The Oldest Known Depictions of the Bible’s Great Heroines Found in the Galilee

In 2011, Israeli archaeologists discovered the remains of a 5th-century synagogue in the ancient Galilean village of Huqoq. In the ensuing years, they have been at work carefully excavating its elaborate mosaics, which display biblical and post-biblical scenery. The Times of Israel reports on the latest artwork to come to light:

The mosaics depict the biblical story in the book of Judges in which the prophetess Deborah told the Israelite military leader Barak to mobilize the troops of Naftali and Zebulun to fight against Canaan, whose forces were led by Sisera. Barak said he would only go to battle if Deborah joined him, and Deborah in turn prophesied that a woman would defeat Sisera’s army. Sisera, fleeing [defeat at the hands of the Israelites], sought refuge in the tent of Yael, who drove a tent peg through his head, killing him.

“This is the first depiction of this episode and the first time we’ve seen a depiction of the biblical heroines Deborah and Yael in ancient Jewish art,” [the excavation’s director Jodi] Magness said in a statement. . . . “Looking at the book of Joshua, chapter 19, we can see how the story might have had special resonance for the Jewish community at Huqoq, as it is described as taking place in the same geographical region—the territory of the tribes of Naftali and Zebulun.”

The team working at the ancient synagogue, which was built in the late 4th or early 5th century CE, also uncovered a mosaic depicting vases holding sprouting vines with four animals eating clusters of grapes: a hare, a fox, a leopard, and a wild boar.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Book of Judges, Deborah, Galilee, Mosaics, Synagogues

 

Why Is Iran Acquiring Property in Venezuela?

In June Tehran and Caracas concluded a major twenty-year cooperation treaty. One of its many provisions—kept secret until recently—was the transfer of 4,000 square miles of Venezuelan land to Iranian control. Although the territory is ostensibly for agricultural use, Lawrence Franklin suspects the Islamic Republic might have other plans:

Hizballah already runs paramilitary training centers in restricted sections of Venezuela’s Margarita Island, a tourist area northeast of the country’s mainland. The terrorist group has considerable support from some of Venezuela’s prominent Lebanese clans such as the Nasr al-Din family, who reportedly facilitated Iran’s penetration of Margarita Island. . . . The Maduro regime has apparently been so welcoming to Iranian intelligence agents that some of Hizballah’s long-established Latin American network at the tri-border nexus of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay has been overtaken by Hizballah activities on Venezuela’s Margarita Island.

Iran’s alliance with Venezuela most importantly provides Tehran with opportunities to target U.S. interests in Latin America and potentially the southern United States. Iran, along with the Chinese Communist Party, is in the process of strengthening Venezuela’s military against the U.S., for instance by deliveries of military drones, which are also considered a threat by Colombia.

While air and seaborne arms deliveries are high-profile evidence of Iran’s ties with Venezuela, Tehran’s cooperation with Venezuelan intelligence agencies, although less visible, is also intense. The Islamic Republic’s support for Hizballah terrorist operations is pervasive throughout Latin America. Hizballah recruits from Venezuela’s ten-million-strong Lebanese diaspora. Iran and Hizballah cooperate in training of intelligence agents and in developing sources who reside in Venezuela and Colombia, as well as in the tri-border region of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina.

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Read more at Gatestone

More about: Iran, Latin America, Venezuela