The Jews of Jerusalem In Situ

The Cambridge Dictionary defines the term “in situ” as “in the original place, or the place where something should be,” or, alternatively, “in the original place instead of being moved to another place.” In the world of archaeology, there is nothing more valuable than finding an object “in situ” as it gives the ancient room, building and town where the object was found, important context in both time and purpose. Unfortunately, due to ancient sites being raided for centuries, most historical finds are traded in the black market, destroying the ability to accurately relay the provenance of the object and the story of the place from which it was taken.

However, last week the world was blessed by two remarkable discoveries in the City of David, just south of the Old City of Jerusalem’s external walls, of ancient Jewish objects found in situ.

In the ruins of what is currently thought to be a large municipal building dating back to the 6th or 7th century BCE, was a clay seal bearing the inscription “LeNathan-Melech Eved HaMelech – which translates to “[belonging] to Nathan-Melech, Servant of the King.” Such servant to the king is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible in 2 Kings 23:11.

The second item is a blue agate seal saying “LeIkar Ben Matanyahu” – “(belonging) to Ikar son of Matanyahu.”

Finding these two items in their original location is a blessing and curse for many. For those people who enjoy learning about history, these ancient Jewish finds in what is believed to be the original capital of the unified kingdom of Israel under King David is considered an important piece of the puzzle to understanding the location and way of life of the Jewish people in Jerusalem thousands of years ago. However, for those people who want to see modern Jews evicted from Jerusalem in favor of Arabs, the findings present an obstacle in convincing Jews that they should abandon their history and religion.

Like the finding of the seal of King Hezkiah in Jerusalem in December 2015, and the burnt remains of a Torah scroll found in a synagogue in Ein Gedi, these findings attest to the long history of Jews living throughout the area east of the Green Line. Arab news sites like Al Jazeera refuse to print any of these stories, in an effort to continue to lie to its readership about the history of the Jews in the holy land which predates Islam by thousands of years.

The incredible discoveries makes one consider the two alternative definitions for “in situ” described above: the ancient Jewish finds in Jerusalem were located “in the original place instead of being moved to another place,” while the modern Israeli Jews themselves and the capital of the Jewish State are “in the original place, or the place where something should be,” in Jerusalem.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Gimme that Old-Time Religion

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Gimme that Old-Time Religion

Two of the three main monotheistic faiths had amazing historical revelations in July 2015. If you read the New York Times, you only learned about one of them.

Quran

On a front page story with a large accompanying color picture, the New York Times relayed an incredible discovery: an old Quran that had been sitting on the shelves of the University of Birmingham, England for a century, was dated to around the year 600CE plus or minus 50 years.  That would make this version of the Quran the oldest manuscript in Islam.

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New York Times Front Page Story on Quran,
July 23, 2015

According to Islamic tradition, their prophet Mohammed received divine revelations and compiled the Quran sometime between 610 to 632CE. Religious scholars had debated whether the Quran was passed down in oral form for many generations after Mohammed’s death before ultimately being written down. If the text indeed was written down on the parchment when it was prepared (sometimes parchments were washed and reused, and carbon-dating only relates to the parchment but not the actual ink and text), it would answer that outstanding question.

The Hebrew Bible

Three days before the world heard about the dating of the oldest Quran, researchers uncovered one of the oldest texts of the Hebrew Bible, dating from around 500CE.

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Charred scroll from synagogue in Ein Gedi
(photo: Shay Halevi/Israel Antiquities Authority)

In the 1970s, the piece of a charred scroll was discovered in Ein Gedi in the Judean Desert. Only in July 2015 were researchers able to use the latest technology to decipher the damaged text to reveal sentences from the book of Leviticus. While older documents (by 500+ years) of the Hebrew Bible had been discovered not far from Ein Gedi, those documents were found hidden in jars within caves.  This scroll was found in the ancient synagogue of Ein Gedi, revealing the earliest discovery of a Torah scroll housed in a synagogue.

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Text from the Ein Gedi scrolls
(photo: University of Kentucky)

Both of these stories are amazing in terms of history, religion and science.  It brings to mind an old gospel song: “Give Me that Old Time Religion!”

Yet the part “that’s NOT good enough for me” (to paraphrase the song) is the nagging question why the New York Times never misses an opportunity to slight Israel.  The discovery of one old religious treasure received front page attention (for Islam) but a text from 100 years earlier didn’t even get a passing mention (for Judaism).  Was it because the scrolls were found in the Judean Desert which further underscores the long history of Jews in the contentious Jordan Valley?

Why do you think the NYT mentioned only one of these stories?


Related FirstOneThrough articles:

When were Jews barred from living in Judea & Samaria?

Names and Narrative: The West Bank / Judea and Samaria

The Subtle Discoloration of History: Shuafat

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