Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Biblical Archaeology Update: Oldest Relic Referencing Bethlehem Found

I love this stuff. Not very long ago at all, some "revisionist" Israeli archaeologists were arguing that there was no evidence of a developed Kingdom of Judah in the First Temple era, and that Biblical-era Judah consisted of a few tiny villages of some illiterate herding people, rather than the Kingdom of David and Solomon. Since then much evidence has been discovered demonstrating that Jerusalem was the well-developed government and commercial center of a kingdom, including evidence of a centralized tax collection system.

The latest development is the discovery in Jerusalem of a clay seal, or bulla, containing three lines of ancient Hebrew words, including "Beit Lechem," the Hebrew name for Bethlehem. As reported by JTA:
"This is the first time the name Bethlehem appears outside the Bible, in an inscription from the First Temple period, which proves that Bethlehem was indeed a city in the Kingdom of Judah, and possibly also in earlier periods,” according to Eli Shukron, director of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
The bulla was likely affixed to a tax shipment of silver or agricultural produce sent from Bethlehem to the King of Judah in the eighth or seventh century B.C., according to Shukron.

It is particularly fitting that this discovery was announced just prior to the festival of Shevuot (the Feast of Weeks--Pentecost), on which the Book of Ruth is read in synagogues. The story of Ruth, the great grandmother of King David, takes place in Bethlehem. Bethlehem is also the birthplace of King David.

Abba Eban once noted that the modern State of Israel is the only nation whose citizens live on the same land, speak the same language and practice the same religion as their ancestors did 3000 years ago. Of course, the Palestinians will denounce the discovery as a Zionist fraud and another attempt to Judaize Jerusalem and Palestine. Good luck with that, guys. And to the rest of you, Chag Shevuot Sameach--Happy Shevuot!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

MIB 3: A Career Milestone for Tommy Lee Jones

In the new film Men In Black 3, a time-travelling Agent J (Will Smith) works with both contemporary and younger versions of Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin respectively).  This release marks a professional milestone for Tommy Lee Jones.  Having devoted his entire acting career to playing the character of Tommy Lee Jones, he has now paved the way for a new generation of actors to play Tommy Lee Jones.

Whodda thunk it? New Joisey is Better Governed than California

In a column entitled "Jerry Brown vs. Chris Christie, in today's Wall Street Journal, William McGurn describes the divergent paths chosen by the respective governors of New Jersey and California.  Unfortunately, I live in California.  McGurn's best line: "The road to fiscal hell is paved with progressive intentions."

California can still turn itself around.  A good first step toward fiscal sanity would be to terminate development of the high speed rail "train to nowhere."

One interesting question that occurs to me is how Chris Christie was able to strike budget deals with a state legislature dominated by the Democratic Party and union interests, when California GOP Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger could not.  Could it be that Christie was not handcuffed by the right-wing of his own party, unlike Ahnuld?  Or is Christie just a better persuader? Who would have thought that an overweight, out-of-shape Jersey girly man would be a better arm twister than the Governator?