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1,600-year-old depictions of Old Testament heroines discovered in Israel

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Gaston de Persigny
Gaston de Persigny
Gaston de Persigny - Reporter at The European Times News

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The earliest known depictions of two biblical heroines were recently discovered by a team of archaeologists at the ancient synagogue of Hukok in the Lower Galilee.

The Huqoq Excavation Project is entering its 10th season. Among the notable discoveries made this year are 4th-5th century depictions of the biblical heroines Deborah and Jael from the Book of Judges of Israel, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill reports.

The excavation revealed a large mosaic panel on the floor, divided into three horizontal stripes, depicting an episode from Judges of Israel, chapter 4, in which the children of Israel, led by the prophetess Deborah, a woman of Lapidot, and the military commander Barak, defeat the Canaanite army led by the military leader Sisera.

After the battle, Sisera took refuge in the tent of Jael, wife of Hebera the Kenite, who drove a stake into his temple while he slept.

The top strip shows Devorah under a palm tree looking towards Varak. The middle band is not so well preserved, but appears to show Sisera seated. The bottom strip shows Sisera lying dead and bleeding as Jael drives a car into his head.

“This is the first depiction of this episode from the Old Testament, and the first time we have seen a depiction of the biblical heroines Deborah and Jael in ancient Jewish art,” said Professor Jody Magness, who led the archaeological team.

“Looking at the Book of Joshua, chapter 19, we can see how the story probably had a strong resonance among the Jews in Hukok, since it is described as taking place in the same geographical region – the territory of the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun,” adds the professor.

Earlier discoveries at Hukok include various depictions of Samson, the men sent by Moses to survey Canaan, Noah’s Ark, the parting of the Red Sea, Jonah swallowed by the whale, the building of the Tower of Babel, the four beasts of Daniel, chapter 7 and many more finds.

 Photo: Jim Haberman

Source: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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