A Hasmonean Coin and a Two-Millennia-Old Mikveh Point to a Lost Judean Village

Last month, Israeli archaeologists discovered some important artifacts in the town of Itamar in Samaria. The most important, a silver coin from era of the Hasmoneans—the priestly dynasty, established by Judah the Maccabee, who ruled an independent Judea from about 140 to 37 BCE. Efrat Forsher writes:

The coin was minted in the city of Tyre in modern-day Lebanon, . . . in the time of Seleucid king Demetrius II and the high priest John Hyrcanus.

The excavation has also revealed a Second Temple-era stone structure; a sealed cistern that had never been opened, which contained tools and vessels assessed to be some 2,000 years old, including cooking pots; as well as an olive press, a mikveh, and a bronze Roman coin minted in Nablus (Shechem) in the middle of the 3rd century CE. The coin is imprinted with an image of Mount Gerizim, [the site of ritual described in the books of Deuteronomy and Joshua].

According to researchers, the finds indicate the former presence of a rural community that reached its peak between the end of the Second Temple and Roman periods.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Hasmoneans, Mikveh

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

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