A Rare Silver Coin from the Jewish Revolt Found in Jerusalem

Nov. 29 2021

Two-hundred years after the beginning of the Maccabean revolt against the Seleucids—which the holiday of Hanukkah celebrates—the Jews of the Land of Israel launch another, less successful uprising, this time against the Romans. To mark their aspirations for independence, the latter rebels minted coins, one of which was recently discovered by an eleven-year-old girl. The Times of Israel reports:

A rare 2,000-year-old silver shekel coin, thought to have been minted on the Temple Mount plaza from the plentiful silver reserves held there at the time, has been uncovered in Jerusalem. If it were indeed minted there, it would make the coin one of the very few items uncovered that were manufactured at the holy site.

Robert Kool, head of the coin department at the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), suggested that the coin may have been minted at the plaza of the holy site by one of the priests who worked in coordination with the rebel leaders, providing them with assistance.

The coin weighs approximately 14 grams (0.4 ounces) and has an engraving of an image of a cup on one side, with the caption “Israeli shekel” and the Hebrew letters shin and bet, shorthand for “second year,” i.e., the second year of the Great Revolt against the Romans (67-68 CE). The other side of the coin has an inscription that the IAA said was an engraving of the headquarters of the high priest, as well as the words “Holy Jerusalem” in ancient Hebrew script.

“The choice to use ancient Hebrew script, which was no longer in use at the time, is not accidental,” Kool said. “The use of this script came to express the longing of the people of the period for the days of David and Solomon and the days of a united Jewish kingdom—days when the people of Israel had full independence in the land.”

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Archaeology, Jerusalem, Judean Revolt, Temple Mount

Saudi Arabia Should Open Its Doors to Israeli—and Palestinian—Pilgrims

On the evening of June 26 the annual period of the Hajj begins, during which Muslims from all over the world visit Mecca and perform prescribed religious rituals. Because of the de-jure state of war between Saudi Arabia and the Jewish state, Israeli Muslim pilgrims—who usually number about 6,000—must take a circuitous (and often costly) route via a third country. The same is true for Palestinians. Mark Dubowitz and Tzvi Kahn, writing in the Saudi paper Arab News, urge Riyadh to reconsider its policy:

[I]f the kingdom now withholds consent for direct flights from Israel to Saudi Arabia, it would be a setback for those normalization efforts, not merely a continuation of the status quo. It is hard to see what the Saudis would gain from that.

One way to support the arrangement would be to include Palestinians in the deal. Israel might also consider earmarking its southern Ramon Airport for the flights. After all, Ramon is significantly closer to the kingdom than Ben-Gurion Airport, making for cheaper routes. Its seclusion from Israeli population centers would also help Israeli efforts to monitor outgoing passengers and incoming flights for security purposes.

A pilot program that ran between August and October proved promising, with dozens of Palestinians from the West Bank traveling back and forth from Ramon to Cyprus and Turkey. This program proceeded over the objections of the Palestinian Authority, which fears being sidelined by such accommodations. Jordan, too, has reason to be concerned about the loss of Palestinian passenger dinars at Amman’s airports.

But Palestinians deserve easier travel. Since Israel is willing to be magnanimous in this regard, Saudi Arabia can certainly follow suit by allowing Ramon to be the springboard for direct Hajj flights for Palestinian and Israeli Muslims alike. And that would be a net positive for efforts to normalize ties between [Jerusalem] and Riyadh.

Read more at Arab News

More about: Israel-Arab relations, Israeli Arabs, Palestinians, Saudi Arabia