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Emet m'Tsiyon

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Jewish tombstone from Zo`ar at south end of Dead Sea

For those who need proof of Jewish history in rock-solid form, here's a Jewish tombstone from Zo`ar (צוער), at the south end of the Dead Sea. Although Zo`ar is now in the kingdom of Jordan, it had a Jewish population in Second Temple times, and even during and after the Bar Kokhba revolt (135 CE). In the Byzantine period, when Jews were forbidden to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, except on the 9th of Av, many Jews coming from Arabia would go to Zo`ar as the closest place where they could go, in order to get close to Jerusalem. Over the years, about 30 Jewish tombstones have been found at Zo`ar, usually inscribed in both Hebrew and Aramaic.

Click for larger view. The stone is now found in the Hecht Museum at the University of Haifa.

This stone is dated to 374 years after the destruction of the Second Temple, which is 442-443 CE, as we learn from the inscription. Notice not only the Hebrew writing, but also the menorah below the writing. The menorah was a well known, commonly used Jewish symbol in ancient times. The writing is similar in the form of the letters to that on the Dead Sea scrolls. It is readable to Hebrew readers today, although somewhat difficult.

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Coming: the Iraqi army around the time of the Farhoud, Jews in Jerusalem, et cetera.


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