Saturday, July 14, 2007

I'M IN BOWLER NOW and back online. More presently.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

THE MUSEUM OF TOLERANCE has reportedly received support from the IAA to be built on the site of that Muslim cemetery:
IAA set to okay museum on site of Muslim cemetery
By Meron Rapoport

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) told the High Court of Justice that it was prepared to allow construction of the Museum of Tolerance on the site of an ancient Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem's Mamila area, although an enormous archaeologist had determined that the excavation was far from complete.

In the opinion, to be submitted to the court today, Dr. Raphael Greenberg of Tel Aviv University states that the IAA archaeologist excavating the area wrote in his concluding report that there were at least 800 graves still left in the area and that he unequivocably recommended prohibiting construction there.

Presumably "enormous" is a mistranslation of "prominent" or some such in the original Hebrew. For more, see here and follow the links back. See also here.

I'm back in the public library, but we're headed off now to go hiking.
TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: Yet another Waqf excavation project has started:
Photos: Unsupervised Islamic Digging on Temple Mount

by Ezra HaLevi

( The Islamic Wakf is digging large ditches on the Temple Mount without archaeological supervision to protect antiquities at Judaism’s holiest site.

Photos of the construction were publicized earlier this week. Investigation revealed that the dig had been approved by the police, though not coordinated with any archeological authorities. The ditch is being dug in the direction of the Dome of the Rock, the site of the Holy Temple, according to most opinions.

The article includes lots of photos. The story is also covered in Haaretz here
This concept we find only in rabbinic literature [i.e., not in the Bible], where it plays an important role, especially in the early form of Jewish mystical thought known as “Hechalot” or “Palace” mysticism. In the Hechalot tradition, it is the task of the mystical initiate to ascend by meditative techniques through the seven heavens one after another, overcoming angelic challenges in each, and then to pass safely through the seven “palaces” of the seventh heaven in order to reach the base of God’s throne. Similar beliefs, each with a complex angelology, existed among various Gnostic sects in the Roman Empire and had some currency in early Christianity, too, at least to judge by Paul’s remark in Corinthians II that “I knew a man in Christ… [who was] caught up to the third heaven.” From Judaism and/or Christianity the idea also spread to Islam, so that we read in Sura 71 of the Quran, “See you not how Allah has created the seven heavens one above another, and made the moon a light in their midst and made the sun a lamp?”

To be in “seventh heaven” is thus to reach the pinnacle of bliss. The expression has been around in English for a long time, although whether it got there from indigenous Christian sources, Jewish ones or Muslim ones, I don’t know. It almost certainly doesn’t come from in zibnten himl, since it’s older than the late 19th-century Yiddish-speaking immigration to the United States. Yet neither does in zibnten himl, which derives from internal Jewish traditions, come from it. Both go back to ancient beliefs that are thousands of years old.
A BABYLONIAN OFFICIAL hitherto known only from a mention in the book of Jeremiah, has turned up in a cuneiform tablet from the time of Nebuchadnezzar:
Museum’s tablet lends new weight to Biblical truth
Dalya Alberge, Arts Correspondent

The British Museum yesterday hailed a discovery within a modest clay tablet in its collection as a breakthrough for biblical archaeology – dramatic proof of the accuracy of the Old Testament.

The cuneiform inscription in a tablet dating from 595BC has been deciphered for the first time – revealing a reference to an official at the court of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, that proves the historical existence of a figure mentioned in the Book of Jeremiah.

This is rare evidence in a nonbiblical source of a real person, other than kings, featured in the Bible.

The tablet names a Babylonian officer called Nebo-Sarsekim, who according to Jeremiah xxxix was present in 587BC when Nebuchadnezzar “marched against Jerusalem with his whole army and laid siege to it”.

UPDATE (20 July): More here.

UPDATE (21 July): More here, with photo.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

THE SAN DIEGO DEAD SEA SCROLLS EXHIBIT is covered yet again in the Union-Tribune:
Exhibit illuminates Dead Sea Scrolls

By Robert L. Pincus

July 8, 2007

It's dumbfounding to think, standing in front of this or that example of the Dead Sea Scrolls, that these humble pieces of ancient paper, so small in size and covered with diminutive lines of text, were the archaeological find of the 20th century.

And it's startling to realize that without their initial discovery by Bedouin shepherd Muhammed edh-Dhib, they might still be lingering in their long-standing home, in caves near the site of the ancient settlement of Qumran.

A new museum confronts an old mystery at Masada

By Danny Rubinstein (Haaretz)

The exhibit at the end of the tour of the new museum at Masada consists of 11 tiny sherds bearing intriguing names.

Hundreds of inscriptions on sherds were found at Masada, including some on earthenware jugs. Some are only a single letters, others contain names and numbers from the days of the rebellion and the Roman siege. The archaeologists, in particular Yigael Yadin, were reasonably good at decipher the inscriptions on the various sherds, but the inscription on these 11 sherds was unusual.

They were all found in the same place, next to the network of internal gates that controlled the passage to the foodstores, and were not scattered over a wide area like the other sherds. They were all written in the same handwriting, and each sherd contained only one name.

Most important, the names were not regular names but rather nicknames, such as Ben Hanahatam (or Ben Hanahtum), Tzayda (or Hatzayad, "the hunter"), Ha'amaki (someone from a village in the Acre area). Among them was one well-known name - Ben-Yair, the name of the leader of the Masada rebellion, Elazar Ben-Yair.

I'M IN HAYWARD, WISCONSIN, blogging from the public library. Their wireless connection is down, so I'm on a cluncky desktop machine with a time-limited access. Blogging will be brief. I hope to have regular Internet access again by Saturday. Meanwhile, I'll have to continue to make do with fishing, rowboating, walking, swimming, etc. Not to mention DVDs and, of course, eating. Hope you're having a nice week too.