Saturday, July 13, 2019

Israel, Day 6: they are digging in the wrong place!

Today was a very different day (for my previous posts regarding this trip, go to here, here,here, here, and here), partly because it is the sabbath but mostly because of what we did. An Israeli archeologist met with us, briefed us on a few thousand years of history and then gave us a tour of much of the old city. Because I have an early morning and a very full day tomorrow, it is listicle time
  • He drew a distinction between that which is and is not tied to the archeological record. Abraham and his folks? No.  Jesus? Yeah.
  • Oh, and he was amazing
  • I got a better grip of what the various temples were and even a bit about Islam’s history
  • Once a site is holy, it is holy forever, so folks would on top of someone else’s site and again and again
  • I didn’t know King David was also an ancestor of Jesus and a prophet in Islam
  • The Maccabees were major league aholes.  Judah would have been very disappointed
  • The Romans used local elites as agents.  Herod may have been awful in most things but he was a builder
  • Monty Python was right: Romans did give them aqueducts 
  • How to identify a Jewish place as an archeologist? Look for no pig bones
  • Back to Maccabees, the Zionists looked around, looted Jewish history to find some warriors to build role models and symbols.  So, their dark side was ignored.
  • King David was not buried where folks thought so all of the religious sites tied to it are in the wrong place
  • We went to the Holy Scepture, where six Christian factions share it but long ago the keys were given to local  slim family so that none of the rival factions would lock out the rest.  The common areas within tend to get ignored until a pope visits
  • This was where Jesus was killed, washed, and buried.  But not where his bones lie because of being resurrected.
  • The western wall was not the temple’s wall but a retaining wall to hold up the stuff upon which the temple rested
  • After the tour six of us went in search of falafel and hummus and we were not disappointed. We found a hole in the wall place in the Arab quarter.  Yum.
  • In the holy scepture, I spotted art that depicts the moment I could not believe in the Jewish God

The story is of God asking Abraham, the first Jew, to sacrifice is only son Isaac, and then at the last minute, an angel intervened so he sacrificed a goat or a lamb.  While I was inclined to be sceptical, once I grasped this, I had two reactions (blasphemy follows):
A) the idea that God is more important than family is abhorrent to me. Abraham was willing to kill his kid?  I found this deeply problematic long before my father took a stand for a God he said later he didn’t really believe in over family.
B) God is an incredible dick to be playing this kind of mind game with his key supporter.  So, if God is like this, he is not my God.  I brought up the “hardening Pharoah’s heart part of the exodus story the night before.  Again, God seeking to establish his brand at great cost...

Ok, if you aren’t offended by that enough to read on, the other event of the day was that our traveling Rabbi who has accompanied us gave us an end of sabbath chat about religious Zionism.  It was a beautiful setting with great food and interesting people to chat with.  We did learn that the ultra
orthodox's kids make up 20% of first graders (the other supremely fertile group is the settlers) which means that since the males don’t work and rely on welfare, the Israeli economy is going to be screwed in the near future along with the political system.  Oh, and since the orthodox control the personal law stuff (who can marry, who is a Jew), the secular Russian immigrants who fought and died in recent wars can’t be buried in Jewish cemeteries.

My pessimism about Israel’s future hit rock bottom tonight.  We go to Ramallah to meet with Palestinians tomorrow... maybe there is a layer below this rock bottom?  The archeological experience would certainly suggest  we can always go further down....

No comments: