Category Archives: BIBLICAL

Due to heavy rain: Ritual Temple Baths now fully functional in 2000 years, for the first time.

Thanks to Heavy Rains: Ritual Baths for Temple now fully functional for first time in 2,000 years

Two thousand years ago, Jews from all over Israel attended the Holy Temple in Jerusalem three times a year to worship God, as the Bible commands

Three times a year—on the festival of Pesach, on the festival of Shavuot, and on the festival of Sukkot—all your males shall appear before Hashem your God in the place that He will choose. They shall not appear before Hashem empty-handed, Deuteronomy 16:16

In the course of their spiritual preparation for the encounter of holiness on the site of Temple, these pilgrims will immerse themselves in the mikvah.

An ancient mikvah, located just south of Jerusalem, that was used by these pilgrims has been renewed by the recent rainfall in Israel and is full enough to use, according to Assaf Brezis The Gush Etzion ATV Tour Manager

The ancient mikvah, located on the road known as Derech HaAvot (Patriarch’s Route), was rediscovered just 35 years ago.

While it’s still being run by the military and not fully restored, Brezis spoke excitedly about the Biblical significance of the mikvah and the area surrounding it. He knows it has the potential to captivate Bible-based Jews and Christian alike.

Ritual Bath in the Prat Spring, Judea

He knows because he’s witnessed visitors crying at the site, as they come to understand its Biblical significance. Brezis has a vision for building a tourist attraction near the mikvah, to reenact the scenes that took place there more than 2000 years ago.

Using speakers in each all-terrain vehicle, Brezis’ company takes visitors on tours, each lasting an hour or two, during which they are introduced to the history and Biblical significance of the mikvah and the surrounding area.

The ancient mikvah on Derech HaAvot, for example, has two entrances, separated by a wall in the center. This is different from most mikvahs, both ancient and modern, which are just a single pool.

Ancient mikvah with two entrances

Brezis told Breaking Israel News that there is a similar mikvah in what is today known as the Davidson Center in Jerusalem’s Old City. This type of construction is a clue that the mikvah was in heavy use by Jews on their way to Jerusalem.

When he gets visitors to imagine a time that the area around the mikvah was once “crowded with thousands of pilgrims together,” it often brings them to tears.

In addition to the ancient mikvah, the ATV tours bring people to other sites of Biblical significance nearby, such as Herodian (where King Herod is buried), Sde Boaz (Boaz’s field) where significant episodes from the Book of Ruth occurred, Roman milestones on roads to Jerusalem that were in use 4000 years ago and Mitzpor HaElef, a lookout more than 3000 feet above sea level.

The Talmud suggests that people who were coming to the Holy Temple could immerse themselves in a mikvah as soon as they felt the spiritual pull of Jerusalem. Brezis explained that it was common for pilgrims coming from the south to already sense Jerusalem at this location, making it a particularly well-known and heavily-used mikvah.

It is still possible today to see Jerusalem from the nearby Jewish community of Neve Daniel. Brezis connected this location to Avraham’s vision of Jerusalem on his journey to fulfill God’s command to sacrifice his son Yitzchak (Isaac). 

On the third day Avraham looked up and saw the place from afar. Genesis 22:4

Shannon Nuszen, the political activist in the area, told Breaking Israel News that the site also has contemporary political significance. “I take [people on] tours there because it’s significant to the political fight here.

Derech HaAvot runs right through Judea and is full of archaeological finds that prove this land has always been Jewish. Just steps from the mikvah is a wine press and an ancient Roman milestone.

“While you’re standing there, you can look up and see the community of Netiv HaAvot, located on the same road where 17 homes were destroyed in the legal battle where claims were made that the land may or may not belong to us.”

Since the mikvah hasn’t yet been fully restored, the rainwater-filled pools may only last a few weeks, during Israel’s rainy season. Nevertheless, Brezis concluded that “It’s amazing to see this place, even without the water.”

Has Jesus had a wife? New Coptic Papyrus Tests May Give Answers

Did Jesus Have a Wife? New Tests on Ancient Coptic Papyrus May Give Answers

To order to determine if the papyrus fragment is authentic strict forensic and academic analysis has been carried out for the controversial “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife

The much-debated gospel, if legitimate, might show that at one point it was believed Jesus had taken wife, contrary to the current doctrines of Christianity.

In 2012, Harvard University professor Karen L. King revealed the faded papyrus, which quickly became the international headlines. The announcement of a papyrus which might alter the historical record of Christian faith was met with elation, anger, and skepticism.

The text is known now as the “ The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife ” is written in Coptic (an Egyptian language), mentions a woman named Mary, and contains the translated phrases, “ Jesus said to them, my wife….”, and ” she will be able to be my disciple,” which suggests not only that Jesus may have married (some belief to Mary Magdalene) but also it raises the argument for women to become ordained priests.

An editorial in the Vatican’s newspaper declared that the papyrus was a fake, as did a number of other scholars. Additionally, the Church of England has dismissed the claims, saying it is closer to the fictional ‘Da Vinci Code’ than historical accounts.

‘Jesus as a friend of children’ (1845), by Marie Ellenrieder
‘Jesus as a friend of children’ (1845), by Marie Ellenrieder

However, the fragment has been thoroughly tested by scientists who conclude, in a report published in the  Harvard Theological Review, that the ink (actually pigment) and papyrus have ancient origins, and the fragment is not, therefore, a modern forgery. The researchers date it to 1,200 years ago, between the sixth and ninth centuries.

According to LiveScience, new research has been done on the disputed papyrus but the study has yet to be published.  Scientists at Columbia University are conducting new tests on the pigments used on the papyrus. When compared with the pigments from other known authentic or fraudulent gospels, comparisons can be made and legitimacy established.

Scientists at Columbia University are not commenting until their results are published, but according to the LiveScience article, the Jesus gospel was compared to another fragment from the “Gospel of John”, which was written in a rare ancient dialect of Coptic known as Lycopolitan.

The two texts are said to be very similar, but the John gospel dates to between the seventh and ninth centuries, leading some to say “The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife” was a fake modeled after this.

However, “James Yardley, a senior research scientist at Columbia University, told Live Science that the new tests suggest that the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife was written by another person than that who wrote John papyrus,” reports MailOnline.

Yardley told LiveScience, “In our first exploration, we did state that the inks used for the two documents of interest [the John papyrus and the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife] were quite different. The more recent results do confirm this observation strongly.”

Additionally, the language on the fragment has been examined, and many scholars say it is also very similar to the early Christian “ Gospel of Thomas ”.

This gospel can be found online with modern-day typos. Skeptical scholars point out similar typos in the Jesus gospel, but proponents rebut, saying that typos and grammatical errors were just as prevalent in ancient scribe-work as they are now, and the Jesus gospel is another interesting example of that.

The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci ( Wikimedia). In the novel, ‘The Da Vinci Code’, Dan Brown writes that the figure at the right hand of Jesus is Mary Magdalene.

What remains to be sorted out is the mysterious provenance (source or chronology) of the artifact. Many scholars are drawing their own conclusions that the papyrus is a modern fake, and that opinion is supported by the unclear ownership of the piece, and where it might have originated.

The person who currently owns the ancient papyrus remains anonymous but claims the gospel came to him with other Coptic texts from Germany. The texts were reportedly purchased from a man named Hans-Ulrich Laukamp in 1999, who himself allegedly got them in 1963 in Potsdam, in what was East Germany.

A copy of the signature of Hans Ulrich Laukamp (September 1997), as found online by LiveScience.

The claim that Laukamp previously owned the gospel text has been strongly disputed by his former friends and business partners. Laukamp died in 2002, and representatives of his estate say Hans-Ulrich had no interest in antiquities and did not collect them.

Further, he was living in West Berlin in the ’60s, and due to the infamous wall that divided Berlin from 1961 to 1989, it was improbable he crossed into East Berlin to acquire artifacts. Laukamp had no children or living relatives to confirm or deny the claims.

The LiveScience article points out that Laukamp’s handwritten signature can be located online on notarized documents from between 1997 and 2001, and these could be compared to the signature on the sales documents provided by the current anonymous owner.

Last year in a Harvard Theological Review article professor King said that the anonymous owner, “provided me with a photocopy of a contract for the sale of ‘6 Coptic papyrus fragments, one believed to be a Gospel’ from Hans-Ulrich Laukamp, dated Nov. 12, 1999, and signed by both parties.” Further, King notes that “a handwritten comment on the contract states, ‘Seller surrenders photocopies of correspondence in German. Papyri were acquired in 1963 by the seller in Potsdam (East Germany).’”

Until comparisons are made between known signatures and those on the contracts, the provenance of the artifact remains unverified.

If it can be shown Laukamp did indeed get the enigmatic papyrus from East Germany, where did it come from before that? Discovering the true origins of the ancient artifact will go a long way in determining authenticity.

Until conclusive evidence can be shown that reveals “The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife” is indeed a convincing forgery, all experts can go on for now is the ancient date of the ink and interpretations of the timelines of the Coptic language. As this ancient papyrus presents such a controversial idea, the debate will undoubtedly rage until then.

This Is the Oldest Known Inscription Bearing the Full Name of Jerusalem

This Is the Oldest Known Inscription Bearing the Full Name of Jerusalem

The oldest discovered inscription of “Jerusalem” found to date
The oldest discovered inscription of “Jerusalem” found to date

The Israel Museum unveiled a pillar from the 2nd Temple period bearing a 3-line inscription, the earliest stone inscription of the full modern Hebrew spelling of “Jerusalem.”

“Hananiah son of Dodalos of Yerushalayim [the way the ancient Jewish city is written in Hebrew today]” was discovered during a salvage excavation earlier this year of a large Hasmonean Period Jewish artisans’ village near what is today’s western entrance to the city.

In an interview with The Times of Israel, Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist Danit Levi said when her team alerted her to the find.

She could not believe that the word “Yerushalayim” could be on an ancient pillar and that it must be graffiti.

Danit Levy, director of the excavations on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, inspects the inscribed column in the field.

When she saw the expertly chiseled Hebrew lettering in the 31.5-inch tall column, she dusted it off and began to read.“My heart started to pound, and I was sure everyone could hear it. My hands were trembling so badly I couldn’t properly take a picture,” she said.

Levi believes the column and inscription date back to 100 BCE, and belonged to or was built with money from Hananiah son of Dodalos—Dodalos being a nickname used at the time to refer to artists, based on the Greek myth of Daedalus.

Levi said the column was located in a Jewish village, but that it was found in a ceramic construction workshop used by the Tenth Roman Legion—the army that would eventually destroy Jerusalem and exile the Jews—evidently being reused in a plastered wall.

There is a disagreement among experts as to whether the word “Yerushalayim” was etched in Aramaic or Hebrew. While the bar is the Aramaic word for “son,” the Aramaic pronunciation of Jerusalem was “Yerushalem,” whereas the word in the inscription was written “Yerushalayim,” just like in Hebrew.

The artisan village was located near a natural source for clay, water, and fuel, along the main arter leading to the Temple, which, as noted by IAA’s Jerusalem Regional Archaeologist Dr. Yuval Baruch at the event, is still in use today as a roadway to the Old City.

The artisan village is situated on a massive 200-acre plot, likely in order to accommodate the needs of hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who would ascend to the Temple three times a year during festivals, as well as the 50,000 residents of the city at the time.

The column is currently on display at the Israel Museum in the Second Temple period exhibit.

Though this is the first inscription of its kind in stone, the full spelling of Jerusalem has been seen before, including on the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were written as early as 400 BCE.

Source: livescience

Ancient 3,000-year-old tablet suggests Biblical king may have existed

Ancient 3,000-year-old tablet suggests Biblical king may have existed

The pieced together remains of the ninth century B.C. inscribed tablet known as the Mesha Stele.
The pieced together remains of the ninth century B.C. inscribed tablet known as the Mesha Stele.

A new reading of an ancient tablet that is hard to decipher suggests that the biblical King Balak may have been a real historical person, suggests a new study.

But the study’s researchers recommend that people take this finding “with due caution,” and other biblical experts agree.”As the authors admit, this proposal is very tentative,” said Ronald Hendel, a professor of the Hebrew Bible and Jewish Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, who was not involved in the study. 

The tablet in question is known as the Mesha Stele, an inscribed 3-foot-tall (1 meter) black basalt stone that dates to the 2nd half of the 9th century B.C. The 34 lines on the Mesha Stele describe how King Mesha of Moab triumphed over the Israelites. The inscription is written in Moabite, which is very close to Hebrew.

However, the Mesha Stele is extremely cracked and parts of it are challenging to read because of that damage. When Westerners became aware of the tablet in the 1860s, several people tried to buy it from the Bedouins, who owned the stone.

As negotiations dragged on, 1 Westerner was able to get a paper rubbing of the Mesha Stele; that paper was torn during an ensuing fight, according to a 1994 report in the journal Biblical Archaeology Review.

In the meantime, negotiations soured between the Bedouins and the prospective buyers, who included people from Prussia (North Germany), France and England, in part because of political affiliations with an Ottoman official, whom the Bedouins disliked. So, the Bedouins smashed the Mesha Stele into pieces by heating it up and pouring cold water on it.

Since then, archaeologists have tried to reassemble the smashed tablet by connecting the broken pieces. Now, the Mesha Stele is on display at the Louvre Museum in Paris; about two-thirds of the tablet are made of its original pieces, and the remaining one-third is made of modern writing on plaster, which was informed by the torn paper rubbing, according to the 1994 report.

What does it say?

Researchers have spent countless hours trying to decipher the tablet’s challenging portions. For instance, in the mid-1990s, it was proposed that line 31 referred to “the House of David,” that is, the dynasty of the biblical king.

But some experts are skeptical of this interpretation. In the fall of 2018, the France Secondary School (College de France) had an exhibit on the Mesha Stele, showing a high-resolution, well-lit image of the rubbing. “And of course, we wished to check the validity of the reading ‘House of David,’ suggested for this line in the past,” said study co-researcher Israel Finkelstein, a professor emeritus at the Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University in Israel.

The text contained a definite “B,” Finkelstein said. The earlier interpretation was that this stood for “Bet,” which means “house” in Hebrew. But Finkelstein and two colleagues thought that it stood for something else: Balak, a Moab king mentioned in the Hebrew Bible’s Book of Numbers.

“If Balak is indeed mentioned in the stele as the king of Horonaim [a city in Moab], this is the 1st time in which he appears outside of the Bible, in real-time evidence, that is, in a text written in his own time, in the 9th century BCE.

But this is just one idea, and it might not be correct, Hendel said.”We can read one letter, b, which they are guessing may be filled out as Balak, even though the following letters are missing,”

“It’s just a guess. It could be Bilbo or Barack, for all we know.”Moreover, the Bible places King Balak about 200 years before this tablet was created, so the timing doesn’t make sense, Hendel said.

The authors acknowledge this gap in the study: “To give a sense of authenticity to his story, [the Mesha Stele’s] author must have integrated into the plot certain elements borrowed from the ancient reality.”

In other words, “the study shows how a story in the Bible may include layers (memories) from different periods which were woven together by later authors into a story aimed to advance their ideology and theology,” Finkelstein said. “It also shows that the question of historicity in the Bible cannot be answered in a simplistic ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.”