Examining clay vessels discovered in the ruins of ancient city of Abel Beth Maacah, archaeologists were surprised to find a one-word Hebrew inscription. The Times of Israel reports:
On [one] jar, believed to be a wine vessel, was simply written: “l’Benaya’u,” meaning “belongs to Benaya’u.” But that single word could lead experts to rethink their views on the territory of the ancient kingdom of Israel.
Abel Beth Maacah, mentioned in the Bible, is located just south of Israel’s border with Lebanon, near the modern-day town of Metula. Benaya’u is a Hebrew name analogous to the modern Benayahu. But while the pot is believed to be from the 9th or 10th century BCE, the kingdom of Israel had not previously been thought to stretch so far north during that period.
At the time, Abel Beth Maacah was situated in a liminal zone between three regional powers: the Aramean kingdom based in Damascus to the east, the Phoenician city of Tyre to the west, and the Israelite kingdom, with its capital in Samaria, to the south. Archaeologists had previously believed the area of the town was largely empty during the 10th-9th century BCE, and that it only came under Israelite rule during the 8th century BCE.
The earlier date would suggest an Israelite presence in the city during, or at last closer to, the reigns of David and Solomon.