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February 22, 2017 11:44 am

Ancient Hebrew Inscriptions Found in Galilee Synagogue

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The entrance to the ancient synagogue at Peqiʽin, Israel. Photo: Ritvo, courtesy of Beit Zinati.

The entrance to the ancient synagogue at Peqiʽin, Israel. Photo: Ritvo, courtesy of Beit Zinati. – Two ancient Hebrew inscriptions dating back some 1,800 years were found in the courtyard of an ancient synagogue in the Western Galilee town of Peqi’in.

The capital of a limestone column, uncovered upside down during a restoration process, bears what appear to be 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 at Peqi’in’s ancient synagogue, and at the nearby visitor center in Beit Zinati, which will together tell the story of the Jewish presence in the town over the last 2,000 years. The site will also focus on the history of the Zinatis, the town’s oldest Jewish family, whose last surviving member — Margalit Zinati — still resides in a house next door to the synagogue.

Ze’ev Elkin, Israeli Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage, said that Peqiʽin “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.

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