Jewish Worship, Pagan Symbols: Zodiac Mosaics in Ancient Synagogues

I usually don’t promote much from BAR, but this article is quite interesting and falls in line with certain subjects I discuss on this blog!  Walter Zanger talks about Jewish synagogues and pagan symbols, notably the zodiac.

Ein Harod is a spring that rises in the valley of Jezreel at the foot of Mt. Gilboa. Gideon gathered his men there to sort out the good soldiers from the bad ones (Judges 7). From the pool, the spring makes its weary and meandering way east down the valley for some 18 km, passing through Beth-Shean to empty into the Jordan River.

A thousand years of neglect had resulted in a valley full of silted and blocked-up waterways creating a marshy and swampy landscape as the spring of Harod—and half a dozen other springs that empty into it—filled the land with water faster than the natural outlets—now blocked—could drain it.

The middle square, the first to be uncovered, was the most spectacular. Figures of four women were at the four corners, with inscriptions (in Hebrew) identifying each as a season of the year. Inside the square was a wheel, 3.12 meters in diameter, with a smaller circle (1.2 m) in its center. The wheel was divided into 12 panels, each with a figure and a name identifying it as a sign of the zodiac. And in the center, a man was pictured driving a quadriga (four-horse chariot) through the moon and stars. Rays of the sun were coming out of his head; it was clear that he was Helios, god of the sun.

via Jewish Worship, Pagan Symbols: Zodiac mosaics in ancient synagogues by Walter Zanger – Biblical Archaeology Review.

Quite an enjoyable piece!  H/T to James McGrath on Facebook.

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