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October 25, 2016 / 23 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Elah Valley’

Rare Inscription from King David Discovered in Jerusalem Hills

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

This article has been updated.

A rare inscription from the time of King David was discovered at Khirbet Qeiyafain the Elah Valley, southwest of Jerusalem and near Beit Shemesh.

A ceramic jar approximately 3,000 years old that was broken into numerous shards was found in 2012 in excavations. Letters written in ancient Canaanite script could be discerned on several of the shards, sparking the curiosity of researchers, Prof. Yosef Garfinkel of Hebrew University and Saar Ganor of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Its artifacts department glued together hundreds of pottery shards to form a whole jar and solved the riddle – the jar was incised with the inscription, ” Eshbaʽal Ben Bada.”

Professor Garfinkel and Ganor said:

This is the first time that the name Eshbaʽal has appeared on an ancient inscription in the country. Eshbaʽal Ben Shaul, who ruled over Israel at the same time as David, is known from the Bible.

It is interesting to note that the name Eshbaʽal appears in the Bible…only during the reign of King David, in the first half of the tenth century BCE. This name was not used later in the First Temple period.

[Editor’s note: The name “Eshbaʽal” only appears in Divrei HaYamim (Chronicles) 1-8:34 & 1-9:39 and he is generally identified as Ish Boshet, the son of King Saul.]

They added that the correlation between the biblical tradition and the archaeological finds indicates this was a common name only during that period. “The name Bedaʽ is unique and does not occur in ancient inscriptions or in the biblical tradition,” they added.

The fact that the name Eshbaʽal was incised on a jar suggests that he was an important person, according to the researchers. He apparently was the owner of a large agricultural estate, and the produce collected there was packed and transported in jars that bore his name.

The researchers stated:

This is clear evidence of social stratification and the creation of an established economic class that occurred at the time of the formation of the Kingdom of Judah.

Khirbet Qeiyafa is identified with the biblical city Shaʽarayim. During several seasons of excavation, a fortified city, two gates, a palace and storerooms, dwellings and cultic rooms were exposed.

The city dates from the time of David – the late 11th and early centuries BCE. Unique artifacts that were previously unknown were discovered at the site.

According to Garfinkel and Ganor:

In recent years four inscriptions have been published: two from Khirbet Qeiyafa, one from Jerusalem and one from Bet Shemesh. This completely changes our understanding of the distribution of writing in the Kingdom of Judah, and it is now clear that writing was far more widespread than previously thought.

It seems that the organization of the kingdom required a cadre of clerks and writers and their activity is also manifested in the appearance of inscriptions.


Jewish Press Staff

Postcard from Tel Azekah

Sunday, September 9th, 2012

In the Judean lowlands, rising above the Elah Valley, lies Tel Azeka (also Azekah) – mentioned numerous times in Biblical texts. Perhaps most famously, it is associated with the story of David and Goliath, which is etched into blocks of stone set by the path up to the top of the Tel, its dramatic ending overlooking the Elah Valley below on one side and views as far as the Mediterranean coast on the other.

“Now the Philistines gathered together their armies to battle, and they were gathered together at Socoh, which belongeth to Judah, and pitched between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim. And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and pitched in the vale of Elah, and set the battle in array against the Philistines.” (I Samuel 17, 1-2)

Azeka also gets a mention in the Book of Joshua, both as the site of a hailstorm which destroyed the army of the Amorite kings and later as part of the area designated to the tribe of Judah.

“And it came to pass, as they fled from before Israel, while they were at the descent of Beth-horon, that the LORD cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they died; they were more who died with the hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword.”

As described in Jeremiah, Azeka and Lachish were the last two cities to fall to the Babylonians before Jerusalem. The town is mentioned in the Lachish Letters (currently to be found in the British Museum) and also in Nehemiah as one of the places to which the exiled Jews returned.

“Zanoah, Adullam, and their villages, Lachish and the fields thereof, Azekah and the towns thereof. So they encamped from Beer-sheba unto the valley of Hinnom.”

Tel Azeka was first excavated by British archaeologists between the years 1898 – 1900 and a system of interconnecting hideout caves used by Jews during the time of the Bar Kochva revolt against the Romans was discovered. This summer, archaeologists from Tel Aviv University and others began excavating the site using modern technology and some of their findings can be seen on the dig’s blog.

Hadar Sela

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/cifwatch/postcard-from-tel-azekah/2012/09/09/

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