The Theodotus Inscription

The obligation to read the Torah in public every Shabbat, Monday, and Thursday is a rabbinical institution enacted by Moshe Rabbeinu. (See Rambam, Hilchot Tefillah 12:1). In 1913 Baron Rothchild funded the excavation of the French-Jewish archaeologist Raymond Weill in what is today known as the city of David. Realizing the significance of the site, Baron Rothchild had purchased the land from the Ottoman Turks on behalf of the Jewish people. During excavations Weill found a few large cisterns. Inside one of them was the Theodotus inscription dated to the early first century CE. The inscription is actually a dedication plaque commemorating a “synagogue that was built for the reading of the Torah and the teaching of its commandments.” Ironically the only thing preserved from this synagogue is this plaque. This shows that the Torah was being read in synagogues in accordance with the Oral Law over two thousand years ago, over 1,300 years after Moshe instituted the enactment, and nearly 200 years before the Mishnah was committed to writing.


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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