Archaeologist Prof. Gershon Galil on Wednesday night revealed on Channel 14 what they believe to be one of the most important archaeological discoveries of all time in Israel, which they say presents a breakthrough in the study of the history of Israel in the biblical period.
As Prof. Galil put it: “I managed to decipher five new monumental royal inscriptions of King Hezekiah of Judah, which together include dozens of lines and hundreds of letters. The inscriptions mention the name of Hezekiah, king of Judah, and summarize his main actions in the first seventeen years of his reign, among them, the quarrying of Nikbat Ha’Shiloah and its pool; the ritual reform; the conquest of Philistia; and his accumulation of great wealth.”
The most crucial aspect of his discovery, according to Galil, is the fact that “the inscriptions indicate the exact date on which the Ha’Shiloah project was completed: 2 Tammuz, year 17 of Hezekiah, or 709 BCE.”
According to him, “It is now clear that the chronology dating the start of Hezekiah’s reign in 726 BCE is to be preferred,” which was the point of his 1996 book, “The Chronology of the Kings of Israel and Judah.”
“These are the most complete royal inscriptions we have, and they are further evidence that the kings of Israel and Judah wrote royal inscriptions that indicated their name and surname,” Prof. Galil concluded.
Prof. Galil reported that recently an impressive inscription was discovered in the same area, in the “Canaanite pool” near the Gihon spring, which had been eroded over time, but the vast majority of the letters are legible.
He cited a verbatim quote of this inscription that includes 11 lines, 64 words, and 243 letters in Hebrew:
1. Hezekiah son of Ahaz, king of Judah
2. Made the pool and the channel
3. On the seventeenth year on the second of the fourth [month]
4. Of King Hezekiah, come the king
5. The water he poured, in the creek did the king walk
6. The water to the pool, and he defeated the Philistines
7. From Ekron to Gaza and placed there his military ambush
8. The Judean army. And he broke the tombstone and crushed the copper snake
9. And remove the idols’ altars and cut down the Ashera tree, Hezekiah is the king
10. He accumulated wealth in all his treasures and in the house of [the tetragram]
11. Much silver and gold, perfumes, and good oil
Prof. Galil believes that this newly exposed text offers a response to many issues that have been raised by scholars for many years, and provides evidence that Hezekiah did conduct a comprehensive ritual reform before 709 BCE. It also proves that Hezekiah conquered the Philistine cities in the area stretched between Ekron and Gaza in 712 BCE. The text also uses the word “arav,” which in modern Hebrew means “ambushed,” but to date had been known only in its Akkadian form, “urbi.”
Summing up his work over the past 10 years, Prof. Galil said: “We now have seven inscriptions of King Hezekiah, found in the City of David: two at the end of the Shiloah channel, four near the spring, of which two are at the beginning of the Shiloah channel, and two at the Canaanite pool or near it. Another inscription was found halfway between the spring and the pool. These inscriptions probably included more than 1,600 letters.”
He concluded: “The paleographic discussion, and especially the shape of the letter Mem, shows that at least two writers (perhaps three) composed them. All of Hezekiah’s inscriptions will soon be published in Hebrew and English – accompanied by very high-quality photographs as well as detailed linguistic, historical, and paleographic discussions, and a comparison with other inscriptions, – In our book: ‘The Inscriptions of Hezekiah, King of Judah’”