Reconstructing the Second Temple’s Samaritan Rival

In the 5th century BCE, after the Persians destroyed the Babylonian empire, Jews returned from exile in Mesopotamia—led by Ezra and Nehemiah—and set about building a new temple in Jerusalem. They soon found themselves opposed by a local group, known as Samaritans, who maintained certain pre-exilic Jewish traditions and through the Roman period made up a large segment of the population of the Land of Israel. Leen Ritmeyer discusses evidence that they even built a temple of their own on Mount Gerizim as an alternative to that in Jerusalem:

Archaeological remains of a Samaritan sacred precinct were discovered in these excavations around the turn of the 21st century. These date from the time of Nehemiah (mid-5th century BCE). The Bible doesn’t mention any temple as standing on Mount Gerizim, so we wondered how such a building fit in with the biblical history. It was the reading of Josephus that provided the missing historical information.

During [Nehemiah’s] time, Sanballat the Horonite was the leading figure among those who opposed the building of Jerusalem and the Temple. It is generally believed that he was descended from the Babylonian settlers whom the Assyrians deported to Samaria (2Kings 17:24). Sanballat, whose name means “Sin (the moon god) gives life,” was the governor of Samaria.

[According to the eponymous biblical book], Nehemiah rejected [a high priest named] Manasseh and sent him away. The vital additional information . . . was found in Josephus, who records that Sanballat then offered to make Manasseh high priest and build a new temple on Mount Gerizim similar to that in Jerusalem. The archaeological remains of the Samaritan sacred precinct indeed indicate that at this time a rival temple was built on this mountain by the Samaritans.

Mount Gerizim remains holy to modern-day Samaritans, who today number in the hundreds, and who gather there on Passover to bring the paschal sacrifice. Detailed sketches of the Samaritan temple, and related structures, can be found at the link below.

Read more at Ritmeyer Archaeological Design

More about: Archaeology, Nehemiah, Samaritans, Second Temple


Iran Brings Its War on Israel and the U.S. to the High Seas

On Sunday, the Tehran-backed Houthi guerrillas, who have managed to control much of Yemen, attacked an American warship and three British commercial vessels in the Red Sea. This comes on the heels of a series of maritime attacks on targets loosely connected to Israel and the U.S., documented in the article below by Mark Dubowitz and Richard Goldberg. They explain that Washington must respond far more forcefully than it has been:

President Biden refuses to add the Houthis back to the official U.S. terror list—a status he revoked shortly after taking office. And [Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei keeps driving toward a weapon of mass destruction with the UN’s nuclear watchdog warning that Iran is increasing its production of high-enriched uranium while stonewalling inspectors.

Refreezing all cash made available to Iran over the last few months and cracking down on Iranian oil shipments to China are the easy first steps. Senators can force Biden’s hand on both counts by voting on two bills that passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support.

Next comes the reestablishment of U.S. military deterrence. America must defend itself and regional allies against any attempt by Iran to retaliate—a reassurance Riyadh and Abu Dhabi [also] need, given the potential for Tehran to break its de-escalation pact with the Gulf Arab states. By striking Iranian and Houthi targets, Biden would advance the cause of Middle East peace.  . . . Tehran will keep attacking Americans and U.S. allies unless and until he flashes American steel.

Read more at New York Post

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, Naval strategy, U.S. Foreign policy, Yemen