talmud forbids drinking from water fountains decorated with graven images of deities. Archaeologists recently found just such a faucet near the ancient Galilean town of Tzippori, writes Amanda Borschel-Dan:

The [anthropomorphized] lion spout . . . measures 6 by 5 inches. Its gaping mouth leaves room for a pipe two centimeters in diameter, from which water would have splashed in a drinking fountain or bathhouse. It is formed from marble, likely imported from Turkey. . . . Ornately decorated drain spouts were usually formed into the images of animal heads or characters from mythology. They were in use from the Hellenistic era through the Roman and early Byzantine era as common architectural elements.

The archaeological site Tzippori, also known by its Greek name Sepphoris, is most known for its famous “Mona Lisa of the Galilee” mosaic. The Western Galilee city was a major home to a flourishing mixed pagan, Christian, and Jewish community during the 4th through 7th centuries CE. The settlement’s vast system of aqueducts and cisterns dates to the 1st and 2nd centuries and was in use until the 7th or 8th.

After the Jewish Revolt and destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, many sages moved north and by the 3rd century CE it was the seat of Rabbi Judah the Prince, where he began compiling the Mishnah.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Galilee, Paganism, Talmud


If Iran Goes Nuclear, the U.S. Will Be Forced Out of the Middle East

The International Atomic Energy Agency reported in May that Iran has, or is close to having, enough highly enriched uranium to build multiple atomic bombs, while, according to other sources, it is taking steps toward acquiring the technology to assemble such weapons. Considering the effects on Israel, the Middle East, and American foreign policy of a nuclear-armed Iran, Eli Diamond writes:

The basic picture is that the Middle East would become inhospitable to the U.S. and its allies when Iran goes nuclear. Israel would find itself isolated, with fewer options for deterring Iran or confronting its proxies. The Saudis and Emiratis would be forced into uncomfortable compromises.

Any course reversal has to start by recognizing that the United States has entered the early stages of a global conflict in which the Middle East is set to be a main attraction, not a sideshow.

Directly or not, the U.S. is engaged in this conflict and has a significant stake in its outcome. In Europe, American and Western arms are the only things standing between Ukraine and its defeat at the hands of Russia. In the Middle East, American arms remain indispensable to Israel’s survival as it wages a defensive, multifront war against Iran and its proxies Hamas and Hizballah. In the Indo-Pacific, China has embarked on the greatest military buildup since World War II, its eyes set on Taiwan but ultimately U.S. primacy.

While Iran is the smallest of these three powers, China and Russia rely on it greatly for oil and weapons, respectively. Both rely on it as a tool to degrade America’s position in the region. Constraining Iran and preventing its nuclear breakout would keep waterways open for Western shipping and undermine a key node in the supply chain for China and Russia.

Diamond offers a series of concrete suggestions for how the U.S. could push back hard against Iran, among them expanding the Abraham Accords into a military and diplomatic alliance that would include Saudi Arabia. But such a plan depends on Washington recognizing that its interests in Eastern Europe, in the Pacific, and in the Middle East are all connected.

Read more at National Review

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Middle East, U.S. Foreign policy