Thursday, May 24, 2012

Another Great Discovery in Bethlehem

Alice C. Linsley

Bethlehem has made the news again with the discovery of a 2700 year old clay seal.

Photo Credit: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

Eli Shukron, director of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority said, "This is the first time the name Bethlehem appears outside the Bible,‭ ‬in an inscription from the First Temple period (1006-586 B.C.)‭, ‬which proves that Bethlehem was indeed a city in the Kingdom of Judah,‭ ‬and possibly also‭ ‬in earlier periods." (From here.) 

Only about 40 other seals of this kind from the first Jewish Temple period have been found, according to Shmuel Achituv, an expert in ancient scripts at Israel's Ben-Gurion University.

The dig is being underwritten by an right wing Zionist organization that hopes to see Jewish settlers populate the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan. 

In 2009, a 4,000-year-old tomb was discovered in Bethlehem during renovation on a local house. Construction workers were led to the tomb through a hole found near the Church of the Nativity. The tomb dates between 1,900 and 2,200 BC.

Pottery, plates and beads were retrieved from the tomb, along with the remains of two individuals. (From here.)

Todd Bolen, commenting on this find, has written: "Many tombs from this period, including intact ones, have been found throughout Israel. In fact, this period is primarily known from its cemeteries, with relatively few settlements discovered."

Bethlehem in the Bible

The Biblical information about Bethlehem ‭ tells the story of this ancient Horite settlement.

I Chronicles 4:4 lists Hur (Hor) as the "father of Bethlehem." The author of I Chronicles knew that Bethlehem was originally a Horite settlement.

Rachel, Jacob's cousin wife, was buried at Bethlehem. She gave birth to Joseph who married the daughter of the Priest of Heliopolis in Egypt (Gen. 41:45).  Heliopolis (Onn) was a Horite shrine city.

Bethlehem is where Ruth gave birth Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of David. Ruth is praised and likened to Tamar who gave birth to Perez and Zerah. Judah gained these righteous sons by Tamar after losing unrighteous sons. His kingdom was amplified through Perez from whom Israel's greatest king and the promised Messiah came.

Bethlehem is the hometown of King David, who tended the sheep of his father. Jesus comes from a long line of shepherd-priests, on both Joseph's and Mary's sides.  Joseph's family lived in Nazareth which was the home of the eighteenth division of priests, that of Happizzez (1 Chron. 24:15). His cousin bride was Mary. Mary’s father Joachim was a priest who kept flocks, according to the Protoevangelium of James. This may be why the Arabic name for Bethlehem is Bēt Laḥm, meaning "House of Meat/Flesh." In Christian belief, Jesus, the Lamb of God, gave of his flesh for the life of the world.

Horite priests maintained shrines at major water systems or at wells and also kept sheep. Moses tended the flocks of his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. It was at Jethro's well that Moses met his cousin wife, Zipporah. Likewise, Abraham's servant found Rebecca at a well, and Jacob first encountered Rachel at a well.

According to the prophet Micah, Messiah was to come from Bethlehem. The Bablyonian Talmud acknowledges that Jesus was born to Mary. In the Talmud, ignominious names are given to Mary and her Son. Mary is called "Charia" which means dung or excrement, and Jesus is called "Jeschu" which means May his name and memory be blotted out. Sanhedrin 106a acknowledges Mary's noblility but calls her a whore. “She who was the descendant of princes and governors played the harlot with carpenters.”

Mary was of the Horite priestly lines. She was "Miriam Daughter of Joachim Son of Pntjr (Panther) Priest of Nathan of Bethlehem." From the earliest predynastic times among the Egyptian Horites, ntjr designated the king. The name Panther or p-ntjr meant "God is King."

Related reading:  A Bit More on the Bethlehem BullaHorite Brides at Wells; Jesus Christ in Genesis; Horite Expectation and the Star of Bethlehem

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