Celebrating Sukkot 2,000 Years Ago

Today, the holiday of Sukkot—a seven-day festival that began last Monday evening—is characterized primarily by building outdoor booths, or sukkot, and the ritual waving of palm fronds, myrtle and willow branches, and citrons. But prior to the Romans’ destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE, it was also a time of mass pilgrimage to the Jerusalem Temple. Rossella Tercatin explains what archaeological and historical evidence have demonstrated about the practice:

The 1st-century CE Roman-Jewish historian Titus Flavius Josephus says that millions of people took part in the pilgrimage, bringing tens of thousands of sacrifices to the Temple. The Hellenistic Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria also speaks about the occasion in his work. The [pilgrims’] itinerary was designed in such a way that people would experience what [the archaeologist] Guy Stiebel described as a “wow effect,” similar to that felt by someone visiting a majestic cathedral.

“At the time of Herod, [circa 37-4 BCE], the Temple Mount was known as one of the biggest religious compounds in the Roman world,” he said.

Archaeological excavations have revealed the gate the pilgrims crossed [on their way into Jerusalem at the beginning of the first millennium]. “They would purify themselves in the Siloam Pool and then go straight up to the Temple Mount, through a stepped street which was previously believed to have been built at the time of King Herod,” Stiebel noted. “Now we know that the project was actually carried out under the Roman governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate, [in the 20s or 30s CE].”

While no traces survive of the ancient booths those Jews probably built to celebrate the holiday, archaeology provides other important evidence of the centrality of the festival of Sukkot. . . . A palm tree bound with some leafy branches—likely the willows and the myrtle—and one or two citrus fruits appear on artifacts that were symbols of freedom and independence from the Romans [during the Jewish revolt of 66-70 CE].

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Josephus, Second Temple, Sukkot

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