Saturday, November 27, 2021

Susa, the winter royal residence of the Persian Empire

TRAVEL: Susa: a gateway to must-see destinations (Tehran Times).
TEHRAN – In southwest Iran is situated Susa, a captivating UNESCO-listed archaeological site occupying the whole southern flank of modern Shush. Originally similar in scale to the UNESCO-designated Persepolis, the city saw countless invasions and sackings during its history which spans almost 6000 years.

Furthermore, Susa was once the winter residence of Persian kings after having been captured by Cyrus the Great. Susa became part of the Persian Empire under Cyrus II, the Great in 538 or 539 BC.

Various archaeological seasons in Susa have yielded ample relics including pottery, arms, ornamental objects, metalwork, bronze articles, as well as clay tablets. ...

HT Todd Bolen at the Bible Places Blog.

This article has good coverage of the history, biblical connections, and archaeology of Susa.

I was surprised to see how many PaleoJudaica posts there are on Susa. See here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

While we are on Iranian archaeology, for more on the Persian ceremonial capital Persepolis, see here and many links. For more on the Median capital Ecbatana, which also served as the Persian summer royal residence and archive, see here.

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The archive of Zenon

MEDIEVAL MANUSCRIPTS BLOG: The archive of Zenon. HT the AWOL Blog.

This post seems out of place in a blog on medieval manuscripts, but it's good to have it anyway. Zenon lived in Egypt and Palestine in the the third century BCE. For more on his vast archive, see here (but the links have rotted) and here.

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Buntu, ... Divinity and Deification in Early Judaism (Gorgias)

Divinity and Deification in Early Judaism

By Silviu Nicolae Bunta

The investigation of this book into early Jewish experiences of God begins with calls to discard any categorical and definitional approaches to the literature of early Judaism, and several enduring preconceptions about its mysticism and theology (particularly the relegation of its mysticism to particular texts and themes, and the molding of its theology in the image of medieval and post-medieval Jewish and Christian monotheisms). With this abandonment, the symbolic language of early Jewish texts gives sharper contours to a pre-formal theology, a theology in which God and divinity are more subjects of experience and recognition than of propositions. This clarity leads the investigation to the conclusion that early Judaism is thoroughly mystical and experiences a theology which is neither polytheistic, nor monotheistic, but deificational: there is only one divine selfhood, the divinity of “God,” but he shares his selfhood with “gods,” to varying degrees and always at his discretion. With some important differentiations which are also introduced here, this theology undergirds almost the entirety of early Judaism—the Bible, post-biblical texts, and even classical rabbinic literature. The greatest development over time is only that the boundaries between God and gods become at once clearer and less rigid.

Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-4632-4333-3

Formats Hardback

Publication Status: In Print
Series: Perspectives on Hebrew Scriptures and its Contexts 35
Publication Date: Aug 24,2021
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 357
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-4632-4333-3

Price: $114.95
Your price: $68.97

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Friday, November 26, 2021

The ideologies of 1 and 2 Maccabees?

HANUKKAH IS COMING: Judea versus Judaism: Between 1 and 2 Maccabees (Prof. Daniel R. Schwartz,
Ancient tensions between Judaism and the Jewish state can be seen by comparing 1 Maccabees, a book that serves the interest of the Hasmonean dynasty, and 2 Maccabees, a work of the diaspora whose focus is on Judaism.

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Hanukkah archaeology

HANUKKAH IS COMING SOON. Here are a couple of articles on recent and less recent archaeological discoveries pertaining to it (at least in a general way).

What does archaeology in Israel tell us about Hanukkah? JPost One-on-One Zoomcast , Episode 43 - Rossella Tercatin and Dr. Barak Monnickendam-Givon: Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist explains what archaeology can teach us about Hanukkah (Rossella Tercatin)

6 ancient findings in the footsteps of the Maccabees. Look what Israeli archeologists have dug up from the Hasmonean dynasty that ruled the land following the Maccabees’ Hanukkah triumph (Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel21c).

For more on that Hellenistic fortress in Lachish Forest, which archaeologists infer was destroyed by John Hyrcanus, see here.

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Online lectures on Agrippa II and on the Ark of the Covenant

H-JUDAIC announces two upcoming online lectures. They are free, but require advance registration. See the links for details.

EVENT: The Mysteries of the Ark of the Covenant (Institute of Jewish Studies UCL)

Type: Lecture
Date: November 30, 2021
Subject Fields: Jewish History / Studies, Religious Studies and Theology

The lecture will focus on the importance of the Ark (of God, of Yhwh, of the Covenant) in the Hebrew Bible and more specifically on the so-called Ark narrative in the books of Samuel. What was the purpose of the Ark, what did it originally contain? If the original Ark narrative ended with the transfer of the Ark to Kiriath Jearim in 1 Sam 7:1 as will be argued, what is the importance of this site? The lecture will then bring into conversation exegetical observations and the results of the excavations at Kiriath Jearim from 2017 and 2019, organized by the University of Tel Aviv and the Collège de France. The lecture will conclude with the question of the fate of the Ark after the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem in 587 BCE.

Professor Thomas Christian Römer is professor and chair of the Collège de France and currently its President ...

EVENT: Agrippa II, the Last of the Herods (American Israel Numismatic Association and Institute of Jewish Studies UCL)
Type: Lecture
Date: December 16, 2021
Subject Fields: Archaeology, Ancient History, European History / Studies, Humanities, Jewish History / Studies

Agrippa II, the last king of the Herodian dynasty, was prolific in minting coins, particularly after the Judaean-Roman War. In this online lecture, David Jacobson will discuss Agrippa’s coinage as well as the writings of Josephus and epigraphic evidence for his reign. Topics considered will include the chronology of his reign, the role of his sister, Berenice, as his de-facto consort, his attitude towards the Jews and Judaism, particularly after the quelling of the First Jewish Revolt, and determining the date of his death.

Professor David Jacobson has pursued careers in both materials science and classical archaeology. ...

For a great many PaleoJudaica posts on the Ark of the Covenant, start here and just keep following those links. For posts on Herod Agrippa II, see here and links.

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Thursday, November 25, 2021

An ancient Roman gaming board in Jerusalem

LUDIC ARCHAEOLOGY: Ancestor of Checkers Found in Old City of Jerusalem. Carved into the city square by bored Roman soldiers, the identity of the strange game had been a mystery until an expert got involved (Ruth Schuster, Haaretz).

Actually all we have is the gaming board scratched into stone, presumably by idle Roman soldiers. But there has been lots of fun from efforts to identify the game.

UPDATE: Also, happy Thanksgiving to my American readers and those celebrating with them!

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A shamanic life-setting for the Ascension of Isaiah?

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: The Ascension of Isaiah: Some Thoughts ( David Frankfurter). Two excerpts:
Leaving behind the old redactional-stages approach (that has tempted many scholars through today), we are really forced to think about what “Jewish” and “Christian” should mean as identity or boundary-categories in the world of this text.
So to me, the really valuable features of this text are its docetic christology and its Jewish apocalyptic form and details; also, its evidence of a prophetic—or, better, shamanic—milieu; and in all these features its religious sympathies with the Book of Revelation.
This is fifth essay in a BRANE Forum series on the Ascension of Isaiah. For notice of the first three, see here and links.

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BAS 2021 Publication Awards

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Biblical Archaeology Society 2021 Publication Awards Winners. These prestigious awards have been made possible by grants from: Samuel D. Turner and Elizabeth Goss. These look like great books. Congratulations to all the winners!

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Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Prof. Mika Ahuvia on angels in ancient Judaism

INTERVIEW: Angels in antiquity: Judaism’s long relationship with heaven’s haloed helpers. While many Jews relegate the supernatural beings to the Christian realm, Prof. Mika Ahuvia reveals a deep cultural and religious connection in a new book (Rich Tenorio, Times of Israel).
When then-Princeton graduate student Mika Ahuvia was taking a class in Roman religion, she became intrigued by ancient religious stories from the Middle East.

“I learned about stories of ancient Romans stumbling into gods and goddesses in sacred groves and stories of Christian stylite saints speaking with angels from the top of columns,” Ahuvia said. “That made me wonder how and where exactly Jews interacted with angels.”

As it turns out, angels played a significant, underappreciated role in the lives of Jews in late antiquity — which Ahuvia, now a professor of classical Judaism at the University of Washington, reveals in a new book, “On My Right Michael, On My Left Gabriel: Angels in Ancient Jewish Culture.”


I linked to an AJR preview of the book by the author here.

One correction to the TOI article above. A couple of times it mentions the Nephilim and refers to them as "fallen angels." No. They are (according to the Enochic Book of the Watchers 7:2; cf Jubilees 7:22) the offspring of giants who in turn were the offspring of the fallen angels (the "Watchers") and mortal women. They also appear in the Aramaic Book of Giants from Qumran alongside the giants.

The Nephilim are also in the Bible. Genesis 6:4 calls them warriors (גבורים) and "men of name," i.e., famous. It says they lived at the same time as the offspring of the sons of God (the angels) and the daughters of men. It does not specify that they were those offspring, although that inference may have been intended. Numbers 13:32-33 says that the men spying out the Promised Land encountered Nephilim there and describes them as giants.

For PaleoJudaica posts on the Nephilim, see here and links. There are many, many posts on angels. Just run the term through the blog search engine.

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Priestly coin from the Great Revolt

NUMISMATICS: Rare silver ‘rebel coin,’ maybe minted at Temple 2,000 years ago, found in Jerusalem. Experts suggest shekel coin may have been made by priests assisting Great Revolt against Romans, using precious metal from holy site’s plentiful reserves (Times of Israel).
A rare 2,000-year-old silver shekel coin, thought to have been minted on the Temple Mount plaza from the plentiful silver reserves held there at the time, has been uncovered in Jerusalem.

If it were indeed minted there, it would make the coin one of the very few items uncovered that were manufactured at the holy site.

The coin, found by an 11-year-old girl, Liel Krutokop, during a sifting project for dirt removed from an archaeological dig at the City of David National Park, was engraved with “second year,” i.e., the second year of the Great Jewish Revolt against the Romans (67-68 CE).


On his e-mail list, Joseph Lauer has corrected an error that has crept into the English version of the press release and from there into some English articles, including the one above:
Beware, though, of item 5, described in the English release as “The silver coin with the headquarters of the High Priest and the inscription ‘Holy Jerusalem.’” In this case it is a mistranslation of “מטה” (here meaning “staff” or “rod” not “headquarters”) in the Hebrew release’s “מטבע הכסף ועליו מטה הכהן הגדול והכיתוב ירושלים הקדושה.” Thus, the description should read “The silver coin with the staff of the High Priest and the inscription ‘Holy Jerusalem.” Some (but not all) of the media articles have the same error, following the language of the English release, “On the other side of the coin is an inscription identified by scholars as the headquarters of the High Priest, and next to it appears in ancient Hebrew script the words: ‘Holy Jerusalem.’”

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Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Keiter, ... The Scriptural Solomon in Jewish Tradition (Gorgias)

The Scriptural Solomon in Jewish Tradition

By Sheila Tuller Keiter

Perils of Wisdom engages the biblical Solomon narrative that appears in the Book of Kings and its reception by Jewish texts from scriptural sources through the traditional commentaries of the Middle Ages. By systematically following the thread of exegesis through biblical, rabbinic, targumic, and medieval Jewish texts, and by examining their interplay with other ancient, Christian, and Islamic treatments of Solomon, Keiter traces the emergence and ascendance of an apologetic image of Solomon that has colored Jewish perceptions of the biblical king ever since.

Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-4632-4378-4

Formats: Hardback

Publication Status: In Print
Series: Judaism in Context 28
Publication Date: Sep 24,2021
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 404
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-4632-4378-4

Price: $140.00
Your price: $84.00

Some PaleoJudaica posts on the Solomonic tradition are here and here and links.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Interview with co-director of Megiddo excavation

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Twenty Years at Megiddo. Archaeologist Matthew Adams discusses his journey from volunteer to project co-director (Nathan Steinmeyer).
Matthew Adams, who heads the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem, began digging at the famous archaeological site of Megiddo in 1998 while he was a sophomore at the University of Southern California (USC). Although he began his career as a volunteer, today Adams is co-director of the Tel Aviv University Megiddo Expedition with Israel Finkelstein and Mario Martin. He also co-directs the Jezreel Valley Regional Project excavations at the nearby Roman military base of Legio with Yotam Tepper and Susan Cohen.

In September 2021, Biblical Archaeology Review contributing editor Nathan Steinmeyer met with Adams to discuss his journey from volunteer to dig director. In their conversation, they discussed Adams’s early start at Megiddo, how he rose through the ranks, and the ways that archaeology has changed over the past 20 years. The conversation has been edited and modified for clarity and readability. All images are courtesy of Matthew Adams unless otherwise noted.

For many PaleoJudaica posts on the Megiddo excavation and related matters, see here, here, here, here and links (cf. here and links). As at Timna, impressive and suggestive early organic remains have been recovered at Megiddo.

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Monday, November 22, 2021

On the Timna Valley excavation

ORGANIC ARCHAEOLOGY: An Archaeological Dig Reignites the Debate Over the Old Testament’s Historical Accuracy. Beneath a desert in Israel, a scholar and his team are unearthing astonishing new evidence of an advanced society in the time of the biblical Solomon (Matti Friedman, Smithsonian Magazine).
What [excavation director Erez] Ben-Yosef has produced isn’t an argument for or against the historical accuracy of the Bible but a critique of his own profession. Archaeology, he argues, has overstated its authority. Entire kingdoms could exist under our noses, and archaeologists would never find a trace. Timna is an anomaly that throws into relief the limits of what we can know. The treasure of the ancient mines, it turns out, is humility.
I have been following reports on the Timna Valley excavation for some time, with particular interest in the remarkable organic remains recovered there. For past posts, see here, where I note the recent article Professor by Ben-Yosef on David's and Solomon's supposed empire and the archaeology of the tenth century BCE. It is also mentioned in the Smithsonian article. Follow the links from there for much more on Timna.

For more on the tenth-century BCE, see here and links.

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Khirbet Qeiyafa and the 10th century BCE

HIERARCHICAL ARCHITECTURE: Can royal architecture prove biblical Judah was a kingdom? Features such as recessed doors, rectangular roof beams and volute capitals were common in palaces around the region, supporting the notion that Judah was a kingdom since the 10th century BCE. Rossella Tercatin, Jerusalem Post).
“A kingdom is not something abstract; a kingdom is based on elements like borders, a center and a periphery, roads, a network for tax collection and so on,” [excavator Yosef] Garfinkel said. “However, another characteristic of a kingdom is its social hierarchy as demonstrated by the presence of palaces and temples.

“Throughout history and to this day, people have used architecture to emphasize power,” he further remarked. “Based on the findings in Khirbet Qeiyafa, we can see urbanism and the construction of fortified cities in Judah already in the 10th century BC.”

This century has been receiving a good deal of attention recently. See here and links.

For many posts on the archaeology of Khirbet Qeiyafa, with lots also on the tenth century BCE, see here and links, here, here, and here.

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Sunday, November 21, 2021

Review of Powell, Bar Kokhba

THE FOLLOWING HADRIAN BLOG: “Bar Kokhba: The Jew Who Defied Hadrian and Challenged the Might of Rome” by Lindsay Powell.

Carole Raddato reviews this New Book published by Pen & Sword Press. The publisher's page on the book is here.

HT Rogue Classicism.

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Gallagher, Translation of the Seventy (Abilene Christian University Press)

THE ETC BLOG: New Book by Ed Gallagher on the Septuagint’s Place in History and Theology (Peter Gurry).

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