hey, i would like to share with you about my passion for the Old Testament (OT). my students call me 'rabbi' or 'reb' for short.
the reb's passion in life (apart from God and wife and family) is the OT.
the reb used to teach the OT in a seminary. he also does a lot of weekend teaching and preaching in churches. and he writes and authored 9 books...
Olive oil traces dating back 8,000 years found in Israel
Clay sherds uncovered in Lower Galilee may mark oldest evidence for use of oil in entire Middle East
One of the clay pots reconstructed from sherds found at the site near En Zippori at the Lower Galilee.
(Courtesy Israel Antiquities Authority)
Olive oil was used in the Land of Israel as early as 8,000 years ago, archaeologists working at an antiquities site in the Lower Galilee said Wednesday, heralding the earliest evidence for use of the staple in the country and possibly the entire Middle East
Still another group is looking for Mt. Ararat, where the Bible says Noah landed after the flood. This group is looking to confirm the tradition that nearby Mt. Cudi (Judi Dagh) is really Mt. Ararat, as recorded in the Quran, Sura 11.44.
They have not uncovered much scientific evidence to date, but they do have an intriguing Assyrian relief, which may explain why a local tradition regards Mt. Cudi as Mt. Ararat.
Assyrian relief on the slopes of Mt. Cudi near the Turkish village of Sah. Photo: Courtesy Professor Ibrahim Baz of the University of Sirnak, Turkey.
This photo was taken some months ago on the slopes of Mt. Cudi near the Turkish village of Sah. The figure, who has not yet been identified, dates to a period earlier than Sennacherib (who ruled 705–681 B.C.); there is no accompanying inscription. He has his right hand raised in a gesture of reverence and holds a staff of office in his left hand.
Alan Millard, Emeritus Rankin Professor of Hebrew and Ancient Semitic Languages at the University of Liverpool, offers a possible identification for the figure: Shamshi-ilu. Millard explains that since the figure is not wearing any headdress, as might be expected of an Assyrian king, it is more likely that he represents a powerful prefect, such as Shamshi-ilu, who held sway over much of Northern Syria from c. 780 to 745 B.C. Shamshi-ilu left inscriptions in his own name at Til Barsip (modern Tell Akhmar) on the Euphrates, in which he tells of his victorious campaign against places in southeastern Turkey and the kingdom of Urartu, which would have taken him into the vicinity of Judi Dagh.
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This rock-hewn altar was carved out of limestone and was approximately 8 feet on each side and 5 feet high. It is located about a mile from Shiloh, and the four corners point to the four directions on a compass (Exodus 27:1-2). The remains clearly demonstrate that animals were sacrificed on this high place. Photo: Yoel Elitzur.
The open-air altar shrine, called a bamah (plural bamot), is known through several books of the Biblical canon—but none more so than the Book of Kings, where they play a prominent role in assessing the performance of a king. Often referred to as “high places” in translations of the Bible, bamot were worship sites that usually contained an altar. A general understanding about the bamah and how it functioned can be gained by using evidence from the Biblical text as well as archaeology.
The term bamah can mean back, hill, height, ridge or cultic high place.1 In the Biblical text it is used to mean “the back of one’s enemies” (Deuteronomy 33:29), “heights” (Deuteronomy 32:13; Isaiah 58:14; Micah 1:3; Amos 4:13; Haggai 3:19; Psalm 18:34), “back of clouds” (Isaiah 14:14) or “waves of sea” (Job 9:8).2 Because of this, eminent scholar Roland de Vaux said, “The idea which the word expresses, therefore, is something which stands out in relief from its background, but the idea of a mountain or hill is not contained in the word itself.”3 This could explain why this word is used even though some of the shrines were not located on hills. The Ugaritic and Akkadian cognate usually means an animal’s back or trunk.4 The Akkadian can also mean land that is elevated.5 In the text of the Bible they can be found on hills (2 Kings 16:4; 17:9-10; 1 Kings 11:7), towns (1 Kings 13:32; 2 Kings 17:29; 23:5) and at the gate of Jerusalem (2 Kings 23:8). Ezra 6:3 says they were in the ravines and valleys. The position of a bamah in the valley can also be seen in Jeremiah 7:31; 32:35.
A massive cult complex, dating back about 3,300 years, has been discovered at the site of Tel Burna in Israel.
While archaeologists have not fully excavated the cult complex, they can tell it was quite large, as the courtyard alone was 52 by 52 feet (16 by 16 meters). Inside the complex, researchers discovered three connected cups, fragments of facemasks, massive jars that are almost as big as a person and burnt animal bones that may indicate sacrificial rituals.
The archaeologists said they aren't sure who was worshipped at the complex, though Baal, the Canaanite storm god, is a possibility. "The letters of Ugarit [an ancient site in modern-day Syria] suggest that of the Canaanite pantheon, Baal, the Canaanite storm god, would have been the most likely candidate," Itzhaq Shai, a professor at Ariel University who is directing a research project at Tel Burna, told Live Science in an email. [See Images of the Cult Building and Related Artifacts]
Today businesses are increasingly relying on sophisticated computer software to document transactions and track fiscal performance. But in fourth-century B.C.E. Idumea, about 40 miles southwest of Jerusalem, business records were kept by writing in black ink on ostraca (broken pieces of pottery).
This ancient Aramaic ostracon records the delivery of barley and wheat in the fourth year of the reign of the Persian king Artaxerxes III. Photo: Institute for the Study of Aramaic Papyri.
We have about 2,000 ostraca with inscriptions in Aramaic, the language the Jews brought back from Babylon following the end of the Babylonian exile in 538 B.C.E. Many of the ostraca record the delivery of products to and from storehouses and include the year of the present ruler’s reign. Idumea and Judea were under Persian rule at this time until the empire fell to Alexander the Great around 333 B.C.E.
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This Bible History Daily feature was originally published in July 2011. It has been updated.—Ed.
This painting, “He turned their waters into blood,” by the 19th-century American folk painter Erastus Salisbury Field (1805–1900), depicts the first of the Biblical plagues inflicted on the Egyptians. One understanding of the Egyptian plagues explains them as expressions of natural events. A second view of the Biblical plagues sees them as attacks on the pantheon of Egyptian gods. Accordingly, the first plague described in Exodus in the Bible—turning the waters of Egypt to blood—is directed against one of several gods associate with Nile or with water. Photo: National Gallery of Art, Washington/Gift of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch.
The Book of Exodus in the Bible describes ten Egyptian plagues that bring suffering to the land of pharaoh. Are these Biblical plagues plausible on any level? In the following article, “Three Ways to Look at the Ten Plagues,” Ziony Zevit looks at these Biblical plagues from various vantage points. There’s something unique about these Egyptian plagues as presented in Exodus in the Bible. They’re different from the curses to Israelites as mentioned in Leviticus. Some have connected the Egyptian plagues to natural phenomena that were possible in ancient Egypt. Torrential rains in Ethiopia could have sent red clay (“blood”) into the Nile, which could have caused a migration of frogs, further causing lice and flies, which caused the death of cattle and human boils. A second set of meteorological disasters, hailstorms (the seventh of the Biblical plagues) and locusts, may have been followed by a Libyan dust storm—causing darkness.
Many of the Egyptian plagues could also be interpreted as “attacks against the Egyptian pantheon,” Zevit notes. Many of the Egyptian plagues mentioned in Exodus in the Bible have some correlation to an Egyptian god or goddess. For example, Heket was represented as a frog and Hathor as a cow. An ancient Egyptian “Coffin Text” refers to the slaying of first-born gods.
A third way to look at the Biblical plagues is by asking, “why ten?” Ultimately the plagues served to increase the faith of the surviving Israelites. On this count ten could be connected to the ten divine utterances of the creation account of Genesis 1. In relating the ten Egyptian plagues, the Exodus in the Bible could represent a parallel account of liberation, affecting all aspects of the created world.
While the Cyrus Cylinder has been making its rounds on an international exhibition circuit,a another cylinder of a famous Mesopotamian emperor has recently been brought to the public eye. One of Nebuchadnezzar’s cuneiform cylinders was auctioned off on April 9, 2014, by Doyle New York, Auctioneers and Appraisers for $605,000. The purchaser of the cylinder has requested to remain anonymous. Unfortunately, his anonymity may make it difficult for further scholarly study of the text.
BAR readers are familiar with the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar (technically, the neo-Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II), who infamously destroyed the First Temple and carried the Judahites in exile to Babylon. In the Book of Daniel, the Jewish seer Daniel interprets the dreams of Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2; 4:1–27), and it is this same Nebuchadnezzar who throws Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego into the fiery furnace for refusing to bow to the golden statue that he set up (Daniel 3).
The 8.25-by-3.25-inch cylinder that was recently auctioned details how Nebuchadnezzar restored and rebuilt several temples in the city of Sippar, 37 miles north of Babylon. One was the temple of Sippar’s patron deity, the sun god Shamash who was the god of justice. The other was the temple of Ninkarrak, the goddess of healing.
Nebuchadnezzar describes how he searched among the ruins of Shamash’s temple, which was named E-barra (also E-babbara), and found the old cornerstone, over which he constructed the new temple:
First discovered more than one hundred years ago, Judean pillar figurines continue to be poorly understood in scholarship today. Judean pillar figurines—abbreviated JPFs—were prevalent in Judah during the First Temple period (ca. 800–586 B.C.E.). These household objects, of which thousands have been found, are not present in Judah following the Babylonian conquest in 586 B.C.E.
Two major types of Judean pillar figurines have been found. One type has a face that’s pinched to make two eyes (Left, Photo: Israel Museum, Jerusalem). The second type has a mold-made head with defined facial features and rows of curly hair (Right, Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art).
In “JPFs: More Questions than Answers” in the September/October 2014 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review, Robert Deutsch provides an overview of these puzzling pillar figurines.
To begin, the name “Judean pillar figurine”—as these objects are universally called—is somewhat of a misnomer. The land in which these pillar figurines were found was called Judah, not Judea. The name Judea emerged when the southern Levant came under Roman rule beginning in the first century B.C.E. The adjective Judahite—to describe the people and material culture of Judah—is a recent designation. Deutsch believes these Iron Age pillar figurines in question are more accurately represented by the name “Judahite pillar figurines.” They are also called JPFs for simplicity.
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A hoard of coins from the fourth year of the Jewish Revolt against Rome — minted months before the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE — was found outside the capital and announced by the Israel Antiquities Authority on Tuesday to coincide with the Ninth of Av, the date commemorating the destruction of the Second Temple.
The trove, which consists of 114 bronze coins, was unearthed during the expansion of Route 1, the major highway connecting Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, in February. In the past several months, the IAA team led by Judea District chief archaeologist Pablo Betzer has excavated the remains of a small Roman-era Jewish village near the modern town of Abu Ghosh. Amid the ruins was a broken juglet containing the verdigris-coated coins.
The coins are all of identical size and age, and possibly from the same mint. Their value has yet to be determined, but they are likely quarter or one-eighth shekel bits, Betzer said. They are all marked with the words “For the redemption of Zion” and “Year four,” indicating they were made during the fourth year of the revolt against the Roman Empire, or between spring 69 and spring 70 CE. They are decorated with the Biblical four species — palm, myrtle, citron and willow — and a vessel that may symbolize those used in the temple. The coins are still encrusted in nearly 2,000-year-old dirt and oxidation, and await cleaning and study by IAA specialists.
Read more: Trove of Jewish Revolt coins discovered near Jerusalem | The Times of Israel http://www.timesofisrael.com/trove-of-jewish-revolt-coins-discovered-near-jerusalem/#ixzz3AtOKVo7Y
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Cornell University professor Lauren Monroe shares an update from the second season of excavation atAbel Beth Maacah, directed by Robert A. Mullins and Nava Panitz-Cohen. Check back with us for more posts on this new excavation project as the season continues.
Situated at the ancient border between the polities of Israel, Aram and Phoenicia, and the modern countries of Israel, Lebanon and Syria, the large tell of Abel Beth Maacah holds tremendous promise, both for understanding the history of this multi-cultural arena, as well as for refining “Biblical archaeology” methods themselves.
In 2 Samuel 20 Sheba ben Bichri, a Benjaminite, flees to Abel Beth Maacah, seeking refuge from David’s wingman, Joab. As Joab and his army build a siege ramp against the city wall, they are interrupted by the “wise woman of Abel” who admonishes, “They used to say in the old days, ‘Let them inquire at Abel’; and so they would settle a matter. I am one of those who are peaceable and faithful in Israel; you seek to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel; why will you swallow up the heritage of the Lord?” It is clear from her remarks that Abel has an Israelite history and lore that precedes Joab’s time and is otherwise unknown to him. Whereas Joab is a threat to Abel, Sheba legitimately seeks refuge there. In the pro-David, Judahite perspective of the text in its final form, the city’s allegiance goes with Joab and David, with Sheba’s head handed down to Joab from Abel’s ramparts – hardly what one expects from the “peaceful” in Israel.