Uncovering the History of Ancient Jerusalem’s Water Supply—and the Beginnings of the Revolt against Rome

Dec. 29 2021

Recently archaeologists conducted a survey of what is known as the Biyer Aqueduct, a three-mile-long portion of the complex system used in ancient times to get water to the residents of Jerusalem. Nathan Steinmeyer explains what they found:

Throughout its long history, Jerusalem has always had a major problem securing water for its inhabitants. During the Iron Age (1200–586 BCE), the nearby Gihon spring, along with a large reservoir and cisterns, was sufficient to supply the relatively small population. Both Hezekiah’s tunnel and the Siloam Pool were built by King Hezekiah in the 8th century BCE to expand the city’s Iron Age water system.

Towards the end of the Second Temple period, the city’s population grew dramatically, and the Gihon spring was no longer able to provide enough water for the city. It was for this reason that Jerusalem’s aqueduct was built to bring in water from more distant sources. The dating of the aqueduct system, however, has been much debated.

Carbon-14 dating led the team from Hebrew University to suggest that the Biyer Aqueduct was likely constructed during the reign of the Roman governor Pontius Pilate (ca. 26–36 CE). . . . During the survey, the team documented the various methods used in its construction and took several radiocarbon samples from the plastered walls. Analysis of the samples indicates the aqueduct was likely built in the early 1st century CE and was refurbished in the 2nd century, after the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple. As such, the team suggests that the Biyer Aqueduct could be the same aqueduct attributed to Pilate by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus.

According to Josephus, Pilate used money from the Temple’s treasury to build the aqueduct, which led to riots in the city.

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Read more at Bible History Daily

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Jerusalem, Second Temple, Water

Reforms to Israel’s Judiciary Must Be Carefully Calibrated

The central topic of debate in Israel now is the new coalition government’s proposed reforms of the nation’s judiciary and unwritten constitution. Peter Berkowitz agrees that reform is necessary, but that “the proper scope and pace of reform, however, are open to debate and must be carefully calibrated.”

In particular, Berkowitz argues,

to preserve political cohesiveness, substantial changes to the structure of the Israeli regime must earn support that extends beyond these partisan divisions.

In a deft analysis of the conservative spirit in Israel, bestselling author Micah Goodman warns in the Hebrew language newspaper Makor Rishon that unintended consequences flowing from the constitutional counterrevolution are likely to intensify political instability. When a center-left coalition returns to power, Goodman points out, it may well repeal through a simple majority vote the major changes Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition seeks to enact. Or it may use the legislature’s expanded powers, say, to ram through laws that impair the religious liberty of the ultra-Orthodox. Either way, in a torn nation, constitutional counterrevolution amplifies division.

Conservatives make a compelling case that balance must be restored to the separation of powers in Israel. A prudent concern for the need to harmonize Israel’s free, democratic, and Jewish character counsels deliberation in the pursuit of necessary constitutional reform.

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Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli Judicial Reform