Saturday, January 25, 2014

Borowski Symposium

Should All of the LMLK Jars Still Be Attributed to Hezekiah?

On February 4th at Emory University's "Eighth Century Judah and Its Cultural Context: A Symposium Honoring Professor Oded Borowski", the Executive Director of ASOR & LMLK VIP, Andrew Vaughn answers, "Yes!"

Unfortunately, I will not be attending, but look forward to some sort of future publication (probably years hence) that will provide the details about this, & other interesting presentations that will take place during the day.

I met Dr. Borowski briefly back in 2007, thanked him for his LMLK contributions, & am delighted that he will be receiving this honor!

G.M. Grena

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Foolproof Full Prof

2013 ended on a high note for both me & Dr. Oded Lipschits:

  • I was ranked #60 of 15,078 men in America who competed in skyscraper staircase racing during 2013, & #12 of 1,617 men in my age division (50-59).
  • Despite being publicly accused of plagiarism by me & Professor Emeritus David Ussishkin, Dr. Lipschits received a promotion from Associate Professor to Full Professor.

We each overcame tremendous odds, didn't we?!?!

What are the chances of a donut-mongering, desk-ridden, over-50 engineer/programmer ending up in the Top 1% of what is arguably the most grueling single athletic competition?!

What are the chances of a major-university educator getting promoted after its president (Joseph Klafter), rector (Aron Shai), & dept. dean (Eyal Zisser) had been shown multiple violations of their own Code of Honor & Academic Integrity?! According to Rector Shai, "the promotion was approved with flying colors ... [by] about 30 professors [who] studied all aspects of the issue."

Can't help but wonder if one of the aspects they studied was the E-mail Full Prof. Lipschits sent to me in 2005 thanking me for the gratis copy of my book, assuring me he would make use of it. I wonder if someone from TAU's IT dept. was one of those "about 30" who could retrieve it from their server's archive... For that matter, I wonder if someone from TAU's Math dept. was among them. How hard would it have been to actually count the names of the specific professors who studied the issue rather than simply estimate them?

Anyway, in light of this gross display of incompetency over a tremendously simple matter, I believe it would be appropriate for Klafter, Shai, & Zisser to resign. If they don't, Tel Aviv University risks becoming known as Ichabod University as more people of integrity (students & faculty) learn about this affair. Right now the ability of TAU's administrative staff to enforce their Honor Code seems like a meat market advertising kosher pork.

[Note: Oddly enough, TAU does not maintain a static copy of their Ethics Code online, but embeds it in each semester's course booklet, which is removed/replaced each semester as if it were a worthless piece of garbage. For example, here's a static link to my alma mater's Academic Policies & Procedures, which defines "dishonesty" in no uncertain terms. So in order to preserve the one I referenced in my blog last year (now pointing to a defunct TAU link) lest anyone far off in the future think I hallucinated TAU ever having such a policy, I'm storing an illegal/unauthorized copy at for everyone's convenience.]

The year, however, did not end so well for Dr. Israel Finkelstein. You'll recall that in 2012 he published a special editorial note in TAU's peer-reviewed journal explaining that Lipschits merely made an "honest oversight" by not crediting my book & drawings, which are in the public domain. Fortunately, Lipschits figuratively threw his esteemed friend's reputation under the bus, & clarified the matter for the editorial staff of ZDPV (a peer-reviewed journal published in Germany). Rather than express an apology for making another honest oversight, he simply told the truth & took full credit for my drawings as being an original work of his own.

If that seems strange, it's not. It is the middle ground between light & shadow, between science & superstition, & it lies between the pit of man's fears & the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call The TAU Zone!

You see, the tables have turned, for I recently received a meticulous comparison of an article written by Full Prof. Lipschits, as well as one written by another eminent professor (recently deceased), Helmer Ringgren. And it appears that Ringgren plagiarized Lipschits!

Lipschits in 2010 (L10): "Usually the verb is connected to the growth of plants, but also to the growth of hair. In one case the verb was used to symbolize the healing of the skin..."

Ringgren in 2003 (R03): "The verb is associated first of all with the life of plants. In a more general sense, smh refers to the growth of hair or of healing skin."

L10: "In two cases the verb in the Hiphil was connected to QRN ('horn'). In Ps 132:17 it seems that the horn is a symbol for the growing power and eternity of the king, while in Ezek 29:21 it symbolizes the growing power of Israel."

R03: "The hiphil twice takes the obj. QRN qeren, 'horn.' ... The horn symbolizes power, particularly that of the king... Ezekiel picks up this imagery and associates it with Israel, asserting that the people will receive new power."

L10: "In Jer 23:5; 33:15-16 and in Zech 3:8; 6:12-13 semah became a messianic title..."

R03: "In Jeremiah and Zechariah, semah has become a messianic title."

L10: "According to Jer 23:5, the Lord will raise up to David semah saddiq..."

R03: "According to Jer. 23:5, Yahweh will raise up for David a semah saddiq..."

L10: "In 33: 15-16 this oracle is reinterpreted and the name yhwh sidqenu is transferred to Jerusalem."

R03: "The oracle is reinterpreted in 33:15-16, though here the name 'Yahweh is our righteousness' is transferred to Jerusalem."

The full bibliographical citations are:

  • "'Here Is a Man Whose Name Is Semah' (Zechariah 6:10)" by Oded Lipschits (2010) in "The Historian and the Bible: Essays in Honour of Lester L. Grabbe", edited by Philip R. Davies & Diana V. Edelman; T & T Clark International, New York NY, pp. 124-136.
  • "'Samah' or 'Semah'" by Rinngren (2003 English translation) in "Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament: Volume XII (Pasah-Qum)", edited by G. Johannes Botterweck, Helmer Ringgren, and Heinz-Josef Fabry; William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids MI / Cambridge UK, pp. 409-413.

You may download a courtesy copy of a detailed comparison via (now permanently stored in the same folder as TAU's Code of Honor; & no, that's not ironic).

LMLKologists may not be familiar with Prof. Ringgren; however, they will recognize the author of this comparison, Dr. Benjamin Sass. He is the well-known co-author of the 1997 reference tome, "Corpus of West Semitic Stamp Seals" with the late Nahman Avigad. The section on "Hebrew jar-handle impressions" formed the first exhaustive, photographic listing of LMLK Personal seals.

It is such a shame to see the hard work performed by Full Prof. Lipschits on the name ($MH in Hebrew, "Branch" in English) engraved into this important jar-handle seal cited almost verbatim by Ringgren in his word-definition article; but as a Christian, I see no other way around this conclusion: Clearly Ringgren misused his gift of prophetic vision back in 2003 by utilizing what Full Prof. Lipschits wrote in 2010, some 7 years before it was even published.

Seeing this as the only sensible interpretation of the circumstances here in The TAU Zone, I'm reminded of the statement by TAU's Archaeology dept. regarding the use of a mechanical excavator at Tel Socoh by Dr. Yuval Goren, which was distributed online after Dr. Robert Deutsch had placed advertisements in BAR magazine to make the archeological world aware of what Goren did: macro-searching for the remains of an ancient LMLK workshop.

As only someone with prophetic vision would know in advance whether an area to be excavated with a large piece of machinery did not contain any delicate archeological data (such as the inscriptions on LMLK seals, possibly discarded with pottery slag), it will be interesting to see if any of the same faculty members will likewise defend Lipschits in a public statement as they did for Goren.

Maybe even Dr. Robert Cargill (who took the time to meticulously analyze Simcha Jacobovici's ossuary photos pixel by pixel) will use his amazingly detailed detective skills to see if there is "something quite foul coming from" Europe in order to defend his Azekah-excavation partner! Besides, which is a more egregious academic crime:

  • A TV/movie host misrepresenting an ossuary image in a public forum where there is no established Honor Code?
  • An antiquities dealer placing advertisements in a popular-audience magazine (where again there is no established Honor Code) showing excavations conducted via large-scale machinery?
  • Or, a university professor aiding & abetting dishonesty in a peer-reviewed academic publication with an agreed-upon Honor Code?

We'll have to wait & see. I don't have the same gift of prophetic vision that Ringgren had, nor that which those TAU faculty members must have. Speaking of prophets...

"Wherefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe to [TAU], to the pot whose scum is therein, and whose scum is not gone out of it!" (Ezekiel 24:6).

Here's a photo of yours truly this morning, posing with a "dear" friend. If such a device is IAA approved for excavations of LMLK workshop slag (possibly containing inscriptions a few millimeters long), I'm hoping my use of it here can serve as a reminder for the need to remove academic scum:

If any archeologists need to use similar machinery for their excavation, they should compare the rental costs of the equipment to the hourly wage of TAU faculty members, many of whom are experts at digging holes for themselves.

G.M. Grena

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Renewed HBRN Excavations

I really don't have time to edit this tonight, but it contains interesting news so I'm posting it wholesale sic:

"David Wilder
January 10, 2014

Back in the 1960s an archeologist from the United States, Prof. Philip Hammond, from the Princeton Theological Seminary, excavated in Hebron, in the area call Tel Rumeida, during the summer months of 1964, 1965, and 1966. He discovered many interesting artifacts on the south eastern side of the Tel, including the remains of walls so large and so old, that he called them “Cycloptic walls.”

Hammond’s findings were later documented by Prof. Jeffrey Chadwick of the Brigham Young University in his doctoral thesis. (See: Discovering Hebron, Jeffrey R. Chadwick, BAR 31:05, Sep/Oct 2005).

Later excavations were continued by Dr. Avi Ofer, between the years 1984-1986. He discovered what was called one of the most important archaeological finds, a tablet with writing on it, from the era preceding Abraham, probably a list of animals, perhaps utilized for sacrifice.

In 1998, archologist Yuval Peleg literally fell into an underground room, near the present entrance into the neighborhood, where he discovered dozens of artifacts, including jars, jewelry, and other artifacts from the late Bronze era, that is, post-Patriarchs and Matriarchs.

However, perhaps the most astounding discoveries were those of Emmanuel Eisenberg, leading excavations for the Israeli Antiquities Department, in 1999. Among his finds were a 4,500 year old wall, that belonging to the early bronze era, which on a Biblical timeline is the time of Noah, and stairs, also over 4,000 years old, leading from the valley below into the ancient city of Hebron.

Eisenberg can also chalk up another amazing discovery: that of a home, 2,700 years old, from the time of King Hezekiah. In the vicinity of this home, also found were five seals, call ‘the King seals,’ bearing the impression of a bird, or a beetle, with the word ‘lemelech’ meaning ‘belonging to the King, written above the impression, and the word ‘Hebron’ in ancient Hebron, below it. These seals were embedded on the bottom of handles on clay jars containing food, to be distributed to soldiers in the then Judean army, who were fighting a war against Sancheriv, who also invaded Hebron and burned it to the ground. Stone pillars discovered at the site are stained with patches of black, which Eisenberg determined were from the remains of the fire which burned down Hebron.

The 1999 excavations revealed artifacts from 4,500 years ago, to about 1,500 years ago. One of the time periods unaccounted for is that of 3,000 years ago, when David began his reign as King of Judea in Hebron, where he ruled for 7 and a half years, before ascending to Jerusalem, establishing it as the eternal capital of the Jewish people. The present understanding, was was explained to us by Eisenberg, is that most probably David founded the first City of David on the highest point of Tel Hebron, an area yet to be examined.

Until now. Until Sunday of this week. A few days ago Hebron joyfully greeted back Emmanuel Eisenberg, representing the Israeli Antiquities Agency, and Dr. David ben Shlomo from the Ariel University, who are jointly heading up renewed digging on Tel Hebron. The areas presently being excavated are labeled ‘plots 52 and 53,’ on the center-south-west section of Tel Hebron. The area is between 5 to 6 Dunam, that being some 1.5 acres or 6,000 sq. meters. The time needed to complete the excavation is dependent on the findings at the site, but it is possible that they could be completed by the end of this calendar year.

These renewed excavations are tremendously exciting. The thought of uncovering the original city of David, or even his palace, is mind-boggling. Why so? Hebron is the roots of Judaism, it is the roots of all of monotheism and I also call it the very beginnings of humanity. That being the beginning of the end of human sacrifice, with the belief of one G-d, a Deity rejecting killing of men, women and children as a means of worship. With Abraham, mankind starts to leave the barbarity of such acts and begins praying to one G-d. This is Abraham’s legacy.

We repeat the words ‘David Melech Yisrael, Chai v’Kayam - David, King of Israel, is alive and exists. Daily we pray for the renewal of the kingdom of David, the roots of which are in Hebron.

The significance of this is, not such much what was in the past, but who we are today, and where we are going in the future. I tell many of my guests in Hebron, I am not so amazed at the presence of Abraham, 3,700 years ago, but rather that we still live at the very site where we originated. How many peoples in world can say that, today, in 2014, they still live where they began, in our case, almost 4,000 years ago?

We are part of a chain, beginning with Abraham, continuing through David, and leading, over the centuries, to the present, a chain which will stretch thru eternity. In order to know who we are, what we are, and where we have the potential to reach, we must know where we are coming from. If you don’t know your past, you have no idea which direction to go in, you get lost, not knowing where you are going.

Renewed revelation of Hebron’s past will be as an arrow, pointing us in the right direction, as we continue to march thru the pages of history, an eternal people in an eternal land."
G.M. Grena