The other word in the new “Eshbaal” inscription – suggested interpretations

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.

I saw last week that Prof. Gershon Galil posted a suggestion in a Facebook discussion group. (Jim West also noted it.)

“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.

The complete inscription, reading right-to-left. The damaged word in question is on the far right. (Photo by T. Rogovski)

The complete inscription. It reads right-to-left, with the damaged word is on the far right. (Photo by T. Rogovski)

If this jar is connected to levitical religious practice in the late-11/early 10th-century BC, that would be particularly exciting.

The restored storage jar with the "Ishba'al inscription. (Photo by Tal Rogovski)

The restored storage jar with the “Ishba’al” inscription near the top. (Photo by Tal Rogovski)


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.
This entry was posted in 2012 Khirbet Qeiyafa excavation, archaeologists, Biblical Archaeology, Inscriptions and Manuscripts, Khirbet Qeiyafa, New Discoveries and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The other word in the new “Eshbaal” inscription – suggested interpretations

  1. Amanda Payne says:

    Benji & I enjoyed reading about Steve Chandler. Haha!

    This 3rd possibility is very exciting. Thank you!

    Praying for a fruitful excavation for the multi-faceted Steve Chandler!

  2. G.M. Grena says:

    Galil’s reading harmonizes with the jar-handle impression, if such marks indicate tithes/offerings as I believe the LMLKs do.

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