300 - 600 CE

The Byzantine Period in Israel
324 CE – 637 CE

Synagogue Menorah from Hammat Tiberias, 300 CE

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Israel Museum / Israel Antiquities Authority, Photo by Ardon Bar-Hama

Constantine the Great
r. 306-337 CE 

Constantine the Great converted to Christianity in 312 CE. In 324, he built a new imperial residence at Byzantium, Turkey and renamed the city Constantinople.

His mother, Queen Helena, is known for her travels to Jerusalem and is said to have found the “true cross.” She destroyed Hadrian’s Temple to Jupiter on the Temple Mount.  

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Capitoline Museum, Rome

The Christian Pilgrim of Bordeaux Observes Israelites and Tisha B’Av, 333 CE

Chronicon Paschale
“There are two statues of Hadrian, and not far from the statues there is a perforated stone, to which the Jews come every year
(on Tisha B’Av) and anoint it, bewail themselves with groans, rend their garments, and so depart.” 

This Byzantine Christian work based on earlier records also relates that Hadrian built the Temple of Jupiter, divided into three parts with statues of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva, on the site of the Temple Mount.

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Madaba Map replica, Photo by Ardon Bar-Hama

Once A Year on Tisha B’Av, Constantine the Great Allowed the Israelites to Visit the Temple Mount 

Tisha B'Av, the 9th of Av, commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temple of the Jews.   Latin priest and historian Jerome (342-420 CE), related that the only day on which Jews were permitted to enter Jerusalem was Tisha B'Av.  


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Lamenting the Destruction, Tower of David Museum
Photo by Ardon Bar-Hama

The Louvre, Paris

Roman Emperor Julian Orders the Rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem, 363 CE 

Julian’s Epistle 25 to the Community of the Jews:
“When I have successfully concluded the war with Persia, I may rebuild by my own efforts the sacred city of Jerusalem, which for so many years you have longed to see inhabited, and may bring settlers there, and together with you, may glorify the Most High God therein.” 


The Emperor Julian was the only pagan emperor after Constantine. His dislike of Christianity because of its claim that it alone was the true religion earned him the name “apostate” and the enmity of Christians throughout the Roman Empire. He admired the Israelites’ ancient forms of worship and their god, Yahweh, whom Julian called “most powerful and most good.”

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Menorah Ring,
300 - 400 CE

Zechariah 4:1-2
Then the angel who was speaking with me returned and woke me, as a man is awakened from his sleep. "What do you see?" he asked. "I see a solid gold lampstand," I replied, ‘with a bowl at the top and seven lamps on it, with seven spouts to the lamps."

Pictured: a gold ring depicting the Menorah, found in Jerusalem.

Collection of Shlomo Moussaieff, Photo by Ardon Bar-Hama​ 

Israel Antiquities Authority

Isaiah Inscription on the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, 300 - 500 CE

“And when ye see this, your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall flourish like an herb.” 

This verse from Isaiah 66:14 was carved on a stone block in the Western Wall of the Temple Mount. A number of inscriptions carved by Israelite pilgrims at various times have been found in the Temple Mount area.  

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An Israelite Anticipates the Messiah, 400 - 500 CE


A letter sent by an Israelite from the Galilee in the fifth century expressed a prevailing sentiment that the redemption was near.  


“Behold, the Roman kings have ordered that the gates of Jerusalem be returned to us. Speedily come up to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Tabernacles, for our kingdom is about to be rebuilt in Jerusalem.”



Source: Dan Bahat. The Illustrated Atlas of Jerusalem. The Israel Map and Publishing Company LTD, Israel, 1996. p. 75.


 

Synagogue Chancel Screen with Menorah, 400 - 500 CE

This chancel screen was found at a 5th Century CE Synagogue at Hammat Gader in the Galilee.

Israel Antiquities Authority / Israel Museum
Photo by Ardon Bar-Hama 

Byzantine Empress Eudocia Removes The Ban on Israelites Praying at the Temple Mount, 438 CE

An inscription bearing the name of Empress Eudocia was found at Hammat Gader near the Sea of Galilee.

“Of the Empress Eudocia
In my life many and infinite wonders have I seen…”
 

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Israel Antiquities Authority

Oil Lamp with Menorah

Israel Museum / Israel Antiquities Authority
Photo by Ardon Bar-Hama 

Rehov Synagogue Inscription,
6th Century CE

The Earliest Talmudic Inscription:
“Shalom. These fruits are forbidden in Beit She'an during the Seventh Year (Shmita)... the leeks from the Festival (Sukkot) until Hanukkah …”

The inscription continues on to define the borders of the Land of Israel as settled by returning Jews who had been exiled in Babylon.

The inscription also lists laws of tithing and sabbatical years and names 18 Israelite towns in Samaria. 

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Israel Museum / Israel Antiquities Authority

The First Torah Scroll Found in the Holy Ark in a Synagogue

This burnt scroll was found inside the Holy Ark of the Synagogue at Ein Gedi. The parchment contains a passage from Leviticus (1:1-8).   

Israel Antiquities Authority

Menorah from Ein Gedi Synagogue,
c. 500 CE

Israel Museum / Israel Antiquities Authority

A Israelite Pilgrim’s Prayer to Rebuild the Temple,
6th Century CE

This pilgrim visiting the Temple Mount in the sixth century etched his seven-line plea in stone: Ya’akov son of Josef hoped that the Temple would be rebuilt in his lifetime. The inscription is written in formal Hebrew script.

The stone was later reused and built into a wall of the Muslim Makhama (courthouse) near the northwest corner of the Temple Mount. It was last seen in 1945. 

Israel Antiquities Authority

The Beth Alpha Synagogue

The Beth Alpha Synagogue dedication indicates that it was likely built during the reign of Justinian the First (518-27 CE).  The archaeological records show that it was once a two-story building complete with a bimah and a Torah ark oriented toward Jerusalem, as was (and still is) custom.  

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Synagogue Menorah from Ma'on in the Hills of Hebron, 500-600 CE

Israel Antiquities Authority / Israel Museum
Photo by Ardon Bar-Hama 

לְאַחַר שֶׁשָּׁאוּל הַמֶּלֶךְ וּבְנוֹ יְהוֹנָתָן מֵתִים בַּקְּרָב, פּוֹנִים רָאשֵׁי הַשְּׁבָטִים לְדָוִד, שֶׁמָּלַךְ כְּבָר שֶׁבַע שָׁנִים וָחֵצִי בְּחֶבְרוֹן. הֵם מְמַנִּים אוֹתוֹ לְמֶלֶךְ עַל הַקּוֹנְפֵדֵרַצְיָה הַשִּׁבְטִית הַמְּאֻחֶדֶת שֶׁל יִשְׂרָאֵל.     

דָּוִד הַמֶּלֶךְ פּוֹנֶה מִיָּד לְכִוּוּן יְרוּשָׁלַיִם, אַחַת הֶעָרִים הָאַחֲרוֹנוֹת שֶׁטֶּרֶם נִכְבְּשָׁה בְּמַהֲלַךְ כִּבּוּשׁ הָאָרֶץ בִּידֵי בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל.   דָּוִד בּוֹחֵר בִּירוּשָׁלַיִם מֵאַרְבַּע סִבּוֹת עִקָּרִיּוֹת: מַיִם, בִּטָּחוֹן, אִחוּד וְשִׁלְטוֹן קַרְקָעִי נֵיטְרָלִי, אַךְ חָשׁוּב מֵהַכֹּל, בִּגְלַל הַקְּדוֹשָׁה שֶׁל יְרוּשָׁלַיִם הַטְּבוּעָה בַּמָּקוֹם הַנִּבְחָר, שֶׁבּוֹ יִבָּנֶה בֵּית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ הָעֲתִידִי.     

לְפָנֶיךָ סִרְטוֹן הַמְּסַפֵּר אֶת הַסִּבּוֹת שֶׁל דָּוִד בְּכִבּוּשׁ הָעִיר.