Two Rare Discoveries Are Evidence of the Original Return to Zion

In 586 BCE, Babylonia destroyed Jerusalem and sent most of its population into exile; 50 years later, Persia overran the Babylonian empire, and the Persian king, Cyrus the Great, allowed the exiled Jews to return to their homeland and rebuild their Temple. These events are narrated in the Hebrew Bible and attested by contemporaneous evidence, but the period between the Babylonian conquest and the fall of Persia to Alexander the Great around 333 BCE is, in the words of the Yiftaḥ Shalev of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “a black hole in archaeology.” But two items recently unearthed in Jerusalem may help to change that, writes Amanda Borschel-Dan:

The two recent discoveries in an ongoing excavation in the Givati parking lot—a clay “official” seal impression and a strange . . . pottery sherd seal with fake writing—help illuminate the enigma that is 6th-century-BCE Jerusalem history. There are only ten other similar artifacts discovered in Israel that date to the Persian period.

Whereas the seal impression is made in an official imperial style, perhaps depicting a god, the crude clay seal is locally made, presumably by an illiterate underling. Combined, said Shalev, the seal and seal impression illustrate all levels of officialdom in the reviving city. They indicate, he added, that after the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem and the exile of the Jews, Jerusalemites were rebuilding the city, including its bureaucracy, as told in the Bible.

The clay seal was made from an eight-centimeter in diameter reused potsherd. Shalev called it a “strange item” and said it appears that someone took a piece of a broken vessel and reused it, while carving into it “curved figures” that were made to look like letters. He called the pseudo-epigraphic seal “a very unique item” that appears to have been “very local” in its make, as opposed to the official Babylonian-style impression.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Ancient Persia, Babylon, Hebrew Bible, Jerusalem

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