Review of Lemaire, Andre. “Another Temple to the Israelite God.”

Lemaire, Andre.  “Another Temple to the Israelite God.”  Biblical Archaeology Review 30, No. 4 (July-August 2004): 38-44, 60. [Israel/Persian Period/Maqqedah]

For many years a large number of potsherds inscribed in Aramaic, dating from the late Persian and early Hellenistic times have come on to the antiquities market.  About eight hundred of more than a thousand, largely in private hands, have been published.  They are thought to come from an area about 15 miles west of Hebron, the village of Khirbet el-Kom, thought to be biblical Maqqedah.  The majority of these inscriptions are “accounting notes” related to taxes, from a royal storeroom. Many contain precise dates; so far all the dates are between 362 and 312 B.C. Theophoric names (names incorporating the name of God), indicate the region was inhabited by Israelites and several other cultures.

The ostracon also provide new information about Israelite religion and its cultic places.  Before this time Israelite “sanctuaries” have been found at Beersheba, Arad, Lachish, Gibeon, Bethel, Ophrah, Shechem, Samaria, Carmel, Dan, Gibeon, Gezer, and elsewhere.  Two reform movements during the time of Hezekiah and Josiah appear to have tried to shut such places down and centralize worship in the Jerusalem temple. Only one Israelite sanctuary outside of Jerusalem from the Persian Period was thought to exist, that on the island of Elephantine in the Nile River.  However, one of the inscriptions from this recently excavated hoard indicates the presence of another Israelite temple at Maqqedah during this period, with the exact name–Beit Yaho–as the one in Elephantine.  The six lines of the inscription not only identify this sanctuary, but two more, one to the god Uzza, a north Arabian deity, and a third to the god Nabu, of Mesopotamian origin.

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