Brewing Beer with Biblical Yeast

While wine is the alcoholic beverage of choice in the Hebrew Bible, beer too was known to the ancient Near East. Archaeologists have, for instance, found beer vessels from biblical times used by the Philistines—the Israelites’ enemies living on the Mediterranean coast. Melanie Lidman describes the entrepreneurs and scientists selling yeast from these containers to those who wish to recreate the ancient brews:

An interdisciplinary team of researchers, archaeologists, and brewmasters in Israel first isolated 5,000-year-old yeast in 2019. . . . But now, the fruits of that discovery are about to become available for hobby brewers and sourdough aficionados everywhere.

Using organic residue analysis, scientists were able to identify organic molecules that had survived in the matrix of the ceramics over the years, including the yeast microorganism. For a few vessels, the scientists sequenced the full microbiome inside of the vessel, discovering ancient bacteria and viruses in addition to the yeast microorganism, [the microbiologist] Ronen Hazan said. He said a PCR yeast test, similar to the PCR coronavirus test, can also quickly and cheaply determine the presence of yeast inside a vessel.

Beer was a basic commodity in the ancient world and was consumed by rich, poor, adults, and children, as well as used in religious ritual, according to [the archaeologist Yitzḥak] Paz. Ancient beer was not the clear amber substance we recognize today, but would have been filled with sediment, and produced from a variety of grains, including millet, corn, sorghum, and wheat. The vessels that provided the yeast organisms had filtered spouts, like a watering can, to keep the sediment out of the drinker’s glass.

A Times of Israel reporter who tried one of the first iterations of beer brewed with the ancient yeast in 2019 said at the time it was “slightly sweet, with a subtle tang, . . . and tasted [of] banana and other fruits.”

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Alcohol, Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Hebrew Bible, Philistines

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy