Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Bible Comes Alive!

Archaeologists have recently unearthed a most remarkable find in the ancient city of Lachish, which was the second most important city (after Jerusalem). It is a discovery that allows us to really "see" a passuk in Sefer Melakhim.

In the gatehouse of the city, they discovered a room that contained an altar, in other words, a small temple. The altar had been deliberately smashed and ruined, and then, the room had been turned into a toilet. It seems that there was a direct attempt to desecrate the illicit temple by turning it into a bathroom. Since the finds date to the period of Hizkiyahu, it is likely that the desecration of the altar were perfomed by the men of King Hizkiyahu's in their purge of the idolatry that endured from the reign of his father, King Ahaz.

Here is concrete evidence of a practice that is recorded elsewhere in Sefer Melakhim. We read the following in the depiction of Jehu's purge of the Baal: .
"וַיֹּצִאוּ אֶת-מַצְּבוֹת בֵּית-הַבַּעַל, וַיִּשְׂרְפוּהָ. וַיִּתְּצוּ, אֵת מַצְּבַת הַבָּעַל; וַיִּתְּצוּ אֶת-בֵּית הַבַּעַל, וַיְשִׂמֻהוּ למחראות (לְמוֹצָאוֹת) עַד-הַיּוֹם. (מלכים ב', י', כ"ז).
The NJPS translates it:
"27 They destroyed the pillar of Baal, and they tore down the temple of Baal and turned it into latrines, as is still the case."

How do you desecrate a pagan altar? Turn it into a latrine! There could be no greater indignity!
Amazing when archaeology gives as a snapshot into a passuk, and the Bible springs to life!

[Going back to Lachish, it is fascinating that whereas the pagan culture placed an altar at the city gates, the Torah states that we should place judges at the gates - שופטים ושוטרים! God wants justice at our gates more than ritual sacrifice!]

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