An Ancient Engraving of a Menorah Is Discovered a Second Time

In 1980, an excavation of the town of Michmas—located about six miles outside of Jerusalem—uncovered a 2,000-year-old engraving of an menorah, which was then forgotten. Recently a scholar has re-examined it in light of new evidence, dating it to the mid-2nd century BCE, around the time of the Maccabean revolt. Amanda Borschel-Dan writes:

Ancient Michmas is best known from the book of Maccabees. As depicted in 1Maccabees 9:73, Jonathan, the youngest of the five sons of the revolt-instigating priest Mattathias the Hasmonean, makes peace with the Seleucid general Bacchides and settles in Michmas before the beginning his reign, which spanned 161-143 BCE. “Thus the sword ceased from Israel: but Jonathan dwelt at Michmas, and began to govern the people; and he destroyed the ungodly men out of Israel.”

According to the report from the 1980s, the menorah is approximately twenty inches wide and twelve inches high, with a flat base of some four inches. It has a total of seven branches, with six coming out of a central stem. [The] menorah was crowned by an intriguing but unclear paleo-Hebrew letter, which was scratched into the cave wall. . . . The new study . . . outlines [various] evidence supporting the hypothesis that ancient Michmas was an agricultural settlement populated mainly by kohanim (priests).

This newly rediscovered menorah and mysterious letter join another 1980s find of a hideaway cave, in the nearby el-’Aliliyat region. There, archaeologists discovered a mikveh (ritual bath), a cistern, and two menorahs drawn with a charcoaled stick, one crowned by an Aramaic/Hebrew inscription.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Archaeology, Hasmoneans, Menorah


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