Fifteen Years after Its Discovery, Researchers Have Deciphered a Tablet Bearing the Name of an Israelite King

In 2007, archaeologists found a limestone fragment in the oldest part of Jerusalem, about the size of a human hand, bearing two lines of text in ancient Hebrew script; most of it had been rendered illegible by the ravages of time. Now two researchers report they have made headway in deciphering the inscription. Christopher Eames writes:

Judah’s 8th-century BCE King Hezekiah is well known from archaeology, as well as the Bible. . . . Yet for not only Hezekiah in particular, but the kings of Judah in general, there has been one thing missing: “monumental”-style inscriptions, or stelae, of the sort well known and preserved in the likes of Assyria, Babylon. and Egypt. Inscriptions that have thus far been unveiled naming biblical kings of Israel and Judah have largely been of the “miniature” variety—royal seal stamps, or bullae, such as those referencing Jeroboam, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. As such, a prevailing belief has been that the kings of Judah and Israel did not have “monumental”-style inscriptions to record their own achievements.

But the new conclusions reached by Eli Shukron, who discovered the limestone fragment, and the epigrapher Gershon Galil, suggest the fragment might have been part of just such a monumental inscription:

The first line is reconstructed as ח]זקיה]/[Ḥ]zqyh/[He]zekiah (with the initial letter “ḥ/ח” missing). The second line is reconstructed as the word “pool,” Hebrew breykhah, (again with the initial letter having been broken off, thus ב]רכה]). Of course, Hezekiah is noted several times throughout the Hebrew Bible in regard to the construction of pools and water works. Further, the discovery was made at just such a “pool” location.

This “new” inscription has further been linked with a fragment found by famous archaeologist Yigal Shiloh in 1978, somewhat further to the south of the Giḥon Spring. The stone and lettering are of the same type. This text, again fragmentary, includes the word “seventeen/seventeenth”—as such, when put together with the abovementioned monument, it may thus identify the inscription as relating to Hezekiah’s seventeenth year of reign (thus circa 709 BCE—Hezekiah reigned for a total of 29 years).

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Armstrong Center for Biblical Archaeology

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Hebrew Bible, Hezekiah

Condemning Terrorism in Jerusalem—and Efforts to Stop It

Jan. 30 2023

On Friday night, a Palestinian opened fire at a group of Israelis standing outside a Jerusalem synagogue, killing seven and wounding several others. The day before, the IDF had been drawn into a gunfight in the West Bank city of Jenin while trying to arrest members of a terrorist cell. Of the nine Palestinians killed in the raid, only one appears to have been a noncombatant. Lahav Harkov compares the responses to the two events, beginning with the more recent:

President Joe Biden called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to denounce the attack, offer his condolences, and express his commitment to Israel’s security. Other leaders released supportive statements as well. Governments across Europe condemned the attack. Turkey’s foreign ministry did the same, as did Israel’s Abraham Accords partners the UAE and Bahrain. Even Saudi Arabia released a statement against the killing of civilians in Jerusalem.

It feels wrong to criticize those statements. . . . But the condemnations should be full-throated, not spoken out of one side of the mouth while the other is wishy-washy about what it takes to stave off terrorism. These very same leaders and ministries were tsk-tsking at Israel for doing just that only a day before the attacks in Jerusalem.

The context didn’t seem to matter to some countries that are friendly to Israel. It didn’t matter that Israel was trying to stop jihadists from attacking civilians; it didn’t matter that IDF soldiers were attacked on the way.

It’s very easy for some to be sad when Jews are murdered. Yet, at the same time, so many of them are uncomfortable with Jews asserting themselves, protecting themselves, arming themselves against the bloodthirsty horde that would hand out bonbons to celebrate their deaths. It’s a reminder of how important it is that we do just that, and how essential the state of Israel is.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Lahav’s Newsletter

More about: Jerusalem, Palestinian terror