Silver Coins Show That Money Was Being Used in Ancient Israel Far Earlier Than Previously Believed

Jan. 10 2023

In Genesis 23, Abraham is described as purchasing a burial plot in Hebron for “four hundred shekels of silver, current money with the merchant.” This passage has long troubled archaeologists, as evidence suggests that coins were not in use in the Levant until several centuries after the period in which the biblical patriarchs presumably lived. A new discovery, however, throws this conventional wisdom into question. Judy Siegel-Itzkovich writes:

Archaeologists from the University of Haifa and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have found silver coins made in Anatolia (modern-day Turkey) in the 17th century BCE, the Middle Bronze Age, at archaeological digs from the beginning of the Late Bronze Age, a century later. The coins, which were used in regional trade, including with ancient Israel, were discovered at Tel Shiloh near Jerusalem, Tel Gezer on the western slopes of the Judean Hills, and Tell al-Ajjul in the Gaza Strip.

Their discovery proves the use of silver coins as money in the southern Levant and precedes by 500 years what was thought to be the use of such coins. The identification of Anatolia as the source of the money indicates continuous and long-term trade with Asia Minor.

The use of coins as a means of payment was known in Mesopotamia as early as the third millennium BCE. However, in the southern Levant region, known in the Bible as the land of Canaan, it was thought that such use was common only in the Iron Age, starting from the 12th century BCE. The silver coins are pieces of silver whose unpolished form clearly indicates that they are not jewelry or ornamental objects. That they were usually found together, wrapped in cloth and kept in pottery, indicates that they were used as a means of payment.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Abraham, Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Genesis, Money


The Right and Wrong Ways for the U.S. to Support the Palestinians

Sept. 29 2023

On Wednesday, Elliott Abrams testified before Congress about the Taylor Force Act, passed in 2018 to withhold U.S. funds from the Palestinian Authority (PA) so long as it continues to reward terrorists and their families with cash. Abrams cites several factors explaining the sharp increase in Palestinian terrorism this year, among them Iran’s attempt to wage proxy war on Israel; another is the “Palestinian Authority’s continuing refusal to fight terrorism.” (Video is available at the link below.)

As long as the “pay for slay” system continues, the message to Palestinians is that terrorists should be honored and rewarded. And indeed year after year, the PA honors individuals who have committed acts of terror by naming plazas or schools after them or announcing what heroes they are or were.

There are clear alternatives to “pay to slay.” It would be reasonable for the PA to say that, whatever the crime committed, the criminal’s family and children should not suffer for it. The PA could have implemented a welfare-based system, a system of family allowances based on the number of children—as one example. It has steadfastly refused to do so, precisely because such a system would no longer honor and reward terrorists based on the seriousness of their crimes.

These efforts, like the act itself, are not at all meant to diminish assistance to the Palestinian people. Rather, they are efforts to direct aid to the Palestinian people rather than to convicted terrorists. . . . [T]he Taylor Force Act does not stop U.S. assistance to Palestinians, but keeps it out of hands in the PA that are channels for paying rewards for terror.

[S]hould the United States continue to aid the Palestinian security forces? My answer is yes, and I note that it is also the answer of Israel and Jordan. As I’ve noted, PA efforts against Hamas or other groups may be self-interested—fights among rivals, not principled fights against terrorism. Yet they can have the same effect of lessening the Iranian-backed terrorism committed by Palestinian groups that Iran supports.

Read more at Council on Foreign Relations

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, U.S. Foreign policy