Oldest Hebrew mention of Jerusalem 2700 yr old

BY ILAN BEN ZION -The Times of Israel

Reference to consignment of wineskins ‘to Jerusalem’ appears on 2,700-year-old First Temple-era scrap believed plundered from Judean Desert cave

A rare, ancient papyrus dating to the First Temple Period — 2,700 years ago — has been found to bear the oldest known mention of Jerusalem in Hebrew.2700-yr-old-papyrus-1

The fragile text, believed plundered from a cave in the Judean Desert cave, was apparently acquired by the Israel Antiquities Authority during a sting in 2012 when thieves attempted to sell it to a dealer. Radiocarbon dating has determined it is from the 7th century BCE, making it one of just three extant Hebrew papyri from that period, and predating the Dead Sea Scrolls by centuries.

The IAA’s Eitan Klein said the dating of the papyrus had been confirmed by comparing the text’s orthography with other texts from the period.

The slip of papyrus, which was formally unveiled by the Israel Antiquities Authority on Wednesday, measures 11 centimeters by 2.5 centimeters (4.3 inches by 1 inch). Its two lines of jagged black paleo-Hebrew script appear to have been a dispatch note recording the delivery of two wineskins “to Jerusalem,” the Judean Kingdom’s capital city. The full text of the inscription reads: “From the female servant of the king, from Naharata (place near Jericho) two wineskins to Jerusalem.”

The fact that the note was written on papyrus, rather than cheaper clay ostraca, suggests the consignment of wineskins may have been sent to a person of high status.2700-yr-old-papyrus-2

Speaking at a press conference in Jerusalem with IAA officials on Wednesday, Israel Prize-winning Biblical scholar Shmuel Ahituv said the mention of a “female servant of the king” sending the wineskins to “Yerushalem,” indicated that it was sent by a prominent woman to the capital.

Ahituv also said it was significant that the text features the “Yerushalem” spelling of the city’s name that is more commonly found in the Bible. There are only four instances in the bible, he noted, of Jerusalem being spelled “Yerushalayim,” with an additional letter Yod, the way it is pronounced in modern Hebrew.

Amir Ganor, head of the IAA’s antiquity theft prevention division, said the papyrus was determined to have come from a cave in Nahal Hever in the Judean Desert. The arid, cool location near the Dead Sea enabled the fragment’s preservation over the millennia. Since the bust, 14 members of the ring of looters based near Hebron were arrested and sentenced to 18 years in prison.

While there are more than a handful of ancient Hebrew texts etched into stone and scrawled on bits of pottery from this period, the only other known Hebrew papyrus texts from before the fall of the Judean Kingdom in 586 BCE were the Marzeah Papyrus, believed to be from mid-to-late 7th century BCE trans-Jordan, and a papyrus palimpsest found at Qumran.

The Israel Antiquities Authority has moved to prevent antiquities thieves plundering the country’s archaeological heritage, with particular emphasis on the limestone caves dotting the cliffs leading down to the Dead Sea. Those remote caverns have yielded two of the most significant collections of ancient Hebrew texts: the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bar Kochba letters.

Stings in recent years have busted treasure hunters and traders in the act in Judean Desert caverns and Jerusalem hotels, while archaeologists race to excavate the area’s remaining caves in the hopes of discovering scientific data and, possibly, more scrolls.2700-yr-old-papyrus-3

Jerusalem’s Third Wall ~ 2000 Yr Old

The Jerusalem Post, By Daniel K. Eisenbud 10-20-2106

Compelling evidence from the breaching of Jerusalem’s so-called “third wall” – which was said to surround the capital during the Roman destruction of the Temple in 70 CE – may finally help to conclusively prove its existence.jerusalem-third-wall-1

The Antiquities Authority on Thursday said the remnants were first discovered last winter in the capital’s downtown Russian Compound, where the new sprawling campus of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design is being constructed.

During the legally mandated excavation that preceded the beginning of construction, archeologists discovered the remains of a tower jutting from the ancient wall, which could shed light on Jerusalem’s boundaries on the eve of the Roman onslaught led by Titus.

Moreover, opposite the tower’s western façade, scores of ancient ballista and sling stones that the Romans fired from catapults at the Jewish guards stationed on top of the tower to defend the wall were discovered, further buttressing proof of its existence.

According to Dr. Rina Avner and Kfir Arbib, excavation directors on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, the finds provide telling testament of the brutal Roman offensive against the city.

“This is a fascinating testimony of the intensive bombardment by the Roman army, led by Titus, on their way to conquering the city and destroying the Second Temple,” the archeologists said in a joint statement.

“The bombardment was intended to attack the sentries guarding the wall, and provide cover for the Roman forces, so they could approach the wall with battering rams and thereby breach the city’s defenses.”
jerusalem-third-wall-2
The historian Josephus, a witness to the war, recorded numerous details about the third wall. In his telling, the wall was designed to protect the new quarter of the capital, then known as Beit Zeita, which extended beyond its boundaries, north of the two existing city walls.

Construction of the wall was begun by Agrippa I, Josephus wrote. However, he suspended its creation to avoid incurring the wrath of the emperor, Claudius, and to dispel any doubts regarding his loyalty.

Still, construction of the wall resumed 20 years later by the defenders of Jerusalem as part of fortifying the city in preparation for the Great Revolt against Rome, according to Josephus.

The famed historian described in detail the route of the wall, which began at the Hippicus Tower, now identified as David’s Citadel. From there, the wall continued north to the enormous Psephinus Tower, which defended the northwestern corner of the city wall.

At that point, the wall turned east, descending toward the Tomb of Queen Helena, which is now identified with the Tombs of the Kings.

The excavation’s findings will be presented during a conference titled “New Studies in the Archeology of Jerusalem and its Region,” to be held on October 27 at the Mount Scopus campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

25 New Dead Sea Scrolls Revelaed

By Owen Jarus Live Science Contributor     Published October 11, 2016

More than 25 previously unpublished "Dead Sea Scroll" fragments, dating back 2,000 years and holding text from the Hebrew Bible, have been brought to light, their contents detailed in two new books.

The various scroll fragments record parts of the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Samuel, Ruth, Kings, Micah, Nehemiah, Jeremiah, Joel, Joshua, Judges, Proverbs, Numbers, Psalms, Ezekiel and Jonah. The Qumran caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were first discovered had yet to yield any fragments from the Book of Nehemiah; if this newly revealed fragment is authenticated it would be the first.dead-seas-scrolls

Scholars have expressed concerns that some of the fragments are forgeries. [See Photos of the Dead Sea Scrolls Fragments]

These 25 newly published fragments are just the tip of the iceberg. A scholar told Live Science that around 70 newly discovered fragments have appeared on the antiquities market since 2002. Additionally, the cabinet minister in charge of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), along with a number of scholars, believes that there are undiscovered scrolls that are being found by looters in caves in the Judean Desert. The IAA is sponsoring a new series of scientific surveys and excavations to find these scrolls before looters do.

The Dead Sea Scrolls

The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered between 1947 and 1956 in a series of 11 caves by the archaeological site of Qumran in the Judean Desert, near the Dead Sea. During that time, archaeologists and local Bedouins unearthed thousands of fragments from nearly 900 manuscripts.

Some of the Bedouin sold their scrolls in Bethlehem through an antiquities dealer named Khalil Iskander Shahin, who went by the name "Kando." Shahin died in 1993 and his son William Kando now runs his business and estate.

Many scholars believe that the Dead Sea Scrolls were hidden in the Qumran caves around A.D. 70, during a Jewish revolt against the Roman Empire. They may have been written by a Jewish sect known as the Essenes.

Qumran and its caves are located in the West Bank, a territory captured by Israel from Jordan during the Six-Day War in 1967. Jordan at times has asserted that the Dead Sea Scrolls belong to them.

Although the term Dead Sea Scrolls usually refers to the scrolls found at Qumran, there have been scrolls found in caves at other sites in the Judean Desert that are considered Dead Sea Scrolls.

Collecting scrolls

The 25 newly published scroll fragments were purchased by two separate collectors. [Gallery of Dead Sea Scrolls: A Glimpse of the Past]

Between 2009 and 2014, Steve Green, the owner of Hobby Lobby, a chain of arts and crafts stores, purchased 13 of the fragments, which he has donated, along with thousands of other artifacts, to the Museum of the Bible. Green is helping to fund construction of the museum, scheduled to open in Washington, D.C., next fall. (A fly-through of the museum can be seen on YouTube).

A team of scholars has published details of these donated fragments in the book volume "Dead Sea Scrolls Fragments in the Museum Collection" (Brill, 2016).

The provenance of this batch of scrolls is not certain.

"Some of these fragments must have come from Qumran, probably Cave 4, while the others may have derived from other sites in the Judean Desert," wrote Emanuel Tov, a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in the book volume. "Unfortunately, little is known about the provenance of these fragments because most sellers did not provide such information at the time of the sale."

Antiquities dealer William Kando told Live Science that he doesn't know where the donated fragments originated.

Scientists are conducting tests on the donated fragments to help determine if any are forgeries, said Michael Holmes, executive director of the Museum of the Bible Scholars Initiative, in a statement sent to Live Science.

The results will be combined with an analysis of the writing to help determine what the chances are of the different fragments being forgeries.

"The results will be incorporated in our future museum exhibits, inviting visitors to grasp and engage with issues involved with assessing authenticity," Holmes said.

Biblical manuscripts

Martin Schøyen, a collector from Norway, owns the other batch of the recently revealed Dead Sea Scrolls. The texts from those fragments are detailed in the book "Gleanings from the Caves: Dead Sea Scrolls and Artefacts from The Schøyen Collection" (Bloomsbury, 2016). Also detailed in the book are other artifacts related to the scrolls, including a linen wrapper in which one of the Dead Sea Scrolls was found. [Photos: Who 'Penned' the Dead Sea Scrolls?]

Schøyen, who has a vast collection of antiquities, began collecting biblical manuscripts in 1986. "The ultimate challenge had become to acquire a fragment of the Dead Sea Scrolls with a biblical text," Schøyen wrote in the book. "It was for me a 'Mission: Impossible.'"

His determination paid off as, gradually, he was able to track down scroll fragments that were for sale by a number of sources. He bought several from a family collection that is now in in Zurich (the name was not published) and several more from the descendants of tourists or collectors who had purchased scrolls from Shahin's shop in Bethlehem in the 1950s. He also purchased a few fragments that were once owned by two scholars who had worked in the Qumran caves as students in 1948 (the students got the fragments as gifts from a bishop who supported the work).

"The quest that started as a 'Mission: Impossible' in 1986, gradually proceeded to become a collection of [about] 115 fragments from around 27 different scrolls," Schøyen said. He added that some of the fragments in his collection come from caves 1, 4 and 11 at Qumran, while some come from other caves in the Judean Desert.

Nehemiah

A highlight from the newly published Museum of the Bible collection is a fragment from the Book of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 2:13-16).

The fragment tells of a man named Nehemiah who lived during the fifth century B.C., at a time after Jerusalem had been destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. The Persian Empire had taken over Babylon's territory and the Jews, who had been forced to leave Israel by the Babylonians, were allowed to return home.

The fragment records Nehemiah's visit to a ruined Jerusalem, finding that its gates had been "consumed by fire." According to the fragment text, he inspects the remains of the walls before starting work on rebuilding them.

Scholars have noted in previous studies that archaeologists hadn't found any copies of the Book of Nehemiah in the Qumran caves. How this fragment came to America is unknown, and scholars say they can't be sure it's from Qumran.

"It is assumed to come from Cave 4 [at Qumran], but in the final analysis it must be said that the provenance of the fragment remains unknown," wrote Martin G. Abegg Jr., a professor at Trinity Western University who led the team that analyzed the fragment, in the book "Dead Sea Scrolls Fragments in the Museum Collection."

Leviticus

A highlight from the Schøyen Collection is a fragment containing part of the Book of Leviticus. In the fragment text, God promises that if the Sabbath is observed and the Ten Commandments are obeyed, the people of Israel will be rewarded.

"If you walk according to my laws, and keep my commandments and implement them, then I will grant your rains in their season, so that the earth shall yield its produce and the trees of the field their fruit," part of the fragment reads (translation by Torleif Elgvin).

"I will grant peace in the land, and you shall lie down untroubled by anyone; and I will exterminate vicious beasts from the land, and no sword shall cross your land," the fragment continues. "I will look with favour upon you, and make you fertile and multiply you."

Schøyen published a note from William Kando saying that the Leviticus scroll fragment was once owned by his father who got it from Bedouin in 1952 or 1953 and it was sold, along with other fragments, to a customer in Zurich in 1956.

8th Century BC Gate and Shrine, Hezekiah Destroyed

By Laura Geggel, Senior Writer - Live Science

An ancient city gate and shrine that King Hezekiah ordered to be destroyed during the eighth century B.C., according to the Hebrew Bible, are seeing the light of day following an excavation in Israel, archaeologists reported today (Sept. 28).

The so-called gate-shrine is likely evidence of actions taken by King Hezekiah, the 12th king of Judea, to abolish idols, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA). Hezekiah's father, Ahaz, was known as a godless man, and as soon as Hezekiah ascended the throne, he ordered the destruction of all of the false idols (objects, other deities or animals that people worshipped) in the kingdom, according to Chabad.org, a website on Judaism.8th-century-gate-1

In the Hebrew Bible, a verse explains how "He [Hezekiah]removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles [associated with a sacred goddess]…" (II Kings 18:4), the IAA said.

The gate is located in the ancient city of Tel Lachish within an 80-by-80-foot (24.5 by 24.5 meters) six-chambered area, with three chambers on each side and the city's main street passing between them, the IAA said.

The northern section of the gate was unearthed decades ago by an expedition led by archaeologists from the United Kingdom and Tel Aviv University. The latest excavation, which took place from January to March 2016, focused on uncovering the entire gate, the IAA said.

The excavation was no small task, as the gate is the largest one in Israel dating back to the First Temple period, a time when the kingdom used the temple built by King Solomon, the IAA said.

"The size of the gate is consistent with the historical and archaeological knowledge we possess," Sa'ar Ganor, an excavation director with the Israel Antiquities Authority, said in a statement. According to biblical narrative, "everything took place" at the gates of the ancient city of Tel Lachish, where the gate-shrine was originally built, the IAA said.

High-ranking people — including city elders, judges, governors, kings and officials — would sit on the benches by the city gate, and "these benches were found in our excavation," Ganor said.

Moreover, the new discovery illustrates "how biblical tales that are known to us become historical and archaeological stories" as research progresses, said Ze'ev Elkin, who serves as minister of Jerusalem affairs and heritage and environmental protection as well as a member of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament.8th-century-gate-2

The Tel Lachish city gate is now exposed and preserved to a height of about 13 feet (4 m). The excavation revealed that the first chamber held benches with armrests, as well as jars, scoops that were used for loading grain, and stamped jar handles that have the name "lmlk" on them, the seal belonging to the king, the IAA said.

These jars were likely related to the military and administrative preparations of the Kingdom of Judah in the war against Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, in the late eighth century B.C., the IAA said.

Further excavations revealed more evidence of Hezekiah's actions.

"Steps to the gate-shrine in the form of a staircase ascended to a large room, where there was a bench upon which offerings were placed," Ganor said. "An opening was exposed in the corner of the room that led to the holy of holies [the gate-shrine]; to our great excitement, we found two four-horned altars and scores of ceramic finds consisting of lamps, bowls and stands in this room."

However, the horns on the alter were intentionally cut.8th-century-gate-3

"That is probably evidence of the religious reform attributed to King Hezekiah, whereby religious worship was centralized in Jerusalem and the cultic high places that were built outside the capital were destroyed," Ganor said.

In addition, archaeologists found a stone toilet installed in the corner of the gate-shrine, perhaps as a means of desecration, the IAA said. The Bible mentions other descriptions of placing toilets in cultic areas for desecration purposes. For instance, King Jehu ordered the destruction of the cult of Ba'al in Samaria. "And they demolished the pillar of Ba'al, and demolished the house of Ba'al, and made it a latrine to this day" (II Kings 10:27), according to the IAA.

However, this is the first time an archaeological discovery has confirmed a "latrine" passage from the Bible, the IAA said. Laboratory tests on the stone toilet suggest that it was never used and may have served a symbolic purpose before the gate-shrine was sealed and later destroyed by Sennacherib in 701 B.C., the IAA said.

In fact, the excavation also found signs of the kingdom's defeat, including arrowheads and sling stones, which indicate the practice of hand-to-hand combat near the city's gatehouse. However, this isn't the only evidence of Sennacherib's military campaign. His campaign is also known from the archaeological record, the Bible (II Kings 18 and II Chronicles 32) and the Tel Lachish wall reliefs from Sennacherib's palace in Nineveh, which depict the tale of the city's conquest, the IAA said.

The IAA excavation was part of an initiative led by the Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage, in cooperation with Israel's Nature and Parks Authority. The site, located within Tel Lachish National Park, isn't yet open to the public.