Sunday, December 5, 2021

Latest Biblical Discovery

As a stone cold atheist, I find the Bible fascinating. It is, both the Old and New Testaments, a book of ages past, as well as the typical list of what God likes and doesn't like (spoiler alert, Old Testament; lists of DONT'S / New Testament; things of DO).

But the more we look and check, the more we find that historically the Bible holds clues about ancient times. A much more complex view of the past and the authenticity of the Bible than we assumed, at least when I was young.

For example, a new find in the Israeli desert seems to prove at least some the story of the Jewish Maccabees. Famous at Hanukkah, these stories tell of the founding of a Jewish state. It seems those stories are probably true, given this find. I will put the screen shot of the Story headline from Science News below and then a snippet of the text below it. 

The newly-discovered Hellenistic fortress measures about 15 by 15 m (49 by 49 feet).

The structure had two floors, seven rooms, a stairwell, and was about 5 m (16.4 feet) high.

Its external walls, no less than 3 m (10 feet) wide, were built of large stones and had a sloping outer glacis to prevent the wall from being scaled.

The fortress overlooks Maresha, the largest Hellenistic city in the area and the capital of Idumea in the Hellenistic period.

The site lies on the summit of a high hill commanding a view of the ancient main road, which ran along the Nahal Lachish streambed and connected the coastal plain to the central highland ridge.

“The excavation site provides tangible evidence of the Hanukkah stories,” said IAA archaeologist Dr. Saar Ganor and colleagues.

“It appears that we have discovered a building that was part of a fortified line erected by the Hellenistic army commanders to protect the large Hellenistic city of Maresha from a Hasmonean offensive.”

“However, the finds from the site show that the Seleucid defenses were unsuccessful; the excavated building was badly burnt and devastated by the Hasmoneans.”

The archaeologists also a massive destruction layer, about 0.5 m (1.6 feet) thick, was discovered beneath large stones that had collapsed from the upper part of the building.

The layer yielded pottery, slingshots, iron weapons, burnt wooden beams and dozens of coins dated to the 2nd century BCE.

“Based on the finds and coins, the building’s destruction can be attributed to the Hasmonean leader John Hyrcanus’ conquest of the region of Idumea in around 112 BCE,” the researchers said.

“The Hasmoneans, whose rebellion against Hellenistic rule and the Seleucid dynasty followed the anti-Jewish decrees of Antiochus IV, waged many battles against the Seleucid army.”

“John Hyrcanus’ conquests, described in the Books of the Maccabees and the accounts of the historian Josephus, led to the Hasmonean state’s southward expansion.”

“The stories of the Maccabees are coming to life before our eyes, and this is the most fascinating part of the IAA’s work, when dedicated, hardworking archaeologists breathe life into the historical annals of the people who passed through this land,” said IAA’s general director Dr. Eli Eskozido.

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