During the week covered by this review, we received 21 articles on the following subjects:
The Times of Israel, July 23; Israel HaYom, Haaretz (x2), Israel Post, Makor Rishon, HaModia, July 24, 2011
Several papers reported on the latest archeological find at the Tel Hazor dig. The Times of Israel reported archeologists as saying that “traces of burnt wheat found in Israel’s Upper Galilee are evidence of the 13th-century-BCE Israelite conquest of the Promised Land . . . From the 18th to the 9th centuries BCE, [Hazor] was the largest fortified city in the country and had commercial ties with both Babylon and Syria. The Book of Joshua describes Hazor as the “head” of several kingdoms that united to fight the Israelites . . In recent years, the archaeological digs at Tel Hazor revealed a monumental structure, which scholars believe was the royal castle of Hazor, dating back to the Canaanite Period (third to second millennium BCE).”
The latest discovery at the dig uncovered a room in the castle with 14 large clay jugs containing the remains of burnt wheat grain. Archeologist Amnon Ben-Tur, a professor of the Hebrew University, “said that the jugs were destroyed around the 13th century BCE, a period, he said, which coincided with the biblical account of Joshua’s capture of Hazor. According to Chapter 11 in the Book of Joshua, Hazor was the only city in the Land of Israel that was destroyed by fire during the conquest.” However, a debate is raging between the archeologists with regard to the question of who destroyed the castle. According to the article, “Ben-Tur’s assessment regarding the destruction of Hazor is far from being a foregone conclusion in the archaeological world. Scholars are at odds as to when Hazor was destroyed and by whom. While the most widely accepted school of thought accepts the theory that Hazor was destroyed by the Israelites in or around the 13th century BCE, there are many scholars who hold that Hazor was destroyed by either the Egyptians, the Sea Peoples, or nomadic tribes that wandered the region at the time.”
Regardless of who destroyed the castle, Ben-Tur was quoted as saying that “the recent discovery at Hazor ‘sheds even more light on Israelite history.’”
Hamodia, July 27, 2012
This article reported on the large warehouses that were recently built in Beit Shemesh to house Israel’s vast archeological treasures. These warehouses hold many of the archeological artifacts that have been found in Israel since 1948. There are more than a million of these artifacts “that reflect Israel’s material culture from the earliest periods until the end of the Ottoman period. . . . It is, in fact, the largest concentration of artifacts and the largest information database of its kind for early eastern archeology. In the next decade, hundreds of thousands of new artifacts will be stored at the warehouses, the fruit of hundreds of archeological digs whose scientific examination has been completed.”
Haaretz, Yediot Aharonot, Maariv, Israel Post, July 30, 2012; Yediot Aharonot, July 31, 2012
Several papers ran the story of a recent find at the Tel Beit Shemesh archeological dig. Haaretz reports that “a small stone seal found recently in the excavations of Tel Beit Shemesh could be the first archaeological evidence of the story of the biblical Samson. The seal, measuring 1.5 centimeters, depicts a large animal next to a human figure. The seal was found in a level of excavation that dates to the 11th century B.C.E. That was prior to the establishment of the Judean kingdom and is considered to be the period of the biblical judges – including Samson. Scholars say the scene shown on the artifact recalls the story in Judges of Samson fighting a lion . . . As the Bible tells it, Samson was on his way to his engagement party when ‘a young lion roared against him’ (Judges 14:5 ). According to the Bible, after Samson kills the lion, it becomes the source of one of the most famous riddles in history, with which Samson regales the guests at his bachelor party: ‘Out of the eater came forth food, and out of the strong came forth sweetness’ (Judges 14:14 ) . . . But excavation directors Prof. Shlomo Bunimovitz and Dr. Zvi Lederman of Tel Aviv University say they do not suggest that the human figure on the seal is the biblical Samson. Rather, the geographical proximity to the area where Samson lived, and the time period of the seal, show that a story was being told at the time of a hero who fought a lion, and that the story eventually found its way into the biblical text and onto the seal.”
Yisrael HaYom, August 03, 2012
This article reported on a mysterious find of thousands of skeletons in a cave just outside the Temple Mount. According to the Haaretz: “Last weekend, three days before the fast of Tisha B’Av, [archeologist Benny Liss], now retired, dropped an archaeological bombshell. For the first time, at a conference given by Megalim, the City of David Institute for Jerusalem Studies, he showed the footage that he had filmed” in caves between the eastern wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on a night in the winter of 1995. “Along with the shocking images of skeletons he filmed, came Liss’ own theory, that the skeletons belonged to the 6,000 people who had been killed on the Temple Mount during the destruction of Jerusalem, as described by first-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus.” The footage reveals how “the floor of the cave is covered with skeletons, bones and fragments of bones. There is also a bit of carbonized material there. Some of the skeletons are not intact. One is missing a leg. Two of them look like they were laid there in a more orderly manner instead of merely thrown inside. The images are reminiscent of a large mass grave. Thousands upon thousands of bones, if not more.” Other archeologists are not in agreement with Liss’s theory, however. “Even the many renowned Israeli archaeologists whom we contacted kept their statements vague. They all spoke of the need to take samples from the cave before drawing any conclusions, and said that the footage was not enough. Professor Dan Bahat raised the possibility that the skeletons could be the remains of Christians massacred by the Persians in 614 C.E. Dr. Gabriel Barkai mentioned Muslim group burials in the area. Hillel Geva, the director of the Israel Exploration Society and the archaeologist of the Company for the Reconstruction and Development of the Jewish Quarter, mentioned the possibility that the remains might belong to victims of an earthquake or an epidemic. He also mentioned the massacre of the Christians by the Persians. Everybody said that all options were open, including the option that Liss mentioned.” Either way, the articles notes, it is unlikely that the truth will be revealed any time soon: “the chances that the cave that Liss documented, with its thousands of skeletons, will be opened anytime soon, are slim.” Rather, the story “shows us how little we know about Jerusalem in ancient times. It also shows the major archaeological role that the Temple Mount itself, which has never been excavated due to Muslim opposition, could play in drawing up a more precise map of Jerusalem’s past.”
BaEmek VeBarama, July 31, 2012
The remains of a splendid synagogue from the Talmud period were discovered in the Hukkuk archeological site in the Lower Galilee. The find was significant because of its very well-preserved mosaic floor which depicts Samson with two foxes whose tails are tied together with a burning torch (Judges 15).
Jewish Christian Relations
The Jerusalem Post, July 25, 2012
Christian students in the United States who wish to be advocates for Israel can partake in the Israel Experience College Scholarship Program. Gil Hoffman reports that “the program seeks to bring the best and brightest Christian US college students to Israel for a three-week intensive educational experience where these prospective future leaders of government, business, law and journalism are given the knowledge they need to combat anti-Semitism and anti-Israel rhetoric on their campus, while instilling a love for Israel and its people.” One of the Students, a Nigerian-born American, says “he became interested in Israel’s spiritual underpinnings growing up in church. From his studies of the mind and its behavior, he learned the impact of anti-Israel news reports on perceptions of the Jewish state. ‘People get a false sense of what goes on here from the media,’ Ikpeze said. ‘This trip gives me an opportunity to learn from the people of Israel how to effectively advocate for them.’ Knesset Christian Allies Caucus director Josh Reinstein . . . said that by the time the students leave Israel, they will be equipped to defend the Jewish state on campuses, which he said are tough battlegrounds for Israel.”
Markor Rishon, August 3, 2012
This article surveyed the current status of the pre-elections run in the United States, noting that Republican candidate Mitt Romney arrived in Israel in order to boost his support among the Jewish and Evangelical Christian voters. “From the Western Wall Romney was glancing toward the 60 million Israel-loving Evangelical Christians who are the bedrock of Republican support.”
Shvii, July 21, 2012
This article covered the story of MK Michael Ben-Ari’s tearing of the Bible he received in his Knesset mailbox (see last week’s review).
Haaretz, August 5, 2012
It has been five years since the passing of the archbishop of Paris, Jean-Marie Lustiger, and Haaretz ran an extensive article commemorating the life of this Jewish-born Catholic convert. Lustiger’s view that “the foundations of a good society rested on its recognition of life’s sacredness . . . was no less the product of his Jewish birth than of his Catholic conversion. In late April 1940, as the massive exodus of Frenchmen, women and children began to surge south, ahead of the German Panzers, Aron Lustiger wandered into Orleans Cathedral. His parents, who had come to Paris after World War I, had . . . sent their 13-year old son . . . to Orleans the previous year, where they stayed with a gentile family. Stepping inside the cathedral, Lustiger underwent an epiphany – and experience that, despite his parents’ resistance, led him to convert. During the German occupation, Aron Lustiger was baptized . . . and sheltered in a series of Catholic institutions.” Not long after, his mother was caught by the German police and deported to Auschwitz, where she was murdered. “For the next half-century, Lustiger sought to make sense of his wartime experience. He assumed the tragic weight of the history of a man who had been hunted by the German SS and the Vichy militia because he was a Jew. That he did so, first as a seminarian and priest, then as bishop and cardinal, was an outrage to some – especially Jews – and a paradox to others. As Rene-Samuel Sirat, chief rabbi of Paris, declared, ‘One cannot be both a Christian and a Jew.’ And yet, Lustiger never surrendered his double identity.” So much so, in fact, that “during his funeral service at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame, one of his relatives recited the Kaddish . . . For Lustiger, the paradox was, in effect, an accident of history. He argued that the early gentile converts to Christianity were hostile to their new faith’s Jewish sources. The anti-Judaism of these convered pagans, in turn, planted the seeds of Christian anti-Semitism. As a result . . . both Jews and Christians lost sight of their common origins and their shared ends.” Through his life-work, which embraced his double-identity, Lustiger “built a lasting bridge between Jews and Catholics in France. He spurred the church’s confrontation with its long history of anti-Semitism, as well as its public ‘repentance’ for its deafening silence during World War II.”
Kolbo, Zman Haifa, August 3, 2012
These two snippets reported that four new highly sophisticated hospital beds were donated to the Bnei Zion medical center in Haifa by Israel-loving Evangelical Christians. The donation is the result of a recent visit to the hospital by Pastors Larry and Elizabeth Heck.