26 February 2016

Parshat Ki Tisa, The Golden Calf, and the Idol of Astarte

“I explained that the household gods were statues that were used in idol worship, and all of a sudden I realize that these very same idols are here in the classroom!”


While Moses is on Har Sinai to receive our Torah, down below the Erev Rav is up to avoda zorah. The Parsha this week is Ki Tisa, in which is described the moulding of the Golden Calf. This is Avoda Zarah. Fast Forward to 2015, a young boy discovers a 3,400 year-old-statue – an ancient Idol – while on a trip. Archaeologist Mazar estimated that this figurine is possibly the idol of Astarte.

Coincidence?

During a trip to the Tel Rehov archeological site in northern Israel this week, seven-yearold Ori Greenhut, from Tel Te’omin in the Beit She’an Valley, suddenly came upon a small figure covered with soil while climbing the site’s tel, or archeological mound. 3,400 year-old-statue given to Israel Antiquities Authority, which awards 7-year-old Uri Grinhot with a certificate and visit at school

Amihai Mazar, professor emeritus at Hebrew University and head of archaeological excavations at Tel Rehov, examined the statue, saying that it is “typical of Canaanite culture from the 15th to 13th centuries BCE.” [...] “Some researchers believe that the figure depicted here is a flesh and blood woman, while others see it as Astarte, goddess of fertility, known from Canaanite and the Bible. There is a high probability that when the term ‘idol’ is mentioned in the Bible, it in fact refers to figurines such as this.” TimesofIsrael

ORI GREENHUT holds the ancient statuette he found in Tel Rehov earlier this week. (Miki Peleg, courtesy of Israel Antiquities Authority) JPost





“It is highly likely that the term trafim, mentioned in the Bible, indeed refers to figurines of this kind,” Mazar added. “Evidently, the figurine belonged to one of the residents of the city of Rehov, which was then ruled by the central government of the Egyptian pharaohs.”

For his good deed, representatives from the IAA went to Greenhut’s Shaked Elementary School at Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu, to present him with a certificate of appreciation for good citizenship. Meanwhile, his teacher, Esther Ledell, noted that the archeologists came to the school while she was teaching her students about idol worship. JPost

“It was an amazing occasion!” she said. “The archeologists entered the class during a Torah lesson, just when we were learning about Rahel stealing her father’s household gods (trafim; Genesis 31).” Ledell continued: “I explained that the household gods were statues that were used in idol worship, and all of a sudden I realize that these very same idols are here in the classroom!”



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