Saturday, April 26, 2008

New Temple Replica Coming to Jerusalem

Ynet is reporting that Aish HaTorah is currently building a large museum opposite the Western Wall which will feature "an elaborated massive replica of the Temple."  The rest of the brief article discusses the museum and no other details are given about the model.

The three-storey museum, whose construction is valued at nearly $20 million will be erected in the Aish HaTorah ("Fire of the Torah") Yeshiva complex. The museum will feature a journey through Jewish history, from the days of Abraham to the present, emphasizing the message and significance of the Jewish people’s presence in the Land of Israel and their degree of accomplishment in world improvement....

In addition to the great lavish interior, the museum’s crowning glory is no doubt the massive amphitheater, whose cost is being sponsored by veteran Hollywood star Kirk Douglas, and his no less famous son, Michael.

The amphitheater will feature a three-dimensional film depicting the history of the Jewish nation over a huge glass screen through which one can see the Western Wall. The museum will also include a learning center with a VIP wing to host movie stars, politicians and other celebrities from Israel and abroad.

The brief article is here.

Western Wall plaza excavation, tb091306080
The Aish HaTorah building is on the left, marked with an arrow.

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The South Wind

David Bivin has posted a helpful reflection on a sirocco in Israel on the Jerusalem Perspective Blog.  This condition is also sometimes referred to as a khamsin or sharav (though there is a difference between the two).


Bible Mapper: New Wiki

With the release of version 3.0 of Bible Mapper, the program became free but support was discontinued.  Now, Mark Vitalis Hoffman has begun a wiki for Bible Mapper where all users can pass on ideas, post questions, and share their maps with others.  I think this will be a great resource for those creating their own maps.

I recently recommended Bible Mapper and shared an experience here.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Recommended Newsletter: Tyndale Tech

One of the most useful newsletters I receive is Tyndale Tech, published by David Instone-Brewer at Tyndale House, Cambridge.  This month's newsletter is on "Maps & Geography in Biblical Studies," and he points the readers to numerous helpful resources for maps and photos, both for use in study and teaching.  I'm sure you'll find something here you didn't know about before.  And as he says, "There is now no excuse to teach or preach without pictures and maps."

If you're new to the newsletter, you'll also want to take a look at last month's "Tyndale Toolbar."


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Interview: Eric Cline on Pseudo-Archaeologists

Book and the Spade has posted its latest program, this one an interview with Eric Cline, entitled "Pseudo-archaeologists and the lost Arks."  The host, Gordon Govier, tells me that he has written an article about a similar subject in the May issue of Christianity Today.  Cline has a related book that came out last year: From Eden to Exile: Unraveling Mysteries of the Bible.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Interview with Jerome Murphy-O'Connor

The Book and the Spade radio program now features an interview with Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, author of The Holy Land: An Oxford Archaeological Guide (mentioned before here).  There are two parts, each about 15 minutes each.  Part two is currently posted, but this link should get you part one.  If you're interested, grab them now as the mp3 files are archived relatively quickly and I don't think the podcast link is currently working.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Holy Sepulcher Brawl

Did Jesus ever imagine that a few hundred yards from where he told the disciples that Christians would be known by their love that Jewish authorities would break up a brawl among his followers?  And not just once, as "brawls are not uncommon at the church."

Israeli police rushed into Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre to break up fist fights between dozens of Greek and Armenian worshippers on Orthodox Palm Sunday, witnesses said.

Some 20 officers intervened after Armenian worshippers threw a Greek Orthodox priest out of the church, sparking a free-for-all, they said.

Several worshippers then started beating the police officers with palm fronds they were holding for the Palm Sunday celebrations that mark the return of Jesus to the Holy City a week before he was crucified.

After the incident, dozens of members of Jerusalem's Armenian community marched from the church to the Old City's police headquarters in protest at the detention of two Armenians.

Brawls are not uncommon at the church, which is shared by various branches of Christianity, each of which controls and jealously guards part of site -- considered one of the holiest in Christianity.

Precisely in order to prevent such disturbances, two Muslim families have been entrusted for the past 800 years with opening and closing the gates of the church, a cavernous labyrinth of chapels and crypts built on the site where many Christians believe Jesus was crucified and buried.

The full story is here.

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Lesser Known Museums in Israel

The Jerusalem Post has a short article on the work of the Council of Restoration and Preservation of Historic Sites in Israel.  Most of those singled out are kibbutz museums, which are usually ignored by tourists.  If you live in Israel, or plan to be back for the third - or thirtieth - time, you might find a few sites to add to your list.

For a small country, Israel has an amazing number of historic sites and museums. But then, the entire country is a museum and open history book in itself. There hardly seems to be a place, certainly in the central and northern parts of the country, where there isn't a sign at the roadside pointing to some historical site from any time period ranging from the Biblical to recent history....

Some years ago, an overseas visitor commented after a trip through the Galilee that northern Israel seemed to him to be one huge park and picnic ground!...

Founded over 20 years ago, the council maintains a long list's worth of sites and monuments and, working industriously alongside other organizations and special interest groups, has successfully restored important sites throughout the country dedicated to protecting Israel's rich heritage....

Under the motto "Our future, inspired by our past," the council identifies, restores, conserves and protects major heritage buildings and sites associated with Israel's rebirth, beginning in 1860, the time the first settlement outside the walls of Jerusalem's Old City was established.

The rest is here.

Dor museum, former glass factory, tb090506861
Kibbutz Nahsholim Museum: Marine Archaeology and Tel Dor Excavations

Sea of Galilee Fishing Museum sign, tb101105910
"House of Anchors" Fishing Museum at Kibbutz En Gev


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Passover Preparations

Arutz-7 has a helpful photo essay showing preparations for the Passover in Jerusalem.  Subjects including cleaning out leaven, kashering pots, making matza, and an "educational" sacrifice.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Video: Passover Sacrifice in Jerusalem

Recently I noted an article about a planned animal sacrifice in Jerusalem.  This event was controversial because 1) there is no temple or altar in Jerusalem today; 2) killing an animal makes some people mad.

Friends in Jerusalem went to the Old City that day and saw a guy they suspected of carrying a ritual knife in his briefcase and followed the guy through a wild maze of streets in pursuit.  It turned out they followed the right guy.  They filmed the service.

We talked about the appropriateness of putting this online.  The 5-minute video is as graphic as it gets.  More and more people today don't realize that meat doesn't originate at a grocery store.  They have little concept of an animal being raised and then slaughtered.  Furthermore, almost no one in the Western world has ever sacrificed an animal for religious purposes.

I think, however, that is precisely why this *graphic* video should be shown.  We read about sacrifice in the Bible but we don't really understand what that means.  We read passages that talk about the "life being in the blood," but those are just words that we don't really consider.  We "know" that the wages of sin are high, but we don't get the life lesson that the ancient Israelites received every year.

The point of sacrifice was simply this: you deserve to die because of your sin.  This animal is dying in your place.  Watching the priest slice his throat and watching the blood drain out drove the point home much better than reading a chapter of Leviticus.

Today New Testament believers know that the blood of bulls and goats is not enough to take away sin.  But I think that we can often just take for granted Jesus' death in our place.  We don't think about his innocent blood draining away because we can't conceptualize it.  We don't always appropriate the idea of substitute because we've never seen a living object die in our place.  But our loss can be this: sin is easy because forgiveness (we think) is cheap.

The video was made by SourceFlix Productions.  Instead of dubbing over the scene with English commentary, they chose to include some explanatory text below.  Don't watch this video while eating, and if you're thinking about showing your children, watch it yourself first.

Passover begins Saturday at sundown.

Related: for photos and explanation of the Samaritan Passover, see (modern photos) or (19th century photos and text).  Several years ago I wrote an article about a visit to the Samaritan Passover sacrifice (En Gedi Resource Center).


Western Wall Stones Crumbling

The Jerusalem Post is reporting that stones in the Western Wall are crumbling.  A little background:

The "Western Wall" is a 60-meter section of a 480-meter long western compound wall of Herod's Temple Mount.  This portion of the wall has been revered by Jewish people for centuries as a place of prayer because the temple does not exist and access to the temple court areas has been forbidden (either by rabbis or Muslim rulers or both).

Three distinct sections of construction are visible in the prayer portion of the Western Wall today.  The lowest seven courses (blue box in photo below) were constructed by King Herod in the 1st century B.C.  The wall above this was destroyed, probably mostly in the Roman destruction of A.D. 70.  Arab rulers in the 7th-8th centuries rebuilt part of the wall and these stones are visible above the Herodian stones (between blue and red boxes). 

In the 19th century, there were problems with Muslims throwing objects and trash from the Temple Mount down on Jewish worshipers at the wall and so the British-Jewish philanthropist Moses Montefiore donated so that the wall could be built to a higher level.  It is these stones (in red box) that are the subject of this JPost story.  Read the article to learn more about whether the rabbis will permit restoration or not.

Western Wall, tb122006991
The crumbling stones are the smallest and most recent stones (red box). 
The original Herodian stones are in the blue box.

Update (4/17): Leen Ritmeyer has a lengthy explanation of the situation on his blog.

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Forgery Trial, 3 Years Going (and Going)

Haaretz gives an update of the forgery trial against Oded Golan and Robert Deutsch.  Most of what is "new" here seems to be taken from the courageously honest 60 Minutes report.  I'm always reluctant to analyze a news article written by a journalist because I know how skewed facts can get between the interview and the printed page.  But I'll make a few comments on the assumption that the record is generally accurate.

1. The prosecution has been presenting its case for three years.  Israel doesn't have constitutional protections like the United States, but some judge should intervene to tell them that there's something humane about a speedy trial, and if the prosecution can't present its case in short order, it's over.

2. The "silver bullet" in the case is an Egyptian artist.  The article says that he "confessed to manufacturing many items for Golan, including the Jehoash inscription."  I need more evidence than the reporter's word (or the prosecution's statement).  Note that 60 Minutes, who interviewed him on TV, did not have a statement from him that he forged it.  Maybe he did, or maybe the prosecution wants to make you think he did.  That's why there's such a thing called cross-examination.  (For those of you new to the case, it's simply incredible that a guy with a shop in an Egyptian market has the necessary skills to make an object of this nature that has fooled many experts into thinking it is authentic.  Scholars have told me that there's not a single person alive with all of the knowledge necessary to make the Jehoash Inscription.  Maybe five scholars collaborated, each contributing their own specialized knowledge.  But one artist in Egypt?)

3. The article says:

Among the evidence presented by the prosecution in court: photos and exhibits taken from the labs in Golan's home, where, according to the indictment, the forgeries were made; various sketches and other materials that were used in the preparation of the forgeries.

Now this sounds convincing to the reader at home.  Open-and-shut case.  If so, then why all of the delay?  Why do they need to bring the Egyptian artist to testify?  Again, this is why this case cannot be decided in the media alone.

I've said it before, but I'll note it again: I don't know if any of these items are authentic or not.  And I don't care.  It doesn't change my view of the Bible or archaeology if the James Ossuary or the Jehoash Inscription are forgeries.  But there are very significant problems with the way that these matters have been handled by the Israel Antiquities Authority, the prosecution, and some scholars.  There are other agendas.


Philistine Temple (Found) and Gate (Rebuilt)

A couple of developments in the land of the Philistines are worth noting:

A Philistine temple is being excavated at a site south of the five major Philistine cities.  The temple dates to late Iron I (circa 1000 B.C.) and is a few miles south of biblical Gerar (Tel Haror) and northwest of Beersheba.  Aren Maier has a brief report of his visit and some of the finds.

The Canaanite gate at Ashkelon has now been completely restored.  They claim that it is the "oldest arched gate in the world," but pushing the date of the Ashkelon gate a little earlier and the date of the Dan gate a little later.  Even archaeologists are competitive!  The JPost has a picture of the gate with a modern arch which looks like it was designed for schoolkids.  Below is a photo before they added the arch.

Ashkelon Middle Bronze gate, tb083006557
Ashkelon Middle Bronze Gate (circa 1800 B.C.)

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Making My Own Map

I recently worked on a project that required me to create some maps and I thought I might share a few tips for those who might be interested in making their own.

First, I'm using Bible Mapper.  This program has lots of functions which makes it easy to add and remove cities, put labels, etc.  The program used to cost $35, but it is now free.  It does requires a free registration key from the author to unlock all of the features.  (No technical support is available.)

Next, let's say I want to make a map of Turkey.  I only want to include certain places.  This requires that I remove some of the ones listed.  That's easy.  Adding sites that aren't already defined is a bit more work.  But this too is not hard with several free resources.

Let's say I want to put Catal Huyuk on the map.  This is an important Neolithic site, but it's not already in the map program (I had to pick a lesser-known site like this one, because all of the biblical sites are already listed; if you're just teaching about the biblical sites, you may never have to do this).  To get the location coordinates for it, I go to the Wikipedia article.  I can then copy the coordinates to Google Earth, if I want to get a close-up look at the site with a satellite view (or to verify the coordinates).  Alternately, I can click on the coordinates in Wikipedia which brings me to a list of maps that I can locate the site on, including Google Earth.  It also gives the coordinates in decimal form which I can copy over to Bible Mapper.


Here's the map I made of Turkey.  It took me about 30 minutes to create, but it would take less time for those who don't have as many specific needs as I do.  There is a learning curve in using the Bible Mapper program, which means that it'll take you a little longer when you start.  Undoubtedly more savvy individuals can make a much nicer map with all of the options available.

One day I hope to add maps like these to so that one can click a site on the map and immediately go to the relevant page of photos.

Which reminds me - and this is a great feature of Bible Mapper - you can use the maps you create for anything!  (From the license: "No copyright restrictions are placed on any maps created with Bible Mapper.")  Most maps and map programs have restrictions on them, which can make your maps of limited usefulness.  Among its many other features, this makes Bible Mapper a terrific tool.


Monday, April 07, 2008

5th Volume of NEAEH

It has been noted on the ANE-2 list that the 5th (Supplement) volume to the New Encyclopedia of vol5Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land (NEAEH) is off the press.  The book is co-published by the Israel Exploration Society and the Biblical Archaeology Society, which should make it easy to buy in either the US or Israel.  Neither site yet has it listed for sale.  When it becomes available, I'll note it here.  I commented on the original set previously here.

Update (4/8): The Israel Exploration Society has a 4-page pdf file describing the new volume.  On this side of the ocean, Eisenbrauns has it listed for sale (but not yet shipping).  The volume is 600 pages and costs $150 (which is the same as the price for the entire 4-volume set).

Update (4/9): The Biblical Archaeology Society is selling it now for $120 plus $10 shipping.  The first 25 orders get a free copy of The City of David, Revisiting Early Excavations (reg. $150).  There doesn't seem to be a way to indicate if you are in the first 25 or not, so I would assume that once 25 orders have been taken, they will remove the red print of the special offer so as to not mislead customers into thinking that they might qualify.

Update (4/16): BAS has extended the special offer to the first 115 orders.  For those more advanced in their interest of archaeology in Israel and Jerusalem, this is a great deal.


New Blog: Tel Dan Excavations

The first excavation in Israel to have a running blog is the The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog.  But it's been several years and no one else seems to have caught on.  Until now.  The Tel Dan Excavations has started a new blog.  At this point, the blog looks more like a website, with static pages but not daily updates.  Presumably, with the start of the season this summer, they'll keep us regularly informed of the progress. 

Permit me one comment on the recruiting banner, as they encourage volunteers to sign up.  The slogan says, on top of the graphic: "The 2008 season begins June 22!  Will you find the missing pieces of the David inscription?  Mail your volunteer application soon."  That's certainly a tantalizing suggestion.  Even though it's been 14-15 years since the three fragments were found, there certainly could be more.  And if more are discovered, you can bet that many of the scholarly theories about the Tel Dan Inscription (TDI) will be cast aside.  In fact, here's something that I had not picked up on until research last week.  Perhaps you know that the TDI was probably written by the Aramean king Hazael and it mentions his killing of King Jehoram of Israel and King Ahaziah of Judah.  This appears to contradict 2 Kings 9 which says that Jehu, not Hazael, killed these two kings.  But here's what I didn't realize: the contradiction entirely hangs on two hypothesized words and letters in the TDI (they are reconstructed because the fragment breaks off at these points).  In other words, we only know that it says "I killed Jehoram" because scholars hypothesized the words "I killed."  Of Ahaziah, it says "killed Ahaziah," but the "I" is reconstructed.  Whether this is a reasonable or unreasonable guess, it is only a guess.  I sure hope they find more fragments.  Maybe it'll be you.

Dan marketplace and Iron Age gate, tb052907121 
Iron Age gate and plaza at Dan

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Weekend Roundup

There are a number of stories I've noted over the past week or so that may be of interest.

The Philistine city of Gath has been "civilized" with the creation of a new national park.  I think they should have called it the Gath National Park, instead of the Tel Zafit National Park, as no one seriously questions the identification any more.  The site is now off-limits to 4-wheel drive vehicles (that makes it a climb to the top!) and signs are posted around.  See the Official/Unofficial Gath Blog for details.

A special exhibit this summer will feature a long portion of the Isaiah Scroll.  The first 28 chapters (8 feet; 2.3 meters) will be displayed at the Shrine of the Book from May 13 to August 15, 2008.  The Isaiah Scroll was once on display in the center of the exhibit, but because of stress on the manuscript, it was replaced by a replica many years ago.

You don't have to go anywhere to see these 12 stunning photos of Egypt from National Geographic (HT: Dr. Claude Mariottini).

The biographer of Kathleen Kenyon recently gave a lecture on the archaeologist at Baylor University.  This link is to a (flawed) news report and not the lecture itself.  I mentioned the biography itself before here.

Here's a good little article on the excavations in the City of David around the possible palace of David.  If you've kept up on the story, you won't find anything new here, but it is an informed presentation.  CBN has another, less helpful, tourist visit to the City of David.  (HT: Joe Lauer)

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Friday, April 04, 2008

Golf Where Jesus Prayed

I've heard talk about a golf course planned on Arbel overlooking the Sea of Galilee for years, but this JPost article makes it sound like it's getting closer to realization.  (Interpreted for those unfamiliar with the Israeli system, that means that there are now less than 472,325 legal obstacles remaining.)  Here are a few numbers mentioned in the article:

2: Number of 18-hole golf courses in Galilee

150: Cost of the ultra-luxury resort (in millions of dollars)

8: Cost of water treatment plant already built (in millions of dollars)

The official website:

There will also is a golf course planned for Eilat, and JPost has a computer-generated image of what it might look like.

This blog post title is an allusion to the idea that Arbel may have been the mountain on which Jesus withdrew to pray (Matt 14:23; Mark 6:46; Luke 6:12).  I should trademark it and trade it to the developers for one of the gazillion-dollar memberships.

Sea of Galilee and Arbel cliffs panorama, tb0221007888sr
Arbel and the Sea of Galilee from the west

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Book Released on Looting of Iraq

The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago has just published an 88-page book on the looting in Iraq in the aftermath of the war.  From their website:

Catastrophe! The Looting and Destruction of Iraq’s Past
Edited by Geoff Emberling and Katharyn Hanson, 2008

With an introduction by Professor McGuire Gibson, this up-to-date account describes the state of the Iraq National Museum in Baghdad and chronicles the damage done to archaeological sites by illicit digging.

The book can be ordered for $30 or downloaded in pdf format for free.  An exhibit of the same name opens at the Oriental Institute on April 10.

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Tiberias Archaeological Park

The most important city in Galilee in the 1st century A.D. was Tiberias.  Founded by Herod Antipas in 20 A.D. and named after the emperor, Tiberius, the city served as the capital of the region.  In the New Testament, the Sea of Galilee is several times referred to as the "Sea of Tiberias," indicating the city's importance.  But for two reasons most Christian tourists to Israel don't know much about it.  First, there is no record that Jesus ever visited the city.  None of his miracles or sermons here, if he did any, are written down.  Second, Tiberias today is the largest city in Galilee, and modern populations and ancient ruins don't like each other.  But in the last few years, excavations of the ancient city have been taking place in areas not yet covered by apartment buildings and shopping malls.  This week, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced a plan to open an archaeological park to feature the Roman city.  The press release is posted in full here with a few photos, and some extracts are posted below.  The Jerusalem Post has the story in briefer form here.

Berko Park is slated to be magnet that will attract tourism from Israel and abroad to Tiberias and will expose the public at large to Tiberias’ glorious past, through all of its history which has its beginnings in the Early Roman period 2,000 years ago....

Berko Park extends across an area of approximately 100 dunams and is replete with ancient remains of the city of Tiberias that date from the time of the city’s establishment by Herod Antipas in the 1st century CE until the time of the Fatimid dynasty in the 11th century CE....

It is anticipated that the work in this part of the park will be finished this coming summer. Within the framework of the future expansion of Berko Park the Roman theater, which is located at the foot of Mount Berenice, is slated to be excavated. The theater is built of stone, is of imposing in size and faces east, thus those seated in it viewed the Sea of Galilee opposite them, the Golan Heights and Mount Hermon. The planners envision that this ancient and impressive theater will be used once again in modern times for the  presentation of grandiose performances....

Berko Park is part of a more extensive area where there are important archaeological finds that are all expected to be included in a large archaeological park in which there are ancient buildings that were previously excavated and that stand exposed today in the area. Included among them are the beit hamidrash that is ascribed to Rabbi Yochanan, which was exposed in the area of Tiberias’ waste water purification plant, the Anchor Church on Mount Berenice, another Byzantine church structure that was recently uncovered, the cardo, the marketplace, the aqueduct and the water reservoir. The city of Tiberias and the Israel Antiquities Authority will continue to act to rehabilitate and conserve these ancient structures, and to include them in a wide-scale tourism program.

Tiberias from south, tb022107066
Tiberias and Sea of Galilee from south

Previous stories about Tiberias on this blog report on the Roman theater and the ancient church.

HT: Joe Lauer

Archaeologist Who Found Iron Age Remains on Temple Mount

The Canadian Jewish News has an article about the archaeologist who found Iron Age period remains on the Temple Mount a few months ago

Yuval Baruch, left, made archeological history in October 2007 when he uncovered pottery artifacts on the site of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. They are considered to be the first physical evidence of human activity during the time of King Solomon’s Temple (the First Jewish Temple).

Baruch, who is Jerusalem’s district archeologist at the Israel Antiquities Authority, speaking at the Berney Theatre here, outlined his world-famous discovery as part of a lecture series put on by the Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University.

And the interesting part:

“I was not supposed to be left there alone, as the Waqf always has someone present when Israeli archeologists are on the site. It was in the evening after 8 p.m., and by chance the Arab electrical workers left me and a member of my staff for about 15 minutes while they went to pray. When I was alone in that brief time, I found the pottery shards among dust near the bedrock level,” he says.

And what he found:

Baruch’s findings include animal bones; ceramic bowl rims, bases and body shards; the base of a juglet used to pour oil; the handle of a small juglet; and the rim of a storage jar. In addition, a piece of a whitewashed, handmade object was found. It may have been used to decorate a larger object or may have been the leg of an animal figurine. The finds are dated from eight-to six-century BCE.

And I bet you can't believe this:

“The reaction of the Muslim authority [the Waqf] was to ignore the finds,” he adds, which he says was not surprising since over the years the Waqf has tried to undermine Jewish historical ties to the site.

“The Waqf’s official position is that there was never a Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount, he says.”

You can read the full story here.


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Rehearsal Set for Passover Sacrifice in Jerusalem

For thousands of years, the Jewish people have celebrated the Passover sacrifice, but without a *sacrifice.*  It's one thing when you're an oppressed minority in Europe, but it's another when you're the ruling majority in your own land.  One would think that this would be the cause of great discussion, but it seems that the intervening years have muted the felt need for a sacrifice for most.  But not all.  From Arutz-7:

The demonstration of the Paschal sacrifice is part of a study day scheduled to take place on Sunday, the First of Nissan (April 6), at the Kotel Yeshiva in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City. The study day is a joint project of the Temple Institute, the Sanhedrin and the King David Museum. It was originally planned to take place one week later, but the organizers decided to dedicate it to the memory of the eight yeshiva boys murdered in Jerusalem recently, and to hold it on the 30th day after their death.

The study day is to include a public sacrifice which is being termed a "general rehearsal" for the actual Pesach sacrifice on the Temple Mount, a ritual prescribed by the Torah but currently forbidden by the Israel government and courts.

Glick told Ynet Monday that according to Jewish law, abstaining from performing the sacrifice is an extremely serious offense, comparable in its severity to avoiding a brit (circumcision ceremony) for one's newborn boy. He explained that although Jewish law forbids Jews in an impure state (which all Jews are in as long as the Temple rites are not renewed) from entering the Temple area, an exception is made for public sacrifices like the Pesach sacrifice. 

The Temple movement recently sent a formal request to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Minister of Public Security Avi Dichter, to allow them to conduct the sacrifice on the Temple Mount. "Making the Paschal sacrifice is part of the religious freedom which is a basic human right and a cornerstone of democracy," they wrote.  Glick said, however, that the organizers "have no intention of trying to ascend to the Mount without permission from the police....

Another animal rights activist, Etti Altman, said the sacrifice has no place in an "enlightened country" like Israel and quoted from the ancient Sifri biblical commentary which says: "As God is called 'compassionate,' so should you be compassionate."

The full story is here.

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King David Museum Opened

A new museum of sorts has opened in the Old City.  From Arutz-7:

A rich mix of Jerusalemites came out on a brisk Jerusalem night in early March to celebrate the city's newest museum: The King David Museum and Genealogy Center

Located in the heart of the Old City, the museum is a celebration of the most celebrated king in Jewish history, the author of the Book of Psalms and a major subject of the biblical Book of Samuel. The museum tracks the unbroken Jewish connection to the city Jerusalem, that was first conquered and made the capital of Israel by King David.

The permanent exhibition features artifacts from the first and second temple periods including earthenware, ceramics, coins, arrowheads, and more. There is also a section dedicated to printed matter about King David and the Temple Mount, featuring the first known printed book of Psalms, published in 1511, and a swath of original printings that date from 1696 to modern times. Another section of the museum features a series of jarred spices. Mixed together in the correct proportions, the spices were combined to create the incense that was offered daily in the Holy Temple....

The King David Museum and Genealogy Center is located at 19 Tiferet Yisrael Street in the Old City of Jerusalem. Opening Hours are Sunday- Thursday, 9 am – 9pm, Friday 9 am – 1pm. For more information, please call (02) 628-1502

The full story is here.

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

New and Notworthy from Eisenbrauns

Eisenbrauns is offering some never-before-seen titles, including Lost Graves Revealed: The Exact Location of Famous Historical Figures (now marked down to $900).  And there are other great titles.  My guess is that you'll want to check it out today and not wait until tomorrow!


Sea of Galilee Discovered

Officials today announced that the Sea of Galilee, famous in the New Testament as the location of Jesus' ministry, has been discovered!  Reaction to the announcement was decidedly vocal in all quarters.  Evangelicals claimed that all of the Bible was hereby proven to be true.  One biblioblogger denounced the archaeologists as right-wing fundamentalists, asserting that no such body of water ever existed but the Bible is completely true nonetheless.  A Palestinian spokesman said that this is all just a plot to steal their land.  One Christian Zionist organization already had an appeal letter for funds in the mail.  60 Minutes had undercover reporters on the scene in hopes of finding an Egyptian scientist to explain how it must be a fraud.  A bulletin posted on Ron Wyatt's website confirmed that they had already located Jesus' footprints in the water.  The first chapter was released of a book by Robert Cornuke in which he claims that he found the footprints, just before being arrested.  Seasoned archaeologists noted wryly that great finds are always made on the last day of the season, whereas discoveries like this one are always made on April 1.

Sea of Galilee sunset from Hippos panorama, tb032807888 
Sunset over Sea of Galilee from Hippos/Susita