Drinking Beer in Pre-Biblical Israel

While wine appears to be the drink of choice in the Hebrew Bible, frequent reference is also made to shekhar, which the King James Version renders as “strong drink” and rabbinic commentators tend to understand as old, very strong wine. Some modern scholars, however, believe it to be beer. Regardless, there is little doubt that ancient Israelites were familiar with the beverage, which had been brewed in the Promised Land millennia before Moses. Nathan Steinmeyer reports on the findings of recent archaeological research on the subject:

The study examined remains from two sites in Israel dated to the Chalcolithic period (ca. 5500–3900 BCE). An analysis of storage and drinking vessels from both sites provided clear indications of the production and consumption of beer in large quantities. The discoveries add a new piece to the puzzle on the origins of beer.

The two sites examined for the study were Tel Tsaf in the northern Jordan Valley of Israel (ca. 5200–4700 BCE) and Peki’in Cave in the Upper Galilee (4500–3900 BCE). In Peki’in Cave, evidence was found of beer consumption within a funerary context, leading the team to suggest that beer may have been part of prehistoric burial rites or ceremonies. In contrast, at Tel Tsaf, beer was found associated with several large courtyards and storage areas, suggesting it may have been served during large communal feasts or gatherings.

The researchers believe the strainers were used to filter the beer as it was poured into serving vessels. This contrasts with later Bronze Age depictions of beer consumption, in which long reed or metal straws were used to drink from large communal vats.

The earliest archaeological evidence for the production of beer dates back to at least 13,000 years ago, from a cave in northern Israel.

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Read more at Bible History Daily

More about: Alcohol, Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Hebrew Bible

Condemning Terrorism in Jerusalem—and Efforts to Stop It

Jan. 30 2023

On Friday night, a Palestinian opened fire at a group of Israelis standing outside a Jerusalem synagogue, killing seven and wounding several others. The day before, the IDF had been drawn into a gunfight in the West Bank city of Jenin while trying to arrest members of a terrorist cell. Of the nine Palestinians killed in the raid, only one appears to have been a noncombatant. Lahav Harkov compares the responses to the two events, beginning with the more recent:

President Joe Biden called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to denounce the attack, offer his condolences, and express his commitment to Israel’s security. Other leaders released supportive statements as well. Governments across Europe condemned the attack. Turkey’s foreign ministry did the same, as did Israel’s Abraham Accords partners the UAE and Bahrain. Even Saudi Arabia released a statement against the killing of civilians in Jerusalem.

It feels wrong to criticize those statements. . . . But the condemnations should be full-throated, not spoken out of one side of the mouth while the other is wishy-washy about what it takes to stave off terrorism. These very same leaders and ministries were tsk-tsking at Israel for doing just that only a day before the attacks in Jerusalem.

The context didn’t seem to matter to some countries that are friendly to Israel. It didn’t matter that Israel was trying to stop jihadists from attacking civilians; it didn’t matter that IDF soldiers were attacked on the way.

It’s very easy for some to be sad when Jews are murdered. Yet, at the same time, so many of them are uncomfortable with Jews asserting themselves, protecting themselves, arming themselves against the bloodthirsty horde that would hand out bonbons to celebrate their deaths. It’s a reminder of how important it is that we do just that, and how essential the state of Israel is.

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More about: Jerusalem, Palestinian terror