“Simeon ben Kosba president of Israel” are the extraordinary words inscribed on a lead weight recently unearthed in Israel. Dating to the second century A.D., the weight was found in one of the subterranean burrows used by Jewish rebels during the Second Revolt against Rome. Amos Kloner, head of the archaeological team investigating these hundreds of underground hiding complexes in the Judean foothills, describes the weight and its exciting discovery in “Name of Ancient Israel’s Last President Discovered on Lead Weight.”
Kloner serves as district archaeologist of the Judean Shephelah for the Israel Department of Antiquities and teaches archaeology of the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods at Bar-Ilan University, near Tel Aviv. An article by Kloner and colleague Gabriel Barkay on another underground complex—burial caves—entitled, “Jerusalem Tombs From the Days of the First Temple,” BAR 12:02.
In “Jewish Rebels Dig Strategic Tunnel System,” Ehud Netzer illuminates another underground network used during the Second Jewish Revolt. This one, at Herodium in the Judean Desert, was built for defense, not only for hiding, as were the systems Kloner describes. The rebels intended to use the tunnels to move men and supplies quickly to hidden openings in the flanks of the mountain-fortress when the Romans attacked. Whether the system was ever used we still don’t know. A Hebrew University archaeologist, Netzer first began digging at Herodium in 1972; he reported on a decade of exploration there in “Searching for Herod’s Tomb,” BAR 09:03.
While Biblical archaeologists have long used the Bible to help guide their endeavors, Biblical scholars have too often neglected the results of archaeology that might otherwise illuminate the text. In “The Marzeah Amos Denounces—Using Archaeology to Interpret a Biblical Text,” Philip J. King shows how archaeological discoveries can sometimes confirm, at other times correct and at all times bring to life the Biblical text. Adapted from a chapter of his new book, Amos, Hosea, Micah—An Archaeological Commentary (reviewed in Books in Brief by Professor Paul D. Hanson of Harvard University), King’s article focuses on a short passage in which the prophet Amos condemns the
Professor of Biblical studies at Boston College, as well as an experienced field archaeologist, King has to his credit a string of presidencies of distinguished scholarly organizations. Currently president of the Society of Biblical Literature, King has presided over the William F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem (1972–77), the American Schools of Oriental Research (1976–82) and the Catholic Biblical Association of America (1981–82). He is a member of several editorial boards, including that of our sister publication, Bible Review.
To paraphrase the words of Samuel Johnson, ‘We have found you an argument, but we are not obliged to find you an understanding.’ In this issue, we present three arguments—concerning the Exodus and an Israelite cult site—but readers will have to decide for themselves the merits in each case.
Emmanuel Anati claims he has located the real Mt. Sinai, the one that inspired the story of Muses receiving the Tablets of the Law during the Israelites’ Exodus wanderings. It’s Har Karkom, a mountain in the western Negev, says Anati, professor of paleo-ethnology at the University of Lecce in Italy. Anati presented his case for Har Karkom in “Has Mt. Sinai Been Found?” BAR 11:04, and in a subsequent book. Now Israel Finkelstein vehemently disputes the claim in “Raider of the Lost Mountain.”
A senior lecturer at Bar-Ilan University and director of the excavations at Biblical Shiloh in the early 1980s, Finkelstein contributed two articles to BAR in 1986: “The Iron Age Sites in the Negev Highlands—Military Fortresses or Nomads Settling Down?” BAR 12:04, and “Shiloh Yields Some, But Not All of Its Secrets,” BAR 12:01.
No less controversial than the “where” of the Exodus is the “when.” In “Redating the Exodus—The Debate Goes On,” John J. Bimson answers Baruch Halpern’s “Radical Exodus Redating Fatally Flawed,” BAR 13:06. Halpern’s article itself was a response to “Redating the Exodus,” BAR 13:05, by Bimson and David Livingston. A lecturer in Old Testament at Trinity College, Bristol, England, Bimson is the author of Redating the Exodus (Almond Press, 1981).
One scholar to whom Bimson and Livingston refer in their September/October BAR article, Manfred Bietak, an Egyptologist from the University of Vienna, adds his voice to the discussion in “Contra Bimson, Bietak Says Late Bronze Age Cannot Begin as Late as 1400 B.C.” Bietak submits evidence he recently unearthed at Tell el-Dab‘a in the eastern Nile Delta.
In “On Cult Places and Early Israelites: A Response to Michael Coogan,” Amihai Mazar defends his interpretation of the “Bull Site” as a Israelite cult site against Michael Coogan’s negative assessment, reported in “Two Early Israelite Cult Sites Now Questioned,” BAR 14:01. Mazar first described this site for BAR readers in “Bronze Bull Found in Israelite ‘High Place’ From the Time of the Judges,” BAR 09:05.
“Simeon ben Kosba president of Israel” are the extraordinary words inscribed on a lead weight recently unearthed in Israel. Dating to the second century A.D., the weight was found in one of the subterranean burrows used by Jewish rebels during the Second Revolt against Rome. Amos Kloner, head of the archaeological team investigating these hundreds of underground hiding complexes in the Judean foothills, describes the weight and its exciting discovery in “Name of Ancient Israel’s Last President Discovered on Lead Weight.” Kloner serves as district archaeologist of the Judean Shephelah for the Israel Department of Antiquities and teaches archaeology […]