Ancient Hebrew Inscriptions Found in Galilee Synagogue
Pictured Above: The entrance to the ancient synagogue at Peqi?in, Israel. Credit: Ritvo, courtesy of Beit Zinati.
(JNS.org) Two ancient Hebrew inscriptions dating back some 1,800 years to the Roman period were found on the capital of a limestone column during restoration work being carried out in an ancient synagogue in the Western Galilee town of Peqi?in in Israel.
According to archaeologists, the stone was found upside down in the synagogue’s courtyard. A preliminary analysis of the inscriptions appear to indicate they were dedicatory inscriptions honoring donors to the synagogue, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) said.
"The Talmudic and Midrashic sources tell of the Galilean sages that lived in Peqi?in, including Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, who hid from the Romans in a cave," IAA inspector in the Western Galilee Yoav Lerer said. "However, there are those who disagree with the identification of the location of Peqi?in. I believe that these inscriptions will add an important tier to our knowledge about the Jewish settlement in the village of Peqi?in during the Roman and Byzantine periods."
Restoration work has been underway for the past year in Peqi?in’s ancient synagogue and nearby Beit Zinati in order to upgrade the visitor center there, which will tell the story of the Jewish presence in the town over the last 2,000 years as well as the Zinati family, the town’s oldest Jewish family. Margalit Zinati, the last member of the Zinati family, still resides in a house next door to the synagogue.
Ze'ev Elkin, Israeli Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage, said that Peqi?in “is one of the most significant sites in the Galilee and is a place where there has always been a Jewish presence.
"It is a great honor for me that during my tenure in office such an important discovery has been made that tells this 2,000-year-old story of the land of Israel,” he added.