Diggings Recent Discoveries In Bible Lands -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 10:2 (Spring 1997)
Article: Diggings Recent Discoveries In Bible Lands
Author: Anonymous

Diggings Recent Discoveries In Bible Lands

Life In New Testament Galilee Being Revealed At Yodfat

2, 000 years ago a town was razed. Today, archaeologists are excavating the site and finding new information about Jesus’ life and times.

Blood ran through the streets of the town. Virtually every man and child was massacred and the women and babies were captured to be sold into slavery. Such was the end of Yodfat, the first Jewish city to fall to Vespasian’s legions during the Great Revolt of AD 67 against Roman domination - a futile struggle that culminated three years later in the destruction of Jerusalem.

For thousands of years, the town and evidence of the carriage remained buried in this rocky hilltop, with its peaceful and scenic view of the Galilean countryside. Now, a team of archaeologists led by the University of Rochester and Israel’s Antiquities Authority are excavating the site, untouched since Roman times. The excavations, in their fifth year, are yielding new insights into the practice of Judaism in Galilee at the time Jesus lived and preached, as well as the tensions that led to the revolt against Roman rule.

The picture emerging at Yodfat is of a devout community that clung to Jewish observance despite its poverty and distance from the center of Jewish worship, the Temple in Jerusalem, says University of Rochester religion professor William Scott Green, educational director of the archaeological team. Yodfat is only seven miles from Nazareth, in northern Israel, where Jesus grew up, suggesting that Galilee in the time of Jesus may have been more Jewishly observant than some historians of early Christianity have assumed, Green says.

Yodfat was never resettled after the massacre nearly 2, 000 years ago, leaving the town fossilized in time. “It’s a pristine site. When you walk here you are in AD 67 just 35 years after Jesus was crucified,” notes Green.

“Yodfat will fill out some of the features of ordinary Jewish life in the Galilee at the time of Jesus,” says Peter Richardson, professor at the Center for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto and another key collaborator in the Yodfat dig. “This becomes terribly important for understanding Jesus, since His home was in the Galilee, His main activity was in the Galilee, and His closest followers were from the Galilee. So the origins

of Jesus and His upbringing are going to be extensively influenced by how rigorously Judaism was practiced there.”

Scholars caution that Yodfat is only one town, and despite its proximity to Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth no absolute generalizations can be made about Galilean lifest...

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