We were saddened to hear that Ada Yardeni passed away on June 29, 2018 at the age of 81. Known for her work in the historic development of the Hebrew language and epigraphy, Yardeni was also an excellent calligrapher and forgeries expert. Her personal website describes her as having “authored and co-authored over fifty books and papers on Hebrew Paleography. She is most famous for The Book of Hebrew Script—the authority on the subject and for A-dventure-Z: The Story of the Alphabet. In addition to her scholarly work, Dr. Yardeni has drawn on her artistic experience and released a number of books and other media for general audiences.”
Accordance users have long appreciated The Textbook of Aramaic Documents from Ancient Egypt that Yardeni co-authored with Bezalel Porten. A number of Yardeni’s other writings and credits also appear in Accordance resources:
- “Who Was He? Rare DSS Text Mentions King Jonathan” with Esther Eshel and Hanan Eshel (Biblical Archaeology Review).
- “They Would Change the Dates of Clearly Stratified Inscriptions—Impossible!” (Biblical Archaeology Review)
- “Cross and Eshel Misread the Qumran Ostracon Relating the Settlement to the Dead Sea Scrolls” (Biblical Archaeology Review)
- “A New Dead Sea Scroll in Stone? Bible-like Prophecy Was Mounted in a Wall 2,000 Years Ago” (Biblical Archaeology Review)
- “2,000 Ancient Aramaic Business Scribbles (including the Delivery of 30 Mice)” (Biblical Archaeology Review)
- Multiple images for The Sacred Bridge: Carta’s Bible Atlas
- Multiple images for Understanding Biblical Archaeology: An Introductory Atlas
Besides her academic contributions, the beautiful artistic work of Ada Yardeni should not be overlooked, such as that found in her book Artistic Prayers and Blessings. A sample of the images from this book can be found in the gallery section of her website.
Ada Yardeni and her academic and artistic contributions will be truly missed. For other mentions of her passing, see the following links:
“In Memoriam: Ada Yardeni (1937 – 2018)” – Bible History Daily
“Dead Sea Scrolls Decoder Remembered as Grande Dame of Semitic Paleography” – The Times of Israel
I first got my hands on Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) in 1986. I was a senior in high school, and my English teacher had a year’s worth of issues in a desk drawer (yes, this was a public high school). She asked me if I wanted them, and I enthusiastically said I did, even though I wasn’t actually familiar with the magazine before that day. She described it to me as a kind of “National Geographic of Bible Times.” We could debate how accurate that description was, but all I know is that I devoured those issues. I read them cover to cover and then again.
My knowledge of archaeology at that time was limited to what I had seen in Raiders of the Lost Ark. If I had been expecting articles by the likes of Indiana Jones-types, I suppose I would have been disappointed in BAR. However, even though I found something much different, I was certainly not disappointed. After devouring the six or so issues my teacher handed me, I had a very different idea about the nature of biblical archaeology--and archaeology in general, for that matter. Through BAR, I began to understand archaeology as a discipline that required time, persistence, and much patience to be done right.
BAR makes great reading on the go! Click/tap the image to the right to see BAR on Accordance Mobile.
When the initial collection of BAR issues spanning 1975-2003 was released for the Accordance Bible Software Library, I bought it immediately. In fact, having all those issues of BAR integrated into Accordance became my motivation to give away all my print issues just as had been done for me nearly two decades earlier (although I had quite a few more at that point than just a year’s worth). Over the years, I’ve turned to BAR in Accordance time and again to find out archaeological information about a biblical site, ancient custom, or other information about life in biblical times. I’ve also drawn from the absolute treasury of images time and again in teaching and preaching situations. It’s great to have those images in print, but it’s even better to have them digitally so that I can copy them from Accordance and paste them into presentation software.
Admittedly, it’s been a long while since BAR has been updated for Accordance. That wasn’t deliberate; sometimes such things can be complicated on a number of levels. In the past few years, I began subscribing to BAR on my own again, just to get the newest issues, especially after the BAR iPad app was released. However, today we’re pleased to announce the first update to BAR for the Accordance Library in almost a decade and a half. And today’s release updates BAR for all issues through 2016.
I’ve always appreciated BAR because while it is purposefully not overly-technical, it does treat archaeology quite seriously. If you’re not familiar with BAR, you should know that it covers both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. The editors refer to it as “non-sectarian” in that it tries to reach a wide variety of readers interested in the Bible with content written by those from diverse backgrounds as well. There have also been a number of controversies over the years that the writers and editors have not shied away from for even a moment. That also means that no reader, myself included, will agree with all viewpoints in BAR all of the time. But from the time I was a senior in high school, that never bothered me. BAR gave me content I couldn’t find anywhere else.
Click/tap the image above for a larger view of Biblical Archaeology Review in Accordance 12
Having 41 years of BAR issues in Accordance is amazing. I was comparing the initial March 1975 issue to the November/December 2016 release. The first issue was completely in black and white and contained only 7 complete articles, if you count the introduction of BAR itself. The most recent issue contained in today’s release is in full color and has roughly 19 articles and a number of other features including reader feedback.
That most recent issue in the Accordance edition has an article on the Deir ‘Alla Inscription (aka “The Balaam Inscription”), an essay addressing the question of why so many pig bones are found throughout excavations in Palestine, a very timely response to the question of what the Bible says about tattoos, and much more to keep you reading for hours on end. Of course, issues regularly include book reviews, movie reviews (on the occasional film tied to the ancient past), cartoon caption contests, and as always, the very latest in archeological information about the Bible. And what separates a periodical like BAR from other magazines and journals? The history of the Bible is just that--history--so even past issues contain relevant information.
Biblical Archaeology Review is not the only periodical in existence dedicated to excavations of the biblical world, but it is definitely the one with the broadest reach aimed at the widest audience. And in Accordance, you can access the content of BAR in ways that can’t be duplicated anywhere else. Accordance developers have thoroughly analyzed all issues from 41 years of BAR and tagged content according to the following fields: article titles, general content, Scripture, Greek content, Hebrew content, transliteration, authors, image credits and captions. Find the exact content you need quickly and efficiently. Get the exact image you need for your lesson, lecture, or sermon with full article support behind it.
After all these years, it’s great to have an update to BAR in Accordance, still the only Bible software platform to offer it. With this new release, you can access thousands of articles and nearly 15,000 breathtaking photos, maps, drawings, and charts. And, in case you were wondering, we are honoring the investment of previous purchasers with upgrade pricing!
Biblical Archaeology Review (1975-2016)
Regular Price $129.90
Upgrade from 1975-2003 Release
Regular Price $79.90
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The Anchor Yale Bible Series, previously the Anchor Bible Series, is a renowned publishing program that for more than 50 years has produced books devoted to the latest scholarship on the Bible and biblical topics."
Joining the popular AYB Dictionary and the massive AYB Commentary series, Accordance is thrilled to announce our first two sets from the Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library. For one week you can add these to your Accordance Library at special introductory prices.
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Imagine seeing artwork, buildings, towers, roads, chariots, ships, and more from the time of Abraham and Sarah, Joseph, Moses, David and Bathsheba, Solomon, Mary and Joseph, Jesus, the Apostles, and the first millennium that followed. Imagine learning the fascinating stories of many of the most interesting and sometimes startling items unearthed in recent years. Now, for the first time, you can add the Anchor Bible Reference Library’s critically acclaimed 3-volume Archaeology of the Land of the Bible series to your Collection.
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The Virtual Tour to the Temple, recently released for the Accordance Library, presents a visual history of the Temple beginning with the Tabernacle in the wilderness, then moving to the sanctuary at Shiloh, and culminating with the Temple in Jerusalem. Interactive maps links to over 100 high-definition 360 degree panoramas and informative videos presented by Dr. Randall Price.
Riches to Rags — Herod’s Palaces
The name of Herod the Great must have inspired terror in his day, and he is still widely known as a violent despot and a great builder. In addition to the massive platform and renovation of the Second Temple, he specialized in the construction of a number of palaces in unlikely places.
Herod's Palace in Jerusalem
Little remains to be seen of the enormous palace complex he had built in Jerusalem. Except for the three towers, it has been all but obliterated by successive layers of destruction and construction. A few weeks ago we joined a new tour at Herod’s citadel (AKA the Tower of David) that took us through the moat to see the remains of just one of several pools and the foundations of the palace complex. With the help of the plans and diagrams, and the knowledgable guide, we could imagine the extent of this palace, which Josephus eloquently described. Herod must truly have impressed the foreign dignitaries he received there with his wealth and Roman culture.
Original steps and part of a pool in the palace complex
Click for full-sized image
Excavations in the Kishle (Turkish prison building) showing on the right
the massive foundation walls of the palace
Earlier this year we drove out south of Bethlehem to the Herodion. Here Herod had identified a large hill that stood apart from others. At the base he laid out a large pool with gardens and walks. He built up the sides of the hill to form a smooth cone, fortified the top, and created a palace down inside those walls as if inside the top of a volcano. Complete with a secure water supply, bathhouse, and reception hall, he had a safe retreat from the pressures of Jerusalem.
First view of the Herodion
Inside the upper palace
Just one of several enormous cisterns
All of this was excavated many years ago. Our goal was to see the recent discovery, after many years of searching, of the tomb of Herod. Half way up the hill is a theatre with a royal box for the elite to watch the shows, and a little further round are the remains of the huge mausoleum Herod had apparently ordered for himself. Enough parts were found on the site to be able to reconstruct a model of the structure.
The tomb site: the actual mausoleum was 7 times larger than the model
Model of the palace, theater, and tomb
Ironically, for all his efforts to create an impregnable tomb that would stand in his honor, Herod was so hated by the Jewish people that they lost no time in destroying the entire edifice (the sarcophagus was already looted). During the revolts against the Romans, the fortress buildings were reworked to meet the needs of the rebels, and the underground water system became a hideout from which the rebels could attack the army. The pile of rubble that marked his gravesite was covered with more dirt and lay undiscovered for 2000 years. So ended his reign of terror in ignominy, a fitting warning to the tyrants of today.
I remember hiking with a friend from Nazareth to Tzippori, a year after the 6 Day war. As we left Nazareth she was recognized and invited for a cold drink by a poor lady. We told her where we were going and she indicated that it had been her home up to 1948. At that time I did not understand the implications. That day we had a pleasant hike to an old church displaying a fragment of Byzantine mosaic floor and commemorating the supposed hometown of Mary’s parents.
My recent visit (by car) was totally different. Now there is a large, well developed archaeological park, and we joined a park guide who explained not only the ancient history but also modern events including why the Arab population was displaced.
This town was the seat of Roman government and a great center of Jewish learning, especially after the fall of Jerusalem. It would already have been an important city just a few miles from Nazareth in the time of Jesus, although we have no record of it in the Gospels. I was impressed by the intersecting main roads: the Cardo for chariots and the pedestrian Decumanus Maximus. Both still have flagstones with incised games on them, but the Cardo has an incised menorah, perhaps indicating a Jewish store or synagogue, or the spot where a rabbi would teach. There is a theater, an oil press, a crusader fortress, ritual baths and many more things to see.
Click for full image
However, Sepphoris is most famous for the mosaics. The only synagogue uncovered so far has a typical zodiac in the center. It is not complete, but the side panels have clear Jewish symbols labeled in Hebrew: menorah, shofar, bread, and sacrifices, together with scenes from the Bible.
The Nile House with striking representations of Father Nile and Mother Egypt with the usual flora and fauna and a Nilometer indicating an unusual depth of water for a very good year.
The Dionysius House had a huge triclinium where guests sat on benches on three sides around a beautiful mosaic depicting Greek mythology. Up front and center is the head of a lovely woman. Her name is unknown, but she is called the Mona Lisa of Galilee for the eyes that seem to follow you around the room. She alone makes the visit to Sepphoris worthwhile.
We ended our visit by exploring the deep and long water cisterns that supplied the first century town by means of an aqueduct. We crawled through some very narrow gaps in pitch darkness — definitely a fun experience for kids. Make sure Sepphoris is on the list for your next visit to Israel.
The second in a brief series of amateur visits to lesser-known archaeological sites in Israel.
On a relatively cool and pleasant June day north of Jerusalem, the guard led us up to the Khirbet el-Maqatir excavations to meet Dr. Scott Stripling, the Director. This summer’s dig was in full swing, and it was a joy to see some of our faithful users deep in the dirt, and to have a personal tour of the site from Dr. Stripling.
First he reviewed the history of the site, as revealed in 13 seasons of excavation over 20 years. In brief, although the nearby et-Tell was identified as the site of Ai by earlier scholars, it showed no evidence of Joshua’s conquest or early Israelite occupation. Both of these are clearly found at this site which makes it a very strong candidate to be the Ai of Joshua’s time. Later excavations revealed a large city dating back to the period of the kings and developed even further in Roman times. Dr Stripling identifies this city with the town of Ephraim mentioned in the story of Absalom, and in John 11:54.
The site today is a maze of intersecting walls, storage pits, and cisterns from all the archaeological levels. Sadly, the finds of each season are not preserved for the next by the local population. However, the site is rich in pottery and coinage, which is preserved, and of course all the findings are most carefully documented and photographed for future publication.
For more information about this site, please see the Associates for Biblical Research website, or search In Accordance for articles, especially in Bible and Spade and other journals included in the Theological Journal Library. It will soon be expanded in our own PhotoGuide 4.
perhaps by a city architect millenia ago
I have been privileged recently to visit some lesser-known sites in Israel, and would like to share a few with you in a short series of posts.
Currently a small religious settlement above a green valley, Shiloh was once central to the faith of Israel. A few days ago we wandered over the historic site, taking in the Jewish rock-cut tomb, Byzantine church mosaic floor, and the Mosque, all bearing witness to successive waves of occupation. Further on we climbed the hill to see the museum and multimedia display, and explored the ruins and walls of early Israelite and Canaanite settlement. Beyond the excavations we came to a large platform defined by low rock walls running East-West which enjoys stunning views of the surrounding hills and valleys. Now adorned with flags, this is thought to be the place on which the tabernacle was erected.
We could only imagine the tabernacle standing there, surrounded by priests and levites, the air filled with the smell of incense and the sounds of the animals to be sacrificed, and the people of Israel making their way up the hill from all corners of the land. It was the focus of worship throughout the period of Joshua, Judges, and the first kings of Israel. Here Eli the priest ministered to the people but failed his own sons who went on to lose the Ark of the covenant in battle. Here Hannah came and prayed in desperation for a child, and here she dedicated Samuel to the Lord with one of the great songs in the Bible. Here God made Himself known in shekinah glory.
Well worth the extra effort to visit, I commend this beautiful site to anyone with a spare half-day in central Israel. Those who cannot go in person can still explore it in the PhotoGuide 4