Sunday, December 25, 2011

From Ha'aretz:

Israeli archaeologists have uncovered the first archeological find to confirm written testimony of the ritual practices at the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.

An Israeli Antiquities Authority archaeological survey at the northwestern corner of the Temple Mount yielded a tiny tin artifact, the size of a button, inscribed with the Aramaic words: “Daka Le’Ya,” which the excavation directors on behalf of the IAA, archaeologists Eli Shukron and Professor Ronny Reich of the University of Haifa, explain means “pure for God.”

Researchers believe the artifact, dated to the first century, towards the end of the Second Temple period, is a seal similar to those described in the Mishnah. If they are correct, this is the first time physical evidence of the temple ritual was found to corroborate the written record.

The team believes the tiny seal was put on objects designated to be used in the temple, and thus had to be ceremonially pure.

In this vein, and in the spirit of Hanukkah, Jerusalem District archaeologist of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said: “It is written in the Talmud that the only cruse of oil that was discovered in the Temple after the victory of the Maccabees over the Greeks, “lay with the seal of the High Priest” – that is: the seal indicated that the oil is pure and can be used in the Temple. Remember, this cruse of oil was the basis for the miracle of Hanukkah that managed to keep the menorah lit for eight days”.

In addition to this artifact, the dig also yielded other Second Temple artifacts, some older from the time of the Hasmonean Dynasty rule, including oil lamps, earthenware pots, and containers filled with oils and perfumes, as well as coins bearing Hasmonean kings such as Alexander Jannaeus and John Hyrcanus.

Wiktionary translates "Daka" as "to cleanse, to purify."

Intriguingly, Jastrow translates "Daka" as "humble" or "crushed." And the Genesius Lexicon translates it similarly:


Is it possible that "Daka l'Ya" doesn't only mean "pure for God" but perhaps "crushed for God" - meaning it is a seal meant specifically for olive oil produced for the Temple service?


(h/t Dan)

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