A Rare 3,000-Year-Old Inscription Bears the Name of a Biblical Judge

From about the 8th century BCE—the time of the prophet Isaiah—onward, archaeologists studying the Land of Israel can draw on a relatively rich record of artifacts and inscriptions. But from the period corresponding to that of the biblical book of Judges—which takes place between Joshua’s conquest of Canaan and the time of King Saul, or around the 12th and 11th centuries BCE—only a handful of inscriptions have been found. Thus the recent discovery of a potsherd dated to circa 1050 BCE, with a single word written on it, was monumental. Amanda Borschel-Dan writes:

The painted pottery . . . was written in Early Alphabetic or Canaanite script, evidence of which has been found throughout Egypt and the Levant. The earliest object bearing the paleo-Hebrew script, [used by ancient Israelites during the First Temple period, before it was in turn replaced by the Hebrew alphabet used today], come much later, dating to the 9th century BCE.

According to a cross-institutional team of archaeologists and epigraphers, the partial inscription, painted on three pottery sherds from an incomplete small vessel, is most logically read as “Jerubbaal” or “Yeruba’al,” which was the nickname of the biblical judge Gideon, son of Joash, who was active in the northern parts of the Land of Israel during this era.

The inscription was discovered at the Khirbet el-Rai site, located between Kiryat Gat and Lachish, about 43 miles southwest of Jerusalem. . . . As tempting as it would be to connect the dots between the biblical judge Gideon and the name painted on this jug, the Khirbet el-Rai archaeologists freely acknowledge in the press release that “the name of the judge Gideon son of Joash was Jerubbaal, but we cannot tell whether he owned the vessel on which the inscription is written in ink.”

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Book of Judges, Hebrew alphabet, Hebrew Bible


How to Turn Palestinian Public Opinion Away from Terror

The Palestinian human-rights activist Bassem Eid, responding to the latest survey results of the Palestinian public, writes:

Not coincidentally, support for Hamas is much higher in the West Bank—misgoverned by Hamas’s archrivals, the secular nationalist Fatah, which rules the Palestinian Authority (PA)—than in Gaza, whose population is being actively brutalized by Hamas. Popular support for violence persists despite the devastating impact that following radical leaders and ideologies has historically had on the Palestinian people, as poignantly summed up by Israel’s Abba Eban when he quipped that Arabs, including the Palestinians, “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

Just as worrying is the role of propaganda and misinformation, which are not unique to the Palestinian context but are pernicious there due to the high stakes involved. Misinformation campaigns, often fueled by Hamas and its allies, have painted violent terrorism as the only path to dignity and rights for Palestinians. Palestinian schoolbooks and public media are rife with anti-Semitic and jihadist content. Hamas’s allies in the West have matched Hamas’s genocidal rhetoric with an equally exterminationist call for the de-normalization and destruction of Israel.

It’s crucial to consider successful examples of de-radicalization from other regional contexts. After September 11, 2001, Saudi Arabia implemented a comprehensive de-radicalization program aimed at rehabilitating extremists through education, psychological intervention, and social reintegration. This program has had successes and offers valuable lessons that could be adapted to the Palestinian context.

Rather than pressure Israel to make concessions, Eid argues, the international community should be pressuring Palestinian leaders—including Fatah—to remove incitement from curricula and stop providing financial rewards to terrorists.

Read more at Newsweek

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Palestinian public opinion