Tag Archives: Israel

New study: literacy more widespread around ancient Israel than previously thought

Investigation in progress
Investigation in progress

Some skeptics like to attack the traditional authorship of the gospels by arguing that the gospels couldn’t have been written by anyone close to Jesus, because they were all illiterate. The impression I get from the skeptics is that they think that illiteracy was widespread in and around ancient Israel.

But then, in the radically leftist New York Times, of all places, there is news about a new peer-reviewed study:

Eliashib, the quartermaster of the remote desert fortress, received his instructions in writing — notes inscribed in ink on pottery asking for provisions to be sent to forces in the ancient kingdom of Judah.

The requests for wine, flour and oil read like mundane, if ancient, shopping lists. But a new analysis of the handwriting suggests that literacy may have been far more widespread than previously known in the Holy Land around 600 B.C., toward the end of the First Temple period. The findings, according to the researchers from Tel Aviv University, could have some bearing on a century-old debate about when the main body of biblical texts was composed.

[…]The new study, published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, combined archaeology, Jewish history and applied mathematics, and involved computerized image processing and the development of an algorithm to distinguish between the various authors issuing the commands.

Based on a statistical analysis of the results, and taking into account the content of the texts that were chosen for the sample, the researchers concluded that at least six different hands had written the 18 missives at around the same time. Even soldiers in the lower ranks of the Judahite army, it appears, could read and write.

[…]The study was based on a trove of about 100 letters inscribed in ink on pieces of pottery, known as ostracons, that were unearthed near the Dead Sea in an excavation of the Arad fort decades ago and dated from about 600 B.C. That was shortly before Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction of Jerusalem and the kingdom of Judah, and the exile of its elite to Babylon — and before many scholars believe the major part of the biblical texts, including the five books of Moses, also known as the Pentateuch, were written down in any cohesive form.

The Arad citadel was small, far-flung and on an active front, close to the border with the rival kingdom of Edom. The fort itself was only about half an acre in size, and probably would have accommodated about 30 soldiers. The wealth of texts found there, recording troop movements, provisions and other daily activities, were created within a short time, making them a valuable sample for looking at how many different hands wrote them.

[…]One of the longstanding arguments for why the main body of biblical literature was not written down in anything like its present form until after the destruction and exile of 586 B.C. is that before then there was not enough literacy or enough scribes to support such a huge undertaking.

But if the literacy rates in the Arad fortress were repeated across the kingdom of Judah, which had about 100,000 people, there would have been hundreds of literate people, the Tel Aviv research team suggests.

That could have provided the infrastructure for the composition of biblical works that constitute the basis of Judahite history and theology including early versions of the books of Deuteronomy to II Kings, according to the researchers.

I just heard a debate on the weekend in which atheist historian Bart Ehrman made the argument that around the time of Jesus, almost no one was literate. Therefore, it’s unlikely that anyone who was an eyewitness to Jesus’ would have been able to write anything down about it.

I think this evidence does have some bearing on that question, because it shows that literacy of at least Hebrew was more widespread in the area than previously thought. That means that the people around Jesus are more likely to be able to keep their own notes, and then pass those notes off to a writer of Greek. Instead of having stories being circulated for the 30-35 years between the death of Jesus and the writing of Mark (note: I think Mark was written much earlier than that), you would have written notes by the eyewitnesses that could then be translated into Greek.

But there’s more interesting stuff about Bart Ehrman’s charge of widespread illiteracy. Consider this post that I found on Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin’s blog, where he makes the case that Bart Ehrman is even wrong about his estimate of illiteracy. And when I say wrong, I mean it looks like Ehrman deliberately misrepresents a primary source that he quotes in order to make his point. Maybe that will be fixed in a future edition of his book, but it wasn’t fixed in the debate on Saturday – he used the same botched quote then.

Iran side deal allows Iran to inspect its own nuclear weapons site

He's better at golf than foreign policy
He’s way better at golf than foreign policy, and he sucks at golf

Everything is awesome!

The normally-leftist Associated Press explains how awesome everything is:

Iran will be allowed to use its own inspectors to investigate a site it has been accused of using to develop nuclear arms, operating under a secret agreement with the U.N. agency that normally carries out such work, according to a document seen by The Associated Press.

[…]The agreement in question diverges from normal procedures by allowing Tehran to employ its own experts and equipment in the search for evidence of activities it has consistently denied — trying to develop nuclear weapons.

[…]The Parchin agreement was worked out between the IAEA and Iran. The United States and the five other world powers were not party to it but were briefed by the IAEA and endorsed it as part of the larger package.

Everything is fine, stop worrying. Obama and Kerry and Clinton think that there is nothing wrong with this side deal. We can trust Iran to inspect themselves, it’s not like they’ve cheated on any agreements in the past. Oh wait, they have.

The Wall Street Journal points out:

Secretary of State John Kerry has said he hasn’t read the side deal, though his negotiating deputy Wendy Sherman told MSNBC that she “saw the pieces of paper” but couldn’t keep them. IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano has told Members of the U.S. Congress that he’s bound by secrecy and can’t show them the side deals.

That secrecy should be unacceptable to Congress—all the more so after the AP dispatch. The news service says it has seen a document labelled “separate arrangement II.” The document says Iran will provide the IAEA with photos and locations that the IAEA says are linked to Iran’s weapons work, “taking into account military concerns.”

In other words, the country that lied for years about its nuclear weapons program will now be trusted to come clean about those lies. And trusted to such a degree that it can limit its self-inspections so they don’t raise “military concerns” in Iran.

Foreign policy expert Charles Krauthammer is not pleased:

But let’s just trust Iran again, because Obama needs a legacy. What are you, a racist? You better shut up before the IRS audits you.

Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer opposes Obama deal to let Iran nuke Israel

Neville Chamberlain Obama: peace in our time
Neville Chamberlain Obama: peace in our time

From the radically leftist New York Times, of all places. They must be pretty pissed about this story.


Senator Chuck Schumer, the most influential Jewish voice in Congress, said Thursday night that he would oppose President Obama’s deal to limit Iran’s nuclear program.

“Advocates on both sides have strong cases for their point of view that cannot simply be dismissed,” Mr. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said in a lengthy statement. “This has made evaluating the agreement a difficult and deliberate endeavor, and after deep study, careful thought and considerable soul-searching, I have decided I must oppose the agreement and will vote yes on a motion of disapproval.”

Mr. Schumer had spent the last several weeks carrying a dog-eared copy of the agreement in his briefcase and meeting with Mr. Obama and officials like Wendy R. Sherman, the deal’s chief negotiator. With his decision, he paves the way for other Democrats on the fence to join Republicans in showing their disapproval.

“There are some who believe that I can force my colleagues to vote my way,” Mr. Schumer said. “While I will certainly share my view and try to persuade them that the vote to disapprove is the right one, in my experience with matters of conscience and great consequence like this, each member ultimately comes to their own conclusion.”

[…]Mr. Schumer said that the inspection regime in the first 10 years of the agreement would be too weak, and that provisions to reimpose sanctions if Iran cheated were too onerous. He said his most serious concerns were with the freedom that Iran would have after 10 years to quickly build a nuclear weapon.

“To me, after 10 years, if Iran is the same nation as it is today, we will be worse off with this agreement than without it,” he said.

Now, Chuck Schumer is as blue as you can get, so this opposition to the nuke-Israel-via-Iran deal is quite striking. Most Democrats do want to nuke Israel via Iran, and that’s why they want to give Iran between $100 to $140 billion of oil revenue to start the terrorism against us and our allies as quickly as possible. But I guess Schumer is an exception to that.

Iran deal: no snap inspections, sanctions dropped, nuclear weapon within one year

What difference does national security make?
What difference does foreign policy make?

Hillary Clinton supports the new deal that Obama has struck with Iran. So let’s see what’s in the deal.

Here are the key points about the Democrats’ deal with Iran from foreign policy expert Nile Gardiner:

[…][T]his is a disastrous agreement that leaves Iran’s nuclear infrastructure largely in place, with only limited “managed” access to inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In effect the Iranian regime will be able to deny unfettered inspections of its nuclear facilities. Iran has never cooperated with good faith with the IAEA in the past – there is no reason to believe it will do so now.

[…]Under the proposed arrangement, Iran would be in a position to produce enough weapons-grade uranium for a nuclear weapon within a year – the “breakout” time – if it chose to renege on the agreement. Even if Iran sticks to the deal, which is highly unlikely, the sunset restrictions on uranium enrichment will expire in a decade. In the meantime there are no restrictions put in place to limit Iran’s development of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) or its conventional weapons capability.

[…]With the impending lifting of economic sanctions against Iran, which had been painstakingly put together by the UN Security Council over the course of many years despite Russian and Chinese resistance, Tehran will have potentially hundreds of billions of additional dollars to invest in its nuclear facilities, conventional weapons capability, and its state sponsored terror network, including Hamas and Hezbollah.

[…]There can be no doubt that the Iran nuclear deal will spark a dangerous arms race in the Middle East, with Iran’s Arab neighbours seeking to defend themselves in the event that Tehran becomes a nuclear weapons power. The prospect of a nuclear war in the Middle East will be dramatically raised as a result of this agreement.

[…]The end result can only be an emboldened Iran that grows ever more aggressive as it seeks to establish regional dominance. For Israel… the deal threatens its own long-term survival. In the face of a genocidal tyranny that has vowed its destruction, the people of Israel are nervous for their own future.

Is that threat to Israel real, or am I just exaggerating? Well, it’s no secret that Iran has made the threat many times in the past to annihilate Israel. But what’s striking is that they have been making it during the negotiations as well.

CNS News explains:

A photograph posted on Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s official website–as the Obama administration was finalizing negotiations on a deal intended to prevent Iran from building a nulcear weapon–shows the walking stick-waving supreme leader striding across, and apparently glaring at, a painted representation of Israel’s national flag.

The caption on the photo, according to a translation by American Enterprise Institute scholar Michael Rubin, reads, “The Zionist Regime is Condemned to Vanish.”

Now, if you ask Obama and Clinton, Israel has nothing to worry about from a nuclear-enabled Iran. Does that seem reasonable in view of the facts, though? I would not be surprised to see Israel nuked the day after the 2016 presidential election… with the United States as the next target, of course.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle, Republican presidential candidates oppose the deal with Iran.

Finally, let’s close with a sobering recap of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s disastrous string of foreign policy blunders, courtesy of Ben Shapiro:

America used to worry about its allies being targeted for destruction. Obama’s new deal with Iran contains zero restrictions on their terrorist activity across the Middle East and the world, and relieves sanctions on figures including Qasem Soleimani, head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds Force, a group responsible for the murder of hundreds of American troops. The deal also enriches Iran massively, and Iran has made clear that it will use those increased resources to help its terrorist allies like Hamas and Hezbollah.

[…][Obama] has purposefully hollowed out America’s military, and fully embraces Iran’s regional aspirations.

[…]Obama wants Iran to take over large sections of the Middle East. Like most Europeans, Obama sees America and Israel as greater threats to world peace than Iran or North Korea. His top priority in the Iran deal was forestalling action by the United States and Israel. He achieved that, at the cost of Saudi Arabia and Egypt seeking nuclear weapons, Hamas reinforcing its position as a terrorist cancer in the Gaza Strip, Hezbollah retrenching as the controlling force in Lebanon, Bashar Assad ensuring his continued leadership, Iraq turning into an Iranian client state, Afghanistan preparing for Iranian-influenced sectarian violence, and Houthi-caused chaos in Yemen, for a start.

It’s the foreign policy blunders that will be the hardest to fix. The domestic stuff we can fix, the foreign policy – it’s going to almost impossible to roll that back. And if we do see a nuclear weapon within a year, Obama will veto anyone who tries to stop Iran from using it on Israel – or on us. Iran is not kidding when they say “death to Israel” and “death to America”. We are about to find out, and sooner than you think.

Now the big question is this – will that make any difference to Democrat voters? Sometimes I think that Democrat voters have their heads so far up their asses that no amount of facts can break in. Maybe the only thing that will wake them up is the mushroom cloud over Israel… or maybe over New York or Los Angeles. But honestly, they will probably just blame Bush or something. It’s invincible ignorance. Prove me wrong, Democrats. Because this time, it’s life and death serious.

What did Hillary Clinton accomplish as Secretary of State?

What difference does national security make?
What difference does national security make?

Thomas Sowell writes about Hillary’s foreign policy achievements in Investors Business Daily.


U.S. intervention in Libya and Egypt, undermining governments that were no threat to American interests, led to Islamic extremists taking over in Egypt and terrorist chaos in Libya, where the American ambassador was killed, along with three other Americans.

[…]In Europe, as in the Middle East, our foreign policy during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state was to undermine our friends and cater to our enemies.

The famous “reset” in our foreign policy with Russia began with the Obama administration reneging on a pre-existing American commitment to supply defensive technology to shield Poland and the Czech Republic from missile attacks.

This left both countries vulnerable to pressures and threats from Russia — and left other countries elsewhere wondering how much they could rely on American promises.

Even after Russia invaded Ukraine, the Obama administration refused to let the Ukrainians have weapons with which to defend themselves.

[…][Obama and Clinton] both opposed the military “surge” in Iraq, under General David Petraeus, that defeated the terrorists there.

Even after the surge succeeded, Hillary Clinton was among those who fiercely denied initially that it had succeeded, and sought to discredit Gen. Petraeus, though eventually the evidence of the surge’s success became undeniable, even among those who had opposed it.

The truly historic catastrophe of American foreign policy — not only failing to stop Iran from going nuclear, but making it more difficult for Israel to stop them — was also something that happened on Hillary Clinton’s watch as secretary of state.

What the administration’s protracted and repeatedly extended negotiations with Iran accomplished was to allow Iran time to multiply, bury and reinforce its nuclear facilities, to the point where it was uncertain whether Israel still had the military capacity to destroy those facilities.

There are no offsetting foreign policy triumphs under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Syria, China and North Korea are other scenes of similar setbacks.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, news has now come out that the Benghazi investigation has managed to get hold of e-mails that Hillary Clinton sent to her non-State-Department-employee friend Sidney Blumenthal. They did NOT get the e-mails from Hillary, like they were supposed to. They got them from Sidney Blumenthal. Why didn’t Hillary hand over those work-related e-mails? You can read about that story in the Washington Times.

And more – Clinton approved of the release of one of the Benghazi terrorist attack suspects in 2012. She assured conservative Congressman Tom Cotton that the Benghazi suspect would be monitored by the Tunisians, so that he could do us no more harm. Well, he ended up in Mosul, Iraq, and was just killed by an airstrike in June 2015. You can read more about that story in The Weekly Standard.

Seriously… I would think that the Libya debacle alone would be enough to sink Hillary’s presidential hopes. When you add the Russian reset, Benghazi YouTube alibi, Libya, Egypt, Syria, the Clinton Foundation scandal, and so many other failures and mistakes, we’d be better off hiring a clown to be President than putting her in charge. She just isn’t qualified to the job. She just doesn’t take national security and foreign policy seriously. She is only interested in one thing: getting elected.