From Rome to Jerusalem: Matti Friedman’s Latest Essay

This is

An ongoing series looking at history through a single object in the archaeology collections at Israel’s national museum.

And it’s worth seeing.

Before reaching its current home in a display case in Jerusalem, this small disc of glass and gold was buried in the catacombs beneath Rome 1,700 years ago, looted, kept in the castle of a Polish countess, stolen by Nazis, sold on the antiquities market in Vienna, tracked down and reclaimed by its previous owners and then purchased again.

In 70 CE, Roman legions destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem, taking Jewish captives and the Temple treasures back to the imperial capital. The image of the Temple’s seven-branched menorah was carved onto the Arch of Titus, built to celebrate the defeat of the Jews.

Two or three centuries later a Jew died in Rome and was buried in the catacombs, along with an image of that same menorah in gold leaf pressed between two round pieces of glass. The descendants of the exiles from Judea had come to use the image of the Temple’s candelabra to represent themselves.

Read it all.  Matti’s a great storyteller.

About Jim

I am a Pastor, and Lecturer in Church History and Biblical Studies at Ming Hua Theological College.
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2 Responses to From Rome to Jerusalem: Matti Friedman’s Latest Essay

  1. Jo anna Wail says:

    One of the very well known and connected dealers here in Israel had a similiar object which was a forgery, though well made and he would sell it to unsuspecting tourists for tens of thousands of dollars who would then take it abroad, sans license and when they tried to get it evaluated for insurance reasons, were told it was a modern day replica. They would then contact the dealer who would argue with them but eventually for his ‘reputation’ rtn the money, minus the VAT which he claimed went to the state along with the 20% paid to the tour guide, whom he ‘never knew’ and the tourists was now faced with the difficult decision, hire a lawyer while living abroad or take the money and write it off as a bad deal. Inevitability they would take the money and the dealer would then wait until the next tourist came around, with the 20% paid to the guide and the VAT in his pocket which was never turned over to the state.


  2. deutschr says:

    Jo anna Weil

    We WANT to know the name of the dealer !!

    Robert Deutsch


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