Rise of the Maccabees. A find in the Judean Desert confirmed the famous story from the Bible
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A wooden box with 15 silver coins from the reign of Antiochus IV, the Greek king who banned many traditional Jewish rituals, was found in a cave in the Judean Desert. Experts believe the owner hid his wealth before going to war.
The discovery of a cache of 2,200-year-old silver coins from the Seleucid Empire provides the first evidence from the Judean Desert to support the biblical account of the Maccabean rebellion . The uprising is described in the First and Second Books of Maccabees, part of the Greek Old Testament, or Septuagint, as well as the Vulgate, the Latin Bible used by the Roman Catholic Church, Express reports.
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During this uprising, which took place between 167-141. BC, the rebel warriors opposed the broad Hellenistic influence and decrees calling for the suppression of Jewish religious practices.
A treasure worth about 30,000 shekels (more than 7,100 pounds sterling) at the current rate, archaeologists discovered in the Murabbaat cave, located on the territory of the Darageh Stream nature reserve near the Dead Sea, back in May of this year.
Coins – there were 15 in total – they were found in a unique wooden box lined with pieces of sheep's wool, covered with a large piece of purple woolen cloth, and on top with a layer of earth and small stones.
The coins, examined in the laboratory of the Israel Antiquities Authority, turned out to be silver tetradrachms, each worth four drachmas, minted on the orders of Ptolemy VI Philometer.
Ptolemy VI was the king of the ancient Greek state of the Ptolemies in 180-164. BC, and then again in 163-145. BC. He ruled when his uncle, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, nicknamed “the wicked” in Jewish tradition, ruled the Seleucid Empire, which included Judea.
According to researchers, the three oldest coins found in the box were minted either in 176 or 175 BC, and the latest is either in 171 or 170 BC
Based on the latest dates, experts believe that the treasure was most likely hidden at the beginning or immediately before the events of the Maccabean uprising.
As described in the first book of Maccabees, groups of Jews fled to hiding places in the desert to avoid decrees imposed on them.
It says: “And many who sought righteousness and justice went into the wilderness to settle there: they, their sons, their wives and their livestock, because evil pressed heavily on them.”
And they announced to the king's elders and the army in Jerusalem in the city of David that the people who had rejected the king's command went to hiding places in the wilderness. … and they perished along with their wives, children and cattle, about a thousand people.”
The coins were examined by archaeologist Ezra Klein and numismatist Gabriela Biyovskaya, both from the Israel Antiquities Authority.
Professor Klein said: “It is interesting to try to imagine a man who fled to a cave and hid his property here, intending to return to carry it away.
This man was probably killed in the fighting and did not return to take his property , which waited almost 2200 years until we found it.
This is an absolutely unique find, providing the first clear archaeological evidence that the caves of the Judean Desert played an active role as a scene of activity for Jewish rebels or fugitives in the early days of the Maccabean Revolt, or the events leading up to them.”
The treasure will be put on public display review of Hanukkah – the feast of the restoration of Jerusalem and the consecration of the Second Temple in 164 BC, at the beginning of the Maccabean revolt – in the Hasmonean Museum in the city of Modiin-Maccabim-Reut.
This year, Hanukkah falls on 18 -December 26 Gregorian.
Focus wrote about inscriptions found in Jerusalem that may mention King Hezekiah.