Further Thoughts on the Migdal Synagogue Stone

In: Novum Testamentum
Richard Bauckham Cambridge

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This article builds on Mordechai Aviam’s pioneering interpretation of the Migdal synagogue stone, agreeing with him that all the symbolism refers to the Temple, while differing from him on some specific points of interpretation and developing the overall significance of the symbolism considerably further. It is argued that the four vertical sides of the stone depict the three different spaces of the Temple: the Holy of Holies, the Holy Place, and the courts. The stone as a whole is a representation of the Table of the Shewbread, with the twelve loaves representing the tribes differentiated according to the matriarchs. The stone symbolizes a cultic connexion between the synagogue and the Temple. It is unique evidence of the way Galilean Jews before 70 understood the synagogue and its activities.

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