Ancient Jerusalem – Faith and Fact

“The ongoing archeological excavations at the City of David continue to prove that ancient Jerusalem is no longer just a matter of faith, but also a matter of fact.”   Doron Spielman, vice president of the City of David Foundation.

In a rare and exciting discovery, a bulla (seal impression) and a 2,600-year-old stone stamp bearing Hebrew names were uncovered in the City of David. The artifacts were discovered inside a public building that was destroyed during the destruction of the First Temple and were uncovered in archaeological excavations of the Givati Parking Lot in the City of David National Park in Jerusalem.

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The Givati parking lot in Jerusalem where the artifacts were uncovered

These special artifacts were found inside a large public building, that was destroyed in the sixth century BC – likely during the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC. Large stone debris, burnt wooden beams and numerous charred pottery shards were discovered in the building, all indications that they had survived an immense fire. The importance of this building can be discerned, among other things, from its size; the finely cut ashlar stones from which it was built; and the quality of the architectural elements found in the layers of destruction. Bullae were small pieces of clay impressed by personal seals, used in ancient times to sign letters. While the parchment that they sealed didn’t survive the fires that devastated ancient Jerusalem, the bullae, which are made of ceramic-like material, were preserved, leaving evidence of the correspondence and those behind them.

The stamp and bulla, which are about one centimeter in size, were deciphered by Dr. Anat Mendel-Geberovich of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Center for the Study of Ancient Jerusalem, who, according to the script, dates them to the middle of the seventh century to the beginning of the sixth century BCE.

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The Natan-Melech/Eved Hamelech bulla

The seal impression, dated to the First Temple period, features the words: “(belonging) to Nathan-Melech, Servant of the King” (LeNathan-Melech Eved HaMelech). The name Nathan-Melech appears once in the Bible, in the second book of Kings 23:11, where he is described as an official in the court of King Josiah, who took part in the religious reform that the king was implementing: “And he took away the horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun, at the entrance of the house of the Lord, by the chamber of Nathan-Melech the officer, which was in the precincts; and he burned the chariots of the sun with fire.” This seal impression is the first archaeological evidence of the biblical name Nathan-Melech.

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The Ikar Ben Matanyahu seal

The stamp-seal was also in discovered the same place, made of bluish agate stone, engraved with the name – “(belonging) to Ikar son of Matanyahu” (LeIkar Ben Matanyahu). According to Dr. Mendel-Geberovich,” The name Matanyahu appears both in the Bible and on additional stamps and bullae already unearthed. However, this is the first reference to the name “Ikar,” which was unknown until today.”

Having evidence to verify accounts in the Bible gives us a powerful case for its authenticity and validity. As Christians we believe that the Bible is in fact the “Word of God” and having this verified by physical evidence only serves to strengthen our faith.

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Sacrifice and heroism

In these days of selfishness, acrimony and downright nastiness, here’s a story to help you regain faith in that humans can behave selflessly and honorably:

Tony Foulds was an 8 year old kid in 1944, playing with friends in Endcliffe Park in Sheffield, England. Overhead he saw a U.S. B-17 Flying Fortress aircraft returning from a final mission in Denmark, where the Luftwaffe left it badly damaged. He witnessed the plane crash, killing all 10 on board. The plane was called Mi Amigo. Tony later learned the aircraft had been attempting a crash landing in the park – the only green space for miles – but diverted course for fear of harming him and his friends.

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The 10 airmen on board were:

  • Pilot Lt John Kriegshauser, from Missouri
  • Co-pilot 2nd Lt Lyle Curtis, from Idaho
  • 2nd Lt John Humphrey, a navigator from Illinois
  • Sgt Melchor Hernandez, a bombardier from California
  • Sgt Harry Estabrooks, an engineer and gunner from Kansas
  • Sgt Charles Tuttle, gunner from Kentucky
  • Sgt Robert Mayfield, radio operator from Illinois
  • Sgt Vito Ambrosio, gunner from New York
  • Sgt Malcolm Williams, gunner from Oklahoma
  • Sgt Maurice Robbins, gunner from Texas

A memorial to the men was erected in the park and Tony has quietly tended to it ever since. Years later, a BBC journalist, Dan Walker, saw Tony one day placing flowers at the memorial. He was so impressed with this story that he began an online campaign to make Tony’s dream to properly commemorate the air crew who died with a flypast, come true.

Last Friday, British and US military aircraft were dispatched from the UK’s largest US air force base in Suffolk, before flying over Endcliffe Park in Sheffield at 8.45am. Tony and a large group, including the deceased’s relatives and U.S. military representatives were on hand for the occasion – his dream had been fulfilled. Another flypast of four F-15 jets was simultaneously conducted over the graves of three of the US aircrew who are buried in Coton, Cambridgeshire.

God bless Tony for his efforts and dedication and may the memory of the airmen be eternal.

Compassion remembered

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A Greek woman who became an international symbol of solidarity at the peak of the Syrian refugee crisis has died. Maritsa Mavrapidi (seen here with her cousins) was 90 years old. The three elderly women, who became known as the “Lesvos grannies,” are shown here helping a young Syrian mother who had just landed on the shores of the eastern Aegean island after making the treacherous crossing from Turkey in October 2015.

The image of the three women tending to the infant while its mother changed into dry clothes was published around the world and prompted a Nobel Peace Prize nomination for Lesvos’s residents in 2016. “She was an honest woman who made us proud, and we will remember her always,” the community president of Mavrapidi’s village, Skala Skamnias said. A large crowd gathered for her funeral to honor her.

No matter what our opinion regarding migrants/refugees, compassion for those in need is our duty, commanded by our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus. Maritsa Mavrapidi, her cousins and countless others on the island, at great hardship to themselves, rescued and tended to up to 2,500 refugees per day at the peak of the crisis. They showed the world what Christians do in honoring God. May He bless their efforts and may her memory be eternal.

Thanks to Lefteris Partsalis for the photo.

Where is the Ark of the Covenant?

Ethiopians claim that the original Ark of the Covenant is in a church in Ethiopia. No one is allowed to see it except the Ark “keeper”. This claim is unsubstantiated, but here is the story of how the Ark made it to Ethiopia.

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The Queen of Saba/Sheba, named Makeda, visited Solomon in Jerusalem in the 10th century B.C. They had previously exchanged letters full of questions and riddles. When she arrived, bringing gifts of gold, spices, precious stones and beautiful wood, Solomon was bewitched by her beauty. He ordered his courtiers not to disturb them for three days and three nights, after which she went back to Saba (present-day Aksum in Ethiopia).

Another version of the story is that he invited her to stay on condition she take nothing of value from him. Offended, she replied that she would stay on condition that he did not touch her. He ordered a meal of salty and spicy food. That night she awoke feeling thirsty and drank some water. At that moment Solomon appeared, declaring that she had broken her word and had taken the most precious thing of all — water. Thus she was tricked into giving way to his desire.

Ancient icons in the Ethnological Museum show two heads, one with black hair and a beard, the other with black hair and no beard, with a sheet pulled up to their chins – Solomon and the Queen of Sheba in bed together.

Back in Saba the Queen bore a child, Menelik I, from whom the entire imperial dynasty of Ethiopia is said to be descended, right down to the last in line, Emperor Haile Selassie (1892-1975). When Menelik was 20, in 950 B.C., he went to Jerusalem to meet his father. When he returned to Ethiopia, Solomon ordered the first-born of all the elders there to accompany him. One secretly stole the Ark of the Covenant – which held the Ten Commandments and on which the safety of the Jewish state depended – and took it with him. When Menelik discovered this he was angry – but then he realized that if such a momentous event had occurred, it must be because God had willed it. And thus it was that the Ark of the Covenant is now said to reside in Ethiopia.

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Icon of the Ark of the Covenant being transported to Ethiopia

Thanks to Lesley Downer at JapanTimes for the substance of this article.

Veteran’s Day – November 11

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Veterans Day (originally known as Armistice Day) is an official public holiday, observed annually on November 11, that honors persons who served in the United States Armed Forces. It coincides with other holidays, including Armistice Day and Remembrance Day, celebrated in other countries that mark the anniversary of the end of World War I. Major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when the Armistice with Germany went into effect. At the urging of major veteran organizations, Armistice Day was renamed Veterans Day in 1954.

Veterans Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day, a public holiday in May. Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, while Memorial Day honors those who died while in military service. It is also not to be confused with Armed Forces Day, a minor U.S. remembrance that also occurs in May, which specifically honors those currently serving in the military.

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On November 11, 1919, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson issued a message to his countrymen on the first Armistice Day, in which he expressed what he felt the day meant to Americans:

ADDRESS TO FELLOW-COUNTRYMEN
The White House, November 11, 1919.

A year ago today our enemies laid down their arms in accordance with an armistice which rendered them impotent to renew hostilities, and gave to the world an assured opportunity to reconstruct its shattered order and to work out in peace a new and juster set of international relations. The soldiers and people of the European Allies had fought and endured for more than four years to uphold the barrier of civilization against the aggressions of armed force. We ourselves had been in the conflict something more than a year and a half.

With splendid forgetfulness of mere personal concerns, we remodeled our industries, concentrated our financial resources, increased our agricultural output, and assembled a great army, so that at the last our power was a decisive factor in the victory. We were able to bring the vast resources, material and moral, of a great and free people to the assistance of our associates in Europe who had suffered and sacrificed without limit in the cause for which we fought.

Out of this victory there arose new possibilities of political freedom and economic concert. The war showed us the strength of great nations acting together for high purposes, and the victory of arms foretells the enduring conquests which can be made in peace when nations act justly and in furtherance of the common interests of men.

To us in America the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service, and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of nations.

WOODROW WILSON

Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day to all you long suffering dads out there. Thank you for all you dedication and love. May God bless you all and make His face to shine upon you.

The nation’s first Father’s Day was celebrated on June 19, 1910, in the state of Washington. However, it was not until 1972 (58 years after President Woodrow Wilson made Mother’s Day official) that the day honoring fathers became a nationwide holiday in the United States. Father’s Day is celebrated on the third Sunday of June each year – this year June 17th.

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There are other holidays celebrated in June, some a little more obscure than Father’s Day, here’s a list:

  • Statehood Day – Friday, June 1, 2018
  • Jefferson Davis Birthday – Sunday, June 3, 2018
  • Jefferson Davis Birthday – Monday, June 4, 2018
  • D-Day – Wednesday, June 6, 2018
  • Lailat al-Qadr – Sunday, June 10, 2018
  • Kamehameha Day – Monday, June 11, 2018
  • Army Birthday – Thursday, June 14, 2018
  • Eid al-Fitr – Friday, June 15, 2018
  • Bunker Hill Day – Sunday, June 17, 2018
  • Bunker Hill Day – Monday, June 18, 2018
  • Juneteenth – Tuesday, June 19, 2018
  • West Virginia Day – Wednesday, June 20, 2018
  • World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought – June 17, 2018
  • Eat Your Vegetables Day – June 17, 2018

We won’t presume to explain these, but don’t forget to eat your veggies today!

Mother’s Day

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Happy Mother’s Day to all our mothers and may God bless you for your love, dedication and sacrifices made over the years. For those no longer with us, may your memories be eternal.

Mother’s Day is a celebration honoring the mother of the family, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. Many traditional celebrations of mothers and motherhood existed throughout the world over thousands of years, such as the Greek cult to Cybele, the Roman festival of Hilaria, or the Christian Mothering Sunday celebration (originally a commemoration of Mother Church, not motherhood).

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The modern holiday of Mother’s Day was first celebrated right here in the United States in 1908, when Anna Reeves Jarvis held a memorial for her mother at St Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. St Andrew’s Methodist Church now holds the International Mother’s Day Shrine. The U.S.-derived modern version of Mother’s Day has been criticized for having become too commercialized. Founder Jarvis herself regretted this commercialism and expressed views on how that was never her intention.