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

July 13 2021

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

In the Aftermath of a Deadly Attack, President Sisi Should Visit Israel

On June 3, an Egyptian policeman crossed the border into Israel and killed three soldiers. Jonathan Schanzer and Natalie Ecanow urge President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to respond by visiting the Jewish state as a show of goodwill:

Such a dramatic gesture is not without precedent: in 1997, a Jordanian soldier opened fire on a group of Israeli schoolgirls visiting the “Isle of Peace,” a parcel of farmland previously under Israeli jurisdiction that Jordan leased back to Israel as part of the Oslo peace process. In a remarkable display of humanity, King Hussein of Jordan, who had only three years earlier signed a peace agreement with Israel, traveled to the Jewish state to mourn with the families of the seven girls who died in the massacre.

That massacre unfolded as a diplomatic cold front descended on Jerusalem and Amman. . . . Yet a week later, Hussein flipped the script. “I feel as if I have lost a child of my own,” Hussein lamented. He told the parents of one of the victims that the tragedy “affects us all as members of one family.”

While security cooperation [between Cairo and Jerusalem] remains strong, the bilateral relationship is still rather frosty outside the military domain. True normalization between the two nations is elusive. A survey in 2021 found that only 8 percent of Egyptians support “business or sports contacts” with Israel. With a visit to Israel, Sisi can move beyond the cold pragmatism that largely defines Egyptian-Israeli relations and recast himself as a world figure ready to embrace his diplomatic partners as human beings. At a personal level, the Egyptian leader can win international acclaim for such a move rather than criticism for his country’s poor human-rights record.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: General Sisi, Israeli Security, Jordan