The new “Ishba’al, son of Beda” inscription from our Khirbet Qeiyafa excavation is now reported on major news agencies and internet media. I cannot count the number of Facebook posts noting the find. Yet most news summaries do not mention the other word found with this biblical name.
(Note: news of this inscription first appeared on this blog, with a HT to my friend Alla Rabinovich who had initially linked the Academia article on FB.)
“Eshbaal (Ishba’al) son of Beda,” is inscribed with a firm hand on the 3,000 year-old jar, but there is another word preceding the name. The word appears to consist of four letters but is heavily damaged and difficult to reconstruct. At this moment I’ve seen three interpretations of what this word may be.
The authors of the original article believe it could refer to either a) the place from which the jar’s contents originated or b) specific information about the jar’s contents.
“In my opinion the correct reading of the second Qeiyafa inscription is: KPRT ‘SHB’L BN BD'[M] = The expiation of Ishba’al son of bdʿ[m].”
Galil believes the inscription may designate the contents as an atonement/expiation offering (Lev. 5:5ff ) for the named individual.
If this jar is connected to levitical religious practice in the late-11/early 10th-century BC, that would be particularly exciting.