Zev Radovan

Sacred images. In the centuries following the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 C.E. appear numerous depictions of objects associated with the Temple. The third-century C.E. carving, cut into the rock inside a Beth She’arim cave-tomb, is usually described as a Torah ark. But author Asher Grossberg disagrees, arguing that Torah arks are depicted with their doors open and scrolls displayed, as in the gold glass. The structure in the carving, with its two-paneled doors and four columns, Grossberg believes, is a representation of the Temple—either showing its facade or one of its gates—and is common in ancient synagogue mosaics and on Bar-Kokhba coins. If Temple depictions were common in the third century, it is possible that they appeared even earlier—perhaps while the Temple stood, when the Yehosah ossuary was made.