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.

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Read more at Times of Israel

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

 

The New Iran Deal Will Reward Terrorism, Help Russia, and Get Nothing in Return

After many months of negotiations, Washington and Tehran—thanks to Russian mediation—appear close to renewing the 2015 agreement concerning the Iranian nuclear program. Richard Goldberg comments:

Under a new deal, Iran would receive $275 billion of sanctions relief in the first year and $1 trillion by 2030. [Moreover], Tehran would face no changes in the old deal’s sunset clauses—that is, expiration dates on key restrictions—and would be allowed to keep its newly deployed arsenal of advanced uranium centrifuges in storage, guaranteeing the regime the ability to cross the nuclear threshold at any time of its choosing. . . . And worst of all, Iran would win all these concessions while actively plotting to assassinate former U.S. officials like John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and [his] adviser Brian Hook, and trying to kidnap and kill the Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad on U.S. soil.

Moscow, meanwhile, would receive billions of dollars to construct additional nuclear power plants in Iran, and potentially more for storage of nuclear material. . . . Following a visit by the Russian president Vladimir Putin to Tehran last month, Iran reportedly started transferring armed drones for Russian use against Ukraine. On Tuesday, Putin launched an Iranian satellite into orbit reportedly on the condition that Moscow can task it to support Russian operations in Ukraine.

With American and European sanctions on Russia escalating, particularly with respect to Russian energy sales, Putin may finally see net value in the U.S. lifting of sanctions on Iran’s financial and commercial sectors. While the return of Iranian crude to the global market could lead to a modest reduction in oil prices, thereby reducing Putin’s revenue, Russia may be able to head off U.S. secondary sanctions by routing key transactions through Tehran. After all, what would the Biden administration do if Iran allowed Russia to use its major banks and companies to bypass Western sanctions?

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy