Uncovering the Land of the Midianites

At this time of year, the weekly Torah readings tell the story of Joseph in Egypt, one that begins when he is sold into slavery by a group of Midianite merchants passing through Israel. In two weeks, Jews in synagogues will read of Moses’ flight from Egypt to Midian, friendship with a Midianite priest, and marriage to a Midianite woman. The same nation appears again in the books of Numbers and Judges—mostly as enemies. But not much is known about them. An ongoing excavation of the Qurayyah oasis in northwestern Saudi Arabia (the probable location of ancient Midian) has shed some light on their territory between the fourth and first millennia BCE. Marek Dospěl writes:

The site is dominated by a massive rock plateau where elite graves may belong to the settlement’s earliest occupants. Over the centuries that followed, the site’s inhabitants developed a fortified residential area, an industrial district, and a cemetery. The virtually uninterrupted occupation of the site in this inhospitable region was possible only thanks to an ingenious system of water collection and distribution. Archaeologists mapped and documented a web of channels and dams that collected and managed seasonal rain runoff, bringing water to Qurayyah’s fields and orchards.

Beginning in the third millennium, these technological advances transformed Qurayyah into a large urban oasis, which had no contemporary parallels in Mesopotamia or Egypt. The site’s growing importance and wealth was also due to the local metallurgical activities and long-distance trade.

Read more at Bible History Daily

More about: Ancient Near East, Archaeology, Hebrew Bible


Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security