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Shards with the name of the biblical judge of Israel were found at the excavations near Kiryat Gat


Israeli archaeologists have made a rare find during excavations at the early Iron site of Khirbat al-Rai in the Shefela region (near Kiryat Gat).

They found a fragment of a small ceramic vessel with one of the names of the biblical judge Gideon. The five letters of Paleo-Hebrew writing in ink on a vessel readily read “Yerubaal.” The precious shard was in a pit-cache dug in the ground and lined with stones.

The Book of Judges says that this was one of the names of Judge Gideon. “And Jerubaal rose early, he is Gideon, and all the people that were with him, and they camped at the source of Harod,” – it is said about the battle of the Israelites with the Midianites in the Jezreel Valley under the leadership of Gideon. Gideon formed a detachment of 300 warriors and attacked the Midianites near the source of Harod, which is under Mount Gilboa. Some modern scholars believe that these were two different characters, united into one by the authors of the Book of Judges.

Archaeologists date the fragments of the vessel to the 11th century BC, that is, the era of the judges. The inscription was deciphered by an expert on epigraphy of the time Christopher Rolston of George Washington University in Washington.

The famous archaeologist Professor Yosef Garfinkel and his colleague Saar Ganor from the Hebrew University, who are excavating at Khirbet al-Rai with Australian archaeologists, emphasize that there is no evidence that this is Yerubaal Gedeon.

The biblical judge acted in the north of Israel in the Jezreel Valley, and a crock with the name was found in the Shphela region. However, it cannot be completely ruled out that a vessel containing a liter of liquid – oil, incense, or some kind of medicinal potion – could belong to the judge of Israel. “In any case, the name Yerubaal (which means” rival of the pagan deity of Baal “- ed.) Was quite common in the era of Judge Gideon, – say archaeologists.


Photo by Daphne Gazit, Office of Antiquities: 11th century BCE shard. named Jerubaal

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