The Ancient Boundary of Gezer

The ancient city of Gezer was located in the coastal plain of Israel southwest of Jerusalem. Archeologists have unearthed at least 11 stones imbedded in the outskirts of the site, each one with the inscription “Techum Gezer” (Boundary of Gezer) etched in Hebrew and Greek. Archeologist Ronny Reich dates these stones to the time of Shimon the Hasmonean who according to the book of Maccabees I 13:43-48 re-conquered this city from the Greeks. Shimon died in the year 135 B.C.E., meaning that these stones predate the writing of the Mishnah by 325 years! These stones surround the border of the ancient city at distances ranging from 1,200 meters to 2,000 meters. The halachic Techum of a city regarding Shabbat observance is 2,000 amot, cubits – about a kilometer (Sotah 27b). Although some of these rocks seem to be much further than Techum Shabbat; the halachah teaches us to measure the Techum, not necessarily from the city wall but from the last house built on the outskirts of the town, even though it is outside the wall (Eiruvin 21a; Shulchan Aruch 398:6). This can explain why in different places the marker stones are found at varying distances from the city walls. The discovery itself seems to be empirical evidence that the halachah of techum Shabbat was known and observed before the Oral Torah was written down or even organized in preparation for its publication.

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About The Torah Tour Guide

Yosef Back, a.k.a. “The Torah Tour Guide” has been a tour guide for over five years. Yosef seamlessly meshes together his yeshiva experience and his professional training to provide what he calls “Torah Tours”, which brings the Torah to life by experiencing the Land of Israel and thereby gaining an understanding of our traditions. He is thoroughly versed in Jewish history and sources relevant to the land of Israel, and has led numerous tours for institutions such as: Aish HaTorah, JLE, Hamercaz, PERI, Pisgah, Ohr Samayach Center Program, Beis Yaakov, and JEWEL. A graduate of the Ner Le’Elef Jewish Leadership Institute, Yosef received his rabbinical ordination from Yeshivas Aish HaTorah and from Rabbi Zalman Nechemia Goldberg of Jerusalem. His study of Judaism sparked his interest in Biblical archaeology that finds expression in his work as a tour guide and in his upcoming book “Abrahams Shard: A Jewish Perspective on Biblical Archeology.” Originally from Los Angeles, Yosef moved to Israel in 2001 he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and three children.
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