UPDATES 6:30 pm Israel time Monday:
*Confusion abounds over what happened near Metulla last night. Residents of the lovely Israeli city on the Lebanese border reporting hearing missile impact explosions. Lebanese sources confirmed that rockets were fired from Maryoun, and IDF troops were dispatched to the scene but could not find traces of the rockets. This morning the both the IDF and the Lebanese are claiming that no missiles were fired.
This sequence of events follows a well-established pattern of what often happens in southern Israel. Hamas terrorists fire rockets into Israeli border communities; residents hear and report explosions; the IDF checks for missiles but finds nothing; the IDF then claims that no missiles were fired; finally, the missiles are discovered by residents or farmers days later.
*Palestinian terrorists have infiltrated several Jewish communities in recent hours. In one case, a hole was discovered in a perimeter fence at Kochav Yaakov. Community security sounded an alarm, but not before two terrorists set fire to the community’s olive groves. At last report, the infiltrators have been captured. Elsewhere in Samaria, another Palestinian terrorist breached the security perimeter at Alei Zahav and attempted to stab a community member but was thwarted and captured.
What do the following two pictures have in common?
The first picture is of a pillar that has been found approximately 2 meters underground near Bethlehem. Proto-aeolic in the form used by the Judean Kings 2800-3000 years ago, the pillar dates to the time of the First Temple.
This particular pillar apparently marked the beginning of a water tunnel that stretched at least 250 meters underground–and is similar in scale to Hezekiah’s Tunnel in nearby Jerusalem. Archaeologists believe that the tunnel was almost certainly constructed to supply water to as yet undiscovered palace.
But don’t try to visit the site of this pillar. The Israeli government is trying to keep it secret primarily because of the political sensitivities that would be involved in trying to excavate the site “on Palestinian land”.
The second picture was taken in 1932 and shows renovations that were being made at the time to the Al-Aksa Mosque (note the Dome of the Rock to the right rear of the photo). Look closely at the exposed 14 meter long wooden beams that are in the ceiling of the building. Other such beams were discovered in the base of the building as well.
Remarkably, at the time of the renovation it was determined that the wood is cedar from Lebanon and that most of the beams are from the time of the 2nd Temple. However, at least one of the beams was dated to the 9th century BCE–and was most likely used in the construction of some part of the First Temple.
These wooden beams give us a small but intriguing insight into the way that the remnants of the First Temple were used in the construction of the Second Temple whose remnants were then used in the construction of the Al-Aksa and Dome of the Rock mosques.
What both the pillar and the wooden beams show is the unbelievable wealth of information that exists about Israel of the First Temple period, an Israel that the Palestinians will do everything to obscure–and which the current Israeli government is not inclined to explore.
*Your humble servant gratefully acknowledges Binyamin Tropper and the Times of Israel for elements of today’s blog concerning the pillar found near Bethlehem.