Tag Archives: King David

Jew of the Week: Eilat Mazar

Israel’s Indiana Jones

Eilat Mazar (1956-2021) was born in Israel to a family of archaeologists, and grew up playing and learning on excavation sites. Her grandfather, Benjamin Mazar, was the State of Israel’s first official archaeologist, and was the president of the Hebrew University. Eilat studied archaeology at the same university, and began her field work in 1981. She made a big splash right away by discovering the Royal Quarter of the ancient City of David in Jerusalem, including what is thought to be the royal palace of King David himself. She went on to uncover some of the biggest finds of the last century, including parts of the walls built by King Solomon, the seal of King Hezekiah, and the seal of the Prophet Isaiah. Mazar was driven by her belief that the Tanakh records actual historical events (whereas many of her secular colleagues often viewed the Tanakh as mythology). She would say that “I work with the Bible in one hand and the tools of excavation in the other.” Over the decades, her work played a major role in helping to prove the authenticity of the Bible. Mazar discovered countless treasures from the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem, and was a vocal activist trying to stop Palestinian and Jordanian authorities from destroying Jewish artifacts on the Temple Mount. (The worst case of this was in November 2000, when some 6000 tons of precious earth from the Temple Mount was illegally excavated by the Waqf and dumped in a landfill.) In 2013, Mazar discovered a large cache of treasure from the 7th century that contained a gold coin depicting a menorah, shofar, and Torah. She taught at the Hebrew University and published three books on archaeology, along with dozens of journal articles. She also paved the way for more female archaeologists to enter the field. Despite suffering from an illness, Mazar continued working and digging. Sadly, she passed away earlier this week. Israel Prize winner David Be’eri said that she “will forever be remembered as a pioneer standing shoulder to shoulder with the greatest scholars of Jerusalem throughout the ages.”

Archaeological Proof for the Torah and Exodus

Words of the Week

I fully understand that any minority would prefer to be a majority, it is quite understandable that the Arabs of Palestine would also prefer Palestine to be the Arab State No. 4, No. 5, No. 6 – that I quite understand; but when the Arab claim is confronted with our Jewish demand to be saved, it is like the claims of appetite versus the claims of starvation.
Ze’ev Jabotinsky

Some of Eilat Mazar’s biggest finds (clockwise from top left): gold medallion with menorah, shofar, and Torah scroll from the 7th century CE; seal of King Hezekiah, 7th century BCE; King Solomon’s walls, 10th century BCE; seal of the Prophet Isaiah, 7th century BCE.

Jews of the Week: Dear Abby & Ann Landers

The Most Quoted Women in the World

Pauline Esther Phillips and Esther Pauline Lederer, aka. Abigail van Buren and Ann Landers

Pauline Esther Phillips (1918-2013) was born in Iowa to the Friedmans, poor Jewish immigrants from Russia. Despite their poverty, the Friedman home was always full of guests, where Pauline picked up both her humour and advice-giving abilities. She studied psychology and journalism in college, then moved to San Francisco, where she was unhappy with the advice column of the San Francisco Chronicle. Phillips phoned the newspaper’s editor and told him she could do a far better job. After seeing her samples, she was hired immediately – without any prior work experience or even a social security number! Pauline chose the pen name Abigail, after the Biblical prophetess who advised King David. Thus was born “Dear Abby”, the most-widely syndicated newspaper column of all time – read by over 110 million readers across 1400 newspapers. In 1963, Dear Abby also became a daily radio program that ran for 13 years. People around the world fell in love with Abby’s compassion, honesty, humour, and “tough love”, while learning about the most difficult of human and family problems. Phillips herself was devoted to her family, and was famous for her dedication to her husband and conservative family values – advising couples not to live together before marriage, and telling women to be strong in the face of “masculine lunacy”, with divorce a very last resort. Her own marriage lasted 73 years, until her death this past January at age 94, following a battle with Alzheimer’s. Most interestingly, Pauline Esther had a twin sister named Esther Pauline (1918-2002), who was also a journalist and wrote an advice column under the name Ann Landers – nearly as popular as Dear Abby, with over 90 million readers. Both sisters married on the same day, their birthday. Life magazine billed the two as the most “widely read and most quoted women in the world.”

Words of the Week

“He’s one of the greatest men I ever met, but he’ll be a Jew before I’m a Catholic.”
Pauline Phillips, aka Abby, referring to her friend, Bishop Fulton Sheen

Jews of the Week: Miriam and Aaron

Holy Siblings

The Exodus

When it comes to Passover, most of the attention is placed on Moses (realizing this, the Jewish Sages who composed the Passover Haggada omitted any mention of Moshe!) Few give credit to Moses’ elder siblings (and prophets) Aaron and Miriam. It was the prophecy of the eldest Miriam that inspired the Israelites in Egypt to start procreating again, after they had previously decided not to bring any more children into such a cruel existence. That stimulus gave birth to Moses. It was Miriam who ensured the basket stayed afloat in the Nile, and who made sure Moses received a Jewish wet nurse (his mother!) even though he grew up in Pharaoh’s palace. Later, we are told that Miriam had a mystical well that supplied the Israelites with all their water needs during their travels through the wilderness. The Talmud explains Miriam was nicknamed Azuva (“left behind”) since she was physically unappealing and had a hard time finding a husband. However, a great man named Caleb married her for her spiritual holiness. Miraculously, she transformed into a very beautiful woman, and was thus renamed Efrat (which means “beauty”). This marriage gave birth to the ancestor of King David (and therefore Mashiach)!

Meanwhile, Aaron was the leader of the Jews in Egypt. Because Moses had a speech impediment, Aaron was the official mouthpiece and spokesperson of God. He also carried out the first three of the 10 plagues that struck the Egyptians. For his peace-loving and self-sacrificing ways, Aaron was later granted the high priesthood, and all his descendants became Cohanim. Amazingly, scientists have discovered a gene on the Y-chromosome that is shared by cohanim around the world, whether Ashkenazi, Sephardic or other. The gene traces back 3300 years, which is precisely the time of the Exodus!

 

Words of the Week

There are none so hopelessly enslaved as those who believe they are free.
– Von Goethe