Hamas leader vows to ‘breach the borders and pray at Al-Aqsa’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Gaza Hamas leader vows to ‘breach the borders and pray at Al-Aqsa’

As 4 Gazans killed in violence at fence, Yahya Sinwar tells protesters Strip is ready to explode in Israel’s face, claims the ‘conspiracy of besieging Gaza has failed’

Yahya Sinwar, leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, speaks during a protest east of Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip on April 6, 2018. (AFP/Said Khatib)

Yahya Sinwar, leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, speaks during a protest east of Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip on April 6, 2018. (AFP/Said Khatib)

As thousands of Palestinians demonstrated along the Gaza border on Friday, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, speaking before protesters, warned that the Strip was ready to “explode in the face of the occupation.”

He said the world should “wait for our great move, when we breach the borders and pray at Al-Aqsa,” referring to the major Muslim shrine in Jerusalem.

Arriving at one of the demonstration sites, Sinwar received a hero’s welcome. He was surrounded by hundreds of supporters who chanted, “We are going to Jerusalem, millions of martyrs.”

Friday’s violent demonstration was the second of what Gaza’s ruling Hamas terror group said would be several weeks of “March of Return” protests which Hamas leaders say ultimately aim to see the removal of the border and the liberation of Palestine.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians gathered along the Gaza border, burning tires and throwing firebombs and rocks at Israeli soldiers, who responded with tear gas and live fire, the army and witnesses said.

Hamas said four Gazans were killed by Israeli fire as of 7 p.m. The IDF said it thwarted multiple efforts to breach the border fence — and that it used live fire to do so in some instances — as well as attempts to activate bombs against the troops under the cover of smoke.

“Rioters have attempted to damage and cross the security fence under the cover of smoke from their burning tires. They also attempted to carry out terror attacks and hurl explosive devices and firebombs,” the IDF said on Friday evening. “Our forces prevented breaches” of the fence.

Sinwar said his terror group was “following in the path of martyr Yasser Arafat in resisting the enemy” and that the “conspiracy of besieging the Gaza Strip, with the hope that its residents would revolt against Hamas, has failed.

Palestinian protestors burn tires during clashes with Israeli security forces during clashes on the Gaza-Israel border in the southern Gaza Strip on April 6, 2018. (AFP/Said Khatib)

“They thought that by putting pressure on the Gaza Strip, the masses would revolt against the Palestinian resistance,” he said.

“They thought the people would launch an uprising against the tunnels and the rockets and the commandos [belonging to Hamas’s military wing]. They thought that if the Gaza Strip is starved, it would give up its principles and would abandon the project of liberation and return.”

Sinwar said that Friday’s demonstrators along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, the second of their kind in the past week, “have come out to say that this is the enemy that is besieging us, and that if we explode we will explode in its face.”

The Gaza Strip, he continued, will not starve and will not give up its principles. “If Gaza explodes, it will explode in the face of the occupation,” he added, referring to Israel.

Another senior Hamas leader, Mahmoud Zahar, said during a similar visit to the protest sites that the demonstrations would continue until the Palestinians return to “all of Palestine.”

“We will not make any concessions even if the whole world conspires against us,” Zahar said.

Gaza leaders have planned a series of marches culminating in a planned million-strong march in mid-May, to coincide with Israel’s 70th Independence Day, the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem and Nakba Day — when the Palestinians mark what they call the “catastrophe” that befell them with Israel’s creation.

Israel has accused Hamas of trying to carry out border attacks under the cover of large protests and said it will prevent a breach of the fence at all costs.

On Friday around 20,000 people took part in the demonstrations. Palestinians were burning tires, sending thick plumes of black smoke into the air, and others threw Molotov cocktails and stones at Israeli soldiers over the border fence, who responded with tear gas and live fire, witnesses said.

Israeli security forces are deployed near Kibbutz Kerem Shalom on the Israeli border with the southern Gaza Strip as smoke billows from tires burnt by Palestinians on April 6, 2018. (AFP/Menahem Kahana)

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said on Friday afternoon that three men were killed and 200 people were injured, five of them in serious condition. The figures could not be independently confirmed.

“Our forces are using riot disposal means and live fire in accordance with the rules of engagement,” the army said.

Israel and Hamas had geared up for another showdown on the border with the IDF deploying snipers and tanks ahead of the expected mass protest, and Palestinians stockpiling thousands of tires which they burned in late morning and through the afternoon. The IDF was using smoke dispersal measures, Army Radio said.

Last Friday, over 30,000 Gaza residents participated in mass demonstrations, many gathering in five tent encampments that had been set up from north to south along the narrow coastal strip’s border with Israel, each at a distance of about several hundred meters from the fence. Smaller groups, mostly young men, rushed forward, throwing stones, hurling firebombs or burning tires and drawing Israeli fire. Two were killed after opening fire on Israeli troops, Israel said, while others tried to breach or bomb the border fence.

In all, 23 Palestinians were killed in Gaza over the past week, most of them last Friday, according to Gaza health officials. This includes a 30-year-old and an 18-year-old who died on Friday of injuries sustained last week, the officials said. Israel has no official death toll figures.

Palestinian men collect tires and burn them at the Israel-Gaza border during a protest east of Gaza City, on April 6, 2018. (AFP/Mahmud Hams)

IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis said that all those killed last Friday were engaged in violence. He said the army had faced “a violent, terrorist demonstration at six points” along the fence, and that Israeli soldiers had used “pinpoint fire” wherever there were attempts to breach or damage the security fence.

The IDF named and detailed 10 of the dead as members of terror groups including Hamas. (Hamas had earlier acknowledged five of them were its members.) Islamic Jihad later claimed an 11th.

Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem said on Thursday that the Palestinians will continue their “struggle until they achieve their freedom and restore all their lands.” He said that the Palestinians’ “right to all of the soil of Palestine was absolute and clear.”

An Islamist terror group, Hamas violently took control of Gaza from Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah in 2007, two years after Israel withdrew its military and civilian presence from the Strip. Israel and Egypt maintain a security blockade of Gaza. Israel says this is vital to prevent Hamas — which has fought three rounds of conflict against Israel since seizing Gaza, firing thousands of rockets into Israel and digging dozens of attack tunnels under the border — from importing weaponry.

AP contributed to this report.

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Seal of Prophet Isaiah said found in Jerusalem

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

‘A UNIQUE AND FANTASTIC DISCOVERY’

In find of biblical proportions, seal of Prophet Isaiah said found in Jerusalem

Chanced upon near a seal identified with King Hezekiah, a tiny clay piece may be the first-ever proof of the prophet, though a missing letter leaves room for doubt

  • Isaiah bulla, a 2,700-year-old clay seal impression which may have belonged to the biblical prophet Isaiah. (Ouria Tadmor/© Eilat Mazar)
    Isaiah bulla, a 2,700-year-old clay seal impression which may have belonged to the biblical prophet Isaiah. (Ouria Tadmor/© Eilat Mazar)
  • Standing in front of the Ophel excavation are (from left) Suzanne Singer, the former BAR Managing Editor; Israeli archaeologist Dr. Gabriel Barkay; Hershel Shanks, BAR Editor Emeritus who recently retired as Editor; and Israeli archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar. (Eilat Mazar)
    Standing in front of the Ophel excavation are (from left) Suzanne Singer, the former BAR Managing Editor; Israeli archaeologist Dr. Gabriel Barkay; Hershel Shanks, BAR Editor Emeritus who recently retired as Editor; and Israeli archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar. (Eilat Mazar)
  • Drawing by Reut Livyatan Ben-Arie of the Isaiah Bulla, a 2,700-year-old clay seal impression which potentially belonged to the biblical prophet Isaiah. (Illustration: Reut Livyatan Ben-Arie/© Eilat Mazar; Photo by Ouria Tadmor/© Eilat Mazar)
    Drawing by Reut Livyatan Ben-Arie of the Isaiah Bulla, a 2,700-year-old clay seal impression which potentially belonged to the biblical prophet Isaiah. (Illustration: Reut Livyatan Ben-Arie/© Eilat Mazar; Photo by Ouria Tadmor/© Eilat Mazar)
  • The Ophel excavations at the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (courtesy of Andrew Shiva)
    The Ophel excavations at the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (courtesy of Andrew Shiva)

The hand of the Prophet Isaiah himself may have created an 8th century BCE seal impression discovered in First Temple remains near Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, according to Hebrew University archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar.

“We appear to have discovered a seal impression, which may have belonged to the prophet Isaiah, in a scientific, archaeological excavation,” said Mazar this week in a press release announcing the breathtaking discovery.

Mazar’s team uncovered the minuscule bulla, or seal impression, during renewed excavations at the Ophel, located at the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The discovery was published on Wednesday in an article, “Is This the Prophet Isaiah’s Signature?” as part of a massive March-June issue of the Biblical Archaeology Review dedicated to its recently retired founding editor, Hershel Shanks.

The clay impression is inscribed with letters and what appears to be a grazing doe, “a motif of blessing and protection found in Judah, particularly in Jerusalem,” according to the BAR article.

Isaiah Bulla, a 2,700-year-old clay seal impression which potentially belonged to the biblical prophet Isaiah. (Ouria Tadmor/© Eilat Mazar)

The oval-shaped bulla, however, is not intact. On its legible portion, there is an inscription with First Temple Hebrew letters that seem to spell out the name l’Yesha’yah[u] (Belonging to Isaiah). On a line below, there is the partial word nvy, which presumably spells out “prophet.”

“Because the bulla has been slightly damaged at the end of the word nvy, it is not known if it originally ended with the Hebrew letter aleph, which would have resulted in the Hebrew word for ‘prophet’ and would have definitively identified the seal as the signature of the prophet Isaiah,” Mazar said.

Archaeologist Eilat Mazar in the 2018 winter Ophel Excavations in Jerusalem. (YouTube screenshot)

In the BAR article, Mazar leaves room for the possibility that the inscription on the Isaiah bulla does not refer to the biblical prophet. “Without an aleph at the end, the word nvy is most likely just a personal name. Although it does not appear in the Bible, it does appear on seals and a seal impression on a jar handle, all from unprovenanced, private collections.”

“The name of Isaiah, however, is clear,” she said.

Millennia-old connections between a prophet and his king

The most well-known of the biblical prophets, Isaiah is thought by scholars to have been active circa in the late 8th century and early 7th century BCE.

The Isaiah bulla was discovered in wet-sifted material that was taken from an Iron Age layer close to bedrock that was near a foundation trench cut for a wall of a Herodian vault. The material was found close to a structure that was first discovered in 1986-87 and is today thought to have been a “royal bakery.”

The Ophel excavations at the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (courtesy of Andrew Shiva)

It was found only 10 feet away from where in 2015 Mazar’s team discovered an important, intact bulla with the inscription “of King Hezekiah of Judah.” The 12th king of the Kingdom of Judah, King Hezekiah ruled from circa 727 BCE-698 BCE, during the period in which the northern Kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians in 721 BCE. Some 20 years later, Hezekiah successfully fought off the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem, in part due to fortifications and a water channel which can still be seen today.

A seal impression of King Hezekiah unearthed in the Ophel excavations at the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount, conducted by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute of Archaeology (ourtesy of Eilat Mazar; photo by Ouria Tadmor)

Upon the discovery of the Hezekiah bulla in 2015, Mazar called the artifact “the closest as ever that we can get to something that was most likely held by King Hezekiah himself.”

This week Mazar said in a press release released by BAR that it is logical that the Isaiah and Hezekiah bullae would be discovered in such close proximity.

“If it is the case that this bulla is indeed that of the prophet Isaiah, then it should not come as a surprise to discover this bulla next to one bearing King Hezekiah’s name given the symbiotic relationship of the prophet Isaiah and King Hezekiah described in the Bible,” said Mazar.

There are several biblical instances of interactions between Isaiah and Hezekiah which indicate the prophet was a spiritual advisor to the king. He consoled the ruler that the Israelites would survive the siege. In the BAR article, Mazar writes, “The names of King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah are mentioned in one breath 14 of the 29 times the name of Isaiah is recalled (2 Kings 19–20Isaiah 37–39). No other figure was closer to King Hezekiah than the prophet Isaiah.”

Dara Horn walking through Hezekiah’s Tunnel in Jerusalem, August 2017. (Brendan Schulman)

The Hezekiah and Isaiah bullae join other similar finds from previous excavations. Digging in 2005-2008 at the summit of the City of David in a large structure which may have been the palace of biblical King David, she discovered a clay impression with a First Temple Hebrew inscription bearing the name of a high-ranking Israelite official who is recorded by the biblical Jeremiah, “Jehucal, son of Shelemiah, son of Shovi.” Years later, a few meters from the Jehucal bulla, she found a seal impression belonging to a second high-ranking official, “Gedaliah, son of Pashur,” who is also found in Jeremiah. Dozens more bullae have been discovered.

Mazar recently reopened the Ophel excavation and is currently digging in the House of the Medallion, which she excavated in 2013, and a rare untouched Second Temple-period cave.

The find has not been peer reviewed and some have already begun to push back against Mazar’s hypothesis, noting that the lack of an aleph after the nvy leaves room for doubt.

“The critically important letter that would be needed to confirm that the second word is the title ‘prophet’ is an aleph. But no aleph is legible on this bulla, and so that reading cannot be confirmed at all,” Semitic languages professor Christopher Rollston told National Geographic.

Isaiah, in an illustration from the Providence Lithograph Company (Wikipedia)

“The assumption that this is a [seal] of Isaiah the prophet is scintillating, but it is certainly not something that we should assume is at all certain,” he added. “It’s not.”

Israeli epigrapher Dr. Haggai Misgav took to Facebook to express his skepticism over the possibility of this bulla having belonged to the Prophet Isaiah. Echoing Rollston’s concerns over the missing “aleph,” the Hebrew University lecturer wrote that since the impression would have been tied to a sack of goods, it is highly unlikely the title “prophet” would have been used at all.

“But as always there is no shortage of those who jump on the finds with cries of, ‘Hurray, we have proven the Bible,’” writes Misgav.

While Mazar herself admits that the missing aleph can be problematic, she says the discovery is important nonetheless.

“Whether or not the bulla we found in the Ophel excavations is the bulla of the prophet Isaiah, it remains, nevertheless, a unique and fantastic discovery,” writes Mazar in the BAR article.

“Finding this bulla leads us to consider the personality and the proximity of the prophet Isaiah as one of the closest advisers to King Hezekiah — not only with regard to the events of his time, but also in assessing them from an informed perspective and foreseeing their influence over future events,” she writes.

A gift fit for a true friend to archaeologists

On his way to catch a plane, the new editor of the Biblical Archaeology Review, Dr. Robert Cargill, told The Times of Israel that the publication of the exciting new find in his magazine “came about by very fortunate timing.”

Dr. Robert Cargill, editor of the Biblical Archaeology Review. (courtesy)

As Cargill was preparing the double issue of BAR in honor of founding editor Shanks, he approached Mazar to ask her for a contribution.

“She said, ‘Your timing couldn’t be better,’” related Cargill. Mazar was getting ready to publish this new discovery. “She allowed us to publish it as a gift to Hershel [Shanks] to say thank you for his support of archaeology and Israel,” said Cargill.

The magazine was first published in 1975 and has focused, sometimes controversially, on finds that claim to offer insights into the ancient workings of the Holy Land — often in approachable articles written by top scholars.

Shanks, not an archaeologist himself, is a lawyer by training. But in the past four decades, he has written innumerable articles and several books about ancient Israel and biblical archaeology.

Standing in front of the Ophel excavation are (from left) Suzanne Singer, the former BAR Managing Editor; Israeli archaeologist Dr. Gabriel Barkay; Hershel Shanks, BAR Editor Emeritus who recently retired as Editor; and Israeli archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar. (Eilat Mazar)

In part of her “gift” to Shanks, Mazar wrote: “Like the prophet Isaiah, Hershel is very caring and enthusiastic about current events pertaining to Israel and the greater Near East, in this case those relating to excavations, discoveries, and studies of Biblical archaeology… Creating this valuable link between scholars and the public in the sphere of Biblical archaeology was his ‘prophetic’ vision.”

Cargill, a religious studies assistant professor at University of Iowa, said he respected Mazar’s “careful, responsible treatment” of the bulla in the BAR article.

“She didn’t rush to conclusively say she had found the seal of Isaiah… In our article she gives the possible alternatives,” said Cargill, who called himself “a natural skeptic.”

Drawing by Reut Livyatan Ben-Arie of the Isaiah Bulla, a 2,700-year-old clay seal impression which potentially belonged to the biblical prophet Isaiah. (Illustration: Reut Livyatan Ben-Arie/© Eilat Mazar; Photo by Ouria Tadmor/© Eilat Mazar)

“But if you’re asking me, I think she’s got it. You’re looking at the first archaeological reference of the prophet Isaiah outside of the Bible,” said Cargill. “It’s amazing.”

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(Religious Poem) Our Comfort Is Through God’s Servant

OUR COMFORT IS THROUGH GOD’S SERVANT

 

The Lord has held His peace and stayed His hand

Yet the time comes when He will blow upon the flames

The Lord’s prophets speak before the events do happen

The Lord God created us yet many choose to bow to idols

Our Creator has given us a Covenant of Light many do shun

 

God will hold the hand of all of those who choose to love Him

Jew of Gentile the Holy One of Israel spilled His blood to save us

Do not fear those that loathe you and that try to bring you shame

They in their own wisdom are confounded and know not God’s light

By the power of the Lord’s right hand they shall all soon pass away

 

The human cannot begin to search the understanding of the Creator

Those that hope and wait on the Lord shall be blessed with His glory

The Paintbrush of the Lord is truly beautiful if we open our eyes to it

The Lord watches over the circle of the Earth and all of His creations

Be of good cheer the Temple Mount is His Throne the Earth His footstool

 

 

(Religious Poem) The Blink Of An Eye: Or Forever

IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE: OR FOREVER

 

I know that my flesh and my heart shall return to the dust

Yet the Lord is the strength of my heart and love of my Soul

All of my life I follow Thy Holy Council to receive Your reward

I walk continually with You Lord as you are holding my hand

Before I knew You Father I was only a beast in the darkness

 

When I learned of You Lord I was pricked in my very heart

I have seen You in my dreams and You awakened my Soul

The blind are clueless and consumed in their daily terrors

When our courts say teach not your children I cannot obey

Our Leaders say speak not of You, but then our Nation dies

 

There is no Caste in death yet the bands of death are firm

It is foolish to cherish wealth of the wicked in this short life

For me, now my steps are but a few, I can see Your Light Lord

My children will worship You as You sit upon the Temple Mount

Our life is but a blink Lord, eternity with You Lord is love unending

2,700-year-old seal impression cements existence of biblical Jerusalem governor

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

THE BIBLE MENTIONS TWO GOVERNORS OF JERUSALEM BY NAME

2,700-year-old seal impression cements existence of biblical Jerusalem governor

Found in ongoing Western Wall plaza excavations, the minuscule clay piece is inscribed in ancient Hebrew script, ‘Belonging to the governor of the city’

  • Found 100 meters from Jerusalem's Western Wall, the First Temple period sealing published in December 2017 bears an inscription stating, 'Belonging to the Governor of the City.' (Clara Amit, Israel Antiquities Authority)
    Found 100 meters from Jerusalem’s Western Wall, the First Temple period sealing published in December 2017 bears an inscription stating, ‘Belonging to the Governor of the City.’ (Clara Amit, Israel Antiquities Authority)
  • The presentation of the seal impression bearing the inscription 'Belonging to the governor of the city' to Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat in December 2017. (Yoli Schwartz, Israel Antiquities Authority)
    The presentation of the seal impression bearing the inscription ‘Belonging to the governor of the city’ to Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat in December 2017. (Yoli Schwartz, Israel Antiquities Authority)
  • The IAA excavations in Jerusalem's Western Wall plaza, where the First Temple period sealing, bearing the inscription 'Belonging to the Governor of the City' was uncovered, and published in December 2017. (Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah)
    The IAA excavations in Jerusalem’s Western Wall plaza, where the First Temple period sealing, bearing the inscription ‘Belonging to the Governor of the City’ was uncovered, and published in December 2017. (Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah)
  • Dr. Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah, director of the excavations at the Western Wall plaza on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, holds the rare First Temple sealing her team published in December 2017. (Yoli Shwartz, Israel Antiquities Authority)
    Dr. Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah, director of the excavations at the Western Wall plaza on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, holds the rare First Temple sealing her team published in December 2017. (Yoli Shwartz, Israel Antiquities Authority)

Past and present collided last week when an extremely rare seal impression discovered in Jerusalem’s Western Wall plaza and bearing the inscription “Belonging to the governor of the city” was presented to Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.

According to site excavator Dr. Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah, “This is the first time that such an impression was found in an authorized excavation. It supports the biblical rendering of the existence of a governor of the city in Jerusalem 2,700 years ago.”

At the presentation, Barkat said, “It is very overwhelming to receive greetings from First Temple-period Jerusalem. This shows that already 2,700 years ago, Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, was a strong and central city.”

The presentation of the sealing bearing the inscription ‘Belonging to the governor of the city’ to Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat in December 2017. From right to left: Dr. Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah, excavator on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority; Nir Barkat, mayor of Jerusalem; Dr. Yuval Baruch, head of the Jerusalem Region at the Israel Antiquities Authority; and Herzl Ben Ari, general manager of the Jewish Quarter Development Company. (Yoli Schwartz, Israel Antiquities Authority)

The minuscule clay seal impression, or docket, was found while researchers were examining the dust from a First Temple structure 100 meters northwest of the Western Wall at a site the Israel Antiquity Authorities has been excavating since 2005. The excavations have offered up insights into Jerusalem’s Second Temple and Roman periods, as well as a massive Iron Age four-room building where an eclectic collection of six other seals were uncovered, whose origins point to a thriving cosmopolitan Iron Age center or settlement.

“The seal impression had been attached to an important transport and served as some sort of logo, or as a tiny souvenir, which was sent on behalf of the governor of the city,” said Weksler-Bdolah in an IAA release.

The IAA excavations in Jerusalem’s Western Wall plaza, where the First Temple period sealing, bearing the inscription ‘Belonging to the governor of the city’ was discovered and published in December 2017. (Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah)

The site, which faces the Western Wall plaza, was once earmarked as the future home of a Western Wall Heritage Foundation’s Beit HaLiba until Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suspended the controversial museum “over security concerns” in 2015. However, in light of the “outstanding significance” of the finds at the excavation site, according to Dr. Yuval Baruch, archaeologist of the Jerusalem District in the IAA, a decision was made”to conserve the First Temple-period building exposed in the Western Wall plaza excavations and open it to visitors.”

The clay impression was discovered in dust after Israel Antiquity Authority conservationists scratched at the surface of the First Temple period building’s walls to inject preservation materials. The dust that fell from between the ancient stones was taken to the IAA labs for wet sifting.

At the IAA labs in Jerusalem’s Har Hotzvim technology park, Shimon Cohen spotted the seal impression about a year ago. The small (13 x 15 mm and 2–3 mm thick) fired lump of clay bears an image and inscription. On the upper portion of the impression, two figures wearing striped garments face each other. Between them is what could be a moon, according to excavation head Weksler-Bdolah.

Over the past year, the impression was studied by Hebrew University Prof. Tallay Ornan and Tel Aviv University Prof. Benjamin Sass. According to their analysis, “above a double line are two standing men, facing each other in a mirror-like manner. Their heads are depicted as large dots, lacking any details. The hands facing outward are dropped down, and the hands facing inward are raised. Each of the figures is wearing a striped, knee-length garment.”

Found 100 meters from Jerusalem’s Western Wall, the First Temple period sealing published in December 2017 bears an inscription stating, ‘Belonging to the governor of the city.’ (Clara Amit, Israel Antiquities Authority)

The bottom section reads, in early Hebrew script: “Belonging to the governor [sar] of the city.” Weksler-Bdolah explains that the governor most likely functioned much like today’s mayor. The role is referenced in the Hebrew Bible: in 2 Kings, Joshua is listed as the governor of the city in the days of Hezekiah, and in 2 Chronicles, Maaseiah is noted as governor of the city in the days of Josiah.

“The Bible mentions two governors of Jerusalem, and this finding thus reveals that such a position was actually held by someone in the city some 2700 years ago, said Weksler-Bdolah.

The initial discovery of the First Temple structure came as a surprise to Weksler-Bdolah, who until then had been digging up Second Temple and Roman-era finds. However, as the team excavated more north, after a longstanding police building was removed, “All of a sudden we saw that there was no more bedrock. It disappeared.” In a 2010 interview, she described continuing the excavation and discovering that “the minute we took away the Early Islamic eighth-century plaster installations [from under the police building]… immediately, in 20 centimeters — ‘one basket of dirt’ archaeologically speaking — we went from the eighth-century A.D. to the eighth century B.C.”

Her team discovered a four-room structure facing the Temple Mount, constructed on the slopes of the upper hill, which according to the remains of the building and its floors, was dated to the seventh century BCE.

The IAA excavations in Jerusalem’s Western Wall plaza, where the First Temple period sealing, bearing the inscription ‘Belonging to the governor of the city’ was uncovered, and published in December 2017. (Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah)

According to the 2010 article, the structure, which was ruined in a collapse, is “typical of the buildings of the Israelites and also in Judea. There was one broad room and three elongated rooms perpendicular to it. The one broad room is divided with walls into three sections, three smaller room.”

Weksler-Bdolah believes that due to its location and the eclectic group of artifacts found there — from Egypt and Assyria — the building “probably served as an administration center. The people who gave orders may have had to sign documents here. It may also have been a place for the rich, the more important people, because the location is really important.”

The recent additional find is more evidence for this hypothesis. “The finding of the impression with this high-rank title, in addition to the large assemblage of actual seals found in the building in the past, supports the assumption that this area, located on the western slopes of the western hill of ancient Jerusalem, some 100 meters west of the Temple Mount, was inhabited by highly ranked officials during the First Temple period,” said Weksler-Bdolah this week.

Dr. Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah, director of the excavations at the Western Wall plaza on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, with the rare First Temple seal impression her team published in December 2017. (Yoli Shwartz, Israel Antiquities Authority)

The seal impression was presented to Mayor Barkat during a visit to Davidson’s Center, near the Western Wall, last week. After the completion of the scientific research, the impression will be on temporary exhibit in the mayor’s office.

“Jerusalem is one of the most ancient capitals of the world, continually populated by the Jewish people for more than 3,000 years. Today we have the privilege to encounter another one of the long chain of persons and leaders that built and developed the city. We are grateful to be living in a city with such a magnificent past, and are obligated to ensure its strength for generations to come, as we daily do,” said Barkat.

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History Of Jewish Temples On The Temple Mount: Beginning In 957 B.C.

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF WIKIPEDIA)

 

The Hebrew name given in the Hebrew Bible for the building complex is either Beit YHWH (House of Yahweh, or Jehovah), Beit HaElohim “House of God”, or simply Beiti “my house”, Beitekhah “your house” etc. The term hekhal “hall” or main building is often translated “temple” in older English Bibles. In rabbinical literature the temple is Beit HaMikdash, “The Sanctified House”, and only the Temple in Jerusalem is referred to by this name.

First Temple[edit]

The Hebrew Bible says that the First Temple was built in 957 BCE[1] by King Solomon.[2] According to the Book of Deuteronomy, as the sole place of Israelite sacrifice (Deuteronomy 12:2-27), the Temple replaced the Tabernacle constructed in the Sinai Desert under the auspices of Moses, as well as local sanctuaries, and altars in the hills.[3] This temple was sacked a few decades later by Shoshenq IPharaoh of Egypt.[4]

Although efforts were made at partial reconstruction, it was only in 835 BCE when Jehoash, King of Judah in the second year of his reign invested considerable sums in reconstruction, only to have it stripped again for Sennacherib, King of Assyria c. 700 BCE. The First Temple was totally destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE (425 BCE according to historical Jewish sources) when they sacked the city.[5]

Second Temple[edit]

According to the Book of Ezra, construction of the Second Temple was authorized by Cyrus the Great and began in 538 BCE, after the fall of the Babylonian Empire the year before. It was completed 23 years later, on the third day of Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the Great (12 March 515 BCE),[6] dedicated by the Jewish governor Zerubbabel. However, with a full reading of the Book of Ezra and the Book of Nehemiah, there were four edicts to build the Second Temple, which were issued by three kings. Cyrus in 536 BCE, which is recorded in the first chapter of Ezra. Next, Darius I of Persia in 519 BCE, which is recorded in the sixth chapter of Ezra. Third, Artaxerxes I of Persia in 457 BCE, which was the seventh year of his reign, and is recorded in the seventh chapter of Ezra. Finally, by Artaxerxes again in 444 BCE in the second chapter of Nehemiah.[7] Also, despite the fact that the new temple was not as extravagant or imposing as its predecessor, it still dominated the Jerusalem skyline and remained an important structure throughout the time of Persian suzerainty. Moreover, the temple narrowly avoided being destroyed again in 332 BCE when the Jews refused to acknowledge the deification of Alexander the Great of Macedonia. Alexander was allegedly “turned from his anger” at the last minute by astute diplomacy and flattery. Further, after the death of Alexander on 13 June 323 BCE, and the dismembering of his empire, the Ptolemies came to rule over Judea and the Temple. Under the Ptolemies, the Jews were given many civil liberties and lived content under their rule. However, when the Ptolemaic army was defeated at Panium by Antiochus III of the Seleucids in 198 BCE, this policy changed. Antiochus wanted to Hellenize the Jews, attempting to introduce the Greek pantheon into the temple. Moreover, a rebellion ensued and was brutally crushed, but no further action by Antiochus was taken, and when Antiochus died in 187 BCE at Luristan, his son Seleucus IV Philopator succeeded him. However, his policies never took effect in Judea, since he was assassinated the year after his ascension.

Antiochus IV Epiphanes succeeded his older brother to the Seleucid throne and immediately adopted his father’s previous policy of universal Hellenisation. The Jews rebelled again and Antiochus, in a rage, retaliated in force. Considering the previous episodes of discontent, the Jews became incensed when the religious observances of Sabbath and circumcision were officially outlawed. When Antiochus erected a statue of Zeus in their temple and Hellenic priests began sacrificing pigs (the usual sacrifice offered to the Greek gods in the Hellenic religion), their anger began to spiral. When a Greek official ordered a Jewish priest to perform a Hellenic sacrifice, the priest (Mattathias) killed him. In 167 BCE, the Jews rose up en masse behind Mattathias and his five sons to fight and win their freedom from Seleucid authority. Mattathias’ son Judas Maccabaeus, now called “The Hammer”, re-dedicated the temple in 165 BCE and the Jews celebrate this event to this day as a major part of the festival of Hanukkah.

The temple was rededicated under Judas Maccabaeus in 164 BCE.[2] During the Roman era, Pompey entered (and thereby desecrated) the Holy of Holies in 63 BCE, but left the Temple intact.[8][9][10] In 54 BCE, Crassus looted the Temple treasury,[11][12] only for him to die the year after at the Battle of Carrhae against Parthia. According to folklore, he was executed by having molten gold poured down his throat. When news of this reached the Jews, they revolted again, only to be put down in 43 BCE.

Around 20 BCE, the building was renovated and expanded by Herod the Great and became known as Herod’s Temple. It was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE during the Siege of Jerusalem. During the Bar Kokhba revolt against the Romans in 132–135 CE, Simon bar Kokhba and Rabbi Akiva wanted to rebuild the Temple, but bar Kokhba’s revolt failed and the Jews were banned from Jerusalem (except for Tisha B’Av) by the Roman Empire. Emperor Julian allowed to have the Temple rebuilt but the Galilee earthquake of 363 ended all attempts ever since.

After the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem in the 7th century, Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan ordered the construction of an Islamic shrine, the Dome of the Rock, on the site of the Temple. The shrine has stood on the mount since 691 CE; the al-Aqsa Mosque, from roughly the same period, also stands in the Temple courtyard.

Recent history[edit]

The Temple Mount, along with the entire Old City of Jerusalem, was captured from Jordan by Israel in 1967 during the Six-Day War, allowing Jews once again to pray at the holy site.[13][14][clarification needed]Jordan had occupied East Jerusalem and the Temple Mount immediately following Israel’s declaration of independence on May 14, 1948. Israel officially unified East Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount, with the rest of Jerusalem in 1980 under the Jerusalem Law, though United Nations Security Council Resolution 478 declared the Jerusalem Law to be in violation of international law.[15] The Muslim Waqf, based in Jordan, has administrative control of the Temple Mount.

Location[edit]

There are four theories as to where the Temple stood; where the Dome of the Rock is now located, to the north of the Dome of the Rock (Professor Asher Kaufman), to the east of the Dome of the Rock (Professor Joseph Patrich of the Hebrew University).[16] and to the south of the Temple Mount on Mount Ophel.[17][18][19][20]

Physical layout[edit]

Remnants of the 1st century Stairs of Ascent, discovered by archaeologist Benjamin Mazar, to the entrance of the Temple Courtyard. Pilgrims coming to make sacrifices at the Temple would have entered and exited by this stairway.

The Temple of Solomon or First Temple consisted of three main elements:

and the Temple building itself, with
  • the larger hekhal, or Holy Place, called the “greater house” in 2 Chr. 3:5 and the “temple” in 1 Kings 6:17, and
  • the smaller “inner sanctum”, known as the Holy of Holies or Kodesh HaKodashim.

In the case of the last and most elaborate structure, the Herodian Temple, the structure consisted of the wider Temple precinct, the restricted Temple courts, and the Temple building itself:

  • Temple precinct, located on the extended Temple Mount platform, and including the Court of the Gentiles
  • Court of the Women or Ezrat HaNashim
  • Court of the Israelites, reserved for ritually pure Jewish men
  • Court of the Priests, whose relation to the Temple Court is interpreted in different ways by scholars
  • Temple Court or Azarah, with the Brazen Laver (kiyor), the Altar of Burnt Offerings (mizbe’ah), the Place of Slaughtering, and the Temple building itself
The Temple edifice had three distinct chambers:
  • Temple vestibule or porch (ulam)
  • Temple sanctuary (hekhal or heikal), the main part of the building
  • Holy of Holies (Kodesh HaKodashim or debir), the innermost chamber

According to the Talmud, the Women’s Court was to the east and the main area of the Temple to the west.[21] The main area contained the butchering area for the sacrifices and the Outer Altar on which portions of most offerings were burned. An edifice contained the ulam (antechamber), the hekhal (the “sanctuary”), and the Holy of Holies. The sanctuary and the Holy of Holies were separated by a wall in the First Temple and by two curtains in the Second Temple. The sanctuary contained the seven branched candlestick, the table of showbread and the Incense Altar.

The main courtyard had thirteen gates. On the south side, beginning with the southwest corner, there were four gates:

  • Shaar Ha’Elyon (the Upper Gate)
  • Shaar HaDelek (the Kindling Gate), where wood was brought in
  • Shaar HaBechorot (the Gate of Firstborns), where people with first-born animal offerings entered
  • Shaar HaMayim (the Water Gate), where the Water Libation entered on Sukkot/the Feast of Tabernacles

On the north side, beginning with the northwest corner, there were four gates:

  • Shaar Yechonyah (The Gate of Jeconiah), where kings of the Davidic line enter and Jeconiah left for the last time to captivity after being dethroned by the King of Babylon
  • Shaar HaKorban (The gate of the Offering), where priests entered with kodshei kodashim offerings
  • Shaar HaNashim (The Women’s Gate), where women entered into the Azara or main courtyard to perform offerings[22]
  • Shaar Hashir (The Gate of Song), where the Levites entered with their musical instruments

On the east side was Shaar Nikanor, between the Women’s Courtyard and the main Temple Courtyard, which had two minor doorways, one on its right and one on its left. On the western wall, which was relatively unimportant, there were two gates that did not have any name.

The Mishnah lists concentric circles of holiness surrounding the Temple: Holy of Holies; Sanctuary; Vestibule; Court of the Priests; Court of the Israelites; Court of the Women; Temple Mount; the walled city of Jerusalem; all the walled cities of the Land of Israel; and the borders of the Land of Israel.

Temple services[edit]

Model of Second Temple made by Michael Osnis from Kedumim.

The Temple was the place where offerings described in the course of the Hebrew Bible were carried out, including daily morning and afternoon offerings and special offerings on Sabbath and Jewish holidaysLevites recited Psalms at appropriate moments during the offerings, including the Psalm of the Day, special psalms for the new month, and other occasions, the Hallel during major Jewish holidays, and psalms for special sacrifices such as the “Psalm for the Thanksgiving Offering” (Psalm 100).

As part of the daily offering, a prayer service was performed in the Temple which was used as the basis of the traditional Jewish (morning) service recited to this day, including well-known prayers such as the Shema, and the Priestly Blessing. The Mishna describes it as follows:

The superintendent said to them, bless one benediction! and they blessed, and read the Ten Commandments, and the Shema, “And it shall come to pass if you will hearken”, and “And [God] spoke…”. They pronounced three benedictions with the people present: “True and firm”, and the “Avodah” “Accept, Lord our God, the service of your people Israel, and the fire-offerings of Israel and their prayer receive with favor. Blessed is He who receives the service of His people Israel with favor” (similar to what is today the 17th blessing of the Amidah), and the Priestly Blessing, and on the Sabbath they recited one blessing; “May He who causes His name to dwell in this House, cause to dwell among you love and brotherliness, peace and friendship” on behalf of the weekly Priestly Guard that departed.

— Mishna Tamid 5:1

In the Talmud[edit]

The Talmud (Yoma 9b) provides traditional theological reasons for the destruction: “Why was the first Temple destroyed? Because the three cardinal sins were rampant in society: idol worship, licentiousness, and murder… And why then was the second Temple – wherein the society was involved in Torah, commandments, and acts of kindness – destroyed? Because gratuitous hatred was rampant in society. This teaches you that gratuitous hatred is equal in severity to the three cardinal sins: idol worship, licentiousness, and murder.”[23][24]

Role in contemporary Jewish services[edit]

Part of the traditional Jewish morning service, the part surrounding the Shema prayer, is essentially unchanged from the daily worship service performed in the Temple. In addition, the Amidah prayer traditionally replaces the Temple’s daily Tamid and special-occasion Mussaf (additional) offerings (there are separate versions for the different types of sacrifices). They are recited during the times their corresponding offerings were performed in the Temple.

The Temple is mentioned extensively in Orthodox servicesConservative Judaism retains mentions of the Temple and its restoration but removes references to the sacrifices. References to sacrifices on holidays are made in the past tense, and petitions for their restoration are removed. Mentions in Orthodox Jewish services include:

  • A daily recital of Biblical and Talmudic passages related to the korbanot (sacrifices) performed in the Temple (See korbanot in siddur).
  • References to the restoration of the Temple and sacrificial worships in the daily Amidah prayer, the central prayer in Judaism.
  • A traditional personal plea for the restoration of the Temple at the end of the private recitation of the Amidah.
  • A prayer for the restoration of the “house of our lives” and the shekhinah (divine presence) “to dwell among us” is recited during the Amidah prayer.
  • Recitation of the Psalm of the day; the psalm sung by the Levites in the Temple for that day during the daily morning service.
  • Numerous psalms sung as part of the ordinary service make extensive references to the Temple and Temple worship.
  • Recitation of the special Jewish holiday prayers for the restoration of the Temple and their offering, during the Mussaf services on Jewish holidays.
  • An extensive recitation of the special Temple service for Yom Kippur during the service for that holiday.
  • Special services for Sukkot (Hakafot) contain extensive (but generally obscure) references to the special Temple service performed on that day.

The destruction of the Temple is mourned on the Jewish fast day of Tisha B’Av. Three other minor fasts (Tenth of Tevet, 17th of Tammuz, and Third of Tishrei), also mourn events leading to or following the destruction of the Temple. There are also mourning practices which are observed at all times, for example, the requirement to leave part of the house unplastered.

1,300 Jews Get To Visit The Temple Mount: To Honor The 2 Jewish Temples That Once Stood There

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Breaking records, over 1,300 Jews on Tuesday visited the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem for the Tisha B’av fast commemorating the destruction of the Jewish temples that once stood at the site.

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Despite fasting, 1,043 people braved the heat and went up to the Mount during the morning visiting hours, while hundreds more waited in line to visit the holy site.

The site reopened to Jewish visitors in the afternoon. By 5 p.m., almost 1,300 non-Muslim visitors had toured the site.

Hebrew media reports said the number was unprecedented since Israel captured the OId City in 1967.

In light of recent tensions surrounding the site, the Jewish visitors were required to leave their identity cards with police before passing through metal detectors at the Mughrabi Gate, the only gate to the compound through which non-Muslims may enter.

Because of the large number of people seeking to go up to the compound, visitors were escorted around the site in larger groups than usual, Israel Radio reported.

מאות יהודים עלו להר הבית בבוקר צום תשעה באב, ורבים ממתינים בתורים ארוכים. בשל העומס הסיורים מתקיימים בקבוצות גדולות מהנהוג @Roi_Yanovsky

Police said that six people were ejected from the Temple Mount for violating the site’s rules for non-Muslim visitors, which include a prohibition on prayer, while four people were arrested after a scuffle broke out between three Jews and a Muslim man as one of the groups was leaving the compound through the Chain Gate.

500 יהודים שכבר עלו להר הבית הבוקר

In addition to the extra security measures at the Mughrabi Gate, large numbers of police were deployed throughout the Old City ahead of the expected arrival of tens of thousands of worshipers to the Western Wall throughout the day.

Police said cars would be prohibited from entering the Old City beginning at 5 p.m., except those belonging to Old City residents.

On Monday night, thousands of Jews attended prayers at the Western Wall to observe the start of Tisha B’Av, days after violence shook the city.

Prayer leaders read aloud from the Book of Lamentations, believed by Jews to be the biblical prophet Jeremiah’s account of the destruction of the First Temple by invading Babylonians in 586 BCE.

The Western Wall is a remnant of the retaining wall of the Second Temple, built on the site of the First and destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE.

The wall is at the foot of the Temple Mount compound, known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif, which houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the gilded Dome of the Rock shrine in the heart of the Old City. The compound is the third-holiest site in Islam, after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. It is the most sacred site for Jews.

Tisha B’Av commemorates the destruction of both temples, as well as several other disasters in Jewish history.

Jewish men pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City during the annual Tisha B'Av fast day commemorating the destruction of the Jewish temples, on July 31, 2017. (AFP Photo/Menahem Kahana)

Jewish men pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City during the annual Tisha B’Av fast day commemorating the destruction of the Jewish temples, on July 31, 2017. (AFP/Menahem Kahana)

The event comes after relative calm returned to Jerusalem following almost two weeks of Palestinian protests over security measures at the Temple Mount, installed after a July 14 terror attack in which three Israeli Arabs shot dead two Israeli policemen with weapons they had smuggled into the compound.

Muslim worshipers had refused to enter the Temple Mount until the security installations at entrances to the site were removed, while Palestinian protesters staged near-daily protests in and around East Jerusalem and the West Bank, some of which turned violent.

The clashes left five Palestinians dead. A week after the Temple Mount terror attack, a Palestinian terrorist broke into a home in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank and stabbed three members of a single family to death while they were having Shabbat dinner. In a Facebook post hours before his murderous spree, the terrorist cited the events surrounding the Temple Mount as a main motivator.

The crisis was contained last week when Israeli authorities removed the newly installed measures, including metal detectors, following heavy pressure from Jordan, the custodian of the Temple Mount, and the Palestinians.

Border Police officers stand guard as Jewish men pray during the Tisha B'Av fast at a gate leading to the Old City of Jerusalem's Temple Mount compound on July 31, 2017. (AFP Photo/Menahem Kahana)

Border Police officers stand guard as Jewish men pray during the Tisha B’Av fast at a gate leading to the Old City of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount compound on July 31, 2017. (AFP/Menahem Kahana)

The site has frequently been a flashpoint in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Under a decades-old agreement enforced by Israel, only Muslims are allowed to pray inside the compound, although non-Muslims are allowed to visit.

AFP contributed to this report.

Israeli Police Officers Killed in Palestinian Attack Near Jerusalem Shrine

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME.COM)

Israeli Police Officers Killed in Palestinian Attack Near Jerusalem Shrine

6:37 AM ET

Israel’s police chief says two officers were killed in an attack by Palestinian assailants near a major Jerusalem shrine.

Roni Alsheich says the policemen died of wounds sustained in the attack earlier Friday. He spoke after three Arab citizens of Israel opened fire on police near one of the holiest sites in Jerusalem. The compound is the holiest site in Judaism and the third-holiest in Islam. Spokeswoman Luba Samri said the attack happened Friday near a gate of Jerusalem’s Old City and the shooters then fled toward a mosque at the nearby holy site. Police gave chase and they were shot dead at the compound.

The holy compound is known to Jews as Temple Mount and to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary. It is the holiest site to Jews and the third holiest in Islam.Since September 2015, Palestinian attackers have killed 43 Israelis, two visiting Americans and a British tourist. In that time, Israeli forces have killed more than 254 Palestinians, most of them said by Israel to be attackers.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to preserve long-standing access arrangements at a contested Jerusalem holy site, in an apparent attempt to allay Muslim fears after Israel ordered the volatile shrine closed for a day following a Palestinian shooting attack there. The status quo governing the site “will be preserved,” he said.

The site has been a flash point for violence in the past, with friction there sparking major rounds of Israeli-Palestinian violence.