(December 28, 2018 / KDJ) Israel still faces mounting challenges on various fronts. But in the war waged in public opinion about the legitimacy of the Jewish connection to the land, nowhere is there more solid proof than archaeology.
Thankfully, there is no shortage of evidence – this, despite centuries of looting, and recent archaeological crimes, such as the Arab Waqf illegally bulldozing Temple Mount grounds, thereby destroying precious artifacts.
In the past two years alone, archaeology has discovered stunning pieces that are a testament to the Jewish people’s long history with the land.
Here are some examples:
- Jewish Revolt Coins Found in Rebel Hideout
Dozens of bronze coins have been discovered south of the Temple Mount, dating to the First Jewish Revolt against Rome, two thousand years ago. Most of the coins contained images of Jewish symbolism – such as lulav and etrog, and ceremonial goblet, as well as inscribed with “Year Four”, the final year of the rebellion, or “For the Redemption of Jerusalem”.
The coins are believed to have been owned by Jews who hid in a nearby cave, escaping the Roman siege of Jerusalem. Evidence of long term habitation included discoveries of jars and cooking pots.
Source: Biblical Archaeology Review, April, 2018
- Isaiah’s Seal Found in Jerusalem
South of the Temple Mount, a stone seal has been discovered that reads “(belonging) to Isaiah nvy”. Though a fragment is missing from the seal, the letters nvy are the first three of the four letters spelling the Hebrew word for prophet. The prophet Isaiah, who lived about 2,700 years ago, appears in Tanach in 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles and of course the book of Isaiah.
Also known as a bulla, the seal impression’s purpose was much like a personal signature, where the seal would be pressed into a soft piece of clay that would attach to a bag or a document.
Also on the seal was a grazing doe, at the time a symbol of blessings.
Source: Biblical Archaeology Review, March/April/May/June 2018
- Royal Seal of Hezekiah Found
At the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount, archaeologists found a clay seal belonging to King Hezekiah. The first discovery of its kind reads “Belonging to Hezekiah, (son of) Ahaz, king of Judah”. When Hezekiah, who reigned about 2,700 years ago, saw that the Jews were becoming lax in their practice, he ordered the Holy Temple to be repaired and cleansed.
He also ordered his officials to fan across the land to take down pagan shrines and other altars.
Meanwhile, he made efforts to fortify Jerusalem against Assyrian king Sennacherib’s invasion, by expanding city walls and building a secret tunnel so Jews would have access to water despite the siege.
That Isaiah’s and Hezekiah’s seals were found ten feet apart isn’t surprising, given that the King often sought the prophet’s counsel.
Source: Biblical Archaeology Review, April, 2018
- Jewish soldiers send letter asking for wine
2,600 years ago – during the fall of the Kingdom of Judah to Babylonia’s King Nebuchadnezzar – Jewish soldiers stationed at a fortress in Tel Arad, in the Negev desert, sent a letter to officials, asking for more wine.
The message, written in ink on pottery, hadn’t been known to researchers until lately, until they used multispectral imaging, a type of advanced digital photography.
The front side of the inscription had always been clear: “Your friend Ḥananyahu sends greetings to Elyashiv, and to your household. I bless you by Hashem.”
The newly deciphered back notes Ḥananyahu’s request to Elyashiv: “If there is any wine, send… If there is anything else you need, send.”
Source: Biblical Archaeology Review, June, 2017
- 2,000 year old settlement found in Bet Shemesh
About 1,950 years ago, the Bar-Kokhba Revolt took place, also referred to as the Second Jewish Revolt against Rome. Jews, hiding from the conquerors, sought out caves and underground enclaves – one of which was recently found 19 miles west of Jerusalem.
It contained eight mikvahs, ceramic jars and cooking pots.
Source: Biblical Archaeology Review, March, 2017
- Oldest Ten Commandments
Some 1,700 years ago, a copy of the Ten Commandments was etched in a 2 foot tall, 115 pound marble stone. It is the oldest discovered intact copy of the Ten Commandments.
Even though the tablet was discovered near Tel Aviv in 1913 during the construction of the Palestine-Egypt railway, in 2016 it sold for $850,000 in an auction led by Living Torah Museum in Brooklyn.
Source: Biblical Archaeology Review, Feb., 2017
- Carving reveals Judean governor’s name
We now know the name of the Roman governor of Judea, from 1,880 years ago, from a stone inscription found near Tel Dor in northern Israel.
Initially laying deep underwater in the Dor Nature Reserve, the three-quarter ton and 2.8 foot high stone was brought to the surface to have its Greek carving deciphered.
It reads: “The City of Dor honors Marcus Paccius, son of Publius, Silvanus Quintus Coredius Gallus Gargilius Antiquus, governor of the province of Judea…”
It confirms that Gargilius Antiquus was governor of Judea. It is only the second reference to-date of Judea, found on a stone inscription – integral to proving that Jews held an independent state two thousand years ago.
Source: Bilical Archaeology Review, Dec., 2016
- Judaea Capta Coins discovered
Going back three thousand years, Bethsaida was a small village on the north shore of Galilee. Two years ago, it was the site of a discovered bronze coin, minted about 1,930 years ago.
On the front side, the coin has a representation of Roman Emperor Domitian, and says “Judaea Capta (Judea captured)”, struck to celebrate the suppression of the Jewish revolt.
The coin was the latest in a two and a half decade series paying tribute to the conquests of Vespasian, his sons, and successors Titus and Domitian.
Source: Biblical Archaeology Review, Sept., 2016
- Hasmonean Coin collection found
Silver coins dating back 2,140 years were found in Modi’in, the town of the Maccabees.
The face of the coins bore images of Seleucid King Antiochus VII and his brother Demetrius II, both of which the Maccabees sought to overthrow to return the land back to the Jews.
Archaeologists also discovered underground Maccabee hiding spaces, where they also located an ancient mikveh.
Source: Biblical Archaeology Review, June, 2016
- Muslim Coins Identify Jerusalem’s Jewish Roots
1,300 years ago, the ruling Islamic Umayyad Dynasty had no problem minting coins that acknowledged the Jewish connection to Israel. Coins of the era showed a menorah on the front center, even though on top it read “There is no god but Allah.”
Dec. 2017, Israel Breaking News