… archaeologists have discovered the remains of a 2,300-year-old rural village that dates back to the Second Temple period, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced.
Trenches covering some 8,000 square feet (750 square meters) revealed narrow alleys and a few single-family stone houses, each containing several rooms and an open courtyard. Among the ruins, archaeologists also found dozens of coins, cooking pots, milling tools and jars for storing oil and wine.
“The rooms generally served as residential and storage rooms, while domestic tasks were carried out in the courtyards,” Irina Zilberbod, the excavation director for the IAA, explained in a statement.
Archaeologists don’t know what the town would have been called in ancient times, but it sits near the legendary Burma Road, a route that allowed supplies and food to flow into Jerusalem during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. The rural village located on a ridge with a clear view of the surrounding countryside, and people inhabiting the region during the Second Temple period likely cultivated orchards and vineyards to make a living, IAA officials said.
The Second Temple period (538 B.C. to A.D. 70) refers to the lifetime of the Jewish temple that was built on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount to replace the First Temple after it was destroyed. Archaeological evidence suggests this provincial village hit its peak during the third century B.C., when Judea was under the control of the Seleucid monarchy after the breakup of Alexander the Great’s empire. Residents seem to have abandoned the town at the end of the Hasmonean dynasty — when Herod the Great came into power in 37 B.C. — perhaps to chase better job opportunities in the city amid an economic downturn.
“The phenomenon of villages and farms being abandoned at the end of the Hasmonean dynasty or the beginning of Herod the Great’s succeeding rule is one that we are familiar with from many rural sites in Judea,” archaeologist Yuval Baruch explained in a statement. “And it may be related to Herod’s massive building projects in Jerusalem, particularly the construction of the Temple Mount, and the mass migration of villagers to the capital to work on these projects.”
The discovery was made during a salvage excavation ahead of a construction project that began last year; a 21-mile-long (35 kilometers) gas pipeline was supposed to run through the site, but engineering plans were revised to go around the ruins, IAA officials said. Salvage excavations are common in Israel to avoid building over ancient sites. For instance, remarkably well-preserved Byzantine church mosaics were recently revealed ahead of the construction of a park, and an ancient Roman road connecting Jerusalem to Jaffa was uncovered ahead of the installation of a drainage pipe.
Hundreds of people have flocked to a small town in northern Israel to view a statue of the Virgin Mary that residents say “weeps” oil.
Members of a Christian family from Tarshiha, near the Lebanon border, say they have witnessed a miracle in their living room.
Osama Khoury said Tuesday that his wife Amira found the statue “covered with oil” recently. Amira said the statue “spoke to her” and told her not to be afraid. After a neighbor witnessed the oil, word soon spread.
Parts of the statue appear to be slick with moisture, even after it is wiped off.
The family says it is most striking when a “tear” seems to roll down the statue’s cheek. It says some 2,000 people have come to see the statue over the last week.
There’s a video here too.
Wayne Stiles has a helpful look.
Nearly 90 Christian soldiers from all over the country and from all IDF units came together earlier this week in Nazareth Illit for an event organized by the Israeli Christians Recruitment Forum. Although it has only been around for a little over a year, its impact has been astounding. Since its founding, the number of Christians enlisting in the IDF has doubled. According to the forum’s data, 84 Christian soldiers have enlisted since June 2013 alone. In previous years, that would be the amount to draft in an entire year and a half.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed and thanked these outstanding soldiers in a special video message. “The purpose of this forum is clear: to engage Christians who serve in the IDF,” he said. “The importance of your actions goes without saying. I was pleased to hear that over the course of the past year, there has been a significant increase in the number of soldiers. I salute and support all of you.”
“I know that the mission is not always easy,” he added. “But we will be with you along the way. All of Israel is proud and thanks you.”
Father Gabriel Nadaf, a Greek Orthodox priest and president of the Forum, addressed the soldiers as well. “As a Christian spiritual teacher living in the Middle East, I understand that human rights are not something to be taken for granted. For that, I thank the Jewish people and the State of Israel,” he said. “I believe in cooperation between Jews and Christians and our shared fate in a Jewish country. I believe that we can contribute to Israel and I call on all Christians to join the army and help us to protect this country.”
The founder of the forum, Major Ihab Shelian, who serves in the Israel Navy, was overwhelmed to see so many soldiers of the faith gathered together in one place for the first time, a crowd which included high-ranking officers as well. Certificates of appreciation were presented to all the soldiers.
A great post over at Gatestone Institute:
There is no individual or group that is empowered to act as “the voice of Palestinian Christians.” It is not “the Palestinian Christians” but just one or two individuals who pen those public statements, even if these appear under a title that can vary from the respectable (“Heads of Churches”) to the preposterous (“Kairos Palestine”). The only worthwhile question is whether the message is composed in a truly Christian spirit or is merely political agitation clothed in theological verbiage.
Something was written by somebody and sent to various people, then put out in the name of “the churches in Jerusalem,” whether or not the people contacted had even reacted to it.
Christmas 2013 has been marred, once again, by petty Jew-haters in churches who pose as champions of the Palestinians. The details have been faithfully collected here. Often they claim to be acting on behalf of “the Palestinian Christians.” But the Palestinian Christians whom they evoke as witnesses may be merely some clique that has no authority to speak in the name of “Palestinian Christianity,” such as the handful of has-beens and wannabes who authored the so-called Kairos Palestine Document. Arguably, the “Heads of Churches in Jerusalem” is the only body that expresses the authentic opinion of Palestinian Christians. But even that assumption lacks a foundation, as we shall see.
The 2013 Christmas message of the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem is, for sure, an admirable and exemplary statement of Christian theology that could guide all people of good will. It consoles the Christian victims of the contemporary Middle East without picking out anyone for blame or descending into partisan politics. Only fanatics, of whatever persuasion, could disagree with such expressions as: “Violence is seen as the only way to impose order and achieve security by some or as the only way to resist oppression and injustice by others. We firmly believe that violence is not the way and that the Jesus as the Prince of Peace came to show us not only how to be reconciled to God, but how to be reconciled to one another. Peace has to begin in the human heart as we recognize the common humanity which we share with every single person who has been created in God’s image.”
Who is the message talking about? As much about Syrians and Egyptians as about Israelis and Palestinians, as other parts of the message make clear, though without naming and shaming anyone. Just a few years ago, however, there was a marked bias toward the Palestinians in repeated messages issued in the name of the Heads of Churches, whether the regular messages every Christmas and Easter or ones responding to particular events. Sometimes the messages were stuffed with political demands upon Israeli governments and the various Palestinian factions…
Read on here.
There is plenty more, and it is spot on. Well done!!!
HT goes to Virtue Online.
One can but hope so…
Writing at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, retired Israeli Brigadier General Shimon Shapira wonders if the ongoing debate inside Iran on the expenditure on behalf of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad is a portent of an upcoming Iranian disengagement from civil war-torn Syria in the form of pulling out Iran’s client terror organization, Hezbollah:
Although Hezbollah’s leaders claim it is fighting in Syria in order to protect Lebanon, Lebanese Shiites are not convinced and Hezbollah’s supporters are dubious. Hezbollah has now lost almost 350 men in Syria, not all of whom have been brought back to Lebanon for burial, while the number of wounded has passed a thousand. This puts into question Hezbollah’s ability to keep sacrificing its fighters in Syria when its target of jihad is Israel.
Another magnificent archaeological discovery uncovered in the Holy Land:
Archaeologists in Israel have uncovered intricate mosaics on the floor of a 1,500-year-old Byzantine church, including one that bears a Christogram surrounded by birds.
The ruins were discovered during a salvage excavation ahead of a construction project in Aluma, a village about 30 miles (50 kilometers) south of Tel Aviv, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced Wednesday (Jan. 22). Excavator Davida Eisenberg Degen said the team used an industrial digger to probe a mound at the site, and through a 10-foot (3 meters) hole, they could see the white tiles of an ancient mosaic.
Much of the church was revealed during excavations over the past month. The basilica was part of a local Byzantine settlement, but the archaeologists suspect it also served as a center of Christian worship for neighboring communities because it was next to the main road running between the ancient seaport city of Ashkelon in the west and Beit Guvrin and Jerusalem in the east. [See Images of a Byzantine Mosaic Discovered in Israel]
“Usually a Byzantine village had a church, but the size of this church and its placement on the road makes it more important,” Degen told LiveScience.
The excavators plan to keep working on the site for another week, but one of the most remarkable finds so far was a mosaic containing a Christogram, or a “type of monogram of the name of Jesus,” Degen said.
At the time, Byzantine Christians wouldn’t have put crosses on their mosaic floors so as to not step on the symbol of Christ, Degen explained. The Christogram in the mosaic may look like a cross, but it’s actually more like a “chi rho” symbol, which puts together the first two captial letters in the Greek word for Christ, and often looks like an X superimposed on a P. There is an alpha and omega (the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet) on either side of the chi rho, which is another Christian symbol, as Christ was often described as the “”the beginning and the end.” Four birds also decorate the mosaic, and two of them are holding up a wreath to the top of the chi rho.
Inside the 72-by-39-foot (22-by-12-meter) basilica, archaeologists also found marble pillars and an open courtyard paved with a white mosaic floor, said Daniel Varga, director of the IAA’s excavations.
Just off the courtyard, in the church’s narthex, or lobby area, there is “a fine mosaic floor decorated with colored geometric designs” as well as a “twelve-row dedicatory inscription in Greek containing the names ‘Mary’ and ‘Jesus’, and the name of the person who funded the mosaic’s construction,” Varga said in a statement.
The mosaics in the main hall, or nave, meanwhile, are decorated with vine tendrils in the shape of 40 medallions, one of which contains the Christogram. Many of the other medallions contain botanical designs and animals such as a zebras, peacocks, leopards and wild boars, the excavators said. Three contain inscriptions commemorating two heads of the local regional church named Demetrios and Herakles.
The archaeologists found traces of later occupation on top of the church, including early Islamic walls and Ottoman garbage pits. (Aluma is located near the Ottoman and later Palestinian village of Hatta.) The excavations also revealed Byzantine glass vessels and a pottery workshop for making amphoras, cooking pots, kraters, bowls and oil lamps, IAA officials said.
To avoid building over ancient sites, archaeologists are often brought in for salvage digs ahead of construction projects like this one, sometimes yielding stunning discoveries; for instance, a “cultic” temple and traces of a 10,000-year-old house were discovered at Eshtaol west of Jerusalem in preparation for the widening of a road. And during recent expansions of the main road connecting Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, called Highway 1, excavators found a carving of a phallus from the Stone Age, a ritual building from the First Temple era and animal figurines dating back 9,500 years.
Regarding the new discoveries, the IAA plans to remove the mosaic for display at a regional museum or visitors’ center, and the rest of the site will be covered back up.
Haaretz also has the news with more pics:
The IAA press release on the find is here.
Israel has foiled an Al Qaeda plan to attack the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, Fox News confirmed.
According to a senior U.S. official who has been briefed on the intelligence shared by Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, about the plot, “we have no reason to question the Israeli intelligence.”
“Details are still emerging,” he said.
The official described the plot as “audacious” and involving a “small cell.”
Shin Bet said Wednesday it arrested three Palestinians it accuses of plotting to carry out bombings, shootings, kidnappings and other attacks.
It said the men, two from Jerusalem and one from the West Bank, were recruited by an operative based in the Gaza Strip who worked for Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Shin Bet alleges the Palestinians planned on attacking a Jerusalem conference center with firearms and then killing rescue workers with a truck bomb.
It said Al Qaeda also planned to send foreign militants to attack the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv on the same day using explosives supplied by the Palestinians.