An Ancient Hasmonean Fortress in the Galilee

June 29 2022

Located in the Upper Galilee, about ten miles east of the coastal city of Akko (known to ancient Greeks as Ptolemais and to Europeans as Acre), the fortress of Horvat Tefen dates to the 1st or 2nd century BCE. Excavations of the site began in 2019. Nathan Steinmeyer explains why archaeologists have connected it to the Hasmoneans—the dynasty that led the Maccabean revolt and included the last Jewish kings to rule the Land of Israel:

Horvat Tefen was located strategically along the border between the expanding Hasmonean kingdom and the independent Phoenician city-state of Akko-Ptolemais. During the reign of the Hasmonean king Alexander Yannai (r. 103–76 BCE), this region was a flashpoint between the two powers as Alexander Yannai sought to conquer the important coastal port. . . . Roi Sabar, director of the excavations, believes he has an answer to the mystery of who built the hilltop fortress.

While other scholars have suggested that Horvat Tefen was constructed by the people of Akko in the 2nd century BCE., Sabar . . . suggests that Horvat Tefen was a short-lived military fort constructed by Alexander Yannai after he failed to conquer Akko early in his reign. The fortress fell out of use shortly after the death of the Hasmonean king and was only reoccupied, for agricultural activity, in the Byzantine period (324–634 CE).

Although previous theories had suggested that the fortress was built in the 2nd century to defend Akko from enemies to the east, Sabar’s study presents a compelling alternative. Instead, he concludes that the fortress was constructed by the Hasmoneans as a way of keeping watch over Akko. The purpose of Horvat Tefen was likely both to threaten the city and to strengthen the Hasmonean border. The kingdom had grown rapidly during the Hasmonean period and, by the reign of Alexander Yannai, included most of the Galilee region.

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Read more at Bible History Daily

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Galilee, Hasmoneans

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter