A rare inscription from King David’s era discovered in an ancient city in Israel

Inscription_Eshbaal_King_David_Era_Israel_1Credit: Tal Rogovsky

A 3000-year old earthenware restored to its original glory gave up a few fascinating secrets from the Iron Age era. The chief among them was the name inscribed on the jar which read – Eshba’al Ben Bada. Initially found at the site of Khirbet Qeiyafa, in the Valley of Elah west of Jerusalem (the very same valley were David supposedly fought Goliath), the jar artifact was originally broken up in pieces. So these shards were painstakingly glued up, and the emerging inscription was found to be in an ancient Canaanite script. This does make sense since the Canaanites themselves were biblical/historical people who lived in the area of present-day Levant. As for the aforementioned inscription in question, this is reportedly the very first time that the name Eshba’al has appeared on an ancient engraving in Israel – according to archaeologists at the Israel Antiquities Authority.

As a matter of fact, there is some biblical relevance of the name Eshba’al, since it is the very same name that denotes a son of King Saul, who was also a rival to King David (during the first half of 10th century BC). But this biblical figure’s full name was revealed to be Eshba’al Ben Shaul, as opposed to Eshba’al Ben Bada written in the pottery. However, the coincidence of the first letters being similar does point to one deduction – and that relates to how Eshba’al might have been a common name during the early-Israelite epoch.


Credit: Tal Rogovsky

In any case, the name must have felt out of favor, especially among the Judeans – presumably because of its similarity to Ba’al, a masculine figure who was usually depicted as the weather-god of the Western Semites (like Canaanites). As for the person Eshba’al Ben Bada, he must been a high ranking member of the society, possibly the owner of a large agricultural estate – with his personal name being inscribed on the containers (like jars) carrying the produce.

Now, beyond just this restored pottery item, the site of Khirbet Qeiyafa had yielded a host of incredible ruins and finds. The list includes an entire fortified city, with its palace, dwellings, storerooms and two gates. Interestingly, the biblical city of Sha’arayim translates to ‘two gates’, and as such the Khirbet Qeiyafa site had been associated with this settlement in 2008. However by 2010, in wake of newer evidences, the site was suggested to be Neta’im, another biblical city mentioned in the Old Testament.

And lastly, as the ‘piece de resistance’ encountered in Khirbet Qeiyafa, the archaeologists actually came across the world’s earliest known Hebrew inscription. Written in ink on a geometrical pottery piece, the passage read –

1′ you shall not do [it], but worship the [Lord].
2′ Judge the sla[ve] and the wid[ow] / Judge the orph[an]
3′ [and] the stranger. [Pl]ead for the infant / plead for the po[or and]
4′ the widow. Rehabilitate [the poor] at the hands of the king.
5′ Protect the po[or and] the slave / [supp]ort the stranger.


Ancient city at Khirbet Qeiyafa. Credit: Skyview Company

Via: Discovery News

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