An Ancient Convert’s “Cursed” Tomb

Located in the Galilee, the ancient town of Beit She’arim is home to one of Israel’s most significant historical cemeteries, where some of the great rabbinic figures of the 2nd and 3rd centuries are buried. Recently, archaeologists found a tombstone there belonging to a less famous individual from that era, that nonetheless is of great historical interest. Amanda Borschel-Dan writes:

Dating from the late Roman or early Byzantine period, the inscription idiomatically states, “Jacob (Iokobos) the convert swears upon himself that any who open this grave will be cursed.” Following that statement, there is a thick red line drawn and another scribe wrote, “age sixty.”

While it is very common to have a formulaic curse warning against the opening of a grave—which were generally shared by several corpses—this marker was composed in “odd,” redundant Greek, said the Tel Aviv University professor Jonathan Price, who deciphered the inscription. “That’s how he spoke, apparently,” Price told the Times of Israel.

“I’m sure he prepared his stone before he died. Whether he wrote with his hand or not, we can’t know,” although the shape of the letters is “pretty good relative to other homemade inscriptions,” said Price.

Beit She’arim is considered the final resting place of Judah ha-Nasi, the leading 2nd-century CE rabbi who is credited with redacting the Mishnah and was head of the Sanhedrin. Following his burial, Jews from all over the region made huge efforts to be buried there as well, said Price, . . . including from Yemen, Palmyra, and all over the ancient Holy Land.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Conversion, Jewish cemeteries

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

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