New Khirbet Qeiyafa Inscription Published. What Does it Say?

An inscription discovered in 2012 at Khirbet Qeiyafa has been published, and it contains a name found in the Bible.

The inscription is incised on a storage jar from the late-11th/early-10th century BC, the biblical period of Saul and David. The article appears in the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (BASORand is attributed to Yosef Garfinkel, Mitka R. Golub, Haggai Misgave, and Saar Ganor.

The storage jar shows the name ʾIšbaʿal incised along the top. This name appears in the Bible in 1 Chronicles 8:33.  (Eshbaal in English translations.) Eshbaal was Saul’s son who is known as “Ish-bosheth” in 2 Samuel chapters 2 through 4. After Saul’s death, Eshbaal reigned as a rival of David from across the Jordan River and was eventually assassinated by his own servants.

The name in this new inscription refers to a different individual (son of Bedaʿ) but demonstrates the use of this particular name in Canaan during this period. The context of this name on the jar has not been established, but it may refer to the origin of the contents.

(Photo by T. Rogozin)

The “Išbaʿal” (Eshbaal) inscription from Khirbet Qeiyafa, discovered in 2012.  (Photo by Tal Rogovski)

The article points out that the name “Baal” often refers to a deity in the biblical text but can also mean “lord/master” in a general sense. The root “Baal” appears in numerous biblical names but disappears from the region of Judah in textual/biblical and archaeological records after the 10th century BC.

The article can be viewed on It will also be available soon via JSTOR.

My previous post mentioned that this inscription would soon be published. (Thanks to Yossi Garfinkel for the heads-up.) Another inscription discovered at Tel Lachish in 2014 should be published in the near future.

About LukeChandler

Luke holds an M.A. in Ancient and Classical History and has been an adjunct professor at Florida College in Temple Terrace, Florida. Luke and his wife Melanie have five children. He serves as a minister with the North Terrace Church of Christ and has participated in multiple archaeological excavations in Israel. Luke leads informative, meaningful tours to Europe and the Bible Lands.
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5 Responses to New Khirbet Qeiyafa Inscription Published. What Does it Say?

  1. tal says:

    the photo was taken by: Tal Rogovski (They named wrong)
    see u soon in Lachish…

  2. G.M. Grena says:

    What isn’t necessarily obvious in this cropped version of the photo, is that it’s a jar with a depression mark on one of its handles, possibly indicating royalty. I haven’t studied the published article yet, but it doesn’t seem to be mentioned.

  3. Bill Irby says:

    Luke, thanks for this post. Since being there this place has been on my mind every time I look to the OT. Bill Irby

  4. wilson says:

    Does the finding of Baal as a theophoric element suggest Khirbet Qeiyafa may have been an outpost of a northern kingdom, whether Israelite or other Levantine? How much is known or at least sketched about states north of the area at the time?

    I’ve read that the name and similar names are attributed in Biblical texts that relate to the same time period, but that there are no other inscriptions or references. Does this include other Levantine sources? It seems such a basic west-Semitic theophoric name that it’s hard to believe it wouldn’t have been common in places further north where Baal was the common referent for the most powerful deity. I’m not nearly immersed enough in all this to know whether there is much contemporary graphical evidence from places like Sidon and Tyre, so maybe my thought here is naive. Just interested in a little more context if anyone can provide it.

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