Ancient synagogue mossaic.
(photo credit: Israel Antiquities Authority)
The Israel Antiquities Authority on Monday announced that an archeological dig found a mosaic floor describing the story of biblical Samson and a Hebrew inscription from an approximately 1,600-year-old synagogue in the lower Galilee.
The dig is being led by Dr. Jodi Magness of North Carolina University in partnership with the IAA and others.
The synagogue structure and the related findings, dating back to Talmudic times between the 4th and 6th centuries CE, were found near modern day Kibbutz Hokuk, and are likely the remains of an ancient synagogue mentioned in various medieval and Talmudic sources as being in ancient Horkuk.
The ancient Hokuk is mentioned in the Jerusalem Talmud as one of a number of places where rabbis of the Talmud, both the earlier Tannaim and the later Amoraim, met to discuss and promote the writing of the Talmud.
A book by the medieval Rabbi Ashtori Ishtori from the 14th century specifically references a synagogue in the same area where the new findings were reported.
According to Dr. David Amit of the IAA, the "highlight of the discoveries in the current season is a colorful mosaic of very high quality."
Amit added that the "mosaic contains a description of the biblical Samson and two pairs of foxes with a flaming torch connecting their tails," as described in the deeds of Samson in the book of Judges.
The mosaic also contains an inscription in Hebrew, in a medallion decorated with smaller medallions on both sides and stunning depictions of women's heads.
The inscription is partially damaged but appears to praise those who devote themselves to acts of kindness and good deeds, saying that they will be at peace.