Incantation Bowls and Biblical-Era Furniture Found in the Hands of Illegal Antiquities Dealers

March 8 2022

In a raid on a home in Jerusalem, Israeli officials discovered hundreds of ancient artifacts, ranging from coins to Babylonian bowls used to restrain demons. Amanda Borschel-Dan writes:

The three “magic” bowls were created in the 5th-7th centuries CE in present-day Iraq. They are among some 3,000 that have been discovered to date, which were used by Jews and non-Jews alike during this era.

The Tel Aviv University professor Matthew Morgenstern, an expert in Jewish Babylonian Aramaic and Classical Mandaic who has photographed hundreds of incantation bowls and has published academic articles on them extensively, told the Times of Israel that such bowls were written in several Babylonian Aramaic dialects and placed protectively around the house for its protection, upside down to trap the demons or evil entities. Some even have “addresses” on the back telling the owner where to put them, he said.

“The Jewish bowls draw heavily on Jewish tradition, cite [biblical] verses, and even contain the earliest written attestations we have for Jewish texts like the Mishnah or benedictions,” said Morgenstern.

Additional rare finds discovered in the Jerusalem home include rare and valuable ivory furniture inlays that were common in the 9th and 8th centuries BCE and have been uncovered at sites including Tel Megiddo and in Samaria.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Babylonian Jewry, Magic


Israel’s Covert War on Iran’s Nuclear Program Is Impressive. But Is It Successful?

Sept. 26 2023

The Mossad’s heist of a vast Iranian nuclear archive in 2018 provided abundant evidence that Tehran was not adhering to its commitments; it also provided an enormous amount of actionable intelligence. Two years later, Israel responded to international inspectors’ condemnation of the Islamic Republic’s violations by using this intelligence to launch a spectacular campaign of sabotage—a campaign that is the subject of Target Tehran, by Yonah Jeremy Bob and Ilan Evyatar. David Adesnik writes:

The question that remains open at the conclusion of Target Tehran is whether the Mossad’s tactical wizardry adds up to strategic success in the shadow war with Iran. The authors give a very respectful hearing to skeptics—such as the former Mossad director Tamir Pardo—who believe the country should have embraced the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Bob and Evyatar reject that position, arguing that covert action has proven itself the best way to slow down the nuclear program. They acknowledge, however, that the clerical regime remains fully determined to reach the nuclear threshold. “The Mossad’s secret war, in other words, is not over. Indeed, it may never end,” they write.

Which brings us back to Joe Biden. The clerical regime was headed over a financial cliff when Biden took office, thanks to the reimposition of sanctions after Washington withdrew from the nuclear deal. The billions flowing into Iran on Biden’s watch have made it that much easier for the regime to rebuild whatever Mossad destroys in addition to weathering nationwide protests on behalf of women, life, and freedom. Until Washington and Jerusalem get on the same page—and stay there—Tehran’s nuclear ambitions will remain an affordable luxury for a dictatorship at war with its citizens.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, Mossad, U.S. Foreign policy