American and Israeli archaeologists have found mosaics on bible plots in the north of Israel. Among them were images of animals described by the prophet Daniel, as well as images of the oasis of Elim, where, according to the Bible, the Jews stayed during their flight from Egypt. Mosaics found in the ruins of a synagogue of the 5th century, near the ancient settlement of Hukok, according to a press release from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The Hebrew village of Khukok in the north of modern Israel was built on the site of a Bronze Age settlement. People lived here since the middle of the II millennium BC and until the middle of the last century, until the Arab village of Yakuk, which was located on the site of an ancient settlement, was not leveled. Hucoq is even mentioned in the Old Testament, the book of Joshua (19:34). In the Roman and Byzantine eras, the settlement flourished thanks to its permanent source of water. In the 5th century, a monumental synagogue was built in the settlement. Its walls, built of massive stone blocks, indicate that the inhabitants of Hukok were very wealthy.
In 2011, Israeli and American archaeologists led by Jodi Magnes from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Shua Kisilevitz from the Israel Department of Antiquities began excavations in the ruins of the village. The tasks of the researchers, among other things, included the search and excavation of the synagogue. In 2012, archaeologists found the first mosaic that adorned the synagogue, followed by other finds. Among them were mosaics on biblical scenes, including the construction of the Tower of Babel, Noah’s Ark, and the whale swallowing Jonah.
In the field season in 2019, researchers found a mosaic depicting four animals described by the prophet Daniel.
2 When Daniel began his speech, he said: “I saw in my night vision, and behold, the four winds of heaven were fighting on the great sea,
3 and four large beasts came out of the sea, unlike one another.
4 The first is like a lion, but its wings are eagle; I watched until his wings were torn out, and he was lifted off the ground, and stood on his feet like a man, and a human heart was given to him.
5 And behold, another beast, the second, looking like a bear, stood on one side, and had three fangs in its mouth, between its teeth. He said: “Get up, eat a lot of meat!”
6 Then I saw, behold, another beast, like a leopard; on his back are four bird wings, and the beast of four had four heads, and power was given to him.
7 After this I saw in night visions, and behold, the fourth beast, terrible, and terrible, and very strong: he has big iron teeth, he devours and crushes, and traces the remains with his feet; he was different from all former beasts, and he had ten horns.
8 I looked at these horns, and behold, a small horn came out between them, and three of the previous horns were uprooted with a root before him, and, behold, in this horn were eyes, like human eyes, and mouth speaking arrogant.
Daniel 7: 2-8
Two of them are preserved on the mosaics: a bear with three fangs and a monster with iron teeth.
In addition to them, the researchers found an image of the oasis of Elim, where, according to the book of Exodus, the Jews, under the leadership of Moses, stopped on their way from Egypt.
27 And they came to Elim. There were twelve sources of water and seventy date trees; and camped there in the waters.
According to Magness, this is the first known image of Elim in ancient Jewish art. The creators of the mosaic divided it into three bands. On one depicts collectors in loincloths, dropping to the ground bunches of dates. The other shows a series of wells surrounded by date palm trees, on the third panel a man in a short tunic, holding a jug of water, enters the gates of the city, surrounded by battlements. Above the walls there is an inscription: “And they came to Elim.”
A few years ago, archaeologists found in Jerusalem a mosaic inscription mentioning the Byzantine emperor Justinian (lived in 482-565) and a high-ranking local cleric Constantine.