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Discoveries reveal unequivocal proof of ancient Jewish presence

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Coins found south of the Temple Mount, dating to the First Jewish Revolt against Rome 2000 years ago. | Photo: Biblical Archaeology Review

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A couple months out of its 72nd birthday, Israel still faces mounting challenges on various fronts. Of course, there’s anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, skewed reporting, and its security concerns. But in the war in public opinion about the legitimacy of the Jewish connection to the land, nowhere is there more solid proof than in archaeology.

Thankfully, there is no shortage of evidence – this, despite centuries of looting and recent archaeological crimes such as the Muslim Waqf’s illegal excavation of Temple Mount grounds, thereby destroying precious artifacts. 

In recent years, archaeologists have discovered stunning pieces that are a testament to the Jewish people’s long history with the land.

Here are some examples (photos beneath the description):

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1. Jewish Revolt coins found in rebel hideout

Dozens of bronze coins have been discovered south of the Temple Mount, dating to the First Jewish Revolt against Rome 2000 years ago. Most of the coins contained symbolic Jewish images – such as a lulav and etrog and ceremonial goblet, and were inscribed with “Year Four”, the final year of the rebellion, or “For the Redemption of Jerusalem”.

The coins are believed to have been owned by Jews who hid in a nearby cave, escaping the Roman siege of Jerusalem. Evidence of long term habitation includes discoveries of jars and cooking pots.

Source: Biblical Archaeology Review, April, 2018

2. Isaiah’s seal found in Jerusalem

South of the Temple Mount, a stone seal has been discovered that reads “(belonging) to Isaiah nvy”. Though a fragment is missing from the seal, the letters nvy comprise the first three of the four letters spelling the Hebrew word for prophet. The prophet Isaiah, who lived about 2,700 years ago, appears in Tanach in II Kings, II Chronicles and of course, in the book of Isaiah.

Also known as a bulla, the seal’s purpose was much like a personal signature, where the impression would be pressed into a soft piece of clay that would be attached to a bag or a document.

The seal was decorated with a grazing doe, at the time a symbol of blessings.

Source: Biblical Archaeology Review, March/April/May/June 2018

3. Royal seal of Hezekiah unearthed

At the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount, archaeologists found a clay seal belonging to King Hezekiah. The first discovery of its kind reads “Belonging to Hezekiah, (son of) Ahaz, king of Judah”. When Hezekiah, who reigned about 2,700 years ago, saw that the Jews were becoming lax in their practice, he ordered repaired and cleansing of the Holy Temple and the removal of pagan shrines and altars throughout the land.

Meanwhile, he made efforts to fortify Jerusalem against Assyrian king Sennacherib’s invasion, by expanding city walls and building a secret tunnel so Jews would have access to water despite the siege.

That Isaiah’s and Hezekiah’s seals were found 10 feet apart isn’t surprising, given that the king often sought the prophet’s counsel.

Source: Biblical Archaeology Review, April, 2018

4. Jewish soldiers send letter asking for wine

2600 years ago, Jewish soldiers stationed at a fortress in Tel Arad in the Negev desert sent a letter to officials asking for more wine. The message, written in ink on pottery, hadn’t been visible to researchers until lately when they used multispectral imaging, a type of advanced digital photography.

The front side of the inscription had always been clear: “Your friend Ḥananyahu sends greetings to Elyashiv, and to your household. I bless you by Hashem.” The newly deciphered memo conveys Ḥananyahu’s request to Elyashiv: “If there is any wine, send… If there is anything else you need, send.” The discovery is said to be dated during the fall of the Kingdom of Judah to Babylonia’s King Nebuchadnezzar.

Source: Biblical Archaeology Review, March, 2017

5. 2,000 year-old settlement discovered in Bet Shemesh

The Bar-Kokhba Revolt,  also known as the Second Jewish Revolt against Rome, took place about 1,950 years ago. Jews, hiding from the conquerors, sought out caves and underground enclaves – one of which was recently found 19 miles west of Jerusalem. It contained eight mikvahs (ritual baths), ceramic jars and cooking pots.

Source: Biblical Archaeology Review, Feb., 2017

6. Oldest Ten Commandments

Some 1,700 years ago, a copy of the Ten Commandments was etched in a two-foot tall, 115-pound marble stone. The tablet, the oldest discovered copy of the Ten Commandments, was unveiled near Tel Aviv in 1913 during the construction of the Palestine-Egypt railway. In 2016 it was sold for $850,000 USD in an auction hosted by the Living Torah Museum in Brooklyn.

Source: Biblical Archaeology Review, Feb., 2017

7. Carving reveals Judean governor’s name

We now know the name of the Roman governor of Judea, from 1,880 years ago, from a stone inscription found near Tel Dor in northern Israel. Initially laying deep underwater in the Dor Nature Reserve, the three-quarter-ton and 2.8-foot-high stone was brought to the surface to have its Greek carving deciphered.

It reads: “The City of Dor honors Marcus Paccius, son of Publius, Silvanus Quintus Coredius Gallus Gargilius Antiquus, governor of the province of Judea…

It confirms that Gargilius Antiquus was governor of Judea. It is only the second reference to date of Judea, found on a stone inscription – unequivocal proof that Jews held an independent state two thousand years ago.

Source: Biblical Archaeology Review, Dec., 2016

8. Hasmonean coin collection found

Silver coins dating back 2,140 years were found in Modi’in, the town of the Maccabees.

The face of the coins bore images of Seleucid King Antiochus VII and his brother Demetrius II, both of which the Maccabees sought to overthrow to return the land back to the Jews.

Archaeologists also discovered underground Maccabee hiding spaces that included an ancient mikveh.

Source: Biblical Archaeology Review, June, 2016

9. Coins celebrating revolt against Romans unearthed

Excavations along the main highway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv revealed a ceramic box containing 114 bronze coins dating back 2000  years. On the front “To the Redemption of Zion” is imprinted in Hebrew,  while the back contains, palm branches and an etrog with the inscription “Year Four”, denoting the fourth year of the Great Revolt against the Romans.

Source: Biblical Archaeology Review, Aug., 2014

10. 2,400-year-old Passover letter from Jerusalem is the oldest account recovered of the holy day

A letter from a high official in Jerusalem from the fifth century BCE is second only to Biblical texts as the oldest record of the Passover story. The letter was sent to Jews living on an island in the Nile River.

Source: Ha’aretz, Apr. 13, 2020

Dave Gordon is the managing editor of TheJ.ca. His work has appeared in more than a hundred media around the world, including all of the Toronto dailies, BBC, Washington Times, and UK Guardian.

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

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