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Excavations conducted before the construction of a new neighborhood at the northern entrance to Beersheba have unearthed a Jewish settlement dating to the first century AD. The remains of the settlement cover an area half an acre in size, and include the foundations of a watchtower, baking facilities, and hidden underground passageways that were likely used by Jewish rebels during the revolt. In addition to limestone vessels and bronze coins, archaeologists also discovered a fragment of a lamp decorated with a nine-branched menorah. Scholars believe this to be one of the earliest artistic depictions of a menorah. While the menorah at the Temple in Jerusalem had seven branches, the Babylonian Talmud decreed that Jewish people could not recreate the seven-branched holy menorah, and so lamps depicting eight to eleven-branched candelabras were used for domestic use. The site displays evidence of destruction by fire, which scholars believe occurred during the First Jewish Revolt around 70 AD. In the Old Testament, Beersheba was seen as the southern border of the area settled by the tribes of Israel, as evidenced by the frequent use of the phrase, "from Dan to Beersheba" (Judges 20:1; 1 Samuel 3:10; 1 Kings 4:25; 2 Chronicles 30:5; etc.).

Off-site Links:
- https://www.friendsofiaa.org/news/2019/4/5/nine-branch-menorah-discovered-at-beer-sheba-one-of-the-earliest-of-its-kind
- https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Archaeologists-discover-earliest-appearances-of-a-menorah-in-art-585729
- https://www.timesofisrael.com/2000-year-old-image-of-9-stem-menorah-found-in-rare-jewish-site-in-beersheba/ 

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ABRT 28 | 8/1/2019