The Mysterious Multilingual Code of an Ancient Guide to Reading Souls

Even those who don’t read Hebrew know that, like Arabic, it is read from right to left. But not so the Hebrew in an unusual Dead Sea Scroll, which scholars believe belonged to members of a long-vanished Jewish sect. Israel Hayom reports:

Written in Hebrew from left to right, an unusual direction, the scroll includes Greek, Aramaic, and ancient Hebrew scripts, along with coded messages. Oren Ableman, a curator-researcher with the Judaean Desert Scrolls Unit [of the Israel Antiquities Authority], suggests that the scroll’s writing style was intended for a select audience, likely the sect’s leadership.

The scroll presents a worldview in which a person’s birth date influences his physical traits and the balance of light and darkness in his soul. Each date is associated with specific levels of these qualities, affecting individuals born on those dates. According to Ableman, the scroll might have been used as part of an initiation process for new members of the community, who referred to themselves as “sons of light.” Prospective members were evaluated based on their birth date and physical characteristics, such as head shape, to determine their suitability.

Jim Davila, a scholar of this era, describes the scroll as “a physiognomic tractate, a work that claims to deduce what a person is like on the basis of . . . physical characteristics (length of fingers and toes, eye color, height, voice, etc.),” and notes that similar works “circulated in Hebrew in the Middle Ages.”

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: ancient Judaism, Archaeology, Dead Sea Scrolls

Israel Just Sent Iran a Clear Message

Early Friday morning, Israel attacked military installations near the Iranian cities of Isfahan and nearby Natanz, the latter being one of the hubs of the country’s nuclear program. Jerusalem is not taking credit for the attack, and none of the details are too certain, but it seems that the attack involved multiple drones, likely launched from within Iran, as well as one or more missiles fired from Syrian or Iraqi airspace. Strikes on Syrian radar systems shortly beforehand probably helped make the attack possible, and there were reportedly strikes on Iraq as well.

Iran itself is downplaying the attack, but the S-300 air-defense batteries in Isfahan appear to have been destroyed or damaged. This is a sophisticated Russian-made system positioned to protect the Natanz nuclear installation. In other words, Israel has demonstrated that Iran’s best technology can’t protect the country’s skies from the IDF. As Yossi Kuperwasser puts it, the attack, combined with the response to the assault on April 13,

clarified to the Iranians that whereas we [Israelis] are not as vulnerable as they thought, they are more vulnerable than they thought. They have difficulty hitting us, but we have no difficulty hitting them.

Nobody knows exactly how the operation was carried out. . . . It is good that a question mark hovers over . . . what exactly Israel did. Let’s keep them wondering. It is good for deniability and good for keeping the enemy uncertain.

The fact that we chose targets that were in the vicinity of a major nuclear facility but were linked to the Iranian missile and air forces was a good message. It communicated that we can reach other targets as well but, as we don’t want escalation, we chose targets nearby that were involved in the attack against Israel. I think it sends the message that if we want to, we can send a stronger message. Israel is not seeking escalation at the moment.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Iran, Israeli Security