Saturday, July 31, 2010

Herod loses two building projects

HEROD THE GREAT evidently had two fewer building projects than we'd thought:
Revelations of an ever-changing past

Thanks to findings at a recent dig near Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, King Herod has lost his claim to being the original contractor of certain ancient structures in the area.

By Nir Hasson (Haaretz)

A manhole cover is inconspicuously embedded in the road leading into Jaffa Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem. Every day, hundreds of drivers and pedestrians pass by this spot; one of the city's busiest sites. But only a few realize that this is not really a manhole, leading into the bowels of the municipal sewerage system, but rather a "gateway" to a different kind of underground world - in fact, to one of the most dramatic archaeological sites in this part of the city.
Jerusalem excavation

The manhole cover was installed in the road to allow access to an ancient aqueduct located four meters below street level. The subterranean aqueduct and fortification wall discovered nearby were at first thought to be simply more evidence of the vast construction projects undertaken by King Herod the Great (74-4 B.C.E. ) during the Second Temple period. However, their excavation has revealed not only the precise dimensions of the structures, and who built them - but, more significantly, the fact that hundreds of archaeologists and researchers have been mistaken for the past 150 years about this site.

This long article is very difficult to excerpt or summarize, so read it all. But this paragraph near the end flags the main issues:
For researchers, the key finding involved the location and dating of the construction of the wall and aqueduct. The fact that the two structures intersect proves irrefutably that they were built concurrently - by the 10th Roman Legion [around the second century C.E.]. In one stroke, Herod lost his claim to be the builder of these Jaffa Gate projects.
The headline reminds me of Marty McFly's "Yeah, well, history is gonna change."

Friday, July 30, 2010

Masada profiled in Stars and Stripes

MASADA AND ITS STORY are profiled in Stars and Stripes:
Israel's Masada: Where Jewish rebels took a stand against the Romans

By Mark Abramson
Special to Stars and Stripes
Published: July 29, 2010

Its imposing cliffs, ancient fortifications and desolate location helped make Masada a safe palatial refuge for King Herod the Great years before it was taken over by Jewish rebels and then seized by Roman soldiers in 73 A.D.

But the fortress in Israel’s eastern Judean Desert became more. It is a lasting monument to the Jewish people’s last stand against Roman conquerors and a major Holy Land tourist attraction.

The old palace/fort is perched high atop a mesa that offers beautiful desert vistas from any direction, including, on a clear day, a sweeping view of the Dead Sea to the east.
The U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization calls the nearly 2,000-year-old archaeological site made up of Herod’s citadel, the Roman camps below and the ramp built by the Romans to seize Masada, the “most complete Roman siege works surviving to the present day.” Masada was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001.

Historians believe that the fortress was built as a defense by Herod, the king of Judea, who according to UNESCO reigned from 37 B.C. to 4 B.C. He was a pro-Roman ruler, and one theory claims the fort was built as a refuge in case of a local revolt or attack from abroad.

A revolt did come — about 70 years after Herod’s death — when a group of Jewish extremists was forced out of Jerusalem, seized Masada and used it as a base to fight the Romans. The Romans eventually laid siege to the fortress, establishing several bases with high walls around the mesa to make sure no Jews could escape from the fortress above. Then they built a ramp from their bases to Masada’s walls to attack the rebels. In the spring of 73, after approximately a half year of siege, the Romans entered the fort.

Instead of armed resistance, they found burning storerooms and more than 900 dead bodies — the rebels had committed mass suicide rather than face defeat, slavery or execution.

This summary follows Josephus' narrative without nuance or question. His whole version of events has been questioned by both historians and archaeologists in recent years, and the use made of his account in present-day Israel is not without problems either. I have discussed some of the issues here and here. Two articles on the problems with Josephus' story are:
Shaye J. D. Cohen, "Masada: Literary Tradition, Archaeological Remains, and the Credibility of Josephus," Journal of Jewish Studies 33 (1982): 385-405

Kenneth Atkinson, "Noble Deaths at Gamla and Masada? A Critical Assessment of Josephus' Accounts of Jewish Resistance in Light of Archaeological Discoveries," in Making History: Josephus and Historical Method (ed. Zukeila Rodgers; JSJSup 110; Leiden: Brill, 2007), 349-71

Tyler Williams on John William Wevers

TYLER WILLIAMS on John William Wevers: "He was one of the few scholars I know who had the mastery of the languages and texts necessary to do true textual criticism."

Background here.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Infra-red photography of the DSS

TECHNOLOGY WATCH: Infra-red photography is being used once again on the Dead Sea Scrolls:
High-tech test of Dead Sea Scrolls under way at Science Museum of Minnesota

By Sharon Schmickle
| Published Wed, Jul 28 2010 9:46 am (

Since 1947, when a shepherd searching caves near the Dead Sea discovered fragments of ancient texts, scholars have sought ways to study the remarkable discovery — now known as the Dead Sea Scrolls — without damaging the 2,000-year-old documents. That quest continued in St. Paul on Tuesday when delegates from the Israel Antiquities Authority tested a new digital infrared camera system at the Science Museum of Minnesota.

A rare exhibit of the scrolls opened at the museum in March. On Tuesday, one set of scrolls was packed up for return to Jerusalem. A third and final set was delivered and unpacked this week for viewing that can begin next Tuesday, Aug. 3. The exhibit is open through Oct. 24.


In 1991, the Authority set up a climate-controlled storeroom and laboratory for the scrolls and began the painstaking process of restoring the fragments and detailing their contents. Eventually, the fragments were sewn between two layers of polyester net stretched in acid-free mounts. Those, in turn, were enclosed in a frame made of polycarbonate plates.

So housed, the scrolls were ready to share with the world, including the thousands of people who have lined up at the Science Museum of Minnesota to view them.

The scrolls were photographed in the 1950s. And the texts of most of the scrolls also have been published, although controversy persists over the exact meanings of difficult-to-decipher documents. Images of the scrolls also have been made available online.

Despite the precautions, the deterioration continues.

Now the hope is that this new state-of-the-art imaging system will help strike a balance between preserving the documents and also making high resolution color and infrared images of them available for research.

“With this imaging, there could be a lot more for the scholarly world to see,” Shor said.

Meanwhile, the full array of images could form a basis for detecting even subtle damage. Images from the visible part of the spectrum could, for example, reveal changes in color. And those from narrow bands in the infrared could show other changes in more detail than could be seen with the naked eye.

More proof that non-intrusive/non-destructive analysis is the way of the future.

Some background on the Minnesota exhibition is here.

Cargill on DSS documentary

ROBERT CARGILL adds his own commentary to that National Geographic documentary on the Dead Sea Scrolls. His comments are very sensible and I agree with most of what he says, although I see no need to postulate that anyone outside the sectarian movement hid scrolls in the caves. Sectarians could have non-sectarian literature in their libraries, either because they liked it or perhaps even because they felt it merited refutation. The origins and purpose of the Copper Scroll are very murky, but I would not rule out the possibility that even it was a sectarian composition.

NYU Job: Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures

Position Announcement: Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures (Aramaic, Syriac, Arabic)

The Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York University, seeks to make an appointment (tenured or tenure-track, rank open) of a wide-ranging scholar in the languages, literatures, and cultures of the Near East in the Roman, Late Antique, and early Islamic periods. The principal areas of interest should be in the Semitic languages (Aramaic, Syriac, and Arabic, in particular) rather than in Greek, but specialization is less important than broad interests and connections with neighboring regions and cultures. We seek individuals of scholarly distinction whose work will benefit from freedom from departmental structures and who will be stimulated by working closely with colleagues in other disciplines, approaches, periods, or geographical areas and who are committed to helping develop the intellectual life of such a community. Applicants with a history of interdisciplinary exchange are particularly welcome. The Institute’s graduate program emphasizes individual supervision and research seminars. The faculty is involved in choosing a group of visiting researchers each year.

Applications (letter, curriculum vitae, and list of referees) should be made through the NYU online system at Review of candidates will begin on November 1, 2010. For questions, please email Ms. Kathryn Lawson at New York University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.
(Via George Kiraz at the Hugoye list.)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Apocryphicity blog rediscovered

APOCRYPHICITY, the blog on Christian apocrypha by Tony Burke, appeared to go dead after January of 2009, but in fact it just changed addresses. Mark Goodacre has recently noted the new address. Tony has been blogging fairly frequently in recent months, especially on the New Testament Apocrypha course he has been teaching, so do have a look. And don't miss The Flying Head of John the Baptist.

Obituary for Robin Wilson

AN OBITUARY FOR ROBIN WILSON has been published in the Scotsman and elsewhere:
Obituary: Rev Prof Robin McLachlan Wilson, Kirk minister and New Testament expert

Published Date: 05 July 2010


Rev Professor Robin McLachlan Wilson, minister and university lecturer.

Born: 13 February, 1916.

Died: 27 June, 2010, aged 94.

ROBIN Wilson once described his career as "spanning the space between the fountain pen and online publications". Although he was a New Testament scholar, his main contribution was to the study of an alternative movement to Christianity which flourished in the second century AD. This was Gnosticism, which made a distinction between an evil god who ruled this world and a far higher God who was revealed in Jesus Christ. Gnosticism also believed the hidden wisdom or knowledge of this religion had been revealed to a select group only. While some scholars regarded Gnosticism as having existed long before New Testament times, Wilson argued from the outset of his academic career it was in essence a different phenomenon from the second century rival to Christianity.

I agree with him on that, incidentally. Regular readers of PaleoJudaica will not find much new in this obituary (cf. here and follow the links), but I note it for completeness. If you have any trouble accessing it without registering with the Scotsman, you can also read it, for example, here.

More Waqf digging on Temple Mount?

Waqf Bulldozers on Temple Mount May Be Destroying Jewish History

by Eli Stutz (Arutz Sheva)

Jewish residents report that Waqf works at the Dome of the Rock have restarted 'under cover', likely destroying Jewish archaeological artifacts.

Not good.

Background here.

Article on Cargill's DSS documentary

Dead Sea Scrolls Mystery Solved?

Published July 27, 2010 (National Geographic)

The recent decoding of a cryptic cup, the excavation of ancient Jerusalem tunnels, and other archaeological detective work may help solve one of the great biblical mysteries: Who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?

The new clues hint that the scrolls, which include some of the oldest known biblical documents, may have been the textual treasures of several groups, hidden away during wartime—and may even be "the great treasure from the Jerusalem Temple," which held the Ark of the Covenant, according to the Bible.
The title is overly ambitious but I don't hold Robert responsible for that. The description of the documentary sums up a lot of interesting recent discussion about the Scrolls. As I've mentioned before, my own working hypothesis is that the Dead Sea Scrolls come from multiple libraries held by various congregations in Judea which belonged broadly to the same sectarian movement (probably more or less to be identified with the "Essenes"). The libraries were brought to Qumran for safekeeping in the lead-up to the first Jewish war with Rome in the late 60s CE. Not surprisingly, the collection contains both sectarian texts and other texts that the sectarians found interesting and congenial for one reason or another (e.g., biblical books, Enochic books, etc.). The evidence reviewed here seems to fit well with that scenario. I hope the documentary goes online so I can see it too.

By the way, since when has the Jerusalem cryptic cup been deciphered? This was the last I've heard about it, in November of 2009. If there's more recent information, I would be grateful if someone would point me to it.

Background to the documentary is here.

For more on the archaeology of the site of Qumran and the origins of the Qumran library, see here, here, and here.

UPDATE (29 July): More here.

Boyarin on Metatron in JSJ

ARCHANGEL METATRON WATCH: This article by Daniel Boyarin in the current issue (41.3) of the Journal for the Study of Judaism looks both interesting and important.
Beyond Judaisms: Metatron and the Divine Polymorphy of Ancient Judaism


My specific project in this paper is to combine several related and notorious questions in the history of Judaism into one: What is the nexus among the semi-divine (or high angel) figure known in the Talmud as Metatron, the figure of the exalted Enoch in the Enoch books (1-3 Enoch!), "The One Like a Son of Man" of Daniel, Jesus, the Son of Man, and the rabbinically named heresy of "Two Powers/Sovereignties in Heaven?" I believe that in order to move towards some kind of an answer to this question, we need to develop a somewhat different approach to the study of ancient Judaism, as I hope to show here. I claim that late-ancient rabbinic literature when read in the context of all contemporary and earlier texts of Judaism—those defined as rabbinic as well as those defined as non-, para-, or even anti-rabbinic—affords us a fair amount of evidence for and information about a belief in (and perhaps cult of) a second divine person within, or very close to, so-called "orthodox" rabbinic circles long after the advent of Christianity. Part of the evidence for this very cult will come from efforts at its suppression on the part of rabbinic texts. I believe, moreover, that a reasonable chain of inference links this late cult figure back through the late-antique Book of 3 Enoch to the Enoch of the first-century Parables of Enoch—also known in the scholarly literature as the Similitudes of Enoch—and thus to the Son of Man of that text and further back to the One Like a Son of Man of Daniel 7.

(Requires a paid personal or institutional subscription to access the full article. H-T James McGrath on Facebook.)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Todd Bolen vs. Josephus on place of Herod Agrippa's death

TODD BOLEN challenges Josephus regarding the place of Herod Agrippa's death (Bible and Interpretation):
Not in the Theater: Challenging Josephus’s Location for the Place of Herod Agrippa’s Death

The death of Herod Agrippa I occurred in Caesarea according to both Josephus and the book of Acts. Josephus writes that the king was in the theater when the crowd hailed him as a god and he was struck down. Details in Josephus’s account, however, indicate that the episode occurred in the city amphitheater next door to the temple where the emperor was worshipped.

By Todd Bolen
July 2010
Josephus is an important source for first-century Palestinian Jewish history, but he is far from infallible.

Todd Bolen's blog is Bible Places.

More on the Hazor cuneiform fragments

MORE on the Hazor cuneiform fragments:
Hebrew U. archeologists find Patriarchs-era tablet

By JUDY SIEGEL (Jerusalem Post)
07/27/2010 05:54

Written code on tablet dates from the Middle Bronze Age in 17th, 18th centuries.

A document written on two cuneiform tablets around the time of the patriarch Abraham, containing a law code in a style and language similar to parts of the famous Code of Hammurabi, has been discovered for the first time in an Israeli archeological dig.

The code, dating from the Middle Bronze Age in the 18th and 17th centuries BCE, was found at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s excavations this summer at Hazor National Park in the North. However, it has not yet been determined whether the document was written at Hazor – where a school for scribes was located in ancient times, or brought from elsewhere, said Prof. Wayne Horowitz of the HU Institute of Archeology.


The researchers said that the laws also reflected to a certain extent a number of biblical laws such as “an eye for an eye, a tooth for tooth.” Jewish sages have regarded this verse from Leviticus, Exodus and Deuteronomy as an order not to actually remove the eye or tooth of someone who causes another person to lose one, but to require financial compensation equal to its value. So far, among the words that have been deciphered are “master,” “slave” and a word referring to bodily parts, apparently the word for “tooth.”


The fragments, said Ben- Tor, now form the largest corpus of documents of cuneiform texts found in Israel. Previous documents dealt with such subjects as the dispatch of people or goods, a legal dispute involving a local woman, and a text of multiplication tables. Also found over the years were an ancient bilingual dictionary, legal and economic documents and texts for predicting the future. This demonstrates that Hazor was a center of scholarship and administration and a circle of highlevel scribes during the Middle and Late Bronze Ages, said Ben-Tor.

The archeological team, which is continuing to dig under the sponsorship of HU and the Israel Exploration Society, will soon begin uncovering a monumental building dating to the Bronze Age, where the team members expect to recover additional tablets.
I hope so.

Background here.

UPDATE: Christopher Rollston has further reflections here.

John W. Wevers, R.I.P.

JOHN W. WEVERS, requiescat in pace. I am sorry to relay the following from Jack Sasson's Agade List:
From Paul E. Dion came this sad news:

Sadly, on July 23, Professor Emeritus John William Wevers, of the University of Toronto, passed away at the age of 91. Prof. Wevers was struck by a cerebral hemorrhage in the Toronto nursing home where he had lived since July 2008. A memorial service will be held in Toronto on Sept. 11.

During his long tenure at the University of Toronto, Prof. Wevers had brought the Department of Near Eastern Studies (now merged into the Dept. of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations) to unprecedented complement and quality; he himself became an undisputed master of Septuagint Studies during the last decades of the 20th century, having produced the critical edition of the whole Greek Pentateuch for the Göttingen Septuaginta Unternehmen, and added further text-critical studies, translations, and commentaries to each of the five main volumes of this edition. Prof. Wevers's knowledge and contribution extended to several other languages; he had, in particular, made significant contributions to Classical Hebrew scholarship, as well as vigorously promoting its study at the University of Toronto.

Sizable autobiographical sketches are expected to come out, and will be announced on the web site of the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies when available.

[A Festschrift in his honor was published in 1984: DE SEPTUAGINTA. Studies in Honour of John William Wevers on his sixty-fifth birthday (ed. Albert Pietersma and Claude Cox; Benben Publications: Mississauga).

A brief notice on him with photo is at the website of the Calvin Theological Seminary from which he received a Distinguished Alumni
Award for 2010]
The IOSCS website is here.

Professor Wevers made massive contributions to our understanding of the text of the Septuagint. His editions of the LXX books of the Pentateuch in the Göttingen series will be standard reference works for many years to come.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Taming time travel

TIME TRAVEL WATCH: Physicists at MIT are ...
Taming time travel
New work solves paradoxes by making the impossible impossible

By Laura Sanders (Science News)
Web edition : Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Novelists and screenwriters know that time travel can be accomplished in all sorts of ways: a supercharged DeLorean, Hermione’s small watch and, most recently, a spacetime-bending hot tub have allowed fictional heroes to jump between past and future.

But physicists know that time travel is more than just a compelling plot device — it’s a serious prediction of Einstein’s general relativity equations. In a new study posted online July 15, researchers led by Seth Lloyd at MIT analyze how some of the quirks and peculiarities of real-life time travel might play out. This particular kind of time travel evades some of its most paradoxical predictions, Lloyd says.

Any theory of time travel has to confront the devastating “grandfather paradox,” in which a traveler jumps back in time and kills his grandfather, which prevents his own existence, which then prevents the murder in the first place, and so on.


In contrast, Lloyd prefers a model of time travel that explicitly forbids these inconsistencies. This version, posted at, is called a post-selected model. By going back and outlawing any events that would later prove paradoxical in the future, this theory gets rid of the uncomfortable idea that a time traveler could prevent his own existence. “In our version of time travel, paradoxical situations are censored,” Lloyd says.

But this dictum against paradoxical events causes possible but unlikely events to happen more frequently. “If you make a slight change in the initial conditions, the paradoxical situation won’t happen. That looks like a good thing, but what it means is that if you’re very near the paradoxical condition, then slight differences will be extremely amplified,” says Charles Bennett of IBM’s Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y.

For instance, a bullet-maker would be inordinately more likely to produce a defective bullet if that very bullet was going to be used later to kill a time traveler’s grandfather, or the gun would misfire, or “some little quantum fluctuation has to whisk the bullet away at the last moment,” Lloyd says. In this version of time travel, the grandfather, he says, is “a tough guy to kill.”

This sounds to me like another version of Niven's Law, which is kind of old news. Still, it's interesting to have physicists discussing it, not just science fiction writers.

(Via Ray Kurzweil's Daily Newsletter.)

More on time travel here (and follow the links) and here.

Museum of Torah animals in Brooklyn

The Torah’s Animals Inhabit a Borough Park Museum

Sun, Jul 25, 2010

By Sharyn Jackson (The Brooklyn Link)

Holding up the stuffed leg of a giraffe, Rabbi Shaul Shimon Deutsch commanded the unwavering attention of nine sixth-grade boys on a June afternoon. The class from Yeshiva K’Tana in Waterbury, Conn., had come to Deutsch’s museum, Torah Animal World, to see the difference between kosher and non-kosher animals, an issue of Jewish dietary law discussed at length in two passages of the Torah they were studying in school. Deutsch showed the group the clean split down the center of the animal’s hoof, one sure sign that a giraffe is indeed kosher. He later pointed out on a two-humped camel upstairs that its hoof is not fully split, its meat therefore forbidden to enter Jewish mouths.

“It’s amazing to actually see the animals that we learn about,” said Rabbi Elisha Freedman, the students’ teacher and chaperone. While buying keychains of scorpions encased in plastic, Freedman’s students echoed his sentiment as only 11-year-olds can: “Really cool!”

In two years, Torah Animal World, a taxidermy museum claiming to display every animal mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, has become the final resting place for approximately 350 specimens gathered from taxidermists, zoos and private collectors around the world. The museum, in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn, will be complete once Deutsch builds an annex for the sacrificial animals listed in the Torah—oxen, sheep and goats, mostly. But the rooms of this row house-turned-museum are already brimful with $3.5 million worth of wildlife that once traipsed about the ancient Middle East, assembled by one man determined to make Torah-learning a hands-on experience.

There's even a room devoted to "creeping things." Deutsch has more such projects:
Besides Torah Animal World, Deutsch also runs the Living Torah Museum, a collection of biblical artifacts two doors down, and an animal exhibit in the Catskills featuring the creatures mentioned in the Talmud, the collection of writings on Jewish law. On the horizon is a plan to open a botany museum, with freeze-dried examples of every plant in the Torah. Deutsch also hopes to one day build a full-size model of the Tabernacle, the ancient shrine believed to be the dwelling place of God. His plans are part of a pursuit, he said, to make Jewish scripture both visible and tangible to those as curious as he was. “The things I struggled through,” said Deutsch, “I want to make that available to everybody.”
Finally, some Talmudic exegesis based on an exhibit:
Deutsch then pointed to a massive white snake. Once at a zoo, the zookeeper put a 13-foot boa constrictor around the rabbi’s legs, pulling the snake off only when it reached his chest. The journey took the boa constrictor 11 minutes. “Now, why would I do something like that?” Deutsch asked the group. “Because the Talmud tells us that if you’re standing and praying, even if a snake is around your legs, don’t stop. You have time to finish. It takes him a while till he gets up there.”

Sunday, July 25, 2010

David Stacey on proton-beam analysis of Temple Scroll

ARCHAEOLOGIST DAVID STACEY e-mails regarding that proton-beam analysis that suggests that the Temple Scroll was produced near the Dead Sea, based on the chemical composition of the scroll and the local water:
The problem with this research is that it does not address the issue of how much bromine or any other salts would be absorbed by any porous material after it had been in a cave near the Dead Sea for 2000 years. The human bones from the Qumran cemetery had a high bromine content (Rasmussen et al in Kh Q II, Humbert and Gunneweg (eds)) and Crowfoot when dealing with the linen wrappers over 50 years ago never questioned that they had absorbed Dead Sea salts. Even some of our sherds in Jericho had a flaking of snow-like crystals which were, presumably (as far as I know they were never analysed) salts of some sort. How about testing, for example, the wooden coffins from Ein Gedi for bromine content?
Good point.

Background here and here.

Philologos over-hypes Ugaritic computer "decipherment"

PHILOLOGOS gets uncharacteristically over-excited about that new language-decipherment computer program that was recently field tested on Ugaritic:
From Hebrew to Ugaritic and Back Again

On Language
By Philologos
Published July 14, 2010, issue of July 23, 2010. (The Forward)

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced on June 30 that three linguists, working under its auspices, have developed a successful computer system for deciphering the ancient language of Ugaritic. At the coming annual meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics, the three will present a paper on a new computer system that, “in a matter of hours,” learned to read from scratch a long-dead language that is close to biblical Hebrew. In fact, the MIT press release stated, since the system calls for a second, known language to which the language to be deciphered is related, Hebrew was chosen for this purpose.

No, it didn't "learn to read" Ugaritic "from scratch." It just accurately isolated some correspondences with Hebrew. Nor did "the computer ... come to the same conclusions at which previous scholars had needed generations to arrive." Worst of all is this:
This is a quite remarkable achievement. Imagine that German had ceased to be spoken centuries ago, and been forgotten until written texts of it were discovered in an alphabet that at first no one could read — and imagine that, based solely on German’s known kinship with English, a computer determined within hours not only how to read these texts, but also what they meant.
The program did not read the texts or even determine anything about what Ugaritic meant. It proposed a lot of cognates with Hebrew and did so pretty accurately, but it gave no translations or even assignments of meanings to individual words. At most the cognates would be suggestive to human beings of possible meanings for the Ugaritic words, determined by sensible meaning in context.

Philologos is usually more careful than this.

Background here.