News Digest — 1/13/23

Written Records Of Biblical King David Discovered By Researchers

The Mesha Stele, also called the Moabite Stone, is a basalt stone slab that has provided historians and linguists with the largest source of the Moabite language to date.  Researchers have only now been able to verify with a considerable degree of certainty that the stele contains explicit references to King David.

The stele was discovered in fragments in 1868 roughly 15 miles east of the Dead Sea and currently resides in the Louvre museum in Paris.  While it was damaged in 1869, a paper-mache impression of the inscription was captured before the damage occurred.

The slab is etched with a lengthy account of King Mesha of Moab going to war with Israel.  The events described correspond possibly to a similar account in 2 Kings chapter 3.

The text contains allusions to the Israelite god as well as the “House of David,” and the “Altar of David.”  However, until today, scholars could not be entirely sure that these references to King David were being correctly deciphered.

The Moabite phrase “House of David” consists of five letters: bt dwd.  “Bt is similar to today’s Hebrew word for house – bayit – which is beit in its construct form.  And “dwd” can be thought of like modern Hebrew’s daled vav (the letter, in this case, is actually waw) daled, which spells the name “David.”

Until now, only the first and fourth letters of the series, bet and waw were completely clear.  In a late-2022 article entitled “Mesha Stele and the House of David” in the winter issue of Biblical Archeology Review researchers Andre Lemaire and Jean-Philippe Delorme re-examined the evidence.  They write:

“In 2015, a team from the West Semitic Research Project of the University of Southern California took new digital photographs of both the restored stela and the paper squeeze.  The team used a method called Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI), in which numerous digital images are taken of an artifact from different angles and then combined to create a precise, three-dimensional digital rendering of the piece.”

“This method is especially valuable because the digital rendering allows researchers to control the lighting of an inscribed artifact, so that hidden, faint, or worn incisions become visible.”  

“More recently in 2018, the Louvre took these new, high-resolution pictures and projected light onto them coming directly through the 150-year-old squeeze paper.  The researchers were able to glean a much clearer picture of the ancient records.”  “This,” explains Lemaire and Delorme, “is how they were able to see evidence of the other three letters, taw (like modern Hebrew tav), dalet and dalet.”

Encyclopedia Britannica characterized the relationship between Moabite and the Hebrew of its time as differing “only dialectically.”

According to Dearman and Jackson’s 1989 book Studies in the Mesha Inscription and Moab: “It is probable that Moabite and Hebrew were, for the most part, “mutually intelligible.”



Ron Dermer: Israel Will Be USA’s Most Important Ally In 21st Century

“Israel will be the most important ally of the United States in the 21st century,” Israel’s Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer said at an event in Miami Tuesday night (10th), where he discussed his new role and ministry.

Dermer spoke of three priorities he has set for his ministry – the Abraham Accords, Iran and relations with the US.

The International March of the Living (MOTL) honored Dermer and his wife Rhoda at the event on Tuesday night (10th).  Dermer, who served as Israel’s ambassador to the US from 2013 to 2021 was a previous participant and speaker at the March of the Living “and has always been a staunch supporter of the program and its educational goals,” MOTL said.

The couple was “recognized for their outstanding service to Israel and the Jewish people,” according to the official website promoting the event.  The event was planned months ago, before Dermer knew he would become a Minister.  Since he was already flying to the US, he met with White House officials at the beginning of the week.

In a recording from the event, Dermer said that his ministry’s first priority will be “that the evil regime in Tehran, which openly calls and actively works to destroy the one and only Jewish state, does not achieve that goal,” and added “that is our number one priority.”

“The second priority is to see if we can expand the circle of peace,” he said.  “We were able to achieve peace in 2020, thanks to the partnership we had with the previous administration and the great ambassador David Friedman, who really deserves a great round of applause,” Dermer said.  “In 2020, after only having two peace agreements in 72 years, we were able to achieve the Abraham Accords in the span of four or five months,” he said of the peace agreements that prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu led with former US President Donald Trump.

The new minister shared that “unfortunately, for the last two years, that circle of peace has not expanded,” and added that “Prime Minister Netanyahu is determined to expand it.”

He shared that he hopes “to work very closely with the current US administration.”  As mentioned, Dermer’s third goal is to be Netanyahu’s right hand regarding the US.  He shared with the audience that “the third priority is to significantly upgrade the bilateral ties that we have with the United States of America.  Some of you have heard me say this before, over many years, I believe Israel will be the most important ally of the United States in the 21st century.  And what I’m tasked to do is to see how we can accelerate this process.”

Dermer explained that “just as Britain was the most important ally of the US in the 20th century, Israel will become the most important ally in the 21st century.”

Dermer revealed that the Strategic Affairs Ministry does not yet have employees, all of whom were removed to the Foreign Ministry after the Naftali Bennett – Yair Lapid government decided to dismantle the ministry in 2021.  These employees are expected to move to the Diaspora Affairs Ministry under Minister Amichai Chikli and deal with combating the BDS movement and anti-Semitism.

“I’m hoping to hire my first employee soon, in a ministry that doesn’t currently exist, and will have to be put together again,” Dermer said.  “It’s a lot on the plate, but I’ve been privileged to work with the prime minister for 22 years.  I’m confident that under his leadership Israel will be able to achieve these goals.”  



Revealed: PA’s Plan To Build Neighborhood On Joshua’s Altar

Official documents from the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Local Authorities which was obtained by the ‘Forum for the Struggle for Every Dunam,’ reveal a construction plan for dozens of lots on the area of the ancient altar of Joshua on Mount Ebal.

According to the plan, dozens of permanent homes will be built on most of the altar wall, and will practically connect the outskirts of the city of Nablus and Askar to Mount Ebal.

According to the plan, the altar itself will remain a public park, which will be surrounded by Arab houses that will be built on the wall itself, including the rest of the area of the archaeological site which is an integral part of the Biblical altar area..

The ‘Forum for the Struggle for Every Dunam’ stated: “According to the plans, most of the area of the site – including all the historical artifacts where the construction is to take place, will be razed to gravel, and also the part that is left (for disposal) will be destroyed in a short time and completely out of Israeli control with no access to the site following the completion of the neighborhood.”

The Palestinian Authority has been constructing a new main road between the city of Nablus and a nearby Arab village, a road which illegally enters Area C in places close to the location of the altar.  The attempt to take over the area began immediately upon the destruction of a Jewish farm by the Israeli Civil Administration two years ago, which left the area without a Jewish presence.



In Gaza, Anger Rises Over Hamas Leaders Travel

In recent months high-profile Hamas officials have quietly decamped to upscale hotels in Beirut, Doha and Istanbul, stirring resentment among Gaza residents who see them as leading luxurious lives abroad while the economy collapses at home.  Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh relocated to Qatar with his wife and several children in 2019.  Political leader Fathi Hamad moved to Istanbul a year ago and frequently flies to Beirut, where media have shown him in meetings at a five-star hotel.  Deputy leader Khalil al-Hayya also located to Turkey last year.

Former government spokesman Taher Nounou and leader Ibrahim Salah moved to Doha, Qatar.  Senior member Salah al-Bardawil, spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri, and dozens of aides also have resettled in Doha, Istanbul, or Beirut.  Several children of Hamas leaders are running lucrative real estate businesses for their parents in Istanbul.

While Hamas casts leaders’ stays abroad as temporary foreign tours aimed at drumming up support, some of these tours last for years.  Azmi Keshawi, Gaza analyst at the International Crisis Group, said, “Ordinary Palestinians see that Hamas has gone from this humble Palestinian leadership who lived and struggled among the people, to living in these comfortable zones where they are no longer suffering and seem far from the Palestinian cause and issues.  Definitely people talk about this and draw comparisons in anger.”



School Experiences 4th Antisemitic Incident Since Start Of Year  

Harvard-Westlake School (HW), an exclusive Los Angeles Preparatory academy, announced late last week that the fourth campus “antisemitic incident” to occur this month, had taken place.

President Rick Commons told a senior class assembly on Friday (6th) that a swastika was discovered carved into a desk, according to school paper The Chronicle.

Commons also revealed that the school had previously found a swastika carved in a different desk earlier in January, and had also found a swastika drawn on a whiteboard.

“The school previously said in an October 12 email that several swastikas and the statement “Hitler rocks” were found carved into a desk.

“These hateful words and symbols should cause all of us to feel pain, fear and anger,” Commons said during the assembly.  “This is an offense to all of us, not just our Jewish students and community members, for whom we feel special concern as we condemn all these disturbing incidents at HW and the awful rise of antisemitism around the world.”

Harvard-Westlake School describes itself as an independent, co-educational college preparatory day school for grades 7-12.  It has two campuses in the Los Angeles area.



Weather In Israel: Possible Thunderstorms, Northern Floods, Hermon Snow

Israelis can expect cold weather and thunderstorms this weekend as the winter weather continues, with chances of flooding in the North and of snow on Mount Hermon, according to the Israel Meteorological Society.

The Israeli coastal region will see rain as the rest of the country will be partly cloudy.  However, the rains are expected to worsen Friday night (13th) with a risk of floods in the coastal areas in Israel’s north.

Southeast-to-southwest winds will be blowing, with gusts set to be as high as over 30 mph, roughening the sea waves.

Rains will continue up north through Saturday (14th) and Sunday (15th) with continued thunderstorms and snow on Mount Hermon.