Saturday, February 11, 2023

How YHWH became Jehovah

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: The History of the Tetragrammaton. How YHWH became Jehovah ( John Drummond).

This is a nice brief look at the history of the Tetragrammaton. The full article by Juan Manuel Tebes is behind the BAR subscription wall.

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

The Transformation of Archaeology

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: From Dust to Data. A Journey of Archaeological Investigation (Alexandra Wrathall).

Archaeological method is an increasingly rapidly moving target.

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

Friday, February 10, 2023

A cave that hid refugees for 6,000 years

SPELUNCIC ARCHAEOLOGY: Cave Where Generations Hid for 6,000 Years Found in West Bank. Inside el-Janab Cave near Nablus, archaeologists have found first-ever solid evidence of Muslims fleeing Mongol forces sweeping through the Levant in 1260 (Ruth Schuster, Haaretz).
The earliest items found in the survey date to the Late Chalcolithic 6,500 years ago, and the latest are from the period of the Mamluks, who ruled this land from Egypt between 1260 and 1516 C.E. It’s not hard to imagine knowledge of this refuge passing from generation to generation, Lewis says.

But, based on pottery and coinage, it's clear that the place was mainly used during three periods: the late Persian/early Hellenistic, the Early Roman, and the late Ayyubid/early Mamluk period, which is where the Mongols enter the story.

The most interesting finds pertain to the time of the Mongul invasion, and most of the article covers that period. But regarding the earlier finds from historical periods:
In the late Persian/early Hellenistic period, the cave may have sheltered as many as dozens of people, based on the plethora of pots and their distribution throughout the space. These folks would have been fleeing the Samaritan revolt against Alexander the Great in 331 B.C.E. and/or the wars from 312 to 301 B.C.E. following Alexander’s death.

The Early Roman finds are thought to have been brought by Jews during the First Jewish Revolt, the Bar Kochba Revolt, or both.

There are photos of coins from this time range.

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

A Mithras sanctuary excavated in Spain

ARCHAEOLOGY: 1,800-Year-Old Sanctuary to Mithras Uncovered by Archaeologists in Spain (Francesca Aton, ARTnews).
A sanctuary dedicated to the ancient god Mithras was uncovered by archaeologists excavating at the Villa del Mitra in Cabra, Spain. Remains of ritual banquets were found within the sanctuary.

Mithraism was a cult religion that became popular among the Roman Empire during the first century CE. Mithras was a Romanized form of the Iranian god of the sun and justice Mithra.


For PaleoJudaica posts on the Mithras mystery cult (Mithraism), start here (cf. here) and follow the links. There was a Mithras sanctuary (Mithraeum) at Caesarea. Another was reportedly discovered recently in southeastern Turkey.

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

Thursday, February 09, 2023

A lost history of the Diadochoi being recovered?

ALGORITHM WATCH: AI is deciphering a 2,000-year-old 'lost book' describing life after Alexander the Great. When Mount Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79, it carbonized a book on rulers who followed Alexander the Great. Now, machine learning is deciphering the "lost book" (Owen Jarus, Live Science). HT Rogue Classicism.
Only small parts of the heavily damaged text can be read right now. "It contains the names of a number of Macedonian dynasts and generals of Alexander," Janko said, noting that it also includes "several mentions of Alexander himself." After Alexander the Great died in 323 B.C., his empire fell apart. The text mentions the Macedonian generals Seleucus, who came to rule a large amount of territory in the Middle East, and Cassander, who ruled Greece after Alexander's death.

The lost book is from the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum, a city that was destroyed alongside Pompeii when Mount Vesuvius erupted after the turn of the first millennium. ...

For many PaleoJudaica posts on the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE and its destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum, start here and follow the links. For the works of the Philosopher Philodemus and other works recovered from the carbonized library at Herculaneum, see here and here and links. For posts on the work of Dr. Brent Seales on recovering the text of the Herculaneum scrolls and other ancient documents, see here and links.

For many posts on Alexander the Great and his connection with ancient Jewish traditions, notably in the Alexander Romance, see here and links. Some posts on the Diadochoi (Alexander's generals who took over after him) and their successors are collected here.

Cross-file under Lost Books.

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

International Septuagint Day 2023 (belatedly)

INTERNATIONAL SEPTUAGINT DAY WAS YESTERDAY, 8 FEBRUARY. I hope you had a good time celebrating.

William Ross posted some Septuagintal news for the day: 17TH INTERNATIONAL SEPTUAGINT DAY.

For past posts on the day, see here and links.

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

Wednesday, February 08, 2023

Ancient gold bead found in Jerusalem

MATERIAL CULTURE: Archaeologists Find Rare Mesopotamian-style Gold Bead in Jerusalem. Discovered in a Late Roman building in the ‘City of David,’ the exquisite bead is one of few gold jewels ever found in the area, archaeologists say (Ruth Schuster, Haaretz).
The bead was found in pristine condition by Hallel Feidman, a volunteer sifting and washing dirt removed from the Roman building, itself a big, ornate construction. It can’t be dated but the building where it was lost can. It is from the Late Roman era, about 1,600 years ago.

Made of pure gold, the bead was crafted by affixing dozens of tiny golden spheres together to shape a tiny ring. It likely wouldn’t have been worn in solo glory like a pendant but probably formed part of a bigger piece, says Dr. Amir Golani, the IAA’s ancient jewelry expert.

An article by Michael Bachner in the Times of Israel has additional details: Rare 1,600-year-old gold bead found by teenager in Jerusalem’s City of David. Piece of jewelry, which required unique expertise to make, discovered in earth sifted from magnificent Roman structure in Pilgrimage Road, near Old City.

The Temple Mount Sifting project found a gold bead in 2020.

Archaeologist Gabriel Barkay heads the Sifting Project. His excavation at Ketef Hinnom also found about fifty silver beads some decades ago.

I have not yet mentioned the jewelry found in the undisturbed repository. That deserves special notice. The treasure trove of jewelry from this repository is unequalled in Jerusalem excavations. It gives us our first glimpse of the jewelry worn by women (and perhaps also by men) in Jerusalem at the end of the First Temple period. The repository yielded more than a hundred silver items and six gold items, including simple crescent-shaped earrings, 15 silver earrings, four silver finger rings, about 50 silver beads, a silver pendant and a scarab mounted in silver. The most common decoration on the earrings was a granulation technique, that is, the attachment of tiny silver balls to the body of the earrings. A large number of beads were made of semiprecious stones—agate, carnelian and rock-crystal— as well as more common materials like glass, faience and shell. Another especially fine piece is a silver signet ring bearing the figure of a galloping griffin with a feline body, the head and wings of an eagle and a coiled tail.
(BAR 2013. My emphasis.) Ketef Hinnom is better known for the silver scrolls excavated there which were inscribed with biblical texts. See here and here and many links.

Cross-file under Ancient Bling.

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

What language did Adam speak?

PHILOLOGOS: Did Adam Speak Hebrew? The ancient rabbis believed there was linguistic proof that the first man spoke Hebrew with God. Why? (Mosaic Magazine).

It seemed like a good argument at the time.

The Renaissance polymath and occultist John Dee thought that Adam spoke Enochian, the "Adamical" or "Angelical" language.

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

Tuesday, February 07, 2023

Sinai - from Exodus to the Rabbis

DR. KEVIN MATTISON: Anchored in the Authority of Sinai. “Who controls the past controls the future.” – George Orwell, 1984 (
A series of processes—a combination of intentional literary decisions and historical accidents—has obscured the diversity of the Sinai/Horeb narratives that existed among the ancient sources.
Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

The Gittin Book of Remedies

THE GENIZA FRAGMENTS BLOG: Q&A Wednesday: Talmudic therapy with a Mesopotamian pedigree? The Gittin Book of Remedies with Jason Sion Mokhtarian (Melonie Schmierer-Lee and Jason Sion Mokhtarian).
It’s [a geniza fragment] an excerpt from a medical work, the Gittin Book of Remedies. What makes this work unique is that it appears to have been an independent handbook that was edited into the Babylonian Talmud. Most interestingly, as Mark Geller has argued convincingly, it seems to come from a much earlier Mesopotamian milieu, from an Akkadian precursor.
I noted the publication of Prof. Mokhtarian's book, Medicine in the Talmud, here.

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

Monday, February 06, 2023

Ramat Rahel and the Iron Age administrative system

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Stamp Impressions from Ramat Rahel. Uncovering the administration of the Kingdom of Judah (Marek Dospěl).
In summarizing key arguments from his latest book, Age of Empires (Eisenbrauns, 2021), [archaeologist Oded] Lipschits mostly draws on material excavated from Ramat Rahel. Located a mere 3 miles south of Jerusalem, Ramat Rahel served as the heart of this centralized administrative system that was based on collecting, storing, and transporting agricultural products in support of Judah’s economy and to pay the kingdom’s annual tribute—first to the Assyrians, then the Babylonians, Persians, and finally Ptolemaic and Seleucid empires.
Substantive PaleoJudaica posts on the site of Ramat Rahel (Ramat Rachel) are here, here, here, here, here, here, here , here, here, (sort of) here, and the links collected here.

Cross-file under Iconography and Northwest Semitic Epigraphy.

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

Brodersen, The Beginning of the Biblical Canon and Ben Sira (Mohr Siebeck)

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Alma Brodersen. The Beginning of the Biblical Canon and Ben Sira. 2022. XIII, 257 pages. Forschungen zum Alten Testament 162. 139,00 € including VAT. cloth ISBN 978-3-16-161599-3.
Published in English.
The Book of Ben Sira, written in Hebrew in the early second century BCE, is often regarded as containing the earliest references to the canon of the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament. In contrast, Alma Brodersen examines methodological and historical issues regarding the beginning of the biblical canon and Ben Sira, and demonstrates that the book itself – as distinct from the later Prologue to its Greek translation – does not actually refer to texts as canonical. In addition, a systematic analysis of key passages in Ben Sira 38–39 and 44–50 in Hebrew and Greek uncovers similarities with other ancient texts which are not canonical today but preserved in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Far from proving the existence of the biblical canon in his day, Ben Sira's book indicates instead the importance of oral teaching and the relevance of a wide range of traditions.

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

Sunday, February 05, 2023

Tu B'Shevat 2023

TU B'SHEVAT, the "New Year for Trees," begins this evening at sundown. Best wishes to all those celebrating.

Last year's Tu B'Shevat post is here, with links to earlier posts.

For biblical background, see here. The name "New Year for Trees" comes from Mishnah Rosh HaShanah 1.1. That passage gives two alternative dates for the celebration, one from Shammai and one from Hillel. Hillel's date (15 Shevat) is the one celebrated at present.

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

Nasoraia, The Mandaean Rivers Scroll (Diwan Nahrawatha) (Routledge)

The Mandaean Rivers Scroll (Diwan Nahrawatha)
An Analysis
By Brikha Nasoraia
Copyright Year 2022
Hardback £84.00

eBook £25.89

ISBN 9780367335441
Published September 30, 2022 by Routledge
204 Pages 22 B/W Illustrations

Book Description

This book features detailed analysis of an ancient secret scroll from the Middle East known as the Rivers Scroll or Diwan Nahrawatha, providing valuable insight into the Gnostic Mandaean religion. This important scroll offers a window of understanding into the Mandaean tradition, with its intricate worldview, ritual life, mysticism and esoteric qualities, as well as intriguing art. The text of the Rivers Scroll and its artistic symbolism have never before been properly analyzed and interpreted, and the significance of the document has been lost in scholarship. This study includes key segments translated into English for the first time and gives the scroll the worthy place it deserves in the history of the Mandaean tradition. It will be of interest to scholars of Gnosticism, religious studies, archaeology and Semitic languages.

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