Daily Archives: April 6, 2009

Inscription from time of Kings of Judah

The Israel Antiquities Authority announced the discovery of a fragment of a Hebrew inscription from the period of the Kings of Judah. Here is the complete news release.

In Archaeological Excavations the Israel Antiquities Authority is Conducting at the City of David, in the Walls Around Jerusalem National Park:

A Fragment of a Hebrew Inscription from the Period of the Kings of Judah was Found

A fragment of a limestone plaque bearing several letters of ancient Hebrew script was discovered while sifting soil that was excavated in the vicinity of the Gihon Spring, within the precincts of the “Walls around Jerusalem National Park”. The excavation is being carried out on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, under the direction of Professor Ronny Reich of the University of Haifa and Eli Shukron of the IAA, and is sponsored by the ‘Ir David Foundation.

The stone fragment dates to the eighth century BCE and this is based on the numerous pottery sherds that were discovered together with it, as well as the shape of the Hebrew letters that are engraved in the inscription.

The plaque is broken on all sides. All that remains of the inscription are two lines of writing: In the upper line the last part of a given name is preserved: …]קיה, or as it is transliterated into English …]kiah. Unfortunately the remains of another letter before the kof cannot be discerned. If the letter preceding the kof was a zayin, we could complete the name to read חזקיה, or Hezekiah in English, and perhaps ascribe historical importance to the inscription. On the other hand, there are other first names that were used in Judah and Jerusalem at that time that could be mentioned here such as Hilkia, Amekiya, etc.

In the second line are the remains of two words. Here too, is a suffix of a word: …]כה, or as it is transliterated into English …]ka. Here we have several possibilities for completing the word such as: בְּרָכָה, or birqa, that is, a greeting expressing best wishes (a possible ending for some sort of commemorative inscription). Another possibility is the word בְּרֵכָה, or brecha, meaning water reservoir. The reconstruction of this word is possible based on the fact that Brechat HaShiloah, or the Shiloah Pool in English, is located nearby, and also based on the fact that a pool is mentioned in the famous Shiloah inscription that was discovered close by.

In any event the fact that we are dealing with a stone plaque indicates that this is a commemorative inscription that may have been meant to celebrate some sort of building project.

All that remains is to wait and hope that in time other fragments of the inscription will be found.

The IAA news release is available here. Below is a photo of the inscription.

Inscription from Kingdom of Judah.  Photo: Vladimir Naikhin, courtest IAA.

Inscription from time of the Kingdom of Judah. Photo: Vladimir Naikhin, courtest IAA.

According to Thiele’s chronology, Hezekiah was king of Judah from 716/15 to 687/86 B.C. The book of Chronicles mentions his important work of bringing water from the Gihon spring to the west side of the city of David.

It was Hezekiah who stopped the upper outlet of the waters of Gihon and directed them to the west side of the city of David. And Hezekiah prospered in all that he did. (2 Chronicles 32:30; see 2 Kings 20:20 also).

HT: Joe Lauer

Hellenistic pier found at Akko – Ptolemais

A harbor from the Hellenistic period was found at Akko on the Mediterranean coast. Here is a brief description of the discovery provided by the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The part of the floor that has been revealed so far extends for a distance of 15 meters and is 4 meters wide (the full dimensions of the floor have not yet been exposed). The floor was built of rectangular, smoothly dressed kurkar stones that were placed atop a foundation course of roughly hewn kurkar stones arranged next to each other as “headers”. In probes that were conducted beneath the floor, numerous fragments of ceramic jars of Aegean provenance (from Rhodes, Kos and elsewhere) were found that were used to transport wine, as well as tableware and cooking vessels. Among the other artifacts recovered were a Greek style bronze arrowhead and bronze coins that are covered with marine encrustations. A preliminary identification of the finds shows that the floor was constructed in the Hellenistic period (end of the third century until the middle of the second century BCE) as part of a national project.

Akko Crusader wall. Excavated area of Hellenstic Harbor. Photo: Kobi Sharvit, IAA.

Akko Crusader wall. Excavated area of Hellenistic pier. Photo: Kobi Sharvit, IAA.

The photo below shows some of the kurkar stone pavement discovered one meter under the present water level.

The floor from the Hellenistic period. Photo: Kobi Sharvit, IAA.

The floor from the Hellenistic period. Photo: Kobi Sharvit, IAA.

Akko (Acre or Accho) is mentioned in Judges 1:31 as a city of the tribe of Asher. During the late 3rd or early 2nd century B.C. Akko was given the name Ptolemais by Ptolemy I or II of Egypt. Ptolemais is the name we read in the New Testament. Paul and his companions stopped at Ptolemais for one day on the return from his third journey in the Greco-Roman world.

When we had finished the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais, and we greeted the brothers and stayed with them for one day. (Acts 21:7 ESV)

Several things are learned from this text (and context). The previous stop was a few miles north at Tyre where they had stayed for seven days (Acts 21:4-6). After Ptolemais they arrived at Caesarea.

Paul’s companions included all of those “messengers” of the churches who were taking the contributions of the churches of Macedonia and Achaia to the poor among the saints at Jerusalem (Romans 15:25-27; 2 Corinthians 8-9). A list of names is given in Acts 20:4.

A view of the Mediterranean from the Crusader ramparts at Akko. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A view of the Mediterranean from the Crusader ramparts. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.