hey, i would like to share with you about my passion for the Old Testament (OT). my students call me 'rabbi' or 'reb' for short.
the reb's passion in life (apart from God and wife and family) is the OT.
you might have guessed by now - the reb teaches the OT in a seminary. he also does a lot of weekend teaching and preaching in churches.
Today businesses are increasingly relying on sophisticated computer software to document transactions and track fiscal performance. But in fourth-century B.C.E. Idumea, about 40 miles southwest of Jerusalem, business records were kept by writing in black ink on ostraca (broken pieces of pottery).
This ancient Aramaic ostracon records the delivery of barley and wheat in the fourth year of the reign of the Persian king Artaxerxes III. Photo: Institute for the Study of Aramaic Papyri.
We have about 2,000 ostraca with inscriptions in Aramaic, the language the Jews brought back from Babylon following the end of the Babylonian exile in 538 B.C.E. Many of the ostraca record the delivery of products to and from storehouses and include the year of the present ruler’s reign. Idumea and Judea were under Persian rule at this time until the empire fell to Alexander the Great around 333 B.C.E.
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This Bible History Daily feature was originally published in July 2011. It has been updated.—Ed.
This painting, “He turned their waters into blood,” by the 19th-century American folk painter Erastus Salisbury Field (1805–1900), depicts the first of the Biblical plagues inflicted on the Egyptians. One understanding of the Egyptian plagues explains them as expressions of natural events. A second view of the Biblical plagues sees them as attacks on the pantheon of Egyptian gods. Accordingly, the first plague described in Exodus in the Bible—turning the waters of Egypt to blood—is directed against one of several gods associate with Nile or with water. Photo: National Gallery of Art, Washington/Gift of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch.
The Book of Exodus in the Bible describes ten Egyptian plagues that bring suffering to the land of pharaoh. Are these Biblical plagues plausible on any level? In the following article, “Three Ways to Look at the Ten Plagues,” Ziony Zevit looks at these Biblical plagues from various vantage points. There’s something unique about these Egyptian plagues as presented in Exodus in the Bible. They’re different from the curses to Israelites as mentioned in Leviticus. Some have connected the Egyptian plagues to natural phenomena that were possible in ancient Egypt. Torrential rains in Ethiopia could have sent red clay (“blood”) into the Nile, which could have caused a migration of frogs, further causing lice and flies, which caused the death of cattle and human boils. A second set of meteorological disasters, hailstorms (the seventh of the Biblical plagues) and locusts, may have been followed by a Libyan dust storm—causing darkness.
Many of the Egyptian plagues could also be interpreted as “attacks against the Egyptian pantheon,” Zevit notes. Many of the Egyptian plagues mentioned in Exodus in the Bible have some correlation to an Egyptian god or goddess. For example, Heket was represented as a frog and Hathor as a cow. An ancient Egyptian “Coffin Text” refers to the slaying of first-born gods.
A third way to look at the Biblical plagues is by asking, “why ten?” Ultimately the plagues served to increase the faith of the surviving Israelites. On this count ten could be connected to the ten divine utterances of the creation account of Genesis 1. In relating the ten Egyptian plagues, the Exodus in the Bible could represent a parallel account of liberation, affecting all aspects of the created world.
While the Cyrus Cylinder has been making its rounds on an international exhibition circuit,a another cylinder of a famous Mesopotamian emperor has recently been brought to the public eye. One of Nebuchadnezzar’s cuneiform cylinders was auctioned off on April 9, 2014, by Doyle New York, Auctioneers and Appraisers for $605,000. The purchaser of the cylinder has requested to remain anonymous. Unfortunately, his anonymity may make it difficult for further scholarly study of the text.
BAR readers are familiar with the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar (technically, the neo-Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II), who infamously destroyed the First Temple and carried the Judahites in exile to Babylon. In the Book of Daniel, the Jewish seer Daniel interprets the dreams of Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2; 4:1–27), and it is this same Nebuchadnezzar who throws Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego into the fiery furnace for refusing to bow to the golden statue that he set up (Daniel 3).
The 8.25-by-3.25-inch cylinder that was recently auctioned details how Nebuchadnezzar restored and rebuilt several temples in the city of Sippar, 37 miles north of Babylon. One was the temple of Sippar’s patron deity, the sun god Shamash who was the god of justice. The other was the temple of Ninkarrak, the goddess of healing.
Nebuchadnezzar describes how he searched among the ruins of Shamash’s temple, which was named E-barra (also E-babbara), and found the old cornerstone, over which he constructed the new temple:
First discovered more than one hundred years ago, Judean pillar figurines continue to be poorly understood in scholarship today. Judean pillar figurines—abbreviated JPFs—were prevalent in Judah during the First Temple period (ca. 800–586 B.C.E.). These household objects, of which thousands have been found, are not present in Judah following the Babylonian conquest in 586 B.C.E.
Two major types of Judean pillar figurines have been found. One type has a face that’s pinched to make two eyes (Left, Photo: Israel Museum, Jerusalem). The second type has a mold-made head with defined facial features and rows of curly hair (Right, Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art).
In “JPFs: More Questions than Answers” in the September/October 2014 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review, Robert Deutsch provides an overview of these puzzling pillar figurines.
To begin, the name “Judean pillar figurine”—as these objects are universally called—is somewhat of a misnomer. The land in which these pillar figurines were found was called Judah, not Judea. The name Judea emerged when the southern Levant came under Roman rule beginning in the first century B.C.E. The adjective Judahite—to describe the people and material culture of Judah—is a recent designation. Deutsch believes these Iron Age pillar figurines in question are more accurately represented by the name “Judahite pillar figurines.” They are also called JPFs for simplicity.
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A hoard of coins from the fourth year of the Jewish Revolt against Rome — minted months before the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE — was found outside the capital and announced by the Israel Antiquities Authority on Tuesday to coincide with the Ninth of Av, the date commemorating the destruction of the Second Temple.
The trove, which consists of 114 bronze coins, was unearthed during the expansion of Route 1, the major highway connecting Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, in February. In the past several months, the IAA team led by Judea District chief archaeologist Pablo Betzer has excavated the remains of a small Roman-era Jewish village near the modern town of Abu Ghosh. Amid the ruins was a broken juglet containing the verdigris-coated coins.
The coins are all of identical size and age, and possibly from the same mint. Their value has yet to be determined, but they are likely quarter or one-eighth shekel bits, Betzer said. They are all marked with the words “For the redemption of Zion” and “Year four,” indicating they were made during the fourth year of the revolt against the Roman Empire, or between spring 69 and spring 70 CE. They are decorated with the Biblical four species — palm, myrtle, citron and willow — and a vessel that may symbolize those used in the temple. The coins are still encrusted in nearly 2,000-year-old dirt and oxidation, and await cleaning and study by IAA specialists.
Read more: Trove of Jewish Revolt coins discovered near Jerusalem | The Times of Israel http://www.timesofisrael.com/trove-of-jewish-revolt-coins-discovered-near-jerusalem/#ixzz3AtOKVo7Y
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