The Book of Lamentations’ Unusual Hebrew Alphabet

The book of Lamentations (Eikhah in Hebrew), read in synagogue on Tisha b’Av, consists of five chapters. Four of them are structured as alphabetical acrostics; that is, each verse starts with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet starting with aleph and proceeding in order. In three of these chapters, however, one letter is out of place: the letter peh proceedes ayin—the equivalent of p preceding o. Mitchell First suggests a possible explanation:

In 1976, a potsherd was discovered at Izbet Sartah in Western Samaria, dating to about 1200 BCE. The potsherd had five lines of Hebrew writing on it, one of which was an abecedary (an inscription of the letters of the alphabet in order). In this abecedary, the peh preceded the ayin. There is a scholarly consensus that Izbet Sartah was an Israelite settlement in this period. . . .

[In all other] abecedaries . . . that have [subsequently] been discovered in ancient Israel, dating from the period of the Judges and the First Temple and spanning the letters ayin and peh, peh precedes ayin in every one! . . . [T]hese abecedaries come from different regions in ancient Israel, not merely from one limited area. All of this suggests that peh preceding ayin was the original order in ancient Israel.

Read more at Jewish Link

More about: Biblical Hebrew, Book of Lamentations, Hebrew alphabet, Hebrew Bible, Religion & Holidays

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy