Today, the Jerusalem Post had a news item today on the conducting of an arcane Biblical ritual, the “Decapitated Calf Ritual” – which was conducted last week in protest of several recent cases of hit and run accidents in Israel. The ritual was conducted at the location of an accident at which a young Israeli soldier was hit and subsequently killed 5 times by passing cars – and none of them stopped. While the Rabbis (of the organization of progressive Orthodox rabbis “Tzohar“) did not actually decapitate a calf, they conducted the ceremony in order to outcry this barbaric behaviour, similar to the biblical injunction (Deut. 21: 1-9) when a dead body is found between two towns.
Now what is the connection between this and Tell es-Safi/Gath?
Surprisingly, there is (well, sort of): A few years ago, a cow belonging to a local farmer fell into one of the pits of the excavation and was killed (after the fence around it had been stolen by metal thieves…). I had to pay the farmer (Yunis el-Azi, leader of the el-Azi family members [see here for an entry in the blog mentioning Yunis]) compensation for the cow, and I then became one of the few people in the modern world who can say that they fulfilled the biblical command as in Exod. 21:33-34! Unfortunately, I could not keep the dead cow (as in the biblical text) since it was quite smelly by the time it was found…
So, here is another arcane Biblical ritual that was invoked!
P.S. Volunteers need not worry – we do not stone transgressors on the dig (or at least most of the time…) :-)