On Dec. 30, Christianity Today published an article titled “Biblical Archaeology’s Top Ten Discoveries of 2015.” Two of the finds came from excavations sponsored by Southern Adventist University’s Institute of Archaeology.
Number five on the list is the Eshba’al inscription found at Khirbet Qeiyafa, located in the Elah Valley in southern Israel. The inscription dates back to the days of Saul and David, and mentions a man by the name of Eshba’al, the same name of one of King Saul’s sons. The inscription’s publication made international headlines last June, and prompted a meeting between the directors and Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. This name only occurs in tenth century contexts in the Bible, which means the biblical text fits the archaeological data in Judah. It also confirms, with the other inscriptions found at the site, that Hebrew writing was well established in Judah by the early tenth century BC. Khirbet Qeiyafa has become the crucial site in the ongoing debate about the early history of Judah.
Number four on the list is the Canaanite ostracon found at Tel Lachish. This is the first time a proto-Canaanite inscription was found in the last 30 years of archaeology in Israel. The context of the inscription was a Late Bronze Age Canaanite temple at Tel Lachish, one of the most important cities of Canaan during the period of the Judges. The fragmentary inscription is difficult to read, but provides important information about the development of the proto-Canaanite alphabet as it progressed from Hebrew, Greek, and then Latin.
Southern Adventist University is a co-sponsor with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem of the expeditions to Khirbet Qeiyafa and Lachish. The Khirbet Qeiyafa excavation phase concluded in 2013 and is now completing final publications. The Fourth Expedition to Lachish began its investigations at the second most important biblical site in Judah in 2013, and has become the largest excavation in the Middle East, with between 115-120 staff and volunteers in the field every year.
The excavations at Lachish have also uncovered massive destructions from the Babylonian campaign of Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC (2 Kings 25), where dozens of whole vessels have been found, and the earlier 701 BC destruction of Sennacherib, the king of Assyria (2 Kings 18; Isaiah 36-37). The Assyrian destruction level contained several LMLK jars found on the surface. In previous expeditions, over 400 LMLK storage jar handles were uncovered at Lachish many dating specifically to King Hezekiah. The term LMLK in Hebrew means “for the king.”
This summer, the project will continue from June 16-July 24.
The Lynn H. Wood Archaeological Museum at Southern Adventist University is free and open to the public. For more information, including hours of operation, visit southern.edu/archaeology.
Source: Southern Adventist University
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