An Ancient Convert’s “Cursed” Tomb

June 10 2022

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

Will Costco Go to Israel?

Social-media users have mocked this week new Israeli finance minister Bezalel Smotrich for a poorly translated letter. But far more interesting than the finance minister’s use of Google Translate (or some such technology) is what the letter reveals about the Jewish state. In it, Smotrich asks none other than Costco to consider opening stores in Israel.

Why?

Israel, reports Sharon Wrobel, has one of the highest costs of living of any country in the 38-member Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

This

has been generally attributed to a lack of competition among local importers and manufacturers. The top three local supermarket chains account for over half of the food retail market, limiting competition and putting upward pressure on prices. Meanwhile, import tariffs, value-added tax costs and kosher restrictions have been keeping out international retail chains.

Is the move likely to happen?

“We do see a recent trend of international retailers entering the Israeli market as some barriers to food imports from abroad have been eased,” Chen Herzog, chief economist at BDO Israel accounting firm, told The Times of Israel. “The purchasing power and technology used by big global retailers for logistics and in the area of online sales where Israel has been lagging behind could lead to a potential shift in the market and more competitive prices.”

Still, the same economist noted that in Israel “the cost of real estate and other costs such as the VAT on fruit and vegetables means that big retailers such as Costco may not be able to offer the same competitive prices than in other places.”

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Costco, Israel & Zionism