Archaeologists Find a Coin Celebrating the Revolt against Rome

This evening begins the fast day of Tisha b’Av, which commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples. The Romans razed the latter, and the city of Jerusalem with it, in their successful effort to repress the revolt in Judea that began in 66 CE. Thus Israeli archaeologists’ recent discovery of coin from the time of the uprising is especially timely. Melanie Lidman writes:

The coin was engraved with the words “Holy Jerusalem,” using ancient Hebrew script rather than the vernacular Greek of the time, in a defiant nod to their Jewish identity and the decision to mint the coins autonomously, explained Yaniv David Levy, a numismatic scholar with the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).

“For almost 200 years, people made the pilgrimage by foot and used silver coins for paying a tax called the ‘half-shekel tax,’” [described in the book of Exodus], said Levy. “And apparently these coins were used for tax in the Temple and also the internal economy during the revolt.”

The decision to mint coins autonomously during the rebellion was a political statement and an expression of national identity, the IAA said. At the time, the authority to mint coins was held only by the Roman emperor, and almost always featured the image of the ruling emperor and animals.

The coins minted by the Jewish rebels bear a depiction of three pomegranates. The other side of the coin features a chalice, similar to what could have been used by the priests in the Holy Temple, the words “half-shekel,” and the letter aleph, denoting the first year of the revolt against the Romans. Prior to the revolt and the decision to mint their own coins, early Jews paid the half-shekel tax using coins minted in Tyre, in Lebanon, using fine silver, Levy said.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Judean Revolt

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