For the First Time, a Persian King’s Name Is Discovered on an Inscription in Israel

March 2 2023

Editors’ Note:
On Friday, March 3, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced that the potsherd described below did not, in fact, bear an authentic Persian-era inscription. Rather, it was a re-creation made last year for educational purposes, accidentally left at the archaeological site, and then misidentified by experts. More can be read about it here.


On Monday night and Tuesday, Jews around the world will read the book of Esther, which is set in the court of the Persian king Ahasuerus—identified by modern scholars with the monarch known in Greek as Xerxes. Just in time for the holiday, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced a timely finding. Melanie Lidman reports:

A hiker in Israel’s Judean lowlands region recently discovered a 2,500-year-old pottery shard inscribed with the name of the Persian king Darius the Great, the father of king Ahasuerus. It is the first discovery of an inscription bearing the name of Darius I anywhere in Israel. . . . The site of the find, the ancient city of Lachish, was a prosperous city and a major administrative hub 2,500 years ago. The inscription is believed to be a receipt for goods received or shipped.

The ostracon, a potsherd that was used as a writing surface, bears an Aramaic inscription that reads “Year 24 of Darius,” dating it to 498 BCE. Darius I reigned from 522–486 BCE, during which time the Persian Achaemenid empire grew rapidly to encompass a large swath of the ancient world. But no written evidence of Darius’s reign has ever been found in Israel, until now.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Ancient Israel, Ancient Persia, Archaeology, Esther

The U.S. Is Trying to Seduce Israel into Accepting a Bad Deal with Iran. Israel Should Say No

Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released its quarterly report on the Iranian nuclear program. According to an analysis by the Institute for Science and International Security, the Islamic Republic can now produce enough weapons-grade uranium to manufacture “five nuclear weapons in one month, seven in two months, and a total of eight in three months.” The IAEA also has reason to believe that Tehran has further nuclear capabilities that it has successfully hidden from inspectors. David M. Weinberg is concerned about Washington’s response:

Believe it or not, the Biden administration apparently is once again offering the mullahs of Tehran a sweetheart deal: the release of $10 billion or more in frozen Iranian assets and clemency for Iran’s near-breakout nuclear advances of recent years, in exchange for Iranian release of American hostages and warmed-over pious Iranian pledges to freeze the Shiite atomic-bomb program.

This month, intelligence photos showed Iran again digging tunnels at its Natanz nuclear site—supposedly deep enough to withstand an American or Israeli military strike. This tells us that Iran has something to hide, a clear sign that it has not given up on its quest for a nuclear bomb.

Meanwhile, Antony Blinken today completes a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia, where he is reportedly pressing the kingdom to enter the Abraham Accords. This is no coincidence, for reasons Weinberg explains:

Washington expects Israeli acquiescence in the emerging U.S. surrender to Iran in exchange for a series of other things important to Israel. These include U.S. backing for Israel against escalated Palestinian assaults expected this fall in UN forums, toning down U.S. criticism regarding settlement and security matters (at a time when the IDF is going to have to intensify its anti-terrorist operations in Judea and Samaria), an easing of U.S. pressures on Israel in connection with domestic matters (like judicial reform), a warm Washington visit for Prime Minister Netanyahu (which is not just a political concession but is rather critical to Israel’s overall deterrent posture), and most of all, significant American moves towards reconciliation with Saudi Arabia (which is critical to driving a breakthrough in Israeli-Saudi ties).

[But] even an expensive package of U.S. “concessions” to Saudi Arabia will not truly compensate for U.S. capitulation to Iran (something we know from experience will only embolden the hegemonic ambitions of the mullahs). And this capitulation will make it more difficult for the Saudis to embrace Israel publicly.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Antony Blinken, Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship