Jerubbaal -
rare inscription found dating from the time of the biblical Judges

3.Jerubbaal inscription. Photo Dafna Gazit-Israel Antiquities Authority.jpg

This is the first instance of an The 3,100-year-old inscription was found near Qiryat Gat, in excavations conducted by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Israel Antiquities Authority and Macquarie University, Sydney

 

According to the archaeologists, “The name of the Judge Gidon ben Yoash was Jerubbaal, but we cannot tell whether he owned the vessel on which the inscription is written in ink.”

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Therefore on that day he named him Jerubbaal, that is to say, “Let Baal contend against him,” because he had torn down his altar.

-Judges 6:32

 

For the first time: an inscription from the time of the biblical Judges and relating to the Book of Judges has been recovered from excavations at Khirbat er-Ra‘i, near Qiryat Gat. The rare inscription bears the name ‘Jerubbaal’ in alphabetic script and dates from around 1,100 BCE. It was written in ink on a pottery vessel and found inside a storage pit that was dug into the ground and lined with stones.

 

The site is located at the Shahariya forest of the KKL-JNF, The excavations are being conducted on behalf of the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Israel Antiquities Authority, and Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, under the direction of Prof. Yossef Garfinkel, Sa‘ar Ganor, Dr. Kyle Keimer and Dr. Gil Davies.

 

The inscription was written in ink on a jug – a small personal pottery vessel that holds approximately one liter, and may well have contained a precious liquid such as oil, perfume or medicine. Apparently, much like today, the vessel’s owner wrote his name on it to assert his ownership.

 

The inscription has been deciphered by epigraphic expert Christopher Rolston of George Washington University, Washington DC. It clearly shows the letters yod (broken at the top), resh, bet, ayin, lamed, and remnants of other letters indicate that the original inscription was longer.

 

Prof. Garfinkel and Ganor explain, “The name Jerubbaal is familiar from biblical tradition in the Book of Judges as an alternative name for the judge Gidon ben

Yoash.

 

Gidon (or known as Gideon in English translation) is known for breaking his father’s alter to Baal and cutting down the Asherah pole. In true form to what we have been discussing in the last few months, the message, now through timely archaeology confirming the Bible reminds us that our future victories can only be established if we let go of the idolatry that was introduced to us through the previous generations, even by our fathers. That which the world has communicated to us as the status quo.

 

Gidon, one of the most humble judges (see his conversation with the angel in Judges 6:15) , merits afterwards to battle and triumph over the Midianites by picking a small army of 300 soldiers, proving that victory doesn’t lie in big numbers, but in obedience to G-d and His statutes.

 

Inscriptions from the period of the Judges are extremely rare and almost unparalleled in Israeli archaeology. Only a handful of inscriptions found in the past bear a number of unrelated letters. This is the first time that the name Jerubbaal has ever been found outside the Bible in an archaeological context – in a stratum dated to around 1,100 BCE, the period of the Judges.


“As we know, there is considerable debate as to whether biblical tradition reflects reality and whether it is faithful to historical memories from the days of the Judges and the days of David,” say the archaeologists. “The name Jerubbaal only appears in the Bible in the period of the Judges, yet now it has also been discovered in an archaeological context, in a stratum dating from this period. In a similar manner, the name Ishbaal, which is only mentioned in the Bible during the monarchy of King David, has been found in strata dated to that period at the site of Khirbat Qeiyafa. The fact that identical names are mentioned in the Bible and also found in inscriptions recovered from archaeological excavations shows that memories were preserved and passed down through the generations.”

Article adapted from original Article by the Israel Antiquities Authority

Jerubbaal inscription. Photo Dafna Gazit-Israel Antiquities Authority
Aerial view of the Excavation. Photo- Emil Aladjem Israel Antiquities Authority
Excavation of the silo where the Jerubbaal inscription was found
drawing: Olga Dubovsky
Excavating a jar from the time of the biblical Judges at Khirbat er-Ra‘i
Prof. Garfinkel and Ganor at the Excavation