1,600-year-old biblical mosaic discovered in Israel, sheds light on ancient Judaism
Updated: Jul 5, 2019
Fox News, James Rogers, July 3, 2019
Archaeologists have uncovered a stunning 1,600-year-old biblical mosaic in northern Israel.
The mosaic, which depicts a scene from the book of Exodus, was found at the site of a fifth-century synagogue in Huqoq.
Excavation director Jodi Magness, a professor at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said the mosaic was the first depiction of the episode of Elim from Exodus 15:27 ever found in ancient Jewish art. “Elim is where the Israelites camped after leaving Egypt and wandering in the wilderness without water,” she explained in a statement, noting that the mosaic is separated into three registers or horizontal strips.
One register showed clusters of dates being harvested by loincloth-clad agricultural workers while another showed a row of wells and date palms, she explained. “On the left side of the panel, a man in a short tunic is carrying a water jar and entering the arched gate of a city flanked by crenellated towers. An inscription above the gate reads, ‘And they came to Elim’,” Magness added.
Archaeologists also discovered mosaics depicting four beasts described in Chapter 7 of the Book of Daniel. The beasts represented four kingdoms preceding the end of days.
“The Daniel panel is interesting because it points to eschatological, or end of day, expectations among this congregation,” said Magness, in the statement. “The Elim panel is interesting as it is generally considered a fairly minor episode in the Israelites’ desert wanderings – which raises the question of why it was significant to this Jewish congregation in Lower Galilee.”