A Recently Excavated Structure Is Evidence of the Events Hanukkah Commemorates

Just two weeks before Hanukkah, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced the discovery of a large Seleucid fortress that had been attacked by the Hasmonean priestly clan, who led the revolt against the Syrian-Greek empire that began in 167 BCE. Rossella Tercatin writes:

Some 2,100 years ago, the Hasmonean army was marching toward the Hellenistic city of Maresha in Israel’s Shephelah region, also known as the Judean foothills. Leading them was John Hyrcanus, a high priest and the ruler of Judea, a nephew of the Hanukkah hero Judah Maccabee, who a few decades earlier had led the victorious revolt against the Seleucids in the region. The Judean army was first spotted by Seleucid soldiers stationed in a fortress on a hill overlooking the city.

“Our theory is that the Seleucids blocked the entrance of the fortress and fled to the city as their enemies approached,” said the archaeologist Ahinoam Montagu. . . . “As the Hasmoneans reached the structure, they set it on fire.” The building, approximately 50 feet by 50 feet, featured seven rooms. Steps that are likely connected to a second floor are still visible and well preserved. Burnt beams offer dramatic insight into its last moments.

Among the artifacts were also a few well-preserved small jugs, often used to store expensive liquids—and possibly not so different from the little jug that according to the Jewish tradition was instrumental for the Hanukkah miracle, in which a small jug that contained pure olive oil kept on refilling itself to allow the menorah in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem to be lit for eight days.

“The stories of the Maccabees are coming to life before our eyes,” . . . said the IAA general director, Eli Eskozido.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Hanukkah, Hasmoneans


Iran’s Options for Revenge on Israel

On April 1, an Israeli airstrike on Damascus killed three Iranian generals, one of whom was the seniormost Iranian commander in the region. The IDF has been targeting Iranian personnel and weaponry in Syria for over a decade, but the killing of such a high-ranking figure raises the stakes significantly. In the past several days, Israelis have received a number of warnings both from the press and from the home-front command to ready themselves for retaliatory attacks. Jonathan Spyer considers what shape that attack might take:

Tehran has essentially four broad options. It could hit an Israeli or Jewish facility overseas using either Iranian state forces (option one), or proxies (option two). . . . Then there’s the third option: Tehran could also direct its proxies to strike Israel directly. . . . Finally, Iran could strike Israeli soil directly (option four). It is the riskiest option for Tehran, and would be likely to precipitate open war between the regime and Israel.

Tehran will consider all four options carefully. It has failed to retaliate in kind for a number of high-profile assassinations of its operatives in recent years. . . . A failure to respond, or staging too small a response, risks conveying a message of weakness. Iran usually favors using proxies over staging direct attacks. In an unkind formulation common in Israel, Tehran is prepared to “fight to the last Arab.”

Read more at Spectator

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syria